HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » bigtree » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Next »

bigtree

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 50,919

Journal Archives

Plant Giveaway



HAD our third plant giveaway at our house, Sunday. We take divisions from our garden yard and plant them up in old pots we've saved over the years. This year we had donations of old pots and trays from a few customers at David's Natural Market -- where my wife works-- which helped expand and round out our collection.

The folks who visited and picked up a few plants got to expand their own gardens, and, in some cases, start new ones. One lady had an eroding bank where the county had installed a drainage pipe as a weak solution and she was going try to plant there to take advantage of the moisture.

We had a family with their challenged son who took advantage of a tour of the garden and it proved to be just the right fit for their very expressive and active companion. Lots stuff around to spark lots of questions from the young man and lots of answers were happily available as Karen guided them around.

A friend from Karen's job came by with a few of his buddies and spent an hour or so hanging out in the garden and talking about life, nature, and the rest. No politics today; just talk about much of the things which underlie our political ambitions. Conservation, environmentalism, sustainable living . . .

Other folks just dropped by for a few minutes to help themselves with a wave to the house as they were leaving. It was ghastly hot, so it kept the numbers of visitors down from past years.

Also, there weren't as many plants which stood out as winners, like the hostas I had provided for the last two. I spread the divisions out in the yard last year, so I should have a more interesting selection next time when those plots mature.

This year we had a neat lysimachia, 'Firecracker,' which was a royal Hort. Society winner in 1996. There were generous sprigs of lirope for an evergreen groundcover. We had some pots of oenothera tetrogona, day-opening 'Sundrops'; some sweet woodruff (galium odoratum); sprigs of oat grass; and some mystery daylillies.

If we get enough pots back, we plan on having one more giveaway this year -- kind of splitting it up -- where I plan on having some coleus cuttings; some sedum starters; some bright-yellow sweet flag sprigs; and some more lirope, this time in bloom.

It makes me feel good to know there are new plantings being tended to around the community which started in my yard. In our neighborhood, we have a lot of homes with large plots of grass between the street and their home. All of that grass gets chemicals applied each year to maintain them, and those nutrient and minerals flow right down the hill to our couple of lakes and stimulate algae an other plant growth in the water which can stifle and kill the aquatic life there.

We stopped the cycle in our own yard and replaced 90% of the grass with other plants. We have a rooftop gutter hose which channels the rain into our rainbucket. That gives us enough water to maintain most of the growth during the rest of the mostly rainless summers around here after July. We hope to provide a pleasant and interesting yard for ourselves and our neighbors.

We'd also like to encourage folks to plant up more of their grassy yards with a variety of specimens and to try and maintain them as organically as possible. just a suggestion, of course, it's hard work to get started; rewarding, though, I think. So, that was plant giveaway day, 2012. Looking forward to trying for another this year, and already looking forward to 2014!


watch short video of some visitors talking with my wife and son: http://www.facebook.com/v/205616842893798


Romney's Smackdown of Teachers, Firefighters, Police Is No Gaffe

from HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/romney-gaffe-obama-gaffe_n_1582556.html

Mitt Romney, seeking to capitalize on a damaging mistake Friday by President Barack Obama -- the president's careless comment that "the private sector is doing fine" -- responded with a gaffe of his own.

"He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?" Romney said at a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa. "The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people. . . . more"



Romney and his republican counterparts in Congress have been fighting President Obama's efforts to defend and help increase the jobs of teachers, firefighters, and police his entire time in office.

In fact, the very same speech of the President's that Romney is criticizing was an appeal to his republican buddies to do SOMETHING to save these local and state jobs and to help keep our neighborhoods and communities safe and productive.

What's Romney's plan to stop the hemorrhaging of local and state employees? There isn't one. His political rhetoric calls for even more cuts in our social safety nets; even more draconian cuts in basic services and basic needs of our communities. It was no gaffe when he criticized President Obama's call for more stimulus funds to ailing regions of the nation still reeling from the economic meltdown his party's brand of on-your-own economics had fostered.

The first stimulus bill initiated, passed, and enacted by this President has been the main whipping post of the republican cabal working to unseat him since his first day in office. The Recovery Act took the focus away from their Bushian bank bailouts and invested in people and communities to help them maintain their grip and balance on those elements of government which actually sustain and enhance our lives.

It's not bank money (mostly spent and paid back) which they're harping on; it's the portion of the Recovery Act which gave aid and comfort to average Americans at a time of great need that they just can't countenance this President receiving the credit he deserves.

Consider the impact of that Act, passed shortly after President Obama assumed responsibility and control over managing and mitigating George Bush's economic meltdown. We don't have to look any further back than just yesterday where the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the vast majority of economic experts have reiterated the degree that the Recovery Act has helped boost the economy.

from the WaPo:

On Wednesday, under questioning from skeptical Republicans, the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. And, he said, the vast majority of economists agree . . .

(CBO Director Douglas) Elmendorf’s testimony came in response to questions from Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a member of the tea party caucus. Huelskamp asserted that the stimulus was a failure because it did not keep the jobless rate below 8 percent, as the Obama administration predicted.

“Where did Washington mess up?” Huelskamp demanded. “Because you’re saying most economists think it should’ve worked. It didn’t.”

Most economists not only think it should have worked; they think it did work, Elmendorf replied. CBO’s own analysis found that the package added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of 2010, and may have prevented the nation from lapsing back into recession.


Somehow, Romney is counting on Americans punishing this President for rescuing their communities from the tragic and continuing effects of the collapse of the Bush republicans' economic house of cards. Even as these communities are still reeling from the crash, Romney is arrogant enough in his frat-boy style campaign rhetoric to damn these teachers, firefighters, and police for even thinking about help from the federal government.

What would he spend the (borrowed) money on that he'd find upon assuming office? He'd devise even more ways to funnel more taxpayer money into the hands of 'investors' like himself.

here's a Politifact with actual facts:

Romney’s tax plan would affect what he personally pays in federal income taxes. With a fortune estimated at between $80 million and $250 million and 2010 earnings of around $21 million, Romney falls in the top tax bracket. That class currently pays a 35 percent rate. His plan would reduce that to 28 percent.

"The tax plan would cut taxes on the rich a lot," said Roberton Williams, an economist with the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution think tanks that published an analysis of Romney’s plan.

The 20 percent cut, Williams said, is "a huge savings for the people at the top end."


That's Romney's main concern; preserving, defending, and enhancing his rich buddies haul from the federal treasury. He has no concern for the nation's infrastructure or the actual needs of our communities. He's going to stick with his schtick that investing our hard-earned contributions to government in his wealthy industrialists' profit-making schemes will somehow trickle-down to the rest of America. He wouldn't accept that percentage of return on investment for himself; in any instance. You'll get your jobs (maybe, unlikely) when he gets his inflated share.

President Obama has our people and our communities at the top of his economic agenda. In fact, if the political pundits would put aside their gaffe game for a minute and actually report what the president said following his exploited statement about the private sector . . .

President Obama:

"Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."

"And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry. Because the recipes that they’re promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more."

"The truth of the matter," said President Obama, "is that we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone.


That may not be 'fine,' but it's a whole lot of good. What's Romney's plan for preserving these jobs, again? A big fat tax cut for himself and his wealthy benefactors. I'll tell you what. He sure doesn't live anywhere near where the rest of us do.

Fox in the Garden

THERE'S a fox in my garden.

There's a young, small brown fox who has decided that my cottage/woodland garden yard is its new home. I found it curled up asleep on top of the stone wall where the powder-blue star-shaped flowers of the campanula are now in full bloom and spilling over the edge in the morning sun to mingle with the dark-green blades of lirope at the bottom.

It was such an iconic and natural sight that I waited several minutes -- studying this 'wild' resident of our wooded community with fondness and admiration -- until I woke the sleeping beauty with a 'hey!' and a finger pointing in the direction I wanted it to leave. The small, summer resident woodpeckers had already been chattering away like mad. They looked to have decided that I'd gotten a new pet and were arguing their birdie case to me; as much as they were chastising my slumbering visitor.

My fox woke up without the ability to see, as the sunny spot it had chosen put a glare of light between us. It squinted at me at first through one open eye; the other shut as if it intended to snooze just a little bit longer. Then it leapt up and made as quick an exit as it could out of the back of the yard; loping along as fast as its sleep-interrupted instincts could manage.

I'd seen the fox for a few successive years at the back of the yard, sunning itself along the ridge separating the properties. I'd long suspected it had made a temporary home back where I'd dumped a few Christmas trees over the years and may have made a small shelter there.

I've had the lids lifted, carefully, from my trash cans -- and although I suspected it had been a raccoon, I had only seen the fox (and smelled his markings, as well). The other night, I called my wife to the front window in the middle of the night to see our fox weaving in and out of the daylilies, hunting for mice and stuff; barely making itself seen above the dense growth. The next morning I found it had peed on almost every bush in the yard to mark its space.

I wasn't too thrilled to see it taking advantage of the center of my yard, though; even less happy to find its making a regular bed right where I'm trying to naturalize several flowering plants.

I had a beautiful doe with a white rump and splotched coat who had also adopted my yard as her own, and had nibbled a couple of my Asian lilies from the buds right down to the stem. I went out to shoo it away in person one morning, but the sight of this gorgeous deer floored me so much that I froze in place and just went back inside without shooing it away.

I have hoped, to myself, that the fox pee would keep the doe from eating my lilies.

I'm concerned about the potential dangerousness of this beauty of nature, though. I'm worried about it becoming too comfortable being so close to humans (our own, esp.) and the prospect that someone will get bitten. I'd have the same concerns about any stray dog who had gone to ground.

Yet, I'm a bit sad that we can't enjoy this beautiful and bountiful yard on the same terms. It is, after all, meant to be a refuge for nature's offspring. We do need to maintain our respect for our established boundaries, though. Even our birds knew that, instinctively, as they raised the alarm at the opportunistic intruder who, very likely, has made a meal out of some of their offspring.

I'd like to be able to interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.

We have it pretty good where I live. Our community was planned to incorporate nature with the development. We have foot and bike trails which lead almost everywhere you want to go in town. We have trees, galore, and a few small lakes within walking distance. I live in a cu-de-sac neighborhood with minimal traffic. It's really a suburban paradise.


Like most residential areas near large cities, we are feeling the pressure to develop more and further reduce our greenways and other open spaces

We have a county executive who is relatively young, but has risen to the top of our local political establishment. He's also a longtime resident, having grown up right here in town; attended the local schools; knows the community. He's a Democrat, as well.

I first met Ken Ullman when he was making his first run for office. He was going door to door in the neighborhood and I almost missed him as he came by my door. I ran up the street and caught him; shook his hand. He was an affable young man who had an appearance like he had just graduated high school that summer.

He was easily elected in our 'deep blue' community. I had a short conversation about our community with Mr. Ullman when we met. I told him of my concern that we keep and maintain our numerous community centers, and, at least, keep them 'community' centers. He quickly agreed, and he immediately got my vote.

Shortly after he took office, however, Mr. Ullman pushed the local board to reduce the density requirements for our town to allow developers to site buildings and homes closer together. It was a betrayal of what he had represented to me. How did this fresh-faced young man get into the developer's corner so fast?

Since then, I've taken to looking for a Democratic challenger to unseat him; one who promises to halt or slow the development. The shopping center/community center where the natural food store is that my wife works at is at risk of being completely torn down and replaced with a high-rise and office spaces. Naturally, Mr. Ullamn is a strong proponent of the changes. the approval, though, while moving steadily forward, has been predictably slow in winning over our civic-environment-inclined community leaders and advocates.

I imagine he'll eventually get his way and there will be some sort of compromise development which preserves the decades-old natural food store and the handful of other merchants who haven't yet left in the face of fast-increasing cost of leasing their space and bankrupted by the faltering local economy.

We're not optimistic.

Mr. Ullman is personally well liked around here, though. He's probably a good fit for this community; a lifetime resident, he's a natural part of our community landscape. We voted him in; we embraced him. Now he's so familiar and entrenched, I don't think we'll ever rid our selves of him.


Like other parts of the country, we've seen a massive reduction in the number of bees which visit our garden. So, when a wood-boring bumblebee came around last year and ate a perfect little hole into my wooden bench beside my back door and made a home for its mate, I hesitated to immediately look for a way to kill it. I've been without a pet for a while now, and I'm missing that companionship a bit. So, it wasn't really a surprise for my wife to find me downstairs this winter trying to get the plants we rescued from the cold to sit up and bark for me.

Likewise, it wasn't surprising that I made an uneasy truce with this aggressive bee (locust family, I think) and we had somehow learned to keep our distance from each other without the need for me to kill it or without provoking its need to sting someone here. We learned to live with it and added yet another legend to tell of our close relationship with another of nature's creatures.

This year, however, another bee came to the same spot and began work on its own hole. I found some natural insecticide and I coated the bench; spraying a bit on the bee when it returned. that seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately, the bee wasn't dissuaded from making its temporary home there. I went out a couple of days later and found the largest pile of bee-generated sawdust yet, and I knew I had failed to turn this bee around.

I had been pretty proud of myself for the restraint I had shown up until then, but, I was now thinking of all nature's creatures who had shown up last summer to invade the hive hole; most notably a trio of large wasps. I went inside and got a bottle of ant insecticide and started pumping it into the hole. I could hear desperate buzzing inside, so I knew I had it trapped. After a minute, or so of this mournful buzz and my bee fell out of the hole . . . and I smashed her immediately. I felt terrible. My wife says I did the right thing, but I still feel like I betrayed something basic and good inside of me. Oh, well . . .

I carefully checked my back yard this morning for any sign of my fox. I quietly sneaked around the side of the house and I didn't see it anywhere. However, when I went inside and looked out back through the window, my fox was back in its spot; curled up nicely and fast asleep in the morning's warm sun.

I sneaked out the door and crept up slowly and quietly to stand right above my handsome guest . . . I clapped my hands, loudly and shouted, 'Out!' at the top of my lungs.

I miss my fox, already. I'm certain I'll make even more of a fuss if it returns again.




Attorney General Holder's Challenge to Florida's Voter Purge is a Shot Across the Bow

Providing the second blow in a one-two punch to Florida's republican governor Rick Scott's moves to disenfranchise the states' minority, immigrant, and Democratic voters, Attorney General Holder warned Florida's election authorities that they look to be running afoul of both the law and regulations requiring them to submit their plans for consideration under the Voting Rights Act.

LATimes: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-florida-election-laws-20120601,0,7018206.story

A federal judge struck down a key part of Florida’s new election laws, which would have applied to the 62 counties not subject to the Voting Rights Act.

A top lawyer for the Justice Department's civil rights division wants Florida officials to explain why they've unilaterally decided to purge the state's voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens just months before a key primary in the 2012 elections -- an apparent violation of provisions in the landmark Voting Rights Act.

In a two-page letter, T. Christian Herren, chief lawyer for Justice's Voting Rights division, told Florida's secretary of state that officials' decision to comb the rolls for foreign nationals was launched without consulting Attorney General Eric Holder or asking permission from a federal court, long-standing requirements under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Further, Herren writes, the state hasn't officially justified why it launched the scrub, which activists say is haphazard, subjective and disproportionately hurts minority voters.

At the same time, the practice is happening less than 90 days before an upcoming statewide election, which "appears to violate the National Voter Registration Act," Herren said. "Please advise whether the state intends to cease the practice ... so the can determine what further action, if any, is necessary."
The new law, enacted last year, would have required groups that register voters to submit registration forms within 48 hours or pay a $1,000 fine. The judge said that law put “harsh and impractical” restrictions on groups that work to register new voters.

“The short deadline, coupled with substantial penalties for noncompliance, make voter registration drives a risky business,” U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle wrote. “If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives and thus make it harder for new voters to register, the 48-hour deadline may succeed.”


Politico: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/06/doj-eyes-florida-voter-roll-purge-of-nonus-citizens-124982.html

A top lawyer for the Justice Department's civil rights division wants Florida officials to explain why they've unilaterally decided to purge the state's voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens just months before a key primary in the 2012 elections -- an apparent violation of provisions in the landmark Voting Rights Act.

In a two-page letter, T. Christian Herren, chief lawyer for Justice's Voting Rights division, told Florida's secretary of state that officials' decision to comb the rolls for foreign nationals was launched without consulting Attorney General Eric Holder or asking permission from a federal court, long-standing requirements under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Further, Herren writes, the state hasn't officially justified why it launched the scrub, which activists say is haphazard, subjective and disproportionately hurts minority voters.

At the same time, the practice is happening less than 90 days before an upcoming statewide election, which "appears to violate the National Voter Registration Act," Herren said. "Please advise whether the state intends to cease the practice ... so the can determine what further action, if any, is necessary."


Both of these actions -- especially the warnings from the Justice Dept. -- send a message to the other states which might have been considering jumping on the voter purge bandwagon.

Having already challenged at least 9 other instances of restrictive and illegal voting restrictions by states in court filings -- and made inviolate the 'voter id' election procedures in both Texas and South Carolina -- the Obama Justice Dept. is sending a clear message that they will hold state governments to the letter and limits of federal law in their determination to protect voter rights and voter access to the polls.

In the letter sent by the Justice Dept. to Florida's election officials, they not only demand that Florida stop their purge of voters, but that they submit their plans, under the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, to Justice for consideration; noting that, 'the State of Florida, as a whole, is subject to the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993:


This is a clear and forceful shot across the bow of republicans' plans around the nation to 'steal the election,' as Obama's Attorney General told black clergymen this week:

|The Republic: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/CONGRESS-VOTING_8131232/CONGRESS-VOTING_8131232/

. . . Holder told the clergy leaders Wednesday that at least nine lawsuits have been filed over the last two years challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the act — which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get federal approval for changes in their voting procedures — and arguing that it’s no longer needed because the states under it have made great strides in ensuring that voting access is fair and nondiscriminatory.

“I wish this were the case,” Holder said. “But the reality is that, in jurisdictions across the country, both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common — and have not yet been relegated to the pages of history.”

“In my travels across the country, I’ve heard a consistent drumbeat of concern from citizens, who — often for the first time in their lives — now have reason to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation’s most noble ideals. And some of the achievements that defined the civil rights movement now hang in the balance,” he said.


Holder's Justice Dept. anticipated these recent attempts to rig election results by the suppressing of vulnerable voters access, identification, and rights early on in the process. The decision by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to nullify South Carolina's new 'voter id' law, came a week after Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, celebrating the 1965 Voting Rights Act in December.

"Are we willing to allow this era -- our era -- to be remembered as the age when our nation's proud tradition of expanding the franchise ended?' Holder asked in his Dec. 13 speech.

"Although I cannot go into detail about the ongoing review of these and other state-law changes," Holder said, "I can assure you that it will be thorough – and fair. We will examine the facts, and we will apply the law. If a state passes a new voting law and meets its burden of showing that the law is not discriminatory, we will follow the law and approve the change. And where a state can’t meet this burden, we will object as part of our obligation under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act."

"Ensuring that every veteran, every senior, every college student, and every eligible citizen has the right to vote must become our common cause. And, for all Americans, protecting this right, ensuring meaningful access, and combating discrimination must be viewed, not only as a legal issue – but as a moral imperative."

Blame Congress for the slump in employment? Of course, blame Congress.

We all know the President has been pushing Congress for a year to pass his Jobs bill, warning that the jobs economy needed stimulus and incentive to continue to grow. Now, when we get a jobs report that shows a stall in the months and months of steady employment improvement, it's President Obama who should be credited for presenting a jobs proposal -- fighting for it against steady opposition from a republican leadership which publicly and repeatedly promised to spend their time working to unseat him, instead of focusing their energy on rebuilding the economy.

There a defensive feeling in the air among Democrats today, but there should, instead, be OUTRAGE that republicans have dithered with a recovering economy until they allowed it to falter and stagnate with their obstruction

Blame Congress? Of course, blame Congress. The president has very little to do with actually creating jobs. It's Congress' responsibility to approve and allocate any money that could have been used to as a stimulus and incentive for businesses to hire workers. It's not the President's.

Moreover, by law, tradition, and, save a super-majority vote, all 'money' legislation MUST originate in the House; the republican-controlled House of Representatives; the republican House that voters sent to Washington to fix this. They've obviously failed to do their job; much less do it correctly or effectively.

Voters sent republicans to Washington to do more than just oppose Obama. Voters sent their elected representatives to Washington -- both republicans and Democrats -- expecting them (from polling) to work together to help fix the economy. They failed.

The late, Robert Byrd, a legislative and constitutional scholar, spoke often about the responsibility of the legislature; its constitutional prerogative in budget and money matters; and, its frequent and habitual abdication of that responsibility.

"We, as legislators, have a responsibility to work with the chief executive, but it is intended to be a two-way street," Sen. Byrd remarked in an address on the Senate's history.

"The Framers did not envision the office of President as having the attributes of royalty. We must recognize the heavy burden that any President bears, and wherever and whenever we can, we must cooperate with the chief executive in the interest of all the people. But let us keep in mind Madison's admonition: "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."

There is nothing at all stopping Congress from setting their own agenda and acting on it. In fact, the constitution demands that they provide the necessary checks against what they may view as the excesses of the Executive. But, they must also produce more than just opposition to the President's proposals. They need to take the lead in enacting the people's business.

Conversely, they must take the blame when they fail to do so.

The President and Mrs. Morrison

President Barack Obama with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Toni Morrison in the White House, May 29, 2012.












(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


more Medal of Freedom winners at the White House here: http://theobamadiary.com/2012/05/29/medal-of-freedom-2/

Obamas Tweet Rememberances



@MichelleObama Today we pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our country and offer our support to those who loved them. –mo 5.28.2012, 1:11 p.m.




@BarackObama Today, we honor those who loved their country so much they sacrificed their lives for it. We owe them a debt we can never repay. -bo 5.28.2012, 12:35 p.m.


'One thing we can do is remember these heroes as you remember them—'



excerpt from remarks by the President Commemorating Memorial Day, May 28, 2012
Memorial Amphitheater
Arlington National Cemetery

ONE thing we can do is remember these heroes as you remember them—not just as a rank, or a number, or a name on a headstone, but as Americans, often far too young, who were guided by a deep and abiding love for their families, for each other, and for this country.

We can remember Jay Aubin, the pilot, who met his wife on an aircraft carrier, and told his mother before shipping out, ‘If anything happens to me, just know I’m doing what I love.’

We can remember Ryan Beaupre, the former track star, running the leadoff leg, always the first one into action, who quit his job as an accountant and joined the Marines because he wanted to do something more meaningful with his life.

We can remember Brian Kennedy, the rock climber and lacrosse fanatic, who told his father two days before his helicopter went down that the Marines he served alongside were some of the best men he’d ever dealt with, and they’d be his friends forever.

We can remember Kendall Waters-Bey, a proud father, a proud son of Baltimore, who was described by a fellow servicemember as ‘a light in a very dark world.’

And we can remember David Hickman, a freshman in high school when the war began, a fitness fanatic who half-jokingly called himself ‘Zeus,’ a loyal friend with an infectious laugh.

We can remember them. And we can meet our obligations to those who did come home, and their families who are in the midst of a different, but very real battle of their own.




full remarks: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/28/remarks-president-commemorating-memorial-day

"You are all true heroes and you will all be remembered."





President Obama stands with Vietnam War widow Rose Mary Sabo-Brown after he and first lady Michelle Obama laid a wreath with her at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.



President Barack Obama is reflected in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall as he delivers remarks during the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War commemoration ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 28. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)



President Obama:

"Veterans, families of the Vietnam War, I know the wounds of war are slow to heal. You know that better than most. But today we take another step. The task of telling your story continues. The work of perfecting our Union goes on. And decades from now, I hope another young American will visit this place and reach out and touch a name. And she’ll learn the story of servicemembers -- people she never met, who fought a war she never knew -- and in that moment of understanding and of gratitude and of grace, your legacy will endure. For you are all true heroes and you will all be remembered."


full remarks by the President at the Commemoration Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/28/remarks-president-commemoration-ceremony-50th-anniversary-vietnam-war


video: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2012/05/28/president-obama-commemorates-vietnam-war:

Download audio:

mp4 (852MB) http://www.whitehouse.gov/videos/2012/May/052812_NationalMall_HD.mp4

mp3 (55MB) http://www.whitehouse.gov/videos/2012/May/052812_NationalMall.mp3

'Reaching Out' to the Black Community With a Wagging Finger, a Closed Fist, and an Empty Hand




Mitt Romney wants African-Americans to vote for him. At the very least, he wants black voters to think twice before proudly casting their ballot for the first African-American president in the nation's history. That's why his campaign is stepping up their messaging and outreach to the black community, beginning this month -- to try and convince voters (both black and white) that his campaign and party aren't actually the pariahs that their indifferent and mostly hostile positions and statements would suggest.

It's a rather tardy start to this initiative by the Romney campaign, having only recently appointed their first, sort-of-senior, black official as a communications adviser for outreach to the African-American community. The new campaign official, Tara Wall, a former Bush appointee and conservative commentator, must understand that she has a daunting task in selling her candidate's message and policies to the black community.

from an article in TBO: http://www2.tbo.com/news/nation-world/2012/may/27/namaino13-romney-begins-quietly-courting-black-vot-ar-408443/

"Yes, it is a bit harder this time. We have a black president. But we can't go in with the mindset that we aren't going to win any people over to our side," said Tara Wall, a former Bush administration official who was recently hired as a senior Romney communications adviser to handle outreach to African Americans.

"From a messaging standpoint, we need to be able to communicate and relate to these communities about how they are being impacted by Obama's policies. It's the right thing to do, and it's an important part of the process. It's not a ploy, it's not a tactic, it's part of who we are. We have to show up."


It may not be an actual ploy, as Wall argues here, but republican outreach is normally not what most African-Americans have in mind when they look for support and attention to their particular needs and concerns. In fact, most of the republican party's outreach to the black community has been a cynical attempt to convince folks that the issues and initiatives they've advocated and fought for over the decades are wrongheaded and should be supplanted with their party's own prescriptions and schemes, instead.

That's certainly been the case with Mitt Romney. Despite providing lip service to the overall concerns of black voters, he's adhered to most of the confrontational planks of his party's reflexive paternalism which is determined to convince African-Americans that their conservative agenda is ultimately superior to what black Americans have been demanding and fighting for.

It's rather easy to point to Romney's opposition to affirmative action as a harbinger of his overall attitude toward issues which predominately affect black Americans. Although, that position would seem to be a predictable and ordinary disagreement on policy which, by itself, wouldn't seem to necessarily mean that the presumptive nominee for president is hostile to the interests of the African-American community.

However, that very position of Mr. Romney's is at the hub of his party's philosophy that there isn't actually any more need to seek or recognize any broad legislative remedies for the black community and individuals, because, as the right-wing thinking of the vast majority of his party goes, 'equality' means that blacks aren't viewed as requiring or deserving any benefit from the government targeted specifically to their particular community of concerns and interests.

The lie that's perpetuated by their right-wing is that blacks have already achieved enough recovery from the institutionalized racism and discrimination of our nation's past, so that they should now be made to compete on an 'equal' level with their white counterparts for government assistance and benefit.

Despite the persistence of disproportional percentages of black individuals in states of poverty; insubstantial health care; inadequate housing; criminal profiling and higher rates of incarceration for similar crimes as non-blacks; lack of resources for education; etc., the Romney republican stance would never favor the views of the African-American community that these are issues which need to be addressed with specific attention to their impact on black Americans.

In fact, republicans only seem to recognize that a black 'community' actually exists around election time; and even then, only to posture as if 'responsibility' and 'accountability' were challenges for African-Americans alone, and, that poverty, joblessness, crime, and other deficiencies of their community were the product of all that they would deny them legislatively. For their own good, the contemporary republican dictum goes, the community that they'll admit is suffering proportionally to the rest of the nation (if they can somehow blame our black President), should not receive benefits or government remedies which don't carry some punitive or corrective measure to induce desired behavior.

For example, Romney vehemently defended his wife's decision to 'work at home' raising her children, but, for poor communities which are disproportionally black, Romney insists mothers should be forced to put their children in daycare and go to work. At a town hall event in Manchester, New Hampshire on January 4th, Romney described his position on work requirements for welfare recipients as governor of Massachusetts:

“I wanted to increase the work requirement,” Romney said. “I said, for instance, that even if you have a child two years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, ‘Well that's heartless,' and I said ‘No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving daycare to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work.’”

Fair enough, except when you consider how difficult it is to find employment these days, especially in hard-hit African-American neighborhoods. Without available jobs, the workfare measures are merely punitive, and not any path to upward mobility or sustenance.

So, what about the health needs of the black community and the impact of Romney's pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act?

from ColorLines: http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/04/mitt_romneys_dismal_racial_justice_report_card.html

In 2000, 57.5 percent of black Americans had employer-sponsored health insurance. By 2010, that number fell below 50 percent, to 45.3. For black children, the drop was even steeper: employer sponsored health insurance fell 14.1 percentage points.

“Racial and ethnic disparities in coverage persisted over time, with non-Hispanic whites in 2010 experiencing rates of ESI coverage 71 percent higher than those of Hispanics and 48 percent higher than those of blacks,” the Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould wrote in a recent report. Health care reform has filled in the gap for people who lost their employment and their health insurance. Moreover, it’s worth noting that even if the same number of jobs lost over the last five years comes back, they’re not the same quality jobs that existed before. Romney’s plan to deregulate health care could lead to more gaps in coverage.


As Romney 'reaches out' to the African-American community, his campaign for president is imbued with his political promise to eviscerate any progress for the black community that's been made as a result of the health law's passage. Yet, he's determined to tell that community, and others in need, that he knows better than they do in their support of the historic changes in access and benefit.

It was that superior attitude on display last week in a black community in west Philadelphia where Romney staged the second of his tardy attempts at outreach in minority neighborhoods. At a charter school with a predominately black population, Romney sought to confront educators he met with, instead of listen to their concerns. This, despite his statement beforehand that he came "to learn, obviously, from people who are having experiences that are unique and instructive."

Instead, Mr. Romney came armed with proposals for school vouchers and a cynical slap at teachers' unions in the form of an argument against the well-established need for smaller classrooms; a view of his which was based on a study done in Singapore and South Korea; apparently good enough in Romney's mind for our U.S. communities. It's not as if Romney cared about the issue, though, as much as he was mindlessly taking glee in opposing the teachers' union's longtime support and advocacy for more qualified teachers and more classrooms.

One of the most important things Mr. Romney might 'learn' from people in the African-American community is that it won't do any good to patronize them with his presence if all he intends to do is ignore their concerns and interests in favor of promoting to them his cynical own. It might help if he actually respected these folks in the first place. People can, not only sense a phony, they know when they're being talked down to and ignored.

from BET on Romney's Philadelphia 'outreach' effort: http://www.bet.com/news/features/vote-2012/news/politics/2012/05/25/commentary-romney-s-telling-visit-to-a-black-neighborhood.html

Washington Post writer Philip Rucker, notes that Romney was greeted (in Philadelphia) by shouts of “Get out, Romney!”

Residents, some of them organized by Obama’s campaign, stood on their porches and gathered at a sidewalk corner to shout angrily at Romney. Some held signs saying, “We are the 99%.” One man’s placard trumpeted an often-referenced Romney gaffe: “I am not concerned about the very poor.”

Madaline G. Dunn, 78, who said she has lived here for 50 years and volunteers at the school, said she is “personally offended” that Romney would visit her neighborhood.

“It’s not appreciated here,” she said. “It is absolutely denigrating for him to come in here and speak his garbage.”


Romney discovered an active, informed community which wasn't just sitting around waiting for some republican demagogue to sweep into town and rescue them with his punitive reforms. In fact, the charter school's founder told reporters that he's not sure whether Romney understands the needs of the African-American community. I'm not even sure he has any affinity for them at all.

Before an awkward photo op with a group of African Americans kids at a Martin Luther King Day parade in January 2008, Romney displayed his most candid side. That hasn't been his strong suit . . . "Who let the dogs out? Who, who?" Romney presumptuously chanted to the small crowd gathered on the corner of the block. Personally, I think he's just not up to 'outreach.' Perhaps he should actually take himself up on his offer to just 'listen' to the people he intends to vote for him, instead?



Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Next »