Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Power Of One MoveOn Ad

Today, the Dave Congalton program (920 AM) is scheduled to interview me about MoveOn. I will freely say that I'm a member of this 3+ million member, grassroots group. I'll tell Dave what I know of the organization and how it operates. Guess it's time the so-called Main Stream Media (tm) deal with actual facts for a change.

Here is the text of the MoveOn newspaper advertisement as published in the New York Times, September 10th.

General Petraeus or General Betray Us?

Cooking the Books for the White House

General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts. In 2004, just before the election, he said there was "tangible progress" in Iraq and that "Iraqi leaders are stepping forward." And last week Petraeus, the architect of the escalation of troops in Iraq, said, "We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress."

Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed. Yet the General claims a reduction in violence. That's because, according to the New York Times, the Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. For example, deaths by car bombs don't count. The Washington Post reported that assassinations only count if you're shot in the back of the head--not the front. According to the Associated Press, there have been more civilian deaths and more American soldier deaths in the past three months than in any other summer we've been there. We'll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased. But we won't hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed.

Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows: Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war. We may hear of a plan to withdraw a few thousand American troops. But we won't hear what Americans are desperate to hear: a timetable for withdrawing all our troops. General Petraeus has actually said American troops will need to stay in Iraq for as long as ten years.

Today, before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us.

Amazing how one newspaper ad can cause the US Senate to spring into action. Did they set a troop withdrawal date? Oh no. Our own California Senator, Dianne Feinstein, plus Senator Hillary Clinton and others voted to condemn the ad from the grass-roots organization, MoveOn. Time spent to memorialize their opinion instead of doing something substantial about the Iraq mess.

Telling the truth hurts. In a newspaper ad, in a Senate roll call vote and when that dark telegram arrives with the news of another young soldier killed in action.


Net sources for the facts:
MoveOn history and activities (Wikipedia.org)
MoveOn's Comment on Petraeus Ad
News reports citing facts stated in the Ad

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Anniversary: Are You Safer Now?

Dueling video presentations on this sad 6th anniversary of the "terrorist" attack on the World Trade Center in New York. The final death toll, 2,750, keeps changing.

Osama bin Laden's video team issued a "new" camcorder statement. Thus, he's still alive, ordering his followers to "join a caravan of martyrs."

General Petraeus testified in front of Congress with nothing new to say and many questions about how the military "counts" the death toll on the ground in Iraq. One NYT Blog commenter's says the General "merely informs you in diplomatic language that he does not have a military solution to a political vacuum."

Meanwhile, the day passed without any terror attacks on US soil. Just the quiet nightmare scenario of "ten more years" of our soldiers' on the line in Iraq as one observer close to the deliberations puts it.

Our seventh year after the 9/11 event begins tomorrow.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Did Your Representative Vote In Favor Of Torture?

On December 14th, 2005, one of our Central Coast congressional representatives voted in favor of torturing "enemy combatants." This was during the series of votes which resulted in Senator John McCain's torture ban agreement. It was successfully attached to a Defense spending bill.

I've never been able to forget this simple fact--a heretofore sane, rational elected representative actually voted in favor of authorizing a US military policy of torturing prisoners, inflicting "inhumane" treatment upon battlefield opponents in custody. Forget any slack for captured US soldiers and allies.

When you sink to the level of the enemy's inhumane treatment of opponents, how can you even think yourself--or your country--has a higher, more noble standard? If you think you're better than "them," should we not have a public policy requiring it?

Fortunately, Senator John McCain won his fight to remove torture as an instrument of US military policy when the 2005 Defense authorization was amended to include a ban on torture.

When political bullsh*t gets this close to home, you know somehow, the wheels have fallen off the track. When I say it's close to home, I mean people living in the same 24th Congressional district as I live in, actually voted for a man who thinks torture is a good thing. And voted to make it public policy.

Because this blog is meant to reflect the three counties of the Central Coast--San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura--I have my attention focused on the congresspeople representing these areas.

Elton Gallegly, in office for more than 20 years--eleven terms!--representing Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is the one in favor of torture, by his own public vote. There is much in his record which shows he has been a benefit to us in California. He says on his own web page, for example, that he's a champion of providing for our nation’s veterans.

As a Vietnam vet myself, I'm all for making good on the promises we make as a country to our young men and women BEFORE they go off to war...and when they come back AFTER they have done their job. (It's that "after" part which lately seems to be getting the short end of the stick.)

But I'll never, NEVER, agree with a vote in favor of torture as public policy for the US military. Observers may say Gallegly is a loyal footsoldier for the Bush administration with lots of votes and evidence to support that claim. I don't recall anytime during his re-election campaign, where Gallegly stated a belief that torture was a legitimate interrogation technique.

So, has it come down to this? A candidate must go on record saying "torture is not acceptable interrogation policy?"

I say it all adds up to another good reason for voter action next election. Make this Elton Gallegly's last term. Get some fresh new blood that can do the right thing, vote for the right things. Someday in the near future we may even be proud again of what Congress may do.

May that day come sooner rather than later!

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Labor Day And After

One day after the big Labor Day Holiday. How many times did you thank a union worker for ringing up your groceries? The firemen for battling the summer fires? Or the driver of the bus taking you to your destination?

There are these people all around us, sometimes called the "salt of the earth," doing their best to bring home the daily bread with dignity and good working conditions guaranteed by a labor contract. Because labor laws exist, America's middle class wage earners have been able to raise and support healthy families with a decent paycheck.

America's post-WWII middle class boomed in the 50's and 60's. My stockbroker Dad raised a family of 12!

You are to be honored. Many have fought for the eight hour day and 40 hour work week. Some actually died in the struggle for economic justice. It is fully legal to join your fellow workers in a petition for a union vote at work.

Beginning with the Reagan era, all sorts of messages have been spreading throughout our culture about the importance of capital and how American businesses need tax breaks and special trade policies. For our own good.

But I dare you to find voices today equally loud on behalf of the labor issues for the working man or woman. If you want to suggest one who is a loud pro-labor voice, please email me:
CentralCoastNewsMission (at) gmail (dot) com. --Newsstand Greg

Central Coast Labor issues which continue to make headlines this summer:

Minimum wage raised by $2.10 per hour; vote supported by Congressperson Lois Capps. It was the first increase in the federal minimum wage in almost a decade. By the summer of 2009, all minimum-wage jobs will pay no less than $7.25 an hour.
Nurses working at Tenet Health Care’s Sierra Vista and Twin Cities hospitals have a new contract that includes a respectable 25 percent raise over four years. Other hospital staff are still negotiating what they call "a fair increase."
Sometimes the labor disputes are more public. Perhaps you've seen in Santa Maria, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters has hired people to hold up large banners at the Broadway Street location of Community Bank of Santa Maria.
The signs proclaim, "Shame On Community Bank, Santa Maria."
This union only wants to draw attention to the fact that the bank's dry wall contractor is not paying the prevailing wage (between $14 and $33 per hour with benefits) at the Lompoc construction site. Right in my own backyard, so to speak.

The Santa Barbara News-Press labor dispute will wind its way through the courts for some time. One can only hope the brave group of reporters can stay employed and defend themselves at the same time. You can read about it at The Independent, the LA Times, The Tribune in San Luis Obispo and the Santa Maria Times and the Lompoc Record.

But, in my view, you'll never get an unbiased story printed about it in the SB News-Press itself.

[If you want to add to this list of Central Coast labor issues, snap me an email at the above address, and thanks!]

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