Tag Archives: Sacramento Bee

Barack Obama to attack Syria himself in Air Force One

The way that it’s going, if U.S. President Barack Obama wants to bomb Syria, he’s going to have to drop the bombs himself from Air Force One. But he won’t be lonely on his trip; he’ll have “embedded” “journalists” along with him for the ride. And maybe the French will provide some wine and cheese for the mission.

Seriously: The British Parliament’s very wise decision yesterday not to join the U.S. in another boondoggle in the Middle East is a blow to Obama (as well as to Conservative Party British Prime Minister David Cameron).*

Now all that Obama has, pretty much, is the conspicuous silence of most of his fellow Democrats (in name only), most of whom are party hacks who don’t want to buck the Obama White House but who also know that the majority of Americans don’t want a military attack upon Syria — and, of course, the corporately owned and controlled “news” media.

The New York Times on Monday declared in an editorial:

… [President] Obama put his credibility on the line when he declared last August that [Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s] use of chemical weapons would constitute a “red line” that would compel an American response. After the first attacks, earlier this year, killed between 100 and 150 people, the administration promised weapons for the rebels but delayed in delivering them.

This time the use of chemicals was more brazen and the casualties were much greater, suggesting that Mr. Assad did not take Mr. Obama seriously. Presidents should not make a habit of drawing red lines in public, but if they do, they had best follow through. Many countries (including Iran, which Mr. Obama has often said won’t be permitted to have a nuclear weapon) will be watching. …

Wow. The Times widely is considered to be the thinking person’s media organization, and is widely to be considered “liberal.”**

Yet the Times’ central “argument” is that once you threaten to do something, you must go through with it — or risk being deemed “weak.” That’s a wise, high-minded stance? Even if something is a really bad fucking idea, you should go through with it anyway — to save face?

My own city’s main “news” organization, the Sacramento Bee, like the Times, also widely is considered to be center-left, yet in an editorial today the Bee proclaims that “The president has previously said there would be consequences if Syria crossed the ‘red line’ of chemical warfare. His reputation – and U.S. standing in the world – will suffer if that turns out to be an empty threat” (apparently the Bee’s editorial writers read the Times…) and “If it can be convincingly demonstrated that the recent massacre in Syria was the result of chemical weapons, and that Syrian forces were responsible for it, Obama will have to act, hopefully with a few allies.”

I’m guessing that that editorial was penned before the British Parliament yesterday voted against joining the U.S. in its latest boondoggle in the Middle East even if it definitively is demonstrated that the Syrian government used chemical weapons as charged.

AFP notes that “It is believed to be the first time since 1782 that a British government has lost a vote about military action,” which to me is a measure of what an incredibly fucking shitty idea it is to militarily attack Syria right now.***

So why are our corporately owned and operated “news” organizations gung-ho on an attack on Syria?

“Corporately owned and operated” is the key.

Corporations love war and the profiteering that goes along with it. Corporations not only benefit nicely in their war-related contracts (as well as in their ongoing regular military contracts) with the federal government, but the U.S. military often opens up other sovereign nations’ natural resources — like Iraq’s oil — to corporations for their free and unfettered exploitation.

War is bad for individual human beings, but great for corporations.

Also, of course, war is great for “news” “coverage.”

This is not new.

The Spanish-American War of 1898, Wikipedia states, “is considered to be both a turning point in the history of propaganda and the beginning of the practice of yellow journalism. It was the first conflict in which military action was precipitated by media involvement.”

Wikipedia goes on to note that “William [Randolph] Hearst, the owner of the New York Journal, was involved in a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and saw the conflict as a way to sell papers.”

I remember how the corporately owned and controlled “news” organizations handled the Vietraq War. First, they (including, of course, the New York Times’ infamous Judith Miller) for the most part uncritically repeated the Bush White House’s lies about the “reasons” to invade Iraq. Like the cowards in Congress, these “journalists” cowed to the post-9/11 hysteria and hyper-jingoism and for the most part dared not question the ever-changing “arguments” for war that the members of the Bush regime were spewing.

Then, when the invasion of Iraq that they’d wanted and pushed for actually came, they treated it like a fucking sports event, like the fucking Super Bowl.

It even had its own slogan: Shock and awe! (Actually, now that I think of it further, it probably was much more like a “professional” wrestling event…)

The “journalists” were “embedded!” in Iraq, they couldn’t tell us enough.

“Embedded,” of course, meant in bed with the White House and the Pentagon.

Sure, the Pentagon allowed the corporate media weasel-whores to feel special, rubbing shoulders with high-ranking military officials while they dutifully acted as public-relations stenographers, not as journalists.

The price for remaining “embedded,” of course, was that the “journalist” never reported anything that the Pentagon or the White House didn’t want him or her to report.

So: Our “journalists” gained some “access” but at the price of being censored. So what good was that “access” for which they had to sell themselves out? When the powers that be are tightly controlling and regulating the “access,” how meaningful can that “access” possibly be?

At this point, Barack Obama’s strongest supporters for a military attack upon Syria, apparently, are France and the American corporate media weasel-whores who want to jump into bed with him.

Former “President” George W. Bush, recall, in the post-9/11 political environment had the majority of Americans, the U.S. Congress, the British government and the corporate media weasel-whores behind him, which allowed him to launch the illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War even against the wishes of the United Nations Security Council.

In this political climate, thank Goddess, I don’t see Obama pulling off any significant military attack on Syria.

If he does so anyway, it will be, I think, a Richard-Nixon-level political mistake that he and his party will regret.

*I heard former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — a war criminal who already should have been executed for his participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq — blathering on news radio this morning that if only Obama had defined the mission in Syria better, and had not “led from behind,” Britain would have jumped right on board.

Never fucking mind that maybe, just maybe, the larger issue is that after the Brits were punk’d big time with the Vietraq War and Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, they didn’t feel like being punk’d by the U.S. government again and so soon after the last time, and so this time, they ignored the White House’s cry of “wolf!”

As much as I’m not a fan of Obama and as much as I oppose his sketchy proposal to attack Syria, we can’t blame this, too, on him; the lion’s share of the blame for it rests squarely on the members of the unelected Bush regime, including Rumsfeld, of course, who lost the trust of the British over the bogus Vietraq War.

**Well, since being “liberal” these days mostly means being a Democrat in name only, a center-right sellout who changes his or her stance on important issues based upon the party affiliation of who is supporting and who is opposing those issues today, the Times actually indeed is “liberal.”

***One who is progressive and sane (which, to me, are one and the same) hopes that the majority of the citizens of the Western world finally are turning against military action as a way to resolve international (and intranational) conflicts and see that militarism almost always only benefits our plutocratic overlords, not us commoners.

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The art of protest is dead

Well, apparently not in Wisconsin, and very apparently not in the Middle East, but here in Sacramento, California, and throughout much if not most of the rest of the nation, I surmise, it is.

Last night I attended the solidarity-with-the-workers-of-Wisconsin gathering at the California state Capitol here in Sacramento. It was a great turnout, especially given that the gathering was in support of the working people several states away and was not about anything that immediately is occurring here in California.

The Sacramento Bee put the turnout at 2,500, but, while I’m no expert at estimating crowd size, I would estimate that there were at least 4,000 people at the peak of the turnout.

The turnout was impressive, but the organization of the protest (which barely can be called a “protest,” since it was so tame) was sad.

The organizers had had at least a few days to organize, but the sound system was for shit. It sounded like they were using technology along the lines of Mr. Microphone. Unless you were within maybe a dozen yards of the individual speaking at the moment, you couldn’t hear anything but muffled sounds.

Old labor-movement songs (from the 1930s, I believe they were) were sung. So old that few there knew the lyrics. Hell, why not use some old protest ditties in Latin? The labor movement sorely needs to update itself. The history of the labor movement is important, but when you are singing decades-old songs, it makes you appear to those who are unfamiliar with labor-movement history (which is the majority of Americans) to be, um, irrelevant…

Once the organizers of last night’s “protest” got the crowd that they wanted to get, they apparently didn’t know what to do with it. There was no coordinated march, the chants and the singing were weak (in no small part because of the practically non-existent sound system), and, although the event was billed as a “candlelight vigil” for the embattled workers of Wisconsin, what appeared to be portable stadium lights brightly lit up the protest area the whole time and never were dimmed, making an actual candlelight vigil impossible.

And a candlelight vigil implies that you’re going to be there for at least two or three hours, but by around 6:45 p.m., only 45 minutes after the event began, it was over and the crowd started to disperse. Shit. The protesters in Wisconsin have been at it for more than a week now; we couldn’t do a full hour last night?

Predictably, a small group of “Tea Party” traitors — most of them old and white and just mean (one of them had a sign advising us unionized workers to “man up,” when what the traitors really want us to do is to bend over) — were across the street from us last night. I estimate that there were no more than 20 of them there at a time. (The Bee put their number at 35. My guess is that the mainstream/corporately owned and controlled media don’t mind underestimating the size of crowds of those of us who are left of center, but that they are much more generous when estimating the number of wingnuts, since they don’t want the wingnuts harassing them that they were undercounted.*)

I hate “Tea Party” traitors. To give you an idea of what utter incorrigible asswipes these people (and I use the word “people” very loosely) are, the Sacramento Bee has reported that a local “Tea Party” ringleader named Mark Williams had planned to have “Tea Party” traitors wear labor-union shirts (specifically, the purple shirts of the state’s largest and most powerful labor union, Service Employees International Union [to which I belong]) and to act in ways to shed a falsely negative light on us pro-labor-union protesters.

The Bee reports that Williams had blogged (in part) about his plan to infiltrate last night’s protest:

Our goal is to make the gathering look as greedy and goonish as we know that it is, ding their credibility with the media and exploit the lazy reporters who just want dramatic shots and outrageous quotes for headlines. Even if it becomes known that we are plants the quotes and pictures will linger as defacto truth.

See, just as the members of the right wing have no problem with such things as stolen presidential elections and bogus wars, truth doesn’t matter to them — just the appearance of truth, or, as Williams put it, the “defacto [sic] truth.” (Faux wingnut Stephen Colbert calls this “truthiness.”)

If we labor-union members truly inherently are so “greedy” and “goonish,” then why would “Tea Party” traitors need to don labor-union garb and act like greedy goons? Wouldn’t our greedinees and our goonishness be self-evident? Why would our supposed greediness and goonishness need a boost?

Anyway, word of Williams’ dirty plot leaked out, and SEIU warned its members of it via Facebook (and maybe Twitter, too), which apparently explains why I saw not a single purple T-shirt there (which at the time I found strange, since at that time I wasn’t aware of Williams’ plot; it was only after I got home from the gathering last night that I read about it).

As I have established, I loathe the “Tea Party” traitors, and as the “protest” was dispersing last night, from across the street I yelled at the “Tea Party” traitors who were there to counter-protest something like this: “Tea Party traitors! The ‘founding father’ you follow is Benedict Arnold! You fight against the working class and you support the rich!”

Immediately a thuggish white male member of the California Highway Patrol (California’s state police, who have jurisdiction over the Capitol grounds) and an apparent “security” team member (also a thuggish young white male) for one of the unions that had “organized” the “protest” who looked and acted like a fucking bouncer both tried to shut me up, trying to use their imposing presences, the threat of violence, to intimidate me into silence.

Sadly and pathetically, I had to remind both of them (who apparently spend much more time in the gym than reviewing the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution) that I simply was exercising my First Amendment rights, to which they had no coherent response.

I was across the street from the “Tea Party” traitors and I had made no movement toward them. I had not threatened them with violence. I had not tried to pelt them with rocks or anything like that. I simply had shouted at them what I thought of them. From across the street.

(That violence might ensue from spoken words at what is supposed to be a “protest,” for fuck’s sake, does not mean that it’s legal to infringe upon a citizen’s First Amendment rights.)

But so cowed have we Americans become that apparently even at a “protest” you aren’t to — gasp! offend anyone! You are to stand obediently like cattle in your designated “protest zone” (which our police state actually has instituted in many of our cities) and be nice. Definitely no shouting at the opposition! (Especially if you aren’t a wingnut, to whom much more latitude is given, since wingnuts are professional “victims.”)

So: Only as long as “protests” are rather ineffective and inoffensive, they are allowed.

What’s the fucking point of “protests,” then?

And why do cops and soldiers and other authoritarian types think that they’re such hot shit when testosterone-fueled tools for the powers that be is all that they actually are? They’re exploited just like the rest of us are, yet they apparently believe that they’re superior. They need to ask themselves — and we need to ask ourselves — for whom they really, ultimately are “keeping the peace.”

From my experience last night and from other “protests” at the California state Capitol and elsewhere in Sacramento, I surmise that the (vast) majority of Americans today have no real idea of how to protest. Having been divided and conquered and trained from diaperhood to look out only for our own interests (capitalism, after all, encourages the screwing over of others for the enrichment of oneself [survival of the fittest, you know!]), most of us are at a fairly total loss as to how to come together to effect change.

Even at a public “protest,” we think that we must be “polite.”

And if we dare to be “impolite,” a member of the police state, official or self-appointed, like the sellout sheep-herding dog that he or she is, quickly will intimidate us to get back in line with the other sheeple.

Thing is, when you don’t allow the people a viable, meaningful means of expression, it seems to me that you are asking for it. You are asking for the pressure to build and build and build — until the volcano blows.

At which point the sheeple will scratch their heads and ponder aloud about “senseless,” “incomprehensible,” “unpredictable” acts of violence that, given the police state that we inhabit, which inhibits anything even remotely threatening to the status quo, actually were pretty fucking comprehensible and fucking predictable.

*Similarly, the Bee gave the news story of the event only seven paragraphs, two of which it devoted to the vastly outnumbered “Tea Party” traitors (you know, to be “fair and balanced”). Had it been a “Tea Party”-sponsored protest of even a third of the same size, instead of a labor-union protest of the size that last night’s was, I’m confident that the Bee’s coverage would have been more thorough.

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Sacramento Bee gets it right

The Sacramento Bee on Saturday ran this editorial, titled “Brown’s Choice: Constitution First,” which defends California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s decision to ask the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, which California voters narrowly passed on Nov. 4 and which bars same-sex marriage in the state, as unconstitutional.

The money shot is dead Repugnican icon Ronald Reagan’s remark that housing discrimination should be allowed.

California’s attorney general, the state’s chief law officer, has the duty to uphold the California Constitution.

So what is the duty of Attorney General Jerry Brown on Proposition 8, the voter-approved ballot initiative that changed the state constitution to eliminate same-sex marriage?

There’s no hiding from the issue, which is before the California Supreme Court. A March hearing and a ruling within three months are coming.

At first, Brown’s stance was technical: The amendment was properly passed by voters and he would defend it in court.

Now, however, he has reversed himself, saying it is his job to defend the whole California Constitution – not just the power of voters to amend the Constitution.

This is the right course.

Brown rightly notes that the Proposition 8 case poses a conflict between the constitution’s Declaration of Rights (Article I, Section 1) and the power of the voters to amend the constitution (Article XVIII, Section 3). He concludes that the state Supreme Court should “harmonize the two constitutional provisions” to safeguard “both the legal rights of minorities and the people’s right to direct democracy.”

How to do this? Article I, Section 1 states that all people have “inalienable rights,” including life and liberty, property, safety, happiness, and privacy.

Brown argues that any measure that would abolish these fundamental rights must have a “compelling reason” for doing so – it must be necessary to provide for public health, safety or welfare.

So he puts it before the court: Do the proponents of Proposition 8 have a compelling justification to deprive individuals of the fundamental right to marry? Brown’s own answer is that they do not – and we agree.

Now it’s up to the court to do its own evaluation.

Brown’s action is not unprecedented. It follows in the footsteps of Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch in another controversial discrimination case.

In December 1963, California legislators passed the Rumford Fair Housing Act to end housing discrimination by property owners who refused to rent or sell their property to “colored” people.

Voters then repealed the fair housing law and amended the California Constitution with Proposition 14, giving property owners “absolute discretion” in renting or selling.

The court could have let that vote by the people stand but instead did the right thing and ruled it unconstitutional in spring 1966. The matter became an election issue and Ronald Reagan, then running against incumbent Gov. Pat Brown, said, “If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, he has a right to do so.” Reagan won the 1966 election.

The case went on to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lynch later recalled: “Reagan wanted me to go in and try to overturn the California Supreme Court. I said, ‘I’m not going to do it.’ “

Lynch filed a compelling brief urging the high court to rule Proposition 14 unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state court’s action in June 1967.

More than 40 years later, here we are with voters approving another constitutional amendment that would involve the state in discrimination against a disfavored group. Brown is right to urge the court to uphold the whole of the California Constitution, not just the people’s initiative power.

The prevention of the tyranny of the majority over the minority is a long-standing American principle. Of course, the wingnut haters aren’t remotely familiar with American principles — they are familiar only with ignorance, fear and hatred (which, I suppose one might argue, also are American principles, at least in the red states…).

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I’m a media whore.

I had a short telephone interview with a reporter from the Sacramento Bee today. She was doing a story on tomorrow’s “Day Without a Gay.”

Sacramento’s gay and lesbian community center, where I’m volunteering tomorrow (yes, I almost always end up caving in and doing the right thing…), was contacted by the reporter, and with my permission the center gave the reporter my contact info.

Her story, which captures our phone interview fairly well, is below; you will note that she saved her best material for last. (Hee hee hee…)

Dozens of Sacramentans plan to miss work, ‘call in gay’ Wednesday

By Jennifer Garza

Kris Applegate, who is gay, will not be at his job as a legislative analyst Wednesday. Instead, he will volunteer at the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center.

Applegate is joining dozens of others in the Sacramento region who are “calling in gay” to their place of employment as a way of highlighting the visibility of gays in the area.

“We’re everywhere — we work for the state, we’re accountants, we’re lawyers, nurses and doctors, we’re in the cubicle next to you,” said Applegate, 30. “Hopefully, this will show the role we play in the community.”

The national “Day Without A Gay” event was modeled after a similar effort by Latinos to recognize their value in American society. It was spurred by the passage of Proposition 8, the Nov. 4 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

Participants will skip work to volunteer at nonprofits. A post-Prop 8 town hall meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Sierra II Center in Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood.

The Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center in midtown expects about 30 volunteers will do everything from data entry to building maintenance.

“We had so many calls that we had to make sure there’s enough work for them to do,” said Bonnie Osborn, the center’s communications director. “A lot of the people we’re hearing from have never volunteered here before. But since Prop 8, they’re motivated.”

This is Applegate’s first time as a volunteer at the center. Applegate, who is taking a vacation day from work, told his boss in advance that he would not be in the office Wednesday.

“Out of respect for my employers, I didn’t want to blindside them,” said Applegate. “They were very supportive.”

Robert Crook also told his employer in advance that he is taking a vacation day in honor of “Day Without A Gay.”

“I’m doing it out of solidarity,” said Crook, who works for the state. “If there are a lot of empty chairs in the office — and I hope there are — then that will really make a statement.”

Critics have said that missing work is not a good idea, given the worsening economy.

Crook understands that some people will not be able to “call in gay” but says the economy should not be the reason.

“For some people, it’s tantamount to coming out and they might not be comfortable with that and I understand,” said Crook. “But this is a human and civil rights issue, and to me, it’s more important than the economy.”

A few comments on the news story: The headline says that “dozens” will “call in gay” tomorrow, but that’s just the number of people the reporter was made aware of through her contact at the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center. No one can really know how many gay men and lesbians in my city of Sacramento and the surrounding region actually will “call in gay” tomorrow; the reporter and I discussed that fact, in fact. My best guess is that it will be in the hundreds.

And speaking of “calling in gay,” note that both I and the other gay man interviewed for the news story requested the time off and are using vacation time that we earned. I surmise that few people are really going to “call in gay” (call in sick, that is) and that most of them responsibly have pre-arranged their absence, as I did.

Finally, if  you want to see what we gay men and lesbians are up against, read the vicious comments that visitors to sacbee.com have left on this news story by clicking here.*

Under the cover of complete anonymity (of course), these courageous haters spew forth venomous hatred that once was reserved for blacks.

It’s true: Gay is the new black!

*Sacbee.com has a system where you can report comments as hate speech or obscenity/vulgarity, and I’m reporting the hate speech as hate speech and the obscenity/vulgarity as obscenity/vulgarity, so by the time you click that link, a good number of the comments that I was talking about might since have disappeared…

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