Sen. John Kerry wrote this diary, but because of a computer problem asked that I post it here for him. ?Meteor Blades.
By John Kerry
Simply: I hope you know it matters. And please don?t just take my word for it, and yes, one of the things I love about the netroots is that you don't take anyone's word for it ? you think for yourself, you debate, you disagree, and you make your own judgments ? and that's why this movement has changed politics and political dialogue.
But on this topic, I know of what I speak. In my Senate office I have a shelf of scrapbooks filled with emails, letters and photos from soldiers who have received the care packages, Christmas stockings, Easter baskets, and Halloween candy that our team, led by our office manager Mary, has been sending since American forces first arrived in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the words of the troops say it all.
One of my former interns, Army Second Lieutenant Rory McGovern writes: ?It always helps to have a piece of home come in the mail.?
Army Private Jacob Adkins said: ?I appreciate the fact that someone who I don?t even know supports me enough to send a care package.?
One of my favorite emails in our scrapbooks comes not from a soldier but from a soldier?s mother, Kathy Lavin, whose son Ryan received one of our care packages. Kathy writes to tell us that she can finally get a good night?s sleep because of the message she has just received from Ryan: ?It?s almost time to take the candle out of the window mom. I am coming home. I love and miss you.?
That?s the power of a care package filled with pieces of home ? because ?support the troops? is not just a bumper sticker, not just a quick way to shut down a legitimate policy debate, but something real.
There are so many ways you've found to support the troops ? from the debates here over how and when young Americans should be put in harm's way ? to the efforts I was proud to be a part of with you in 2006 to elect veterans to Congress from Patrick Murphy to Jim Webb ? and this selfless effort to send brave Americans a little something from home. We've got a lot of work still to do, debates worth having, and fights worth fighting ? but I'm grateful that during it all, you took a week again to send an important message of support to those who serve.
You can donate HERE to Netroots For The Troops® to pay for sending Care Packages this year to soldiers overseas and, this year for the first time, we are also sending Care Packages domestically to VA hospitals.
Soldiers have sent letters to express their appreciation for these care packages and posted thanks at Daily Kos:when we receive this kind of support, it lets us know that we are not forgotten. That is possibly the strongest gift you could give us.
Thanks for your support.
As winter fades, the Occupy Wall Street movement is heating up again. But don?t expect the same focus on physical encampments and rowdy protests. While the blood of the 99 percent is still boiling at the injustice of growing inequality, in organizing meetings and workgroups, cooler heads are prevailing. This is Occupy 2.0?the mainstreaming of momentum.
From my conversations with Occupy organizers and supporters, my sense is that the main thrust of organizing energy and attention will go toward Occupy Our Homes? a coalition of Occupy activists joining with existing grassroots groups to support families that are facing foreclosure or have been evicted by big banks. Prioritizing Occupy Our Homes is great choice for two reasons.
First, the foreclosure crisis is immense and growing. Despite the recent mortgage settlement with state attorneys general that will grant 750,000 foreclosed-upon families a whopping $2,000 each (!), 4.2 million families have already been foreclosed upon during the economic crisis. The industry site RealtyTrac estimates that number will skyrocket to 10 million in 2012. Besides literally pulling the rug out of millions of American families at the worst possible moment, according to the Federal Reserve, high rates of foreclosed properties drive down home prices and values, hurting all homeowners and the economy as a whole. There may be no more powerful illustration of the abuses of the 1 percent than the taxpayer-bailed-out big banks foreclosing on struggling families and driving down the economy for the entire 99 percent.
But organizing around Occupy Our Homes is a strategic second phase choice for Occupy for another reason, one best summed up by my own mother. She sent money to Zuccotti Park and her own local Occupy site in Allentown, Pennsylvania but, at age 64 (sorry mom!), told me there was no way she was sleeping on the ground outside in the cold. The great thing about Occupy Our Homes as a tactic is that there?s still a tangible way for the tents and sleeping bags set to be involved (as when Occupy supporters camped out on the lawn of the home of an Iraq War veteran near Atlanta, ultimately saving her home from foreclosure) but foreclosure prevention also creates avenues for other types of engagement, whether bringing a casserole, writing a letter to a bank, or joining a prayer vigil. Such actions put a broader face on the 99 percent movement, not just punk kids in bandanas but middle class families threatened with homelessness standing with block association presidents and pastors and grandmothers (i.e., my mom).
Say what you will about mainstreaming, that?s how movements evolve being a fringe concern to a force for change. I don?t mean to disregard the role of the vanguard, those at the leading edge of a movement?s origins who take the first, bold steps and, often, risks. But vanguard leaders should be self-aware and situate themselves in a larger context, seeing the prospect of mainstream appeal as a sign of their success not a threat to undermine it. It?s absurd to pave a road and then get angry when other people follow it. Instead, the next step is to pave a new one.
Unfortunately, I predict that a crowd of die-hard Occupiers will stubbornly cling to the tactic of public Occupy encampments and mass, edgy protests, confusing these tactics for the entirety of the movement and overlooking the possibility that these tactics may have outlived their symbolic power. Related debates about the political utility of black bloc tactics have been springing up and hopefully, these important debates will continue, knitting together various philosophies within Occupy into a diverse whole. But as with many movements, it looks like this next phase will divide the movement into factions, with the radical anarchist wing splitting off from the rest. Perhaps the best outcome of this will be that even though the anarchists will continue their ?day of rage? type actions and police aggression, they will make the Occupy Our Homes wing seem more reasonable and rational. At best, the more radical wing will continue to pave new, innovative roads for future momentum. That would be the vanguard-y thing to do.
Lastly, look in the spring for another wing to emerge?existing grassroots organizations driving sets of actions tied to the mission of Occupy Our Homes but with a more radical, confrontational edge. This will include perhaps the most visible, systematic disruption of corporate shareholder meetings ever seen in our country as well as other targeted direct actions on big banks in particular. No doubt there will be some missteps but, to be clear, the difference with this cluster of organizers and actions is that it will explicitly seek to bolster the same message and goals as Occupy Our Homes and implicitly create political pressure and space through edgier tactics that legitimize other arms of the movement.
I was recently trying to explain hibernation to my three-year-old. I told her that animals like bears store food in the fall, dig in and gather strength in the winter and then come out ready for spring. The 99 percent movement gathered tremendous public will and political momentum in the fall of 2011. Now, the movement is quietly planning and gathering strategic strength. In the spring, populist activism will bloom across America with a density and diversity unheard of for decades. It?s going to be a very hot spring indeed.
Source: Advanced Currency Markets | G10 Advancers and Decliners vs USD EUR 0.03 CHF -0.01 GBP -0.08 JPY -0.67 Risk appetite generally increased in Asian session, as the Greek debt swap is scheduled to start today. Yesterday the Greek parliament agreed to the proposed debt swap law, which encapsulates the critical law for retroactive collective action clauses. Given the delicate nature today’s debt swap, traders will probably hold back until it’s confirmed that the process went smoothly. Finance Minister…
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Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu says his immigrant ex-boyfriend -- who has accused him of threatening deportation -- only worked for his campaign in a volunteer capacity. But a campaign filing seen by TPM's Nick Martin suggests there might be more to the[...]
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Unless you?ve been living in a cave, you are familiar with first lady Michelle Obama?s Let?s Move program to combat childhood obesity. You are probably also aware of the flak she has received from conservative pundits, who claim that the program is an effort by the government to tell Americans what to eat. With an [...]Related posts:
With your dollar, or not. Daily Kos has a list of Koch Brothers products to boycott–at the link here.
Most of this list is upscale paper– napkins, paper towels– the more expensive kind I usually skip past in the supermarket.
If you are ecologically inclined, you’ve been looking for ways to use less paper anyway. I don’t trust that the above list is more than partial. Corporations are networks of smaller businesses and you have to be an MBA to decipher a big one.
Re-use is a step above recycling. I have a bin full of newsprint and junk mail. I use it instead of paper towels sometimes. Any ideas on conservation and Koch Bros. frustration?
States sue Obama over contraception rule: “A coalition of seven state attorneys general has joined with a nun, a Catholic missionary and three Roman Catholic organizations to file a federal lawsuit in Lincoln, Neb., asking a judge to strike down HHS’ final rule that requires insurance plans to cover government-approved contraceptives.” The lawsuit alleges that the requirement violates three clauses of the First Amendment. [Modern Healthcare] [Read the lawsuit]
Michelle Obama campaigns for health reform: “First lady Michelle Obama yesterday urged supporters to rally around her husband?s re-election campaign or risk seeing his presidency?s health-care overhaul and other policy changes ? slip away.? ?Now there are some folks talking about repealing that reform,? she said. ?Are we going to let that happen? Are we going to allow children to be denied health care coverage who have cancer or other serious diseases? We can?t do that.? [Columbus Dispatch]
Texas cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood: “At the direction of lawmakers and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Texas Health and Human Services commissioner signed a rule on Thursday that formally bans Planned Parenthood clinics and other “affiliates of abortion providers” from participating in the program ? something the Obama administration has said is a deal-breaker for the nearly $40 million-per-year state-federal Medicaid program. [Texas Tribune]
Judge says govt can’t make pharmacies sell Plan B: “In a ruling that appears headed toward appeal, a federal judge has ruled that Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives.” [AP]
Mississippi to push anti-abortion measures: “Mississippi’s Republican governor and House speaker told abortion opponents Thursday that they’ll support several proposals this year to put new restrictions on the procedure. “We want Mississippi to be abortion-free,” Gov. Phil Bryant said during a Capitol news conference hosted by the Pro Life America Network. [AP]
Florida approves 24-hour abortion waiting period: “A House committee approved along party lines an anti-abortion measure that would impose a 24-hour waiting period and restrict ownership of new abortion clinics to doctors who specialized in abortion procedures during their residency.” [Palm Beach Post]
GOP delaying ACA implementation in Kansas and Missouri: “Kansas and Missouri are almost certain to miss an end-of-the-year deadline for establishing a key component of the nation?s health care law ? health insurance ?exchanges? where individuals and businesses can compare and purchase coverage. But conservative Republican lawmakers ? concerned that the exchanges are an implicit endorsement of President Barack Obama?s Affordable Care Act ? have blocked further implementation of the exchanges. Those delays, experts said, mean Kansas and Missouri won?t have their exchanges ready for federal government review by January 2013.” [Kansas City Star]
Welcome to Justiceline, ThinkProgress Justice?s morning round-up of the latest legal news and developments. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @TPJustice.
Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here.Leading Off:
? Ads: It feels like we got hit with a ton of new TV and radio campaign ads over the last day, so here they all are at once (you can find a copy of each ad at their respective links):
? IL-08: Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi is the first candidate on the air in his heavyweight primary with Tammy Duckworth with two almost identical ads touting his job creation credentials and his jobs plan. (You can see the second spot here.)
? IN-Sen: Richard Mourdock attacks GOP primary opponent Dick Lugar on spending, and brings up the "Obama's favorite Republican" line often repeated about Lugar, saying "I will never be Barack Obama's favorite Republican."
? MA-Sen: Democrat Elizabeth Warren goes on the offensive in a minute-long radio ad, blasting the "Blunt amendment" which would allow employers to deny healthcare coverage to their employees on the basis of any alleged "religious belief or moral conviction."
? MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill is out with a spot decrying third-party attack ads, but rather than going for some lame "set the record straight" rejoinder, she pivots into her own attack on special interests, hitting some good themes?ending Medicare, tax breaks for the wealthy, and unfair trade deals. I think it's well done, and it's also apparently backed by a $200K statewide buy, which is significant.
? ND-Sen: Freshman GOP Rep. Rick Berg, who is already seeking a promotion to the Senate, is up with his first TV ad, a biographical spot that mostly features his mom talking about what a good little kid young Rick was.
? NV-Sen: The DSCC has a Spanish-language radio ad trying to tie GOP Sen. Dean Heller to good ol' Sharron Angle, attacking him for opposing the DREAM Act and immigration reform. There's a translation at the link, and you can listen to the actual ad here, which Daily Kos head honcho Markos Moulitsas (a native Spanish speaker) says has a tone and pacing "very similar to the telenovelas" that are popular among Latinos. (Note the ad also carries an "I approve this message" disclaimer from Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley, which means this must be a coordinated expenditure with the DSCC.)
Ehrensteinland: Satan is a looming presence on the right today.
Smartypants: Battle lines are drawn on the issue of fairness.
His Vorpal Sword: There's a lot more to Foster Friess than aspirin.
PM Carpenter: The Republicans are destroying each other, so let them get on with it.
Blog round-up by Infidel753. Tips to mbru [at] crooksandliars [dot] com.