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Back during the 2008 campaign when I read that both Barack Obama and John McCain said their favorite TV show was "The Wire" I thought, "Then why don't you campaign for the end of this insane drug war?" Within a year or two of Obama becoming President we saw that he was a very pragmatic progressive, tackling some of the essential issues such as funding clean energy but putting things like ending the drug war on the back burner.

We have seen some movement on this issue in the past couple of years as Attorney General Eric Holder working to end mandatory minimums and civil forfeitures. But this is far from enough. Much more needs to be done. The creator of "The Wire" certainly believes that. So he sat down this week to talk about the show and subtlety make the case for the end of the drug war. Watch A Conversation with President Obama and The Wire Creator David Simon and go below the fold for more.  

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Sad news is out that Clarence Clemons, one of the greatest saxophonists in the history of Rock & Roll, and member of THE great E Street Band has suffered a stroke. Rolling Stone has confirmed the news first posted to that Clemons is "seriously ill after a stroke at his home in Florida."

Clemons has brought beauty and joy to many of our lives and now is the chance to give some of that love back. Positive thoughts and prayers are appreciated. Below is some of what he has shared with the world:

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One thing many of us on progressives forget is that we need to get our message out anytime, anywhere, and as often as possible. The right certainly does that. And since we don't have a 24/7 news network or the Koch brothers to help us we need to be creative. I have become pretty good at getting letters to the editor into the newspaper, having a number in the Star-Ledger in New Jersey and one in the New York Times.

Today All Things Considered read my letter/comment about the story they did about Fox News "journalist" Bret Baier. I knew I had to be a bit creative to get it read and I think I did a pretty good job. Listen here:  
Hope this inspires some of you to take up this cause. One small blow against the Empire.

As per request, a transcript of my letter:
I was surprised that you waited almost a week to do your April Fools segment. Treating the Republican propaganda machine as a legitimate news organization must be a joke.  


Below is a link to some of the most important words in American history. I always remind my students that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died while fighting for the rights of sanitation workers. Some are surprised by that fact. They don't know that in February 1968, two Memphis garbage collectors, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. Workers went on strike and King joined them.

We are all familiar with the I have a Dream speech. But other speeches, other stands, other words need repeating. In a time when labor is under attack these words stand as strong as any other. This video needs to not only go viral, it needs to be played again and again as long as our nation stands.  


Ok, the Senate committees have now voted on their versions of health care reform. We played some part so far by electing a President, Senators, and Representatives who made health care reform a priority. We have also voiced our concerns online, by phone, letters, and in person. But NOW we MUST show that the final bill represents the concerns and priorities of a majority of Americans, not lobbyists or Senators from states with small populations.

So let's set a date and all meet in D.C. Over the past five years we have use the power of the internet to make a real difference in the world. We are one of the reasons that the President of the United States won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now we can show that we can get real change NOW.

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My wife and I just got back from your new movie. As with all your films, I was very impressed with the way you present information and the stories of regular Americans, things we almost never see or hear about in the mainstream media. But there was one glaring omission from your film: a date and place where we will meet to express our outrage, to stand together with the Republic Windows workers, the family in Miami, and the family who were losing their farmhouse in the Mid-West.

We don't have a FOX News to coordinate our efforts. We don't have corporations to sponsor a bus that will travel across the nation getting publicity for their astroturf protest in D.C. And we know from our protests in the past that the media all but ignores us. But we have you. And we have us. People like my wife and I and 500,000 others who stood in Manhattan in 18 degree weather in February 2003 to say no to another Iraq War. People like my son and his college friends who went to New Hampshire and Ohio last year to volunteer for Barack Obama. People sitting in that theatre this evening. WE are ready. Set a date and a place, Wall Street or Capital Hill. WE will be there. DO IT!


Thu Sep 03, 2009 at 07:40 AM PDT

Have you called 202-456-1111 today?

by Better Days

When I called the White House comment line today I told them I was from New Jersey but on Election Day I was in Pennsylvania volunteering for Barack Obama. I told the woman my 20 year-old son volunteered in Ohio and New Hampshire last fall. I said we gave money to both Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. And I told the nice woman that I want President Obama to stand tall and to stand firm for the Public Option. She said she got the message and will pass it on.

And I told myself that I would pass on this number to others.


Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 04:45 AM PDT

Finally! I heard the L word

by Better Days

I never hear it from Democrats. I don’t hear it from the person I worked to elect last November. I didn’t even hear it from Rachel Maddow as she sat next to Dick Armey on Sunday. But I did hear the word LIES this morning from Lord Ara Darzi, a surgeon and British government advisor in an NPR report on the British health system. In fact, Lord/Dr. Darzi said it was "lies" AND "fear" that were being spread against the system he has worked in and worked hard to improve.

The NPR report also talked about Conservative Leader David Cameron criticizing Daniel Hannan MEP, the man all over Fox News in the past months spreads lies and fear about the National Health Service. Hannan is little known in Britain but he has been an important part of the propaganda war against any changes in our health system here in the United States.

As a professor of media my major concern in this whole health care debate has been the utter failure of the American media to do its job. That means covering all sides, in-depth reports on health care systems around the world, and investigating the lies spread by the corporatists and the right. Props to NPR for doing two very good reports on the BHS this morning. And special thanks to Lord/Dr. Ara Darzi for calling a lie a lie.


Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 06:44 AM PST

Professor Howard Dean?

by Better Days

My son just sent me the story from today’s Yale Daily News. Howard Dean has applied to teach a seminar class at Yale. The seminar, “Understanding Politics and Politicians,” would be co-taught with David Berg a clinical psychiatry professor at Yale’s School of Medicine. Berg went to Yale at the same time as Dean and they have maintained their friendship since. It sounds like an interesting class as Dean said he is committed to an "experiential and student-oriented teaching style." Dean plans to bring guests to class. This is only a proposal, as Yale still has to decide on the application.

Dean says that he is not giving up on politics. He wants students to learn from his experiences. Sounds like a good idea to me. My son attended Dean’s "off-the-record" lecture at Yale two years ago and told me Dean was funny and informative. Over the past two years whenever anyone ever told me that my son was going to the same school that gave us W. I reminded them Yale also gave us Howard Dean! (And props to the Yale endowment for sharing their resources so my son can attend at tremendous discount. There is no way we could ever afford that school.)


Amory Lovins! When it comes to Secretary of Energy President-Elect Obama must not be concerned about star power or "Inside the Beltway" experience. The future of human residence on our planet depends on facing the reality that we must drastically change how we develop and use energy. One of the reasons I volunteered for Barack Obama was the faith that he would have the courage to pick someone like Amory Lovins for Energy Secretary.

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If you are like me you are very occupied with the current presidential election. But the President's proposal for the bailout of Wall Street demands our attention. I just sent the following to all my email contacts. I suggest we all do the same. Feel free to copy and paste.

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I drive a fuel-efficient car. I walk or ride my bike whenever I can. I recycle or compost almost everything possible. I try and be a responsible citizen of our nation and our planet. That is why a year ago I changed my mind about off shore oil exploration in United States waters. How did I come to this decision? One radio report:

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