Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Glass: Communist Groups Rally for Islamic Center

Special by Bob Glass from the 9/11 NYC rallies

It is critical to note that the mainstream media have failed miserably in their responsibility to report the facts about the events surrounding the 9/11 rallies for and against the proposed Islamic center in New York.

As usual, the mainstream media have dutifully toed the party line and regurgitated the lies and propaganda of the American Left. Foremost amongst the facts ignored by the major media is that many of the groups supporting the mosque at Ground Zero are hard-line Communist organizations and hard-line Islamist anti-Israel organizations. (See the list of endorsing organizations.) For example, Workers World is a Stalinist group. In the time honored tradition of Saul Alinsky of lying about who you are and what your true agenda is, the International Action Center is simply an umbrella front group for all of the Communist groups to hide under.

In the spirit of Rahm Emanuel of never letting a crisis go to waste, the American Left is cashing in on the outrage and pain of the American people and is using the controversy about the Islamic center to attack and demonize the Tea Party. Those leftists have branded all those opposed to the building of the Islamic center near Ground Zero as bigots, racists and Islamophobes (see photos). This was just another opportunity for them and their Democratic political Apparatchiks to attack the Tea Party and the groundswell of the American people that is rising to reject statism.

It is a typical Saul Alinsky tactic to personally attack your opposition (in this case playing the race card) when your own arguments are philosophically and morally bankrupt. The overwhelming majority of those rallying for the Islamic center were old time Communists, unionists, radical feminists, and an array of other left-wing activists and anti-Israel fanatics (together with a few youthful useful idiots).

The people who rallied against the Islamic center, on the other hand, were salt-of-the-earth people who for the most part had never taken to the streets in their lives to express their political beliefs. These are people who actually have jobs, families, and responsibilities; people who have been motivated by the Tea Party and are outraged at the prospect of building a "victory mosque" on the sacred ground of where the World Trade Center once stood.

Read More:

Socialists Rallied for Islamic Center, 9/11 Photos Show photos by Bob Glass

9/11 Rallies Clash over NYC Islamic Center by Bob Glass

Sharia Critics Rally Against NYC Islamic Center photos by Bob Glass

Why Do the Media Ignore the Crazies On the Left? by Ari Armstrong

'Personhood' Blue Book Challenge Lacks Merit

I never have liked the Blue Book. It forces Colorado taxpayers to finance the distribution of beliefs with which they disagree, thereby violating their freedom of conscience. The state's Constitution (V(1)(7.5)) requires that "the nonpartisan research staff of the general assembly shall prepare and make available to the public... a fair and impartial analysis of each [ballot] measure, which shall include a summary and the major arguments both for and against the measure." Moreover, "any person may file written comments for consideration."

Such language is a recipe for conflict. Calling the research staff "nonpartisan" doesn't make it so. Proclaiming that it shall issue "a fair and impartial analysis" doesn't mean that it will. Allowing "any person" to file comments invites trolls as well as idiots. The Blue Book guarantees biannual strife and litigation, and this year is no different.

The assembly should mail out a notice of elections with the language of the proposals, and nothing more. It should leave the analysis of the measures to outside individuals and groups. To accomplish this end, the legislature should refer a measure to the ballot in 2012 correcting that section of the Constitution.

But, all that said, the recent Blue Book challenge brought by the advocates of Amendment 62 ("personhood") is utterly without merit. Or, rather, it has a great deal of merit as a publicity stunt, but legally it is groundless.

Electa Draper has the story for the Denver Post. (See also the story in the Denver Daily News.) Draper writes, "Sponsors of Amendment 62... sued the Colorado Legislative Council on Tuesday afternoon to stop distribution of its 2010 State Ballot Information Booklet."

Gualberto Garcia-Jones, a leading proponent of the measure, said, "They have not included a single word -- not a single word -- of our arguments."

His statement is ridiculous.

As is standard, the Blue Book summarizes the arguments for and against the measure, in three sections each. While Garcia-Jones might complain that the "Arguments For" the measure are not as detailed as he would like, certainly they do offer the gist of the case.

It is worth pointing out that the "Arguments Against" section also fails to offer the most fundamental and compelling arguments against the measure. For details, see the paper by Diana Hsieh and me. Certainly, as an opponent of the measure, I have as much legitimate grounds to complain about the Blue Book's language as Garcia-Jones does (which again illustrates the absurdity of a legislative body issuing "a fair and impartial analysis").

In part, Garcia-Jones dislikes the Blue Book because it tells the truth about Amendment 62. Draper writes:

Garcia-Jones said that the Blue Book's arguments against Amendment 62 are false because it could never, as the booklet states, cause women to be denied medical treatment for a miscarriage. The amendment could not, he said, put doctors and other health professionals at risk of legal action for providing medical care to women of childbearing age.

It is also demonstrably false, Mason said, that "the beginning of biological development" has no established legal meaning and is not an acceptable medical or scientific term, as the Blue Book states. Supporters said they provided statements by scientists and lawyers to the contrary.


But the "personhood" proponents ignore the fact that these claims are made in the "Arguments Against" section. They also ignore the fact that the claims in question are legitimate.

Let us review the exact language of the Blue Book:

Arguments Against

1) Amendment 62... could be used to prohibit or limit access to medical care, including abortions for victims of rape or incest, and even when a woman's life is in danger. Amendment 62 may also limit access to emergency contraception, commonly used forms of birth control, and treatment for miscarriages, tubal pregnancies, cancer, and infertility. The measure may restrict some stem cell research that could lead to life-saving therapies for a variety of disabilities and illnesses.

2) Amendment 62 allows government intrusion in the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship and could limit the exercise of independent medical judgment. The measure could restrict a doctor from using certain medical procedures and treatments. Further, "the beginning of biological development" cannot be easily and conclusively pinpointed. Therefore, the measure may subject doctors and nurses to legal action for providing medical care to a woman of child-bearing age if that care could affect a "person" other than the identified patient.

3) The effects of Amendment 62's change to the constitution are unclear. The measure applies certain rights from "the beginning of biological development," a term which is not defined within the measure, has no established legal meaning, and is not an accepted medical or scientific term. ...


It is important to notice that, among those many claims, the only ones the proponents of Amendment 62 took issue with pertain to treatment for miscarriages and the meaning of "the beginning of biological development." Most of the rest of the points are quite obvious and beyond dispute. Amendment 62 would ban every elective abortion, including for rape, incest, and terminal fetal deformity. It would ban every form of birth control that could prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, including the pill, IUD, and "morning after" drugs. It would ban fertility treatments and medical research involving the destruction of embryos. Nobody disputes these points. The remaining points of contention involve medical intervention and the meaning of terms.

As Diana Hsieh and I exhaustively explain, Amendment 62 would indeed sometimes threaten the health and lives of pregnant women. Garcia-Jones specifically mentions medical treatment for miscarriages. True, if the doctor knows the miscarriage has already occurred (and therefore that the embryo is already dead), he would have no fear to intervene. The problem is that a doctor might face criminal prosecution for intervening prematurely, before a miscarriage. Thus, the language of the Blue Book on that score is correct.

What of the dispute over the meaning of the phrase, "the beginning of the biological development of that human being?" As Diana Hsieh and I argue, the phrase is indeed ambiguous. While I do not doubt that "personhood" advocates could find innumerable quack doctors and scientists to testify that the phrase obviously pertains to the moment of fertilization, in fact it does not. Certainly the point is quite appropriate for the "Arguments Against" section.

The "personhood" challenge to the Blue Book is ridiculous. But it is an effective way to abuse the legal system for free publicity.

Why Do the Media Ignore the Crazies On the Left?

Reporters who castigate the small minority of nuts among the Tea Partiers, while utterly ignoring the more numerous and dangerous crazies on the left, lie by omission.

Leftists who smear the Tea Parties based on a few isolated (and in many cases fictitious) misdeeds, but who refuse to criticize those among their own ranks who sanction violence, dictatorship, and mass murder, stink of hypocrisy.

I've been to numerous Tea Parties and interviewed dozens of Tea Partiers. The vast majority of Tea Partiers care about the direction our nation is headed, out-of-control federal spending, and saddling their children and grandchildren with trillions of dollars of debt.

True, a minority obsess about immigration, advocate theocracy (starting with total abortion bans), call Obama a Communist or Nazi, or parrot some wild conspiracy. A tiny few have even voiced racist views, though generally racists have been quickly condemned by and ousted from the Tea Parties.

But obviously any large rally attracts a contingent nuts, and the left is far worse. Some leftist groups also oppose immigration, and indeed want to limit human births across the board on environmentalist grounds, but apparently that motive is too PC to generate much media attention. The socialists of the left are at least as numerous and virulent as the theocrats of the right. The entire leftist philosophy is essentially one grand conspiracy theory, spawning continuous minor conspiracy theories. Standard leftist rhetoric decried Bush as a Nazi. Those looking for examples of left-wing racism can start with the hate mail sent to Michelle Malkin.

Many reporters are quick to jump on those who rally against the proposed Islamc center near Ground Zero. While not technically Tea Party events, such rallies show a strong Tea Party flavor, as photos of the 9/11 rally reveal. There seems to be significant overlap between the Tea Parties and the rallies against the Islamic center, though other Tea Partiers should not be assumed to have taken a position on the matter. I should note here that I disagree with many of the conservative arguments against the center and find no reason to forcibly block it, though I condemn its construction because of its builders' troubling ideology.

But if any major media outlet reported the absolute insanity of the leftist rallies in favor of the center, I did not catch the report.

Thankfully, my friend Bob Glass observed the 9/11 leftist rally -- and he took photographs.

Avowedly socialist organizations endorsed the rally. People carried signs from "SocialistWorker.org." Various leftist ralliers promoted the mass murderer and Marxist totalitarian Che Guevara. One fellow promoted the murderous Communist regime of China (making clear with his Guevara reference which aspects of Chinese rule he favors). Some distributed copies of "Challenge: The Revolutionary Communist Newspaper of Progressive Labor Party."

So, for the sake of truth and simple decency, stop the media smear campaigns against the Tea Parties.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WWII Vet Seymour Glass of the 445th Bomb Group

Seymour Glass recounts his service in World War II as a lead radio operator with the 445th Bomb Group. Bob Glass (his son) and I interviewed him on September 4, and he gave me permission to publish selections.

First I recommend listening to Glass's account of carrying a friend's journal with him throughout the war and then returning it to his wife, who then sent a letter. It is a moving story.



In the first main video, Glass describes his 32 bombing missions. Glass notes that Jimmy Stewart served with his group before becoming an actor. Glass also describes how he came to serve in that position.



Next Glass discusses his plane coming under fire and assisting the injured. "When we were hit by fighters, and you had all ten [.50 caliber] guns going at the same time, the plane, as big as it is, as mammoth as it is, would chatter from all the vibrations of the guns," he recalls. He also discusses his service blade -- and that of an enemy.



In the final video, Glass discusses survival gear, currencies, photographs, and his Air Medal.



Thank you for your service, Mr. Glass.

Monday, September 20, 2010

WWII Vet Seymour Glass and the Diamond Cross

With Bob Glass, I interviewed WWII veteran Seymour Glass on September 4. Here he discusses a friend's journal that he returned to his wife. This is the final of four videos (released out of sequence).



See the full series of interviews with Seymour Glass.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sharia Critics Rally Against NYC Islamic Center

A previous post shows photos from the 9/11 NYC rally in favor of the Islamic center near Ground Zero. These photos, also by Bob Glass, show the rally against the center.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Some statements promoted Christianity, while others opposed religion:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Tea Party themes were widespread:

Photobucket

Photobucket

For the most part, messages did not oppose Islam per se but rather the danger of encroaching sharia law:

Photobucket

Socialists Rallied for Islamic Center, 9/11 Photos Show

Bob Glass reviewed the 9/11 NYC rallies for and against the Islamic center near Ground Zero. He also took some outstanding photographs, which I've now uploaded to Photo Bucket with his permission.

Following is a selection of those photos from the rally promoting the Islamic center. Glass has promised me additional commentary on the topic, and I plan to write something up as well based on his photographs and literature from the rally he sent me. I should note the obvious point here that the strong socialist endorsement of of the Islamic center does not typify support for it, which is ideologically diverse.

If you zoom in on the photo, you can read on one sign, "socialistworker.org."
Photobucket

One sign in this photo says, "Defeat Obama's War on Afghanistan and Iraq! Hands off Pakistan! Internationalist Group, League for the Fourth International." Another sign says touts "class struggle."
Photobucket

Many of the ralliers in favor of the Islamic center were obviously pro-Palestine and anti-Israel:

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

This button says, "U.S. Boat to Gaza: The Audacity of Hope."

Photobucket

Works sold at the pro-mosque rally included "Coming American Revolution," a "Defense of Marxism," "Che Guevera and the Fight for Socialism Today," "The Militant," and "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific."

Photobucket

One pro-mosque rallier openly promoted Guevera as well as the murderous Communist Chinese regime:

Photobucket

Amidst signs from the "anti-capitalist" International Action Center, a sign reads, "We Stand with Our Muslim Sisters and Brothers."

Photobucket

Another sign from "socialistworker.org" declares, "Muslims Are Our Brothers & Sisters."

Photobucket

Am. 62 Would Ban the Pill and Endanger Women

Note: The following column originally appeared in the September 17 edition of Grand Junction Free Press. However, as a September 19 story from the Denver Post reports, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ken Buck has backed off of his support of Amendment 62. Allison Sherry of the Post reports:

Buck said Saturday through his campaign spokesman that he will now vote against the measure. In an earlier interview, he said he did not understand until recently that passage of the amendment would likely outlaw some common contraceptive methods, like the IUD or birth control pills that can reduce the chances of implantation for a fertilized egg.

"This isn't how I looked at the personhood amendment," Buck said. "I'm not in favor of banning common forms of birth control." ... No longer would Buck introduce a constitutional amendment to ban abortion -- though he says he would still support one -- and he now says he would be willing to vote to confirm even pro-choice judicial nominees.


Therefore, the following article should be read with Buck's qualified stance in mind.

Am. 62 would ban the pill and endanger women

We feel sorry for anybody whose job is to try to defend Ken Buck's position on birth control. We really do. Because it is a ridiculous position.

Let's back up a minute. This fall Colorado voters will face Amendment 62, known as the "personhood" amendment. The purpose of this proposed constitutional change is to grant a fertilized egg the same legal rights as a born infant or adult.

Of course, the measure could not be fully enforced so long as the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision remains in force. Challenging that ruling is the stated intention of the measure's backers.

If enforced, Amendment 62 would totally ban abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and fetal deformity. It would allow medical intervention that would harm an embryo or fetus only to save the life of the woman. However, because doctors can rarely perfectly predict the risks, the measure would threaten doctors with criminal prosecution if they could not prove the woman's life was in imminent danger.

If an embryo is a person with full rights, then any intentional abortion must be deemed murder, and punished accordingly.

Amendment 62 would also outlaw the "in vitro" fertility treatments that help around a thousand Colorado women bear children each year. That's because such treatments often create more embryos than a woman can safely implant. The rest are frozen or destroyed.

For a comprehensive critique of Amendment 62, see the new paper by Diana Hsieh and Ari at http://tinyurl.com/amend62co.

One of the implications of Amendment 62 is that it would ban common forms of birth control, including the pill, IUD, and "morning after" drugs. Methods that prevent fertilization such as the condom would remain legal. The pill, while it usually acts to prevent fertilization, can also prevent implantation if fertilization occurs. Under Amendment 62, that would be deemed murder.

Don't take our word for it: the manufacturers of the popular brands of pill Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Trinessa both claim the pill can "reduce the likelihood of implantation."

Which brings us back to Ken Buck, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. According to the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado, Buck endorsed Amendment 62. Colorado Right to Life says that Buck is "very strongly pro-life and pro-Personhood," and "he is on record supporting Personhood."

One might think that, by simple logic, Buck would say forthrightly that he wants to ban the birth control pill, because it can prevent implantation. But Buck is a politician, so of course he can't just come right out and state clearly what he believes.

In one campaign statement, Buck called charges that he "wants to ban common forms of birth control" a "lie." The statement claims that "oral contraceptive pills... do not result in killing a fertilized egg."

To drive home the point, Buck's statement linked to an article by About.com. Unfortunately for Buck, that article states that the pill can prevent "fertilized eggs from implanting into the wall of the uterus."

This is a problem, because Buck has endorsed Amendment 62, which regards the birth control pill as murder.

A September 1 piece by 9News claims that Buck supports "some forms of the pill" that don't "keep a fertilized egg from implanting." The piece credits Buck spokesman Owen Loftus.

So we contacted Loftus to ask him which forms of the pill don't prevent implantation.

Loftus mentioned two sources, Planned Parenthood and Wikipedia. But both of those sites say the pill can prevent implantation (though Wikipedia notes the matter is controversial).

Loftus said he thought the "combination oral contraceptive" fits the bill. But manufacturers of the two "combination" pills listed above say their products can prevent implantation, and Loftus was unable to name any brand that operates differently.

Finally, we asked, "If it is shown that a form of birth control can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, would Ken Buck oppose that form of birth control?" Loftus replied, "Ken believes that life begins at conception, so, alright."

We asked, "Is that a yes?" Loftus replied, "That's my answer... Ken is going to Washington D.C. to fight runaway spending and create jobs, and that's what his campaign has been all about."

So, in other words, when political spokespersons find themselves in a corner, they dodge the question and change the subject.

But the measure's sponsors are not as coy. Personhood Colorado, the main group behind the measure, condemns "chemical abortifacients" and says that "barrier methods... will not be outlawed." A document endorsed by Personhood USA states that "all hormonal contraceptives have the capability to cause an abortion," including the pill.

So Buck has two choices, if he wishes to give an honest answer. He can either state that he wants to ban the pill because it can "cause an abortion" by preventing implantation, or he can revoke his endorsement of Amendment 62 and admit that fertilization does not create a person with full legal rights. Which will it be? [Again, as noted above, Buck qualified his stance since publication of this column, and he now says he will vote against Amendment 62 and does not favor banning the birth control pill.]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tea Party Prodded by Denver Post's Chuck Plunkett

Chuck Plunkett, member of the Denver Post's editorial board, spoke at Denver's Liberty On the Rocks September 15. He joked, "I'm from the mainstream media, and I'm here to help."

But his message was sincere: "If the liberty movement energy is to mean anything, it's going to be folks like you that actually takes it somewhere. That's your challenge. So all the vitriol, all the raw emotion, [troubled Republican candidate for governor] Dan Maes, that's just not going to get it. My thesis is you need to supply the intellectual architecture that makes the liberty movement experience matter, or the experiment matter."



Plunkett's talk illustrates the symbiosis between the "mainstream" media and independent and activist media. While, on the national level, the blogosphere seems to constantly war with the "mainstream" media, in Colorado journalists, bloggers, and thoughtful activists seem to participate together more in a broader intellectual community.

The Denver Post responds to bloggers and sometimes writes about them, while bloggers and independent writers often break important stories and participate directly in the major media. Events like Plunkett's talk reinforce that collaboration and exchange.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

9/11 Rallies Clash over NYC Islamic Center

Special by Bob Glass

Editor's note: While I was in D.C. for September 11, my friend Bob Glass was in New York, and he investigated the rallies both for and against the Islamic Center near Ground Zero ("Cordoba House"). Bob grew up in Queens before moving west. Bob also took numerous photographs of the rallies, and hopefully I'll be able to publish some of them in coming days. Incidentally, my stated view is that, while the Islamic center should be morally condemned, it should not be forcibly blocked. Following are Bob's reflections of the 9/11 rallies. -Ari Armstrong

September 19 Update: See Bob Glass's photos of the rallies for and against the Islamic center.

Americans will forever remember September 11 as a somber, reflective day -- a day in which this nation was attacked by fundamentalist Muslims intent upon murdering innocent men, women and children -- all in the name of Islam. This attack was the most sensational and devastating of all the attacks perpetrated by the Jihadist movement that has murdered thousands of people around the world.

This was a wake-up call for Americans because prior to that the acts of Islamic terrorism on American soil were of a relatively minor scale. On September 11, 2001, nearly three thousand Americans lost their lives and the very symbol of free trade and free markets -- the World Trade Center -- was reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble.

To all Americans and to New Yorkers especially, virtually all of whom knew someone killed on that day, the site on which the Twin Towers once stood is hallowed ground, a sacred site, a reminder of what hangs in the balance between a society based on free trade versus a society based on the tyranny of Sharia law.

So it should be no surprise that the proposed "Islamic Cultural Center" built at Ground Zero would be seen as a slap in the face and an affront to the people of New York and those New Yorkers who lost loved ones on that terrible, infamous day. The claims made by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf that his intentions are purely to bridge the gap between different cultures and promote tolerance and understanding amongst people by building this mosque have been undermined by his threats against the United States warning that not building the mosque would jeopardize our national security.

If you look at the record of Islamic conquest throughout history, mosques and shrines have always been built on the sacred sites of Islam's conquered enemies. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, built on the site of the holy Jewish temple (Temple Mount). So it is understandable why Americans and New Yorkers would be outraged at the prospect of such a "victory mosque" being built at Ground Zero. Recent polls indicate that 70 percent of New Yorkers and all Americans oppose the construction of this center at Ground Zero.

It is important to note that none of the anti-mosque people crashed the rally for the mosque. On the other hand, one elderly lady who was simply walking by the pro-mosque rally with a small American flag was viciously verbally assaulted by a bunch of the hard-left activists. I was shocked and appalled at the level of vitriol unleashed against this woman who could be anyone's grandmother. The hard-left ralliers also sent scores of agitators into the ranks of the opposing rally determined to cause as much disruption as possible. [September 15 Update: See a partial list of endorsers of the endorsers below.]

The anti-mosque people to their credit showed remarkable restraint in the face of endless verbal taunts and jeers from those agitators carrying signs calling them bigots, racists, and worse. The mainstream media were oblivious to this in their reporting, saying simply that there were a number of vocal confrontations and a few scuffles between the two groups.

I estimated that about 2,000 people showed up on each side. The mainstream media reported that the pro-mosque crowd was decidedly larger but (surprise, surprise) that was not the case. [Editor's note: Pamela Geller estimates that "tens of thousands" of people rallied "against the Ground Zero mega mosque."]

The NYPD was out in force both in uniform and plainclothes. I know this because several times I saw uniformed cops stopping people in civilian clothes, only to back off after the people they stopped flashed them their badges. The police randomly shut down pedestrian traffic on streets adjacent to the demonstrations only to open them later and shut down other streets. I assume this was to disrupt any organized plans to stage counter demonstrations.

The NYPD utilized a (somewhat Orwellian-looking) mobile observation platform that could be raised five or six stories in the air. This unit was complete with all kinds of cameras and communications equipment.

The people demonstrating against the mosque were Tea Partiers for the most part, joined by friends and relatives of those killed on 9/11 as well as many firefighters and off duty police. Standing in the midst of both demonstrations and engaging in dialogue with many people on both sides, I was reminded of the name of one of the chapters in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged -- "The Sacred and the Profane."

September 15 Update: On September 7, 2010, in an email stamped 5:40 am, actioncenter[AT SIGN]action-mail[DOT]org distributed an email titled, "Emergency Mobilization Against Racism and Anti-Islamic Bigotry." That email, as received by Bob Glass, lists the following "partial list of endorsers:"

Al-Awda NY Palestine Right To Return Coalition
American Muslims For Palestine
Arab Muslim American Federation-AMAF
Bail Out The People Movement
BAYAN USA-Philippine American Alliance
Bethlehem Neighbor for Peace, Albany, NY
Black Workers For Justice
Bronx Greens
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
Casa Esperanza, Plainfield, NJ
Catholic Scholars For Worker Justice, White Plains, NY
Creative Nonviolent Resistance Against Injustice, Wyckoff, NJ
Dec. 12 Movement
Defenders For Freedom, Justice & Equality, VA
Democratic Labor Party, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Drum-Desis Rising Up & Moving
Families United For Justice In America-FUJA
Fight Imperialism Stand Together-FIST
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Gabriela USA
Green Party Power to the People, New York, NY
Guyanese American Workers United
In the Name of Humanity
International Action Center
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Islamic Leadership Council of New York
Jersey City Peace Movement
Labor for Palestine
Los Angeles Latino Muslims Association
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Masjid As-Salam, Albany, NY
May 1 Workers And Immigrant Rights Coalition
Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Million Worker March Movement
Millions For Mumia
MN Anti War Committee
Moratorium Now Coalition To Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs
Muslim Solidarity Committee
New York City Labor Against the War
National Assembly
Nodutdol For Korean Community Development
North East Peace And Justice Action Coalition
NYC Coalition to Stop Islamaphobia
NYC Jericho Movement
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
Pan Africa News Wire
Peoples Organization For Progress
Project Salam , Albany, NY
Queers For Economic Justice
Radical Women, Harlem, NY
Senegalese Workers Association
Socialist Action
South Bronx Community Congress
Stonewall Warriors
Take Back WBAI Coalition
The Peace Thru Justice Foundation
U.S. Palestinian Community Network, NY
Women In Black, Westchester, NY
Women's Fightback Network
Workers World Party
World Can't Wait

Individuals:
Cynthia McKinney
Edward Childs, Chief Steward, Unite-Here Local 26*, Somerville, MA
Colia Clark, Candidate US Senate- New York, Green Party Power to the People
Ramsey Clark
Dr. Joseph J. Fahey, Chair, Catholic Scholars For Worker Justice, White Plains, NY
Steve Gillis, Vice President, USW Local 8751*, Boston, MA
Basem Khader, Peace and Justice activist, Chappaqua, NY
Imam Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, President, North American Imams Federation - NAIF*
Rahman Khan, Chairman , Muslim Voters of America, Evanston, IL
Michael Kuzma, Democratic candidate, NYS Senate, 58th District, Buffalo, NY
Angaza Laughinghouse, President, UE Local 150, NC Public Service Workers Union*
Bishop Filipe Teixeira, OFSCP, Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi, CCA*
Dom Tuminaro, Professor, PSC-CUNY-AFT, AFL-CIO*, New York, NY
Fatema Zohny, Educator/Social Activist, Cornerstone Academy For Social Action*, New York, NY
*=For purposes of identification only
for full list see iacenter.org/muslimsolidarity [Note: This web site does not actually seem to include the full list of endorsers.]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rep. John Salazar Addresses Bailout, Church and State, and Abortion

Below are substantive answers by Congressman John Salazar to questions about the economy, the separation of church and state, and abortion and related matters. My father Linn and I sent a set of questions to Salazar's team on August 12, and we received the answers via email on September 10. Our goal was to solicit Salazar's answers to questions comparable to those answered by Scott Tipton (Salazar's Republican opponent) for our article published by Grand Junction Free Press on August 20.

As readers will see, Salazar does a pretty thorough job of answering the questions, though he skips a couple. Following the questions are Salazar's unedited comments. Because we will not be able to address his views until our October 1 column with the Free Press, Linn and I discussed the matter and decided to release Salazar's answers early, and save our commentary until later. - Ari Armstrong

1. What are the main policy issues we face in this election?

2. What is your view of federal bailouts and "stimulus" spending?

3. What is your view of the current level of federal spending?

4. What do you believe is meant by the "separation of church and state," and do you endorse it?

5. Should religious institutions receive tax dollars for providing welfare or other faith-based services?

6. Should the teaching of creationism or Intelligent Design be subsidized by tax dollars?

7. Do you support gay marriage or domestic partnerships?

8. Should gay couples be allowed to adopt children by the same standards as heterosexual couples?

9. Do you believe that abortion should be restricted by the federal or state government?

10. What is your view of Amendment 62, the "personhood" measure on this year's ballot?

11. Do you believe that types of birth control, including the pill, and fertility treatments that may result in the destruction of a fertilized egg should remain legal?

Comments of Congressman John Salazar

I believe that the important issues facing us include economic growth and job creation, reigning in the budget deficit, and protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare. It was critical that Congress passed a stimulus package early last year to put a floor under an economy that was in a free fall, shedding 700,000 jobs per month. The economy has now begun to stabilize, so we should pair reductions in spending with providing tax credits for small business, along with incentives to encourage banks to provide credit to small businesses seeking to grow in order to create an environment for job creation. We should also consider extending the Bush tax cuts for one year to give us time to review the report and recommendations of the Deficit Reduction Commission, which are due on December 1.

I did not support the bailout of Wall Street. I was concerned about using taxpayer dollars to bailout those who gambled recklessly with investors’ money. I was also concerned that the bailout bill before Congress failed to address the necessary reform issues – it simply provided taxpayer dollars to those who created the problems leading to the collapse without any conditions or assurances that taxpayers would ever be paid back, or with establishing new structural reforms to prevent what happened from every happening again.

My view of Church-State separation issues – I believe one of the greatest threats to our religious freedom is for the State to attempt to favor one faith over another, or impose undue restraints on an individual’s freedom to worship. We are a nation founded on the view, as embodied in the Bill of Rights, on the freedom to believe, or not believe, as we see fit. As a Catholic, I do not want the State interfering with my right to worship. Fortunately, Church-State issues have been minimal as this right has generally been respected. But as with any right guaranteed by our Constitution, it is a right that we must be vigilant to ensure that we don’t allow any encroachment.

While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, I do support civil unions or domestic partnerships in order to recognize certain state legal rights between same sex couples.

Although I am personally opposed to abortion, I support a woman’s right to choose. Today, our Constitution guarantees this right, and that right must be respected. The Supreme Court has recognized that some restrictions, such as parental notification, don’t unnecessarily burden the right of a woman to choose. I also agree that taxpayers should not be funding abortions. But the basic decision to terminate a pregnancy should not be made by legislators, but should be left to the woman and whatever network of family, friends, medical and faith groups she wishes to consult.

I do not support Colorado Proposition 62.

The question concerning the destruction of embryos resulting from fertility treatments really gets, in my view, to the issue of stem cell research. As you know, a federal judge recently overturned an executive order issued by President Obama that loosened restriction on embryonic stem cell research. I have supported stem cell research in the past, and will do so again should legislation be brought before the House to permit the research. Congress had passed stem cell research legislation twice in the past, but both times the legislation was vetoed by President Bush. This research holds great promise for addressing a wide variety of diseases, from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. As long as ethical guidelines are in place and the practice is monitored to ensure only approved lines are used, I believe stem cell research should be allowed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tea Party 9/12 March on Washington Video Interviews



More...

Interviews from the 9/12 Tea Party March on Washington from Grizzly Groundswell

Photos from the 9/12 March on Washington

Tea Party March On Washington Focuses on Election Day

Interviews from the 9/12 Tea Party March on Washington from Grizzly Groundswell

Chad Everson over at Grizzly Groundswell captured a couple of fantastic interviews of Tea Partiers in Washington September 12. (I'm the guy asking questions.)

In the first video, Chris Peterson of Pennsylvania says that in his local groups "our discussions are all about ideas, principles, not parties." When I asked him if Obama was at least a motivational force, he added, "I think Obama's election was almost providential. It was what made us finally realize that we were on a very slippery slope for a long time, and now he just pushed us there a lot faster. We all of a sudden realized... this isn't where we want to go. This is not what we want to be. ... It certainly has America riled up."



In the second video, Paul Johnson of D.C. said, "I am tired of the Democrats and the way they are going about this country. ... I'm just sick of this; taxes, spending... I want to make a change... I agree that Bush was guilty of spending some too, but this Democrat stuff is ridiculous. It seems as though every time they come into office, that's the only thing they know how to do is spend. And I'm just sick of it. And I want a change, I want a change immediately."

Photos from the 9/12 March on Washington

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the September 12 Tea Party march on Washington. For additional photos, see my Flickr set as well as collections from Grizzly Groundswell and Tom Nally. See also my write-up.

DSCN6514

DSCN6512

DSCN6510

DSCN6509

DSCN6539

DSCN6544

DSCN6546

DSCN6547

DSCN6552

DSCN6565

DSCN6585

DSCN6580

DSCN6586

DSCN6587

Tea Party March On Washington Focuses on Election Day

It was the longest sunset of my life. The evening after the September 12 Tea Party march on Washington, I took a 7:35 flight headed West, chasing the sun. I wondered how fast one would have to travel to catch it. Within the hour, it was clear that, whatever the necessary speed, we hadn't achieved it. I wondered whether the same was true of the Tea Party movement in pursuing the torch of economic liberty.

It was a large crowd; huge by the standards of the Colorado rallies I've attended. The train of people marching from the Washington Monument to the Capitol seemed to go on for at least half that distance, meaning at least half a mile. Yet by the massive scale of the Mall, the assembled crowded seemed healthy but not gigantic. I wonder how much the earlier Glenn Beck rally hurt attendance on the twelfth.

The signs and T-shirts in attendance sounded an ideological cacophony. Many lambasted Obama and the Democratic congress. Some blasted the "mainstream" media (from which I had to disclaim membership a couple of times). Some praised capitalism. A few declared that outlawing abortion was the penultimate policy imperative and that God is the ultimate sovereign. At least one promoted Ayn Rand.

Perhaps it was because I was tired or because I largely worked the periphery, but it seemed to me that the crowd was less exuberantly enthusiastic than I've seen before and more calmly determined. Perhaps people were thinking about the long fight to election day and the hard work required after that to keep the new congress honest. Or maybe that was partly my wishful thinking.

I do think, as several people I talked with confirmed, that the election of Obama and the resulting rapid expansion of federal power has caused many Americans to fundamentally reexamine their own ideas about politics and the direction the country is heading. Rather than being pulled gradually in the direction of statism, now many Americans feel the carpet has been pulled from under their feet. Or, to invoke the familiar metaphor, the frog has noticed the sharp temperature increase and started kicking. Whether he can flop himself out of the pot -- and at the same time avoid the fire -- remains to be determined.

The big question remains whether colorful signs and noisy protests can translate into the demanding long-term commitment to the ideas of liberty. I've seen some indications that they can, and what I saw and heard at the latest rally confirms that.

Notes: FreedomWorks, which organized the rally, paid for me to travel to D.C. for the weekend; I'll have more to say about that later. I'll also post a lot of photos and interviews, so check back! For now, check out the photos from Grizzly Groundswell. See also photos from Tom Nally.

Update: Here is my Flickr set of the event.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Draw, Don't Burn

It occurred to me that it may not be perfectly obvious to everybody why I and many others endorsed and participated in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day but I oppose Terry Jones's idea to burn the Koran. If you think the two acts are similar or comparable, you are utterly confused.

The first critical point here is that, as Sarah Palin pointed out, people have a political right to burn the Koran, as they have the political right to burn the flag or the Christian Bible. But just because you have a political right to do something, doesn't make it moral.

As I argued with respect to Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, it is perfectly moral to draw Mohammed, even in a disparaging way. Doing so constitutes (or at least may constitute) a constructive addition to the cultural discussion and state some sort of interesting point.

On the other hand, burning the Koran is a repulsive and immoral act, simply because burning any book to protest the contents of the book is repulsive. The way to fight bad ideas is to argue against them, not try to wipe them out of existence. This point is especially poignant given the Christian penchant for burning groundbreaking scientific texts during the Middle Ages.

Consider the worst book I can imagine, Hitler's Mein Kampf. While I don't have the stomach to read it, I want people like Stephen Hicks to read it and explain to the world precisely why it is so evil.

I regard the Koran as basically a bad book because it demands total personal sacrifice to a false supernaturalist construct. While debate rages about the proper interpretation of the text, nobody can seriously dispute the fact that the book has inspired many to commit grotesque acts of violence, oppress and abuse women, and murder homosexuals and "infidels." But the goal should be to read the book, understand it, and explain why it's wrong.

All that said, the very fact that the Obama administration has warned about possible Islamist violence in the wake of a Koran burning illustrates the vicious nature of the violent incarnations of the religion. Burning a book, so long as it's your copy of the book, violates nobody's rights. Hurting or killing somebody obviously does. Burning a book should not be a crime; committing vioence against another person properly is. If Muslims seriously regarded their beliefs as a "religion of peace," they would not respond to a book burning with violence.

While it is wrong to burn any book to protest its contents, it is immeasurably more evil -- and properly against the law -- to physically hurt or threaten people for their beliefs or expressions.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Amendment 62 Destructive and Flawed, New Paper Shows

Media Release * New Paper Vs. Am. 62 * Sept. 7, 2010
Coalition for Secular Government
http://seculargovernment.us

NEW PAPER: 'PERSONHOOD' MOVEMENT IS ANTI-LIFE
Amendment 62 Destructive and Flawed, New Paper Shows

In a comprehensive new paper available now at SecularGovernment.us, political writer Ari Armstrong and moral philosopher Diana Hsieh, PhD, show why Amendment 62, the "personhood" measure, should be defeated.

"Amendment 62 is ideologically flawed and horribly destructive in its consequences," Armstrong said. "If passed and enforced, the measure would ban abortion, the birth control pill, common fertility treatments, and embryonic stem cell research. It would threaten women, their partners, and their doctors with severe criminal penalties for terminating a pregnancy, even in cases of rape, incest, terminal fetal deformity, and risks to the woman's health."

Hsieh added, "Even though voters defeated 2008's measure by wide margins, 'personhood' advocates are persistent and consistent, and they take advantage of the weak arguments offered by many abortion-rights activists. The new paper shows why women have the right to get an abortion, why rights begin at birth, not conception, and why the case for 'personhood' is fundamentally flawed."

PDF: http://www.seculargovernment.us/docs/a62.pdf
HTML: http://www.seculargovernment.us/docs/a62.shtml

Monday, September 6, 2010

Under Nanny State, We Don't Feel Like Dancing

The following column originally was published September 3 by Grand Junction Free Press.

Under Nanny State, we don't feel like dancing

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

The grocer looked incredulous: "What's 3.2 beer?" While visiting New York City, your younger author Ari had asked about alcohol restrictions in grocery stores, noting that most grocers in Colorado can sell only low-strength beer.

In New York you can buy regular beer in grocery stores, and so far this has not caused social mayhem. (Colorado's liquor police needn't worry; New York has plenty of other sales restrictions.)

But in New York it's illegal to dance in most clubs and bars. Yes, dance, as in, move your feet and sway your hips to music. Politicians couldn't possibly allow people to freely dance; think of the children. If people were able to dance at will, what might they think of next? It would be anarchy! You can drink a beer, and you can listen to music at the same time, but adding a little jig to the mix, never mind a moonwalk, is entirely out of the question.

"While it sounds like a joke," LegalizeDancingNYC.com admits, "the NYC Cabaret Law is very real and has for the last several years adversely affected our city's economy, culture and community." The organization holds that "dancing is a fundamental right that need not be regulated by government and that a flourishing dance culture is good for the NYC economy and culture."

While dancing didn't merit a mention in the Bill of Rights, it's still pretty important, and certainly politicians have no business restricting it.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has admitted, "We have dance police. This is craziness," reports the New York Times. However, reports the paper, a 2008 proposal to ease the dancing restrictions fell apart because it threatened other onerous controls on bars. That is unfortunate; the paper notes that the law has been used in the past to thwart interracial dating and more recently to lock up establishments deemed by the authorities to be a nuisance.

The anti-dancing laws are a real problem for the phenomenally talented New York pop band Scissor Sisters. (Ari caught the New York show on August 24; the band will play in Denver soon.) They even have a song out called "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'," but we dare you to listen to it without at least feelin' like dancing.

Sister singer and fashion diva Ana Matronic said at the show (we're closely paraphrasing): "Elect us as mayor and the first thing we'll do is get rid of the f'ing cabaret license" and free up dancing. (She said the band had a license for the show.)

Maybe if we elected one of the Sisters to office in Colorado, we could finally get rid of the anti-freedom restrictions on liquor sales. Incredibly, the Denver Post reports, some have even proposed reinstating the "blue laws" outlawing Sunday liquor sales because of "the damage to convenience and grocery stores' bottom lines."

How about this: let stores sell whatever they want to willing customers. It's called a free market, also known as liberty.

But at least in Colorado we don't have Big Nanny forcing businesses to post calorie listings. In New York McDonald's posts on its menu board that "2 for $3 McGriddles" sport 1120 calories. A big donut at Gristedes market is 450 calories.

We have nothing against restaurants posting calorie notices, so long as they do it voluntarily in accordance with their customers' shopping preferences. But mandatory postings violate the rights of property and voluntary association.

Moreover, mandatory calorie postings insult the intelligence of shoppers. Do we really need some bureaucrat to tell us that deep fried sugar is bad for you? Consumers can make wise decisions without the "help" of meddlesome politicians.

Indeed, by encouraging people to depend on politicians and bureaucrats for their health and safety, Nanny State laws ultimately stunt people's independent thinking. Nothing is more dangerous than that, whether for people's health or the health of the republic.

It's easy enough to mock Nanny State laws like restrictions on dancing or grocery-store beer sales. But never forget that, once government gets in the business of forcing us to do what politicians think is good for us, it can very quickly cross the line from Onion-worthy headlines to frightening Orwellian-style police-state action.

Consider persecution of homosexuals. The founding members of Scissor Sisters happen to be gay, so, unsurprisingly, their music touches on related issues. But until 1980 New York adults could be arrested and criminally prosecuted for consensual gay sex, and not until 2000 did that state's legislature formally repeal the sodomy laws. Former Colorado legislator Jerry Kopel points out that our state repealed sodomy laws in 1971.

Throughout much of the Middle East, religious zealots continue to murder homosexuals -- as well as women caught in adultery charges -- under Islamic sharia law.

The only proper job of politicians is to protect individual rights. If we're worried about public morality, nothing is so perniciously immoral than allowing some to forcibly control the consensual acts of other adults.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Buck Still Needs to Qualify Stance on Birth Control

It is now clear that Ken Buck would, if he could, ban at least some forms of birth control, including the pill in at least some forms. But Buck still has not completely clarified his position on birth control. [See the update below for news about Buck's modified stance.]

On August 28, I wrote a post titled, "Yes, Buck's Policies Would 'Ban Common Forms of Birth Control.'" In that post, I quote a spokesperson for Buck's campaign, who erroneously stated that "oral contraceptive pills for women... do not result in killing a fertilized egg." The very citation provided by that spokesperson shows that the pill can do precisely that. Therefore, under Amendment 62, which Buck has endorsed, the pill would be banned.

But Buck offered a more refined position to 9News:

Buck believes life "begins at conception," so birth control methods that don't impact that (i.e. condoms, some forms of the pill) are fine with him. Others that would keep a fertilized egg from implanting like hormone-based birth control methods, some other forms of the pill, IUDs, RU-486 and what's known as the morning-after pill, are not supported by him. (Source: E-mail from Buck spokesman Owen Loftus to 9NEWS, Aug. 26)


So apparently Buck favors some sort of "pill" that is not "hormone-based" and that would not prevent the implantation of a zygote. At this point Buck needs to list which "forms of the pill... are fine with him."

In the section of the new paper by Diana Hsieh and me devoted to birth control, we evaluate Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Trinessa, Mirena, Plan B, and ella. In each case the birth control can prevent implantation of a zygote, according to statements from the manufacturers or the FDA. We quote others who say any form of the pill can do the same.

So if Buck knows about some sort of birth control pill that acts differently and does not ever prevent the implantation of a zygote, the onus is on him to name it. Otherwise, I'll regard it as the Unicorn Pill, something that sounds good in Buck's imagination but that does not actually exist. Until he can name the pill he has in mind -- and I have the chance to evaluate it -- Buck should state forthrightly and without qualification that he wants to ban the birth control pill.

September 8 Update: In a telephone interview yesterday, Buck spokesman Owen Loftus was unable to name a single brand of pill that never prevents implantation. He initially claimed that the "combination" pill fits, but then I verified that the types of pill that I've already researched are "combination" pills that can prevent implantation. He also offered me two additional citations -- Planned Parenthood and Wikipedia -- each of which states the pill can prevent implantation (though Wikipedia notes the matter is controversial). At any rate, neither of those sources is as reliable as the ones Diana Hsieh and I cite in our paper on the "personhood" movement, in the section, "Bans of Common Birth Control Methods."

September 19 Update: The Denver Post reports that Buck has changed his position, saying he will vote against Amendment 62 and that he does not favor outlawing the birth control pill.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lessons from the Maes Fiasco

Dan Maes didn't exactly "win" the Republican primary for governor; he took advantage of scandal-plagued Scott McInnis losing it. But Maes did earn the support of many Tea Party activists through hard work and amendable rhetoric. He is now losing much of that support. Now, even if Tom Tancredo does not split the conservative vote, Maes has little chance of pulling off a victory. So what are the lessons?

First, being an "outsider" is not enough. Indeed, merely lacking political experience is no qualification whatsoever. The problem with McInnis was never that he was an "insider" (a former congressman), but that he held no stable or well-articulated positions, he seemed to routinely tell people what he thought they wanted to hear, and he made some unethical decisions in his work on the water papers. While it is true that "power tends to corrupt," it is also true that any given individual in power need not grow corrupt. Moreover, the powerless also can suffer corruption. (Indeed, some people remain "outsiders" simply because they are corrupt.)

Second, what matters most is ideas, not status. I'll pick a credible candidate with good ideas every time, regardless of that candidate's level of political experience. The critical issue is simply this: does a candidate understand and support individual rights? Does a candidate endorse freedom of speech and religion and liberty in economics? Frankly, Tea Partiers were so worried about Maes's "outsider" status that they neglected to check whether his rhetoric reflected deep principles or a calculated effort to win.

Third, credentials do matter. Please notice the qualifier "credible" in the paragraph above. No, political experience is not necessary to successfully hold political office. However, a candidate -- especially one for so high an office -- needs an established and credible resume. Maes lacks that. Not only has Maes's experience in business and as a police officer provoked some tough questions, but Maes has, so far as I can tell, devoted very little of his life to the study of political philosophy.

As they tend to do, Republicans probably have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in glorious fashion. Democrats everywhere are on the ropes, and Governor Ritter has put in a lackluster performance. John Hickenlooper, while a nice guy and a credible candidate, remains the mayor of Denver. Practically any high-profile Republican could have beaten Hickenlooper: Shawn Mitchell, Hank Brown, Mark Hillman. If the race continues on its present course, Maes and Tancredo will split the conservative vote and Hickenlooper will skate to an easy victory.

Of course, this race has already taken more odd turns than anyone could have predicted. So perhaps it will take some more.