GREAT PROGRESSIVE VOICES (Part III)

By Jack Jodell, May 17, 2011

THOM HARTMANN (1951 – ) is the 10th most important talk show host in America, and most important liberal, according to Talkers Magazine (the 9 above him are all conservatives). Hartmann, an unabashed progressive, describes himself as being part of the “radical middle.” He wrote an article entitled “Talking Back to Talk Radio” which became the business plan for the liberal Air America Radio Network.

Of Norwegian descent, Hartmann was born to an atheist father and a Christian mother in Grand Rapids, MI.  He dropped out of college (Michigan State) in the late 1960s to pursue an education in alternative medicine. He attained a Chartered Herbalist degree from Dominion Herbal College, a Master of Herbology degree from Emerson College of Herbology, and finally a Ph,D in Homeopathic Medicine from Bainbridge in England. This education enables him to practice homeopathic and herbal medicine in England, Canada, India, and numerous other countries. He has also completed a postgraduate course in acupuncture from the Beijing International Acupuncture Institute, the world’s largest accredited accupuncture teaching hospital. He is also a licensed and certified NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Practicioner and Trainer and is a rostered Psychotherapist in the State of Vermont. But his thirst for knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit didn’t allow him to be confined strictly to alternative medicine. He has also owned and/or sold a number of other businesses, among which have been an herbal products and tea company, a newsletter/magazine publishing company, an international  travel wholesale and retail agency, an advertising and marketing agency, and a training company presenting nationwide seminars. He began the New England Salem Children’s Village, a non-profit corporation whose primary purpose is to provide a home and nurturing for neglected and emotionally disturbed children. Through this program, he helped start international relief programs in Uganda, Russia, India, Australia, Colombia, and a number of other countries.

Hartmann is also a prolific writer who has written books on a wide variety of topics. His works have gained him the attention of such diverse figures as the Dalai Lama, the late Pope John Paul II, and Gore Vidal. One might be tempted to think that, with such a strong business background, Thom Hartmann would be a firm believer in modern-day conservative Republican principles of Bush’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy,  as well as an ardent supporter of “free market” economics and globalization. But that is definitely not the case!

Oddly enough, Thom Hartmann’s first foray into politics occurred at the age of 13, when he campaigned for 1964’s unsuccessful Republican Party nominee, Barry Goldwater. Four years later, while a student at Michigan State, he began to see the folly and injustice of the Vietnam War, so he did a political about-face and permanently divorced himself from conservative ideology and abandoned his allegiance to the Republican Party. He began working as a DJ and eventually became a radio station programmer. His interest in radio broadcasting never left him, and he has repeatedly returned to the airwaves even as he involved himself with his other businesses. His show, The Thom Hartmann Show, is now carried on Sirius and  XM satellite radio, 72 terrestrial radio stations in 33 states, and is simulcast on TV’s Dish Network channel 9415 via the Free Speech network, as well as several other local cable networks. More than half of the guests on his program are conservatives, Ayn Rand institute types, or libertarians, with whom he engages in lively debate. On the other, more sensible side of the political spectrum, Sen. Bernie Sanders is a regular Friday guest. Hartmann ends every show with the phrase, “Activism begins with you. Democracy begins with you. Get out there, get active! Tag, you’re it!”

Thom Hartmann’s 1997 blockbuster book, Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America’s Original Vision is a MUST-READ FOR EVERY PROGRESSIVE! In it, he outlines how our original Founding Fathers did NOT envision our country as a bastion of aristocracy.  as conservatives so often errantly claim. He points out that conservatives didn’t invent the path to persuasive messaging, and he shows how progressives can beat them at this very game they have been playing so successfully for so long. It is a guidebook on how to counter the lies and disinformation campaigns so cherished by the extreme right. It helps one inderstand how the brain processes information, how decisions are made, and how that influences people’s perception and world view. It is THE most effective guide to help you win a political discussion or neutralize a far-right talking point. If enough progressives begin understanding and utilizing this technique, we may yet be able to vanquish these idiots like Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, or Mike Huckabee forever from our politics. So tell your progressive friends, and READ THIS BOOK!

I have a number of favorite quotes from Thom Hartmann. He once said, “[war] is legalized mass murder, it is relegated to the measure of last resort by civilized people the world over. The majority of the civilized world was horrified when the United States launched a preemptive war on Iraq without the authorization of the United Nations.” He has also commented, “Conservatives view the world as a dangerous and evil place and believe people to be fundamentally selfish. Liberals view the world as a natural and harmonius place and believe people to be fundamentally good.” Another time, he mentioned, “What the cons [conservative Republicans] don’t say is that the reason they want a smaller government is because they can make an enormous amount of money when they privatize formerly government functions. They want a power vacuum so that corporations and the rich can step in and profit from things that used to be nonprofit…One in twenty Americans is now getting water from a non-U.S. corporation that is extracting profits from local American communities and taking those profits overseas…CEOs are looking forward to more Gulfstreams and nicer yachts, while America’s middle class is paying more and more for basic and necessary services.”

There is a lot to like in Thom Hartmann. He has excelled in the business community without cashing in his principles. He speaks fairness and common sense. He should be an inspiration and motivator for all of us to help us beat back the rampant dishonesty being foisted on this nation by lying, far-right conservative reactionaries. I would strongly  urge each and every progressive to read his books and listen to and/or watch his program. For those without easy access to those sources, much of his material is available on YouTube, and it would be well worth your visit!

COMING SOON: Rachel Maddow 

Posted in conservative Republicans, Humanitarianism, Politics, progressives, RoundTree7 Info, talk radio, taxes, Thom Hartmann, War | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Let’s hear it for Vermont Democrats!

Vermont, the first state to put the kibosh on slavery (in 1777!), is now showing the rest of the United States how to do health-care reform.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin

Both of the state’s legislative chambers have approved a bill aimed at true universal health care, unlike that “mandated insurance” thing enacted federally. Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, will sign the bill into law any day now.

State House Bill 202 establishes a five-person panel tasked with changing Vermont’s health-care payment system to one that is eventually, with perhaps a few exceptions, single-payer.

Insurance companies hate the move, but the Green Mountain State stands to save huge sums in the administrative costs associated with health care. And, most importantly, rich and poor Vermonters alike will be able to rest assured that they can get the medical care they need.

Welcome to the compassionate civilized world, Vermont. May other states follow you instead of defending insurance companies’ “right” to wring profits out of health needs.

There’s good news on the other side of the continental United States, too. California, the country’s most populous state, has taken a tentative step towards a single-payer system. State Senator Mark Leno’s “California Universal Health Care Act” was approved by a committee of the upper house on May 6, bringing it a bit closer to becoming law.

As these measures progress – or, as seems plausible in Cali, get stymied by troglodytes – recall that the White House’s current occupant said as he was running for Prez that health care “should be a right,” not a privilege.

If only Barack Obama had stood firm in that position after inauguration.

Posted in Health Care, Politics | 15 Comments

The Most Evil Man In America

Yes, that’s right!  The most evil man in America has announced he’s running for President.  The news make my stomach turn. I’ve written much about the Newt in the past.  One story that I did sums him up quite well.  I’m re-posting it here as well as links to others I’ve done.
Let’s first start out with something from Mother Jones:

Gingrich was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1978. He learned quickly that a backbencher in the minority party could distinguish himself and gain attention in Washington by employing extreme rhetoric. Ever in attack-mode, Gingrich swiftly moved up the ranks within the House GOP caucus. Democrats accused him of practicing “skinhead politics,” and a 1989 Washington Post profile declared him “notorious” and “defiant.” But his political thuggery worked, and he led the GOPers in their historic retaking of the House and became speaker. He did not last long in the post. After a rocky stint—marked by a government shutdown, his party’s sex-and-lies impeachment crusade against President Bill Clinton, and several ethics controversies involving Gingrich—the GOP lost seats in the 1998 election, and Gingrich resigned as speaker and left the House. (During this time, he was having an extramarital affair with a congressional aide who would eventually become his third, and present, wife.)

This link will give a run down on most of his famous lies.  Sometimes we forget as they have been so numerous :   Mother Jones

The last person in the World I wanted to write about is that squirm of a Man, Newt Gingrich.  He is my personal choice of the biggest scum bag of the last hundred years.
Many of you have read some earlier stories I’ve written about him. He’s even been the recipient of the Golden Stiffy Award which we give out to someone who’s really been an asshole.
Now we all  knew Newt was planning a run for president yet again in 2012.   Fine, bring it on.
What this does for Newt is allows him to be his most controversial in order to get the media spotlight.  As media matters pointed out by the right wing media, Fox (anything but) “News” has been playing a game of race baiting.  Perfect for the Newt Miester since he’s a Fox News contributor.
In a new high- or low as the case may be- Eye of Newt told the National review that Obama only pretends to be normal.  Come closer, closer, whispering in your ear…Obama is engaged in ….are you ready….KENYAN, anti-colonial behavior.  Oh Nooos…….
Ahh excuse me, but what the fuck does that mean? Well I don’t know, but he’s citing Forbes.  Now how can you go wrong with that?

“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”
“This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president,” Gingrich tells us.
“I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true,” Gingrich continues. “In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest.”
Aww geez the Alinksy comparison again.  You’d think after all this time he would come up with something a little more current, hm?
“But what of my question, you know the one where I said the F-bomb.”
Well I guess this is supposed to explain it…
“Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.”
Oh Lord, really, really Newt are you really going there…? Why not just wear the white hood and call him a nigger?  That’s what you really want to do.  Do it Newt, free yourself of your inhibitions.  Let the world see you for what you really are: a Racist motherfucker!
Fun Links to ponder:
Media Matters on Kenyan Anti-Colonialist behavior
Newt wins his first Golden Stiffy
Newt’s hypocrisy
Newt’s Pledge to America
Newt and his Direct Mail Scam

Newt’s brass balls

Special Thanks to Morgan for her help.

Posted in Commentary | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

60% of AZ students are Hispanic. So why are they getting shafted at every turn by state and fed governments?

Yet the republican-led state government is doing everything they can to cut funding to those districts which are mostly hispanic.

How fucking ignorant is that? Why do they want to raise a generation of uneducated citizens? Make no doubt about it, the students are mostly if not always, born in the USA..they are citizens! Perhaps their parents are not, but those kids are and there is no fucking excuse for the shit being foisted upon those school districts by the friggin republicans, the teabaggers and the haters.

Take the case of the Tucson school districts and their fight to keep ethnic studies as part of the curriculum. The ignorant, hateful republicans are doing their damn best to kill these courses. From the PhoenixNewTimes link:

Enemies of the Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies program would have the public believe that a cabal of commie educators are teaching revolution in TUSD’s classrooms.

The reality is not quite as sexy as this vision of young Patty Hearsts, Huey Newtons, and Bernardine Dohrns getting groomed with lessons on Marxism and Chairman Mao.

Indeed, to listen to the likes of former state Schools Superintendent and current Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, the primary pusher of the ethnic studies ban signed into law last year by Governor Jan Brewer, you’d think Tucson high school kids are learning how to hate whitey and make pipe bombs.

This is also the general line, BTW, that the Arizona Republic’s official crotchety old white man, Doug MacEachern, who — like a lot of mean, ornery, tea-bagger-esque ofays — is genuinely terrified of young, intelligent Latinos, armed with facts and logic.

God forbid these young people ever grow up, go to college, and become Horne and MacEachern’s worst nightmares: members of a new political establishment that will condemn theirs to a timely grave.

Equality people..we need it in order for us as a nation to become first again in all areas and the white folks fighting against it will not win this war. Yes, it is a war.

The fastest growing population in the United States is Hispanic.  The last thing we, as a nation, need is generations of uneducated or under-educated Hispanics. I don’t give a shit what garbage the white teabagging, extremist Republicans throw out there to justify their actions with regard to educating the hispanic population..its pure bullshit and fuckery… plain and simple.

The Tucson classes had been in the system for thirteen-fucking-years. Steve Lemons of the Phoenix NewTimes attended one of these classes..he had to attend it incognito because the District Superintendent refused to give him permission to attend one. Again from the PhoenixNewTimes link:

Essentially, the students read a passage by a Hispanic-American author. The subject was self-empowerment, not the “victimization” that Horne and others believe is preached.

A writing assignment centered on this theme. Current events concerning the effort by some on the TUSD school board to make ethnic studies an elective were discussed. Several students expressed that if this were to happen, they would not be able to fit the class into their course load. The program would probably then whither away.

The teacher led the discussion but did not force an opinion on the teenagers. Other than the text and the subject matter, the class could have been any social studies or literature class anywhere in America.

Why do these classes exist? To answer this question, you need only look around the campuses and observe. More than 60 percent of TUSD’s students are Hispanic. One middle school in TUSD is 92 percent Latino. In one high school, 71 percent of attendees are Latino. Another high school is 89 percent Latino students.

These are shocking numbers, and evidence that the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education, which held that separate educational facilities for students of different races are “inherently unequal,” has been effectively undermined by white flight and the rise of charter schools.

Tucson’s ethnic-studies classes were the result of a desegregation lawsuit brought in the 1970s. There are also African-American and Native American courses, but Mexican American Studies is the largest of these disciplines.

MAS was created to address the disparity between dropout rates and low test scores of Latinos versus other students. The idea behind it is to engage at-risk students with history and literature that speaks to them and their experiences.

“The students see themselves in the curriculum,” Sean Arce, director of the program, told me during my last trek to Tucson. “They see themselves as part of the American experience, as contributors to society.”

Whether the white folks/teabaggers/racists like it or not….Hispanics are here to stay and they are growing in numbers. They are becoming the biggest block of voters in the Southwestern part of America…that includes Arizona of course.

Obama is trying to fight the good fight when it comes to overhauling the federal Immigration Bill. He is demanding that the bill includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. From a new article in the National Journal:

President Obama is in bargaining mode with congressional Republicans about a proposal to require employers to electronically verify that their workers are legal. He named his price—a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants—in a single sentence in the White House immigration “blueprint” released in conjunction with Tuesday’s speech in El Paso, Texas.

“Most importantly, this change must be accompanied by a legalization program that allows unauthorized workers to get right with the law,” the blueprint said in its outline for how to roll out a mandatory employee electronic verification program. Republicans largely do not support such a path to citizenship.

The White House’s declaration is essentially a gamble that Obama won’t be forced to veto a stand-alone measure to require employers to use the Homeland Security Department’s voluntary E-Verify program, even though he is on record supporting the idea. E-Verify allows employers to check hires’ identification numbers against Social Security Administration and DHS databases to determine if they are in the country legally.

The House is expected to pass a mandatory E-Verify bill this year. The measure is likely to face resistance from Democrats in the Senate who are trying to revive the Dream Act, which would give undocumented students the chance to earn green cards and go to college.

I pray to Buddha that, like the HCR bill, he and the Dem’s do NOT cave in on this demand. If he has to veto a bill that does not include a pathway to citizenship..then so be it..veto the fucker Obama.

Get that pair of balls you left in your other suit pants and veto it. Stand firm on this issue. America’s future depends on it.

The Dream Act is one of the most important ideas and issues there is nationally. Richard Lugar (R) has pulled his sponsorship of this bill. What a worthless piece of political pond scum. The Bill was reintroduced today in the Senate. The fucker had the nads to say the Dem’s are turning the issue of immigration into a political one.

Maybe they are, I don’t know..but I don’t really care as this bill and this issue is important….so very friggin important.

Rent a set of balls Democrats and stick to your beliefs on this issue. Same goes for Richard Lugar, the jerkwad who bowed to the extremists on the right when he pulled his sponsorship of the bill.

We need educated children..regardless of nationality, color, religious beliefs or income level. Our future depends on educated people and we all know how low on that totem pole we are falling as a nation every friggin year.

It’s sickening on every level that rightwing extremists attempt to deny an education to anyone that wants it who isn’t the right color or religion. Just look at the shit being pulled on Muslims, just as an example, because a group of extremists were Muslim on that horrible September day that changed all of our lives..including American Muslims! It goes against our own history of being a nation that welcomes diversity and gives all a chance to excel and be the best they can be, so that they can contribute to making America the best we can be again.

You disgust me Mr. Lugar. You make me sick. Grow a pair you asshole and rethink your position on this. Stand up to the wrong and stand up for the rights of everyone to get an education and contribute to our nation. Same goes for the bastards in AZ.

I am proud to say that the California Dream Act has been passed by the State Assembly. I hope to hell the State Senate wakes the hell up and does the same. We have lots of teabagging extremists in this state who elect their brethren..so it’s not a guarantee by any means. I happen to live in the reddest part of California, so I know wtf I am talking about. Here, we have no problem using them to pick our agriculture in temperatures that reach 100 degrees daily and work the most menial jobs..but educating them…oh fuck no. Not for the rednecks in the San Joaquin Valley. Maybe this time they will lose..I can only hope the rest of the state will override these idiots.

Posted in Commentary, conservative Republicans, Extremism, Humanitarianism, News, Politics, Racists, Social Issues | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Suidicial thoughts rise through the roof for military.

A report by the military itself has raised my hackles. As someone who had a beloved niece serve in Afghanistan, prior to Obama’s move into the Oval Office, I am appalled and quite pissed at the numbers. The following quote from page 8 of the report tells us a lot:

In contrast to recent prior years, in 2010 there were more hospitalizations for mental disorders than for any other major category of illnesses or injuries (per the ICD-9-CM).

Page 23 of the report has the following subject, or header: Hospitalizations with primary (first-listed) or non-primary diagnoses of “suicidal ideation” (ICD-9-CM: V62.84), active component, U.S.Armed Forces, 2005-2010.

Then, the accompanying text, along with the following graph that just smacks the shit right out of me:

In October 2005, a diagnostic code for “suicidal ideation” was added to the International Classifi cation of Diseases (ICD-9-CM). Since then, annual numbers of hospitalizations with primary (fi rst-listed) diagnoses of suicidal ideation at discharge have steadily and sharply increased (from 5 in 2006 to 355 in 2010). Numbers of hospitalizations with nonprimary diagnoses of suicidal ideation also have increased during this period.In 2010, 90 percent of hospitalizations with a primary diagnosis of suicidal ideation were reported with a mental health disorder-specifi c diagnosis (ICD-9-CM: 290-319) in a non-primary diagnostic position.

The results should be interpreted with consideration of several factors that may aff ect the completeness of reportingof “suicidal ideation” among active component members. For example, the results may reflect at least in part increased awareness of and concern regarding suicide prevention among unit commanders, other front line supervisors, and primary care providers; increased awareness and use of the relatively new ICD-9-CM diagnostic code that specifies “suicidal ideation”; decreased barriers to and perceived stigmas associated with care seeking for mental health concerns; and so on.

It sucks, to put it mildly..it’s horrific that the rate of soldiers thinking about killing themselves has risen over five years. Look at it…look at it hard m’dear reader…the numbers climb out of sight don’t they? And these are just the soldiers that say something to someone. It doesn’t include those that silently suffer and think about killing themselves before they fall asleep at night…or watch a buddy die.

From a Time magazine writeup on this same report:

The experience of combat itself may also play a role. “Combat increases fearlessness about death and the capability for suicide,” said Craig Bryan, a University of Texas psychologist, briefing Pentagon officials in January. The combination of combat exposure and ready access to guns can be lethal to anyone contemplating suicide. About half of soldiers who kill themselves use weapons, and the figure rises to 93% among those deployed in war zones.

Bryan, a suicide expert who recently left the Air Force, says the military finds itself in a catch-22. “We train our warriors to use controlled violence and aggression, to suppress strong emotional reactions in the face of adversity, to tolerate physical and emotional pain and to overcome the fear of injury and death,” he told TIME. While required for combat, “these qualities are also associated with increased risk for suicide.” Such conditioning cannot be dulled “without negatively affecting the fighting capability of our military,” he adds. “Service members are, simply put, more capable of killing themselves by sheer consequence of their professional training.

It’s maddening…it’s horribly sad and scary for me. It’s something that is so hard to spot, to deal with in civilian life…in military life…on the front lines…it has to be just friggin impossible at some point, as the suicide expert states…its a friggin Catch-22.

The multiple deployments is a main culprit…it has to be. Who in the blue hell can deal with the death and destruction over there over and over and over again without going off the deep end? I don’t give a rat’s ass that they get a year between deployments…that’s bullshit for me. Again from the Time article:

Chiarelli has singled out abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs by soldiers as a mental-health issue that can lead to suicide. “I think there’s a link to substance abuse in some of the issues we’re seeing,” Chiarelli said last month. A recent Army study shows that the percentage of soldiers in Afghanistan taking antidepressants and other mental-health drugs nearly tripled — from 3.5% to 9.8% — between their first and third deployments.(emphasis mine)

The Army’s corps of substance-abuse counselors is hundreds short of the number of trained personnel needed. “I have been pounding the system to say we have got to sit down and determine what we need after eight years of war,” Chiarelli said. That shortage has made it tougher “to handle what I think is a higher rate of substance abuse today than eight years ago.” Why is it higher? “I think it’s only natural you’re going to see that as soldiers come back [from war], you know, with the dwell time that they have [before returning to war], that we’re going to have a higher rate.” Last week, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said pressure on the Army means that for the next two years, soldiers will continue to ship off to their next combat tour without sufficient rest at home.

The friggin Army is short of counselors…wow, that’s a surprise right? Of course it’s not..the Army is short of personnel period…that is why so many of these men and women on the front lines are on their third fucking deployment. They drink and they take drugs to deaden the mental pain. We are not stupid and neither are they. Who could sleep at night after the shit they see and deal with daily? I sure as hell couldn’t. Bet none of us could. From another Time article on the same subject:

Army leaders say that broken personal relationships seem to be the most common thread linking suicides. “The one transcendent factor that we seem to have, if there’s any one that’s associated with [suicide], is fractured relationships of some sort,” Lieut. General Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, told a Senate panel last month. What they fail to note, however, is the corrosive effect repeated deployments can have on such relationships. Ritchie pointed out in January that there are “higher rates of mental-health problems and marital problems for multiple deployers.” (emphasis mine)

So the military leaders know what causes these problems. They friggin KNOW, yet multiple deployments continue unabated.

They continue because we refuse to end these wars. They continue because we are so damn short of personnel. The military wring their hands and tell Congress and others the truth, yet these wars continue…

Obama will sacrifice them for his forever wars…and yes they are HIS WARS now. And it makes me physically sick. These soldiers are just collateral damage for Obama and his henchmen. How disgusting and maddening is that?

My old video below is from the Blogswarm in 2008 and it was specifically about Iraq..it’s sadly just as timely today as it was years ago when I made it. Just change out Bush’s name for Obama’s and insert Afghanistan now.

To see the video,please click this link.

Posted in Commentary, military, News, Politics, War | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

GREAT PROGRESSIVE VOICES (Part II)

By Jack Jodell, May 9, 2911 

AMY GOODMAN (1957- ) is a very talented journalist, author, activist, and host of LINK TV’s Democracy Now!, which is also carried on nearly 300 radio stations. The show is one of a kind, in that it is produced without even one cent of corporate underwriting.

Goodman has seen it all. She is a descendant of Hasidic Jewish rabbis and two radical parents. Her father is an opthalmologist and she and her brother David grew up on Long Island. A graduate of Harvard with a degree in anthropology, she spent 10 years after leaving school as news director of Pacifica radio station WBAI in New York City. She co-founded Democracy Now! in 1996, and it has been hailed as “probably the most significant progressive news institution that has come around in some time” by University of Illinois professor and media commentator Robert McChessney. For Amy Goodman takes very seriously the role of investigative journalist. She has never shied from asking the tough questions of anyone or to dig in where others do not go. While at WBAI in 2000, for example, she and colleague Gonzalo Aberto grilled Bill Clinton for 28 minutes about NAFTA, Leonard Peltier, racial profiling, Israel-Palestine relations, the death penalty, and Ralph Nader. Clinton, taken somewhat aback because he thought he was calling in with a short get-out-the-vote plea, accused her at one point of being “hostile and combative.” Prior to this, in 1991, she and fellow journalist Alan Nairn were almost killed in a massaxre of 271 Timorese by Indonesian soldiers in the then-breakaway province of East Timor. Only by frantically waving her U.S. passport was she able to save herself and Nairn from certain annihilation. She has reported on human rights violations extensively, not only there but in Peru, Haiti, and Nigeria as well.

In 1998, Amy Goodman and Jeffrey Scahill exposed Chevron Corporation’s role in a confrontation between the Nigerian Army and villagers who had seized oil rigs and other Chevron equipment in a protest over their land having been contaminated. Her documentary, called Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship, showed how Chevron had helicoptered army troops in and how 2 people were then shot, with 11 others being injured. It won that year’s George Polk award. In 2008, Goodman was arrested,  handcuffed, and thrown to the pavement in St. Paul, MN while inquiring as to the safety and whereabouts of two of her Democracy Now! reporters covering antiwar protesters outside that year’s Republican National Convention. She was charged with “obstructing a legal process and interfering with a peace officer.” The charges were completely bogus, as a videotape which went viral the next day clearly showed.

Goodman, a dedicated peace activist, has never been afraid to stand her ground for her beliefs. She was once set to receive an award from the Overseas Press Club, of which NBC’s Tom Brokaw was a board member. When the announcement was made that then-Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke  would be the keynote speaker and would not have to answer any questions about the American bombing of a Serbian TV station, Goodman declined the award by saying to Brokaw, “Thank you, but no thank you.” She has always believed that dissent is a vital component of democracy. Ever critical of the mainstream media, which she accurately claims  withholds  news and features too much Hollywood nonsense, her view is that media should not be complicit, but rather an “Exception to the Rulers” (also the title of her 2004 best selling book). She has said “The role of reporters is to go where the silence is and say something.” That she has had no problem in doing, with an ever-growing number of books, films, and awards to her credit.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and conversing with Amy Goodman briefly in 2005. She was on tour to publicize her book Exception to the Rulersand appeared one night in Minneapolis. I had her sign my copy and I consider it to be one of my most prized possessions. She was very serious and almost intense, and there was a glint of weariness in her eyes. That weariness is understandable, because she is exceptionally hard working. She begins broadcasting at 7 AM and works almost until midnight. She is the type of journalist almost completely lacking on our corporate-run media. She speaks truth to, and more importantly, even questions, corporate and government power. She is my kind of news reporter!

UP NEXT: THOM HARTMANN

Posted in Amy Goodman, Commentary, corporate greed, Democracy Now!, LINK TV, News, progressives, RoundTree7 Info | 6 Comments

Bin Laden means nothing to me

On September 11, 2001 no planes crashed into the grocery store, museum, utility company or any of the small dwellings near Interstate 8 as it bisects the reservation.

No planes crashed into the bingo hall or the RV park or Avi Kwame, the mountain where people first descended when God created the world.

People respond with more empathy to baby animals than to grown ones, children to adults. We also respond with more empathy to those who look like us. Human nature. A face that looks like one’s mother or child, or like one’s own face staring back from the mirror, generates an identification that different ethnic features or colors doesn’t. Look at any company cafeteria, like groups attract. Doesn’t mean fear or hatred, it’s identity.

The name Osama bin Laden evinces a strong reaction; an American may view the man as evil incarnate, yet others may view him as one who stood up to the tentacles of empire. It’s likely the two extremes also view the victims of 9/11 and those victims of the US government’s resulting ‘war on terrorism’ under different lights.

I have long railed against the indifference displayed by the American public to the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, most recently when seen thru the lens of the jubilation following OBL’s reported death. It was only in the comment thread of a post regarding the operation to kill OBL assigning him the code name Geronimo that I had an epiphany – look to yourself.

I recalled my reaction to 9/11. I thought it was a damn shame, like a tsunami or a terrible fire. The fact that it was intentional made it so much worse. I prayed for the victims. Tears ran down my cheeks when I read of the brave firemen who perished, trudging up stairs with the intention of saving lives. I pictured the horror of those trapped inside as the flames neared them, God’s children exchanging blistering heat for a few more seconds of life; terror so intense I cannot imagine it. Similar to the horror while viewing the earthquake in Haiti.

Then I recalled a conversation later that morning with my closest friend on earth, my cousin Jesus. I don’t remember who initiated the call, I only remember both of us remarking that a hell of a lot of White people were killed. Both of us had been deeply moved while watching film of the burning buildings, but now we joked of our hope that the hijackers weren’t Indian or Mexican. The deaths were already in the abstract. A sad, awful event – but viewed in the abstract. They weren’t like us.

Let’s say Ben Little Horse directed the 9/11 attacks instead of Bin Laden – I’d consider him a hero, and I’d view the victims the way most Americans view Afghan and Iraqi dead – as collateral damage in the background of a larger picture.

Now let’s say on 9/11 OBL had sent hijacked airplanes to crash into buildings on reservations or varrios, jet fuel roasting brown children alive. My rage and hatred would then be undiminished. I’d pray that he be damned to hell, his soul in eternal flames. I’d be hoping his death was slow.

I’d be chanting USA, USA.

Posted in Commentary, Politics | 21 Comments

STayiNg wIth Kevin Blanch – Japan?

Just exactly WHAT is happening in Japan?

Posted in Brave New Films, corporate greed, Environment | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Here I Go!

In my ever attempting quest to piss people off, I think this is going to be a winner.  So much has happened since the Donald and his hair attended the correspondence dinner.  By now we all know that something happened in Pakistan.   Depending on who you talk to tells the story.

To be quite honest, I’m absolutely amazed at how jaded many have become.  Let’s keep it real here.  I’m no fan of BHO.  He lost me over the gulf disaster and the fact we’re still at war and look for more conflicts.

That being said, social network groups have gone mad.   I realize conspiracy gets our country hard and stuff but we have overdosed on Viagra as of late.  I read people who I thought were rather down to earth deny that Osama Bin Ladin was killed.  Many said it never happened.  Here’s a few of the many things that were discussed:   OBL has been dead for years.  His body was frozen and just now thawed because Obama needed the votes.  It was staged and actually filmed in Texas.  (No doubt where the Moon Landing was.)  What are they trying to cover up?   Why was his body buried at sea?   We knew all along where he was.  You can’t possibly get DNA results that fast.  (somebody better tell Maury Povich that.)  (Who’s the daddy show will never be the same.)  How could they film it while holding their guns?  I guess these people never watched COPS.   (bad terrorist bad terrorist what cha gonna do?) Helmet Cams!  The main thing I’m hearing is that the facts just don’t match between the white house and media. Oh and even if there were photos, they were photoshoped. I guess it’s easier to believe in an invisible being than our own eyes.   As I told someone, who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

Let’s see,  we weren’t in on the planning or execution of the assault.   Somehow though, we think we know everything that happened. Every detail and scenario was considered by us because after all, we know.

This is a world gone Mad.  One of the worst is Alex Jones.  This guy is a fucking nut.  He’s Glenn Beck on steroids.  Every dollar he gets is from fear mongering.  As of late he’s quoted quite a bit.  Oh my head!

Listen, some times we just need to take a back seat and see what develops. The news cycle just spreads their lies and false headline grabbing nonsense in order to get you to tune in.  By now you know I recommend Al-Jazeera for the least corrupt information.

Let’s all pretend we’re Sherlock Holmes, before conclusions are reached, lets get the facts, however long that takes.  If you really need to feed into the frenzy of the Conspirators,  please consider your sources before accepting them as factual.

Whether or not you agree what should have been done,  face facts we’re not in charge.  I think the wealth of information that was considered before putting our Navy Seals in danger weighed heavily on the President.  How could it have not?  He very well could have been the next Carter.  A bad guy was taken out, a man who declared war on us twice.  No he was never convicted.  He also never denied it.  Now I’m getting into a whole other debate.  We’ll have to wait on this one.  Meanwhile ask yourself if you’re any better than the Birthers?   Seems no matter what, the truth is denied. Sound familiar?

Posted in Commentary | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

GREAT PROGRESSIVE VOICES (Part I)

By Jack Jodell, May 4, 2011

Today, I begin a new intermittent series devoted to great progressive voices of our day. These are people who are often overlooked, marginalized, or outright ignored by our pathetic corporatist mainstream media. They are voices of passion, who genuinely care about our society. They are dissatisfied with the here and now and are devoted to building a better world by appealing to our better instincts of fairness and common decency rather than our baser ones of greed and sensationalism. They are MY heroes. I’m sure they will also become yours!

ROBERT GREENWALD is the owner and creator of BRAVE NEW FILMS, an independent film company which produces films dealing with government corruption, political figures, and business malfeasance, among many other topics. Owen Gleiberman, writing in Entertainment Weekly, has said, “With little fanfare, Robert Greenwald has become one of the most incisive activist filmakers in America.”

Greenwald, a native of New York City, was born in 1945. He went to school at the High School of Performing Arts, and afterward directed a number of plays. He migrated to Los Angeles in 1977 and began a successful career directing various TV shows. He soon received an Emmy nomination for his production of  the television movie 21 Hours at Munich which dealt with the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. He directed O;ivia Newto John in 1980’s Xanadu, and also produced and directed the biography of 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman, called Steal This Movie! (2000). He then began to make a long series of issues-oriented political documentaries.

He started Brave New Films as a vehicle to educate, influence, and empower people to take action on important issues. He has produced scores of exposes over the years and has been the recipient of many industry awards, among them the American Film Institute’s Producer of the Year Award (2002), the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy’s City of Justice Award (2005), Liberty Hill’s  Upton Sinclair Award (2006).

A number of short viral movies he has made for the internet have been immensely popular and have been viewed more than 45 million times! To get a glimpse at the stunning array of titles he has produced over the years, visit his Brave New Films website at http://bravenewfilms.org/. A partial list of his amazing catalog is listed below:

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism
The Real McCain
Rethinking Afghanistan
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price
Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers
Sick for Profit
Stuck on Stupid: Big Oil Says NO to Green Jobs
Anthem Blue Cross: Screwing Californians for Profits
Henry Kravis Makes $51,369 PER HOUR. You Pay More Taxes
Who’s Keeping Burger King Workers In Poverty?
Take thw “For Sale” Sign Off the Capitol Lawn!

Rather than watching endless, nonsensical “Seinfeld” or “Family Guy” reruns, why not visit his site and take in some intelligent and factual fare for a change? Believe me, you’ll be glad you did!

Robert Greenwald, a man of great conscience and integrity, once said about his film on Wal-Mart: “Our goal isn’t to close Wal-Mart down. It is to make it a better, more humane company toward its employees and the community it is in.”

That is a good example of what we as progressives should be doing. We, too, must speak truth to power. We, too, must challenge or boycott those who put individual or corporate profit or self-interest far in front of the common good!

UP NEXT: AMY GOODMAN

Posted in Brave New Films, Environment, Politics, progressives | 6 Comments