Tag Archives: Joe Biden


21 Dec



Ohio was a primeval forest with river channels best suited to flat bottom boats as transport for those intrepid New Englanders who had survived a revolution against King George III of England, and headed into the wilderness which was home of several Native American Tribes whose confederation of tribes served as an example for the structure of the new government being established by the revolution’s leadership. These shopkeepers,farmers,students and laborers strapped the rifle issued them as citizen soldiers to use as protection, and to bring down game to feed their families.


Some of the earliest skirmishes with the British soldiers stationed in the New World occurred when the king’s subjects raided the King’s arsenals to arm themselves. Discussions in the Virginia Assembly were deteriorating,and emissaries of American colonists sent to Parliament were failing to convince King George and Parliament to lower or eliminate taxes which had recently been imposed on British colonies.


The pre-revolution American colonists,as British citizens, understood that England’s war with France was costly, and Parliament needed to raise revenue to pay for the war. American colonists s were not opposed to taxes. But, they believed that those who were taxed should have a voice in Parliament. As colonists, they had no voice. There were those in Parliament who took up their cause, arguing colonials should be able to participate in Parliament.


While these political discussions went on in England, unrest grew within the colony. The King sent more troops to the American colony to “keep the peace” among the colonials. These troops had no military bases, so their leaders moved them into colonists’ homes, with or without the homeowner’s permission. Some colonials remained loyal to the King,while others became increasing hostile to being taxed with no right to vote,and housing British troops. tempers flared on both sides.


After the revolution,as the founders wrote a national constitution, they based it upon the Virginia Constitution, adding some amendments reflecting concerns of the various “states” ( a new term for areas which had been chartered by the King -the Carolinas, the Virginia Territory etc.).


The 1st.Amendment was free speech. People wanted a “voice” without fear of repercussion from government. This Amendment has been argued over in the courts and is restrained by reasonable guidelines. One cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theatre,for example.  Protesters, parades, commercial vendors etc. can be regulated as to time, place and manner so as not to disrupt the ordinary course of business. The CITIZENS UNITED CASE stretched the right to free speech by extending the legal fiction that corporations are people for campaign financing purposes, as they had been earlier characterized for business organization and legal remedy reasons.


The 2d. Amendment was freedom to bear arms. People wanted the freedom to arm themselves to defend their communities from an autocratic King who would quarter his troops in their homes,which as every British citizen knew, violated their belief that a “man’s house is his castle”. When the Revolution started in the American colonies, many armed themselves by raiding British arsenals. After the revolution, the Americans wanted the freedom to build their own arsenals. National Guard Armories exist within every small town as remnants of these arsenals. There was never any intent to amass personal armories. But, the soldiers of the revolution kept their guns, granted the freedom to do so by the 2d Amendment. Like the 1st. Amendment, the 2d. Amendment is also subject to reasonable constraints, regardless of gun industry refusal to acknowledge that fact.


NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre held a news conference a moment ago. He blamed the violent video games, their production companies and stockholders as partners and co-conspirators in violent acts. He described Americans as surrounded by deranged and evil persons, who cannot be understood nor contained to prevent the evil acts their “voices” propel them to commit.He denigrated those with mental health issues as demons, asserting that the “only way to  stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. He argued forcefully that we are all targets surrounded by great evildoers and we all must carry guns.


LaPierre’s suggestion? Arm teachers and principals with weapons and provide security guards at schools. He repeatedly referred to the president using Secret Service to protect himself, impliedly berating this president for protecting himself and failing to protect American children. Then, he reminded us that grants for school security were removed from the budget last year. His continued attacks against President Obama were beyond the pale. His real effort was to undermine the president’s comments and efforts to place restrictions on assault weapons.


He repeatedly asserted that many people are deranged and evil,calling for well-maintained data-bases on the mentally ill. This is the same man who opposes a data-base of gun owners. Scapegoating the mentally ill is not a solution to gun violence with assault weapons. Treating the mentally ill, and denying weapons to the mentally ill likely to harm themselves or others should be considered and discussed. Demonizing anyone serves no purpose other than to create fear among us, and justify violence by the “good guys”.


Lapierre announced  the creation of a new program, the National Model Schools Shield Program funded by NRA to provide armed guards at every school.  “We can’t wait. We can’t debate and pass legislation which will not work,”  was an indirect effort to undermine and supplant V.P. Joe  Biden’s efforts. He called for every teacher,administrator and state to ask for NRA help to protect its children, to arm its schools with good guys.


We cannot allow his one reasonable suggestion, provide more school security, to  stop all discussion about reasonable constraints over gun manufacture,sale,purchase and possession of assault weapons;background checks,waiting periods,registration and removal etc. This was not a news conference. This was an ad for an NRA effort to arm more persons, with no limits nor constraints. This was an effort to undermine President Obama, and anyone who calls for a reasonable review of current gun laws. The laws must be reviewed and changed for the common good and within reason. I doubt those first Americans would expect any less of us.


MIRROR,MIRROR ON THE WALL,By Louise Annarino,October 26, 2012

26 Oct

MIRROR,MIRROR ON THE WALL, By Louise Annarino,October 26,2012


“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of us all?”  Have you ever forced yourself to stare into your eyes while looking in a mirror? Common knowledge tells us that our eyes are the mirror of our souls. Most of us look in a mirror only to make sure every hair is in place, nothing is stuck in our teeth, or our tie is centered properly. We seldom really look at our selves. Too often we squirm away from what we see of ourselves. Soul searching is uncomfortable.


People are not fixed in space and time, but move within a forever-changing creative energy. This is what makes getting to know another person so interesting. We are in the final days of getting to know candidates for public office. The image we each create for ourselves, which makes it sometimes difficult to look at ourselves in the mirror, is similar to what the campaign staff attempts to do for each candidate. And, too often, those candidates find it difficult to look at themselves in the mirror. It is the rare person, and the rare candidate, who consistently stays true to the soul he or she sees when they force themselves to look in the mirror. Some candidates seem incapable of soul-searching.


A spate of political ads are out now which feature an individual or family telling us what a great guy Mitt Romney is, describing a specific kindness he has shown, or assistance he has provided. These ads should be comforting and assuring. They are meant to counter the ads by former workers who lost jobs when Mr. Romney through Bain Capital shut down a factory, shipping workers’ jobs overseas. But, is an act of kindness to one person enough to counter the cold calculation which led to huge losses suffered by thousands of workers? Is kindness to individuals enough to counter the threatened loss of social security, medicare, Obamacare, equal pay for women, women’s control over their own health care decisions, PELL grants, veteran’s disability benefits, the post office, Amtrak etc. which the Romney-Ryan budget promises to cut,affecting all of our countrymen?


I am glad to hear of Romney’s acts of kindness. He can look in the mirror and see his goodness as he contemplates these kind acts. But what does he see in the mirror when he contemplates cutting off such kindnesses to the other 98% of us through his budget?


Whom do we know who can look in the mirror with a steadfast gaze? Whom do we know who can look in the mirror with a forward-looking vision of what is possible when we empower the 98% to share in the wealth of America; rather than await and give thanks for the largesse doled out one-man-a-time by the 1%? Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

DEFICIT LIVES,By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

14 Oct

DEFICIT LIVES, By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

The effort to make Americans fear deficit-spending could be better used discussing what we should do to stop deficit-living. Core areas of our cities, small towns and rural areas are struggling to survive. Poverty has dug a hole, a social and personal deficit, in which large groups of our populace reside. The stimulus has stopped the slide into the hole for most, offered a hand up and out for many, but too many see no way out.

How did we get here, with holes so deeply torn in our social fabric that the middle class has fallen through those holes along with the impoverished? When we did we stop building and strengthening America so all of us could keep the American Dream alive? Instead we allowed charlatans in the think-tanks, lobbyist firms, and the media to paper over the holes, and keep us entertained so we would not notice that the pretty prints they used were mere paper. It started out slowly, but with fall after fall widening the holes entire sections of the fabric split wide open, until the entire fabric was in danger of slipping out of our hands. President Obama took a firm grip, and sewed stimulus patches made of strong material over the holes, all the while warning us that the cloth was worn and need to be replaced; that the holes had so weakened the fabric that major change was needed,and that the fabric could otherwise tear again. But those who met secretly during his inauguration to plot his own down-fall through those holes, pledged to keep them open.

Republicans blocked President Obama’s efforts to select and install a new fabric to support our lives. Many confuse this fabric with the ‘safety net’ strung below it; but, it is not just the safety net which is in danger from Republican policies and the Romney-Ryan Budget, it is the entire fabric strung above the net. Yes, the safety net is struggling; but, not because it was not well-designed, nor well-built, but because it is overloaded by those who fell through holes in our social fabric. It was never intended to hold so many of us. The one way we can relieve stress on our safety net is to replace the social fabric and pull as many Americans off the safety net and back up into the middle class as we possibly can. This is what President Obama intends to do, what he has been doing, and what he will continue to do if re-elected. We must cast our vote to re-elect him president, and cast our vote to elect Democrats to the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and to state offices who support his vision and will work with him to get the job done. What we do not need are those who insist we cannot replace nor repair the whole cloth; but, must simply remove people from the safety net through privatization of medicare, social security etc.

The National Poverty Center reports that the poverty rate was  22.4 percent, or 39.5 individuals during the 1950’s. “These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

I still recall the photos of starving children, eyes wide with uncertainty, on the porches of Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta which stirred President Lyndon Johnson to declare a War on Poverty in the 1960s, which led to the decline of poverty. President Ronald Reagan’s stance in the 1980’s was that we had lost the War on Poverty;and, that social safety net benefits did not justify its cost. We soon saw poverty levels increase.This Reaganomics view of poverty prevails today. But a new paper from Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan says it’s missing everything. “We may not have won the war on poverty, but we are certainly winning,” they write. When they looked at poorer families’ consumption rather than income, accounted for changes in the tax code that benefit the poor, and included “noncash benefits” such as food stamps and government-provided medical care, they found poverty fell 12.5 percentage points between 1972 and 2010.” In effect, they are explaining that the safety net does work.

The problem is NOT the safety net but growing income inequality in our social fabrichttp://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-12/record-u-dot-s-dot-poverty-rate-holds-as-inequality-grows During the last decade the highest quintile of earners saw their real income rise 1.6% and the top 5% saw their incomes rise 4.9%, while the middle class saw their incomes decline 1.9%. The very lowest incomes, those in the safety net, saw their incomes stay the same. None of this data means the income of those in the safety net is adequate. Nevertheless, the extremely poor (those with less than 1/2 of official poverty level earnings), remained at 6.6% of the population. The middle class has not fallen that low because President Obama’s policies stopped the fall. As more people returned to work in a steady rise over the past nearly 4 years, the fabric of America grows stronger as well.

More is yet to be done, as President Obama reminds us. We cannot reduce the deficit and continue Bush tax breaks for top earners. In fact we must increase their income tax rate,including an increase on capital gains. The estate tax must not be eliminated but increased for those at the highest earning bracket, who are the only persons currently required to pay estate tax, it having been eliminated for lower income earners decades ago. And we must end the round of ceaseless war which benefits military contractors, and corrupt government officials at home and abroad. President Obama, as Vice-President Biden affirmed in his recent debate with Congressman Paul Ryan insists that American troops will be out of Afghanistan in 2014. He suggests that we instead, rebuild America’s education and transportation systems, repair and further develop American infrastructure, invest in small business development and manufacturing, research and develop green and innovative technologies, reduce and redesign our military capabilities for more cost effective security at home and abroad.

We can do all this and reduce the economic deficit. But, we must also end our willingness to overlook poverty, especially for those most greatly affected by it, our women and children.We cannot grow our economy when our children are not given the tools they need to compete and succeed. The National Poverty Center reports: “The poverty rate for all persons masks considerable variation between racial/ethnic subgroups. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2010, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians.

Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty. (See the U.S. census chart below)

“There are also differences between native-born and foreign-born residents. In 2010, 19.9 percent of foreign-born residents lived in poverty, compared to 14.4 percent of residents born in the United States. Foreign-born, non-citizens had an even higher incidence of poverty, at a rate of 26.7 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2010
Category Number (in thousands) Percent
All children under 18 16, 401 22.0
White only, non-Hispanic 5,002 12.4
Black 4,817 38.2
Hispanic 6,110 35.0
Asian 547 13.6

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 68-73.

Those like Paul Ryan who argue we must reduce the deficit by reducing the safety net, decreasing income and benefits, weaken labor unions, reduce the size of government and lay-off government workers, privatizing government responsibilities as means to reduce government costs are “whistling Dixie” in more ways than one. Paul Ryan voted for unfunded Medicare Part D, which President Obama, unlike President Bush, has now included in his budget and improved through Obamacare by closing the donut hole. Including this expense within the Obama budget is really a disclosure of previously hidden Bush budget expenses. This is also true for the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which were passed as emergency measures, not budget items; included by President Obama in his budget and added to official budget deficit figures, but not done so by President Bush.

One must also note that Bush war-funding was historically unprecedented. To pay for World War II, Americans bought savings bonds and put extra notches in their belts. President Harry Truman raised taxes and cut nonmilitary spending to pay for the Korean conflict. During Vietnam, the US raised taxes but still watched deficits soar. President Bush did nothing to control the burgeoning deficits of war. Republicans and Democrats, unwilling to leave troops in the field without funding, settled with uncompromising Republican leadership and allowed this strategic undercounting of the deficit to go unabated and continued to vote for emergency war-funding, outside the regular budget bills. The willingness to kick the can down the road has become a hallmark of Republicans as they block every Democratic bill to increase jobs, reduce deficit, and stimulate the economy during the Obama administration. They are not ashamed , but proud of this tactic in their strategy to make  President Obama a one-term president. In the recently released video of Mitt Romney talking with his well-heeled donors in May he takes this tactic a step further,when he said the Palestinians were not interested in peace, the chances of a peace agreement was remote and the whole issue should be kicked down the field. Kicking problems down the field seems to have become an accepted Republican strategy. The Bush tax cuts added some $2.8 trillion to the national debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Congressman Paul Ryan voted for those cuts. To his credit, Ryan also backed the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout, most of which has been paid back, and the auto bailout.http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/. I mention this because it is disingenuous and hypocritical to blame the deficit on President Obama and democrats in Congress.

I first noticed this Republican disregard for current reality and for balanced budgets during 6 months of debate over Medicare reform in early 2003. I had falsely believed that Republicans were fiscally more conservative than Democrats. Clearly,I was wrong. Reagan, I was aware, had little to no regard for fiscal responsibility, but he had once been a Democrat after all !

Like many others, I saw the need for prescription coverage for seniors and hoped new legislation would allow the government to negotiate for lower costs and formulary control similar to V.A. cost-control efforts. Big Pharma lobbyists blocked, and continue to block such an effort. The bill came to a vote at 3 a.m., just minutes before it was scheduled to close, the clock was stopped for 3 hours with the bill losing, 219-215 while Republicans on the floor, and including President Bush by phone, strong-armed congressman to change their vote. “Then-Representative Nick Smith (R-MI) claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from ‘nay’ to ‘yea.’ After controversy ensued, Smith clarified no explicit offer of campaign funds was made, but that he was offered ‘substantial and aggressive campaign support’ which he had assumed included financial support.” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/.

At about 5:50 a.m. the bill passed the House 220-215. The bill itself was finally passed in the Senate 54-44 on November 25, 2003, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 8. Now, Romney and Ryan threaten to eliminate Obamacare and its improvements of medicare, including Part D; plan to privatize medicare and social security. If these programs are more costly than they need be it is because of Republican refusal to rein in excess costs businesses extract from the program.

Medicare Part D did provide prescription coverage but did not reduce costs as much as it could have because of what it failed to include: it prohibits the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies, and it prevents the government from establishing a formulary. It did, however, provide a subsidy for large employers to discourage them from eliminating private prescription coverage to retired workers (a key AARP goal). Obamacare now provides subsidies to small businesses which makes their overall provision of health care insurance affordable. Efforts to include negotiating costs for drugs under Obamacare was blocked by Republicans.

Clearly, it is not Obama’s efforts to reduce medical and insurance costs which makes these medial social fabric programs a drain on government coffers, but the effort of Republicans to protect and expand financial gain of private service providers. President Obama and Congressional Democrats do not seek unfair advantage over private providers; but seek to stop unfair advantage, fraud and abuse by such providers. Obamacare is already predicted to save medicare $716 billion in such provider and insurance company abuses. That money is being channeled to provide more preventive, cost-free health care services for medicare users. This is how we create a stronger social fabric for the middle class. Improving and increasing medicaid coverage is another part of strengthening American fabric.

During an economic downturn, individuals lose jobs, incomes drop, state revenues decline, and more individuals qualify and enroll in Medicaid which increases program spending. However,data indicate that declines in state revenues were a much more significant factor for state budget gaps than increases in Medicaid spending. “Total state revenues dropped by 30% in FY 2009 compared to total Medicaid spending increases of about 7.6% in that year,” http://www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/7580-08.pdf.

Today, 50 states plan or are implementing a new policy to control medicaid costs in multiple areas. State revenues have shown positive growth fro the last 7 quarters, as the unemployment rate continues to drop (now 7.8%) and the GNP continues to improve. States must continue to make delivery of service changes designed to improve care and control costs, thanks to Obamacare. Its “maintenance of eligibility” requirements generally prohibit states from restricting Medicaid eligibility or tightening enrollment procedures. Obama’s focus on wise and educated restructuring of programs for maximum efficiency and best practices in care delivery are another part of strengthening the American fabric.

But, and this is important, these improvements take time. They must however occur if the American Dream is to survive. While government works to  balance budgets, streamline and improve services, reduces fraud and waste it must never forget the impact of income inequality on those African-American, Latino and immigrant single-mothers. we must help them raise their children out of the safety net and up onto the social fabric of the middle-class. We must provide preventive health care, women’s reproductive health care, and children’s health care to everyone in America. We must be certain every child is well-fed, provided with stimulating day-care and pre-schools to ready them for a top-notch education. They need warm clothes for winter, safe after school and summer programs, neighborhoods free of crime and violence. We must not only show them a way out of poverty, but strengthen and empower them to follow the path. I am reminded of the United Negro College Fund motto “ A Mind Is a Terrible Thing  to Waste.” Our American middle-class motto must be “ A Child is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”  President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden would weave this motto into the fabric of America. They will not kick American children down the road, until the deficit is paid off. They will not continue and increase income inequality with tax relief to those who don’t need it. They will reduce the economic deficit AND the human deficit, by reducing income inequality.  That is how we strengthen the American fabric for all of us.

HE HAD TO TAKE THE FIRST PUNCH,By Louise Annarino, October 11,2012

13 Oct

HE HAD TO TAKE THE FIRST PUNCH, By Louise Annarino,October 11,2012

This is what DAGOS and WOPS are taught by their 1st. generation immigrant mothers: “Never start a fight. Take the first punch. After that fight back.” I cannot speak for African-American parents because I am white. But, I can speak to the innate racism of white people because I am white which means I am a recovering racist; and for white bigotry because I have experienced it as a 2d generation Italian immigrant, a woman, and a Roman Catholic. I know the anger I swallowed when seeing Nazi swastikas painted ten feet tall on the wall of my Catholic high school gymnasium, when being spit on for being a dirty fish-eater, when being ignored by store clerks who waited on everyone who came after me when I was in my school uniform, for being refused interviews for jobs unsuitable for a woman, for being paid less than male colleagues with less education and experience while  performing the same job, when being dismissed by police officers when reporting a rape. Such experiences do not simply slide off a person, even one who quietly takes punch after punch. They settle deeply in the sinew and bone, weigh heavy on the soul, and slow down our response to future acts of bigotry.

Those who routinely suffer bigotry but want to make a good life for themselves and their children do what all ambitious but good people do. They become educated, self-aware and well-mannered, They learn patience and an ability to address bigots with dignity, kindness and a sense of common humanity. Often, this creates an illusion that bigotry is acceptable, even expected. It is neither. Why, then acquiesce in the face of bigotry? Why remain silent? In the Jim Crow south, African Americans faced not only the institutionalized racism of realtors, bankers, and politicians; but, public shaming, physical violence, severe injury, and even death for not moving off a sidewalk to allow a white man to pass, for keeping one’s head up and looking a white man in the eye, for using a white-only drinking fountain, or merely for showing up at a poll to vote.

We have learned that racial bigotry and jim Crow is not just a southern thing, but persists throughout this country. It has become institutionalized within our political parties, rather forcefully within the Republican Party whose policies do not attract diverse membership, and which seems to have succumbed to Teapublican leadership. The Democratic Party’s diverse membership subdues the racial bigotry within; but we must admit it still taints every white American, despite out best efforts. This is why I call us white Americans recovering racists, resisting our innate bigotry one step at a time.

We watched president Obama take the first punch during the first debate. We watched him looking down as the white man aggressively put him in his place. We cannot know why he did not vigorously fight back. But I know that had he done so he would have been attacked far more bitterly than Vice-President Joe Biden has been attacked for his vigorous effort  to keep straight the record of the Obama-Biden administration’s policies. Biden is being derided for is behavior, He is called rude for being a happy warrior, for immediately refuting each lie as it was spoken, for laughing at the most ludicrous comments by Congressman Ryan.

Can you imagine what President Obama, whom the right-wing Republicans define as a socialist-fascist-communist,un-American devil, would have been called? I know what white men call strong, assertive African-American men with the audacity to look them in the eye and challenge them. We all do. An African-American man, too often, must take the first punch;especially, if he is seeking the votes of the  3% undecided white voters. We saw the injustice of lies directed against him for what it is, an attack on at least 47% of us.

Some of us became angry with the president for taking those punches;because, we could feel them in our own gut. But, could we have done better with a first punch? Anyone who really understands what bigotry lay behind the demeaning language and verbally intense attack,anyone who had personal experience with such attacks would have shut down an immediate response to develop a strategy to emerge unscathed. Obama did not give Romney a chance to  define his image. An angry Black thug would not appeal to that 3%.

Things have changed as a result. Americans have given our African-American president permission to fight back and to throw punches at the white candidate. It should not be necessary for him to get our permission. Racism creates ridiculous rules. He will, never the less, be attacked much more severely than Vice-President Biden has been today. However, now we white voters are ready to see such attacks for what they really are: just as unfair and dishonest as Romney’s policies and tactics for taking back the White House.

I cannot speak for the president, for what he felt, or what his response meant to him. But, I know what it meant to me. Time to fight, Mr. President. We have your back.


16 Aug

IF YOU CAN’T LAUGH AT MITT,  YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR, By Louise Annarino, August 15,2012

It never ends. Just when I think I have heard it all another hilarious comment flies forth from Mr. Romney. His demeanor changed, however, when he took off his mask to chastise Vice President Joe Biden for his “chains” remark, and the president for his “hate”. His businessman’s go-for-kill instinct rose to the surface as he attacked both the the vice-president and president for Mr. Biden’s remarks. We all know Joe: Good heart. Foot-in-mouth when speaking off the cuff. Rather like the gaffs made Mr. Romney himself when speaking off -script. Come on Mitt, give Joe a break. His gaffs make yours acceptable,too. We all know President Obama: children love him. Women adore him. Even his political enemies know he is a good man, and his political friends think he needs to be less tolerant and accepting. Even Mr. Romney accuses him of being too nice for apologizing when he is wrong.

Let me explain something, Mr. Romney. It is not code when the person speaking (VP Biden)is describing the actual event as it is occurring. It is not outrageous when what is actually happening to African-Americans and to each of us is not being done by the speaker (VP Biden)describing it, but by the man (that would be you, Mr. Romney) who attacks him for the audacity to describe what you would do to us. Mr. Romney has hung himself by hIs own petard! What is a petard, anyway?

I doubt any of this matters to Republican strategists who look for any excuse to describe President Obama as needing correction by his betters, whose very presence in the White House brings the presidency to a new low, whose support by an old white guy (Sorry, Mr. Biden,I call ‘em as I see ‘em) is reprehensible, whose African-American half  is enough color to race-bait voters. Now, they are calling for the resignation of VP Joe Biden for his use of racial code. If you are not laughing out loud at this irony, you have no sense of humor.

Let them try to make this a real issue. We know what is real. The real issue is that VP Biden’s reply (even though he mangled the words) to the Republican talking point that President Obama’s policies regulating banks and business shackles (their word, not Biden’s) Wall Street. Wall Street needs some restrictions so it does not bring the economy and each of us to our knees; depriving us of our jobs,our homes,our savings and our future. It feels to us. Mr. Romney, that you would chain us so we could not fight against those willing to do us harm and to make more than a few more bucks at our expense. Now, that, sir, is outrageous.


TOILING IN THE POLITICAL GARDEN,By Louise Annarino,August 15,2012

15 Aug

TOILING IN THE POLITICAL GARDEN, By Louise Annarino, August 15, 2012

The grass browns as leaves yellow in the garden plot, and cicadas sing hourly songs of success. Fall intrudes late at night leaving a wet calling card on mornings scrolled open by the sun gaining distance from our lives. The stories politicians tell sound new only to the newly awakened.Those of us who have stayed awake most of the night heard them  when they were fresh and contained new information, like the seedlings in our Spring gardens. Slumbering summer politics bursts forth with abundance. Political ads, bus caravans, and nightly speeches fly like insects over every voter, seeking the last drop of sweetness to fuel their flight to victory at the polls.

Campaign teams ready volunteers to harvest votes. The worker bees buzz door-to-door about their neighborhoods. As Summer transitions to Autumn a presidency transitions. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is. And yet, all discussions of such transitions, seasonal or political are value-laden bushels. How do we know which candidate to believe? How do we tell a weed from a cultured plant? A lie from the truth? What is unreal from what is real? How do we know what the heck is really going on?

“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.” says Mike Royko. When President Obama or Vice-President Joe Biden remind us of the   struggles we’ve been through and are still facing and the efforts of the Republicans in Congress, including Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) to protect mortgage companies, banks, investment houses and businesses from desperately needed regulation to avoid another recession/depression they are describing to us what is a weed. This is not fear-mongering, but truth-telling. Mitt Romney, “always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic” doesn’t know much about gardening nor governance. He has not needed to learn such skills.

As Glen Cook says in Water Sleeps “Rich men have dreams. Poor men die to make them come true.” And the middle class does both. President Obama has moved upward from one class to another to  another. Mr. Romney started at the top, and the view looks fine from up there. He smiles all the way to the bank; the Swiss and Cayman Island banks. He disdains the plebian request for his tax returns, details of his policies, how he would implement the Ryan budget. He does not feel it necessary to answer such questions, assuring us he will show us once he is president. I get it. As a captain of (not industry) corporate raiding he has never had to answer an interview question;he is the one conducting the interview. He has never had to answer to employees nor unions; the decisions have been totally in his hands. This is how he would govern. As if he were a majestic force of nature, not the gardener.

He reminds me of a visit with a college friend to see her wealthy grandfather who lived in a three-story pent-house overlooking NYC. I was twenty years old, from a small Ohio town and ever aspect of such a life-style was a revelation to me. My home would have fit inside the living room of the pent-house. I was a gauche young woman, slack-jawed with awe at my surroundings, as I was given the grand tour.

Walking down the hall, I noticed a framed photo of a huge estate surrounded by lovely gardens. It reminded me of Jane Austen’s descriptions of Pemberly in Pride and Prejudice. My friend’s grandfather noted my delight and happily explained that this was a photo of his estate. When I remarked on the extensive gardens, his face lit with pride. He said he loved his gardens. He took pride in describing each are of the garden, including the grape vines and winery. “Oh, I know what you mean”, I gushed. “There is nothing more wonderful than sinking one’s hands into the dirt and gardening. How wonderful it is to eat fruits and vegetables, and drink wine from vines you have planted yourself.”

I had no idea this comment would be taken as an insult; but, it was. With a look of utter disdain, I was informed that he hired people to get their hands dirty. He would never stoop to do such low work himself. He was a majestic force of nature on his estate and in his businesses. He was not a gardener.

My joy in gardening was not diminished by his comments. However, my comments diminished his joy in his grand-daughter’s friendship with me. I felt invisible to him the rest of that first, and last, visit. I feel invisible to Rep. Ryan and Mr. Romney. They are not gardeners. They take delight in using the produce from the American garden, but have not had to get their hands dirty. They ignore the weeds which would destroy the American garden. Those who work and even die in the garden to make them rich are invisible to them.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden see us. They are seasoned gardeners themselves, who have toiled long hours getting their hands dirty as well as dreamed big dreams; not just for themselves, but for those of us who are invisible to the men at the top of the mountain.

We cannot become cynical when drought lessens the harvest, although we may be disappointed. President Obama is remarkable that he was able to produce such profound historical changes to health care, women’s pay, openness for homosexual soldiers in the military, way forward for immigrant young people, etc. Our energy production is higher than ever, and oil imports lowest ever. You have seen the list of his accomplishments in earlier blogs.

We cannot become cynical when garden pests  threaten the stores we have created and thought we could rely on to get us through the winter. Despite Rep.Ryan and others blocking him at every turn, the president remains pragmatic, getting the best crop he can under uncertain and hostile conditions. Just as those of us who gardened through the heat and drought have done in our home gardens, as Mrs. Obama does in her White House garden. As we must continue to do.