Category Archives: President Joe Biden

Biden Declines Nomination and Endorses Harris, According to Twitter/X Posts


Stephen Golub: Seeing the Light and Springsteen

[Note from BenIndy: Trying this again after we encountered a bug. This post was first published on Stephen Golub’s blog, A Promised Land: America as a Developing Country. There, Steve blogs about domestic and international politics and policy, including lessons that the United States can learn from other nations. If interested, you may sign up for future posts by subscribing to the blog.]

Bruce Springsteen performs in Italy in July 2023. | Sergione Infuse / Corbis via Getty.

Pushing 75, His Concerts Still Deliver Solace, Hope and Dreams…and Inspiration for 2024

By Stephen Golub, originally published on A Promised Land, April 7, 2024

Benicia resident and author Stephen Golub, A Promised Land.

He had me at “Light of Day.”

It’s one of my five favorite Bruce Springsteen songs. He opened his March 31 San Francisco concert with it. I was lucky enough to be there.

The high-octane tune is about a trucker driving hard after a week on the road, determined to get down to good times in Galveston by Saturday night. But it’s more generally about pushing ahead with hope after getting “a little lost along the way” and about turning the corner to find the light of day.

Similarly, Bruce’s entire performance was about far more than just putting on a show, as I learned from both him and a fellow audience member over the course of the evening. More on that in a minute.

The Church of Bruce

With age and recent illness looming over our hero, my stepson/fellow fan Trevor and I knew that this might be our last chance to take in Bruce and his E Street Band in concert. It was our fifth time seeing him together, stretching back well over a decade. It was my thirtieth such Springsteen experience since watching him open for Chicago at Madison Square Garden in 1973.

As Springsteen told the throng early in the evening, the show is not just about what he and the band do. It also hinges on how we respond – acting in concert with him, if you will. The supposedly laid-back California crowd loudly lived up to our part of the bargain.

For those unfamiliar with what I’d call the Church of Bruce, his appeal partly flows from the degree to which his adherents identify with his music: One fellow fan calls it “the story of my life.”

To watch this YouTube video, click the image and a new tab will open.

The fans’ intense devotion also stems from his concerts’ joyful energy and audience engagement. At its peak, the interplay is akin to a religious revival, though with salvation subservient to fun. This “Light of Day” video from a 2000 New York City show exemplifies that, albeit in an extreme way:

Neither Trev nor I are the most demonstrative people in the world. But both of us danced, shouted, sang along and let it rip throughout the evening.

That someone pushing 75 could still push out three hours of non-stop singing, twisting, shouting and guitar/harmonica playing was astounding. As he playfully bellowed to the roaring crowd near the end of the show, “You’ve just seen the heart-stoppin’, pants-droppin’, earth-quakin’, booty-shakin’, love-makin’, Viagra-takin’, history-makin’ E Street Band!”

He proved it all night.

Spirits in the Night

Springsteen’s music has always featured anger, angst, passion, pride, love, longing, hope and dreams. It’s ultimately about life.

As life has taken its toll, with friends and fellow band members passing on, he’s blended newer messages into the mix: treasure loved ones, here and gone; cherish their memories; relish each day.

The point hit home in an unexpectedly poignant way due to the pleasant 60-something woman – whom I’ll call Mary – seated beside us during the concert. Getting there early, Trev and I had lots of time to chat with her before the band came on. She’s a James Taylor fan, but attended the show (alone) because her late husband was a Springsteen devotee.

We didn’t pry into that very personal matter. But I couldn’t help but reflect a bit on why Mary was there: Maybe to feel the spirit of her beloved partner there with her?

That possibility reemerged in the middle of the concert, as the band eased into the somber “My City of Ruins.” I at first wondered why they were playing it at all during a resoundingly upbeat night. Bruce originally composed it a quarter-century ago to lament urban and economic rot in Asbury Park, New Jersey, near where he grew up. He recorded and reinterpreted the tune in his post-9/11 album, The Rising, as a tribute to devastated New York City.

In one inescapable sense it’s a dirge, marked by these lines:

Now there’s tears on the pillow, darling, where we slept
And you took my heart when you left
Without your sweet kiss my soul is lost, my friend
Tell me how do I begin again

But “My City of Ruins” is about more than sorrow. It’s also about beginning again in the face of unfathomable adversity, as its refrain repeatedly urges listeners to find strength and “rise up.”

And that’s what Bruce asked the assemblage to do as he introduced the song and yet again reinterpreted the tune in the process. His remarks made it not about a ruined city but about our resilient selves. He urged us to realize that our lost loved ones remain with us in crucial ways. I couldn’t help but sneak a glance at Mary, only guessing at what she might be feeling.

But I knew what I was feeling, as I recalled my own dearly departed with gratitude for what I’d shared with them, learned from them and still carried with me, and with hope that I could honor their deaths by cherishing life.

Speaking of resilience…

In this election year, our society faces a kind of severe adversity we would have found unfathomable just a decade ago. Our future may seem to  rest on the seemingly frail shoulders of a leader pushing 82.

But if an aging rocker, not much younger, can still deliver powerful performances at a uniquely demanding job night after night, it’s not too much to trust that his elder can do it day after day, as he’s done for the past three years. It’s not too much to believe that the same man can triumph in November and beyond.

And just as Bruce reminded the crowd that the success of his concert involved our efforts, the success of the campaign depends on us as well.=

Speaking of hope…

The elation of a Springsteen experience can give way to  reflection. I think that I’ve been thinking about the 2024 campaign in the wrong way. It’s not just about beating back those who’d drag us into a dark age for democracy, for women, for America’s role in the world, for so much more.

It’s also about seeing this as a chance to move forward on those fronts and so many more.

It’s not just about fear and anger. It’s about hope and dreams.

Despite the darkness, and with enough drive and dedication, we could be just around the corner from the light of day.

Once more, Steve blogs about domestic and international politics and policy, including lessons that the United States can learn from other nations, at A Promised Land: America as a Developing Country. We recommend you sign up for future posts by subscribing to the blog.


Biden calls for confronting systemic racism after Chauvin convicted of murder in Floyd’s death

Washington Post, by Reis Thebault, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Abigail Hauslohner, Paulina Villegas, Keith McMillan and Silvia Foster-Frau and Meryl Kornfield, April 20, 2021 at 5:20 p.m. PDT

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd on Tuesday, the conclusion of a closely watched trial that came nearly a year after Floyd’s killing catalyzed an international protest movement for racial justice.

After just over 10 hours of deliberation, a jury returned guilty verdicts on all three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison and will await his sentencing, in eight weeks, from jail.

“It’s not enough. We can’t stop here,” President Biden said in remarks at the White House after the conviction. The verdict is a rare example of punishment after a police killing. Advocates embraced it as an overdue measure of accountability but said they will continue fighting for justice and police reform.

“I’m going to miss him, but now I know he’s in history,” Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd said Tuesday.

Here’s what you need to know:

Rep. Mike Thompson on long overdue need for gun control

Thompson lauds Biden’s steps against ‘ghost guns’ – Congressman hopes his background check bill is next

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, praised the president's announcement on gun safety measures. (Rich Freedman--Times-Herald)
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, praised the president’s announcement on gun safety measures. (Rich Freedman–Times-Herald)
Vallejo Times-Herald, by Richard Freedman, April 8, 2021

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson has long emphasized he’s a Second Amendment believer. He just doesn’t believe some weapons should be legal or purchased without extensive background checks.

So it wasn’t a surprise that the Democratic congressman from St. Helena was thrilled hearing President Biden’s announcement of a series of executive actions to curb what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence across the country at Thursday’s Rose Garden Ceremony.

“Today is a new day and I’m proud to have a president willing to do the tough work needed to help prevent gun violence and save lives,” Thompson said in a statement. “We need action on all fronts, from the President and the Congress, to help keep our communities safe. Gun violence takes thousands of lives each year and costs our country nearly $300 billion each year. It’s an epidemic and we must act to combat it.”

Calling gun violence “a public health crisis,” Biden announced six executive actions, adding that “nothing impinges on the Second Amendment.”

Biden is tightening regulations of buyers of “ghost guns” — homemade firearms that usually are assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine and often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check.

Another action — more heavily regulating arm braces used to make firing a pistol more accurate — directly relates to the March shooting in Boulder, Colo., where such a device used to kill 10 people.

“Today’s Executive Actions are an important piece of what is needed to get ahead of the curve,” Thompson said in the morning statement. “These actions will better regulate ghost guns which increasingly are being used in gun violence incidents and concealable rifles like the gun used in the Boulder mass shooting. These are actions I have led the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in asking the president to take.”

The executive actions “are critical steps forward in our work to prevent gun violence. But they cannot be our last steps as more action is still needed. I remain firm in my work to ensure the Senate holds a vote on H.R. 8, my bipartisan bill to expand background checks and save lives. Our work must continue,” Thompson said.

Later Thursday afternoon in a brief phone interview, Thompson reiterated his support of Biden’s actions.

“I’ve been lobbying for this,” Thompson said before catching a flight back to the Bay Area. “I’ve been pushing this ever since the president was elected.”

The Rose Garden event “was very exciting,” Thompson said, attending the ceremony with “a handful of members of Congress, two senators, and I think four House members. There were a number of people who had gun violence prevention groups and a number of those who have lost their children, wives, husbands, loved ones to gun violence.”

Thompson was invited after the ceremony to the Oval Office, where he chatted briefly with Biden.

“I mentioned that the last time I had been to the White House was to have a meeting on gun violence with his (Biden’s) predecessor (Donald Trump), who made all kinds of promises of what he was going to do and how he was going to fix it. By the time I got to my office, the NRA called him and he already reversed his position.”

Thompson hinted that it was a relief working a president good on his word.

“This president not only knows this policy and knows what he is talking about, he’s heartfelt and committed,” Thompson said. “Every victim here (at the ceremony), this president sat down with.”

Biden “has worked with us to find solutions to gun violence,” Thompson said.

A pro-gun organization, The Second Amendment Foundation, sent a press release out Thursday morning, warning the Biden administration “that if it steps over its legal authority with any executive action or order regarding the constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms, legal action is a certainty.”

The threatening lawsuit didn’t surprise Thompson.

“That’s what they do,” he said. “There were cops there today who experience violence every day. They’re not for suing. The victims aren’t for suing. Members of Congress who have come forward with solutions weren’t for suing. I don’t think the American people are.”

Thompson said his background check bill headed to the Senate is supported by 90 percent of the public.

If and when it passes the Senate and is signed by the president, “I’m going to jump for joy,” Thompson said. “There should be background checks and not soon enough.”