Taking a knee

If freedom makes social progress possible,
so social progress strengthens and enlarges freedom.

~ Robert Kennedy

Colin Kaepernick and Arian Foster take a knee during national anthem. GRANT HALVERSON/GETTY IMAGES

Colin Kaepernick and Arian Foster take a knee during national anthem.                                                               GRANT HALVERSON/GETTY IMAGES

 

 

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Major Regret OR I Told Me So

Even though I saw it coming, Obama’s recent budget proposal to cut Social Security benefits via a Chained CPI makes me want to puke.

 

Cutting benefits for society’s most vulnerable is a callous act. It’s cruel and unnecessary, and I’m deeply ashamed I voted for Obama in November. I knew this was coming and yet I caved at the final hour and cast my vote for someone who is clearly not a Democrat because of my disgust for the Republicans’ voter suppression campaign.

I wish there was a time machine that would give me a redo so that I could cast my vote for someone who doesn’t help the rich get richer at the poor’s expense. Alas, no such device exists and I must live with my vote. And if I’m ever again tempted to vote for someone who clearly doesn’t care about the powerless, I need only remember this sick feeling in my gut. In the meanwhile, I’m making sure my “representatives” know where I stand on a Chained CPI.

#OccupyDenver

                

Yesterday I went to OccupyDenver.org to find out what supplies were needed
and after loading up a plastic bin with various items, I drove downtown and
joined OccupyDenver.

Approximately 70 tents were set up on the grass in front of the capitol building
on land that is designated state park property.

There were canopied structures along the sidewalk for check-in, donation drop-off, and
Thunderdome, the kitchen that served hundreds of meals per day for the past several weeks.

While I was there, supporters dropped off cases of bottled water, cash, and small US flags.
People came by, made their own signs using available cardboard and a crate full of markers,
and protested along Broadway for a while.

I didn't make a sign because I had so many thoughts and issues and emotions in my head,
I couldn't focus enough to be coherent. Instead, I selected an enormous sign from the pile:

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE?

For a couple hours I held that sign next to a woman who'd been inspired to her first political action
by the courage of those speaking out via occupations around the country. 
She has a young son and we talked about the various ways things are royally messed up for our children.
She said, "No wonder there's no one message out of all this. So many things are wrong, how do you
pick just one?"

True, that.

Here's one of the many intelligent young people leading the way:

Here's one of the many senior citizens in attendance holding his I'M PROUD TO BE A MOBSTER sign:

While it felt good to connect with the 99% community, I felt down much of the time
because about a half-hour after arriving, I learned the CO governor, Denver mayor, and
CO attorney general had held a press conference saying they were evicting the protesters
that night. For their safety and well-being, don't you know.

Early this morning, police in riot gear descended upon #OccupyDenver and broke up
their camp. Twenty-three people were arrested and belongings were thrown in the trash.

Please check out this slideshow from Denver Post photographers. 

This protest is far from over.
#OccupyWallStreet is still going strong and there are over 100 occupations taking
place around the country (and in several cities around the world).

Thank you to all the people who honked and waved in support yesterday.
And to the angry man who flipped us off as he drove by, I wish you'd consider this:

             
               

Virtual March on Wall Street

              

Ever since July when I first heard about the planned occupation of Wall Street,
I've wanted to pack my bag and join the brave people speaking truth to power.
Occupation and bodies in the streets seemed like the best way to shed some
light on the criminal behavior of Wall Street and its political enablers.

And it's working.

I'm still here in Colorado but I just joined the Virtual March on Wall Street.
Here's my message:

I urge you to check out the link and read messages from people all around the country.
It's powerful stuff.
Folks are hurting in a big way.

But there's power in numbers and there are lots more of us than them.
We are the 99%.

(Watch livestream here.)      

                   

Speaking Out

                  

For the past months we’re been treated to non-stop messaging on how the middle-class 

must "make sacrifices" (which translates to massive cuts in services with threats to Medicare
and Social Security while the wealthy get tax breaks), because deficit spending is out of control,

and now our president, without any discussion with We-the-People or members of Congress,
is spending millions of dollars to bomb Libyan people who have the grave misfortune of 
living above a huge amount of oil the greedy plutocracy wants.
 
Just in case you’re angered / baffled / incensed by this turn of events,
 
And just in case, like me, you’re at wit’s end with the non-stop horrible news,
here is a laugh from our good friend and philosopher, Agnes:
 
AGNES by Tony Cochran
              
            

Call to Action: Afghanistan funding

               

Following up on yesterday’s post regarding WikiLeaks and Afghanistan,
this week the House will vote on an additional $33 BILLION supplemental
for the occupation of Afghanistan.

I just called my representative’s office and urged him to vote NO
(and said I would withhold my vote in November if he voted for further funding).

You can call your representative toll free at 1-888-493-5443.

Think of all the good that could come of $33 BILLION dollars.
Thank you.
                      

Waste-Not Wednesday: Non-toxic Laptop Protection

          

I love my laptop.
I’m sure you love yours, too.

I wanted to protect my laptop
so went on Ebay and found a dandy cover
for just $9.99 and Free Shipping!
Sold!

That cover arrived and I tore open the plastic bag.
Whoa.
Massive chemical outgassing.
Gag-inducing neoprene nastiness
(I’ve since learned that neoprene won the Allergen of the Year Award in 2009).

Even after I aired out that sleeve in the sunshine for more than a week,
I still could not tolerate the chemical stench.

Fortunately, I found GreenSmart.

Among other cool products, GreenSmart offers a neogreene sleeve
and a laptop sleeve made from 100% recycled soda bottles.

No fuss, no muss, and even better, no stink.
Today’s tip:  do yourself, your laptop, and the planet a favor by supporting GreenSmart.
                

Fidelity

In a stunning display of misplaced priorities and energy, Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr) has filed a California legal brief to forcibly divorce the 18,000 same-sex couples married before the passage of Prop 8.  Because, you know, we’ve got too much love and commitment going on in this world. 

I’m so damned sick of this but one thing I can do is this.

You might not think this stuff has anything to do with you but it does.  When one segment of society is singled out and told their love is meaningless and unworthy, we all become lesser people.

I cried watching this video filled with people asking to be allowed to live and love as their hearts dictate……

("Fidelity" by Regina Spektor)

          

The Best First Step

“As President, I will close Guantánamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions”   – Barack Obama, 8/1/07

And yesterday President-elect Obama again stated he would sign an executive order closing Guantanamo Bay.  I can think of no better first action for our new president.  However, Obama needs to know where we, the people, stand on this issue and he needs to know we have his back.  The fearmongers are on the talk show circuit right now, discussing torture as if it’s a debatable topic.  There is no gray area: torture is wrong and torture does not yield good intelligence.

Please take a moment to let President-elect Obama know you support his promise to restore U.S. morality and leadership.   

Thank you.

               

Blog Action Day: Poverty

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When I read this year’s topic my first thought was, of course, food and shelter.  I’d planned to write about Grant Avenue Street Reach and the work we do feeding the homeless and working poor in Denver.  But then I decided to address the larger issue.

The people of the United States are suffering a collective poverty of morality.  And no, I’m not talking about nudity or profane language.  I’m referring to our complacency in the face of illegal invasion and occupation , torture , illegal wiretapping , assault on the poor affected by Hurricane Katrina, assault on the environment , illegal signing statements , and soldiers’ mental health issues.

Why aren’t we out in the streets with burning torches and pitchforks?  Where is our outrage?  And I include myself in this question.  Sure, I’ve written many letters to the editors, made numerous phone calls to my representatives, protested in the streets, signed petitions, knocked on doors, etc. 

But.  There are also days when I turn the page, shut off the television, click onto a different web site, all of the above in order to avoid the ugly truth that has become the United States.  I feel beaten down by the Bush administration’s use of The Shock Doctrine.  I feel powerless.  Overwhelmed.  And that’s just what they want.  A traumatized citizenry that refuses to act even in the face of ongoing immorality.

I’m optimistic Obama is going to win the election.  But I’m also worried people will think that’s enough to fix the mess Bush/Cheney/and Company created in the last eight years.  It won’t be.  We must hold the Obama administration accountable and demand the U.S. leaves Iraq.  Demand the closure of Guantanamo Bay and an end to torture.  Demand a return to the Constitution.  Demand those among us with the least get the help they need.  Demand bold action to protect this planet.  Demand an end to an out-of-control Executive branch.  Demand that those who serve this country are only asked to do so based on truth, and then given the help they need.

It’s way past time for us to disavow our national poverty of compassion and decency.  We can do so much better.

      

Living in Tortured Times

Lost in last Friday’s news dump was the stunning-although-not-surprising admission by George W. Bush that he was not only aware of but approved the meetings held by his top advisers to discuss and approve the CIA’s use of torture.

The president of the United States admitted that his administration violated (and continues to violate) the War Crimes Act and the Geneva Convention.

Apparently just another ho-hum admission by this band of war criminals because where was our “liberal” media? Fanning the flames about “elitist” Barack Obama who rightly pointed out that this country’s poor and disenfranchised feel abandoned by their government. (Does that “elitist” label sound familiar? The media attached that word to Al Gore and John Kerry. Remember what happened to them? And have you noticed Hillary Clinton is now smearing Obama with the same word despite the fact that in 1991 Bill Clinton spoke a similar truth about economically insecure people?)

No wonder the Bush administration does whatever it damn well pleases; the media is like those parents who don’t offer guidance or supervision as their toddlers run wild in public places.  It doesn’t matter how heinous the BuchCo crimes, they’ve learned there’s no accountability. The lapdog talking heads – Russert, Matthews, Stephanopoulos – will avert their gaze and focus instead on how out of touch Obama is because he can’t bowl. Why wouldn’t BushCo strive for the very bottom of the barrel?

I’m horrified to live in a country run by a government that openly admits to torture. I cannot believe we’ve reached this point. As unpleasant as it is to face the ugly facts, it is worse to remain silent on this issue. So I apologize for beginning the week this way but torture isn’t one of those family secrets that can be safely locked away. We need to shed light on this ugliness.

CrooksandLiars.com has joined the ACLU in its call for an independent counsel to investigate BushCo for its complicity in torture.  You may add your name/voice there.

                         

Waste-Not Wednesday: Cereal Box Liners

I’ve already posted a suggestion for using waxed paper bags for lunches rather than plastic bags.  But there’s an even greener alternative:  cereal box liners!

(Photobucket isn’t cooperating tonight so I apologize for the mammoth image and ask your forgiveness for any dreams in which you are chased by an enormous sandwich.  Or countertop)..  

Please Call If You Can

The U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote today on further funding for the occupation of Iraq.

The Democrats are poised to cave into the Bush administration (again).  I’m so tired of our so-called leaders enabling this war criminal.

If you’re tired, too, please call and voice your opinion.  If you believe there should be no more funding without a withdrawal timetable, then tell your elected officials.  If you believe the only money that should go into Iraq is for reconstruction projects so the Iraqis can again have water, electricity, schools, etc., then tell your elected officials.  Whatever your feelings, call your representatives and let them know.  Please.

The capitol switchboard is 1-800-614-2803.  (An operator will direct your call).

Edited to add this photo.  These are the current numbers as of today (verified deaths):

Waste-Not Wednesday: Fallen Leaves

It’s that time of year when the leaves jump off the trees and hit the ground. 
Really.  I’ve seen it happen.  I’ve yet to hear any screaming, though.

This past weekend I raked my leaves and scooped them into an empty trash can. 
After each scoop I stomped down on them with my foot to pack them in tighter AND
break them into smaller pieces.  If you don’t have long legs (or an enormous foot), use the rake handle to
stir the leaves.  When the can is full, pour them onto the flower bed you’ve already
sprayed with the hose.  After spreading them around the plants, spray the leaves with
the hose so they’ll be less likely to blow away in the wind.

Leaves are a great mulch that will hold the moisture for your plants plus they’re full
of nutrients for your soil.

When you mulch with leaves:
1) you keep stuff out of the landfill
2) you don’t use a plastic bag that ends up in landfill
3) you feed and protect your plants over the winter months
4) you add fall color to your beds (at least for a little while!)                                                                                                                                                   

Waste-Not Wednesday: Flushing Toilets

Seeing as it’s Halloween and all I considered writing about recycling treats for the little witches and goblins.  You know the recycling I refer to: you’re all out of goodies because someone wouldn’t stop eating, but the doorbell keeps ringing so you dash into the pantry in frantic search of something, anything, to ward off the TP Avengers.  And you spot those granola bars at the back of the shelf plus a few packages of Top Ramen, so you grab those and a couple honey sticks on the way back to the front door in hopes you won’t arrive there to find a burning bag of dog doo.

But you already know the drill.

So let’s talk toilets.  Briefly.

Get yourself a big bucket to keep in your bathroom.  Put it under the tub faucet so it catches the water when you’re warming it up for your bath or shower:

Then use that water to flush your toilet:

Also, we have a plastic bottle filled with water (blue cap at Left) and a plastic container with rocks (next to ball at Right) in the tank.  These displace water so not as much water is needed to refill the tank after each flush.  Just make sure your displacement items don’t interfere with the flushing mechanism.  (If you already have low-flush toilets, I don’t think there’s room for displacement items but you can still use the bucket to refill the tank).

                                      

Waste-Not Wednesday: Fabric Softener

I had the idea of designating one day per week for sharing ways my family tries to reduce our impact on the environment.  I’m going to call it WASTE-NOT WEDNESDAY and I’d be thrilled if anyone else would like to join in and share ideas from their households, too.  I’m at about the halfway point of my life expectancy but Wildebeest and Zebu and all your children have a lot of years ahead of them on this planet, and whatever we can do to protect the resources for them and their children (and their children’s children and so on), is well worth the effort.

So I hope you join me now and again in sharing some tips for helping out Mother Earth.

As you can see, my washing machine has a big jug of white vinegar sitting on top.  That’s because each time I wash a load of laundry, I pour white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser at the top of the agitator-thingy.  We live in Colorado where it’s extremely dry which results in lots of static cling.  I mean LOTS.  However, the vinegar prevents that icky, clingy feeling plus keeps the laundry soft.  Believe me, if it works here vinegar will work in your climate, too.

Why not just use that fancy-smelling blue stuff?  Well, I don’t like liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets because I’m hypersensitive to strong odors.  When I’m taking a walk in my neighborhood, I can smell when someone’s running a dryer with one of those sheets inside and the smell hurts my lungs. 

While writing this post I just did a little googling and found out there’s a good reason why my lungs hurt when I smell that stuff:  nasty chemicals!

Do your wallet and the planet a favor by giving up the fabric softener.  Reach for the white vinegar instead.

                             

Pretty Bird Woman House

I’ve copied this from DailyKos.com in hopes some of you could contribute funds to help save a much-needed women’s shelter.  Thank you – Tracy

Please Help Save Pretty Bird Woman House

Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 11:27:31 AM PDT

Yesterday, I posted an article about Amnesty International’s heartbreaking report on violence against Native American and Native Alaskan women.  As part of that article, I had a link to the Pretty Bird Woman House, a women’s shelter on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

The story of how the house was founded was painfully sad and the tragedy was compounded by the news that Pretty Bird Woman House is on the brink of closing for lack of funds.  Thankfully, the DailyKos community responded. Kos contributor nbier contacted the shelter and made arrangements to collect funds for them.  Even as he was talking to the shelter worker, he learned that she was literally on her last paycheck.  It’s that close.  

I’d like to ask you to go to the Save Pretty Bird Woman House chip in page and show these folks that someone was touched by their story, and that this community wants to reach out to their community.

I’d like to extend my thanks to nbier for making the effort to contact the shelter and collect the information.  Hopefully, we can get them some funds before the lights go off.  Then maybe we can convince them that it would be worthwhile to put up a web page to pass along news of the shelter’s progress.

CALL-IN FOR PEACE –UPDATE

I received this message from Progressive Democrats of America (PDA):

Today (Tuesday) is our day to lead in the unified phone campaign to get Congress
to finally stand against Bush’s unending war in Iraq.

In the last few hours, we’ve learned of a possible amendment to Bush’s
supplemental Appropriation request for $93 billion more for Iraq.
The
amendment, written by our allies, would call for a fully-funded withdrawal of
U.S. troops within a set timetable.
This would mean that a vote for the
appropriation would be a vote against the war.
This is an exciting development –
a longshot, but worth fighting for.

So when we call our Congress members today, ask them to support a “fully-funded
withdrawal with timetable” amendment to the Iraq supplemental. But if such an
amendment is NOT adopted, insist that our Representatives vote NO on the
supplemental.

Our special toll-free number into Congress is 1-888-851-1879.

Don’t stop after calling your own Representative. To ensure that a “fully-funded withdrawal”
amendment comes to the floor for a vote, contact one or two members of the Democratic
leadership: Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY), Chair, Rules Committee (which decides
whether amendments get to the floor); Speaker Nancy Pelosi; House Majority
Leader Steny Hoyer (MD); Rep. Rahm Emanuel (IL); Rep. James Clybourn (SC). Make
your call(s) toll-free l-888-851-1879 -- or call 202-224-3121.

Thank you!

CALL-IN FOR PEACE Tuesday, March 6

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and its allies are coordinating a
unified phone campaign to get Congress to reject additional Iraq war
funding – the Bush supplemental appropriations request for $93
billion more. With the Democratic leadership signaling weakness and
half-hearted amendments aimed at undermining the escalation but not the
war, the coalition is phoning in a loud and clear message: NO MORE
FUNDING FOR WAR. VOTE NO ON THE SUPPLEMENTAL. BRING OUR TROOPS HOME.


Toll-free number into Congress is 1-888-851-1879.

Points to consider when calling your Senate and Congressional offices:

Most Iraqis – both Sunni and Shia -- want US troops out of their country and most
believe attacks on our troops are justified.

US military force is no solution in Iraq; diplomacy, not war, is the solution.

US public sentiment via the polls in November and in opinion polls expresses a
strong desire for the US to get out.

Congress has the Constitutionally-granted “power of the purse,” and the DUTY
to end the war by cutting off war funding, except what’s needed for the prompt,
safe, orderly withdrawal of all our troops.

The US must NOT build permament military bases in Iraq.

Please take several minutes to call your senators and representative.

The number is 1-888-851-1879.

Thank you.

Gay Rights, Part Deux

I wanted to add my thoughts after reading the remark from cocoskeeper regarding the Gay Rights postings. When I posted it on my journal, I knew it would probably be viewed as robotic/copycat posting, but I did it anyway because I think it’s important to stand and be counted. Gays are clearly the current societal scapegoats (although I think they’re getting nudged out by immigrants as the new scapegoat of choice)and it makes me sick. We’re embroiled in violence and ugliness here and around the world yet instead of working toward alleviating some of that hurt, people are expending energy to undermine love and commitment. Because, you know, we’ve got way too much love happening here on the planet these days. Sigh.

And this bears repeating:

“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” – Ernest Gaines

Gay Rights

“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?”
– Ernest Gaines

wesley_1701 wrote:
“We would like to know who really believes in gay rights on LiveJournal. There is no bribe of a miracle or anything like that. If you truly believe in gay rights, then repost this and title the post as “Gay Rights”. If you don’t believe in gay rights, then just ignore this. Thanks.”

GAY LOVE NO THREAT TO MY LOVE!