Here’s the speech he gave this week at the National Press Club:
Good morning and thank you. I’m honored to stand beside firefighter Stan Trojanowski, who responded to a 9-1-1 call from the World Trade Center moments after the terrorist attacks in 2001. As America grieved, Stan returned to the scene day after day, first in the hopes of rescuing those trapped in the rubble, then to recover remains of those who had perished. Today, he continues to deal with the terrible aftermath of that terrible day, as he deals with the toll his bravery and commitment have taken on his health.
Last month, Stan and other firefighters, police officers and construction workers who answered the call that day—who ran into the fire and into the dust clouds—posed a question to our elected leaders: What kind of country are we?
For seven years they had pressed for a law that would do one simple thing—take care of the heroes who got sick because of their selfless acts, who suffered because they said yes, without hesitation, when America needed them. But for seven years, our leaders would not say yes in return.
Congratulations, Stan, for finally succeeding.
The question of how our political system treated our 9-11 heroes like Stan resonates still in this new year: What kind of country are we? A country of isolated individuals fending for themselves or a country with shared values and a shared vision? A country with scant resources, fading glory and no choices? Or a blessed nation with the potential to do right by its people and be a leader in the world?
The conventional wisdom in Washington and in statehouses around the nation is that we cannot afford to be the country we want to be. That could not be more wrong.
We can and should be building up the American middle class – not tearing it down. We should be honoring the heroes of 9-11, not turning them into scapegoats for a partisan political messaging operation. We should act like the wealthy, compassionate, imaginative country we are – not try to turn ourselves into a third-rate, impoverished “has-been.” The labor movement hasn’t given up on America – and we don’t expect our leaders to either.
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This is absolutely disgusting to me, for so many reasons — and people who support abortion rights should be even more concerned than people who don’t, because this kind of appalling clinic is the sort of shocking story that will be used to revoke those rights.
I know the Powelton neighborhood where it happened, a funky mixed neighborhood on the outer reaches of the University of Penn. (A Thai restaurant popular with students is on the same block, and it’s close by the same public school that Penn faculty kids attend. The mayor’s daughter used to go there.)
It was within a mile of one of the country’s major teaching hospitals.
You know I used to be a medical fraud investigator, and you’ve heard me say that even killing people isn’t enough to get a doctor’s license revoked — because it’s true. It’s almost (but not completely) impossible. Doctors can get away with almost anything, and it sure sounds as if this doctor wasn’t also running an Oxycontin mill, he never would have been arrested.
Read the details: No one wanted to touch it because it was a political hot potato. The PA Department of State didn’t do their jobs — hell, nobody did their jobs, except one lone public health worker who tried to shut him down.
I am a strong supporter of abortion rights, including medically necessary third-trimester abortions. But this? It makes me sick. Using untrained office workers to deliver full-term babies — and then having them use scissors to cut their spinal cords? (One worker played with a newborn baby for twenty minutes before killing it.)
How does this happen? Well, one of the reasons is that politicians have made abortion just difficult enough to get that desperate women will go to cut-rate neighborhood clinics like this. Who wouldn’t rather have a first-trimester abortion in a nice, clean, well-run and affordable clinic? How desperate do you have to be to walk into a place like this, see cats running around the place, smell their urine – and stay anyway?
The other is that any office that performs surgical procedures with general anesthesia needs to be regulated like a hospital. (It’s estimated that unreported deaths from liposuction centers now exceed the number of people who die in car accidents. Think about that.) And you’ve probably heard similar horror stories about the virtually unregulated cosmetic surgery clinics in Miami Beach.
This is what happens when you don’t have strong regulation, and not enough people to enforce it. (And the lack of political will to do so.) This is what happens when a commodity becomes so rare and hard to get, a greed-driven monster can make a fortune doing it.
This a massive human tragedy, and as human beings, we should all denounce it.
I had to go back to the dentist yesterday because one part of my gum was really inflamed. The hygienist pulled out a small black thing and showed it to me: “This was wedged in there.”
It was a poppy seed, from the salad dressing I’ve been using lately. Gee, middle age is fun!
“From that moment on, I was no longer a liberal, a believer in the self-correcting character of American democracy. I was a radical, believing that something fundamental was wrong in this country – not just the existence of poverty amidst great wealth, not just the horrible treatment of black people, but something rotten at the root. The situation required not just a new president or new laws, but an uprooting of the old order, the introduction of a new kind of society – cooperative, peaceful, egalitarian.”
-Howard Zinn, from his 1994 memoir, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train”
Wow. Sounds like we’re really making some inroads with the Fox propaganda machine:
A poll gauging public trust in TV news has found that PBS is the most trusted name in news, while trust in Fox News has dropped significantly. According to a survey from Public Policy Polling, “a year ago a plurality of Americans said they trusted Fox News. Now a plurality of them don’t.
“In a survey taken a year ago, PPP found that Fox was the most trusted news network, with 49 percent saying they trusted the network, and 37 percent saying they did not. In the new poll, 42 percent said they trusted the network while 46 percent disagreed.The new reigning champion is PBS, which was not included in last year’s inaugural poll. The public broadcaster was found to be trusted by 50 percent of respondents, and distrusted by 30 percent — the closest any news network has come to gaining the trust of a majority of Americans.
Fox News has found itself in roughly the same place, trust-wise, as NBC and CNN, but still above ABC and CBS, who were trusted by 35 and 36 percent, respectively, in the latest poll.PPP notes that trust in the network declined only marginally among conservatives, from 75 percent to 72 percent. “But moderates and liberals have both had a strong increase in their level of distrust for the network — a 12-point gain from 48 percent to 60 percent for moderates and a 16-point gain from 66 percent to 82 percent for liberals,” the institute reported.
I wanted to reiterate this one point in the new Democracy Corps poll, because it’s important:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s apparent willingness to consider cuts in Social Security benefits may be winning him points with Washington elites, but it’s killing him with voters, who see the program as inviolate and may start to wonder what the Democratic Party stands for, if not for Social Security.
That’s the conclusion of three top progressive pollsters who spoke to reporters Wednesday at a briefing sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute, the Century Foundation and Demos.
“For the public, cutting benefits is the problem, not the solution,” said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research Associates.
Precisely. If the Democratic Party doesn’t stand for public education, helping unemployed workers during a recession, and Social Security, what the hell do they stand for?
Do you suppose maybe we’re having a little marketing problem? Our potential supporters aren’t quite clear on our core values, Look at the reason Republicans won the midterms: They flooded the airwaves with commercials that said the Democrats were cutting a half-trillion dollars from Medicare.
First of all, it tells me that voters actually believed that Democrats would cut a half-trillion dollars from Medicare, the same people who have always defended. Sounds like they’re not quite sure anymore, huh?
This shouldn’t have been difficult. All the Democrats had to do was run response ads, pointing out this had to do with Medicare Advantage, the part where private insurers are raping and pillaging the treasury. Now, I don’t know about where you live, but we were inundated with these GOP attack ads in Pennsylvania — and the Democrats never answered them.
It seems to me that the Democratic Party, like any organization that’s adrift, needs to define itself. We can be the party of working people — or we can be the party of the bankers. But we can’t be both, and obviously voters are just as annoyed and confused about it as I am.
In the private sector, we’d remove our attention and resources from anything that wasn’t in line with our core mission. It would help if the Democrats did that, but first they’ll have to figure out what, exactly, that is.
Do you remember this? The Fraser & DeBolt version: