Huffpo Sherroded Me

I was asked by the Huffinton Post during the Primary Campaign to follow Hillary Clinton on the west coast--using my own dime--since this is when Huffpo was promoting 'citizen journalism'-- and write stories demonstrating she was a liar by writing that in different places she slanted her message to the audience.

Huffpo is screaming NoNoNo this morning at Jim VandeHai of Politico who yesterday asserted that the HuffingtonPost trained Andrew Bretibart, the guy  who recently slimed Shirley Sherrod and suckered the Obama Adminstration into firing her from her job. 

So Politico's VandeHai is asserting that the Huffington Post uses Breitbart methods of distorting and slanting the news.

Is there anyone who things otherwise? Fox is the conservative shoutfest, Huffpo the liberal fog machine. And both slant, distort and sensationalize the shortcomings of those they oppose


News? It is Gone With The Wind.

Take the facts and distort them to fit the agenda is what is passing for news today and the blogosphere is no exception.  During the primary campaign Huffpo offered me the job of covering Hillary Clinton on the west coast. I was to travel around, on my own dime--this was when Huffpo was promoting "citizen journalism"--and write up her campaign appearances. But there was an agenda: I was to catch her lying, i.e. giving different messages according to the different locations.

I supported Hillary, part of a  small band of liberal bloggers who did, and I refused the agenda. And Huffpo no longer cared for my services.

So I wrote for dKos until I was thrown off for being a "racist" which is to say that I talked about Obama's shortcomings. During the primary campaign anyone who blogged for Hillary was ipso facto a racist on most of the liberal blogs.

It wasn't a fair fight. And much like Journolist, the liberal blogging forces schemed to put their guy over. Part of this effort was to brand as racist anyone effective enough to make a dent in Obama's pristine reputation.
Peter Daou may be the only prominent Hillary blogger who escaped unscathed, and I am not even sure that is true.

What the Shirley Sherrod "moment" offers is a peek into a shoddy and corrupt practice of smears and innuendo passed off as news by nearly everyone in today's media. No one is exempt. Fox does it brilliantly. And the liberal organizations are playing catch up as fast as they can.

Hold onto your critical faculties. Take nothing at face value or should I say first read. And look for the agenda in Everything. It is always there.    

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot

On the eve of a new year with so many behind me now, I can only wonder how many may still be in the wings?

And as I review the year's events--although some may overlap a bit with  the calendar-- in my heart this is the year that my mother died, that the Democrat in the White House provoked prolonged Screaming inside my head, if not on paper, and I gave away my cat.

I also began to seek a new life partnership motivated by a gratitude about being alive that seemed to open doors heretofore invisible.

This is also the year I  began to rethink my membership in the Democratic Party. This was not a deliberate act. It was more a slowly evolving dissatisfaction like a sore that one absent mindedly scratches until you look down and see blood oozing.

Aging is a miraculous part of life's journey! But in the wake of this changing status  I find myself questioning many of my staunchest beliefs. I inheritied the Democratic Party from a Labor Leader Daddy and a working class Mom who never trusted rich people much-- and they were always Republican.

But I supported Hillary Clinton and found out more than I ever wanted to know about the failings of my chosen political party.

And then I saw the financial crises  handled by the Democrat in the White House like a Republican.  Paul Krugman  nailed Obama and his finacial advisors to the wall over and over and over again. All to no avail.  No public outcry reached a scale from which change might have emerged. In his coolness, the man we elected to change Washington elevated the status quo to new heights of impregnability.

Of course we had the silliness of the Republicans to contend with as well, and at times they weren't silly but ugly,  hateful, and antithetical to the country's well being. And so all calls for change from within could go ignored in the face of Republican insanity.

Still, can we blindly support this administration which has so abysmally failed the middle class and "main street?"

Since electing Obama, as never before, it is clear  that we are not the party of working people, that we believe we must rescue the Rich and powerful in every sphere, that we are a party now aligned with corporate interests at all costs: in finance, in health care, on the environment and in climate change.

I think we need to change the party.

How we go about it, is unclear to me. But I think there needs to be a regular column or periodic reporting of how Democrats are going about doing exactly this.

 I think we need to take this on with a seriousness of purpose and intent that will not be denied. Because if we do not, if we are content with having elected a Corporate Overseer and too many Corporate Minions bought and paid for by special interests in both the  the House and Senate, websites like mydd only serve these same interests.

We are about direct democracy here, aren't we?

I hope 2010 is the year we put that to work to rebuild the party in the image of FDR whose policies during the Great Derpession still resonate and provide a platorform on which to build and expand not retract and contract.

Social Security, Medicare and the FDIC were Democratic Party policies.

it is my New Year's wish that 2010 see our backbone resurrected and our strength of purpose undaunted.

A Senior Progressive On Health Care

Seniors are the closest to dying, the most frail, and the most vulnerable population in our society.  Is it any wonder they are the population most opposed to Obama Care as it has emerged from the shadows?

A July 31 Gallup Poll found that just 20 percent of Americans aged 65 and older believe health care reform would improve their own situation, noticeably lower than the 27 percent of 18- to 49-year olds and 26 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds who say the same.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/2009081 2/pl_politico/2602

Americans still do not know the details of the  final bill. We do know that the Obama administration has made private deals and secret promises to corporate health care stakeholders. The public recipients, the inheritors of  Medicare, the people who have worked and paid into this program all their lives have not been invited to the White House. All they do know at this point is that 380 Billion will be taken from Medicare in what is being termed a  "waste management" effort to trim costs.

They also know  that in its assault on Medicare this White House-- the progressive Democratic one-- has echoed the sentiments of the neo-con Bush one.

I am a senior who recently buried her mother who was on Medicare.

My mother received abominable care in the hospital. They looked at her insurance and based on it they routed her to a back  ward and to an inferior type of care.

My mother was 87, and when it was finally deduced that she had congestive heart failure-after two weeks of a false diagnosis-- she was deemed too old for any sort of surgical intervention. She was sent home on hospice to die because without any sort of surgical intervention that was what was going to happen. My mother drowned in her own fluids within 6 weeks.

The former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, recently wrote:

Most alarming for people like me, who at 84 years of age recently needed a quadruple bypass and aortic valve replacement, are the pronouncements of President Obama's appointee, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who, according to a New York Post op ed article by Betsy McCauley, former Lt. Governor of the State of New York, stated, "Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, `as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others' (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008)." He also stated, "...communitarianism' should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those `who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens...An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.' (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96).

http://yonkerstribune.typepad.com/yonker s_tribune/2009/08/ed-koch-commentary-fal ling-out-of-love-with-barack-obama-by-ed -koch.html

My God, is anybody listening? If  seniors on premium plans funded by their expensive law offices, which Koch's is, are concerned, it is because health care past the age of 80 is literally about  life and death. It is not a question of measles or the flu. And if we compare the case of Koch, 3 years older than my mother, we do not need more rationing and cost effective cutting of Medicare. We need to expand it. We need to improve it. We need to see to it that hospitals and doctors across the country do not provide sub-standard care because Medicare is rationed in ways that more expensive, private pay health care plans are not.

My mother could be alive today if she had Ed Koch's insurance plan.

So yes, when I see seniors railing at Congress people, outraged by the crass and soul-less behavior of their so-called representatives who in fact are more representative of health care lobbying interests, I applaud them.

And I join them  in asking this one simple question: if your reform is so sound and so excellent, when will you give up your terrific private plan and join us on Medicare?

The whole idea is laughable, isn't it? And yet I  remember during the campaign, Obama  promised that Americans would be awarded  the same kind of healthcare as members of Congress now enjoy.

The health care industry giants have bought and paid for Obama Care. Now they are lobbying for it with more money than the sum which bankrolled John Mcain's entire presidential campaign.

You better believe seniors are angry.

And if Obama is so concerned about ballooning Medicare costs. Let's get the hell out of Afghanistan. We can "win" there through education, health care and civilian efforts not military intervention. If we went to trim costs, ok. Let's deal with our trillion dollar bailout  of  our out of control financial industry  which is soaking up taxpayer money for billions in bonuses, buy outs and mergers.

There is Nothing about  this present health care effort that could be termed reform in the traditional meaning of that word. We are in the land of  Orwell Speak here.

Obama care is a return of the same waste, mis-management, and many-tiered health system dependent upon how much you can pay that reined supreme before Medicare dared to show Americans there could be a better way.

I believe many others have said all of this far better than I have. But I know  no one has shed more tears or felt more despair over the boondoggle being foisted on us by a Democratic President who has wrapped his health care give-away in the flag of reform while betraying the ideals of those Democratic presidents who have gone before him. These Presidents brought real reform and hope to millions of  working Americans and I believe they would be appalled at this lack of a new deal.

There's more...

Bank Bailout Bad Omen for Health Care

The parking spaces in front of the bank were full. Over the front door Temecula Valley Bank's name hid behind a white banner which blared out it was now, the  Blah, Blah Bank out of North Carolina. Yes, another failed bank. And I was there to get my money back in my  hunt for the holy grail: a bank  that would give me a `decent' rate of return.  This from http://www.bankaholic.com/cd-rates-end-m onth-at-record-lows/
 

CD rates almost held their own this week, but logged yet another decline for the month of July.
With every rate we track now at -- or near -- record lows, you'd think the carnage would have to end soon. And the rate of decline did seem to slow in July.
But to use those numbers to claim the bottom is in sight would be as much wishful thinking as sound analysis.
Bankrate's weekly survey of large banks and thrifts taken July 29 found the average annual yield for a:
Three-month CD declined to 0.50% from 0.51% the previous week. That's the lowest average since Bankrate began tracking 3-month CD rates in March 1989.
Six-month CD fell to 0.76% from 0.77% -- the lowest average since Bankrate began tracking 6-month CD rates in January 1984.
One-year CD fell to 1.07% from 1.08% -- approaching the record low of 1.03% set in July 2003.

As  I entered the bank I felt like Don Quixote. Duffy, the wheaten, who trotted beside me was  my Sancho Panza.
"They prolly have some cookies, Duff.
He knows the "C" word and he pranced inside, alert and motivated.

sancho panza

The first time when Indymac went under with my cd--I panicked. Now it is routine. This is the fourth failure in my search for an interest rate that pays a return in dollars instead of pennies. The   FDIC rocks. FDR was a Democrat's Democrat! And now  we have the Banker's Friend in the White House. FDR is turning over in his grave.

"Look, I voted for the guy," I told the Obama fan in the line in front of me. She was accompanied  by her out-of-work husband,  who is no longer a big O fan either. As she extolled Obama's virtues, her hubby and I rolled our eyes at each other. Duffy was whimpering for his cookie. I wondered  if he could see that the cookies were nearly gone, snatched up by people who hd retrieved their money before us. "I'll get you one right now," I told him. The Obama fan held Duffy's leash and I retrieved a vanilla cookie, which left only one. Duffy munched happily. All around us people were waiting patiently to retrieve their money. But unlike me, most now needed the funds to survive; no more cds

CDs and health care are two primary concerns of America's seniors, and I have slid into the senior category without quite realizing it. But now I find my outlook, at least when it comes to my welfare and concerns, painfully at odds with the Obama administration. It isn't only the banks.

The idea that Medicare will be reduced by having to get permission for procedures makes me see red. This program is successful, there are no wasteful procedures compared to HMO's which was the source of my mother's health care  and within which her doctor prescribed, 3, please count `em, that's 3 surgeries for what in reality was acid reflux. The guy never met a senior he couldn't bilk for unnecessary  surgeries.

Medicare, however, is single-payer care. I break something or I get sick, I go to Scripps, and they fix me up. I pay 20 percent of the bill. I can find the right specialist when I need one. I am essentially a free agent. I do not underwrite the insurance companies or Big Pharma. Medicare is an established, successful, and beautifully managed government administered health care system that works.

This is from the July 30, 2009 Progress Report:

44 Years Of Medicare Success
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act, part of which included Medicare, a measure to provide low-cost health insurance for elderly Americans. At the time, Johnson called the bill "the most revolutionary and most beneficial measure for older Americans since we passed Social Security itself back in 1935.""They will no longer have to suffer from misery and neglect and depend upon their relatives because they themselves cannot afford the cost of modern treatment," Johnson said. He inaugurated the "Great Society" program at the White House signing ceremony by enrolling former President Harry Truman as the first beneficiary and presenting him with the first Medicare card. "I predict that 30 years from today, this bill will be a welcome and permanent part of our nation's heritage that no representative would ever dare repeal," Johnson said. "Why? Because it represents the moral principle that we just must not neglect in their age those who have given a lifetime of service to their country." Johnson was right. Forty-four years later, Medicare has dramatically improved access to quality health care for the nation's seniors, allowed them to live longer and healthier lives, and has become one of the country's most popular government programs.

MEDICARE'S SUCCESS: Since the advent of Medicare, "the health of the elderly population has improved, as measured by both longevity and functional status," said one study published in the journal Health Affairs. In fact, according to the study, "life expectancy at age 65 increased from 14.3 years in 1960 to 17.8 years in 1998 and the chronically disabled elderly population declined from 24.9 percent in 1982 to 21.3 percent in 1994." Leaders of the Commonwealth Fund wrote in May that, "compared to people with private insurance, Medicare enrollees have greater access to care [and] fewer problems with medical bills." The report added that this finding is significant when considering that those Americans on Medicare represent a demographic that is more likely to be in poor health and to have lower incomes. Prior to Medicare, "about one-half of America's seniors did not have hospital insurance," more than 25 percent "were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns," and one in three were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: A recent Commonwealth Fund survey found that "elderly Medicare beneficiaries reported greater overall satisfaction with their health coverage." Medicare is so popular that most Americans support expanding its coverage to Americans aged 55 to 64. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, "over half of Americans (53 percent) 'strongly' support such a proposal and an additional 26 percent say they support it somewhat, totaling 79 percent backing." Similarly, a Health and Human Services Department-commissioned study released in June found that "56 percent of enrollees in traditional fee-for-service Medicare give Medicare a rating of 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale," while "only 40 percent of Americans enrolled in private health insurance gave their plans a 9 or 10 rating.""The higher scores for Medicare are based on perceptions of better access to care," the National Journal noted, commenting on the surveys, adding that "[m]ore than two thirds (70 percent) of traditional Medicare enrollees say they 'always' get access to needed care (appointments with specialists or other necessary tests and treatment), compared with 63 percent in Medicare managed care plans and only 51 percent of those with private insurance.

And now we have the Democrat President in the White House on June 13, 2009, saying:

Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid pose one of the greatest threats to our federal deficit, and could leave our children with a mountain of debt that they cannot pay... This includes over $300 billion that we will save through changes like reducing Medicare overpayments to private insurers, and rooting out waste in Medicare and Medicaid.

Once again:

The Obama administration announced yesterday, July 1, 2009, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, that it plans to significantly reduce Medicare payments to physicians, in particular, imaging services and specialists. The purpose of this policy change is to increase the number of primary care physicians to meet the demand of an aging population and the new wave of people who will qualify for insurance coverage if Congress approves the Obama health plan in its current form.
These changes will result in reducing Medicare payments for imaging services and specialists while increasing Medicare payments for primary care physicians by 6 - 8% next year. Other specialists, such as cardiologists, will experience comparatively greater cuts amounting to approximately 11% (with even more substantial reductions for certain procedures, such as echocardiograms and cardiac catheterizations). Radiologists are slated to experience a 20% cut for certain high-end imaging services (e.g., MRI and CT). These cuts are projected to save around $220 million between 2010 and 2014.

I suspect like many, many Americans I feel as if I am not the brightest bulb on what health care reform means. The devil is always in the details and they are in short supply as the Obama administration is deliberately vague in hopes of bypassing right wing  attacks.

But of one thing I am certain. While the Obama Administration has bailed out banks with my money, I cannot find an adequate interest rate from any of them. And this gives me pause when it comes to health reform. I need the details. I want to know Exactly what they are planning to do to Medicare.

C'mon Duff, I said, as we left the bank. Let's go home. We gotta figure out where to put this money. The 12 year old Benji look-alike, who is a senior too,  bounced along beside me. I looked down at his trusting brown eyes.

'Well, one thing for sure.' I thought. 'The next bank will have lots of cookies.'

There's more...

Health Insurers Stocks Soars !!

This is from today's NY Times, and I would say more but it is right there in black and white. Anybody who still believes that Big Pharma or the Insurance Companies are not poised to get exactly what they want is behind the curve on this so-called "Reform" debate.

So I would assume that the ads everyone seems concerned about   are insurance at this point. Max Baucus is delivering lock, stock and barrel.

Read it and revise your thinking on this debate which has now turned so dramatically in favor of the health care industry big players.  

News that Senator Max Baucus' Finance Committee deal on health care financing excluded a public option sent health insurance stocks soaring Tuesday.

Shares of U.S. health insurers rose broadly on Tuesday on hopes a health reform bill would not include a government-run option, which has drawn strong opposition from insurers who fear it would destroy the private marketplace.

The S&P Managed Health Care index of large U.S. health insurers closed 6.5 percent higher.

Aetna rose 12.6 percent, Coventry was up 12.7 percent and Cigna was 7.7 percent higher, all on the New York Stock Exchange. Centene rose 7.9 percent.

So now dear old Max Baucus no longer need worry  that "government intervention" in private markets could be a disaster for the country!

There's more...

[UPDATED]The New Witch Among Us!!

The update is at the end.

There is only one explanation for the  high level of vitriol and hate assailing Sarah Palin about her kids, her legs, her body, her brain, and her speech. She's a woman. But more than that, she is a Working Class Woman. Mark Sanford gets ridiculed for his behavior, Dan Quayle for his smarts, Richard Nixon for his ethics, Clinton for his zipper, but no man in the history of American politics has taken the  beating on so many fronts that Sarah Palin has.

And no public figure that I can recall has been so maligned, misrepresented and just plain lied about.

Excerpted from the infamous Katie Couric interview on CBS early in the campaign this Youtube video's headline screams:

Sarah Palin Explains Why Women Should Be Forced to Bear Their Rapists Babies
No, that's not true, but you have to watch the whole video to see that:

So why has Palin  been pilloried and figurateively, if not literally  burned at the stake, like the  witches of yesteryear?

Do you think it could be because she is only the second woman in American history to be nominated for Vice President?

Do you think it could be because she has dared to say we have a runaway political-media machine who are in cahoots and selling you a load of moosedung?

Do you think it could be because she refused to abort a special needs child?

Do you think it could be  because she was a beauty queen?

Do you think it could be because she had the nation laughing with her in the debate with Joe Biden and actually on their feet at her speech to the 2008  Republican Convention?

Do you think it is because she talks like my Mom and Dad talked and like millions of other working class people who don't have health insurance, don't get paid vacations, don't own homes and don't know any better than to like their lives?

Do you think it is because her daughter Had to get married?

This list could go on, but you get the drift. And for the record I want to say that there is not a snowball's chance in hell that I would ever vote for Sarah Palin. Our positions on the issues are different. I support wolves and whales and I believe as profoundly as I believe in anything that a woman has the right to chose and control her own body.

But I am a woman and I say ENOUGH!! This misogynistic orgy must be seen for what it is. Just because you do not like her positions, doesn't give you the right to denigrate her as a female person. If you do not understand how putting a woman down for being dumb, a sleazy stewardess, a bimbo, a breeding machine, a religious kook, a slut, white trash, a scheming bitch, a controlling Mom, uneducated, unethical and  quaint, to recall only a few of the  words written or uttered about her--then you don't get woman hatred.  

You don't like her, fine. You don't agree with her on the issues. Fine!  But we not only hate Palin and all her parts, we lie about her positions. And then we refuse to correct the lies. For the record Sarah Palin has never insisted on abstinence-only sex education,  did not slash funds for special-needs children  and she never  demanded creationism be taught in public schools.

The fact is the media has lied with impunity about her. And today's so-called feminists are a joke.  There are no feminists writing in the media today. There are women who call themselves feminists in order to ridicule other women like Sarah and Hillary and encourage you to  vote for those they trust: "qualified" men.

I feel angry about this latest orgy of misogyny in the media. It is demeaning to women. What if Palin did actually resign as she told us  in part  to stop the state being hijacked by eithics complaints against her. More than a dozen at last count have been lodged, all brought by political adversaries, and most of them patently frivolous.

No matter how frivolous, it has cost Palin more than half a million to defend herself. Alaska has a new political strategy--you ethically complain your opponent to death. And no one in the media seems to get the price in human life that these complaints are costing. Neither has anyone bothered to say that it does seem as if the complaint process in Alaska--where anyone can file an ethical complaint--- has run amuck, has become a travesty and a means of waging a political vendetta.

And very  few pundits remind us  that every one of these complaints appeared only after she rose to political prominence.

Who knows what Palin's plans are? She did not resign in a manner that suggests she is actually contemplating more politics and more of the same. Palin wants her life back. That's the way working class people are.  Hard as it may be for middle class people to understand.

Update [2009-7-7 20:1:39 by linfar]: IMO Palin Is running for President in 2012. And like Richard Nixon before her when he told the press you won't have Tricky Dick to kick around anymore, she is following his playbook. I don't feel tooooooo had--but I ain't going home with the woman who brung me to this post. All that said--woman and class stuff still holds. :)

There's more...

Safari Wants to Kill Our Wolves

Every now and then I post something about wolves--usually when they are threatened.

Sometime in the 90's I began supporting the effort to bring the wolf back, and so for 20 years I have watched the battle over the wolf see-saw back and forth between those who support it, and those who do not. I am not sure when the battle between the wolves and their enemies began to seem  like some primordial contest between the forces of darkness and  the forces of light--between those who love life and those who want to mount it on their wall--and between enlightened politicians like the brothers Udall, and unenlightened politicians like Sara Palin who think machine gunning terrified wolves from airplanes is wildlife management.

It was the gatling gun which doomed the Buffalo. Does our ever evolving technology for killing  condemn us to wipe out whole species? Millions of us believe it does not.

The idea of wolf reintroduction was first brought to Congress in 1966 by biologists who were concerned about the critically high elk  population in Yellowstone Park. The last wolves inside Yellowstone were killed in 1926 and afer  40 years the park's elk herds had mushroomed. New growth vegetation was suffering. We were getting a firsthand lesson in ecosystem instability when keystone predators are removed. It looked like a line of collapsing dominoes, the upland aspen and cottonwood groves crashed as a result of overgrazing, this affected habitat for other species. The  soaring coyote numbers  also negatively impaced other species, particularly the red fox.

Miraculously, after interminable debate, court suits and bureautcratic warfare the wolf  won a chance for a comeback! By January 1996 a total of 66 wolves were released into two "recovery" areas in the Pacific Northwest.  Reintroduction succeeded. By all accounts the Greater Yellowstone area now has approximately  325 wolves and cental Idaho 565.These numbers, combined with an estimated 130 wolves in northwestern Montana, puts the total number of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain  recovery area at over 1000 individuals, 134 packs of two or more wolves traveling together, and 71 breeding pairs The recovery goal for the area was 30 breeding pairs total, and this number has been surpassed for some time.

Success, however, has revealed  a dark side. The Northern Rocky Wolves have been delisted as Endangered, although Defenders of Wildlife http://www.savewolves.org and other environment groups are fighting this in the courts. And now the most powerful and wealthy international trophy hunting organization in the world is targeting wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies. Safari Club International recently announced that they will bring their vast resources to court to keep wolves unprotected -- and vulnerable to planned wolf hunts -- in the Northern Rockies. This is a powerful international organization of wealthy trophy hunters.

In Alaska, they poured thousands of dollars into a campaign to defend Governor Palin's  aerial killing of wolves and bears. They are also  fighting hard to allow their wealthy trophy hunters to kill imperiled polar bears.

I learned about the Safari Club from Defenders of Wildlife asking for still more money to fight this new ominous turn, and I sighed. It is discouraging. It never ends. And this is precisely  when it is most important to stand up one more time.   We have it in our power to fight Palin and Safari and those like them. It takes money, it takes fortitude and it takes time. I believe Defenders has all that and then some. I gave. Won't you join me?  

There's more...

Holy Mess!

What follows is a copy of a letter sent by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation MMRF to the Secretary of Defense.

The letter includes a litany of long-standing and well documented allegations of rightwing religious subversion of our serving military personnel.  How has this been allowed to fester for so long? Who is minding the store?

We have all known for some time that ousting Bush was only the beginning of the  campaign to restore a fully functioning, non-partisan civil service and unbiased Justice Department. Now we have to reverse a fanatic rightwing takeover of religious outreach in the military.

When Homeland Security  Chief Janet Neapolitano recently warned of rightwing fanatacism coming from former military personnel I was undecided as to the merit of the concern, but no more.

I find this sort of indoctrinatiion of our troops utterly appalling. Please lend your support to this group in this fight. The Christian Taliban must be stopped.  

June 24, 2009

Hon. Dr. Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Secretary Gates,

It has recently come to the attention of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) that an ecclesiastical endorsing agency authorized by the DoD to approve chaplains for military service has continually been in flagrant violation of a number of DoD regulations, the U.S. Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the United States Constitution for well over a decade.

1. The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), headed by retired Army Col. E.H. Jim Ammerman, which, according to its website, currently has over 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates in all branches of the military, habitually denigrates all religions and religious denominations except Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity. This denigration, which includes virulently anti-semitic and Islamophobic statements, as well as the deprecation of Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism, occurs in the CFGC's chaplain newsletters, as well as in the speeches, media appearances, and videos of both Mr. Ammerman and a currently serving CFGC chaplain, Army Maj. James F. Linzey. (See attached enclosures for numerous specific examples of these disparaging statements.)

2. Both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made numerous statements against the government of the United States and certain government officials and departments, promoted civilian militia movements, and disseminated many conspiracy theories in an attempt to foment disloyalty to the government of the the United States among both civilians and military personnel. This type of activity has previously led to an investigation of Ammerman and CFGC, called for by Air Force Lt. Gen. Normand Lezy in 1997. (See enclosed memorandum.)

DoD Directive Number 1325.6, "Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces," cited in Lt. Gen. Lezy's 1997 memorandum, states that "Military personnel must reject participation in organizations that espouse supremacist causes." The Prophecy Club, an organization for which both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made videos, unquestionably espouses a supremacist cause. In addition, various statements made by both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey in their Prophecy Club videos, as well as in other forums, such as radio appearances and speeches, incontrovertibly violate one or more of the following statutory provisions found in Enclosure E1.2 of DoD Directive Number 1325.6.

E1.2. STATUTORY PROVISIONS

E1.2.1. Applicable to All Persons E1.2.1.2. Section 2385 -- Advocating overthrow of the Government. E1.2.1.3. Section 2387 -- Counseling insubordination , disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty.

E1.2.2. Applicable to Members of the Armed Forces E1.2.2.5. Section 888 (Article 88, UCMJ) -- Contemptuous words by commissioned officers against certain officials. E1.2.2.9. Section 934 (Article 134, UCMJ) -- Uttering disloyal statement, criminal libel, communicating a threat, and soliciting another to commit an offense.

3. According to the definition of a "Religious Organization" found in DoD Directive Number 1304.19, "Guidance for the Appointment of Chaplains for the Military Departments," CFGC is not eligible to be authorized as an ecclesiastical endorser. CFGC is not an "entity that is organized and functions primarily to perform religious ministries to a non-military lay constituency." CFGC, which is operated out of a house located in a residential neighborhood of Dallas, Texas zoned for single family homes, did not have a "non-military lay constituency" at the time of its founding, but was founded for the sole purpose of endorsing chaplains, and this continues to be its primary purpose to this day.

4. In a clear and blatant violation of CENTCOM's General Order 1-A, which absolutely prohibits the proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, a network of forty CFGC chaplains has engaged in the organized distribution in Iraq of Arabic language Bibles and other Arabic language fundamentalist Christian evangelizing materials to the Iraqi people. The violation of this explicitly prohibited activity by these forty CFGC chaplains was initiated, encouraged, and aided by Mr. Ammerman. (See enclosed Newsweek article and other enclosures.)

Given CFGC's and Mr. Ammerman's multiple, habitual, and ongoing violations of military regulations, the U.S. Code, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and Mr. Ammerman's encouragement, aiding, and abetting of the chaplains he oversees in their violations of these regulations and the United States Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold, MRFF demands the immediate revocation of CFGC's ecclesiastical endorsing authority. Furthermore, MRFF demands an aggressive investigation to identify and swiftly punish all CFGC chaplains and any other enabling DoD military or civilian personnel involved in any of the aforementioned violations of military regulations and/or the U.S. Code.

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq.
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org

Enclosure

CC:
President Barack Obama
Pete Geren - Secretary of the Army
Ray Mabus - Secretary of the Navy
Michael B. Donley - Secretary of the Air Force
Admiral Michael Mullen - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General James E. Cartwright - Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General George W. Casey, Jr. - Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Admiral Gary Roughead - Chief of Naval Operations
General Norton A. Schwartz - Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
General James T. Conway - Commandant of the Marine Corps
Carl Levin - Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
Ike Skelton - Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services
Executive Director of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board
Gail H. McGinn - Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
Pedro L. Irigonegaray, Esq. - Law Offices of Irigonegaray & Associates
Robert V. Eye, Esq. - Law Offices of Kaufman & Eye

There's more...

Allah-U-Akbar !

I don't know about you, but I for one never grasped the committment to democrcy by the people of Iran. The protests there, at first  seemed a little bit like a visitation from the moon. I mean weren't they recently part of the axis of evil?

Now, as  I follow the news on twitter, at the BBC and also from Nico Pitney at Huffpo, I cannot escape my own history in this moment. This is not my first doomed uprising in a totalitarian county. I go back to Czechoslovakia, and I still remember the burning taste of ashes in my mouth as the tanks rolled into the streets of Prague.  I think your first is the most heart wrenching. My eyes bled for the Czechs.

Then came Tiananmen. I lived in China for several years and so it was like watching old friends stare down tanks. I had also just crossed the border into Nepal from Tibet when the Tibetans rose up against their occupation by the Chinese in'87. I tried  to leave the bus, to go back and bear witness, but it was not to be.

And now it is Iran,  the latest of the uprisings that one watches in awe, afraid for them, admiring, weeping at the mighty injustice of voices against bullets.

We cannot take sides in an internal Iranian dispute. But with all my heart I say that  we can concentrate our history and send it forth as a clarion call letting  those who long for freedom know they have a friend here.

All the European Embassies are taking in the walking wounded in Iran today.

I am taking them into my heart, and  I know millions of Americans are also. No one who stands for freedom and for free and fair elections is my enemy. The government of Iran will not keep the people of Iran separate from their friends and well wishers all over the world and especially here in America, where we value liberty and have long understood its price.

Allah-u-akbar

There's more...

The Time Is Now

Twenty-nine gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people were murdered in bias-motivated crimes last year--certainly not a large number on today's over populated planet.

When I read that number--being gay and acknowledging that my fear of placing a `NO on Prop 8' sign outside my house came from intelligent self-preservation-- I was surprised it was so low.

So I read the source. It seems this is the number according to the Associated Press article here that emerged from anti-violence reports by the Anti-Violence Coalition in 6 states and 8 cities: Milwaukee, Minnesota, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, Houston, Pennsylvania, New York City, Kansas City, Missouri, Michigan and San Francisco submitted data.

Vista where I live wasn't even considered, and Montana where I used to live--invisible too. And yet a lesbian business owner I met in the Bitteroot Valley was cursed out in a public restaurant and then her house was torched by the Montana Militia--read your friends and neighbors minus the bedsheets.

We are not even in the ball park, with this number of 29.

Another lesbian was murdered that same year only 30 miles from where I lived within driving distance of Glacier National Park. Her murderer has never been caught.

Many straight people do not understand that violence is a way of life for gays, not just in Iraq and Iran, but here in America. But to be fair, lots of gays do not get it either. Many gay people exist in their own little air pocket, one of millions in an acre of gay bubble wrap; and what happens in the other little bubbles doesn't concern them. This is how Aids at first proliferated in the gay community We learned the hard way. Sometimes we have had to learn it over and over again. But today millions of us along with our straight allies undertand once and for all that Violence against one gay person is violence against us all.

I started coming out again during the Bush years. By this I mean that I stopped letting people assume I was straight. I am still paying for the consequences of this when an old, dear friend of my Mom's, and someone I had known for 30 years, upon hearing this declared, "You didn't have to say it. You didn't have to tell us."

"Yes, I did," I replied. "You like me, but you don't know me. This is ALL of who I am." Whereupon from describing herself as my second mother she decided I was to be undermined, thwarted and attacked at every turn. My own poor mother paid the price in lost friendship. I had long suspected this, but it never was so clear to me that it is our loved ones who end up living with the consequences of our gay lives.

In my own life I have been manhandled by the police, spat at and cursed, ridiculed, raged at and shoved. I have lost promotions and been forced to move. I have in my own defense marched for my civil rights, organized for them and I have stood up, I hope, whenever it counted.

But there is something so insidious, so demoralizing in seeing an administration that promised hope and change issue the kind of Justice Dept brief in defense of DOMA that we have just seen from the Obama administration. Yeah I know, the economy is more important, and healthcare is more important, and Afghanistan is more important, and Iran is more important, and the President has a million and one things to attend to that are more important.

The full civil rights of despised American citizens is less important? People are dying right here from hate and abuse. You don't have to go overseas to stop hate and bigotry and grant full civil rights to human beings. We are people who have fought America's wars and still are, who have fought for the civil rights of others and still are, who have taken in unwanted children and still are. We are people who pray with you, laugh with you, and talk with you.

Kitty Genovese in March, 1964, was stabbed 37 times in a Queens neighborhood by her male assailant while 22 onlookers stood by and did nothing. The incident was trumpeted widely in the national media as the worst case of bystander indifference in American history. What no one reported was the fact that Kitty Genovese was gay. And that she was known in her apartment complex for having loud fights with her partner. Twenty-two people stood by and let Kitty Genovese be stabbed to death before they would lift a finger or risk themselves for a lesbian.

Barack Obama is behaving no better than any one of those 22 individuals He has the power to stop institutionalized prejudice. Apparently, he doesn't think its worth it.

Diaries

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