Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Archive for August 2011

America's Post 9/11 Hand: The Light and Dark in Retrospective

With such a lofty title I fear the text below will not fulfill the promise. The thoughts expressed in the comments will hopefully help us elevate this diary to that level.

Below the fold is a comment I wrote that has me thinking that it is a timely topic for Moosetemplation this week. Let my words here be more of a first volley in a longer exhortation or exhibition, then, of the complex views and moods we have about our place in the world these last ten years.

As incomplete as it may be, I stand by the shape of the comment below as a starting point for my part in this discourse. The past ten years have seen the blunt violence of America as well as its opposite. The Yin and Yang of America has been played out for all to see. All in all, it seems to me, a more honest demonstration of who we are would be hard to imagine than the range of behavior we have engaged in since we were jarred out of complacency over five hundred Tuesdays ago.

But there is enough from me below about that. What do you think, Mooses, as you look forward ten days and backward ten years?

Winding Down in Libya

Libya is taking the first faltering steps towards living what most of us will consider a normal life. Beyond getting the basic essentials of life working again they have to figure out how to live in a daily world most of them have never experienced.

A Regional Party Limited to the South: The Democrats in the 1920s, Part 3

This is the last part of three posts analyzing the Democratic Party’s  struggles  during the 1920s, when it lost three consecutive presidential  elections  by landslide margins. This will focus upon the 1928  presidential election, when the  Democratic Party began to change into what it is today.

The 1928 Presidential Election

The 1928 presidential election marked the beginning of a great shift in American politics. It was when the Democratic Party started changing from a minority and fundamentally conservative organization into the party that would nominate Senator Barack Obama for president.

Part 3

More below.

What Came After

So, Hurricane Irene is headed our way. Virginia Beach appears to be in her direct path and we are preparing accordingly. As I have prepped these past few days, I have had another hurricane in my thoughts. More than the storm itself, it is the days and weeks that followed that have been in mind.


Please indulge me a bit as I ramble below the fold.

A Rather Cloudy Corner Here: An Expectantly Damp Open Thread [Updates]

[Update 3: 4:40am ET] Watch for flying taxis:

The National Weather Service has briefly issued a tornado warning for Brooklyn and Queens in New York City as Hurricane Irene heads for the city.

The agency said radar had spotted rotating clouds in a severe thunderstorm approaching the area before 4 a.m. Sunday. The agency says the warning expired at 4:15 a.m. Sunday with a report of a toppled tree in the area but no immediate confirmation of any tornadoes.

A tornado watch remains in effect until 5 a.m. Sunday for New York City, Long Island and southern Connecticut. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form.

[Update 1: 1:45am Eastern] Our own DTOzone has this from NYC:

I don’t know if anyone else is in NYC right now

but this is fucking nuts. I’ve never seen anything like this.

[Update 2: 2:45am Eastern] Jerusalem Post has updates within the last hour on both DTO’s NYC and Our Kysen’s Virginia Beach:

BATTERY PARK, NEW YORK – Lower Manhattan was almost entirely devoid of people early Sunday morning as the much-anticipated Hurricane Irene battered the city from the south.

Violent winds and heavy rain swept through the empty streets of the Financial District which had been evacuated by order of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg together with other low-lying parts of the city because of the risk of flooding.

Rabbi Israel Zoberman of Congregation Beth Chaverim in Virginia Beach was at home on Saturday afternoon bracing for the arrival of the category 1 storm projected to pass within a few dozen miles of the city.

“I must tell you the sense of hopelessness you have is an amazing feeling,” he said over the phone from the coastal town. “If you are on the oceanfront or other parts of the city you cannot walk. The wind will knock you down. The boardwalk is in danger from the waters of the ocean that have penetrated quite far out.”

The Reform rabbi said members of the Virginia Beach’s Jewish community were safe indoors and that so far there little damage had been wrought by the storm.

“We’ve had some floods in the area and we lost power early in the day for a short time but there are a lot of people without power in the state,” Zoberman said.

Conservatives with whom We Can Speak

Lately, has been on my daily internet menu.  David Frum is, for obvious reasons, one of the most popular neo-con apostates among progressives.  Mr. ‘axis of evil’–yeah, he’s the one that coined that term–has shown great intellectual courage over the past few years, especially since he was ejected from the Heritage Institute in the most weasley of manners.  They didn’t even fire him.  They just informed him that they would no longer pay him or suppply him with office space or any resources.  What a bold stand they took in the face of his critical and pragmatic brand of conservatism.  Now he’s marginalized, and his sphere of influence doesn’t seem likely to expand anytime soon.

Here’s a bit from this morning’s top post:

One of the effects of the Tea Party movement is to cut the Republican Party off – not only from the measured policy preferences of the American people – but from the Republican Party’s own history. It shrivels the GOP into a party without heroes, or rather a party with only one hero, Ronald Reagan, and otherwise a long succession of false and deluded leaders.

And it points Republicans to a doomed future of continuing failure and recrimination. After all, if almost every elected Republican leader of the past 100 years save Reagan fell short of conservative  principle, then it seems overwhelmingly probable that the next Republican leader will also fall short of conservative principle. In which case, conservative principle has become a vehicle for guaranteeing eternal conservative disappointment and alienation. Unhealthy, no?…

Now, it’s obviously refreshing to hear conservatives take on the Tee Party.  Frum isn’t the only one to do so.  But what I find both refreshing and somewhat saddening about Frum is that he remains an unabashed conservative.  He adheres to basic conservative principles but reads widely in economics and policy analysis.  He conceded that the rationale behind main conservative points of opposition to marriage equality hasn’t been born out in the real world while defending the principles upon which it has been misguidedly based.  On the other hand, he has failed to acknowledge how much that opposition is based on bigotry.  But at least he dropped his own.  

As I read his blog, mostly his own posts but other writers as well, many of them young, I get very sad.  Was it really that long ago that we had sincere–as opposed to shallow and zealous–conservatives with who we could work and, more importantly debate.  The agon has become agony.  And it impoverishes progressivism as well as conservativism when there is such meager opportunity to give and receive critical input in a vigorous and reasonable manner.  It makes clear that the Tee Party hasn’t just seized the GOP by the throat.  Rather, in doing so, it is also strangling the public sphere.  It’s not that I am looking for ‘common ground.’  It’s that the extended and broad symposium that public life in a  democracy is supposed to foster, and upon which it depends, is being degraded, primarily by one constituency.  And let’s not get into the false equivalency game.  Fair-mindedness doesn’t necessitate crediting all positions and actions equally.  The Tee Party has no progressive counterpart.  No matter what they imagine and spin.  Not  Not DKos.  Not the unions.  Not the NOW.  Not the ALCU.  Not the Academy.  Not any of the progressive boogie people they promote to justify their aggression as the rightful defense of persecuted victims.

My point is that we cannot reinvigorate the market place of ideas in this country from only one side.  Right now, there’s a group of deranged screamers in the agora.  

Perhaps the way forward for us is to stop responding to the Tee Party.  They are basically attention starved and power hungry.  Let’s instead reserve our responses for those conservatives with whom we can speak.  Maybe we should spend more time reading and debating conservatives like Frum.  That might increase his status, though I doubt it, and attract others from his side.  Giving him a frequent platform on MSNBC enhances the discussions there.  But it might just work against us.  It’s turning him into a more intelligent version of David Brooks.  Increasing traffic on FrumForum might just do something.

Some Advice to Evo Morales

By: Inoljt,

Most informed Americans do not have a high opinion of Bolivian president Evo Morales. They think that Mr. Morales is an anti-American leftist aligned with President Hugo Chavez and former President Fidel Castro.

None of these facts is strictly wrong. President Evo Morales is a leftist; he is an ally of Venezuela and Cuba; and he certainly hates the United States.

Yet Mr. Morales is not just this. To many people in Bolivia, Mr. Morales is the Barack Obama of their country.

More below.

Back to School and Back to Good Food

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet.

As summer comes to an end, school is just around the corner for children across the United States. For children enrolled in state schools, this typically means the return of unhealthy lunches that are best described as “fast food”: hamburgers, chicken nuggets, fried snacks, and sugary soft drinks. Yet school lunch programs can play a key role in reinforcing healthy eating behaviors by integrating such measures as school gardens, nutrition education, locally sourced organic food, and efforts that affirm the value of mealtimes.

Childhood obesity is a major problem in North America, where annual obesity rates have seen significant gains in recent decades. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2-19 are obese, nearly triple the share in 1980. Many studies document the connection between a school’s food environment and dietary behaviors in children. As anyone who grew up in the U.S. public school system can attest, lunches served in the country are highly processed and high in sodium, sugar, and fat.

Initiatives that connect schoolchildren to fresh, healthy foods and that encourage healthy eating habits from a young age are critical to ending the obesity endemic. One example is the U.S.-based 30 Project, which brings together key organizations and activists working on hunger, obesity, and agriculture to talk about their visions for the food system over the next 30 years. The effort is exploring long-term solutions to address obesity and improve the food system by ensuring that everyone has easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables, among other goals.

With children preparing to begin the school year, Nourishing the Planet offers the following five solutions for schools to encourage healthy eating:

  • Connect Local Farmers to Schools: Providing locally sourced foods in school cafeterias improves diets and strengthens local economies. The U.S. state of Vermont is a leader in the nationwide Farm to School movement, which integrates food and nutrition education into classroom curricula and serves local foods in school cafeterias. Over the past decade, 60 percent of Vermont schools have joined the effort, forming a statewide network aided by the state’s Agency of Agriculture, Department of Health, and Department of Education. Children benefit from farm-fresh foods for breakfast and lunch, and local farmers expand their business into a market worth over $40 million. Urban areas across the United States, from New York to Los Angeles, are also participating in this growing movement.
  • Savor Mealtimes: Emphasizing the importance of mealtimes teaches children to appreciate the value and taste of good food. France, which has one of the lowest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, takes lunch very seriously. School lunches are well funded, and every part of the meal is prepared on school grounds in professional-grade kitchens–a stark contrast to the heat-and-serve kitchens in U.S. schools. Kids from preschool to high school are served four- to five-course meals and are encouraged to take time eating and socializing with friends. At some schools, detailed menus even suggest what parents should serve their children for dinner. Soft drink and snack machines are banned from school premises.
  • Implement School Gardens: School gardens provide hands-on opportunities for children to cultivate and prepare organic produce. In the United States, REAL School Gardens creates learning gardens in elementary schools in high-poverty areas of north Texas. The organization has found that the school gardens not only nurture healthy lifestyles and environmental stewardship, but can also improve academic achievement through active participation. REAL School Gardens supports 81 schools, providing daily access to nature for more than 45,000 children and 2,700 educators.
  • Nutrition Education: The city of Chicago’s public school district doesn’t offer mandatory nutrition education as part of its curriculum. To fill this void, the nonprofit Communities in Schools of Chicago (CISC) connects 170 schools to volunteer professionals who run a broad range of programs that address the social, emotional, health, and enrichment needs of students. Demand for nutrition classes has almost tripled in the past four years. This is due in part to the results of a Personal Health Inventory administered by CISC to more than 5,000 students, which showed that nutrition was the lowest scoring area.
  • Equal Access to Healthy Foods: Childhood obesity disproportionately affects low-income families that may not be able to afford healthy foods. Schools in Greeley, Colorado, are taking a giant leap forward by cooking every meal from scratch. This is a much healthier alternative to the processed factory-food items that dominate school cafeterias today, and can be more cost effective for poorer school systems that take advantage of U.S. federal reimbursement rules. With 60 percent of the city’s students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, Greeley is proving that it isn’t only rich school districts that can provide their children with healthy meals.

Additional Examples:

  • The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) coordinates relationships among school cafeterias and local food producers in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, bringing nutritious meals to students who might not otherwise be able to afford them.
  • The Fresh from the Farm program in Chicago conducts classroom activities such as tastings, cooking demonstrations, visits from farmers, helping in school gardens, and field trips to local organic farms.
  • Revolution Foods delivers tasty and healthy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to schools in Colorado, California, and Washington, D.C. Many of the ingredients are organic and locally sourced, and no artificial flavors, trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, or milk with hormones and antibiotics are used at all.
  • Seeds of Nutrition helps schools in Atlanta, Georgia, start school gardens and teach children how to prepare delicious recipes using the fruits of their labor. The group also collaborates with teachers to create cross-curricular lessons that center on gardens and food.
  • The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California, is a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom where inner-city students at a local Middle School participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing seasonal produce.
  • New York City’s enormous school district used its market power to pressure vendors to reduce food prices and eliminate unhealthy items, including fried food, artificial ingredients, and trans fats, from its cafeterias. With this welcome change, many children now enjoy fresh fruit, salad bars, whole-grain breads and pasta, and foods made with low-fat and low-sodium recipes.
  • In 2010, Italy adopted a nationwide policy to supply all school cafeterias with locally sourced organic food in an effort to curb childhood obesity and preserve culinary traditions. Seventy percent of all school cafeteria food in Rome is now organic, with ingredients coming from 400 Italian organic farms.

Obesity is an immense problem for children growing up in today’s world of processed junk food, but many opportunities exist to reverse this trend. Schools are the most efficient means of transmitting healthy behavioral changes that can last a lifetime to students, families, and communities. It all starts with connecting schools to the best foods available: fresh, organic, and local.

Repent! The End Is Nigh!

So, Hurricane Irene is headed for our coast. She is projected to hit ‘somewhere’ between FL and VA (most likely in the Carolinas) this weekend.


Since we no longer have Pat Robertson here in Virginia Beach to pray away the hurricanes, I always get a bit nervous watching them bear down on our coast. I was in Charleston, SC for Hurricane Hugo…I will be perfectly content to never contend with such a storm again.

I know that Puerto Rico got a good dose of Irene, I hope that the family of our resident Boricua (talkin’ to you Spiff) came thru unscathed.

While dealing with hurricanes is always a fun part of living on the East Coast…today we got to experience something new and exciting.

A freakin’ earthquake.

More rockin’ and rollin’ below the fold…

Palin the Independent? What 1912 Can Tell Us About 2012.

A wildly popular Republican boldly breaks ranks with the party establishment and runs as a third-party candidate.

In 1912, that popular Republican was former President Theodore Roosevelt. Disgruntled after the lackluster presidency of William Howard Taft–and unable to accrue enough delegates at the nominating convention after alienating Senator Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin and the party establishment–Roosevelt formed the Progressive, or famous Bull-Moose, Party.

One hundred years later, could we be experiencing a repeat?

Amid an already-crowded GOP presidential field, former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin may soon make an announcement about her own intentions regarding the 2012 race. Many–including former Bush acolyte Karl Rove–believe she will throw her hat in the ring.

But with a few mainstream front-runners already appealing to most Republican primary-goers–Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, at least–does Palin have a shot at her party’s nod? Or must she form her own third-party–an Alaskan-tinted, mama-grizzly version of the Bull-Moose Party of yore–to achieve her presidential aspirations?