Mom and Dad always taught us that if you lose, you lose with dignity.  You don’t take your marbles and stomp off.

Except I never played marbles and I had no idea what they were talking about.  Just like my son doesn’t understand the phrase, “you sound like a broken record.”

But, eventually, I got the point.  If you lose fair and square, then you congratulate the winner and move on.  You don’t try to pretend the game never happened or that the winner cheated or that you were robbed of the trophy.

Unless, of course, you are part of the Tea Party.  Then you think that G-d is your co-pilot and that Barack Obama is not a legitimate president because, well, how could we elect a black man and no black man was ever born in the State of Hawaii.  (SIDEBAR:  Ted Cruz, you were born in Canada and had dual citizenship until a week ago.)

Let’s be fair.  We have had presidents who ascended to the highest office in the land under a cloud.  The “elections” of John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush come to mind.

But the Tea Party did not mind George W. Bush being president.  Hmmmmmmm.

Maybe because they “won”?  Hey, I remained an ordinary, law abiding citizen and patriot even through the terrible years of Bush/Cheney.  And I did not think they were duly elected, but the Supreme Court spoke.

I didn’t take my marbles and stomp off.  But, now the Tea Party is mad because Barack Obama is president, and a legitimate president.

But the government shut down and the debt ceiling should not be about one man and his health care reform and his birth certificate. 

These issues are about the people you all pretend to care about.

This is America and the majority spoke.  Be patriots.  Show the world that this is your country, come what may. Come on, I dare you, Tea Party members of Congress.

Put country first.

Hey, I am as liberal as they come and I say to you, “Less government? ok.  No government? Anarchy.”

And anarchy is treason.

And so are breaching the public trust and the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

And then you will see citizens like me  — middle-aged, economically secure (or so we thought) taxpayers — take to the streets and scream for your heads because you let our nation default.

So, before you smugly take your marbles and stomp off, remember, if you let our nation default —-

then you are no better than Benedict Arnold, betraying your country and fellow citizens and playing roulette with the total collapse of the republic.  

The hangman awaits.  Your move.

Countdown to Sequester and other problems

“Sequester” will be a reality in less than two weeks.  Economic and political chaos visible on the horizon.  The Congress and the White House are in their respective corners, blaming each other.

McCain is yelling “cover-up!” on Benghazi, while under Bush’s watch, the attacks on our embassies were incalculable and the lives lost a moral travesty.

Syria is being armed by the Russians, even though Britain made a statement that Russia had stopped, further isolating Prime Minister Cameron from the EU and the world.

The President golfs with Tiger Woods. It is ok now, say those who only speak on the condition of anonymity, because he isn’t running for re-election.  I guess Michelle Obama hasn’t taught Barry enough about the rage of women.

The White House rankles partisan divides by leaking an immigration plan. Marco Rubio flamed out in his response to the State of the Union.  So much for Time’s savior of the GOP.

The Keystone Pipeline and fracking are gaining momentum even as the dire environmental implications are clear.

Ashley Judd is taking on Mitch McConnell for his Senate seat.  He looks ever more like a chicken that Frank Perdue wouldn’t serve.

For anyone keeping score on this contest between the government and nation, the nation is losing.  Badly.

Tax Day is coming up and for the first time in my life (read, even under George W. Bush), I am not proud to pay my taxes.  Why? A bunch of clowns run our government.




Hope came today

I watched President Obama’s speech and I cried.  These words he said, “Stonewall” and “gay brothers and sisters,” rang in my ears, traveled to my heart and emerged through the tears streaming from my eyes.

From the podium of the most powerful came words that said my family exists and I exist.  Yes, it is just a bully pulpit and not the law of the land.  But that vision, that inclusion, can never be unsaid.

Later, SOS and I watched the speech togather.  Because I needed him to hear, as millions of others heard, that we are equal.

Because he needs to know that for most of the population over 30 years old, the president’s remarks were as significant as Dr. King’s words were to his generation.  And he needs to understand that for his mothers, this was, unexpectedly, a day of validation, hope and pride.  Because we have lived through so much and we have seen so much and had our hopes of equality dashed so many, many times.

And we need SOS to understand where we’ve been so he can guide us and forgive us our hardened exteriors and paranoia.  And maybe, just maybe, he will walk with us into a new era of equality and then, only then, will his mothers’ hell slowly go by….

Whatever happens next:  God bless you, Mr. President.  Even if only for a day, today, TODAY, you made our dreams seem within reach.  God bless America.

Getting Out the Vote

Yesterday, POB, SOS and I joined a group of well-heeled, mulit-cultural (I might add) Upper West Siders on a bus to West Philadelphia to get out the vote for Obama.

We arrived at an Obama field office.

We were given clipboards with lists of voters who hadn’t voted in 2010.  We had to knock on doors to make sure that these citizens knew that their vote was important, what they needed for proper ID (and that the Pennsylvania voter suppression law was struck down) and the location of their polling booths.

POB and I were given names on opposite side of the street.  SOS tagged along with one of us.  People were so welcoming and glad we were out in the cold making sure that they knew where to vote.  Many people weren’t at home; the people who answered the doors said they were at work.

West Philly is not exactly the cushy part of town.  It was working class until the Great Recession.  Now, parts are boarded up.

High unemployment.  Crime skyrocketing.  See the sign in the pizza place below.








When I was in there buying a pizza, someone came in with a hoodie, and the cashier said, “take off your hoodie, or I am calling the police.”  The management is serious about the hoodie thing.

It seemed (to my white, upper middle class, eye) that many needed a reminder that their vote counts.  Certainly, with all the attempts at voter suppression, a person could give up hope.  But, more than anyone else, their lives are literally on the line — the poverty line — depending on the outcome on Tuesday.

Some places were scary and creepy.  SOS was a little unnerved by these places.  Especially, a young boy who was outside with no one minding him.  (Yes, sweetie, I thought, please think about this when you re-enter your rarefied world.)

Among the three of us, we knocked on 120 doors and got some very enthusiastic responses (once they realized we weren’t canvassing for Romney).

POB, SOS and I talked about our adventure over dinner tonight.  I tried to make the point to SOS that his great-grandparents were the working (or sometimes not working) poor who lived and raised their children in tenements and then, later on, in nicer places.  But his grandparents had a great public school system and there were jobs for them when they graduated.  And that I am one generation removed from this neighborhood.  And Grandpa got mixed up with a gang before his brothers intervened (and then beat the crap out of him).

I don’t know if he understood the importance of what we did, as citizens of this country, and as a way to pay forward our family’s good fortune and opportunity by re-electing President Obama.  I believe this.  And I always will.

Why It Matters

Why does it matter who is president?  Aren’t they so close on so many issues?  Can either really make the changes he says he wants to?

Yes, it matters.  It matters “big time” (to quote Dubya).

It matters that we push back against the forces that just said no for four years, watching this country flail around in order to make a transformative president look weak and ineffectual.

It matters that we don’t elect a man who takes the position du jour, as long as it pleases most of the people for some of the time during the 24 hour news cycle.

It matters that we don’t elect a party beholden to extremists in that party who would claw back women’s rights, leave the young and the old at the hands of “free enterprise” as it rolls back the safety net — the very beacon of light and hope that is the definition of American exceptionalism.

We applaud personal heroism but we don’t leave a man behind enemy lines.  We take care of the wounded, the poor, the terrorized, and those who have fallen on hard times.  Years ago, when we were a young country, we knew that one year’s good crop could be next year’s dust bowl, so when we were helping the poor and the stranger, we were helping ourselves because there but for the grace of G-d . . . .

Do the Bible Belters even read the Bible anymore?  At my Bat Mitzvah, I read from Leviticus, “when you reap your harvest, you shall not reap the corners of the field.  You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger.”

Where is that social compact now?  I believe in those words.  That is why it matters.

I stand on the shoulders of our Greatest Generation, who relied on the GI Bill to become professionals.  And they stood on the shoulders of those who made the voyage to America to work hard and make sure their children had a good life.

I am the product of the greatest social compact in modern times.  The other part of the social compact is that I pay taxes.  Lots of them.  I would pay for the stimulus money and bail-outs and I would pay for ill-conceived wars, were they not put on a credit card.

Why would I pay for these things? I do not want to pay for the follies of the rich or oil-greedy.  But I am an American and we pay our debts.

Because we are in this together.

So, I will pay for the Iraq War, the bail-out and the stimulus and you pay for education and renewable energy.  You know that I will foot the bigger bill.  But this is America.

And we are in this together.

And so it matters who is president next year.  The very soul of our nation — our identity — depends on it.



Speak from the heart

Dear Mr. President:

You have had more thrown at you than any other president in a long, long time.  And there is no denying that your job is made more difficult by unspoken racism.

But, Mr. President, you failed to lead by framing the issues before us.  You let others steal the story line.  Maybe your deference comes from your background as a Constitutional scholar.  Don’t ever take broad executive power off the table again — if the 14th Amendment gives you power, threaten to use it.  Be the man who hunted down Osama Bin Laden. 

Don’t look at polls.  Look at us. 

Inspire us again.  Remember how you did it?  You told us your vision and you told us things we didn’t want to hear.  You can tell us that it wasn’t as easy to clean up Washington and that you had to make decisions based on information that President Obama had that Candidate Obama didn’t have.  We can understand if you are angry about the Congress. 

But you need to say it.  You need to give your vision, your goals as modified by the political realities.

Lead.  Mr. President.