No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I feel like I've just stepped into a time warp.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Eakins' "The Gross Clinic" Update

I heard on the local news of my NPR station that a group of local concerns attempting to maintain a Philadelphia home to Thomas Eakins' famous paintint, The Gross Clinic, has raised about one-third of the $68 million needed to keep the painting in Philadelphia. They look to prevent Thomas Jefferson University's sale of the painting to a partnership of the National Gallery and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, slated to be open in 2009, in Bentonville, Arkansas.

This makes me very happy. If you'd like to contribute to keep The Gorss Clinic in Philadelphia, here is information I posted in a previous post on the subject.
Tax-deductible donations to the Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece can be made online at:

Checks payable to the Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece may be sent to:

Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece
c/o the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Box 7646, Philadelphia, Pa.

There is also a Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece hotline for information at:

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (a fabulous institution, I might add) offers the following information about tax-deductible donations to the Keep Eakins Fund:
If the efforts to acquire the Eakins masterpiece are unsuccessful, we will contact you to find out if you wish to have your contribution returned or if you would be willing to have your contribution used to keep other significant works of art in the Philadelphia region for public enjoyment and education.
Here's why I think this is important and why I will be making a small contribution after I'm done writing this post.

It's not just because I happen to think Wal-Mart is a demon corporation and because I'm disgusted and immensely annoyed that people who have lots of money think it's their due to pick up whatever they want simply because they want it and have the bucks to back that up. It's about respect for tradition and about the spreading infection of fundamentalism in the United States.

I am a Christian. I have been a Christian since I accepted Christ as my savior in 1976. I still consider this to be a very positive event in my life which has supported the development of my personality and moral view. I attended fundamentalist, evangelical Christian churches for six or so years a couple of decades or so ago. I have very fond memories of some of my communions with other Christians at these congregations.

Since I stopped going to church, I've witnessed the rise in popular culture of Jerry Falwell, Liberty University and Heritage USA; Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and The PTL Club; Pat Robertson and The 700 Club; megachurches like Crystal Cathedral. You remember Pat Robertson? The "evangelical" who suggested that Hugo Chavez, the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, should be "taken out?" The "Christian" who told the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania that they had "rejected God" when they voted out all seven school board members who favored the teaching of intelligent design and not to expect any help from His quarter when they called out to Him. (Thanks to People for the American Way for posting the video. Go visit their Right Wing Watch for more hilarity! Oh...and don't miss the Right-Wing Outrage page!)

Joseph Coors and the Heritage Foundation, anyone?

Is it any wonder I don't attend a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian church any more.

It's not about rich people or class divisions and classism. It's not about exploiting poor people or exploiting workers. It's about the marriage of fundamentalist Christianity and commerce.

On my trip out west last summer, I happened through southwestern Missouri. I ate at a restaurant made famous for people throwing buns. I came within an hour's drive of Branson, MO, the Las Vegas of the Bible Belt. Even from that distance, you could see evidence of the contemptible, contemporary, commercialized version of Christianity in the vicinity.

I had stopped at the Black Madonna Shrine in eastern Mo. on the trip out. Tht is a wonderful, peaceful place tucked into the hillside off a very small country road in Eureka. It's a series of grottoes set in the hillsides with paths, trails, memorial benches, tiny sitting spaces and the stations of the cross. It was constructed, according to,
"Brother Bronislaus Luszcz of the Franciscan Missionary Brothers started in 1938 and spent 22 years building the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottoes."
Brother Bronislaus built walls of broken bits of crockery, stones and cement and decorated them with pieces of glass, costume jewelry, tiny ornaments, seashells. I am not Catholic. I appreciate some of their rituals but most of Catholicism sticks in my craw. Yet I loved the Black Madonna Shrine. It spoke to me of the intensely personal relationship one can have with God. It preached inner peace and the joy that brings and the opening of the heart to the world that results from meditation on the divine.

Southwestern Missouri is nothing like the Black Madonna Shrine. It's glittery lights and flashy fountains. It's STORIES FROM THE BIBLE screaming out from giant sound systems in vast auditoria hollowed out of the hills. It's massive, expensive passion plays. It's all bling.

Bling ain't what God's all about. God's about helping other people, about learning about oneself, about offering respect to everyone and accepting them for what they are. God's not about scaring children with horrid tales of homosexuals. It's not about cloistering oneself away so that you only interact with "your own kind." Note that the demographics of Branson, MO indicates that the racial makeup as of the 2000 census was 90.92% white. In a nation that's comprised of at least 20% people of color.

It's about empire and those who believe that because they accepted Christ at some point in their lives, everything they do is justified. God is on their side. So, it's okay to exploit those less fortunate because you're going to use the proceeds for a more important "good." You can justify anything this way including wresting a precious piece of art from the city with which it has always been irrevocably related and in which it has always resided. Even a war of greed, power and delusion in which 100,000 civilians are killed.

No, I don't want The Gross Clinic to ever reside in Arkansas. I want us to stand up to Alice Walton and her $18,000,000,000 net worth and her fundamentalist Christian family roots. I want to support what I believe (read: know) to be the right thing, not what someone else says is the right thing. Let Eakins' work stay in Philadelphia and let Alice Walton collect Grant Wood.

tags: art / bitchy / Christian Dominion Theology / Christianity / Thomas Eakins / keep Eakins / fundamentalist Christianity / The Gross Clinic

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Living Minimum Wage

Here comes a bitchy post because I'm premenstrual and bitchy as hell and just because I can. Nyah.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a Democratic Congress working hard to raise the ridiculously low minimum wage in this country. What does it stand at now...$5.15 an hour? A worker working 40 hours a week at that rate would gross $206.00 a week or around $800 a month. This is before taxes are taken out. How many of us could come even close to surviving on thaat amount. Okay, so I might have some readers who like to spend money and some who are compulsive shoe buyers so let's leave those things out. This amount wouldn't cover my rent alone.

So, let's look at how a worker would make out if the national minimum wage was raised to $7.25 an hour, a number I believe I've heard bandied about in recent months. $7.25 an hour grosses one $290 a week or $1,160 a month. Now I've got my rent covered and my utilities but nothing left over for food or other important things (medicines and such...forget a night on the town). I am a single woman with no dependents but the dog I cannot claim on my income tax return even though her vet bills are more, out of pocket, than my own health care. Throw a few kids in the mix and things get very sticky.

I like the idea Chicago had...raising the minimum wage retailers with 90,000 square feet or more of retail space must pay their employees to a more reasonable level of $10.00 per hour plus benefits (which would equal about $3.00) per hour. It addresses underpayment and underinsurance of employees. $10.00 per hour equals $400 per week and $1,600 per month. Now we're talking about something a couple with children could really begin to care for their families on.

Many firms which employ people at lower wages (in my area it's convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food operations and family-owned businesses) often pay in the vicinity of $7.00 per hour already as they've had trouble finding people willing to work for the national minimum. So, really, an increase in the federal minimum to $7.25 isn't going to be of much benefit to these people. Why don't we look at what it really costs to reasonably live a life in a community or region and tailor the minimum to what the actual cost of living is in that area, region. state?

I guess I should be happy for a start. Unfortunately, the Chicago plan was vetoed by the mayor so it's scrapped. I am encouraged by the many cities in which voters approved living wage referenda.

A few resources on the living wage:

Living Wage Resource Center
Center for Policy Alternatives
Economic Policy Institute: Living Wage Facts

tags: economic justice / economy / poverty / US politics

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I read this in Thursday's Philly Inquirer and am totally psyched about it. It seems scientists have been able to withdraw amniotic fluid, extract the stem cells and use them to grow heart valves in vitro. The idea is to use a fetus's own cells to create these valves so they are ready (they grow in 4-6 weeks) for use in a newborn with congenital heart valve anomolies.

Here is the whole story:

Scientists grow heart valves from stem cells

The technique, which uses no embryo cells, could lead to ways of repairing hearts.

By Lindsey Tanner
Associated Press

CHICAGO - Scientists for the first time have grown human heart valves using stem cells from the fluid that cushions babies in the womb - a revolutionary approach that may be used to repair defective hearts in the future.

The idea is to create these new valves in the lab while the pregnancy progresses and have them ready to implant in a baby with heart defects after birth.

The Swiss experiment follows successes at growing bladders and blood vessels and suggests that people may one day be able to grow their own replacement heart parts - in some cases before they are born. And it is one of several radical tissue engineering advances that could lead to homegrown heart valves for infants and adults that are more durable and effective than artificial or cadaver valves.

"This may open a whole new therapy concept to the treatment of congenital heart defects," said Simon Hoerstrup, a University of Zurich scientist who led the work. It was presented yesterday at an American Heart Association meeting.

Also at the conference, Japanese researchers said they had created new heart valves in rabbits using cells from the animals' own tissue. It was the first time replacement valves had been grown in this manner, said the study's lead author, Kyoko Hayashida.

"Very promising," University of Chicago cardiologist Ziyad Hijazi said.

Heart-valve defects can be detected during pregnancy with ultrasound tests at 20 weeks. At least one-third of afflicted infants have problems that could be treated with replacement valves, Hoerstrup said.

"It could be quite important if it turns out to work," said Robert Bonow, a Northwestern University heart-valve specialist.

Conventional procedures to fix faulty heart valves have drawbacks. Artificial valves are prone to blood clots and patients must take anti-clotting drugs for life. Valves from human cadavers or animals can deteriorate, requiring repeated open-heart surgeries to replace them. That is especially true in children, because these valves do not grow along with the body.

Valves made from the patient's own cells are living tissue and might be able to grow with the patient, said Hayashida, a scientist at the National Cardiovascular Center Research Institute in Osaka.

The Swiss procedure has another advantage: Using cells the fetus sheds in amniotic fluid avoids controversy because it does not involve destroying embryos to get stem cells.

"This is an ethical advantage," Hoerstrup said.

Here is how it worked:

Amniotic fluid was obtained through a needle inserted into the womb during amniocentesis, a common prenatal test.

Fetal stem cells were isolated from the fluid, cultured in a lab dish, then placed on a mold shaped like a small pen and made of biodegradable plastic. It took only four to six weeks to grow each of the 12 valves created in the experiment.

Lab tests showed they appeared to function normally.

The next step is to see if they work in sheep, a two-year test Hoerstrup said is under way.

He and co-researcher Dorthe Schmidt called their method "a promising, low-risk approach enabling the prenatal fabrication of heart valves ready to use at birth."

It makes one wonder what kind of progress could have been made without restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in America in the last six years. Almost makes me want to get back into OB at some very cutting-edge facility.

tags: medicine / obstetrics / science / stem cells

More on Eakins' "The Gross Clinic"

As I suspected might happen, there is a movement afoot in Philadelphia, spurred by local art and civic organizations, to keep Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic here in the city. Two major influences behind this move are the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where Eakins studied.

Here is the article from today's Philadelphia Inquirer, posted below in case it disappears into archive hell:

Work in progress: Will the art stay?

By Stephan Salisbury
Inquirer Culture Writer

A coalition of cultural institutions, foundations, city officials and individuals - led by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts - has been formed in an effort to keep Thomas Eakins' masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, in the city.

Organizers have also established a fund for donations and a hotline for those seeking information on the effort.

The painting, created in 1875 and depicting renowned surgeon Samuel Gross performing a difficult and bloody operation, was sold by Thomas Jefferson University on Nov. 10 for $68 million to a partnership consisting of an unbuilt Arkansas museum, backed by Wal-Mart heirs, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Jefferson, which has owned the painting since it was donated by alumni in 1878, has given local institutions until Dec. 26 to match the sale price.

"If they match it, it's theirs," Robert L. Barchi, Jefferson's president, said at the time of the sale.

"I think we're rolling here," Anne d'Harnoncourt, director and chief executive officer of the Art Museum, said yesterday. "There have been some wonderful offers of support, large and small."

Donald Caldwell, chairman of the Pennsylvania Academy, said the coalition was "still fleshing out how the expression or desire to help will translate into terms of dollars."

Mayor Street said he was encouraged by the local effort, adding that "retaining The Gross Clinic will underscore" the importance of the arts in the fabric of city life "and ensure a place in the heart of our city for this treasured painting."

Both Caldwell and d'Harnoncourt said it was too soon to say how much money might be in the pipeline.

"I don't think we can be more specific, because we don't have permission," said Caldwell, regarding other organizations and individuals involved in the effort.

The decision by Jefferson to sell the painting came as a surprise to students, faculty and alumni, as well as to the city at large, and has sparked considerable controversy.

Jefferson officials argue that the 10-year strategic plan they hope to partially fund through the sale of the painting will transform the Center City campus and surrounding neighborhood.

Critics contend that the painting, on display at Alumni Hall, on the 1000 block of Locust Street, depicts a founding father of the university and is indelibly bound to the identity of the entire community.

"This painting ties all of medicine together," Gerald Herbison, a Jefferson professor, said when he learned of the sale. "Eakins, as a Philadelphia painter, ties Philadelphia medicine to the city. It is medicine at its best, in a community known for medicine at its best, in a medical institution with roots going back to 1800."

Eakins, who lived virtually his entire life in Philadelphia, was a student at the academy and then taught there before being asked to resign by prudish administrators upset by his use of a nude male model in classes with female students.

Eakins also studied anatomy at Jefferson with Gross and viewed the surgeon as a heroic figure, said Kathleen Foster, curator of American art at the Art Museum.

Eakins is "totally connected to Philadelphia," said Larry Francis, a painter who teaches at the academy.

D'Harnoncourt said the challenge of raising such a large amount of money in such a short period was daunting, but "it's not impossible."

"By working together, our city may be able to preserve Eakins' greatest work in Philadelphia," she said.

"It is imperative that The Gross Clinic remains here, and we are working together to find a way to make that happen," Caldwell said. "This has got to be a community effort."

How to Give

Tax-deductible donations to the Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece can be made online at; checks payable to the Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece may be sent to Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece, c/o the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Box 7646, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101-7646. There is also a Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece hotline for information at 215-684-7762.

Contact culture writer Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594 or

This is an old city with many deep pockets full of old money. I sure hope some of them come through for this Philadelphia icon. Please note that, should you be interested in donating to the cause of keeping The Gross Clinic in Philly, there are ways to do that. Information is included at the end of the article.

I will consider throwing the pittance I can afford in the direction of the painting, though it would be a very small drop in a $68 million bucket. What we need are some big, Philadelphia foundations or philanthropic individuals to step forward if this masterpiece is to remain in the city where it was painted.

C'mon, Main Line! Get behind this one, please? December 26th is a few, short weeks away!

tags: art / culture / history / medical history / medicine / Philadelphia

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wal-Mart IS Evil...Here's Why

I haven't had a terribly keen interest in blogging recently. Life was busy for a while before the election and I've been spending a lot of time reading political stuff since then. I've had even less interest in looking at the blog stats here. But today I went to Technorati to check links to NOP and found a new one, from Phawker. There's no "about" that I can find on the site but this seems to be a Philly-based journalist. There are some interesting items there...politics, culture, news, media...many of the things I hold near to my heart.

Though I'm proud of the fact that I actively do not support Wal-Mart and feel I have pretty valid reasons for boycotting them, I can't articulate my objections nearly as well as I'd like. While I was reading the Phawker post, I noticed a link to Wal-Mart, the High Cost of Low Price. This was a documentary released in 2005. It sounds so familiar, I'm sure I must have heard about it last year. I wish I'd seen it; I should keep an eye out on the Sundance Channel or Independent Film Channel. The official site for the film contains a page which outlines, with documentation, exactly why Wal-Mart is so bad for America and, ultimately, for the global economy.

Here's the trailer:

So, I rest my case. Wal-Mart is evil and is not good for America or the world, same as any other monopoly. And monopoly they will eventually become unless someone steps up to the plate to put the brakes on their unending expansion. Kudos to Maryland for taking legislative action to require corporations like Wal-Mart to be civically responsible.

tags: consumerism / corporate culture / culture / economic justice / Wal-Mart / social justice

Monday, November 13, 2006

Philadelphia History vs. the Wal-Mart Empire

This is a painting entitled The Gross Clinic which was painted by Philadelphia's own Thomas Eakins in 1875. The painting has been the property of Thomas Jefferson University in downtown Philly since its purchase in 1878. It has been prominently displayed at the university since the alumni association bought it for $200. At some points, it has been displayed so it was visible from the street. It has never been permanently housed outside of Philadelphia since it was painted here.

There was a front-page headline in Saturday's Philadelphia Inquirer announcing the university's plans to sell the painting. Proceeds of the sale, a record $68 million dollars, are slated to be used toward Jefferson's ambitious $400 - $500 million dollar revamping. A noble goal. I glanced over the article but didn't really read it. As a helthcare professional in the Philadelphia area, I had some knowledge of the painting and felt sad at the possibility of its being removed from the city. I wasn't aware just how much the artwork's history was entwined with Philadelphia's.

It wasn't until Sunday that I read an entire article about the painting's expected sale. Here is what the Inquirer culture writer had to say about the sale that day. This time, I read the article through.

Stunned by sale, but not giving up

City and arts leaders are ready to try to match the $68 million price tag for Eakins' masterpiece.

By Stephan Salisbury
Inquirer Culture Writer

Shock bordering on anguish spread through Philadelphia's cultural, medical, philanthropic and political communities yesterday as news of the impending sale of Thomas Eakins' incomparable painting, The Gross Clinic, hit home across the region.

But in the midst of the immediate trauma, efforts are already stirring to save what many believe is the very heart of Philadelphia's cultural identity.

"Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic should never, never, never leave Philadelphia, where it was painted," said saddened artist Andrew Wyeth. "It is my favorite American painting."

"We have to give it our best shot," said Donald Caldwell, board chairman of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. "It's going to take all of us in the community."

That sentiment echoed around town.

"People have a lot of feeling about this," said Dr. Geno Merli, a member of the executive committee of the Thomas Jefferson University Alumni Association. "There is shock... . But maybe the alumni will rise to the occasion and save the painting for Philadelphia."

The painting, which is widely seen as Eakins' masterpiece and an indelible part of the Philadelphia cultural landscape since its creation in 1875, will be sold by its owner, the university, to a partnership of a new museum being built by Wal-Mart heirs in Arkansas and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

To retain the painting here, local institutions and government agencies have been given 45 days to match the price tag of $68 million, a record for an Eakins and for a pre-World War II American painting.

The clock started ticking Friday, when the Jefferson board approved terms of the sale.

After Dec. 26, if no local match is made, the painting will be a part of Philadelphia's past, a memory haunting a depleted cultural landscape.

"I was heartsick at the news," said Stephanie Naidoff, the city's director of commerce. "I'm going to see if I can convene a meeting of stakeholders to see what the sentiment is and what might be done."

She declined further comment.

"It's such a startling piece of news," said David Haas, board chairman of the William Penn Foundation and former board chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

"I had no idea," Haas said, speaking as a private individual. "I was flabbergasted."

Painted when the artist was 31, The Gross Clinic was intended by Eakins to portray the extraordinary scientific and cultural achievements of Philadelphia. The eight-foot-high canvas depicts Dr. Samuel Gross, a renowned surgeon and educator at Jefferson, demonstrating the bloody removal of diseased bone from a patient's thigh. The dark amphitheater, packed with Jefferson students, including Eakins himself, the anguished figure of the patient's mother, the monumental figure of Gross, bloodied fingers clasping a scalpel and poised in mid-gesture - all combine to create an unforgettable image.

Although some 19th-century critics were shocked by the bloody portrayal, Jefferson alumni were so moved that they purchased the painting from the artist for $200 and donated it to the university in 1878.

The painting has been in Jefferson's possession ever since, occasionally traveling for exhibitions, most recently in the Eakins retrospective mounted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2002.

For many years, the painting hung in the college building on Walnut Street, between 10th and 11th Streets. (It is now located, with two Eakins portraits, in Jefferson's alumni hall on Locust Street between 10th and 11th Streets and is available for public viewing at no charge.)

"You could see the painting from the street when it was in the college building," said Julie S. Berkowitz, the university's art historian who retired in 2003. "All the old guard would come in to see it. It was part of their daily life because they would pass it every day."

"I'm extremely upset," she added. "First, that it's leaving Jefferson, and secondly, that it is leaving the Philadelphia area. I saw it every day for 12 years."

Kathleen A. Foster, curator of American art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, called The Gross Clinic "Eakins' greatest painting" and one that is inseparable from Philadelphia, the city where he was born, raised and died in 1916. His ashes are interred in Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia.

"It's not a generic painting that can be hung anywhere," Foster added. "It is all about his life, the life of the city, and the life of one of the city's greatest heroes, Dr. Gross. It is about the connections between the science, education and art of the place where it was made."

Brian Harrison, Jefferson's board chairman, said trustees formed a small committee three months ago to explore sale of the painting. Proceeds would be used to help fund the university's ambitious $400 million to $500 million plan to transform its Center City campus and educational programming.

Christie's auction house was brought in as an adviser and quickly recommended that the university pursue a private sale to "maximize the value," said Marc Porter, Christie's president.

Porter contacted the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the as-yet unbuilt Arkansas museum backed by the Wal-Mart heirs' Walton Family Foundation. Heiress Alice Walton, whose net worth is pegged at $18 billion by Forbes magazine, wanted to pursue the painting after seeing it in Philadelphia.

Walton, who is a member of the National Gallery's Trustees Council, was also behind the Crystal Bridges purchase of the New York Public Library's Kindred Spirits by Asher Durand last year. Acquisition of that painting for a record $35 million ignited considerable controversy in New York when Walton easily outbid a partnership of the Metropolitan Museum and National Gallery.

For The Gross Clinic, the National Gallery moved from being a Walton competitor to a collaborator. Officials refused to break down financing for the deal, although a National Gallery spokeswoman said her museum would participate financially in the purchase and would be a co-owner.

Porter, of Christie's, said that he wanted to avoid New York-style acrimony this time in Philadelphia and therefore suggested that a clause be added to the sale agreement granting local institutions 45 days to match the sale price. Crystal Bridges, he said, suggested bringing the National Gallery on board.

"That was really smart," said Caldwell, Pennsylvania Academy chairman. "It shows Jefferson isn't being cavalier. She [Alice Walton] got so much flak in New York, this will help her with the flak here.

"But 45 days is an extraordinarily short time when you're talking about $68 million."

Yet Anne d'Harnoncourt, director and chief executive officer of the Art Museum, said that cultural and civic leaders had started to explore possible options.

"I really, really hope that Philadelphia institutions and individuals can work together to keep it here," she said.

Want to See It?

What: The Gross Clinic, by Thomas Eakins.

Where: The Eakins Gallery, Jefferson Alumni Hall, Thomas Jefferson University, 1020 Locust St., Center City. Request entry at information desk, main entrance.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; last visitors admitted at 3:45 p.m. Limit of 15 visitors at a time.

Admission: Free


Now I got pissed. It seems the purchase is being arranged by the Walton Family Foundation and Alice Walton, heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune, and the painting is slated to be moved to the proposed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. Apparently, Ms. Walton saw the painting when she was in Phihladelphia and wanted it for her museum. So, Philadelphia history be hanged, forget the fact that this piece of art was painted in the city and depicts a Philadelphia physician and medical professor, to hell with its as yet unbroken ties to Philadelphia, Ms. Walton with an estimated worth of $18 billion wants that painting in Arkansas.

In order to avoid the flak she received when she purchased another famous painting, Arthus Durand's Kindred Spirits from New York Public Library last year, this purchase allows local institutions 45 days...a month and a raise a matching bid in order to keep the painting hanging in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia also happens to be the location of the first hospital in the United States.

C'mon, Philly! We can do it! There's got to be some philanthropist out there with fairly deep pockets who's willing to see that this integral piece of Philadelphia's medical history does not wind up in the hands of the recipients of the wealth of the Evil Demon Wal-Mart. Let's keep this piece of Philly right here where it belongs!

tags: art / history / medical history / medicine / Philadelphia

American Populism

Egalia has posted an article by Paul Krugman over at Tennessee Guerilla Women about populism in the recent election. I love it! Here's (imho) the best part:
Ever since movement conservatives took over, the Republican Party has pushed for policies that benefit a small minority of wealthy Americans at the expense of the great majority of voters. To hide this reality, conservatives have relied on wagging the dog and wedge issues, but they’ve also relied on a brilliant marketing campaign that portrays Democrats as elitists and Republicans as representatives of the average American.

This sleight of hand depends on shifting the focus from policy to personal style: John Kerry speaks French and windsurfs, so pay no attention to his plan to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy and use the proceeds to make health care affordable.

This year, however, the American people wised up.
Fabulous! We are tired of the very few rich getting richer and the many, many poor sinking further down into the abyss! It's about time someone started talking seriously about raising the minimum wage and reining in the immense power of the big drug companies!

Let's hope the Democrats remember what we elected them to do and begin making the playing field a little more level from the starting gun. If they diverge from this course, God help us in 2008.

You can read the whole article here.

tags: economic justice / US Congress / US politics

Thursday, November 09, 2006

To the Editor

I found a wonderful letter to the editor of the New York Times this morning. I couldn't have said it any better. I wonder if Ken has a blog?...

To the Editor:

Now that our electorate has finally woken from its stupor, we should ask ourselves why it took six years to recognize the incompetence and demagogy of this administration and the responsibility of the Republican leadership that blindly followed its lead.

The damage done is enormous, in Iraq, in the United States and around the world. Years have been squandered while the critical issues of our time have gone unattended.

How and why were we fooled?

We have a fascination with personalities instead of policy, a desire to be entertained rather than enlightened, and a need to have an enemy to define us and give our lives meaning.

Thankfully, our democracy is still functioning, though we will not see really meaningful progress until we can disconnect the electoral and legislative processes from the flow of corporate cash.

Let’s not forget that the Senate voted to give President Bush authority to start a war in Iraq. Our euphoria should be short-lived, and our vigilance should be redoubled.

Ken Swensen
Pound Ridge, N.Y., Nov. 8, 2006

tags: 2006 election / US politics