There was an error in this gadget

Saturday, January 29, 2011

MY JOURNEY TO CUBA (Part II)!

For some SUPERB videos, Google Havana: City: City Guide, weather, and facts galore from Answers.com.

This was as close as I came to seeing any "propaganda" and I found it hanging inconspicuously in a small shop window. In a nearby mall, perched over a staircase, I saw a small sign which read "Revolucion Victoriosa en el Nuevo Milenio" [Victory to the Revolition in the New Millenium], and painted across another wall was "Rio Revolucion" [Revolution River]. But that was IT as far as political signs or slogans! I had expected much, much more. We discussed it later and surmised that perhaps the regime was trying to tone it down to attract western investment after the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and was no longer subsidizing the Cuban economy...

Left click on each photo to make it larger.

Early the morning of our second day in Havana, Cuba, we took to the streets to explore the city. We began in our home El Vedado district with a large open air craft and art show about 1 block from where we were staying. Here we were astounded to find huge galleries of paintings and other handicrafts for sale in a vacant lot nearby.

I picked up a small painting and my friend bought some exquisite wood carvings. We soon found other such exhibits all over Havana. The art and music you find virtually everywhere is truly amazing. Artists display their wares all over, and sell them very cheaply. The wood carvings are gorgeous and of very good quality, as you can see here by this artisan's work.




There is seemingly not a single bar or restaurant without a small samba music group performing either inside or right out on the street. Cuban jazz is incredible. We stopped by a nightclub and saw firsthand the spectacular musicianship and energy of the performers. They played for literally 2 hours without a break, and their stage presence and musicianship was not only good, but frantically energetic as well.

Dancers abound and will often give an impromptu performance. They, too, seemed to erupt with boundless energy, and I soon became aware that I was probably one of the fattest men in all of Havana! For the Cuban diet consists mainly of fruit, beans, rice, nuts and grains, chicken, and fish. Red meat is rare, and you can bet their foods contain NONE of the fattening crap like the high fructose corn syrup and corn starch we find in overabundance in our American diets! Wherever we saw a food kiosk, we saw the same things being offered: hot dogs (they were always out of these, so I have yet to comment on a Cuban hot dog), and Jamon y Case (a ham and cheese sandwich). We early on ordered a very flat dish pizza, which was bland. I don't know what kind of cheese they used on it, but it sure wasn't mozzarella! Overall, the food is fairly bland, without spices. (I attributed their lack of spices to the trade embargo we have had them under since 1960, but I could be wrong). I DID, however, have two exquisite meals in Havana. One was a delectable shrimp dinner right in Cathedral Square, and the other was an all-you-can-eat brunch for $12 at a hotel on the waterfront. It was only open to foreigners (perhaps only they could afford it) and it had everything: ham, potatoes and gravy, beef, chicken, many kinds of fruit and pastries --- you name it!


We even got to "perform", dancing and singing, with one of the groups in a small bar we stopped in as they sang the old Sandpipers' tune from 1966 called "Guantanamera!" The song was actually written by a Cuban, I am told. As you can see, I had a very good time singing harmony and shaking the castanets with the young senorita!

While we walked much of the way, we did indulge in several mini-taxi rides. These little yellow taxis are found all throughout the city, and are relatively cheap to ride. They are for the most part 3-seaters, and sure came in handy when we were fatigued. We rode them down the Malecon, a wide esplanade running 8 km from El Vedado into the old original harbor. All along the way, we were captivated by the beautiful well-kept-up Spanish baroque architecture which surrounded us on all sides. We took dozens of pictures and were never bothered by anyone, including police.

We went to and drank in a bar that Hemingway used to frequent, called La Bodeguita Del Medio. It was adjacent to the beautiful cathedral I stood in front of for the beginning of part I's post. In this bar, I made an amazing discovery. It had the ONLY toilet seat I saw on ANY toilet ANYWHERE in Cuba! That's right, folks: I don't know if toilet seats are viewed as expensive and unnecessary utility parts for toilets, but I saw NONE anyhere in Cuba except in the bar Hemingway favored! Cubans evidently sit on the rim or squat and tend to their business, I guess. Another curious phenomenon: after wiping, toilet paper is never thrown into the toilet bowl and flushed away. Instead, it is thrown into a basket besude the toilet (which is emptied out regularly). But back to the toilet seat in Hemingway's favorite haunt: it was SO soiled with urine, I couldn't imagine anyone ever sitting on that seat!!!

We eventually ended up in the government section of the city and walked all around each government building. On our way there, we were surprised to see several dangerously open slits near the sidewalk right along the huge, wide boulevard leading up to the capitol. We found it odd that such a thing would exist only a half a mile or so from the Cuban seat of government, but then we reminded ourselves that horrible slums exist only a very short distance from our own Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Cuban "White House" and Capitol are housed together in one building shaped eerily like our own Capitol. Just beyond this area lies the office and business section of the city, which we didn't bother to explore. Seen one; seen 'em all.


I had my picture taken outside the Interior Ministry building, home of Cuba's secret police. Its notable characteristic is a huge neon light in the shape of noted revolutionary Che Guevara, who was killed by the CIA while trying to export revolution to Bolivia in 1967. The only thing I can say about a tightly-run dictatorship like Cuba is that I felt far safer at night on the street there than I do even in my own town! Street crime is simply not condoned in Cuba, and no one ever accosted us at all. Though I'm sure we were being watched, I could never detect anyone tailing us, so evidently the sceret police do their job most professionally in that country. I would guess after having had 41 years' experience at that time, that would be the case. We roamed all over at will and were never interfered with, nor were the other foreigners (Danes, Swedes, Germans) we encountered in various bars and other places. Of course, we kept mainly to ourselves and stayed inconspicuous, but it was clear to anyone that we were tourists. To be honest, I was kind of disappointed that we were never stopped or questioned even once!

One of the amazing and amusing things about Cuba is the fact that 1 out of every 5 or 6 cars on the road there are original 1950s-style American Chevys, Fords, or Dodges. As you can see from the photo at right, many are still in pristine shape! It is a tribute to Cuban pride, ingenuity, and determination that they have been able to keep these things running after having been deprived of the necessary spare parts due to our embargo against them for the past 50 years! To be sure, many belch smoke while being driven, and others lack working door or window handles, but it is still incredible to find them running at all. It was exactly like stepping out of a time machine and emerging in 1960!


COMING IN PART III: PINAR DEL RIO ["RIVER OF THE PINES"] - AN EXCURSION INTO TOBACCO AND SUGAR CANE COUNTRY!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MY JOURNEY TO CUBA (Part I)!

Jack Jodell surrounded by two native beauties in Cathedral Square, Havana. (Left click on each photo to make it larger).

Map of Havana, by district. We scoured the city in 4+ days.

George W. Bush had barely been installed in office 7 days when I, an old high school friend, and a Canadian we both knew who financed our trip (the only legal way a U.S. citizen could make such a trip) left from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to visit the communist country of CUBA. We flew down to Cancun, Mexico, and, upon clearing customs, immediately booked a flight with the Mexican airlines to Havana, the capital city of Cuba. There was a three hour wait for the flight to begin boarding, so we sat down to pass the time.

Having done quite a bit of advance reading on how best to travel in Cuba without running into difficulty, we went over our story to relate to Cuban customs. We know that the Castro government at that time was permitting a limited number of its citizens to accept foreigners as house guests, and that was our aim, rather than staying in an overpriced state hotel. We also knew we needed at least $50 per person per day in US Dollars (the going rate 10 years ago, and the figure our Canadian friend had given my other friend and I before we had all boarded the plane). The US dollar was the accepted currency back then. The Cuban peso was and still is basically worthless on the world market, so US dollars were required for all foreigners to have and spend in Cuba, an ingenious way for them to have access to a stable currency for trade with the rest of the globe. I understand now that the Euro is the accepted currency in Cuba, but at the time it was only our greenbacks foreigners were allowed to spend. We also knew to tell the customs agent that we were planning on staying at the Lincoln Hotel, a low-to-mid-priced hotel in Havana often frequented by tourists. We also knew to avoid doing or saying anything controversial, as the last place we wanted to end up in was a Cuban jail, without hope of intercession from a non-existant U.S. Ambassador!

My friend and I had long talked about visiting Cuba, just to see what it would be like living in a tightly-controlled police state (if indeed that was what it was) for a few days; to see if our government's anti-Cuban propaganda had any merit (it really didn't, as far as we could tell); to see evidence of anti-American posters and such (oddly enough, we saw NONE); and to basically see if the stories we had all heard from childhood were true about how most of the population was trapped, miserable, wamted to leave the island, endured constant shortages, etc. Oddly enough, rather than a dour, unhappy populace, we found the country to be a lively mecca of art and music, with little outward evidence of unhappiness. We also wanted to see all the old 1950s American Chevys, Dodges, and Fords still in use and in operation throughout the country. We got all that we wanted and then some, but let me return here to our departure.

Eventually, the time to board our flight to Havana arrived. We got on the plane and we were off. An hour or so later we would be disembarking in Havana, and we couldn't wait! Once we were airborne, we noticed a woman speaking in accented English with another passenger.

We learned that her name was Maria, and she was an Italian national who had married an abusive American (whom she later divorced), and was living by herself in Nevada. She was on her way to visit her brother, also an Italian national, who was LIVING IN HAVANA and coordinating visits of Cuban dancers and musicians between Cuba and Italy. We looked at each other and realized we had discovered gold: here was the chance to pick the brain of a guy who knew Havana inside and out. We mentioned our desire to her and she said, "That would be fine. I'll mention it to him when we arrive, but only one problem - he doesn't speak a word of English, so I will be happy to be your interpreter. He will also help us find accomodations!" We couldn't believe our ears at this stroke of luck. We spent the rest of our flight getting to know one another, and agreed to meet her and her brother once we had all gotten out of customs.

Keep in mind, this was before 9/11, so boarding and unboarding airline flights were FAR less cumbersome than today! Once we filed into customs, we spoke to a guard sitting behind a tall counter, which obscured our view of anything below his chin. He asked each of us why we had come to Cuba, and we told him we admired the Cuban revolution and wanted to return home to tell our friends about its accomplishments. The agent glared at us and said nothing. Finally, he asked for our passports. I mentioned that two of us were American citizens and that stamping our passport "Havana" could cause us much political trouble back home. He simply glared back and took the passports. He examined each for a moment and then we heard the unmistakable "kerplunk, kerplunk, kerplunk" of three passports being stamped. I thought, "Oh, shit! How will I ever be able to explain this to American customs back home?" Even though we were observing proper protocol by letting our Canadian friend be the one who was treating us, we simply had wanted to avoid ANY evidence of our trip to Cuba, just in case. But my fears were short-lived, as the customs agent handed our passports back, broke into a huge smile, and said enthusiastically, "Welcome to Cuba!" Upon examining our passports, we found that he had stamped a separate document, a tourist visa, and had inserted IT into our passports. We were to hand this document in to airline authorities when we boarded our return flight to Mexico. Whew! I thought: we had dodged our first Cuban bullet!

We soon met up with Maria and her brother. Night had fallen and we had no idea where we were going to bed down. He, through her, advised us to remain quiet as he flagged down a taxi-van, and soon we were off into the night. After about a 40 minute ride, we stopped and left the taxi. He told us that he had a friend who could put us up for $25 per person per night. He had us wait outside while he went upstairs into a 10 story apartment building which we found out later had been made by the Sovirts in the 1960s. After a short time, he invited us all in to meet and pay our new host, a mid-30s-ish man with a wife and small boy. He and his sister stayed on the fourth floor and we three others each had our own separate bedroom.

Spartan yet immaculate, up one floor higher than Maria and her brother, we each settled in. . Turns out our host had government permission to house foreigners and therefore had the necessary rooms. We all then had a small meal of fish and rice, washing it down with a lovely Heineken-like Cuban beer called Cristal. Hey, we were home free and settled at last! It was now quite late at night, so we all settled down to sleep in a perfect little spot in northernmost Havana, the El Vedado region looking out directly over the Gulf of Mexico. The very next day we resolved to scour the city itself.

COMING UP IN PART II: Habana Vieja and Plaza de la Revolucion!

And, for some SUPERB videos, Google Havana: City: City Guide, weather, and facts galore from Answers.com.

Monday, January 24, 2011

IMPEACH THESE ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE JUSTICES!

"Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

"...in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens."
- Barack Obama -

"The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power."
- The late great Senator Paul Wellstone -



For many years now, we have heard conservatives rail against activist judges, decrying their supposed "legislating from the bench." After the Warren and Burger Supreme Courts expanded civil liberties in the ares of self-expression, civil rights, consumer protection, and a woman's right to choose, these conservatives called for less judicial activism and the need for "strict constructionist" Supreme Court justices. Like most of their phrases, this was simply doublespeak for more authoritarian, pro-business, even corporatist, judges. With the narrow 5-4 conservative majority in today's Roberts court, they have at last realized their aims. The effect has been disastrous for the majority of the country, has empowered and strengthened greedy corporations at our expense, and that is why I am calling for THE IMPEACHMENT OF THESE ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE JUSTICES!

I know, I know: with the House of Representatives in conservative hands, my call will not be realized for a while yet, if ever. But it is something I believe we must push for in every new, succeeding Congress. For this court has reaffirmed the very errant notion that money is free speech, that corporations have the same rights as individuals, and has upheld the constitutionality of a number of clearly UNconstitutional authoritarian laws (the Patriot Act, the suspension of habeas corpus for those accused of terrorism). It has also generally supported an authoritarian line when it comes to cases of "executive privilege." In so doing, they have trampled all over the First and Fourth Amendments. That, my friends, is the basis for my complaint and, in my viewpoint, constitutes "high crimes and misdemeanors."


A recent issue of Fortune magazine features Chief Justice John Roberts on its cover, and does a fairly extensive article on the court. Part of the article reads:

"The Roberts Court is also widely seen as pro-business —”Supreme Court Inc.,” the New York Times Magazine called it in 2008. Since 2006, according to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Roberts Court has ruled for business interests in 68% of the cases in which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce submitted friend-of-the-court briefs. During a comparable span (1981-1986) drawn from the Berger Court years, the Chamber’s win ratio was just 43%."

Let's look at these four main culprits who have done so much to trim your rights and aid the very richest people in the country, at your expense:

Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, is everything Bush could have wanted in a justice: young, pro-business, anti-regulation, and socially and economically very conservative. Like many of today's conservatives, he is smug and arrogant, and once his mind is made up, no one in the world will be able to change it. An extremely bad choice for Chief Justice from an extremely bad President!


Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. We have Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, to thank for this, the most conserrvative, and arguably the worst, justice in history. On average, from 1994 to 2004, Thomas and arch-conservative Abtonin Scalia had an 86.7% voting alignment, the highest on the Court. He considtantly votes in favor of the privileged and powerful, and has followed a path of very narrow deviation from what he views as the true meaning of the Constitution and its amendments. He opposes affirmative action even though he is black.He sat idly by while his second wife Ginni actively campaigned for the Tea Party in the last election, this being a major breach of protocol.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. We can thank the Alzheimer's-ridden Ronald Reagan and his controversial Attorney General Edwin Meese for giving us this arch-conservative turkey. He is now the most senior Associate Justice. An argumentative and combative man, and stubborn as well, he too has broken major protocol by agreeing to address Michele Bachmann's new closed-door "Conservative Constitutional Seminar" for newly-elected Teapublican House members. Noted George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley has said, [this suggests] "an alliance between a conservative justice and a conservative member of Congress." In a letter to Bachmann, executive director of the American Constitution Society Caroline Fredrickson stated "you do not intend to provide members of Congress with a comprehensive understanding of the Constitution, but instead will offer an interpretive approach that yields results consistent with the political views of Tea Party caucus members."


Associate Justice Samuel Alito rounds out this group of hardcore conservatives. Based on his work in Ronald Reagan's Justice Department and his rulings as an appellate judge, critics claimed his views to be "outside the mainstream." They pointed, quite correctly, to Alito's dissent as a Circuit Court judge in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, wherein Alito voted to uphold a part of the law that required a husband be notified when his wife sought an abortion. When the case eventually came before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court rejected Alito's reasoning. Critics have also pointed to his 1985 application for a promotion in the Justice Department, in which Alito stated that he had been motivated to go to law school by conservative writings criticizing the Warren Court's decisions in the areas of criminal procedure. He wrote that he was proud to represent the administration's legal view that "racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Alito explained that, while the statements were accurate at the time, they were written as part of an application for a political appointment in the conservative Reagan administration and did not necessarily reflect his views as a judge. Then why did he supposedly compromise his values in such a way? Could it be he was following the modern conservative method of saying or doing anything just so you get what you want? Alito has also issued opinions that made it much more difficult for victims of discrimination to get to court and prove their cases. Alito’s opinions on issues of religion raise real questions about his commitment to the fundamental principle of the separation of church and state. He does appear to look the other way when it comes to government unconstitutionally endorsing religion. This tendency has been especially obvious in a pair of cases dealing with fairly elaborate Christmas holiday displays in and around government buildings.

These justices have to a man endorsed decisions that uphold the status quo and authoritarianism. Just like the Chamber of Comkmerce they so often side with, they are anti-worker, anti-labor union, pro-"free trade" and and pro-establishment all the way. They side with the powerful against the powerless. They ignore important past legal precedent and try to supplant it with crazily modified opinions like last year's disgusting Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission. This makes them anti the overwhelming majority of the country, and is the main reason I am urging us to IMPEACH THESE ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich, and you have established control over the House of Representatives, and you've been Speaker of the House for 20 days. NOW, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

UP NEXT: MY JOURNEY TO CUBA (PART I)!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

QUOTES ON LYING (POLITICAL AND OTHERWISE)




OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich, and you have established control over the House of Representatives, and you've been Speaker of the House for 14 days. NOW, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?
-------------------------------------------------


Over the past decade or so, we have seen a massive amount of lying coming from our public officials. From Saddam has WMD so we must invade Iraq, to massive tax cuts for the rich will stimulate the economy and create millions of new, good-paying jobs, to the glut of outright lies ("death panels", "throwing grandma under the bus") about the President's health care plan, to the President is a secret socialist/fascist and wants to sell us down the river - you name it, we've just about heard it all. I thought I would dedicate this particular post to the subject of lying, something our right-wing friends seem to have mastered nearly to perfection and practice shamelessly, nonstop. Below, then, are a series of quotes on and about the subject of lying. I hope they'll provide you (and our right-wing friends) with some good food for thought.


"THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR!"
- GOD (told to Moses in the eighth of the Ten Commandments) -
Hmmmm---wonder if Sarah Palin, John McCain, the Koch Brothers, Dick Armey, or Michele Bachmann ever heard of this?


"The trust of the innocent is the liar's most useful tool."
- Stephen King -


"When a liar became too skilled at deception, he could lose the ability to discern truth, and could himself be more easily deceived."
- Dean Koontz -
Hmmmm---that explains how conservatives really believe cutting taxes for the rich will create jobs and lessen our deficit. NOW I get it!


"Falsehood is often rocked by truth, but she soon outgrows her cradle and discards her nurse."
- Charles Caleb Colton -


"A good memory is needed once we have lied."
- Pierre Corneille -


"Clever liars give details, but the cleverest don't."
- Source Unknown -
Hmmmm---so THAT'S Rush Limbaugh's and Glenn Beck's secret!


"He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time till at length it becomes habitual."
- Thomas Jefferson -


"I never encourage deceit, and falsehood, especially if you have got a bad memory, is the worst enemy a fellow can have. The fact is truth is your truest friend, no matter what the circumstances are."
- Abraham Lincoln -
Spoken like a TRUE Republican, back in the days TRUE Republicans actually ran their own party!


"If you wish to strengthen a lie, mix a little truth in with it."
- Zohar -


"Lies were like acid, corrosive: They could dissolve trust in a heartbeat."
- Rob Thurman -


"A half-truth does more mischief than a whole lie."
- Ivan Panin
-

"ADVERTISING IS LEGALIZED LYING."
- H. G. Wells -


"It's not a matter of what is true that counts but a matter of what is perceived to be true."
- Henry Kissinger -
A brilliant observation from one of the biggest liars of our time.


"The men that American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest the most violently are those who try to tell them the truth."
- H L Mencken (attributed: source unknown) -


"Lying is a terrible vice, it testifies that one despises God, but fears men."
- Michel Eyquem De Montaigne -


"Lying and stealing are next door neighbors."
- Arabian Proverb -


"The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else."
- George Bernard Shaw -
Ain't THAT the truth!


“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
- Joseph Goebbels -
REMEMBER WHERE THAT CAME FROM, FOX "NEWS"!


"Lying rides upon debt's back."
- Benjamin Franklin -


“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”
- Adolf Hitler -
Fox "News";s secret exposed at last!


“Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
- Adolf Hitler -
Successfully adopted and put into practice by today's far-right Republican Party. A real shame. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

COMING SOON: MY JOURNEY TO CUBA!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

POLITICAL ASSASSINATIONS IN AMERICAN HISTORY

OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich, and you have established control over the House of Representatives, and you've been Speaker of the House for 8days. NOW, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ours is a violent country. We TRY to be a nation of laws, but in many cases over our history we have descended into mob rule. At the very height of it all lies a very unhealthy obsession with guns. We are not only the world's biggest-ever arms merchant, but we have far more guns per capita than any nation on earth. The National Rifle Association constantly opposes any effort by sane-thinkers to roll back availability on almost any kind of automatic or semi-automatic weapon or to place restrictions on the types of person who can own a gun. Their paranoia about nonexistent government attempts to confiscate all guns to enslave us all into a one-world government is absolute craziness, yet they are nearly always successful in their efforts. We have the most pro-gun government anywhere in the world, and, in spite of our overwhelming obsession, we call ourselves a civilized people.

Today's post is dedicated to all the political assassinations our country has endured. In light of the recent near-assassination in Tucson of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, I though it would be interesting to lay these all out for you. Read it and weep, my friends.

1. Alexander Hamilton (1804) - this former Treasury Secretary was shot in a duel with the SITTING VICE PRESIDENT Aaron Burr!

2. Solomon P. Sharp (1825) - this Kentucky State Senator-elect was stabbed in front of his home.

3. Charlie Brent (1847) - this Governor of New Mexico Territory was killed by arrows and scalping.

4. James Strang (1856) - this Michigan State Representative died from gunshot wounds.

5. ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1865) - our 16th President was shot in the head in Ford's Theater at the conclusion of the Civil War by actor and southern-sympathizer John Wilkes Booth.

6. John P. Slough (1867) - Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, he was also killed by gunshot.

7. Thomas C. Hindman (1868) - U.S. Rep from Arizona, died from gunshot.

8. James M. Hinds (1868) - also a U/S. Rep from Arizona, he died from gunshot from a Ku Klux Klan member.

9. Edward Dexter Holbrook (1870) - a delegate to the U.S. House from Idaho Territory, he died of a gunshot wound.

10. JAMES A. GARFIELD (1881) - our 20th President, he was fatally shot by Charles J. Giteau, a deranged political office seeker, only 4 months into his presidency.

11. John M. Clanton (1889) - gunshots claimed the life of this Congressman-elect from Arkansas.

12. Carter Harrison, Sr. (1893) - Mayor of Chicago. Death by gunshot.

13. Ed King (1896) - Mayor of Mount Pleasant, IA. Was killed by gunshot at a city council meeting.

14. William Goebel (1900) - Governor of Kentucky. Killed by a gunshot to the chest.

15. WILLIAM McKINLEY (1901) - Leon Frank Czolgosz shot our 25th President in the abdomen as he stood in a greeting line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY.

16. Anton Cernak (1933) - Mayor of Chicago. He took a bullet fired in the direction of President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, FL.

17. Huey Long (1935) - This colorful and reviled Louisians Senator died in a fusillade of bullets fired while he was visiting his state capitol.

18. Albert Patterson (1954) - Alabama Attorney General-elect was murdered by gunshot.

19. JOHN F. KENNEDY (1053) - This popular first-ever Irish Catholic President, our 35th, was murdered by a gunshot to the head while driving in an open limousine in Dallas, TX.

20. MALCOMB X (1965) - this civil rights leader was killed by gunfire from a rival faction at a Black Muslim meeting in New York.

21. George Lincoln Rockwell (1967) - the founder of the American Nazi Party was killed by gunshot.

22. Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968) - This popular and eloquent civil rights leader was killed by gunfire as he stood on the balcony of a Memphis motel.

23. Robert F. Kennedy (1968) - Brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, this popular Senator from New York was killed by gunfire moments after winning the 1968 California Democratic primary.

24. Harvey Milk (1978) - San Francisco City Supervisor. Was killed by bullets to the chest and head.

25. George Moscone (1978) - Mayor of San Francisco was killed by bullets to the abdomen and head.

26. Leo Ryan (1978) - This California Congressman was killed in the massacre at Jonestown, by a hail of bullets.

27. John H. Wood, Jr. (1979) - U,S, District Court Judge. Gunshot.

28.Russell G. Lloyd, Sr. (1980) - Mayor of Evansville, IN. Was shot 4 times with a handgun by an irate citizen.

29. Alfred K. Lowenstein (1980) - this former representative from New York was killed by a deranged gunman in his office.

30. Robert Smith Vance (1989) - U.S. Federal Judge. Was killed by a letter bomb.

31. Tommy Burks (1998) - Tennessee State Senator. Killed by a gunshot to the face.

32. Derwin Brown (2000) - Sherriff-elect of De Kalb County, Georgia. Killed by gunshots.

33. James E. Davis (2003) - New York City councilman who was killed by gunshots to the chest.

34. Bill Gwatney (2008) - Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party. Was killed by cunshot.

35. John Thorton (2010) - Mayor of Washington Park, IL. Was killed be a gunshot wound to the chest.

36. John Roll (2011) - U,S, Federal Judge. Shot to death by a gun-wielding madman during the attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffors' life.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is just a list of the successful attempts on political figures' lives. There have been many, many other unsuccessful ones as well, from attempts on President Andrew Jackson all the way up to the attempt on Ms. Giffords last Saturday. In recent years, there has always been a tendency to begin a discussion to adopt stricter gun control laws right in the immediate aftermath of a shooting. Yet after a protest from lobbies like the ultra-paranoid National Rifle Association, these discussions are always dropped after a short time and we go right back where we started from.

This is nothing to be proud of!

So who is next? God only knows, but it is a certainty it WILL happen again. We never seem to learn in this country...

Monday, January 10, 2011

SARAH PALIN MUST BE TAKEN TO TASK!


I got this in an email this morning from CREDO Action, and I agree fully!:


Sarah Palin has a special responsibility and opportunity in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. For it was Sarah Palin and Sarah Palin alone who earlier put the crosshairs of a gun on Rep. Giffords. And so far, Palin's response has been Facebook prayers for the victims and an official denial that her widely distributed map involved gun sights at all. This is obscene duplicity at best.

Let us be clear. We do not know why the shooter targeted Rep. Giffords. Sarah Palin did not arm him or pull the trigger. We do not know if the shooter admired, loathed or ignored Sarah Palin. We will eventually know, and that will be a different accounting.

But only Sarah Palin put 20 Democratic members of Congress in her crosshairs, and only Sarah Palin bragged that 18 are now gone, leaving Rep. Giffords and Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia.

Someone has to say it. There has been an astonishing acceleration of violent right wing rhetoric. At the same time, the mainstream media has come to accept armed revolution (second amendment remedies) and violence as legitimate political discourse instead of calling it out as behavior that crosses a very dangerous line. In the past week alone, incendiary devices were received at the offices of the Democratic Secretary of Homeland Security and the Democratic Governor of Maryland.

This is what Sarah Palin and others like her have wrought with their violent and vitriolic rhetoric that literally places gun sights on people who don't agree with their extreme views.

Apologists on the right are already saying that while tragic, this event was simply the result of an isolated act by a deranged individual. There have always been deranged individuals. But they have not always had easy access to guns nor have they always lived in a 24-hour-a-day media machine that promotes a toxic soup of violent attacks on political opponents.

We are heartbroken by these events and our hopes and prayers are with the victims and their families. But prayers and broken hearts are not enough.

How can anyone not be haunted by the prophetic words of Rep. Giffords herself in March 2010, after her office was vandalized, threats received, and her name and district identified by Sarah Palin in her infamous crosshairs:

"Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they've gotta realize there are consequences to that action."

Will there be consequences?


Imagine the consequences if Palin were to apologize for her use of targeting imagery, pledge never to demonize her opponents in such a way again, call on all of her passionate followers to pledge to do the same, and promise that she will call out those in the media who do not follow her lead.

Will Sarah do more than offer her condolences? She might sell fewer books and have fewer Facebook fans. But the consequences would be enormous.

Tell Sarah Palin: Renounce use of shooting images in political rhetoric immediately, and stop using your platform to promote and validate violent calls to action on the right. ...
What happened in Arizona...was not an isolated incident, but rather the culmination of a long stream of threats and attacks, most in response to the Congresswoman's support for health care reform.

In November of 2009, a staffer fearing for Rep. Giffords' safety called authorities after a visitor dropped a handgun during another "Congress on your Corner" event at a local Safeway in her district.

And on March 22, 2010, just hours after Rep. Giffords cast her vote in favor of health care reform, a vandal jumped a gate and smashed the glass front door of her Arizona office.

It was just days later that the now infamous map featuring Rep. Giffords' district in the crosshairs was posted by Sarah Palin's PAC. In announcing the map, Palin issued a chilling tweet urging her supporters "Don't retreat. Instead — reload!" Incredulously, through a spokesperson, Sarah Palin is denying that the crosshairs on her map targeting 20 Democrats who voted against health care reform represents gun sights.

As if the crosshairs weren't clear enough, Jesse Kelley, Rep. Giffords' Republican opponent in a hard fought race for reelection held an event two months later that makes the stakes all too clear. He asked supporters to donate $50 in order to "shoot a fully automatic M16" to "get on target" and help "remove Gabrielle Giffords." Sarah Palin subsequently praised Jesse Kelly on Fox Business News saying: "I don't feel worthy to lace his combat boots."



Tell Sarah Palin: Threats of violence have no place in our democracy. End the use of shooting images in rightwing political rhetoric and stop validating political figures who use violent metaphors in their political calls to action...
We agree with Keith Olbermann who said last night that "Violence, or the threat of violence, has no place in our democracy."


Our hearts are heavy for the victims of this tragedy. We must put a stop to the escalating hate rhetoric of the right and its very specific calls to armed violent action. Lines of decency have been crossed.

Michael Kieshnick and Becky Bond
CREDO Action
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich, and you have established control over the House of Representatives, and you've been Speaker of the House for 6days. NOW, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

NICE JOB, FOX "NEWS", SARAH PALIN, SHARRON ANGLE, AND YOU OTHER RIGHT-WING NUT CASES!

Aeizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was senselessly and needlessly shot by a young, anti-government assailant earlier today. The shooting occurred as she was doing her job meeting constituents outside of a Safeway grocery store in northwest Tucson, during her first "Congress on Your Corner" meeting of the year.


22 year old Jared Lee Loughner shot Giffords and some 12 others, killing a small child, 4 others, and US District Judge John Roll, who joined the federal court in 1991, and for part of his tenure, had served as chief judge. He had received prior death threats for his decision to let an illegal immigrant sue a wealthy rancher. Loughner allegedly shot the congresswoman "point blank" in the head and may have come from inside the store to do so. Like most gun-toting, trigger-happy cowards, he attempted to flee after running out of ammunition but was tackled by one of Giffords' staffers and is now in police custody.

Loughner’s YouTube account, which is full of anti-government language, an obsession over currency and language standards, and the usual far-right paranoia, is revealing.

It reads, in part, “in conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications: the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar,” he writes in one video posting. “No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!”

Every United States Military recruit at MEPS in Phoenix is receiving one mini bible before the tests,” he writes in one video. “Jared Loughner is a United States Military recruit at MEPS in Phoenix. Therefore, Jared Loughner is receiving one mini bible before the tests."


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has issued this statement:

“This senseless attack today in Tucson is a national tragedy, and all America mourns those who lost their lives in the very act of public service. I join the entire Congress in condemning this horrifying act of violence, and on behalf of the entire Senate family, Elaine and I extend our deepest expressions of sympathy and heartfelt prayers to Rep. Giffords and the families of those who have been killed or injured. The U.S. Capitol Police are joining local, state and federal officials in this investigation. We appreciate their quick response and stand ready to assist in their efforts."

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) put out this statement:

“I am horrified by the violent attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and many other innocent people by a wicked person who has no sense of justice or compassion. I pray for Gabby and the other victims, and for the repose of the souls of the dead and comfort for their families. I beg our loving Creator to spare the lives of those who are still alive, heal them in body and spirit, and return them to their loved ones. Whoever did this; whatever their reason, they are a disgrace to Arizona, this country and the human race, and they deserve and will receive the contempt of all decent people and the strongest punishment of the law.”

Rep. Giffords had just won election in a tight 3 way race in November. Her vote totals were:

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords 138,280 48.76%
Republican / Tea Party Jesse Kelly 134,124 47.30%
Libertarian Steven Stoltz 11,174 3.94% +1.48%

Giffords was one of the 20 Democrats who were elected in 2008 and voted for health care reform and were then targeted for defeat by Sarah Palin in a "takebackthe20" campaign that included a map showing each congressional district in cross-hairs -- as in a gunsight. Rather incendiary.

Fox "News" and Sarah Palin have long bandied about terms like putting opponents in the "crosshairs", and today we got the end-result of their hateful, inciteful language. Defeated Nevada Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle quipped that voters may get so upset with Washington that they'll take "second amendment solutions" to redress their grievances.

Well, I hope they are all happy, because today, their wholly immature and utterly irresponsible advice was acted upon - for REAL! I HOLD EACH OF THESE RIGHT-WING NUT CASES PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR TODAY'S SHOOTING!

This isn't just reckless hyperbole designed to get attention anymore. SIX REAL PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES NEEDLESSLY, and a number of others will now face the rest of their lives with varying degrees of trauma and physical impairment.

IT IS COMPLETELY DESPICABLE!


THERE IS NO PLACE FOR THIS KIND OF VIOLENCE IN A DEMOCRACY LIKE OURS!THESE PEOPLE HAVE GONE WAY TOO FAR OVER THE EDGE---NICE JOB, FOX, SARAH PALIN, SHARRON ANGLE, AND YOU OTHER RIGHT-WING NUT CASES!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich, and you have established control over the House of Representatives, and you've been Speaker of the House for 4 days. NOW, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

SOME VERY ERRANT SUPPOSITIONS!



OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich, and you have established control over the House of Representatives, and you've been Speaker of the House for 2 days. NOW, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?


We hear Republicans, their Tea Party faction, and Blue Dog Democrats all telling we we've got to cut back on spending and "we don't have the money" for further stimulus programs to create jobs. Free market enthusiasts all tell us with the Bush tax cuts for the rich now extended two more years private industry will once again be creating jobs.

I say that is errant supposition number 1, and a lot of poopycock!

By looking at the chart below, you'll see we have PLENTY of money! The only problem is, it is very disproportionately in the hands of our country's richest 1% elite, doing NOBODY else any good! And keep in mind the chart only goes through 2007---the situation is even more extreme now!

Source: mybudget360

That's right, people. As of just under a year ago, the richest 1% owned a whopping 42% of all of our national wealth. The next highest 4% controlled 27%; the following 5% controlled another 11% of our wealth; the next 10% controlled 12%, and THE BOTTOM 80% CONTROLLED ONLY 7%!!! That figure of the top 1% has risen noticeably over the past ten years. As of 2001, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 33.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 51%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 84%, leaving only 16% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).

In addition, consider these facts:

1. An estimated 37% of the country is on food stamps!
2. Many wait until midnight on the last day of the month so their checks will clear to buy food at Wal Mart!

If we break the data down further we will find that 93 percent of all financial wealth is controlled by the top 10 percent of the country. That is why these people are cheering their one cent share increase while layoffs keep on improving the bottom line. But what bottom line are we talking about here? The Wall Street crowd would like you to believe that all is now good that the stock market has rallied 60+ percent. Of course they are happy because they control most of this wealth. Yet the typical American still has negative views on the economy because they actually have to work to earn a living (from mybudget360).

It is a sad fact that whenever anyone even broaches the subject of higher taxes for the wealthiest 1% he or she is immediately branded with trying to engage in "class warfare."

I say that is errant supposition number 2!

The REAL perpretators of class warfare have been the richest elite themselves! Ever since 1981, they have fired salvo upon salvo on the middle class and poor, and today the richest elite are bolder and more contemptuous of those beneath them than ever before! They want it all to themselves and will now do anything to get it. It began with their ridiculous and now discredited "trickle down economics", then came freezes in pay scales, and then it regressed to deliberately outsourcing millions of good-paying American jobs to cheap, foreign slave-labor markets, and also to the importation of cheap, illegal labor to break the very backbone of any vestige of unionism. Today, the middle class is rapidly shrinking and may soon disappear altogether. They are not content with even all of this: now they want to repeal the estate tax and are trying to turn public opinion against it by calling it an unfair "death tax" and insinuating that the government will try to grab everyone's estate for taxation, not just those over $5 million. But that should surprise no one, really. Time and again they have lied and distorted any pro-people government measure into one that is somehow, someway "bad" for the general public.

Errant supposition number 3: The government does not create jobs.

During the Great Depression, the New Deal launched a LOT of jobs! Some of the buildings, parks, dams, and roads exist to this very day! Postal workers are government employees. So are many teachers, policemen, and firemen. The truth is, the government DOES create jobs, and they are jobs HERE, not outside of our borders. In addition, they pay relatively good wages, unlike the outsourced jobs now so in favor among conservative and Tea Party Republicans, huge corporations, and free marketers, and we could use a lot more of them to help rebuild our decaying infrastructure.

If the rich send jobs overseas to increase their profits and protect their holdings, that's just "good business". But if workers try to unionize or go on strike to protect their wages and benefits, they are greedy---errant supposition number 4.

We have employed a double-standard in this country for far too long when it comes to workers' vs. businessmen's rights and income levels. It is inherently unfair to always give those in business all the advantages and rights while neglecting or diminishing those of evertday working people. And the implied attitude that an employer can do what he or she damn well wants just because they have capital invested in a particular endeavor places all the advantage in that person's favor, and that is not fair, either. Although many Republicans may disagree, money does NOT guarantee supremacy! Not only that, but we Americans tend to believe that a business-owner can set his or her own pay scale, but all the workers' pay rates must be controlled and limited. There should be a limit or common sense used for BOTH extremes - not the sky is the limit for one and pay as little as you can get away with for the other.

Errant supposition number 5: The government should stay out of the affairs of business.

Those who argue for such insanity are foolhardy indeed. For it was the LACK of government involvement in the economy which helped create the Great Depression as well as the mortgage meltdown crisis which brought on our current Great Recession. It was lack of proper government regulation that brought about $4.00 per gallon gasoline, too. Government must ALWAYS have a say in what goes on in the economy, for government is the only buffer ordinary people have to protect themselves against the excesses of greedy, organized capital!





And the sooner Dick Armey, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and the rest of those laissez-faire Tea Party types learn that, the better!

Monday, January 3, 2011

WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?

OK, you got your extended Bush tax cuts for the rich, and you have established control over the House of Representatives. NOW, WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER?


Happy New Year, everybody! Well, today marks a new era in the Obama administration: shared power with the Republican party of no. As such, I begin my commentary on our new 112th Congress on a sour note. That hopeless crybaby drunk, John Boehner, will begin his reign as Speaker of the House, and his little yuppie parrot boy Eric Cantor will now be House Majority Leader.

Shocked at my disrespectful tone, readers? What I say about them is absolute truth. Boehner has spent many a minute crying before House microphones (who does he think he is? Glenn Beck?), and his propensity for leaving the House as soon as he can for Washington bars is legendary. Having seen him numerous times making slurred speeches at the mic, I'd swear the guy keeps a little backup bottle on his person at all times!


Plus, I have never seen any political figure shamelessly argue his party's talking points, no matter how ludicrous, more than Eric Cantor. Repetitive talking points are not a suitable blueprint for governing, especially when those talking points are echoes of old, tired, worn-out policies which have failed us many times in the past! These are the buffoons the voting public put into high places of government as a result of the last election, and I am sorry to say I have absolutely no confidence in either of them.




On the Senate side, we have the worthless Minority Leader and chief obstructionist Mitch McConnell now within 4 votes of becoming Senate Majority Leader, and I have no confidence that he will be able to produce much of value for anybody but billionaires. He is thoroughly uninspiring, and it remains to be seen how he will control and keep in line the vast contingent of ultra-conservative Tea Party activists which were elected in November.



There you have it, folks: three of the Republican leadership for the 112th Congress. It will be interesting to watch the next few years. It will be REAL interesting to watch when Congress has to vote to extend the debt ceiling in March! Will the Tea Party crowd remain resolute, dig in their heels, and say NO? Or will they learn to compromise and join the rest of the old Washington crowd? Keep your eyes and ears peeled---I think we're going to be in for one tumultous ride after another!

I just hope the Republicans will understand one thing: IT WAS THEIR flawed economic model which caused this economy to tank in the first place! It was THEIR reliance on excessive deregulation which caused all of our problems, from overly expensive gasoline to the mortgage meltdown crisis. And it was THEIR favoring of the rich over everybody else which has led to the squeezing of the middle class and the fact that 1% of the richest people made 59% of all the income in this country last year! THE MIDDLE CLASS AND POOR NEED GOOD-PAYING JOBS, and they need them NOW!!!

SO I REPEAT: WHERE ARE THE JOBS, MR. BOEHNER? YOU AND YOUR PALS HAD BETTER GET DOWN TO WORK!