Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Great Good News for Democrats in 2012!

Two walloping big chunks of good news for Democrats! Christmas came early in North Carolina's recent local and state elections, and the Tea Party is sinking the Republican Party in REPUBLICAN House districts nationwide. Okay, make it three pieces of good news: the GOP is still stuck with the wildly weird collection of wannabe candidates for the GOP nomination.

First, let's look at how the Democrats just did a great job in North Carolina. For all the talk about purple North Carolina drifting back to being a red state, the Democrats swept lots of Republicans out of office in races from school boards on up. These were seats that had been held by the Republicans FOREVER!

The best news about this triumph is that it was actually executed by the Obama folks in an on-the-ground dry run for 2012. They are putting together similar ground organizations in every state and already have 35,000 volunteers nationwide who have signed "I'm In" cards. Are you one of them yet? If not, why not? We can do what was done in North Carolina in lots of other states in 2012 if you sign up. Yes, we surely can!

And it won't be just for school boards. It will be the presidency, taking back the House, and even  -  oh so hopefully  -  doing the near impossible and getting a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Why not dream big? After all, this isn't a dream. It's a necessity! And with winning the presidency and the Senate, we can in due course also have a solid majority of our folks on the Supreme Court.

Now for the hot news about the Tea Party damaging the GOP. The Tea Party crazies who got elected in 60 House districts in 2010 are so disgusting that the voters in those Republican districts are turning away from the entire Republican party. I don't make this stuff up. I don't have that wild an imagination.

Instead, these are the findings of Pew Research, the most reliable and thorough of all polling operations. This is the polling outfit that you see on PBS News Hour. The results startled even the usually unflappable head man, Andy Kohut.  Speaking of these 60 districts where approval of the Tea Ps and the GOP are both dropping, Kohut says, "You think of these as bedrock Republican districts. These are the Republican base!" Yet, as he points out, the Tea P House incumbents in these districts have sunk even more in voter approval than the Tea Party has nationally, and they are certainly taking the GOP down with them. Astonishingly, in these TP districts, 48% of voters now have a negative view of the GOP -  their OWN party!  -  compared to only a 41% favorable rate.

This is a drop of 14% since last March, chiefly tied to voters' perception of the GOP in the debt ceiling crisis. Like Lincoln said, "You can fool some of the people some of the time ......" Looks like that time has run out for the GOP-Tea Party.

And they are the same. The Tea Party IS the Republican party. My daughter keeps saying that, and she's right. The co-opting of the GOP elephant is complete. It was swallowed by the snake. And the voters know it. They aren't blaming a mere contingent of the GOP. They don't see the TP as a right-wing element of the GOP. They see the situation for what it is:  the whole GOP is a right-wing party. And they don't like it.

If the Democrats don't screw it up, things are looking good for 2012. By the way, who are these "Democrats" who might screw it up? The National Committee? The House Campaign Committee? No, sweetheart, these Democrats are YOU and me!

There's a crop out there in the fields ripening in the sun, an election ready to be won. All we need is each other. All we need is YOU! Get involved. Get ready. Get set to bring those favorable voters to the polls. YOU are still the people we have been waiting for.

Now more than ever.

As for the third piece of good news, the GOP presidential wannabes still being jerks? When we have already got two pieces of solidly happy news, who needs to focus on clowns for a laugh?

So get on-line and sign up as "I'm In" at Obama's site. And get your family and friends and everybody to do likewise. Let's all do as our counterparts did in North Carolina! Let's get organized!  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks to You: A Personal Note & "Dorogoi Dinnoyu"

I'm alone on this Thanksgiving Day but not lonely. And that's all thanks to you, the approximately 3000 readers of this blog. Knowing you folks are out there makes this a day for me to be thankful in a way that transcends turkey and conviviality.

Because you give me something to wonder about.

 Who are you?

Especially you, that lone reader in Ukraine? And you in Malaysia? And the one in Latvia? The one in Brazil? And why are there 21 of you readers in Russia and 16 in Ireland?

What is it about American politics that drew you  -  even if only once  -  to my blog? Will you be back? More important to me, what is your life like? How are things going there?

And how are you doing, my American friends? What do you think of all that's going on?

It's so great to have people out there to talk politics with. Or  -  more accurately in my case  -  to talk politics AT. You're so shy about pitching in with comments! But that's okay. I know you're busy. (And see the P.S. below.)  When one lives alone like I do, a one-way conversation is just fine. It's the norm!

At age 76, I've outlived most of my political friends and comrades. It's a bit sad when there is no one left who remembers or shares the passion of those struggles. Do you know the song: "Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end". These are the lyrics in English for the Russian song "Dorogoi dinnoyu." I think often of the lines in English: "We'd have the life we choose. We'd fight and never lose."

And we did. We lived, we fought the good fight, and in the end we did not lose. Well, maybe a skirmish here and there. But in the end, we won. All the hard work, sometimes scariness, and the sacrifice were worth it. We won because now you are there. You care about our world. You'll carry the good fight forward.

"The torch has passed to a new generation." Oh, yes!

I wish my political friends could have lived to know you. They had such faith that you were coming. In fact, all that we did, we did for you. "We must make it a better world for those who are coming." We actually said that.

Maybe it doesn't look like such a great world that we gave you, but it is a lot better then the one we got. There is very little war throughout the world compared to "the good old days" when millions were being killed. Nations of the world help when famine or disaster strikes a country. There are no lynchings any more in America. No longer are colleges closed to all but the sons of rich men. Women are equal beings before the law. Segregation is forbidden. The American middle class, though hard-pressed in these times, still lives far better than the middle class of my young years. And there are programs for the poor and elderly that didn't exist back then: food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, rent supplements, school lunch programs. The elderly and the disabled used to die by the thousands in America because they could not buy both food and medical care. The elders would freeze to death in their homes.

And people all over the world are ousting dictators.

It's better now. My friends rest in peace, knowing they did well. They rest in peace too because they know you will make things even better.

Live the life you choose. Fight and never lose. Then you too will never be sad when you are old and alone. And you too will, some distant day, rest in peace.  And, most of all, don't forget this line from the song: "We'd sing and dance forever and a day." We did that too. You do likewise. Be happy. Good fighters have to have merry hearts like we did.

And now my heart is merry when I think of all of you, wherever you are. Thank you for being there. On this Thanksgiving Day you have made one old lady very happy indeed. You be happy too. And fight on!

P.S. A reader has informed me that this blog service makes it VERY difficult for people to leave comments. Therefore, I'll set up an e-mail address for your comments and post the address here soon. I apologize to anyone who has had difficulty trying to comment. Ah, the wonders of technology! But it beats smoke signals, right?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why Democrats Are Thankful

T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G!  Let's spell out why we Democrats have so much to be thankful for.  Let's count the blessings!

T -- THE TAX ISSUE.   Obama has maneuvered the GOP into defending lower taxes for the extremely wealthy, who already pay obscenely low amounts, while the GOP candidates propose higher taxes for the middle and lower income folks. Another word for the letter "T" is "TRAP". Obama has indeed set a trap, and the GOP has walked into it!

H -- HERMAN.   Cain has done his share  -  and it's been a big one  -  to make the whole Republican party look even more ridiculous than Rick "the Rock" Perry and Michele B did, put together. And that's saying a lot.

A -- AMERICA.   For all its problems, what other country would you call yours? What other country tries so hard to live up to dreams, to reach beyond the bruising realities of a disparate people ever struggling to be one, with liberty and justice for all? It's easy for small countries of one ethnicity and one common culture to agree sensibly. America is a continent, and its people are from everywhere. But somehow this crazy quilt works most of the time and keeps pursuing the dream.

N -- NEWT.    He reminds the voting public of the most corrupt political practices of the GOP, especially that of selling out the public for lobbying dollars from big corporations while spending a million dollars at Tiffany's.  And he looks old, doughy fat, smug and unhealthy, just like the Republican party. Newt, the poster boy!

K -- K STREET.    Just the term, that is. This street of D.C. lobbyists is such a handy gizmo for writers and readers. Use the term "K Street" and everybody knows what you're talking about. Saves a lot of words like "undue influence", "corporate takeover of American politics", etc. Just say "K"!

S -- The SENATE.   True, it ain't much. (Remember the wretched carryings on of Max Baucus and others during the enactment of the health insurance reform bill?) But the Democratic Senate has at least served the function of blocking the horrible bills that have passed the Tea Peeing House since the trolls took it over in 2010. God bless the founding fathers who gave us the Senate. They called it "the saucer to cool the tea." Wow! They could see into the future! Even foresee the "Tea" Party! Thanks, Dads!

G --  GINGRICH.  Yeah, he's already on the list, but can you really have too much of a bad thing?

I -- IOWA.    Against all predictions and contra to the historical bigotry of the white-dominated Midwest, Iowa went for Obama in its 2008 primary. It was a moment in American history almost as glorious -  and more meaningful  -  as Grant Park on the night he won the presidency. And it was in Iowa that Obama gave the speech that lit hope within Americans who yet mourned the great figures of JFK, Martin, Bobby, and Cesar Chavez, the leaders who had once spoken to the best in us. We had waited so long for a voice like theirs.

V -- VICTORY or VICISSITUDES?    Tough choice here. Victories like 2008 and smushing Bin Laden are treasures, for sure. But the vicissitudes now and until November  2012 are what will test us in our resolve to save this country from the greedy and the crazy. The tougher the battle, the greater the victory to come. And the more deserving we Battlers for Obama will be. So get ready for the job ahead!

I --  IOWA.    Well, if Newt gets two spots on our "thankful" list, why not Iowa? Long after Newt and his current wife's blonde wig helmet have gone to dust, the 2008 Iowa primary and Obama's speech  will shine with a brilliance all of Tiffany diamonds can't match. Thank you, you Iowans!

N --  NEW MEXICO.     Let's put politics aside for a moment and just rejoice. The pueblos and their art and dancing and rituals. The Latino culture.  Chaco Canyon. The biggest, most wondrous sky in the world. The colors of the mesas and cliffs, colors without names. The shrubs at the foot of such cliffs, replicating in November the lavenders, rose and golds layered above them in stone. Homemade flour tortillas, still warm. The Native Americans who sit on the platform at the Albuquerque railroad station with their little clay figures and weaving spread around them for sale to the passengers, just as their ancestors have done since the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad first came through over a century ago.

Okay, enough of that sweet stuff! Before we go on to the last G in Thanksgiving,  let's get back to politics.

Politically, New Mexico represents the future of the Democratic party as it squeezes the GOP relentlessly into being solely a party of the white South. The Latinos of New Mexico are part of the fastest growing ethnic group in America, and the GOP are stupidly alienating this wonderful segment of our society by using the "immigration" issue as thinly-disguised racism.

Hey, GOP!  Latinos aren't just a big part of our future; they are as deeply rooted in the USA as the PilGRIMs who put GRIM in your white racist roots. In fact, Latinos have been calling New Mexico  "home" since the 1500s. And the Native Americans have been here for perhaps 30,000 years.  So maybe the real "illegal aliens" are you white racist gringos who murdered your way across a continent and then took New Mexico and much of the Far West in a war so blatantly unjust that even the guys fighting it, like the young Ulysses S. Grant, questioned its morality.

G -- GOODNESS.    It is still everywhere. In people everywhere. In the beauty of the world everywhere. In spite of the ugliness humankind experiences or creates, as alluded to in the above paragraph, it is still in this young nation. Even in Washington D.C., there is goodness. The quiet, hard-working members of Congress you never hear about. The graying young president in the White House. The people who run Social Security efficiently. The "bureaucrats" at EPA who care desperately about the environment. In the Occupiers everywhere and the eleven UC Davis students who heroically held on to each others' arms while being drenched in pepper stray.

Goodness will not be denied. On November 19, 1863, in his Gettysburg address, Abraham Lincoln firmly recognized its power to persist even as the country was torn asunder and 600,000 Americans were killing each other. "Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

We couldn't destroy ourselves then, and we couldn't destroy America. We tried so hard to do it in the Civil War that the scars are yet with us. But as Teddy Kennedy said, "The dream shall never die." Goodness will prevail. Goodness will overcome.

In the same year as Gettsyburg, in the nation's darkest hour, Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day. He knew what we must know now. That we must be thankful for all that is yet good, in the sure and certain hope that we can make things better. Yes  -  most thankfully  -  we can!

Now, let's eat!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanks to Newt the Stupid!

Newt Gingrich is one stupid guy. He has conned himself and some segment of the media into thinking he's bright. He blathers on and on, but he actually doesn't know what he's talking about 90% of the time. He's a pseudo-intellectual blowhard. And he's dumb as a post politically. Slick and clever sometimes but actually stupid.

The clearest evidence of his colossal stupidity is the fact he's running at all for the GOP nomination. Did Obama bribe him to get into the race? Newt's so-called candidacy is doing the Democrats a world of good.

Why? How?

Because Newt has the biggest set of baggage in politics, and each piece of that baggage is full of dirty linen. Some of it's personal, but a lot of it is Republican.

Let's set aside the three wives for the moment. (Newt too sets aside wives.) Let's look at what a great walk Newt is providing politically down memory lane. Let's rejoice in how his now-spotlighted candidacy is reminding everyone of how really disgusting the GOP has been all along. And how the GOP is most emphatically responsible for the current economic and financial plight of this country.

Example:  One of Newt's "groups" got $37 million from the health care industry for "access to Newt". The out-of-office Speaker still had clout in D.C. at the time the Medicare prescription drug coverage was being enacted. The name of the game for PHARMA was to ensure that Medicare drugs  would cost the program full freight. Other federal programs, like the VA, bargain for drug prices and thus save billions of fed dollars. And Medicare bargains down prices for medical services. But, as the ex-Speaker of the House helpfully plowed the field for PHARMA, Medicare was prohibited from bargaining for drug prices.

The result? Medicare has to pay prices like the $850 a drug company charged Medicare monthly for each little bottle of just one medicine my late husband HAD to take or die. The pills probably cost a dime to make, and the bottle probably cost a nickel.

The bigger result? The conservative Club for Growth estimates this one bit of plowing by Newt costs the feds $60 billion a year. "Costing the feds" actually means costing you and me and the rest of us struggling taxpayers.

There's more about Newt and the money he got for the special treatment he finagled for the most rapacious elements in society. Lots more. These items will be bouncing around the media while Gingrich has his moment up in the GOP polls. Take note of them and hope that others do too. These are not Newt's moments alone. They are the standard M.O. of the GOP, so colossal in scale that it dwarfs the Democrats who try the same influence-peddling.

So thanks to you, Newt, all the shabby and dirty linen is on display.

But before we leave you, Newt, here's a special thanks for one of the best laughs ever in the pre-Daily Show era. It was back when Newt got booted out of the Speakership of the House for messing around with a staff woman. His replacement as Speaker served for a few weeks and then had to resign when it emerged he too was messing around on his wife. Mark Russell, then a piano-playing political comedian on PBS, did a delightful bit, solemnly entoning a "provision of the Constitution" that reputedly said, "In the event that the President of the United States shall be impeached for having sexual relations with an intern in the Oval Office, two successive Speakers of the House of Representatives shall immediately   resign."

Happy Thanksgiving, Newtie ol' boy! You have given us Democrats a lot to be thankful for in this campaign. And now everybody knows how you can afford to drop a million bucks at Tiffany's.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time Out for Action

Actions supposedly speak louder than words. They certainly take more time! Right now I'm caught up in a fight to save our little rural post office from being closed, so all my time is going to action. But the fight is reaching its peak, and I'll be back on the word-job very soon with new postings. Including a secret story about the original "dirty tricks" of Tricky Dick Nixon, who taught the GOP the evil tactics that now permeate their party.

As for now and the fight for the tiny post office, the heart of our community, there's no use in urging political action, as I've been doing in this blog, unless one gets into it one's self when the need is clear. At age 75 I should be "retired" from all this, one might say. In fact, I came here years ago to "retire"from a lifetime of politics and community action.

But one cannot retire from life. And politics is life. It touches everything in our lives  -  from the safety of the food we put in our mouths to the hazard of nuclear holocaust.  And it shapes the future of our children and grandchildren.

Politics is too precious and important to be left to politicians and the talking heads. Politics is ours.

So wish us luck in saving the heart of this mountain community, the little post office nestled between the spired churches, where two rivers meet and people care very much about each other. It's a bit of America worth saving.

And please check back for new postings, probably in a few days. You have been most encouraging as readers, both in your numbers and your far-flung geography. So, hi there! In Norway, New Zealand, Latvia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Russia, Israel, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia and all across America! Wherever we are  -  Yes, we can! Yes, we shall overcome!

After 75 years, I can tell you that good always wins in the long run and no good efforts are ever wasted.

So, for now, it's once more into the breach, dear friends......

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Loudoun County: Dallas 1963 Can Happen Again

November, 2011.

We wake up to a news story about a GOP group in Virginia posting a picture on-line of President Obama with a bullet hole in his forehead. And we remember another November.

"We will bear the grief of his death until the day of our own."

Adlai Stevenson said this after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And he was right. The grief has never gone away among those of us who loved our President Kennedy and still remember that sparkling, courageous, intelligent young man.

Time is supposed to heal all wounds. It doesn't.

Instead, the passage of almost 50 years seems to have brought us back to where we were in 1963 just before the assassination in Dallas. Now, added to our old grief, is the new fear that  -  yes  -  it could happen all over again.

We are afraid even to say so out loud. Perhaps our fear is that, by just speaking of the possibility, we who worry may bring the dread reality upon us.

We blamed ourselves back then when it happened in 1963. Somehow we had failed John Kennedy. We should have warned him. We should have seen it coming. We should have been there for him.

Ambassador Adlai Stevenson did try to warn him after being attacked by a mob in Dallas just a couple of weeks before our president was killed there. I still remember the pictures on TV and in the newspapers of the angry right-wingers spitting at Ambassador Stevenson and hitting him with a placard. It was so startling and extraordinary that it couldn't be meaningful. It must be just an aberration of some sort. It wasn't the way Americans express their politics.

How could we think that? How could we not see?

Almost from the very moment that the Supreme Court handed down Brown v. The Board of Education in 1954, white Southerners had been viciously attacking every "damn nigger" who tried to break the barrier  of "whites only." There had been shooting deaths, heads cracked open, attack dogs, fire hoses, bombings, punching and kicking and spitting and epithets. Some white supporters of civil rights and some newsmen died as well. And it was all fed by Southern governors, racist Senators and grim-visaged white "pastors"of the South. "Respectable" people. Just like now. Major political "leaders."

We mourned the victims and yearned for racial justice. I even tried to help in the Civil Rights movement.

But we didn't make the connection. We could not imagine that violence, seemingly engendered by a specific, sectional, historical issue, could become a mode of expression in other areas of politics.  Naive as we were, we didn't know that the slavering and snarling hounds of violence, like the dogs of war, cannot be controlled once they are unleashed. They go where they will and chose their victims. One day it's four little girls killed in the bombing of a church. Another day it's the President of the United States.

E Pluribus Unum. In the saddest ways we are indeed one nation. We who remember still grieve those little girls and our beloved President. And all the others. Our history is unified over time not just by grief but by hatred as well. The mobs who today attack members of Congress on the steps of the Capitol and the TeaPartyGOP with their vicious signs are the same people who attacked the children trying to integrate Southern schools. I remember their faces. White, snarling, ugly and very well-fed.

President Kennedy and his brother Robert, as Attorney General, were trying to enforce the new anti-segregation rules. Kennedy and Ambassador Adlai Stevenson were trying to avoid nuclear war with Russia, yet contain Cuba's belligerence. These three goals made them enemies on every side. For the liberals, the Kennedys weren't doing enough; for the right, Kennedy and Stevenson were doing too much. To the anti-Castro element, President Kennedy was a traitor. To the pro-Castro element, such as it was, he was a mortal enemy. To the white racists, he and Bobby were Grant and Sherman.

Does this sound eerily familiar? The man in the middle, standing on the ground of sanity in a sea of bitter, ignorant hatreds.

Now compare today's rabid anti-Muslim hatred with the frothing of the far-right back then against the "pinko" Communists they saw under every bed. The far-right then believed Kennedy was secretly betraying America to the Russians. They BELIEVED that. And today they believe Obama is selling us out to the "Muslims". They genuinely believe he is a traitor. Newt Gingrich, among others, has told them so.

And racism? The Civil Rights laws we achieved brought some justice but did not end hatred toward "people of color". We certainly hoped they would, but they didn't. The racists just got more slick and now run their hate campaign under the cover of sellouts Herman Caen and Senator Rubio.

White racism dies hard. It yet sucks its nourishment from the blood of the "Lost Cause" of the South in the Civil War. It thrives among the losers today who NEED someone to put down. It is explosive in those who see an America coming that is no longer "white". It fires the anti-immigrant ferocity the GOP presidential contenders now pander to. And it's so lucrative and empowering to the cynical GOP who exploit it.

And the racist whites can't stand that Obama is the President of the United States. They can't stand that there is a man in the White House who has darkish skin. THEY CAN'T STAND IT!

Driven by the violent language and imagery used by the GOP, one of these racists or anti-Muslim fanatics will pick up a gun and get up on a high building. At least one man brought a gun to an Obama event already. No arrest, as I recall. Instead it was left to Chris Matthews on "Hardball" to chew him out.

Another fanatic has screamed at Obama that he is "the anti-Christ." A Congressman has shouted at him that he is a "liar." Now a GOP group in Virginia depicts him with a bullet hole in his head.

The Secret Service gets more threats and warnings regarding the President's safety than they ever have received regarding any other president. Maybe they can keep stopping the maniacs. Maybe this time we'll get lucky.

But who will stop the GOP inciters who legitimize and stoke the worst impulses of the fanatics? If the trigger men can't get to the President, will they shoot another Congresswoman? Another nine-year-old girl?

Never a November comes but we who remember are back in Dealey Plaza. And our beloved President is dead. We failed him whom we loved. We didn't warn him. We didn't make the connections and foresee. We weren't there for him.

And does this pathetic, hopeless plea make amends now?  Or do any good?   -  "Don't ever go to Dallas, please, President Obama. Or Loudoun County, Virginia."

Please, don't go.