Monday, October 31, 2005

Alabama, Here I Come.

Tomorrow I will be going on “vacation”. I will be traveling to the Virginia countryside, through Tennessee, to Alabama. I will be visited some friends of mine, and to see the deepest parts of the Deep South. I am hoping to see the Gulf Coast line, to see what is left of the destruction left over from Hurricane Katrina.

I will be gone for about a week and a half, and while gone, I will have no internet access. Therefore, there will be no further updates of Nitwit Planet until late next week.

’Till then, I wish you all well, and hopefully I will have stories worth sharing to tell you all.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

3000 Americans Dead on 9/11 -- Hooray!!

Mr. Edelman,
I read your piece 2000 Americans Dead in Iraq -- Hooray!! and thought that I should correct you on a few facts.

For one, you are confusing the Democratic party with PROGRESSIVE AMERICA. Cindy Sheehan is not part of the Democratic party. Move On is not part of the Democratic party. They are part of the PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT in America. Do NOT confuse the two, you Cons will be the better for it.

But, yes let’s have a little perspective. On 9/11/01 4 planes were hijacked and crashed, 3 of them into buildings, ultimately killing 3,000 Americans. We all know this, as you people can not keep from repeating it. Cons repeat it so frequently that you’d think that you might be CELEBRATING it. You inaccurately call those who attacked us as “islamofascists”. But don’t think that I didn’t notice the TALKING POINT from neo-con Frank Gaffney. Gaffney was the first to come up with the term “islamofascism”, and was also one of the signers of their Statement of Principals for the Project for a New American Century. Later, PNAC wrote a letter to then President Clinton begging him to go to war with Iraq, and if he did the neocons would fully support him. Clinton launched Desert Fox, and they didn’t support him, saying Clinton was only doing this to distract the public from his wrong-doing of dittling a White House intern. So Clinton called the attacks on Iraq off, and so the Reich wing impeached him.

Later the PNAC folks wrote in their report “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” that their goal was to dramatically increase defense spending in order to wages relentless wars and turn the US into a virtual police state. However PNAC said that “[a]ny serious effort” at such a “transformation” must occur “within the larger framework of U.S. national security strategy”. And that such “[a] transformation strategy that solely pursued capabilities for projecting force from the United States” would be “at odds” and would “trouble American allies.” PNAC said that “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary charge, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor.” (pgs. 50-51) One year later, to the month, PNAC got exactly what they wanted, a new Pearl Harbor.

As for the ACTUAL meaning of this made-up meaningless term “islamofascism”, it would do us all some good to examine the language we’ve all agreed upon.

“Islamo” - referring to a person of the Muslim faith. “fascism” - A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.” - American Heritage Dictionary, 1983.

By DEFINITION al Qaeda can NOT be fascists because they 1) do not run a government and 2) have not mix their leadership with business. By the ACTUAL definition of “islamofascism” one key person comes to mind. Rezi Pahlevi, the former Shah of Iran.

That aside, Reich wingers, such as yourself never fail to state the actual MOTIVES of the attacks on 9/11. Osama bin Laden stated it quite clearly in his fatwa. One of the primary reasons is because United States foreign policy has destroyed the security of Muslim holy lands. Nonstop bombing, destruction, invasion, and propping up vile dictators (such as Saddam Hussein) has led Muslims all over the world to look at bin Laden as a holy man and a savior. The reason being that bin Laden had that audacity to do to us what we have been doing to the Muslim world for the last 50 years.

You inaccurately state that the United States has been at war with “islamofascism” for quite some time. This is utter nonsense. In fact, the US has been a key supporter of “islamofascism” in the Middle East, going all the way back to 1953. The US supported “islamofascists” like the Shah in Iran, to President Nassar and Sadat in Egypt. In fact, the struggle AGAINST “islamofascism” is where the modern Islamist terrorist movement began, a key figure in Islamic Jihad, Aymen Zawarhiri, helped plan and execute the assassination of Sadat in 1979, before later in his life acting as the mentor of Osama bin Laden. It is also worth noting that the “islamofascist” Shah of Iran, Rezi Pahlevi, came to power in ‘53, after a CIA operation led by Kermit Roosevelt took out the democratically elected President of Iran, Mohammad Mossedegh, who had worked tirelessly with the Truman administration to prevent the spread of communism, including shooting down dozens of communist demonstrators, members of the Iran communist party, the Tudeh.

You also inaccurately state that “islamofascism” was responsible for virtually every terrorist attack on the United States for some time. The neo-conservative propaganda that you’re being fed could not be more inaccurate. Just as before the fall of the Berlin wall, these very same neo-cons said every terrorist attack, even those carried out by Hamas, was actually a secret ploy carried out by the Soviet Union, these very same neo-cons now tell us that “islamofascists”, much less Islamist terrorists, have been responsible for every terrorist attack against this nation.

The latest fad it seems is an utterly inept attempt to re-write history, claiming that Tim McVeigh was a Muslim. That could not be further from the truth. McVeigh was a radical “Christian conservative” who after reading the novel The Turner Diaries, wished to carry out in realty what the novel laid out in fiction. The Turner Diaries (photocopies of pages 61 and 62 were found in an envelope inside of McVeigh’s car) described a similar terrorist attack, which created a wide-spread government crack-down against the Christian right, which lead the a full out civil war in the United States, where at the end the only ones left standing were the “good white Protestants”. When McVeigh destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklamhoma City, there was no government crackdown at all, the feds simply investigated the crime, found the guilty parties, and administered justice. McVeigh’s ultimate plan failed. Ironically, that government crack-down would happen when the neo-conservatives took executive power, after ignoring over 50 threats against an imminent terrorist attack, and did virtually nothing as 4 planes crashed into NYC, Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia.

It should be noteworthy to mention that a year after McVeigh unleashed a terrorist attack against the United States, another radical conservative “Christian” terrorist would launch similar attacks, at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, running a spree across the south, destroying women’s clinics, and killing doctors. That “Christian” terrorist, Eric Rudolph, is now rightfully behind bars. Rudolph had managed to escape FBI capture for nearly 10 years, with the help of multiple underground right-wing organizations, who even gave him financial backing and support, printing up T-shirts for him which stated “Run Rudolph Run”.

Had Saddam used WMDs before? Of course he did, he had acquired anthrax, botulism toxin, histroplasma capsulatum, brucella melitensis, clostridium porringers, and e-coli from the United States during the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations. It didn’t end there as US corporations like Hewlett-Packard provided Iraq with computers to work their scud and nuclear programs, AT&T provided technology to upgrade Iraq’s air defense systems, Bechtel helped build a petrochemical plant for Iraq, Caterpillar aided Iraq with the construction of their nuclear programs, and DuPont sold Iraq oil for use with those nuclear programs. Not so ironically, those very same companies, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Bechtel, Caterpillar, and DuPont have another thing in common besides helping Saddam to butcher his own people. Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Bechtel, Caterpillar, and DuPont has given at least $187,000 to George W. Bush.

When the neo-cons decided to launch a war against Iraq in the mid-90’s, they knew that they could only legitimize it a few ways. The plan was to blame Iraq for the “new Pearl Harbor”, but as March 19th, 2003 approached, the Bush administration realized that the WMD argument would fly the best with the American public. It was not the intelligence on Iraq’s WMDs that was faulty. It was the Bush administration FIXING INTELLIGENCE to the policy of justifying a war. The United States aside, the entire planet knew that Saddam had no WMDs, because they knew that UN weapon inspectors had found and destroyed 95% of Saddam’s capabilities, and what little was left had expired their shelf lives.

You continue by inaccurately calling Saddam Hussein himself a weapon of mass destruction. This is utter nonsense, as “weapons of mass destruction” are defined as weapons of a biological, chemical, or nuclear nature with the capability to injure or kill large masses of people. It seems for the cons words have no meaning, and it is perfectly acceptable to change their meanings to suit their own propaganda. You also inaccurately state that Saddam was supportive of the “radical Islamic cause”. This suggests that there is but one “radical Islamist cause”, and it’s entire motive is the destruction of western civilization. This could not be further from the truth. Osama bin Laden had been deported from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan because bin Laden had put together a rebel force to march into Iraq and topple “the socialist infidel” Saddam Hussein. Anslar al Islam, an Islamist group, whom the US State Department claims has ties to al Qaeda (apparently offering zero evidence for this), had been operating out of Saddam’s reach in a no-fly zone section of north east Iraq. A spokesman for the group said that Saddam “was really their enemy.” And that they believed that Saddam’s government was “outside of Islamist zone,” meaning that they were nothing but infidels who they worked to overthrow. It would seem that by the Bush administration going after Saddam in March of 2003, he not only gave up on the capture of a mass murdering mastermind who had planned and successfully launched terrorist attacks against the USS Cole, the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and two African embassies, but instead did Osama bin Laden’s work for him, carrying out one of his very top priorities.

You also state that Saddam, during the first Gulf War launched Scud missiles at Israel, failing to mention the context of that history. Israel, years prior, had destroyed, without provocation, nuclear power refineries within Iraq. Israel saw that as an act of self-defense, but the United States certainly didn’t see it that way, as those very refineries had been built by the United States, with several US companies contracted to do the work, such as Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard. Saddam did what any US General would have done faced with the same situation. When under attack from a massive enemy, do all you can to form a group of allies to aid your own self-defense. That is neither right or wrong, moral or immoral, it is simply the reality of warfare.

Yes, Saddam had a great deal of oil revenue at his disposal, but because of the sanctions, he could not purchase what he wished with it. There were violations of the sanctions, primarily by the United States, but still Saddam could not purchase new weapons or materials, much less build up new WMD programs. The sanctions were so severe that Saddam could not purchase chlorine, out of fear that he would make a chemical weapon out of it. Meanwhile, the United States, for a 12 year period, bombed Iraq’s water purification systems, leaving Iraqis to drink tainted water, which made Iraqis sick with dysentery and diarrhea. This was no small thing, as the sanctions also prevented medicine to treat these illnesses from Iraq’s borders as well. This is one of the many reasons why during the embargo, over 600,000 children perished, with an additional 2 million adults.

You inaccurately state that Saddam was part of the “islamofascist” contingent waging war with the West. Like I said before, the “islamofascists” were primarily aided by the West, not waging war with it, and Saddam was no different. However, that “islamofascist” connection with the West was disjointed after April Gillespie of the State Department lied to Saddam, telling him that the US government and the first Bush administration had no problem with Saddam invading Kuwait. After Saddam fell into our trap, that “islamofascist” connection ended.

Nobody followed the cease-fire agreement from the first Gulf War. Saddam at times launched defensive air strikes in response to US bombardment, at other times, the Iraqi people just shot their guns at the planes they saw bombing them and destroying their lives. Who can blame them? As for Saddam being perceived as a threat, he simply was not. Nobody in the planet thought Saddam was a threat, which the exception of the people of the United States, and that was only after massive propaganda deployed by the Bush administration to terrify the American populous. Not even Kuwait, Iran, or Saudi Arabia perceived Iraq, or Saddam as a threat, which is why they were opening up to him, to normalize relations with Iraq prior to March 2003.

Much light was made of France and Germany refusing to go to war with such a defenseless and harmless nation like Iraq, but they weren’t the only ones. None of Iraq’s neighbors joined in the effort, not even Israel. The few nations that permitted the US to use their land as a staging ground did so against the will of their nation’s people, and only did so after being offered grand bribes.

While it is true that the United States policy was to achieve “regime change” against the “socialist infidel” Saddam Hussein, we should ask, what right do we have to take part in such nonsense? Since when was it legitimate for the United States to decide who they can overthrow and who can stay in power? There is a term for this kind of behavior, when you threaten to remove another sovereign nation’s leader. That term is called “terrorism”.

You inaccurately say that the United States was “dragged” into war by those who’d declared war on us. In fact, the only way this statement could be even remotely accurate, is if you concede that the Bush administration had declared war against the American People, and dragged them into a war they were hostile to fighting, and now no longer wish to participate in at all. But I would remind you that there were not Islamist terrorist attacks against the United States, or it’s interests prior to the 1953 overthrow of the democratic Mossedegh government.

A greater president than the one we have now, once said “a necessitous man is not a free man.” And that volunteer military is not populated by choosing men, but necessitous men. As Thomas Jefferson warned, no soldier should be faced with death in order to paid a measly pence. Yet, all over America, communities destroyed by conservative supply-side economics have seen opportunities eradicated, and good paying jobs with benefits eliminated and shipped to Mexico, India, or China. Those jobs have been replaced by jobs at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, forcing good Americans to look at their grime futures. Military recruiters told so many of our nation’s finest that they would never see warfare, and they believed them. Now with two wars waging in Afghanistan and Iraq, those “volunteers” are no longer voluntarily signing up.

If you think our good men and women have chosen to go to Iraq to fight this inane war, then permit those very men the option. Ask them simply, “do you wish to stay in Iraq, or come home?” If that question was asked, and acted upon, how many of the 150,000 US soldiers do you think would stay? How many do you think would say, “there is no noble cause for which I fight for in Iraq”? Those very soldiers know first hand that they are not defending the United States, or our way of life. They are defending Exxon-Mobil’s way of life. They are defending Shell’s way of life. They are defending George W. Bush’s way of life. But they are not defending the way of life of their families, or the rest of America.

You say that because of this idiotic war, there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on our shores since 2001. However the attack on the USS Cole and the attack on our African embassies didn’t happen on our shores either. Nor was the terrorist attacks in Madrid, Spain or London, England on our shores either. Much less the attack on the US consulate in Saudi Arabia in December 2004 on our shores. Or the record number of terrorist attacks carried out against US troops in Iraq in 2004, a fact not well known since the Bush administration silenced the annual Patterns of Global Terrorist report.

Meanwhile, the Taliban and other rogue thugs run the entire countryside of Afghanistan, while the US puppet regime with control of Kabul alone. Meanwhile, western journalists report as if Iraq is a nation in progress, while they are forced to stay inside tiny green zones, and off the streets at all times. The few journalists, such as Robert Fisk, who do venture onto the streets, know that the situation is getting worse and worse with each passing day. Over a year ago Israel’s prime minister Ariel Shron told the American People that the Iraq war is over, the only question now is the level of humiliation the United States will see in its ultimate defeat. That humiliation can only be limited by leaving, and sooner the better.

Meanwhile, the rest of the third world has learned a vital lesson: The United States will only destroy you if you are defenseless. That lesson has given all the encouragement one needs to seek nuclear weapons for defensive purposes, with Iran in the lead. Those very nuclear weapons is why North Korea even has the option of 6 way talks, and the rest of the world will follow suit, making it that much more likely that a nuclear weapon will eventually get in the hands of an Islamist terrorist.

It is long past time to pack up and go home. The only way to defeat the Islamists in Iraq is to let them have full reign. Israel has been fighting a war against terrorists for 50 years, with no end in sight. Yet, Islamists had full reign of power in Iran, Egypt, and Algeria. While the Islamists still hold power in Iran, largely because of our constant threat against the Iranian people, the Islamists are extremely unpopular. In Algeria and Egypt and people overwhelmingly said no to them, and threw them out on their collective asses. That is the only way to defeat the Islamist radicals, show the people of the region exactly who they are, and let the people themselves reject them.

Finally, securing the Middle East is not the RIGHT of the United States. Securing New Orleans, Houston, and southern Florida IS. The United States has no more right to secure Iraq, or any other nation, than Adolf Hitler had the right to secure Poland. What Hitler did the Europe was terrorize the entire continent with fascism and criminal acts of violence and aggression. Six million dead Jews later and the United States has still not learned its lesson, but has instead copied it. Instead of locking up Jews in Auschwitz, we’re locking Muslims up in Guantanamo Bay. And the longer the Bush administration wages a war against the Muslim faith, the more chance we will have that “mushroom cloud” the American People were told to be so scared of, coming to an American city near you.

Regards,
Alva Goldbook.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Fitzmas!

As the investigation into Treasongate is drawing near, many conservatives are beginning to worry, and quake in their Guccis.

Insiders close to the investigation have said that Wednesday (today!) special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will make his findings known. Much fuss has been made recently about Karl Rove and “Scooter” Libby in the press recently, but those close to the investigation have said that they are actually secondary players.

Meanwhile, Conservative strategists and leaders are feeling quite worried. The Boston Globe reported on Monday that Christian Conservative strategist Paul Weyrich says membership rolls and right wing donations have declined. Weyrich said that the conservative movement was “on an upward path, even after the 2004 elections, but the growth has stopped.”

David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union said that activists are “fed up” with President Bush, the Miers nomination being the straw that broke the camel’s back. The disenchantment of the right is so significant that analysts are saying that the number of competitive House seats in the 2006 election could double from 40 to 80.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Senate Republican Hearts Grow Blacker.

The US Senate, which had given energy companies seeing record profits a record amount of corporate welfare in the energy bill, last Wednesday rejected two proposals to raise the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has not been changed in the last eight years when the Clinton administration raised it from $4.25 to $5.15 an hour.

Senator Ted Kennedy proposed raising the wage from $5.15 to $6.25 over the course of a year. Kennedy noted that a single parent with two children working a minimum wage job would earn less than $11,000 a year, $4,500 below the poverty line.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks Dies At 92.

Rosa Parks died in her home of natural causes in her home Monday evening with close friends by her side. She was 92.

Parks, who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955 sparked the Civil Rights movement. Jim Crow laws, which had been in place since after the Civil War required the separation of races in public life throughout the South, as well as some places in the North.

Parks had been active in the Montgomery, Alabama chapter of the NAACP when on December 1st, 1955 refused to give up her seat to a white man. Parks was arrested and jailed for her actions, and fined fourteen dollars.

In 1992 Parks said that history books frequently state “that my feet were hurting and I didn’t know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long.”

Park’s arrested triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system, organized by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Looking back on it, Parks said, “At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

Parks actions culminated in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed public discrimination.

Ten years ago this month Parks spoke at the Million Man March, addressing a new generation of Civil Rights activists. In 1996 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 1999 was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

At a celebration in her honor in 1988, Parks said, “I am leaving this legacy to all of you ... to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die - the dream of freedom and peace.”

Friday, October 21, 2005

New Blog News.

I’m letting all my readers know that I am starting a new blog. Nitwit Planet will continue as usual. This new blog will actually be an on-line version of a book I have co-written with a conservative friend of mine. We have written extensive and long letters to one another, debating politics in the lead up to the 2004 election, and have continued to do so since.

The book we have essentially put together to date spans more than a thousand pages. It will take me some time to make it current, so please have some patience with me. All comments will be welcome, but neither one of us will engage in it. The commentary section will be strictly for the use of the readers.

Those of you who read Nitwit Planet may already know my politics, but if you need reminding, I am an anarcho-syndicalist. My conservative friend is a libertarian-leading conservative.

So if you’re interested in it take a look at http://cohnandme.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Saddam Pleads Innocent To War Crimes Charges He Committed With US Aid.

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein pleaded not guilty as his war crimes trial began in Baghdad on Wednesday. Saddam was defiant saying, “I preserve my constitutional rights as the president of Iraq. I do not recognize the body that has authorized you and I don’t recognize this aggression.” Saddam went on to say that “I do not respond to this so-called court, with all due respect.”

The trail have been criticized by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch because the proceedings have failed to meet international standards.

Hussein is facing charges that he executed 143 Shiite Iraqis from Dujail in July of 1982, after the villagers made an attempt on Hussein’s life. Less than a year and half later, Hussein met with US envoy Donald Rumsfeld.

The Continuing Mess In Iraq.

Meanwhile, the results from Saturday’s vote on an Iraqi constitution have been delayed due to suspicion of electoral fraud. Iraqi election officials said an unusual number of “yes” votes raised concerns after an audit was conducted Monday.

Would it be too cynical to point out that if election fraud occurred that an increased number of “yes” votes favors the Bush administration? Similarly, all the voter irregularities also seemed to favor Bush in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

In other Iraq news, the top US auditor of Iraq’s reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, said that reconstruction projects in Iraq will be dropped because of mounting security costs. Bowen said that the money needed to rebuild Iraq’s health, water, oil and electrical infrastructure along with reconstruction projects already under way “will outstrip the available revenue.” Bowen said that as much as a quarter of reconstruction revenue has already gone to security costs.

Terrorist Scares Rigged?

For the second time in just the last two weeks a large scale terrorist scare in a major US city has turned out to be nothing more than a hoax. Information that supposedly came from an Egyptian-born Maryland resident suggested that a large scale terrorist attack was about to be centered in the Baltimore tunnel.

Last week another terrorist scare set off a heightened alert that a terrorist strike was imminent on New York City’s subways. Intelligence officials conceded that the threat warning had been nothing more than a hoax as well.

This comes as the nation’s capital is on edge over the investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Those close to the case have said that as many as 22 indictments are imminent, and rumors have been wildly circling around Capital Hill that Vice President Dick Cheney may very well resign.

Coincidence?

Study Suggests Global Warming Will Dramatically Rise.

Researches at Purdue University said that extreme weather patterns will likely continue because of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. The researches said the US will like see harsher heat waves and droughts, and more frequent floods.

The study projects that temperatures will be as much as 18 degrees warmer on the coldest days of the year and that the warmest half month of temperatures will expand for up to two months.

This comes as a record tying number of hurricanes have developed this year in the Atlantic. Hurricane Wilma, already a category 5 storm, is on track to hit the state of Florida, and has already caused the evacuation of more than 5,000 people in eastern Cuba.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The High Cost Of Low Price.

Robert Greenwald, the filmmaker that brought us Unconstitutional: The War on Civil Liberties, Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, and Outfoxed has made a new documentary chronicling the lives of Wal-Mart workers, their families, and business owners in their local communities.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price will be released next month on November 13th. Over 3,000 home screenings are being planned in all 50 states and in 19 nations around the world, with more sure to come as the release date draws near.

Find a screening near you, or sign up to host your own viewing.

The Middle Class Squeeze, The View From Woodbridge, Virginia.

I have had a prayer for several years now. That prayer is for the housing bubble to burst.

While many are worrying about what will happen to their personal investments in their homes, many others, like myself, have been patiently waiting for the housing bubble to burst, because it would make the cost of buying a home more affordable.

I live in Woodbridge, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. The median cost of a single family home is $495,000. Such a home would give you an approximate monthly mortgage payment of about $3,000 a month. For that to be even remotely affordable your total household income would have to be at least $72,000 per year.

The cheapest single family house I could find with a quick internet search was going for $350,000. The cheapest town house I could find was going for $275,000, with an approximate monthly mortgage payment of $2,000 a month. To afford such a home your total household income would have to be at least $48,000 per year.

That leaves you with apartments, which your average two bedroom in the area costs $1,300 per month. On the cheap end there’s one bedroom apartments for $950 per month, but range as high as $4,420 a month. There was one apartment complex that was offering studio apartments for $475 a month, but the wait for one to open up is a year and a half, and those apartments are frequently robbed and broken into.

Currently, my total household income is $35,000, and when I was renting a two bedroom apartment I was mostly living off of rice, ramen, and water. Luckily for me, I now live much cheaper. I am renting a 460 square foot basement of a house for $500 a month. But I live without a full sized refrigerator, no stove, and no dishwasher. I have a monthly food budget of $75, and my disposable income after all is said and done is only a few hundred dollars here and there.

I consider myself lucky. Several years ago, when I was still living with my parents, our family got evicted because the owners of the house had decided to sell it. My parents were forced to move from a four bedroom spacious single family home to cramped 3 bedroom townhouse with no basement. There was no extra bedroom for me, so at 18 I was forced to find a room to rent. I got a fast food job and found a room 20 miles away that I could afford. The catch was that I could not afford a car, and there is virtually no public transportation. I decided that something was better than nothing.

When the day came for me to move in, the landlord went someplace else, leaving me knocking on his door in the rain, with all my belongings in the back of a tarp covered pickup truck.

I was forced to put all my belongings into storage, and a friend let me stay on his couch for free. But after a month, and with his wife expecting a third child I had to find someplace else.

Except there was no place else. I couldn’t find a room to rent nearby and ended up going homeless. Because I was homeless and could not shower on a daily basis, I could not hold on to my job. I spent about 6 months homeless, sleeping where ever I could find. It was the only time in my life that I broke the law. I would break into vacant houses and sleep on floor. One place had a large shed in the backyard, with large wooden shelves, that I used as a bed. My shoes were my pillow and my flannel was my blanket. I remember sleeping on that board and waking up every night with splinters in my palms, frozen stiff from the cold fall air.

Finally, one day I visited my parents and asked them if I could take a shower. I had refused to tell them that I was homeless because I knew there was no room to take me in. My mother figured out that something was wrong, and took me in, with me sleeping on the couch for another year while I got back on my feet, and finally I moved into an apartment with my brother and girlfriend.

There is a serious crisis in America. Our incomes are no longer paying for our cost of living. At some point, there must be a breaking point, where we collectively say, “enough.”

While Congress has decided that they will receive a yearly raise unless they vote not to increase it, the American worker has not seen their incomes rise in the last 8 years. Couple that with the rise in energy prices, home prices, and inflation and Americans are making less instead of more.

There is good news though. Communities all over the country have won numerous campaigns for a living wage. Local communities have begun to step in where the federal government has utterly failed. Dozens of communities have set living wages, sometimes doubling the federal minimum wage, many of them set to inflation or the consumer price index.

For more information on bringing a living wage to your community visit The Living Wage Resource Center.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bush’s Approval Ratings Continue To Plummet.

New polls from a verity of sources show that Bush’s job approval ratings are again at a new all time low. A poll from the Pew Research Center shows Bush’s approval rating to be just 29%.

Additionally, the Pew poll found that only 26% believe that Bush will have a successful presidency when all is said and done. The poll also found that 69% of Americans would prefer to see a president with different policies than the Bush administration, while only 25% said they wanted something similar.

But Pew wasn’t the only poll showing low numbers. Even the far right wing “news” channel, the Fox News Channel conducted a poll that found that a majority of Americans disapprove of the manner in which Bush is handling the presidency. A record low for a Fox poll found that only 40% approve of Bush’s job performance.

Despite Bush’s continued attempt to boost his numbers by repeatedly visited the Gulf Coast, his numbers have continued to slag. The Washington Post reported on the question that was in many peoples’ minds, just under the surface.

After the White House’s botched handling of the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, how do African Americans view the Bush presidency? A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that just a measly 2% of African Americans approve of Bush.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. Employees Who Can’t Speak English.

Dear Papa John’s,

I had some unbelievable problems with my order when I called the Lake Ridge, VA Papa John’s to order my dinner this Friday night, which I would like you to address.

When I called to order I was put on hold not once or twice, but four times. When someone finally picked up the phone I ordered two pizzas with two toppings, one with ham and sausage and the other with pineapple and extra cheese. The person who took my order did not seem very alert, and despite that I spoke clearly, I had to repeat myself. When the order was completed he gave me the total without verifying what I had ordered, said the pizzas would be there in about 35 minutes, and hung up on me.

I also put special delivery directions to go around to the back of the house, since I live in the basement of the house. I have never had a problem with this prior. In fact, I rarely have to remind the order taker to put these instructions on my order at all. On this occasion, I did. For the driver’s safety, I courteously left the back door light on since it was getting dark. The front door light was not on.

The pizzas arrived 45 minutes later. When the pizzas were delivered, and despite that the order on the pizza boxes had instructions to go to the back door, the driver knocked on the front door, forcing my girlfriend to run upstairs in a hurry.

When I got them there were two pizzas, one with ham and sausage, and the other not with pineapple and extra cheese, but pineapple and ham.

Normally, I would have just ignored the error, but since I am a vegetarian eating the pizza at all was out of the question.

When I called to complain I was again put on hold nearly a half dozen times. Finally, someone took my phone number again, and recited my order as it was in the computer system. The order they recited was with pineapple and ham instead of pineapple and extra cheese. I corrected her, and was then promptly put on hold three more times.

When finally someone picked up the phone, it was someone whom I can only assume is some manager. I explained the problem all over again and he said what he could do was to “give [me] a 50% discount on my next order.” A lot of good this would do me, since I was delivered food I could not eat. I explained that what I wanted was my actual order as I had actually ordered it. He told me that it would take a hour to deliver the pizza, and he sounded like he didn’t particularly want to correct my order.

I told him to just go ahead and just send me another pizza, this time with the correct toppings. There was a long pause from him, and he finally said, “just send another pizza?”

An hour later, a full two hours since I had first made my order, the correct pizza finally came. The driver gave me the pizza and said he wanted one dollar. The box indeed said one dollar, but I told him that I had already paid for my pizza, that no one at the store told me that I would be charged another dollar, and I wasn’t going to pay more money for Papa John’s to correct my order. The driver then told me, again, that he wanted one dollar.

It suddenly became apparent that the driver had a very poor, if unworkable command of the English language. Finally, after a few moments that seemed like a Texas standoff over a pizza, with a particularly distant look on his face, the driver suggested we call the store to make a clarification. I offered him to step inside for a moment while we made the call, as I didn’t want a huge swarm of bugs coming inside my place, as a large number of them had gathered around my back door light by now. I got no response from him at all other than a dazed-looking stare. I repeated the offer for him to come inside, which again summoned no response at all, but a stare.

My girlfriend called the store and was immediately put on hold. When someone picked up phone, she explained the situation, and a store employee asked to speak to the driver. He put the phone to his ear for a moment, still not saying a word, and then attempted, but failed to hang up the phone. My girlfriend took the phone from him and he just stood there, now with what appeared to be a gawking stare at my girlfriend. After a long moment of just staring at her, my girlfriend finally said, “so, is that it?”

After another very long pause he said, “ok,” but continued to stare at her. We both then went inside, with him still staring at us, and finally turned around and went to his car.

I have personally worked in food service before. It’s been some years now, but I am well aware that mix ups happen from time to time, and that is perfectly understandable. But my experience was so horrible that I am considering a complete and total boycott of Papa John’s.

If I had to make a suggestion, I would think that you should terminate a few of the more incompetent employees at this store. I would also suggest that a management team should be put in place that could more accurately predict periods of high volume, and schedule the employees accordingly. Furthermore, you should pay your employees more money so that you can attract more competent sources of labor. And most importantly, I would make sure that all your employees can fluently speak English.

Regards,
Alva Goldbook.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bush Holds Scripted Teleconference With US Troops.

Early on Thursday, President Bush held a teleconference with 10 soldiers from the Army’s 42nd Infantry Division, in which Bush asked the troops about their preparations ahead of the upcoming vote in Iraq for the proposed constitution.

Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Allison Barber prepared the soldiers for the exchange, to make sure the event went on without a hitch.

But what Barber didn’t know, along with the White House, was that an audio stream was recording the preparations, a full half hour before the President arrived. In the audio, you can hear Barber speaking to the soldiers, and preparing them for the specific questions Bush would ask, which soldier would answer their question, and what to do if Bush deviated from the soldiers’ “scripted” responses.

Despite that the conference was booked as a “conversation” with the President, it was nothing more than the President asking questions to soldiers, who would respond with comments prepared for them at by the Bush administration.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the audio yourself.

The Christian Coalition On Brink Of Bankruptcy.

The once powerful religious right political organization, the Christian Coalition, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson is on the brink of bankruptcy and total collapse.

The organization, founded in 1989 in wake of Robertson’s failed bid for the presidency, collected an annual revenue of $26 million in 1996, but has shrank to just $1.3 million in 2004, and has left unpaid bills across the nation.

Creditors have begun to sue to coalition for nonpayment of bills, including property owners, direct-mail companies, lawyers, and even a former employee. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are owed by the coalition to creditors, and at least a dozen claims have been brought against the organization since 2001, including a small claims case in Henrico County trying to collect $1,890 on an unpaid bill.

Cheney’s Stock Options Have Soared.

Raw Story is reporting that within the last year, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton stock options has risen 3,281%.

The analysis was done by Senator Frank Lunenburg (D-NJ), whose stock options were worth $241,498 a year ago, but is now valued at more than $8 million.


The oil and gas services company has already won more than $10 billion dollars in no-bid contracts for work in Iraq under the Bush administration, and has been given new contracts to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.

In addition to Cheney’s stock options, he continues to receive a salary from Halliburton. From 2001 to 2004, Cheney was paid $740,979 by the company.

On “Meet the Press” in 2003, Cheney said that “I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years.”

Americans Want Troops Out Of Iraq No Matter What.

While thousands recently gathered in Los Angeles for a silent peace demonstrations, a new CBS poll shows that 59% of Americans what US troops to leave Iraq as soon as possible, even if the country is not completely stable. This is a 7% increase from 52% in just one month.

Bush’s Approval Ratings Continue To Die…And That’s Not All.

MSNBC is reporting that according to a poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, President Bush’s approval ratings have slipped to just 39%. But that’s not all.

The NBC-WSJ poll found that only a measly 28% of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction, in another new low.

The poll has shown that Bush’s approval ratings have continued to decline since NBC/WSJ conducted their last poll in September, in a time in which Bush has made several visits to the Gulf Coast, and made a prime-time speech from New Orleans, promising to rebuild, events that should have helped the unpopular President.

The poll also found that only 24% believe former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-TX) comments that the charges against him are politically motivated, while 65% believe that potential illegal activity occurred. Similarly, only 28% say the charges against the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist (R-TN) have little merit, while 57% say potential illegal activity occurred.

But the most surprising numbers to come out of the poll, is that in the largest margin between the parties in 11 years, only 39% of those polled said they want a Republican-controlled Congress, while 48% say they want a Democratic-controlled Congress.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Who Would You Like To Run The World?

A poll conducted by the BBC found some interesting results when they asked people who you would like to see rule a fantasy world government. The results came from the BBC world service, with over 15,000 people responding to the poll online, the majority of whom from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and mainland Europe.

Out of the 100 of those to pick from, the survey found some interesting and noble results. Nearly at rock bottom in 92nd place was none other than Jennifer Lopez. Apparently “a baby with back” isn’t seen as a redeeming quality in a world leader.

Some celebrities faired better. U2 singer Bono came in 14th. Surprisingly, politicians did not fair very well on the list. While Bush’s Poodle came in decently well, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez came in 33rd place. Chavez just beat out Fidel Castro at 36th. And President George W. Bush? A very distant 43rd place. Bush did manage to beat Osama bin Laden (70th) and none other than JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, who placed 49th.

Hillary Clinton came in 16th, but missed the prestigious 15th place, which was taken by none other than Michael Moore.

Another key figure of constant compliant by the American right wing came in 11th place, none other than the head of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Another right wing target, liberal billionaire George Soros came in 10th.

The two highest ranking winners were former politicians. The former head of South Africa, which the Reagan administration identified as a terrorist, Nelson Mandela took first prize. Coming in at number two was former President Bill Clinton. Perhaps, if Bush permitted a few of his interns to get on their knees perhaps he would see his poll numbers increase.

The most shocking of the results, to me anyway, was that of 3rd and 4th place. The seat of 3rd place was won by none other than his Holiness himself, the Dalai Lama. Who wouldn’t have thought Buddhism was so hip?

And while Bush came in at a far distant 43rd place, the 4th place was won by America’s most renowned dissidents and activists, Noam Chomsky.

What is most surprising, is that a poll conducted by Gallop, asking 50,000 people in 68 states found some shocking results on how people across the world feel about their governments. When asked “is your country run by the will of the people?” 65%, nearly 2/3rds, said NO. Only in Scandinavia and South Africa did the majority of the people answer YES. The poll also found that only 13% of those questioned trusted politicians, and only 16% wanted them to have more power. Even more shocking is that the poll not only did the vast majority did not want politicians not to have any more power, but they did not want ANYONE to have more power.

Peer-Pressure.

Growing up can be weird. Especially when it comes to the bizarre world of so-called “peer-pressure”. I say so-called because peer-pressure works both ways. Sure, when you’re young and impressionable your friends can get you to do something you wouldn’t normally do. But it only happens if you are willing to be pressured in the first place. What a lot of parents don’t seem to understand is that the boogie-man of “peer-pressure” is simply a ruse to cover up the fact they don’t want to admit: their kid likes to experiment.

Four months before my 13th birthday my parents moved from Maryland to Virginia. I still lived in the same DC metropolitan area, but being just 12 years old, it meant going to a new school and finding new friends. This was something I never had to do before, and I was pretty clueless about how to go about it.

This wasn’t my only hurtle. I was in the 6th grade, and my parents moved during Christmas break. In Maryland 6th grade was part of elementary school. In Virginia 6th grade was Middle school. So one day I found myself going to school with a crayon box filled with crayons, while curious students asked me, “what the hell do you have crayons for?” as I tried to explain to them it was for a non-existent younger sibling, while the math teacher told us to start taking notes. I was wondering, “notes? What the hell are notes?”

It wasn’t long before I realized that the Middle School I was attending was a ghetto hell hole, and I soon found myself tormented beyond belief. The only friend I had was an overweight kid named Kevin who seemed to be obsessed with The Civil War. He was tormented as well, but he managed to avoid more of it than I, just by being overly goofy and stupid.

If he didn’t like what the teacher was teaching, he’d spread his arms out and pretend to be a World War II combat plane, complete with engine and machine gun sound effects. After a while we learned to do this in tandem, while the teacher would take him out into the hallway to yell at him, I’d stand up and recite the Gettysburg Address, which seemed to make my fellow classmates laugh enough to give my teacher a problem when she got Kevin back in from the hallway.

One day after school Kevin brought his older brother Kenneth over my house. He was 17 and into music, and I was just learning to play guitar. Since Kevin and I dug Black Sabbath and Nirvana, Kenneth seemed kind of like a God as he could actually drive our asses around and we could bum his CDs from him.

At some point around this time Kevin got it in his head that the most awesome thing in the world would be to score some weed and smoke it. We were rebels now! The only problem was that it seemed nearly impossible for two 12 years olds to get some herb.

We both talked about how we’d manage to do this, and not get into trouble. Kevin came up with the perfect plan: he’d get his brother Kenneth to score some herb for us. Next, on a Friday night I’d plan to sleep over at Kevin’s house. Once the parental units were asleep we’d sneak out back and wonder into the woods behind his house. Then, under the cover of night, we’d both smoke the weed, and come back to the house and sneak back in.

Finally, after much pleading with my mom, she allowed me to spend the night. Friday came along and I packed my sleeping bag and headed over to Kevin’s place. He had told me earlier that day that Kenneth had indeed managed what we couldn’t do: scored some mighty herb!

As we watched some TV waiting for the parental units to go to bed, my nervousness and anticipation was peaked. As we sat there watching Ren & Stimpy I kept whispering to Kevin, “so Kenneth’s got the weed, right?” Kevin kept reassuring me that he had.

The hours seemed to last for days. Finally 10:30 came and the parents managed to head to bed. Finally, the coast was clear. I asked Kevin to go fetch us the weed, and so he waddled over to Kenneth’s bedroom door and softly knocked on it. Kenneth opened the door and screamed, “What?!?” This was a typical thing for Kenneth to do at all times: loud and obnoxious, and it made me wanna pull my hair out of my head out of fear of waking the parents and spoiling our plans.

Kevin meekly asked, “hey Kenneth, do you have that herb you were gonna get us?”

“Christ!” Kenneth answered, annoyed that we were bothering him. With his eyes rolling at us, he waved Kevin and I into his bedroom. Once we were in, he closed the door.

“No, I don’t have the herb. I smoked it earlier today.” Both Kevin and I were devastated. Kenneth added, “but I can just bring you over to Steve’s place you can buy some from him.”

Kevin and I looked at each other and gulped. Steve was the herb dealer on this block, and we both didn’t know if we wanted to go directly to the man himself. Being the pre-pubescent kids we were, we thought this was about as dangerous as going into a dark cave with a rabid wolf and asking for a piece of meat.

Kenneth added, “do you two fuckers have any money on you?” Kevin and I gulped again. Kevin didn’t have a dime. I reached into my pockets and managed to pull out seven dollars in small bills and change.

With our measly seven dollars Kenneth marched us over to Steve’s house where we nervously asked him to sell us some herb.

Surprisingly enough, Steve said, “sure,” and he took us to his bedroom where he rolled us a big fat blunt for us. Steve and Kenneth kept giggling for reasons that we didn’t understand, and as Kevin eagerly handed him my seven dollars he gave us the blunt, and we were ordered to scram.

We got back to Kevin’s bedroom and we both eagerly opened up the blunt to look at the goodies inside. We soon discovered what Kenneth and Steve had been giggling about. The blunt was filled with dirt.

I was devastated. Here I had put so much effort into getting my mom to allow me to spend the night, and Kevin had reassured me that he had the herb and everything was good to go. Then for all my troubles, and my seven bucks, I had been made to look like a fool.

That’s when I decided that I would have my revenge, and revenge I had.

On Monday I met up with Kevin in school and told him not to worry about anything, because my God Father was a cool guy and he’d hook me up with plenty of herb for sure. Kevin seemed floored by this.

“Really?” he asked me perplexed, not really wanting to trust his own ears.

“Absolutely!” I answered. “Where do you think I get all my Pink Floyd tapes from? He’s even told me he was gonna give me his guitar. I’m gonna visit him this weekend, and I just know he’ll give me some herb.”

Kevin was ecstatic. By the time Friday rolled around Kevin was practically drooling in anticipation. Saturday afternoon came and I gave him a call.

“You never guessed what I got!” I exclaimed.

“No way, dude!” Kevin answered.

I asked, “Do you wanna come over and hang out with me in the woods?”

Before I knew it Kevin was over at my place. Once I knew the coast was clear of my parental units, I opened my drawer and pulled out an absolutely massive blunt.

“Holy shit!” Kevin exclaimed. “That’s like Bob Marley huge!”

“Fuck yeah” I told him. “And I already smoked my half. Dude, that shit is fucking strong! It’ll totally fuck you up.”

Kevin was so excited he was practically pissing himself. I suggested that we head back into the woods behind my house and smoke up by the creek. Kevin concurred and we both headed out.

Kevin sat down on a large rock and eagerly lit the blunt up. As soon as he inhaled he began coughing uncontrollably. He passed the blunt to me, but I declined.

“You know, I had so much of it last night, you can just have the whole thing dude,” I told him.

Kevin looking ever more pleased, continued to suck the blunt down, coughing ever harder and muttering in between gasps of air, “damn dude, this is some good shit.”

Kevin’s eyes began to turn beat red, tears began to flow from his eyes and down his puffy cheeks, and his entire face took on a crimson hue. Still, he sucked down on the blunt and cough, stopping only to spit when he could.

After about a half hour of Kevin working on this massive doobie, he finally said, “dude I can’t smoke no more,” and passed it to me.

I said, “well it’s about all gone anyway,” and tossed the minute remains into to the creek.

We got back up to the house, and I asked my mom if I could walk Kevin home and spend the night. This time she simply said, “sure”.

As we sat on the couch watching TV, I kept asking Kevin, “do you feel anything yet?”

“Dude, I think so,” he told me. It wasn’t before long that Kevin and I fell asleep.

In the morning Kevin’s parents went to church, and Kenneth offered to make Kevin and I some cheese omelets. Kevin was absolutely beaming to his older brother that he had indeed finally smoked some herb. I concurred with Kevin, adding just how strong the shit was. Kevin couldn’t agree more, adding just how much it made him cough.

Kenneth seemed a bit taken aback by this and was quite surprised that his little brother had managed this. Kevin spent so much time exclaiming about how amazing it was, that Kenneth and I both finished our omelets before Kevin had even taken a bite of his.

As Kenneth started heading down the stairs, and Kevin was out of ear shot, I waved over to Kenneth. As I heard Kevin put his plate into the kitchen sink I whispered into Kenneth’s ear, “It was parsley.”

Monday, October 10, 2005

Christopher Columbus: Slave Trader, Mass Murderer, Serial Rapist.

Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island’s beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:

“They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.

Columbus wrote:
“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.” The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold?

The Indians, Columbus reported, “are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.…” He concluded his report by asking for a little help from their Majesties, and in return he would bring them from his next voyage “as much gold as they need . . . and as many slaves as they ask.” He was full of religious talk: “Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities.”

Because of Columbus’s exaggerated report and promises, his second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve hundred men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But as word spread of the Europeans’ intent they found more and more empty villages. On Haiti, they found that the sailors left behind at Fort Navidad had been killed in a battle with the Indians, after they had roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.

Now, from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were “naked as the day they were born,” they showed “no more embarrassment than animals.” Columbus later wrote: “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”

But too many of the slaves died in captivity. And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.

Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.

When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.

The chief source-and, on many matters the only source of information about what happened on the islands after Columbus came is Bartolome de las Casas, who, as a young priest, participated in the conquest of Cuba. For a time he owned a plantation on which Indian slaves worked, but he gave that up and became a vehement critic of Spanish cruelty. In Book Two of his History of the Indies, Las Casas (who at first urged replacing Indians by black slaves, thinking they were stronger and would survive, but later relented when he saw the effects on blacks) tells about the treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards. It is a unique account and deserves to be quoted at length:

“Endless testimonies . . . prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives.... But our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy; small wonder, then, if they tried to kill one of us now and then.... The admiral, it is true, was blind as those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the King that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians…”

Las Casas tells how the Spaniards “grew more conceited every day” and after a while refused to walk any distance. They “rode the backs of Indians if they were in a hurry” or were carried on hammocks by Indians running in relays. “In this case they also had Indians carry large leaves to shade them from the sun and others to fan them with goose wings.”

Total control led to total cruelty. The Spaniards “thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.” Las Casas tells how “two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.”

The Indians’ attempts to defend themselves failed. And when they ran off into the hills they were found and killed. So, Las Casas reports: “they suffered and died in the mines and other labors in desperate silence, knowing not a soul in the world to whom they could turn for help.” He describes their work in the mines:

“... mountains are stripped from top to bottom and bottom to top a thousand times; they dig, split rocks, move stones, and carry dirt on their backs to wash it in the rivers, while those who wash gold stay in the water all the time with their backs bent so constantly it breaks them; and when water invades the mines, the most arduous task of all is to dry the mines by scooping up pansfull of water and throwing it up outside....After each six or eight months’ work in the mines, which was the time required of each crew to dig enough gold for melting, up to a third of the men died. While the men were sent many miles away to the mines, the wives remained to work the soil, forced into the excruciating job of digging and making thousands of hills for cassava plants.

Thus husbands and wives were together only once every eight or ten months and when they met they were so exhausted and depressed on both sides . . . they ceased to procreate. As for the newly born, they died early because their mothers, overworked and famished, had no milk to nurse them, and for this reason, while I was in Cuba, 7000 children died in three months. Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation.... In this way, husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk . . . and in a short time this land which was so great, so powerful and fertile ... was depopulated.... My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write.…”

When he arrived on Hispaniola in 1508, Las Casas says, “there were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it.…”

Thus began the history, five hundred years ago, of the European invasion of the Indian settlements in the Americas. That beginning, when you read Las Casas--even if his figures are exaggerations (were there 3 million Indians to begin with, as he says, or less than a million, as some historians have calculated, or 8 million as others now believe?) is conquest, slavery, death. When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure--there is no bloodshed-and Columbus Day is a celebration.

-excerpt from:
A People’s History of the United States
by Howard Zinn

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Wisdom And Insight Of Bill Hicks.

“The world is like a ride at an amusement park. It goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud. And it’s fun, for a while.

“Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride?

And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, ‘Hey – don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride …’ And we kill those people...

“But it doesn’t matter because: It’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love.

“The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.

“Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which would pay for itself many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

-Bill Hicks, 1961-1994.

Senate Republicans Show Their Black Hearts.

Despite that just last August the Census Bureau reported that for the fourth year in a row the poverty rate has increased, with another 1.1 million Americans falling into poverty in 2004, and then the nation being hit with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, leaving many Americans with nothing along the Gulf Coast, Republicans in the Senate are attempting to slash food assistance programs by nearly $600 million. The cut would eliminate roughly 300,000 Americans from being able to receive food assistance.

In 2003, the US Census Bureau found that the overwhelming majority of the newly poor were children, with 12.9 American children living in poverty.

Apparently, The Secret Service Has Nothing Better To Do.

The Progressive Magazine is reporting that the US Secret Service recently entered Currituck County High School in North Carolina to remove a student’s project that was made as an assignment on the Bill of Rights.

The school project asked the students in a senior civics and economics class to take photographs to illustrate their rights laid out in the Constitution. One student photographed an image of President George Bush with a red thumb tack through his head.

When the student took the photo to Wal-Mart to be developed a store employee called the Kitty Hawk police, who took the matter to the Secret Service.

Late last month the Secret Service sent officers to the school to question the principal and teacher, and to remove the photograph from the classroom.

The students at Currituck County learned a very important lesson. You have your first amendment rights, just so long as you don’t actually use them.

A Growing Disconnect Between US Generals And Washington.

UPI is reporting that there’s a US Generals are beginning to question if they can still conduct the war in Iraq, leaving them at odds with the administration in Washington.

I senior American general told UPI that, “I don’t know if I have the moral authority to send troops into combat anymore.” The general went on to say, “I’m no longer sure I can look (a soldier or a Marine) in the eye and say: ‘This is something worth dying for.’”

The general made the comments after visiting the nation’s capital, saying he had been asked politically loaded questions from both parities, each lawmaker seeking ammunition for their own political ends.

A civilian US official, who asked he not be named, said, “Everything that happens in Iraq is viewed in Washington through a prism of whether it is good for George W. Bush or bad.”

Lt. Col. Mike Gibler, said, “I am seeing signs that are frustrating to me.” The Army battalion commander stationed in Mosul said, “There are huge divides, and not only at the senior levels of government. There’s a competition for who wants to be the loudest voice to be heard regardless of what they say, regardless of what they know. I am seeing a change in our nation’s willingness to support this over the long haul.”

US Detains Journalists In Iraq.

Reporters Without Borders are calling for the United States to release five detained journalists. Abdel Amir Younes Hussein, a CBS News cameraman has been held since April 5th. Agence France-presse journalist Ammar Daham Naef Khalaf has been detained since April 11th. Reuters cameramen Samer Mohamed Noor and Ali Omar Abrahem Al Mashadani have been held since June 4th and August 8th, respectively. Al-Arabiya correspondent Hameed Majed has been detained since September 15th.

Reporters Without Borders have said that all the detained journalists have been denied access to a lawyers, and have been denied the right to be visited by their families or their employers.

Halliburton Employs Slave Labor In Iraq.

The watchdog organization CorpWatch is reporting that tens of thousands of low-wage laborers from Asia are coming to Iraq to work for military contractors such as Halliburton. The salaries of these low-wage workers from India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka range as low as $200 for a month’s wages.

CorpWatch is saying that many of these workers are sleeping in crowded trailers and are fed “slop”. Many have said that the workers are forced to work 7 days a week for 10 hours or more a day, with little if any overtime pay and a lack of medical care. Additionally, the Asian laborers are forced to work in a war zone with protective gear such as helmets or bulletproof vests.

Black Businesses See No Katrina Contracts.

The Government Accountability Office has been asked to investigate if minority-owned businesses were given an opportunity to compete for reconstruction contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Representative Donald Manzullo (R-IL) called for the investigation last Tuesday. FEMA has awarded $1.6 billion in reconstruction contracts to rebuild along the Gulf Coast, but less than 2% of those contracts have gone to minority-owned businesses, despite that the region has the highest rate of minority-owned businesses in the nation.

Bill O’Reilly Joins Pat Robertson In Forgetting The 6th Commandment.

Fox News pundit has joined Pat Robertson in calling for the assassination of a foreign leader. This marks the second time in as many months that a prominent right wing television host has called for assassinating foreign leaders.

Bill O’Reilly said the US ought to consider assassinating Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, if he fails to help the United States in the war effort in Iraq.

Pat Robertson, in August, called for the assassination of the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

Robertson, a Christian televangelist, and O’Reilly, a Catholic pundit, both seem to have forgotten the 6th Commandment: “Thou shall not kill.”

Friday, October 07, 2005

Iraq War Vets To Challenge Republicans, Part I.

The Associated Press is reporting that Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett, who nearly won Ohio’s 2nd district seat in a special election last August, will be running for the US Senate in the state of Ohio.

Hackett, who last August lost against Jean Schmidt by only 3,000 last minute votes, who 48% of the district’s vote in a district that rarely goes less than 75% Republican, and hasn’t sent a Democrat to it’s seat in decades.

Spokesman David Woodruff, who acted as Hackett’s campaign manager in this summer’s special election, confirmed that Hackett will be running for the US Senate in the state of Ohio against the two term incumbent Republican Mike DeWine.

Iraq War Vets To Challenge Republicans, Part II.

Additionally, the Associated Press is reporting that six other Iraq War veterans will be seeking seats in the US House of Representatives, all of them running on the Democratic ticket.

The six vets will be running in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, and they are asking tough questions about the Bush administration’s war strategy and the lack of any timetable for US troop withdrawal.

With only 37% of the public behind Bush’s handling of Iraq, the 6 Democrats are seeking office at a time when the Republican party has been thrown into chaos with multiple scandals, investigations and indictments.

One of those running, Bryan Lentz, 41, a major in the Army reserves, decided to run for Congress while he was in Iraq, after being disillusioned by the lack of a plan in Iraq. Lentz will be attempting to unseat the 10-term Republican Curt Weldon, who serves as the vice chairman on the House Armed Services Committee.

Lentz said, “I’m not anti-war, I’m anti-failure.” Lentz will have the opportunity to succeed where he has seen the Republican leadership fail in the Congressional elections of 2006.

Evacuated Prisoners Get The Beat Downs.

“It appears that men who have been through the horrors of Katrina were then subjected to new horrors at the hands of prison officers,” said Corinne Carey of Human Rights Watch.

The human rights watchdog is demanding that Louisiana state officials investigate reports they have received from prisoners evacuated from Jefferson Parish Prison due to Hurricane Katrina.

The prisoners told Human Rights Watch that correctional officers beat, kicked and hit inmates while shackled and held their faces against walls sprayed with unknown chemicals. Some of the inmates became ill and vomited, and the prisoners claim that officers then wiped their faces and hair with the vomit.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Real Republican President.

A much finer Republican President once said -- in his own words:

“We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living--a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit a reasonable savings for old age.”

-Republican President Teddy Roosevelt,
recorded circa 1912 by Thomas Edison.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My Fellow Americans, Learn Your Damn History.

I was listening to C-Span’s The Washington Journal this morning and they were discussing Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers’ religion, and if her religion makes her more or less qualified to serve as a judge. That topic aside, several of the callers kept repeating some tired old lines, regurgitated from religious demagogues, in which they either lie or are misinformed of several of the founding principals of this nation.

So in an effort to educate those who should know better, I will give you all a short history lesson, via the original and first 10 amendments of the Constitution of the United States.

Article 10.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”


That means that the Constitution delegates all the powers of federal government. What is not stated there it cannot do. All other powers are to be held by the States, or by We the People.

Article 9.
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”


Huh? It’s like this my humble readers. We the People are the only ones who have the power, and have the rights…not the government, not the churches, not the corporations and not any other institution. We the People have all the rights. The Constitution does not give us rights, We the People are already endowed by our Creator with EVERY right. The Constitution exists only to limit rights (such as the right to murder your neighbor) that is harmful for us to have. The 9th amendment is simply saying that the rest of the amendments are not the only rights you have, in fact it is just a prohibition on government to take away those certain rights.

Article 8.
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”


This should be fairly explanatory. In other words, you’re allowed to prosecute criminals, but you can’t go sadistic on their asses.

Article 7.
“In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”


In other words, when you sue somebody or you are getting sued you have the right to a jury, and you can’t sue someone over and over again for the same thing.

Article 6.
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”


Despite what the Bush administration would like you to believe, the 6th amendment says if you are charged with a crime you have the right to a trail that is fast. That way you don’t have to worry about being held in a detention center for years on end, waiting for a trail that never comes. You have the right that your trail be public. The jury who decides your case must be impartial, and come from the same area where you come from. In other words a group of rednecks in Mississippi aren’t allowed to judge your fate for a crime you are accused of having done in Maine. You have the right to be told what crime you are being charged with, you have the right to confront the person accusing you of that crime, and have a defense attorney.

Article 5.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”


You can’t be held for a major crime unless a grand jury indicts you. You can’t be put on trial twice for the same crime. You can’t be forced to testify against yourself. You can’t be deprived of your freedom or property without a fair trail, and your property can’t be taken from you without you being given money for it.

Article 4.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”


Conservatives have a really hard time wrapping your brains around this one. To sum this up simply, you have the right to privacy.

Article 3.
“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”


Article 2.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”


The 2nd and 3rd amendments were a compromise between the conservative founding fathers (Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, John Adams) with the liberal founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin). Simply stated, it was an attempt to prevent any standing federal armies during times of peace. That is why it says that a regulated Militia (which today we would call the National Guard), is needed to keep our states secure. And since they are needed for that duty, that National Guard has the right to have guns. However, it was envisioned as all able bodied males to be part of that Militia, much like Israel and Switzerland is today. It does not mean that Joe Six Pack can own a gun, it means if he’s part of the National Guard, he can own a gun. The third amendment was to state that in times of peace those National Guardsmen can’t take over your house without your consent.

And now here are the Conservatives’ favorite to misquote:

Article 1.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”


Since Conservatives never seem to understand this, let’s take it phrase by phrase, starting from the end to the beginning, shall we?

“to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That means if your government fails you, you have the right to tell them so.

“the right of the people peacefully to assemble”

Take a good look Bill O’Reilly. Those “traitor” anti-war demonstrators have the right to peacefully protest.

“or of the press”

You can write whatever the hell you want to write.

“or abridging the freedom of speech”

You can say whatever the hell you want to say.

“or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

That means if you wanna believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe, then you can believe that.

And finally….

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

Read it again closely my young Republicans. You might like to say that “the Constitution gives us the right of freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.” But in reality, it says neither.

Read it again.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

In other words…the very first phrase of the very first amendment of the Constitution of the United States says that CHURCH AND STATE ARE SEPARATE. Got that? Read it one more time.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

There it is in all it’s glory. The separation of church and state clause is right there in black and white. Now, do us all a favor and shut the hell up about how the left wants to “secularize America.” Our founding fathers secularized America 200 plus years ago. Get over it! Move on! And for the love of Christ, please, shut the fuck up!

Bush Administration Spread Propaganda In Violation Of The Law.

The Government Accountability Office has determined that the Bush administration violated the law when it secretly paid columnist Armstrong Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. By doing so, the GAO said that the administration was distributing “covert propaganda” in violation of the law.

The USA Today broke the story back in January when the paper obtained a Freedom of Information Act request that showed that Armstrong Williams had been paid $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind legislation. Days later Education Secretary Roderick Page defended the move, now found by the GAO to be illegal, calling it an “outreach effort.”

Armstrong Williams defended himself, saying that he was “not the only one” who was recieving money in exchange for giving positive news coverage to the Bush administration.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bush Picks The Best Person He Could Find.

Facing criticism from both the right and left, President Bush, in a rare press conference, insisted that Harriet Miers is the best-qualified candidate for the Supreme Court.

Skeptical conservatives are blasting Bush for nominating a candidate with an unproven and largely unknown track record, and progressives are upset with the blatant demonstration of cronyism in Bush’s Supreme Court pick.

Harriet Miers has never run the
International Arabian Horse Association.


In his defense, Bush said that “I’ve known her long enough to know she’s not going to change, that 20 years from now she will be the same person with the same judicial philosophy she has today.” However, Bush also said that to his recollection, he has never sat down with Miers to discuss abortion.

In response to charges of cronyism, Bush said of Miers that “I picked the best person I could find.”

That “best person” has never been a judge and has absolutely no experience in Constitutional law. Which leads one to wonder: Who possibly could have been the worst person he could find? Was Michael Brown “the best person” he could find to head up FEMA?

Make no mistake, Miers is not a nobody. She’s the former head of the Texas Lottery Commission, not some schmuck who ran the International Arabian Horse Association. Which leads one to this possibility: Perhaps Bush would have been better off nominating Brownie as a Supreme Court judge and instead have Miers run FEMA. After all, she’s perfectly qualified…she’s one of Bush’s cronies.

Tom Delay Indicted…Again.

For second time in less than a week a Texas grand jury has indicted the former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). The new counts, issued by a separate grand jury, involve a charge of conspiring to launder money and one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The move came just hours after DeLay’s lawyers attacked the technical ground of an earlier indictment handed down against DeLay earlier in the week.

Stephanopoulos Drops A Bomb.

ABC News host George Stephanopoulos said on Sunday on This Week that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were involved in the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. Stephanopoulos said, “A source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting that special prosecutor Robert Fitzgerald may be planning to bring criminal conspiracy charges against White House officials in the case.