It often surprises me that Vermont, our neighbor to the east, seems so much more progressive than upstate New York. Bernie Sanders is probably the most prominent case in point—prior to becoming a U.S. Senator, Sanders served as the openly Socialist mayor of Burlington.
Sanders recently brought us news from Denmark, a consequence of touring Vermont with Danish Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen. In an article entitled “What Can We Learn from Denmark?” that appeared in the Huffington Post last week, the Senator outlined some of the ways in which the U.S. might profit from following Denmark’s lead.
You should find it thought-provoking, regardess of your political persuasion.
Last night, the real President Obama showed up. In doing so, he handily won the second of the three presidential debates and likely stopped the momentum Mitt Romney had achieved from the first one.
Always ahead on substance—even in the first debate—Obama clearly outperformed Romney on style as well. To continue our boxing metaphor from the last post, all the major blows of the night were delivered by the president. These included a solid shot to the chin in the debate’s closing moments, hitting hard at Romney’s disdain for 47% of Americans.
That last shot, in fact, typified Romney’s miscues throughout the night. In his closing remarks, Romney had said he was for “100% of all Americans”. Up until that point, no one had discussed what percentage of the country he cared about. It was a perfect opening, and Obama took it: Bam!
There were several other Romney slipups as well. His phrase “binders full of women” became an instant Internet meme because it nicely encapsulates his patronizing, out-of-touch attitude on women’s issues and rights. His repeated insistence that Obama had not called the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi a “terrorist attack” until two weeks after the fact had to be forcefully refuted by the moderator, Candy Crowley. “Say it louder, Candy,” the president smilingly urged. Finally, when Romney suggested that Obama look at his own pension, the president replied “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours….”
Last night was all Obama, all the time. If he repeats this performance next Monday in the final debate, he can put Romney down for the count.
Rep. Chris Gibson, siding with his fellow Republican ideologues in the House, voted yesterday to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for another year. The tax cuts disproportionately favor the wealthy, so the Senate had voted to extend the cuts for everyone except those with income, capital gains or dividends totaling more than $250,000. This would have raised much-needed governmental revenues by around $100 billion.
Without a Congressional agreement, an economic crisis still looms in January, when more than $500 billion in tax cuts are set to expire.
Gibson’s pro-rich vote contrasts markedly with that of his competitor for Congress in NY-19, Julian Schreibman. Schreibman specifically supports an end to tax cuts for the super-wealthy—and that’s one more reason for us to support Schreibman, now and in November.
Here’s an apt message from Van Jones on what makes America a great country.
Happy Independence Day!
Julian Schreibman held another “meet & greet” this past Sunday, at the Brik Gallery on Main Street in Catskill. It was an apt setting—Main Street had rebounded and was doing fairly well prior to the financial crisis; now it is a collection of largely empty storefronts where businesses, restaurants and galleries used to be (including Brik). This made Main Street an ideal setting for the recent, innovative “Wall Street to Main Street” exhibition put on by the Greene County Council on the Arts in collaboration with the artistic wing of Occupy Wall Street. Many of the window displays from that recently concluded exhibition remain, as the photo below demonstrates.
The Writing’s on the Wall (or Window)
Photo: John P. O’Grady
Mr. Schreibman spoke movingly, as though inspired by the reduced state of the street outside. He railed against America’s growing economic inequality, and vowed to do everything he could to address it. He also:
- Spoke in favor of the DREAM Act
- Firmly renounced fracking as bad for New York
- Emphatically renounced policies of torture and rendition in America’s endless wars (this, in reply to an inquiry about his CIA background, which had nothing to do with field activities)
- Explained how grateful he was for the help he received in getting a good (Yale) education, and described his belief that every American should be entitled to a chance at the same opportunities he had
- Denounced our current Republican Congressman for voting against the interests of the 19th District
- Announced strong support for new policies to stimulate economic growth in our region, including support for family farms and a strategic rural broadband initiative
It was another strong performance by a candidate whose appeal only continues to grow.
Occupy Hudson has been meeting regularly on Mondays at 7th Street Park (or nearby at The Parlor Coffee & Tea House in bad weather) for months now. This past Saturday, May 19, the group went public with an inviting, low-key event in the park.
Photo: Tom Pletcher
It was an "unofficial" event, and I wasn’t able to stay for all of it. As noted, the atmosphere was low-key and friendly. There was some good music, plenty of hula hoops and lots of engaging and thought-provoking conversation, including a very well-led discussion of the commons (thanks, Christine!).
Hudson city officials had been notified about the event in advance, and everything went off without any hitches or glitches (that I’m aware of, at any rate). Just by holding this event in a public space, Occupy Hudson performed a valuable service by demonstrating the importance of public space.
Occupy Hudson will soon go live with a new website at occupyhudson.org. Watch for it, and check the online calendar for meetings and events. We hope to see you next time.
Sometimes it helps to lighten up a little, and the creative remix of West Side Story that’s been making the rounds the past couple of weeks is bound to generate a smile, at the very least. The new “Occupy” lyrics are clever and nicely performed, and Officer Winski receives a much-deserved comeuppance. Check it out below if you’ve haven’t seen it before (or even if you have).
BlueInGreene couldn’t let this day pass without saluting our friends and colleagues in the various Occupy groups, who have done so much to bring America’s growing inequality to mass attention. If there is any hope for our two-party political system, it has been born on the streets.
As an example of the great influence Occupy has wielded, here is an angry, profane and engaging article by best-selling American novelist Stephen King on the subject of unequal taxation. Spoiler alert: a quote from the essay’s last paragraph is coming up.
Last year during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) or Ebenezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.
Think about it.
We’d planned to show the award-winning documentary Inside Job later this month as part of the “Wall Street to Main Street” exhibition in Catskill. Unfortunately, those plans have changed.
Do let us know if you would like to see this film. If enough of you vote “Yes,” we’ll try to show it at a later date.
The ideas behind Rebuild the Dream—and specifically, the Contract for the American Dream—were what got this group started. Now those ideas are fleshed out in a highly readable and inspiring book by Van Jones, also titled Rebuild the Dream.
Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy and an environmental activist and former special advisor to the Obama administration on clean-energy jobs, examines the dynamics behind Barack Obama’s election and the forces that have since emerged to challenge him. He pays particular attention to the Tea Party, and seeks to learn what tactics can be adopted from its 2010 electoral success. He also examines the Occupy movement and suggests what it needs to do to accomplish its goals. Mainly, though, Jones issues a clarion call to join the Rebuild the Dream movement to revive the American economy and restore the country’s greatness.
Jones doesn’t pretend this will be easy, but he does bring great optimism to his focus on achieving change through consensus and bottom-up direction, and through community organizing, “crowd-sourcing,” online petitions, digital projects and conferences. He explains how movements fit into a “Heart Space/Head Space” grid, and how progressives need to appeal to the emotions as well as the intellect (a lesson learned from the Tea Party). Finally, he focuses on the Contract for the American Dream, and how it embodies the values that can make America work again.
If you long for progressive change but sometimes despair of achieving it, read this book. Its common sense and can-do attitude will give you a lift. Then, take action. Join the Rebuild the Dream movement. And if you’re in our neck of the woods, join BlueInGreene as well.