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Guest Commentary (4536)

by Dee Evans

I have always thought that there is a reason why it's easier to stand on the sidelines and cheer (or boo) than actually getting into the game.

It's interesting that Huffington, Schultz, and Maher (as well as Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity) and the like never want to put their money where their mouths are and actually run for an office...they just want to stand back and criticize those who do. These are some of the same people who sat around for 8 years while Bush and Cheney systematically tore this country apart and only woke up around year 6 to ask what was going on. Now they want to hound President Obama from Day 1 to try to make up for being MIA for the past decade.

Newsflash: If you wanted a shoot-first, ask questions later administration, then you should have voted for McCain/Palin. They were raring to go. Most of us voted for Barack Obama because of his promise to make thoughtful decisions and to have a steady hand in leading. Now the ADD crowd that claimed to have deplored so-called 'cowboy diplomacy' seems to want Obama to be a bull in a china shop.

Well, I've got news for you. We didn't vote to put a bull in a china shop, we voted to put a sane man in a nut house...and he is trying to fix it if only we will let him.  

by Susan J. Demas

Some people might be shocked about the carnage in the NY-23, where moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava was just forced out of the way to make room for uber-conservative Doug Hoffman, puppet of the anti-tax group Club for Growth.

I'm not one of them, because I covered the dress rehearsal back in 2006 in the MI-7. This was the start of the Republican civil war, which few people recognized at the time. But with the subsequent federal purges of Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Reps. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) and Heather Wilson (R-NM), and now Scozzafava, it's clear that the Club for Growth-sponsored bloodletting won't be stopping anytime soon.

U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-MI) was in his first term representing a rural southern Michigan district and was named one the top 10 most effective freshmen. The seat was hand-drawn as the second-most conservative in the state with a 57-percent GOP base.

Today, it is represented by U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, a pro-choice Democrat who has voted repeatedly to raise taxes.

How did this happen?

by Sue Wilson

Today, a divided jury rendered a unanimous verdict against Entercom Sacramento in the case of Jennifer Strange, a mother of three who died as a result of radio station KDND's water drinking contest in January 2007. The jury of seven men and five women awarded Jennifer's family more than $16 million compensation.

For much of the past two months, I have been observing and live blogging the trial. There is much to process before I comment at length. But in brief:

KDND 107.9 "the End's" Morning Rave ruled the airwaves in Sacramento's morning drive. The on air personalities ruled the radio station, too, the proverbial inmates running the asylum. And they clearly knew a person could die from drinking too much water: just a month before the contest, the Morning Rave spent an entire show making fun of a local college kid who had died from water intoxication. They made fun of Matthew Carrington's death, and they knew someone could die from drinking too much water.

by Nikolas Kozloff

Fed up with the "glacial" pace of climate negotiations and the unwillingness of the Global North to address their concerns, Indians and environmentalists in South America have come up with a shrewd new way of drawing the world's attention. Meeting recently in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, civil society groups set up an international tribunal on climate justice and actually brought legal cases against the principal countries and companies responsible for global warming.

Of particular concern to indigenous peoples are vanishing Andean glaciers. During a meeting of leftist Latin American leaders allied to the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (known by its Spanish acronym ALBA, an agreement designed to facilitate trade and reciprocity amongst like minded progressive regimes), a symbolic group of eight progressive jurists took up the issue of Illimani, a glacier located in the Bolivian Andes. Elderly Aymara Indians inhabiting the area of Illimani can still remember a time when the snow capped hills extended close to their native village of Khapi. In the past few years, however, the snowline has risen 1,500 feet up the mountain.

by Scott Bittle & Jean Johnson, Authors of Who Turned Out the Lights: Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis

As the Senate environment committee starts to hold hearings on the climate change bill, we think there's one critical question for the senators: Who are you talking to?

That's not an obvious question, or an (entirely) sardonic one. Legislation is almost always shaped more by leaders and lobbyists rather than the public at large, and given the complexity of the climate bill, this is even more true here.

by Bill Quigley and Deborah Popowski

The Louisiana Board that licenses psychologists is facing a growing legal fight over torture and medical care at the infamous Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons.

In 2003, Louisiana psychologist and retired colonel Larry James watched behind a one-way mirror in a U.S. prison camp while an interrogator and three prison guards wrestled a screaming near-naked man on the floor.

The prisoner had been forced into pink women's panties, lipstick, and a wig; the men then pinned the prisoner to the floor in an effort "to outfit him with the matching pink nightgown." As he recounts in his memoir, Fixing Hell, Dr. James initially chose not to respond. He "opened [his] thermos, poured a cup of coffee, and watched the episode play out, hoping it would take a better turn and not wanting to interfere without good reason…"

Although he claims to eventually find "good reason" to intervene, the Army colonel never reported the incident or even so much as reprimanded men who had engaged in activities that constituted war crimes.


By Charlotte Dennet

      They threw shoes – so many shoes that hotel staff had to roll out a laundry bin onto the street to pick them all up, and even then, the bin could barely contain them all. 

      They chanted: “Bush: Assassin! Terroriste! Criminal!” and then, at the appropriate command, hurled more shoes toward the heavily guarded entrance of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where George W. Bush was scheduled to speak.  


"I just have to remind everybody -- I know the campaign got fun, but those of you who were there early -- you remember that? When nobody could pronounce my name?... We all remember, back in the very beginning, a lot of people said having hope was naive. You remember that?" AUDIENCE: "Yes!" THE PRESIDENT: "That our faith in this country was misplaced. There's a whole industry feeding cynicism and skepticism, and promoting a notion of, well, it hasn't happened yet so it's not going to happen. And for a while, you remember, those folks looked like they were right. You remember? Until we proved them wrong. Until we proved there isn't anything false about hope. Until we proved that in America nothing can withstand the power of millions of voices that are calling for change. That's the spirit that we need right now."

The President spoke to an Organizing for America fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom in the New York City on October 20. My friend (whose donations got me in the joint) and I sat in the upper balcony watching, listening and recording (shhh) as a relaxed President Obama delivered a speech that addressed where we've come from, what has been accomplished, and what we have ahead of us after his first nine months in office. 

The speech, primarily addressing health "insurance" reform, addressed critics from the left. One anonymous audience member shouted "single payer," to which the President delivered a retort with the refrain "the bill you least like" that started with "the one you least like of the five that are out there would provide 29 million Americans health care -- 29 million Americans who don't have it right now would get it" followed by the much quoted since (in blogland, at least), "You know, sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies. Democrats are an opinionated bunch. You know, the other side, they just kind of -- sometimes -- do what they're told. Democrats, you all are thinking for yourselves. I like that in you. But it's time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close. And we've got to be unified."

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

On October 13, we lost a resolute champion of the law, a man who left his impact on the lives of untold numbers of Americans.

His very name made his life's work almost inevitable, a matter of destiny. William Wayne Justice was a Federal judge for the Eastern District of Texas. That's right, he was "Justice Justice." And he spent a distinguished legal career making sure that everyone -- no matter their color or income or class -- got a fair shake. As a former Texas lieutenant governor put it last week, "Judge Justice dragged Texas into the 20th century, God bless him."

Dragged it kicking and screaming, for it was Justice who ordered Texas to integrate its public schools in 1971 -- 17 years after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision made separate schools for blacks and whites unconstitutional. Texas resisted doing the right thing for as long as it could. Many of its segregated schools for African-American children were so poor they still had outhouses instead of indoor plumbing.

by Nikolas Kozloff

Last week, representatives of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (known by its Spanish acronym ALBA) met in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba to discuss the future evolution of the trade bloc, designed to promote reciprocity amongst left-leaning regimes in the region such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. Since its inception in 2004, ALBA has carried out important exchanges of goods and services; for example, Venezuela has exported subsidized oil to Cuba and receives Cuban medical assistance in return. However, some wonder whether ALBA is practical or can help to foster real economic development for the region's poor.

ALBA leaders however say it's time to place such doubts aside. Last week in Cochabamba, they declared their historic adoption of a common currency called the Unified System of Compensation of Reciprocal Payments or SUCRE in Spanish. Named after Antonio José de Sucre, a military general and hero of the wars of independence against Spain, the Sucre is to be gradually substituted for the U.S. dollar in terms of commercial exchange between ALBA member nations.

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