Posts Tagged ‘politics’





Matt Stoller’s beautiful tribute of Aaron Swartz

“As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako – who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.”


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“Are you part of the solution, or are you part of the con?”


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LISTEN: Thom Hartmann July 1, 2008




No Paine, No Gain: A July 4th Special

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Petition to nominate Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize




Why a Nobel Peace Prize for Pete?

Eleanor Walden, 2007

Pete Seeger is an ambassador for Peace and Social Justice and has been over the course of his 88-year lifetime. Using his prowess as a musician he worked to engage other people, from all walks of life and across generations, in causes to build a better and more civilized world: His work shows up wherever you look in the history of labor solidarity, growth of mass effort to end the Vietnam war, ban of nuclear weapons, work for international diplomacy, support of the Civil Rights Movement, for cleaning up the Hudson River and for environmental responsibility in general. Pete knit the world together with songs from China, the Soviet Union, Israel, Cuba, South Africa and Republican Spain. We learned that Crispus Attucks, born a slave, was the first man to die at the opening of the Revolutionary War, that the Farmer-Labor party in the mid-west had a socialist philosophy that lasted well into the 20thcentury, we learned that anti-slavery movements were often inspired by songs that indicated a map of escape, such as “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd,” he popularized many of the IWW songs that helped in CIO organizing, and spread the Civil Rights Movement through promoting the SNCC Freedom Singers and making songs such as “We Shall Overcome,” known all over the world.

When subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in August of 1955, at the height of the McCarthy period, Pete defended himself on the basis of the First Amendment, the right of an American citizen to free association, not the Fifth Amendment, protection against self incrimination. When he was boycotted from earning a living and practicing his craft on a national scale Pete appeared at union meetings, summer camps, Jr. High Schools, High Schools, and Colleges. His pay at times was as little as $5, but his value was priceless!

Pete also had his mentors: among them Paul Robeson, who said: “The Artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery…” It is time that a cultural worker receives the acknowledgement that, as Bertolt Brecht points out, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” The cultural workers who know the power of the arts for social and political change, also know how difficult it is to gain recognition for cultural creation without either trivializing the art or somehow qualifying for designation of “high art” by an elite. Pete Seeger always held to the principals that people’s music is not only “good art” but is representational art through music. That reality often refers to the conditions of exploitation and oppression that were apparent to formally uneducated folk. Thus “folk music” was not cute or quaint or obsolete, but through Pete, a living, vibrant form of culture.

Pete is again the Pied Piper of an historic environmental movement. When I was a child in New York City the Hudson River was an open sewer, GE alone pumped a million pounds of PCB’s into it. Pete developed the idea for the Sloop Clearwater, modeled after Hudson fishing vessels in the 19th century when the river supplied fresh fish for people from Albany to Manhattan; he suggested having song festivals along the river banks to bring attention to cleaning up the river. Of course the idea was derided by everybody except those who knew Pete; he said, “You can’t expect people to fight for a cleaner river until they learn to love it.” People learned to love the idea that there were things they could do to clean the river. They pitched in, they cleaned the river, now there is a floating pool where children can swim and the Shad and Sturgeon are edible again. In a segment of the otherwise brutal sitcomLaw and Order on CBS a character says, “The Hudson River’s clean now, thanks to Pete Seeger!”

Culture, in essence, means to honor our forbears. In the words of the Eastern European writer Milan Kundera: “the struggle for people’s power is the struggle for memory and against forgetting”. Pete’s talent, sense of decency, and inalterable belief in, as Anne Franke said, that, “at heart, people are basically good”, were uniquely his, but he has never been alone in his work; the support of his wife Toshi and his family gave him the opportunity to be all he could be. We all stand on Pete Seeger’s shoulders in a manner of speaking. We share Pete Seeger as a “father” of cultural, social, and political movements, as much as we share our parental DNA.

It is time that cultural work receives the recognition that the arts have great influence and global reach, that it is not only a medium of entertainment but of education, compassion and action. It is the desire of the committee that Pete Seeger be recognized as a beacon of integrity and principle in a time, and in a country, more defined by the absence of those qualities than by their honor.

Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep from Singing?


I would say that Pete Seeger has had a profound influence on my own life, on the impact that one can have as an artist on society; on each of us taking personal responsibility to make a difference. I grew up in an artistic and musical family, discussing politics, current events, books and ideas at the dinner table. My parents are artists and political activists, and when they were younger, they had given Fred Hellerman from The Weavers rides up to the Catskills when he otherwise couldn’t afford to get there on his own steam. My mom worked on political fund-raisers with the likes of Mary Travers and others over the years in NY. I literally cut my teeth listening to Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, and folk music in general, along with classical music.

I have seen Pete Seeger many times. He has always used his concert appearances as an opportunity to promote causes. I remember seeing him in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow when he began his campaign to clean up the Hudson River with the Sloop Clearwater, and singing an infectious and memorable Guantanamera at a concert rally at a church in Cambridge, MA for the United Farm Workers when I was a picket captain for them (I’d been picketing and raising awareness for anti UFW union-busting since I was in High School).

He understood, profoundly, how to elevate people’s troubles and struggles to music, thus elevating the discourse and people’s spirits. He understands the grass roots nature of all political and social justice movements. He has remained true to his vision all these years. I’ve seen the recent documentary about his life Pete Seeger:The Power of Song twice, it is so uplifting. I highly recommend it. Pete Seeger fearlessly stands up for his beliefs and challenges the rest of us to do the same. I enthusiastically endorse nominating him for a Nobel Peace Prize. He is one of a kind, an American treasure, a true leader!

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You may not know that talkshow host Randi Rhodes was suspended indefinitely for making off-color remarks at a private event (in a nightclub – NOT on the air) at an affiliate event in SF at Green960 AM.

As of now, there are 2 petitions up, so please sign both:



and send letters to Air America:




Contact: Anne Strahle
astrahle@airamerica .com

By air america
April 3, 2008
New York – Air America has suspended on-air host Randi Rhodes for making inappropriate statements about prominent figures, including Senator Hillary Clinton, at a recent public appearance on behalf of Air America in San Francisco which was sponsored by an Air America affiliate station.

“Air America encourages strong opinions about public affairs but does not condone such abusive, ad hominem language by our Hosts,” said chair Charlie Kireker.

for more information, see these links:

Huffington Post has more on this as well as the youtube video of Randi’s appearance in SF.

No reports yet as to how long the suspension will be.

Rhodes Says Air America Breached Her Contract

“It is not yet clear if the popular host will be back to work for Air America by then — or ever. At a critical moment in its evolution, the network has put itself in an untenable position. Ultimately, does Air America, or does it not, stand for free speech? At this moment, it clearly does not. That’s not very progressive.”

Updates and more article links, plus the full video of Randi’s performance are at



Stephanie Miller sticks up for Randi Rhodes

Janeane Garofalo sticks up for Randi Rhodes


dailykos diary: I will proudly stand up for Randi Rhodes


Here is my own letter to Air America, as a sample:

I am writing in support of Randi Rhodes! She is one of the bright lights on your network! (BTW, Sam Seder is another bright light and I cannot fathom, still, why you diminished his role to a once a week show).

I have been a passionately committed listener to Air America since the beginning and have continued to stand up for the network even after many mistaken decisions that in my mind have diminished the stature AND the programming (among them, firing Marc Maron, Mike Malloy, Kent Jones, reducing Sam Seder & Laura Flanders to weekend hours). I may not always agree with everything Randi says, but she has the right to speak her own opinions, especially when she’s not on the air – she is a talk show host, not a newscaster! As a matter of fact, I write this, even though I have not been in total agreement with her “bashing” Clinton. I know she can sometimes be a little “over the top” but it is because she is so passionate about her views. It is her toughness and passion that I admire.

As she was not on the air at the time of her remarks, I do NOT think it appropriate to fire her, or keep her off the air. Whether or not you think her remarks were inappropriate, I would think that an apology or a disclaimer would be sufficient! People also know that her opinions are her own and not necessarily the opinions of “management.”

I did see part of her routine on youtube, and frankly, I thought it was funny. And believe me, whatever your view of the language used, it is nothing new to most people… in a good way, these words have lost some of their power to offend, are in the general every day lexicon and are certainly frequent in comedic acts.

Please uphold the progressive values that the network claims to represent! Fight to retain Freedom of Speech and the Constitution! Reinstate Randi ASAP!

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So, you thought that Freedom of Speech, of Assembly, to Petition, to Protest War, … were all guaranteed under the First Amendment, April Fools!

Back in March 2003 – five years ago! – I remember feeling outraged when I heard that a man had been arrested at a Mall in Albany, NY for wearing a T-shirt that said “Give Peace A Chance.” What’s more, he actually had just bought the shirt at that very Mall! [didn’t our fearless leader urge us to go shopping in order to better cope with 9/11 PTSD?] It was then that I realized that I needed to be, in the words of Norman Lear, a “born-again American,” a born-again political activist.

“Historically, government, whether in the hands of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, has failed its responsibilities, until forced to by direct action: sit-ins and Freedom Rides for the rights of black people, strikes and boycotts for the rights of workers, mutinies and desertions of soldiers in order to stop a war. Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.” -Howard Zinn, Election Madness

Over and over again, I am stunned when I hear about other similar instances, like when Cindy Sheehan was forcibly removed and arrested from the PSOTU in January 2006, again for wearing a T-shirt with the number of Iraq war dead (then, over two thousand) and the words “How Many More?” and how even the Democrats, taking a page from the Bush administration, condoned the use of “free Speech Zones” at the 2004 Democratic Convention and other places. I had thought that the atmosphere might be changing, the proverbial pendulum swinging back to equilibrium.

And then last night I read an article from Newsday about an 8o year old church deacon who was arrested for wearing a shirt with the words “4,ooo and 1 million Dead” and “Enough,” again in a Mall in Smith Haven, NY (half an hour from where I grew up, this hits so close to home). He was with a small group of people all wearing the shirts and all but he complied with Mall security by turning their shirts inside out.

Back when I was in Junior and Senior High School, during the height of the Vietnam War protests, I was part of a group who made a black moratorium flag with a peace symbol and dove on it and we were allowed to fly it at the school, on the school flagpole. I can’t even begin to imagine that being allowed today. Back then, I organized several special moratorium programs with guest speakers from VVAW and other anti-war groups that took place in the school library. Students had permission to skip their classes in order to attend the programs! Can you imagine this happening today?!

I was surprised again, last year, when I tried to post information at my alma mater, Brandeis, a school with a long pedigree of radical politics, about my media organizing to bring back Progressive Talk Radio, and I was told that everything needs to be authorized and nothing can go up unless it originates from a current student. Again, so different an atmosphere from my own college days where someone was protesting, striking, sitting-in or taking over a building every other day it seemed!

Free speech and protest can be messy and inconvenient, it’s true, but are necessary for survival of democracy. It is the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War, and yet, the Winter Soldier Hearings were relegated only to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now and a few other small independent media outlets, but never made it onto the MSM (The Progressive Magazine just ran a great article about Goodman in their February issue). According to Alternet, there were only two major newspapers in the entire country who gave front page coverage to the 4000 dead soldiers!

When are we going to allow real debate of the issues again in this country rather than the sanitized and controlled versions that pass for debate? When are we going to free up the media to address these issues, and allow ALL sides the microphone? Getting active is our only hope choice!

Talk by Naomi Wolf, The End of America

Sammy Cam Clip from 9/9/07 
Sam Seder talks with Naomi Wolf about her book “The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot”. 

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Happy 5th Birthday Countdown with Keith Olbermann!Happy 4th Birthday Air America Radio!Happy Cesar Chavez Day! Viva La Causa!Happy 60th Birthday Al Gore!

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