Pennies from heaven, indeed

August 21, 2011 at 12:25 am | Posted in journalism, Obituary, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Was it just a beautiful dream?

June 24, 2011 at 1:19 am | Posted in civil rights, Economy, elections, Obituary, politics straight up, Reality Bites, Voting Rights | Leave a comment
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Benjamin Franklin signing the Declaration of Independence

In every way imaginable, the Right opposes both the inclusiveness and expansiveness that characterized the last three centuries of democratic advance. It is not coincidental that its two great avatars, Thatcher and Reagan, confirmed their political position by breaking strikes.

Mother and child of agricultural day laborers family encamped near Spiro. Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. 1939 June. Photographer, Russell Lee (Library of Congress)

The American polity is foundering in a perfect anti-democratic storm created by, in combination, a depth of inequality that appears unyielding to any prescription and that is maintained by a sclerotic political system; a state that can be mobilized only for self-destructive imperial adventures; a dangerously irrational subset of the citizenry fed toxic propaganda by an hypertrophied mass media; and a financial plutocracy that seems to have outreached all possibilities of containment. If this tendency continues, democracy will become less a contested terrain and more a land of myth and legend.

From Farewell to Democracy? by Philip Green

Fuck it.

August 21, 2010 at 12:05 am | Posted in Obituary | Leave a comment

View of the great railroad wreck: The most appalling railroad disaster on the Continent, on the T. P. & W.R.R. near Chatsworth, Illinois, of the Niagara Excursion Train, at midnight, August 10th, 1887; From north side, looking east, showing distinctively a portion of the nine cars which were piled in a space 40 x 60 feet. Harlan Holferty, photographer (Library of Congress)

This country is a train wreck, and there doesn’t seem to be any will on the part of Democrats — I’m looking at you, President Obama and Harry Reid and Howard Dean — to stand up for what’s right and necessary.

Others cover the clusterfuck that is America better than I can, like these guys (in no particular order):

PERRspectives

Sadly, No!

They Gave Us A Republic

Political Animal

Rumproast

ThinkProgress

They can be found in the blogroll, along with many other fine purveyors of bad news.

John Murtha (June 17, 1932 – February 8, 2010)

February 8, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Posted in House of Representatives, Obituary | Leave a comment
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(NYTimes) Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a gruff ex-Marine who was one of the most hawkish Democrats in Congress but who became an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, died on Monday in Arlington, Va. He was 77.

[snip]

The first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress, Mr. Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize use of military force in Iraq. But he evolved into a leading foe of the war as it was conducted under the administration of President George W. Bush.

“The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,” Mr. Murtha said in November 2005, as he demanded an immediate withdrawal of American troops. He called the Iraq campaign “a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.”

Murtha represented Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district in the US House of Representatives from 1974 until his death earlier today, but his long career in politics began in 1969, when he was elected to represent the 72nd legislative district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Often at the center of scandal, he nonetheless became a hero to many for his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq.

Condolences to his family and friends.

RIP Howard Zinn

January 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Posted in Obituary | Leave a comment
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Civil rights march on Washington, D.C, 1963 Aug. 28. (Library of Congress)

Howard Zinn, activist, historian, educator and author of a number of books, including A People’s History of the United States, has died at age 87.

The Terrorists Have Won

January 21, 2010 at 11:56 am | Posted in Judiciary, Obituary, politics straight up, Reality Bites, terrorism | 1 Comment
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Before funeral services in undertaking parlor. Southside of Chicago, Illinois. c.1941 Apr (Library of Congress)

It’s official. Corporations may now openly buy seats in the House, Senate, governorships and the White House.

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

The court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns and threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

The illusion that ours was a government of, for and by the people has been thrown aside. We are now officially a government of, for and by Our Corporate Overlords.

Sporting of them to “almost certainly … allow labor unions to participate.”

UPDATE: Go here to read relevant excerpts from the majority and dissenting opinions, or here for the whole thing.

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UPDATE: You don’t suppose Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Scalia and Thomas are currying favor with those who have threatened violence against judges who step out of line, do you?

Honor Soldiers of Conscience

November 11, 2009 at 1:00 am | Posted in Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Obituary | Leave a comment
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U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, at night, with reflection in pool in the foreground. The specific time was 10:30 p.m. on November 11, 1921, the date of the first celebration of Veterans Day. G.W. Stephenson, photographer. (Library of Congress)

This Veterans Day I will be remembering soldiers of conscience.

His warrior name is Wanbli Isnala.

October 7, 2009 at 10:52 am | Posted in Historical, Obituary | Leave a comment
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In January 2006 Corporal Brett Lundstrom was the first Oglala Sioux to be killed in the American war of aggression against Iraq. He was given full honors by his tribe in a five-day funeral at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Kyle, South Dakota.

Bands of warriors: U.S. Marines prepare to transfer the flag-draped casket carrying Cpl. Brett Lundstrom, 22, from a hearse to a wagon last Saturday on the road leading to Kyle, S.D. He earns the American flag from his government, says Vietnam veteran John Around Him. He earns the eagle feather from his people.  Photo by Todd Heisler © The Rocky/2006

Bands of warriors: U.S. Marines prepare to transfer the flag-draped casket carrying Cpl. Brett Lundstrom, 22, from a hearse to a wagon last Saturday on the road leading to Kyle, S.D. "He earns the American flag from his government," says Vietnam veteran John Around Him. "He earns the eagle feather from his people." Photo by Todd Heisler © The Rocky/2006

(Rocky Mountain News) Among his distant relations was Dewey Beard, also known by the Indian name Iron Hail, who fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and who also survived the 1890 massacre at nearby Wounded Knee. A grandfather on his father’s side was Red Cloud, one of the great Lakota leaders of the 1800s.

More recently, his great-uncle, Charlie Underbaggage, was killed at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Another great-uncle, Alfred Underbaggage, was killed in Korea. He has relatives at Pine Ridge who served in Vietnam and Desert Storm. His father, Ed, was a career Marine, and retired recently as a major.

At the time of Brett’s death, his brother, Eddy – his only other sibling – was serving in the Army, stationed in the Iraqi hot spot of Tikrit.

“He was born to be a Marine,” said Philip Underwood, who first met Brett when they were teenagers. By then, Lundstrom had long since decided to join the armed forces. The two friends spent the bulk of their time razzing each other, rarely serious – until it came to the Corps, which spawned a conversation that’s rarely spoken, even among the best of friends.

“As a friend, he told me one time, ‘I will die for you,’ ” Underwood said.

Lundstrom’s parents grew up on and around reservations – his father at nearby Rosebud, his mother at Pine Ridge – but due to Ed Lundstrom’s job with the Marines the family moved around the country, spending most of their time in Virginia.

Though the family returned to the reservation only periodically – primarily when Brett was young – Brett retained an interest in Indian tradition.

In January 2003 he enlisted, not only in the Marines, but in the most dangerous job in the Corps – one that would almost certainly send him into battle.

“I always told him he volunteered twice. Not only did he volunteer as a Marine, he volunteered to be infantry,” Ed Lundstrom said.

“I tried to talk him out of it. He had so many other options besides enlisting. But he knew what he was getting into. He went into it eyes wide open,” he said.

Brett served three months in Afghanistan in 2004. Nine months later, in September 2005, he headed to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

RIP: Senator Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009

August 26, 2009 at 9:05 am | Posted in Obituary, senate | Leave a comment
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Edward Moore Kennedy, ca. 1968.  Yousuf Karsh, photographer (Library of Congress)

Edward Moore Kennedy, ca. 1968. Yousuf Karsh, photographer (Library of Congress)

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

– Senator Edward M. Kennedy, August 1980

The office of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is asking the public to, in lieu of flowers, donate money to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, a new project of the University of Massachusetts that will be located next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

AKM informs us:

Senator Kennedy’s last wish, which he wrote to the Massachusetts Legislature recently was that the Governor be allowed to appoint a temporary senator to fill his seat when he passed. Keeping a strong progressive voice in that Massachusetts Senate seat will be critical to the health care debate, and there are those who will seek to put roadblocks up and keep the seat vacant for the next five months. Please click HERE and sign a petition to the Massachusetts Legislature asking them to fulfill the Senator’s last wish.

I absolutely agree that the Governor should be able to appoint a temporary senator. In fact, this morning I phoned my state rep, state senator and the Governor’s office to let them know exactly that. I was informed that the Legislature plans on screwing around until some time in September. If you are a Massachusetts resident, sign the petition and phone and/or write your state rep and senator. It is important that Senator Kennedy’s legacy not be squandered because the United States Senate is short one strong voice.

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