The American Promise

Walter Rhett

The American Promise

Walter Rhett

2

Volume One ◊ “A Decent Respect”

Two Elephants Mobile Publishing 2012 America's first mobile publisher devoted to public and oral tradition.

The American Promise

Many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narrative of those things which are most surely believed among us. Luke 1: 1

For Araminta Harriet Ross and Damali Marie Chou Rhett

“. . . In Remembrance of His Mercy” (Luke 1: 54)

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“Hear my prayer, O Lord And give ear to my cry Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with you A sojourner, as all my fathers were Remove your gaze from me, that I may regain my strength, Before I go away and am no more.” Psalm 39: 12 – 13

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Freedom Done

Train Come Long

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Table of Contents
Fighting the Wrong War..............................................8 The Sad News Of A Bad Bet.....................................17 The Differing Price of Freedom and Profit...............25 An Epidemic of Untreatable Illogic..........................32 Remember Caution Is A Prerequisite For Success........................................36 When A List Of Facts Don't Tell The Truth...............41 Barack Will Make Bad Better....................................47 Style Points For Lies.................................................55 United We Hate.........................................................66 An American Promise...............................................73 Doubt and Absent Details..........................................77 Truth Denied..............................................................82 A Faith Lesson For Todd Akin..................................86 We Want Your Vote So We Can Cut Your Safety Net...................................................91 Mocking God.............................................................97 Mitt Romney And Manifest Destiny.......................103 Romney on Foreign Policy: All Fault, No Forward.............................................110 The Gallows of Hate................................................113 The Cultural Case Against Mitt Romney................116 Justice Scalia: No Fear of His Own Horror.............122 An Issue Of Redefinition.........................................132 The Student As An Itinerant....................................136 Keep Count Of My Tossings...................................142

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Fighting the Wrong War

We like our victims pure. They never are. Which brings us to the latest round robin of characters whose mess is in the public square in a harsh, uncomfortable, temporary light. Their glare incites smiles, head shakes, and outrage; and returns us to the age-old debates about the relationship between women and men. Really, our ideas about relationships are telling. Not for the scandal unfolding, its pastiche and tentacles, not for the overachievers at the center of the parody of power, but for how hard it is to talk when we agree. We agree cheating on a spouse is bad. We agree the heads of organizations like the CIA and the European Allied Supreme Command, organizations whose command assets are personal integrity, a singular commitment to missions, and a priority set that sidesteps distractions and turns aside temptations, should not be e-mailing civilians excessively, or circumventing national security by setting up a docs account online to describe what college students I know refer to as “hot monkey sex.”

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Where we disagree is who had the power. Do powerful men ever become weak? Do women ever gain the upper hand in those mutual but also onesided relationships of power? Do men in power use women? Do women use men in power? Online, one New York Times commenter sees it this way; first she quotes from Maureen Dowd's column: “the dangers of young ladies with exuberant, flirtatious, “unguarded and imprudent” manners visiting military regiments and preening in “all the glories of the camp.” Then she writes: I am appalled at you, Ms Dowd, for insinuating that the women are to blame for the generals' own lascivious tendencies. Why, you sound as apologetic as McCain (who Charlie Pierce categorizes as postmenopausal), Lindsay Graham (I am tough too, look at me), and Peter King (panderer in chief) on how sad it is that Petraeus allowed himself to be led by 'little Petraeus' than he did matters of the Republic. You have company, too, you know. You are right there with Pat Robertson who rationalized Petraeus' behavior thus: "Who knows? The man's off in a foreign land and he's lonely and here's a good looking lady

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throwing herself at him. I mean, he's a man." And yet, as we speak, there are now three top generals mired in sexual controversy. Shame on you for putting this on the women! In the rush to defend women, I think it's wise not to lose sight of two connected issues, one large, one small. The smaller issue: by saying it's all the fault of men in power, women are permanently consigned to status as victims. I first ran into this paradox studying slavery, where scholars removed all power and wiles from the slave community and turned slaves into faceless minions. Gradually, I began to understand that a slave who leveraged the system in his or her own interest through high risk cooperation was in the long run more likely to resist and act independently than those who simply accepted the system without challenge. The line to be watched and not crossed was the gains of cooperation never went against the range of personal choice and the interest of the larger community. Advance yourself, if you wish, but don't sell us out. The differences between slaves in the house and the field really were differences of the importance and value of an observed personal and group ethic. Whose interests must be protected and advanced? Mine or the group's?

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In this grim excerpt from Meta Grimball's Edisto Island, SC civil war diary, we see this principle operating in the roles of war: Mrs Walker who keeps a Hotel here went to Richmond, after the first of the battles, in that neighborhood, to bring home her son's body, said to be killed. She found him severely wounded and brought him home, he is now well except a stifened arm, she says she shall all her life consider this step, against the advice of her friends, an especial providence. - She visited one of the Hospitals, near Richmond, which contained 4 thousand patients, & said no one who did not witness the sufferings there could realize the horrors of the war. A lady of Richmond daily accompanied by two servants brought, and administered herself, a quantity of fine, nutritious chicken soup. One young man had an old negro man who sat by him & fanned off the flies. She stopped and told him she hoped he would get well, he shook his head and said no, he could not he was too badly wounded, the servant remained with him until he died, and then after preparing his body for the grave, bundled up his things, put them on his head and went off home. Masked by slavery is how self interests diverges. Women are a group whose status is harder to escape. A barrage of national name-calling and commercial ads, targeted legislation, opinions by those in power,

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including judges, target American women and divide them from their sisters worldwide, who are assaulted daily in the hundreds of thousands, from infancy to old age. In South Africa today, a women is more likely to be raped than to be able to read. But rape is not a part of the scandal. No one denies the affair was consensual. No one denies the affair. But who had the power? How was power defined? And were women as a group violated by the acts of the men or women involved? That's the bigger question; what blacks use to call the race question: underneath these personal acts, how are women seen in the larger context? Is there a generals problem or a broader military problem? Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants to review the generals' code of conduct. That's a disservice. He is looking in the wrong direction. Secretary Panetta needs to order a review for every branch of the military service, bottom to top, to determine how women are treated and to discover why they are assaulted more than 10,000 times a year. Over the last decade, studies report nearly one-third of women in the military will be assaulted during their active duty careers. Ninety percent will be harassed. Ninety percent of those raped won't report.

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As one veteran was quoted, “None of my friends who were raped on active duty reported it. Or if we tried, we were told to shut up for ‘morale.’ Working with your rapist on a daily basis isn’t a lot of fun, believe me.” During the Civil War, rapists in uniform were hanged or shot, the Archives listed 74 capital sentences for assaults against white or black women, but not now. Military women are more likely to be raped than killed by enemy fire. At some veteran medical facilities, forty percent of the women treated report having been raped. The problem is so endemic, the Department of Defense expert on military sexual abuse once ignored a 2008 House committee subpoena and defiantly refused to testify—at the order of the Department. During the Iraq war, it was not safe for women to shower alone, without another woman present. Rank has privileges. So the sex affairs of two of these generals appear as indiscretions, more tragic than violent, more sad than vicious, more failed than brute. But not so for the officers and troops outside the immediate scandal. Scandals worse go back to the Civil War. See the oblique mention of sexual assault three times in the reply of Lt. General Wade Hampton (South Carolina's highest ranking officer, in charge of the Confederate Cavalry) to a letter from Gen. Sherman:

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I do not believe that my men killed any of yours except under circumstances in which it was perfectly legitimate and proper they should kill them. It is a part of the system of thieves whom you designate as foragers, to fire the dwellings of those citizens whom they have robbed. To check this inhuman system which is justly execrated by every civilized nation, I have directed my men to shoot down all of your men who are caught burning houses. This order shall remain in force as long as you disgrace the profession of arms . . . You are particular in defining and claiming "war rights." May I ask if you enumerate among them the right to fire upon a defenceless city, without notice; to burn that city to the ground after it had been surrendered by the authorities, . . . to fire the dwelling-houses of citizens, after robbing them, and to perpetrate even darker crimes than these -- crimes too black to be mentioned? You have permitted, if you have not ordered, the commission of these offences against humanity and the rules of war. You fired into the city of Columbia without a word of warning, After its surrender by the Mayor, who demanded protection of private property, you laid the whole city in ashes, leaving amid its ruins thousands of old men and helpless women and children, who

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are likely to perish of starvation and exposure. Your line of march can be traced by the lurid light of burning houses, and in more than one household there is an agony far more bitter than that of death. The Indian scalped his victim, regardless of sex or age, but, with all his barbarity, he always respected the persons of his female captives. Your soldiers, more savage than the Indian, insult those whose natural protectors are absent. Military culture still blames victims and punishes those who resist. If some military men at the top are using power as an aphrodisiac, right next to them and down through the ranks other military men are freely, and with impunity, escaping accountability and scrutiny, using force to make women submit to sex against their own will. The current scandal should make this contrast emerge from the shadows. Review the leadership but also focus on the entire culture, which is pervasive with violence against women. That will make the scandal have a meaningful and lasting impact on the military, on women in service, and on the safety and security of women around the world.

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“Walking In Rows,” US Army Women Auxiliary Corps, Ft. Des Moines, Iowa, 1943 (up) England (below)

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The Sad News Of A Bad Bet

The sad news is that Republicans have added to their list of the left's conspiracies: the latest being the notion that Barack Obama actually won reelection as the President of the United States. Of course, Barack Obama received 62.26 million popular votes, won 26 states totaling 332 electoral votes—an electoral vote total that GOP pundits Dick Morris, George Will, Newt Gingrich and others predicted a “landslide”— for Romney! When the President actually achieved these numbers, becoming one of only five Democrats in political history to twice receive 50 percent of the vote, the same bokors of make-believe called it a close election. They claimed 330,000 votes decided the outcome--becoming one of the few conspiracy groups in history to ignore the obvious. Conspiracies are usually built around things unseen. In the dark mysteries of human ideas, conspiracies are born when people spring to action to carry out evil and destruction to gain power and turn human suffering into a demonic benefit that destroys the cherished good of freedom and prosperity.

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Conspiracies attack a life reasonably free of want, and crush to ruins a pride based on personal production and skill. South Carolina is home to one of America's largest conspiracies; the blow for liberty of 12,000 enslaved planned in June, 1822 by Charleston's Denmark Vesey, a freed Presbyterian carpenter. Conspirators made 300 iron pikes as weapons, intending to seize the town's arsenal, commandeer ships, and sail to Haiti. A handwritten interview transcript says, Vesey “often spoke about the insurrection. The blacks stood in great fear of him. I always tried to avoid him. Monday [Gell] said to Vesey [Gullah] Jack had so many men they had better wait any longer. Once it began others would join in.” History is filled with the great societies. Their prosperity and pride led to inside and outside conspiracies, some which staged successful coups. Ancient Egypt, the Mayans and Incas, the Dynasties of China and Persia, the Iroquois and the Sioux nations were attacked from inand out. These societies share in common material wealth and superior knowledge of the arts and sciences. They exhibited fantastic engineering success beyond spectacular buildings and construction. China and Persia, and the Mayans, for example, had extensive underground water systems, with reservoirs.

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But conspiracists no longer embrace global gifts, historic achievements, or infrastructure success. For many conspiracists, these outward successes are an a priori sign of an invisible cabal whose power was/is multiplied by the depth of its secrecy. So of all the conspiracies attributed to Barack Obama, it was obvious that socialists carrying clipboards with petitions, illegal ACORN registrations, or backdoor gifts from socialist Europe or radical communist countries like Cuba, Estonia, Russia or China didn't win the election. (Although, in one poll, 49% of Republicans think so! And the Romney-Sheldon Adelson connection offers fertile ground for outside influence by China and Israel!) It was obvious that the low flyer of a million mailed releases of a DVD tying Barack's mother to Chicago labor leader Frank Marshall Davis, claiming a new baby daddy for infant Barack (one which incidentally would have firmly established his American citizenship—at odds with birther conspiracies!) didn't work, either. It's also hard to claim that a President with a good mid-range jump shot and an arching, floating lay-up, who picks his own NCAA Final Four brackets (men and women), regularly invites Stevie Wonder to the White House, and brews his own pale ale with a touch of White House honey needs “to learn how to

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be an American.” So as all the conspiracies failed, falling one by one, it was obvious: Barack Obama won due to a yet-undiscovered-conspiracy even more wrongheaded and subversive than the GOP overpaid crybabies had thought! But before we say “good riddance,” let's do a careful review. For Karl Rove and many others, race has traditionally had all minuses and no pluses in national politics. They assumed a wider distribution of doubt and lingering worry over race than the actual election results showed. What they missed is that as race once magnified negatives—the stereotypes of criminality, morality and shoddy personal ethics—it now also multiplies the character of success, skills at speaking, reasoning, caring, leadership and vision. Rove and others assume these positive traits are dampened down by race. As they see it, race limits the upside of the positive narrative while acting to amplify and enlarge mistakes and negatives. But their cultural calculus is passing from a changing American national community; the new American national identity is a patriotism that proactively seeks to include all heritage communities and build a national community of trust and tolerance. In this America, stereotypes have almost no impact on the acceptability for leadership among members of heritage communities. Stereotypes do still exist, but

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as jokes that ridicule old-school thinking as much as they do the targeted group. Look carefully: much of contemporary humor uses stereotypes to laugh at the notions and distortions that stereotypes imply—and mock the stereotypes themselves! Stereotypes have little appeal and almost no effect. But for Rove and others, the old ideas are still life and death. In a great irony, they see the election of a black man as President as the death of liberty rather than its celebration. Liberty has killed itself, they think, by going too far and becoming imprudent. Thus, their campaigns are always about the dangers of democracy: the decisions and acts that are, in their defective world view, excesses, bad, condemned. Unfortunately, this closes off the Rovian system and shuts down a progressive vision for conservatives. They are left mired in fear, anger, and hate, rather than rationally examining policy to further secure the transitions they argue are only possible under their worldview. But these transitions are at odds with the ideas of race most conservatives hold dear. the least. If you think blacks are incapable of self reliance and a work ethic, the transitions you propose will fail, as Romney clearly articulated in his view of the 47 %. Republicans are fond of holding up the few exceptions to their core beliefs, not realizing as these exceptions only serve to further prove the rule and

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highlight the income divide. And rarely do these exceptions advance. Alan West lost, screaming conspiracy. Convention speaker, Utah's Mia Love lost her Utah congressional race. (Democratic SuperPACs are blamed for her defeat in a new district, by incumbent, Jim Matheson, the son of a popular Utah governor.) Tim Scott is the exception. Rove's views further separate the actual agenda of conservatives in power, an agenda that stifles transitions, restricts mobility, denies rights, and consolidates rather than shares power—all while blaming others whom they suggest deserve suffering and real pain, even as the rich inflate their bank accounts and fantasies, reveling in power and wealth. Race is key to this separation and justification. The perceived negatives of race are the source of conservative solidarity; yet are increasingly the basis for losing campaigns. Still, on the heels of the President's victory, the White House website received petitions by citizens from 23 states calling for state secessions! I do have a conspiracy to add, one of the oldest found in history, a myth whose moral made the election outcome easy to predict. The Republicans, the inner circle; Romney, the Mormon; Sununu, the Cuban; crossed the invisible line (Enslaved Africans called it “the separatin' line”) and made a deal with evil. Not

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evil the adjective, but evil the noun, the darkest, most destructive of divine forces, that legend says is only activated in human affairs through the dark and secret hearts of men. As Romney boldly abandoned truth, a stance telegraphed by his communications director, Romney's campaign increasingly turned to the dark side, violating every covenant, teaching, precept, lesson and commandment of wisdom found in all global tradition. His was not a good campaign by Zen standards, Yoruba belief, Mayan prophecy, Dogon metaphysics, Hindu or Greek worship, Islam, Buddhist wisdom, the I Ching, or even the secular classic, The Art of War. Pick any indigenous faith. Any wisdom system. His campaign, by the highest rules of life's kismet and fortunes, was an epic loser. The deal Romney, Rove and others made ignores the famous fallacy of evil—the one that Christ resisted: evil cannot (never!) help you win. By definition, once it is embraced, it can not produce good ends for those who serve it. Simply, even for its faithless operators, evil can not do good. If it does good, it's no longer evil! Yet, my daughter points out, always one person or a group convince themselves they are the exception. That evil on their side will work for good, as a means of success as they have promised to rule in its name and character.

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History's myths and legends have recorded the names and characters who hoped to strike such a deal. They always fail. A pact with evil is never mutual, nor can it bring good results. Evil does not violate its own character by permitting any good outcome—especially the outcome deserved by its junior partners--for the opportunity of greater impact. It is solely satisfied with devouring what is given to it. To evil, it's all the same; it doesn't delay its gratification. Evil stabs the hearts of those who wield its sword. Evil wins. Ever the Bishop, Romney thought, like him, evil had a driven ego. It doesn't. It is egoless. It is obvious to numbers. Its only compelling purpose is to avoid good as it carries out its ruin. So Romney, like so many others, thought he would be the exception to evil's premise and commands. It is evil's ultimate seduction, to persuade the ego of those under its spell that rulership will be a joint tenancy. It never is. It destroys those in league with it, doubling its satisfaction by the joy of the deception that leads to its engineering the fall of those who turn to it. Evil thrives on those who engage, who believe evil will honor their work to increase and expand its carnage. So my theory is a desolate Romney made a bad bet. With evil. No great society turns a morally blind eye to attacks and assaults on women and the failure to care for the sick and elderly. That's why he lost.

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History and Law, the US Capitol

The American Promise

The Differing Price of Freedom and Profit

Recycling is a noble goal except when it comes to politics. Unless it's a way forward, pushing the same ideas year after year is ignoble and ignorant. But yet again, we see the return of the single note of the dead horse of the tax cut, with the Republicans grabbing the crop and flailing away, going nowhere. Soundly rejected at the polls, they keep the idea alive that tax cuts are an idea that America can ride. Rather than prosperity, their argument is really about power. In a government the size of America's, more important than legislative power, the power to make laws, is budget power; the power to buy and cut, to control the purse. The advantage of politicizing the balance sheet is that buying and cutting happens outside of the public's eye. Name the builder who got the plumbing contract for your local schools; name the company that makes the cockpit canopies for jet fighters; or the manufacturer of something as common as the military's MREs (ready to eat meals); I can't. Through government, we spend lots of money on things we don't know about and have no idea how much they they cost. We also spend money on services—health care, food—that

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impact people directly, and these programs are well known. The battle over taxes led South Carolina to nullify federal legislation in 1832 (later withdrawn): Whereas the Congress of the United States by various acts, purporting to be acts laying duties and imposts on foreign imports, but in reality intended for the protection of domestic manufactures and the giving of bounties to classes and individuals engaged in particular employments, at the expense and to the injury and oppression of other classes and individuals, and by wholly exempting from taxation certain foreign commodities, such as are not produced or manufactured in the United States, to afford a pretext for imposing higher and excessive duties on articles similar to those intended to be protected, hath exceeded its just powers under the constitution, which confers on it no authority to afford such protection, and hath violated the true meaning and intent of the constitution, which provides for equality in imposing the burdens of taxation upon the several States and portions of the confederacy: And whereas the said Congress, exceeding its just power to impose taxes and collect revenue for the purpose of effecting and accomplishing the specific objects and

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purposes which the constitution of the United States authorizes it to effect and accomplish, hath raised and collected unnecessary revenue for objects unauthorized by the constitution. We, therefore, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the several acts and parts of acts of the Congress of the United States, purporting to be laws for the imposing of duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities, and now having actual operation and effect within the United States, and, more especially, an act entitled "An act in alteration of the several acts imposing duties on imports," approved on the nineteenth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight and also an act entitled "An act to alter and amend the several acts imposing duties on imports," approved on the fourteenth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, are unauthorized by the constitution of the United States, and violate the true meaning and intent thereof and are null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State, its officers or citizens; and all promises, contracts, and obligation.

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Today Republicans preserve the same outrage over taxes, but its path to power doesn't involve innovation or efficiency; nor is its end goal, savings. Rather than getting out, tax cuts opens a door Republicans want to get in! The modern hunger for power recycles the buzz words "tax cut" because it opens the way to changes in the balance sheet and advances the Republican drive for power on different fronts at the same time. One of the unique properties of democracy is that rights are expanded through government. By the same authority of government, rights can be diminished. For those with intra-gender preference, the expansion of rights to marriage, open military service, survivor's benefits, child adoption, nondiscrimination and job opportunities is tied directly to the powers of government, state and federal. The contraction of rights, say in a woman's right to choose, also results from attacks led through government, aimed at the money spent to create the opportunities of reproductive choice. State legislation barred money from being used for choice procedures and has piled on building requirements that make it almost impossible to operate a clinic; the costs of the required modifications are too high. The most basic rights to life and health are attacked by Republicans as entitlements. As a collective system, democracy's advantage is it can serve

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different views and needs as long as any single position doesn't seek to be dominant. But the costs of freedom and profits differ. The GOP doesn't seek diversity or equal protection. It wants dominance. And profits. (In the name and expense of freedom!) By changing the terms of rights, making them costeffective, drumming up opposition to taxes and shifting the focus away from freedom, rights are framed as costs. These costs—no longer rights—are declared to put future generations in danger. What is in danger is that future generations will lose these rights as freedoms, as they are phased out by future budget cuts. For health care, the first foray was Ryan's vouchers, a wholly inadequate support that did not address rising costs but restricted rights. It created economic barriers to access. Republicans also know when individual rights are diminished, profits expand. While Republicans loudly proclaim the need for cutting debt and taxes by cutting benefits—a policy that takes away the right to health and life to expand someone else's wealth— they are not serious about cutting costs. Medicaid offers a glaring, easy example. The Veterans Administration can negotiate for the lowest drug prices; Medicaid currently can not. Medicaid can't even use the payment schedule of Medicare, which is lower in costs than its own. The difference and extra expense is widely known to Congress, but

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Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts to fix this loophole and save $185 billion in ten years. Carefully review the list of Republican budget cuts. Each item on the list cuts a benefit. Ignored are obvious ways to cut government's costs. This includes reducing defense spending. In fact, Republicans will never cut costs: their tax cuts drove the deficit up! And now they demand a larger round of tax cuts paid for by benefit cuts. And remember the reason why the GOP cuts benefits, not costs—profits. Reducing benefits and regulation often lead to desired private sector profits—at the expense of rights! So the GOP will keep the issue of costs alive. But what they are after are not savings but the costs that support democracy's rights and those rights protected by regulation. They want to reissue to all of America Dr. King's check marked “insufficient funds.”

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An Epidemic of Untreatable Illogic
One of my favorite diseases—and I say favorite because it has a great moral associated with its diagnosis—offers an old, discredited but useful look at how the views of power filtered down to popular medicine, in a disease named drapetomonia. Ever hear of it? It was one of the first illnesses to have a very clear ethnic identity—it only affected blacks. It was also one of the first specific mental health diagnoses. Declared an epidemic among its target population, shortly after being discovered by a Georgia physician in 1851, its treatment protocols involved harsh whippings and restraints in chains. Today, it is one of the few discredited diseases whose diagnostic techniques are reemerging as one of the false equivalencies that characterize America's political views--on global warming, evolution, education, economic growth, race, and religion. I see a new strain of the disease emerging, and clearly we have no cure, or even treatment or care for it. My old favorite, drapetomonia, was a response to a social condition, slavery, and was diagnosed as the condition that made slaves run away. Flee toward freedom. Hide in the woods, outside of civil authority, living in a place of fear. The new

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equivalency has jumped the old ethnic bounds. But it sees itself as flying toward freedom. Leaving behind corrupt civil authority—and also living in a place of fear. The new strain is tied to the older drapetomonia by its diagnosis. Both have an implied inability to accept reality, but the new strain is characterized by far greater frequencies of delusions. The old and the new, the up and the down have been with us since the beginning. As the poet W. H. Auden said, “the situation of our time surrounds us like a baffling crime.” But this new strain forgets why the old strain was discredited, lost its potency and went bust: it described a wrong reality. It was a projection of its own delusions. So, too, today, the flare-up of the new, unnamed strain is a double circle of logic whose answers assume the truth of its assertions. My favorite example comes from a radio interview with Virginia's Attorney General, who plans to run for governor. (He is the Attorney General that sees sex education fairs on colleges, discussing life style issues (proper condom use, birth control pills, gender preference, abstinence, religious views on sex) as promoting promiscuity.) The radio host pointed out that the President did not win the red states where a photo ID law was in place or early voting was drastically restricted, and the wins and loses of those states alone were sufficient to

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point to clear evidence of a pattern of widespread Democratic fraud being rampant throughout the country. Well, Barack Obama didn't win those same red states last time either, in 2008, before restrictions of early voting or photo ID laws were enacted. And he won all of the states he won before, without a single reputable complaint of fraud, except in the mouths of talk show hosts and elected officials whose delusions are a double circle. Secession is another tangent along the double circle, with its talking points about the loss of freedom as health care expands, taxes remain low, education scores improve, and guns are safe despite their increasing menace. Secession is tied to the encroaching menace of socialism—even as wages are stagnant, jobs growth is modest, and hunger remains, unions are in legislative retreat, and a silent epidemic of thousands of families live off the grid. Hundreds of thousands have clicked on computers, reached the White House through their IP service, and electronically signed petitions to establish their states as their own republics. (I say let Texas apply for foreign aid and be a ten-year demonstration model!) But nowhere has the new strain of drapetomonia been more present then in the Congress, especially among three Republican senators engaged in foreign policy reviews and oversight. One of the symptoms of

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the new strain is a phastasmorgia (a favorite grad school word!) of forgetfulness. These senators seem to have completely forgotten that Colin Powell was once sent on a mission to the UN to inform the world of non-existent weapons of mass destruction as the justification for launching a war. Yet appearances on talk shows that protected classified information about four American deaths are more “significantly troubling” than the petitions to secede from the US, a position clarified after another lengthy, unnecessary war, and somehow overweigh the peace so quickly brought to Gaza. Well, I, too, am significantly troubled. An old favorite, drapetomonia, has returned. In a new form, more virulent. And given its new patterns of delusions, its rapid spread, the intractable, untreatable illogic of its phastasmagoric double circles that lock out all other views, it should be taken more seriously. It is more dangerous since it enlarges its formerly defective worldview. Its originator wrote: “The disease is the natural offspring of Negro liberty-the liberty to be idle, to wallow in filth, and to indulge in improper food and drinks.” We can wipe out the new strain by making the next election a prevention campaign.

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Remember Caution Is A Prerequisite For Success

I love history because I feel it. Others enjoy a kiss or music, great art. But history flows deep in my soul with its own compass of beauty. My challenge is to wander in its memories and find evidence of how we were bound to freedom; for history is always about the drama of freedom. For me, Barack Obama's reelection is one of freedom's greatest moments. I loved it. But every wisdom tradition warns that in the shadows of great moments are dangers and obstacles throbbing and alive with their losing gasp. I congratulate the President—and the country—but I am going to write about the dangers swept up in that great moment; the dangers, though defeated and diminished, that are a threat to the freedom that I love. History shows dangers, after being pummeled, return redoubled. If these dangers are not guarded against, the great moments of history become a pinnacle of achievement rather than a base camp for building greater success. And in the great success and jubilation of celebrating the re-election of Barack Obama with the support of states from east to west (and north to south!), mighty danger lurks. In a country where men and women from Kenya were captured, shipped and sold as property at

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public auctions and stripped of legal and personal rights, denied marriage by Christian ministers and church elders, worked as forced labor, compelled to accept forcible rape upon their women, our President, a descendant of Kenya, was told by an immigrant, speaking as his opponent's surrogate, that he needed “to learn to be an American.” That immigrant overlooked that the sons and daughters of Africa know all too well and have learned too deeply what America means and the dangers it holds; the danger in the casual denial of his words hints at the old auctions, except the descendants are now increasingly marginalized and devalued. Their worth extracted, they are history's floss. Their story written in the wastes of high unemployment and low incomes. Their lives as dross in communities overrun with crime, violence, dropouts, and health dangers. These communities must return to their history of self-help established within the communities created by the auction block. Communities that honored marriage by the simple symbolic act of jumping a broom and deeply embedded a self-love unbroken by violence and words, a self-love whose self-worth was tied to its ethics and pride in education, work, personal achievement and family and to collective action. But the African-American community need be painfully aware of the dangers that stand in front of its destiny, blocking its progress, subtly undermining its historical inner truth. At the moment of the

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highest achievement by one of its improbable sons, it stands on a precipice of imploding doom. An irony of Barack Obama's success is that women were the prime group in re-electing a man. In state after state, the President's margin depended on women voters. His opponent narrowly tried to isolate employment as a single issue for women voters as his party isolated women as a group. Not just jobs; health care is primarily economic. The Republican resistance to Obamacare is not to health, but to costs, to how benefits are directed. Before Obamacare, virtually every state had higher costs for women, with giant holes in women's coverage, be it reproduction or illnesses that affected women at a higher incidence than men. In many ways, women are the driver's of the national balance sheet; Walmart, for example, has woefully exploited their skills. Other women have sold them out, some buy into an ideology that marginalizes them. In the global picture, many struggle with poverty and slavery, and violence is high and low. Far too many women subordinate themselves to the party line of Obama's opponents. They missed an opportunity to move forward on women issues by leveraging their support for progress for all women. Far be it for me to suggest to GOP women how to operate within their party, but they overlooked an important page from the Democratic playbook: don't sell out, trade up. A chance for real gains for all women was lost by their refusal to engage in the

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crisis inflation the GOP uses as its main tool of power. If GOP women had fought for gains on women's issues, the election results may have been switched. Democratic women have a deep bench. Maybe now is the time to reach out to Republican women to create effective voices on a broad range of global and domestic issues, rejecting men and special interests from using women as economic and political pawns. Joining with GOP women, in office or retired (the two Maine senators, for example), would shift the national politics quicker than any other realignment! Despite last night's joyful dance of a victory that will protect Roe, Supreme Court appointments, equal pay, safety nets, equal opportunity, along with environmental justice in the communities where women live, women are not out of danger. By making Barack's victory a base camp, they can build in four years a movement that protects their diverse visions and asserts their independence to reach new heights. The pundits are offering a single solution for the Obama victory: a superior ground game. Not one mentioned the multi-volumes of lies of his opponent, collected on websites like Rachel Maddow's. Not one cited the angry backlash in twitter post from a Chrysler vice president directly to Obama's opponent, telling him: “you are full of shit.” Not one media person has mentioned the insulting slap of the millions Romney stashed offshore. And not one felt it important to discuss the loss as it

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relates to the issues. Education, the environment, the defense budget, safety nets, global recovery, or peace. We are seeing the trivia of American politics substitute for substance. That's the biggest dangers that lies ahead, the rewriting of politics to separate truth from freedom. When I walked to my neighborhood polling location yesterday, I was part of a ground game. More importantly, I felt good about my choice. I was a part of millions of Americans who believed and guarded the American Promise of freedom for all as our history and our future.

The Thurgood Mashall Federal Judiciary Building, Washington, DC.

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When A List Of Facts Don't Tell The Truth
With all the crazy things he says, if Mitt Romney were a student on any of America's college campuses, he would be profiled on a watch list. His radical speech continually advocating the abolition of the federal government while attending classes with classmates with tuition paid for by federal student loans would register as a blind contradiction and personality disconnect (dissociative identity) that could easily cross the line from blame and denigration to violence. Instead, he is running for President of the United States as a candidate for the Republican Party and ducking questions, saying conversations about inequity should be held in quiet rooms where, promising to “do more” if he could to cut jobs, he rails against 47% of Americans whose incomes are so low they are exempt from income taxes. He is not alone in the group home. Group homes are normally places where people with special challenges are given love and support and encouraged to break through their veils. But Mitt does a Mitty; his advocacy network of irrational politics has the power to make his cruelest fantasies real and impose them

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on the rest of us, no matter our own dreams. He and his ilk are well funded by operators who see dollars in the vast disability that shadow him and others. With parts narcissism, delusion, paranoid, manic, and a bundle of anti-social behaviors including the lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse for pathological lying, their grandeur writes its own morality and rules of the game. For instance, Michael Brown, the infamous “Brownie” who let New Orleans turn into Atlantis, publicly chided President Obama for reacting to hurricane Sandy too soon. He claimed the President's actions were “premature.” Brownie is on record claiming Obama “wanted” the Gulf oil spill so he could suspend offshore drilling. Brown never saw a disaster he couldn't make worse or find faults and conspiracies in the tragedy. He once ran the nation's emergency response. Or take Romney's television and radio commercial claiming GM and Chrysler both intended to send American production jobs to China. Both companies took the unusual step of calling the “car guy” a liar; a GM spokesperson cited galactic-length differences between the Romney ads and reality. The spokesperson went on: "no amount of campaign politics at its cynical worse will diminish our record of creating jobs." Chrysler's CEO, calling the ads, “inaccurate,” pointed out Chrysler has added 2,900

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jobs at downtown Detroit’s Jefferson Avenue plant, which builds Jeep Cherokees. Ironically, Romney's father built Jeeps in China in the 1980s, as CEO of American Motors. Chrysler will build there, too, for China's market, the world's largest. Romney knows a list of facts don't add up to truth. But America has frequently confused villains and heroes; the bad man is often the good guy. And the good guy often has fatal flaws. Barack Obama has shouldered the abuse and crises and carnage left by the former and potential residents of office, and his flaw seems to be stoic good cheer for which he is mercilessly heckled. Many (some from both sides!) seem angry that they haven't been able to seduce the President into a meltdown. Romney's advocates spend millions—no, billions— altering reality so that millions of voters will assume he's sane. Yet his ideological exploitation of healthcare policies, with its substitutions of ambulances and emergency rooms for safety nets is unmatched. In the meantime, his staff dresses him in new shirts, an observation my 98-year-old uncle sees in the package crease lines he notices on TV. Romney wore one in Ohio where his Sandy relief rally turned out to be staged by his campaign. His staff went to Walmart in the middle of the night, spending $5,000 on donations for photo-ops and to

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give to donors who came empty-handed to be redonated. In their zeal, his staff bought items the Red Cross doesn't accept! Sanity is more than a daily new shirt. Well dressed insanity may be fashion-forward, but it's countrybackward. To a time before poverty and pain became photo opportunities. To policies that waste money on non-receivables to frame a time when others were in tatters. Few creatures this Halloween will be more scary than Mitt Romney. Yet nearly half the nation is prepared to give him their vote. And the reasons for their willingness to walk into a polling place and blindly cast a ballot for Mitt Romney are equally as scary the man himself. We lampooned Alvin Greene when he won South Carolina's Democratic senate primary, attributing it to some nonsense about the spelling of Greene with a final “e,” said to be a “black people's spelling.” Yes, in South Carolina, race enters into how last names are spelled. There are Richburgs and Richbourgs, Alstons and Allstons, Goughs and Goffs, Pettigrus and Pettigrews. When he ran against Jim DeMint, Alvin Greene finished with a respectable vote total, and he is far more humble and progressive than DeMint, but Alvin Greene is black and received exactly the same kind of ridicule Barack Obama

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receives, and Obama is President of the United States. More important than a black people's spelling is a black people's curse that equates black success with “entitlements” or national insanity. On the other hand, Romney is seen as “moderating” his own “inelegant” views as he buys donations that can't be used. (No word on their final disposition.) Contrast his event's organization to the use of the enslaved in Charleston during the war. From the Charleston Courier: Summon all slaveholders within their respective limits to deliver one-fourth of their slaves liable to road duty, at the railroad depots nearest their residences, on Tuesday, the 30th day of August next, there to await transportation to Charleston for thirty days' labor on the fortifications. 2. Negroes delivered on Greenville and Columbia Railroad will take the train which leaves Greenville at 5:20 o'clock A.M. Those delivered on the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad will take the train which leaves Charlotte at 8 o'clock A.M. Those delivered on the Spartanburgh and Union Railroad will take the passenger train down. Those delivered on the Laurens Railroad will take the passenger train down. Those delivered on the King's Mountain Railroad will take the passenger train down.

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Chairs hung from trees and fences, some with nooses, are also inelegant and without merit. Not art installations, sampled from the Republican convention, the presentation that preceded Romney's acceptance speech—are the latest form of free speech that provocatively directs attention to (I say calls for!) historic violence that put the law into mobs' hands and took black lives without trials by public lynchings, often with official cooperation. Unlike the roll of names for victims of lynching—only 15-year-old Emmett Till is well known—there is no list for those whose chairs are highlighted on web aggregation sites and in the 30 seconds of local news. Again, facts without truth, only shock. Romney, too, shocks us. He goes against the advice of the same article in the August, 1864 Courier, a plea of citizens in every era and condition: We hope the people will lay prejudices aside, and select our very best men -morally and intellectually, regardless of personal feelings. We should not elect men simply because they are clever, but because they have the moral worth and clear intellect to fit them for the important duties of the place. Whatever the outcome of the election—and make no mistake, Barack Obama will win—the shock of those who tied the shadow of shame to our politics will swing in disgrace.

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Barack Will Make Bad Better
Barack Obama has a modest economic record and here’s why: Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers, and others gave him bad advice; his political people, David Axelrod, Patrick Gaspard, David Plouffe and others, had no feel for the broad suffering of America and lacked technical know-how or institutional experience in managing the world’s largest macroeconomy; global headwinds stalled job growth from Europe to Asia; the Council of Economic Advisors was a revolving door, and Barack’s own mastery and knowledge of economic fundamentals is weak. Twenty-nine million Americans looking for working is the result, a dismal record, especially four years past the Great Crisis. It could have been much worse. Legislatively, Republicans blocked the recovery by threatening default of America's credit, by turning wrongheaded ideas into talking points, by ignoring common, proved truth (government does create jobs!), by passing bill after bill never destined to reach the President’s desk, bills never intended to help American families, never proposing a change in the rules that aided families burdened by mortgages and

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foreclosures, bills never stimulating demand—the key to job growth. They offered instead cuts in safety nets. Letting the bottom fall out was their way up. Yet, despite political assertions of caution, the index for equity markets doubled from their 2009 bottom. More companies were seeing record profits by 2012. Capital tells a very different story than jobs. Why the contradiction between record profits and job recovery, between community suffering and corporate swag? Hidden in plain sight, it’s the part Mitt Romney conveniently leaves out of his message. Mitt switches positions to pretend he is something he is not: he has no “know-how” about creating jobs—none. Mitt is a balance sheet guy. He creates capital—not work. He extracts capital gains—he does not increase paychecks. Wealth is profit; labor is an expense. His goal is to take out cash, not increase what workers take home. His entire corporate life, his constant activity has been extracting wealth, trading capital, increasing its return as capital gains. His ideas have a single source: profit, equity return, capital wealth. And where did that his capital wealth come from? He robbed labor. Without conscience, he fired workers, stole their pensions, stripped their benefits, sold

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their machines overseas to increase his personal wealth. He did not grow production; he extracted its value. He wrecked perfectly solid companies. Now, with relish, he thinks his success and its carnage of unemployed workers will benefit the nation, the “small businesses” he cites. He never mentions the word "workers"—or their families, hoping we confuse capital wealth with increased demand. If Romney’s view were true, companies with record profits would already be driving hiring. The top ten companies holding cash are behemoths of strength and stability, all in Fortune’s Top 100 US. Here’s a partial list, with profits: Exxon Mobil (energy), $17.8 billion; WellPoint (health insurance); $20.3 billion; Amgen (biotech), $22.5 billion; Pfizer (drugs, equipment), $24.3 billion; Apple, (technology) $27. 6 billion; Oracle (software) 30.7 billion; Google (technology networks), $41.7 billion; Cisco Systems (technology) $48.7 billion; Microsoft (technology) $62 billion. These are not small businesses. Mitt Romney knows nothing of small businesses, whether tailoring or coffee shops, lawn care or day care, mobile labs or fund raising, bed & breakfasts or convenience stores. He never walked their path. He does not know their craft—or the balance sheets of the Patels, the name identified with the large Indian community that now

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owns 70% of American hotel rooms; they know more than Mitt about creating jobs and wealth. Washington, DC’s immigrant Ethiopian community turned service jobs into a several-block area of entrepreneurial restaurants and stores (bounded by U and 9th Streets NW), creating a core of businesses and experiences that supports a network opening now in new neighborhoods in other cities. Koreans and Iraqis have done the same across the country with inner-city groceries. These anecdotal details—and their success—are kept separate from policy. The list of cash hoarders that Mitt wants to help in the name of workers are not small businesses—or job creators. He ignores the successful examples and models right under his nose! The culture of the giants he comes from and supports pushes profit and power, demanding concessions, lowered costs, global franchises, and expansion through cheaper labor and fewer workers. The frantic pleas of 29 million Americans are written off by politicians as national depreciation, a group that has exceeded its usefulness and is somebody else’s problem. The 47 percent. Mitt’s plan aims squarely to increase the behemoths' market share. Think: how is China’s currency

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manipulation impacting small businesses? Can he explain the link? How will local-based businesses, which still can’t obtain capital, reap benefits from expanding trade in Latin America? These are markets beyond their reach. A bet on challenging China to grow American jobs is the folly it appears. It’s fighting the last war and sacrificing the future. It’s also make-believe, an emotional appeal tied to anger and false hope. Romney aims his vision at the close-up details of the rower of the boat in the storm, without looking at the turbulence of the seas that impede progress and threaten safe harbor, the rocking danger faced at every oar’s turn. Yet he would take the US into more dangerous waters. Betting on Latin America means facing the political challenges of dealing with corrupt systems, high regulation, restricted foreign investment, lowincome consumers, and moving on a policy with no plan or compass—or impact on the middle class. That’s why Romney cites no examples or details tied to Peru or Brazil, to Honduras or Costa Rica, and ignores the Caribbean, where we have stronger ties, and Haiti, the world’s lowest-cost labor market on our doorstep. Mitt’s pledge is a balance sheet strategy that sees opportunity in numbers for the giants. The giants

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benefit from a reset of China’s currency, from new Latin markets, from the opportunity to increase their capital share—at a lower tax rate. If you are voting on the economy, do this: before you accept the grand idea that challenging China will help your hometown, or if you are unemployed, that your job will return if we increase Latin American trade, ask how. If you believe that a tax cut by a balance sheet guy who refuses to show you the numbers but promises to preserve the middle class rate while we add $2 trillion to defense, who takes away coverage for preexisting conditions, lifetime limits, and the requirement that 80% of premium coverage be used for healthcare will create prosperity—say how! If that is your path to recovery, job growth, and success, tell us: how? Because Mitt's recitation of the what always, invariably, inevitably omits the how. When others add it up, his plan's only assurance is the increase in capital for the globe-striding stilt-walkers of wealth. Barack‘s investments in education and infrastructure invests in human capital, the model followed by the world’s fastest-growing economies, despite Mitt’s denial. Brazil is expanding health care and education, and putting $66 billion into new rails for

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commerce. We no longer make rail cars or engines, the tasks of large machine, high tech precision, capital-intensive industries at which America excels. More importantly, Barack protects the human capital that Romney dismisses so inelegantly. Barack is restoring government integrity by fighting fraud, returning $4 billion in health care fraud in 2012, a record. Barack has always outlined new openings in energy, a recent addition for Romney. So how to vote? Truth counts. There should be an honest assessment of performance. Barack lags, Mitt misleads. But in the end, Barack may fall short, but he, unlike Mitt, never switches up. I would rather be picked up and continue on than turned around.

The American Promise

The Restored 1877 Bartholdi Fountain of Water and Light

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Style Points For Lies
It was a stunning debate performance! No candidate ever boldly told so many cheery, rapid-fire lies in 90 minutes, pushing aggressively to bullet point the base. Romney offered not policies but pledges. His first pledge stunned America, caught off guard by the bold detail expressed when Romney overlooked Obamacare and leaped forward to announce the first detailed cut included in his budget and tax plan. Kept tightly secret; no leaks, no rumors or predictions; no one was suspicious that something big was about to break. The self-styled jobs creator's first announced act, in line with his budget criteria, was to cut Big Bird. Old habits die hard. Always the venture (many say vulture) capitalist, Romney knows how to target and dismantle valuable enterprises to extract value and create outsized capital returns that others miss. He casts a hard eye. With government funds, cuts can reduce the deficit, be used as subsidies, put into private contracts, be given away as tax breaks, or lower debt.

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The problem is Big Bird's annual federal share is less than 1/10th what the Justice Department prosecuted in 2012 federal health care fraud cases against private and corporate doctors and service providers who stole $4 billion in taxpayers' money. United Technology was fined $75 million early this year for violating US trade laws in selling highly classified, prohibited military materials to China that, if trafficked outside of the company, would have amounted to espionage of state secrets; its fine was 1/6th of Big Bird and his whole crew's annual budget. Big Bird is small potatoes when it comes to federal funding. As the shock died and recovery began, Romney later emphatically stated his goal to strengthen education. But Big Bird is the leading federal educational program of all time, the most successful in world history, teaching kids the basics in 140 countries. That bullet point offered evidence of the Romney fissure, the old disconnect of his warring, divided vision; the way he separates rather than combines things. He can point out valued pieces, but he can't put them in combination. Synergy is less his strength than demolition; his is a salvaging, extracting value. He had just pledged to use the power of government to cut the best the government had to offer in early education—a program whose great global success was tied to the most crucial time of learning, early

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childhood. The program created a foundation, an innovation so original it stimulated learning, reduced childcare costs for working families, taught life lessons, and moved an American eight-year-old after the debate to write a powerful letter pointing out what should have been obvious even by Romney's blind criteria. The Alabama 8-year-old wrote: “I saw you on the debate last night and you said you would cut off PBS kids with Sesame Street on it. It was my favorite show on Earth. But now I'm 8 years old. When I grow up, I'm going to get married and I want my kids to watch it. So do not cut it off. You find something else to cut off! Don't hurt little kids. They need Sesame Street where they can learn from it. Save Big Bird and his friends.” According to Romney, the costumed character and legendary early childhood educator—one of the nation's best and most cost-effective, the wildly successfully Big Bird—is bad, wasteful, off-target government. Romney implies only private education, offered as public subsidy, is able and effective—and can be strengthened with your taxes. To Romney, the overwhelming broadcast success of Big Bird confirms Sesame Street belongs in the private sector. He ignores the suitability and match of the content and purpose of their goals to public

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and non-profit markets, and the unique protection these markets offer to Sesame Street's creative ways and means. Big Bird is a big entrepreneur, but he took a different path than Romney's. In 40 years, Big Bird has grown. Along the way, he created jobs. Sesame Street, his home place, is exported for broadcast to 140 countries, adapted to each country's culture. Nigeria, for example, offers Zobi the Cookie Monster. Early adopting countries included New Zealand, Norway, Germany. It was the top children's program in Kuwait for 15 straight years. Big Bird's home territory created hundreds of different products, generates income, excise, and sales taxes, meets a high wage payroll, supports ancillary jobs in a wide variety of industries. It has no offices outside of America. It is a universal early foundation of later workforce training. By exporting broadcast and other products, Sesame Street helps lowers the US trade imbalance. It now offers leading edge, new media products and a full catalogue of traditional fare: games, toys, clothes, and a publishing division that publishes books and magazines, along with DVDs and other media. Approximately 60% of its annual revenues are license-generated.

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But one of its broadcast licensing demands directly contradicts the demands of the private market: all of its broadcast materials must be commercial-free. This reinforces the strong social impact of its mission in countries such as Israel and South Africa. And China wants in—with Big Bird. Frankly, Sesame Street brings a lot to the table for the government. I would be trying to embrace the program the world loves. It's peanuts in the national PR budget, its good will is inviolate, and I wouldn't want word to get out around the world that my first act was to put Big Bird on the chopping block, killing the $1.25 a year per capita the program indirectly receives from station fees. Its low debt and strong annual cash flow makes Sesame Street the perfect takeover target were it not protected as a non-profit. But most importantly, Sesame Street sets the global standard for media-crafted early childhood education in every region and language. It has won 143 Emmy and 8 Grammy awards. Although the show continually innovates in its markets and faces competition, it is a lower-cost producer than the private sector. It began by capitalizing on a vision outside of its highly successful, positive balance sheet, a big idea

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best suited and pursued in the non-profit marketplace. With large grants from the Carnegie Foundation, and later the Ford Foundation, Sesame Street also established an endowment rather than leveraging its assets through borrowing, a high risk, capital reward and extraction strategy Romney repeatedly employed at Bain. It wisely did not put itself in danger by borrowing against assets—as did Lehman Brothers, JPMorganChase, and others that racked billions in losses and required government bailouts. In large part, the show's 40-year stability is because it is outside of the capital markets and does not serve the markets masters. But Romney doesn't understand markets focused on value, not profits. He wants to eliminate those markets. He's okay if the government transfers money through services or contracts, but values mean, for him, picking "winners and losers." He picks against values. That why Romney wants to punish the Bird's neighborhood (since it can't be sold or outsourced!) and make it an example of waste rather than an example of huge value and global good will, an amazing American brand reaped from a minor investment of government aid, at a current per capita cost of less than a $1.25 a year.

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But Romney sees success as the province of only the private sector balance sheet. He claimed in another bullet point that the private sector always lowers costs, increases innovation, and grows jobs, telling Barack he didn't know of any examples that differed —ignoring the huge contradictory example he cited in his opening detail of items to cut. Romney, unlike Warren Buffet, was never a buy-and-hold investor. He's only put nominal money into his own candidacy this time; he's inclined toward leveraging and short sales, turnovers. So the program is slated for Romney's ax or red pen, he says, because it does not meet his "one" criterion: being worth the sale of US debt to China at an average rate of 2.1 %. China's US debt share is 13%, less than the combined 17% shares of Great Britain and Japan, the second and third largest international purchasers of US debt. The number one holders of US debt are the American people and domestic institutions. Apparently selling debt to China to fund battleships and obsolete weaponry for the Pentagon to defend against an unforeseen military threat from China is okay. But Big Bird, used to teach China and the world's children, doesn't meet that threshold. In his bullet points, Spain was Romney's new failed state; it has no large heritage constituency among voters and could be whipped safely as a foreign prop.

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Why didn't he use the Caymans or Switzerland as examples of success? Spanish reaction was swift. According to the Huffington Post, Spanish officials immediately pushed back: “What I see is ignorance of what is reality, but especially of the potential of the Spanish economy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria. Maria Dolores Cospedal, leader of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party, noted “Spain is not on fire from all sides like some on the outside have suggested.” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo called it “very unfortunate that other countries should be put up as examples” when the facts are skewed. Once Romney slipped (how was it missed!?) into a politically incorrect phrase: “poor kids” quickly became the softer, kinder “low-income children.” And why are there never any shout-outs from workers he hired by creating jobs? Do they all refuse interviews? Is Romney too modest to offer real evidence? (Does he lie?) We saw the celebratory ideological declaration of an insurgent who, unable to penetrate the centers of power, captures an outlying broadcast facility and promises the people a new vision. The blasting

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blather ignores the carnage and cruel will of the path behind the promise. Debates have dominated the main political conversation this political season. The media is obsessed with any details and impressions far removed from facts and logic. It often contends with itself. Thrills lead and leads thrill. Mitt likes truth on the margins, and never fails to offer thrills (Big Bird Fired!) that keep it out of the conversation. But careful: parents are reporting a quiet uprising at schools. Word's out that Romney will eliminate Sesame Street. Eight-year-olds are organizing, pressuring their parents round the dinner table, reminding them of how they learned early skills without paying a fortune to nursery schools. Kids are the muscle of the 47%, and it's too late to put them back into the box. One parent tweeted, “All the kids were talking about it at school.” In his opening remarks, by revealing one long awaited secret detail, Romney's managed to lose a whole generation, who will never forget the infamy of his surprise attack launched during the family hour! Oh, yes. He did, with promised thrills, offer his version of the old classic: trickle-down government. It included to be announced changes in Social Security, a favorite target. Nine of ten Americans over 65 receive Social Security benefits paid in by

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their taxes, a total of 36 million retired workers. It helps them provide for themselves. Social Security has lower overhead than private sector retirement plans and a benefit guarantee no private company (none!) matches. Romney, who wants to lead the government, never heard of its advantages and lower costs. He ignores its bedrock safety. The media ignored the facts. In his New York Times column, Paul Krugman took aim at Romney's plans for preexisting health conditions. What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that “Americans with preexisting conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job — as long as they keep paying the premiums. As it happens, this is already the law of the land. But it’s not what anyone in real life means by having a health plan that covers preexisting conditions, because it applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job). Did I mention that the number of jobs that come with health insurance has been steadily declining over the past decade?” What Mr. Romney did in the debate was, at best, to play a word game with voters, pretending to offer

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something substantive for the uninsured while actually offering nothing. In practice, he simply lied about what his policy proposals would do. How many Americans would be left out in the cold under Mr. Romney’s plan? One answer is 89 million. If you are one of the 89 million with a precondition who felt relief rather than outrage at Romney's empty promise, his coverage of preexisting conditions simply doesn't exist! So, the bottom line? Romney lied. Lied about the greatest of a private sector that destroyed 10 to 65 % of American household wealth in 2010, some $2 trillion and desparately pleaded for public help. Lied that lower taxes will create demand. Lied 28 times in 38 speaking minutes. Got push back from an eightyear-old Alabama child: “Don't hurt little kids. They need Sesame Street where they can learn from it. Save Big Bird and his friends.” Big Bird costs a small fraction of PBS' indirect federal share. Think what he will do to you. But his plans got a lot of attention. He got style points for lies.

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United We Hate
The Republican Party is a decided national political minority. The small party is running a big campaign whose entire strategy consists of proxy by hate. If the phrase seems out of order—how can a candidate be a proxy for hate?—then you see the evil brilliance of a campaign whose cultural sophistication belies its raw, putrid appeal. Rather than clearing the air and offering a map to progress and using the wisdom of its aged members, Republicans have seized as shields the American virtues of freedom, liberty, the American Promise of prudence, charity, merit and fairness, and have put them through a labyrinth, soaked these foundational ideas and values with fear, blame, shame, disgrace, pain, death, war, and wealth that splashes fault on others. The common element of fault feeds and inflames the hate. And it's the best hate that money can buy. That hate is distributed to every government action, every social policy, every view of the world, every collapsed dream and fat desire and to those who make up the government itself, especially the chief executive, an office whose powers have increased and contract power goes unnoticed.

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Within the government, can you name the ten largest federal contractors? The size of their 2012 revenues? Among 2012 newcomers on the top 100 list, D&S Consultants of Eatontown, NJ came in 77th with revenues of $215.575 million, $211 million from defense contracts. (I don't know what they do!) Fiftyone of the top 100 are privately owned (small businesses!). The largest, DynCorp International (a security company) received contracts worth $3.346 billion. The top three? Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing. Followed by SAIC, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Hewlett-Packard, Booz Allen Hamilton, Computer Science Corp, and DynCorp. Hate, suspicion, death, deadly force have high tech forms that are very profitable. No wonder Barack Obama is under siege. He is also besieged by a micro-targeted, mediaignored hate campaign that has a single size to fit all and fixes its object by single action—a brutal government fiat--a directed, managed vote. The party that hates government, its expense, its intrusion, its abridgment of rights, wants to use government to increase restrictions on voting. The party is also expanding their restrictions on women's reproductive rights at the state level.

The American Promise

We know your hate, Republicans say, just put power in our hands, and the rich will no longer suffer—and neither will you. Why, the rich are suffering, losing their competitive edge, burdened by the world's highest taxes (appropriate, I think for the world's richest people,who in reality, pay a much lower rate!). They argue: imagine what Barack Obama has in store for you? Hate is a surprisingly effective tool. It is irrational; defiant, easily denied, indifferent to truth, shadowed by doubt. Hate is malleable and rewards misinformation; it easily links false causes; its anger trounces mercy; its doctrines are deeply embedded and widespread. It polls well. That Barack Obama is a Muslim persists. This election will determine if hate has limits or can be leveraged in its unique American character. Republicans intend for it to pay off. Who do Republicans hate? They hate the weak, the sick, young and old; the poor, the broken in spirit, the mentally and physically handicapped. Women. With hate goes humiliation; the GOP is the party of rape. They are the party that defends a fertilized cell even before it has been fertilized. They demand, in some cases, women be humiliated by governmentordered intrusive probes without consent or necessity. People of color who do not serve a political purpose are hated or objects of humiliation. Where

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was the once-leading contender, Herman Cain, at the GOP convention? Anyone heard from Allan Keyes this year? Or any of the hundreds of black Republicans who ignore party-inflicted wounds in the name of free enterprise—an identity strategy that voids the oldest principle of self-preservation by leaving the community vunerable to losses. Sell-outs put self first, scramble history, embrace the oppressor, offer empty promises and rarely prosper. Republicans hate regulations; they get in the way of profit. You hate wearing motorcycle helmets? You are in; join us, Republicans say. Property taxes, public schools? Safety and environmental standards, elevator inspections? Democrats? Truth? Equal pay? Marriage freedom? Sharing and fair shares? Nuclear treaties? China? Immigration? Except on drone strikes and spray tans, Republicans are there for you. Even if they don't change it, they know your rancor. You know the list of their ire, but pay closer attention to their closing strategy. For Republicans, the final month and the final debate are in search of hot button hate. So far, neither race nor the economy, two historic staples, have tilted the field. Neither have debt nor deficits brought new recruits. Foreign policy and moral attacks are the new lines. In Florida, live calls are being made to Hispanic households reminding them

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of Barack Obama's position on gay marriage and a woman's right to chose, both against Catholic Church teachings. And the closer: his father was a drunk and his mother didn't love him. Mitt Romney would be President by proxy. First as the stand-in candidate for your own personal pet peeve, but second and more importantly, as the guy who will represent the folk who have turned hate into a lucrative enterprise by claiming hate is good and whatever we hate is bad—those who claim hate is a moral defense and should be funded and given power. John Sununu, Newt Gingrich, Ralph Reed, Donald Trump, and others have entered a moral wasteland, despite their money and former power. They speak of the “destruction of America,” of “fakes.” That's their appeal. Backed by over a billion dollars. Because billions more are at stake. Despite the media concerns that Barack will be too professorial or arrogant tonight (a continuation of the replayed theme of too black, not black enough, too exemplary, too other, too thoughtful, too naive, too milquetoast, and now potentially too bold and uppity, and according to a million DVDs mailed in Ohio, now with an American daddy!) my prediction is those billions will be the final altar of hate. Since the convention, we have seen empty chairs swinging from ropes looped over trees—the lynching

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of empty chairs—an imaginative act that shows the powerful grip of hate. So tonight, at the debate, hate goes prime time. It will bring its companions of lies and faked outrage, it will be escorted by the outrage of the lynched empty chairs. (Wouldn't it be something if Barack Obama brought an empty chair on stage as a prop and proxy for how so many in our country see him, for Romney's positions and ideas, for Clarence Thomas' faked high-tech lynching, for the misrepresentation of his ideas and achievements—and a place where, at the end, he finally sat down to offer his closing?) Hate will put on a mask of common sense and try to establish its superiority by its criticism. It will ignore its own flaws and self-righteous contradictions. It will deny its presence, flaunt its disrespect and bask in its glory. Make no mistake about its intent—hate has always been the valued servant of injustice, the weapon of the reactionary and the privileged, the IED of the weak, the cherished sustainer of the status quo, the false positive of courage. Pick it out from the shadows tonight as it works the crowd beyond the glaring lights. The last days of the campaign will project fears of a new recession and massive job loses, of a ravaged America—a projection of the Republicans' own collective vision—a Koch/Trump/ALEC/Jamie

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Dimon vision of a poor, uneducated, powerless, angry, leaderless population. A vision of a private sector unleashed to rape not only women but water (fracking) and safety nets (tax cuts) to entitle and serve the rich and powerful. This election is a referendum on hate—and those who are its masters, who support its logic and place. Mitt Romney's comments before his monied sponsors gave us an inelegant peek. When asked by one if he would “clean house,” Mitt Romney answered: I “wish” I could do “more.”

Bread lines, Brooklyn, 1330s

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An American Promise
Mitt Romney built that. His own quiet corner of wealth from which he could think about why so many Americans didn't pay their taxes but held out their hands. Romney, who is pushed as caring, compassionate, recoiled. “I can't help them,” he said. “They won't take responsibility for their lives.” Mitt Romney wants to take responsibility for our government. He wants the reins of power for the world's largest economy, the executive authority of the world's largest government budget, the cooperation of a Congress that is eager to break the oldest American Promise, cited in the Declaration of Independence. That for citizens, government will “effect their Safety, Happiness, and Prudence,” and that these shall not be changed for “transient causes.” In the world Mitt Romney built, wealth is the only permanence. Rights and freedoms are transient, dependent on balance sheets and court manners. He really speaks of wealth when he says he can create jobs; he means somebody will get paid. When he describes business as a basic criterion for leadership

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he means wealth. When he says Jews possess a je ne sais quoi, a quality missing in the Palestinians, he is speaking about wealth and financial success. His money is all overseas, but it is never far from his thoughts and he doesn't get why it should matter, except as a plus to others like him. Then, at a meeting of his wealthy donors, he experiences an epiphany--a profound truth that is really an old, worn-out cliché: the rest of us are busy being dependent. We hate success. He, Trent Lott and others give it an arms-length makeover: government is creating dependency and division. (Rather Barack is.) Romney promises to make it stop. To break faith with “Safety, Happiness, and Prudence.” Romney promises to restore delusion, fear, and especially the kind of blind indifference that draped planters in the mantle of success and receipts from their work farms of tobacco, cotton, and rice—a time when power and wealth knew no limits. When the rust began to eat the edges of his thin veneer, he tried a new coat of paint. His views of the rest of us were expressed inelegantly. Really? What elegant words does he have for seniors, students, veterans, the poor, the unemployed, the undocumented, the underpaid, those without the right to work that Romney fired and whose benefits

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and pensions he laundered for his own bonuses and fees? How do you unite a country by telling half of it citizens their safety and happiness is a problem and only a transient concern? Romney bewails others as dividing America when he had it divvied up long ago when he built his world view, assembled his ideas about governing and sent his money offshore. The Everest, Denali or Kilimanjaro for Romney's ilk is the world's biggest pot of wealth and power, the American government. Bush squandered it (Halliburton did well!), but not Romney. He will roll it to his will. All that stands in his way is a black man, thin, handsome, with a nice family, the kind of people who lived in the quarters, who toiled on the work farms and lacked the culture of success; who were never photographed pulling money out of every pocket, who never took down companies for cash, and were called "faithful" as they swallowed their pain. Romney doesn't understand or see their courage. In his world, "they" were dependent. They were the debris and hubris of the American dream. Keeping with the tradition of success by breach of promise, he offers a tax cut to increase wealth and lessen suffering. But you can't give a person out of a job a tax cut, but Romney sees a benefit check as dependent; the person sees it as a lifeline.

The American Promise

Frustrated, the turn-around guy is flustered. Government didn't stand in the way of the planters; besides those from the quarters lack the requisite skills to rule. Barack Obama, framed in an African tale, would be tortoise or ant (or a kudu!). Persistent, fearlessness without recklessness, and with a probing intelligence not tied to balance sheets, sensible without a pretense of flawlessness. He built policies of which old plowmen would be proud: not on delusions, denials, dents, differences or diminished community, but on dignity, determination, driving forward, on decency and opportunity. Ants do not sting themselves; tortoises hunker down. Wise, Barack Obama knows wealth is less important than how we share and what we protect, in keeping with the original American promise.

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Doubt and Absent Details
Milt Romney's campaign revealed three phrases. First: "failed," which labeled every idea, action, and Obama presidential step as wrong. Second: "blame," which faulted micro-community trends and global, macro-trends as Obama's mistakes. The third: "doubt," which assesses Obama's body of work (policy, personal character) as inadequate and intolerable. "Failed" delivered body blows during the primaries and after; "blame" launched before the NCAAP speech and continued to the convention. "Doubt" now deepens ("He's a good man," "he just doesn't get it.") and opens the door to failure and blame to conclude that Obama is (no doubt!) irretrievable. Anger, fear, and disgust are the three top notes of the Romney campaign, but fail, blame, and doubt give the campaign a sophisticated emotional strategy, a multi-tiered series of complex steps to channel outrage and hostility into exuberance against President Obama and votes for Romney. Analysts missed these subtle but powerful changes of tone and direction, especially the introduction of

The American Promise

doubt, with its list of lies as evidence that enables hate to be embedded in the open, unchallenged. (The Obama campaign couldn't touch this lightening rod issue!) Why doubt as the third and last phase?Doubt is civil but deadly. "I doubt" sounds more humane than "I hate." Doubt is the transformative stage, the call for action, an emotion of assessment and judgment within easy reach. Doubt casts its long shadow on the future and is put forth as the decision paradigm. It appeals to both those with rigid or mixed (ambivalent) feelings about Obama. It uses the same double circle of logic as South Carolina's infamous senator, “Cotton Ed” Smith used in describing the reasons for flaws in Negro ability in 1940: “Segregation was a burden for many blacks, because the end of the civil war and the amendments added to the constitution elevated expectations beyond reality in some respects.” The President's response (to Romney), which is to ignore the attacks by discussing America's future, rightly points out that unless we go forward, nothing will change. In fact, matters will get worse–especially if we accept an appeal to our worst instincts. Three things any elder can tell you about living: rough patches in life occur without being anybody’s fault and with little you can do except weather the storm until conditions change; look high and low before you abandon a search; and you can’t pour corn from

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an empty sack. (Trickle-down is a hollow idea.) It’s evident as Democrats stretch the helping hand to every hamlet, building a community that Old and New Testament standard bearers and others of faith can embrace, the GOP cites Democrat support for abortion as being anti-faith, and their tolerance of Islam resting in the sole purpose establishing sharia, secretly supported by Democrats and Obama. Many are pointing out on social media that 150 years ago, Democrats were xenophobic, biased, restrictive, hungry for power and eager to subjugate others by gender, color, preference, and stereotypes. It is amazing that a 150 year-old bridge of bias is still alive and thriving, and using its past to hide its present. Having changed parties and mutated, it has new food: the budget. Debt, deficits, disasters are the new shape of the old distrust, the source of fail, blame, and doubt. And denial. And when their numbers don’t add up, RomneyRyan add in the old social values, amplifying the threats lampooned in Reconstruction cartoons. Really, they are saying: stupid can’t be fixed with hope. Democracy’s nemesis is fear, not dictatorial force. One party herds fear, ridicules its “failure,” pretends government is a shopping spree. All while spending billions to amplify its dread. The media, once the

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watchdog, loops its clips, saying only, “wow.” Wow. Large and small, this election will measure a direction for tomorrow’s America. The Republicans seem interested in a last stand. Democrats see it as a step forward, a means of touching many hands and preserving the tried paths that bring progress and prosperity. Republicans seem to equate job growth with tax cuts. Democrats see job growth as a return on education and a shift in global policies leading to greater resource independence, new markets and partnerships, and protecting the opportunities of an open society. Republicans see a balance sheet of debts and deficits. Democrats see weak investments in social capital. They point to the urgency of statistics that say the US lags the world in education, renewable energy, health care, state-of-the-art infrastructure, resources management; positions that have more a more powerful impact on a strong future than cost savings. Two things, opportunity and policy, one defined as a value that takes its active form through sharing, the other a process that spells trust by exposing its steps, are a part of the national conversation of Democrats. Balance sheets often tell you what you can cut. But do they guide the way forward?

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Hasn’t experience taught us and verified for us that the path of efficacy is investing in social opportunities as the building blocks of prosperity and liberty? Obstruction is party-politics. The claim by Republicans that “they do it, too,” completely ignores quality, kind, and degree. This GOP has the highest legislative score in Congressional history for obstruction, threatening remarkably simple things like air safety, disaster recovery, women’s health, nuclear treaties the US' credit, and other areas where a consensus has always been reached by both parties. Pointing imaginary fingers of blame will not undo the real damage they have sought to inflict. The three-phrase campaign conceals Romney-Ryan's contempt for an open society and the special role of government, found in the Declaration of Independence (“to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,”) for creating merit and opportunity by rejecting tyranny. They refuse to explain the details of policies affecting the common good; their party refused to pass laws of pressing importance. If you recognize the direct paraphrase above from the words of the Declaration, you know this led to revolution, not re-election. Hopefully, if the central charter of these words is held high by American voters, it will lead in November to a Republican defeat.

The American Promise

Truth Denied
As important as the lies are the truths that are being denied. Mitt Romney: “I am an American.” He would deny he made an oblique but knowing reference to race. Americans have a new way of talking about race: we deny it. We deny its direct presence, we deny its signals by proxy, we deny its embed–we adamantly deny its role in making political appeals. Denial as a rhetorical tactic functions at every turn to deny race as an influence in American life or politics. We assert statements are unconnected to race even as racial appeals roll out a political wedge. Denial has three repeated structural elements: a reference to a negative racial myth, a code word or phrase skillfully used as a remainder and call to act in order to manipulate the social and moral compass, and an external reference to conceal or deflect, to misdirect the racial narrative. The coded terms take many forms. Sometimes externally framed as a do-good rationale (privatizing

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urban–but not suburban–schools); sometimes as defensive measure (Glenn Beck, his fear of the Obama-led caliphate), or as a plea for reason (Herman Cain's call to leave the Democratic “plantation”); as an unacceptable status quo (food stamps). Recently, denial has framed the appealmyth as a group trait (“get off the streets”) or as a call to unity to protect against deep flaws and secret malevolence tied to race. A South Carolina physician and planter, Elias Horry Deas used fear to justify blame and deny his attitudes about blacks, emphasizing security, instead, in a 1866 letter to his daughter (who said of him, “he couldn't get along with the black people”): “the harvesting & bringing in the rice, is now going on I think is my duty to be on the place as much as I can to prevent stealing, & get the rice in the barn yard as soon as I can . . . you may as well preach to a bunch of idiots, as to them, . . . & this is just the character of nearly the whole race of them I would rather give up planting than again plant on shares, as we have all been obliged to do this year, it is a bad principle—feed them and pay them wages, & you can [dismiss] them whenever you please, & not . . . a portion of the crop is theirs & that they can work when they please, & do as they please.”

The American Promise

For those in denial, imagine attending an Obama rally. The music blaring, the crowd cheering, he hits the stage to “Our Day Will Come.” After all, it's a song of hope.“The American people are one nation under God, and we may call that God different names but we remain one nation.” --President Barack Obama

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A Faith Lesson For Todd Akin

Sometimes, truth is besides the point. In today's politics, its relevancy is certainly diminished. Its purpose is abandoned, standing as empty and eerie as the giant hollow factory shells of Detroit. We are taught to think of truth as solid and firm, but its integrity sways like the vine bridges built deep in rain forest interiors hidden from view. Truth is adaptable and timeless, which makes it easy to overrun in the short run. But in the heat of the moment, the important property of truth, that Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. cited, is often forgotten: “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.” Truth, like the seasons, returns. Its role in this season's Presidential campaigns is over and under rated, as one is about fear, the other about feel good. It is true that systems in conflict or competition create a set of their own norms intended to gain advantage and defeat the other. This determines their options and handicaps their outcomes. Yet one campaign has based its entire strategy on betting against truth's rise, believing truth's adaptivity can be twisted and crushed by fear.

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The truth of truth is that truth expands; it is indispensable, not disposable. Yet the power of truth is a rare social or political force; political forces are collective and have little integrity. Truth has always been tied to a sense of shame, a feeling of inner pain, a self-imposed humility, an emptiness and brokenness that rained on a soul telling a lie. Truth, celebrated as a virtue, carried with it a sense of embarrassment that made it hard to look people in the eye. Despair–agony– waited on those who bent or violated its moral faith. All-day demons reigned in the lost hearts that told lies, a separation that left these hearts disturbed in out-of-body drift. Truth is the comfort of wholeness. Truth is foremost an inner quality, a force that builds a fabric of trust and confidence. Akin and his ensuing political arguments badly miss this point. His one sentence/one word/one day framing of his error still left violated a larger, higher trust. One New York Times commenter observed: “I listened carefully to his "apology" and heard not a syllable of contrition, nor admission of responsibility for anything except a whining poor choice of words.” A comment from the website, TalkLeft, explained: “It wasn't that your [Akin's] rhetoric was wrong, but that your underlying beliefs that

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seem to be based at least in part on junk science, and your efforts to impose both your beliefs and your judgment on all women, are what's wrong. I haven't looked into your record on other issues that affect women and children, but if you aren't the fierce advocate for health programs, mother and child nutrition programs, housing, education and jobs, that someone who says he cherishes life should be, then I have to conclude that you don't cherish life as much as you cherish control.” Even Karl Rove said Akin's statement was, “So bad, so deplorable, so out-of-touch that there’s no way to recover.” Five former senators from Missouri called on him to withdraw. During his political career, Todd Akin campaigned on and legislated sexual politics, slashing women's rights and the integrity of their persons and bodies under the cover of an intolerant faith. Akin and Paul Ryan were lockstep partners on abortion. They shared exactly the same view as the GOP party platform. They were lockstep sponsors of a House bill to bestow legal personhood on a fertilized egg, providing a single cell with all of the rights and protections of the US Constitution. Now, to save his career, Akin tramples on truth and

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faith. To those who use faith wrongly (and lie!), a day of reckoning and rebuke comes, as his did. Swiftly and without warning. Still, he is blind. His tongue speaks with swift deceit and swagger in its contempt. His earnest lack of shame (fund raising on his error even before he issued his defense!) should not be taken as strength. His responsibility should not be ignored even as others are tied–legitimately–to his views. His position has already being repeated by Long Island's Steve King, and, by proxy, by the House members who supported his bill. Let him rush forward. But without redemption. The man who screams “I can win,” has already lost. Mercy should never endorse the sin.

The Trimuph of Dead, Pieter de Bruegel, the Elder, 1562

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We Want Your Vote So We Can Cut Your Safety Net
“I'm Mitt Romney. I create jobs.” The 100,000 jobs he claims to have created is a number that changes quicker than a stock car's gears in a NASCAR race. Where's the video? Where's the one person who comes forward to say, “I'm employed because Milt Romney created my job”? There are lots of videos that say, “Mitt Romney eliminated my job, closed my factory, cashed out my benefits, sold our equipment, shipped its pieces, including the jobs, overseas—whether it was outsourcing or offshoring, where it is beside his money.” His claim is laughably insufficient beside the number of jobs President Obama created in the last 29 months. “I never apologize.” Mitt, you should. The list of those offended gets longer daily. “I believe in America. I have 23 offshore accounts.” “I love America. I can run for president and keep my money overseas; what a country!” What country does this?

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Elects a man as its national leader whose money is out of the country he seeks to lead? Which media outlet brings this up? Who makes this a roundtable talking point? “I know where the free stuff is,” he says. The Franciscan friars responded by saying, “It is degrading to talk about the 'dependency' of people

hurting in this economy, as Gov. Romney did recently.” “I graduated from Harvard in law and business, but I know how to whine and blame.” “If you don't agree with me, shut up.” This is his seminal idea on taxes, income inequity/.01 wealth, Romneycare and any flubs. He is saying, “I don't have a new idea.” Implicit and explicit. This is a campaign running on policy TBA (to be announced).

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So far, by all accounts, Ryan brings an affinity for Ayn Rand, an admonishment from the Catholic bishops, cooked numbers (his budget calls for discretionary spending to be at the level of Hoover), medicare cuts which offset tax cuts; vouchers, expanded defense spending, and no consensus with his running mate. Pop culture infatuations (the musical, The Music Man, the writers Ishmael Reed and Mark Twain, Western traveling stage shows, Emmett Kelly's sad clown, Lady Gaga), have always revered America's tradition of high masquerade and its high creative appeal. It stands along the America;s ideal of the self-made man, as an epic hero. Ryan's selection raises the question: Are his policies that of the sober hero, a real life Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey, or are his policies solely within the masquerade tradition of tricksters and Western snake oil sales? Paul Ryan counts because he puts the first human face on Mitt Romney's policies. For the first time, we see Romney's image of a "restored America," until now mainly slogans, blame and TBA. In the business of politics, Ryan is a media and money pick. It's not about serious debate. The sound bite format renders that incapable; so does the roundtable, where his supporters drone on in buzz words and talking points: a budget “overburdened,” the impeding (30 years away!) “bankruptcy” of the health system, the

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“half a loaf is better than none” “preserve the system” approach, and empty “we'll-see” promises of more supply-side failures. The media is desperate for a phantom debate; but it avoids the facts (key fact: Ryan's program cuts pay for his tax cuts). It acts like it can't find the truth. News shows, like reality shows, are about the masquerade. So with Ryan's pick, is GOP politics. To call any part of his draconian, dangerous 73-page plan "responsible" is to ignore the President's own health cost reductions (included in the ACA), his redirection of force capacity with appropriate defense budget reductions, his offer to the GOP of a grand bargain on the safety net, and his protection of social security, a program that benefited a young Paul Ryan.

Ida May Fuller of Vermont. The Nation's First Social Security Monthly Recipient, 1942.

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Mocking God
This election, there's a movement around the country to use the Bible and prayer in the wrong way. It makes God a political partisan. It associates God with vengeance and hatred, substitutes a personal or group judgment for God's own as it despoils the idea of divine glory, and mocks God by asking God to grant divine intervention and authority to actions God condemns. Put aside the impulse to run to the barricades of clichés, the library of platitudes about religion. Go outside free will, the failed standards of churches, the doubts about the existence of God, the comfortable substitution of superstition, the smug blindness by which we ignore the invisible, universal presence our ancestors were able to discern with slowly evolved awareness of its immanence. For all doubters, simply look to creativity–one concept–the endless, infinite, ever-changing, amazing creativity that is the world; things small and large, near and far, that are, even by our limited measure, eternal marvels of patterns and chaos that link light arriving to our eye before the earth was formed. After creativity, morality is a universal set of human

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rules, tied to an afterlife. Sacred texts developed by communities coded behavior and designated good and bad. For Christianity, the Bible is a sacred text. Its words by many believers are considered the holy writ of God. And its believers, many people of power and influence, of education and means, are using its verses to pray for the defeat, death and the spiritual disembowelment of Barack Obama. E-mails are being widely distributed with the title, “Pray Psalm 109:8.” Here's the relevant section of Psalm 109 people are using to pray for Barack: When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. 8) May his days be few; may another take his place in office. 9) May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10) May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven[a] from their ruined homes. 11) May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. 12) May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. 13) May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. 14) May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. 15) May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth. People around the country are praying these words, sending them to friends, specifically putting “Pray

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Psalm 109:8” on tee shirts, hats, and bumper stickers and earnestly bowing their heads without thought or remorse that Barack be “blotted out.” Others are using what they believe are God's words to ridicule Barack, mocking him with the swift righteousness of a God whose wrath is final. But God's wrath is not theirs; their engagement is not His. By not embracing God in love, they deceive themselves and mock God. Harriet Tubman is a major source of my own belief, this woman whose head was crushed by a 40 lb. scale weight when she was 12, leaving her in a six-month coma and with debilitating lifelong seizures and migraines. Her 19th century courage guided small bands of the enslaved to freedom across hostile landscapes. She never lose a passenger on her escapes along the underground railroad, even as she lapsed into day-long seizures, she was never captured despite a $40,000 bounty on her head by those who condemned her victories for freedom as evil. During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman served as a soldier, scout, spy, and nurse in SC–but never fired a shot. She united faith and works. She healed hundreds of soldiers given up on with dysentery, using an herbal remedy she learned from the enslaved. She liberated the largest one-day total of the enslaved, over nine hundred, as she commanded

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three ships clearing mines from the Combahee River, a blackwater river along coastal South Carolina. She was present at the nation's first emancipation celebration at Port Royal, SC, beginning midnight, January 1, 1863. As freedom spread across the South in its own long march, at the time and place of its notice, no soldiers died and no deaths were recorded. Freedom was unspoiled. Harriet, God's guide heart, deserves sainthood. Her work is how God answers prayers. It shows how God intervenes, not through death but hope. God is a refuge, not an assassin. The grace and protection of God surrounded her every step. She always claimed to be guided by God's voice. Those who pray the verses above are praying not for the righteous guidance of God but for his vengeance. Their praise of God corrupts his intent. Their hearts do not see God as a fortress against distress. Their stubborn hearts follow a false way. They profane the sweet honey from the rock. Among the leaders of the Psalm 109 prayer movement is Kansas Speaker of the House, Republican Mike O'Neal. O'Neal also wrote in an email: "At last - I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up - it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!"

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This is a man deceived by the wickedness of his own heart. He has misjudged God's trust. Rick Santorum referenced Psalm 109 during his run. But the movement is on "the broad place," among grass roots citizens whose independent morality shapes the quality of American life, as tolerant or unforgiving. It's mind-boggling to see believers pray to a forgiving God (with salvation tied to His mercy) an unforgiving prayer! The 109 prayer groups see God as an all-knowing judge, a witness to their way of life, a God who sanctions their mutual command. The 19th century enslaved saw God as a protecting hand, an all-wise defender, a way maker providing counsel and comfort. The theology problem is that political disagreements are being attached and interpreted as divine differences, and ultimately good and evil. Matthew Henry, the eminent Bible scholar, has this to say about those praying to seek an end reserved for the enemies of God: "Greater impiety can scarcely be imagined than to vent a devilish passion in the language of sacred writ." Truth is writ large and transparent, easily translated into comparisons and analogies, from nature to physics, and will include its own paradox and discovery. Things false reflect a single position,

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stubbornly closed to curious inspection, argued in circles. Although false things are singular and cannot be expanded to other realms (legally, such a prayer is a threat against the President's life; it is exposed by the condemnation many of those praying hold for Islam; it evokes the dark arts), the attraction hinges on what the Psalms (119) call "double-minded," a belief that God aligns with human will. Listen to the spirituals: the enslaved did not impugn God by calling upon His vengeful will. Instead their prayers consistently called for expanding His truth. Prayer and souls ride the same train. The enslaved knew prayer rises above the storm and elevates the spirit and resists the third temptation that Christ faced, to rule the world by the desire of woes. Their faith put despair aboard with suffering and expanded its truth without dread or fear, without seeking revenge or advantage, and abjured enduring rage for love. They listened to be called, conquered divisions, united around truths that live as well today as they did yesterday. That they could and knew how to touch their troubles on the divine sword of justice of a kind Savior is, in Harriet Tubman's words, a part of the glory of everything. So with courage of heart, I pray for Barack: “may his years endure to all generations!”

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Mitt Romney And Manifest Destiny
As the world celebrates its gifts and youth at the Olympic games, Mitt Romney went to the barricades. His hurdles and lane markers were mental and his enemies and opponents were in his own mind. Not once did he comment on the amazing skills of the world's youth to run and jump and shoot and fly and hit with accuracy; not once did he marvel about the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, with its artistic oeuvre of the values and traditions he praised. Even got the Queen into the act with an outsized flight of fancy–a pun on the maudlin side of being Her Majesty. (The values and traditions on display [flying Mary Poppins!, dancing nurses, sledge-swinging industrial workers, a black “Cinderella” who lost her cell phone only to find love, a history of cinematic kisses, including one with girls!] were also tweeted as “leftie multicultural crap” by one Tory member of Parliament—who was roundly condemned by the Prime Minister as “completely wrong” and “idiotic.” The MP, who has admittedly participated in Nazithemed stag parties where he dressed up and sang Nazi songs, claimed his explicit statement was

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“misunderstood.”) Definitely inelegant. No, Mitt was busy raising money from the participants of the Libor rate scandal, whose rigged transactions go around the world and whose impact numbers ripple as far out as the number after $999 trillion. Barclay's Bank, the scandal's leader, were among Romney's main supporters. He put no distance between them and himself. Apart from his penchant for the balance sheet, Mitt Romney’s subtle side is the bold bias that hides his beliefs. He speaks of “heritage,” “culture,” “shared values;” yet he persists in ignoring the whole mainstream of history–that this heritage and values has creative expression in all communities. He is doggedly determined to exclude the bright gifts of initiative, intelligence, insight, and creativity from the majority of the world. He defines these “others” by subtle exclusion. They can, he said at the NAACP convention, go other there and get the “free stuff.” (You’re not like me!) He doesn’t name blacks, Asians, Arabs, women, but regularly insinuates by excluding them from the pool of those who are successful. They are not only different but incapable, pitiful, and undeserving. It is the Romney version of Manifest Destiny.

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Charleston's Charles Pinckney, the last member of the Constitutional Convention and signer with a seat in Congress (1821), would have been at complete odds with Romney's views of a small, less powerful federal government for the states. Charles Pinckney, an unheralded writer of a draft Constitution, liberally used in its final form; an ambassador to Spain involved in the Louisiana Purchase, a supporter of Jefferson against his two cousins who ran for President and Vice-President (a Pinckey appeared on the national ticket for four straight elections, from 1796 to 1808), and the sonin-law of the richest man in America, a Southerner by birth and class, he believed in a strong federal government. He shared his views in a pamphlet he published after the Constitutional Convention, a 1787 tract both Romney and Barack would do well to read: In every Confederacy of States, formed for their general benefit and security, there ought to be a power to oblige the parties to furnish their respective quotas without the possibility of neglect or evasion;--there is no such clause in the present Confederation, and it is therefore without this indispensable security. Experience justifies me in asserting that we may detail as minutely as we can, the duties of the States, but unless they are assured that

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these duties will be required and enforced, the details will be regarded as nugatory. No Government has more severely felt the want of a coercive Power than the United States; for want of it the principles of the Confederation have been neglected with impunity in the hour of the most pressing necessity, and at the imminent hazard of its existence: Nor are we to expect they will be more attentive in future. Unless there is a compelling principle in the Confederacy, there must be an injustice in its tendency; It will expose an unequal proportion of the strength and resources of some of the States, to the hazard of war in defence of the rest--the first principles of Justice direct that this danger should be provided against--many of the States have certainly shewn a disposition to evade a performance of their Federal Duties, and throw the burden of Government upon their neighbors. It is against this shameful evasion in the delinquent, this forced assumption in the more attentive, I wish to provide, and they ought to be guarded against by every means in our power. Unless this power of coercion is infused, and exercised when necessary, the States will most assuredly neglect their duties. The consequence is either a dissolution of the

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Union, or an unreasonable sacrifice by those who are disposed to support and maintain it. Silent is the media whose “straight” reports lack critical review of Romney's views and claims, faux pas, and dinner partners. Ignored, for example, was his statement at a Jerusalem fundraising breakfast that cultural differences enabled Jews to assemble higher wealth–a direct restatement of one of the most offensive stereotypes of Jews as amorally money-driven. A presidential candidate with 23 offshore accounts has an overseas fundraiser attended by an billionaire operator (#8 on the list of America’s wealthy!) of casinos in a protectorate of China, and instead of a look at the money trail, we get the press reporting more evidence of Manifest Destiny and tough talk of him being the white boy with the bully club. Its best use has been to hit himself in the head. But Mitt has a tin ear, not a glass jaw. He also has a blind eye. He claims American virtue but has no vision that isn't self-serving. Mitt makes no mention of humanity or a global goal, no leadership for the world except the flex of American will. No word on the Olympics as more than a business, little on it being a glorious gathering of nations. No word on world hunger, clean water, sexual violence in conflict, nuclear treaties, AIDS, women's equality, fishing, forestry, child trafficking, actual shooting wars in Africa and other regions–or terrorism.

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Instead, his pilgrimage attempts to turn one of the world's most important place of faith and unity into a political wedge that shouts war because he has no vision of peace. With 96 days left to go, disappointed Democrats have missed Barack Obama’s artful statesmanship. In an irony unique to American politics, the fact that Republicans despise him and some Democrats are disgruntled means Barack has succeeded. He blocked the GOP agenda and thwarted their presumptive takeover. His steady progress didn’t widen the gap of differences to the point of total chaos and dysfunction. Despite Republican willingness and the calls of many Democrats, he didn't inflict damage to himself or the country. We are better off than the day he took the oath. He held Pinckney's union together with Zen-like repose, when others, driven by their fantasies and dreams of power and fortunes, tried to tear it apart for hate and greed.

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Romney on Foreign Policy: All Fault, No Forward
A partisan critique of the President's foreign policy is not a foreign policy plan. While Mitt Romney is conducting his review, his VFW convention stump speech on foreign policy sounded remarkably similar to his stump speech about America's standing. All fault, no forward. All will, no way. All blame, no shame. His grand strategy sounds like a call for global domination. We know he doesn't practice what he preaches! He is the first major party candidate to express his faith in America by moving his money out of the country. The real question is: what does he preach? What use of soft power does Romney propose? Where does he stand on the UN call for nations to give 0.07% of GDP to foreign aid? What is his approach to the military and political conflicts that have destabilized and disrupted important African states with important natural resourcs? Does he see the connections between political stability and gender equality recently outlined in Foreign Policy? What are his views on international agreements on fishing stocks? How will he limit the theft of

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intellectual property? Does he see AIDS treatment as an arm of American policy? Will he switch to local purchases of food aid, a model that reduces workers' risk, stimulates local markets, and broadens the impact of aid? Will he strengthen ties with Brazil, already a major partner of China? Will he aid in developing Brazil's enormous oil find or expand its steel industry, redirecting energy and infrastructure trade to a hemispherical partner? Does he support greater access to education and greater economic opportunity for the world's women? Could Romney rally the world against Iran as the President has done? Will he continue drone strikes? Does he support rendition? Romney's policy seems to be search for enemies, spend billions more on building outmoded traditional defenses like battleships and carriers, and restore imperialism. For him, global social reform means suppressing the rights of laborers and workers and controlling the results of democratic actions by organizing efforts to undermine selfdetermination. Romney's biggest failure, as a candidate and as a leader, is that he doesn't take responsibility for his

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own actions, a premise central to trust and success in foreign policy. Perhaps the widely leaked discussions his advisers held Tuesday in Britain reveal his basic belief, a “shared Anglo-Saxon heritage” that Romney is eager to “restore.” Values his advisers say the White House doesn't fully appreciate or share. This thinly coded appeal to a culture-based, race-based imperialism, a doctrine of Western cultural hegemony thoroughly discredited and globally repudiated no doubt showed an appalling ignorance to a nation once a colonial master, whose population is now among the world's most vibrant and diverse. Perhaps the message was intended for voters in the US. England must feel exploited that Romney, whose grandfather lived in Mexico, would center his approach on questioning the affinity of a President whose grandfather from Kansas fought in World War II to protect the liberty of England.

West Point Candidate, 1946

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The Gallows of Hate
At first, for a fleeting second, the irony seemed delicious. A foreign-born adviser of Mitt Romney, the American candidate with foreign bank accounts, says, “I wish this President would learn how to be an American.” But it quickly turned ugly. It was worse than being called "nigger." That word has history, anchored in the nation's fabric, is a backlash that marked progress, represents barriers climbed and conquered, and sounds the warnings that those who lynch and burn are coming again. That word has hate but has a life tied to the blood and sweat spilled as a people moved from slavery to freedom. It is a racial slur but it is also a moral compass that marks the cliff, the place America has currently claimed as too far. Ironically, it was a common public word in the 19th century. It routinely appeared in newspapers and in conversation. But there is no fleeting irony or routine sentiment in John Sununu's view of our President's past. His is the kind of attitude which accompanied the enslaved being physically whipped/punished within an inch of

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their lives. John Sununu drew back his bias with the impunity of the lash: “He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn't be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S. he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure.” To which a reader of the Atlantic replied, “Romney needs more Sununus.” Hatred meet causal indifference. A hate that does not need to be inflamed, a snack food, a lollipop flavor, easily consumed for its comfort, embraced by its supporters with a smug revelation that the sky will not fall in their open disgust of undeserving, non-American (or American!) Negroes. So hate is the

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new feel-good fitness track, the workout that makes others sweat, the stress reliever of American politics. It has taken on a creative life. But its purpose is the same: to strip anyone who isn't ideologically white of any shelf space in American life. Hate is the postdate expiration for the American dream. Hate is a big, powerhouse brand that claims it is really quality control. It is sold in this era as a security watch. It brings its diagnostic check list of disqualifers, of things that dilute the quantity of life if rubbed against the skin. So for Barack Obama, even his family, for all that is America, for those who challenge its greed, these experiences and ideas of equality, diversity, liberty, progress, freedom has expired. Hate is viral and virulent; it is confrontational and indirect. It incubates and lies dormant. It mutates. It is a parasite of popular appeal. Because there is no national shame, few voices that identify or warn of its dangers, it spreads unchecked, as the unseen social epidemic. Its wholly owned by one side. To break up its monopoly is called playing the race card, but hate trumps race. Hate is also a suicide pact by Limbaugh, Sununu, and others who believe hatred is worth dying for. Because hate is the antidote to truth, it must be kept alive. Itis the media's noose. If truth is killed on the gallows by hate, then so be it. That's the cost of power.

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The Cultural Case Against Mitt Romney
Athletes have it, but writers and everyday people get it too: self doubt. For athletes, it's driven by a prolonged drop in performance. For a writer, its loss is tied to an audience that suddenly doesn't get what once was a shared point of view and doubt leaps forward. I'm having mega doubts. The national audience is ignoring an issue I thought was clear cut. One I thought was a clean kill. I seen three clean kills in politics: Michael Dukakis (the tank ad, not Willie Horton), Tom Turnipseed's South Carolina governor's race (Turnipseed having been treated for depression with electric shock, Lee Atwater declared the state “didn't need a governor hooked up to jumper cables”), and Strom Thurmond's takedown of Abe Fortis' Supreme Court nomination (Thurmond set up 24-hour private Senatorial screenings of the results of Fortis' ruling supporting community standards for decency in a case over pornography). No, four: Barack's part Zen, part dozens takedown of Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner last year.

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But Romney has a bigger bulls-eye. It rivals Benedict Arnold in its nasty, anti-American duplicity. It has everything in common with sleazy, morally bankrupt, self-aggrandizing, power-mad dictators of lesser developed countries. This one, I thought, was in the pocket. But no. The rapidly spreading news of Mitt Romney's 12 or more offshore accounts, in dummy corporations he legally established, turned into a loud inquisition about his bypassing the tax code. That's the main reason for opening accounts in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands! Or Switzerland. Mitt has accounts in all three. But these arguments miss the mark, and for three reasons I'm left with self doubt about America's common sense. Opus 1 Is Mitt Romney America's fair weather fan? Even Pete Rose swore he never bet against the Reds. But Romney spreads bets against the home team. He puts on rival colors. His loyalty is thinner than a torn ticket stub. He betrayed a value that cannot exist offshore. He ran down the flag. Would China's Jen Jiabao put a large portion of his personal fortune in an American fund? Germany''s Merkel, England's Cameron, the new leaders of France, Italy, or Greece? Would these leaders

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guiding countries in dire trouble place their own personal funds in out-of-country accounts--and win the trust and support of their citizens as national elected leaders? Once, America's leaders had to be enthusiastic, loyal, cheerleaders–patriots; their commitment to America complete. But Romney, who slams the President at every turn for abandoning American values, sold his loyalty and public virtue for a few dollars more. Sure, it may be "legal," but do those we elect as our best turn their backs on our laws, slide through the loop holes and snub us for profit? Rockefeller didn't. Think of Romney walking into a meeting of the G-8, or G-20. Each leader is silently chortling about how he doesn't even have his money in the country whose strength and values he touts. He looks like an undeveloped world sleazeball, a man without integrity or love for anything but wealth. Tell me who in that room of international leaders will give him respect? Opus 2 My daughter is a Tuck grad. She and I were laughing at the cultural implications of the Romney's camp miscalculations. If you can turn a $6K annual contribution into $100M, everybody wants to know how that's done! Show us! We want to know! Why

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hide it? Do you actually think that will make us less inclined to vote for you? Obviously, Romney's campaign thinks yes. The very "success" it touts as bonafides will turn to ashes if we see the marvel achieved. They think we can't handle the truth. Whether or not the offshore, outsourced trusts are suspicious, they suspect us! Why fear the people you want to lead? This cultural calculus is important. This is a Presidential candidate so uncertain he projects a fear of his success–his only claim to lead the country. So look at the jobs he "created." Ignore jobs lost and destroyed through extracted, outsized bankruptcy fees–ignore the amazing returns offshored, outsourced in European and Caribbean accounts. Ignore 28 months of job creation, the European collapse, Britain's double dip, and the entire political and moral universe outside of jobs--voter purges, women's rights, micro-targeted budgets, the House's obstinacy, the brinksmanship with the US debt, the demand for even lower taxes on billionaires–ignore the lies about health care, foreign policy, income equality (the safety net isn't a hammock, Karen Garcia points out!)–ignore it all! I've seen angst over Gitmo–from the right! We have a saying in the South: "I may be stupid, but I ain't no fool."

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Opus Three Romney is so uncertain that he has an unreasonable fear of his own success. He keeps secret what he claims is the basis of his campaign! Such irrationality a misplaced logic will spill over to other areas of his decision-making, in ways that can not be positive for the country. Imagine the expansion of secrecy in a Romney presidency; imagine the elimination of access to data, the transparency of government's acts posed on websites, imagine the 1000s of ways that obsession with secrecy will expand beyond his tax returns. Personal insecurity in institutional settings becomes secrecy. Romney has demonstrated his insecurity by taking no firm position with full details on any issue important to governing. Every speech during the primaries, win or lose, sounded the same. His wealth can't cover up his wimpishness. Romney is out of touch; a wimp with a major blind spot. He is distrustful, controlling, obsessed with secrecy and wealth beyond all else, and long ago abandoned the core values of America's leaders: my country, wrong or right, no matter the rate of return. Can a man who would be the laughingstock of world leaders bring confidence to America's policies or be

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the compass of American politics? Snide, snarky, daily spinning Mitt isn't even a patriot. He's a lousy cheerleader who outsourced his American pride. The country doesn't seem to get this. While we debate what he is hiding and speculate whether it's legal, no doubt we miss what Romney has left in plain sight.

Winslow Homer, for Harper's Weekly, “The Songs of War,” Nov. 1861

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Justice Scalia: No Fear of His Own Horror
It's not the 4th of July, but I'm having flashbacks to two century-old Supreme Court cases involving liberty: Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott. Dred Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom on the grounds he moved from a state that chartered slavery to federal territory that didn't recognize slavery as a legal institution, and did recognize a number of citizenship rights for blacks including marriage. Therefore as a resident in a free land with no provision for slavery, Scott felt he should be free. The Supreme Court's decision, by seven to two, abrogated his right, but also states' rights. When it came to slavery, the court ruled the slave had no standing to bring a legal case against his or her status. The court also firmly declared slaves were property, chattel, having “no rights any white man was bound to respect.” Despite state laws, a slave transported to Massachusetts remained in bondage. The Dred Scott decision was only the second time an act passed by Congress was ruled unconstitutional. Chief Justice Roger Taney's written decision struck down the Missouri Compromise, passed in 1820,

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which limited the expansion of slavery into federal territories. The 14th Amendment removed Dred Scott as a legal precedent. But it remains important in history. It is an example of how US law is interpreted and altered rights through the institutions of the courts, state and federal. For often, law is about ends and means, what it affirms and what it denies. I'm an American-born, free black. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wants to return to the days when my state, South Carolina, could come to my door and demand that I leave. By state law, South Carolina authorities before 1865 before could compel me as a freed African-American by force to leave the state. The state could prohibit my return. Not because of crimes, but merely due to my status— black and free. The legal basis of such state laws, among others, rested on the Dred Scott case. On Monday, Justice Scalia referred to such an egregious use of force by the state to compel forced removal as “travel restrictions.” The dislocation of free people—a violation of common sense, morality, ethics, human rights and settled law—was one of the examples Scalia chose to cite in his 22-page dissent on Arizona v. the United States, which tells why he sees Arizona having the historic and absolute right to expel residents at will.

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Scalia, in his independent, after-the-fact dissent on Arizona v. the United States, desperately wants states to have the same expired right to ban or expel undocumented workers. He goes a step further and sees the constitution and legal precedent as granting —no, more—guaranteeing this right of sovereignty to states, with the federal function to protect the entitled state authority above its own. The removal of a person from a state may be a matter of policy and civil law, but against the person, it is a high crime and a declaration and act of war. Some have already taken Scalia's fantasy-filled illogic to call for secession—again. The desire to truncate all federal activities burns in their hearts. From a blog: “Message to Arizona- Start forming Infantry Regiments wholly under the control of the Arizona Governor and state legislature. It is impossible to see any other alternative for states and citizens wishing to protect their Constitutional rights in the face of a runaway Federal Government of the United States, and its various organs, that has all but suspended the founding intent of the original Constitutional Convention. LET FREEDOM RING!!!”

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The American tradition of jurisprudence is giving every lying, crazy white man a pass, through what Jeffery Tobin called a “loss of perspective.” There is freedom of speech but no freedom to reside, if the state decrees so by law. If Scalia is right, by extension, we are all naked, unprotected—as free blacks once were! We can all sing “Kumbaya” on the bus. And with his dissent, Justice Scalia became the first justice ever to use a dissent as a blog. Careful reading of Justice Scalia reveals he uses established principles of international law on sovereignty. As a strict constitutionalist, wedded to original meanings, his far afield examination of international precedents outside US law seems to go against his own logic. The decisions and principles he cites are about national sovereignty, not the sovereignty of states or entities within a nation. He is treating the constitution as a contract whose purpose is to establish a federal government to provide services as the states collectively require, but with limited authority of its own. In fact, Mr. Scalia at one point cites the Articles of Confederation—written before the constitution, when the colonies were independent, as relevant. He sees no prudent limitation on the authority of states.

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He does not see the state's action as poaching on federal authority: “The state's detention does not represent the commencement of the removal process unless the Federal government makes it so.” “The most important point is Arizona is entitled to have “its own immigration policy”—including a more rigorous enforcement policy—as long as it does not conflict with federal law.” “There is no reason Arizona can not make it a state crime for any removable alien to remain in present in Arizona.” And then: “What I fear is that federal policies of “non enforcement” will leave the states helpless before those evil effects of illegal immigration that the Court dutifully recites in its prologue but leaves unremedied in its disposition.” His last statement is a clear call to action: the assertion that the Court is to provide a remedy that goes beyond legal merits and attacks “evil effects.” As a free black (once removed!) I cringe that the scales of Scalia's justice now weigh evil effects. Especially without concern for the justifying excesses of unrestrained authority. It seems Justice Scalia protects, as one of the original states' rights, the right to discriminate without regard to liberty, due process, human rights, or national policy, calling himself an originalist, not what he is: an activist for

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state sovereignty. Plessy v. Ferguson, heard in 1896, involved segregated, race-based seating on street cars in Louisiana. The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th amendment was not intended to eliminate or abolish differences of social privilege based on race or color, and states had a right to reflect custom, tradition and use in their laws. Discrimination as a custom could be legally maintained. Plessy by law must sit in the colored section during his public journey. Justice Scalia replaces Jim Crow, once legally valid, and rewrites it with a new criteria for modern times: “When the federal government does not act in accord with the desire or intent of the states, it defaults in its obligations, and by international and pre-US custom and default, the states, singular and sovereign, can exercise those powers on their own.” He writes: “The Court opinion's looming specter of unutterable horror—every State could give itself independent authority to prosecute federal registration violations— seems to me not so horrible and even less looming.” And: “the dry legalities that are the proper object of our attention suppresses the very human realities that give rise to the suit.”

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As a free black, once removed, and a frequent rider of public transportation's buses, subways and street cars, knowing that the earliest international codes legalized slavery by national origin and color and were adapted into colonial law, later state law, I know slavery was once supported by federal laws and court rulings that hid discrimination and limits on liberty and turned life into property. I know taking away the federal right to set immigration policy and to allow courts to determine when and where it is being adequately enforced, and to grant states powers to set their own policy will lead to a return of similar horrors--and not the upside-down headstands of "evil effects" proffered by Judge Scalia. Justice Scalia's journey is mapped by a constitution that represented specific interests and institutions embedded within our history. Law was the mirror to conceal those shadows—and make noble its horrors. Law concealed and ordered real intent, but occasionally, through judges, showed its naked power. Ask Dred Scott. Homer A. Plessy. Discrimination should not return through the constitution's backdoor, installed the beginning to support practices now abhorrent. But not to Judge Scalia, who suggested in oral arguments over the ACA individual mandate that people could simply be left to die.

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Me, I want to ride the bus of liberty. Long ago I took steps to move away from the constitution's original intent—to use law and order to justify stripping my rights and bind me by law and custom—and my eyes are still on the prize.

The Former Chambers of the US Supreme Court In the US Capitol; Used from 1810-60

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An Issue Of Redefinition

Stand down from greed. Strike the last word. I argue today the real issue is cultural literacy. This week, Ann Romney forgot her manners as she speculated on the number of vacations she and her family might take if in office. “Not as many as the Obamas,” she coyly pronounced. Has Ann being counting? Is she envious of trips where the dog doesn't have to be tied to the roof of the car? Does she long for the common touch of the Obama vacations? Will the trips to her five homes count? Better to say, “I'm not thinking about vacations now when the recovery has left some many homeless and displaced.” But the homeless and displaced are behind Ann Romney's invisible veil. Also behind that veil is the need to redefine the public-private partnership between business and government and reset common and national goals. Her wrongheaded approach of coy genteel inequality cannot be sustained in a global environment that is changing by leaps to creative multi-level cooperative measures.

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For example, the Philippines has lent $251M to Ireland, Greece and Portugal and put $4.55B into a multilateral Asian fund. Thirty-two countries are funding a great Asian highway, connecting the economies of Vietnam and Cambodia to Europe, while the US squabbles over bridges and potholes and the GOP in the House holds up a transportation bill. Asia is also building a trans-Asian rail project to end at Istanbul. Japan has directly financed debt issues for other countries in their own currency. The most successful efforts at eliminating poverty are direct payments to families (Bosa Familia) tied to education (Mexico, Brazil). My point is not the quality or quantity of the projects, but to highlight the underlying way of thinking—and its abysmal absence from discussions of US growth and priorities. The scatter-shot examples here only highlight hundreds of cooperative relationships involving government and business not feuding for advantage but teaming together to productively expand into global markets. The G-20 early this week focused on women's and youth's roles in economic sustainability. Heard any noise on the American front about forward plans for expanding the place of women and youth in growth? More than labor costs led India to develop customer service outsourcing (now, expanding into he

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Philippines). Brazil's economy, now larger than Britain's GDP, developed the world's fastest-growing middle class, reducing its poverty significantly in a decade. China, in the first quarter 2012, bought a million GM cars. The debt will shrink when we see a vision of a new future. I am more concerned about greed being embedded in the system than the constant folly of debt. (Incidentally, Greece is the size of Ft. Worth.) My faith is based on the simple and profound evidence of history of hard, fundamental change. Despite Southern bishops who seceded with their states and whose first bishop's letter called slavery their "gift," slavery ended. Over the objections of many citizens, segregation ended. Schools integrated. Despite those opposed, women can vote. If we apply the same persistence to our economic system and see the major advances being made by reformed systems elsewhere, we would be foolish to persist and not desist. Always issues of corruption, excess and power will be present, but a review of global economic systems rapidly moving upward (Brazil has had more than its share of greed and corruption!) shows our progress framed in terms that doom it to decline, not lead the way forward. A final note: Weren't there those who opposed fire? Saying hunters would become lazy and fat? That it

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would make women too independent of the family? That the original meaning of the hunt would be lost? Didn't some argue that spears would allow weak cowards to compete with the clubs of the strong and brave? Progress has always been opposed, by those who felt new tools were too complex, others who saw power redistributed or the status quo changed. But there's another reason why greed can be gotten around as an obstacle, as can fear. Simply, truth expands. The colonies are freed, apartheid ended, children are not in the mines or at the looms—truth expands. Not evenly, or without setbacks, or declines; forces resist, mistakes are made (austerity!), but truth expands and changes what lies ahead. That expanding truth even changes the path for the children of those on history's “wrong” side. The expanding truth brings forth acts of courage that are adopted as commonplace. It's history's long arc (Tim Scott is now my senator!), and its path is marked by peril, but we get there, even if our arrival is imperfect. Maybe Ann Romney will think about that imperfect journey and quit counting imaginary vacations.

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The Student As An Itinerant
Why do the educated have such a hard time coming up with means and methods to educate America's children? Feed them, make sure they aren't hungry. Place students in information-rich environments. Let trained teachers pick their favorite, successful methods, exposing students to a diversity of learning interactions and a tool kit ready for any problem. Like we do at church, feed the whole community in the school cafeteria once a month. Involve students in setting their own goals. Give grades for creative fun. Shrink class size. Say "please" and "thank you" quietly. Have I said anything you disagree with? Not yet? Well, how about this: cut teachers. Ignore or remove the regulations for equal access. Bring business people into the business of education. Make pastors principals. Teach science by outlining what God created in each of the six days He took to make the world. Give parents vouchers; let them shop for seats in great schools. Do we still agree? Shouldn't parents have control over the direction, quality, and material of their children's education?

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That's the question and assertion Mitt Romney affirms. In doing so, his is the single most destructive proposal for America's classrooms put forward by a major party candidate in a century. His plan would affect America's quality of life, its economic future, its foreign policy, its crime rate, and health statistics. It matters as much or more than jobs. Yet it been reviewed only in passing, although it has some big “whoa's!” First, his choice is unequal. An education voucher is no different from the solicitations you regularly get in the mail that look like checks but are designed to have you buy into a scheme that costs more than you receive. In the end, it represents no benefit to you, and the limited benefits are transferred only to a few. The beauty of Romney's educational voucher scam is it is a two-fer. It provides a direct tax subsidy, from public tax monies, for children attending private schools that often have selective admissions and erect barriers to a wide variety of students—the poor, handicapped, the gifted, those with different religions. So vouchers put money into the pockets of the rich. The second part of the voucher program is its promise of hideous false hope. With a sizable check but too small to cover tuition even at low cost private or religious schools, parents will sally forth to shop for better education which the voucher will not buy, since it doesn't cover the costs. Moreover,

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schools with good records of achievement have limited numbers of seats. The voucher doesn't ensure a student will be able to enroll. Many schools may reduce their class size in order to prevent an influx of students who don't have the right fit (read: wrong color, family income, ethnic heritage, or other variables). Who thinks young Juan's or Tyrone's mothers, the housekeepers at the local convention hotel, will be able to use their vouchers to enroll their children in the same school as the general manager's son? Vouchers simply jiggle coins in a sack. The payments will be insufficient to make a difference on the education of those who truly need it, but will offer pocketed income for the rich who don't. Mitt Romney also has other ways to improve education: cut teachers. It's a notion so absurd that the Ivy-wise Mitt denies he said it, intended to say it, thought it, and finally condemns his own idea. But cutting federal support for local education will cut teachers. Title One reading and math teachers who work with our most disadvantaged, lowest achieving kids. Mitt is saying he would simply write them off. Those jobs would be cut and those funds would go to vouchers for the rich. Mitt also thinks the qualifications to teach are too high and prevent too many who desire to teach from

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entering the field. So he wants to end certification all together. Here's why, from his May 23 white paper: No Child Left Behind required that all teachers of core academic subjects be “highly qualified.” Although well-intentioned, there is no evidence that this “certification” requirement is an indicator of teacher effectiveness. Instead, the primary effect of the requirement has been to add additional timeconsuming procedures that ironically prevent some of the most highly-qualified individuals from ever entering the profession.” And the outcome of dropping or ending industry standards is that education will flourish in a glorious revolution: These reforms will transform the teaching profession from one burdened by bureaucracy, focused on certification, and evaluated based on years of service to one that attracts the best and the brightest, builds crucial skills, and rewards effective performance. These guys need teachers! Are you thinking about the above: the worst and the dumbest; lowering skills, and destroying performance by eliminating review and standards? I am. The irony is Julius Rosenwald, a German Jewish immigrant and one of the founders of Sears,

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undertook the vast work of building public schools in southern rural communities in the early decades of the last century. He built them by the hundreds in each state, over 5,000 schools nationally. His seed money spurred local communities to raise matching funds and contribute labor and pride to a new school building, a gleaming symbol of hope and progress for communities, a place of dreams for those whose lives were ground into the dust. In segregation, those schools were gateways to success and community stability. Now, in freedom, another industry titan wants to send students as itinerant beggars in search of education far from their communities to places where they will be met with closed doors. As they wander, their old classrooms will be emptied, their new innovative teachers will have no standards, much of their work will be done in digital schools without a relationship to a person who can make a difference with a simple pat on the back. But of course, we know from his plan, stripped of the privileges of the rich or the traditional protections for the poor, designed to fail, successful educational gateways make no difference to Mitt Romney.

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Keep Count Of My Tossings
Bob Hubert writes one of the most important wake up calls ever published by an American news organization that doesn't involve death or crimes. The damage he describes is insidious. On the eve of the American elections, the in-depth researched work of two academics has more importance than the Austrian tome by Hayek being touted by Beck and the Tea Party, for the analysis strikes at the actions taken at home. The book: “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.” Bob Hubert writes the book “argues persuasively that the economic struggles of the middle and working classes in the U.S. since the late-1970s were not primarily the result of globalization and technological changes but rather a long series of policy changes in government that overwhelmingly favored the very rich.” In both large and small ways, I see around me the exploitation and collapse of the middle class. I have worked for South Carolina companies that use federal laws intended for seasonal farm workers to

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exempt amusement park workers from being paid overtime. The law also compels farm workers to be exploited during planting and harvest by working exceptional long hours at regular wages. Why did Congress create the loophole and exception? Certainly, not to benefit workers or protect their wages. More recently, think of the exemption given the pharmaceutical industry in the recent health care bill. It actually protects the industry against the government competing for the lowest costs. BP still has $10+ billion in contracts it operates with the federal government (mainly with Defense); these contracts never seemed to be in question despite BP's alternating moods of bluster, cover up, and belligerence. (BP since has been banned from new contracts. /wr) In the entire process that reviewed and assigned federal oil leases on and off shore, evidence is abundant that it is not just Congress, but regulators and bureaucrats in the Administration received of corporate largess to enable and protect corporate wealth. Corporate wealth has become a fire wall for the spiraling up of executive compensation. The justification is that their skills and experience require hefty bonuses. (Others say the government should stay out of the issues of personal compensation.) This argument crumbles when measured against

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performance. Yet with counter-intuitive chutzpah, poor performance is used to justify paying even higher salaries, since these skill sets are even more crucial in bad times! The Pentagon is a known and widely accepted gateway to astronomical wealth at a scale that flies above common perception. In the same way, we can't feel the world turning, most of us can't fathom the vast sums of money flying out of the budget in the name of defense. Sadly, much of this enrichment is done in the name of working class Americans. When deep water drilling was suspended, the faces of affected families and workers reinforced the political assault politicians led to overturn the temporary ban. But who had more at stake? I think the wealthy companies who hid behind the coat tails of those they put at risk. A comment from the New York Times noted: “Job training is one example. Corporations used to hire people with a general education and strong work ethic and provide employees with training to move from one assignment to another. Now they search the world for workers with extremely specialized skill sets and lay them off as soon as those skills are no longer needed. The cost of job training and

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laid off workers is thrown onto the government.” “Health care is another. In order to avoid possible increases in premiums, corporations have engaged in patient dumping by laying off older workers and have acted as cherrypicking agents for the insurers. Again, the government has failed to institute quotas on the hiring of older workers or start Medicare earlier so that employers could pay lower rates for those workers. And so the 99ers descend into homelessness, caught between the corporations who are trying to throw their livelihood on the government and the government that has fallen prey to the notion that tough love is love and that safety nets are immoral.” The election today already shows, that after the voting, not much will change. Corporations who becry the yoke of government will continue to yoke the government by shifting expenses and costs for everything from training to health care to public platforms. Power and money attract sycophants. Those who seek office will have already proven they can ignore truth, facts, and progress to serve their own interests and ambitions and crazy notions. It's a simple step to serve and pander for interests of wealth and power even greater than their own.

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