Yes, there are plenty of Asshats, but there are those who belong in the Hall of Fame as well. We can’t have one without the other, so here’s a page dedicated to those who just plain deserve to be admired. They don’t all work in Washington, D.C. and they’re not all famous. Some of them are everyday people.
Aaron Schwartz (Citizen, Internet Activist)
Here’s the world we live in: Bankers and Wall Street executives destroy the economy and ruin countless lives, but they’re too big to prosecute. Since the great economic crash of 2008, not one of them has been prosecuted, let alone jailed. And they won’t be. Yet, Aaron Schwartz — whose great infraction was to download articles and make them available to the public — was hounded by the Department of Justice to the point where he committed suicide at the age of 26. Let’s be specific about what was involved here. Schwartz was accused of using MIT’s network to download “too many” scholarly articles from an academic database called JSTOR. When they tried to block him, he found a way around it. Schwartz was an Internet activist with a desire to make the world a better place. He was the co-founder of the RSS feed site called Reddit at the age of 19. We don’t value people like Aaron Schwartz in this nation. We prefer the dirtbags whose only goal is to line their own pockets in the name of “capitalism,” even if it means we screw the average citizen over along the way. Those people, my friends, are true Americans.
JSTOR chose not to prosecute, but the snobby, elitist MIT — along with the DOJ — was determined to continue tormenting Aaron Schwartz. At the time of his suicide, Schwartz faced 13 felony charges and up to 50 years in prison. Don’t listen when they tell you Aaron Schwartz had a history of depression. He didn’t. He was the victim of judicial overreach for daring to rock the boat, and saw no way out. The DOJ was determined to make an example of Schwartz. Too bad they couldn’t show this level of tenacity with real criminals and law breakers.
Aaron Schwartz once worked for Representative Alan Grayson. He was asked to speak at a memorial service for Schwartz in Washington, D.C. I urge you all to read what Grayson had to say about what we’ve all lost as a result of this unfortunate event.
Vice President Joe Biden’s Debate With Paul Ryan
If anybody belongs here this week, it’s smokin’ Joe Biden hands down. He was more than ready for his debate with lying sack of shit Paul Ryan, who proved once again that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Maybe he learned how to lie from his illustrious running mate, Mitt Romney. He’s such a pathological liar that he lies about his lies. If you watched, you saw Joe Biden laughing quite a bit. It wasn’t because he was amused. It was because the consistent string of GOP lies is almost unbelievable. At least Joe Biden wasn’t afraid to call a liar a liar, like his running mate was. It’s time for a reality check where the GOP is concerned, and Joe Biden delivered big time.
You can say what you like about Joe Biden, but he did his homework and showed up ready for battle. The American public is dismal at fact checking. They simply drink whatever Kool Aid is served them. Joe Biden was having none of that.
The Eagle Scouts
While the Boy Scouts of America has doubled down and reaffirmed its bigoted anti-gay policy, the Eagle Scouts have taken a stand on the side of LGBT America. Across the nation, Eagle Scouts — the most esteemed rank you can achieve in the Boy Scouts — have begun to return their medals to protest the Scouts’ anti-gay policy.
The Scouts have been pretty quiet about how many medals have been returned, but several letters can be seen on a blog called BoingBoing. Congratulations, Eagle Scouts, for standing up and being counted!
Kameron Slade (Brave New York Fifth Grader)
Kameron Slade is a fifth-grade student at New York’s PS 195. He won a class competition and was slated to deliver a speech as part of the program. However, because his speech was in support of same-sex marriage, his principal told him he would be removed from the competition if he did not choose another topic because same-sex marriage is inappropriate. Here’s Kameron reading his speech:
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard children his age talking about things that really are inappropriate. I’ve heard comments like “That’s so gay.” I’ve heard them call their peers “faggots” during disagreements. To me, those are far more inappropriate words than those of a little boy who is open-minded and unadulterated by the world around him. Let Kameron Slade be an example to everyone, including the principal of his school.
Norman Solomon (Anti-War Progressive Candidate)
With the election just months away, it’s time to start focusing on some grassroots candidates, like Norman Solomon. Solomon is running to replace retiring Rep Lynn Woolsey in California’s North Coast. Solomon has never held elected office before, but he’s been a busy guy. In 2002, he took Sean Penn to Iraq to oppose the invasion. In the last several years, he’s given about 200 speeches and presentations in his district, and wants to carry on Woolsey’s anti-war legacy. Yet Solomon states that he’s more than just an anti-war candidate. He’s a champion of the 99%. “I was the Occupy candidate before there was an Occupy movement,” Solomon said. “I started out of the gate in January 2011, declaring that our campaign is a campaign to challenge the undemocratic power of Wall Street.”
Lynn Woolsey has been a strong progressive voice for two decades, and she will sorely be missed. We’ve also lost a strong progressive voice in Dennis Kucinich. It is critical that we move the country forward so that government and legislation reflects the needs of the 99%. Norman Solomon is one candidate who can help this process.
Dennis Kucinich (Congressman, D-OH)
This is one politician I can say I totally respect. He is not owned by special interests. He has a grasp of the Constitution. And he understands what being a public servant is all about. One of the things I remember vividly about Kucinich happened during the 2008 presidential campaign. He was on Logo with the other Democratic contenders and they were asked to state their position on same-sex marriage. The rest of the pack literally either choked on the question or danced around it, including Barack Obama. Not Kucinich. He stated that he would file an Executive Order legalizing it because you cannot be against it and believe in the validity of the Constitution. But there’s so much more to Kucinich than just that.
His 2008 platform was clear and succinct. His vision was for a single-payer, not-for-profit health care system for all Americans by passage of the United States National Health Care Act. He would work toward guaranteed quality education for all, including free pre-kindergarten and college for those who want it. He would withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He stated that he would withdraw all troops from Iraq immediately and replace them with an international security force. He was not only against the privatization of social security, but of guaranteeing complete social security benefits at age 65. He was in favor of a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMO), repealing the USA Patriot Act, and abolition of the death penalty. He would ratify the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol.
Kucinich has repeatedly voted against the USA Patriot Act, and voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006. He also voted against the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act. He is pro-choice and supports ending abstinence-only sex education. He is in favor of using contraceptives to reduce the need for abortions over time. Kucinich is in favor of abolishing all nuclear weapons, and has called on the United States to be a leader in multilateral disarmament. He is the only congressional member to vote against the “9/11 Commemoration” Resolution. He defended his decision by stating that the legislation did not reference “the lies that took us into Iraq, the lies that keep us there, the lies that are being used to set the stage for war against Iran and the lies that have undermined our basic civil liberties here at home.”
On June 10, 2008, Dennis Kucinich read 35 articles of impeachment against George W. Bush. On June 11, the matter was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The rest is history.
Some people say that Dennis Kucinich is “out there.” And that’s because we’ve become so used to corrupt, greedy, self-serving politicians that we really don’t know what a great public servant looks like.
Update: Since this writing, Dennis Kucinich has left politics, although not of his own choosing. He lost his seat to redistricting, a GOP planned attack that drew an anemic defense from the Democratic side of the aisle. We all know that the puppet-masters of the Democratic Party do not want progressives in office.
William Rivers Pitt (Author, Editor, Political Activist)
Simply put, one of the most eloquent and intelligent voices in the progressive movement. William Rivers Pitt became dedicated to writing during the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton, and committed himself to fighting “the rising tide of conservative fundamentalism in American government” after George W. Bush was elected president. In 2004, William Rivers Pitt replaced David Swanson (who will also find his way onto this page) as press secretary for Representative Dennis Kucinich during his presidential run.
Pitt was born in Washington, D.C., and eventually moved to Boston, Massachusetts. He received his degree in English literature from Holy Cross College, and worked in the law field in San Francisco after graduation. He also taught English literature, grammar, journalism and history in a small private school outside Boston. After his stint on the Kucinich campaign, he gave up teaching and became the editor of Progressive Democrats of America (2005). He is currently the managing editor (and author) of the liberal commentary and news site, Truthout.
William Rivers Pitt is the author of several books, including War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know (2002), The Greatest Sedition is Silence: Four Years in America (2003), and Our Flag Too: The Paradox of Patriotism (2004).
Bernie Sanders (Senator, I-Vermont)
Bernie Sanders is the junior U.S. Senator from the state of Vermont. He describes himself as a Democratic Socialist, and he is the first socialist ever elected to public office in this country. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats and is considered as a Democrat for the purpose of committee assignments. However, because he actually belongs to neither party, he is listed as an Independent. Sanders previously represented Vermont’s at-large district in the House of Representatives, and also served as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
Sanders voted against the resolutions authorizing the use of force against Iraq in 1991 (under George Bush Sr.) and 2002 (under George W. Bush). He supports universal health care, and is against “unfettered” free trade. He was a frequent, outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s cuts in social programs. Sanders was a critic of Alan Greenspan, whom he believed served only the wealthy and large corporations.
Sanders was one of the sole majority members (along with Robert Byrd, Tom Harkins, and Russ Feingold) to vote against confirmation of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury. On December 10, 2010, Sanders delivered an 8-1/2 hour speech against the legislation that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Sanders is a strong and vocal supporter of gay rights, supporting same-sex marriage. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) while serving in the House of Representatives. He is pro-choice and a supporter of women’s rights.
A strong believer in civil rights, Sanders voted against extension of The Patriot Act in May 2011.
Update: Since this post was written, Senator Sanders ran for President against Hillary Clinton in 2016, seeking the Democratic nomination. He took no SuperPAC money and had no Wall Street or corporate donors. He ran on people power with the average donation being $27. The mainstream media virtually ignored him. The DNC, supposedly a neutral entity during election time, blatantly worked against him in cahoots with the Clinton campaign to marginalize his candidacy. In spite of all this, Bernie Sanders ran one hell of a campaign and nearly took out the candidate from one of the most powerful political families on the planet. The only reason he didn’t reach his goal was widespread election fraud, which was revealed in an information dump of DNC emails by Wikileaks. Along the way, Sanders managed to capture the hearts and minds of disgruntled Americans, creating what I, personally, hope will be one of the most productive political movements in American history. Thanks, Senator Sanders, for waking us up and starting the fire.
Howard Zinn (Author, Historian, Political Activist)
Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was an American historian, author, left-wing activist, playwright, intellectual and Professor of Political Science at Boston University from 1964 until his retirement in 1988. An author of more than 20 books, Zinn focused on civil rights, civil liberties, labor in the United States, and the anti-war movement. His most influential work was A People’s History of the United States, which has sold more than two million copies.
Zinn wrote this book because he believed that the point of view in traditional history books was limited. Zinn’s textbook provides many more perspectives, including Native Americans against U.S. and European conquest and expansion, slaves against slavery, unionists against capitalists, women against patriarchy, and African-Americans for civil rights. According to the New York Times, A People’s History routinely sells more than 100,000 copies a year.
In 2004, Zinn published Voices of A People’s History of the United States, a sourcebook of speeches, articles, essays, poetry and song lyrics by the people whose stories are told in A People’s History of the United States.
In 2008, a former student of Zinn’s provided the financial backing to start the Zinn Education Project in an effort to bring Zinn’s teachings to students around the country. The site offers more than 85 downloadable lesson plans to use in conjunction with A People’s History of the United States.
Zinn’s accomplishments have been well-recognized. He received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in 1996 for his leadership in the Peace Movement. In 1998, he received the Eugene V. Debs Award and the Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction. In 1999, he won the Upton Sinclair Award for his social activism. In 2003, Howard Zinn was awarded the Prix de Amis du Monde diplomatique for the French version of his seminal work, Une histoire populaire des Etats-Unis. In 2006, Zinn received the Haven’s Center Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship.
Glenn Greenwald (Investigative Journalist, Attorney )
I remember getting into an argument with a woman on Facebook who was livid that I dared to accuse President Obama of having signed the directive that authorized the NSA to spy on us. (He did.) One thing led to another and somehow we got onto the subject of spying vs. whistle blowing and all the related trappings that follow that topic. We were not seeing eye to eye on this. I happened to put in a link to an article by Glenn Greenwald. She immediately responded with, “Who is this guy anyway? Is he a reliable source? How do we know any of this is true?” I remember typing my reply to her as follows (and, by the way, this is taken directly off his web site):
[Glenn Greenwald is the author of several bestsellers, including How Would a Patriot Act? and With Liberty and Justice for Some. Acclaimed as one of the 25 most influential political commentators by The Atlantic, one of America’s top 10 opinion writers by Newsweek, and one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013 by Foreign Policy, Greenwald is a former constitutional law and civil rights litigator. He was a columnist for The Guardian until October 2013 and is now a founding editor of a new media outlet, The Intercept. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, and various other television and radio outlets. He has won numerous awards for his NSA reporting, including the 2013 Polk Award for national security reporting, the top 2013 investigative journalism award from the Online News Association, the Esso Award for Excellence in Reporting (the Brazilian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize), and the 2013 Pioneer Award from Electronic Frontier Foundation. He also received the first annual I. F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2009 and a 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work on the arrest and detention of Chelsea Manning. In 2013, Greenwald led the Guardian reporting that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service.]
– See more at: http://glenngreenwald.net/#sthash.HVA0yZot.dpuf
Pretty sure that meets the “credible source” criteria. Am I right?
Tulsi Gabbard (Congresswoman, D-HI)
Tulsi Gabbard has represented Hawaii’s second congressional district since 2013. She made headlines on February 28, 2016 when she resigned as the vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for president, proving that she is one of very few Democrats with any kind of ethical character or moral compass. She is the first American Samoan and the first Hindu member of Congress. Along with Tammy Duckworth, Gabbard is also one of its first female combat veterans, having served two tours of duty in Iraq.
In spite of the fact that she is only 35, Gabbard has also served in the Hawaii House of Representatives (2002-2004), and was elected to the Honolulu City Council from 2011 to 2012. She also serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, and is currently a military police officer in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Tulsi Gabbard is an outspoken critic of Hillary Clinton’s interventionist, regime-changing wars, having seen the horror of those wars first hand. This was the driving force that led her to endorse Bernie Sanders for the presidency. In March, Tulsi Gabbard revealed to Brian Williams that she was warned against splitting with Debbie Wasserman Schultz and endorsing Bernie Sanders by Democratic operatives. Not only did she endorse and campaign for Sanders, she was there in Philadelphia to enter his name in nomination at the Democratic National Convention.