Shameful pandering: Consumers didn’t get much of the savings when Illinois tried suspending the gas taxes!

It has been done before: Illinois and Indiana have previously suspended the gas tax in the summer of 2000 and for every 4cts/gallon for the motorists, gasoline suppliers reaped 3,5cts in Illinois and 3cts in Indiana.

Small wonder Shell oil lobbyist Steve Helmendorf helps out, as Hillary Clinton tries to sell McCain’s idea of a gas tax holiday again and again:

Thomas Friedman said:

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away.


“It’s about the dumbest thing I’ve heard in an awful long time, from an economic point of view. We’re trying to discourage people from driving and we’re trying to end our energy dependence … and we’re trying to have more money to build infrastructure.”

Clinton is shamefully misleading voters and tries to buy Indiana’s and North Carolina’s votes for $28 a piece! I am shocked, that polls suggest her plan is working.

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Longshoreman follow-up

As you should know by now, the ILWU staged an anti-war protest on May 1, effectively shutting down the west coast ports for the day. The blog BlueOregon featured good coverage of the event, and inspired some trolls, including one determined concern troll, to complain about the unnatural power of unions and the danger of shutting off the flow of war materiel to Iraq and Afghanistan — which didn’t happen at all.

A follow-up post at BlueOregon by the president of the union local is well worth reading (he even mentions the trolls!).

In case you missed it, my 850 Portland-area union brothers and sisters in the ILWU honored our troops by refusing to work for 8 hours on May 1 and instead called for an end to the war in Iraq. We were among the 25,000 longshore workers in 29 ports from Washington to California who stood together to call an end to the war and demand that the troops be able to come home to their families.

We keep getting phone calls from people who are thanking us for taking this stand. I knew that this would get the media’s attention, but I had no idea that this would mean so much to so many people. Even the Iraqi dock workers shut down their ports for two hours to say thanks for what we were doing. I would like to share all of these thanks from across the country and across the globe with everyone in Portland and Vancouver and surrounding towns who joined us and supported us in events throughout the day.

A BlueOregon piece Thursday had some mean-spirited posts about our members’ decision to make this statement to end the war and bring the troops home. I understand this is a place where people have different opinions, and I understand you have people you call “trolls” who just like to come here and cause trouble. Those people are everywhere, on the playground and on the Internet, and I try not to get caught up in it. I feel that it was time to do the right thing, and we did it.

We stood together as workers, but we also had our personal reasons to call for an end to this war.

The event actually managed to make the newspapers, unlike a lot of anti-war coverage.

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Double standards

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Common Dreams:

Two op-ed pieces on CommonDreams this morning are noting the outrageous double standard in the media, and in everyday people’s mind-set, that Rev Jeremiah Wright (and by proxy Barack Obama) is being held up to much harsher scrutiny for controversial statements he’s made from the pulpit than white preachers who have made even more outrageous statements.

First, Frank Rich with The All-White Elephant in the Room

BORED by those endless replays of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? If so, go directly to YouTube, search for “John Hagee Roman Church Hitler,” and be recharged by a fresh jolt of clerical jive.

What you’ll find is a white televangelist, the Rev. John Hagee, lecturing in front of an enormous diorama. Wielding a pointer, he pokes at the image of a woman with Pamela Anderson-sized breasts, her hand raising a golden chalice. The woman is “the Great Whore,” Mr. Hagee explains, and she is drinking “the blood of the Jewish people.” That’s because the Great Whore represents “the Roman Church,” which, in his view, has thirsted for Jewish blood throughout history, from the Crusades to the Holocaust.

Mr. Hagee is not a fringe kook but the pastor of a Texas megachurch. On Feb. 27, he stood with John McCain and endorsed him over the religious conservatives’ favorite, Mike Huckabee, who was then still in the race.

Are we really to believe that neither Mr. McCain nor his camp knew anything then about Mr. Hagee’s views? This particular YouTube video – far from the only one – was posted on Jan. 1, nearly two months before the Hagee-McCain press conference. Mr. Hagee appears on multiple religious networks, including twice daily on the largest, Trinity Broadcasting, which reaches 75 million homes. Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops.

Since then, Mr. McCain has been shocked to learn that his clerical ally has made many other outrageous statements. Mr. Hagee, it’s true, did not blame the American government for concocting AIDS. But he did say that God created Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans for its sins, particularly a scheduled “homosexual parade there on the Monday that Katrina came.”

Mr. Hagee didn’t make that claim in obscure circumstances, either. He broadcast it on one of America’s most widely heard radio programs, “Fresh Air” on NPR, back in September 2006. He reaffirmed it in a radio interview less than two weeks ago. Only after a reporter asked Mr. McCain about this Katrina homily on April 24 did the candidate brand it as “nonsense” and the preacher retract it.

Mr. McCain says he does not endorse any of Mr. Hagee’s calumnies, any more than Barack Obama endorses Mr. Wright’s. But those who try to give Mr. McCain a pass for his embrace of a problematic preacher have a thin case. Keep reading→

Next, Bill Moyers with Beware the Simplifiers

I once asked a reporter back from Vietnam, “Who’s telling the truth over there?” “Everyone, he said. “Everyone sees what’s happening through the lens of their own experience.” That’s how people see Jeremiah Wright. In my conversation with him on this broadcast a week ago and in his dramatic public appearances since, he revealed himself to be far more complex than the sound bites that propelled him onto the public stage. Over 2000 of you have written me about him, and your opinions vary widely. Some sting: “Jeremiah Wright is nothing more than a race-hustling, American hating radical,” one viewer wrote. A “nut case,” said another. Others were far more were sympathetic to him.

Many of you have asked for some rational explanation for Wright’s transition from reasonable conversation to shocking anger at the National Press Club. A psychologist might pull back some of the layers and see this complicated man more clearly, but I’m not a psychologist. Many black preachers I’ve known – scholarly, smart, and gentle in person – uncorked fire and brimstone in the pulpit. Of course I’ve known many white preachers like that, too.

But where I grew up in the south, before the civil rights movement, the pulpit was a safe place for black men to express anger for which they would have been punished anywhere else; a safe place for the fierce thunder of dignity denied, justice delayed. I think I would have been angry if my ancestors had been transported thousands of miles in the hellish hole of a slave ship, then sold at auction, humiliated, whipped, and lynched. Or if my great-great grandfather had been but three-fifths of a person in a constitution that proclaimed, “We the people.” Or if my own parents had been subjected to the racial vitriol of Jim Crow, Strom Thurmond, Bull Connor, and Jesse Helms. Even so, the anger of black preachers I’ve known and heard about and reported on was, for them, very personal and cathartic.

That’s not how Jeremiah Wright came across in those sound bites or in his defiant performances this week. What white America is hearing in his most inflammatory words is an attack on the America they cherish and that many of their sons have died for in battle forgetting that black Americans have fought and bled beside them, and that Wright himself has a record of honored service in the Navy. Hardly anyone took the “chickens come home to roost” remark to convey the message that intervention in the political battles of other nations is sure to bring retaliation in some form, which is not to justify the particular savagery of 9/11 but to understand that actions have consequences. Keep reading→

Racism runs deep in this country. Anyone who denies that has been living in a vacuum.

We could blame the CM (Corporate Media), but do we really expect anything from them anymore? They’re just in the business to make money, not to keep the people informed — unless keeping us informed on the latest bimbo starlet’s sixth trip to rehab is keeping us informed — so it’s up to US, the people, to keep ourselves informed.

Think about this, if you’re not convinced there is a double standard going on in this country. What if Barack Obama had made this statement?

“Rich people, god bless us. We deserve all the opportunities to make sure our country and our blessings continue to the next generation.”


Voting Rights Are Too Important to Leave to the States

By Adam Cohen, New York Times (via Truthout)

It’s been almost eight years since that FUBAR election in 2000, but still our voting rights are not protected. In fact, the Supreme Court of the United States recently upheld an Indiana voter ID law, which will disenfranchise many voters.

It would be hard for Florida to surpass its disastrous performance in the 2000 election, but give the Sunshine State credit for trying. Its latest assault on democracy: a law threatening volunteer groups with crippling fines if they make small mistakes in registering voters. The law seems clearly aimed at keeping new voters – especially minorities and the poor – off the rolls. And it is working. The League of Women Voters, which has registered Florida voters since 1939, has called off its registration drive this year.

Florida is not the only state trying to stop eligible people from voting. Georgia passed a law in 2005 that made voters pay for their voter ID cards – a modern poll tax. The fee was eventually removed, but the law could still block as many as 300,000 registered voters without the right ID from casting ballots. In 2004, Ohio ordered counties to throw out voter registration forms that were not on thick enough paper.

It is chilling to think that state legislators and election officials would intentionally try to make it harder for Americans to vote, but they always have – with poll taxes, literacy tests and gerrymandering. There was a time when the Supreme Court regularly struck these restrictions down. In 1966, it held Virginia’s $1.50 poll tax unconstitutional. In 1972, it ruled that Tennessee’s one-year residency requirement for voting violated the Constitution.

Now the Supreme Court has switched sides. This week, it upheld a harsh Indiana voter ID law that could disenfranchise many poor, elderly and student voters. The ruling will make it even easier for other states to block voters’ access to the ballot box.

If the courts won’t protect voters, Congress has to. The Constitution, in Article 1, Section 4, gives Congress broad authority to set the rules for federal elections. It should use this power to set minimum voting rights standards that would apply nationwide and ensure that all eligible Americans could vote.

Keep reading….

Good Morning from Europe – The Sunday Papers

Good Morning! Here is my pick from the English Sunday papers. With North Carolina and Indiana holding their primaries on Tuesday, the focus will be, once again on the US Democratic Party. Other topics that are making the headlines are: Boris Johnson as the new Mayor of London, his eccentric style will be good for many headlines to come. And the Austrian incest drama, but I refuse to cover that.

Boris Johnson has found his stride again and after his first drink in three months opened up his mind again. Some see him as a danger to tory leader David Cameron, some even say he’s obviously planning to make Downing Street 10 his ultimate political abode.

The Democratic Primaries: It is almost tragic to see, how a struggling, ill-managed campaign managed to drag down a very successful campaign so now both are on the ropes. The opposing candidate, weak by any standard, is rubbing his hands in glee. So what do the English newspaper have to say?

The Times

On the eve of two crucial primary election contests, Hillary Clinton is pinning her hopes of winning the Democratic presidential nomination on a collapse in the white vote for Barack Obama. (Read more)

The Independent

Could last week go down as the moment when the roof fell in for Barack Obama? True, just 48 hours before Tuesday’s crucial primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, the pundits maintain – albeit with a mite less conviction than before – that the Illinois senator is still overwhelmingly likely to be his party’s nominee after the last vote is cast in this extraordinary Democratic primary season. But something fundamental has changed. (Read more)

The Guardian

The bitter battle for the Democratic candidacy this week moves to Indiana and North Carolina, where the frontrunner is desperately hoping to inflict terminal damage on Hillary Clinton’s hopes. But in a contest dominated by race, it is the party as a whole that is hurting,..(Read more)

The Telegraph

Barack Obama is struggling to contain his anger and frustration over the constant barrage of questions about his character and judgment, his wife has revealed. (Read more)

I wish you all a happy, healthy and relaxed Sunday: Stay Safe!

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