Friday, January 28, 2011


"So now, in the Oval Office, we have the blind leading the blind and the blind advising the blind." - Helena Cobban on the absence of anyone in the White House who has any serious knowledge about either Egypt or the broader region. They're all full of AIPAC=lovin' yes men. (This is why I love reading Helena Cobban.)

*And neither do the western media pundits.


... on Al Jazeera.

However, in the USA,  "The revolution will not be televised because most Americans can't watch Al Jazeera English." - Max Blumenthal via Twitter

Thursday, January 27, 2011


NPR bills Inskeep's surprising interview with Chris Hedges this morning as a critique of the SOTU, and that it is, but Hedges also gives him a civics lesson. (My emphasis in bold.)
INSKEEP: Let me play a piece of tape here. This is from the State of the Union address, and I'm just interested what you think of the president's language as he talks about increasing the competitiveness of America.

President BARACK OBAMA: In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote and we will push to get it passed.

INSKEEP: Got some applause there.

Mr. HEDGES: Well, he quite consciously uses the language of the business community to indicate that he is pro-business.

INSKEEP: You mean the word competitiveness, talking about a...

Mr. HEDGES: Competitiveness...

INSKEEP: ...competitive America.

Mr. HEDGES: Investments in education, that kind of stuff.

INSKEEP: What's wrong with that? Don't people want America to be more competitive in the world marketplace?

Mr. HEDGES: Because government's not a corporation. Government is not about competition. Government is about addressing the necessities of citizens: health, education, housing, security, jobs, living wages, protection so that people have clean and safe water and food. It's not about business programs. And that, of course, is the ideology of the right wing, to not only to make government serve corporations but essentially reduce government and cut citizens loose.

INSKEEP: Well, you know the argument that is made against that. People will say, look, we can't afford education, the social services, all those things you just mentioned, unless the economy is strong and businesses are strong and people are making money and paying taxes.

Mr. HEDGES: Well, and they're right. But who's responsible for the debt peonage. It's not those people working extra shifts in WalMart.

INSKEEP: You're talking about the fact that the United States has a huge public debt now, much of it...

Mr. HEDGES: Yeah...

INSKEEP: ...owed to overseas investors.

Mr. HEDGES: That's the fault of Wall Street. I mean, they're the people who ratcheted it up. They're the people we had to bail out. It's not the person working on a minimum wage job, but they're the ones who are going to be made to suffer.

By the way, after you've clicked the interview link, you might want to note how NPR has named it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What you can do: Burlington's controversial partnership with Lockheed-Martin

Burlington neighbors are concerned:
at the prospect of Lockheed engineers working with kids inside Burlington schools; at the lack of transparency and public comment with which the Kiss administration brokered this most unlikely of partnerships; at Lockheed's long reputation for fraud, discrimination, environmental degradation and war profiteering; and at how this could let Lockheed privatize existing climate change efforts.

More background can be found here:

What you can do:
The obvious, first easy step is to get folks to call and email Mayor Kiss.

Set up a meeting with your City Councilor to discuss your concerns over this secretive deal with the world's largest war profiteer. Ask City Councilors to pass a resolution asking for transparency and partnering the City with our award winning local climate change non-profits and companies instead of Lockheed. Contact info for all 14 Councilors can be found here:

Organize your neighbors against the controversial Lockheed deal this Sunday January 30th 11am at Viva Espresso. We'll fan out across the city with fliers and petitions:

Make and hang art standing up for Burlington and against Lockheed. Feel free to print and display the attached art by Burlington artist Liza Cowen

Have a Letter to the Editor writing party with friends:
The more media activism the better: letters to the editor, op=eds, radio call in shows, social media, etc.

Join the Facebook group

Come Speak Out at the February 7th City Council Meeting: Public Comment starts at 7:30 p.m.

Then there is the Workers Center's Climate Change Event, Thursday, January 27 · 6:00pm 294 North Winooski: another great opportunity to build opposition to this awful contract across movements.

If we do all of the above well and organize amongst our friends and communities, we will get successive waves of media coverage,and we will build momentum going into the February 7th City Council Meeting and we will win.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Gentle Witness

Today the Episcopal Church celebrates one of my heros - Florence Li Tim-Oi, who on this day in 1944 was ordained as the first woman priest in the Anglican Communion.

Collect of the Day:
Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much-beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion: By the grace of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving your people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Icon of Florence Li Tim-Oi in the General Theological Seminary, New York City, 2005; painted by Sr. Ellen Francis, OSH.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Remind me again why we should be optimistic about this sort of "transparency" about Burlington Telecom when the Kiss administration plans - without question or public discussion - to collude with war profiteers.

Friday, January 21, 2011


"The government drove him to do what he did; they never gave him a chance. We are poor and they thought we had no power," his mother said. "My son is lost, but look what is happening, how many people are now getting involved." [...]

"I am proud of what he did. I would like to go up to Tunis and take a look at these demonstrations. It is good to know that my son had played a part in changing things."

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Other Anniversary

We also remember today Patrice Lumumba, born 2 July 1925, and assassinated 50 years ago today.

Adam Hochschild, the author of “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa,” writes in the New York Times

"Patrice Lumumba had only a few short months in office and we have no way of knowing what would have happened had he lived. Would he have stuck to his ideals or, like too many African independence leaders, abandoned them for the temptations of wealth and power? In any event, leading his nation to the full economic autonomy he dreamed of would have been an almost impossible task. The Western governments and corporations arrayed against him were too powerful, and the resources in his control too weak: at independence his new country had fewer than three dozen university graduates among a black population of more than 15 million, and only three of some 5,000 senior positions in the civil service were filled by Congolese.

"A half-century later, we should surely look back on the death of Lumumba with shame, for we helped install the men who deposed and killed him. In the scholarly journal Intelligence and National Security, Stephen R. Weissman, a former staff director of the House Subcommittee on Africa, recently pointed out that Lumumba’s violent end foreshadowed today’s American practice of “extraordinary rendition.” The Congolese politicians who planned Lumumba’s murder checked all their major moves with their Belgian and American backers, and the local C.I.A. station chief made no objection when they told him they were going to turn Lumumba over — render him, in today’s parlance — to the breakaway government of Katanga, which, everyone knew, could be counted on to kill him. "

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Margaret Whiting R.I.P.

By Molly Walsh in the Burlington Free Press, Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The singer who popularized the tune “Moonlight in Vermont” and in the process helped craft the image of the state as a rustic haven illuminated by a silvery glow is dead.

Margaret Whiting died Tuesday at age 86 at the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home in Englewood, N.J., after a long career that began in the 1940s and included hits such as “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” sung with her godfather and mentor, songwriter Johnny Mercer.

Whiting was a young Hollywood singer who had never been to Vermont when she first recorded “Moonlight” in the midst of World War II. The bittersweet ballad was broadcast on Armed Forces Radio and brought images of a quietly beautiful Vermont to people around the globe.

It wasn’t until Feb. 5, 1985, however, that Whiting first visited Vermont to sing to legislators and be recognized on Moonlight in Vermont Day.

The song contributed to the Vermont brand, starting with the impact it had on World War II soldiers, said Harry Orth of Shelburne, professor emeritus at the University of Vermont and co-author of the Vermont Encyclopedia.

The lyrics “presented an idealized picture of what many of the soldiers had left behind,” Orth said. “Even the ones that were from the big cities could associate with that song because after all they saw pictures, they went places.”

The song is beautiful yet reflective, said Orth, who wrote the entry about “Moonlight in Vermont” in the Vermont Encyclopedia.

“It’s a very contemplative song,” he said. “You could really see some soldier leaning back in a bunk or in a foxhole and just wishing he could be in such a wonderful place.”

The song was written by Karl Seussdorf and John Blackburn. Neither one was a Vermonter — which might explain why sycamore trees appear in the “Moonlight” lyrics but make so few appearances in the Vermont woods.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Today the Episcopal church commemorates Aelred of Rievaulx, born 1109 and died January 12, 1167. He entered the Cistercian monastery at Rievaulx when he was 24 and became abbot in 1147. While abbot, he wrote a classic book of spirituality, Spiritual Friendship, which is still in print.

He wrote,
"There are four qualities which characterize a friend: Loyalty, right intention, discretion, and patience. Right intention seeks for nothing other than God and natural good. Discretion brings understanding of what is done on a friend’s behalf, and ability to know when to correct faults. Patience enables one to be justly rebuked, or to bear adversity on another’s behalf. Loyalty guards and protects friendship, in good or bitter times."

Thanks to Integrity for the Aelred icon image.


The earthquake was one year ago.

Haiti needs our continued help.:

Partners in Health is the NGO founded in Haiti in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, the celebrated physician and anthropologist who focuses on international social justice. The group’s emergency response in Haiti focuses on delivering medical supplies and staff. Donate here.

Mercy Corps is an NGO that specializes in emergency disaster relief to regions affected by catastrophic earthquakes and is deployed in Haiti.

For those who wish to donate through the Episcopal Church...

The Episcopal Sisters of Saint Margaret are there in Haiti and are doing what they can to help out their neighbors despite their own losses and suffering.

If you want to help Haiti, and other developing nations over the long term, there is debt relief.

Contact Jubilee USA for how you can help.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gov. Shumlin: Bought and Paid For

Dennis Steele was the only 2010 Vermont gubernatorial candidate who spoke out against the Afghan and Iraqi Wars. Democratic Party winner Peter Shumlin never mentioned them as a candidate. This week Shay Totten writes that ticket sale proceeds from the inaugural parties will benefit the National Guard of Vermont Foundation. While a Governor Steele would have ended immediately the Vermont National Guard deployment, Governor-elect Shumlin and his Democratic corporate movers and shakers support the troops while sampling localvore cheeses and wines.

These corporate big guys and gals - some of whom bankrolled the successful campaign - are now lining up to fund the inaugural bash. That their political bribes are legal doesn't make them less of a bribe.