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Posts Tagged ‘Obama

Fact Checking the Final Debate

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Romney-Obama In Presidential Debate

After a lot of confusing debating on foreign policy…with a bit of domestic policy, the debate is over. So, what are the financial and known facts? Washington Post’s ever diligent Wonkblog staffers have provided those facts and data. If you want more information or to confirm the accuracy was what was said then go here.

So far, it appears Obama won the debate. How that changes the ground game, who knows. Nevertheless, Romney softened his arguments, even going so far as to backtrack on all he said during the primaries. During the primaries, he took a very aggressive stance, even going so far as to state he would be willing to unilaterally strike Iran, a la Geo. Bush, almost immediately upon becoming president. During the primaries, Romney said leaving Afghanistan on schedule was a mistake. Now he agrees with that date. And that is only one instance during these three debates that Romney has changed his position while claiming he did not. What? Did what I hear watching the primary debates part of my imagination?

Nevertheless, my biggest concerns about Romney’s foreign policy stances have more to do with his advisers: most of them were all part of GW Bush’s initial foreign policy team. All are neo-con war hawks. That should scare every American because the neo-cons are not afraid of starting wars. They firmly hold to an idea of American Imperialism that always, always has been alien to this nation which is why Romney says he’ll increase defense spending well above what the Defense Department wants to another $2 trillion over 10 years.

Look, I’m a military brat. My dad was a master sargeant in the Air Force for over 23 years, mostly in the Strategic Air Command. My husband is a Vietnam Vet. I care about our GIs and how we behave around the world. How we are viewed by the rest of the world. That is why I endorse both Geo. Washington and Eisenhower’s view of military might. I also agree with TR’s “talk softly and carry a big stick.” We’re doing that now by being more strategic in our weaponry and getting our allies and the rest of the world to go along with us. Eisenhower said war should always be the last option after all other options had been exhausted.

We don’t need neo-con war hawks deciding foreign policy. Nor should we allow them any say in foreign policy. We cannot afford the lives and financial costs they would choose to rack up. Our children should be far too important to us than to use them as pawns in a game of Imperialism.


Written by Valerie Curl

October 22, 2012 at 8:34 PM

The Second Presidential Debate…

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Romney-Obama 2012 Presidential Campaign

Washington Post’s Wonkblog fact checked each of the assertions of this debate. I’ve yet to go through each of the policy differences as stated during this debate; however, I have followed the campaigns for the last two years so I feel confident as to which candidate has the higher road towards economic recovery and the rebuilding and renewal of our economy. But then I also agree with FDR in this now famous speech

This week Reinhart and Rogoff, the two outstanding economists who wrote the premier book on financial crisis, wrote in Bloomberg View that the US is not different when it comes to financially caused recessions. They wrote that while TARP and ARRA (aka the Stimulus package) stemmed the tide of job losses, prevented a deep depression such as the Great Depression, and lifted the US economy in late 2009 and 2010, the deep debt held in the private sector prevented faster growth as the private sector deleveraged. Plus, political infighting prevented further economic gains.

Recovery from Systemic Banking Crises

So, while Romney and Ryan argue that Obama has not done enough to spur growth and that their policies of tax cuts would spur faster growth, Reinhart and Rogoff argue that they are both wrong. Economic data shows that Romney-Ryan policies would lead to increased deficits and increased taxes on middle income earners while reducing the tax burden on the most wealthy.

Yet, the most wealthy in this country are the ones who rely most heavily on governmental services, from roads and transport systems to courts and trade policies. Nevertheless, these are the same people and companies that Romney-Ryan choose to protect from tax burdens. I’m not asking if their ideas are fair, I’m asking if their ideas are appropriate and moral.

Chrystia Freeland recently has written several essays – and a new book – on the rise of American oligarchy. She should know. She spent several years in Russia, covering the rise of rise of Russian oligarchies after the fall of the USSR. Frankly, I’ll admit to being a fan of Freeland.

But beyond my appreciation of Freeland is a belief that America needs new and different policies to deal with the challenges of a globalized 21st Century. The policies of Reagan no longer apply as Reagan’s Domestic policy adviser, Bruce Bartlett, has written on numerous occasions. Even David Stockman, Reagan’s OMB Director, says GOP policies are wrong…and this from the man who promoted supply-side economics. He even wrote a lengthy editorial taking down Romney’s so-called business experience.

Quite simply I do not believe that Romney and Ryan have the correct prescription for America, unless of course you belong to America’s oligarchy or are among the economically illiterate. Our nation faces numerous serious challenges going forward. Returning to 1890s policies will not resolve our global competitiveness challenges, rebuild the middle class or renew our nation.

While I do not believe that Democrats have all the answers, let along all the correct answers, I do believe that the modern conservative movement and neo-cons that now dominate the GOP would lead our beloved country down a path of less competitiveness as well as decreased social mobility and economic equity.

As a nation, we should and must do better than the last three decades in which Republican policies…and Wall St financialization…dominated our political sphere.

Plainly put, Romney and Ryan – along with Ryan’s budget proposals – are the wrong policies for America’s future. Economics and policy professionals all agree that Romney and Ryan are wrong!

Written by Valerie Curl

October 17, 2012 at 2:51 PM

The American Conservative: Not Impressed By Romney

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For a left leaning centrist, I’m beginning to wonder about either myself or about how far the conservative movement has to the right. Why do I say this?

Well, a couple of months ago, I was introduced to The American Conservative. As I began reading articles and commentary on its site, I realized how much I agreed with the various authors. They echoed many of my own sentiments. They were sane, sensible, logical, and could discuss topics based on data, facts, and history. I appreciated what they had to say.

I would be remiss to fail to note that the modern conservative movement of Romney, Ryan, Rove, Ailes, and DeMint have absolutely nothing in common with tradition conservatism as discussed on The American Conservative. The modern conservative movement is not traditionally conservative; it is a blend of religiosity, randian libertarianism, fundamentalist extremism, and blind ignorance of the plutocracy guiding it.

Now, far be it from me to hawk a website, but if I’m any example of a modern centrist Democrat or Independent, then my guess is those whose political beliefs are akin to mine have more in common with this site’s authors than do those who belong to the party of Ailes, Rove, Ryan and DeMint.

So, about that Presidential debate.

Romney and Obama in first 2012 Presidential Debate

[I]f you didn’t watch the debate, and read the transcript, what you’d see is the following. When Romney attacked, Obama generally had a policy response – some more persuasive than others, but the response was generally policy-related. When Obama attacked, Romney would generally deny that he took the position that was being attacked.

Romney’s palpable zest for the debate made him look like a guy ready to take charge, and the President’s demeanor suggested some willingness to let him do so. But his refusal to stand his ground on anything – and the marked contrast with the President in that regard – made him sound like a snake-oil salesman.

I guess it’s clear how the combination played for me. How it played for a low-information voter, I don’t know.

The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison put Romney’s performance this way:

If a viewer didn’t trust Romney coming into the debate, he said nothing to change that, but he didn’t make any major errors that can be used against him later. He is an unlikable candidate, and more people will still view him that way, but he didn’t make things any worse for himself.

That statement is probably true. Those who follow politics closely recognize that Romney obfuscated, misrepresented, distorted and lied throughout the debate. But will Romney change any minds? CNN’s undecided voters apparently are still undecided.

Fact Checking the Debate

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I don’t know if Washington Post’s Wonkblog, under the heading Footnoting the debate!, will continue to have on its blog the facts about each debate candidate’s assertions. So, I’ve copied their entire posted coverage. I realize many people will decide the winner or loser based on how the media covers it following the debate, but the most important thing about this debate is the facts. Any practiced candidate can use hyperbole and rhetoric and spin to their benefit, but facts are static.

Think of this as real-time context for the various statistics and ideas the two candidates will talk about this evening. We’ll be letting you know where you can find more andPresidential Candidates in Debate whether there are any red flags for how candidates are using various pieces of evidence. If Mitt Romney, for example, talks about his proposal to cap tax deductions, we’ll get you the link to background on that. If Obamacare’s $716 billion in Medicare cuts happen to come up, Wonkblog has you covered.

10:23pm: Romney is right that the Obama administration has spent about $90 billion on clean-energy programs in the stimulus. Here’s the breakdown: $29 billion for energy efficiency, including home retrofits; $21 billion for renewable generation such as solar and wind; $10 billion for modernizing the electric grid; $6 billion to promote advanced vehicles and a domestic battery industry; $18 billion for high-speed rail and other trains; $3 billion for research into coal carbon sequestration; $3 billion for job training; $3 billion for clean manufacturing tax credits. – Brad

10:15pm: Romney mentioned there are a number of ways to limit deductions. I recapped a few of them earlier today. None of them raise close to the $500 billion in a single year necessarily to make Romney’s plan revenue neutral; indeed, they’d all raise less under his rate cuts. – Dylan

10:12pm: Romney said his web site has a “lengthy description” of his health-care plan. In fact, it’s only 369 words. He also said it covers preexisting conditions. It doesn’t. Romney wouldn’t cover preexisting conditions for Americans who fall uninsured for periods of time, which happened to 89 million Americans between 2004 and 2007. – Ezra

10:12pm: Romney says that he’ll repeal and replace Dodd-Frank. He’s laid out a few principles but hasn’t put out a full plan for alternative financial reform. Here’s what that might look like under a Republican administration and Congress.—Suzy

10:12pm: Just a quick note. Mitt Romney mentioned that there are 23 million Americans “out of work.” This stat has come up a couple times, and it’s not quite true. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 12.5 million unemployed Americans. Then there are another 2.6 million Americans who are not in the labor force but want work. Romney’s number only makes sense if you add the 8 million Americans who are working part-time right now but would like full time work. The U.S. employment situation is bad! But it’s worth being precise about it’s badness. –Brad

10:06pm: Romney cited a McKinsey study finding that about 30 percent of companies would drop coverage because of Obamacare. That study is a bit of an outlier: Another recent survey, of 512 large companies, none of them said they would stop offering coverage. — Sarah

10:06 pm — Romney says that Dodd-Frank actually encourages Too Big to Fail. There’s been a vigorous debate on both right and left whether that could be true. —Suzy

10:00 pm: Earlier in the debate, Romney gave the PBS subsidy as the example of one federal program that he’d cut. (Though, as he quipped, “I love Big Bird.”) But that subsidy is just a tiny part of the budget, and he’s only spelled out a handful of other program cuts, leaving many blanks in his plan to make $7 trillion in non-defense spending cuts over the next 10 years.—Suzy

9:59 pm: As the debate moves to what the two candidates have agreed to call “Obamacare,” you might want to look through the Kaiser Family Foundation’s plain-English summary of the law. – Ezra

9:52pm – Romney says that he won’t change benefits for current retirees. That’s not exactly the case: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean that seniors would see higher premiums and those who are low income – and dually-eligible for Medicaid – would see less federal spending for their care. — Sarah

9:50 pm: The debt-ceiling deal that Obama and Congress passed included “about 70 percent of the ten-year total of $2.068 trillion in discretionary program cuts that Bowles-Simpson had assumed,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.—Suzy

9:49pm: Here’s more information on these Medicare cuts the candidates are talking about. there are indeed $716 billion in Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act, which cut how much private insurers and providers get paid. The research on what that will mean for seniors is a bit mixed, although there is some research suggesting that lower payments to doctors could reduce quality of care. – Sarah

9:38pm: Obama says he made some adjustments and sent Simpson-Bowles to Congress. That’s largely true. His deficit-reduction plan shares quite a bit with Simpson-Bowles, and mainly differs in including less in tax increases, less in defense cuts, and no Social Security changes. You could make a very good case that Obama’s plan is actually more conservative than Simpson-Bowles. – Ezra

9:34pm Romney says that Obama can’t take any credit for the rise in U.S. oil and gas production. He argues that oil production is up on private lands and down on public lands. That’s somewhat true. Oil production was actually growing rapidly on public lands during the Obama years until the BP oil spill, when the administration put a moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. But energy experts say that the president can’t take much credit for the boom in oil and gas spending, which owes a lot to new drilling techniques. – Brad

9:32pm: Obama has repeatedly said he’ll bring tax rates back to their Clinton-era levels. This isn’t actually true. His tax plan would have middle-income taxpayers paying much less than under Clinton’s tax code, and the rich paying much more. – Ezra

9:28pm: Obama said that Romney wants to increase military spending by $2 trillion, and that it’s more than the military has asked for. The Center for a New American Security ran the numbers and calculated that Romney’s defense proposal would increase military spending by $2.2 trillion by 2022. In 2013 alone, Romney would defense spending by 17 percent over 2012 levels—significantly higher than what the Defense Department has requested.—Suzy

9:24pm: Romney says he saw a study suggesting Obama will raise taxes by $3-4,000. That’s the projected cost in tax revenue of servicing the debt incurred under Obama’s budget, according to AEI’s Aspen Gorry and Matt Jensen. That said, Obama has promised future spending cuts and revenue raisers that would reduce that debt burden. It’s also possible to avoid tax increases to pay for new debt by cutting spending, or focusing revenue raisers on high earners. It’s worth noting that Gorry and Jensen found the debt burden is highly progressive. High earners would pay most of it but middle-class families would pay much less. Indeed, a family making between $40-50,000 (the median household income as of last year) would see a tax hike of $530.85, not $3-4,000 as Romney stated. – Dylan

9:18pm: President Obama says Mitt Romney has a $5 trillion tax cuts. That’s the cost of Romney’s tax plan if you assume he doesn’t close any tax breaks to pay for it. Romney has said he’ll close tax breaks to pay for all of it — but he hasn’t named any of those tax breaks. Romney says he deserves credit for the offsets he hasn’t named. Obama isn’t giving him credit for any of them. It’s also the case, as Dylan noted earlier, that his various tax promises don’t add up. – Ezra

9:17pm: Obama stated that he cut taxes by $3,600 for a typical family. That figure is accurate but potentially misleading – by his own admission it covers cuts over 4 year, not in a single year. – Dylan

9:09pm: Mitt Romney says he’s not going to cut taxes for the rich. According to the Tax Policy Center, even if he were to cut all tax breaks – save for those he’s promised to preserve – for high-income people, people making over $1 million a year would get an average tax break of $87,117. – Dylan

8:15pm: It’s probably worth having a few things on hand before the debate starts. President Obama’s deficit-reduction plan, for instance, which you can download here. And Mitt Romney’s tax and spending plans. Expect the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of Romney’s tax plan to come up more than once, so here that is. And here’s Dylan’s look at the various counter-analyses the Romney campaign has pushed. Then, of course, there are the jobs plans. Here’s Obama’s American Jobs Act, and here’s Romney’s jobs plan. That should do it. —Ezra

Written by Valerie Curl

October 3, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Did Republicans deliberately crash the US economy?

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Be it ideology or stratagem, the GOP has blocked pro-growth policy and backed job-killing austerity – all while blaming Obama

McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor chose to crash the US economy for political reasons

Among others, the UK Guardian makes a convincing case against Republicans on why the economy has not recovered. As the Guardian states, a policy ‘intended to save’ our children and grandchildren” from ‘crushing debt’ is leaving them worse-prepared for the actual economic and social challenges they will face in the future.”

In fact, fiscal policy is now a drag on the recovery, which is the exact opposite of how it should work, given a sluggish economy.

This collection of more-harm-than-good policies must also include last summer’s debt limit debacle, which House speaker John Boehner has threatened to renew this year. This was yet another GOP initiative that undermined the economic recovery. According to economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, “over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in 2008.” Only after the crisis did the consumer confidence stabilize, but employers “held back on hiring, sapping momentum from a recovery that remains far too fragile.” In addition, the debt limit deal also forced more unhelpful spending cuts on the country.

Since that national embarrassment, Republicans have refused to even allow votes on President Obama’s jobs bill in the Senate; they dragged their feet on the aforementioned payroll tax and even now are holding up a transportation bill with poison-pill demands for the White House on environmental regulation.

Yet, with all these tales of economic ineptitude emanating from the GOP, it is Obama who is bearing most of the blame for the country’s continued poor economic performance.

Whether you believe the Republicans are engaging in purposely destructive fiscal behavior or are simply fiscally incompetent, it almost doesn’t matter. It most certainly is bad economic policy and that should be part of any national debate not only on who is to blame for the current economic mess, but also what steps should be taken to get out from underneath it.

But don’t hold your breath on that happening. Presidents get blamed for a bad economy; and certainly, Republicans are unlikely to take responsibility for the country’s economic woes. The obligation will be on Obama to make the case that it is the Republicans, not he, who is to blame – a difficult, but not impossible task.

In the end, that might be the worst part of all – one of two major political parties in America is engaging in scorched-earth economic policies that are undercutting the economic recovery, possibly on purpose, and is forcing job-killing austerity measures on the states. And they have paid absolutely no political price for doing so. If anything, it won them control of the House in 2010, and has kept win Obama’s approval ratings in the political danger zone. It might even help them get control of the White House.

Sabotage or not, it’s hard to argue with “success” – and it’s hard to imagine we’ve seen the last of it, whoever wins in November.This is the most obvious example of how austerity policies are not only harming America’s present, but also imperilling its future. And these spending cuts on the state and local level are matched by a complete lack of fiscal expansion on the federal level. In fact, fiscal policy is now a drag on the recovery, which is the exact opposite of how it should work, given a sluggish economy.

This collection of more-harm-than-good policies must also include last summer’s debt limit debacle, which House speaker John Boehner has threatened to renew this year. This was yet another GOP initiative that undermined the economic recovery. According to economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, “over the entire episode, confidence declined more than it did following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in 2008.” Only after the crisis did the consumer confidence stabilize, but employers “held back on hiring, sapping momentum from a recovery that remains far too fragile.” In addition, the debt limit deal also forced more unhelpful spending cuts on the country.

Since that national embarrassment, Republicans have refused to even allow votes on President Obama’s jobs bill in the Senate; they dragged their feet on the aforementioned payroll tax and even now are holding up a transportation bill with poison-pill demands for the White House on environmental regulation.

Yet, with all these tales of economic ineptitude emanating from the GOP, it is Obama who is bearing most of the blame for the country’s continued poor economic performance.

But this singular article is not the only indictment published in the last several weeks or months against the GOP.

Along with Robert Draper’s recently published book, Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives in which he outlines a private meeting of prominent Republicans at an upscale Washington steakhouse on the night of Obama’s inauguration, where they met to discuss the election and how to win against Obama through obstruction, obfuscation and spin, there is now a new book by Time senior correspondent, Michael Grunwald. The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era discusses in detail the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka Stimulus Bill). Among the details revealed in this book, Grunwald writes that Republican senators explained that they were under orders from their leadership that they could not negotiate with Obama on any policy proposal. Indeed, they said, “if he is for it, we have to be against it.”

While Bob Woodward’s new book, The Price of Politics, appears, from reviewers, appears to take an almost angry view that Obama did not do enough to control, wrangle, and manage Republicans throughout his tenure in office, Matt Bai of the NY Times takes another view.

In the March 28 edition of NY Times, Bai wrote a long, very detailed account of the debt ceiling debacle that very nearly sent the world economy into havoc and another Great Depression as well as downgraded the nation’s credit rating.

Indeed, that leadership failure along with the upcoming “fiscal cliff,” primarily caused the OECD in their 2012-2013 competitiveness report, to downgrade US competitiveness from 5th place to 7th place.

Bai wrote that Obama made some crucial errors, including his natural inclination towards introversion and seeing himself as an outsider, that created an inability for him to foster the kinds of relationships that LBJ or Reagan had with members of the opposite party. Nevertheless, he primarily lays much more of the blame for the failed negotiations on the raucous, Tea Party House members and Boehner’s leadership team, including Eric Cantor with whom Boehner has an almost adversarial relationship.

Despite all of the spin and press conferences that accompanied the end of the debt ceiling negotiations, it’s quite obvious that the GOP’s politically designed hatred of Obama and willingly dedicated obstruction to anything Obama proposed caused not only the downgrade of the nation’s credit rating and our national competitiveness, they prevented a more rapid recovery.

From the very beginning of Obama’s administration, the GOP Leadership undertook a concerted effort to destroy Obama’s presidency in the minds of voters. Moreover, it’s abundantly clear that they cared more about winning the next elections, in 2010 and 2012, than in righting the economy. In other words, our ship of state is listing because of GOP actions throughout the last four years.

If those GOP Congressional members were part of the military, they would be courtmarshalled for dereliction of duty and failure to perform their assigned primary task of increasing economic growth and employment.

This Vietnam Wife and Air Force Brat Says Thanks!

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Veterans who lost their lives depicted on a Wall of heart breaking lossThis evening as I listen to the Democratic National Convention, our GIs are standing with President Obama, because of what he and his Administration has done for them.

But when my husband came home from another war zone in 1969, he wasn’t welcomed. He had only himself, and me, to depend upon…and the company and union to which he belonged before he went to war. You see, in those days, companies just couldn’t fire or lay off a warrior. And, of course, in those days companies were less obsessed with shareholder returns and more in product and service enhancements for their customers.

As a radio operator, my husband, along with all other radio operators in that war theater, were kill targets. They were the first soldiers the enemy wanted to kill for obvious reasons. But I was blessed. He didn’t come home in a coffin or with the loss of a limb. Regardless, he didn’t come home unscathed. When my husband came home, he suffered from what is now diagnosed as PTSD. He changed from a mild-mannered, compassionate, gentle soul into a someone who’s violent actions could be sparked almost at a moment’s notice. There was no help for him all those years ago…and more than anything else, that lack of help probably destroyed our marriage.

I’m also an Air Force brat. My dad was a WWII vet who flew missions over Africa and then Italy. He joined the Army at 15, after pleading with his mother to come down to the recruiter’s office to declare he was 16 and old enough to join up. The Great Depression was still going strong. Dad had ridden the rails like so many young people, looking for work, when he finally decided to join up. A few years later, the Army developed the Army Air Corp. In Dad’s words, he learned he was allergic to horses so he asked to join the Air Corp. More than 20 years later, he retired as a Master Sargent and flight engineer. He served most of his Air Force career, post WWII, in the Strategic Air Command (SAC).

We moved, on average, once a year, sometimes after 3 months and sometimes after 2 years. And throughout all those years, the GIs became my family. They treated me and my brothers like their younger siblings. They played with us, letting us win at penny anti poker while grinning and laughing for example, and watched out for us at the base swimming pool. Those GIs were a community like no other I’ve seen since. I’ll never forget those young GIs, and I’ll never stop loving them.

Our GIs remain the same today. But remember our GIs are also our kids. They put their lives on the line for all of us. That’s why I believe as did President Eisenhower – and President Obama – that war is the last option after all other options have been exhausted.

Romney’s neo-con team of advisors, the same team that advised Pres. Bush, would choose war over peace talks and negotiations. For four solid years, they have advocated war with Iran, regardless of the international consequences. They wanted boots on the ground in Libya before Obama engaged in Air tactics in coordination with Europe. They want boots on the ground in Syria, even though doing so would spark an even larger Middle East war. They say Russia is our greatest enemy and China is a world-class threat. More boots on the ground and ships at sea and more planes overhead.

They say forget all the tactics President Eisenhower used to keep the US safe and end wars. Oh, and he did many times, even to nearly crashing the British pound to stop a war that the US would have been dragged into. He saw war death. He saw war destruction. He chose, as President, to use diplomacy and at times bribery to prevent war.

Yet, these men now advising Romney, who have never enlisted or served, never been on the battlefield, and never beheld death and destruction of war, would send more of our children to their deaths. Or come home as my husband did: a mentally wounded warrior.

So, tonight when I saw all those young warriors standing on the stage at the Democratic Convention, I could not but help to stand with them. As a country, we owe them so much, from jobs to education to opportunities to become well and start new lives. We owe them more than those, like my husband, who came home forgotten and alone.

So what would Romney do, besides start more wars to slaughter even more of our children for the sake of a fanciful, ill-advised “exceptional” notion? He says he’d consider privatizing the VA. What!?! Yeah, let’s make the health care our GIs more expensive after they’ve put their lives on the line for our nation.

Sure, Mr. Romney. I have three words for Romney. Politely put, Take A Hike!

President Obama, Mrs. Obama, and Dr. Biden have worked tirelessly for our GIs. I’m proud of what they have accomplished. I’m proud of the work they have done to care for our Vets as well as to prevent another war while our President has kept our country safe and rebuilt our nation’s reputation around the world.

As a military brat and the wife of war Vet, I believe in our nation and still believe in President Obama as the better foreign policy president as well as a president who has put more into caring for our returning vets since WWII. I know Romney-Ryan will not do so.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: Eisenhower decreased the military budget because of his quiet, behind the scenes diplomatic policies. President Obama is doing the same while still fighting our terrorist foes. Truman and Eisenhower provided and expanded the GI bill. Romney would not while at the same time choosing more war.

Yes, this is a choice election. My choice is with Obama rather than with the neo-cons advising Romney and their choice for more war and less concern for our GIs.

I’m proud of each of those GIs who stood on that stage this evening. I am one of them in my heart and soul because I grew up and lived their lives.

Written by Valerie Curl

September 6, 2012 at 8:03 PM

Choosing the Future

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The Democratic National Convention begins this evening. There is little doubt by those who have read my blog posts over the years that I have sustained values inherent in our own Declaration of Independence.

1912 election cartoon featuring political corruption by the wealthyIt took us nearly two hundred years to achieve equal rights and opportunities for all our people, from the right to vote regardless of income, gender or skin color to the right of women to demand that they be paid the same salary as their male counterparts for doing the same job while having the same commitment to the job.

Even though our Founders never imagined this day ever arriving, it is in the very nature of humanity and democracy – democratic values – that inclusion and opportunity arise and grow.

Look back in the far distant historic past to the tribal communities of the Danes, the Britons, and the Celts. The leader was elected because he represented all the tribe, all the community. Everyone, including women, had a vote. And women were held in high esteem, not just as mothers but as the future of the community, the holders of history, and the healers. The Wise Woman was revered and loved and her thoughts were valued. But the Roman world overwhelmed the commonweal of those communities and utterly destroyed those rights, and even the value, of women – a destruction that lasted until the 20th Century. Now, women have regained those ancient rights. Just as everyone, regardless of color, religion, or ethnicity or any other designation, has attained their full rights as human beings.

The modern Democratic Party, post the Civil Rights legislation under LBJ, fought and attained these rights for all our people.

I’m an old gal now so I’ve seen the positive changes the modern Democratic Party wrought in my lifetime.

I remember my mother telling me that I would never attain a successful business career because men would never let me. I remember being told I should settle for a teaching or nursing career and never hope or dream of something better because I’d only be disappointed. I remember when I said I wanted a college education being told my brothers came first because they were male. I remember being told that I should settle for my lot in life as a mother and wife…and not hope for or expect more. I refused that advise to retire at a company director making many thousands more than I would have if I had followed that advise. I was able to encourage and inspire my daughters to be all they could be. Now they surpass me in income, in self-sufficiency, and most importantly in their belief in themselves…and they have happy loving families.

I remember living in the Old South prior to Civil Rights when my father’s accidentally turning down the wrong street struck fear into the hearts and minds of the residents of that Black neighborhood. I remember the children, still dressed in their faded but clean Sunday clothes, stopped their simple childhood games to stare at us with fear on their faces. I remember a neighbor woman telling my mother that Black people simply did not want to work, regardless of the fact that the only work available to a Black person was housekeeping and cleaning, yard work, or collecting the garbage. I remember being told in that deep pre-Civil Rights South that Black people didn’t have the intelligence or ability to do well in school or create successful businesses or achieve broad-based political leadership. Worst of all, I remember being told, as a very young child, that I couldn’t play Black children because doing so would make me sick with diseases that were endemic only to Black people. I never believed those lies, and in college I learned how completely and utterly false those many lies were.

I remember being told by my parents who had suffered through the Great Depression as children that anyone who was Jewish or of non-European, WASP extraction that those people were not Americans…that they didn’t deserve the same rights as we did.

But we changed those outmoded, restrictive ideas. We argued and fought for rights for all people. We chose progress towards more humanity, towards more inclusion, towards more human rights for all people, towards more equality.

Today, we are in another great fight. It’s not just a fight over civil rights – who has the right to vote and equality of income – but the fight of over opportunity.

The GOP today, against its Lincoln, TR, and Eisenhower heritage, would have us believe that the most wealthy in the country need to be protected not just from taxes but from their responsibility towards their country…the country that has given them so much opportunity and freedom to create and live their dreams. Where would Romney be without a country that gave his immigrant father so much opportunity? Where would Ryan be without Social Security after his father died? Where would JFK and so many other politicians be today were it not for the opportunity this country gave their poor immigrant ancestors?

The US opened our lands and eventually our hearts to those who came here seeking a better life for themselves and their families. That is the American dream in action.

Yet, when I listen to the GOP today, I no longer hear those iconic dreams and values espoused. I no longer hear Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence in their words. I no longer hear the words and deeds of Abraham Lincoln or of Texas’ own Lyndon Johnson.

I believe America can be – and should be – better than the modern GOP espouses, just as my ancestors who left England and Ireland in the early 17th and 18th Centuries for the wilderness of America believed that opportunity should be better for the non-wealthy and politically well-connected.

My ancestors not only believed that their own hard work should be rewarded but that community – the commonweal – was necessary to their health and well-being. As John Donne wrote in the 17th C., “no man is an island.” We all need each other to survive and thrive.

We all need government to provide the rules of the road so bad actors don’t harm the rest of the commonwealth. We all need government, at whatever level, when the exigencies of life throws us a curve ball or strikes us out. We need the commons, just as our ancestors who moved to the plains depended upon their neighbors and townships to help them in difficult and good times. We need the sheriffs (government) to protect us from those who would take advantage of us and cheat us or to mobilize the commons to help us get back on our feet to move forward again in our lives.

This country has been great for my family. We came here with nothing, having left everything behind in Europe. We homesteaded and with the help of our communities built prosperous businesses and prosperous farms. We succeeded in so many ways. We moved West in Wagon Trains and by railroads. We started new businesses, made fortunes and lost them. But all along the way, it was community – the commons – that helped us succeed.

The United States has never been about “me, myself and I.” It has always been about “us.” One nation indivisible.

Yet, today’s modern conservative movement within the GOP seeks to deny the “us” that made America not only strong but invincible. By working together as one community, regardless of the forces that seek to drive us apart or return to an economically fatal feudal society, America can continue its legacy of being the guiding light for the rest of the world.

To return to the days of the latter 19th Century when wealth decided elections, public policy and worker rights as well as taxation policies, as this new conservative movement espouses, would negate the very premise of the United States our ancestors left their homes for. It negates Republican TR’s legacy. It negates Eisenhower’s beliefs. It negates very the ideals of Jefferson and Madison. Even the iconic Reagan would be distraught at the extreme’s to which this GOP conservative movement has gone to preserve and expand the rights of the most wealthy at the expense of everyone else. He said as much in his speeches during the tax debates of the 1980s. Ronald Reagan’s tax policies were diametrically opposed to those put forward by Ryan and Romney.

So, as I sit here tonight watching the Democratic Convention after having seen the Republican Convention, I cannot but help feel the weight of all those ancestors who came before me: their struggles to start a new life, their fears and flights from homelands that sought their deaths, their fight to create a new nation and to preserve it against all odds for more than two centuries, and their hopes in creating a new commonweal. The weight of their history hangs heavy on my shoulders.

But I will not let their – or the millions of others who fought for freedom – hopes down. I will not succumb to irrelevance and apathy. If we want a better country…a country that leads the world in business and educational competition and human values…we have fight for it now as never before in our lifetimes.

We have an obligation to the future. An obligation to future generations of all American citizens, regardless of color, race, religion, ethnicity or gender. We have an obligation to fulfill the demands of the Declaration of Independence and the dreams of our ancestors. That is what this election is about because the visions between the modern GOP and the Democrats is that large.

We can choose to return to the late 1800s Gilded Age of Robber Barons that erupted in violence and nearly destroyed capitalism, or we can choose to avoid those pitfalls again by moving forward to build a better society for all citizens as TR chose to do with his early 20th C. policies and FDR expanded upon a mere two decades later.

As I said, I’m an old gal. I heard the stories from my grandparents who crossed the plains in covered wagons and early transcontinental trains. I researched their family histories going back to the Religious Wars from the 15th through 17th Centuries that devastated much of Europe. I learned of their travels and travails in coming to America and how much they needed and relied upon the commonweal for their survival. I learned of their movements across the country and their hopes, triumphs and re-creations. But the more I studied – the more I learned about how much they depended upon their communities, not just themselves – how they created successful lives, including very wealthy careers as well as how much they depended upon government, including the federal government, the more I learned how the commonwealth helped them. I learned more than anything else how much our ancestors depended upon each other to survive and thrive. How much we chose to progress towards the equality of opportunity and freedom that Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton wrote about more than two centuries ago.

Above all else, we need to once again adopt the commonweal that has been the primary foundation and sustaining influence of our country since our earliest immigrant ancestors. Without that attitude of “we are one people in this all together” regardless of wealth or talent or ability or any other outward attribute this nation cannot survive, compete and grow as it has in the past. We are all the children of immigrants, regardless of when our ancestors arrived on these shores, and we slowly learned to incorporate the words of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence into our deepest feelings and beliefs. The “shining city on the hill” is, in fact, a nation of equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of all other factors, which requires the commonweal.

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