Sunday, January 31, 2010

Violent Anti-Abortion Terrorists Upset

Not to be outdone by our Muslim brethren in the in the hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the American Christian component of the Taliban have a message for us: They love god so much, they'll kill us if we don't.

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Conviction angers anti-abortion militants

Some fear Scott Roeder’s guilty verdict will embolden others to violence

WICHITA, Kan. - Those living on the virulent edge of the anti-abortion movement pinned their hopes on Scott Roeder.

Testifying in his own defense, a remorseless and resolute Roeder insisted he had committed a justified act for the defense of unborn children by killing Dr. George Tiller, one of the country's few physicians to offer late-term abortions. It was a bold legal strategy that, if successful, had the potential to radically alter the debate over abortion by reducing the price for committing such an act of violence.

When it failed, those who share Roeder's passionate, militant belief against abortion were outraged: One said they are getting tired of being treated as a "piece of dirt" unable to express the reasons for such acts in court. So while relieved at the outcome, abortion-rights advocates worry a verdict that should be a deterrent will instead further embolden those prone to violence.

Story continues below ↓
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"Many of those who came here in his support will be key to making (Roeder) a martyr for their cause — all in furtherance of advocating deadly violence," said Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Roeder faces a minimum sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 25 years in prison when he's sentenced March 9, although prosecutors will ask the judge to require the 51-year-old Kansas City, Mo., man to serve at least 50 years behind bars before he is eligible for parole. His attorneys plan to appeal, arguing jurors should have been allowed to consider the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, requiring proof that Roeder had an unreasonable but honest belief that deadly force was justified.

'Everybody is pretty angry'

The Rev. Donald Spitz, of Chesapeake, Va., who runs the Army of God Web site supporting violence against abortion providers, said the rejection of that argument has upset those who view Roeder as a hero.

"I know there is not a lot of good feeling out there — everybody is pretty angry," he said.

Spitz was the spiritual adviser to Paul Hill and was with him at his 2003 execution for the killing of a Florida abortion provider and a clinic escort in 1994, an event that led to a lull in violence at abortion clinics. While saying he knows nothing of impending plans by others against abortion doctors, Spitz scoffed at suggestions that Roeder's conviction will have a similar effect.

"Times change," Spitz said. "People are not as passive as they have been. They are more assertive."

Such comments terrify abortion-rights advocates, who say they'll continue to press the Obama administration for deeper protections, such as buffer zones around clinics, to protect doctors against others who might follow in Roeder's steps. Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said her group had noticed a rise in anti-abortion violence over the past year.

"We used to have members report incidents once a month — now it's every day," Saporta said. "Every time, we forward it on to Justice Department task force, and they report it to FBI so nothing slips through the cracks."

Network of extremists

Others are demanding a federal investigation and prosecution of what they claim is a network of extremists, citing Roeder's testimony that he talked to others about justifiable homicide of abortion doctors.

"To see each murder as an isolated attack by one individual misses the fact there are these connections," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "It's of extreme concern that some anti-choice fanatics will want to see themselves martyred in similar ways. It is a frightening possibility there will be copy cats."

Spitz said he has twice been subpoenaed to testify before grand juries in the past and FBI agents have been to his house several times. He disavows the existence of any organized conspiracy.

"We don't have a group," he said. "It is a belief system."

At least one Justice Department official attended the trial, along with agents from the FBI. Justice officials in Washington declined to comment Friday. But in the wake of Tiller's death, the Justice Department increased security around women's health facilities and opened an investigation to try to determine if Roeder had accomplices.

Among the other spectators at the trial was Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, which organized the 1991 "Summer of Mercy" protests that included attempts to block Tiller's Wichita clinic and led to more than 2,700 arrests. As the jury was deliberating in Wichita, Terry said he believed that no matter the outcome of Roeder's trial, more violence was inevitable.

"The blood of these babies slain by Tiller is crying for vengeance," he said.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35162547/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/
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I do not know what I find more offensive about this article--that there are delusional people killing off my fellow citizens because they think life begins at ejaculation, or that the reporter who wrote the article gave it the subtitle, "Some fear Scott Roeder’s guilty verdict will embolden others to violence." If you pay attention to the end of the article, the people who "fear" there will be more violence as a result of the guilty verdict for the murderer are the very same ones who support murdering women's clinic doctors who perform abortions. To call "fear" disingenuous for people like Rev. Spitz would be an understatement. The only thing this man fears is getting busted, and being held criminally liable, for invoking his followers to become mass murderers.

The irony is they murder in the name of life. Then again, I do not equate tissue with a live, breathing human being. They do.

If scientists ever invent the male womb, these should be the first subjects for impregnation.



It should be noted that this is the same "pro-life" leader who claimed the US deserved to be attacked on 9/11, that gays and lesbians are "filthy faggots," and that New York City is a "sex perverted cesspool." Here is the Army of God site that he runs. As you can see, this is what constitutes support of the values of life these days.

Don, let me be the first to tell you that you were descended from the same hominids as everyone else. You are not special. Your make believe boss does not know you anymore than the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, and you follow a tax exempt genocidal cult that allows you to excuse your own hate-filled, violent tendencies on others for the guilt you feel for all the times you sinned against your imagination, or the fact no biological female would want to have kids with you (and I think we need not remind you, rev., of the crimes your fellow "pro-life" Christian clergy have been committing against children lately). For the love of Juno, get over yourself.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Worshiping Fetuses and Hating Gays: The CBS Way

Just imagine which candidates our corporations will be subsidizing in the coming election season. Well, according to CBS spokesperson Shannon Jacobs, it will not be a commercial from a gay dating website for the Super Bowl. But some overrated college quarterback can do an anti-choice commercial on behalf of a professional hate organization, whose leaders compare gays and lesbians to drunks and pedophiles, and all is well, of course.

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Gay dating site's Super Bowl ad rejected by CBS

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Super Bowl network CBS rejected an ad Friday from ManCrunch.com, a gay dating Web site.

"After reviewing the ad, which is entirely commercial in nature, our standards and practices department decided not to accept this particular spot," said CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs. "We are always open to working with a client on alternative submissions."

CBS (CBS, Fortune 500) said it turned down the ad partly for financial reasons, but ManCrunch believes that there's more to it than that.

"It's straight-up discrimination," said Elissa Buchter, spokeswoman for the Toronto-based dating site.

Jacobs of CBS declined to comment on the charge of discrimination.

Buchter provided a copy of the CBS rejection letter to CNNMoney, which states that the ad "is not within the Network's broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday."

The letter also states that the CBS sales department "has had difficulty verifying [ManCrunch's] credit status."

Buchter said that basing the rejection on credit status doesn't make sense because "we offered to pay cash." But Jacobs said CBS has no record of any such offer.

CBS is charging up to $3 million for 30-second spots. Buchter said ManCrunch would have been charged $2.5 million for its ad and would have had no trouble paying it, since the newly formed company recently raised $40 million from investors.

Shortly before ManCrunch announced the rejection, Jacobs of CBS said her company was reviewing the ad and it was "just one of many."

Jacobs also said the spots were "virtually sold out. We have one, maybe two spots left."

ManCrunch's ad, which can be viewed on its Web site, shows two men watching the Super Bowl. Their hands brush each other in the potato chip bowl, which inspires a passionate, male-on-male make-out session.

ManCrunch is not alone. Godaddy, an online retailer of Web site domain names, is running an ad in the Super Bowl this year but it had another ad rejected by CBS in the process. The rejected ad features a man named Lola.

This year's Super Bowl, between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, will be played Feb. 7 at Sun Life Stadium near Miami. The facility in Miami Gardens, Fla., formerly called Dolphin Stadium, was recently renamed.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/29/news/companies/mancrunch_ad_super_bowl/index.htm?
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I mean, Juno forbid if we were see a tasteless Super Bowl ad, something which we all know this fine event has never shown before.*



Not that I will be watching, as sports is the upper 1% income tax bracket's way of making sure your collective souls remained glued to a game (which they can make money from), as opposed to other coordinated endeavors like universal health care, homelessness, anti-poverty, or anything that might cause discomfort to the stockholders and the average Fox 'news' viewer.

By the way, on the off chance you are a Fox 'news' viewer (that includes you Tim, as well as your bigoted sponsors from Focus on the Family), or an employee of CBS, I have a special present just for you.

Keep scrolling...
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..



There, you earned it.

*=on the condition that beer commercials depicting a horse farting in a woman's face is deemed a viable "alternative" form of advertisement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama's Populism

The populist rhetoric from President Obama did not last very long. Less than a week, actually. I am to the point that it is very difficult for me to listen to anything the president says without waiting for the other hammer to fall. I felt that way when he ran, anticipating his actions, in spite of which I voted for him, but even by his own Bill Clintonesque/center-right suckupmanship this to me is as atrocious as selling the public option down the river.

Enter President Obama, the $250 billion deficit hawk. True, he had to pretend to care about the deficit to placate Senator Conrad, who is one of those Blue Dog Democrats who cares more for the whims and contortions of his corporate donors, but notice how much of a man of honor our president is in keeping his word to Conrad, Lieberman, and the Republicans for that matter, over the progressive base that voted him into office. No, for us, we are simply "irrelevant," as Howard Dean has been called by the administration. Our wishes and demands? Of no consequence, naturally. After all, we are not giving him the same amount of money as the folks in the financial services industry.

To that ends, if those of us on the left do not scream loudly and often and soon, we are going to see spending cut ("freeze" is only rhetoric when not allotting budgeted increases for the FBI). Not the military, mind you. We will always have enough to kill Arabs and Muslims. It is only our own people we will be cutting off at the knees with the newest spending freeze proposal.

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Obama to Seek Spending Freeze to Trim Deficits

Published: January 25, 2010

WASHINGTON — President Obama will call for a three-year freeze in spending on many domestic programs, and for increases no greater than inflation after that, an initiative intended to signal his seriousness about cutting the budget deficit, administration officials said Monday.

The officials said the proposal would be a major component both of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday and of the budget he will send to Congress on Monday for the fiscal year that begins in October.

The freeze would cover the agencies and programs for which Congress allocates specific budgets each year, including air traffic control, farm subsidies, education, nutrition and national parks.

But it would exempt security-related budgets for the Pentagon, foreign aid, the Veterans Administration and homeland security, as well as the entitlement programs that make up the biggest and fastest-growing part of the federal budget: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The payoff in budget savings would be small relative to the deficit: The estimated $250 billion in savings over 10 years would be less than 3 percent of the roughly $9 trillion in additional deficits the government is expected to accumulate over that time.

The initiative holds political risks as well as potential benefits. Because Mr. Obama plans to exempt military spending while leaving many popular domestic programs vulnerable, his move is certain to further anger liberals in his party and senior Democrats in Congress, who are already upset by the possible collapse of health care legislation and the troop buildup in Afghanistan, among other things.

Fiscally conservative Democrats in the House and Senate have urged Mr. Obama to support a freeze, and it would suggest to voters, Wall Street and other nations that the president is willing to make tough decisions at a time when the deficit and the national debt, in the view of many economists, have reached levels that undermine the nation’s long-term prosperity. Perceptions that government spending is out of control have contributed to Mr. Obama’s loss of support among independent voters, and concern about the government’s fiscal health could put upward pressure on the interest rates the United States has to pay to borrow money from investors and nations, especially China, that have been financing Washington’s budget deficit.

Republicans were quick to mock the freeze proposal. “Given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for the House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio.

The spending reductions that would be required would have to be agreed to by Congress, and it is not clear how much support Mr. Obama will get in an election year when the political appeal of greater fiscal responsibility will be vying with the pressure to provide voters with more and better services. The administration officials said the part of the budget they have singled out — $447 billion in domestic programs — amounts to a relatively small share, about one-eighth, of the overall federal budget.

But given the raft of agencies and programs within that slice, the reductions will mean painful reductions that will be fought by numerous lobbies and constituent groups. And not all programs will be frozen, the administration officials said; many will be cut well below a freeze or eliminated to provide increases for programs that are higher priorities for the administration in areas like education, energy, the environment and health.

The balancing act of picking winners and losers was evident on Monday at the White House. Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. outlined a number of new proposals that will be in the budget to help the middle class. They cover issues including child care, student loans and retirement savings.

Administration officials also are working with Congress on roughly $150 billion in additional stimulus spending and tax cuts to spur job creation. But much of that spending would be authorized in the current fiscal year, the officials said, so it would not be affected by the proposed freeze that would take effect in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

It is the growth in the so-called entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — that is the major factor behind projections of unsustainably high deficits, because of rapidly rising health costs and an aging population.

But one administration official said that limiting the much smaller discretionary domestic budget would have symbolic value. That spending includes lawmakers’ earmarks for parochial projects, and only when the public believes such perceived waste is being wrung out will they be willing to consider reductions in popular entitlement programs, the official said.

“By helping to create a new atmosphere of fiscal discipline, it can actually also feed into debates over other components of the budget,” the official said, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The administration officials did not identify which programs Mr. Obama would cut or eliminate, but said that information would be in the budget he submits next week. For the coming fiscal year, the reductions would be $10 billion to $15 billion, they said. Last year Mr. Obama proposed to cut a similar amount — $11.5 billion — and Congress approved about three-fifths of that, the officials said.

The federal government’s discretionary domestic spending has grown about 5 percent on average since 1993, according to the administration. It spiked to about 27 percent from 2008 to 2009, however, because of the recession. The sudden increase reflected both the first outlays from the $787 billion stimulus package as well as automatic spending for unemployment compensation and food stamps that is triggered during an economic downturn.

The freeze that Mr. Obama will propose for the fiscal years 2011 through 2013 actually means a cut in real terms, since the affected spending would not keep pace with inflation.

According to the administration, by 2015 that share of the federal budget will be at its lowest level in a half-century relative to the size of the economy.

“A lot of our caucus won’t like it but I don’t think we have any choice,” said an adviser to Congressional Democratic leaders, who would only speak on condition of anonymity about internal party deliberations. “After Massachusetts and all the polls about independents’ abandoning us for being fiscally irresponsible, we can’t afford to be spending more than Obama.”

While the Democrats’ unexpected loss of a Massachusetts Senate seat in a special election last week gave new impetus to administration efforts to tackle the deficit, those efforts actually have been under way since last fall, when officials began early work on the 2011 budget.

Mr. Obama’s budget director, Peter R. Orszag, initially directed Cabinet secretaries and agency heads to propose alternative budgets — one with a freeze and another that cut spending by 5 percent. Months of internal arguments and appeals followed.

David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting from Washington.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/us/politics/26budget.html?hp
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Naturally, you know what the right thinks, who is at least consistent in their obstruction.



This is what you get when you sleep with sharks and snakes. Notice how Governor Pawlenty claims the spending freeze for programs like Head Start and vital domestic "non-security" items is not a "real freeze," and yet he proposes as the best remedy to fighting the deficit to include cutting taxes. We have more than a trillion dollar deficit this year alone, and Pawlenty's solution is to gut the remainder of our revenue by cutting taxes (and those tax cuts will no doubt be for his friends in corporate America and the wealthiest amongst us).

Another, more interesting response, came from the CEO of one of the largest corporate dependents on non-military spending in the US, McGraw-Hill.




Of course, the CEO of McGraw-Hill probably does not want to tell you why profits were up over 40% last year--because of their vast increases in prices for their text books, which they know they can get away with fleecing students and school districts for, even when their budgets are collapsing and debts skyrocketing. And where does that money come from? From us, of course (through federal loans and taxes to subsidize those schools who buy Mr. McGraw's overpriced products).

Apparently, for the Fox 'news' anchors, this is what socialism is supposed to look like. You have to decapitate and burn down everything to be a good capitalist, as opposed to merely cutting people off at the knees, except those who soak off my dollar while killing Iraqis and Afghans (you can never put a price on that, as Representative Pence once declared from the House floor).



I am sure when they retired the private firefighters and went to a public, professionally-trained fire department in New York for the first time, Lenin was celebrating his statist victory.

If by some accident of Athena that you are reading this, President Obama, you do not win by imitating the behavior of your enemy, who will never recognize your gestures, except in the most cynical terms. You win by standing up for the interests of the people you depended on for election and implement, when possible, the policies we support. There is a reason why Rahm Emanuel is no longer in Congress. Stop allowing yourself to be run into the ground by a receptacle for hedge fund and private equity campaign contributions, groups who only see you as a useful idiot. Listen to your voters, for a change.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Youngster Raises $160,000 For Haiti

This world can be such a depressing place, politics even more so, and we oftentimes forget the goodness in our species. Meet Charlie Simpson, the pride of Fulham. If only the world had more people like him.

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Boy, 7, raises $160,000 for Haiti appeal
By Agnes Teh for CNN

London, England -- He's no Wyclef Jean or George Clooney, but that hasn't stopped seven-year-old Charlie Simpson from raising more than £100,000 ($161,000) for the Haiti earthquake.

Simpson from Fulham, west London had hoped to raise just £500 for UNICEF's earthquake appeal by cycling eight kilometers (five miles)around a local park.

"My name is Charlie Simpson. I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives," said Simpson on his JustGiving page, a fundraising site which launched his efforts.

"I want to make some money to buy food, water and tents for everyone in Haiti," he said.

Donate to Charlie Simpson's Haiti fundraising page

And with that simple call, messages of support flooded the site.

"Such a big heart for a young boy, you're a little star!" wrote one supporter. "Well done Charlie. A real celebrity," said another.

More donations began pouring in after the story caught the attention of the British media -- with many cheering Simpson on towards the £100,000 mark.

Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is spreading the message. His "Downing Street" Twitter alias said: "Amazed by response to the great fundraising efforts of 7 yr old Charlie Simpson for the people of Haiti."

David Bull, UNICEF UK executive director described Simpson's efforts as "very bold and innovative."

"It shows he connects with and not only understands what children his own age must be going through in Haiti," Bull said in a press statement.

"The little seed -- his idea -- that he has planted has grown rapidly and his is a place well deserved in the humanitarian world.

"On behalf of the many children in Haiti, I thank Charlie for his effort."

Money raised by Simpson will go towards UNICEF's Haiti Earthquake Children's Appeal which will provide water, sanitation, education, nutrition as well as supporting child protection.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/25/uk.boy.charity.haiti/index.html
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I have always avoided giving monetarily to a charity that I did not personally work for, until now. I have stated previously the group I have given to, suggested to me by a colleague, Direct Relief International. For those who want to look up the ratings of any organization that you are considering, here is Charity Navigator, which allows you to find out every group's expenditures and rates them on the proportion of revenue and donations that are allotted to the organization's work.


And all the best to you, little Charlie. You are a gift to this world.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Corporations: More Equal Than You

If you think the private elite interest lobbying on the health care bill was intense, you will now have the opportunity to witness the redux coming this November in the midterm elections, courtesy of the US Supreme Court--the same court who previously declared Dred Scott a non-citizen and corporations the same as humans (free ones, of course), and as of January 21, 2010, our beloved private sponsors will no longer have to form political action committees or 527 groups to tell our politicians what to do or how to vote. They will be able to to it directly and without any spending limits, and all under the misappropriated guise of free speech.

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Let the special-interest games begin

The Supreme Court's decision on campaign finance will transform politics, in 2010 and beyond

Thursday's Supreme Court decision on campaign finance struck down a long-standing prohibition on corporations using their general funds to run campaign ads in elections and unleashed a deluge of corporate money into the political system. The move, which has been praised as a victory for free speech on the right and derided as an attack on the very integrity of our democracy on the left, marks the biggest change in campaign finance law in over 30 years.

On Capitol Hill, the reaction to the Supreme Court's decision fell fairly neatly along party lines. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., lauded it as a much-needed protection of First Amendment rights. President Obama, on the other hand, issued a statement calling it "a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans." Russell Feingold, D-Wis., expressed a similar sentiment, releasing a statement saying, "The American people will pay dearly for this decision when, more than ever, their voices are drowned out by corporate spending our federal elections."

The Democrats are not alone in their concerns about the ruling. Trevor Potter, a Republican lawyer who served as general counsel to the John McCain 2008 campaign, told Salon, "I think it was a mistake of historic proportions by the Court -- by five justices. I think it's embarrassing to overturn a decent decision by the Court just because one justice [Justice Sandra Day O'Connor] has retired. I think the Court ignored its practices of avoiding major constitutional decisions and overturning acts of Congress if there is some other way of resolving the case. I think the Court has made a mistake by diving into what is a very political issue and by overturning its very recent precedent when the facts haven’t change ... [The Court also] makes a mistake by failing to understand the effects of this decision."

This week's ruling overturns an earlier decision in 2003, which upheld the constitutionality of most of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance bill. Justice O'Connor, who was still on the Court at the time, voted with 5-4 majority. The new ruling, according to Potter, "is likely to lead to a significant impact on the legislative process that the Court doesn't understand because not a single justice on the Court has served on a state legislature or in a legislative body."

"Corporations are going to have more legislative control because they will be able to lobby for their interests and either implicitly or explicitly will be able to threaten the spending of millions of dollars against members of Congress who don't agree with them on votes."

Nick Nyhart, the president and CEO of Public Campaign, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the role of special interest money in politics, agrees that increased corporate influence on legislators is a major concern. On the phone with the Salon, he said, "The real bad news is for people who want healthcare legislation, people who want legislation that will protect our environment, people who want legislation who want to make sure that banks are their friends, not their enemies. "

Democrats have vowed to work to pass legislation that would restore as many of the restrictions as possible, but the ruling may still have serious and visible consequences for the 2010 midterm elections, with independent issue and trade organizations likely to emerge as major players. Lawrence Noble, a campaign finance lawyer who served as general counsel for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for over a decade, told Salon that most corporations would be unwilling to make direct expenditures in support of candidates for fear of being seen as too political. Instead, they're likely to donate to trade and issues organizations to do the campaigning for them.

"You will definitely see more money," Noble said. "I don't think you're going to see your Fortune 500 companies expressly advocating candidates, but they will be giving to organizations that will."

A memo released by the prominent Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg and several colleagues at Patton Boggs echoed this sentiment. It described 501c4's and 501c6's, as issue and trade groups are known under the tax code, as "likely to emerge as the biggest players in the 2010 and 2012 election cycle ... Meager disclosure requirements of their donors will make them a favorite repository of funds for independent expenditures."

The Ginsberg memo also noted that the ruling will "drastically alter the landscape for candidates and political parties." For candidates, "controlling the issues they want to run on will become a real challenge, as will having sufficient funds to portray their positions and images."

The impact on political parties could be even more extreme: "Unless the laws change, the political party as we know it is threatened with extinction. The parties do several things for their candidates and supporters -- raise money and conduct independent expenditures, conduct voter contact programs and describe the party’s position on issues, often through issue advocacy. With the limits on the amounts and sources of funds they can accept, the parties will be bit players compared to outside groups that can now conduct those core functions with unlimited funds from any source."

http://salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/01/21/campaign_finance
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To put the Supreme Court's ruling in proper perspective, corporate money is now equated with speech (this is not the first time the court has ruled that spending is a form of speech but it is a first for equating speech with the spending habits of a legal citizen of the non-flesh variety). This is not what we traditionally consider to be speech, mind you, because the average conservative sees nothing wrong with using the FCC to fine a broadcast company hundreds of thousands of dollars because a Super Bowl half-time performer experienced a wardrobe malfunction. Or the political speech of burning a flag or watching pornography. Interestingly, in those cases most conservatives will manufacture a perceived hurt feeling and need for vigorous government regulation of private bedroom behavior and speech. It is only the money of corporations that qualifies in turning these otherwise censorship enthusiasts into fundamentalists for the First Amendment (to which the only other recent instance I recall such a citation of our most important amendment in the Bill of Rights was when they were telling us that hate laws would infringe on their right to freely invoke violence against gays).

Money as speech is a convoluted reading of free speech, as none of the framers, including Madison (the author of the Bill of Rights), ever equated money with speech (or hinted at it in either the Federalist Papers or any of the convention speeches). Indeed, it was not until the 20th
century, when corporate donations were banned following the Tillman Act that conservatives and strict constructionists began applying the liberal incorporation doctrine to reinterpret the Constitution to mean that speech was the same as money. Thus it was the application of the Slaughter House cases, in which the Supreme Court used the 14th Amendment to protect the rights of corporations, that business attorneys discovered the tactic of utilizing the privileges and immunities clause (meant to protect freed slaves [which many of these companies profited from for over two centuries]) to cover for their private interests and extend liability protection from the state. It was from this that we have the infamous Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, in which the Supreme Court declared corporations to be legally protected persons. That 1886 decision became the foundation of corporate rights, which exists to this day. Without those decisions, Citizens United v. FEC would have never been possible.

The aforementioned about corporate citizenship notwithstanding, it was not until Buckley v. Valeo (1976) that the Supreme Court for the first time declared campaign spending a form of protected speech (in this case, personal spending, not the corporate donations enabled by Citizens United [a right-wing front group financed by corporations]). Again, none of these decisions are based on expressed statements in our Constitution or that most favored of all conservative mantras the "original intent" of the framers (the goal of what Citizens United claims to support, even though they had to depend on the incorporation doctrine to make possible direct subsidization of political campaigns).

As for the beneficiaries of this ruling, make no mistake about it: It will benefit the Republican Party. Glenn Greenwald, usually dependable on progressive issues, argues that it will benefit both parties equally, so long as they are incumbents, but if one looks at corporate donations through soft money (before McCain-Feingold), it clearly benefited the GOP, which is why so many Republicans were opposed to campaign finance reform and held it against McCain for authoring the legislation. As moderate as the Democratic Party usually is, much to my own frustration, it is perceived as the liberal party of this country, and when 77% of investors view President Obama as unfriendly to business, it should not require a great amount of deduction to figure out who will be the repository of the bulk of the coming corporate money takeover of American politics.

And not surprisingly, Republicans and conservatives are excited by this prospect, since they are the party of those interests (yes, even more so than the Democrats) and will now be able to neutralize the loss of funds to the Democrats following the passage of McCain-Feingold (itself a highly flawed piece of legislation). By opening this process to all elections and every private industry without limitations, politicians running for national office are going to become unabashed representatives for those industries. And we will be paying for this, just as we have to pay for ethanol subsidies after Archer Daniels Midland corporation lobbied both parties on the issue for over two decades (accompanied by millions of dollars of campaign contributions [and that was with the ban on direct corporate donations]). If one believes the Gallup polls, 55% of all Americans agree with the Supreme Court's decision, which means there will be little to no public pressure to reimpose those restrictions.

It is a sad irony this same court ruled 48 years ago in Baker v. Carr that inequitable redistricting of Congressional districts, which weighted more votes to rural counties over urban ones (sometimes by a ratio of 10 to 1 in favor of rural countries), thereby violating the Constitution's equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment (and the principle of one person, one vote), has now basically commodified that vote, knowing the consequences will be an inequitable influence of that vote in favor of donors, far surpassing the old county unit and urban/rural redistricting electoral systems that the white South used to suppress black voters. Now, we are all targets, except those corporate entities with the money to buy our system and elections, of course.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MIA: The Spine of Democrats

It is the new socialism, where we eliminate the public option, give a large subsidy to for-profit insurance companies, and then complain it is just another big government solution (except when that government is cataloging all of our phone calls, spying on its citizens and taking our property without warrant, holding citizens indefinitely without charge, spending a trillion dollars to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, and spending a trillion more of our monies to subsidize insurance companies and banks, not to mention the No Child Left Behind Act). You see, it is only 'socialist' when a Democrat imitates the Republican Party. If they were actual progressives, they might graduate to satanists. And of course, as you might expect, our president has interpreted these elections the same way the Republicans have--an endorsement to do nothing but violate all of your promises and watch your party go down the tubes. Sometimes, I wonder why I am still even a member of this disorganized group.

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Obama urges Dems not to 'jam' health care past GOP

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama advised fellow Democrats against trying to jam a health care bill through Congress after taking a devastating hit from the loss of a Senate seat. He said Wednesday it's time to come together around a bill that can draw Republican support, too.

When Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown takes office he will hand the GOP power to block the Democratic agenda, including Obama's top domestic priority of extending health coverage to the uninsured.

"The people of Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process," Obama said.

Now Democrats need to reach across the aisle on popular health care provisions such as cost controls and aid to small businesses, he said.

Earlier Wednesday, Obama political adviser David Axelrod said administration officials will take into account the message voters delivered Tuesday in electing Brown, but he declined to go further.

"It's not an option simply to walk away from a problem that's only going to get worse," Axelrod said.

Asked if the Democrats' bill, as currently written, is dead, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky responded: "I sure hope so."

But senior Democrats echoed Axelrod's determination to press ahead, even as they acknowledged it's not clear just how they will do that.

The quickest route is for the House to approve the Senate-passed bill and send it to Obama. But it's not clear Democrats in the House have the votes — or the White House's support. Another alternative calls for the Senate Democrats to promise changes later on, part of a deal to get the House to pass the bill. But Senate Democrats may not be able to deliver on such a promise.

A third option emerged Wednesday — a scaled-back bill that would keep centrist Democrats in line and perhaps attract the support of moderate Republicans.

That appeared to be Obama's preferred approach.

"I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements in the package that people agree on," he said in an interview with ABC News.

Lawmakers said the party would be looking to Obama for his ideas about what to do next since expanding health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and reining in rising medical costs have been his top domestic initiative.

"I do believe this really does present the president of the United States a golden opportunity to say here's what we're doing, here's how I want to lead the country in health care," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who added that Obama and Democrats would have to move within 4-6 weeks or "we've lost it for this year."

The stinging loss Tuesday cost Obama the 60-vote Senate majority he was counting on to block Republican delaying tactics and pass the far-reaching legislation. The outcome splintered the rank and file on how to salvage the bill, energized congressional Republicans and left Obama and the Democrats with fallback options that range from bad to worse.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to say how the White House would proceed now that Obama has lost the minimum 60 votes need to push health care legislation through the Senate.

"There are a number of different ways to do this," Gibbs said. He said the path would become clearer in the "hours and days" ahead.

Obama will address the election results' impact during his State of the Union address on Jan. 27, Gibbs said. The spokesman said Obama was not expecting Democrats to lose the Senate seat long held by the late Edward M. Kennedy.

"There's no doubt we are frustrated by that," Gibbs said. "I think everybody bears some responsibility, certainly including the White House."

During his daily meeting with reporters, Gibbs spoke repeatedly of the election as a signal of voters' anger and frustration about a struggling economy.

"That anger is now pointed at us because we're in charge," Gibbs said. "Rightly so."

Obama met briefly at the White House early Tuesday night with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"We're trying to come up with a strategy to pursue health care. We're facing this new political reality" of the loss of their 60th Senate seat, said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Senate Democratic leader.

"The question is what will it take to move forward, and there are various scenarios," he said.

Pelosi said Wednesday that Democrats have gotten the message from Massachusetts voters — and it isn't to drop health care. "We heard, we will heed, we will move forward with their considerations in mind, but we will move forward" on health care, she said.

House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said Democrats still don't get it.

"While the American people continue to speak, the Democrat leadership here in this House continues to ignore them," he said. "It's that kind of arrogance that has the American people about ready ... to throw every Democrat out of here."

Republicans argued that the election of Brown over the once-favored Democrat Martha Coakley in the Democratic stronghold sent a message that ambitious health legislation should be scrapped altogether, in favor of more modest steps.

Democrats don't appear to have enough time to resolve differences between the two bills passed by the House and Senate — and get cost and coverage estimates back from the Congressional Budget Office — before Brown is sworn in.

Moderate Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said the Senate should not hold any further votes on health care until Brown is seated.

___

Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Mark Smith, Gerry Bodlander, Jim Abrams and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100120/ap_on_bi_ge/us_health_care_overhaul
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Say what you will about the Republicans, but they never allow elections to let them forget what they believe in, even if this means advocating policies that only materially benefit those in the upper 1% income tax bracket. What a pity we do not have a party that is the same about wanting to represent the interests of people who are not millionaires, religious fundamentalists, or armchair bombardiers. Actually, we do have one of those Democrats, Howard Dean, but the White House prefers to call him and the rest of the base of the party "irrelevant", while wanting to meet with and "compromise" with Joseph Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and boy toys like Scott Brown.

Ah, compromise, which only retains meaning for the Blue Dogs and the administration when you are giving yourself over to your enemies and letting them finish the job of your immolation. We should all be thankful this was not LBJ's approach to civil rights or FDR's to Social Security. And thanks be to Honest Abe that Harry Reid was not at Appomattox. He might well have apologized for the victory and surrendered to Lee.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr.: Advocate of Peace and Socialism

This is my third Martin Luther King Jr. Day at this blog. It is a tradition, however young, to recite Dr. King's great 1967 speech denouncing the war in Vietnam, linking the civil rights struggle with peace and social justice. It is the kind of speech that, if delivered today by any elected progressive, would get you censured as an Islamic terrorist by Fox 'news.' It was a speech that incited widespread condemnation of Dr. King, by the white right (as expected) and by the mainstream civil rights leadership, who felt that King was damaging the cause by trying to oppose the Vietnam War. In fact, to publicly criticize the Vietnam War in 1967 courted the kind of fanatical hate-filled response that many of you probably well remember from the same forces and people who denounced anti-war demonstrators in the run up to the Iraq War as 'traitors' and 'anti-American.' Some things, sadly, never change.

Nevertheless, King's speech and sermon on Vietnam was his greatest and least known to people, particularly after his death and iconography by the very media and people who demonized him in life. Without further ado, the Martin Luther King you do not get to see and read about in your history texts, and the reason why every person in this country should be celebrating this day, taking heed his words and advocacy, while we continue to shred two societies by military force a half world away.

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[Here is Dr. King's sermon before the Ebenezor Baptist Church on April 30, 1967, a few weeks after the Beyond Vietnam speech]



Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

[Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King's speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all]

http://www.ssc.msu.edu/~sw/mlk/brkslnc.htm

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.

The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

  1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
  2. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
  3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
  4. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
  5. Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.


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