Bruce Blog

Memorial Day: Remembering the good old days in Rock Rapids, Iowa, circa 1940s to 1950s

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 Bruce B. Brugmann

(Reprinted and updated by popular demand)

When I was growing up in my hometown of Rock Rapids, Iowa, a farming community of 2,800 in the northwest corner of the state, Memorial Day was the official start of summer.

We headed off to YMCA camp at Camp Foster on West Okiboji Lake and Boy Scout camp at Lake Shetek in southwestern Minnesota. The less fortunate were trundled off to Bible School at the Methodist Church.

As I remember it, Memorial Day always seemed to be a glorious sunny day and full of action for Rock Rapids. The high school band in black and white uniform would march down Main Street under the baton of the local high school band teacher (in my day, Jim White.) A parade would feature floats carrying our town’s veterans of the First and Second World wars, young men I knew who suddenly were wearing their old uniforms. And there was for many years a veteran of the Spanish American War named Jess Callahan prominently displayed in a convertible. Lots of flags would be flying and the Rex Strait American Legion Post and Veterans of Foreign Wars would be out in force. We never really knew who Rex Strait was, except that he was said to be the first Rock Rapids boy to die in World War I and the post was named after him.

After the parade, we would make our way to our picture post card cemetery, atop a knoll just south of town overlooking the lush green of the trees and the fields along the lazy Rock River.A local dignitary would give a blazing patriotic speech. A color guard of veterans would move the flags into position and then at the command fire their rifles off toward the river. I remember this was the first time I ever saw a color guard in action, with a sergeant who moved his men with rifles into position with strange “hut, hut, hut” commands. Read more »

Solomon: Obama in Plunderland: Down the corporate rabbit hole

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

The president’s new choices for Commerce secretary and FCC chair underscore how far down the rabbit hole his populist conceits have tumbled. Yet the Obama rhetoric about standing up for working people against “special interests” is as profuse as ever. Would you care for a spot of Kool-Aid at the Mad Hatter’s tea party?

Of course the Republican economic program is worse, and President Romney’s policies would have been even more corporate-driven. That doesn't in the slightest make acceptable what Obama is doing. His latest high-level appointments -- boosting corporate power and shafting the public -- are despicable.

To nominate Penny Pritzker for secretary of Commerce is to throw in the towel for any pretense of integrity that could pass a laugh test. Pritzker is “a longtime political supporter and heavyweight fundraiser,” the Chicago Tribune reported with notable understatement last week, adding: “She is on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corp., which was founded by her family and has had rocky relations with labor unions, and she could face questions about the failure of a bank partly owned by her family. With a personal fortune estimated at $1.85 billion, Pritzker is listed by Forbes magazine among the 300 wealthiest Americans.” Read more »

The Pulitzer Prize Board surrender – and how the New York Times blew the Ed Kennedy story (Part l)

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In the May 19, 1945 edition of the New Yorker magazine, the legendary press critic A. J. Liebling wrote a prescient article on what happened when Edward Kennedy, an Associated Press combat correspondent, defied military censorship to break one of the century’s biggest and most important stories.

His lead said that “the great row over Edward Kennedy’s Associated Press story of the signing of the German surrender at Reims served to point up the truth that if you are smart enough you can kick yourself in the seat of the pants, grab yourself by the back of the collar and throw yourself out on the sidewalk. This is an axiom that I hope will be taught to future students of journalism as Liebling’s Law.” Liebling titled his piece, “The AP surrender,” because AP, caving in to government pressure, led the attack on its own reporter by publicly censuring and then firing him. He cited the New York Times as leading the charge with a nasty editorial blasting Kennedy only two days after it had splashed Kennedy’s story on the front page with huge heads. Kennedy, the editorial intoned solemnly, had done a “grave disservice to the newspaper profession.”

Read more »

Dick Meister: We've suffered a great loss

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She's gone, Gerry, the love of my life, my dearly beloved wife for 57 years. It's difficult at this time of deep mourning for me to think of Gerry except in the context of our long and extremely happy life together and great devotion to each other, difficult to think of Gerry as anything but a loving partner who shared my life for so long.

We met briefly while I was playing semi-professional baseball in Gerry's hometown of Coquille on the Oregon coast in 1952, and again a few years later during a party at Stanford, where we were both students. I was introduced to her as someone who actually knew of Coquille.

Within two years, we were married. That came shortly after a lunch date at Tommy's Joynt on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. We were earnestly discussing the merits of Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson (remember him?} and savoring our beer and pastrami on rye when it suddenly popped into my head, and I blurted it out : "I think we ought to get married." Gerry paused for just a moment. "Yes," she said, "I think we should."

Read more »

Don't vent, organize and "primary" a Democrat near you

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

Progressives often wonder why so many Republican lawmakers stick to their avowed principles while so many Democratic lawmakers abandon theirs. We can grasp some answers by assessing the current nationwide drive called “Primary My Congressman” -- a case study of how right-wing forces gain ground in electoral terrain where progressives fear to tread.

Sponsored by Club for Growth Action, the “Primary My Congressman” effort aims to replace “moderate Republicans” with “economic conservatives” -- in other words, GOP hardliners even more devoted to boosting corporate power and dismantling the public sector. “In districts that are heavily Republican,” the group says, “there are literally dozens of missed opportunities to elect real fiscal conservatives to Congress -- not more ‘moderates’ who will compromise with Democrats. . .”

Such threats of serious primary challenges often cause the targeted incumbents to quickly veer rightward, or they may never get through the next Republican primary. Read more »

Solomon: It's time to renounce the "war on terror"

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Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

As a perpetual emotion machine -- producing and guzzling its own political fuel -- the “war on terror” continues to normalize itself as a thoroughly American way of life and death. Ongoing warfare has become a matter of default routine, pushed along by mainline media and the leadership of both parties in Washington. Without a clear and effective upsurge of opposition from the grassroots, Americans can expect to remain citizens of a war-driven country for the rest of their lives.

Across the United States, many thousands of peeling bumper stickers on the road say: “End this Endless War.” They got mass distribution from MoveOn.org back in 2007, when a Republican was in the White House. Now, a thorough search of the MoveOn website might leave the impression that endless war ended with the end of the George W. Bush presidency. Read more »

Solomon: The Orwellian warfare state of carnage and doublethink

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By Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

After the bombings that killed and maimed so horribly at the Boston Marathon, our country’s politics and mass media are awash in heartfelt compassion -- and reflexive “doublethink,” which George Orwell described as willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”

In sync with media outlets across the country, the New York Times put a chilling headline on Wednesday’s front page: “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim, Officials Say.” The story reported that nails and ball bearings were stuffed into pressure cookers, “rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast.”

Much less crude and weighing in at 1,000 pounds, CBU-87/B warheads were in the category of “combined effects munitions” when put to use 14 years ago by a bomber named Uncle Sam. The U.S. media coverage was brief and fleeting. Read more »

Norman Solomon: Nominate Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace prize!

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Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.

The Nobel Peace Prize that President Obama received 40 months ago has emerged as the most appalling Orwellian award of this century. No, war is not peace.

George Carlin used to riff about oxymorons like “jumbo shrimp,” “genuine imitation,” “political science” and “military intelligence.” But humor is of the gallows sort when we consider the absurdity and tragedy of the world’s most important peace prize honoring the world’s top war maker.

This week, a challenge has begun with the launch of a petition urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to revoke Obama’s Peace Prize. By midnight of the first day, nearly 10,000 people had signed. The online petition simply tells the Nobel committee: “I urge you to rescind the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to Barack Obama.”

Many signers have added their own comments. Here are some samples: Read more »

Calvin Trillin: One issue that seems to be getting bipartisan support in the Senate

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When Cruz begins a crude bombard,

He speaks with reckless disregard.

So even those who share his views

Tend not to want to schmooze with Cruz.

Calvin Trillin: Deadline Poet: The Nation4/8/2013


 

Calvin Trillin: On Dennis Rodman and his pal Kim Jong-un in North Korea

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Kim Jong-un, dictator of North
Korea and BFF of Dennis Rodman,
threatens to use nuclear weapons
against the United States
Now Kim, who's the strangest of big bomb possessors,
Says he'd use his nukes against Yankee aggressors.
Should we build some shelters? No, Kim is no menace,
Since he knows a nuke strike could take out his Dennis.

Calvin Trillin: Deadline Poet: The Nation 4/1/2013