Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech

Linky Evening Open Thread

Just a few things to get you through the weekend:

• If you’re interested in helping Barack Obama but aren’t flying to Ohio or Texas like Brian and Julia, the Obama campaign is urging supporters in California to make phone calls into Texas this weekend.  MoveOn is also running Yes We Can parties on Saturday and Sunday.

• Let’s not give the Governor a heap of credit just yet for accepting the Legislative Analyst’s suggestions to close billions of dollars in tax loopholes.  According to the Sacramento Bee he ran away from this proposal within a matter of hours.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told business leaders Thursday he supports a proposal by nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill to rescind $2.7 billion in tax credits, but he later softened that stance and said he doesn’t necessarily support all of her recommendations.

The Governor will be in Columbus this weekend for the Arnold Classic, an annual bodybuilding and fitness event, so if you get a minute, Juls, you can go ask him about this yourself!

• Tired of being bashed with the facts over the past several weeks, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has come out swinging, defending his decision to deny the California waiver to regulate tailpipe emissions on the grounds that global warming is a global problem.  Which means, of course, we need to do less to fight it.  Also today the EPA turned over documents related to their decision, months after they were requested.

• On a somewhat different note, I’m interested in this protest by the environmental justice community against cap-and-trade solutions such as what is promised in California as unfair to low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by polluting industries that would be able to buy their way into continuing to pollute those areas.  

EJ groups, long overlooked in the more mainstream environmental movement, fear that climate legislation will once again disregard the concerns of the communities who are already most affected by the factories and refineries responsible for global warming. In a cap-and-trade system, poor communities, where polluting plants are most often sited, will still bear the brunt of impacts if industries are allowed to trade for rights to pollute there. Instead of this system, they’re advocating a carbon tax, direct emissions reductions, and meaningful measures to move America to clean, renewable energy sources.

“[C]arbon trading is undemocratic because it allows entrenched polluters, market designers, and commodity traders to determine whether and where to reduce greenhouse gases and co-pollutant emissions without allowing impacted communities or governments to participate in those decisions,” says the statement.

I think it’s a powerful argument, and something the environmental movement has to seriously consider.  If we’re going to allow polluting industries to pollute, there will be an adverse affect.  How do we deal with that?

• In yet another reason why we should not allow the continued consolidation of media, new LA Times owner Sam Zell has now taken to the airwaves, blaming the coming recession on… Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talking about the coming recession.  Yeah, shut up already!  This is the owner of the largest paper in California requesting what amounts to censorship, incidentally.

• Finally, a federal judge in San Francisco today lifted the injunction on the Wikileaks website, which allowed whistleblowers to post documents and anonymous information about government and corporate malfeasance.  A win for the First Amendment and the public interest.

Add your own links in the comments.  

Separation of Church and State: Roman Catholic Style

(xposted from BluePalmSpringsBoyz’ blog on www.mydesert.com)

According to AMERICAblog.comand STLtoday.com, the online edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the regressive arm of the Roman Catholic Church in the form of the Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke, has met his match.  Burke is the pompous member of the regressive Catholic hierarchy who determined in a self-gratuitous manner during the Presidential campaign in 2004 to withhold communion from Sen. John Kerry due to Kerry’s views on a woman’s right to choose and related issues.

Roll forward to the Presidential campaign of 2008, and we find that the men’s basketball coach of St. Louis University, Rick Majerus, supports Sen. Hillary Clinton in her Presidential bid, a woman’s right to choose, and stem cell research. Now, the sanctimonious Burke wants to deny to Majerus his freedom of speech and freedom of assembly under the U.S. Constitution, and the coach has had it.

More below the flip…

Majerus took a typically defiant stand in an interview published Thursday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“These beliefs are ingrained in me,” Majerus told the paper. “And my First Amendment right to free speech supersedes anything that the archbishop would order me to do. My dad fought on Okinawa in World War II. My uncle died in World War II. I had classmates die in Vietnam. And it was to preserve our way of life, so people like me could have an opinion.”

Burke indicated that it is not possible to be Catholic and hold positions in favor of a woman’s right to choose and in favor of stem cell research.  Funny, that, since many of the members of my family who are Catholic do support a woman’s right to choose as well as stem cell research.  Perhaps it is the regressive Catholic Church that does not belong to its members in this country.  And, lest we forget, during the Election 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy clearly stated that he would not be controlled by Rome.

Nevertheless, in the case of St. Louis University, in 2007, the academic institution won a legal case which affirmed that the regressive Catholic Church could not assert an oppressive control over the institution of higher learning.  In a 6-1 decision, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that St. Louis Universityis not controlled by a religious creed.”  Seems that Burke shot himself in the satin slipper on that one.  Humiliating ouch from the free society.

Majerus, born in Wisconsin, is one of the winningest coaches in the NCAA.  He was assistant coach under the fabled Coach Al Maguire at Marquette, another non-tax-paying Catholic institution of higher learning, from 1965-77 and under Coach Hank Reynolds from 1977-83.  Majerus then served as head coach at Marquette from 1983-86 with a 56-35 record.  He coached Ball State University from 1987-89 with a 43-17 record.  Majerus was head coach at the University of Utah from 1989-2004 but resigned due to heart problems.  He had lead the University of Utah men’s basketball team to the NCAA Final Four in 1994.

Burke, like Majerus, was born in Wisconsin, but is known as one of the most regressive Catholic leaders.  Prior to his appointment as Archbishop of the St. Louis, Burke was Bishop of La Crosse from 1994-2003.

Burke appears to be a media hound, insinuating himself into many controversies through the years.  According to Wikipedia, a few peers in La Crosse found him to be controversial and problematic.  Burke has also regularly made news regarding his purported opposition to the political actions of moderate Catholics who hold public office (seems that Burke fails to recognize separation of Church and State).  Furthermore, he initiated disputes with the St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in St. Louis.  In December 2005, Burke declared the parish’s board members excommunicated and announced his intention to repress the parish as part of the Roman Catholic Church. However, the church continues to this day as a not-for-profit corporation run by church parishioners.

Majerus became head coach at St. Louis University 27 April 2007.  According toWikipedia), Majerus is a fan favorite and somewhat quirky.  You just godda love that!  Seems that Burke has not gotten off on the right satin slipper with Majerus.

Burke has not only forgotten that there really is a separation of Church and State in the U.S.A., but also has forgotten that at colleges and universities across the country, NCAA men’s basketball is the deity.  Burke had better back up on that one.  Politicians may cower before the regressive Roman Catholic Church, but regarding men’s basketball, forgeddabouddit!

What ever happened to the right to dissent?

This article written by: Former Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson of Speak Out California

The American people are getting to be more and more like the frog in the pot of water. You know the analogy—if you put a frog in water and slowly up the heat, the frog doesn’t know when he’s getting cooked until the water is just about boiling and his fate is sealed because he can’t jump out.  Ive been feeling that this is what is happening to the American people recently and we’re not yet aware that the first amendment, like the frog, is being destroyed by a slow, but sure attack on dissent.

Today I awoke to a plea from the folks at MoveOn.org asking that I call my U.S. Senators and urge them to reject an attempt by Senate Republicans to condemn Move On for its ad last week regarding the testimony of General Patreus. If you recall, they referred to him as “General Betrayus” for what they claimed was a dishonest and slanted analysis on the progress of the so-called “surge” strategy that Bush and his cronies imposed upon Congress, the American people, and most importantly our soldiers and the Iraqi people.

This shameless ploy reminds me of one of the most fundamental strategies recommended when you’re being attacked and can’t respond effectively because the facts are simply against you. Don’t try to respond, just attack the messenger. By deflecting attention from the substance of what is being said, the focus moves from the issue to the character of who is sending the message. It is a strategy that the Bush administration has employed since its beginning. Every time the Emperor is observed walking without clothes, and that pesky child yells that the Emperor is naked, the Bush media machine (Fox News and others) steps in and attacks the child as being blind, or crazy, or both, or in the case of the Bush years, of being disloyal and unpatriotic.

It is not new that dissent is characterized as disloyalty. During times of war (that is REAL war, like World War 2) there was an effort to keep Americans focused on the battle, and dissent, as limited as it may be, was kept in check while our soldiers fought off the Nazi’s and Imperial Japan.  Think more dramatically about after that war, when Joseph McCarthy established his drunken and reckless reign of terror on the American people, using Communism as the “War” we were fighting and using anyone who ever read a book by Karl Marx as a scapegoat.

Fast forward to today, where the “War on Terror” has replaced the War on Communism as the war de jour. While the threat of terrorism is real, the threat of losing our democratic way of life appears to be even more real and immediate in our country today. It was one of our great sages who observed that democracy will never be defeated from without, it will only be defeated from within.

Are we at that stage where the cancer of extremism within our country, the lack of an open, free and independent press has extinguished an honest and open debate on the issues, where our President believes he is king and not subject to the checks and balances of the co-equal branch of government we call Congress? Is democracy being threatened from within?
The Founding Fathers of our country made it abundantly clear that the key to our democracy is a free and open press by which we can educate, debate and communicate our beliefs, opinions and knowledge.  Thomas Jefferson observed that we must make sure people have the necessary information to make intelligent and clear decisions and that we must do so through educating them. And in keeping with the spirit, I’m providing the actual quote from Jefferson to avoid being attacked as unpatriotic for suggesting we educate people as to the facts:

  “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves;
  and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome
  discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.
  This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

So where are we today? We have a US Senate that this week couldn’t find the will to give our troops a respite from war by providing them the opportunity to rest and refresh back home before redeployments (the Senator Webb amendment) but can find the time to castigate a grass-roots organization for calling out the general on the ground in Iraq for his  less than candid appraisal of the success/failure of his mission. Is this really happening?

Where are we when a slightly obnoxious and insolent young man asks pointed questions to former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John Kerry about his early capitulation of the 2004 Presidential race and gets hauled away by police for asking these pointed questions? How well is our democracy functioning when a public institution of higher education pulls the appointment of a leading and highly respected constitutional scholar, to lead California’s newest law school after the announcement is made because he is too liberal and too outspoken in his opinions about the constitution for a cabal of influential right-wing extremists? Although reason and good judgment ultimately prevailed and Professor Chemerinsky will lead this new academic endeavor, how is it that we have become so unwilling to let the voices of disagreement and dissent speak?

While many of us have strong differences of opinion on any number of issues, and clearly the level of intensity has risen as the right-wing of this country has gotten more extreme and more entrenched, it is nonetheless a nation of ideas and differences of opinion that we honor and cherish.  The freedom to speak, to debate, to disagree, to object, to challenge and to dissent are among this nation’s finest traditions. 

Is it necessary to agree with MoveOn’s strategy—with the hostile young man in Florida, with the right-wing ideologues who are still running this country and sadly the majority of our news media? Certainly not. But to attempt to silence their voices because we may disagree is to let the enemies of democracy and freedom win. Let’s face it: The Emperor has been naked for some time. It’s way beyond the time that we stop pretending he’s dressed in his finery. It’s time we exercise the courage of a young child and call out the facts as we see them and insist that we be able to do so. To be silent or allow ourselves to be intimidated into silence is not an option.