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13th January, 2007. 4:51 pm. Brick By Brick: A Civil Rights Story

In 1985, the US vs. Yonkers ruling challenged the institutionalized housing and educational discrimination of an entire city. It was the first time housing discrimination was linked to a segregated school system and this ruling codified a remedy for both. The fallout from the litigation exposed the naked bigotry of Yonkers, New York as the white community resented any effort to expand access to better, more integrated housing for minorities. On February 9th, at 9:00 PM, Brick By Brick: A Civil Rights Story, a one-hour documentary about Yonkers will air on New York’s local PBS station Channel 13. This important documentary was produced and directed by William Kavanagh. I’m hoping with the help of the progressive netroots, PBS will be persuaded to show his documentary to a national audience. As Kavanagh put it to me,

“The fact that Yonkers (as well as other cities which were not held to account in court) essentially kept their foot-dragging and evasion going for so many years after going into contempt of the Federal courts in 1988 is symbolic of the turn that civil rights enforcement has taken since the end of the Carter Administration, when US vs. Yonkers was originally filed. The film title is a bit of tribute to the folks who pressed on, despite the odds, to fight for an equitable end to the situation there.”

Read, "Brick By Brick: A Civil Rights Story" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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28th December, 2006. 1:29 am. The Mixed Legacy of Gerald R. Ford

The mainstream media prefers to lionize former presidents when they die and Ford is regarded as a decent caretaker who restored confidence in the republic. Ford does deserve credit for not resorting to the politics of slash and burn when campaigning for reelection in 1976. Unfortunately, Ford’s political weakness helped pave the way for the ascendancy of dark political forces responsible for much of America’s abysmal leadership today. And that too is part of Ford’s legacy.

Read, "The Mixed Legacy of Gerald R. Ford" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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21st December, 2006. 11:41 pm. Democracy's Mr. Fix It: A Podcast Interview With Author Joel S. Hirschhorn

Prostitutes are held in higher esteem then today’s politicians because at least they’re providing a service. Our elected leaders appear to only service themselves and their cronies as Hurricane Katrina exposed to our national shame in 2005. Many progressive political activists such as myself believe the best approach is to take over the Democratic Party the same way conservatives captured the GOP. Joel S. Hirschhorn, author of Delusional Democracy: Fixing The Republic Without Overthrowing The Government (Common Courage Press) disagrees. He advocates for the systematic dismantling of the two parties “duopoly” instead and he agreed to a healthy give and take in a podcast interview.

Listen To, "Democracy's Mr. Fix It: A Podcast Interview With Author Joel S. Hirschhorn" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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10th December, 2006. 8:59 pm. Memo To Incoming Congress: Save Our Country

Iraq continues to burn, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and America is perceived as a rudderless giant. Under the Bush regime America is weak and immoral. That is a recipe for calamity. Triangulation and splitting hairs is not an option. Our national security is under the command and control of a sixty-year old adolescent (Bush), a feculent viceroy (Dick Cheney), an inept bureaucrat (Condi Rice) and a scandalous Washington retread (Robert Gates on December 18th).
 
Ten members of the Washington elite establishment known as the Iraq Study Group released their highly anticipated report. Their language was blunt in casting blame on the Bush Administration and dispelled the notion we’re winning in Iraq. It didn’t however go far enough in setting a timetable for withdrawal because they wanted to maintain a bipartisan veneer and not be rejected by Bush. The only bipartisanship I’m interested in is for congressional Democrats to stiffen their spines and hopefully a few congressional Republicans will develop a soul. Either way, congress has only three options: Impeachment, Invoking the War Powers Act or Cutting Off Funding.
 
Read, "Memo To Incoming Congress: Save Our Country" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.
 

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6th December, 2006. 10:48 pm. Memo To Democrats: Repeal Bush's 2005 Bankruptcy Law

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was arguably the most odious piece of domestic legislation the previous congress passed. President Bush and his party typically cited it as among their “accomplishments” and the media seldom questioned whether it was a good idea. Indeed, it illustrated the sheer indecency of the Republican Party machine and pervasive influence of banks, credit card companies and the financial services industry as a whole.
 
While attending graduate school I interned at the corporate library of American Express in 2001. I maintained a journal of my experience and memorialized a conversation with a Vice President I occasionally performed research for and was on good terms with. I asked this gentleman why American Express was targeting less affluent people and wondered if they were assuming an unreasonable risk in doing so. He told me,

“They’re all going to have to pay eventually. The lawmakers are on our side because of heavy campaign contributions from our                           
industry. First 
we have to get Joe and Jane Smith hooked on the great American drug: credit.”
 
Well now the political landscape has changed with newly elected populists poised to take control in January. I didn’t phone bank after hours and weekends prior to Election Day because it was fun. I did it because I want change. The bankruptcy law of 2005 is a prime example of what Democrats need to change forthwith.
 
Read, "Memo To Democrats: Repeal Bush's 2005 Bankruptcy Law" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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30th November, 2006. 9:14 pm. Wanted: An Atheist Candidate For President

Every time I read a poll that says candidates must be people of faith to be considered viable by religious voters I cringe. It shouldn’t be that way. First we need to break a barrier and have an atheist throw their hat in the ring. Hopefully a courageous trailblazer will enable the public to perceive future individuals as candidates who happen to be atheists instead of an “atheist candidate.” And that will be better for everyone.
 
Read, "Wanted: An Atheist Candidate For President" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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30th November, 2006. 9:12 pm. Tears For the Once and Future King

The Presidency beckons. You attract citizens ready to follow the banner of segregationist George Wallace and followers of Martin Luther King. Older people who crave order and inspired youth envision their salvation through your candidacy. Migrant workers, Native Americans and the poor believe you’re the one who understands their need for respect and dignity.

And there is the horrible war. The country is losing faith and wants an honorable exit. Civil unrest intensifies as America’s social fabric unravels. Your soul mate Martin Luther King is gunned down like your brother. A crowd is engulfed by grief and ready to erupt in violence. You remind them that you lost too and want no more senseless killing.

All this is happening and to millions you’re the singular figure that can heal, soothe and deliver peace. How can others feel despair or hopeless when you’re quoting George Bernard Shaw:

“Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”

And you’re taken from us and all that promise is left unfulfilled.

Read, "Tears For the Once and Future King" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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19th November, 2006. 2:31 pm. ILJ's One Year Anniversary

Whenever reading about bloggers in the mainstream press I’m amazed at how we’re portrayed: “dangerous,” “extreme” and with subversive values. Recently at a Barnes & Noble I spoke with someone at the history section. Somehow the topic of liberal bloggers came up and I admitted I was one. Her response to me was, “oh you’re one of those people.” I had to laugh.

Yes I’m one of “those people” whatever that means. And who are we? True enough the blogosphere has characters I would rather not be associated with – inevitable considering its size. For the most part bloggers resemble your neighbors down the street.

If you take a look at my left sidebar, underneath “Friends of ILJ” you’ll notice Joe Irvin's Blog. An editor of a small city newspaper for 35 years, Joe served in the U.S. Army and raised two children with his wife. Yes, I see why people might fear someone like that. Decent people with sense are dangerous.

Read, "ILJ's One Year Anniversary" in Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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12th November, 2006. 11:25 pm. Capitalism's Redeemer: A Podcast Interview With Author Peter Barnes

Peter Barnes, the author of Capitalism 3.0: A Guide To Reclaiming The Commons (Berrett-Kohler Publications, Inc.) began his career as a reporter for the Lowell Sun (Massachusetts) and later wrote dozens of articles for Newsweek and The New Republic about economics.

“But my real economic education began in my thirties, when, after a midlife crisis, I abandoned journalism and plunged headfirst into capitalism.”

Specifically, Barnes considers how modern life has diminished “the commons”: a generic term like the “market” or “state” referring to assets we inherit such as the ecosystem or the culture we create.

His book partly explains how capitalism’s past and current “operating systems” have devoured nature and he provides a blueprint to upgrade it for modern life. In devising this upgrade Barnes believes society must go beyond the antiquated paradigms of government regulation or market solutions. He contends societies should construct “trusts” that preserve the commons for future generations instead.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., of the Natural Resources Defense Council praised the book:


“Using his years of experience as a successfully entrepreneur, Barnes shows how capitalism can be upgraded so that it protects rather than devours our planet. Required reading for everyone who looks further than the next quarter’s results.”

Barnes agreed to an interview with me about his book and ideas for upgrading capitalism.


Listen to, "Capitalism's Redeemer: A Podcast Interview With Author Peter Barnes" in the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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5th November, 2006. 2:58 pm. Turning On the Jane's and Phone Banking

A conversation I had with a woman from Cuyahoga County, Ohio Friday evening especially illustrates the challenges we face in getting out the vote this Tuesday. As with numerous others I’ve spoken to in recent days she was cynical and resistant to the idea of voting at all. We’ll call her Jane.

Jane’s immediate response to my inquiries about whether she intended to vote or knew where to go was,

“I’m not waiting online all day like last time. Screwed up my whole day and my vote for Kerry didn’t count anyway. It was stolen.”

Jane is a single woman raising two kids and a nurse. She’s living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to be a good mother. Her children are twelve and nine years of age. Jane’s job does not allow her to be home for her kids after school.

Jane had two younger brothers. One died in Afghanistan in 2003 and the other was killed in Iraq in 2004 when he was forced to endure another tour of duty. The one in Afghanistan signed up shortly after 9/11 even though he had a football scholarship. Her other brother enlisted in the National Guard prior to 9/11 and had no choice about going to Iraq. She’s angry about losing both of them to “Bush’s wars.”

“My brother in Afghanistan might be alive but they don't get enough support because of Iraq. My brother in Iraq was supposed to come home.”

Read, "Turning On the Janes and Phone Banking" in the
Intrepid Liberal Journal.

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