Thanksgiving 2009

Laurie and Debbie say:

There’s no doubt that 2009 has been a difficult year, but it still has a lot to celebrate, appreciate, and be thankful for.

Last year, we said “We have a sane man coming in to the American presidency. We have a smart man coming into the American presidency. We have the first African-American to come into the American presidency. (And they’re all the same person!)” And now he’s president, and he’s been president for nine months. There’s an African-American family living in the White House. That’s huge.

The movement that elected Obama hasn’t given up. Progressive groups like Move On!, People for the American Way, and many others are applying real pressure on elected officials, often cleverly. We’re particularly impressed with the Health Care Accountability Pledge, which is collecting promises for money to defeat any Democrat who “keeps health care reform from getting an up or down vote.”

It’s pressure like that that made it possible, even with the insurance companies funding enormous opposition, to get a health care bill passed in the House … and to get cloture on debate on a health care bill (without the nasty anti-abortion provision) in the Senate. Plenty of hurdles left, but we’ve crossed two where they wanted to stop us for good.

Kimberly Clark, world’s largest producer of tissues, has bowed to environmentalists’ pressure and is using sustainable forest management techniques, leading the way for other paper companies to do the same. And on a similar note, Bertin, world’s largest leather manufacturer, is not buying cattle from farms responsible for Amazon deforestation.

The Obama administration is trying at least some Guantanamo prison “detainees” in U.S. civilian courts! After as much as eight years of being confined and tortured without representation or protections, this is a small step in a crucial direction.

After twenty years of a shameful policy preventing people with AIDS from traveling to the United States, the Obama Administration has lifted the ban. Starting very early in 2010, your HIV status will not affect your right to visit the United States. It’s not about time, it’s long past time, but it is happening.

After an extraordinary battery of gender tests, Caster Semenya will be allowed to keep her gold medal and her prize money. We blogged about this story here.

The CIA is not immune any more. A trial in Milan, Italy, resulted in the conviction of 22 alleged CIA officers and agents, an American air force colonel and two Italian agents, who were convicted of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric from a Milan street in 2003.

Speaking of successful political pressure from progressives, Presente led a successful campaign to get racist, virulently anti-immigrant CNN anchor Lou Dobbs off the airwaves and . More than 100,000 people signed the petition, and Dobbs resigned “to take a more activist role” and is now talking about the Senate, and also the Presidency in 2012. Imagine the entertainment value of a Palin/Dobbs (or Dobbs/Palin) ticket!

Have a great holiday! We’ll be back early next week, when we’ll do a crosspost to the fabulous FWD.

3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving 2009

  1. Thanks for the Kimberly Clark news! People have been protesting their destruction of the Otways (where I live) and its precious catchment area since the early 1990s, to little avail. Every time a log truck drives past me, I feel sad, but maybe I can overcome that a little now.

  2. There’s an interesting article about Caster Semenya in the New Yorker that goes into the history of sex/gender testing in the Olympics and also the political context in South Africa:

    From the article:

    “South Africans have been appalled by the idea of a person who thinks she is one thing suddenly being told that she is something else. The classification and reclassification of human beings has a haunted history in this country. Starting with the Population Registration Act of 1950, teams of white people were engaged as census-takers. They usually had no training, but they had the power to decide a person’s race, and race determined where and with whom you could live, whether you could get a decent education, whether you had political representation, whether you were even free to walk in certain areas at certain hours. The categories were fickle.”

    The author of the article met Semenya only once:

    “A figure in a black sweatshirt with the hood up walked along the path about thirty yards in front of me. There was something about this person’s build and movements that drew my attention. I got up and followed along the path, until I caught up to the person where he or she was stopped behind the cafeteria, talking to a waiter and a cook, both of whom were much shorter than she was. It was Caster Semenya.

    She wore sandals and track pants and kept her hood up. When she shook my hand, I noticed that she had long nails. She didn’t look like an eighteen-year-old girl, or an eighteen-year-old boy. She looked like something else, something magnificent.”

  3. “…the history of sex/gender testing in the Olympics….”

    Sorry, should have said in international athletic competition.

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