Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Letter from a trusted friend reprinted in full:
I have been amazed at the rancor and deceit that many politically “right wing” and conservative leaders have demonstrated during the long, heated struggle to pass health reform legislation. I’m amazed that for political, partisan and ideological reasons, Republicans and Libertarians are willing to lie to their own voters. I’m awestruck at the monumental steps people are taking to protect corporations, defend outrageous profits and protect a status quo that working people in any political party cannot afford much longer.
Of course, we expect that sort of vitriol and cynicism from the right wing and from conservative political operatives who have lost ground in the last election and are bitterly losing the health care fight.
I am having a much harder time understanding the fierce attack by some folks who are thoughtful, independently-minded and progressive. Like any significant human and civil rights struggle, we are in a place where we’ve won a lot, we’ve lost some of our demands, and there’s more work to be done to get a final bill out of conference. Both the House and Senate health care bills represent an incredible step toward real, affordable, quality health care for every person in our country. Neither of them accomplish everything we need.
I hope we all evaluate the bills and what they accomplish based on the ambitious reforms they include and an understanding of the context in which the measures are proposed. The bils do many things for our communities--like funding clinics and doctors. It’s important to consider the flaws in the bills alongside a balanced understanding of just a few examples of what we are gaining and winning:
1. The Senate bill delivers health coverage to 94% of Americans --31 million uninsured people will gain access to affordable health coverage. (The House bill would cover 36 million—95%.)
2. The proposed expansion of Medicaid will provide a lifeline to 15 million low-income and disabled Americans. Congress is about to enact a significant expansion of Medicaid for both individuals and families up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Currently in Missouri a family of three is eligible for the state health insurance program if their income is less than $292 a month. Both House and Senate bills lift the income rules for the whole country to about $2029 a month for that same family of three. For the first time adults without dependent children will get this coverage. These 15 million uninsured, low income individuals will gain insurance through a public health insurance program that is affordable and has very nominal out of pocket costs. This provision will help laid-off workers and part-time workers. This expansion will revolutionize life for people with disabilities and people living with mental illnesses. For many of us, when disability strikes, we will no longer have to prove that we are “permanently and totally disabled” and unable to work just to have access to the public option of Medicaid. We won't have to stop working just to get health care.
3. Corporate abuses are curtailed and health Insurance companies have been significantly pushed back in both bills. The Senate bill went much farther than we imagined in reining in insurance company abuses. What’s really in the Senate bill? Insurance companies will not be able to turn us down or charge us more if we have pre-existing medical conditions. Insurers will be required to spend 85 cents out of every dollar they receive in premiums on health care rather than profits and administrative costs. If not, people would receive rebates from their insurance companies for the difference. Insurance companies will be banned from issuing policies that have lifetime or annual limits on benefits. Consumers gain the right to an independent appeal of any decision by an insurer to deny coverage.
4. Both the House and Senate bills bill create a national, non-profit, publicly accountable option for health insurance coverage. The House bill contains a national public insurance option. However, even in the Senate bill, people purchasing insurance in the Exchange will be able to choose from national plans, including at least one non-profit plan, supervised by the same department of the federal government that selects health insurance plans for federal employees. Before the recent invention of a “public plan” demand, progressive health care activists were asking Congress to either open up Medicare for all or allow people to buy into the plans administered by the Office of Professional Management—the same plans that Congress and Federal employees have. We just won a long-standing demand.
5. We cannot “start over” and get more progressive reform through Congress any time soon. Getting landmark legislation passed is a treacherous, long chess game, especially when that legislation has powerful corporate enemies or extends significant civil and human rights. Unprecedented political capital and economic capital have been spent—the years spent making health reform a key issue in the last election, the storybanks, the canvasses, the phone calling. We all put our best game on the field. It’s time for a final push to improve the legislation in conference committee and to plan on how we will take this momentum and build and expand on our victory. Many leaders in the health reform movement predict that if health reform fails now, we will not have another meaningful effort for 15 to 20 years, if at all. If health reform fails now, the insurance companies and for profit health care corporations will laugh (at us) all the way to the board room.
This fight has been long and vicious because Congress is creating federal rules that make insurance companies behave. Insurance companies are going to be regulated, and they don’t like it. So much is at stake. It is very dangerous to forgo these incredible victories because they are not far enough, especially since losing means millions of struggling Americans will have to continue in the health care system as it is for many, many years. I’ve spent the last three years talking to hard working people throughout Missouri who will get real, measurable, concrete help from these legislative changes. For some of them, their lives literally hang in the balance. We have a responsibility to stand beside and for the uninsured working people who will gain much from these bills.
As a few progressive groups send emails around to “kill the bill” (along with the tea party) or “a bad bill is worse than no bill,” insurance companies and right wing political operatives throw fuel on that fire. All of us should deeply consider the consequences of squandering this opportunity to move our health care system several strides forward. Kill the bill, and insurance companies win. I believe we are better than that.
Fighting for health reform for Christmas,
St. Louis, MO
Monday, December 21, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Messenger wasn't having it though, and called upon Durbin to provide some actual specific criticisms:
So finally, forced to actually provide evidence for his claims that Messenger was liberally biased, Durbin had to back down:
But like all right-wingers, Durbin, despite not being capable of producing any evidence whatsover to support his claims, still was convinced that he couldn't have been imagining it:
Friday, December 18, 2009
A quick perusal of our Web site, however, reveals that Burns is neither a member of YAL nor a student at Washington University, but rather the owner of the construction company which erected our gulag.
Redington's office never even looked at Gladney's medical records before downgrading charges.
St. Louis County Prosecutors watered-down the charges in theKenneth Gladney case from a misdemeanor to an ordinance violation without so much as even calling St. John’s Hospital, where Gladney received treatment for his injuries, and checking Gladney’s hospital record or speaking with care providers on site.
During our conversation with Redington, I asked when she had received Kenneth Gladney's medical records. I had read that his medical records had not been reviewed, yet I had heard on the radio that Redington's office had seen the records. She told me that she had received them with the police report. I was left with the impression that it is common practice for medical records to be submitted as evidence along with police reports.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Tuesday, Dec. 8: From 5 to 8 PM, shop at the U (3108 Olive) and 10% of your purchase will benefit the St. Louis Animal Care and Control Volunteer Group.
Also Tuesday, join World Talks at Wash U in McMillan 149 from 6 to 7 PM as they speak with Chilean students.
Also Tuesday, there's a Holiday Happy hour for Honduras sponsored by Engineers Without Borders from 6 to 9 PM at the Old Rock House (1200 S. 7th Blvd).
Also Tuesday, the 17th Ward is having a Holiday Party and Awards Ceremony from 6 to 9 PM in the Library Annex of the Spring Street Lofts, 3693 Forest Park.
Also Tuesday, volunteer organization FUEL is holding a Holiday Wine Party starting at 6 PM at the Duane Reed Gallery (4729 McPherson).
Also Tuesday, Amnesty International is doing some Holiday Letter-Writing for political prisoners from 7 to 8:30 at Bethel Lutheran Church.
Also Tuesday, the Harris Stowe State University Men's Basketball program is raising money for the United Way at their home opener.
Wednesday, Dec. 7, is the last day to help out with the December Naral Mailing Party.
Also Wednesday is the always fun Scrooge of the Year (formerly Grinch of the Year) Party hosted by Missouri Jobs with Justice. Have a great time while voting for this year's worst Scrooge! The event is at Teamsters Local 688 (4349 Woodson) from 5:30 to 9 PM.
Also Wednesday is Cocktails for a Cause at the Over/Under Bar and Grill (911 Washington) from 6 to 8 PM, raising money for the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition.
Also Wednesday, participate in the Global Education Day of Action by attending an informational meeting at the Webster University Clubhouse (520 Garden Ave.) from 6:30 to 8 PM.
Thursday, Dec. 10, join the Health Care is a Human Right Rally at 5850 Delmar from 10 AM to 1 PM.
Also Thursday, Citizens for Missouri's Children are having a Holiday Happy Hour at Llywelyn's Pub (1732 9th St.) from 5 to 7 PM.
Also Thursday, there will be a fundraiser for progressive Alderman Shane Cohn at 4161 Gravois from 5:30 to 7 PM.
Also Thursday, the Webster University College Dems will be phone banking for health care reform.
Also Thursday, the St. Louis Coalition for Human Rights is presenting their awards for the 13th annual Human Rights Essay contest is is holding a discussion of Health Care As a Human Right at 7 PM at the MO History Museum.
Also Thursday is the premiere of Homolatte Saint Louis at Urban Eats (3301 Meremac) from 7 to 8:30 PM. This will be followed by the also exciting SpeakOUT!
Also Thursday is the December meeting for NORML, taking place a Mokabe's (corner of Grand and Arsenal) at 7:15 PM.
Friday, Dec. 11, enjoy yourself at the Anti-Wrecking Ball Holiday Kegger to Benefit Preservation in St. Louis, held at the Old North St. Louis Community Gallery (2700 N. 14th) from 8 PM to 2 AM.
Saturday, Dec. 12, there will be a Creative and Liberating Liturgies Workshop at the Center for Theology an Social Analysis (1077 Newstead) from 10 AM to 3:30 PM.
Also Saturday, join Greenpeace from 10 to 2 as they participate in the International Day of Action for Copenhagen.
Sunday, Dec. 13, join Rally #3 at the Cathedral Basilica (4431 Lindell) for the "separation of Church and Hate" hosted by Show Me No Hate from noon to 1:15. After that rally, discuss LGBT issues in the church at the Center for Theology and Social Analysis (1077 S. Newstead) from 1:15 to 2:30 PM.
Also Sunday, there will be a Walk for AIDS Treatment starting at the Gateway Arch at 2 PM.
Dear [Decision Maker],It is unacceptable that today -- in the 21st Century -- it is still legal for employers to discriminate on the basis of actual or suspected sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the state of affairs in a time when unemployment is high and jobs are hard to come by. In 29 states, it's still legal to fire a person because of their sexual orientation, and in 38 states, it's still legal to fire someone for their gender identity or expression. I know you've heard these statistics before, but please take a moment to really think about them. Legalized discrimination against any minority in 2009 is simply absurd. And now I hear from my friends in the LGBT community that Congress is willing to let the discrimination continue into 2010, when election-year pressures may make it more difficult to get ENDA passed.Over the course of our history, Americans have made great strides in fighting the egregiousness of institutionalized oppression. Anyone who still supports racial segregation, for example, is rightfully marginalized in today's society as reactionary and bigoted. The American people have finally overcome enough deep-rooted prejudice to elect a qualified man of a mixed racial background to the office of U.S. President. Even so, to say that our society is "post-racial" is laughable at best, but at least no respectable American would suggest that we return to a state of blatant, legal racial discrimination.The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1967 that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." That is true, but we've waited long enough. Dr. King also said that "the time is always ripe to do right." Please do your part to create a more just society now by supporting ENDA (H.R. 3017 / S. 1584) and bringing this important bill to a vote sooner rather than later.Thank you, and may you have a warm and happy holiday season.Sincerely,[Your Constituent]
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Violence happens everyday to women, African-Americans, Latinos, Jews, transgendered, children, disabled, senior citizens, Natives, Muslims, homeless, Christians, gays, lesbians and many others who suffer at the hands of an abuser.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
For those who don't know the backstory, Burns was the spokesperson for the gulag that was built on the WashU campus and then taken down. The gulag was intended to raise awareness about the evils of communism, and they passed out fliers that suggested that everything from child labor laws to AmeriCorps were indications that we were moving in the direction of Marxism. The administration at WashU decided to shut the display down, citing their policies on art installations and amplified sound. Although I don't really know the details, my opinion based on what I know so far is that the administration probably overreacted and would have been better off leaving the display alone, but I'd guess that one of the reasons they decided to shut it down is that there were so many off-campus people involved in the display relative to actual students. Bill Hennessy, Jim Hoft, John Burns, James O'Keefe, and Darin Morley were all at the display along with only a very small number of students from YAL. Anyway, I'll let Burns present his version of what happened:
All the local right-wing bloggers predictably were upset about the gulag being taken down. And they furthermore spent a lot of time interviewing Burns about it. But, during all of these blog posts, they someone forgot to mention that Burns is not actually a student at the university. In fact, they pretty much systematically introduced YAL as a student group and then described Burns as a leader, despite the fact that Burns is not actually a student. Not the world's biggest scandal, but worth noting nonetheless.
So anyway, Burns, O'Keefe, and another guy all attended the Show Me No Hate Rally on Saturday. You saw Burns in the video above, and here he is at the rally with his two friends:
It might be hard to recognize Burns without the goatee at first glance, but fortunately Dana Loesch was kind enough to ID him for us the day before:
Also, the guy with glasses was also at the gulag display (I don't know if he's a student or not):
(picture from Gateway Pundit)
And how did they act at the rally at the Basilica, which was a rally to protest the local Catholic Church using $10,000 to ban gay marriage in Maine? According to people who were there, they originally posed as being in support of the rally. However, after they were handed a sign, they wrote "Free Abortions" on the back and tried to hold it up for people attending mass. Fortunately, protest organizers were able to block them. Then, when Ed Reggi was speaking, they kept yelling"What about health care!" which had nothing to do with the message of the rally. O'Keefe screamed something about an old lady assaulting him. And, in their grand finale, they started groping each other.
John Burns created a lot of controversy in the gulag display when he was quoted at the end of a StudLife article as follows:
“I guess the students at Washington University were in a gulag all along, and the administration proved it through their stifling of free speech,” Burns said.Well, I guess Burns cares so much about free speech that he tried to distort a peaceful message from people who are fighting for their civil rights. Right wing hypocrasy at its finest.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
First, go to the St. Louis Activist Hub page. Then, click on "Invite People to Join" on the left side of the screen:
Then, when the next screen comes up, select, "Filter Friends" on the left side of the screen above peoples names:
Select the "St. Louis" network, or the campus network you belong to. Finally, click "select all" on the right side of the screen to select all of your friends in that network:
Then just click "Send Invitation."
It's that easy, but it can make a big difference. If you have a chance, please take the time to help keep progressives and activists in St. Louis connected, so that we can all work together for a better St. Louis! Thanks!
Here's the problem for the official tea party story. In the original police report, both Harris Himes and his wife claimed to have seen McCowan and Molens punching Gladney. However, in his new version, Himes claims that he wasn't looking when the fight started, and that his wife turned away right when it started! In other words, he admits that he did not see the part of the altercation that the right-wingers say was the horrible beating! This is especially interesting in light of the questions I've raised previously about Himes's credibility. Here's the interview from Gateway Pundit, and I'll go into more detail below:
Witness H. Himes stated that as he was leaving the school gymnasium, he saw Suspect McCowan talking to Victim Gladney. He stated he saw Suspect McCowan reach over the table and punch Victim Gladney in the face. This assault knocked the victim off balance. Suspect Molens then went around the table and pulled Victim Gladney over the table backwards by the back of his shirt collar. He began to punch and kick Victim Gladney. Witness H. Himes added that while Suspect Molens was kicking and punching Victim Gladney, Suspect McCowan then joined in on the assault.
And so I looked back because I heard a noise behind. And, it was my wife however, who could corroborate the fact that it was really a hate crime because she heard the black man who claims he's a minister also said "what's a ..... doing here" ... that was essentially what she heard. And I looked back and then I saw this guy slap Gladney...slap his hand away and start striking him but the other big white guy grabbed him and threw him down to the ground. So I came back, and I was trying to get them off Gladney, and my wife was circling to keep any of the others from jumping me. And so then we got them off and broke it up once and then they attacked him again. "
And what about his wife? In the police report, it says:
Witness #2, Sandra Himes', statement of the incident concurred with Harris' account of the incident. She did add that Victim Gladney did nothing to provoke this assualt.
Well, actually my wife had stopped to look at the buttons and the flags he was handing out, and just as she turned away, that's when he was attacked by the two SEIU guys..."
Also Tuesday, there will be a special World AIDS Day Service at Christ Church Cathedral at 6 PM and one at the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis (1919 S. Broadway) at 7 PM. #WORLD AIDS WEEK
Also Thursday, there will be a Drupal Meetup at the Foam Coffeehouse (3359 South Jefferson) from 7 to 10 PM. #COMMUNITY
Also Friday, a piece of performance art combatting student apathy will occur on the WashU campus, time TBA. It's called "Keep Moving" based on the commands issued by police during recent protests. The concept of the event is very interesting; you can read it here. #ARTS
Also Friday, a gathering has been organized at the Complex Nightclub against the hate crime that took place last weekend where three young gay men were assaulted. The rally will be start at 11 PM at 3511 Chouteau. #LGBT
Also Saturday, the Urban Studio Cafe (2815 N. 14th) will be hosting Northside for Sustainability, a community discussion of how we can get our political leaders to take action on climate change from 2 to 3:15 PM. Climate change is a social justice issue! #ENVIRONMENTALISM
Also Saturday, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri is holding the 38th Annual Celebration of the Bill of Rights at the Missouri History Museum from 6:30 to 9 PM. #CIVIL LIBERTIES
Also Sunday, there's a Book Fair Fundraiser for the Jewish Fund for Human Needs from 10 AM to 9 PM at the Borders in Creve Coeur (11745 Olive).
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
On October 25, Wiesel gave a short address in which he praised Pastor John Hagee and over 6,000 Christian Zionists at “A Night to Honor Israel” celebration. Later Wiesel sat by Hagee’s side as Hagee falsely accused President Barack Obama of “being tougher on Israel than on Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.”
Hagee is a televangelist who gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential campaign when Senator John McCain accepted Hagee’s endorsement, and then rejected it, after some of Hagee’s more controversial views were widely publicized. In sermons Hagee has declared that God divinely ordained the Holocaust in order to fulfill biblical prophesy and return the Jews to Israel. He has claimed Jews should be blamed for anti-Semitism: it has been God’s punishment against the Jewish people for their rebelliousness. He has predicted that when the Anti-Christ comes to Earth he will be homosexual and “partially Jewish as was Adolph Hitler and was Karl Marx.” (In reality, Marx was Jewish, Hitler was not.)
Although Wiesel has spent his life condemning anti-Semitic ideas like those of Hagee, he offers only praise for the televangelist. Why? Wiesel supports Hagee because Hagee supports the government of Israel. Hagee leads Christians United For Israel, America’s largest and most powerful Christian Zionist organization. He organizes evangelical Christians to support Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He defends Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, which reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed 1,400 Palestinians, one third of them children.
Hagee supports Israeli actions because he believes Jews must fully inhabit the Holy Land for the final apocalypse to come and bring destruction to the world and salvation to true Christians. Wiesel supports Israel because as a Jew he feels a religious and national connection to the state. Wiesel is willing to ignore Hagee’s anti-Semitic and apocalyptic views because he thinks it will further his goal of promoting Israel.
In a recent interview with Hagee, Wiesel said that “whenever anyone criticizes Israel, I say, ‘What are your credentials? Have you ever praised Israel? Have you ever defended Israel? Have you ever been on the side of Israel?”
The idea of one needing to have previously supported a state to have the credentials to criticize it is a bizarre intellectual and moral principle. If someone applied the same principle to North Korea or Cuba or Russia, no one would take the person seriously. Throughout the same interview Wiesel and Hagee criticize Iran and Saudi Arabia, without either demanding that the other present the proper credentials to do so.
Wiesel has long had a moral blind spot when it comes to the State of Israel. He has said that “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. When human rights are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.”
But when asked to speak out against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, Wiesel responded “Do not ask me, a traumatized Jew, to be pro-Palestinian. I totally identify with Israel.”
Wiesel has said that “terrorism must be outlawed by all civilized nations — not explained or rationalized, but fought and eradicated. Nothing can, nothing will justify the murder of innocent people and helpless children.”
But he will not speak out against the longstanding and well documented killings by the Israeli military of innocent people and helpless children, and accepts at face value the justifications for the killings given by the Israeli state.
Elie Wiesel condemns those who condemn Israel’s increasingly brutal violations of Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. Wiesel asks other people to put aside ethnic and national loyalties in order to protect basic principals of human rights, but he refuses to do so himself. People should think about that while he speaks at St. Louis University this Monday.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Molens was interviewed for the story and denied the charges:
Reached about his own case, Molens said, "These charges are ridiculous." He added, "All I was doing was coming to the help of a friend. I don’t know what evidence they’re basing this on."Gladney claims that it should have been a felony.
Molens said McCowan, who could not be reached for comment, was defending himself and he was defending McCowan.
"I’ll plead not guilty," Molens said. "I didn’t do anything."
Not really much new information here, other than the fact that they were willing to move forward with charges, but a trial would certainly be interesting.