Friday, January 30, 2009

Economic Cost of the Military

The Economic Cost of the Military Industrial Complex
By James Quinn

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children."
These must be the words of some liberal Democratic Senator running for President in 2008. But no, these are the words of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, five decades ago.

The United States, the only superpower remaining on earth, currently spends more on military than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined. The U.S. accounts for 48% of the world’s total military spending. Where did the peace dividend from winning the Cold War go?

The United States spends on its military 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran. The Cold War has been over for 20 years, but we are spending like World War III is on the near term horizon. There is no country on earth that can challenge the U.S. militarily.

So, why are we spending like we are preparing for a major conflict? The impression on the rest of the world is that we have aggressive intentions. The administration is posturing like Iran is a threat to our security. Iran spends $7.2 billion annually on their military. We could make a parking lot out of their cities in any conflict. Does anyone really believe that they would create a nuclear weapon and use it on Israel? Their country would be obliterated.

Defense spending had peaked at just under $500 billion in 1988. The fall of communist Russia did result in a decline to the $350 billion range from 1995 through 2000, and an economic boom ensued. Since 9/11 we have doubled our spending on defense.

This seems like an overly extreme reaction to 19 terrorists attacking our country. Bin Laden and his terrorist network numbered less than 10,000. The initial response of invading Afghanistan, defeating the Taliban, and cornering bin Laden in the mountains was supported by the entire world. The success of this response was sufficient to deter any other country from allowing terrorist organizations to operate freely within their borders.

The natural response of the United States should have been to increase spending on border protection, upgrading the CIA, and increasing our ability to gather intelligence. Instead, we spent billions on weapons, aircraft, tanks, and missiles. The neo-cons, led by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, saw the 9/11 attack as their opportunity to change the world. They’ve gotten their wish.

Of course, we took our eye off of bin Laden and Afghanistan. The Taliban has experienced a resurgence, recently freeing 800 fighters from a prison. Bin Laden continues to issue videotapes exhorting his followers to continue the fight.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech in January 1961 is a brilliantly perceptive analysis of the future of our country.

Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

This last sentence describes what George Bush has managed to do in the last 5 years. The arrogance of believing that we could invade a country on the other side of the world and expect to be treated as liberators is beyond comprehension. Our reputation abroad has been grievously damaged. The voluntary sacrifices we’ve made in the U.S. were to receive tax cuts and multiple tax rebates, paid for by our grandchildren. President Bush has sacrificed by not playing golf for the last 5 years.

How noble. Not exactly the Greatest Generation, quite yet.

Did President Eisenhower envision that the U.S. would have troops stationed in 70% of the world’s countries? According to the Defense Department’s latest "Personnel Strengths" report, the United States now has troops stationed in 147 countries and 10 territories. This is the greatest number of countries that the United States has ever had troops in. Why are we policing the world? What is the point of having 57,000 troops in Germany and 33,000 troops in Japan? Germany and Japan each spend $40 billion per year on their military. Can’t they defend themselves at this point? We defeated them 60 years ago. It is time to leave. This is a prelude to decades of occupation in Iraq. Don’t believe the blather about withdrawal. The military has no intention of withdrawing.

It is a shame that after 9/11, George Bush didn’t read President Eisenhower’s farewell speech. I wonder if he has ever read the speech. Instead he chose to follow the “wisdom” of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. President Eisenhower’s words describe the crisis that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

A spectacular and costly response is what the Iraq invasion has turned out to be. We have now spent more money on this venture than any war in history except for World War II. And there is no end in sight.

I live in Pennsylvania. Taxpayers in Pennsylvania have paid $20 billion for our share of the Iraq war, so far. This amount of money would pay for 1,650,000 scholarships for University students for one year. Does a $20 billion investment in rebuilding Iraqi bridges that we blew up with $1 million cruise missiles make more sense than investing in our best and brightest young people? $20 billion would provide 24,000,000 homes with renewable electricity for one year. That is 20% of all the homes in the United States.

After paying their utility bills this coming winter, I think I know what the majority of Americans would choose. Some further perspective on this out of control spending is provided in the following chart:

President Eisenhower, as a former commanding general of Allied forces in World War II, knew exactly what the implications of having a permanent armaments industry were to the United States. He was also worried about the implications.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

These words were spoken 5 decades ago, but are just as true today.

President Eisenhower, as a former commanding general of Allied forces in World War II, knew exactly what the implications of having a permanent armaments industry were to the United States. He was also worried about the implications. These words were spoken 5 decades ago, but are just as true today.

The top five U.S. defense contractors generated almost $129 billion in revenues and $8 billion in profits in 2006, double the revenue and profits in 2000 when George Bush became President. The War on Terror has been a windfall for the defense industry and their shareholders. These companies have intertwined themselves into the fabric of our government and defense department. They contribute tremendous amounts of money to Congressional candidates and have thousands of lobbyists pushing for more defense contracts. Many politicians end up working for defense contractors (i.e. Dick Cheney) after they leave public service. This leads to conflicts of interest negatively impacting the American public.

It appears that the biggest winners of the War on Terror are the CEOs of the defense contractors. I wonder if they realized how rich they would become as they watched the Twin Towers crumble to the ground. They have virtually tripled their annual income, while the average American scratched out a 20% increase over 6 years. They have managed to generate the tremendous profits and personal wealth while only employing 10% more employees. Boeing and Raytheon were actually able to reduce their workforce. How productive. These contractors will do everything in their power to retain and increase these fabulous profits.

President Eisenhower clearly understood the moral implications of a huge armaments industry and the costs to a free society.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

We have some of the brightest engineers in the country developing weapons to kill human beings more efficiently. There is an opportunity cost that is being paid. These engineers could be concentrating their brilliance on developing alternative energy solutions which could free us from our drug dependence on the Middle East. Which effort would benefit our country more, weapons development or energy independence?

President Eisenhower’s final words are the most chilling.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We did not heed his wisdom. Laurence Vance, author of What’s Wrong with the U.S. Global Empire?,contends that our foreign policy

is not right, it’s unnatural, it’s very expensive, it’s against the principles of the Founding Fathers, it fosters undesirable activity, it increases hatred of Americans, it perverts the purpose of the military, it increases the size and scope of the government, it makes countries dependent on the presence of the U.S. military, and finally, because the United States is not the world’s policeman.

War and non-stop conflict benefit the military industrial complex. It is in their best interest for them to support candidates that favor an aggressive foreign policy. This could lead to Defense companies using their influence to provoke conflict throughout the world.

In conclusion, I again turn to the wisdom of Ron Paul, the only presidential candidate speaking the truth to the American public. In a speech before Congress several months before the Iraq invasion, his words were reminiscent of President Eisenhower’s.

The basic moral principle underpinning a non-interventionist foreign policy is that of rejecting the initiation of force against others. It is based on non-violence and friendship unless attacked, self-determination, and self-defense while avoiding confrontation, even when we disagree with the way other countries run their affairs. It simply means that we should mind our own business and not be influenced by special interests that have an ax to grind or benefits to gain by controlling our foreign policy. Manipulating our country into conflicts that are none of our business and unrelated to national security provides no benefits to us, while exposing us to great risks financially and militarily.

If we followed a constitutional policy of non-intervention, we would never have to entertain the aggressive notion of preemptive war based on speculation of what a country might do at some future date. Political pressure by other countries to alter our foreign policy for their benefit would never be a consideration. Commercial interests and our citizens investing overseas could not expect our armies to follow them and protect their profits.

If as a country we continue to allow our politicians and their military industrial complex corporate sponsors to spend $700+ billion per year on weapons, to the detriment of higher education, alternative energy projects, and national infrastructure needs, we will be paying an extremely high price.

We are in a classic guns or butter scenario. The Bush Administration has decided to choose guns while borrowing from our grandchildren and the Chinese to pay for the butter. This can work for awhile, but as deficits accumulate, the dollar plummets, and inflation rears its ugly head, our great country will decline as other empires who overstepped their bounds declined.

Disclosure: Author holds no positions in the stocks mentioned above

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The New Obama Nation

The New Obama Nation: A Progressive Viewpoint
Our personal journey to the 56th Inauguration.

by Judy Ramsey,
with a little unsolicited editorializing by Paul Barrow

"Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation." - Abraham Lincoln

Our route along Interstate 40 on January 16th took us directly to Nashville, where we changed vehicles, and climbed into Paul Barrow's rusty old 1979 GMC van, with which we could carry a million pounds of warm clothing, blankets, apples Jean had brought along, Paul's video gear, which he never used even once, and some tall Starbucks coffee mugs, which we kept hot all the time. There were just four of us. Huti and Jean and myself were from Oklahoma. Our intent was to tap into the grassroots energy of Obama supporters in order to promote progressive issues and keep them front and center.

Paul assured us that the van was in fine shape, of course. Newer captain's chairs and a nice plush bench seat had been added just recently, and he had tuned it up, and darkened the windows, either to funk it up, provide a little privacy in the boondocks of eastern Tennessee, or, to perhaps disguise certain proclivities. And we might have set off with a kind of optimism and energy not felt for a very long time had it not been for the fact that the van could hardly make it away from the curb in front of his house. It was like being in that Magic Bus of our youth, headed out to change the world, only with a headache, a severe case of bronchitis, and a serious hangover. In fact, Paul had sprayed a bunch of "cleaner," he called it, into the carburetor, and the engine just wasn't going to digest all of it all at one time. Nothing serious, supposedly. But something told me that we might be stuck somewhere with an overhaul and a huge bill before we made it back.

With a lot more wheezing and coughing, we finally got on the road. Fifteen miles down the interstate, in Mt. Juliet, a small suburban bedroom community of Nashville, we exited the freeway to a Waffle House where we could pull up beneath a strong light in a parking lot. The fan belt wouldn't stop squeaking. While, inexplicably, there in the midnight hour, two girls fought bare knuckled in the parking lot, writhing on the pavement like two hogs in heat, with their boyfriends egging them on, Paul got out, seemingly unperturbed, with his yard-long crowbar and a wrench and went to work, tightening the belt. The squealing noise and the girls seemed mostly to go away after that, but not without an occasional whine at an exit ramp along the freeway. So we were off to take on the great big world of presidential inaugurations and a celebration the likes and grandeur of which none of us had ever contemplated before.

With the van having quieted itself at last, for the time being at least, we made a few miles. After a brief rest in Roanoke, Virginia, the following morning we made a loop up near Washington D.C. on Interstate 66, and then circled back down toward Richmond, Virginia, and the beautiful home of Andrea Miller. Andrea is a progressive Democrat, a member of United Progressives, and a woman who proved to be the kind of hostess one would expect to be entertaining presidents, not our rag tag bunch. Her home was nothing less than a page out of Architectural Digest. Paul seemed reluctant to even park in her driveway. And obviously, with that old van, I was sure that we were going to get arrested just for being on the street in her neighborhood. (A couple of nights later, we were in fact approached by the police, lights flashing, wanting to know what we were up to, while we were stopped in the vicinity, looking at a map, and trying to find our way back to Andrea's.)

Andrea does in fact entertain various elected officials from time to time, and had won more than 40 percent of the vote as a candidate herself for the 4th Congressional district of Virginia in a runoff with her Republican opponent this past election. She is contemplating a run in 2010 again. Her home would be our base of operations while in the D.C. area.

On Monday, January 19th, Martin Luther King day, our first stop was Busboys and Poets, by far the most popular progressive watering hole in DC, at 14th and V. Howard Zinn will hold a talk there this coming February 2nd. While we were there, Jean and Huti had a chance to visit with Alice Walker (The Color Purple) later that day. Busboys and Poets was founded by Andy Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, who named the restaurant in honor of black poet Langston Hughes. Hughes, according to Wikipedia, "worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in the 1930s, prior to gaining recognition as a poet." That's where we left the van for the rest of the day.

Before joining the peace and impeachment community to toss shoes on the White House lawn, we had an opportunity to talk to a long line of people waiting to get into Busboys, and handed out several of our cards. It was there, also, that we quickly began seeing the distinctions between African Americans supporting Obama, and the white progressives standing in line. Only a small percentage of the African Americans would admit to being progressive or accept our card while the majority of whites did. That isn't said in an attempt to isolate African Americans as a race, or progressives, for that matter, but rather to point out the particular illusions that commonly face progressives in attempting, as we were, to advance the progressive cause. There is a strong tendency among whites, because of the civil rights era, to lump African Americans together with progressives, along with all the socialist tendencies of the latter, and this is completely off the mark. African Americans excited about Obama were excited not because he has expressed progressive views but because he has brought to fruition the dream of Martin Luther King of a day when blacks can share in a world of racial equality and political power. But racial equality and political power don't automatically translate into support for single payer universal health care or concern for global warming or ending the war. That distinction made all the difference in what we could expect from the inauguration of Barack Obama in spreading the progressive message.

At Lafayette Park, adjoining the White House, we found David Swanson corralled by the lens of a video journalist, doing an interview, and we were late for the shoe throwing, We only happened upon the scene as they hauled the shoes away in a small utility vehicle. We hadn't given ourselves sufficient time to get there. It was still a great experience, however. We stopped to chat with Colonel (Retired) Ann Wright (co-author of Dissent: Voices of Conscience: Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq) and to have our picture taken there on Pennsylvania Ave. It was a good occasion to talk with several people about United Progressives and give them our card, and despite the setback we've suffered with the suspension of our website just as we were on the road, returning home, we believe that the benefits of getting out our message to unite will be rewarded by our singular will to persist and prevail and to unite progressives.

One of the feelings I clung to is that it was difficult for me to celebrate the fact that George Bush would soon be gone, with all the potential for revisionist history that is likely to occur as his presidential legacy is washed over. Bush is counting on history to vindicate him somehow. He belongs in the Hague, where all the other war criminals have been sent. I couldn't be happy that he could simply walk away with no accountability and no justice for the sake of some kind of perceived unity. After years of advocating for impeachment, I resolved to continue the pressure for criminal prosecution.

After some interviewing with independent journalists and photo ops, Paul and I started the long cold walk from the White House to view the Lincoln Memorial while Jean and Huti returned to Busboys where their opportunities appeared to be much more entertaining than ours. The stage in front of the Lincoln Memorial was still set from the day before (see YouTube video) with Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, and many others, so it was quite a long maneuver into the building. We somehow managed to not only see it, but to be reminded of some of Lincoln's greatest quotes. Obama's swearing in on the Lincoln Bible became much more profound with the words

"Allow all the governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and only that, is self government."

I felt in Obama's message that this was our victory and not his alone. The turnout for his election, and now for this inauguration, had been a people's event. The aura and excitement of people getting so involved in politics is hard to dismiss. The YouTube video referenced above also depicts quite clearly how this whole event had probably become perhaps the biggest moment of black pride in the history of America. It was theirs to claim, and somehow it seemed appropriate later, on inauguration day, that we stand back as much as possible and just allow what it was to be, and to experience it for what it was, both beautiful and monumental, so memorable and so consequential in its impact upon the future of America. It became all too clear that our goals for uniting progressives on inauguration day would be sent to the back burner. We would not be able to, nor did we have the desire to, distract from the mood of this historical moment.

But it's also hard to contemplate the fact that Obama has adopted in wholesale fashion the neo liberal policies of Hillary and Bill and Vice President Joe Biden. These are the folks whose policies brought 9/11 to our door. And now we're asking for more of the same? It seems that we are deluding ourselves into thinking that we are better on the home front, as we thought we were during the Clinton administration, with the improvement in prospects for African Americans and universal health care, but it's difficult to believe that this is going to mean much when we are out tromping all over the world with our big boots just like George and his fellow dirtbags, which is really the source of the problem in the first place.

Foreign policy is going to re-make our domestic policy, because of its costs, and because of the kind of people it makes us. The morality of what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the manner in which we so proudly support our "friends," the Israelis, our de facto imperialist proxies in the middle east, paves the way for the most basic disrespect for the neighbors on our own streets from Baltimore to Sacramento, with whom we share driveways and garbage collectors.

A quotation from Lincoln, from a speech given in Peoria, Ill., on Oct. 16, 1854, and engraved in marble in the museum below the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. it was then that he first publicly spoke out against slavery as a politician. A full quote in context is as follows: According to our ancient faith," he said early in the address, "the just powers of governments are derived from the consent of the governed. Now the relation of masters and slave is . . a total violation of this principle. The master not only governs the slave without his consent; but he governs him by a set of rules altogether different from those which he prescribes for himself. Allow ALL the governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and only that is self government." -- from the WSJ.

We moved on to the Vietnam Memorial so that I could search for the name of a high school friend. As I viewed his name engraved in the stone, I was moved by this very personal reminder of the casualties of war -- one I had hoped would be forever engrained into our memories and never repeated. So much for Mission Accomplished.

Jean and Huti, who had split off to return to Busboys and Poets, managed to connect with Alice Walker and Amy Goodman. It turned into a great opportunity for them to get out the message from United Progressives in this one location which may be the only opportunity we were able to take advantage of for our progressive cause throughout this entire event.

On the following day, Tuesday, Inauguration day, as we prepared to enter the train in Fairfax, Virginia, to travel into Washington, D.C., I sensed a feeling of deep interdependency and connection to total strangers. We were all on the same ride, going to the same destination, for what could have been mostly the same reasons.

With our limited results the previous day, now we had every intention of making it to the Arrest Bush rally David Swanson had organized in front of the FBI building. We even had tickets to the parade there in that location. But by the time we got into DC, the parade route had reached capacity and virtually everyone on the train was being herded straight out to the Mall. And that's where we stayed. We were on the National Mall where the Washington Monument became the most prominent fixture in the city and the focal point for the huge crowds. The jumbo trons were everywhere but seemed to be obscured by not only the crowd but the bare trees. The best part of the day, however, was, indeed, observing this mass of people as they responded as a large sea to the breath of hope that swept across them, the swell of flags waving so strongly that it causes the dust from the ground all around us to suddenly lift and rush toward the streets. We were in a mixture of young and old, black and white, local and from very far away, living in the moment as metaphors for hope, peace, solemnity, dignity and honor. I couldn't help but cheer when I heard the words, "I, Barack Hussein Obama...."

One analogy expressed was that of a church crowd, but there was no praising Jesus or Hallelujah choir, except for a few individuals who had mounted themselves on fence rails and raised platforms, shouting that the end was near and the time for salvation had come, messengers of those prophets, no doubt, who believed that Obama would never have a chance to take office. That concern seemed to be reinforced by the appearance of snipers on all the rooftops, helicopters in the air, security police and National Guardsmen clearly in charge, and a line of Homeland Security Hazmat vehicles on the mall too long to count. But the real spirit was much different, much more than that. The connection to the civil rights movement and all that it inspired, was obvious: it wasn't so much that Obama was being taken for a messiah or a god-like figure; but there was the sense in this crowd that he was clearly a leader of a people who have waited a long time to participate in their democracy. Unfortunately, he is just a leader; he is not the sole actor in a democracy. There is no magic wand he can wave to solve all our problems. If he's the kind of president we hope we elected, then he's going to have his ear to the ground, and he's going to pay attention to all those rumblings at It's there and through other mediums, such as uniting our voice through United Progressives, that we can do our part. If we forget our responsibility as citizens, electing Obama will count for nothing.

And as Glen Ford has frequently pointed out in Counterpunch, on Black Agenda Report, Black Agenda Radio, and elsewhere, Barack Obama is no Martin Luther King. Ford spoke of King's work against American militarism and economic disparities and, when put to the MLK test, endorsed Dennis Kucinich. Dr. King represented much more than the civil rights movement, much more than electing just any black man; he also expressed a deep desire for peace and justice. Obama's game during the campaign, Ford pointed out in a Counterpunch article, had been " to maneuver himself deep into the foggy Iraq policy realm inhabited by the gaggle of Democratic "front-runners"--a muck from which nothing ever emerges of any relevance to Iraqi or world realities." Ford called him a "windblown politician" who " avoids anchoring himself to any principle." The odds that peace and justice may come in this presidency seem pretty distant, and progressives have their work cut out for them.

During and after the inauguration, from noon until at least 5 PM, the mall was completely closed off. Close to two million people were prisoners on an island 1.9 miles long. No one could get off or on for several hours. In the biting cold wind in that exposed landscape, all of us were left without directions or information or a clear plan on how to exit and herded like cattle as we searched for a point of exit. Few were prepared for the long wait we were forced to endure with a wind chill near zero, trying to get across Constitution Avenue and up several blocks to the Metro commuter train station at 18th and I. One interesting tall black man was waving small American flags and shouting "free, free at last." He caught Paul by the eye, and must have sensed his deep skepticism for this whole affair, because he looked directly at him and said, "You'd better get up and stand up."

When we finally arrived at the station, people stood, not in a line, but as a mass body of long fur coats, scarves, and wind breakers, filling the entrance like Crazy Glue in a dried up tube, completely at a standstill. It was like that for hours more. Fortunately, there was a Starbucks adjacent and we paused for a cup of coffee, while poor Paul stood in line for an hour just trying to get into a restroom.

Jean was having more fun than a porcupine at a balloon festival. She had brought her polar bear suit, which she takes rather gratuitously to events to symbolize the effects of global warming, and I think there was someone taking a picture of her almost every minute we were in the city limits.

I took the time to start a conversation with some of the people gathered around. My first discussion was with a woman from Macon, Georgia, who shared a seat close to the ashtray. She had been one of only three black students to integrate into her high school, and she remembered vividly the quality of education on a separate-but-equal scale. Her reasons for attendance were obvious.

She wandered off in search of her family and another woman took her seat. I can only say that this new person was a "black" woman, not an African American, because when she spoke, she had a European accent. She was from Switzerland. Her sister, who had accompanied her, was from Sweden. They had traveled all the way to America to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. That probably says all that needs to be said about the hopes of black people in general around the world as the world's supposedly greatest superpower marks the beginning of a whole new era in international relations.

She seemed a bit reluctant to talk to me at first. As I found out, she was somewhat intimidated by the military fatigues I wore. I had worn an army shirt in honor of a friend serving in Afghanistan who had been an Obama supporter and wanted to come home. Once she heard my explanation, she completely engaged the conversation.

Her observation, which she believed was shared by all Europeans, was that George Bush had only served one purpose: to assimilate all the evil in the world against the rest of us. I assured her that there was a significant number of Americans who had been engaged in the last three or four years in an attempt to hold him accountable by pressing for impeachment. That opened her up even more, and she told me how she felt about Israel. Too much support from the US, she said. She felt we should move them to a place like Australia where they could prosper. She assured me that the Jews could prosper anywhere. That way, they wouldn't have to live among the Arab people they seemed to hate and want to kill. I thought she had a pretty good point, though historically unreasonable and inaccurate.

I later saw her in line for the restroom having a conversation with a young, pretty white woman. When I asked if this was her sister, the woman from Sweden she had been looking for, she said no, but she could have been. Her blood was indeed very mixed, she said. She was there, in the crowd, to remind Americans of the hope and inspiration Barack Obama brings to the rest of the world.

After many hours of standing and shuffling a few feet, standing some more, and shuffling a few feet again, while a tall elegant black woman threw up in front of us in the waiting line, we finally made it to our train. The train was jam packed so tight, there was no need to hang on to the handrail above. As the train moved down the tracks, we just weaved slightly from front to back with the shifting weight of the whole mass of people wedged in together. When the door opened, we could see Huti floating out like corn mush going down a drain. When the crowd was out, finally, he'd figure out a way to wiggle back in. But after several stops, moving around and talking with people, some were kind enough to give up their seats to a bunch of old, worn out hippies.

Although we believe that Obama's inauguration promises some advancement of progressive values, the importance of uniting could never be more significant now, when it would be easy to relax our grip and ask like so many other progressive organizations are doing, "What do you want us to do now?" Any organization that is asking that question ought to be off your list immediately, because our challenge as progressives is clear and unmistakable, and hasn't changed with a new administration. We want to emphasize as our mission that it is through unity as progressives, as United Progressives, that we can win. In the words of Alice Walker, we are, indeed, the ones that we've been waiting for. We must not fall asleep. We must join what this leader represents: a new American way forward, progressing as a community, a nation and part of a more prosperous and peaceful world.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BURNT Calls Solid Waste Plan 'Fraud'

BURNT Files Complaints Against Licensed Engineers over Nashville solid waste plan
Nashville Solid Waste Plan Written By National Researcher Called “Fraud”

BURNT, a Nashville, Tennessee citizens solid waste group has filed complaints with the Metropolitan Nashville Purchasing Department, Nashville Public Works, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation that two licensed engineers, one an official with a national solid waste group, who wrote a "Solid Waste Plan" for Nashville used false figures to justify years of future landfilling.

Jeremy K. O'Brien, P.E., Director of Applied Research, SWANA [Solid Waste Association of North America], wrote a "Davidson County Region Solid Waste Plan Update" for Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County under supervision of Mike White, P.E. of Gresham Smith and Partners. BURNT president Bruce Wood said “despite months of written and oral testimony by citizens, engineers O'Brien and White submitted a 'Solid Waste Plan" which was approved by the Metropolitan Regional Board that used false solid waste numbers that will cost Nashville government and business millions in excessive landfilling fees.”

On 3 February the State Solid Waste Disposal Board will decided whether to allow proposed solid waste regulations to go out for public comment. BURNT has asked the State Board to require more planning before amended regulations are released for public comments.

Wood said the "Plan" relies on false data that the engineers were obligated to correct. “The only accurate solid waste number Metro has is the amount of waste landfilled in Class I municipal solid waste landfills yet Table 3-1 [pg, 14] lists recycling totals for the private and public sectors down to 20 pounds–a hundredth of a ton out of a 1.2 million ton waste stream.”

Table 3-1 of the “Plan” states the private sector generates 46,328.58 tons of "Corrugated cardboard" in 2007 and 128,001.17 tons of "Ferrous Metals". Wood said there was no basis of fact in this claim.

Wood also challenged the findings of engineer O’Brien that “Total Public and Private Sector Recycling" is 421,405.46 tons or 33% of the waste stream. “This is a completely fabricated number. There is absolutely no way Metro Nashville recycles 33% of the waste stream” Wood pointed out Table 5-2 of the “Plan” claims that from year 2008 to year 2017 ALL [100%] of the industrial recyclables will be recycled. “This is an incredible claim which has no basis in fact or reality. This false claim justifies and camouflages high landfilling.”

BURNT also contends the “Plan” failed to examine the full environmental and fiscal costs of landfills--Metro government and business spend approximately $25 million annually to landfill waste--to determine how to compost and divert portions of the waste stream.

Said Wood “This “Plan” reminds us of the television show which began with “Ze Plane, Ze Plane” except this "Plan" is no fantasy–it is a serious injury to public discourse and decision making.”

Update on the Case of Steve Henley

Update on the Scheduled Execution of Steve Henley: February 4, 2009

The state of Tennessee is moving forward with the scheduled execution of Steve Henley on February 4, 2009, at 1:00 a.m. at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Henley was convicted for the 1985 murders of Fred and Edna Stafford in Jackson County, Tennessee. He has been on death row for 23 years.

The case of Steve Henley is yet another demonstration of the many problems with Tennessee's death penalty. Problematic issues include:

All the evidence, including the motive for the crime, was provided by a co-defendant who served just over five years for his participation in the murder.
Mr. Henley received grossly inadequate representation at his sentencing hearing.
A majority of appellate court judges have ruled that Mr. Henley's death sentence should be overturned.
Henley's attorneys are working to secure a stay of execution in the courts. With the continued litigation of the constitutionality of Tennessee's lethal injection protocol in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the state should not be allowed to move forward with Henley's execution.

In 2007, Judge Aleta Trauger ruled in favor of Tennessee death row inmate, E.J. Harbison, concluding that Tennessee's lethal injection protocol violates the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. Arguments were made today in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on this issue with a ruling not anticipated for several weeks.

TCASK hopes that the court will grant Steve Henley a stay of execution, at least until the issue of the constitutionality of Tennessee's lethal injection protocol is resolved. But, there is no guarantee that the court will intervene.

TCASK continues to prepare for a possible execution on February 4, and chapters across the state are planning vigils and actions witnessing to life and opposing this execution. In Nashville, a "Service of Remembrance and Resistance" is in the planning stages as well as a candlelight vigil to be held at Riverbend. We will provide more details next week.

The clemency campaign for Steve Henley continues with the collection of clemency cards from concerned citizens asking that the Governor stop this execution and commute Henley's sentence. The cards will be collected and kept at the TCASK office until they are delivered to the Governor. If you are interested in receiving a stack of cards to distribute and collect, please email or call (615) 256-3906.

New Media on TVA Coal Disaster

On December 22nd at 1:10am a coal ash dam breached, release over 300 billion gallons of coal ash sludge into the Emory river, knocking one house off of its foundation and leaving several people homeless. Although no one was killed in the accident, it released hundreds of thousands of tons of coal ash into the upper Tennessee river watershed. Coal ash contains several hazardous heavy elements including arsenic that are feared to be leaching into the watershed that provides drinking water to literally millions of people. David Grace is an independent journalist and audio producer who has been documenting the TVA Coal disaster for the past several weeks.

For more information please visit:
Single Payer for the Victims of the TVA
Raising Money for the TVA Medical Tests
Jon Elliot Discusses Kingston, TN Dam Collapse

Darwin's Birthday Celebrated in Nashville

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Darwin Day and Evolution Weekend are international celebrations of science and humanity.

DARWIN's BIRTHDAY PARTY. On his birthday, Thursday, February 12, 2009, gather at 7 pm at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1808 Woodmont Blvd., Nashville. This will be a POTLUCK, co-sponsored by Americans United and the Humanist Association of Middle Tennessee. It will feature Dr. Michael Hodges, philosophy professor from Vanderbilt, leading discussion about Darwin's impact on science and the world. There will be live original music about evolution from Grammy winner Don Henry, Ross Falzone, and Brian Fleming There may be a short video. Scheduled to end by 9.

Evolution Weekend.
Sunday, Feb. 15, at 1:30 pm at Watkins College of Art and Design, Room 503, located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. (formerly Metrocenter Blvd.), Nashville. This will feature a Powerpoint presentation by Mike Tidwell, doctoral candidate in anthropology at Vanderbilt, who provided us earlier with his study based on his three-month field work in east Tennessee. His topic will be MISUNDERSTANDING EVOLUTION: How Politics, Religion and Psychology Prevent Us from Understanding Biology's Unifying Theory. Sponsored by Nashville Chapter Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Scheduled to end by 3.

All eventa are free and open to the public.

Dawin is being celebrated throughout the world. More than 12,000 clergy from many denominations have signed the "Clergy Letter Project,” which states that they do not regard evolution as conflicting with their beliefs. So although much of the celebration of Darwin’s life has centered around freethought groups, scientists, universities, and museums, there are also sermons being given in churches around the world. Some 854 congregations are participating in Evolution Weekend. Ten are in Tennessee and two in Nashville.

This is also the Year of Astronomy, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope and his world-shaking announcement that the earth is not the center of the universe.

Hutchinson to Speak in Nashville

Ralph Hutchinson to Address Joint Meeting of Veterans for Peace & Nashville Peace Coalition (February 4th @ 6pm)

Nashville, TN: On Wednesday, February 4th Ralph Hutchinson will address a public meeting of the organizations Veterans for Peace and the Nashville Peace Coalition to call on Tennesseans to join in non-violent action for peace and disarmament in Oak Ridge Tennessee on April 4, 2009. Hutchinson is the executive director of Stop the Bombs, a twenty year old organization in Oak Ridge Tennessee which has organized a continuous presence outside of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant calling for a complete shutdown of the nuclear facilities and thorough environmental clean up of the Oak Ridge bomb plant. His presentation will be given on the grounds of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center at 4732 W. Longdale Drive. The public is invited to attend this event beginning at 6pm.

History of Oak Ridge

The Y12 Plant in Oak Ridge is building nuclear weapons. Specifically, Y12 is manufacturing thermonuclear secondaries for the W76 warhead—the secondary is the highly explosive part that turns an atomic bomb into a thermonuclear bomb. Y12 is the only place in the United States that makes them. Under the “Life Extension” program, Y12 is producing new bomb secondaries that will effectively make the W76-1 the first new nuclear weapon built in the United States in 20 years.

The Department of Energy has announced plans to build a new, $3 billion bomb plant at Y12 that will produce nuclear weapons for another century; a Draft Environmental Impact Statement is due to be released in April 2009 with a public hearing to follow. President Obama has embraced the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, but he also believes in a safe, secure, reliable stockpile and a policy of nuclear deterrence. These two visions are irreconcilable.

Hutchinson says that the action at Oak Ridge on April 4th send a message, "The Change we voted for includes nuclear disarmament. The $40 billion spent every year on the US nuclear arsenal can be better spent on health care, renewable energy, housing, education, and job creation."

Preparing for Peace Now

In 2010, the world will gather at the United Nations to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, ratified by the United States in 1968. In the NPT, countries that had no nuclear weapons promised not to build them, and nuclear weapons states promised to disarm “at an early date.” If the United States does not demonstrate a serious commitment to achieving disarmament by 2010, the NPT is expected to collapse, opening the door for the widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons. The critical moment is now to build citizen pressure for the United States to keep its word and to move decisively toward disarmament.

Events Leading Up to Peace Rally

• Puppet build | March 30 - April 3 in Knoxville. If you’ve ever wanted to be part of street theatre, creating giant art, or just want to help, the Puppet Build is a great place to start. Novices and veterans welcome. Come for all or part; camping space available and the community provides food. Call 865 609 2012 or email for details.

• Peace Pilgrimage | March 30 - April 4, Nipponzan Myohoji will lead the 11th annual peace pilgrimage from the Peace Pagoda in Cocke County to Oak Ridge. All are welcome to walk for part or all of the pilgrimage. Contact: Sr. Denise Laffan, 404 627 8948 or atlantadojo@

• Nonviolence training | Friday, April 3 at Church of the Savior, 934 N Weisgarber Rd in Knoxville. 1:00 - 5:00. A basic primer in nonviolence in preparation for Saturday’s action; everyone is welcome. Persons who might be considering an act of civil resistance are urged to attend. Contact 865 776 5050 or

• Concert for Disarmament | Saturday, April 4, Alvin K. Bissell Park [intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge]. Music, theatre, tabling, great community. Starts 12:30pm and concludes with March to Y12.

• March for Peace | Stepping off around 3:00, the peace march moves us from Bissell Park to the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Plant, about 1 3/4 miles; mostly on sidewalk, but the last stretch is on the shoulder. Accompanied by Peacekeepers and police; safe and fun for families. Bring your sign!

• Action at the Y12 Plant | Intersection of Bear Creek and Scarboro Road in Oak Ridge. We gather at the entrance to the bomb plant. The Action is family friendly, nonviolent, but direct. There is no risk of arrest unless you intentionally participate in a direct action scenario. Action begins when we arrive from the March and tends to last an hour or less. Contact: 865 776 5050 or

Ralph Hutchinson on Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty & Oak Ridge
Wednesday, February 4th at 6pm
Nashville Peace & Justice Center
4732 W Longdale
Nashville, TN

For More Information Contact: Ralph Hutchinson 865 776 5050 or
Contact for Nashville Event: Chris Lugo 615 593 0304 or

Workers File Suit

Workers File Suit Against Largest Military Uniform Contractor for Labor Abuses

On January 28, fifteen workers employed by the largest military uniform contractor in the United States, Propper International, filed a collective action lawsuit in a Puerto Rico court alleging violations of Puerto Rico labor laws.

According to Puerto Rico Law 180, workers are allowed one sick day per month. Propper, however, has been running its facilities without providing sick days to its workers.

The fifteen lead plaintiffs each work in one of Propper International's eight manufacturing sites in Puerto Rico and they are seeking a total of $225,000 compensation for violations of their workers rights.

The suit also alleges other violations of Puerto Rico labor laws including failing to provide the number of vacation days required by law; charging workers vacation days for paid holidays; imposing half-hour lunch breaks instead of the statutory hour break, without properly obtaining worker consent; denying a second meal period to which some employees are entitled when they work overtime, requiring unpaid overtime, and charging workers for work materials.

With 2,500 who may be affected, many have already joined the lawsuit since filing in January. Workers from Propper International factories in Puerto Rico have been working with UNITE HERE to form a union since May 2008.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"SOA 6" Sentenced to Prison

"SOA 6" Sentenced to Federal Prison for Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the SOA/ WHINSEC

Today, on January 26, six human rights advocates appeared in a federal courthouse in Georgia. The "SOA 6," ranging in age from 21 to 68, were found "guilty" of carrying the protest against the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) onto the Fort Benning military base. The six were among the thousands who gathered on November 22 and 23, 2008 outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to demand a change in U.S. policy towards Latin America and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC.

The "SOA 6" spoke out clearly and powerful in court today. They made a compelling case for the closure of the school and creation of a culture of justice and peace, where there is no place for the SOA mindset that promotes military "solutions" to social and economic problems. The six spent the weekend preparing for their trials with a team of lawyers, legal workers and volunteers, and today they stood up for all of us working for a more just world.

The "SOA 6":
Father Luis Barrios, 56, from North Bergen, NJ, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison and a $250 fine
Theresa Cusimano, 40, Denver, Colorado, found guilty and awaiting sentencing
Kristin Holm, from Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison and a $250 fine
Sr. Diane Pinchot, OSU, 63, from Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison
Al Simmons, 64, from Richmond, Virginia, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison
Louis Wolf, 68, from Washington, DC, found guilty and awaiting sentencing

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Call to Young Warriors

A Call to Young Warriors, to all Young People
Lakota Spiritual Leader and Head Man, David Swallow, Speaks to Lakota Youth

by David Swallow, Lakota Spiritual Leader and a Headman of the Lakota Nation Edited and Published by Stephanie M. Schwartz, Member, Native American Journalists Association (NAJA): American Indians today suffer from many problems of the modern world. Alcohol and drug abuse, early pregnancies, gangs, and psychological disorders are everywhere on the Reservations. However, a lot of the development of these issues can be historically traced back to World War II or shortly before.

The 1924 Indian Citizenship Act created a special kind of dual citizenship which made American Indians into citizens of the United States (for the first time) as well as citizens of their own sovereign nations. Finally, Indians could vote. But also, for the first time, they could be drafted into the military.

The young Lakota Warriors looked at the military as a way to prove themselves as warriors. They believed it was an honorable extension of the traditional warrior ways.

So, young American Indians went off to World War II. After 100 years of forced boarding schools which resulted in generations of young Indians losing their sense of identity, family and traditions, the military became like the family they had never been allowed to have. They were grouped into companies which lived together and fought together and bonded with each other as a unit, as a family.

When the young warriors came home, they often became lost. With their military family no longer existing, gangs began to form to take their place. An example is the Hell’s Angels, the famous motorcycle gang, which was started in the late 1940’s. It is commonly believed to have been founded by ex-members of famous military fighting units of the same name.

Then, in 1953, long after Prohibition had ended, President Eisenhower made it legal to sell alcohol to American Indians for the first time. This changed the lives of all Indian people.

In his grandfathers’ day, the Lakota warrior came from a good family where he had been taught good behavior, good manners, respect for all life and good relationship with all living things. His parents never lied to him and he never lied to anyone. He was reliable and practiced honor and respect with a clean mind.

Even with all those qualities, he still had to qualify to be a member of a warrior society. He had to prove himself. It wasn’t just about fighting. But when he did fight, even then he practiced respect. He never mutilated another warrior.

The young warrior also never stole from his own people. He never beat-up or took advantage of his people. He never practiced sexual assaults on anyone.

The young warrior knew his real purpose was to protect his people and their lives. He knew his purpose was to protect the c’anunpa carriers, the sacred pipe carriers, and the holy men and spiritual leaders. He also listened to and learned from the holy men and spiritual leaders. He not only respected and protected life but he also learned to practice compassion. He acted with honor.

The young warrior knew that if he did all this, life would be beautiful and all would live in harmony.

But with the effects of alcohol, drugs, and the continuing policies of the Federal government towards the Plains Tribes, most of this has become lost and forgotten.

These policies aren’t so different from those practiced against other ethnic groups throughout history. The Irish, the Italians, the Jewish, the Gypsies, and many others all experienced what was called ethnic cleansing. But, for the American Indian, the policies still continue today.

These policies try to force us to live in ghetto housing called Cluster Housing. These policies have taken away our traditional foods that kept us healthy. These policies have created a private state prison system that makes money on incarcerating our young people rather than rehabilitating them. These policies have kept my children, my grandchildren and nephews and nieces, from learning how to survive and live from the land.

These policies and politics have created the “haves” and the “have-nots”, a two-level society of extremes on the reservation favoring corruption and nepotism in BIA and reservation government relationships.

We have no YMCA. Many have no job or any possibility of a job. We have no vocational training centers. We have no residential treatment centers for children and teens as an alternative to jail like they have in the cities.

Hope is hard to find. So belonging to a gang has become the only way for many of our young people to feel good, to feel needed and wanted.

Now, they say the Lakota are “Third World Welfare Recipients.” But worse is the fact that our young people steal from each other. Our people shoot and hurt each other. They practice deceit and abuse our girls. Elders now live in fear. The traditional values of the Lakota warrior no longer exist. They have become lost to alcohol and drugs and gangs.

So today, I am calling on all young Lakota warriors and young Lakota people. We need you to help save the future generations to come. Not me, not Grandpa, I don’t need saving. But your children and your grandchildren do.

Get back into your own traditional spirituality and traditional ways and values. Those hold the answers for you. Those will guide you and help you to know who you are more than any gang ever could. And it will be you who will bring the harmony back to our lives.

It will be you who will bring back hope to our People.

Ho he’cetu yelo. I have spoken these words.

David Swallow, Wowitan Yuha Mani
Porcupine, South Dakota - The Pine Ridge Reservation

This article may be reprinted, reproduced, and/or re-distributed unedited with proper attribution and sourcing for non-profit, educational, news, or archival purposes.

Stephanie M. Schwartz may be reached at
View other publications of Stephanie M. Schwartz at

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Report from 'Bail Out the People'

Realizing the Fightback – Some Perspective and Plans

The following was adopted at the Jan. 17 Fightback Conference in NYC. It is a work in progress. In many ways, the U.S.-financed genocidal siege of Gaza that many of us have been demonstrating against in recent weeks is a harbinger of the widening war against the workers and oppressed peoples of the planet that is sure to intensify this year. In 2009, more and more lives are going to be devastated by the biggest global economic crisis since the depression of the 1930s.

This crisis is the challenge of a lifetime for those of us who have made a commitment to fighting for the rights of people. What we do or fail to do will prove decisive in the coming battle over whose interests in society shall prevail.

The election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama, realizes a measure of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. But depression-level joblessness, evictions and foreclosures made worse by cutbacks, war, bigotry and racism are not a dream but a nightmare. This is a time of many contradictions. Many people feel that the new president will bring progressive change but at the same time, there are Black youth being summarily executed by police; Proposition 8; new attacks on reproductive justice; one of the biggest bigots presiding over the inauguration ceremony, the prospects of a widening war in Afghanistan and much more.

Part of the legacy of Dr. King is the understanding that no election or president--however historical and inspiring--can be a substitute for a mass movement in the struggle against war or for social and economic rights. There are signs that the workers understand this.

This past December the bankers and bosses got hit with a one-two punch. The workers at the Republic Windows and Doors Factory in Chicago occupied their plant to win some measure of their rights. One day after the workers victory in Chicago, the Smithfield meat processing workers in Tar Heel, North Carolina finally won their right to a union after a long and bitter struggle. These battles are part of the first chapter of the Fightback that must and will grow. How can we help the development of the Fightback?

There can be no honest discussion about fighting without posing the inevitable question--Is it not time to terminate the capitalist system that appears only capable of trapping the people of the world in a nightmare of endless chaos, violence, misery, suffering, inequality, oppression, environmental destruction and other crises all in the interests of the super rich? How can this question not become the burning question as the absurd rules of capitalism mandate that no effort can be spared to bailout the barons of capitalist finance even while much of the population is pushed into life-threatening poverty? No doubt this unavoidable question will be an essential and welcome part of our discussion during the conference. Even if the question is not openly addressed, it will be the subtext of our deliberations.

However, though its direction is most definitely radical, it is not the intention of this document to unite conference participants around a comprehensive ideological position. Nor does it attempt to analyze the capitalist crisis, or address many issues of importance to all of us. This document is a framework for planning action.

The question this working document poses is more limited. In order to actually do something meaningful about the crisis in the coming weeks and months, can we unite ourselves and other forces around some understanding of what is most important at this moment along with an evolving, flexible plan of action?

High on the list of the important things to understand is that:

• Ultimately there must be a Fightback that is proportional in size, scope, organization and militancy to the threat that the crisis poses to the social conditions of the working class. Such a Fightback is not possible without perspective and plan for the mass organization of working and poor people on a scale unprecedented since the defining labor battles of the 1930s.

• The Fightback movement must be prepared to utilize a wide range of tactics in the struggle including mass mobilizations, demonstrations, direct actions, sit-ins, occupations, strikes, boycotts, encampments and most importantly, organizing.

• As part and parcel of the Fightback struggle, the level of political and class consciousness of an expanding percentage of the working class must grow qualitatively in order for the Fightback to continue and grow. It’s going to take a high level of consciousness for the Fightback to defend itself against efforts from the other side of the class barricade to derail it. And it’s going to take a high level of consciousness to forge solidarity in the large, complex, multi-national working class in the U.S., much of which has experienced mostly fragmentation in recent history.

• The Fightback is set back when racism is not pushed back. The Fightback is set back when trade unions don’t come to the defense of immigrant workers who are being dragged out the work place in chains and bused to jails, left to languish there. Solidarity that transcends all geographical boundaries, local and international, will be the key to the success of the Fightback.

Moving Forward: Challenging Obama’s Stimulus Plan

There are potentially two overlapping yet distinct motives behind the incoming administration’s “stimulus” proposal. One motive is to jump start the economy by infusing another $800 billion dollars, 40 percent of it is tax breaks primarily for corporations, along with some limited extension of unemployment benefits.

The stimulus plan also provides for some aid to states and a large part of the stimulus budget is supposed to be allotted to various projects. Ninety percent of these projects are to be administered by the private sector. The stated goal of the stimulus plan is to either save or create between three and four million jobs over the next two years or three years. This won’t make much of a dent in the rising unemployment rate and it won’t jumpstart the economy.

If the more than eight trillion dollars that the government has either given to or made available to the big banks in order to bribe them to invest money into the economy hasn’t worked, neither will the hundreds of billions of dollars more that the government is planning to fork over to the banks. The big banks are going to sit on all the money they’ve been given until the crisis is over. The problem is that the economic crisis is only getting worse and may never be over.

The other potential motive for big government expenditures during a time of grave economic crisis like during the 1930s is the motive that’s of most interest to us. That motive is fear of workers rebelling. At the point that mass anger, organization and struggle has reached the critical point, stimulating the economy takes a back seat to trying to stop a revolution.

The government and the class interests that it represents have reasons for doing whatever it does; so should the working class. In the context of this economic crisis, it is not in the interests of the poor and working people to wait around jobless, homeless and starving for the big banks to decide that it’s profitable to start up the economy and create jobs. The only rationale that reflects the interests of the working class is to demand that their interests come first before fixing the capitalist economy. Thus, government programs should not have as their objective “stimulating” a crisis ridden economy, but rather protecting people from such a disastrous economy by insuring that social needs come first.

There’s only one sure way for the people to force the government to put their interests before profits, and that’s to put the fear of rebellion in their hearts through mass, militant struggle.

An Outline for the Fightback in Three Phases

One way of looking at our task in the coming months is to break up the rest of the year in three phases based on anticipating how the political, economic and social situation might evolve and how this might affect both the preparation and conditions for the fight back. Of course speculation about what may happen in the future and how that will affect the Fightback is at best schematic and useful only as an outline to measure real developments against.

Phase One: Establishing a Fightback Program

From now through the spring, there will be a great deal of focus on the negotiations between the incoming administration, Congress and Wall St over the details of the stimulus proposal as well as how the remaining $350 billion left over from the $700 billion Wall St. bailout money will be used.

As the politicians, bankers and corporate media dominate and distort the crisis and most importantly, keep the masses of out of the decision-making process, some will wait to see to what extent any of the measures that the branches of government ultimately agree to alleviate the worsening social crisis.

During this time, the Fightback’s priorities would be to plan activities and strategies that establish a people first, programmatic alternative to the government’s stimulus proposal including:

• Opening up the first stage is a national unemployed people’s organizing campaign, together with the effort to recruit an army of volunteer organizers;
• Establishing as broad of a coalition as possible around organizing for mass mobilizations across the country (and the world) on May 1st--International Workers Day--around a program that is centered on the struggle of immigrant workers rights, but broadens the program to include the demand for jobs or income and all of the other issues and demands that reflect the needs of the workers and the poor, including opposition to the wars and;
• Organizing mobilizations around dates such as the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or International Women’s Day, will help build the fight back.

Phase Two: May Day—a possible turning point in the Fightback

As bad as things are today, by mid-to-late spring, unemployment, and foreclosures will be immeasurably worse. It will become evident that the stimulus legislation is not going to have any effect on the crisis. More people will become desperate, angry and ready to stop waiting and start fighting.

If we have done whatever was necessary to forge the kind of alliances and do the kind of grassroots mass organizing around May Day mobilizations, it’s possible that the May 1st mobilizations could be the beginning of the second phase. If we have raised the organizational level of the Fightback and attracted a wider mass base amongst the various sectors of the working class, conditions may be ripe to project more ambitious mobilizations and struggles after May 1st.

Phase Three: March on Washington, D.C. for Jobs/Convening a People’s Assembly

With worsening social conditions, the summer is not likely to be quiet. The combination of the economic crisis and police repression--which is epidemic and deadly all year round but tends to peak during the summer--could spark rebellions that spread beyond the locality of an incident that provoked the rebellion. The late spring and summer could be a time of intensive organizing and planning for a mass march on Washington, D.C. for jobs and other demands.

If there is wide enough agreement, the convening of a National People’s Assembly in Washington, D.C. in the fall in conjunction with others could help consolidate the base and work of the Fightback, become the meeting where everything is assessed and where the direction and next course of action is set.

Proposed Campaigns**Mobilizations**Draft Fightback Program

1. Campaigns

A. Organizing the Unemployed on a Mass Basis

The time has come to launch a national campaign to organize the unemployed as part of the fight for jobs or an income. Every sector of the working class is vital to the Fightback. Mass organizing of the rapidly swelling ranks of the unemployed must be central to a fightback strategy. As the economic crisis deepens, more and more of the crisis will be defined by the depression-level unemployment rate and the fight for jobs or income. Even Wall St. economists now admit that the real unemployment rate is about 14 percent. The unemployment rate for African Americans is twice as high and even higher for young Black people. There may already be as many as 20 million unemployed workers looking for jobs. At the frenzied and accelerating pace that workers are being laid off, by late spring there may be a million layoffs a month for the rest of the year. The unemployment crisis makes every other crisis worse. If you lose your job, you are more likely to lose your home, healthcare, childcare, pension, ability to go to school, and other social necessities. Massive unemployment also tends to strengthen the position of employers against employed workers and union organizing campaigns. No challenge is more urgent than laying the basis for organizing the unemployed. It will take time, commitment, and hard work but it can be done. The first step is to establish an unemployed workers organizing campaign.

Some tactics that may help:

• Calling local or national level “WE NEED JOBS” demonstrations. Another tactic that might be compelling to youth would be to organize demonstrations or other events under around the slogan “JOBS NOT JAILS”.

• Anything that is done, whether ambitious or modest in scope that helps to bring the unemployed out of isolation and helps to give them a voice would contribute to building this campaign.

B. A People’s Assembly

A grass roots people’s assembly movement has already been launched by progressive activists in the South, and the idea of people’s assemblies is being picked up by activists in other parts of the country. People’s assemblies can serve a number of needs in the Fightback including providing a public hearing for people to talk about the impact that the crisis is having on communities and what emergency measures are necessary to deal with the problems people are facing. Moreover, implicit in the concept of people’s assemblies is the realization that the legislative part of government--both at the local, state and national levels--have failed to represent the interests of poor and working people. This failure, particularly in a time of crisis, has made it necessary for people to form their own independent power structures for the purpose of determining what needs to be done in their interests as well as the plan of action necessary to fight for their interests. Right now, people’s assemblies are being organized on a local base. In the near future the Fightback may require the convening of a national people’s assembly perhaps in Washington D.C., possibly in conjunction with a national march for jobs.

C. Support and Expand the Moratorium Now! Campaign

Considering the unprecedented intervention that the government has made to rescue the financial system that created the housing crisis, it is incomprehensible that a simple moratorium on foreclosures and evictions has yet to be enacted. On top of the millions of workers who have already lost their homes, as much as 25 percent of the population--including those who pay mortgages as well as those who pay rent--could be thrown out of their homes over the next two years. There’s has been a lot of debate over what to do about foreclosures and evictions in Washington D.C. There have been countless meetings between politicians and bankers about stemming the wave of foreclosures. Legislation has been passed, reports written, assistance programs set up, web pages set up all with the intent of stopping foreclosures.

All of these measures have two things in common; one, they all involve persuading bankers to find some ways to slow down the evictions instead of forcing them to stop evictions and two, none of these measures has put a dent in the head-spinning rate of foreclosures. The Moratorium Now! Campaign is fighting to force the government at every level to declare a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. The Moratorium Now! movement is growing. It has already made significant inroads in Michigan, Maryland, California and other states. The moratorium movement must be strengthened and expanded. Some organizers are also beginning to demand that the sheriffs and marshals who carry out evictions be ordered by local governments not to carry out evictions. More and more, neighbors and activists are rallying to prevent bankers and police from carrying out evictions on the spot. This kind of grassroots, militant solidarity must and will grow and we should do everything to help it grow.

D. Solidarity with Immigrant Workers

The war on immigrant workers is a war on the working class. The motive behind the mass raids, jailings and deportations is not only to terrorize immigrant workers so as to make it easier to super-exploit their labor; it is also meant to divide workers. Dividing workers is one of the principal weapons that bosses employ, especially during hard times. The Fightback will be imperiled if it cannot in some meaningful way unite all sections of the working class and progressive forces around the active defense of immigrant workers’ rights. This challenge must be an important part of our discussion.

E. Recruiting an Army of Volunteer Organizers

The Fightback must recruit an army of volunteer organizers. Without an army of volunteer organizers, we will not be able to accomplish much. The Fightback needs both veteran activists with experience and skills as well as new people with the time and willingness to help. Most importantly, the Fightback needs volunteers who are able to work collectively, who are respectful of others and who are both capable and committed to interacting with working and poor people of all nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and ages in a manner that is patient, dignified, and devoid of negative presumptions.

2. Mobilizations

a. International Women’s Day
Sat., March 7 and March 8 (International Women's Day)--Organize demonstrations, protests, speak-outs and other forms of actions focused on the impact of the economic and political crises on all poor and working-class women. These actions have the potential of winning more women to the ranks of the army of organizers as well as building for May Day 2009 and beyond.

b. Sat., March 21: March on the Pentagon
On the 6th Anniversary of Iraq War demand: U.S. Out of Iraq and Afghanistan! Stop the Siege of Gaza!

c. April 3 and 4: March on Wall St.—Jobs, Not War!
Anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination

d. May 1st—International Workers Day

e. Fall 2009: Mass March on Washington, D.C. for Jobs or Income now; a National People’s Assembly

3. Draft Emergency Bail Out the People Program

The following draft program is a work in progress. It does not address every issue and concern.
Like the Fightback – it will grow.

• A Real Jobs Program that guarantees either a union wage job or income to all; to be established immediately with the involvement of community and labor organizations, including prisoners, organized in such a way that it’s is accessible to all who are in need.

• An Immediate Moratorium on Foreclosures, Evictions, Layoffs, Untility Shutoffs, and Prison Construction

• An Indefinite Extension of Unemployment Benefits; Expand Unemployment Insurance to All Who are Unemployed.

• No Cutbacks in Social Programs, including Tuition Hikes and Public Transportation Fare Hikes.

• Healthcare for All! No privatization!

• Stop all Federal Raids, Arrests, and Deportations of Undocumented Workers.

• Reconstruction in the Gulf Coast; Fight for right to return for Katrina/RIta survivors guided by a people's elected reconstruction authority.

• Prosecute Racist Killer Police; Set up civilian police accountability boards.

• A Clean Up Now of communities impacted by environmental racism; establish elected environmental control authorities.

• Support Anti-War GIs & Veterans Organizations' Demands, including those for healthcare, benefits, and jobs.

Leonard Peltier's Freedom in Jeopardy

Leonard Peltier's Safety in Jeopardy!

Leonard Peltier was severely beaten upon his arrival at the Canaan Federal Penitentiary. When he went into population after his transfer, some inmates assaulted him. The severity of his injuries is that he suffered numerous blows to his head and body, receiving a large bump on his head, possibly a concussion, and numerous bruises. Also, one of his fingers is swollen and discolored and he has pain in his chest and ribcage. There was blood everywhere from his injuries.

We feel that prison authorities at the prompting of the FBI orchestrated this attack and thus, we are greatly concerned about his safety. It may be that the attackers, whom Leonard did not even know, were offered reduced sentences for carrying out this heinous assault. Since Leonard is up for parole soon, this could be a conspiracy to discredit a model prisoner. He was placed in solitary confinement and only given one meal, this is generally done when you won't name your attackers; incidentally being only given one meal seriously jeopardizes his health because of his diabetes. Prison officials refuse to release any info to the family, but they need to hear from his supporters to protect his safety, as does President Obama. His attorneys are trying to get calls into him now.

This attack on LP comes on the heels of the FBI's recent letter, prompting this attack by FBI supporters as an attempt to discredit LP as a model prisoner. Anyone who has been in the prison system knows well that if you refuse to name your attackers or file charges against them, then you lose your status as a victim and/or given points against your possible parole and labeled as a perpetrator. It is not uncommon, in fact is quite common for the government to use Indian against Indian and they still operate under the old adage "it takes an Indian to catch an Indian". In 1978, they made an attempt to assassinate him through another Indian man who was also at Marion prison with LP. But Standing Deer chose to reveal the plot to him instead of taking his life in exchange FOR A CHANCE AT FREEDOM. When Standing Deer was released in 2001, he joined the former Leonard Peltier Defense Committee as a board member. He also began to speak on Leonard's behalf until his murder six years ago today. Prior to his murder, Standing Deer confided with close friends and associates that the same man who visited him in Marion to assassinate Peltier, had came to Houston, TX and told him that he had better stay away from Peltier and anything to do with him.

We are aware that currently, the FBI is actively seeking support for his continued imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and also also seeking support from Native People. So please be aware, and keep Leonard in your prayers. The FBI is apparently afraid of the impact we are having. If they will set him up to blemish his record just before a parole hearing, what will they do when it looks like his freedom will become a reality? We need to make sure that nothing happens to him again!

Please write the President, send it priority or registered mail. Email to or email President Obama. Call your congressional representatives and write letters, not email, to them. Do what you can to get the word out to insure that LP is receiving adequate medical attention for his injuries.

I am asking you, supporters of Leonard and advocates of justice at this time to help. I don't know what else to do. Please Help!

Thank you Betty Peltier-Solano Executive Coordinator Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee

Also call and request Leonard be treated with dignity and respect.
Canaan Federal Prison

Leonard's prisoner number is 89637-132.

Warden Ronnie R. Holt, Warden
U.S. Penitentiary
3057 Easton Turnpike
Waymart, PA 18472
Phone: 570-488-8000
Fax: 570-488-8130

D. Scott Dodrill, Director
Northeast Regional Office
Federal Bureau of Prisons
2nd & Chesnut Streets., 7th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 215-521-7301

Harley G. Lappin, Director
Bureau of Prisons
U.S. Department of Justice
320 First Street, NW, Room 654
Washington, DC 20534
Phone: 202-307-3250
Fax: 202-514-6878

Ask President Obama to investigate this incident:

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
Fax: 202-456-2461


Time to set him free... Because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

Friends of Peltier

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nashville Celebrates MLK Day

Over 2500 people turned out on Monday, January 19th to celebrate the federal holiday honoring the late Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Nashville. Celebrants marched down Jefferson Street to the Gentry Center on the campus of Tennessee State University to listen to speeches and remember the dream of Dr. King.

Photo by Al Levenson.

Ryan Nominated for Nobel Prize

George H. Ryan is nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

Francis A. Boyle, long-standing Professor of International Law and Human Rights, has nominated retired Illinois Governor George H. Ryan for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. George Ryan's courageous opposition to the death penalty initiated the groundwork for the Moratorium Movement when in the year 2000 he declared the Illinois death penalty moratorium, the first in this country.

The moratorium placed on all executions by the United States Supreme Court in 2007 can directly be attributed to Ryan's principled vision and tireless work to guarantee human rights by abolishing the death penalty both in the United States and around the world.

Although the monumental development of a moratorium was a short-lived reality, the number of death sentences and the number of executions carried out in this country have reached a historical low, and has given promise to the end of the death penalty in the United States -- all thanks to the inspired and driven dedication of one man, retired Illinois Governor George H. Ryan.

In the US 37 executions took place in 2008, marking a 14-year low and continuing a downward trend that began in 2000.
95% of all executions occurred in the South in 2008; 49% were in one state - Texas.

As stated by Professor Boyle, "George Ryan is the beginning of the end of the death penalty in America. Thanks to George Ryan, the death penalty is on its last legs here in the United States. It is up to the rest of us to kill it off!"

Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA

Monday, January 19, 2009

Activist Turned FBI Informant

Call for Statements from Anyone Who Knew or Worked with
Brandon Darby, FBI Informant and Provocateur

Two young men, David McKay (22) and Bradley Crowder (23), are facing years in prison stemming from alleged activities associated with the Republican National Convention protests in St. Paul, MN.. A member of their affinity group, Brandon Darby, admits to being an FBI informant and is expected to be key witness in the upcoming trial on January 26th for David McKay. On January 8th, Bradley Crowder accepted a plea agreement offering a shorter sentence instead of risking 7 to 10 years if convicted during a trial.

Information presented to the judge that demonstrates Darby's history of suggesting, encouraging, or engaging in activities involving explosives, weapons, property destruction or violence is key to the defense of these young men. For David McKay, it could mean a finding of not guilty. For Bradley Crowder, the judge could be influence to exercise judiciary discretion for a shorter sentence.

Anyone who could, and is willing to testify as to their personal knowledge of Brandon Darby suggesting, encouraging, or engaging in any of the activities mentioned above would be a great help to the defense. Your honest testimony in service to the cause of justice for these two young men is not without possible legal risk to you however. If you believe that you have information that could contribute to their defense, Austin People's Legal Collective recommends that you seek council from a lawyer that represents your interest. David McKay's lawyer has arranged for such legal support in Minneapolis. Anyone with concerns about testifying should talk with Daniel Bresnahan who can be reached at work at 612-338-0070 or cell 612-309-8912.

If you or your community does not have a lawyer to consult locally, please also contact us at, we will do what we can to provide you the support and information that you would need to navigate the legal system on their behalf.

The Austin Peoples Legal Collective will be collecting additional case histories and individual accounts regarding Darby's activities so that our activist communities engaged in political dissent can better understand and defend ourselves against the divisive and chilling affects of FBI informants and agents. The immediate priority, however, is to support anyone who can aid the cause of justice for David and Bradley.

The Austin People's Legal Collective
P.O. Box 6324
Austin, TX 78702

Inauguration Bash in Nashville

Davidson County residents who are unable to travel to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of the nation's 44th President will be thrilled to learn that they can get a front row seat to the historic event at The Belcourt Theater tomorrow. "Front Row Seat for History" will be a public broadcast of the Inauguration, live, on the big screen. Nashville for All of Us, a coalition of over 70 local organizations working together to defeat the English-only Amendment, will host the free event at the Belcourt in Hillsboro Village on January 20th. There is no admission fee.

This is a National Day of Community Service event: To honor Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, people around the county will join Obama, Biden and their families by participating in activities dedicated to serving others in communities across America. Guests are asked to bring a children's book (new or gently used) for a book drive for Book'em ( and the Pencil Foundation (, or money to contribute to the Visitation Hospital Foundation (, a Nashville charity that runs a hospital in Haiti. The Belcourt concessions will be open for business, and guests can purchase food and refreshments. The Belcourt is located at 2102 Belcourt Avenue in Nashville. The public event will open at 9:00am Central Standard Time, when Inauguration festivities begin on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. A live video feed will run until Noon, when President Obama completes his Inaugural

About the Belcourt Theatre: The Belcourt Theatre has provided a space for premiere entertainment in the heart of Nashville's Hillsboro Village. During this time, The Belcourt has existed in many incarnations - each of which has furnished a home for some of the city's best and most unusual performing arts. The Belcourt is now the last of the neighborhood theatres to remain operational, and is recognized as a unique cultural icon and as Nashvilles choice for the best foreign, independent, and classic film, great musical performances, cutting-edge live theatre, and unique programming for kids and their families. (

About Nashville for All of Us: Nashville for All of Us is a coalition of over 70 organizations dedicated to defeating the proposed changes to the Metro Charter, which Nashville will vote on by Special Election on January 22nd. The coalition includes business leaders, faith leaders, educators, media, political groups, advocacy groups, and immigrant groups who view the changes as a destructive step backwards for Nashville. (

Event: Public Inauguration Viewing
Sponsored by: Nashville For All of Us
Where: The Belcourt Theater (in Nashville)
When: Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, at 9:00 AM

Greens Run in IL Special Election

CHICAGO - Five candidates will compete for the Green Party
nomination in the 5th Congressional District Special Primary on
March 3, according to candidate filings made with the Illinois
Board of Elections. The deadline for such filings was at 5 p.m.

Candidates include Alan Augustson, who ran for the seat as a
Green in 2008; Mark Arnold Fredrickson, who ran against Emanuel
in the 2004 Democratic Primary; Deb Gordils, who ran against
Alderman Dick Mell (33rd Ward) in 2003; Matt Reichel, who is
making his first run for public office; and Simon Ribeiro, also
making his first run for office.

The 5th Congressional District seat was vacated recently by
Democrat Rahm Emanuel, who took a position as White House Chief
of Staff in the Obama Administration.

The Illinois Green Party became an "established" political party
following the 2006 election, when gubernatorial candidate Rich
Whitney received more than 10% of the vote. As a result, Green
Party candidates at all levels can collect fewer signatures to
get on the ballot, and Green Party candidates compete in
primaries. The first Green Party primary was held in February of
2008, though most of the races were uncontested, except for the
presidential race, which had four candidates.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

NFP Announces Distribution Points

The Nashville Free Press Announces Distribution Points
by Ginny Welsch

A group of us have started a new bi-weekly local newspaper here in Nashville. The Nashville Free Press aims to fill the news void that Gannett, owner of the Tennessean, and Village Voice, owner of the Nashville Scene, have created. Many of the writers are RFN programmers. There are lots of ways you can contribute content to the paper, so keep that in mind if you have some ideas. We'd love to find a political cartoonist, for example.

This is a partial list of where you can pick up our first edition - it came out January 15. Please pass this information to all of your friends, email lists, and neighborhood listservs – that will help with increasing awareness of the paper, and assure that it gets picked up, read and loved.

Some of the locations have racks inside, some boxes outside, and some have loose papers on their tables or in their own racks. There are also many locations in Bellevue, west Nashville, Belle Meade, etc., but I don't have that updated list yet.

Our web site, will be live this week. I'm working out the last kinks. Let me know what you think.


Bongo Java

International Market




Pancake Pantry


Sam and Zoe's




Edgehill Coffee Shop

1102 Bldg., 17th Ave.


Frothy Monkey

12 South Tap Room


Corner Bar



Goldie's Deli

Green Shop

Produce Place Sylvan Park


3 Crow Bar

Turnip Truck


Grrove Records


Portland Brew

Fresh Blends

Rosepepper Cantina

Lipstick Lounge


Pied Piper Café



Borders Books

Ted's Grill

FYE Media


Mellow Mushroom

San Antonio Taco

Pizza Perfect

Music Row Bar & Grill

Broadway Brewhouse


Legislative Plaza







Green Hills






Hillwood Presbyterian



Belle Meade Barber Shop

Calypso Café - Harding Rd.

TTPC Urges Swift Passage of ENDA

TTPC Welcomes New President, Urges Swift Passage of ENDA

This Tuesday, we will watch as history is made when Barack Obama of Illinois is inaugurated as the nation's 44th President of the United States. During the hard fought campaign, President-Elect Obama pledged his support for equal rights legislation, including a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

We all need to work together to ensure that an ENDA emerges from Congress that bans discrimination against all Americans regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We also need to make sure that Congress understands that we will not accept any non-discrimination legislation that does not cover all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. If the contributions of all LGBT persons are valued in the workplace, then it reduces the risk of a person being forced to survive on the streets, making them more vulnerable to hate crimes or sexually transmitted diseases.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition asks that you contact your members of Congress this week and tell them about the importance of an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Your message can be short and simple: Let them know you are a constituent and that you support the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would ban discrimination against all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Please contact both of Tennessee's Senators, Lamar Alexander (R) and Bob Corker (R),
and your Representative and tell them you want to them to support one ENDA that covers all Americans, and to reject any ENDA that leaves anyone behind:

Phil Roe, M.D.(R)
John Duncan, Jr. (R)
Zach Wamp (R)
Lincoln Davis (D)
Jim Cooper (D)
Bart Gordon (D)
Marsha Blackburn (R)
John Tanner (D)
Stephen Cohen (D)

We know how useful it would be to have a strong, national law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. With your support, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition will keep making the case for equality for all people, but we all have to make the case for equality to members of Congress so they will enact the laws we need.

Marisa Richmond