July 15, 2011

Clean air: You’ll know it when you see it

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 3:24 pm

According to recent articles that have been published in such various sources as Counterpunch, NucNews, the Huffington Post and Fox News, there’s been a 35% spike in infant mortality in the Pacific northwest since the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima began last March. Not only that but there are approximately 600 coal-fired power plants now operating in America that are pumping out pollution that is slowly but surely destroying a whole lot of people’s lungs. Plus we still have to deal with old-fashioned vehicle-produced smog. Clean air is getting harder and harder to find!

But I found some.

I happened to stumble across a very small pocket of clean air while visiting the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis recently, over in Wirth Park. I had gone to Minneapolis in order to attend the 2011 Netroots Nation convention for progressive bloggers, and one of the convention’s features was a “Day of Service” which involved getting conference participants away from their keyboards and actually luring us out into the local wildflower garden to pull weeds. I want to pull weeds! I’ll try anything once.

Well, the garden turned out to be more than just a garden. It was also a forest, a wetland, a bog and a bird sanctuary. “Look!” cried one bird-watching blogger. “There’s an Indigo Bunting!” A what?

And as we walked deeper into the woodland, that’s where I found it — actual, real, honest-to-goodness clean air. Not even manufactured or bottled. This was the real stuff. Trust me. You will know it when you see it. It smelled wonderful. I was in awe.

Suddenly, I wanted this stuff! I want MORE of this magical stuff. I lusted after more of this wonderful stuff. I wanted to own it, to love it, to take it home with me in my suitcase. Clean air is amazing, better than fine wine or drugs.

When I got back home, I bought an air purifier/ionizer online — but it wasn’t the same.

People in Minneapolis go out and buy all kinds of things at the Mall of America — but what I want to buy more than anything is this wonderful rejuvenating taste of clean air. More than a new Mercedes or a wardrobe to die for, I want this! I’ve finally become a Material Girl — lusting after clean air.

PS: Also at Netroots Nation 2011, they showed us a preview of a new movie featuring Robert Kennedy Jr, called “The Last Mountain”. Check it out if you get a chance. Here’s the trailer:

People who live in the forests of West Virginia are currently having all their clean air destroyed by greedy and heartless coal corporations — one mountaintop at a time. 500 mountains have been destroyed in West Virginia so far. That’s a hecka lot of clean air that we’ll never see again.


June 28, 2011

America needs JOBS: And holding Washington’s feet to the fire is OUR job

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Jane Stillwater @ 12:21 pm

At the Minneapolis Netroots Nation convention of progressive bloggers last week, the main focus was on America’s current crippled job market, our current high unemployment rates and the desperate need to create new jobs here in America (not offshore) — and as well it should be.

First Howard Dean spoke, and here’s what my notes say that he said: “We are still all about electing Democrats to Washington. But once they get there, however, we need to hold their feet to the fire. We, not the people in Washington, are the only ones who can make the change we can believe in. And we need to be working toward a vision bigger than ourselves — community, security and liberty. We need security from the need for foreign oil, and freedom from religious bigots telling us what to do.”

Yes, Dean actually said that. He actually called out the religious bigots — instead of pandering to them like Palin, Bush and Gingrich have done. No wonder the corporatists and fright-wingers fought so hard against Dean getting elected in 2004.

“We can’t count on politicians to stand up to the monied interests. So we must do it ourselves, building a small-picture movement based on a big-picture vision.” And part of that big-picture vision is one where America doesn’t eliminate and/or outsource its jobs.

Then Senator Russell Feingold spoke next. “There is too much corporate dominance in America today. But corporate power has been rocked by the internet — and they were terrified that we might stop the flow of soft money campaign contributions and fiscal deregulation. Then along came Citizens United and now we’ve been taken back to the old Gilded Age of the robber barons — only it is now a Gilded Age on steroids. But together we can stand up to corporate power.”

Yeah. And we can bring our outsourced jobs back home to America too. You can’t stand up to corporate dominance quite as fiercely if you don’t have a job.

No wonder the corporatists and the fright-wingers fought so hard to get rid of Senator Feingold. He represents us — not them.

Then I took a bus ride back to where I was staying over on the other side of the Mississippi River (which, BTW, runs right through the middle of Minneapolis) and I got to chatting with the bus driver, who also held down another job as a firefighter. “I work two jobs,” he said — and boy was he pissed off about all the recent forced budget cuts to municipal services.

“Your firefighting job is in danger?”

“Yes,” he said. And that was a very definite YES — a very angry-sounding yes. “I’m tired of bailing out Wall Street and financing endless wars. What do people think they’re going to do if their house catches on fire? Call a banker? Call 911 and have a war-profiteer show up?”

Yeah. So. Jobs. After listening to various speeches at NN 2011, talking to various other bloggers from all over America and hearing the sad tales of several local working men and women, I was starting to get the idea. Many private-sector jobs have been outsourced overseas already and now public-sector jobs are in danger. America is becoming a nation of the rich and the poor.

And speaking of being poor, I also had a long talk with a local homeless guy. “I like being homeless,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m free, that I’m my own man. I sleep out under the stars.”

“But what about during the winters?” Winters are apparently rather fierce in Minnesota — ten degrees below zero for weeks on end.

“Then I just ride the buses all night.” It’s a good thing that this guy likes being homeless — because he can set a good example for the rest of us who may be facing involuntary homelessness pretty soon. We all could be like him in a couple of years if the corporatists and their fright-wing minions have their way.

Then Rep. Alan Grayson gave a speech and he really brought the problem of America’s lack of jobs into focus. “There are five things that you need to be Middle Class in America. You need a home, a car, a pension plan, healthcare and a job. And the Republican party refuses to support anything that will help you get any of these five. And right now you only have three friends in life: God, your mama and the Democratic Party.” And, apparently, you only have the Democratic Party if you hold its feet to the fire.

No wonder the corporatists and fright-wingers worked so hard to get rid of Grayson too.

There were other speakers on Grayson’s panel, including Rep. Keith Ellison and Rep. Raul Grijalva — on the first leg of a nation-wide tour. And each speaker gave us a a verbal snapshot of the pathetic state of America’s current job market.

I forget who said what during this panel but here is the gist: “This is a war between the greediest people on the planet and the rest of us. If we take this message out to America, however, we WILL win! It’s time to stop the politics of scarcity and go for the politics of generosity. There IS enough for everyone. We need to make jobs the main issue. If you’re not talking about putting America back to work, then you are talking about nothing. It is NOT okay to destroy personal lives just to make a profit. That is the definition of evil. And these are the people who are in charge of America today. The priorities in Washington DC need to match the priorities in the rest of America!”

Rep. Grijalva then added, “Various hot-button issues have been used in a very cynical way to divide America from the good of the many to the good of the few. The next election will define our nation for generations to come — and we must define America for the common good.”
The top one percent of people in America just got ten percent richer, I was told. And the rest of us only got threatened with unemployment. Screw that. No wonder the corporatists and the fright-wingers are working so hard to get rid of these progressive members of Congress. And now they are trying really hard to get rid of you and me too — starting with our jobs

PS: I also want a job! Does anyone out there have any use for a 68-year-old unemployed blogger?

PPS: When progressives talk about jobs, we are talking about REAL jobs — not just the phony jobs that corporatists are always campaigning about but which in real life turn out to be only more low-paying jobs performed by prison inmates or more jobs sent overseas or more jobs where billionaires only need apply or jobs only for corporatists’ relatives or simply just more TALK about jobs.


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