January 2008 Archives

vc77.jpgYes, the FISA debate is still upon us and I hope you've written like mad to your Senators.

But we must not forget about S1959, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. (Too much of a mouthful? Follow ReasonableCitizen's lead and call it the AQ (or Anti-Quaker) Bill.) Below you'll find all the latest news as well as highlights of oppositional outcry from Sacramento to Atlanta.
Remarkably, in an apparent reaction to vast and sustained criticism, the Committee on Homeland Security released this Fact Sheet in December. (The Center for Constitutional Rights has a Fact sheet of its own here.  After reading it you can sign the anti- petition if it will make you feel better.)

Some folks seemed to think the bill was dead, but it clearly is not. I do think we have some time before it hits the Senate floor, however. My Senator, who is on the Homeland Security Committee, wasn't familiar with it when we spoke last week. If your Senator is also on that Committee, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is asking you to meet with his or her aides.

And now, many smart reasons to fight this bill as though our Constitutional rights depended on it (Oh wait... They do...):
ball dancing.jpgNaturally-colored teeth. Inappropriate eye contact and personal space allowances. There are enough stigmas dictating our grooming habits and everyday interactions.

Now we're supposed to feel lame for paying cash. Thanks, Visa.

You've likely seen the "Life Takes Visa" campaign ads. A flashback to Breakin' 2: Electric Bugaloo, cast from a United Colors of Benetton poster, shows a now vintage Visa scene of choreographed and carefree consumption. Some lame-ass trips up the funk by using cash for a transaction. Not even the most perfectly wrinkled of parachute pants could distract from the shame.

For over a year, this campaign has targeted a variety of audiences in order to castigate the cash-o-philes among us. Why?

Visa says cash and checks represent a $21 trillion opportunity for itself, and for other card companies able to convince customers that charging is preferable to handing over actual dollars and cents.

We knew that it wasn't about fighting global warming or feeding the hungry. We are used to being targeted and manipulated by advertising. But this is just shameless.

Yes credit cards are convenient, but we know their drawbacks. Most folks swiping their cards these days are in debt. Credit card fees drive up prices. Also, each credit or debit card transaction you make is recorded so that profiles of your consumer behavior can be bought and sold. Soon, law enforcement will be able to monitor us in real time as we make credit transactions (great in the case of Amber Alerts, not-so-great for the rest of us who like to move about freely).

Others have raged against the Visa machine. I'm asking you to give the giant a virtual ear-full: Contact Visa to say "Shame on You." Shame on you Visa, for trying to plant insidious seeds of nervousness and social pressure that will germinate as we try to give the cashier exact change.

You could even call or write a letter if you want to be all slow and cumbersome.

constitution-m.jpgMy six hours over the last two weeks were concentrated on civil rights movement immersion (through lectures and documentaries) and meeting my Montana Senator, Jon Tester.

Those two tracks merged last Friday at a Montana Human Rights Network MLK Day benefit. I got to shake my Senator's hand, chat, and give him a fact sheet on the full-on terrifying Homegrown Terrorism Bill. Meeting him was actually thrilling -- rarely have I so respected someone representing me.

Senator Tester assured me he's going to fight against Telecom immunity. He also opposes Real ID, along with Governor Schweitzer (who's turned out to be quite a bad-ass on this issue). He hasn't had the opportunity to dig into the ramifications of the Homegrown Terrorism bill yet, but I trust that he will find it as problematic as most of us do. (After all, the bill's vague language would have labeled Dr. King a terrorist.)

I also believe that Americans will come together to fight for our privacy and basic civil liberties/rights. Dr. King and so many nameless, faceless people gave their time and lives so that minorities would have access to the opportunities our Constitution affords. Now all of us stand to lose them. Those liberties are worth fighting and dying for. So even if in the short time we see our White House criminals get away with monitoring and spying on us, and using double-talk to scare us into giving up our rights, I know that we can make the integrity of our Constitution a campaign issue. I know that we will stand up and write letters and march and fight until we see an America worthy of Dr. King's dream.

~~ Senator Tester
     Montana Human Rights Network

Bring the Bill of Rights to Your Town!

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bill_of_rights_630.jpgThe U.S. is a nation supposedly divided by red and blue, and definitely by pundits. But it doesn't have to stay this way.

More than anything, good and decent people of all stripes are dismayed over the deep divisions and polarization within the country, and looking for some positive first step they can take to build a bridge back to common ground.

This according to Chris Bliss, founder of MyBillofRights.org. Chris not only has an enviable name, but is a world famous juggler who happens to spend many more than six hours per week advocating shared American ideals.

It seems odd, doesn't it, that there are no monuments to the Bill of Rights in the U.S.? Anywhere? MyBillofRights.org seeks to place 3D odes to to the document on public lands in all 50 states.

Symbolic representations of what we share as U.S. citizens don't solve all of our problems, but really do have the potential to inspire. We must continue to strive to uphold the dreams and principles that our most essential documents represent. Shouldn't we be reminded of them at every opportunity? Progress has been made on erecting monuments in Arizona and Texas. Will your state be next?

MyBillofRights.org has provided a copy of the Bill of Rights here, with translations into 14 languages.

~~ MyBillofRights.org

martin Luther King 2.jpgUntil quite recently I wasn’t into monuments. I think it has to do with whatever generational/marketing segment I belong to: all about irony, and too aware of hypocrisy and injustice to spend my time remembering in any sort of predetermined “patriotic” manner.

A couple of weeks ago I finally noticed the Martin Luther King memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

I had passed the roaring waterfall at least a few dozen times on the way to the MOMA or a movie and never stopped because I didn’t know that pictures of King and civil rights leaders and inscribed King quotations were hiding there beneath it. Visitors walking under the fall can’t avoid a slight spray. When I made it to the end and read the final quotation, realizing that the water represented King’s dream of justice washing over us, my own tears spontaneously started flowing.  Seriously. I had to pull myself together before buying my movie tickets.

Now it is one of my favorite places in the city; each time I’ve returned since, I've left feeling fortified by the reminder of the civil rights struggle and committed to doing my small part to promote justice. Monuments can work as important, non-cheesy, living remembrances.

Now, as MLK Day approaches, I'm trying to fill myself in on the history of the civil rights movement. Here's a short quiz to spark your memory (I got 8 out of 12... time to brush up!).


Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.