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Archive for September, 2010

We’re Not “Whining,” Mr. Biden,
But Democrats in Congress Are Cringing

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

“Campaigning for Democratic candidates in New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden said Monday the party’s base should ‘stop whining.’ . . . [Mr. Biden] said Democrats can win . . . if they draw clear distinctions between themselves and their Republican opponents, and he urged Democrats to ‘remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This president has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises.”

Given a chance to clarify his remarks on Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word (MSNBC), the Vice President said:

“there’s some on the Democratic base, not the core of it, that are angry because we didn’t get every single thing they want. . . . But because there was no public option, some of them are so angry, they say, we’re not going to participate. They should stop that. . . . And so those who . . . didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s time to just buck up here, understand that we can make things better . . . but not yield the playing field . . .”

We agree entirely about drawing “clear distinctions” and not yielding the playing field. But we want Mr. Biden to understand a thing or two.

Following is a letter that we’ve faxed and are mailing to the Vice President’s office (White House fax # 202-456-2461; phone 202-456-1111). A version of this letter will go out this week to the Democratic National Committee and Democratic members of the House and Senate.

Don’t Insult the “Whining” Base While Democratic “Leadership” Cringes

Dear Vice President Biden:

With all due respect, sir, you’re not helping matters by telling the Democratic base to “stop whining.” The reason why our party faces potential losses in November is that Democratic candidates are afraid to fight (Creigh Deeds, Martha Coakley), as sickeningly exemplified by the cowardly choice to not even debate, much less vote on, the expiring Bush tax cuts for billionaires. If there’s an enthusiasm gap it’s because we’re not inspired by the so-called leadership.

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Democrats Entering Campaign Mode as if to Win?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010



“Wonder What’s Gone Wrong . . .”

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

From “American Tune” by Paul Simon

[ YouTube video ]

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. . . And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered

I don’t have a friend who feels at ease

I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered

or driven to its knees

but it’s all right, it’s all right

for we lived so well so long

Still, when I think of the

road we’re traveling on

I wonder what’s gone wrong . . .

.  .  .  .

And I dreamed I was flying

And high up above my eyes could clearly see

The Statue of Liberty

Sailing away to sea

And I dreamed I was crying . . .

.  .  .  .

We come on the ship they call the Mayflower

We come on the ship that sailed the moon

We come in the age’s most uncertain hours

and sing an American tune . . .

—from There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973)

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Photograph by Janet Cameron



Venice (Calif.) Hearts Venice (La.)

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

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9/21 Rock and Rally for Victims of Oil Spill (with live stream)

A benefit concert to aid citizens of Venice, Louisiana, and help with restoration of the BP oil–stricken Gulf Coast. The fund-raiser is the idea of Melissa McGinnis (in video below), host of the hit “green” web series Greenopolis TV. The event is sponsored by the Whole Foods Market in Venice, California, and supported by surrounding communities to help their sister coastal town in Louisiana. From Venice for Venice’s web site:

Join us on September 21st at the Air Conditioned Supper Club in Venice, Calif. from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. for a great night of live music from several local bands and performers such as Adam Darling, Christopher Hawley Rollers, Love in the Circus, Velvet Nation, Leftover Cuties, members of the Lumanaries and The Gumbo Brothers. Door charge of $10, all of which goes to the Venice for Venice fund. More about the bands here.

Venice, Louisiana is one of the cities hardest hit by the recent devastating oil spill. Many families there have not yet received any compensation from either BP or the government and are without a source of income.

Make PayPal donations to the fund-raiser here.

Thank you, California. With love from Louisiana.

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Eisenhower on the Opportunity Cost of the War Machine

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

“Humanity hanging from a cross of iron”

“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 are 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 hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. . . . Is there no other way the world may live?”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

Click here for the text of President Eisenhower’s famous farewell address (1961) in which he warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Click here for a series of YouTube videos of the address.



Is Katrina More Significant Than September 11?

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Thoughts on Two American Traumas

[ Cross-posted at Daily Kos. ]

Between 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, which do you think gets most attention, and why?

What if the national focus on 9/11 is exaggerated and the nation should focus instead on 8/29—Hurricane Katrina—as the catastrophe that signifies the greatest threat to America? The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina has received high-profile attention, marked by the release of feature films (Spike Lee, Harry Shearer), hour-long special reports (Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper), and a presidential address at Xavier University, so we’re not complaining that Katrina has been ignored.

We were in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, and saw men and women in dust- and debris-covered clothing walking the streets in a daze and crossing the 59th Street Bridge into Queens as from an apocalypse. We heard distraught eyewitnesses on pay phones talking about seeing the burning, falling bodies (“Look, Mommy, the birds are on fire”); we have heard first-person accounts from survivors who were just 20 feet away when their coworkers fleeing the burning towers were crushed beneath chunks of falling metal the size of garbage trucks. We’ve heard accounts from neighbors who were trapped on the E train near the World Trade Center while frantic escapees pounded on the doors to get in. The haunting stories, the anguish go on and on. Many others have experienced far worse than we can ever imagine. So, the following thoughts are by no means intended to diminish the trauma of September 11 or the necessity of dealing with al Qaeda and other extremist threats.

Anorexia of the Homeland: Making War While “Starving the Beast”

And yet we think maybe the challenges this nation faces are more accurately represented by the natural and bureaucratic/political disaster suffered on August 29, 2005, and in the following days, weeks, months, years. The United States is falling apart from a lack of funding of every kind of infrastructure—resulting from neglect, indifference, and a mean-spirited conservative agenda that seeks to roll back the progressive reforms of the 20th century. Our nation is in a downward spiral because of political unwillingness to protect the environment and our fellow citizens who are poor, jobless, homeless, in need of medical care and decent education. Our coasts and cities are vulnerable because of long-term environmental neglect and denial of the effects of industry—global warming, rising sea levels, intensified storms resulting from warming seas—and because corporate-captive politicians of both parties have put industrial and political interests ahead of what’s best for the planet, humanity, and other life forms. Even if 9/11 had never happened, all these conditions would still threaten our way of life.

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9/11 “Battle of New Orleans” Joins Victims of BP Oil Spill, Exxon Valdez, Hurricanes, and 9/11 First Responders

Friday, September 10th, 2010

[ The following press release is presented as a public service announcement ]

NEW ORLEANS — In a historic gathering, Gulf Coast residents devastated by the BP oil spill will join 9/11 first responders, victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to share lessons on preparing for future disasters from 1:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. The event starts with a 1:30 meetup at the Creole Queen riverboat at the foot of Canal Street. (See schedule below.)

Outraged by what they believe is BP and the government’s inappropriate and slow response to the Gulf oil spill, this event will, for the first time, join concerned citizens with non-profit organizations for an exchange of ideas on community-led action, in response to the immediate and long-term health, environmental and economic impacts of the BP oil disaster.

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Launching Midterm Campaign, Obama Mocks Republican Recklessness

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

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“We are united. We are strong. That’s why they call them unions.”

President Obama was in full campaign mode as he rallied a lively Labor Day crowd of some 5,000 supporters at Milwaukee’s LaborFest on Monday, Sept. 6. First he talked about what the administration and Democrats in Congress have achieved, then proposed “a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America’s roads and rails and runways for the long term.” We’ll have more to say in the next day or so about his impressive pitch for a National Infrastructure Bank. Meanwhile, here’s what he had to say about the Republicans who think they deserve another turn at the wheel. (The quoted passage begins at about 45:30 in the video.)

“They drove our economy into a ditch. And we got in there and put on our boots and we pushed and we shoved. And we were sweating and these guys were standing, watching us and sipping on a Slurpee. [Laughter.] And they were pointing at us saying, how come you’re not pushing harder, how come you’re not pushing faster? And then when we finally got the car up—and it’s got a few dings and a few dents, it’s got some mud on it, we’re going to have to do some work on it—they point to everybody and say, look what these guys did to your car. [Laughter.] After we got it out of the ditch! And then they got the nerve to ask for the keys back! I don’t want to give them the keys back. They don’t know how to drive.”

And there’s more, much more.

You go, Barack. This is the kind of punch in the face of the Party of No we’ve been starving for for a year and a half.