Sunday, January 8, 2012

For the Video Conference

I know I promised to keep my mouth shut.

I did this because I accepted, in the marketplace of ideas there are winners and losers, and like any businessman, when I saw there were no customers for what I had to say, I accepted the verdict of the marketplace, I spoke, and no body responded, so I shut up.

But I have now been invited to join a TV link to Vice President Biden, with a group of Hampton Democrats to talk about the upcoming election and our local efforts to help re elect President Obama.

I’ve been to things like this before and I realize, even if the camera is on you for ten seconds, it’s a pretty unsatisfying opportunity.

So, I will use this space to be there, in spirit.

With that pre amble, here’s what I’d like to tell Vice President Biden on January 10, 2012:

Mr. Vice President, you are asking local Democrats to work hard for the re election of President Obama, which we would be willing and eager to do.

But, and here’s the big “But,” I for one am tired of doing the heavy lifting when I do not see that effort matched from President Obama.

Why should we, at the local effort, work harder for his re election than he is?

For three years now, I have been talking to my neighbors here in Hampton, saying the tough, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes offensive, sometimes combative things which need to be said in response to the Republicans and for most of those 3 years there has been nothing similar coming from President Obama, who has remained “above the fray” (a kind way of putting it) or afraid to throw a punch, presumably out of fear of looking partisan.

Ronald Reagan was not afraid of throwing a punch. The Republicans of this era from top down throw punches. Mitt Romney says President Obama is leading class warfare, trying to replace the American work ethic of ambition with a socialist ethic of envy. And that is the kindest remark coming from their would be presidents.

The spokesmen for the Democrats are an embarrassment. Every night on TV we see that Casper Milquetoast with his wispy voice and his hunched posture, the eternal apologist, Harry Reid fulfilling the Republicans’ image of the typical Democrat: an effete wuss who has no backbone, no conviction and no fight and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner eat him and the rest of the Democrats alive—they eat Democrats not because they make more sense but because they sound as if they believe what they are saying and they always have a marketing phrase to throw out there: Estate taxes become death taxes; end of life planning become death panels; government insurance programs, which citizens have paid into for years become “entitlements,” as if you are somehow not really entitled to the benefits you have contracted and paid for.

I give my neighbors a few deep thoughts, but if they do not hear this from President Obama himself, they tend to not give it much credibility.

So here’s what I would like to hear President Obama say, himself, not through you or through surrogates:

  1. I agree with the Republicans government is not the solution; it is the problem. This is true whenever the Republicans have any part in government, on any level. The Republican party is a poison pill for government. They don’t believe any good can come from government. That’s why they all jumped on board when Republican Paul Ryan put forward a bill to convert Medicare from a paid for insurance program into Coupon Care. And all the Republicans voted for this killing of Medicare, trying to kill Medicare under the pretense they were voting to save it. This is the height of dishonesty. This is the typical Republican tactic: Do something that hurts the people and call it good medicine. Try to fool all the people at least some of the time.

  1. I am less afraid of Big government than I am afraid of Bad government: And it is bad government the Republicans want to give us, when they are willing to give us any government at all. Medicare is Big government. I make no apologies for Medicare. I want to improve it. It can be frustrating. But the Republicans want to kill it. The Republicans see Medicare as a yellow lab with a big appetite, and rather than put it on a diet, they just say “Let’s kill it.”

  1. Social Security is Big Government. It’s something people pay into. It’s true, people have no choice. The government makes them plan for their own future in this case, because we have learned something about human nature, which is people tend to solve the problems and pay the bills right in front of them and they tend to not plan for the future unless you make them. We learned that during the Great Depression and we decided to set up a system to save people from homelessness and starvation called Social Security and it’s worked well. The Republicans have tried to kill Social Security. They say they just want citizens to have more choices, to be able to do better and make more money than what Social Security can provide. They want to shunt all those dollars to their rich friends on Wall Street. They look at all that money and they say, we want that money for our Wall Street contributors, the people who have bought and paid for the Republican congress. Can you imagine what would have happened to your retirement if it depended on the stock market? You don’t have to imagine that now. The whole idea of Social Security is it is secure. No matter what happens to the stock market, you have this safety net. May not be as much as you might have if you took that money and went to Las Vegas and gambled it, but at least you know it’s there.

  1. The Republican party is now a hard right to life party. Most of its candidates are now saying they would not allow a woman whose pregnancy occurred from rape to have an abortion. They would not allow a woman whose blood pressure is rising, whose kidneys are failing to have an abortion to save her life, even if the chances are both she and her fetus would die together. I am not for infanticide. I do not know anyone who really is “for” abortion. Pro choice people are not happy about abortion. It’s always a sad choice. But, sometimes when you have two bad choices, you have to make a choice. Ethics is about line drawing. To my mind, and I think most of my fellow citizens are with me, there is a difference between that potential life which is eight cells and a human being. I agree that a 28 week fetus is close enough to life, I would not intervene. Then you are faced with a different choice, but we cannot give the same rights to an eight cell conceptus we give to a 28 week old fetus. We have to have the courage to make hard choices. Mr. Paul is very consistent about this. He says life begins at conception, at the two cell stage. But if you believe that, then you will eliminate birth control pills, IUD’s, and virtually every form of contraception except the less reliable barrier methods. Absolutists can always be consistent, but they are often wrong.

5. I am not a socialist. Nor am I a “crony capitalist.,” as Mr. Romney has said.

Of course, if I suggest government has a role in health insurance, I’m a socialist to some people. If I suggest we need to step in and prevent a 1929 stock market crash, if I suggest we need to invest in solar energy, as other governments do, even as China does, then I’m a “crony capitalist.”

I was not born in Kenya, or in Indonesia or on Mars. Of course, like most people, except perhaps, Rick Santorum, I cannot actually remember the day of my birth or know exactly where it happened. But I was told by a reliable source, my mother, it was Hawaii. Last time I heard, Hawaii is as much a state as Alaska. And yet, the same people who want to believe I am an alien, would love to vote, and did vote for an Alaskan.

6.The Republican party is and has been for the past 3 years living in a state of delusion and fantasy. They would rather hallucinate than see the real world. They would rather repeat history than study it. The ghosts of 1929 do not visit the Republican party because the Republicans willfully refuse to see that a government which does nothing is the problem, not part of the problem but the larger part of the problem. Mr. Paul would have us do nothing with our military. I share his concern about putting American citizens to war. But we fought Hitler and we should have done that. There are times we have to defend ourselves. Mr. Paul would not have killed Osama Bin Laden. Mr. Romney would have put that task out to bid, maybe awarded the contract to Hallburton. But I used the power of the federal government to strike a blow to protect the American people, to protect the American people. I was well aware when President Carter failed in his attempt at a secret mission, he paid for that with his job. But I was willing to take the risk. Republicans are always saying the rich are rich because they are risk takers. What risk does a man who grows up rich take in life? He fails and he’s not homeless. He’s got a house on a lake, another in town and condo somewhere else. Well, I took a real risk and I did it because I was trying to protect my country.

7. The Republican party says Democrats have no guts. But people often accuse others of the failings they perceive in themselves. The Republicans, I imagine, want good health care for the nation. But they are afraid to take the steps which would make healthcare a calling and a public utility rather than a commercial enterprise. So they refused to allow a government option which would have introduced true competition into the medical marketplace—they were afraid of that—and now they are trying to kill even the watered down compromise affordable healthcare act., which they call “Obamacare.” They use that name as a pejorative. Well, I welcome that. Better Obamacare than Nomorecare or Coupon Care.

8. We have a choice between the Democratic Party which will give you some government, government where it’s needed, and the Republican Party, which would kill government. The Republican Party wants to live in a world of their imaging rather than the world which actually exists. The logical extension of the philosophy of Mr. Paul and Mr. Santorum would be life off the grid, where no man cooperates with his neighbor but simply builds a fence. The world of Mr. Romney is the world of businessmen on the top, the one percents, distributing cake crumbs to the bottom 99% and the world of Mr. Gingrich, well that’s a moveable feast. I cannot keep up with Mr. Gingrich’s visions, they are too fluid.

This November, the American people will have to make a choice. I hope they choose wisely.

But know one thing, there is no point at all in voting for me in November if you return Republicans to Congress. That would be nothing more than what we’ve had for the past two years. A Congress which invests a debt crisis rather than facing the real problems of this country.

And we need enough Democrats in Congress to be able to push past the George W. Bush Supreme Court, which, in it’s arch conservatism, has transformed free speech into nothing more than a commodity with it’s bizarre Citizen’s United decision. They may very well thwart the will of Congress, weak as it was, by over turning Obamacare. We need enough Democrats in Congress and in the state legislatures to deal with this third, increasingly deranged branch of government.

I have nothing to offer you but action, trial and toil. I can only echo Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom as my guiding principle: We had better all hang together, or surely, we will all hang separately.


  1. Welcome back!! Hope you have a chance to make these points in your conference - but you will have to focus them a little more unless they are going to give you 15 minutes. Perhaps Obama wants to stay above the frey and be presidential - but Biden doesn't have that problem (although he is not nearly as articulate as you). This down and dirty stuff is often left to the VP (or Jon Stewart). Keep up the blog - this is your time!