Friday, April 22, 2016

I AM PROUD TO VOTE FOR JOE SESTAK FOR SENATE


It will come as a surprise to no one that I am voting for JOE SESTAK in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for US Senate.   I have known the man since the day he began his race for Congress in my district. He is fiercely independent; in fact he was registered independent all those years he served in the Navy because he believed that a naval officer should be politically non-partisan.  He can be stubborn as he clings to his principles.  He expects those who work for him to work as hard as he does and love 7am meetings.  He evaluates a situation or a proposal and then makes a determination.  He can be convinced to alter that determination but only by a clear recital of relevant facts.  Political arguments, especially what does or does not benefit him politically, carry no weight with him.  He does not think like a politician but he is a great candidate for office.  And he was a superb Congressman for the four years he represented the people of three counties. He is a Liberal but not knee-jerk.  He is progressive in his thinking but moderate in his rhetoric.  He is an advocate of a strong defense yet supports negotiation over confrontation.

A cynical public may doubt his reason for seeking and holding public office which is to give back to the country that provided him with a superior education (Naval Academy and Harvard University) and the health insurance that saved his daughters life.  I know the man and I know that his reason is sincere. He has spent the last 5 years continuing to campaign for the US Senate time and again not seeking other offices just for political advancement. When in the midst of his last Senate campaign in 2010, I suffered a stroke and underwent an 8 hour operation, it was Joe Sestak learned of the operation, found the hospital and spent time comforting my wife and daughters while they waited. He never told that story during that campaign. 

We live in a time when lying and creating one’s own facts are the standards of the day in political campaigning.  In Joe’s case his opposition, is the Democratic Party establishment of Pennsylvania and DC. (By establishment I mean the party officials and Democratic public officials who are self proclaimed leaders of the party. Joe is actually supported by many of the rank and file committee persons and local activists.) These Democratic leaders have lowered themselves to the level of distorting his liberal progressive and pro-Obama administration Congressional voting record.  And, they are even spending 4 million dollars (of contributions made by sincere donors to the DSCC to help make the Senate Democrat) to defeat Joe in the upcoming primary. Their choice is someone they are more comfortable with and someone they think will do and act as they are told to.  You see that’s Joe’s political problem.  He refuses to think, talk, vote and act like other political leaders want him to. If he agrees with them of course he will advocate for their position.  If he disagrees with them he won’t remain silent.

I know this better than most because I was chairman of the Democratic Party of Delaware County for most of the four years that Joe Sestak was Congressman. I have spent my entire adult life in politics and some have said that I eat, sleep and drink politics.  I have known many elected officials in my life; some of the best and some of the worst.  Joe Sestak is not a politician.  He is a decent compassionate man.  He is a hard working and really great candidate for public office.  He is a conscientious, tireless public official.  He served his country for years on the seas in war and peace. He served his county for four years in the Congress of his nation. As for the United States Senate “He is Ready to Serve”. And, the sinking ship that is the US Senate certainly could use an Admiral to set it upright.  



22 April 2016.    

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I STILL "FEEL THE BERN"


Next Tuesday April 26th is the Pennsylvania Presidential primary.  The contest in the Democratic Party is of great interest to me as I have spent my entire adult life as a Democratic Party politician holding both public and party offices.  I’ve been campaigning for Democratic presidential candidates since I distributed cards for Adlai Stevenson on my block in Ridgewood Queens in 1956. I consider myself a Liberal Democrat and also a Progressive which word I have never used to hide the L word but to supplement it.

I will vote in next Tuesday’s primary for Bernie Sanders of Vermont to be our party’s candidate for President. I will do so even though I’ve been a part of the party establishment (attended three national conventions as a delegate) because I believe that my party establishment today has become rigid in its thinking; self absorbed in its exercise of power, and subservient to the Wall Street interests and the military industrial complex that it fought so hard and so successfully in the New Deal era. I believe my party needs to be reformed; it’s commitment to the middle class and the programs of the New Deal and Great Society needs to be renewed; and its structure needs to be rebuilt.  And only Bernie Sanders shows a determination to achieve that end and the capacity to energize a new generation of Americans to accomplish it...

FDR enacted Old Age Insurance (a.k.a. Social Security) for all Americans not just some.   JFK challenged America to put a man on the moon not just get half way there and return.   LBJ signed Medicare for all seniors; and guaranteed Voting Rights for all Americans.  He didn’t just settle for some health care to some older people; nor did he settle for repealing some voting restrictions he opened the doors and let the sunshine of human rights in.   After George McGovern’s defeat in 1972 a traumatized Democratic Party establishment encouraged by a centrist Jimmy Carter began to tone down its rhetoric and run away from the word Liberal. And what was the result - the Reagan revolution.  By 1992 the party had adopted the strategy made popular by Bill Clinton of being moderately progressive and working with the economic powers that be.  What was the result - the Gingrich Revolution.  It is time the Democratic Party returned to its roots: the political reformist and economic populism of Bryan, Wilson and Roosevelt. 

Bernie Sanders advocates expanding social security to increase the benefits and extend the lifetime of the system.  I ask Why Not?  Bernie Sanders supports extending the public commitment to free public education beyond the 12th grade to a college degree.  I ask Why Not?  Bernie Sanders says, as our party leaders have before, Break Up the big banks? And with Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson I ask Why Not? Bernie Sanders calls upon us to rebuild the great American Middle Class that the programs of FDR’s New Deal and his G I Bill helped create.  And, I ask Why Not?  The centrists in our party say we can’t afford these programs.  Yet we could afford to save the World in 1945 and rebuild Europe in 1948.  We could afford to bail out Wall Street and the Big Banks in 2008 and General Motors in 2009.  If this country’s history has shown anything it has shown that whether it was the Erie Canal, the Transcontinental Railroad or the Space Shuttle America can do anything it believes in.

I was not born in time to vote for FDR.  I was not old enough to vote for JFK or LBJ.  I can vote for Bernie Sanders.  I can vote for someone whose lifetime commitment to reform and progressive proposals will serve as a continuation of the liberal progressive movement that began at the end of the 19th century over 120 years ago (with ideological roots that went back much further).Twenty years from now young people of today will be the candidates, the party activists and the majority of the nation’s electorate.  I want them to have a future they can believe in. I want them to look on Bernie Sanders as my father’s generation looked on FDR and mine looked on JFK.  So I will vote for an American they can believe in - I will vote for Bernie Sanders.   



20 April 2016         

Thursday, February 4, 2016

THE IOWA CAUCUSES: D for DEMOCRACY or DEBACLE


In the early years of our nation Presidential candidates were chosen by a Caucus of the members of Congress who considered themselves loosely affiliated with the parties, i.e. Federalist or Democratic.  The last such Congressional Caucus was held in 1824.  There were five candidates for President that year (one John Calhoun ultimately dropped out and became everybody’s candidate for Vice President).  The caucus was controlled by supporters of William Crawford of Georgia.  And while there were congressmen who supported Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams there were few behind Andrew Jackson.  His supporters throughout the country began having state legislative bodies adopt nominating resolutions declaring for Jackson’s candidacy. Jackson campaigned against what he called King Caucus and in support of popular election of the President. Though Jackson did not win in 1824 John Quincy Adams who did was not the caucus candidate. 

The rematch in 1828 of Adams and Jackson which the latter won saw the complete defeat and elimination of King Caucus.  In 1832 Jackson had the Democrats copy the Anti Masonic concept of a national convention and from then on national conventions were used to nominate Presidential tickets.  After 1832 the political process battle became how to select delegates to the national conventions.

At the turn of the 20th century direct primaries were instituted in many states to allow the voters to choose the party candidates for public office.  And, at the Presidential level a preferential primary was adopted in many states which allowed the voters to express their preference among candidates while still allowing the delegates at the national convention the authority to choose the nominees.  With John F Kennedy’s nomination in 1960 the political establishment clearly accepted that the preference primaries were in fact choosing the candidates. After the battle of 1968 the Democrats, and then the Republicans, began changing their rules to require that delegates chosen to the convention either by primary or local and state convention should express their presidential preference before hand and consider themselves bound to follow their public choice.

Many states preferred to stay with their system of state conventions choosing national delegates and so the manner of choosing delegates to the state conventions began to figure into the Presidential campaigns.  In 1972 George McGovern’s campaign encouraged the neighboring state of Iowa to have the delegates that were chosen at precinct level party caucuses to attend county conventions that would choose delegates to the state convention to be chosen at all these levels expressing a candidate preference.  McGovern then won the preferences and used that to catapult himself into more serious contention in the following primaries.  In 1976 Jimmy Carter a relatively unknown former Governor Georgia started in 1975 to campaign in Iowa to win these preferences at the precinct caucuses and did so which grabbed media attention - vaulted Carter into the first rank of Democratic Presidential candidates that year and the Iowa caucuses became the first in the nation expression of popular support for Presidential candidates.

And that was of course true last week when on Feb.1 Iowa held their precinct caucuses.  The system, first designed in 1972, has become more complex in fact one could call it a mathematical nightmare.  Democrats require viability thresholds, regrouping without necessarily full recounting, selection of county convention delegates proportionally allocated to the candidate groups, a rounding off system to determine the exact allocation of county delegates and even a coin toss to decide who gets the delegate if the candidate groups are equal in number.  The state party then reports to the media not the number of Democrats in each precinct who supported each candidate; no, nor the number of delegates by candidate chosen in each precinct to attend the county convention.  The state using a mathematical formula that seems to defy explanation translates this data into “delegate equivalencies” which I can only assume means how many delegates each candidate will have at the state convention after the county conventions meet and select other delegate.  These delegate equivalencies both raw number and percentage are what the public and the media are given as the Iowa caucus results e.g. on Feb 1 Clinton had 701 delegate equivalencies and Sanders 697 -- “a virtual tie”.

The complexities of the Democratic caucuses in Iowa really do reduce the value of the exercise which is unfortunate because hundreds of thousands of Iowa voters come out to participate. The Democrats have evolved a system that is too complex, so complex in fact that state party workers and group leaders of both candidates often had trouble understanding what the next step or the next mathematical computation was.  Even the Republican caucus system which is much simpler and is basically a paper ballot vote for President so distorted the reported results in 1980 and in 2012 in such a way as to impact on the subsequent Republican nominating process.

Andrew Jackson wouldn’t refer to this as King Caucus he’d probably call it Rotten Caucus.  And he’d be right.  The candidates for one national public office in the United States of America chosen by the entire national electorate should be chosen in a manner that reflects direct democracy. There should be a national primary, with a run off if no candidate gets at least 40% of the vote the first round (40% because that’s what Lincoln got in 1860 and he turned out pretty good).  If the political establishments can’t handle the democracy of a national direct primary then let there be four regional primaries over say a two month period allowing for the candidates to campaign in all the states.  And assuming our political leaders find that approach too radical than at the very least we should abolish the caucus system for selection of Presidential candidates and require every sate to hold a direct primary.  And we should use the good features of the Iowa system - allowing same day registration and party selection; allowing 17 years old who will be 18 by the general election to vote; essentially making every citizen’s vote of equal weight.

Al Smith, Democratic Presidential candidate in 1928 is reputed to have said “The only cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy”.  The caucus system used in Iowa and variations used in a large number of states is broken and unrepresentative of the population at large.  We don’t need to fix it or tweak it we need to Abolish it.  Let the People decide who their President will be at every step of the process - and that includes abolishing the Electoral College and voting directly for President in November (but that’s a subject for another post).


4 February 2016   

Saturday, January 23, 2016

BERNIE SANDERS HAS ALREADY WON


A number of men have run for President of the United States and set forth a program or agenda of far reaching ideas.  Some like Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, and FDR accomplished many of the items on their agenda during their terms in office with later successors picking up the banner of those items not immediately addressed, e.g. FDR accomplishing Wilson’s united Nations and Obama seeking to honor Truman’s national health care pledge.

Some of our Presidents have made their agendas the rallying cries of a generation.  Certainly the New Frontier of JFK and the Great Society of LBJ set the tone of the Democratic progressive movement for a decade and beyond.

Some men sought the Presidency offering the nation reform agendas and were not successful in seeking office.  But their agendas became the platform and programs of a political party and were in most cases ultimately implemented.  Henry Clay’s American System became the initial program of the Republican Party as it sought to link east and west and develop a business oriented government.   William Jennings Bryan’s multi-plank platform of social and political and economic reform became the basis of the reforms of the New Freedom and the New Deal. Much of the economic parts of Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism of 1912 soon became the positions of both parties.

From 1896 for nearly one hundred years populist and progressive ideas were the near consensus in our political system. The Gingrich revolution of 1994 was a reaction to those years of social progress and began the politics of personal destruction and the intolerance of dissenting opinion that has led us to today with the GOP facing a probable choice between Donald J Trump (the Mussolini wannabe) and Ted Cruz the Simon Legree of politics.

Because it became the majority viewpoint Progressivism became a defense of the status quo.  And when the so-called New Democrats opened the party to a relationship with Wall Street Progressivism lost its way.

Now a decade and a half into the 21st century comes a public official from Vermont (last heard from when Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys took Fort Ticonderoga from the British in 1775) who sets forth a progressive platform for the new century.  One that encompasses all the unfinished business of 20th century progressivism, along with updated items, e.g. free public higher education, (at least to community college level where in the past the fight was for high school) and a strong dose of populism that would reign in the banks and Wall Street as Wilson and FDR tried to do.

Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont has offered a vision of what a truly progressive America can look like. He has spoken for programs and ides that people can rally behind.  He has dared to go beyond the label liberal and accept the label democratic socialist which denotes the progressive programs for the 20th century though the Cold War made it politically impossible to label them as such.

And fighting against Sanders are all those New Democrats who, never having seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington argue that the only ideas worth fighting for are those that can be adopted.  Tell that to former Congressman Abraham Lincoln who lost a Senate race arguing against an America half slave and half free and went on to make it all free.  Tell Woodrow Wilson that the League of Nations was a lost cause not worth fighting for as the UN enters its 71st year.  Tell Harry Truman not to jeopardize his reelection by fighting for civil rights for African Americans when he couldn’t pass the bill.  And, tell Adlai Stevenson that no one cares about nuclear testing in the atmosphere (outlawed now by international treaty). 

The Republican Party looks at the discontent of the populace in 2016 and offers a Man on a White Horse (or in a white limo).  Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont  has offered to the young generations of Americans a future they can believe in.  He has offered a progressive/populist platform that millions can and will support. 

Bernie Sanders can and may win the Democratic Party nomination for President. He can and may win the Presidency in November 2016.  But he has already set the agenda for the next  twenty or thirty years of American governance. He has created the progressive bucket-list and the day will come when every item on that list will be checked off as completed. To borrow from the hero of my generation John Fitzgerald Kennedy “All this may not be achieved in the first 100 days...nor in the first 1000 days.. But let us begin.” 
                                                                                        

23 January 2016

Sunday, January 3, 2016

HOW TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN - (WITHOUT TRUMP)


The Republican front-running candidate for President has as his campaign slogan Make America Great Again.  Few can disagree with that goal and if one feels that America is still great than one certainly can support making it greater.

But, that candidate, Donald Trump,  who combines the hucksterism of P T Barnum and the pseudo-populism of Huey P Long with the racism of George Wallace never actually explains neither what Make America Great Again means nor how one would achieve it.  For that we would need to look at history and what made America great.

In the last quarter of the 18th century the British colonists who began referring to themselves as Americans fought against the most powerful nation than on earth for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And when they wrote their constitution they added a Bill of Rights that expanded on Magna Charta both as to the rights and those entitled to them.  Most prominent among those rights were a freedom of speech and a toleration of dissent; a freedom of religious belief and a toleration of differences with a government neutral as to religious preferences; a right of assembly and the right to petition the government bodies elected directly or indirectly by the people for a redress of grievances. Other rights were added and the history of America in the 19th and 20th centuries has been an expansion of those rights and an extension of their applicability to all residents of the country. And, in the eyes of the world America became Great.  The French revolution and the revolutions in Latin America and later Europe used American slogans and symbols. George Washington the leader of the continental forces in our Revolution became an international iconic figure.

In the middle of the 19th century America engaged in a great Civil war. Unlike the civil wars of Europe ours was not based on religious differences or dynastic struggles but on a determination of the values of our people and nation. Six hundred thousand men lost their lives in a battle first over whether we would be one nation, a union of states, and then over whether that union would tolerate the abomination of slavery anywhere within its borders.  Union and Freedom won.  America was in the eyes of the world great. Abraham Lincoln became a worldwide household name denoting freedom for the masses.

In the second decade of the twentieth century a Great War broke out between the powers of Europe with allies in Asia and Africa. The war deadlocked and was the bloodiest yet seen.  With the fall of the Russian Tsar the Allied powers became all democracies while the Central powers were absolutist autocratic monarchies. And America entered that war at that time and turned the tide and helped win for the democracies over absolutism and monarchism. Woodrow Wilson became a household name with a picture known in the grottos of Italy and the mountains of Wallachia. America became the leader of the peoples of the world seeking peace, collective security and self-determination of ethnic groups. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other eastern European nations long held under the hammer of the autocratic foreign monarchs became nation states and gave credit for their freedom to America and Wilson.  America became Great.  That greatness waned as America broke the heart of the world when Senators for partisan political reasons rejected our world leadership and participation in the very world body we had created.  But America remained the great hope of mankind.  And as the lights went out in Europe in 1939 those who continued the fight waited for the New World to come to the rescue of the Old.

As the world went through a great depression in the 1930's America rose up and weathered that economic debacle without resorting to neither corporate statism nor political dictatorship.  Led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America showed that it still believed in the Lincoln mantra that government should help those who cannot help themselves. And so America extended income security to its elderly; created millions of jobs for its unemployed while building roads and government buildings and schools that the nation sorely needed. America in the eyes of the world became Great because it showed a compassion for its people and a resilience that could not be crushed. And, when Fascism, Nazism and militarism threatened to engulf the entire world America did come to the rescue of the world and America did spend its treasure; its men and boys , its resources - and led a crusade that defeated those “isms”.

After WWII America, using its economic resources, rebuilt the nations that it had defeated and they became economic giants and democratic societies. America led the world and admitting its mistake of 1919 joined in multiple world organizations to address political, economic and social problems and joined in military treaties based on mutual and collective security. 

America became Great again in the eyes of world because of its selflessness. And at home due to the new Deal and GI bill and conversion of the war production machinery into consumer production America built the largest and strongest middle class any nation had yet seen.  Not a nation of haves and have nots.  But a nation of those living in comfort in their own homes with a car and with a decent job and a lower class many of whom dreamed and were able to raise themselves out of poverty to middle class status. It became known as the American Dream and America in the eyes of the world became a Great economic boomtown.

For forty-five years America led those nations in the world that opposed international communism. Sacrificing our soldiers in Korea and Vietnam; spending our resources to win the race in Space; and using tough negotiation tactics to prevent nuclear war over the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, America became great in the eyes of the world.  President Johnson extended compassion in government with the War on Poverty and attempted to deal with the festering racial strife in our nation by passing legislation that ensured voting rights; civil rights and housing rights. And while Ronald Reagan faced down the Soviet Union he enacted the E.I. C.  an effort to help the working poor make ends meet. Communism imploded and there was a new birth of freedom throughout the world and often the symbol of the freedom was an American flag or the Liberty Bell or the Statue of Liberty.  America was seen as Great in the eyes of the world.

President Clinton used the status of America as the only great economic and military power in the last decade of the twentieth century to assist negotiators in ending the centuries of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland and preventing the genocide of the  Bosnians and the Kosovars.  America's greatness was recognized when after the abominable terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, known as 9-11 the world united behind America and in support of our effort to root out Al Qaeda and its sponsor the Taliban.

It was with the Iraq War that America was led into by the lies and manipulation of the neo-cons, and the economic collapse caused by greed run rampant in the financial houses and on Wall Street that America tarnished its greatness.  The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was viewed by the rest of the world as America regaining its greatness as it rejected racism; restored compassion to government and pledged again to pursue peace and negotiation rather than war and violence.

If this Mussolini wannabe Trump wants to make America Great Again he and his Republican party could start by renewing the domestic programs of Dwight Eisenhower.  Instead of using rhetoric to divide and spread fear he could emulate Theodore Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie and use the bully pulpit to advocate for reform of government, curbing the power of big corporations,   and compassionate responses to social problems.  Instead of spreading lies and distorting the truth he could like Barry Goldwater run a campaign of honest adherence to his positions without demonizing his opponents.   And like Ronald Reagan he could show a compassion and concern for those less fortunate than himself. 

America will be Great Again - when it restores a strong middle class by reigning in the ultra rich and ending their control of our politics; when partisan politics ends at the water's edge as Vandenburg did with NATO and the Marshall Plan; when agreements whether to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons or to reduce the deleterious effects of climate change are judged on their merits and not on their messenger; and when men and women of good will together stand up and stop the new 21st century homegrown American version of fascism and commit themselves to helping the American government work again.

Abraham Lincoln said that we were the last best hope of mankind.  And that has been proven true time and again.  It will be true again when America rejects the anti-immigrant; xenophobic; racist and militaristic proposals of the radical right wing Republicans like Trump, Cruz, and Carson, and their neo-con and neo-fascist followers.


3 January 2016   

Saturday, December 19, 2015

THE BEST DEMOCRATIC ANSWER TO TRUMP


Since 1956 when, as a youngster of ten, I distributed cards for Adlai Stevenson for President, I have in some fashion or other participated in Presidential campaigns.  I have supported the candidates of the Democratic Party.  And often I have engaged in primary campaigns seeking to influence the selection of the Party’s nominee.

We are now engaged in the 2016 selection process and the Democratic Party, with an incumbent President term limited and an incumbent Vice-President opting not to run, has three candidates for the nomination: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. If we exclude incumbent Presidents seeking re-election this contest is similar to one 60 years ago when the front runner, though facing opposition, was presumed and did become the nominee.

Hillary Clinton by all measurements of political prognostication will be the Democratic nominee.  Unless she falters in the early primaries she is favored to run the board.  She is representative of many Democrats of my generation - liberally progressive but not populist progressive.  She is consensus liberal on economic issues, liberal on social issues and somewhat interventionist on foreign affairs.  She would be the first woman President and would fulfill a dream of my generation as did Barack Obama in 2008. .

Former Gov. O’Malley is a fine man with an excellent progressive record as Governor of Maryland and is the kind of candidate that the Party saw many of in the 1980's and 90's. And yet he has failed to gain any traction in the campaign as the Democratic public appears to prefer a two candidate race perhaps bemused by the Republican gaggle of contenders.

Then there is Senator Bernie Sanders.  An independent who describes himself as a Democratic Socialist (a label some would apply to Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and espouses a 21st century Populism with echoes of William Jennings Bryan and Robert Lafollette.   From the relative obscurity of Vermont he has gained thousands of followers who, if they become a movement, could rival and even surpass in intensity the anti-war and civil rights movements of the sixties.  Sanders campaigns to end the dominance of America by the richest 1%.  He fights for an America where 99% will share the wealth, the political power and the American dream.  He raises the call for economic reform and fair distribution of the nation’s wealth that Populists, Progressives and New Dealers of the 20th century crusaded for. And  just as in 1896, and 1912 and 1932 while the establishment figures of the Democratic party endorse the safer  more moderate candidate the crowds gather to hear one who speaks for and to them.

Senator Sanders makes the case for addressing the problem of income inequality in America that is now dividing us into two classes: have a lot and have a little. The great American middle class built and prospered by the programs of the New Deal and the GI Bill is disappearing.  The Senator from Vermont argues for a $15 minimum wage which works out to an annual income of $30,000 hardly enough to raise a family in today's economy.  The Senator while supporting Obamacare, which has made medical insurance accessible to most, campaigns for health care as a right and a single payer Medicare for All program.  Senator Sanders has called for a constitutional amendment to guarantee all Americans the right to vote and challenge the myriad of right wing voter suppression proposals.  And, the Senator from the Green Mountain state has echoed the call of Democrat leaders since 1896 to reign in the billionaires (once called robber barons) and restore control of the American government to the people.

When I was an elected Assemblyman in New York, Presidential candidates actually sought out my endorsement (1976, 1980 and 1984); and likewise, when I served as chairman of the Delaware Co. PA Democratic Party (1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). Sometimes my endorsement even made news and helped a candidate.

Today I lead my party in a small borough in the southeastern part of my  Pennsylvania county. Whom I support is of little matter to most and of no concern to the candidates. .  My endorsement carries with it no donations, no delegates and no votes other than my own. 

Then why make an endorsement other than to have an excuse to weigh in with a blog post?  It may matter to no one in 2015 who I endorse for President in 2016 but it matters to me.  For my entire adult life I have been engaged in politics. My study of history has led me to a profound belief in the values of democracy, and in the role in America of the Democratic Party as the party that in most cases can be found on the side of the ordinary men and women of the country. The entrepreneurs of the 1830's; the factory workers of the 1890's; the forgotten men and women of the 1930's; the oppressed minorities of the 1960's; the equality seeking women of the 1970's; and those who seek the freedom to live their lives as they see fit in today’s otherwise conformist culture; these have found their champions in the Democratic Party.

I have considered myself a Liberal and a Progressive and a Populist. I have often, but not always (to my regret), been on the right side of history early on. I have tried to be true to the things I have believed in and to the positions I have taken and the votes I have cast, when I have endorsed candidates. I have never asked if a candidate could win but only should they win. I have never insisted on 100% consistency between my positions on issues and those of the candidate I supported.  In fact in this contest I find myself in agreement with Senator Sanders on domestic issues more often than on foreign and with Secretary Clinton the reverse.

I have three grandchildren and I want an America for them that is free and prosperous and that allows that prosperity to reach everyone.  I want an America that assures access to all the education that one’s mind can absorb. I want an America where your gender, your lifestyle, your race and your wealth, or lack thereof, does not define your station in life or limit your opportunities.  I want an America where my grandchildren can raise their children and grandchildren with the same values of freedom and democracy that I was raised with and with the same hopes and dreams that I had; and, I want those to be realizable.  

The wealthy and the ideological crazy dominate the Republican Party and the public is fascinated by potential candidates who are anti-science (climate change deniers), and anti-history (Joseph built the pyramids), and anti immigrant and anti gay and anti just about everything except guns.

The ordinary people of America: young and old, black, white and Latino, gay and straight, poor and middle class, need their party - the Democratic Party- to galvanize the public with a vision of One America for All - an America whose land is their land and an America that will be a land of peace and prosperity for All. 

In my opinion the candidate for President in 2016 who offers that vision and would lead another Crusade for Economic and Social Justice is Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont. 

I was at the Democratic National Convention in 1980 when Senator Ted Kennedy, to the roars of thousands, declared to the delegates that “the dream will never die”.  It is the task of every generation to keep alive the hopes and dreams that are America.  Perhaps we have lost sight of that. Perhaps we have allowed ourselves to be so immersed in the myriad of problems facing our nation that we have lost sight of the forest for the trees.  We need a leader who offers America the kind of Revolution that it has had in the past (1800, 1828, 1932) and the only kind that succeeds in our country a Political Revolution.   FEEL THE  BERN  


19 December 2015  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

IRAN: DEAL OR NO DEAL


For the next few weeks the Congress and the Media will pontificate, dissect and proclaim the virtues and the defects of the Agreement with Iran that was just signed by the US and the major world powers: Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and Europe.  The agreement will be endorsed by the UN and by all the signatory nations.  And the world will watch to see if the US Congress will uphold the diplomacy of its President and Secretary of State or like 1919 reject it.

Iran seeks to be a nuclear power as Pakistan and India are (and Israel and South Africa may be).  The United States and rest of the world feels world peace is more secure if Iran does not become a nuclear power.  The question became how do you stop that from happening.  As in most situations when a nation seeks to go a way that other nations do not want there are two options War and Negotiation.  President Obama united the nations of the world including such disparate “partners” and China and Russia and imposed the most extensive program of economic sanctions ever to pressure Iran to agree to forgo its nuclear plans.  Economic sanctions have, in the past not succeeded in their objective.  Sanctions did not affect Italy after it invaded Ethiopia in the 1930's and while they may yet be successful have not stopped the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The Iran sanctions regime worked. It worked because the world united behind it and it was tough.  Iran was pressured into negotiating knowing that the end result would be an admission on their part that they were developing a nuclear military capability and would cease doing so.  And the negotiations succeeded in an Agreement that would end for at least ten years such nuclear development and give the world some time after that to prevent, it wished to the resumption of a nuclear Iran.  Without these negotiations and the earlier interim agreement adopted early last year Iran would likely have a nuclear weapon albeit at the expense of reducing many of her people to poverty level.  Unless of course the US and/or Israel used military force to stop the nuclear development.

So what faced the US was a decision between War and Negotiation to stop the Iran bomb.  President Obama chose the course of negotiation heeding the words of John F Kennedy that we “never fear to negotiate”.  And the negotiation was successful.  It brought about an Agreement with verification procedures akin to those that were agreed upon with the Soviet Union in the 1980's by President Reagan.    

As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once opined “If Barack Obama walked on Water the Republicans would say ‘the President can’t swim”.   And so of course the Republican party its candidates and it’s voices in Washington immediately attacked the Agreement as too weak and a Munich like appeasement of an enemy, The Republicans will seek to get the House and Senate to reject the agreement. The President can then veto their Resolution of Rejection and his veto will be upheld and the Agreement in effect as long as one-third plus one of the members of either house stand with the Agreement.  The Agreement is going to take effect.

If the Agreement is successfully implemented Iran will not have nuclear military capability for ten to 12 years if ever.  If the Agreement is broken Iran can become a nuclear power within a year of further development.   If there were no Agreement Iran would be or would be about to e a nuclear power.  While all the commentators and candidates enunciate their positions and discuss the complexity of the Agreement and its 80 or 150 (if you include the appendixes) pages the American people will reduce this Agreement to the simple question of do we want a War with Iran now or do we want to wait ten years in the hope that no war will then be necessary. 

The 20th century was a century of the most horrible war and genocide in the first half and a second half of fear of nuclear annihilation. The President has two young daughters.  I have three grandchildren and my nieces and nephews have some dozen young children between them;  these youngsters deserve to live in a century of relative peace and security.

The Answer to the Question of the Agreement with Iran is Simple - GIVE PEACE A CHANCE.


15 July 2015