Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Florida: Legislation considered to stifle the participation of political alternatives to the official two state parties

"Bill could exclude tea party from presidential ballot" 
2011-04-21 by William March from "The Tampa Tribune" newspaper [http://beta2.tbo.com/news/politics/2011/apr/21/bill-could-exclude-tea-party-from-presidential-bal-ar-201233/]
A little-noticed provision of the state Legislature's controversial elections bill would make it extremely difficult for a new political party to put a candidate on the state presidential ballot - a provision some say is aimed at keeping a tea party candidate off the ballot.
The section says that a new party seeking a presidential ballot placement must be recognized by the Federal Election Commission as a national party, or must collect voter petition signatures equal to 4 percent of voters in the state's last presidential election - more than 335,000.
They must include 4 percent in each of at least half the state's congressional districts, a tough job in Florida's oddly shaped, gerrymandered districts.
Getting FEC recognition is also problematic, said Richard Winger of San Francisco, an expert on ballot access laws who argues for easier access to ballots for non-major party candidates.
He said the FEC has no objective rules for recognition, but won't recognize a new party until after it has already run candidates for president and congress in several states.
That's why the Reform Party didn't get FEC recognition until 1997, following Ross Perot's run in 1996 as its candidate.
Winger said the provision appears aimed at keeping a tea party candidate off the 2012 Florida ballot. Peg Dunmire, chairman of a Florida party that says it represents the tea party movement, agreed.
"This is part of the assault to keep choice from the public," she said. "There's a concerted effort by the two parties to keep it a two-party system."
The Florida Tea Party ran candidates for several offices in 2010, including Dunmire for the congressional seat won by Republican Dan Webster, and former Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson for the seat won by Republican Dennis Ross of Lakeland.
Republicans feared the candidates would siphon off GOP voters, and some alleged that the party was part a plot by Democrats - an accusation vehemently rejected by Dunmire.
In no case, she and Winger said, did a tea party candidate cause a Republican to lose. Republicans facing tea party candidates either won, or the Democratic candidate won by more than 50 percent.
Dunmire said there's "a very good chance" of a tea party candidate for president seeking to get on the Florida 2012 ballot, but wouldn't elaborate on why or who.
It's unclear where the minor-party provisions in the bill came from.
They were part of a "committee substitute" -- an amendment proposed by a committee to revise an entire bill -- for a bill originally sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala.
Baxley said he's not familiar with the minor-party provisions, but doesn't believe they're aimed at the tea party because he's heard no discussion of such a move.
Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, committee chairman, said he doesn't know where the minor-party language came from.
"There were a lot of stakeholders involved" in producing the legislation, including elections supervisors, legislators and the state Division of Elections, he said.
But he said Florida has had a problem with individuals registering minor parties with the state Division of Elections that in some cases have no registered voter members.
"I know there was language that was designed to insure that parties that gain access to the ballot have legitimacy," he said. "I support the idea of making sure parties are legitimate."
Winger said, however, that a different section of the bill would prevent registering of non-existent parties. He said the ballot access provisions likely wouldn't pass court review under either the U.S. or Florida Constitution.
The federal appeals court for the 11th Circuit, which includes Florida, has issued rulings that probably would invalidate it, and it would also violate ballot access provisions of the Florida Constitution, he said.
Final House action on the bill could come as early as today. A Senate version contains similar provisions, but with a 2 percent petition requirement instead of 4 percent.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011-04-19 "Beck: Youth Climate Activists Are ‘Radicals’ Being Organized To ‘Kill The Parents’"
Monday, lame-duck Fox News host Glenn Beck equated the 10,000 youth climate activists who participated in the Power Shift conference this weekend with dangerous “radicals” who want to kill their parents [http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2011/04/11/power-shift-2011/]. At Power Shift [http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/tag/power-shift], climate leaders Van Jones and Al Gore exhorted the mostly college-age participants to engage with the older generations by asking moral questions about American values, just as young people did during the Jim Crow era. Beck falsely claimed the advice was to “not to listen to your parents!” Continuing further, Beck said these are “the same radicals” who talked about “kill[ing] the parents”:
The more things change, you see, the more they stay the same. These radicals are the same radicals that used to tell each other in the 1960s, “Don’t trust anybody over thirty. Don’t trust your parents!” Bill Ayers said, “Kill the parents! Kill your parents!”
Watch it: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CJD-EVSiHQ]
During his attack, Beck interrupted a clip of Van Jones’ keynote address [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adHxLSdjxbs], which began, “When your uncle Joe, who loves Fox News, starts talking to you, and starts dominating the discussion . . . ” Beck then broke in, “Listen to what he’s saying. ‘Don’t listen to the elders in your family.’”
Of course, Beck didn’t let his audience listen to the respectful and honest message Van Jones had for the “uncle Joes” of America:
You have the opportunity to say to your uncle Joe, “Excuse me, sir, don’t you believe in liberty? And if you do, how can you live in a country where every American is forced to be an energy consumer for the rest of our lives? Shouldn’t we have the right as Americans to be energy producers?”
Watch what Beck wouldn’t let his Fox News audience see:

The young Power Shift leaders are actually organizing to make BP pay on April 20 [http://www.powershift2011.org/MakeBPPay].

Monday, April 18, 2011

2011-04-18 "Fight Back Florida confronts Tea Party Governor Rick Scott" by Jared Hamil from "Fight Back!" newswire
Jacksonville, FL - Students and workers converged on an outdoor mall called The Landing, here, April 15 to confront Florida Governor Rick Scott at a Tea Party event. More than 50 people attended the rally organized by Fight Back Florida, a statewide labor-student coalition formed against Scott’s vicious attacks on working families, government employee unions and public education.
Workers and students began the protest in front of The Landing by waving signs and chanting “When working families are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!” Two right-wing Tea Party members heckled the protestors, but the vast majority of cars that passed by waived, honked and cheered the protestor’s pro-labor, pro-education message.
When Rick Scott was scheduled to speak, the protesters marched on The Landing holding signs that read, “Fight Back Florida!” and “Stop the war on working families!” The Landing’s corporate developers tried unsuccessfully to shut down the protest, but a union worker from the National Association of Letter Carriers pointed out that the protest was on public property.
The Tea Party’s event began with a racist portrayal of President Barack Obama in a skit. Protesters booed the bigoted event and chanted, “Rick Scott, stop the hate! Not our city! Not our state!” Tea Party thugs tried to block protesters from waving signs. One Tea Party thug shoved Dustin Ponder, a Fight Back Florida organizer, to try and provoke a fight. Police restrained, but did not arrest the Tea Party member.
When Rick Scott arrived, protesters confronted him with thunderous chants of “Tax the rich!” and “Hey-hey! Ho-ho! Rick Scott has got to go!” The protesters were chanting so loud that Rick Scott left after just five minutes. As he quickly retreated, workers and students yelled, “You’re a crook!”
After the rally, Dave Schneider, a Fight Back Florida organizer, briefly spoke to the protesters. “These Tea Party thugs can try to silence our voices, but they can’t stop working people and students when we stand up and fight back!”

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011-04-16 "Neo-Nazis March in NJ"
TRENTON — A sea of blue kept a lid on the combustible atmosphere at a neo-Nazi rally and counterprotest in Trenton today, where the police presence dwarfed the number of people who attended on either side.
About 50 members of the National Socialist Movement rallied on the statehouse steps while a larger group, including members of the Trenton chapter of the Black Panthers, gathered nearby, shouting through bullhorns, to protest their presence.
Jason Heicke, NSM's chief of staff, said the rally was held to protest high property taxes, illegal immigration and the outsourcing of American jobs overseas. However, a racially charged atmosphere prevailed.
“We’re sick and tired of this government and it not working for the people,” said Heicke, a lifelong New Jersey resident. “The problems out here locally are crime and high taxes and bus
Shouts of “white power” and “sieg heils” emanated from NSM members while about 150 counter-protesters shouted back, “Hey hey, ho ho, these Nazi scum have got to go.”
Under rainy skies, the two rallies were framed by walls of police officers in riot gear, hundreds strong, who separated and surrounded both groups keeping them at least 100 yards apart at all times.
One counter-protestor, Trenton’s Bryant Williams, carried a sign reading “God don’t like Nazis so he made it rain.”
Williams said he was befuddled by the neo-Nazis’ presence in the state capital.
“It’s 2011. We’ve got way more crazy things going on the world right now. We should be past this. It’s doesn’t make any sense. We’ve got a black president now. We should be past this.”
State Police spokesman, Sgt. Stephen Jones, said officers from local, state and federal agencies were deployed for the event after NSM members and groups such as the Black Panthers and the Jewish Defense Organization, who decried the rally, traded barbs in the weeks leading up to the rally, raising fears of violence.
Security was extremely tight around the statehouse and ralliers had to pass through metal detectors surrounded by police officers and police dogs to gain entry to a cordoned-off protest area.
No violence came to pass at the event, and with a steady rain falling, the NSM members filed onto Department of Corrections buses 90 minutes after their rally began and received a police escort to a nearby hotel, where they had held a two-day conference.
After the rally ended, police made three arrests when counter-protesters attempted to reach NSM members.
On Friday night, counter-protesters clashed with several members of a neo-Nazi group congregating at a Pemberton church, injuring four NSM members, Jones said.
State Police arrested two people on charges of inciting a riot in connection with the incident, he said.
Jones said there was no violence between the groups on Saturday. Some, like Dorian Thomas of Trenton, were rankled by the heavy police presence.
“Look at all of these police officers,” he said. “We’re in a recession and they send all of these guys out here for us — for a positive demonstration. That’s gotta cost millions of dollars, and for what?”
Members of the National Socialist Movement rally with a Nazi salute in front of the State House in Trenton on Saturday. Photo: Mary Iuvone

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011-04-11 "Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System" by Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.
A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.
Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.
Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.
“Imagine,” said a public school teacher in New York City, who asked that I not use his name, “going to work each day knowing a great deal of what you are doing is fraudulent, knowing in no way are you preparing your students for life in an ever more brutal world, knowing that if you don’t continue along your scripted test prep course and indeed get better at it you will be out of a job. Up until very recently, the principal of a school was something like the conductor of an orchestra: a person who had deep experience and knowledge of the part and place of every member and every instrument. In the past 10 years we’ve had the emergence of both [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s Superintendents Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing even legal? How are such ‘academies’ accredited? What quality of leader needs a ‘leadership academy’? What kind of society would allow such people to run their children’s schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for undermining the school systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover. There is something grotesque about the fact the education reform is being led not by educators but by financers and speculators and billionaires.”
Teachers, under assault from every direction, are fleeing the profession. Even before the “reform” blitzkrieg we were losing half of all teachers within five years after they started work—and these were people who spent years in school and many thousands of dollars to become teachers. How does the country expect to retain dignified, trained professionals under the hostility of current conditions? I suspect that the hedge fund managers behind our charter schools system—whose primary concern is certainly not with education—are delighted to replace real teachers with nonunionized, poorly trained instructors. To truly teach is to instill the values and knowledge which promote the common good and protect a society from the folly of historical amnesia. The utilitarian, corporate ideology embraced by the system of standardized tests and leadership academies has no time for the nuances and moral ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts education. Corporatism is about the cult of the self. It is about personal enrichment and profit as the sole aim of human existence. And those who do not conform are pushed aside.
“It is extremely dispiriting to realize that you are in effect lying to these kids by insinuating that this diet of corporate reading programs and standardized tests are preparing them for anything,” said this teacher, who feared he would suffer reprisals from school administrators if they knew he was speaking out. “It is even more dispiriting to know that your livelihood depends increasingly on maintaining this lie. You have to ask yourself why are hedge fund managers suddenly so interested in the education of the urban poor? The main purpose of the testing craze is not to grade the students but to grade the teacher.”
“I cannot say for certain—not with the certainty of a Bill Gates or a Mike Bloomberg who pontificate with utter certainty over a field in which they know absolutely nothing—but more and more I suspect that a major goal of the reform campaign is to make the work of a teacher so degrading and insulting that the dignified and the truly educated teachers will simply leave while they still retain a modicum of self-respect,” he added. “In less than a decade we been stripped of autonomy and are increasingly micromanaged. Students have been given the power to fire us by failing their tests. Teachers have been likened to pigs at a trough and blamed for the economic collapse of the United States. In New York, principals have been given every incentive, both financial and in terms of control, to replace experienced teachers with 22-year-old untenured rookies. They cost less. They know nothing. They are malleable and they are vulnerable to termination.”
The demonizing of teachers is another public relations feint, a way for corporations to deflect attention from the theft of some $17 billion in wages, savings and earnings among American workers and a landscape where one in six workers is without employment. The speculators on Wall Street looted the U.S. Treasury. They stymied any kind of regulation. They have avoided criminal charges. They are stripping basic social services. And now they are demanding to run our schools and universities.
“Not only have the reformers removed poverty as a factor, they’ve removed students’ aptitude and motivation as factors,” said this teacher, who is in a teachers union. “They seem to believe that students are something like plants where you just add water and place them in the sun of your teaching and everything blooms. This is a fantasy that insults both student and teacher. The reformers have come up with a variety of insidious schemes pushed as steps to professionalize the profession of teaching. As they are all businessmen who know nothing of the field, it goes without saying that you do not do this by giving teachers autonomy and respect. They use merit pay in which teachers whose students do well on bubble tests will receive more money and teachers whose students do not do so well on bubble tests will receive less money. Of course, the only way this could conceivably be fair is to have an identical group of students in each class—an impossibility. The real purposes of merit pay are to divide teachers against themselves as they scramble for the brighter and more motivated students and to further institutionalize the idiot notion of standardized tests. There is a certain diabolical intelligence at work in both of these.”
“If the Bloomberg administration can be said to have succeeded in anything,” he said, “they have succeeded in turning schools into stress factories where teachers are running around wondering if it’s possible to please their principals and if their school will be open a year from now, if their union will still be there to offer some kind of protection, if they will still have jobs next year. This is not how you run a school system. It’s how you destroy one. The reformers and their friends in the media have created a Manichean world of bad teachers and effective teachers. In this alternative universe there are no other factors. Or, all other factors—poverty, depraved parents, mental illness and malnutrition—are all excuses of the Bad Teacher that can be overcome by hard work and the Effective Teacher.”
The truly educated become conscious. They become self-aware. They do not lie to themselves. They do not pretend that fraud is moral or that corporate greed is good. They do not claim that the demands of the marketplace can morally justify the hunger of children or denial of medical care to the sick. They do not throw 6 million families from their homes as the cost of doing business. Thought is a dialogue with one’s inner self. Those who think ask questions, questions those in authority do not want asked. They remember who we are, where we come from and where we should go. They remain eternally skeptical and distrustful of power. And they know that this moral independence is the only protection from the radical evil that results from collective unconsciousness. The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralized authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think. Those who are endowed with a moral conscience refuse to commit crimes, even those sanctioned by the corporate state, because they do not in the end want to live with criminals—themselves.
“It is better to be at odds with the whole world than, being one, to be at odds with myself,” Socrates said.
Those who can ask the right questions are armed with the capacity to make a moral choice, to defend the good in the face of outside pressure. And this is why the philosopher Immanuel Kant puts the duties we have to ourselves before the duties we have to others. The standard for Kant is not the biblical idea of self-love—love thy neighbor as thyself, do unto others as you would have them do unto you—but self-respect. What brings us meaning and worth as human beings is our ability to stand up and pit ourselves against injustice and the vast, moral indifference of the universe. Once justice perishes, as Kant knew, life loses all meaning. Those who meekly obey laws and rules imposed from the outside—including religious laws—are not moral human beings. The fulfillment of an imposed law is morally neutral. The truly educated make their own wills serve the higher call of justice, empathy and reason. Socrates made the same argument when he said it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong.
“The greatest evil perpetrated,” Hannah Arendt wrote, “is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons.”
As Arendt pointed out, we must trust only those who have this self-awareness. This self-awareness comes only through consciousness. It comes with the ability to look at a crime being committed and say “I can’t.” We must fear, Arendt warned, those whose moral system is built around the flimsy structure of blind obedience. We must fear those who cannot think. Unconscious civilizations become totalitarian wastelands.
“The greatest evildoers are those who don’t remember because they have never given thought to the matter, and, without remembrance, nothing can hold them back,” Arendt writes. “For human beings, thinking of past matters means moving in the dimension of depth, striking roots and thus stabilizing themselves, so as not to be swept away by whatever may occur—the Zeitgeist or History or simple temptation. The greatest evil is not radical, it has no roots, and because it has no roots it has no limitations, it can go to unthinkable extremes and sweep over the whole world.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"46 Percent of Mississippi Republicans Want Interracial Marriage Banned"

2011-04-09 by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux from "Care2.com" [http://www.care2.com/causes/civil-rights/blog/46-percent-of-mississippi-republicans-want-interracial-marriage-to-be-banned/]
A new report from Public Policy Polling, which analyzed Mississippi Republicans' positions on major issues going into the 2012 election, had some surprising and disturbing findings [www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/04/07/poll_mississippi_interracial_marriage/index.html].
When Republican primary voters were asked whether they thought interracial marriage should be legal or illegal, 46% of the respondents said that they thought it should be illegal, compared to 40% who said it should be legal.
The remaining 14% said that they were unsure.
Since interracial marriage has been legal in Mississippi for less than fifty years, this poll result is even more depressing.
After all, the respondents weren't simply passing a moral judgment on interracial marriage, they were saying that they thought it should be banned outright.
Since Mississippi was declared the most conservative state in the nation by a Gallup poll earlier this year [www.gallup.com/poll/146348/mississippi-rates-conservative-state.aspx], and this survey was targeted only at Republcian voters, perhaps this should be less surprising.
But it certainly puts the debate about gay marriage into a different context, when interracial marriage is still a controversial subject in some pockets of the country.
The breakdown of how the poll respondents said they were likely to vote was quite fascinating. While Mississippi Republicans overwhelmingly favor Haley Barbour, their governor, to run for president, Sarah Palin had more support among voters who believed that interracial marriage should be illegal.
Romney, on the other hand, was highly favored by voters who wanted interracial marriage to remain legal.
According to Justin Elliott of Salon, Public Policy Polling will be releasing more results [www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/04/07/poll_mississippi_interracial_marriage/index.html], where they asked non-Republican voters the same question about interracial marriage.
They also apparently asked respondents whether the right side won the Civil War - a question that has the potential, if possible, to be even more disturbing.