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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Letter from John Edwards

Over the past two weeks President Bush has failed in his response to Hurricane Katrina, and as a result thousands of Gulf Coast residents - most of them poor - have been tragically neglected, leading to preventable suffering and death. Our government let them down. Many of them lacked the means to leave their cities; our government failed to help them evacuate. In the wake of the storm many of these poor residents lacked food, water, and medicine. Several days after the storm had passed, many of them still did not have these supplies. A good friend of mine put it well: The often unseen poor, well, they are among us. We see them now. And it's not just bad schools and an unlivable minimum wage and no healthcare. They don't even have enough money to get out of the way of a hurricane. They had nowhere to go and no car to get them there. It's a new attribute of poverty. Not enough money to get out of the way of a killing wind.

But government failure is nothing new for too many of these victims. Before Hurricane Katrina struck, twenty-three percent of New Orleans residents were living in poverty. The Americans who suffered the worst in this disaster are the Americans who always suffer the worst, because for too long our government has turned a blind eye to their plight. Unfortunately, it takes a disaster like this one for the government to see the reality that too many Americans are facing.

Today, the relief effort is focused on providing, food, shelter, and clothing to thousands of men and women. That's the right thing to do.

But the victims of Katrina want more than life's necessities. They want a chance to rebuild their lives. Many of them also want to help rebuild a city and a coastline that mean so much to them, and so much to all Americans.

We ought to give them the chance to help through a New America Initiative. This initiative, which is modeled after the Works Progress administration, would help them rebuild a devastated region and offer good-paying jobs and hope to the displaced. Join me and say no to President Bush's failed leadership in a growing call to take this tragedy and turn it into an opportunity. It is not enough to talk about it; we will have to show this Administration that the real leadership means visionary action. You, one by one, can increase the power of the call to action by signing my New America petition here:

Join me as I call for President Bush to create this initiative.

Every single signature increases the power of the call and the chance for real hope for our brothers and sisters. If anything good can come from this terrible tragedy, it can be a New Orleans and a Gulf Coast that represent the one America we all believe in, not the two Americas we've seen on television for the last ten days. And the way to build that one America is to help the victims of Katrina take control of their own destiny, with good jobs that contribute to the cause.

A little over 75 years ago, America was struck by a different kind of hurricane, the Great Depression. Like Katrina, the Depression left responsible and hard-working Americans without work and, often, without hope. After years when America did nothing, Franklin Roosevelt called Americans to action. He said something then that is still true today:

These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Katrina's victims have no money, no jobs, no hope. The Labor Department says it will create some new temporary jobs, but it's not nearly enough for all these men and women. Work is what they want, and work is what they need.

We have done it before; we can do it again. But this time the vision is not coming from the White House, so it has to come from the people. It has to come from you. In response to the Great Depression, FDR created new opportunities for men and women to work through his alphabet soup of new agencies like the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, we've got plenty of government agencies, but we need to adopt the same simple idea as FDR.

That's why I want to reject the Republicans' failed philosophy of taking care of wealthy insiders at the expense of everyone else. I propose this New America initiative dedicated to creating good-paying jobs for Katrina's victims so they can get back on their feet, get the skills they need, and rebuild New Orleans.

Join me as I call for President Bush to create this initiative.

In the meantime, it's crucial that we continue to support relief organizations that are working with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Here's a short list of such organizations. Please give what you can.
Red Cross
Hurricane Housing
NAACP
In this crisis we've seen how detrimental the failure of Presidential leadership can be. But even in this horrible tragedy we have an opportunity to make life better than it was for thousands of impoverished Americans along the Gulf Coast. You and I see these opportunities because we've always been looking for them. It's time that the President sees them too.

- John

Friday, September 09, 2005

Oil-for-Food: The Real Scandal

JOY GORDON has written extensively on the Oil-for-Food program,
including articles in Harper's Magazine and Le Monde Diplomatique. She
said today: "The Volcker Committee's final report focuses a great deal
on improprieties that had little impact on the Oil-for-Food program.
Where it adds up the actual money involved, it finds that the amount of
money that went into Iraq illicitly through the program totaled $1.8
billion over the seven-year history of the program. This is far less
than had been claimed in earlier CIA and GAO reports, and by contrast it
is much much less than the amount of Iraqi funds that were mismanaged by
the U.S. or disappeared altogether during its occupation of Iraq -- in
just a 14-month period. Just one example, according to the audit reports
that have been released, was that no information could be provided about
what happened to $8.8 billion of Iraqi funds sent to ministries under
U.S. control. The Volcker reports' claims of financial improprieties are
minor compared to the magnitude and the speed with which Iraq's funds
disappeared once they were in the hands of the U.S. occupation."

IAN WILLIAMS said today,
"The Volcker Report lacks a sense of proportion, although it grudgingly
admitted that the U.N. Oil-For-Food program was a success and saved
untold Iraqi lives from the ravages of sanctions. ... It is time for
other U.N. members to realize that when the Bush administration talks
about 'reform,' it means beating the U.N. into subservience. Other
members should stop worrying about consensus on the Sixtieth Anniversary
Statement, vote for its contents in the General Assembly and work to
implement them, with or without Bolton or Bush's assent."

BERT SACKS,
Active for years with the humanitarian group Voices in the
Wilderness, Sacks was fined by the U.S. government after going to Iraq
and distributing medicine. He said today: "The real scandal with
Oil-for-Food is that $64 billion of Iraq's own wealth was all that was
permitted by the U.S. through the U.N. Security Council. After war
reparations and other deductions were made, this came to less than a
dollar a day for each of 20 million Iraqis in the South-Central regions
for all their needs -- food, water, electricity, medicine, everything.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died because the limit of a
dollar a day was 'woefully inadequate' to meet their needs -- and the
U.S. and the U.N. Security Council knew that. That's the real scandal."

KATHY KELLY, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness. This August, U.S.
Federal District Judge John Bates ordered payment of a $20,000 fine
against the group for violating the sanctions on Iraq. She said today:
"The Oil-for-Food program was intended to ease the crippling effects of
economic sanctions which primarily punished Iraqi civilians. By
supplying 27 million Iraqis with food and medicine in exchange for
letting Saddam Hussein export oil, the program saved many lives, but it
was always too little and too late. ... Voices in the Wilderness broke
the sanctions at least 70 times. We brought donated medicines to
children and families in Iraq, from 1996-2002. ... Our group was fined
$20,000 for bringing this medicine. The judge agreed that it was lawful
and proper for the U.S. government to deny needed drugs and medical
supplies to Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, despite the evidence that
several hundred thousand innocent children were dying because of brutal
economic sanctions. ... Voices will not pay a penny of this fine."

from the Institute for Public Accuracy

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

One More Example of Corporate Stupidity

Dear friends,
I wish I was making this up, but I'm not.

Last night I made a purchase at my favorite
Catherine's (a plus-size women's store with locations
all over greater Austin) and the women who worked
there were happily boxing up bras for women who had
fled Katrina. As you may have heard, plus size
clothing-- especially bras-- has been hard to come by.
The Red Cross was willing to pay full price, they had
supplied the needed sizes, and the shipment was to go
to the Austin shelter today.

WELL! This morning I had to exchange one item, so
found myself at Catherine's once again. While I was
standing there a call came in from "upper management"
(undoubtedly a man). It had been decided that
Catherine's could not afford to deplete their stock so
severely because they want to have plenty on hand for
"their customers" for this week's sale (buy 1, get one
half off) and therefore the stores were being ordered
to deliver only half of the Red Cross order. Mind
you, the Red Cross was offering to pay FULL PRICE!
The woman who was assisting me with my purchase broke
down and cried. So did I.

After the cursing and crying was done, I told the
saleswoman to haul two bras, any two, out of the boxes
she had ready to go to the shelter (half of which she
was going to have to put back in stock). Because
there's a sale going on, I paid full price for one and
half price for the other-- so Catherine's got 25% less
out of me than the Red Cross would have paid. So, the
two I bought will go to the shelter in addition to the
half-order paid for by Red Cross.

People, I'm going to spare you the lecture on the
inherent misogyny and racism in corporate America,
particularly in corporations catering to women-- at
least for today.
THIS IS WHAT I'M ASKING YOU TO DO: if you're near a
Catherine's and if you can afford it, please go buy
two bras-- they'll probably still be there boxed up
for the Red Cross-- and have the store include your
purchase with whatever shipment they have still left
to go to the shelter. If you can't buy two, buy one.
Whatever you are able to do, please take a Comment
Card from the counter, fill it out, and tell
Catherine's what you think of their decision to deny
these women the simple decency of a bra that fits.

Remind them that many of these women will end up
resettling in communities where Catherine's does
business and will end up being "real" customers.

Remind them, too, that a sale is a sale and profit is
profit no matter who writes the check-- seems to me
that they could have made more money selling to the
Red Cross at full price than letting individual
purchasers buy at a discount-- what kind of business
sense does that make?

Finally, remind them that they are a wealthy
corporation-- made wealthy by women like many of us
who enjoy and are able to afford their
middle-to-upscale merchandise. The very idea that
we, their customers, are so spoiled and selfish that
we would be unwilling to postpone a purchase for a
week or two so that women in desperate need could be
supplied is insulting-- and it's WRONG! Moreover,
Catherine's could WELL AFFORD to DONATE every last bra
that the shelter needed and they damn well ought to do
it. Please, tell them. Even if you can't go to a
store, here's a link to their website:

Catherine's

Note that they are VERY proud of their "community
relations." Well, they need to get busy and do some
"community relating" in Austin and help these women
RIGHT NOW!
Thank you for listening to this rant. Please pass
this email on to everyone you know who is a woman or
who has ever loved a woman-- plus size or not. If you
have a blog or post to a blog, please post it.

MommaG

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hurricane Katrina, Another Impeachable Crime

A Message from Ramsey Clark:

Dear Supporter,

The stunning human tragedy of Katrina makes the impeachment of President Bush more urgent. His priority is not poor people, but militarism to exploit the poor at home and abroad.

President Bush sent National Guard units to Iraq from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi in a criminal war of aggression and military occupation. They were thus unavailable to provide emergency services in their own states, or protect their own families. He refused to return them from Iraq to save and serve their own people, instead only authorizing the return of some Air National Guard personnel to protect and repair equipment at an Air Force Base. These forces and the resources that they command should be used to meet people's needs, not for violence.

His tax cuts for the rich, huge increases in military spending and deliberate slashes in social programs, including those funds specifically requested for flood control and to strengthen dikes in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and his complete failure to even consider emergency transportation for the known poor in the path of a level-5 hurricane, followed by days of failure to send federal emergency relief personnel to seek and save the many thousands whose lives were known to be threatened, who were pleading for help on television and who faced death, was criminal negligence at best, and a failure to faithfully perform his duties as President.

George W. Bush will never recognize the rights or human dignity of the immense and growing population of Americans - overwhelmingly African American and other minorities and elderly - living in Third World conditions here at home. They were the principal victims of Katrina, as they are of his failure to assure equal protection of the laws to all. Their plight and peril will worsen while President Bush remains President.

The only act that can stop President Bush from continuing his criminal war of aggression against Iraq and his arrogant criminal acts and threats against Cuba, Haiti, Iran, Korea, Syria, Venezuela and any country in his path is impeachment. Impeachment is an act already two years past due. The cost of delay is staggering: two thousand U.S. military deaths, ten thousand and more wounded, many thousands more disabled, more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths, several hundred thousand injured, nearly $200,000,000 in federal funds, and even greater damage to Iraq in shattered lives and smashed cities and infrastructure. The cost of delay, already staggering, is greater every day.

While proclaiming freedom his credo, George W. Bush has done more to destroy freedom and the human dignity which it nourishes than all other Presidents in our history. Who would have dreamed of Abu Ghraib, scores of prisoners murdered, assassinations and summary executions, Guantanamo, thousands imprisoned in the U.S. without Constitutional protections, or sent to be tortured in client states with impunity, all for a President and those acting for him? What prior President has proclaimed himself above the law, coerced more than 100 countries into bilateral treaties promising never to surrender a U.S. citizen to the International Criminal Court?

The world watches and wonders why, if the American people are free, they fail to resist the criminal violence of their President.

The only act that can redeem the United States in the hearts and minds of those still capable of forgiving and believing our government can change its violent ways is the impeachment of George W. Bush and the responsible officials of his administration before it is too late.

The time to begin a final drive for impeachment is now. Together, we are not helpless. Power is in the people united for peace. Perseverance through the midterm Congressional elections in November 2006 can force incumbent members of the House of Representatives to impeach President Bush or face defeat. Failing that, it can restore integrity and honor to the President's oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The Constitution, written with the abuses of King George III painfully in mind, is unequivocal in the action required for criminal conduct of civil officers of the United States:

"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Article II, Section 4.

The Nuremberg Judgment proclaimed war of aggression "the Supreme international crime." World War II was comprised of wars of aggression. President Bush boasted assassination and summary executions in his 2003 State of the Union message.

We need your help. Vote to Impeach. Persuade others to vote to impeach now.

The impeachment campaign will be achieving its largest ever street visibility by organizing a huge contingent on September 24th, at what will be the largest peace demonstration in Washington D.C. since the war of aggression against Iraq began in March 2003. The demonstration will call loud and clear for impeachment, withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and full reparations to the victims of U.S. violence.

We are organizing buses from many cities on September 24th. Ticket prices are being kept low so that everyone who wants to come can attend. Printing banners, signs, posters add to the expenses. We are also preparing to publish another round of full page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers so that the message of impeachment resonates not only on September 24, but in the critical weeks and months ahead.

We need money now to help promote and transport people who want peace to Washington on September 24, for the next round of newspaper ads, and for the acceleration and continuation of the impeachment drive into the Congressional elections next year. Please take a moment to make a much needed donation, by clicking here.

Sincerely,

Ramsey Clark