The wholesale slaughter of children sparked an unprecedented opening for change in this country. Killing children broke something fundamental in our culture. On that sad day, it felt as if there was a giant ripping in our society — yielding a gaping hole in all that was sacred and right. It was like watching the Twin Towers collapse all over again, but now it was our children. Many have asked if we have waited too long for action, the answer is simply no. Babies and guns do not belong in the same sentence. Assault weapons must never again be used to kill children.
It’s that opening – the gaping wound — that is inspiring our President Obama and Vice President Biden. This unlikely duo appear to be fueled by the fire of what is possible, and are driving a Mack truck through this opening right now — whether it is to push through the broadest gun safety legislation; or enact comprehensive immigration reform; or to raise the minimum wage; or end violence toward women; or to support gay marriage.
Watching our President Obama the evening of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School – it was clear that he would leap tall buildings to save the children and people of this country. It had become a Holy Crusade and compromise is off the table. Witness the fervor with which this team is working to move their Cabinet nominations forward even for beleaguered Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Republican shenanigans are not being tolerated even on their home turf, the House of Representatives. These folks can rant and rave for the cameras (and they do), but are falling flat with no run way. The President’s approval ratings are soaring even in the shadow of the latest, manufactured financial machination of the ‘sequester.’ And it is this fundamental lack of empathy and understanding that may be the down fall of the Republican Party as we know it today.
Frankly, the President is done turning himself into a human pretzel and for this we must rejoice. You just can’t compromise with folks that hate you and all that you stand for. It’s a travesty that it took this horrific loss of lives in Sandy Hook to galvanize the American people – but it did. Unbelievably, today one child still “dies every three hours from gun violence in the United States.” Everyone knows that gun safety legislation is not about the Second Amendment, but rather about sustaining a modern civilization.
The winds of change are upon us. Just witness the President’s news conference today on the impasse over what is called sequestration. He’s not backing down.
The secret, corporate-written agenda of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council has been leaked. Take a look at ALEC Exposed. This is HUGE — spend some time there looking around.
Here is more info:
In April 2011, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. met behind closed doors in Cincinnati about their wish lists for changing state laws. This exchange was part of a series of corporate meetings nurtured and fueled by the Koch Industries family fortune and other corporate funding.
… There, as the Center for Media and Democracy has learned, these corporate-politician committees secretly voted on bills to rewrite numerous state laws. According to the documents we have posted to ALEC Exposed, corporations vote as equals with elected politicians on these bills. These task forces target legal rules that reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.
The Center obtained copies of more than 800 model bills approved by companies through ALEC meetings, after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center. Those bills, which the Center has analyzed and marked-up, are now available at ALEC Exposed.
From a press release:
“An examination of the broad sweep of bills exposes a very radical agenda. Why is Wal-Mart involved with an organization that wants to turn Medicare and Medicaid into voucher plans? Why is Kraft working with a group that wants to privatize the public school system? Why is Coca Cola going along with efforts to take away voting rights from college students? Why are Bayer and Pfizer and all the big insurance firms in bed with big tobacco? We hope people will start asking these firms, which are all on ALEC’s corporate board, to quit undermining our democracy through ALEC,” said Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy.
I suggest checking out the new Progressive Breakfast from the Campaign for America’s Future. This is a morning roundup of what’s going on in the news.
You can sign up to receive this in your inbox every morning by entering your email address in the box on the right side of the page.
The “swine flu” H1N1 virus is a potential pandemic flu that started in Mexico and is spreading. Pandemics, meaning influenza epidemics in multiple countries, happen every 20 years or so, and we are overdue. Flu pandemics are very serious. The Spanish Flu of 1918-19 had an estimated mortality rate of 2.5% and killed between 20 and 40 million people. The Hong Kong flu of 1968 had a lower death rate, killing 33,800 in the United States and 1 million worldwide.
The reason flu pandemics happen is that the influenza virus constantly mutates. Every year the new flu viruses are usually only a little bit different from the prior year, so even though we may get sick, some of us have some immunity and the existing antibodies (from earlier times we had flu or a flu vaccine) provide some protection. Public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) track the emergence of new viruses and usually have time to prepare the yearly vaccines. So usually the new flu strains don’t hit as many people, and therefore fewer sick people are spreading it, and most people aren’t getting sick to the point where death is a possibility.
But sometimes there is a major genetic shift, in which a flu virus appears that contains pieces from bird and/or swine influenza viruses as well a human virus. Humans have no immunity to this new virus. So the flu sweeps through the population, and those who get it get much sicker. The new Mexican swine flu virus contains a mixture of genetic material from swine, bird, and human influenza viruses.
These influenza epidemics can sometimes be very, very serious, like that 1918 Spanish flu. The recent “Bird Flu” human fatalities appeared to be over 60% , but it appears that the “bird flu” (avian influenza) was not easily transmitted from one human to another. However, if there is another small modification in the bird flu virus such that it acquired the ability to be easily spread between people, the result could be beyond catostrophic — like the plague years. That is why bird flu was so much in the news. SARS (the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which was caused by a non-influenza type virus, killed 17% of humans it infected, but the epidemic was stopped before it spread widely. This new Mexican swine flu seems to be killing about 10% of the people it has sickened in Mexico, if the numbers are correct, but there is no way to know accurately yet.
Usually, influenza is more serious in the elderly and the very young, whose immune systems are weakers. However, pandemic flus, which are caused by novel new flu virus strains, are more deadly in stronger people (like young adults) than in the very old or very young, because it causes their stronger immune systems to overreact, called a “cytokine storm” — a major release of infection-fighting substances in the body that can, in large quantities, cause serious damage. This extreme immune reaction is what makes pandemic flu so serious, and is the reason it strikes so much harder in healthy young people. It appears that this new Mexican flu is killing young adults–people of the right age–which is another sign it could be dangerous. On the other hand, there have been no fatalities yet in the United States, which is a promising sign. It may mean there is some factor involved in the cases in Mexico that aggravated the disease, that wasn’t present in the US cases. Or it may mean that the flu spreading in the US is somehow different.
Note, when I search for “swine flu” on Google News I get lots of stories about how “the scare” is “affecting the markets.” It’s like how they cover movies, not according to whether they are any good, but how much money they make each weekend. So the major media mindset is still more concerned with money than people.
A South Sulawesi hospital was overwhelmed as it admitted in two days 17 patients believed to have bird flu, an official said Thursday.
. . . Kurnia said the hospital had conducted urgent tests for the first seven patients, with the results indicating the presence of the H5N1 avian influenza virus.
For the past two months, a major American magazine and an allied news service have been engaged in a legal battle with the United States Navy over records that they believe show that John McCain once was involved in an automobile accident that injured or, perhaps, killed another individual.
Vanity Fair magazine and the National Security News Service claim to have knowledge “developed from first-hand sources” of a car crash that involved then-Lt. McCain at the main gate of a Virginia naval base in 1964, according to legal filings. The incident has been largely, if not entirely, kept from the public. And in documents suing the Navy to release pertinent information, lawyers for the NS News Service allege that a cover-up may be at play.
The Obama campaign today sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey asking that he expand the scope of the ongoing investigation into Justice Department politicization to “include a review of any involvement by the Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC)’s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”
Briefly, the DOJ politicization scandal stems from Republican efforts to conduct partisan vote fraud investigations before the 2006 election. Prosecutors who refused were fired, prosecutors who played along were not fired (and are still there). After an outcry and the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales the new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, appointed a special prosecutor to look into the politicization. The current vote fraud accusations and accompanying Justice Department, FBI and White House involvement follow the same pattern, and are based on no credible evidence, so the Obama campaign believes that it may be related to the ongoing partisan politicization of the government’s law enforcement.
More coming… Update -Ari Melber at The Washington Independent has more,
Citing an “unholy alliance” between Republican operatives and potentially illegal conduct by law enforcement targeting voter fraud, the Obama campaign demanded Friday that the U.S. special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorney scandal investigate the matter.
General counsel Bob Bauer sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey charging that coordinated “misconduct” by McCain campaign representatives and GOP officials were relevant to the special prosecutor’s work, because the activities may relate to the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys in late 2006.
The letter requests that the special prosecutor’s inquiry “include a review of any involvement by Justice Dept. and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign [and RNC's] systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”
If you are going to be in Denver next week for the Democratic Convention check out the Starz Green Room. Their description:
The Starz Green Room at the Starz FilmCenter offers major movies, newsmakers of all stripes and a place for delegates, media and notable guests to gather. Just a respite from the 2008 Democratic National Convention, it is mere steps from the Pepsi Center. The Starz Green Room includes topical panels, politically themed films and a VIP Lounge.
Click here to download a PDF event guide.
There are a ton of movies they will be showing — contemporary as well as classic films with topical themes. The Impact Film Festival is presenting such films as Flow, I.O.U.S.A., Battle in Seattle, Trouble the Water, The Black List, The Accidental Advocate, and others. Most of the contemporary films will be followed by conversations with the filmmakers and others associated with the projects.
Events and Book Signings include:
Arianna Huffington and her book “Right is Wrong,” 8/25 12:30pm–1:30pm Book signing
Drew Westen and “The Political Brain” 8/25 3:30pm–5:00pm both a book signing and a presentation. I’ve seen Drew talk and you shouldn’t miss this.
David Sirota and his new book “The Uprising” 8/26 12:00pm–1:00pm — both a book signing and a presentation.
There are dozens of book signings and presentations by authors. Digby Digby: There is a SeaChange Communications Ideas Forum panel called, “Who’s Driving Whom? The Blogosphere vs. Mainstream Media,” 8/25 11:00am–12:30pm.
Moderator: Arianna Huffington (Founder of the Huffington Post), Jonathan Alter (Senior Editor and Political Columnist for Newsweek Politics)Digby (Founding Blogger of Hullabaloo) Chris Cillizza (Washington Post’s politics blog, “The Fix”)
A panel I will not miss: SeaChange Communications Ideas Forum: Democracy Alliance: Colorado as a Model–Donor Cooperation for Social Change, 8/27 10:00am–11:30am
Panelists: Rob Stein (Founder, Democracy Alliance) Rob McKay (Executive Director, The McKay Foundation) Laurie Hirschfeld Zeller (Executive Director, Colorado Democracy Alliance) Kelly Craighead (Executive Director, Democracy Alliance)
There are tons of panels. Check the schedule for more. You need credentials to get into the convention to attend. Tix are at the seachangecom.com site by each individual event.
I’m helping out with this effort so I’ll be writing about it in advance as well as writing about some of the events.
Let’s suppose you’re a functionary working for a tinpot dictatorship, and you hear tell of a website called “DownWithTyranny.” Do you:
(a) E-mail your friends saying, “Hmm, this sounds way cool”?
(b) Read some back posts, adding snarky comments reflecting the pro-tyrannical point of view?
(c) Block the shit out of the damn thing?