SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education

SOS Rebuilds the American Dream Through Education

By Betsy L. Angert

Save Our Schools [SOS] is an organization devoted to fair and equitable education for all. We work to preserve and transform public education.  We are a venue for active, people-powered, grassroots education innovation.  In cyberspace and in communities throughout this country we advance solutions that bring learning back to our children, education back to public school classrooms, and policy decisions back to the students, teachers, and parents.

SOS is dedicated to finding a better, more balanced, path for education reform in this country.  In that spirit, we propose The Equitable Education Policy Path.  We establish that public education must be an American priority. Education is a basic civil and human right.  Every child has the right to attend a high quality public school.

“America’s future will be determined by the home and the school.

The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.”

-Jane Addams [Public Philosopher, Sociologist, Author]

Our initiative was born out of an overwhelming awareness that today, and for the last several decades, students and teachers have been increasingly reduced to data-points.  Humans are no longer given the opportunity to learn for more than the mere moments required to memorize facts and formulas for a battery of tests.  

Schools have been “restructured.”  Bureaucratic business models have been adopted, imposed, and anointed as “Real Education Reforms.” As a Nation, we abandoned “The Great Society” program; which acknowledged that when a culture allows poverty to flourish, failure follows.  Instead of addressing what prevents true learning, Americans favored quick-fix agendas, such “No Child Left Behind.”

Standardized lessons were put in place.  One-Size-Fits-All High-Stakes Testing policies were employed. Curricula, void of substance and sustenance, were fed to students whose bellies were empty.  Standards are now the norm in our schools.  Test scores are deemed a sign of success or reflect a dearth of achievement.

For decades now, students who perform poorly on examinations are punished, as are their teachers.  Today, these same learners, educators, and institutions are told, starved as you are, it is time To Race To The Top!

Do policymakers not realize that without food or funds to sustain them, massive breakdowns are inevitable?  There is ample evidence.

Young bodies need attention if they are to grow healthy, happy, and strong. Food first. Motion and Emotional Stability too. Each nourishes a soul.  Test scores?  Anecdotal and empirical research reveals, these bring about little learning and increase the level of stress.

Clinicians acknowledge the long and short-term effects of tests and/or distress.

Equal access to excellent and equitably funded schools, superior, well-trained teachers, and curricula that offers opportunities for critical and creative thought, will begin to grow our children’s minds.  Play too is a phenomenal educator.  Children learn when they see facts within meaningful contexts, invent their own ideas and problems, explore, solve problems, and share their solutions.

Presidents, Philanthropists, and the policymakers, each of whom embraces Corporate Education Reforms, which establish business-efficiency-models, miss the obvious – performance measures the pressure to perform do not further education.  

The Obama Administration, through Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reported in 2011, 82 percent of American schools are failing. The Center on Education Policy studied the numbers and asserts the claim is “overstated.” In 2011 their estimate shows 48 percent are failing.  This is up from the 39% percent calculated in 2010.  That number too was the highest recorded since George W. Bush established No Child Left Behind.

Fortunately, there is agreement. The law is broken.  Waivers are issued. However, the one aspect of the NCLB policy and the more punitive Race To the Top that remains strong and stable is the over-reliance on high-stakes testing.  That is the problem.  High-stakes testing serves no one well, that is with the exception of publisher profiteers.  

The young and their elders do not learn quickly.  Solutions too take time and energy.  The thought that we might eradicate the achievement gap or poverty in a week of exams is anachronistic.  Still, there is reason to believe we can we can rebuild the American education system. Let us renew our belief in the commonweal.  Let us again advance democratic principles in education policy and practices.  It is time for true change.

It is in this spirit that Save Our Schools puts forth, the People’s Education objective.  Through sound people-centered policies and actions such as Seminars, Webinars, Town Hall Meetings, Rallies, Protests, and Marches Save Our Schools works tirelessly to effectuate change.  We address the issues of import in education.  Topics include and are not limited to, Early Childhood Education, Curriculum [Creation and Use of Curricula,] Accountability and Authentic Assessments, Racial and Socioeconomic Integration, Student Voices, Equitable Funding, Parent and Community Involvement, and Labor.


 1. INVEST IN AMERICA’S CHILDREN..  Preserve and transform public education. Keep public education strong. Hire, not fire teachers.  Rebuild our crumbling classrooms.

 2. INVEST IN PUBLIC EDUCATION..  We must provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. A high-quality education system, from preschool to vocational training and affordable higher education, is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now.

   3. FUND SCHOOLS EQUITABLY..  We must invest in American innovation. American needs to provide the funds to pay for quality resources and teachers regardless of the socio-economic status of a community.  Twenty-First Century technologies need to be made available to impoverished children, as well as the wealthy and those of middle-means. We must provide our children with the latest and greatest tools, and ensure that education is inspirational. Imaginative minds crave a challenge.

   4. OFFER PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE..   Education is the foundation that establishes a safe and stable society.  Unemployment rates among Americans who never went to college are double those who have a postsecondary education.   By 2018, an estimated 63 percent of all new U.S. jobs will require workers with an education beyond high school. Let us adequately and equally prepare our young, and establish affordable institutions of higher learning.

 5. ENSURE EQUAL EDUCATION FOR AL  Keep our schools equal. Current court decisions strengthen the deleterious divide. We must ensure that physical, mental, and emotional challenges do not hinder access to quality education.  Non-English language speakers and children whose second language is English cannot be shut out from our schools. Funding inequities must be remediated

 6. PROVIDE AGE APPROPRIATE  EDUCATION..  Learning is a process. Children develop in time when challenged to explore constructs that are meaningful to them.  Increasingly, 3 to 5 year olds are required to perform academically at a level once deemed appropriate for 1st – 3rd graders. The result is our young experience more rote “learning,” less direct play and hands-on experiences that lay the foundations for later academic success.

   7. RETURN TO FAIRER/BALANCED, INSTRUCTION AND ASSESSMENT. End, high-stakes testing used to evaluate students, teachers, and schools. Adopt Authentic Assessments, Portfolio Reviews, Student Journals and Interviews.  Abandon the quick-fix, one-size-fits-agendas of No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top that have established failure as the norm in our schools.

   8. PUT THE PUBLIC BACK IN THE LEAD. The people make all our schools better. Parents and students are profoundly aware of what aids learning. Teachers, trained experts in education, are there in the classroom and are in-tune. Rely on the people; they will rebuild the education dream.

   9.  STRENGTHEN DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION FOR ALL.  We need equal education – a system in which money doesn’t buy policy, a curriculum plan, or secure a contract for services rendered to public schools. We must ban anonymous political influence, posed as philanthropy, and end the corporate endowments that misshape education.  The doors in D.C. cannot be open to entrepreneurs and closed to the people. Immigrants and their children want to join in our democracy. The challenged child and children of lesser means cannot be scorned in a democratic country.  Each deserves his or her right to dream. .

Together, we must rebuild our education dream and reinvest in our young and their schooling. We have a civil and human rights crisis, not an education crisis, and we must begin to solve it now.

Please Join Save Our Schools [SOS]! Help us work to preserve and transform public education. Let us end policies that promote separate and unequal, and for all time ensure that public education is not influenced by or operated as a for-profit industry. Let us restore  pedagogical principles and prescribe practices that return learning to our classrooms.  Let us not fail our youth, while labeling them “failures.”  It is time to honor humans and the Whole Child.   Now, and in the future, let us Rebuild the American Dream Through Equal, Equitable, and Excellent Education For All.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively
and to think critically. Intelligence plus character –

that is the goal of true education.

~ Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 March on Washington

Betsy L. Angert is an Educator, Author, and an active learner. She advocates for Empathy and Education and Save Our Schools.

Then, The Great Society. Now, The Suburbanization of Poverty

Lyndon B Johnson – The Great Society

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

Then, in 1965, there was a vision.  President Lyndon Johnson addressed the tragedy that existed in America, poverty.  He had hoped to give birth to a Great Society.  Mister Johnson dreamed of the day when the truth of America reflected the richness that is often said to define this country.  Yet, his aspiration was deferred.  In a desire to create a Great Society, or two, one at home and one overseas, Lyndon Johnson lost his bearing. Ultimately, he destroyed most of what he hoped to build.  As President Obama begins his walk down a similar path, people ponder; what might President Obama plan and unintentionally promote.

For President Johnson, a single war, not the one on poverty, but instead the fight on foreign soil stood in the way of his, and America’s, true success.  The fiscal burden was a heavy weight on the nation’s budget.  Nevertheless, President Johnson insisted that the Administration ardently pursue American involvement in Vietnam while spending billions of dollars on domestic problems.  Much like our present President, Mister Obama, who eagerly escalates the war in Afghanistan, Lyndon Johnson believed he could attach inequities on the home front and still secure a win on distant shores.

Each Commander-In-Chief seemed to understand the excessive strain on the economy; yet, Johnson and Obama remained stalwart; they could do it all.  President Johnson, in time, relented.  He resigned himself to defeat.  He had not succeeded in his fight against poverty; nor did he triumph in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson exited the Executive Office without the legacy he had hoped to leave. Mister Obama, some say will realize the same fate.  Others observe that he has a luxury that President Johnson did not have.  Obama, just as his immediate predecessor had, learned from history.

In the mid-1960s, the Great Society was born and brushed aside.  The futility of the battles and American blood shed was a load too large for average citizens to bear.  Ordinary people protested.  The emphasis President Johnson had hoped to place on poverty was lost.  Thus, the desire to eliminate dearth in the world’s wealthiest country went by the wayside.  The thought to offer equal opportunities to the economically oppressed was forfeited.  Combat was far more visible then the poor.  This truth taught all President’s since Johnson that if you want the people to support your agenda, hide what you do not want the people to see.

Today, photographs of struggles do not fill the airwaves.  Earlier Administration made certain of this and the American people accepted the bliss of ignorance.  People in the States prefer to believe that they support the soldiers, even though American policies lead these young men and women to slaughter.

Radio Broadcasters barely, rarely, or never mention the body counts abroad.  Homeless persons, huddled together for warmth on the streets of the world’s wealthiest nation do not cause a stir.  Journalists just walk right past the indigents.  The fortunate few impecunious, those who can afford a room are easy to avoid, especially since they had dispersed.  The Suburbanization of Poverty helped to further isolate individuals who, most Americans, wish to keep invisible.

In the year 2010, there is no need to mention a misery out of sight, not the war in the Middle East or the economic conflict between the classes.  Announcers would rather rant, rage, and argue about Party politics, report on ploys, or discuss the latest and greatest scandal.

Then and now, the underprivileged are, time and again, avoided, ignored, or intentionally hidden. Embarrassed by their plight, the destitute do not speak up.  On occasion, these individuals are overwhelmed with what they must to do just to survive.  This serves Administrations well.  Issues, silently secured away from the masses, and the media, also work well for our Congressmen and women.  

Without awareness for the fallen, soldiers family’s, and the unfortunate thousands who do more than flirt with financial failures, Americans never think to address these costly concerns, poverty and warfare.  Legislators in our nation’s Capitol like that.

Therefore, those who lack a more powerful political presence require someone in Washington to talk for them.  Lyndon Johnson hoped to articulate what the all too frequently concealed could not.

Today, the disadvantaged have gone the way of the past President.  Frequently, they are the objects of scorn. People perceive the wars Johnson waged were lost.  Neither Vietnam, the conflict that the Johnson presidency is oft remembered for, nor the Great Society ended the way Mister Johnson envisioned.  In truth, no  Chief Executive of this country can move the mountains of policies that establish and maintain poverty.  That is a task only the people can accomplish.  We, the people, if change is to come, must never forget that we are the voice of the downtrodden, or could be.

However, in the many decades that have passed, the public has chosen not to take up the call.  Communities separate and on their own have not cared to become Great Societies. Instead, individually, and as neighbors, we have weakened the structure that could have supported those without the dollars to purchase the bootstraps the impoverished are told to use to pull themselves up.

As a nation, we do not provide adequate education for the poor.  Thus, success, or jobs that provide a sufficient salary are lost.  As a society, we relegate the less skilled to service positions.  They may live closer to the more stable and secure citizens, indeed, they may need to in order to survive. Yet, the penniless are no better off. They are barely able to adopt the label of Suburbanites.  This poverty-stricken population has boomed; yet, even in the ‘burbs the underprivileged are no better off, just better concealed

Please ponder the plight that currently permeates our Nation.  Text and statistics are presented below in The Suburbanization of Poverty: Trends in Metropolitan America, 2000 to 2008.

The Suburbanization of Poverty: Trends in Metropolitan America, 2000 to 2008

Elizabeth Kneebone, Senior Research Analyst and Emily Garr, Senior Research Assistant

The Brookings Institution

January 20, 2010

An analysis of the location of poverty in America, particularly in the nation’s 95 largest metro areas in 2000, 2007, and 2008 reveals that:

  • By 2008, suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the country. Between 2000 and 2008, suburbs in the country’s largest metro areas saw their poor population grow by 25 percent-almost five times faster than primary cities and well ahead of the growth seen in smaller metro areas and non-metropolitan communities. As a result, by 2008 large suburbs were home to 1.5 million more poor than their primary cities and housed almost one-third of the nation’s poor overall.
  • Midwestern cities and suburbs experienced by far the largest poverty rate increases over the decade. Led by increasing poverty in auto manufacturing metro areas-like Grand Rapids and Youngstown-Midwestern city and suburban poverty rates climbed 3.0 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively. At the same time, Northeastern metros-led by New York and Worcester- actually saw poverty rates in their primary cities decline, while collectively their suburbs experienced a slight increase.
  • In 2008, 91.6 million people-more than 30 percent of the nation’s population-fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. More individuals lived in families with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of poverty line (52.5 million) than below the poverty line (39.1 million) in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, large suburbs saw the fastest growing low-income populations across community types and the greatest uptick in the share of the population living under 200 percent of poverty.
  • Western cities and Florida suburbs were among the first to see the effects of the “Great Recession” translate into significant increases in poverty between 2007 and 2008. Sun Belt metro areas hit hardest by the collapse of the housing market saw significant gains in poverty between 2007 and 2008, with suburban increases clustered in Florida metro areas-like Miami, Tampa, and Palm Bay-and city poverty increases most prevalent in Western metro areas- like Los Angeles, Riverside, and Phoenix. Based on increases in unemployment over the past year, Sun Belt metro areas are also likely to experience the largest increases in poverty in 2009.
  • If common citizens are as committed to change as they said they were during the 2008 election cycle, let us look back so that we might move forward.  Consider the United States Constitution.  This divine document states, that average Americans, can petition our Representatives of what matters, society as a whole.  After all, it is we, the people, who place men and women into Congressional offices.  Our Senators, and those in the House, know who has the truest influence. Corporations cannot employ our Representatives without our permission. You, I, and even the registered impoverished voter, can, and must, create the Great Society that Lyndon Baines Johnson did not.  I think such a provision is our right and responsibility, For as Author John Donne recited . . .

    “All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…

    As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….

    No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    ~ John Donne

    References for A Great Society Lost To War . . .

    He Works. We Wait

    “White House to Main Street” Town Hall: Elyria, OH

    copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

    A recent change of the guard in the Massachusetts Senate race force the President to reveal he is working.  We, the American people, are waiting, just as we have been for months and months.  For a full year, countless citizens have felt as though they were patient.  Yet, the President did not seem to have their interests at heart.  True change has not come.  Countless constituents anticipate none is forthcoming.  Three hundred and sixty five plus have gone by and the American people are tired of being patient.

    The circumstances in their personal lives have proven to be critical, worse now than in 2009.  Oh, some remain hopeful. They continue to believe.  Several are waiting for Godot, who as we all know, never comes.  Millions await the Messiah.  Many thought Barack Obama was the great liberator.  This human was perchance, a deity, devotees continue to declare.  He is a divine being, or was in the eyes of the electorate before he entered the Oval Office.  Now, Americans are wasted, wanting.  They trusted and waited for him to transform the nation.  Today, the people wonder; is it too late.  

    Senator Obama was and is suave, sensitive, and a sensational orator.  Surely, words would become action.  Progressives suspended disbelief.  The Left listened to a man advocate for more war in Afghanistan. Then, they decided he was the profound peacemaker.  Conservatives too saw themselves in this gentleman.  He was polished, polite, and predominately known for his prestigious credentials. Hence, the fiscally traditional believed the wait was over.  Today, each of these exclaim, as President he is not the one.

    In contrast, the markedly Independent did not pause.  These mavericks need no intervals. The detractors, decidedly cynical, opinionated opponents, and the perpetually free from Party politics, never waited for what they wanted.  They did as they always have.  Raging Republicans and “free” thinking Independents gathered the reigns, took to the streets and stood firm.  They rallied the troops of discontented Americans.  They stood their ground.  These lovers of self-governing principles never grew weary.  Self-directed voters shouted; they screamed.  They garnered strength and swayed some from the Right and some from the Left to take their position.  We will kill the Obama agenda, shrieked crowds of “concerned” citizens.

    The Religious Right also does not hesitate.  Indeed, they never doubted that the person known as Barack Obama was not a savior.  He was, or so these individuals said, a “socialist.”  Committed Conservatives cringed at the notion that Mister Obama might be thought of as the embodiment of a second coming.  They would chortle in distress; perchance this President would be another Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    It was not difficult to persuade those who had previously adopted a wait and see approach.   Numerous issues have not been attended to.  The pledge to end “Don’t Ask. Don’t tell,” frustrated a few.  Gay or straight families and friends have become impatient.  The thought that Health Care For All was left for Congress to ponder, plan, and present was seen as folly. The President, who belatedly cajoled the House and the Senate, was thought ineffective or just not truly interested in the welfare of the people.  Then there were the financial woes the President promised to address and did not adequately do so.  Indeed, millions of citizens muse; Obama sold out.  Our Chief Executive appointed Wall Street insiders to serve as his economic team.  Each of these individuals held a singular intent.  With bailout bucks, they would buy friends, influence enemies, and reward former colleagues.

    Common citizens cried out in economic pain.  Rather than enact policies that might relieve the people’s plight, billions were bestowed upon wealthy bankers.

    Americans have been waiting for his audacity to bring more than hope for bipartisan approval on program after program.  Most of the electorate wanted Mister Obama to exit Iraq fully, not to leave tens of thousands of troops behind.   Numerous waited for him to assertively enact a renewable energy policy.  However, as was evident at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, the President, does not plan to authentically regulate or reduce greenhouse gas  emissions.

    Since Mister Obama took office, small businessmen and women applied for loans, only to have their applications rejected.  Granted, he pressed bankers to respond to the needs of the little people.  Still, calls for cash went unheeded.  Underwater homeowners also pleaded.  Refinance my mortgage please.  Requests were denied.  Ultimately, days before voters in the Bay State cast a ballot for Scott Brown, a banner headline appeared in the local paper; Obama’s foreclosure relief program called a failure.  Most borrowers have not been helped.

    Credit card companies were allowed to go wild.  As the President observed, Credit has become “less of a lifeline and more of an anchor.”  Interest rates rose drastically, although not on personal savings accounts.  While the President proposed and [assed legislation to curb the crunch, The Credit Card Industry found other ways to avoid a pinch.  They will Profit From Sterling Payers.  Unemployed and underemployed, well, they were neglected just as they had been before the Messiah came.

    These troubles are not unique to any one region.  Trials and tribulations exist throughout the United States.

    While some may prefer to wait for the day when the President’s plans bear fruit, doubters do not.  For millions, the results in Massachusetts speak volumes.   These persons proclaim, this election, just as the two held months earlier, were not a reflection of a poorly run campaign by Martha Coakley, Virginia’s Creigh Deeds, or the New Jersey incumbent Democratic Governor, Jon Corzine.  All were sure signs of voter discontent.   The Republican wins were a blow for the Obama Administration.   Now, perhaps, the President will hear the message.

    Certainly, Obama enthusiasts have come to accept what cannot be avoided.  Americans lack confidence in the Commander-In-Chief.  The tidal wave of resentment has generated much concern. Loyalists, know not what to do.  They gather round cyberspace chat rooms.  Some seek solace in the acumen of broadcasters.  What will Keith, Rachel, or Jon Stewart say?  How might these masterful commentators direct the stalwart?  A few hop onto another bandwagon.  The theory is a populist philosophy will turn folks around.

    This is the position the White House adopts.  Shortly, after the special election results were released, Mister Obama answered without hesitation.  He stood before an audience in Elyria, Ohio, a community devastated by what some suggest is an economic Depression.  There the President enthusiastically proclaimed he is working for us.  For emphasis, Mister Obama forcefully opined, “Let me tell you – so long as I have the privilege of serving as your President, I’ll never stop fighting for you.”  The Nation’s Chief Executive then assured average Americans, “(T)his isn’t about me. It’s about you.” Yet, this novel appearance calls Mister Obama’s assertion into question.

    Several observers stated Obama was back.  Fire was, once again, in his belly.  His campaigner style will certainly help his poll numbers to soar.  His persuasive presence would ensure a Democratic win.  However, the familiar rationale proved to be erroneous.

    The President had attempted to coax a Massachusetts crowd days before the dire voter decision.  At the behest of Martha Coakley, the nation’s Chief Executive rallied round the Democratic candidate.  Still his rhetoric could not reverse the momentum.  Indeed, what would be an overwhelming demise was delivered.

    Possibly, more than a mere Senate seat was lost.  Patience amongst Obama supporters has waned. The reality that American Independents and Republicans never looked back became more clear.  Scott Brown was but the amplification of the incensed mantra.  Stop health care. Do not provide civil trials for terrorists.  Rather than raise taxes; cut them. Secret backroom deals will not stand.  Special interests are not ours.  

    Average American Joe and Jane are jollied.  Unlike the blindly faithful, they knew not to wait for Barack Obama or Godot.  The energized, eager, and enraged took the government back.

    The hurt and hurting citizens saw that Barack Obama made the office his own, or perchance, he preserved the Clinton presidency.  The incensed did not trust the followers who point to the progress made in the effort to exit Iraq.  Instead, those outraged by slight concessions sympathized with the soldiers who struggle to survive on foreign soil.  

    Disheartened, even early supporters squeal at the reality this President has increased America’s involvement in the Middle Eastern affairs. The Obama Administration authorized targeted assassinations.

    Today, the once hopeful also speak out.  “He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For.”  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan did not foretell what was to come. Devotees did not expect the President to defend the latest unemployment numbers as the he did.   “The jobs numbers are reminder that the road to recovery is never straight.” This thought was not what disciples hoped for.  No, the devoted Obama aficionados did not expect him to  apolitically offer an axiom, the path towards peace. is a rough road to travel.  Nor did the dedicated expect that support of the Messianic President would equate to justification for a mixed record on Counterterrorism Reform.  

    Few from the Left thought they would help elect a Republican.  Dutiful Democrats could not imagine the day that they would declare I will wait no more.  For decades, people trusted, a President from their Party was, as Mister Obama opined, working for them.  Yet, this time, perhaps in the previous two elections, and in the next go round, the public will proclaim as Boston area Waitress Vitoria Vigna, did. “I am a Democrat and to say I voted Republican was, I was like, oh, my god, I’m voting Republican.”  However, as Ms Vigna expounded, the sentiment is, “people are more agitated and anxious and a lot of people’s attitude is what has really changed? Really?”  What has changed?  Possibly, the population has given up on Godot and on Presidents who they believe have not fully perform as promised.

    He Works. We Wait, or did . . .

    Consumer Confidence Rises; Democracy Declines

    March 21, 2007: Benjamin Barber explains why consumer culture is bad for humanity

    copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

    Great News!  The good life will soon return to America.  Auspiciously, months before the holiday shopping season began, Americans were told that after more than a year of fiscal recession, or what some have characterized as akin to an economic depression, consumers were optimistic.  The confidence  index and other indicators were much improved.  Manufacturing executives assured the public, the engine that drives the free enterprise system was in a “sustainable recovery mode.” In the very near future, products, and people’s sense of need, would be fabricated again. Everything will be right with the world, economically.  Few feared the threat that, long ago, Americans had come to accept.   The foundation of a democratic system had eroded in favor of consumption.

    Egalitarianism had been so swiftly and subtly replaced by free enterprise, only a small number observed what had occurred.  Mostly, Americans were out in the marketplace, the malls, or in the halls of their homes contemplating what else they might buy.  The Declaration of Independence, the document that calls for equality could not be seen amongst the clutter.  People in this Capitalist country do not necessarily ponder the contradiction.  Satisfied and secure in the belief “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  The purpose of government is to protect these rights.  Perhaps not, In the United States the population acts as though there are more important concerns to consider.  

    Citizens are certain the core issue is, “How might I retain my right to buy goods and services?”

    The oft-heard answer: manufacturing.  American industry and individuals must invent and invest in expansion.  The United States must produce products to sell.  People to serve the needs of purchasers are also indispensable. The need to fabricate an adequate supply, and the staff vital to support it, will increase employment.  Jobs will provide workers with greater purchasing power.  Expenditure will generate profits.  Proceeds provide a gain that can then be invested in manufacturing.  The only missing component in this cycle is perchance the most crucial, promotion.  In America, we, the people, have allowed our selves to be manufactured.  Citizens are no longer the government; they are customers.

    Toddlers, teens, twenty, thirty and forty something’s are taught just as earlier generations were,  for an industrialized country to thrive consumers must “feel” confident.  An apprehensive public needs to be convinced it is safe and sane to buy.  Thus, patrons are told they can pay later.  No money need be placed down.  Credit can be arranged.  Long-term loans are available, and why not take advantage.  Americans have been given ample confirmation; debt will not destroy them or our “democracy.”

    Besides, banks built empires on binge spending and received billions in bailouts.   The country and Capitalism did not collapse.  The economic crisis was but an ephemeral blip.

    Fiscal institutions and  financial advisers assuage Americans; there is bad debt and good debt.  Borrowing has its benefits, a new sofa, a sweet set of wheels, and a sensational home.  Damn democracy, social equality, the homeless persons alongside the road, and those without health care coverage.  Full speed, or better said, a shopping spree ahead.

    As a barrage of information built on the argument, the economy is stable, buyers began to believe.  Indeed, faith in the American free enterprise system was born long ago.

    Birth of a Notion

    Adam Smith introduced an idea. “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.” Later Economists expanded on and extrapolated from the original theory.  Then, early in the twentieth century, Edward Bernays, the father of Public Relations maximized the maxim, much to the delight of American manufacturers., such as the architect of the assembly line, Henry Ford, and the originator of the premise, “planned obsolescence,” Alfred P. Sloan.

    Together, this team of 20th century tycoons converted what had been the crawl, from a reluctant consumer, to an abundantly content and avid trot.  In America, babies were not born, shoppers were.  These gents understood that if companies were to create a commitment to covet, it would take time, talk, and constant titillation.  Consumers are as children.  Advertisers must hold the hand of potential customers. Marketers will teach them the lesson; what you think is only a want is truly a necessity.  

    Radio and television broadcasters must also encourage expenditures.  Periodicals must print the message. Peers will surely support Capitalist principles, as will those Representatives who are well financed by free marketers.  “As consumption goes, so goes the American economy.”

    Economic Expansion Energized

    By Thanksgiving eve, with Black Friday just round the bend, bargain hunters had become sufficiently encouraged.  There were signs that consumers and the Commerce Department were sanguine.  Buoyed by the numbers the Labor Department released, retailers trusted there was reason for holiday cheer. “Unemployment benefits slid to 466,000 last week”, the lowest in more than a year, from 501,000 the prior week. It was the fourth straight weekly decline. The first time since January that claims dipped below 500,000.”

    The evidence was in.  U.S. durable goods orders were up in August.  Granted, the government’s “cash-for-clunkers” program spurred consumers to spend more on major purchases. Similarly, the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers helped revitalize housing sales.  Nevertheless, what truly drove the American people was manufactured and purchased long ago.  Citizens are nothing but customers. The American people have come to resign themselves to a manufactured reality.  Government is not of, by, or for the people; it is the rival.  Today, the population professes, Administrations do not protect our rights.  The public protests.  Imposed rules and regulations deny the common folk their birthright to acquire.

    History; Democracy on the Decline

    It all began back in the day, in 1776, to be specific.   Not only did the acclaimed Adam Smith present his political economic essays in The Wealth of Nations, at the same time the American Declaration of Independence was signed, sealed, and delivered.  Author Adam Smith, the oft-acclaimed engineer of a free market system, or more fully his followers, gave birth to a notion that self-interest is a superior mission.   Hence, whilst our forefathers worked to give birth to a democratic nation, one in which egalitarian principles are prominent, those who espouse entrepreneurial ethics endeavored to ensure that free enterprise ruled.

    Indeed, tis true; Adam Smith advocated for independent thought and actions.  He, however, was also a believer in the greater good.  He understood and advanced a need for government.  Yet, free-trade Economists such as David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, as well as tempter Edward Bernays, and tycoons Henry Ford, and Alfred P. Sloan promoted a further cultural shift.  Businesses must manufacturer consumers, and so they did.

    Purveyors pursued the public.  People were persuaded to purchase.  The American populace became nothing but pawns.  The common folk are not forced to buy; they are only constantly coaxed to believe wants are needs.  Equal representation and freedom to choose has been converted to Capitalism.  Adults have been infantilized.  Mature Moms, Dads, men, and women say, “Give me.  Give me.  Give me.”

    Shoppers Succumb. Economic Strength Expands Again

    Buyers trust; they can have all they want.  Prosperity was the dream, the undertaking, and indeed, in America, affluence is the way of life.  We ponder it, produce it, and protect policies that will promote it.

    Educated elders, Economists, and elected officials expound; if businesses are bestowed with the freedom to bring in new revenue, bliss will be ours today, tomorrow, and for time in eternity.

    Wealth will be shared equally amongst all our citizens, or at least the opportunity to acquire; to aspire, to ascend, towards the American Dream will be possible.  We only need to begin to buy again.  Economic experts, just as everyday commoners trust in the Capitalist system of consumption, and why not.  In this country the constant refrain is “Capitalism is the worst economic system  . . . except for all the others that have been tried.”

    With this thought in mind, it is easy to ignore history.  We need not reflect upon the seventeen recessions and world crises since The Great Depression.  In this North American continent, forever, we have faith; we are constantly “turning a corner” Perhaps we are.  Americans have moved back to the future.

    Back to a Boom and Bust future

    ‘Without regard for the existing recession, nor the threat of a deeper Depression, citizens brush aside the words of woe and warning.  Mindful of the messages massaged by the powerful few, who control the media, the former Vice President Albert Gore observed television covers trivial excess.  In his latest book, The Assault on Reason, Mister Gore acknowledged American democracy “is in danger of being hollowed out,” as are the brains of buyers who know what they want.  Good news?

    The summer doldrums gave way to greater news.   Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke affirmed there is raison d’être for bliss; “Even though from a technical perspective the recession is very likely over at this point.”  

    Finally, Americans can muse once, twice, or thrice more; assembly lines with accolades to Henry Ford, will hum again.  The nation’s most powerful tool, mass manufacturing, will ensure near full employment. “Planned obsolescence,” a tribute to Alfred P. Sloan, will still serve as the old reliable economic engine.  The “need” for newer, better, or the best will bring mighty manufacturers new business. The time to consume is once again upon us.  

    Indeed, Edward Bernays ensured that the free enterprise system would be easily assimilated.  Adam Smith while the originator of the theory did not implant the seed of shopping as well as later Economists did.   David Ricardo with assistance from John Start Mills enhanced, and would create an American culture of coveters.

    In 2009, we witness the outcome.  As US Novelist William Faulkner observed  “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.”  What was is ever-present in our lives.  

    The economic downturn has required reflection.  Americans think to adopt a paradigm, which is difficult for those, accustomed to endless shopping sprees to accept, self-control, and a sense of being part of a broader society.  While from appearances, in the near term, it would seem the people have been easily able to reduce spending in truth, consumers lie in wait, hopeful that this recession too shall pass.

    Economic Past is Ever Present

    For a short while, Americans were given an opportunity to ponder the predicament, people began to save., The electorate believed that economic debt and emotional deficits could no longer be endured.  Fiscal frugality had become the favored fashion in America.  “Reluctance to spend became the legacy of the recession.”  Citizens said, countless decades of spending in excess of earnings must cease. Protests could be heard; government cannot continue to print more paper to cover corporate creditors arrears.  Our countrymen must no longer rely on credit.

    During the height of the fiscal crisis, Americans looked to the country’s core value. Social equality, as delineated in the Declaration of Independence, was finally thought to be the more attractive commodity.  However, its appeal was short-lived.  Democracy could not compete with more tangible temptations. Ultimately, citizens, consumers, surrendered to their concrete desires.  

    News reports served to reassure restless shoppers.  Advertisers did as well.  Earlier in the year, whilst mechanized factories stood silent and still, merchants remained hard at work, Businesses continued to manufacturer customers.  Commercials sustained America’s shared awareness. “Buy. Buy. Buy!”  The people confidently did.

    Capitalism; The Credible Crucible

    Indeed, for the first time since the recession began more businesses planned to hire workers rather than fire employees.  There seemed to be ample reason to hope.  

    Some Economists stated there will be strong growth in 2010.  Existing Home Sales in the United States Jumped.  Prices fell. Home Depot announced profits were better than analyst estimates. Luxury retailer, Saks Fifth Avenue, whose clientele was once thought immune to severe recessionary slumps, beat the street.  All around, earnings were surprisingly strong.  Principles planted firmly in Americans’ collective consciousness assure us we will be fine.  

    It is as Adam Smith proclaimed. The notion of the free enterprise system, works. Every individual is led by an invisible hand to achieve, and ,to do the best with his or her abilities. However, poverty is not necessarily reduced.  Prosperity does not consistently or evenly grow,  Innovation is and is not encouraged’ and social and moral progress is evident only for the elite and entrepreneurs.  

    What is true, Statistics say one thing, citizens say another.

    The numbers make obvious the need to save.  Nonetheless, consumers covet and cling to the idea that what they want is truly what they need .  Accolades to Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mills, and most assuredly to Henry Ford, Alfred P. Sloan, and the maestro Edward Bernays, the mastermind behind a Century of Self.

    With thanks to these theorists and tycoons, consumers are happy to ignore Unemployment rates of 10.2 percent of Americans in October.  Certain that the economy will rebound, consumers will  just shop until they drop.

    Black Friday, the holiday shopping season will be blissful.  Customers will remain confident and content.  All will be right with the world. Capitalism will be stable, secure, and the economic system of free enterprise will endure. Only the underlying principles of Democracy will be lost. What a small price to pay.

    References for Recession and Reason . . .’

    Neighborhoods, At Last, Have a Ball

    Barack & Michelle Obama as their first dance as the new President and First Lady (Full Version)

    copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

    If that is all there is, and there is more than we ever imagined, then let us keep dancing.  Let us sing, and have a ball.  If that is all, then we, as a country, have much.  We can see the errors of our ways.  We can change.  Yes we can.  

    A Democratic society adjusts to situation.  We alter course when we have gone astray.  The people can choose another direction.  Neighbors unite.  Belatedly, as it may sometimes be, we can come together and work more wisely.  We have.  We are the American way, at last.  At long, long last, our love has come along.

    The lonely days are over.  Life is like a song.  At last, the skies above are blue.  Our hearts were wrapped up in clover the night we looked at you, America reborn.

    We found a dream that we could speak to, a dream that we can call our own.   The vision is one we will, share, forever.  America, you are our home sweet home.

    Yes Eddie, There is a country that can!

    Watch CBS Videos Online

    Obama’s Victory Speech

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

    It was the Friday before Election Day 2008.  The sun was low in the sky.  My spirits were also near to the ground.  As the days focused on “change,” turned to months, and near two years, I had begun to lose hope.  Too much time had passed.  The Bush Administration overturned too many laws.  In the recent past, the country had transgressed back into the future.  Others were blissful, certain a better world would come.  I was not confident.  Near an hour before, Eddie, a young man who has lived on Earth for less than a quarter of a century, said he may not vote.  He did not have faith that we, or he, were the change a country could believe in.  for Eddie, “Yes we can” equated to “No he would not.”

    Eddie had lost the ability to dream.  As was true for too many Americans, the vision of what could be seemed but an illusion.  For some citizens who, decades earlier, had hoped the country could change, life had become a nightmare.  While this fine fellow may not have experienced a similar sense of dire desperation he did not aspire to do more than he had done.

    Twenty-six months earlier, I accidentally discovered Eddie had never participated in an election.  On another occasion, moments after I cast a ballot during a primary campaign, I encountered the knowledgeable fellow. Then, oh so long ago, I learned Eddie had not registered to vote, ever.  When I asked him of his vote in 2006, he admitted, he did not even know an election was held.

    I was fascinated, or was I frustrated.  I know not.  I am only certain that more than a year later, when I realized Eddie had submitted his application and received his voter registration card, I was overjoyed.

    At that time, Eddie said he only chose to commit to possibly participate in the election process when his college Professor promised he would receive class credit if he registered.  The scholar truly did not expect to feel a deep desire to cast a ballot anytime soon.  Eddie barely paid attention to what went on beyond his personal play.  Parties filled his frame.  Politics, not so much.

    Granted, Eddie, an extremely curious soul could carry on a conversation when the discussion turned to government or the economy.  However, way back then, he mostly asked questions and listened.  Eddie was polite when I shared story after story about this political event or that.  He could and did converse on the issues.  Mostly, when we talked, life was the topic of import.

    Relationships, realities, reflections, and realizations filled our tête-à-têtes.  In time, we grew closer.  I first met Eddie at the recreation center.  I swim daily and he works as a lifeguard.  Hence, we speak with each other often.

    I have witnessed, first-hand, growth I could have never imagined in such a short span.  I always accepted Eddie is very smart.  His curiosity is endless.  Eddie is an eager, enthusiastic student of the world.  He absorbs information like few I have ever known.  It is not what I shared that accelerated his evolution.  Eddie avidly exchanges with everyone.

    Perchance, that is why, as the Presidential election became more important to his friends and family.  Eddie began become interested himself.  This fine fellow became the person with whom I could speak when I went to the pool.  He knew what I did.  He read.  He watched.  He tuned into television reports and connected on the Internet.  Eddie was engaged in the election.

    Then it happened.  On All Hallows Eve, just before I placed my body into the pool, when I asked if Eddie had voted early, Eddie said, I see no reason to take part.  Barack Obama will win or he will not.  It is destiny.  Our fates are predetermined.  “Whatever occurs,” Eddie explained, “is out of our control.”  He shared his religious philosophies and stories from the Bible to further illustrate this thought.

    I tried to reason with him.  I expressed my empathy.  I told tales of when or why I too wondered what was providence and what was within our power.  It was obvious to me, my words were of no avail.  Forlorn, I swam.  What else could I do.  No one can convince another to do what he or she does not wish to do.  I resigned myself to what I could not change, the mind of another human being.  I have long known, people choose for themselves.  Each of us has an effect on another.  Still, true transformations come from within.

    As I was awash in water, my mind moved.  I did not think I could offer more to Eddie.  I believed there were no words that might be perceived as wisdom.  Indeed, I am no wiser than he.  I was left to be one with my thoughts.  When I emerged from the concrete pond, I approached Eddie again.

    I shared my own story, my personal experience, and why this election, every election means so much to me.  I told Eddie a tale I had offered before.  I first became active in politics as a child.  At age eleven or twelve, I marched with my family in what would be my first Civil Rights demonstration.  

    Just before my birth, by law, people of color could not attend school with white folks.  Even after African-American children were finally allowed to attend school with Anglos, there were still numerous other restrictions on persons who were charcoal in color.  Some boundaries were visible, many were not.

    “In my lifetime,” I affirmed, “Those whose complexion is dark could not enter a restaurant reserved for people pale of face.”  In the few years that I have been on this planet, segregation was allowed to return to America.  The “privilege” to share a classroom was afforded in the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown versus Board of Education, and was virtually rescinded.  I asked Eddie to consider the future of the daughter he and his bride had recently conceived.

    Yes, in two short years Eddie had experienced much change, within himself.  He was no longer the party person he had been.  His interest in his own education had grown.  The thoughtful chap now embraced knowledge more than he had before, and Eddie always was quite brilliant.  A booklover, likely from birth, intellectually Eddie grasped the veracity of government.  “Eddie,” I quietly exclaimed, “the President picks Supreme Court Justices.  The appointments last a lifetime.”  The Roberts Court has imposed edicts that will not be easily erased, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 Et. Al  

    “Oh Eddie,” my voice barely audible at this point, the Supreme Court, under George W. Bush has moved the country to the “Right.”  Some, such as I fear, we have journeyed back more than a century.  Some of the current jurors are elderly.  There is reason to believe a few will choose to step down from the bench.  If we, the people, do not cast a ballot for Barack Obama, I fear the Court, will move farther into the private lives of citizens.

    I chattered on.  My characteristic calm demeanor a bit less controlled as saltwater streamed from my eyes. “Eddie, for me, race and discrimination acted out against those of color is not the only issue that must call us to the ballot box.”  There is so much more to consider.  Economic, environmental, and education policies.  “Eddie, think of your college loans, those you may have now and the prospects to pay for your later study.”

    “Oh my gosh Eddie,, President Bush may not have been the change I or we would believe in, but he trusted he could do as he wanted.”  I reasoned or attempted to articulate every thought I had, to share my personal history, and relate it to Eddie’s own truth.  Change, I mused, will come.  As individuals or as a country, we may not have control of all occurrences.  Nonetheless, as I learned in Elementary School, “Not to make a decision is to decide.”

    In my own life I realized, one by one Americans cast a vote. Collectively, we, the people, choose a President.  The nation’s Chief Executive then selects who will rule the Courts, what regulations he will impose, and which laws he will sign.  “Eddie, in my own life, in yours, we have seen how the President can be the change, or the constituency can be what we believe in.”

    Throughout my tearful plea, Eddie was pensive.  He gazed into my eyes.  His stare never left my face.  Then, he asked, was I crying.  Initially, I made an excuse.  “It is the chlorine,” I remarked. Then, more honestly, I said “Yes.”  I tried to tell Eddie how much the election means to me.  I shared my sincerest belief.  The power that each of us has as citizens, if only we realize what we can do when we come together as one . . . My words could not express what I yearned to communicate.  Nevertheless, Eddie thanked me.  He said he would sincerely make an effort to get to the polls, to be part of the solution.

    I was at a loss.  I feared I had not said what I might have.  Nor were my words as powerful as they could have been.  In truth, tonight when President Elect Barack Obama stated my sentiments, better than I might ever have done, he said to Eddie what I could not though my tears.  I invite reflection.  Please peruse the words of a man who speaks for all Americans.  Ponder the profundity of “Yes we can!”  

    In America, government is as this Presidential campaign has been, of, by, and for the people.  Congratulations and thank you Barack Obama, Joe Biden, you, me, America.  Eddie, I am grateful for your empathy and decision to cast a ballot.  I have faith again; hope is alive. We, Eddie, and all Americans are indeed, the change we can believe in.


    Obama’s Victory Speech

    The New York Times

    November 4, 2008

    The following is a transcript of Senator Barack Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, as provided by Federal News Service.

    Senator Barack Obama: (Cheers, applause.) Hello, Chicago. (Cheers, applause.)

    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. (Cheers, applause.)

    It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

    It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — (cheers) — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states; we are and always will be the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

    It’s the answer that — that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America. (Cheers, applause.)

    A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. (Cheers, applause.) Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. (Applause.) I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor Palin for all they’ve achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead. (Cheers, applause.)

    I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton, and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. (Cheers, applause.)

    And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady, Michelle Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

    Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. (Cheers, applause.)

    And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

    To my sister Maya, my sister Auma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given to me. I am grateful to them. (Cheers, applause.)

    And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe — (cheers, applause) — the unsung hero of this campaign who built the best — (cheers) — the best political campaign I think in the history of the United States of America — (cheers, applause) — to my chief strategist, David Axelrod — (cheers, applause) — who has been a partner with me every step of the way, to the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics — (cheers) — you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done. (Cheers, applause.)

    But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. (Cheers, applause.) It belongs to you. (Cheers.)

    I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington; it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause. (Cheers, applause.) It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy — (cheers) — who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the Earth. This is your victory. (Cheers, applause.)

    Now, I know you didn’t do this just to win an election, and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

    There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

    The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there. (Cheers, applause.)

    Audience: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

    Mr. Obama:: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know the government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

    What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.

    And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

    Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

    Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House — a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. (Cheers, applause.)

    As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends — though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too. (Cheers, applause.)

    And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. (Cheers, applause.) To those — to those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you. (Cheers, applause.) To those who seek peace and security: we support you. (Cheers, applause.) And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals — democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope. (Cheers, applause.)

    That’s the true genius of America, that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

    This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She is a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election, except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. (Cheers, applause.)

    She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons, because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America: the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress, the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed, yes we can.

    At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

    When there was despair in the Dust Bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

    Audience: Yes we can!

    Mr. Obama:: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

    Audience: Yes we can!

    Mr. Obama:: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We shall overcome.” Yes we can.

    Audience: Yes we can!

    Mr. Obama:: A man touched down on the Moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

    Yes we can.

    Audience: Yes we can.

    Mr. Obama:: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there’s so much more to do. So tonight let us ask ourselves, if our children should live to see the next century, if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

    This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

    Audience: Yes we can.

    Mr. Obama:: Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

    I thank Eddie, Barack, and the American people.  The dream is reborn, and we, as a country, can believe again.  Yes we can!

    History Referenced and Realized . . .

    A Bankrupt Nation

    copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

    It is becoming more apparent with each passing day that the American lifestyle as it currently exists is unsustainable. For more than three decades, we have accepted the false narrative that we can live beyond our means and there will be no cost for the extravagance. Not only has our government accepted and promoted this falsehood, but we as a nation have accepted it as well. It has become so engrained into our national psyche that anyone who dares to point out its inherent flaws is immediately ridiculed by politicians, the media, and their fellow citizens.

    You see rather than looking at the real culprits of our failed domestic and foreign policies we want to create these “bogeymen” who want to destroy our sacred way of life. The truth is that it is always easier to blame others for our shortsightedness and faults.??

    For more than three decades, we have been taught and believe that if we could just change the world into our image all of our problems would be solved. The latest and a perfect example of this strategy was our response to the 9/11 attack. After being attacked our first response and really our only response was to say if we can only change those godless and depraved Arabs and the Middle East to be more like us this would prevent anymore attacks. Now think about that response for a minute. They hate us for our freedoms so our answer is to offer them those same freedoms? Rather than sit down and analyze the situation and the causes behind the attacks, we commit ourselves to this “global war on terror.” A war in which no one seemed to have considered the cost in lives, material, and national psychology. We developed this strategy that the way you prevent war is by starting wars. No one considered the truth about military power, that it has limited effects on the outcome of international events.??

    You see we live in a country where following the Cold War we believed that we were invincible. We believed the hype that we were the only “Super Power” and that by being such we were entitled to exert our control (influence)over the rest of the world. That we could solve not only all of our problems, but the rest of the world’s problems by using our forces to recast the world in our image. I mean after all it worked in Germany and Japan didn’t it?

    This belief or thought pattern is not exclusive to Republicans or Democrats, it is deeply seated in all of us. The sooner we acknowledge this fact the sooner we will be able to address it and that in stead of demagoguery we should look in the mirror and see that we have found the enemy and it is us. It is this insane belief that we can continue to enjoy this lifestyle without paying for it that continues to fuel our downfall. Somewhere there has been this disconnect on Main street and in Washington that there is this unlimited supply of money, credit, energy, food, etc. and that if we just change them or drill more or buy more we can solve all of our problems.??

    The only President in recent times that had the temerity to begin the discussion of how we were on the road to bankruptcy was ridiculed and loss in a landslide to the king of false hopes. Jimmy Carter in his now infamous “malaise” speech said some very thought provoking things. He tried to tell America that we could not continue on this road of consumerism based in living on credit, foreign oil, and importing all of our products. He stated that we had switched from a nation of producers to a nation of consumers. He stated that we had begun to rely to heavily on others to do what we had once done for ourselves and that ruin lay at the end of that road.??

    What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath, by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.??

    We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure…The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.??

    We can manage the short-term shortages more effectively and we will, but there are no short-term solutions to our long-range problems. There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.

    I would ask anyone interested in the subject of what we are facing as a nation to please read the speech in it’s entirety. I would also dare anyone to deny how so many of the issues and proposed actions given by Carter were not at least a beginning to resolving the same problems we are facing still. If we had initiated some of the solutions proposed by President Carter, I doubt we would be facing the problems today to the magnitude that we are. But of course he was immediately branded a pessimist and a loser, it kills me how so many people say tell us the truth we can handle it. Well, when someone decided to try that radical strategy we see how it was received.??

    The truth be told we as a nation are on the verge of losing what little democracy we had. We have decided for the sake of consumerism and expediency to abdicate our rights to control our government. We no longer believe in government by the people for the people. We want to make all of the tough problems go away by outsourcing them to the poor, the mentally weak, and the uneducated. So long as we can continue to feed our vigorous appetites for more of everything. Every President since Carter has won elections by promising one thing; that we could continue to live this irresponsible lifestyle without any sacrifice. We could have our bullets and butter at the same time. We could extend American power without having to give up anything. Sacrifice and hard work which were once the bedrock of the American experience are now viewed as negatives and old fashioned.??

    The days of the free lunch are quickly coming to an end. We can no longer continue to live beyond our means. Most Americans have maxed out not only their credit cards, but their mortgages and retirements. Our government and business leaders have resorted to borrowing from foreign countries to finance our debt spending spree with little or no concern about the strategic repercussions of these decisions. They would have us to believe that we are safe from foreign intervention or pressure from our indebtedness. As if the borrower has the power over the lender through sheer military force. It they don’t give us what we want then we will destroy and take what we want.??

    We as a nation must use this crisis as a starting point to return to production and innovation. We could use this opportunity to create an alternate energy source industry and production. When Senator Obama proposed such an idea, he was immediately ridiculed. It is this type of closed minded, corporate financed rhetoric that has to stop if we are ever going to overcome the problems that beset us. Thirty years after President Carter’s speech, we are still no closer to finding and using alternative energy technologies. We are still locked into the mindset that we can dig more holes and destroy more of the earth to solve our problems without any sacrifice. The snake oil propaganda must stop and stop now.

  • Jimmy Carter’s “malaise speech, By President Jimmy Carter.  The Encyclopedia of Earth. July 15, 1979

    Reverend Martin Luther King, Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Edward Peck; Fierce Urgency of Now

    Martin Luther King, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

    He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

    ~ Martin Luther King, Junior

    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

    ~ Martin Luther King, Junior.

    Days from now America will commemorate an anniversary.  On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Junior was brutally assassinated.  Citizens will recall the wisdom of a man who lived for peace and yet, fell victim to violence.  Homage will be bestowed.  The American people will praise the preacher, the teacher, and the man who taught us all to speak of what remained tacit for too long.  In the United States of America, all men are not equal.  As a country, we do not treat people well.  Nor do government officials lead us to the promised light of world harmony.

    Reverend Martin Luther King spoke of the sorrow that Americans gives rise to throughout the globe.  However, most recall only portions of his homilies.  In memorial, people do as is characteristic.  They remember the platitudes oft repeated and conveniently forget the profound angst expressed.

    “I have a dream,” is imprinted on the minds of most Americans.  The words ring out.  They are spelled out in historical accounts that focus on achievements.  Anglo Americans believe in this the “land of the free” we have accomplished much.  Perhaps, the mission is complete.  Caucasians remind themselves of what they believe is infinite progress.  Yet, those who experience the nightmare that lives large in their day-to-day experience recall another statement the Reverend made.  

    As Doctor Martin Luther King Junior reflected upon what was and what might have been he saw the gains were never fully realized.  As an imminent war evolved into an extended and bloody encounter the Preacher proclaimed . . .

    [M]y fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents . . .

    There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam [Afghanistan, Iraq, name of war or incident you choose] and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America.  A few years ago, there was a shining moment in that struggle.  It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program.  There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings.  Then came the buildup in Vietnam [insert the name of another battle] and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.  So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

    Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home.  It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population.

    We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.  So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.  So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit.

    Martin Luther King, advocate of nonviolence and peace witnessed that America had not truly come together to bring about racial harmony.  Persons with darker skin tones were called to combat in numbers that far exceeded the percent evident in the population at-large.  King understood classes were not integrated.  The divide between the rich and the poor had not been eliminated.  Indeed, the evidence of this was prominent in the Corps.

    Reverend King felt as many Americans did, particularly those most profoundly affected by policies and practices that remained unchanged.  The impoverished, those who have fewer opportunities in a nation forever fractured, are asked to fight for the rights they do not realize.  The underprivileged, the deprived, those reduced to ruin are expected to serve a nation that does not provide for them.  Doctor King declared on April 4, 1967 before a Riverside Church congregation . . .

    I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.  My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers.  As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems.  I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.  But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam [Iraq, Afghanistan, or perhaps Iran, Korea . . .]?

    They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.  Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.  For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

    The Reverend Martin Luther King, a year to the day before his demise felt it was time to speak to the injustices he saw within his own nation and  how the approach of the Administration circumvented attempts to reach the mountaintop known as tranquility.  For too long, too many, Doctor King among them, had remained silent.  Americans accepted truths, for talk of what is real was thought taboo.  No one wishes to defame the land they call home.  However, reluctantly, as Reverend King acknowledged . . .

    “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam [September 11, 2001, wars in Afghanistan . . .]

    The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.  Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

    Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

    Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.  In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church — the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate — leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

    I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation.

    Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King felt he must address an issue that remains stalwart.  Today, the situation has not changed, much to the contrary of claims among Caucasians and the affluent.

    Regardless of the principles presented in the Constitution, in this country Black Americans are not free.  However, those whose skin is dark are asked to defend Anglo Americans from supposed enemies, and they do.  People whose complexions are purplish-brown fill the battlefields; they patriotically serve the homeland.  Frequently, too frequently, African-Americans, who were never fully accepted in their native country fall.  Before they ever experience what has long been a dream, equality, Black Americans perish.  In a desire to protect the freedoms they have never had, our Black and Brown brethren pass.

    Anglo Americans know this; yet do not wish to acknowledge what is true.  Instead, Caucasians criticize anyone who might mention what is fact.  Recently, Reverend Jeremiah Wright has been the source of scorn.  Wright dared to deliver a sermon, which addressed the issue of inequity.

    After the September 11, 2001, tragedy, Americans again chose the path of war.  African-Americans were once more called to battle.  The then Pastor of United Trinity Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois Jeremiah Wright was distressed about what he saw as a shame.  In a nation founded on the noble principle of freedom, people of color were not.

    Reverend Wright spoke of his anguish.  Yet, few outside the congregation heard more than a minute of what was said.  Anglo-Americans not in attendance assumed they knew the essence of the message, although they had not read the text.  The pinkish people, pale of skin did not realize he Reverend quoted the words of a white man, an United States Ambassador to Iraq, and Deputy Director of President Ronald Reagan’s task force on terrorism, Edward Peck.  Anglos did not realize that words and thoughts Jeremiah Wright discussed were those of a white man who believed America’s foreign policy was the cause for the calamity that placed this nation in peril.

    Nor did the masses and classes, those not subject to racism reflect on how the words Wright offered were similar to those of another leader, one often honored as a Saint might be.  White Christians and Jews forever forgiving did not consider that Reverend Wright quoted the sentiments of a white man, a right-winged Republican official, a man who served with the esteemed Ronald Reagan in his sermon. Pray tell, might we consider the full text of Jeremiah Wright’s homily.

    “I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.”

    “We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, Arikara, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism.

    “We took Africans away from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism.

    “We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel.

    “We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenage and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers.

    “We bombed Qaddafi’s home, and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against the rock.

    “We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard working people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they’d never get back home.

    “We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.

    “Kids playing in the playground. Mothers picking up children after school. Civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

    “We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff that we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

    “Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”

    Indeed, Anglo Americans must come to terms with the turmoil those who claim to be free of judgment, and ready to forgive, have done to destroy the likes of a passionate preacher and a Presidential aspirant. Pinkish people in the “United” States need to ponder the power of punitive pronouncements.  We, the white people must wonder, in what way we resemble the Almighty when we slam and damn our brethren and banish him from our hearts.

    Currently, Caucasians claim to be colorblind.  Indeed, Anglos are merely colormute.  Anglo American citizens call for patriotism.  In truth, jingoism justifies the combat that benefits the affluent and the pinkish Americans who administer the Armed Forces.  Military missions are a show of might, in the name of right.  Actually, fear of our fellow man leads us to fight against those whose appearance differs from ours, whose ideology does not reassure us.  Anglo Americans may cry, “We honor the soldiers and support the troops.”  In truth, in a show of love, we lead our dark complexioned young and our poor persons of all colors to their death.  Anglos and affluent individuals might realize as Reverend Jeremiah Wright did, “This is a time for self-examination.”  “This was a time for me to examine my own relationship with G-d [or whatever force brings personal enlightenment to you.]”  If America is to change, to progress to become a nation of equals, perchance, pale persons might ponder the words of the honorable Martin Luther King Junior and remember.

    A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

    This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

    Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil.

    Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity . . .

    We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam [Afghanistan, Iraq, name of war or incident you choose] and justice throughout the developing world — a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

    Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

    Anglos and the affluent, your actions, reactions determine our future.  Will we be separate and unequal or join as one.  Can we continue in silence, pretend to be colorblind, and remain colormute?  The time is now.  The import is intense.  We must speak of the pain and plight of the impoverished.  It is vital that each of us ask ourselves and our brethren to reflect on what is too real for those who are less privileged, or for people of color.

    If we are to be united within the States, if we are to work as a world, one in harmony then we must all heed the words of our Pastor’s, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior and the Reverend Doctor Jeremiah Wright.  Let us not demonize those who speak of love and fellowship.  Might the white people in their wondrous glory forgive those who did not trespass, but spoke the truth that haunts those who remain silent.

    “Before passing judgment on the man,

    please consider that a good sermon is a conversation between three partners:

    scripture, a preacher, and his or her congregation.

    A church member’s belief functions like a blade.

    It is in the dynamic interchange between the two,

    often in the resulting sparks and tension, that a keen and sharp faith can develop.”

    ~ Reverend Matt Fitzgerald. Senior Minister, Wellesley Hills Congregational Church.  [Caucasian Cleric who worked with Reverend Jeremiah Wright]

    FOX Lies!! The real sermon given by Pastor Wright

    Homilies, Sermons, Sources . . .

    Why Do We Hate Poor People?

    copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

    Why is it that when we encounter poor or homeless people they make us cringe? Why do we want to make them disappear into shelters or remove them out of our sights? Since the Reagan revolution we have instead of being at war against poverty, we have been at war with poor people. They litter our streets like so many abandoned cars at a salvage yard. Why has it been so easy to sell the false narrative that people are poor by choice and that if they would just work harder they wouldn’t be poor? I think that our reactions to the poor says more about who we are than who they are. Let’s face it there have been poor people throughout recorded history, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is not that there are poor people, but that there are poor people we could help and don’t.

    The reason I think we hate poor people is that rather than reminding of us of the blessings we have received, they instead remind us of our vulnerabilities and our insecurities. They remind so many of us that we are only one missed paycheck or one serious health issue away from their lot and it scares the hell out of us. We need so badly to believe that this could never happen to us, that we are so insulated from them and their fate that it could never be our fate. When the reality is too frightening to consider we create these illusions to placate ourselves. The greatest illusion is that we live in a society that if anyone is willing to work hard enough they can overcome the poverty of their birth. We regale ourselves with these fables of rags to riches, never considering the reality of these tales. The reality is a far cry from the false narratives being maintained by those who would keep us ignorant of the truth.

    We are constantly fed the fairy-tale of the poor kid who signs a million-dollar sports contract, the million-dollar recording contract, or the Ivy League scholarship. And for those who have desires that steer towards more iniquitous pursuits we even have the “gangster” or drug dealer chronicles. In other words there is money and wealth to be had by all except the most slothful of our fellow citizens. How prevalent are these scenarios in modern America? The truth is that very little has changed for poor people, the majority of children born into poverty will remain in poverty. How can they not? They are provided with in many cases inferior homes, schools, and sometimes parents. The deck is stacked against them from the moment they take their first breath.

    Sure we occasionally give a few dollars here and there with moral superiority and discuss how unfortunate those people are. All the while hoping they would just disappear and not remind us of how tenuous our hold on the American Dream is. Not only do they remind us of our perilous situations they also remind us of our conspicuous consumption and how truly far we have bought and sold the lie of more is better. The truth of this is in the fact that many of us believe that today’s poor are not really poor. We look at poverty in the third world and convince ourselves that those are truly poor people, the ones here are just whiners.

    Robert Rector, a Senior Fellow at Heritage and a leading force behind welfare reform, similarly argued that federal studies should highlight the consumption-rather than income-of impoverished households. Many poor families do not record ‘gray area’ earnings because the federal wage threshold provides a disincentive to report joint income or informal earnings. Also, purchasing power varies across metropolitan, suburban, and rural communities. Rector’s study, which utilizes data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, demonstrates that many allegedly impoverished households live in decent-to-comfortable conditions, making poverty somewhat different from John Edwards’ “terrible condition struggling against incredible poverty.”

    Rector’s report shows that the “typical,” median poor household owns a car, air-conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a washer and dryer, a microwave, two color televisions, cable or satellite television, a vcr or dvd player, and a stereo. The typical poor family’s house is in good repair and the family is able to afford both food and medical care throughout the year.

    With living standards such as these, poverty in America may actually be an enviable state compared to living standards in other nations. According to the Census Bureau, 15.2% of immigrants live in poverty, whereas only 11.9% of natives are below the poverty threshold. Rector claims that 1 in 10 of immigrants in poverty is likely an illegal immigrant, but estimates remain vague; the U.S. census declines to ask immigrant responders whether they have documentation. Heritage Organization

    So being poor in America is an enviable state? The Bible says, “Blessed is the poor”. How many of us actually drive by a poor neighborhood or a homeless person and say, “Boy, those folks are really lucky”? I wonder if the author of that report is willing to exchange places with one of these lucky poor people? The reason we need to deny their pain and hopelessness is so we can deny our greed. If poor people aren’t really poor, then I am not actually consuming too much. The world is made up of balances, there is only so many of anything. In order for someone to have more, someone has to have less. We assuage our guilt at ignoring their plight by criminalizing them or demonizing them. We don’t want them around us or bothering us. The thing I don’t like about poor people is that they are so needy. They are always asking for stuff.

    We hate them because of what they tell us about ourselves and our lives. How we can live in a country that thinks nothing of spending over 700 billion for wars and war machinery, billions in corporate welfare, and every year we cut programs to help the poor. They don’t need early childhood intervention, better schools, or financial assistance. What they need is a swift kick in the butt to get them motivated. It’s no wonder that children born poor suffer from stress related brain trauma. Despite popular opinion being poor even as a child is stressful. We bombard the airwaves with these images of consumption, we tell our children you are not cool, hip, or anybody if you don’t wear these shoes, these clothes, or have these things. Then we act surprised by their actions to get them and call them animals and lock them up. And we’re the civilized ones. There, but for the grace of God, goes I.

    Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves.  – Author Unknown

    The Life of a Believer, The Rare Reality of Courage to Dream

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

    He was a beautiful, bouncing, baby boy.  He entered the world enthusiastically.  As an embryo, he seemed to absorb all the energy that surrounded him.  Once a fetus, the soon to be “Dennis” delighted in the warmth of his mothers womb.  He turned and tumbled as the unborn do when some event in the outside world stimulates a response.  Once infant Dennis entered into an Earthbound existence, he was delighted.  His brown eyes shone with joy.  Little sponge that he was, Dennis showed an instant interest in everything.

    Dennis’ parents encouraged the young toddler to think.  The little lad had zillions of questions.  He inquired fervently and frequently.  “What does this mean?”  Why does this occur?  How might that affect him, her, you, or me?  The tot cared; he was concerned.  Young Dennis was infinitely curious.  However, as occurs with most of us, this sweet child began to learn what ultimately deadens the desire we each feel or felt.  Dennis discovered that if he were to be accepted and acceptable, he could no longer be the person he was born to be.  

    At home, the youngster, once praised for his inquisitive inquiries was told, his mother and father had no time to answer all his questions.  Tired and torn by the stress necessary for survival, Mom and Dad could not devote themselves to their son’s scientific search for truth, knowledge, and the wisdom that might better the world.

    Father, Frank, drove a delivery truck.  Mother, Virginia, cared for the children at home; that is, when the family could afford a conventional dwelling.  There was a time when the car was the family’s shelter.  Among the working  class, life could be quite grave.  The times were tough when Dennis was a boy. His Dad “salary” was meager.  As the sole source of income for the family, frequently Frank did not make enough to pay the rent,  

    Dennis entered school and discovered there, he could consume more information.  Facts, figures, formulas, and the fluid data that changes in a chaotic culture called life.  Scholar Dennis dived in deeply.  This active academic was challenged in the classroom; he was ready to reach for the stars.  Sadly, the road was, at times rough.  There was little money to secure the basic needs.  Staples were short in supply.  Extras were that.  There was no money for stylish garb.

    The lad was chided for his distinctive clothing.  In appearance alone, Dennis was different from his peers.  The apparel available to this youngster of little means set Dennis apart from his classmates.

    While the young lad understood what was true for most, a certain amount of conformity is preferred, Dennis could not do the accepted thing even when he wanted to.  He had fewer choices than most.  His wardrobe consisted of a pair of turquoise blue pants with black pinstripes.  Later in life, he would describe these “like something out of a psychedelic prison.” Yet, he wore them pridefully.

    One of the nuns at his school noticed other kids making fun of him for wearing the same pants a lot and provided clothing for the entire family.

    As an adult, Dennis would recall, upon reflection, his younger years helped him to realize the importance of being rather than having.  Through the strife and the struggles . . .

    “Every step along the way, there was someone who offered the roof over our heads, clothing, or financial help.”  . . . “Any family who’s ever been through that knows you don’t make it through life alone.”

    People care.  Neighbors within a community provide.  Perhaps, love is all we truly have.  For Dennis’ family a shared fondness was as gold.  Affection and appreciation were available and abundant in the world of this wondrous child.

    Dennis made friends easily.  He did not fret for what he did not own.  He reveled in what he might be.  Although, many adolescents lost their spirit to soar as children,  confronted with comments such as , “you ask too many questions,”  “I do not have time for you and your antics,” or “do it, because I said so,” Dennis did not lose his.  For him, the absurd was achievable, if only he believed.  Dennis did.  

    The wunderkind had faith in himself, and in humanity.  At times, he was distracted.  When he saw people at war, he worked to resolve their differences.  If his parents bickered, Dennis concentrated on prompting peace and talk between them.  On these occasion, his siblings did not always understand.  Brothers, Larry, Frank Gary, and Perry; and sisters, Theresa and Beth Ann might have felt slighted when their elder brother paid more attention to Mom, Dad , and their immediate needs than he did to them.

    In the hallways at school and on the streets, as a teenager, Dennis was often misunderstood for his focus.  When the whimsical fellow observed another in distress, he acted to alleviate whatever caused the harm.  Some friends thought this folly.  They wondered why Dennis did not do as his peers did.  There was fun to be had.  For a few, the fight was exciting.  To watch others engage in physical or verbal combat, that is entertainment.  For the deliberately tranquil Dennis, strife seemed nonsensical.

    Oh, there were times in his younger years when Dennis was viewed as confrontational.  He was easily angered by what he thought unreasonable.  The excessive bothered Dennis even as a boy.  It seemed the elite prospered, and the poor fell further into poverty.  When the young man witnessed what he thought unwarranted, he did not always deliver his message well.  Frequently, he felt the soul pain of others so deeply, he did not know what to do other than what he had seen others do, rage.

    Yet, even when he emulated the behavior of an angered individual, his concern was less for himself, and more for the good of the community.  That, for most was difficult to discern, or understand. Most people are more interested in them selves and  their personal success. Dennis John was a man of the people.  Yet, he seemed strange among them.

    Sure, Dennis could try to fit in.  He could go along to get along.  However, for this special person, being popular was less important.  Dennis had principles, among these love and peace.  Sadly, when in his early thirties, he was unsure how to create harmony when confronted with those whose power seemed limitless.  This hindered Dennis’ early rise.

    Many of us might relate.  In our youth, we see societal ills and we long to change what is.  We are stopped at every turn.  If we were not defeated as children by the words of our elders, “you cannot, you will not, that is unacceptable,’ then, after years as a rebel, a person with promise may come to believe they have no cause, or at least no way to move the mountains of mildewed minds.  Without hope, dreams are left behind. As the defeated among us say, “We are born, and then we die.”

    Dennis John Kucinich conceived he could help change the world.  He trusted he would achieve.  Dennis wanted no war; nor did he see a reason for the woes inflicted on the impoverished. At an early age, this lively dreamer was confident, all men were created equal., just as the founders of the United States of America declared in the Constitution,

    As a student, Dennis loved history, He learned his lessons well.  His own life experience taught him to empathize with his brethren.  If an individual was discussed unfairly or dealt with in a manner that was not just, Dennis took the time to assuage the situation.  He calmed the combative, and quieted any chaos.  However, on occasion his own enthusiasm seemed contrary to his message.

    Nonetheless, at the young age of thirty-one years, Dennis John Kucinich was recognized for his genius.  Citizens of Cleveland, Ohio elected the boy wonder as mayor.  

    Kucinich ran as a populist, railing against the city’s tax policy and strongly opposing its plan to sell the struggling municipal power company to a private competitor that local banks had a vested interest.

    “The next mayor of the city of Cleveland must be his own man,” Kucinich declared during a debate. “[He] must be willing to take the chances in going after the utility interest, the banking interests, the big business interest for exploiting this community.”

    Dennis Kucinich served the city well.  When a huge corporation sought to privatize the city’s utility, Mayor Kucinich stood strong.  He remained true to the people, the common folk, the citizens of Cleveland, much to his own political demise.

    In 1978, Cleveland’s banks demanded that he [Kucinich] sell the city’s 70 year-old municipally-owned electric system to its private competitor (in which the banks had a financial interest) as a precondition of extending credit to city government.

    When Mayor Kucinich refused to sell Muny Light, the banks took the unprecedented step of refusing to roll over the city’s debt, as is customary. Instead, they pushed the city into default. It turned out the banks were thoroughly interlocked with the private utility, CEI, which would have acquired monopoly status by taking over Muny Light. Five of the six banks held almost 1.8 million shares of CEI stock; of the 11 directors of CEI, eight were also directors of four of the six banks involved.

    By holding to his promise and putting principle above politics, Kucinich lost his re-election bid and his political career was temporarily derailed.

    While heartbreak and defeat may have done another in, the forever idealist and lover of life’s lessons learned.  He reflected on what had happened, and realized that if he were to give birth to tranquility, he must be the calm he intended to create.  Four years after his expulsion from the office of Mayor, a humbled Dennis J. Kucinich returned to public service.

    The Kucinich who returned to the Cleveland City Council was not the same firebrand who had antagonized and frustrated the council as mayor. He so abandoned his confrontational style that Council President George Forbes said at the time, “He’s not the same person. He has done a good job on the council. I have a lot of respect for him.”

    There were many words of vindication.  Absolution from those once labeled adversaries was abundant.  The city praised the man once blamed and banished from City Hall.  Appreciation and admiration for the outcast was ample.

    [T]oday, Kucinich stands vindicated for having confronted the Enron of his day, and for saving the municipal power company. “There is little debate,” wrote Cleveland Magazine in May 1996, “over the value of Muny Light today. Now Cleveland Public Power, it is a proven asset to the city that between 1985 and 1995 saved its customers $195,148,520 over what they would have paid CEI.” He also preserved hundreds of union jobs.

    Ultimately, although this small in physical stature of a man still did not seem to be the average Joe, John, Bill, or even a Barack, he was endearing, engaging, and had great appeal.  He may not have been the conventional conformist a Hillary, Nancy, or Diane might be.  However, perhaps, that was his beauty.  Ohio residents elected Dennis J. Kucinich to the House of Representatives, in 1996.  At home in Congress, where the populist could truly serve the people, Dennis fought tirelessly for Union workers, civil rights, and human rights.  He strived to bring the world to peace.  Kucinich did not vote to fund the war, nor would he advocate for fellow Democrats who did.  Dennis John Kucinich, true to his principles worked to restore the State of the Union.

    In Congress, Kucinich has authored and co-sponsored legislation to create a national health care system, preserve Social Security, lower the costs of prescription drugs, provide economic development through infrastructure improvements, abolish the death penalty, provide universal pre-kindergarten to all 3, 4, and 5 year olds, create a Department of Peace, regulate genetically engineered foods, repeal the USA PATRIOT Act, and provide tax relief to working class families.

    Kucinich has been honored by Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters as a champion of clean air, clean water and an unspoiled earth. Kucinich has twice been an official United States delegate to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (1998, 2004) and attend the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    In his district, Kucinich has been recognized by the Greater Cleveland AFL-CIO as a tireless advocate for the social and economic interests of his community.

    Kucinich led the effort to save Cleveland’s 90 year-old steel industry and the thousands of jobs and retiree benefits it provides. While hundreds of community hospitals have been closed throughout the country, Kucinich led a community-based effort to reopened two Cleveland neighborhood hospitals.

    Kucinich worked with the nation’s largest railroads to create a merger agreement that improved rail safety while diverting a heavy volume of train traffic away from heavily populated residential areas of his district.

    In Cleveland, Kucinich has been honored by the Cleveland AFL-CIO, the Ohio PTA, the NASA Glenn Research Center, the Salvation Army, the United States Post Office, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Ohio’s Boys Town, and the Human Rights Campaign.

    Gratified with all he had been able to do for Cleveland residents, and those in Ohio , cognizant of how as a Congressman, he was also able to assist people throughout the country, Dennis Kucinich felt a need to do more.  This caring gentle man decided it would be wise to help more people help themselves.  Thus, Dennis J. Kucinich chose to seek a higher office.  Congressman Kucinich concluded he would pursue the office of President of the United States.

    The man who since birth, was never fully understood struggled to reach those who learned to conform.  Those who had given up on dreams and could no longer envision equality and justice could not conceive as Dennis could, or does.  Again, the commerce elite thought this profoundly principled person was a threat.  Talk of trade agreements gone awry frightens those who profit from the sweat and toil of cheap labor in foreign countries.  Business persons, who benefit from war, and earn billions as long as America continues to bomb innocent Iraqis tremble at the thought of Dennis Kucinich in a debate.  Just as Muny Electric worked to quell the message of this ethical giant, so too did the powerful Corporate Chief Executives.

    Those who own and operate media markets, manufacture weaponry, and feed the nation did all they could to ensure that Dennis Kucinich never spoke to a national audience for more than a minute here or there.  The Big Business Bosses slammed Kucinich, damned him, and better yet, they silenced a man who would, as President destroy the possibility of ill-gained profits.  

    Kucinich was barred from debates in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina.  This man of the people was kept off of ballots and prohibited from campaigns in state after state.

    Once more Dennis was distracted.  As he worked to bring peace and understanding, just as he had in his youth, those close to him felt left behind.  The people of Ohio believed as his siblings and peers might have when Dennis was on a quest.  “What about us.”  Those who know America’s Don Quixote  well, those who he has helped to succeed and believe want him back home.  The industrialists who would welcome the demise of the decent Dennis Kucinich are happy to have an opportunity to destroy him.

    Americans who have never accepted the man, who live as almost everyone of us is told to do from birth, barely miss Dennis Kucinich.  All along, they wanted to support  a presumed winner, not a moral man [or woman] to be President of the United States.  Citizens of this country, beaten down as children, now repeat as their elders did, “Do not ask questions.”  “Do not stand up for truth.”  “Settle for what you are supposed to think, say, do, feel, or be.”  “If you never expect much, you will never be disappointed.”

    As children we learn, it is important to be popular, pretty, perceived as acceptable [electable.]  A peaceful person cannot get ahead.  It is a tough world out there and if you are to get ahead, you better do as you are told or as others do.  If you dare to be different, only those who took the time to know you will want you.  Those who are dear will treasure you.  

    To the beloved people of Ohio, please honor the man who cherishes you, and please pity superficial Americans not ready for the change they crave.  Ohio residents, I hope you will reelect Dennis Kucinich to Congress.  We need Don Quixote, Dennis Kucinich to remind us that dreams do come true, and we can create what other tell us is impossible.

    The Life of A Believer, Biographical References, and a Rare Reality . . .