YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Friday, June 30, 2006
Manuel's Tavern and Creative Loafing
How many of us saw the Creative Loafing this week and its article on the 99 things that make you a true Atlantian? I was on my lunch break when I read the Creative Loafing's article. I realized something Manuel's Tavern our home away from home if you are Young Democrat in Atlanta or Dekalb made it onto the list at number 13. YEA! The thing is though I have never bellied up to the bar before to ask the secret of the $1 bills and the playing cards that are stuck to the ceiling. Does anyone out there in blogsphere know the answer to this question? Sorry to those of you out there who were looking for a political entry today, but I think Manuel's deserve a honorary mention every once and a while.
Just for the record, the oaths of office for a US Army officer and for his or her commander in chief (a.k.a. the President) both commit the swearer to "defend the Constitution of the United States." Ya hear that? The Constitution of the United States. Strangely enough, neither explicitly mentions anything about protecting and defending the territory of the United States, but presumably (1) following the orders of your constitutionally appointed superiors, if you have any, and (2) ensuring that the Constitution of the United States doesn't get burned up and stomped into the dustbin of history by hostile invaders takes care of that tiny oversight.
Still, to the Republican party it seems that "protecting" the Constitution involves duct taping a number of hysterical amendments to it so that it might not be misinterpreted by these so-called "activist judges" with their silly notions of civil liberties and crap. It's no surprise, really, considering the figurehead of their party has a tendency at times to misquote these oaths. Visiting the troops in Iraq, he said that together they had "taken an oath to defend our country" -- a subtle difference which if repeated enough might open in his mind the loophole that he is allowed to defend the country, geographically speaking, by sidestepping the Constitution they actually swore to defend. A more entertaining and recent gaffe had the President thanking the troops by saying, "You took an oath to defend our flag and our freedom, and you kept that oath underseas and under fire." Gurgle gurgle, sir. So it's also no surprise that after the anti-flag desecration amendment went down in flames yesterday (HAW!), Senate Majority Leader Fristypants got it wrong as well, claiming, "Countless men and women have died defending that flag."
No, sir, they died defending the ideals that flag represents. That flag is a three dollar piece of polyester you can buy at Wal*Mart. (Did I say Wal*Mart? Naturally I meant "your local union flag-making shop," duh, I mean I would never shop at Wal*Mart. Of course, I'll probably need more than $3 to buy a union flag, but that's beside the point right now.) It may be an ugly truth to some, but we send our soldiers out to fight and die to protect the right to burn the flag. It's just that simple. Shouting "Fire" in a crowded (and non-burning) theater aside, once you start saying, "Well, freedom of speech except...," then we might as well all live in Iran, 'cause then we wouldn't have an oil problem.
Just to put the icing on the Stupid Cake, President Bush offered an irony-laden statement in response to the failed measure: "By showing respect for our flag, we show reverence for the ideals that guide our Nation." Yes, we show reverence for our ideals by making one manifestation of our ideals illegal. "I commend the Senators from both parties who voted to allow the amendment ratification process to protect our flag to go forward and continue to believe that the American people deserve the opportunity to express their views on this important issue." Translation: The people deserve the opportunity to express their views, so long as they express the views I like, and then once we codify those views other parts of the people will no longer have the opportunity to express their views.
The ARC has approved plans for the first major development along the proposed Beltline. God help us all for those of us who live in the midtown area! Because this development is going to change the way we view Piedmont Park as a Central Park without the skyscrapers. The plans that the evil Wayne Mason has for the development is one 38 story condo tower and one 39 story tower. These things are bascially going to sit right on the back end of the park near Park Tavern restaurant. The two towers will be located on the corner of 10th and Monroe Dr. I have a very hard time picturing these things sitting there right off of Piedmont Park. How can anyone think this will fit into the rest of the neighborhood? Its like them building The Mix right there on the corner of Highland and Briarcliff and think its alright to do that. My mind can't get wrapped around the concept of having these giant towers sitting there on the park's edge. What value does it add other then to Wayne Mason's bank account. If we allow these two towers to go up then what is next for Piedmont Park? We already have the parking deck as well. Good grief when will the madness end? Because I think Wayne Mason's idea and my idea of fitting into the neighborhood are totally different. I don't think having these two towers sitting on the Park is fitting into the neighborhood. What can we do about the two towers you ask?
Well this part is easy enough. The city of Atlanta now has to determine whether to rezone the property to allow the development to go through. The Atlanta City council is expected to vote on the rezoning by October. My plan is to call and write every city council person say ask them not to rezone the property. I honestly think it would be the worst thing that can happen to Piedmont Park and to the City of Atlanta to have these towers sitting on the edge.
Wayne Mason if you by some slim chance you are reading my entry today how about lowering your towers by like I don't know let's say by 30 stories each or something to that effect. Let's not become another Central Park with skyscrapers and huge condo buildings surrounding our Park. Atlanta should be different and the skyline around Piedmont should be low and unobtrusive to those who use the Park on a daily bases. Let's keep the natural beauty of the park Wayne.
[Ed. note: This is as good a time as any to reiterate to the itinerant reader that the views expressed in any particular blog article do not necessarily reflect any kind of consensus on the part of YDAtl. In other words, if by any chance you work for, support, or are a candidate criticized in our blog, please don't hate us, avoid our events, or put away your checkbook.]
Good job, Cathy. Way to provide a fascinating case study in what happens when you take Democratic constituencies for granted. Way to lose us elections.
In case you're wondering, I'm talking about this recent article from Southern Voice. I'm talking about a (formerly) loyal liberal lesbian exhorting her friends to vote in the REPUBLICAN PRIMARY.
Do you have any clue what that means, Cathy? Do the incompetents you have running your campaign and writing your speeches and press releases understand even a small fraction of the ramifications? I'm betting not, because now you've gone and done it. You've delivered a gift wrapped steaming pile of “Fuck you” to a significant portion of the Democratic coalition one time too many, and now they're going to try to make sure that Ralph Reed, a man we can slap silly seven ways to Sunday in the general, loses the primary to Casey Cagle, a man neither Jim Martin nor Greg Hecht is well-positioned to defeat owing to the way they've made Ralph Georgia's “State Pincushion”.
The sad thing is that, unlike you and your campaign staff, the gay block isn't stupid, and they can see plain as day that you and Mark Taylor not only are completely uninterested in the cause of equal rights, you (or your speechwriters) are actively hostile to it. Why shouldn't the gay block decide to leave the choice between two Democrats falling all over each other to pander to the radical, rabid right in Georgia to the rest of us not directly marked for destruction by the Ralph Reeds and Sadie Fields infesting this state? Why shouldn't they cross over to vote against Ralph Reed, a vile pond-scum sucking porcine lying son of a bitch, a man who may very well be the most dangerous Republican running for an office of such importance in the entire country? The rest of us know that Casey Cagle is horrible on nearly every issue, from the economy to the environment, but then that's just another choice between two evils for a gay person, just like the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Let's just say this: Neither Mark nor Cathy were missed in the slightest at Pride this weekend, not when people like Allen Thornell and Karla Drenner are there to remind us what being a Democrat is supposed to mean. Maybe in 2010 we'll have some gubernatorial candidates who remember that for once. In the meantime, Cathy, if Casy Cagle is elected lieutenant governor, I'm going to blame you just like I'm going to blame you for re-electing Special Sonny.
Today kicks-off the 36th annual Pride Festival here in Atlanta, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited. People gathering together to celebrate who they are and why its great to be them…its all good things. Whether you are gay or straight, I hope that you all take the time to come out and celebrate what makes us all special.
If you do make it out to the Pride Festival, I hope that you take the chance to stop by the Young Democrats of Atlanta Beverage Booth. A group of your fellow Young Dems will be out there slinging beers and sodas in the hot sun and we would love to sell one to you! Additionally, if you want to help out, we can definitely use it. Just show up! We would be happy to put you to work!
Below is a map of the Pride set-up at Piedmont Park. It features my fantastic paintbrush skill and will help you find YDAtl's fabulous booth!
Think back to your childhood and the school days that were involved in that time of your life. Don't you remember arguing with your Mom about having to get up so early just to go to school? I do. I remember whinnying every morning Monday through Friday about why I have to go school? I would assume most of you out there felt that exact same way at one time or another and I would assume that the dailey morning fight with either Mom or Dad or both parents about going to school still hold true. Where I'm I going with this you ask?
Well, two days ago I came across this article on MSN.com about girls in Afghistan who are going to school under the most extreme circumstances and I thought about how much courage they must have to want to go to school that badly. These girls go to school under threats of death or their noses being cut off their face for disobeying the Taliban. The Taliban repeatly burns down girl schools in Afghistan simply because they do not want girls to be educated. The article talks of one 12 year old girl named Nooria who says she is not afraid of getting her nose and ears cut off because she wants to keep studying. Nooria has more courage then any one of us put together and a love for learning and knowledge that I never had at the age of 12 or most of us will ever have in our life times. Despite the odds she faces everyday she keeps going back to school because just a few years ago before the US came in to supposedly outst the Taliban she and other girls in Afghistan were not able to go to school. The Taliban is still causing trouble for the Afghan people who are just trying to move their country into the future. According to this particular article, in the last six months Taliban attacks and threats of attacks have interrupted or closed down more than 300 girl schools. Despite all of this there people there parents who feel like sending their daughters off to school is the most important thing they could do for them and for their country. Unfortunately, with these type of dangers out there the number of children going to school and girls especially going to school have dropped in recent months because there is no security for them.
Security forces are stretched to thin to assign guards to every school, even with US and NATO backup, villagers say they will post their own guards if they have to in order to try to keep their school safe. We here in the US thought we had security issues in our schools. I can't imagine trying to go to school under these kind of circumstances. There is so much work left to be done in Afghanistan, but all of our attention seems to focused in on Iraq and we have forgotten what we started in this country. The Taliban haven't left here and they are still very much a threat to the people there in Afghanistan and let's not forget the threat to the Afghan government that seems to be barely holding on by a thread. The Taliban sees education as a threat to them because they know that educated children will most likely NOT grow up to be extremist. Thank God for that! If we can somehow help the Afghan people educate their children today then tomorrow maybe there wouldn't be a Taliban to worry about.
A taste of federal incompetence, right here in Georgia
In a development a cynical person might dismiss as inevitable, the Army Corps of Engineers has expanded their mission to make a bungle of everything they touch to our very own state of Georgia. When water restrictions get tighter this summer, you can thank the incompetent bureaucrats at the Corps for mistakenly releasing22 billion gallons of water from Lake Lanier.
First of all, blaming the blunder on a faulty gauge is like blaming the crash of the Mars lander on using metric instead of U.S. units – it explains why it happened, but you still end up looking like the Keystone Kops in the end. Joe Taxpayer didn't say “Oh, silly them, they used the wrong units”, he said “Remind me why we're paying these fools.” After the ludicrous farce that masqueraded as a response to Hurricane Katrina, I think it's safe to say that this is just another thread in a glorious tapestry of ineptitude and incompetence being woven by the Corps.
Secondly, we have this telling comment (quoted by the AJC) from a Corps spokesman, in response to the Lake Lanier Association's insistence that it tried repeatedly to tell the Corps that water in the lake was lower than they thought:
Robbins said his office in Mobile had not received the reports that the lake level was lower than managers thought.
Gee, I wonder why that might be? Could it possibly be that the Corps is in fact a bloated, putrefying swamp of bureaucracy and buck-passing, making it impossible for anything short of Armageddon (I'm assuming that they'll get the clue when the star opens the gate to the abyss and the waters turn to blood, but maybe I'm being optimistic) to penetrate the Byzantine maze of blather also known as the “chain of command”? The Corps is a total joke, and even “Sunny” Perdue isn't laughing anymore.
It's bad enough that we've got idiots running our nation and our state. Why do we have to let these clowns make hash of Atlanta's water supply too?
You probably know which Congressman Jefferson I'm talking about, but in case you don't: here's the story.
I know soon-to-be-ex-Congressman Jefferson is a Democrat. That's precisely the reason his ridiculous blathering and typical political deflection strategy make me so angry.
Idiotic comment #1: I'm not one of Pelosi's favorite people, and that may be a part of why she's singling me out in this instance.
Free clue: You singled your own stupid self out by PUTTING $90,000 IN BRIBE MONEY IN YOUR FREEZER. What exactly is Nancy Pelosi supposed to do, give you a medal, for crying out loud? You think that somehow you're special, that you're different than Tom Delay, Bob Ney, and Duke Cunningham, that you're supposed to get a free pass just because George Bush and Alberto Gonzalez had your office illegally searched? You're lucky you still have that office. Enjoy it while you can.
Idiotic comment #2: "What we've done today is set a standard for regular members that's actually lower -- or higher, depending on how you look at it -- than the standard we set for our chairs or ranking members," Watt, D-North Carolina, said.
Fine. The solution is to set the same standard for everyone – yank Alan Mollohan's seat on the Appropriations committee, and yank every privilege for anyone who does stupid crap like taking bribes and putting the money in the damn freezer. I don't care what party you are – Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Libertarian, Green, Nazi, whatever – you abuse your power, you pay the price. Period.
The bottom line is that we cannot attack Republicans for being the sleazy swine they are as long as we fail to crack down on the lying swindlers in our own party. The sooner we – and by "we" I mean certain moronic members of Congress in our party – understand and apply basic ethical principles, the sooner we get rid of the Republican crooks and thieves running Congress, a group which unfortunately includes soon-to-be-ex-Congressman Jefferson.
For exactly 15 days and 36 minutes, I have been living the cleaner life of the non-smoker and thinking about ways to kill people for their cigarettes. All things considered -- i.e., given the fact that there's never a "good time" to quit (except, you know, NOW) insofar as you'll never have a stress-free week where some moron won't waltz into your life and drive you to seek solace in the buzz of stochastic suicide -- I have to say it's been going pretty well.
It probably helps that my work schedule and absolute lack of disposable income has kept me out of my usual watering hole, The Vortex, because as bad as it is that I know the bartender will spare me a smoke if I want one, there's also a decent chance on any given night that the Camel people will show up and wave free product in my face. Having a momentary lapse, breaking down and bumming that one smoke off of your bartender, that's one thing; breaking down and having one cigarette and waking up the next morning with 19 more in your pants pocket, that's a whole other ball game. What are you going to do, throw 'em out? Of course not! They love you. They want you to be happy. And they're free.
So I was pretty jealous of quitters in Massachusetts when I read an article today about their state legislature considering a bill banning cigarette giveaways like the ones that probably supplied one third of my habit for the last couple of years. (Can you believe it? A state legislature that's still going about the people's business? I know!) Massachusetts would join anti-smoking pioneer California and seven or eight other states if it banned the practice, but those northeastern liberals would kick it up a notch: hippie tree-hugging California only bans the giveaways unless they take place at a venue at which minors are restricted (venues like, say, smoking bars in Georgia). MA would ban the practice outright, not just protecting minors, as the other states proclaim, but weak-willed quitters like myself. The great state of Washington finally succeeded, after about six years of tenacity on the part of a Republican, in passing a similar comprehensive ban that took effect one week ago. Maybe one of our members running for the House this year will read this and offer up a bill next year to save me from myself.
Now, I'm in favor of protecting the children and everything; Whitney Houston said they are our future, and when she's not coked out, she's got some good things to say. But I'm starting to get a little resentful about articles like this and that going on and on about peddling to minors while giving short shrift to us older addicted schmucks.
But state Sen. Bob Oke of Gig Harbor, the irascible Republican who's sponsoring the sampling ban bill, says the real purpose of such promotions isn't to attract current smokers but to recruit new ones. "The tobacco companies very well know that the percentage of people over 18 that start smoking for the first time is almost zero," Oke says.
Tell that to most of the grad student smokers I know, Bob. Shoot, tell it to poor Jennifer Anniston! She wants so badly to quit smoking that she might let Vince Vaughn impregnate her to push her over the edge; that's a problem, my friends, unless you consider the few glorious months in which she won't be able to act.
It's pretty ridiculous if you think about it: who else gives away so much of their product as a marketing ploy? At least every other week, the death patrol would hand me two packs of premium cigarettes -- we're talking over $200 a year in product. Could you imagine getting that much free coffee from Starbucks? That's your Monday morning latte fix right there! Nor would I mind a free pint of Guinness every Friday after work, no questions asked. Five tanks of gas for free? Your annual dental cleaning and x-rays? A quarterly lap dance? Like I said about coal: if they're sellin' it so hard, you know they're probably lying to you. So once you've gotten your fix of the Inconvenient Truth, go catch the hilarious lies of Thank You for Smoking before it's gone from the theater. You'll wish you had two free packs of Depends undergarments, you'll be laughing so hard.
Yea I know its Wednesday morning and its not my normal day to blog but I came across this rather unusual article on MSN.Com this morning. It's about the Confederate Battle Flag aboard the International Space Station. Apparently, the Russians thought it would be cool idea to fly the stupid thing on ISS and then sell it on eBay of all places. Why can't the battle flag die a slow and painful death never to rise again? Why is this thing still popping up when you least expect it? How is it the Russinas know about the flag and why would they think it'd be a good idea to put it on the ISS in the first place, not to mention selling it on eBay for a profit? It doesn't make any sense to me how the US wouldn't say something to them, like you know what that thing stands for don't you? We don't really think this best thing to sell on eBay, or we don't really want the Confederate Battle Flag on board the ISS. I find it very strange that of all the flags they could have chosen to fly on board the ISS they pick the Confederate Battle Flag. What is wrong with them? For those who wish to check it out here is the article on MSN.Com.
Did everyone hear the exciting news last week about the new FDA approval the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer? I hope so because this is the best news that I have heard in a long time in the fight against cancer. We finally have a real vaccine to fight cervical cancer. This vaccine can help save the lives about 3,700 women. We should have all been doing the happy dance down Peachtree St, but instead of the happy dance there seems to be some reservations about this vaccine. How can that be I asked myself last week? How can a vaccine that will save lives have reservations attached to it?
Well, if you have been reading the articles on this vaccine apparently there are parents out there that are afraid to have their daughters vaccinated because they are worried that this will give their daughters a green light to have sex. Huh? I don't understand the connection between getting a vaccine to prevent getting cervical cancer and having sex. I mean sure the type of cancer that we are talking about stems from the HPV virus, but really if parents were to think about this the answer is obvious you give your daughter the vaccine. If parents were really to weigh the pros and cons of protecting their daughters against cancer and them supposedly having the green light to have sex then the pros of the vaccine far out weigh the green light issue in my opinion. Cancer is a ugly and brutal disease that no one should have to face and the thought of getting cervical cancer when it could been prevented in the first place it makes my blood pressure rise. In the end you could be saving your daughter's life by getting her vaccinated and isn't that far better then worrying about whether or not she is getting that green light to have sex. Also, if you have done your job as a parent then your daughter would know its not a green light to have sex and that she should wait until she is really ready to make that kind of decision for herself. Then next big question for this new drug is who should pay for it? Because this vaccine is expensive. It apparently costs about $300.00 dollars a pop.
This is the political side of this blog. Who is going to be footing the bill because the cost of this drug is far beyond the budgets of nearly every city and state health departments? Any many health insurers don't pay for vaccinations. Why I'm not sure because it would seem to me that if you prevent cancer then maybe wouldn't cost insurance companies as much. I always lead to believe that prevented medicine is cheaper in the run long. I could be wrong about that, but it makes doesn't it? If we prevent a women from getting cancer then isn't cheaper to insure her then when she does get it and the medical bills from chemotherapy and radiation start to pile up. Not to mention the doctor visits to the oncologist office that can be a couple hundred dollars just by themselves. The medical treatment to fight cancer is staggering. Here is the moral dilemma will only rich Americans who can pay out of pocket have access to the new vaccine? Ironically enough that is precisely the group that needs the vaccine the least since they are already getting their daughters good medical care. Its the poor that needs this vaccine more than other group. Because they are the least likely to get regular check ups by a doctor. The moral thing to do is to make sure the very best that we can that all young women are vaccinated. Now is the time to push our legislatures to make sure that the money will be there to make this happen. Of coarse it will hard to convince Sonny and all the other Republicans that we should make this happen in the state Georgia considering they shoved 75,000 children off of Peachcare, but we have to do it. We are not only waging war against terrorism, but we also waging war on cancer and the health of our nation should be just as important as the war on terror. We must work on making sure that the opportunity that this vaccine provides is there for everyone and not just for the ones who can afford it. In my opinion, if insurance companies don't have to pay and public health departments cannot afford to then all the other moral issues surrounding this new vaccine become moot. Its time to prevent that from happening. We have to make sure our Health Care System in this country isn't going to be the death of us.
So I went for a run tonight. I was thinking about my blog and what I would write about. Really was thinking I would put something out there on this “Fair Tax” crap we keep hearing about. We’re all going to have to get savvy about how to talk about taxes in the months leading up to November. I mean, who’s against “Fair Taxes?” You can’t be against Fair Taxes.
Long run, long train of thought. But suffice it to day I got frustrated as I went in a mental loop about values and the way we think of and talk about national goals and how to pay for the programs that will help us reach those goals. I got depressed for a minute realizing how far we’ve come since those immortal words were spoken, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I was running along, angry, thinking, nobody gives a shit about anything but themselves anymore. And we GLORIFY selfishness and consumption. We can’t talk to the middle class in Sandy Springs or anywhere else about paying a commensurate share towards group goals like investment in basic science, universal health care, community green space. All people want is to wear the same clothes as Paris Hilton. Damn Paris Hilton. I thought as I ran.
Then I thought, well, can you blame her? Who am I to judge? Maybe I would do the same thing with my money and influence. Would we really choose any differently?
Then I thought, YES! Yes, we would choose differently. We DO IN FACT choose differently! The problem is, no one is glorifying the real heroes anymore. We glorify superficial appearance, not real beauty. We glorify materialism, not courage. We glorify thinness and wealth. We should glorify persistence and commitment.
That’s when it hit me. We have truly glorious people in our very midst. About time we glorify the truly glorious.
So, I am unveiling a new project. Not exactly a Project for a New American Century, but not bad for a Monday night. My new project will be a blog with exciting news and sightings of the TRULY glorious. It will be called…….Page-arazzi.
And here’s the first installment.
New It-Thing Page Gleason was sighted Sunday afternoon at Six Flags Over Georgia. In typical tireless fashion, she was participating in a day of teambuilding for the Young Democrats of Atlanta. That's so HOT. While her publicist couldn’t be reached for comments, bystanders reported that she “totally loved [the new roller-coaster] Goliath.” From reports, she was wearing a Young Democrats of Atlanta t-shirt ($15.00, available on the YDAtl website), a Blog for Democracy button with the cryptic inscription “ITMFA” (the MySpace universe is atwitter with possible meanings – but who cares what it means?? If Page is wearing it, you KNOW you have to have one. Adding to the cool factor, they are NOT available for purchase online, at least not that our crack editing staff could find. You must attend an event where Page is and purchase one – nominal donation to a great cause.) She was also sporting a “TJ Copeland” political button (TJ, of course, being another cool drink of water from hot hot hot District 65 in south Fulton. Check him out here.) Asked about her shorts, Ms. Gleason smiled mysteriously and said, “they’re vintage.”
Check back often for more news of Page’s tireless service to progressive causes! Coming soon: pix and tips on where to go if you want to run into Page. Page is the Rage! Party on, girlfriend. The Democratic Party, that is.
Brace yourselves, kids – the first tropical storm of 2006 has been named Alberto. That's a name some of you should remember – it turned the 4th of July weekend in 1994 into a major disaster for Georgia crops and out-of-town visitors (like me). It also contributed mightily to disharmony in the Benson family – 3 days of playing cards guys-against-girls is never a good plan, particularly when your little sister rubs it in when her side wins by high-fiving your stepmother and dancing around the table – but I digress.
It's worth mentioning at this juncture that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth actually failed to mention some of the most damning information about the 2005 hurricane season. Not only did the 2005 season produce Katrina, far and away the most ruinous natural disaster in the history of the country, it also produced more Category 5 hurricanes (four) than any other season on record, and three of the top six (!) strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded. 2005 saw more storms earlier than any other year, and was responsible for a completely unprecedented $100 billion dollars in damage. Furthermore, 2005 also produced three of the top ten most costly insurance loss events to have occurred in the world (reference) since 1970.
Say it with me: GLOBAL WARMING IS A THREAT TO AMERICA AND IT'S OUR OWN DAMN FAULT.
Don't just take my word for it. If you haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth yet, get thee to the Tara Theater (or any other place you can find that shows it) and bring some alcohol – you'll need it.
Just had to post two things I came across this morning.
First, for all of you who had your hearts broken by not getting to meet Al Gore last month (and for those of us who just can't get enough), MoveOn is doing a conference call with Al to discuss the movie this Sunday. Click here for more info.
Also, in reference to Carly's alarming post on Sunday, here's a hopeful sign. Apparently, it's not just Carly who has been anxiously watching the situation. Legislation tightening the immigration laws and labor laws which would impact the Northern Marianas Islands has passed the Senate repeatedly for ten years, only to be blocked in the House by DeLay. WHAT A BAD GUY! So on the very day of his departure, House Dems have filed the legislation to eliminate the legal conditions which let these monsters exploit other human beings. What better way to celebrate the end of an incredibly bad era. Here's the LA Times article.
Related, more cyncical note: DeLay is apparently shopping for a house in Virginia. Why would he need a house in Virginia??? Speculation is he's getting a job as...wait for it...a lobbyist. Boo. Hiss.
A couple weeks ago, we were contacted by some online "news gathering" company that apparently takes the content of scores of disparate news websites, industry analysis outlets, and yes, even blogs, rearranges them, categorizes them, identifies crucial keywords and adds links from them...all kinds of "value added" stuff I'm not clear on, and sells the re-packaged content to, well, people who have enough money to buy such stuff. This company has decided they want to cut us in on some royalties so they can syndicate our blog. Naturally, I assumed they were on crack, or were really trying to solicit our help in moving some secret bank funds out of Nigeria. I mean, I knew we were pretty cool, but I didn't think we were quite up to licensing.
And then last week, after I started to backpedal on my support for nuclear power, we were paid a visit by a gentleman in the policy department of the nuclear industry's biggest lobbying outfit. He apparently spends part of his afternoons combing through hundreds, thousands of blog entries talking about nuke power in order to keep the Nuclear Energy Institute's finger on the pulse of national opinion. Fancy us, we were worthy of him stopping, reading, and commenting. My heart began to swell like Navan R. Johnson's: "I'm somebody now! I'm in PRINT! Things are going to start happening to me now."
A trial court quickly granted Apple's request for a court order requiring the sites to provide any information that might help them to identify who was responsible for the disclosures.
The sites appealed, arguing that both California law and the US constitution provided legal protections against compelling journalists to reveal the identity of their sources.
The California appeals court was therefore faced with a novel question. Are online journalists entitled to the same legal protections as their offline counterparts?
Apple argued that they are not, maintaining that the sites were not engaged in "legitimate journalistic activities" and that online journalists "were not among the class of journalists protected by the statute".
The court roundly rejected both arguments. It first concluded that there was "no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news". It added that the statute is "intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news", which is precisely what the online sites were doing.
The court was similarly supportive of the proposition that online journalists should be entitled to constitutional protections, stating that "we can see no sustainable basis to distinguish petitioners [the online journalists] from the reporters, editors, and publishers who provide news to the public through traditional print and broadcast media".
So, if anyone reading this blog was just waiting for an excuse to dish out some really juicy gossip, by all means, do share; we'll go to the mat for ya!
Alright, here is the story that I want to tell everyone out there. This is the kind of story that makes me want to pull out all of my hair and scream in horror NO! Surely not in this day and age! Last night I got suckered into phone banking for the Cox Campaign -- and before the eyes start to roll, I know I was not happy with Cox about two weeks ago, and just for the record I'm still only just luke warm to her today, but the alternatives are not so good in my opinion. Anyway, while I was phone banking, I ran across this woman who, when I had asked her who she was voting for in the Democratic primary, said, "The other guy." I politely asked her what she meant by that, and she told me, "Not Cathy, but the Big Guy." I said, "The Big Guy," and she said yes and then she told me to hold on while she went and asked her husband who they were voting for because she didn't know his name. I sat there stunned because she had to ask her husband -- huh? That is when I proceeded to bang my hand on my forehead because I thought, no way did I just hear that.
Now I understand that not everyone is into politics the same way that I am or you are, but I would think it would be a good idea to at least know the name of the person for whom you are going to vote, wouldn't it? I mean even before I got involved in the YD's I at least knew the candidate's name and little about what the candidate stood for before I cast my vote for that person. What got me the most was that she felt like she had to check with her husband on whom they were voting for. Does that still happen in this day and age, that women still default to the husband on such things? I thought we, as women, were way past this at least. I was telling this to Nikema last night, and she told me that politics was still a man's game. Still, I thought women were way more informed about certain issues like education, health care, and things like that, but running up against that woman last night I have wonder what in the world is going on if women are still deferring to their husbands on whom they are going to vote for. She wasn't that old, either, to the point where this would have been the thing to do "back in the day." I thought women were getting way more politically savvy than our male counterparts, but if there are still women out there deferring to their husbands on voting, this worries me a good deal. What are these types of women teaching their girls, that it's alright to defer to the male on politics because its still a man's game? YIKES!
The only way we are going to clear up this misconception is to make politics readily accessible to women, and young women at that. We need to put the women in politics front and center as much as possible in order for young women to see that if they want to get involved, there is opportunity to do so, and that it's not just for men anymore. We as women can get in the arena and make a difference. The best examples of this are State Reps. Kathy Ashe, Nan Orrock, Alisha Thomas Morgan, Pat Gardner, "Able" Mable Thomas, Sheila Jones, and Karla Lee Drenner; and on the Senate side there is Gloria Butler, Steen Miles, Regina Thomas, Horacena Tate, and Valencia Seay. We cannot forget that our most visible woman in Georgia Politics these days is Secretary of State Cathy Cox. We need to keep pushing that politics is not just for men and it's not something that we should defer to our husbands about. We should let women know that they should make informed decisions on their own about whom they should vote for. We have to keep educating women out there on why the political process matters and why it should matter to them. Our work in the women's movement is clearly not over by any means. I know that there are a lot more important issues facing women these days in order to get the equality that we deserve, but I would think starting with the basic fundamentals of making our own decisions should fall somewhere on that list of things we need to get done. Because, God help me, if I phone bank for the next candidate and I come across a woman who has to defer to her husband because she doesn't know whom they are voting for, I will end up pitching a hissy fit.
If they are Cheeseheads, would we be...Frankenheads?
On my way back from the YDG retreat this weekend, I heard exciting news on Air America (via XM satellite radio, unfortunately, not our good old 1690.) The “mother and father” of Air America, Sheldon and Anita Drobny, have just formed a new company, Nova M Radio, to purchase the distribution of their Air America content. As they explain in this article, content is just one step – you also have to get it to the listeners! The well-publicized purchase of the very successful Air America affiliate in Phoenix and the subsequent switch to religious broadcasting prompted this new company.
Even more interesting, in the interview, Mr. Drobny described one possible business model he called the ‘Green Bay Packers’ model. As you may know, the community of Green Bay has ownership rights to the football team so that they can never be moved to a larger market for purely commercial interests. They are exploring a similar model with the radio stations so that it can stay out of the grasp of ClearChannel -no matter what.
So, anyone wanna buy a radio station??????? I know I do! Shall we look into it?
What with Iraq, the economy, the tax cuts, the environment, the amending the constitution to ban gay marriage, the sweatshops in the North Mariana Islands, the corruption in our government, Iran and nuclear power, the assault on the internet, gas prices, immigration . . . well you get the picture- there are just to many delicious choices.
Trying to pick an issue to write about could be compared to going to a restaurant with so many fabulous dishes but you have to pick just one. You may want to try them all, but for the evening you have to settle a singel dish, leaving the other mouth watering choices aside. I suppose what keeps you coming back to the restaurant- if you had a good experience- is so that you may try the other choices on the menu.
So tonight I shall try the sweatshops in the North Mariana Islands.
The North Mariana Islands are a territory of the US that we acquired after World War II. The commonwealth follows our legal system; however CNMI (Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands) are exempt from our laws dealing with customs, wages, immigration, and taxation.
Thier government has created a "guest worker" program basically just modern day indentured servitude. Women mostly Asian are required to pay 7,000 dollars to come to CNMI -which many times they have to barrow from the Chinese mafia with interest- and work in the factories. These women are told that they will work in the hotels or tourism industry. Only when they arrive, they are either sent into sex tourism or the garment industry. In these factories, women are working twelve to twenty hour days, for $3.05 an hour, in poor working conditions. They have huge deductions and find it close to impossible to pay off their debt or to even live.
"They staffed their factories with workers from China and the Philippines with promises of work in the US. But, workers soon discovered that the work contracts they signed consigned them to near-indentured servitude deep in the Marianas steamy jungles. Wages were low, hours were long. The companies docked workers' pay for housing, food, medical treatments and other charges. The low wages and high deductions made it nearly impossible for workers to save enough money to return home." )Part IV: DeLay's Unregulated Pacific "Paradise" By Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet.)
They are forced to either live in the factory barracks or find their own place of living that usually is even worse than the miserly offerings from their employers.
"But the dark underbelly of DeLay's "shining light" is right across a busy Saipan street and a few yards down a dirt road. That's where garment workers live in tiny, corrugated-tin-roofed homes, with three women sharing a queen-size bed. Their "kitchen" is a few hot plates and water-filled plastic buckets set outside on a concrete counter. Nine people share one toilet."(Destroying Paradise for Profit By Rebecca Clarren Ms. Magazine)
If these poor, tortured women become pregnant they are basically forced to get abortions because the companies do not want to offer health care for the pregnancy or the children.
"Human rights groups, long up in arms over the work conditions on the islands, charged that sweatshop operators did not appreciate it when their female employees got pregnant. Numerous allegations of forced abortions surfaced over the years." (Part IV: DeLay's Unregulated Pacific "Paradise"By Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet.)
As if these horrors are not enough, many of the women, whom were factory workers, are becoming prostitutes. China's factories are undercutting the labor cost of the CNMI factories, forcing the factories in CNMI to close leaving women homeless and lost in a strange US territroy with no money. These women work hard to make a better their life a better life and they are treated as though they are nothing more than slave with no prospect of a better future. However, some of our members of congress and a former member of congress (Tom Delay yesss!!!!) feel that the North Mariana Islands represent how the rest of the US should opperate. Tom Delay feels as though he can proudly stand on and cripple the backs of his workers to support the American dream . . . being rich.
"At a New Year's Eve dinner on Saipan in 1998, he lavishly praised the CNMI governor - a moment caught on camera by ABC's "20/20:" "You are a shining light for what is happening in the Republican Party, and you represent everything that is good about what we're trying to do in America in leading the world in the free-market system." (Part IV: DeLay's Unregulated Pacific "Paradise"By Stephen Pizzo, AlterNet.)
Can you believe this? Do you think that using a person as a tool used in your garden is okay? Does our free market economy have to mean that others suffer for a single persons benefit? What if you-the wealthy business owner- become a lowly slave to what once was your cause? How would you feel then . . .I do wonder!
So I ask you to stand up and care about the situation of these beautiful hard working women, and call your congress men and women and fight for their right to be treated as a human, as a US citizen.