Monthly Archives: November 2013

President Represents All of the Rest of Us on Thanksgiving this Year

President Barack Obama listens to Eliseo Medina, right, Secretary-Treasurer of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), as he meets with individuals who are taking part in Fast for Families on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/ Associated Press)

President Barack Obama listens to Eliseo Medina, right, Secretary-Treasurer of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), as he meets with individuals who are taking part in Fast for Families on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/ Associated Press)

New Orleans    The right always wails that Obama is the Community Organizer-in-Chief, but he rarely is.  During the war years, the odds were excellent that he might be on a plane to Iraq or Afghanistan to share the day with the troops.    All of which makes this Thanksgiving special since he and Michelle Obama did the right thing and went over to the Mall and visited Eliseo Medina and his two fellow hunger strikers on their 21st day of fasting for immigration reform.    Represent!

Obama visits activists fasting for immigration

Associated Press

Published: Friday, November 29, 2013 at 5:51 p.m.

President Barack Obama on Friday told activists who are fasting to protest House inaction on immigration legislation that their “commitment to change” ultimately will help pressure lawmakers to act.

On the day after the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving marked by an abundance of food, Obama stopped in at a heated, white tent on the National Mall where some activists have drunk only water since Nov. 12 in support of immigration legislation.

Obama mentioned the activists in an immigration speech in San Francisco earlier this week. He delivered his message in person on Friday, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama.

“I want everybody to know I remain optimistic that we’re going to get this done,” he said, according to video of his remarks. He said passage of an immigration bill was “more a question of when than if.”

“But I’d rather get this done sooner rather than later,” Obama said.

The White House issued a statement after the approximately 40-minute visit that said Obama thanked the hunger strikers “for their sacrifice and dedication and told them that the country is behind them on immigration reform.”

Organizers of the fast said Obama expressed concern for the health of the hunger strikers, and held the shoe of an immigrant who died in the Arizona desert while trying to enter the U.S.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has refused to schedule a vote on a comprehensive immigration measure the Senate passed this summer. The House prefers a piecemeal approach, but Boehner hasn’t said whether lawmakers will consider any bills this year or whether the issue will slip into next year, when midterm-election politics will make legislative action less likely.

The House has moved too slowly to satisfy immigration advocates, including those on the hunger strike as well as a man who shouted during Obama’s speech in California for the president to stop separating families by deporting people who are living in the country illegally.

Obama was the latest administration official to visit with the activists. Vice President Joe Biden, Cabinet secretaries and top White House advisers have also visited.



Changing Addresses, Changing Attitudes, We Have a Home Place Again

IMG_0377New Orleans    It’s a wild couple of days when you combine holidays, family visits and glad tidings, and critical organizational events all in a power-packed couple of days, but that’s been life in our fastlane over the end of the month.   Show me someone who says they like moving, and I will introduce you to a walking, talking mental health problem, but that’s also become our reality over recent weeks as we finally move double-time to a new organizational home place as well.

In the middle of November with deadlines hard upon us, we closed on a building a dozen blocks up the street on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans.   We’re moving from the red hot Bywater neighborhood to the almost hotter Marigny neighborhood right below the French Quarter only 22 blocks from Canal Street.   Luckily for us we’re on the still seedy side of the street with bars to the right of us and, well, it’s New Orleans so there are three or four within several yards of us, punk, karaoke, regular and whatever.   We’ve definitely found a couple of blocks where we can live in peace with our crazy hours and push-the-envelope work.

It will take some work and we have crews of folks working with us.   Given all of the bars, a second location for Fair Grinds Coffeehouse may be just what the area was secretly hoping for!   We’re excited to try regardless.  The back of our building was where snoball machines were repaired and sold.   Our mobile biodiesel rig has been desperately looking for a place where we could operate, and it cleared the garage door by inches.  The storage space in Arabi down the river is now gone, and our boxes of old issues and books for sale now have a higher, dryer, altitude only 10 blocks from the Mississippi River on the alluvial flood plain.

From the front stoop we’re 20 feet from where the next stage of the streetcar will stop at Elysian Fields and St. Claude.   A supermarket across the street closed since Katrina finally settled with their landlord and supposedly is readying the time to reopen.   Best for us, we can stand on our front steps and look cattycorner across the way and see our old office where we worked for more than a dozen years, which is also a nice feeling of bringing things back full circle.

Once again we’re all under one roof, firmly planted on our own ground.   Moving may suck, but finally having a home place again is a great feeling.