Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
An Open Letter to President-elect Obama regarding my Personal Disappointment at the Choice of Rick Warren to Deliver the Inaugural Invocation
My disappointment goes beyond the fact that you chose someone to speak at the inauguration who does not support same-sex marriage rights, because quite frankly, neither do you. But Rev. Warren believes my very existence as a gay man is flawed, that by my living my life honestly and openly, I am acting upon deviant impulses. But this American was made by and in the image of God, just like you and just like Rev. Warren. I pray you will both come to that understanding. I hope you can appreciate my disappoint in your choice.
Best of luck on the 21st.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It is interesting to note, Warren compares being gay to having "several multiple partners" and to "wanting to sleep with every beautiful woman he sees." Let us put aside his chances of that happening for a second and understand his bigotry against the Gay and Lesbian community. His problem with gay people is not their lifestyle or their "biology" but that they have multiple partners? Is he jealous? Why does he not form an amendment to the Constitution against people with multiple sex partners?
It is astounding to me the level to which people can engage in self deception to hold on to their belief systems. Something that doesn't make sense to them is obviously wrong. What is at issue here is Warren's lack of empathy. This is the catalyst to all social ills, war, disease, famine etc. It is one of the basic tenents of political communication. A murder next door is equal to ten murders in Newark, is equal to 100 murders in Canada, is equal to 1,000 dead in Iraq. People who cannot empathize with for example, an Iraqi who is being bombed every night so they can drive a Hummer is in my opinion dangerous. The same goes here. If we cannot empathize with other humans that are somewhat different than us, then are we truly living in a modern society and accepting humanity for what it is, a mystery. No, these bigots want to have everything explained to them in a book. If it isn't it cannot be true.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
But, here is the truth about Rick Warren. He has compared legal abortion to the Holocaust, and gay marriage to incest and pedophilia. He believes that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians are going to spend eternity burning in hell. He doesn't believe in evolution. When you actually read some of Warren's statements it becomes highly objectionable, troubling and down right offensive.
Today, in defending Rick Warren Obama talked about how Warren has been an instrument for good and has worked in a ministry for HIV/AIDS in Africa, but even that is a bit of a misnomer. Read Michelle Goldberg's experience: In fact, though, Warren has taken the standard Christian conservative approach to the epidemic, which favors abstinence and prayer over condoms and sex education. I once attended Sunday services at the church of Martin Ssempa, one of Warren's protégés in Uganda and a major force in that country's devastating move away from safe-sex campaigns. It is a heartbreaking thing to watch a tongue-speaking faith-healer promise a room full of sobbing people - many of them poor, many infected with HIV - that Jesus can cure them, if only they believe in him unconditionally (belief demonstrated, of course, in part by tithing generously).
Warren also sent out an email to his congregation about voting (can someone please investigate these tax cheats?) and what to consider while voting. It is instructive. "In order to live a purpose-driven life - to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates - we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly," he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia.
As Michelle Goldberg points out (the article which this post is based on) says I guess Rick Warren doesn't believe torture is a christian issue. Euthanasia and stem-cell research are to be considered, but not torture of another human soul.
This choice is very troubling to me. I have given Obama the benefit of the doubt on several of his Cabinet choices and will wait to see what happens with policy, but this is strike one for me. In 1992 Bill Clinton had strike three by the time he was inaugurated. First, it was "don't ask don't tell" then it was Lani Guinier and then it was Haiti. I knew he was not going to change the way we do business. We'll see about Obama.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Listen to this 5 minute plus segmment it is worth it. We have been through eight years of crimes against our constitution and we sat by and allowed it. Will this happen again here? One more thing, outside of Osama Bin Laden, Dick Cheney is the international leader I fear the most.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
First, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey started when the founder and executive director, Kathleen Dichiara saw a need and began giving food out of the trunk of her car in 1976. The food bank has grown dramatically and distributes over 21 million pounds of food and groceries a year, ultimately serving nearly 1,700 non-profits including 436 programs served by its Partner Distribution Organizations (PDOs).
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ)is a member of Feeding America and fights hunger and poverty by the distribution of food and grocery products, by education and training, by creating new programs to meet the needs of low-income people, and by involving all sectors of society in this battle.
We are in some of the worst economic times in this country's history, we all feel it, but the poor and the hungry feel it the most. This is always the case. The Community Food Bank of New Jersey is experiencing some real difficulty in fulfilling the needs of those who are going hungry. Requests for food at the Food Bank have gone up 30 percent, but donations are down by 25 percent. Warehouse shelves that are typically stocked with food are bare and supplies have gotten so low that, for the first time in its 25 year history, the food bank is developing a rationing mechanism. CFBNJ. See the video below.
I can speak to this dire need. This summer at Legal Services we organized a food drive for Middlesex County because every shelter and food bank in the area was experiencing huge shortages of food. We asked our colleagues to come together and organized a food drive and gave food throughout the summer. We did well, but only made a dent in what was needed. And this time of year is extra crucial. People are cold, sick and hunger feels especially lonely around the holidays. What is more this need will not subside soon, it will be with us for the foreseeable future. While our government is giving huge subsidies to big financial institutions, we forget about the people who need us the most, the hungry.
There are several ways to give. Please go to the link of the CFBNJ and locate your county or any foodbank and donate or see how you or your organization can help the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. Because, truly this is one bank we cannot allow to fail.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
"I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.
The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.
Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends." - Bill Ayers, Op-Ed, New York Times, December 5, 2008 -
Friday, December 5, 2008
By Steven Millhauser
In his first collection in five years, a master fabulist in the tradition of Poe and Nabokov invents spookily plausible parallel universes in which the deepest human emotions and yearnings are transformed into their monstrous opposites. Millhauser is especially attuned to the purgatory of adolescence. In the title story, teenagers attend sinister “laugh parties”; in another, a mysteriously afflicted girl hides in the darkness of her attic bedroom. Time and again these parables revive the possibility that “under this world there is another, waiting to be born.”
By Toni Morrison
The fate of a slave child abandoned by her mother animates this allusive novel — part Faulknerian puzzle, part dream-song — about orphaned women who form an eccentric household in late-17th-century America. Morrison’s farmers and rum traders, masters and slaves, indentured whites and captive Native Americans live side by side, often in violent conflict, in a lawless, ripe American Eden that is both a haven and a prison — an emerging nation whose identity is rooted equally in Old World superstitions and New World appetites and fears.
By Joseph O’Neill
O’Neill’s seductive ode to New York — a city that even in bad times stubbornly clings to its belief “in its salvific worth” — is narrated by a Dutch financier whose privileged Manhattan existence is upended by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. When his wife departs for London with their small son, he stays behind, finding camaraderie in the unexpectedly buoyant world of immigrant cricket players, most of them West Indians and South Asians, including an entrepreneur with Gatsby-size aspirations.
By Roberto Bolaño.
Bolaño, the prodigious Chilean writer who died at age 50 in 2003, has posthumously risen, like a figure in one of his own splendid creations, to the summit of modern fiction. This latest work, first published in Spanish in 2004, is a mega- and meta-detective novel with strong hints of apocalyptic foreboding. It contains five separate narratives, each pursuing a different story with a cast of beguiling characters — European literary scholars, an African-American journalist and more — whose lives converge in a Mexican border town where hundreds of young women have been brutally murdered.
By Jhumpa Lahiri
There is much cultural news in these precisely observed studies of modern-day Bengali-Americans — many of them Ivy-league strivers ensconced in prosperous suburbs who can’t quite overcome the tug of traditions nurtured in Calcutta. With quiet artistry and tender sympathy, Lahiri creates an impressive range of vivid characters — young and old, male and female, self-knowing and self-deluding — in engrossing stories that replenish the classic themes of domestic realism: loneliness, estrangement and family discord.
THE DARK SIDE The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
By Jane Mayer.
Mayer’s meticulously reported descent into the depths of President Bush’s antiterrorist policies peels away the layers of legal and bureaucratic maneuvering that gave us Guantánamo Bay, “extraordinary rendition,” “enhanced” interrogation methods, “black sites,” warrantless domestic surveillance and all the rest. But Mayer also describes the efforts of unsung heroes, tucked deep inside the administration, who risked their careers in the struggle to balance the rule of law against the need to meet a threat unlike any other in the nation’s history.
THE FOREVER WAR
By Dexter Filkins
The New York Times correspondent, whose tours of duty have taken him from Afghanistan in 1998 to Iraq during the American intervention, captures a decade of armed struggle in harrowingly detailed vignettes. Whether interviewing jihadists in Kabul, accompanying marines on risky patrols in Falluja or visiting grieving families in Baghdad, Filkins makes us see, with almost hallucinogenic immediacy, the true human meaning and consequences of the “war on terror.”
NOTHING TO BE FRIGHTENED OF
By Julian Barnes
This absorbing memoir traces Barnes’s progress from atheism (at age 20) to agnosticism (at 60) and examines the problem of religion not by rehashing the familiar quarrel between science and mystery, but rather by weighing the timeless questions of mortality and aging. Barnes distills his own experiences — and those of his parents and brother — in polished and wise sentences that recall the writing of Montaigne, Flaubert and the other French masters he includes in his discussion. (First Chapter)
THIS REPUBLIC OF SUFFERING Death and the American Civil War
By Drew Gilpin Faust
In this powerful book, Faust, the president of Harvard, explores the legacy, or legacies, of the “harvest of death” sown and reaped by the Civil War. In the space of four years, 620,000 Americans died in uniform, roughly the same number as those lost in all the nation’s combined wars from the Revolution through Korea. This doesn’t include the thousands of civilians killed in epidemics, guerrilla raids and draft riots. The collective trauma created “a newly centralized nation-state,” Faust writes, but it also established “sacrifice and its memorialization as the ground on which North and South would ultimately reunite.”
THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul
By Patrick French
The most surprising word in this biography is “authorized.” Naipaul, the greatest of all postcolonial authors, cooperated fully with French, opening up a huge cache of private letters and diaries and supplementing the revelations they disclosed with remarkably candid interviews. It was a brave, and wise, decision. French, a first-rate biographer, has a novelist’s command of story and character, and he patiently connects his subject’s brilliant oeuvre with the disturbing facts of an unruly life.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The first time the symbol was used in the anti-war movement was by San Francisco Bay Area graphic artist Frank's Cieciorka for Stop The Draft Week, for actions January 14, 1968 protesting the arrest of the "Oakland Seven" This poster was adapted from one he had done earlier for Stop The Draft Week (10/17/1967) that used a large, blocky figure wielding a fist. The second poster took the fist and used on its own.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I was reading Monday's online version of the New York Times, and came across a great piece in the Arts section about a new exhibit at The Museum of the City of New York. It is entitled, Broken Glass and is a photography collection of shots of 1980s South Bronx. The photographer, Ray Mortenson, who is from New Jersey, started chronicling urban decay around Passaic, and then decided to move to New York, taking the 5 train up to the Bronx.
His work is eerily empty of life, and he never shot people in his Bronx photography. As the article alludes to, his photos stand as a kind of testament to an abandoned time, place and setting. The bronx, in many of the parts that he went to, is light years different these days, and Mortenson hasn't been back in years. From the article:
Mr. Mortenson said he had not returned to those blocks since he stopped taking photographs in the Bronx in 1984. “I’m ambivalent about it,” he said. “There was something about being there alone, about that time, that I guess I want to keep.”“It was kind of like being in a horror movie,” he added. “But that was all part of it.”
The title of the exhibit refers to a line from the Grandmaster Flash classic, "The Message."
As Sean Corcoran, curator of prints and photography at The Museum asks in the article, when he looks at the shots of these otherwordly places, he can't help thinking: “How could things get to this point? What political, economic and cultural shifts could lead to such a collapse?”
This is a great question to ask at a time when all over the U.S., as the article notes, peoples' homes, towns and lives look and feel likewise abandoned.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
“Brotherhood” seems to suffer under the misfortune of timing. Had it arrived 10 or 15 years earlier, when long-form narrative was not the dominant form on cable television, it would have been felt, arguably, more as an explosion than a trickle. The series has at least so far failed to find a large audience, indicating perhaps how much we have come to take good serial drama for granted.
It is a sign of how quietly the show has been received that it produced a landmark moment in modern television last season that went almost entirely unnoticed. Believing that a career criminal suffering from a mild form of brain damage would not exactly make for an ideal father, Michael’s girlfriend, Kath (Tina Benko), aborted the baby they were going to have, without agonizing later that she had made the gravest mistake of her life.
This amounted to one of the most honest depictions of unplanned pregnancy in any medium in quite some time, and seemed to stand out especially on television, where women are typically saved from unwanted children by the convenient and politically neutral plot device of the miscarriage. (Or alternatively, they decide, like Miranda on “Sex and the City,” simply to have them.) Among its many virtues, “Brotherhood” isn’t in the business of life lessons.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"Host" , Oil and Acrylic on Canvas 36" x 40"
"VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL"
INSTANT GRATIFICATION: I'm interested in superficial and product-oriented interference in the natural phases of life, as it pertains to childhood encounters with religion and sex. As a girl raised Catholic, I became accustomed to attractive versions of unattractive ideas in vessels that appealed to me at a young age. Storytelling formulas and strategies are used by parents to make certain complexities, such as Catholicism and sex, appear more final and less questionable. At 23, I'm beginning to dissect those issues that were once deemed absolute. My paintings are adult responses to the formulas I was fed as a child; they're about realizing that the notion of the unobtainable being attainable is indeed false. My body of work challenges the Catholic church's myth of accessibility by acknowledging the impossibility of mimicking an ideal Catholic figure, and by exploring a more personal and organic mode of power and sensuality: sex and the female form.
Celeste Rapone was raised in Wayne, NJ and attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received her B.F.A. degree in 2007. Ms. Rapone is the winner of the 2008 Phoenix Gallery Fellowship Program at the Phoenix Gallery.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Here is a small interview with her on C-SPAN:
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Last week as Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson as well as some minions came to Washington to explain just how the bail-out was going we learned interesting tidbits that are not being reported in the press. Surprise, surprise. First, "in a moment of high panic in September, the US treasury pushed through a radical change in how bank mergers are taxed - a change long sought by the industry. Despite the fact that this move will deprive the government of as much as $140bn in tax revenue, legislators found out only after the fact. According to the Washington Post, more than a dozen tax attorneys agree that "[the] treasury had no authority to issue the [tax change] notice." It is not just the brilliant Klein who reported this, however the bastion of free market capitalism the Washington Post reported on it as well.
So, while we bail-out these huge companies giving them 700 billion in revenue they change a law unchallenged and behind the American people's back so they can avoid taxes?! What is the Democratic response? Nothing.
Secondly, of equally dubious legality are the equity deals the treasury has negotiated with many of the banks. According to Congressman Barney Frank, one of the architects of the legislation that enables the deals: "Any use of these funds for any purpose other than lending - for bonuses, for severance pay, for dividends, for acquisitions of other institutions ... is a violation of the act." Yet this is exactly how the funds are being used.
Lastly, in addition to the $700 billion banks have been given as a gift for hijacking the American people, the Federal Reserve has also loaned out $2 trillion dollars in emergency loans. Where is this money you ask? Incredibly, the Fed will not reveal which corporations have received these loans or what it has accepted as collateral. Bloomberg news service believes this secrecy violates the law and has filed a federal suit demanding full disclosure.
The democrats are squarely absent from the conversation. Barack Obama constantly lets us know, "there is only one President at a time." Of course this is true, but these new policies not allowed by anyone, but the Bush administration has the ability to as Klein puts it, "hobble Obama's ability to make good on his promise of change." For instance, Obama's renewable energy plan is almost the exact amount of money being stolen from the American people because of the unilateral rule change by the Treasury Department.
Obama wants to be a bi-partisan President, which sounds nice, but these people play hard ball and care not for regular Americans. They are not playing in the agreed upon rules and Obama and the Democrats have a responsibility to highlight this. The reason Klein gives for their silence is this: I suspect the real reason the Democrats are failing to act has less to do with presidential protocol than with fear: fear that the stock market, which has the temperament of an over-indulged two-year-old, will throw one of its world-shaking tantrums.
She has more faith in the democrats than me. What I have seen over my adult life gives me no faith in the new Congress or in fact, a man I worked my heart out for, Barack Obama. I am glad we no longer have to worry about our place in the world because indeed it will be restored. But, I doubt heavily that anything significant will change in the way we do business with the rich and powerful and the not so rich and powerful. The rules are set up so that regular people will fail. Is that going to change?
I am not interested in rhetoric anymore. We need a President that will listen to every day Americans and we need to hear him now. I want to know what is going to change. Will we have Regulations that actually stop lenders and banks from merging into gargantuan companies that cannot fail (a move by the way that was made under the Clinton administration)? Citigroup is ready to fail and is going to be bailed out momentarily. Are we going to break up this huge conglomerate corporations? Are we going to stop lengers from predatory lending? Subprime mortgages? What, what is going to change?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
There is no real talk about what every day Americans are going through though. It is bail-out banks, bail-out the auto industry, next comes the air line industry. But, where does it end and when does the focus become people, not corporations. Is that not where this conversation should begin? How are people doing? Well, a new report on food and nutrition tells you: one-in-eight Americans who struggled to feed themselves adequately in 2007 even before the economic downturn. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of those affected rose from 10.5% to 11.1%. That's 36.2 million people.
Other highlights: The families with the highest rates of food insecurity were headed by single mothers (30.2 percent), black households (22.2 percent), Hispanic households (20.1 percent), and households with incomes below the official poverty line (37.7 percent).
States with families reporting the highest prevalence of food insecurity during 2005-07 were Mississippi (17.4 percent), New Mexico (15 percent), Texas (14.8 percent) and Arkansas (14.4 percent).
The highest growth in food insecurity over the past nine years came in Alaska and Iowa, both of which saw a 3.7 percent increase in families who struggled to eat adequately or had substantial food disruptions.
"Nationwide, children suffering from a severe disruption in how much food was available to them rose 50 percent, from 430,000 in 2006 to 691,000 in 2007, the worst year since 1998. Not Congolese fleeing the chaos of civil war. Not Dickensian orphans. Americans in the 21st Century."
This begs the question, what the hell are we thinking? Do bail-outs really help Americans? Will this help us turn the corner or is an entirely new way of thinking needed?
Here in the state of New Jersey Legal Services for the poor's funding is down approximately 65%. Lay-offs indeed have already begun in south jersey and the mood at the organization is bleak. Governor Corzine promised an additional 9.5 million in funds to keep the organization afloat. Word, however is this funding is in doubt (maybe Corzine is too busy thinking of who he can bail-out at the Department of Treasury). What will happen to poor people in New Jersey if this organization is forced to gut itself and cut jobs in half, which some of the plans project? Now mind you Legal Services here is asking for 9 million. Compare that to 25 billion the auto industry is asking for? Do we not have our priorities straight? Might we do both? (Just to put these numbers in perspective. The difference between a million and a billion is very significant. It takes 11 days for 1 million seconds to tick. How about a billion? 30 + years!).
While the poor are forced into poverty and "it is a result of the times" Auto executives fly into Washington on private jets and ask for 25 billion. Banks are given 700 billion. What if we took just one of those billions and divied it up amongst the poor? Would that be such a bad idea?
"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
So, the Democrats kiss Lieberman's ass today so they can try and get to 60 votes in the Senate. Though it doesn't matter because the Democrats have no back bone and have not had one for a decade or more. Listen to this clip by Lieberman telling us the Democrats left him. So, he goes and supports McCain because the Democrats finally begin listening to the progressive wing of the party.
Is today then, a return to Clintonism? Centrism? Forgoing the people and sucking up to corporations and special interests? Is that what we can look forward to in the coming years with Obama? Lieberman here blames the dems for hyper partisanship. Are you kidding me? The democrats? Joe left the democratic party a long time ago and it is democratic activists who began pushing the democrats to act like democrats again instead of Republican-lite.
If this is what we have to look forward to, you can have it. The democratic party activists (progressives) are responsible for the 2006 landlside, Obama winning the democratic nomination (along with African-American democrats who have been equally ignored) and the 2008 landslide. If these democrats think they will go back to business as usual they have got another thing coming.
From think progress:
Senate Democrats are allowing Lieberman to keep control of the Armed Services subcommittee, even though some of his most misguided and incendiary attacks on Obama were on national security. Lieberman, for example, suggested that Obama hasn’t always “put the country first,” said that President Bush was right for comparing Obama to Nazi appeasers, and worried that Obama was “naive” and lacked the “right stuff to bomb Iran.”
Labor Secretary: David Bonior
Bonior was a senior adviser to the Edwards campaign and came out immediately for Barack after Edwards left the campaign trail. From 1976 to 2002 served as the progressive congressman from the Macomb and St. Clair County suburbs outside Detroit — the famous district of Reagan Democrats. During his tenure, Bonior championed unions, opposed trade agreements like NAFTA, and criticized both President Reagan’s Central American counter-insurgency policies and President Clinton’s civil liberties policies.
Transportation: Earl Blumenauer
Last summer, as Congress wrestled with energy legislation, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) offered a simple, $1 million proposal to encourage bike commuting. To his disbelief, the plan was ridiculed by a number of Republicans, including Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who called two-wheelers “a 19th century solution to a 21st century problem.” In a prospective Obama administration, Blumenauer should get the last laugh.
An eco-friendly labor advocate from Portland, Blumenauer couldn’t be more representative of his liberal district, which he’s served since 1996. In the Oregon legislature and later on the Portland city council, Blumenauer helped direct Portland’s planning renaissance, championing bike lanes, light rail and streetcars. He brought his emphasis on smart growth to Washington, advocating for high-speed rail and launching the Congressional Bike Caucus. In fact, nobody in his congressional office applies for a parking permit.
Defense: Sarah Sewell
The editors admit this a long-shot candidate, but Sarah Sewall should be the next defense secretary. This would be the real glass ceiling this turn around, a woman at Defense.
During the Clinton administration, Sewall served as the first deputy assistant secretary of defense for peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.
Currently the executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University and a lecturer in public policy, Sewall also directs the Center’s program on national security and human rights.
Sewall has worked at a variety of defense research organizations. In addition to writing the introduction to the University of Chicago edition of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (2007), she has written widely on U.S. foreign policy, multilateralism, peace operations and military intervention. She currently focuses on civilians in war, facilitating dialogue between the military and human rights communities on the use of force.
One of the biggest challenges facing our country today is recognizing — and adequately responding to — the broad spectrum of threats we face in our globalized world. That includes environmental changes and disease pandemics that are contributing to global conflicts. It also includes the weaponization of space; the proliferation of nuclear weapons; and the extravagance of bloated military budgets — while our schools crumble and nearly 46 million Americans go uninsured.
Commerce: Margot Dorfman
For decades, the Department of Commerce has represented the interests of the U.S. global business elite to the detriment of healthy and sustainable commerce.
Since the ’80s, the department has done little to abate the destruction of Main Street enterprise, the collapse of our manufacturing base, the looting of our public infrastructure, massive global outsourcing of jobs, and rampant tax shifting to overseas tax havens.
Prospective Obama administration should nominate Margot Dorfman for secretary of commerce. Dorfman would advocate for Main Street, not Wall Street, and for business owners and employees, not absentee shareholders. She would support high-road enterprise that encourages real investment and healthy growth, not speculation, outsourcing and exploitation.
As CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Dorfman has supported sustainable business development, durable economic policies, community entrepreneurship, worker education, and small business development for women and people of color. Prior to that, Dorfman worked for General Mills and several small enterprises.
Secretary of State: Jim McDermott
Secretary of state has two major tasks: To define and represent U.S. interests in the world, and to bring the rest of the world’s interests to the United States. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) — a 10-term member of Congress and a Progressive Caucus stalwart — would do both.
McDermott has been a consistent voice for single-payer healthcare, for increased funding for the U.S. and global HIV/AIDS crisis, and for maintaining the estate tax. And he has stated unequivocally that Big Oil and the Iraq War are causing skyrocketing oil prices.
Like any U.S. politician, his record isn’t perfect, particularly on trade. But unlike most of his colleagues, McDermott is independent and willing to think and act outside the Washington box.
McDermott actively opposes U.S. threats of war against Iran, and he has challenged Israel directly, saying it’s “both appropriate and urgent for the U.S. to raise questions about [Israel’s] intentions” toward Iran.
Secretary McDermott would not only call for redeploying combat troops out of Iraq, he would also press for bringing home all U.S. troops and mercenaries. He would enforce ignored laws prohibiting U.S. bases there. And he would immediately renounce U.S. efforts to control Iraq’s oil. In fact, he read into the Congressional Record the full text of the 1930 Anglo-Iraqi treaty, which set the same terms for British control of oil that the Bush administration is trying to impose on Iraq today.
Secretary of State Jim McDermott would reclaim the primacy of diplomacy in U.S. foreign policy.
Attorney General: Charles Ogletree, jr. (this is my favorite, though I would settle for Russ Feingold) Ogletree was also Obama's mentor at Harvard, but I also fear a Lani Guenier quality to his beliefs and would the Senate confirm him. Of course there will be at least 58 votes for Dems.
For the post of attorney general in an Obama administration, Charles Ogletree Jr. would be a good choice.
Ogletree, a tireless advocate for social justice causes, is the founder and director of the Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, which focuses on issues relating to race and justice, sponsors research and provides policy analysis.
Ogletree is another one of Obama’s Harvard professors-turned-adviser. He counsels the candidate on constitutional and criminal justice issues. He would be the perfect antidote to a justice department poisoned by illegal, politicized hiring, a reprehensible tolerance for torture and a refusal to enforce civil rights legislation.
Before joining the Harvard faculty in 1985, Ogletree served as a public defender in the District of Columbia, a position that helped shape his focus on civil rights and criminal justice issues. He has since earned a reputation as a brilliant legal theorist.
In 1991, he was legal counsel to Anita Hill during the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas.
Ogletree has also been a prominent media presence, moderating several PBS forums and serving as a commentator on national news programs.
He is author of several books, including From Lynch Mobs To The Killing State: Race And The Death Penalty In America in 2006, and the 2004 book All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half Century of Brown v. Board of Education.
Ogletree is co-chair of the Reparations Coordinating Committee, a group of attorneys pursuing a legal route to reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans.
Kathleen Sebelius: Health and Human Services
Three major obstacles face the next secretary. One, tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance. Two, any attempt to deal with this crisis will result in the private insurance industry — and its lobbyists — swooping in to turn policy changes into a windfall for itself. And three, for eight years, the department has been crippled by low morale and staff departures caused by Bush administration mismanagement.
The next secretary must have the ability to help undo this damage.
Sebelius has shown independence from the healthcare industry. While serving as Kansas insurance commissioner from 1995 to 2003, she rejected an attempt by Anthem insurance company to buy out Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas. As governor, she has challenged the pharmaceutical industry by advocating for the import of prescription drugs. She also set up a state agency to work on plans to obtain better prices for prescription drugs and other healthcare services.
Sebelius has a strong background in health policy, having served on President Clinton’s Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.
Most importantly, her experience as a governor could provide her with the needed executive ability to fill this vital post.
Treasury: Elizabeth Warren (My second favorite pick. If anyone saw Maxed Out, the documentary Elizabeth Warren showed herself to be both brilliant and a tireless advocate for those left out of this economy).
If treasury secretaries have legacies, the two with the most memorable in the last 16 years are Clinton Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin and recent Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. At different points in their careers, both men championed extremist free-trade policies, had a hand in the deregulatory policies that led to corporate meltdowns; contributed to boom-bust cycles; and spent time heading investment banking behemoth Goldman Sachs. Perhaps the latest financial meltdown will break Goldman Sachs’ death grip — and maybe, just maybe, Elizabeth Warren will be the first woman to head this key department.
A renowned Harvard Law professor, Warren may seem an unconventional choice for a position typically held by a business titan. But a presidency whose economic prospects will pivot on cleaning up conservatives’ laissez-faire wreckage could use a tough-minded regulator at the helm of the government apparatus responsible for collecting taxes and policing Wall Street. Warren fits that description perfectly as one of the nation’s leading experts on the laws and regulations that the treasury department is supposed to enforce, but too often doesn’t.
Having made national headlines as a bestselling author and a leader in the fight against the lobbyist-written Bankruptcy Bill of 2005, Warren would set a new tone for a treasury department that has often been a bought-and-paid-for appendage of Corporate America.
In 2000 and 2002, the National Law Journal named him one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.”
Monday, November 17, 2008
We need to do much more. We need help for the poor in this country as well as the working class and of course the middle class. Not just the fucking rich wall streeters who have their hands in the till. We need a country that stimulates the economy through practical policies that help regular people as well as changing the way we have done business for the last thirty years - capitalism for the rich. I don't see Obama as an FDR type, one who will change America significantly for the better in a progressive way. I hope I am wrong.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
LGBT rights advocates, organized by Join the Impact, turned out in eight countries, 50 states, and 300 cities today in support of marriage equality, with thousands gathering across California to specifically protest the recent passage of Prop. 8. Signs read “Are you better off now that I can’t marry?” and “The same Bible was used to justify slavery,” referencing the ban’s heavy support from the Mormon church. Some pictures from today’s events:I didn't make the protests and I am curious if anyone did, would they like to share? I hope this is the beginning of something.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Secondly, even when workers have won the right to be represented by a union, and even though both sides are required to bargain in good faith, companies can drag out the first contract negotiation process for years. And eventually kill the union. And companies face only minimal penalties if they violate employees’ rights to form a union or negotiate a first contract. There are several proposals floating around Washington to change this, but the best is called the Employer Free Choice Act. (EFCA)
Under EFCA, if a majority of employees sign cards indicating they want a union, the company has to recognize the union, as long as it is certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is called "card check." Additionally, EFCA creates a fair process for resolving first contract disputes and EFCA would level the playing field by requiring the NLRB to take immediate legal action to reinstate workers fired for union activity and assess triple damages against companies that punish or fire employees for engaging in protected organizing activities.
Here is John Judas of the New Republic explaining it in layman's terms.