Monday, April 30, 2007

New York City Labor Chorus

Saturday June 16th - 7:30pm

Ethical Culture Society
2 West 64th Street (off Central Park West)

Celebrate the great tradition of labor and folk music through song.

Seniors, Students, & Unemployed: $15

Virginia Tech and gun control

Ever since the horrific events at Virginia Tech I have been thinking about the question of gun control.

I should say that I don't like guns, I don't think hunting defenseless animals is a sport and I think that most hunters substitute guns for penises. But none of this leads me to the conclusion that stricter gun controls would have prevented Cho Seung-Hui from gunning down 31 people and himself.

According to press reports it's not clear if any existing gun laws were broken. According to The coalition to Stop Gun Violence

"In December 2005 a Virginia district court ruled that Cho was 'an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness' and ordered that he be evaluated at a psychiatric facility. He was released the next day. Throughout this period, local police had at least three contacts with Cho.

"Although he passed a background check on two occasions, it is unclear whether Cho's handgun purchases were legal under federal law. Federal law prohibits individuals who have been 'adjudicated as a mental defective' or 'committed to any mental institution' from purchasing firearms. Virginia State Police maintain the sale was legal under state law and the Virginia attorney general's office has yet to comment on the case."

Of course, there have been commissions set up to study what happened and investigations are under way. But I don't think they will solve the problem of whether the massacre could have been prevented by stricter gun laws. In this society if someone wants something there will always be someone to sell it to him/her. If we haven't learned this from Prohibition and from the failure of anti-drug laws to effect their availability, we just don't want to acknowledge the limitations of passing laws to change human behavior.

One more word about Virginia Tech. Those people who argue that arming all (or most of) the students and faculty would have prevented some or all of the deaths of April 16 are promulgating very dangerous ideas.

But all this said, I think that if we wait to intervene until someone has reached the point of picking up a gun to solve their problems, we have totally failed as a society.

The availability of guns isn't the problem. It's that so many people from the President on down seem to believe that violence is the way to solve problems.

It takes a community to save a life, in this case 32 lives.

Cho was a part of a community at Virginia Tech and that community failed him in so many ways. Although some people realized from his writing how disturbed he was and tried to bring these problems to the attention of others who were professionally charged with dealing with them. But the professionals simply failed.

If we come across a wounded four-legged animal we are very likely to find a home for it or give it one ourselves. But with the two-legged variety we seem incapable of bringing outsiders into our midst. And until we can do that, there will always be another "deviant" who will pick up a gun to solve problems.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

It's Guiliani time!

No one who lived through eight years of "one note" Rudy would be the least bit surprised that his conception of politics is ignorant confrontation. Most New Yorkers were thrilled when "One Note" became America's Mayor, because it meant he was no longer our mayor.

When criticized for his silly comments dxisparaging Democrats on the question of terrorism "One Note" said:

"They [Democrats] do not seem to get the fact that there are people, terrorists in this world, really dangerous people that want to come here and kill us," He said on The Sean Hannity Show, according to a transcript distributed by his campaign. "They want to take us back to not being as alert which to me will just extend this war much, much longer."

Is it really possible that anyone can possibly believe this nonsense? It's hardly surprising that he had to broadcast this foolishness on Sean Hannity's show. Who else (besides possibly Bill O'Reilly) would tolerate it?

It's quite ironic that the two people on who's watch 9/11 took place ("One Note" and the Bush) are the two who shout terrorism loudest. Perhaps there's some compensation going on.

The best thing we can do is to re-elect "One Note" as America's mayor - a job for which he seems ideally suited.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

May 8-6PM: Second anniversary of Chelsea Stands up Against the War

From Chelsea Stands Up Against the War:


2ND Anniversary of Chelsea Stands Up Against The War

Tuesday, May 8, 2007 6pm

Northwest corner of 8Th Avenue and 24Th Street

Anyone and everyone who participated in the first 103 weeks of the Stand Up and everyone who would like to participate to Stand Up Against the War in Iraq and
demand that the war end immediately and our troops be returned home safely can join this commemoration.

Because it is both a sad and glorious day.
Sad because the war continues, now it its fifth year, but glorious because the people of Chelsea promised that they would Stand Up each and every week as long as
the war in Iraq continues, and through rain, snow, freezing temperatures, sweltering summers and dark and dreary nights, Chelsea Neighbors have made good on their word.

Join with your friends and neighbors to say that you have had enough of the killing, enough of the torture, enough of the extraordinary waste of resources that is the war In Iraq.

Show support for your community and your neighbors while opposing this illegal and immoral war.

For further information call 212-726-1385
or go to

Chelsea Neighbors United To End The War
P.O. Box 821
JAF Station
New York, NY 10116-0821

Monday, April 23, 2007

The NYC Council saves us from pedicabs

We are faced with global warming, which may end the world as we know it.

According to the National Resources Defense Council,"The global warming crisis is at a tipping point. To stave off the worst effects of global warming, the United States must quickly pass strong legislation including a mandatory cap on emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants." In other words, the key to controlling (and maybe eventually reversing global warming) is to control the emission of greenhouse gasses. This would at the very least mean putting limits on automobiles and other gas emitting vehicles.

So what does the New York City Concil do?

They passed a bill controlling pedi-cabs, which emit no gasses. ("The pedicab bill caps the number of cabs at 325 and also adds new safety and insur- ance re- quirements.") And then to put a cap on this stupidity they overroad a mayoral veto. Could the taxi industry have had anything to do with this?

And we vote for these people.

Friday, April 13, 2007

April 14: Global warming action

***the BIG one*** Sea of People Mass Rally
New York, NY

April 14, 2007

MAIN LAWN at Battery Park

(SUBWAY: R/W to Whitehall Street, 4/5 to Bowling Green, 1 to South Ferry
BUS: M1, M6, M15 to South Ferry)

What is SEA OF PEOPLE? - visit for more info -

New York City's coastal location makes it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels that will result from unabated warming. A ten-foot change could result from significant melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice shelves over the course of this century. Such a rise would greatly reconfigure the map of our city, sinking much of lower Manhattan beneath the water.

The SEA OF PEOPLE project combines the dynamics of a mass rally with the expressive power of an interactive artistic installation.

A noon rally at Battery Park (main lawn) will kick off the event. Then, thousands of participants, ideally dressed in blue, will stretch north in two columns along the projected eastern and western 10-foot waterlines that may one day redefine lower Manhattan under the ten-foot sea level rise scenario. Creating, in essence, a Sea of People!

We hope for this line to stretch a mile or more, winding up both sides of downtown Manhattan to create a visual and symbolic statement that our elected representatives can't possibly ignore!

Leave your home, wearing blue, as much blue as you can handle -- blue shirts, blue socks, blue underwear, blue shoes, blue pants, blue hats! Remember, the Sea Of People line is yours, so feel to put your stamp on it--GO NUTS!

We've heard through the grapevine that Papa Smurf and the Blue Man Group (or at least impersonators) will be making guest appearances! Others plan on coming dressed in blue speedos, complete with beach balls and umbrellas; there may even be some mermaids! And of course, please feel free to bring BANNERS, NOISEMAKERS, AND ALL YOUR FRIENDS!

Join us at Battery Park on the main lawn at 12 Noon on Saturday, April 14.
(The Battery is accessible from State Street and Battery Place. It is adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal
SUBWAY: 4/5 to Bowling Green, R/W to Whitehall Street, 1 to South Ferry. BUS: M1, M6, M15 to South Ferry)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bush the trickster is at it again

Congress to their great credit finally stood up to the Dick and the Bush and passed two versions of a bill providing supplemental funds for the Iraq adventure. But,as the people demanded last Nov. 7Th they added certain very mild conditions with regard to ending the war and bringing the troops home. They still have to transform these two bills into one and send it to the president for his signature.

That's where the problem arises. Bush says that if the bill contains any conditions on his power to continue the war to his heart's content, he will veto it.

Now there are many roads he could take other than a veto. He could compromise with the Democratic controlled Congress, he could sign the bill and add one of his famous signing statements saying that he will not adhere to the conditions set out in the bill to control his behavior. But instead he has chosen the road of greatest confrontation rather than compromise. In other words, he is willing to place the troops at greater risk and to withhold money he claims is necessary from them to do their job. And now in pure Bushspeak he is blaming the Democrats, who passed the bill, for withholding the funding.

This is what magicians call the "turn" or the move that distracts your attention so that they can pull the rabbit out of the hat. The American people can't allow themselves to be distracted from the obvious: It's Bush who is withholding the money from the troops with his veto and not the Democratically controlled Congress who passed the bills in the first place.

"Mr. Bush told reporters April 3 that the funding delay would mean troops may have to stay in Iraq longer than planned.

"'That is unacceptable to me, and I believe it is unacceptable to the American people,' he said."

Then to undermine his own trick Bush sent "Defense Secretary Robert Gates [out to announce] Wednesday the Army would keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for 15-month tours instead of the yearlong stints that have become standard. The three-month extension [is necessary to] allow the Pentagon to maintain its 30,000-troop buildup in Baghdad for another year.

"The announcement 'just underscores the fact that the burden of the war in Iraq has fallen upon our troops and their families,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. 'The Bush administration has failed to create a plan to fully equip and train our troops, bring them home safely and soon, and provide our veterans with the quality care they deserve.'" (

One thing that Bush is right about is that the American people won't accept this latest Bush attempt to distract them from the task at hand: Bringing the troops home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Greg Palast in New York City

Independent journalist Greg Palast will make two appearances in New York City (May 1 and May 2) while on tour to promote the new edition of his excellent book Armed Madhouse

An Evening with Greg Palast
Randi Rhodes and Robert Kennedy Jr
Tuesday MAY 1st — 7pm
Community Church of New York,
40 East 35th St. (Bt Park&Madison)

The official NYC Launch of Palast’s NEW updated and expanded Paperback edition of
Armed Madhouse
Palast, Rhodes and Kennedy talk about "From Baghdad to New Orleans"
Also featuring:
Palast’s film: Big Easy to Big Empty — The True Story of the Drowning of New Orleans

All Proceeds go in support of WBAI Pacifica Radio and The Palast Investigative Fund

Also the following evening:

Talk and Book Signing
Wed May 2 7pm - Wed May 2 9pm
Border's Books and Music,
10 Columbus Circle, Time Warner Center

Imus update

Update on Imus in the Hateful Morning post.

Although it's clear that CBS Radio and MSNBC are trying to get away with Imus' racist and sexist remarks the sponsors are not - so Imus may be in for more than a two-week suspension. According to Keith Olbermann

"recent comments on the show have caused [one sponsor] to discontinue its advertising on Imus in the Morning...the co-president of Bigalow Tea announced that her company, whose advertising contract with Imus in the Morning had just expired, had 'suspended our current advertising and may not resume it" [and] the nation's biggest marketer Proctor and Gamble had suspended its advertising commitments for the television simulcast and the media buying agency Carat USA says some of its clients have asked for their commercials to be pulled from the Imus program, though it would not identify those clients."

The abandonment of the show by advertisers will be far more damaging than anything CBS Radio and MSNBC seem willing to do at this point. But this will only happen if we keep the pressure on.

One further word: a number of people have raised the question: If all the Hip Hop artists and rappers call Black women hos, why is everyone picking on Imus? Doesn't their using these words make them part of the common language?

First, I don't listen to most Gangster Rap because I think much of it does demean women and is sexist and possibly racist. And many of the people who have been calling for Imus to be fired have previously been equally critical of Rap music.

But the simple fact is "Two wrongs don't make a right." If I commit murder that doesn't make it OK for you to go out and kill someone.

Each person has to take responsibility for their own actions.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Imus in the hateful morning

As John McEnroe used to say: "You can't be serious?"

Two weeks suspension for Don Imus. In other words, if you spew hate on MSNBC and CBS Radio you get a two-week vacation. "I think it's clearly not enough," Al Sharpton told CNN.

"This is a two-week cooling off period," The Rev. Jesse Jackson said, according to Gambling 911. "It does not challenge the character of the show, its political impact, or the impact that these comments have had on our society."

But there are other aspects of the Imus show that may change right away. For example, The Washington Times reports that "Hall of Famer Cal Ripken canceled an appearance on Don Imus' radio and television program scheduled for later this week because of comments the talk show host made about Rutgers' women's basketball team." A few more people with integrity, or those who just don't want to get involved in the controversy, could change the minds at CBS Radio and MSNBC.

Does the "I" in I-man really stand for Idiot? Or perhaps a better question is: Does Imus take us for idiots? Obviously he does and it seems he's right.

On April 4Th Imus and his executive producer were discussing the previous night's Rutgers/Tennessee women's title basketball game.

IMUS: "That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --"

[The show's executive producer] McGUIRK: "Some hard-core hos."

IMUS: "That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know."

Since then he has claimed to not be a racist, to have intended the comment to be funny, and today (Monday) he said:

"I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person who said something bad."

The simple fact is that good people don't think that something as hateful as "nappy-headed hos" is funny. What kind of audience listens/watches his show? A friend of mine commented that if he said something similar about the Israeli women's basketball team (I don't know if there is one) he'd already be suspended while this discussion is going on and probably never see the inside of a broadcast studio again.

I don't know if he should be fired outright or given a long suspension, but two weeks is less than a slap on the wrist. Monday on The View , Elizabeth Hasselback suggested he be suspended until Black History Month (February). That would be a good beginning.

Whether Imus is eventually fired or gets a meaningful suspension it has nothing to do with constitutionally protected speech. Unless the government enters the dispute. Given the current makeup of the Bush FCC hurtful speech is seen as much less dangerous than a nipple.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that Imus' suspensions would not halt the protests that have taken place as a result of the comments. There should be demonstrations every day outside CBS and NBC (a moving demo) until there is a punishment that fits the crime. Imus is not the issue. Racism and sexism are.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the headline of the Imus story on Fox is "Two Sides to Imus Story?"

Friday, April 06, 2007

Cheney lurks in shrubs at Bush press conference

I have a weak stomach so I don't usually watch Bush press conferences, but I did last week. And watched an extraordinary Bush administration visual: Cheney lurking in the shrubs during the conference and then slinking into the White House after it ended.

It brought back memories of the wire under Bush's jacket in the first debate with Kerry. Only this time Cheney decided to make a personal appearance and work the puppet strings himself. Or maybe he was just there to step in if Bush needed backup.

Dad demands son not be treated as "baggage"

"In an about-face by the U.S. government four years into the war in Iraq, America's fallen troops are being brought back to their families aboard charter jets instead of ordinary commercial flights, and the caskets are being met by honor guards in white gloves instead of baggage handlers with forklifts.

"That change — which took effect quietly in January and applies to members of the U.S. military killed in Afghanistan, too — came after a campaign waged by a father who was aghast to learn that his son's body was going to be unloaded like so much luggage."

{From Fox News}

The times they are a changin': Disney stands up

"Same-sex couples who want to exchange vows in front of Cinderella's Castle now have the chance.

"The Walt Disney Co. had limited its Fairy Tale Wedding program to couples with valid marriage licenses, but it is now making ceremonies at its parks available to gay couples as well."

(from the UK Guardian)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Obama slips into Bushspeak

Photo by Kwame Ross

What happens when the political snake proffers the presidential apple? It seems it beclouds your mind with Bushspeak.

Here's what Senator Barak Obama said when asked about the possibility of a funding cut-off if Bush goes through with his threatened veto of recent congressional anti-war legislation:

"I think that nobody wants to play chicken with our troops on the ground," he told the Associated Press, adding: "I don't think we can muster at this point a majority of Senate Democrats or Republicans to vote for a cutoff of funding."

Labelling it as "playing chicken with our troops on the ground," which is, of course, exactly what Bush is doing, is likely to make it much less likely that "a majority of Senate Democrats or Republicans [will] vote for a cutoff of funding."

Senator, if you're anti-war, don't throw your principles out the window to enhance your presidential prospects. It won't work, no matter what your advisors are telling you.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Chelsea Neighbors United newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter from Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War.

And remember if you live in Chelsea (or even if you don't):

"Every Tuesday evening at 6 pm (rain or shine), Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War assembles on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 24th Street. ... [CNU is] a community protest against the war in Iraq."

Iran and the British sailors

During the saga of Iran and the British sailors I have been plagued by a question: How is it possible for the corporate media to once again buy into the innocent Blair-Bush act? Or perhaps, is it possible to actually envision Blair and, in this case, his sidekick, Bush as victims of an international incident?

This has been articulated perfectly by Robert Parry on

"Of course, left outside this narrow frame of reference was the gross violation of international law – the bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003 – that put the Brits there in the first place.

"Back then, international law was deemed little more than a nuisance getting in the way of what President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted to do, i.e. conquer Iraq, install a compliant government, 'privatize' its resources, and threaten other countries in the region to get in line."

"The combined interventions by the United Kingdom and the United States may have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of Iraqis and Iranians over the past century, but somehow Blair and Bush have positioned themselves as the innocent victims – at least as far as the Western press corps is concerned."

Of course, Bush has spent most of his almost two terms in office playing the victim. And until last Nov. 7 it worked perfectly. And now it's up to the Democrats to articulate an alternative framework and take it to the people before Bush, once again, snatches victory from the jaws of defeat (here, not in Iraq).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

African-Americans and baseball

This month - as a new season begins - the lords of baseball will once again climb on the back of Jackie Robinson on the occasion of the 60Th anniversary of the breaking of baseball's racist barriers to promote the game and enrich themselves.

This is what Hall of Famer Dave Winfield has to say about the current situation in today's Daily News:

"[There is an] exodus from the game of African-American players and fans - in 1975, 25% of ballplayers were African-American. Today, it's 8% - and some teams have none."

Hypocrisy has never been far from baseball public relations.