It’s Friday November 8th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen became the first person to observe X-rays. X-rays are electromagnetic energy waves that act like light rays, but at wavelengths almost 1,000 times shorter. Upon their discovery, X-rays allowed doctors to see inside the human body for the first time without surgery. We here at Upside Downtrodden feel a special kinship with X-rays. We, too, possess the ability to see through humans. Read more
1. Syria remained subject to a bloody turmoil for over two years in 21st Century which promised highest civilization in the history of our planet. Over a hundred thousand innocent fellow humans killed and over a million Syrian citizens displaced. United Nations remained a silent spectator throughout the Syrian’s massacre and so are all the Global Heads of the States “The Hon’able Members of UNO”. What a tremendous conspiracy against an elected government and UN recognized sovereign state. Who financed, armed and patronized the Opposition Party of Syria! Who is a threat to Syrian’s integrity and their solidarity! Who promoted Civil War in Syria! Who will own & justify the innocuous blood of one hundred thousand Syrians! Read more
The UN General Assembly meetings this week offer President Obama a chance to capitalize on recent diplomatic developments with Syria and to extend a hand to new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in the hopes of launching renewed negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. In an op-ed in the Washington Post last week, Rouhani urged other leaders “to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue.” It is critical for Obama to show that his administration is willing to answer Iranian concessions with some relief of sanctions that Rouhani can bring to the Iranian people.
Iran is Ready for Talks
A prominent adviser to the Iranian leadership, Amir Mohebbian, explains that Iran’s leaders see the next six months represent the best opportunity to reach an agreement, before campaigning for parliamentary elections begins in March. This is a window the US cannot afford to miss. It is time for the US to offer a reasonable deal that would signal to the Iranian people that the West is willing to work towards a larger agreement. Read more
In the last few weeks there has been a great deal of debate and controversy over the possibility of retaliatory strikes by the US in Syria. Both sides of the debate have some excellent points, and both sides have some points that are far from realistic appraisals of the situation. But this comment is not about the weaknesses or strengths of either side of the debate. Instead, I would like to offer a short statement as to why I am somewhat puzzled as to the rancor on the entire political debacle. Read more
Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
As the director of a nonprofit 501(c)(3), I have had to quickly learn how these kinds of organizations function. I had been an employee, volunteer, and member of nonprofits in the past, but taking a leadership position in one has been an entirely new experience. Now, I understand these organizations are sophisticated endeavors meant to do nothing less than fill in for government.
Where our representative government and its bureaucracy have utterly failed to meet the needs of communities in the US, nonprofits have stepped in. The modern nonprofit is a uniquely American creation, as other developed nations utilize the power and resources of government for education, arts, environment, health care, nutritional programs, etc.
In America, these kinds of “progressive” agendas can be defunded and neglected by local, state, and national branches of government. In response to unmet needs, grassroots groups form to gather resources, provide services, educate, and empower identified populations in their communities. In short, regular people are called and chosen by their neighbors to make what is missing and to scrape together resources. Read more
I spent a little time in California over the summer. It had been awhile. I remember going there as a kid and being so impressed. It seems that the days when everyone in the nation looked up to California, that magical land filled with perfect weather, sandy beaches, gorgeous women, and glamorous movie stars, have gone the way of the VCR and the cassette deck.
The first condition that I noticed was that the check stations, that used to manned by friendly, professional, state officials, who welcomed you to California and asked if you were bringing fruits or vegetables to or from that state, now look like the ruined shacks from Fallout 3. I was waiting to be attacked by "Mole-Rats".
Oh, and the rest areas are all closed so don't bother trying. You have no choice but to pee at truck stop as you're paying $6.02 a gallon for gas. Read more
Mickey Edwards steals a page from those early Progressives who believed the cure for democracy was more democracy. Joining a long list of Republican "reformers" who are trying mightily to help the GOP avoid a rendevous with hostile demographics, the one-time Oklahoma Congressman wants to scrap the two-party system altogether in favor of a more participatory "nonpartisan" democracy able to govern itself without party labels.
It's an appealing vision of a restored "civic republicanism" that Edwards offers in his latest book, The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans. Appealing to me, at any rate, because it reflects my own belief that it is far more important how a party or a country thinks than what it thinks - since, as Edwards says, "democracy is not about policy but about process" and "how we select our leaders, how we deliberate, how we decide" are what really determine whether Americans are fit for self-government. Read more
My first memory of any recognition of race was the day I brought my new friend home for lunch. My grandma must have been watching us come up the steps because she met us at the door and said it wasn't convenient to have guests for lunch. She sent my new friend packing and then set me down and told me to never do that again. She said we don't mix with Blacks. That's all she would say.
Later, I asked my mom what she meant. Mom said that grandma had moved to the city from the farm and she had no experience with people of other races. She said Grandma was prejudiced. I asked what that meant. Mom said prejudice was fear of others because they are different from us. She said there were lots of ways to be prejudiced but race was the most common. I went to public school and in the 50's there wasn't much integration so I didn't have many interactions with other races. Read more
So does anyone really believe that the Obama administration had nothing to do with the removal of Mohammed Morsi as the duly elected President of Egypt? If you do, I’ve got some nice land I would like to sell you here in Florida.
Did you notice the casual indifference as Egypt spiraled into chaos? You were supposed to notice. Obama went golfing; John Kerry went sailing. I mean we’re just bystanders, and those poor Egyptians — we hope they can sort themselves out. Yeah right.
These guys play a pretty fair hand a lot of the time, but they have overplayed this one. Anyone who thinks the U.S. is not complicit up to its eyebrows in the Egyptian army’s unlawful coup needs a refresher in our history.
It is now common currency to say that Morsi, who served just a year after he was legitimately elected in June 2012, failed some kind of democracy test. He did no such thing. There was a test, but the failure belongs to Washington. It professes to like democracies all over the planet, but it cannot yet abide one that may not reflect America’s will. Read more
Ok. Snowden is on the run.
“It’s espionage!” “He’s a traitor!!”.
Yeegads. All for telling us that our government is listening to us and wants to listen to the globe.
“We have warrants!” shouts Obama,
And then in a whisper “from that secret FISA Court” that nobody knows anything about because it’s a secret. National security you know.
Google moved today for a declaratory judgement in Federal Court (the REAL court!) to be allowed to disclose the warrants it received from the NSA through the FISA Court (not to be taken as an admission that there are any warrants of course - they are secret), arguing that it’s business has been irreparably damaged.
Now suppose the security state can’t catch Snowden? Suppose he gets asylum? How would you feel if Obama put him on the drone list over a Tuesday afternoon coffee at the White House?
Nah. Of course he wouldn’t. Would he? He can. Maybe after getting a secret warrant from FISA Court so it’s all nice and legal. Read more
Justice Scalia finally made us proud.
In common with the vast majority of progressives I have considered our two Italian - American Justices to be running dogs of right wing conservatives / corporatists; borderline demi-fascists.
Scalia was on the side of Citizens United; against Obamacare; consistently voting with the other four right wing Justices. Obamacare passed Court muster only because John Roberts pulled a Becket, shocking his political allies.
Justice Scalia, on the other hand, has written several opinions in 4th Amendment cases which progressives should be cheering. His greatest opinions have involved his passionate defense of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. It was Scalia who held, for a majority of the Court, that police need a valid warrant before they can use thermal imaging devices on a suspect’s home, or track his movements 24/7 for a month using a GPS device. Scalia has also written memorable dissents in defense of privacy, including his denunciation of warrantless drug testing for customs employees as “a kind of immolation of privacy and human dignity in symbolic opposition to drug use.” Read more
Yes. I busted my ass for Obama the first time around.
Opened my checkbook, campaigned, knocked on doors. Did everything I could to see that he carried Florida in the Presidential election.
Not easy in a place where Fred Thompson signs were as common as plastic pink flamingos at the time during the primary and right wing nuts carried Soviet flags outside of local Obama campaign headquarters. Where women thought Palin was the essence of true feminism. I had the lone Obama sign on my lawn in a sea of McCain - Palin cardboard.
But I got the last laugh. At least I thought so at the time.
We had elected a Democratic President and controlled the two Houses of Congress. And we carried Florida.
Maybe something would get done.
Maybe universal healthcare. Maybe peace would come. Maybe a society which would leave behind racism. Maybe repeal of the Bush tax giveaways to billionaires. Maybe we would spend money on people rather than aircraft carriers. Maybe we would stop torturing people. Maybe Gitmo would close.
Maybe. Read more
"Few probably recall the name Dwight Elliott Stone. But even if his name has faded from the national memory, the man remains historically significant. That’s because on June 30, 1973, the 24-year-old plumber’s apprentice became the last American forced into the armed services before the military draft expired.
Though next month’s 40-year anniversary of the end of conscription will likely be as forgotten as Stone, it shouldn’t be. In operations across the globe, the all-volunteer military has been employed by policymakers to birth what Gen. George Casey recently called the “era of persistent conflict.” Four decades later, we therefore have an obligation to ask: How much of the public’s complicity in that epochal shift is a result of the end of the draft? "
Thus wrote David Sirota last week in Salon.com.
"There is, of course, no definitive answer to such a complex question. However, a look back at some lost history shows that today’s public acquiescence to militarism was exactly what the government wanted when it ended the draft. Read more
Its Sunday April 28th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 1967, Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U.S. military. The self-proclaimed "Greatest Fighter of All Time" cited religious reasons for staging his most important fight; a fight against institutionalized, senseless killing. Take a moment to process these statements - yes, a fighter by profession and religious person (Ali converted to Islam in 1964) refused to go to war! Ali was fined $10,000, sentenced to 5 years in prison, and was stripped of the world title he had won by beating Sonny Liston. He avoided prison while appealing all the way to the highest court, and lost his heavyweight title the first time the same year he won his case in 1971. Muhammad Ali is the only three-time boxing world champion, and is still one of the most intriguing figures in American history. His reason for refusing conscription was because "I ain't got no quarrel with those Vietcong." Amazing that the government of a "Christian nation" would seek to take everything from a person who was acting exactly in the manner that Jesus would have prescribed. Read more