Wednesday, December 12, 2007
When they attempt to prevent presentation of simple biological facts, they do not improve the human condition. Those of us, who value science's contribution to human culture believe that it is crucial that society benefit from the knowledge that has been so painfully attained. When we see even access to knowledge denied to those who might benefit, we see this as a loss to society at large. This is a turning away from knowledge and bodes ill for a civilization so dependent on basic scientific literacy.
As human knowledge increased and the theories of "the humors" or "bleeding" as a healing technique are discarded through the self correcting process known as the scientific method, it has been hoped that the sciences would be understood as an unfailing guidepost to the betterment of the human condition. That’s why it is difficult for those who oppose scientific knowledge of simple human biology, because they ignore the reality of the growth of scientific knowledge.
Ignorance is not a safeguard to sexual health. Knowledge of sexual health and safety doesn't preclude the family and the church passing on important cultural values, and community standards. It is supplemental to the values passed along through the family and enriched by religious training.
Regarding the use of euphemisms. The language used to convey the information is not ultimately the issue. The reality that many refuse to face, is that throughout history families have actively chosen to limit the number of children. What has changed is the range of effective options, and the availability of the actual facts of human reproduction.
Legal access to birth control technology and family planning techniques allow these choices to be made in a legal, scientific and safe manner. Anyone who would prefer that their own children find their choices limited to "illegal" birth control, and back alley "abortions" does their own children no service.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Great to know that at least Sen. McCain understands the fact that water-boarding is IN FACT TORTURE. Something that Mitt can't or won't come to terms with.
And for those, lawyers, who are not gifted with simple humanity. It is also illegal and would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions.
And for those whom neither the moral or legal arguments work, then may you rest comfortably among the Republican Party Troglodytes, who also seem to have trouble with SCIENCE. Unless it's understood, through delicate tint of republic sensibilities.
Since at the last REPUBLIC SPITTING MATCH, where they all disavowed evolution, with the same enthusiastic vehemence, that they embraced the LITERAL TRUTH of a particular version of a re-translated, translation of a translation, written several hundred years after the fact. (WINK-WINK)
Angels, devils, the sun stopping in the sky, swallowed by big fish, raising the dead, walking on water, no they have no problem with that. It's Evolution and the fossil record they can't quite embrace.
Watching in absolute amazement, as the countries leadership, embraces the values that made the Spanish Inquisition so memorable. I must ask, can witch dunking be far behind? If the Supreme Court wasn't so useful electing republicans I'm sure it would have been abandoned in favor of Ronnie Reagan's Astrologer and the public reading of entrails.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
He gave a soldier's assessment of the Anti-War Movement and it wasn't pretty. His work as a UN Inspector, his assessment of Colin Powell, and his advise to the ANTI-WAR community.
And he was brutally honest and correct. He lauded the concept of equality, but as applied to the "movement" the result is devastating.
He asked us to consider, how successful the anti-war movement has been, with our current tactics? We've been protesting even before the invasion. Did we stop the invasion no. We've marched to oppose Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, and Extraordinary Rendition. That didn't work either. Now they are "product testing"the language that will be used to SELL the Invasion of Iran.
He reminded us that one definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. That's the ANTI-WAR Movement. He described the ANTI-WAR movement as doing another grab-bag march and HOPING something nice would come from it??????????????????????????????????????????????
He said when he first spoke out against the RUSH to WAR, He was invited to speak at large rallies. But many of his comments were unwelcome. He's no longer invited.
He said, he came to this large mass action, and was confronted by signs for everything from FREE MUMIA, to PROTECT THE OWLS. STOP the War and on, and on, and on. When he reacted to this colorful, yet ineffective collage and suggested that these tactics were getting nowhere - He was told by International Answer, that "He hurt their feelings." He said we (the ANTI-WAR Movement) are laughed at by those in power.
He was told us we need to think of the Anti-War campaigns like a battle campaign. He suggested we need focus, and a message that will allow the Farmers of IOWA to buy in - as long as we're thought of as a bunch of intellectual elites, we will fail.
We need to find a message that appeals to a wide audience and martial our limited resources behind that unifying message. He recommended making the American Constitution our rallying point. He further suggested a leadership approach modeled after the firefighters logic.
"Incident Command" - no one group, no one leader is always the boss, but takes leadership at a particular action or incident. This permits leadership. There is then a point of leadership. a leadership triangle, then progress will be made.
Faced with an opponent that has essentially unlimited funding, controls congress and the media
as well as the military and law enforcement with very finite funds, resources and personnel, we can ill afford not to marshal our forces. Having been an activist in a wide range of coalitions since the 1970's, I can appreciate how difficult getting "buy-in" and the organizing an action with a coalition is not easy.
But what we oppose, the "Pre-emptive War" mentality, Torture, the loss of the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, protections against Unreasonable Search and Seizure, Privacy protections and more will become completely lost. (German leadership was prosecuted in Nuremberg for "Pre-emptive War")
We can ill afford to ignore those we would deter.
"Pick a Goal, and organize, Pick A Message and marshal our resources" then face dangers we oppose. He was asked about Powell's testimony before the UN, he was asked had he contributed, or been consulted.
He explained that most of the "evidence" Powell used had been gathered by his team of UN Inspectors. He was in Japan, when Powell made his presentation, the problem was that the data was misinterpreted. But as he watched was it was conscientiously and intentionally MISINTERPRETED. He was asked if Powell knew that he was lying about the evidence. He said, there is no way, that Powell was an unwitting dupe. He knew exactly what he was doing. Powell knew that the slam dunk was FLAT WRONG.
He challenged us, the Anti-war activists to really organize, select a Goal and undertake a Campaign, that would engage regular folks to actually do more than WHINE that the BUSH ADMINISTRATION is destroying the Constitution. Maybe he said Constitutional Literacy might be a good first step.
Read the Constitution and Act on it!
My proposed Unification SLOGANS
"I PROTECT THE CONSTITUTION for my Grandchildren" &
"America Is Not a Bully"
a very sobering evening.
solidarity & peace
ACLU FL - TCC
Sunday, November 25, 2007
1. It's not Popular
2. There are no republicans ready to join the effort (its partisan)
3. It's a distraction from higher priorities
4. It's let's the dem's off the hook
5. Because new laws have been enacted (Military Commissions Act, USA Patriot Act, )
the UN-Constitutionality of some of the acts has been called into question.
These may have made some of these acts legal?
1. It's not popular, there is no consensus.
This is a new principle of law of which I am unaware. Liberty is not a popular value. Freedom of speech is not
answerable to a popular vote. The freedom demanded by the colonies, was not unanimously demanded.
Women's rights, and the equality of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans is still not universally
respected even in this "enlightened" land, Should Women, or African Americans sit down and shut up, unless their
community has a plubicite and determines that these are popular values. That it is the law, is enough.
We turned from vigilante justice sometime in the nineteen-fifties and even in the early nineteen sixties, African American rights
were still not popular among those in the existing power structure. POPULARITY, and General Acceptance, is not
a reason to enforce the law. The law, is the law. Should there be laws, enforced only by it's temporary popularity?
The Simpson's case offers the perfect example. In some neighborhoods, Mr. Simpsons' guilt
or innocence was a forgone conclusion, before the jury sat. Even after the case ran it's course
through the California Courts, some communities believed it was a great miscarriage of justice.
Yet in other communities, his vindication was proof, that "justice" had prevailed.
Is justice, and it's pursuit to depend on popular whim? And powerful media advocacy?
Is is the law, in this case the Constitution the law for all whether it's enforcement is popular or not?
Were the signers of the Declaration constrained by the opinion of the haberdashers of London?
Would you hesitate to protect your house for fear, that the burglar, might not find you entirely hospitable?
Were the abolitionists. shamed by the opinion of the slave market's cashier?
2. There are no republicans ready to join the impeachment effort, therefore it will be deemed a partisan issue.
The enforcement of the law, especially the Constitution is not the province of any party. Whether legislators
will or won't join the effort, who might be comfortable later on, in this early stage of the process, has yet to be seen.
This is merely the beginning of the impeachment process.
Once the matter is before the House, and the evidence is presented, then we will know whether the sustained attacks
on the constitution by this administration are as significant a danger to the republic as Testimonies on Oral Sex,
in the White House. "What is torture?" has replaced "What is, is?"
Regardless whether republicans or democrats regard disingenuous and misleading statements about ORAL SEX,
as a larger threat to the Constitution, than torture, broken international treaties the politicization of the Justice Department
and lying to start a war, it will be interesting. How many republicans, how many democrats, are concerned
enough to protect the Constitution, only time will tell.
What if some distrust the motives, should this halt the investigation? What if Impeachment is portrayed as "tit for tat"
by the purchased press of FAUX Noose. It is not partisan to support Constitutional Constraints on executive power.
If there are those who still are looking for a foolish reason to dismiss ACLU then let this be it. Fear of fools is not
a sustainable guide to the Constitution's balance of powers..
3. It's a distraction from priorities
The ACLU's resources and it's supporters energy are finite. It is equally true that when the "cause is met"
new enthusiasm, new energy and new resources will surface. Think of the millions activated by the Freedom Rides?
By the Million Man March, the millions who will be self identified as the battle is joined. There may well be resources
yet to be awakened. Who would have guess that Dr. King or Ghandi would find an audience for their unpopular,
yet heart-felt voice for JUSTICE?
4. It lets DEMS off the hook, because they were enablers.
Part of the discussion must be that retroactive enabling of these huge unconstitutional changes passed by a recumbent
Congress cannot continue to threaten Americans. The Court and Congress are the appropriate forum for these discussions,
but they are not the only forum for public opinion. When Thomas Jefferson, spoke forcefully about the necessity for
continued revolution, what would he make of Pelosi's widely reported "IMPEACHMENT it's off the table?"
What would Patrick Henry (He of - "If I have but one, life to give for my country") make of these
type of statements. Would he say, well, I'd like to take a principled stand, but it might hurt, my plan of a career in Congress?
5. Some new legislation, may have made some of these acts legal. And thus Impeachment is a NON-Starter
There are no Constitutional Laws applicable, that could make the vast array of Impeachable Acts legal.
Let's focus on just a few of them. Lying and lying by omission to Congress and the people.
There is no "new" UnConstitutional Legislation, that can allow, the Executive to break treaties,
whether it be illegal invasions, or the Geneva Conventions. The savagery of the Spanish Inquisition cannot be legal.
No one can make legal, kidnapping "extraordinary rendition" and prisoners held beyond the law.
There is no legislation that will allow the manufacturing of FAKE Evidence to trick Americans
into illegal wars. Turning the Independent Judiciary into a party organ of enforcement and attack, is indefensible.
What has been done to GUT the Justice Department alone, is worthy of articles of impeachment.
Nothing can be written into law, to shield the partisan activity that even Ms. Gooding with her degree from a religious
college recognized that this was "PROBABLY" Over the CONSTITUTIONAL LINE.
This is the thrust of some of the arguments I would employ to argue for Supporting Articles of Impeachment,
Friday, November 16, 2007
I did send it to both the state and the national party.
Having gotten no response, I thought I would share my question with the State Democratic Blogging Community. Because - it seems to me it's one of those "elephant in the room" questions.
I just can't believe, that the very best solution is a lawsuit?
I hope, political ego aside (if thats even thinkable) that cooler heads will prevail.
I have never thought the dem party as so money-rich, so thick with resources that we can spend months, money and resources fighting among ourselves in court.
Setting aside, Sen. Nelsons utility as a conservative democrat and his national ambition (which is obviously a hulking mass to move) Is there anyone pursuing a wiser course????
Are we so sure that this won't turn off a lot of fence sitters?
It seems to me and I suspect to many others, this a hideous FARCE of an IDEA, I understand how it plays directly to the needs of Repulsicans. And if that idea alone isn't enough to say - WHOA NELLY - WoW!
I can't stand silently by, while the idiocy or worse; guts what should be a very successful electoral year. If however, due to moles, or finks, or just stoopidity, we get co opted by Dem-publicans we can still lose this state AGAIN to the Damn Monarchist Tory Party
solidarity & peace
"I remember when workers had rights!"
Thursday, November 15, 2007
While I can see the advantage to National and State Republicans that Florida Democrats and National Democrats are suing each other and contending over disputes instead of organizing and energizing.
Since it is impossible to image that both Florida and National Democratic Goals are furthered by this FOOLHARDY action initiated because the FLORIDA REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURE moved the primary.
I would like an update - while MONEY, TIME, and RESOURCES are being expended on this (SOLUTION???)
Are there are cooler heads or any grown ups in the sandbox who might find a better solution then spending money and lawyer-time preparing for the national and state-wide elections.
TWO idiotic reactions to the Legislatures action in redoing the dates, will not produce an intelligent design. I am a life long democrat, and I want to hear that Florida Democratic Leadership has a better plan than SUING the National Party?
What is the status of the resolution? Is there arbitration underway? Are Florida Democrats actually wasting time and money, in court, instead of preparing our resources for the election?
I want to know, what the grownups have in mind? Because IF the Best Plan, Sen. Nelson, Rep. Klein, and Ms. Thurman have in mind is a lawsuit? Then we desperately need Better Leadership.
Life Long Progressive democrat
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I got a real kick out of the Letter Writer's comment, that science has been wrong before.
The beauty of science as opposed to "revealed" knowledge is that science is self-correcting. The scientific method allows that knowledge is perfectable. Each scientist can build on the facts and research of previous scientists.
Knowledge can be built on, and leads to better lives and a fuller understanding of the world. Remember, vaccines, electric lights, medicine, surgery, antiseptics?
I find it a sad commentary on how slow the wisdom does accumulate, when some people still insist that ignorance is better for young people. Do they really believe that people unaware of the facts of human biology, are better off than those who know how babies are conceived. Do they actually believe that pregnancies are increased, because of sexual knowledge. The consequences of normal human sexuality have not not changed in hundreds of thousands of years.
Do you really think that knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases should be kept hidden from young sexually aware young people? I have as a parent made sure, my children, understood human sexual facts, and the consequences that can be wonderful, miraculous or dangerous.
STDs and Immune Difficiency diseases will not be reduced by ignorance.
One last comment about science, those who would dispense with it's self correcting progress. I assume, then that in your hut, you use, oil lamps, after a long "bright" doing subsistence hunting and gathering. I'm sure you avoid the printed word, a technology from the late fifteen hundreds.
I'm sure you also have banished TV, RADIO, CARS, COMPUTERS and Medicine. Likewise I'm sure clearly you also avoid even animal husbandry as it must certainly be another of the many mistakes of science.
That you know someone literate and computer savvy enough to draft a letter to the editor, I suppose is a tribute to your open-mindedness, or more likely, just more of the blindspots in your world view.
See you after the great bird eats the shiny-disk in the sky.
A Working Scientist
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
America does need fresh leadership that understands that the President is not above the law, that signing statements do not supersede the laws passed by the legislative branch and that International Laws preclude the use of the tools of the Inquisition to protect this nations stature as leader of the free world.
There is no briefing that can change the impact and reality of torture, from water boarding to the whole panoply of heinous bloodstained techniques of Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition.
If Judge Mukasey doesn't understand that the tools of the Spanish Inquisition and the Bush Administration are an affront to the civilized world. There is no briefing that can explain it to him.
No Justice Department would be better lead, by a man with such a blind spot. Mouthing platitudes, about the President not being above the law, in the Bushian Age of "Signing Statements" that allow, what the law explicitly forbids, is unworthy of the Nation founded by Jefferson, Mason, and the great military leader George Washington.
Who if you recall, insisted on humane treatment for captured Hessian Mercenaries, before this country had a history. He knew how the army of a civilized nation behaved.
Richard W. Spisak Jr.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I still think Edwards the best of the VIABLE candidates. I think unfortunately the Edwards campaign hasn't taken advantage of the deep support out there. I conducted my own straw poll of about 30 dems on the bus from the parkinglot, and the Edwards vote was the clear winner clocking 16 votes out of a possible 30. I placed no limit of how many times a person could vote. Next closest was Kucinich but only about 8 for him Clinton, Biden Dodd and Richardson.
Linda and I and about 12 other folks got EDWARDS signs Saturday evening, of the FRI-SAT-SUNDAY Florida Democratic Convention. It was a convention with out nearly any of the National Candidates. Kucinich was rumored to be attending, but only Senator Gravel, came and spoke informally to the Progressive Caucus.
They've all been forbidden to appear in public in Florida, due to squabbling between the State and National Democratic Party.
They have all been banned from appearing in FL, except at BIG TICKET PRIVATE MEETINGS. There were signs from the Clinton Campaign and the Obama campaign, on parade the very first morning, but no one else had signs, until Saturday evening when some Edwards signs showed up. We begged a pair, and this group of self selected Edwards supporters paraded around the convention hall, for forty five minutes signs held high.
And all this DEMOCRATIC CONFUSION, was set in motion by shenanigans in the REPULISICAN RUN Florida legislature, and it has now impacted party unity and STATE / NATIONAL cooperation to the extent that some State Party Leaders are - get this IN COURT SUING the National Dems. Hmm dems suing Dems, why? Because the National Party has ruled that NOT ONLY are the candidates banned from appearing before the PUBLIC - but the National Dems say they won't count our January primary, and no Florida Dems will be seated at the National Convention in August in Denver.
HOLY SMOKES - lets see WHO benefits... WHO ????????
Dems Suing DEMS, are they CRAZY or just MOLES???
Add to that, the news that our party chairperson, Ms Karen Thurman is working as a Consultant for a lobbying firm owned by Al Cardenas the Chair of the FLORIDA Republican Party?????? Cozy eh?
Well when this was disclosed in a Herald article - It has been said, that she's only working on a project at the Port of Miami . And the second widely used excuse is, hey - she's taking republican money - so how's that bad ?
Well you could call it the spirit of nascent bipartisan-ship if the republicans hadn't been using every dirty trick to screw florida voters, or if they could say, because she works with them, they didn't do this, or we got them to do that - it that might be different...
So it just keeps getting curiouser, and curiouser
This side of the looking glass
I spoke with Edwards HQ about a possible speaker.
And they said whilst we rest gently, if unrequited, under the bans,
I asked when? ... They said ... Until we meet again?
Somehow... until the National and State Party's can "kiss and make up"...
after all it's only a National Natural $Election or maybe the Constitution
Is it possible that this issue might be Mediated? Rather than Litigated???
Are there no bigger children in the sandbox????
Well we can easily afford to alienate party workers and cool state & federal relations, divide them while undeserving the actual electors.
And preparing for simultaneous national, state and regional elections. Timing!
$ure is Lucky... BIG MONEY EVENT$ CAN $TILL TAKE PLACE
lucky for them,
hopefully at least, the well-heeled will be attended to.
When I get better news, I will share it.
ACLU - TCC
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I have decided to attend the convention, while my heart will be with my brothers and sisters, and true friends in the streets at Eola Park and across my endangered country.
I must say, I am disappointed to see the dem-party suing itself? Abandoning candidates, and delegates, $1000 a plate this, and $150 a plate that.
The Repulsican Lizards must be enjoying the turmoil -
You think it serves their interests to see DEMS suiing DEMS???????
While I cannot afford to purchase the Senator of my choice, I have trouble with Sen. Nelson who does occasionally speaks, like he's heard of the Constitution.
I have yet to hear his voice opposing Guantanamo, or SPYING, or TORTURE-the-
I asked with no small irony at a local dem mtg?
"Is there a place for progressives, in the Democratic Party?"
Hillary and Obama, can't see us abandoning occupation of OUR IRAQ,
even by the end of a potential second term?
Is there no one in the party leadership offended at the spying and surveillance that even, Attorney General Ashcroft, Acting AG Comey, and FBI Director Mueller, and Solicitor General Olsen couldn't stomach, but was DONE ANYWAY, by the Current Junta?
Hold the TELCOM co-conspirators harmless on BUSHCO Spying -
Sure, No Problem, says dem leadership? This is OPPOSITION?
If no one in the Democratic Leadership has a stomach to oppose torture, or the loss or privacy, or the complete dismantlement of the Constitution.
Then the democratic party only serves its leash - holding corporate masters.
Has the party of Wilson, and Roosevelt become DEMOCRAT CO?
If so, it is no longer a party that serves the needs of american citizens,
who still care for the Constitution and the American Experiment in Liberty and Self-Governance.
We must impeach these abusers of their offices. We must oppose those who have broken treaty after treaty and left our soldiers vulnerable again, and again, and again, to the worst sort of TIT for TAT treatment.
The RIGHT trumpets the lie, that progressives, don't care for the human beings who are soldiers. While they abandon Geneva Conventions?
I would laugh, but my tears cannot permit it.
A bayonet is a tool with a worker on both ends
Solidarity and Peace
Progressive - Like the Magna Carta Proponents
Liberal - like those who opposed children in factories
Radical - like those who urged granting women, negroes and even indians human rights
Incindiery - like those who dared opposed the Greatest Empire on earth, from its break away colonies
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Well, the press seems to have picked up another attack meme, which requires no thought investment
needs no expiation, and is an unanswerable attack
ROVE PLAYBOOK 101 - Attack their strength then they have no where else to go.
That's the way the attack thesis goes.
Here's the MEME (Close-Up) :
A presidential candidate, a senator, is too wealthy
to really really know anything about the poor.
Wait just a minute, like the new, 9 out of 10 doctors agree. This may actually contain more swamp gas than anything else. We may need to pause and think, before we press the remote of our attention span.
LET'S JUST TAKE A FULL MINUTE, and consider the import of such slander as
"he's too rich to understand the problems of the poor."
Consider these 6 points after you hear the Marketing Slogan "HAIR CUT" and laugh.
1. Have you looked at his ideas - Do they accurately describe what we all see in front of our eyes?
2. Have you looked at his suggestions, do they make sense.
3. Who else is championing the cause of the WORKING POOR and the UN-Insured.?
4. Since the current LIMBO BAR of CASH is $20 Million for a "presidential" campaign*
How many guys, fishing off the pier, or ladies from the laundromat you figure can
scare up 20 Million for a presidential glory run?
5. Since the presidency is a millionaire club now, if one of them remembers where he grew up
and has a plan to help the working poor? Shouldn't we listen to the someone who CARES?
6. Which of the other millionaires running for office have created a program to address the working poor
universal healthcare and access to higher education ?
Unless you remain in behind your walled estates, and private enclave, you can see the poor. Maybe you work among us.Maybe you are also counting on a paycheck next week. Maybe you know people to whom the phrase working paycheck to paycheck, doesn't quite color it in. Last time you saw someone pan-handling or sleeping in a cardboard house, did you want to do anything about it?
Senator Edwards does.
I heard, once even Karl Rove noticed them, but only to invite them to a "booze and broads" pizza party at his opponents campaign headquarters, on a crucial campaign night.
The Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974 provides for a number of considerations which have a significant bearing on the conduct of fundraising efforts for 1976. Three major considerations are as follows:
1. No more than $1,000 may be legally contributed by an individual to the President's campaign from January 1, 1975 until the conclusion of the Republican National Convention. An additional $1,000 may be given by the afore-mentioned donor upon the adjournment of the Convention.
2. No more than $10 million may be spent by the President's campaign committee for his primary campaign (including all campaign-related Convention expenses) and no more than $20 million may be spent on the general election..)
Friday, April 20, 2007
Since Charlie is both a gentleman as well as a COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL talking head, he does have to genuflect toward the Alternate Reality Construct that these guys live in, and I suspect, that Ye Olde Pesticide Peddler, "the hammer" only agreed to join Chuck, if certain areas of conversation, like say GERRYMANDERING TEXAS and manipulating Homeland Security to chase Texas Dems for that famous Quorum that wasn't ... were (my guess) Not to be Discussed.
Did they discuss the Hypocrisy Hounds who were savaging their own sacred vows while drilling away at President Clinton peccadillos? I suspect not. hmmm, Newt, Henry "Jeckel-Jackel" Hyde, and the high-moral arbiter Bill "the gambler" Bennett, they're safe for now. Maybe they can hire Rev. (hurricane explainer) Roberts to prey for them.
Did they discuss Big Tobacco check$ drifting around the $enate Floor, during the grace
period when the Repulsicans gasp, controlled both Houses?
I admit I have a jaundiced palate but - I sure would have liked to craft some questions, for that tete a' tete.
RE Sanity, Always Remember:
(TRUTH IS LIES, WAR IS PEACE, YESTERDAYS ALLY IS TODAY'S ENEMY)
I just wonder, if Rummy's back to his old tricks and filling his time, trading Missile parts with Iran, I mean, they are terrorists and all? There is common ground
solidarity & peace
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
And with all the political heat, that PBS has been sustaining they have had to cover their right flank constantly.
But - given the POWER/MONEY/RE$OURCE$ and INK (electronic and otherwise) of the Repulsican War Machine - and the slow growth of vertebrae on the other side of the aisle in Congress
Our primary resource is the honest integrity and human morality of those of us, who;
a. Have some appreciation of the slow growth of Liberty ( civilization )
b. Have some appreciation of Justice and Fair Play
c. Have some personal integrity and honor
d. Live for more, that the race for Consumer Goods
We must continue to stand for Humanity's sake, for the Future - in the face of this Perfect Storm of Inhumanity-Money and Infamy. And speak loud, clear, and calm for civilization.
It is no more futile, than it has ever been for any human, from Socrates, to Galileo, to Joan of Arc to our founders. Even in the Dark Ages, even in the Cold War, even now.
And men like Dr. King, G.B. Shaw, and women like Rosa Parks, and Margaret Sanger will stand and oppose the cruel and the fearful.
Was it futile to tell King George, that the colonies could stand against the greatest empire since Caesar? It is not futile now to oppose the Administration, the NY Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times, CBS, NBC, CNN, and all their lies, stupidity and cupidity... and stand with the FUTURE.
In Liberty, Common Humanity and Solidarity
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Blame the liberals. Well, I agree, we should blame the LIBERALS for starting this country, after all, those who were CONSERVATIVES supported, let's see, that would be King George, ahh the good old days, everything old is new again.
Let's see what else can we blame the Liberals for, oh yeah I remember, that old LIBERAL Ben Franklin who with his LIBERAL thinking proposed that Libraries and Public Schools, should be free and accessible to everyone.
Imagine the arguments against that LIBERAL agenda. OK what else? LIBERALS should be blamed for the END of the 7-day work week, and that MAD LIBERAL idea, the end of Child Labor.
We all remember how that social program destroyed American Business, as the conservatives explained.
Then the thoughtless, probably treasonous LIBERAL idea, to put an end (officially at least) to Slavery and that impossible LIBERAL scheme to grant Women the Right to VOTE. All good conservatives understood that would be the end of the republic.
I find it a horrific indictment of our educational system, that so many thoughtless individuals can grow to adulthood, and yet equate a difference of political opinion, not with the great American capacity for free speech and public input into the political dialog, that makes our great country. And worse, they fail so miserably to comprehend, that all the founders of this country supported, insisted on, even demanded DISSENT, as a crucial component of an informed and participatory democracy.
Treason???, ask brother Thom Jefferson, who said, unless we have the right to revise and improve our government by revolution, we are not living in a functioning vital democracy.
Don't forget to vote!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
When I saw a Letter to the editor, entitled "Don't spend public money to destroy Human Life" bemoaning the expenditure of the peoples funds to destroy life, I expected to see another thoughtful call for peace, a suggestion that America turn to the State Department, to reduce international tensions, reduce warfare and put an end to taxpayer funding for SHOCK & Awe Inc. The thinking that has caused the loss of so many innocent lives overseas. Refusing to recognize the Geneva Conventions and Habeus Corpus.
Or possibly another well reasoned argument in opposition to the death penalty. Or an argument against the pointless and counterproductive growth rate of prisons that has placed so many non-violent offenders in criminal universities with violent offenders for advanced training who will then endanger society for decades.
But instead, it was just another anti-science screed, reflecting the same opposition to science, that so many centuries ago was repelled by the first anatomical explorations that opened the human body for science, instead of just in the casual destruction of war and violence.
The kind of close-minded, parochial thought that was shocked, shocked to hear that the human body is constructed from the food we eat. "You are what you eat" was considered blasphemous, and heretical.
May the light of science never be extinguished by ignorance. Good Health to you, one and all.
Richard W. Spisak Jr.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
By Richard W. Spisak Jr.
How providing misleading information to young vulnerable women and men came to be federally funded national policy I leave to the historians. Pregnancy rates, don't allow us the luxury of that debate right now.
I hope that we will soon understand that the best way to help our children understand the REALITY of sexual behavior's consequences is to provide them with medically and scientifically accurate information. Propagating lies, continuing to replace scientific information with wishful thinking and bold-faced lies is obviously no solution.
Sexuality in minors cannot be prayed away. Humans are undeniably sexual creatures, and will behave accordingly. How we best prepare young people for that reality must be with facts, not lies, or mythology, but with accurate information. "Abstinence Only" is a philosophy, but young people require the facts to prepare them for the biological realities.
Speak to young people about philosophy and morality - YES! AND, provide them with the facts of the REAL-CONSEQUENCES of sexual behavior. That means the actual facts of Biology, Birth Control and Pregnancy. The facts must be part of the Sexual Education of today's children. The results of ignorance are already a parent.
Palm Beach Post
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Ashcroft Justice department, who worked for the President brought that grab bag of offensive, WINNER-TAKE-ALL, TILTED STACK OF Legal Loose Ends, bound it together with some barbed wire and then slapped a "made in Madison Avenue" title on it calling it the Patriot Act, so no one would be confused, and gave it to a compliant "REPUBLICAN" (lest we forget) Congress on the heels of 9/11.
The evidently, slow to read Congress, certainly isn't off the hook, for passing that collection of DRACONIAN retro-legislation. That empowered the security industrial complex to do... "WHAT EVER!"
But while the congress that didn't read it, does carry plenty of responsibility for the law they enacted without reading. Keep in mind, it was the Bush Administration's shrewd legal adviser, John "Soaring eagle" Ashcroft the AG who took it to Congress.
You remember John Ashcroft - he's the guy, who when he ran for the Senate, lost to a corpse, which the good voters of Missouri preferred, to the LIVE Ashcroft.
solidarity & peace
Sunday, February 25, 2007
That the foolish, the timid, the incurious, and the ignorant insult free speech again. Why should you care? Because freedom of speech, is the hearts blood of the creative artist.
The First Amendment's guarantee of Freedom of speech establishes the right of the artist to address the issues of our time. It is very very important. It is freedom. That's why it is The First Amendment. When one artist is censored, all artists, all writers are censored.
If we turn our heads away, because it's easier, to hide, silent while the noisy ignorant, silence another nervy artist who dare speak his or her mind, what is lost? Another thread in the fabric of freedom is lost.
Unless we nurture the Bill of Rights, it becomes a dry and dusty figment of our past. We honor it by our defense of each artist. Your freedom, to speak and read the truth depends not on the market place, which prizes the easy, the lowest common denominator. American freedom depends on the solitary, visionary artist's voice.
Our constitution does not exist to protect the tyranny of the majority, but the power of the ideas of a unique creative artist.
A painting, with stars, made of the words of the Bill of Rights was censured.
A painting with red bars, and white stripes, was removed from it's month long gallery posting.
Was there some political message, no, were there words insulting to Americans, no.
They spoke instead directly to unthinking art critics, challenging art gallery patrons with overheard comments like: "This won't match my sofa", or "What is the meaning of this" or "conceptually, I think it's pure genius".
These statements address instead, the experience of art viewing, they were not political commentary. But, someone was offended. [Somebody quick call the police, or better an attorney] The gallery aware, that some might be challenged by the work, yet still agreed to exhibit, and sell the work.
It is a private gallery, and yes, they do have a right to exhibit and sell, what they choose.
They did chose. they chose this piece. But, once they agree to show a piece, they have a responsibility. Yet, under pressure of a few ignorant, narrow minded people, capitulated and removed the piece. Explained as economic pressure, out of fear, it was removed.
What art is safe?
Pictures of fishing? PETA may be offended? Pictures of marshes and swamps, developers might take offense. Charming representations of children with big sad eyes, isn't that too much temptation for certain individuals? Certainly no religious art, the potential for offense is too great.
Maybe anything representational is suspect? Or maybe, just maybe... we should not place the blinders and cages of an ignorant few, on the artists and other grown-ups of our time.
Richard W. Spisak Jr.
Artist, Bill of Rights Advocate
National ACLU Convention
by Rick Spisak Jr.
Arriving in coach, I found my bulkhead seat, unfortunately not on the aisle, but in the center. Two women came into the cabin scanning seat numbers till we locked eyes. They'd located their seats, one on either side of the aisle. They conferred, one asked if I would object to swapping seats? This would place me across the aisle, in an aisle seat. She looked hopeful. I waited only a beat before I agreed with a flourish. My new seat mate, was a professionally dressed Hispanic woman. Introducing myself, she gave me her name and volunteered she was a Circuit Court judge, in Dade County.
Avoiding my typical legal cliché‘, "Have you seen any justice lately?" Instead I mentioned I was headed to the National ACLU Convention. She said, after pausing, "Many of us, are very disappointed in the direction our government has been headed." I asked her if she was aware of the Military Commission Bill, that the President was planning to sign on Monday. She shook her head yes, and said, "WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS DESTROYING HABEAS CORPUS!" She added, she has been mistakenly placed on the National NO-FLY-LIST, and has been prevented several times from boarding planes.
Last time, she had been traveling in South America with a friend, but had gotten very sick. She'd gotten so sick that she decided to break her trip and return home. So, desperately ill, in Peru, she learns while waiting at customs, she will not be allowed to board her plane, because she's on the NO FLY LIST, and she will not be permitted to return to America.
She tried explaining, "I was born in America, I have a valid passport, and I am a judge in Miami Dade County Florida, for pity's sake!" This made no impact whatsoever. They began discussing whether she would be detained by the local or national police. She had no desire to be jailed overseas, she was SICK! She showed them her documents again, she explained, she was sick.
Eventually they decided she was so sick, she would be better off out their hair, and out of their country. Suddenly, she was released to board her plane.
The additional irony was, that she hadn’t been cleared, they just let her go because, she was clearly very sick... The irony was not lost on her. She wanted to say, that's no reason, to let some enter the US... because they're sick?
We discussed many of the tragic and unconstitutional actions of the Bush Administration. She reminded me of something that I'd heard, but had forgotten, that among the many people misidentified on the Federal NO-FLY-LIST was the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, who was prevented from traveling to a conference by air, forcing him to drive cross country because he too, had become a victim of the inaccuracies of the National NO-FLY-LIST.
Arrival at the Convention
Arriving at the Convention we took our seats in time for a discussion between Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and ACLU President Nadine Strossen. The discussion illuminated the differences between the "Strict Constructionist" (a label he decries) Judge Scalia referred to as "Nino", and ACLU President Nadine Strossen referred to as “Nadine”. Judge Scalia, “Nino”, explained that “rights not explicitly enumerated by the drafters of the original documents, simply did not exist.”
His reasoning was not without some merit, because as he pointed out, one man's inference about “Natural Law” was another man's “judicial activism“. Despite that philosophical restraint, another fact equally obvious to many of the attendees, was that one must be intellectually nimble, to understand "Nino's" strict constructionism, which allowed him to decide a presidential election from the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court. This action largely unanticipated by the founders, circumvented the electoral process and in the decision Bush V Gore, the Supreme Court threw restraint to the wind, in a ruling that anointed George W. Bush the 43rd President.
“Natural Law” he spat, there is no such thing, and those who invoke it, to deduce rights left unremunerated by the wisest of 18th Century Statesmen have caused no end of trouble. If it such rights went unmentioned, then no rulings should be based on deduced “Natural Laws“.
Natural Law? He considered the road to all things wild and untamed, that Liberals would use to distort the Law, inferring anything, were they only given the opportunity.
What of slavery, lawful then, unlawful now, what of black suffrage, a 3/5th solution, once the law of the land, should these be rolled back now and forever? Since no franchise had been considered for Native Americans and Women was this more strange fruit of “Natural Law“? Should these be redressed? He never said.
"Nino" then preceded to decry the logic of those that might find some useful precedent in laws drafted overseas. Laws framed by foreigners un-illumed by Liberty’s Stars and Bars? PAUGH! Laws drafted by barbarians from foreign shores? Laws from France? Precedents from Ugandan Jurisprudence? He denounced it. He denied it. (He actually used these specific nations)
I thought it odd, and ill-considered, since international law and international treaties have been a part of American Judicial Law, since our country was recognized by the benefactor of our infancy, la Belle France.
The Florida Michigan Caucus
We Floridians and Michiganians were welcomed to a small celebration Sunday evening, where we might mix and mingle and renew acquaintances. We were given some tokens, our own personal “hanging chad”, some snacks, a T-Shirt and ample opportunity to compare notes on issues and resources, business cards and email addresses, all by the light of the cash bar.
I had a wonderful surprise, when after being introduced to Sue, a colleague from Central Florida, while mumbling the smallest of small talk, a passerby stopped to say, “Sue Lyons, how are you?” I stopped and stared, the Sue, to whom I had just been introduced, was also a teleconference colleague from B.O.R.D.C.. (The Bill of Rights Coalition). We'd spoken before on B.O.R.D. C. teleconference calls, but we knew each other only as Sue from Ocala and Rick from Stuart.
One of the other organizations that I am involved in, is the BORDC, the Bill of Rights Defense Coalition. This organization does work similar to the ACLU. It sole focus is the “Bill of Rights”. B.O.R.D.C. hosts regular teleconferences, allowing activists from across the U.S. to discuss current issues and share ideas. Often I had heard comments from a woman from Central Florida named Sue Lyons. I turned and said “Sue Lyons, from B.O.R.D.C. ? I'm Rick, from Stuart, also from B.O.R.D.C.. Now, voices from activist phone calls suddenly became faces. We smiled and relished a brief “NON-VIRTUAL” moment.
The Folks from Dover
We returned in the morning to the convention center for a presentation from a diverse group of citizens who had turned back a move in their school system, to throw out modern science and turn to Creationism for an “alternative" to science and evolution.
First they faced Creationism, turned that aside, only to find it had morphed into its slicker UPTOWN “HIGH GLOSS” COUSIN, the mis-named “Intelligent Design”. These people, initially strangers, came together despite political, religious and economic differences, and found common cause in a determination to use the law, to fight the modern theocrats. These diverse people with the help of the Pennsylvania ACLU, worked together to drive one peculiar brand of theology from the science classroom in the Dover Pennsylvania School System.
Vic Walczak, ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director, one of three lawyers who brought the case let each of the plaintiffs give their perspective. We heard from the Teachers, the Moms, the small business men, and the Dads from the Kitzmiller v. Dover case none of whom enthusiastically set about changing their local school board. Little did they initially expect the time consuming and neighbor straining process that not only pitted neighbor against neighbor but also cost the whole community extensive legal fees.
This case reconnected these individuals to the larger dialogue of both the law and scientific progress. They were fortunate to locate documents, that linked the plainly religious Creationism with it's more "marketable" and subtler replacement, “Intelligent Design“. This made the problem easier to correct. The document said... "We'll slip it in... as an alternate theory"...
Dr. James Lawson dubbed “the greatest living theorist of non-violence by Dr. King” gave a remarkable inspirational speech. His first point was, "We must withdraw our consent from this government." "We must deny our consent, for those who would abuse their power and torture human beings. Even tyrants cannot govern if we say no." We must say "No to an illegal government".
“We must resist and say No, to structural poverty. Structural poverty, is a situation where families with modest resources send their children to underfunded schools with old books, and crumbling infrastructure, that often fail to provide an adequate education, which then finds the school financially penalized for it’s failures. Ultimately releasing students to face a world with few skills and limited job prospects. "We must say NO! to Structural Poverty! And we must continue to say YES! to life, YES! to truth and beauty. We must say YES to economic justice! We must oppose the injustice of corporations that use labor, without letting those who do the labor, benefit from the fruit of their own labors."
"Forces that are organized against democratic values, cannot win. Their cause is chaos and war, but they cannot win. Do not be concerned about George Bush, his power is weak. The true struggle is not to the swift, but to those who persevere." "History will vindicate us, the universe of beauty, the preciousness of life, if we hang on to JUSTICE ... the best is yet to be."
There was another very powerful presentation by Cecilia Fire-Thunder, a Native American leader of the Oglala Sioux who has worked to provide her fellow Native American women health care options. Her state of South Dakota has outlawed any abortion option. Her activism first got her suspended and then removed from the presidency of her tribe. These setbacks have neither stopped nor slowed down her efforts to preserve health care options for the women and children of South Dakota.
Break Out Break-down
After the morning's presentation we all split up to attend a wonderful range of breakout meetings. Each of us, had a panoply of available meetings and I selected "REAL ID - Your Papers Please!"
Across the wide lobby with it’s cupola stood a hotel staffer with a beautiful chime which signaled with it’s resonant tones, it was time to go to your meeting. I found a room, designated “REAL ID”. A term I had come to understand, represented the worst in ID excesses, lots of promise, lots of high-tech hype. I took a seat in the back and began listening to a discussion of the tools being brought to bear in the Administration’s War on privacy. The discussion was focused on the coming national ID which is being driven by three constituencies. Internal security, a universal national ID, immigration and employment, and finally for external security, a digitally loaded passport with RFID technology.
The first front is a new “National” or “universal” drivers license, with a rigorous biometric component so that the state to state variations no longer exist. This one, picture and biometric ID will be useable within several contexts. A new worker ID, for proof positive that one has the right as an American, to employment, this card could also be loaded with employment data, insurance information, medical, financial and other critical data. Finally the third constituency, is for new passport technology, for International Security with REAL ID capability including an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. This could be active RFID (broadcasting the owner’s information) or passive RFID, (less expensive scan-able code) merely allowing nearby RFID readers, overt or surreptitious to sweep crowds or attendees, thus verifying the true or REAL ID of every person entering into a controlled area or passing through a public space.
The discussion began with a detailing the REAL ID bills coming at us. Pressure from the Anti-Terror Industries, pressure from the Voter Limiting crowd, and finally the xenophobes on the Limit Immigration side, have all combined to push the discussion in favor of those who want a National ID. This new ID could bring the implementation of a technology far more invasive, far richer in content, than any other identity tracking technology ever contemplated by the government.
The lecture followed the evolution of “THE COMPLETE DATABASE on ALL AMERICANS” from Echelon, and "TIA", Total Information Awareness
through TALON and its as yet un-Named predecessors. The new "improved" passports about to be implemented, will contain an RFID Chip, a radio frequency identification chip. Picture a tiny IC Chip, a memory - data chip about 1/4th the size of a grain of rice, holding your social security number, your driving record, your medical records, your employment history, and more. It could also hold all your bio-metric data, [retinal scan, finger prints, facial recognition numbers, and eventually…DNA or whatever!]
They went on to discuss the fact that new passports and the anticipated "national” drivers licenses as currently conceived, will include a copy of your “digital face” a scanning technology used to facilitate digital facial recognition. The notorious lack of security with RFID chips was also discussed. Since passive or surreptitious scanning is an issue, this might allow decreased security. The example raised by one of the panelists, was this; imagine you are a US diplomat, touring through some dangerous city, trying to keep a low profile, to blend into the population. Now, picture someone with an RFID scanner looking for Americans. Suddenly the signal representing a person carrying an American passport shows up on the scope, on his signal, figures move through the crowd and a diplomat is betrayed by his “smart” passport. Anonymity can be security overseas too.
With all databases merged you will soon leave data-dna wherever you go, and all communications and all transactions will be documented. That is not off in the future it is being implemented now. Ask anyone who works with databases, the hard part is not building the database, the hard part is keeping it up to date and harder still error-free. Who will do the “trueing” or verifying the databases?
Some practical counter measures were discussed, some people suggested micro-waving your “intelligent” passport, or wrapping it in aluminum foil that would shield attempts to scan it remotely. A website called “The Practical Traveler” was mentioned as a location for more suggestions for how best to handle these high-tech “tattle-tale” passports.
Are there options? Yes, for now, you can request a new passport, they don’t have the RFID just yet. It should be valid, (at least in theory) for ten years. This way you might delay, that particular personal tracking device. The fact remains, that today each cell phone already contains tracking technology, as well as your favorite ring tones. They can be used now, to triangulate your precise location within inches, from nearby cellular towers. In addition, it was pointed out later, by a national security whistle-blower sitting in the rear of the audience, your cell phone can be remotely accessed and turned into a live microphone without your intercession.
Ollie North, may have thought, when it came to E-Mail, erased is erased. But it didn't take the recent congressional email and instant messenger scandals to remind this audience, that there is no privacy in email. Jack Abramoff may have been surprised to see his E-Mail describing his Native American clients as monkeys, but no one in this conference is counting on Email privacy.
The same day the conference ended, the Director of the FBI was meeting with police chiefs from across America, telling them, that (ISPs) Internet Service Providers, will be compelled to store email and surfing information for longer periods, because, as he stated; "most people have experienced problems with the Internet". These files he further stated, “will facilitate law enforcements investigations“.
We learned about the practice of “policy laundering” where an issue too difficult or politically sensitive to raise in this country becomes easier to address when done commercially in a foreign capital. They wanted to track all funds transfers in America, OOPS, don’t want to ask here, it might raise a ruckus, ask for it in Switzerland, where all funds transferred are recorded.
Done, no one in America reads foreign news anyway!
Another speaker discussed the problems with the “NO-FLY-LIST”. He has been intermittently stopped by airport security personnel, who've informed him that his name was on the NO-FLY List. He was placed in custody, subjected to intense scrutiny, but, ultimately released. He’s subsequently discovered the list isn’t universally observed. Ironically he noted, he flies frequently but is stopped intermittently. He said he's been unable to discern any pattern; he’s stopped on some carriers and not others, stopped sometimes on one carrier and other times not, all on the same carrier?
He also discussed some of the international figures who've been stopped by the no fly list, including an Oxford Professor who was a consultant to Tony Blair, attempting to come to teach at Notre Dame, denied. Recently an Ambassador from Peru was refused due to the No-Fly-List. (Oh, also Ted Kennedy had appeared on the list), but someone quipped, that might have been "intentional".
When questions and comments were taken from the audience, I mentioned two points that hadn't been included in the discussion. The incorporation of ubiquitous video cameras with SMART "face-recognition" technology on street corners, and in gathering places like malls, airports, seaports bus and train stations and stadiums. Imagine a fully integrated surveillance net, your presence at the corner of K Street, is passed by the facial recognition software running behind the video camera scanning street corner, and matched then with the transaction you later make at the corner store, cross matched and then filed as part of your total transaction history.
The other point I made, was that over ten years ago, one of my children was Instant Messaging a school chum, (She was in Middle School) and they were both in a play about a teenage suicide. They were running lines over the internet. My wife and I were watching television, two county police officers appeared at our door, and demanded to see the child, who was still online.
She was terrified, she could barely answer their questions. She confirmed that she was unhurt. They were ready to detain her for her "safety". So it's not just Congressman and Quakers whose Internet communications are monitored.
The Torturous Tale
I attended a presentation entitled Guantanamo and Torture, this was a presentation by British writer David Rose. He has been involved in interviewing several captives who have been exonerated and released, from Guantanamo captivity.
He spoke about the Military Commissions Act about to be signed. He pointed out that Sen. Mc Cain who had originally opposed the bill has now signed on and describes the bill as “adhering to the letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions“. He quoted President Bush’s comment that “We can finally do what the American people want us to do, to capture, detain, question and try these terrorists.” His analysis is that “this bill guarantees that there are virtually no limits to presidential powers during war time. ”
He pointed out that the British who have far more contemporary experience with terrorism and bombing, used criminal law, to track and defeat the IRA.
The IRA, had used the full range of terror tactics against the British, but they were defeated in the courts. The IRA has been defeated, by rule of law. Defeated in criminal courts, without the loss of Habeas Corpus.
Mr. Rose tracked documents that detailed how the detainees would be treated, these orders descended from the highest offices in America to the deepest dungeons of Abu Gharib, Bahgram and Guantanamo. He gave credit to the ACLU‘s freedom of Information demands that have brought this information to the public‘s attention.
He also showed documents from the military and the FBI listing the brutal methods used. He told in a former prisoners own words, what treatment was like for those held there by the Bush regime. I will only mention only one detail in the many horrific examples given about the treatment received in Guantanamo. He shown graphic examples of the methods used. His illustrations came from woodcuts of the Spanish Inquisition, where similar “humane” methods were in use. Quite a vintage perspective on the progress of human rights.
The Philip Glass performance
The Composer and performer Philip Glass entertained with a performance of one of his compositions which was well received by the audience. It was greeted with a powerful ovation at it’s conclusion.
Ms. Harry appeared with a single acoustic guitar for accompaniment.
The Comedian - Greg Proops
The comedian, performed topical political humor using “colloquial street language”. He included some Foley, Clinton and Lewinsky humor.
The Whitehouse and Capital Hill
We received training on how best to communicate with the staff of our Representatives and Senators. It was thorough and intended to assist those who were new to speaking with political figures. Our trip was carefully planned. Buses had been arranged to transport us to the hill and back. During the question and answer period, I took an opportunity to mention, that time permitting there was an opportunity to visit an event in Lafayette Park just north of the White House. It was an event in opposition to the Military Commission Bill, a people’s countersigning ceremony at the President’s door. It had been organized by a collection of religious groups in opposition to torture and the BORDC. Signatures would be collected and then presented to the President.
Fortuitously the scheduling of my meeting on the hill, allowed me to attend the rally at the White House, sign the Anti-Military Commission document and then proceed to my meeting on the Hill. I had made arrangements with my team leader, John Pauly Jr. from the West Palm Beach Chapter, that I would meet them at Representative Clay Shaw’s office by 10am. Our meeting was scheduled for 10:30am. George Crossley of the Central Florida Chapter and I, took the Metro to a stop just a few blocks from the park and walked in a cool drizzle to Lafayette Park. George’s attendance proved invaluable since some of the activists at the rally, had decided to perform an act of civil disobedience.
George was able to share experiences he had in the past, in previous non-violent civil disobedience actions. He spoke with the activists, the organizers and the park officers, with the goal of reducing tension.
Prayers, patriotic and peace songs as well as speeches were the prelude to the signing. It was a colorful crowd, a man in an orange jump suit, a woman from Kentucky who’d brought her 14 year old daughter and colleagues from the ACLU convention a crowd of well over two hundred came together to call for an end to American Torture. Business men and women as well as activist all coming together, to denounce Terror’s war on Terror.
After the initial ANTI-TORTURE ceremonies, the signed petition was taken to the White House gate. A delegation requested an opportunity to discuss the petition with the President. Quietly and calmly anti-torture protestors then briefly blocked the gate to the White House, until they were peacefully arrested. Peace was given a chance.
I met my colleagues at the offices of Representative E. Clay Shaw, House Republican of Florida. Our delegation arrived approximately ½ hour ahead, our appointment was confirmed. We met with his aide, whose areas of responsibility mirrored precisely our topics.
We thanked her for the Congressman’s support of a woman’s right to choose, and then made our cases. We had three issues on our agenda, opposition to Warrantless Wiretapping, in favor of a just and fair Immigration Policy, and opposition to Racial Profiling. She nodded politely throughout. We deposited a copy of our talking points, and we offered to make our legislative staff available meet with the congressman’s staff anytime they needed supplemental information.
In the Cameraman's Lens
After returning to the conference hotel from the hill, I sat in the hotel lobby waiting for my colleagues to join me for lunch. I had just sat down and anticipated meeting my colleague George, we would compare notes over a box lunch.
A man dressed completely in black sat down, on an adjacent chair and asked, “Are you with the ACLU?” “Yes,” I nodded. “Have you been watching the video of the speeches?” “Yes“, I said. “So, what do you think of the video production?” “why do you ask?” I said, “I have to warn you, I’m probably not the ideal person to ask, I am a director and producer and my standards are impossibly high. I take staging and production very serious and you probably don’t want my complete candor.” “Yes, I do“ he said. “So, what do you think ?”
I said, “I noticed that the director seemed not to consistently follow the speakers, and frankly my honest reaction, was that maybe he was handling his Email or balancing his checkbook during several segments.” “Oh. My god!” he said, “it sucked. I almost walked out yesterday?” He said, “I’m one of the cameramen. I can’t take this director.“
He said, “can I ask you a second question?” “Sure,” I said, “feel free.”
He paused looked serious and said, “I’m a Right-Wing Christian, and I have to ask you, Why do you people hate Christians?” I didn’t want to say, he was wrong. I didn’t want to say, he was lied to. I did want him to understand, who we really are. I said, “I have been with the ACLU for decades, and I have never heard anyone speak against prayer. Prayer is a wonderful grace, and most of the people I know in the ACLU are very spiritual people.” I said, “I think you’ve been misinformed, by people who thought they understood us, but they might be wrong. “
“Maybe I can dispel a couple common misconceptions about the ACLU”.
I said, for example “The Nativity Scene Issue“. Right now, we live in a country where a majority of Americans consider themselves Christians. But imagine if you were a Christian and the majority of the country was Buddhist or Hindu. This could mean down at city hall, they would be getting ready to set up a statue of Shiva with it’s eight arms, or a statue of Ganesha the Elephant headed god, or some other image, and your child might be forced to pray to that image. “
“This would represent the state telling you or your children how to pray, and to whom to pray. We would support your claim, to oppose such state sponsorship of religion.” “What about school, prayer?, he asked, “you people are against school prayer!” at this point, George has joined us, and he offered, “no one opposes students choosing to pray.” “What we oppose, is a teacher or principal selecting, defining or choosing what prayer the students may use.”
George explained he had participated on a case in Orlando which had a school board rule that there would be a NON-SECTARIAN prayer read at the conclusion of games. ACLU joined a local church council to oppose it, because the state should not be providing an approved prayer. He told another story, of a young girl, an excellent student, who liked to read her Bible during study time at school, and a misguided zealous teacher who misunderstood, the separation of church and state, as well as freedom of speech, confiscated the girl’s Bible. The ACLU sued, and she got her Bible back and was promised that it would never be removed again.
Our new friend, looked thoughtful, and said, he had no idea that the ACLU took on cases like that. But then, he turned grim and said, “can I tell you something. Last night that comedian, he was so vulgar, he was everything that I expected from you people, vulgar, sexually promiscuous, lewd, and anti-American.”
I said, “Let me respond in a way, that I think you may understand. We support freedom of speech as spelled out in the Bill of Rights. I have to support freedom of speech, The challenge with freedom of speech, is that it cannot be limited to just the speech you like. Unless you support the right of people who write, think and speak things that you disapprove of, then you don’t really preserve freedom of speech. We are conservatives, who support the constitution and the Bill of Rights for every citizen. That is our guide.”
He said, “you know I feel a lot better about the ACLU now.” “I think, I understand.” We shook hands. George and I just smiled.