Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Plan To Steal The Internet

The Democratic Activist
(Note: parts this post are not original, utilizing text copied from an email alert I recently received from savetheinternet.com requesting action on this issue.)

Quite simply ... it would be the death of the internet as we've always known it.

Big telephone and cable companies want to own the internet. Their goal is to turn the internet into just another arm of commercial mass media, like radio, television, and cable. But first, they must get rid of Network Neutrality, the fundamental principle that prevents them from discriminating against your favorite Web sites and services.

Under their plan, ordinary people and all but the largest businesses would be practically shut out, unable to host content on the superfast "preferred network" that only the largest companies could afford to utilize, relegated to a grossly undesirable internet "slow lane" that almost no one would use to access news, opinions, or buy products or services.

In firm opposition to the giant telcos' attempt to steal the public internet, Net Neutrality is strongly supported by groups as politically diverse as Gun Owners of America, the Christian Coalition, MoveOn.org, and the American Library Association.

In 2006, the 109th Congress allowed laws that had always guaranteed Net Neutrality to expire, setting the stage for a private takeover of the public's internet by America's largest telecommunications companies.

A new bill by Congressmen Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Chip Pickering (R-MS) called the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 (H.R. 5353) would re-establish Net Neutrality as the law of the land. It deserves and needs our full support.

Unless we speak out to our members of Congress, they could move to allow large telephone and cable companies to control what you do, where you go and what you watch online.

Here's what you can do:

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1. Learn more. Go to savetheinternet.com and check out what's at stake.

2. Join others in sending a loud message supporting Net Neutrality to Congress (click here).

3. Contact your congressional representatives directly. (Click here, then enter your zip code in the field provided). Urge them to give their full and enthusiastic support to the cause of Net Neutrality in general, and to the Internet Freedom and Preservation Act of 2008 (H.R. 5353) in particular.

4. Spread the word about the urgent need to protect Net Neutrality! Send a link to this post to everyone you know who values the democratizing miracle of the free and open internet we've always known, or who depends on it to conduct their business or maintain their livelihood.

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Radio and television were, in their infancy, openly available to ordinary people of modest means to broadcast their own individual messages, if only locally. Now, the internet provides the same ability to any ordinary citizen or small business ... but on an unbelievably vast, world wide scale!

This could, quite easily, all go away – as happened with radio and television – unless we act now to save the internet.

Support Net Neutrality!

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist

Monday, February 25, 2008

Will this man become the "Elvis" of classical music?

The Democratic Activist
This young conductor is poised to change the history of music.

Slated to take over as the musical director of the L.A. Philharmonic in 2009, Gustavo Dudamel knows how to communicate the essence and beauty of western classical music in a way no one seems to have seen before. He may, in fact, be the one who rescues classical music from cultural obscurity and puts it back at center stage on radios, ipods, and ... well ... stages everywhere, where it belongs.

Dudamel was saved by music and the Venezuelan System (a government-sponsored initiative to train poor children to become accomplished musicians as an alternative to impoverishment and criminal street life). Who knows how many other game-changing individuals like this are just waiting to be given a chance to get past the need simply to survive, so they can share their powerful talents with all of humanity?

If you have a few minutes, give yourself a gift and watch the video piece on Dudamel recently produced by 60 Minutes (be sure to check out each of the ten short clips that make up the piece; all are wonderful).

Gustavo reveals, through his own genius and passion, the special genius and passion inherent within each of us. He reminds us, through music, that this is it. This is what it is to be human. This is what the struggle is for. This is why it all matters.

If you love music, life, or both ... you may never be the same.

Enjoy!

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Now THAT'S an economic stimulus package ...

The Democratic Activist
Want to stave off recession and build a vibrant, robust, modernized American economy?

The answer could be as simple as planting glass wires and legislating federal Net Neutrality rules to finally bring to fruition the dream of an open, lightning-fast, level internet superhighway we were promised during the Clinton years.

The following article gives details:

Broadband Legislation Would Provide Economic Stimulus of $134 Billion Annually

Quoting from the article:

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"A report released by national non-profit Connected Nation measures the national economic stimulus of broadband legislation currently under Congressional consideration. The report details the potential state-by-state impact of legislation to accelerate broadband access and use. Its findings suggest that the U.S. could realize an impact of $134 billion annually from a modest increase in broadband adoption."

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In Japan, broadband that costs $40 per month gets you speeds literally 50-100 times faster than what you get for that fee in the good 'ol USA.

Unfortunately, what's most important in neoconservative America is protecting the profits and backsides of the telecom industry executives – not economic stimulus.

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oh my God ... in Dallas, of all places!

The Democratic Activist
From an article appearing yesterday in the pages of Star-Telegram.com (web facade of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram):

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"Security details at Barack Obama's rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

"The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

"Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order -- apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service -- was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on."

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What in the world is going on, here?

Secret Service personnel order local police to stop checking thousands of people for weapons for one full hour as they enter a live event where Barack Obama will be speaking?

Is this the kind of federal "protection" Obama can expect if he survives long enough to be elected president?

Are we living in the United States of America ... or in some tin-pot, third-world dictatorship where "mistakes" like this end up conveniently eliminating popular young leaders bearing messages of change that threaten the entrenched power structure?

This is exactly the issue I've been most worried about regarding an Obama presidency – the greatly increased probability of an assassination.

After I read this terribly disturbing story, picked my jaw up off the floor, and collected my thoughts, I realized I could think of only two possible explanations for the facts: surreal stupidity, or conspiracy. Either this act of astounding idiocy simply typifies the profound incompetence, utter carelessness, and criminal negligence imposed on us every day by the neoconservative Bush administration ... or it really is in fact evidence of the total willingness of antidemocratic elements in the U.S. political establishment to do absolutely anything, no matter how sick, twisted, brutal, or perverse, including covering up the truth about 9-11, staging another false-flag event to start a war in Iran so that yet another neocon psychopath can take office or martial law can be declared, you name it – to commit any despicable crime of any kind – in order to gain and retain power.

I think we may have to admit that Occam's Razor may actually suggest conspiracy as the simplest way to account for this event and for others so hard to explain any other way. We don't have to go nuts with it, but it could well be that this is the best exegesis for the observable facts at this point.

I don't know why I'm still surprised. But I am.

Here's what you can do:

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1. Pass along this story and a link to this post to as many people as you can (to your entire address book, if possible).

2. Contact major national media to insist on coverage of this story. To do so, click here and here.

3. Get in touch with your congressional representatives and demand an investigation into how such a thing as this could possible happen in today's security-obsessed America. Click here to find and contact your representatives (just enter your zip code where prompted).

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If this latest great insanity doesn't generate a firestorm of public protest and outrage, probably nothing will. If these alarming facts don''t command the attention of the mainstream media or awaken deep concern within the mind of Joe Average, it's because we're living in denial of the dreadful seriousness of the truly dire situation in which we Americans find ourselves in 2008.

Standing dumbfounded and frozen like a deer staring into oncoming headlights doesn't help.

Action does.

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's official: George W. Bush is by far the most unpopular president in modern American history

The Democratic Activist
A new poll by the American Research Group found that only 19% of American adults (never mind babies ...) approve of the job Bush was doing as president, while a whopping 77% disapprove.

In blasting through the previous record held by Harry Truman (22% approval, during the Koren War), Bush has succeeded in highlighting the signature accomplishment of his presidency: unpopularity ... of his own administration at home, and of America and Americans throughout the rest of the world.

From an article by blogger Will Bunch:

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And so now George W. Bush has shattered a record that has stood for 55 long years, and there's not any one reason. It's everything, although I suspect that liberals would more likely say Iraq and torture, conservatives would say immigration and runaway spending, and everyone would now say the economy.

It takes more than unpopularity to become the worst president ever, but this may be the straw that broke the camel's back on that front. It should remind us all what the 2008 election is all about, and it's not about Hillary's wardrobe or an off-the-cuff remark or who is the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan.

It's only about who can undo the damage of the last eight years. It's amazing so many people wanted such a difficult task.

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In light of the coming election, it behooves us to examine the factors that led to Bush's failure as president, his selection by the American people not only once, but twice, as the person best qualified to lead our country, and the refusal (so far) of our representatives to remove him from office – that such tragic mistakes might not be repeated.

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Weeping Liberty

The Democratic Activist
Which are worse: criminal, neo-fascist, Republican neocons ... or enabling, quisling, faux-0pposition Democrats?

Answer: enabling, quisling, faux-0pposition Democrats.

Read ... and weep.

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This could be it ... Conyers can be moved

The Democratic Activist
This could the moment we've been waiting for.

According to an email sent out today by democrats.com, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers may finally be seeing the light:

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"On Thursday, Chairman John Conyers' House Judiciary Committee held a hearing at which Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that he would not investigate torture or warrantless spying, he would not enforce contempt citations, and he would treat Justice Department opinions as providing immunity for crimes.

None of this was new, but perhaps it touched something in Conyers that had not been touched before. Following the hearing, he and two staffers met for over an hour with two members of Code Pink and discussed activism and impeachment, including Congressman Robert Wexler's proposal to begin impeachment hearings on Cheney.

Conyers expressed his concerns about what might happen following an impeachment, the danger of installing a Bush replacement or losing an election. But he said he's listening to several advocates for impeachment, including Liz Holtzman and David Swanson of Democrats.com. He hinted he could be swayed by a convincing argument, leaning out of his chair for dramatic effect."

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In what may have been the last straw for Conyers, Attorney General Michael Mukasy came right out and said flatly last week that he simply will NOT enforce contempt of Congress citations against White House staff members Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, Josh Bolten, et al. Together with the startling recent admission by the Bush administration that, despite constant denials of the use of torture in interrogations, the U.S. has indeed used waterboarding on prisoners (recently reconfirmed by the U.N. as torture, a war crime), their monarchistic arrogance may finally have become to much for Conyers to stand.

Now will Mr. Conyers move impeachment forward?

Or will he instead go down in history as the man who traded away the essential principle of checks and balances in our American system of government to prevent what he for some reason feared could be negative political ramifications for his party in an election year?

Within the context of impeachment proceedings Bush and Cheney's claims of "executive privilege" would be unquestionably moot and without legal standing. With Mukasey's recent refusal to enforce congressional contempt citations against Bush administration officials, impeachment is now literally the only way left for Congress to exercise it's constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities.

There's no any longer excuse not to impeach. None. Without impeachment over the refusal of the executive branch to acknowledge and permit congress to exercise its oversight duties, no future president will have any reason to honor congressional subpoenas. The precedent will have been established: "executive privilege" means no one the White House doesn't want to have under oath will ever have to give sworn testimony. The executive branch will no longer be accountable before congress or the people. Congress will have no ability to compel testimony of individuals within the executive branch, and without any meaningful oversight capability or function, no checks or balances will remain within our system of government. No more democracy in America. Monarchy in the U.S.A.

Is the shamelessness of Conyers, Pelosi, and the Democratic Party leadership so extreme as to allow this to happen ... to let the crucial separation of powers doctrine just die, and American democracy with it, without any fight or opposition, on their watch, for the sake of their own pathetic timidity and inexcusable, terminal cautiousness and obsessive concern about possible political inexpediency?

Is this the legacy John Conyers intends to leave to his posterity? Are the Dems really this shallow? This gutless? This embarrassingly, criminally spineless and negligent? Do they actually value democracy in America so very little as to allow this to happen? Are they really such utter sellouts and quislings?

Here's what you can do:

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1. Contact HJC Chairman John Conyers, and demand that he finally allow the Cheney impeachment resolution to move forward and impeachment hearings to begin. Remind Mr. Conyers of the terrible damage and dishonorable legacy that he and other Democratic leaders will leave behind them if they continue to ignore the constitutional requirement to impeach brazen criminals occupying highest elected offices in our land, and in so doing fail in their sworn duty to "support and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic ..."

Any and all forms of contact with Chairman Conyers are important and encouraged at this critical time: phone calls, emails, faxes, letters. Can you generate one of each? Can you do it more than once? Every day this week? A phone call only takes a minute (if the lines are busy, try sending a quick email message or fax).

Here is John Conyers's full contact info:

Chairman John Conyers, Jr.
House Judiciary Committee
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-5126
Fax: 202-225-0072
Email: John.Conyers@mail.house.gov

2. Spread the word! Send along a link to this post to as many people as you can, with your request that they join the impeachment effort at this critical time.

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If Conyers refuses to allow impeachment to go forward in light of Attorney General Mukasey's flat refusal uphold the law and honor congressional authority, Conyers will be known as the man with all the power who nevertheless did nothing while the match was put to the torch that destroyed American democracy.

Mr. Conyers is now, more than ever, the pivot point. He is exactly where all pressure needs to be applied at this moment. Everything is already in place. A bill of impeachment sits waiting for his committee to act on it. The power to begin impeachment hearings is his, and his alone. All that needs to happen is for Mr. Conyers to give the word.

Nearly 80 years old, I bet Congressman Conyers is thinking about how he wants to be remembered. My guess is he does not want to do down in history as the man who could have saved American democracy, but instead chose not to. Right now, finally, he's movable. With our added pressure at this crucial moment to convince him to do what's right for our country and for his own personal legacy, impeachment may actually materialize ... and with it, the hope that our children and grandchildren will live in a democratic United States of America.

Now, more than ever, your efforts and mine are essential. We may finally have the chance to roll the impeachment ball over the top of the hill and down the other side.

Please – now and for the next several days – it's time to deluge John Conyers with communications demanding immediate impeachment of Dick Cheney!

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist

Friday, February 1, 2008

The "Protect America Act" is EXACTLY what Orwell had in mind

The Democratic Activist
In a 30-second video making the rounds on YouTube, Senator Russ Feingold gives a masterfully concise explanation of exactly what telecom immunity means, and what we stand to lose, if the Dems let Bush and Cheney get his way just one more time.

The "Protect America Act" (Orwellian for the "Destroy America by Eviscerating the Constitution Act") is precisely what Orwell prophesied in his prescient classic novel, 1984.

This 30-second video says it all:



Should PAA be enacted as permanent law with provisions granting immunity for telecom companies that colluded with the administration in Bush's illegal NSA domestic spying program, 1984 will have come to life in 2008. Criminal and civil cases against guilty telecoms will forever be disallowed, and we will likely never be able to find out the truth about the depth and breadth of the Bush administration's assualt on our privacy rights or hold the individuals involved accountable for these extremely serious crimes against our nation.

Earlier this week, the Democrats once again gave their lunch money to bully Republicans by passing a 15 day extension of PAA, keeping it alive until 2/15/08. In an excellent post on DailyKos two days ago, author mcjoan debriefs us on meeting Senator Feingold held on 1/29/08 "with a handful of bloggers to talk abut critical issues facing the Senate," chief among them being the proposed updates to FISA, PAA, and the urgent need to prevent the granting of immunity to telecom companies guilty of cooperating with Mr. Bush is his illegal NSA domestic spying operations. The post is a must read, and does a fine job of dissecting the complexities of the various amendments being offered to FISA.

In addition, the DailyKos post provides the following list of Democratic senators "most likely to cave to Republican pressure." It's these particular Democrats that we need to target:

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Bayh (IN)
Phone: 202-224-5623
Fax: 202-228-1377

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Carper (DE)
Phone: 202-224-2441
Fax: 202-228-2190

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Feinstein (CA)
Phone: 202-224-3841
Fax: 202-228-3954

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Inouye (HI)
Phone: 202-224-3934
Fax: 202-224-6747

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Johnson (SD)
Phone: 202-224-5842
Fax: 202-228-5765
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Landrieu (LS)
Phone: 202-224-5824
Fax: 202-224-9735

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Lincoln (AR)
Phone: 202-224-4843
Fax: 202-228-1371

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McCaskill (MO)
Phone: 202-224-6154
Fax: 202-228-6326

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Mikulski (MD)
Phone: 202-224-4654
Fax: 202-224-8858

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Nelson (FL)
Phone: 202-224-5274
Fax: 202-228-2183

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Nelson (NE)
Phone: 202-224-6551
Fax: 202-228-0012

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Pryor (AR)
Phone: 202-224-2353
Fax: 202-228-0908

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Rockefeller (WV)
Phone: 202-224-6472
Fax: 202-224-7665

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Salazar (CO)
Phone: 202-224-5852
Fax: 202-228-5036

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Here's what you can do:

1. Contact your own senators ... and make sure they get the message: NO TELECOM IMMUNITY! (To find your senators, click here.)

2. Contact the 14 senators listed above ... and deliver the same emphatic message.

3. Send a link to this post to everyone you know who values the rule of law and democracy in America, and urge them to do as you've done!

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Emails sent to congressional reps make a big difference, also ... especially when done "in mass." Here's a very simple way to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your emailing efforts:

A. Compose a short, passionate, generic template message (150 words or less) urging NO TELECOM IMMUNITY.

B. Go to Congress.org, enter your zip code in the field indicated for finding your representatives, select "Federal," select the the particular officials you wish to contact and the type of message you want to send (email, letter, or *Extra Impact), and send them all a copy of your message with one click!

* Select the "Extra Impact" option when sending your message ... and for just $8.95 your message will be arrive speedily in your rep's office as a hand-delivered "Advocacy Express" letter!

C. Go to the Congress.org Media Guide, enter your zip code in the "Local Media" field (be sure that "Show national media ..." is checked), select up to five local and/or national media outlets at a time, and with a single click send your message to all of them, as well!

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The senate will vote on various FISA amendments on Monday, 2/4/08, and so our energetic activity in firm opposition to telecom immunity is immensely important right now ... and will remain so until the expiration of PAA set for 2/15/08.

It will take about 20 minutes to call your own senators and the 14 listed above. Committed activists may be able to find to the time to do it each day until 2/15/08! But even just a few calls from the list above made each day would go a long way to convincing reluctant senate Democrats to finally do what's right and stand up as a group to the big, bad, scary Republicans.

Let's all do all we can at this critical time!

Thank you.

Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist