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Did you remember to turn back your clock? One less anxious hour, I guess.

I want this to be over now! I don’t want to watch ONE MORE TV AD, even the ones that ring true are annoying me now. I can understand why people just throw their hands up and refuse to participate. Yikes!

I don’t want to see Romney’s sad-eyed mug on the TV anymore, either. I’m like that little kid that burst into tears over too much “Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney.” Best thing about his losing this race would be never having to see him again — I think he’s a hologram, anyhow. Nobody could be that out of step with actual humans!

And the number of lies — a pathological number — continue to be an assault to the senses. Remember how Mitt supposedly worked in a bipartisan spirit with his Dem majority legislature in Massachusettes? Turns out he VETOED over 800 of the measures put before him. Yeah, they loved him there!!!

Worse, behind the hologram lies a great sucking hole of immature ambition named Paul Ryan — with only hours to go, he’s hitting the religious button. According to Ryan, who wouldn’t know a Christian if it bit him, Obama compromises our Judeo-Christian values!

While we wait for Tuesday to arrive, here are three reads that impacted me, perhaps you will find them moving as well.

Also of interest I thought, a quote from Mark Morford, breaking down the man/woman issues in the race:

    Here is your brutal nutshell takeaway: If only women voted, Obama wins in a landslide. If only men voted, Romney wins in a landslide. (Taken further: if only Latinos, blacks, celebrities, college grads, professors, scientists, poets, Burning Man attendees, book readers, trees, oceans, major cities or college towns of America voted, Obama nails it wholly and true. If only rich CEOs, gun owners, upper managers, oil companies, rednecks, shut-ins and guys who think Muslims are terrorists, Mexicans are lazy house painters and feminazis are ruining porn voted, Romney is a mutant and faraway god).

Bit of a sobering thought, that — one of the things we have to balance before this is all over. Ah, well — be calm, there’s purpose to it all. Here’s link to my weekly piece, in case you missed it and need a bit of encouragement.

Three reads — and a prayer for our future.


Wanting to Know… and Not
Justin Frank, Psychoanalyst via HuffPo

When I appeared on ABC News’ Nightline after the second presidential debate, reporter Jake Tapper asked me who was healthier — Obama or Romney. I gave two responses, one of which was edited out. I first said that criteria for health are different for Presidents because at times they have to be ruthless. I also said, “Someone who repeatedly lies but thinks he’s telling the truth is not healthy enough to be president.” Which statement do you think was edited out?

This election is between a person who tied his dog to the car roof before driving hundreds of miles on a family vacation, and someone who would never think of doing that. It’s a race between someone dedicated to taking care of himself versus someone who strives to take care of others. One man brilliantly provides his own safety net with money sequestered in Cayman Islands and Swiss bank accounts; the other provides social safety nets like FEMA, the Affordable Health Care Act, and auto industry rescues. Ultimately, the race is between someone who would happily tie 47% of Americans to the roof of his car and someone who wants those Americans to ride with him in his car.

Perhaps it’s not Romney’s fault that he is the way he is: he was raised in a religious culture that discourages close contact with non-believers, and later accumulated enough wealth to avoid rubbing elbows with average Americans. When asked by a reporter if he follows NASCAR, Romney tellingly said, “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends that are NASCAR team owners.” Recently he likened the post-Sandy cleanup to picking up a football field after a wild game. That is who he is, how he thinks.

Without question, Mitt Romney is less emotionally qualified to be president than Barack Obama. That he is also intellectually less qualified is the subject for another column.

Looking at the close poll numbers, it seems hard for Americans to see that one man is less qualified to be president than the other. Would those of us who plan to vote for Romney put a dog on the roof of a family car? Those who plan to vote for President Obama recognize he cannot take care of all of us, but know he tries — especially in times of disaster — to do the right thing. It boils down again to a choice between someone who takes care of himself first and someone dedicated to taking care of others. Having a social compact and safety net is essential for the health of any economy, and that is something that Governor Romney does not seem to understand. He told Fox News, “I’m not worried about the poor; they have their safety net.”

Candidate Romney promises big change but how do we know what that big change will be? For instance, from everything he’s said, how do we know big change won’t be from diplomacy to belligerence — especially since 18 of his 24 foreign policy advisors worked for George W. Bush, and are the people who brought us Iraq? How do we know what “big change” means to someone isolated from 99% of the American people and their problems, both because of his wealth and his religious isolation? All we have to go on, beside his frequent policy pivots, is that he said he wants to return FEMA to the states (even if their infrastructure itself is flooded and non-functional), that he is barely concerned about “the rising oceans,” and that he will overturn affordable health care for millions.

The dirty word in October — before Sandy changed everything — was class warfare, which seems to be a war of the 1% vs. the 99%. We already know that Romney dismissed 47% of Americans as being lazy, but what we don’t know is that the unconscious source of class warfare stems from murderous sibling rivalry, going back to the Old Testament: Cain said, after slaying Abel, “I am not my brother’s keeper.”

Romney Republicans and Tea Party members are satisfied with that sentiment, but when Sandy came along we saw something completely different. We saw people helping one another, clearly being their brothers’ keepers. Obama has pushed his deep faith that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers his entire adult life. Romney, however, says his brothers can find their own way, especially if government doesn’t interfere — and his sisters are second-class citizens who don’t deserve equal pay for equal work or the right to make their own health decisions.

Interestingly, when push comes to shove, Americans are far more like Obama than Romney. And herein lies the paradox: many of us plan to vote for someone fundamentally different from ourselves, who doesn’t know what we know. Sandy put this paradox into bold relief: scientists and prominent Americans like Al Gore and Ed Markey have been telling us for years about climate change. Most of us know what they say is true, so to label our reaction as denial is not specific enough. We suffer from a particular kind of denial — denial of personal relevance.

The people of New Orleans understood the disaster that climate change can wreak; now, its tragic wake is publicly relevant to the entire Eastern Seaboard. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, stunned by the catastrophe that was Hurricane Sandy, endorsed President Obama. He wrote about the world he wants to leave to his children: “The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America…. One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

That so many good people — especially women who should know better — may end up voting for Romney reminds me of the play “Embedded” when a reporter in Iraq says of President Bush, “I know he’s a liar; but I trust him.”

This much is clear: Americans know that Romney doesn’t understand our daily lives, and doesn’t seem to care about our homes, our land or the people we love. The storm cloud that is Hurricane Romney is there for all to see. We’ll know on Wednesday morning whether it made landfall. ++

Marine One
Richard Schiff, actor, Screen Actor’s Guild member at HuffPo

My fingers hurt. My toes. My nose red and running. My ears past pain. My arm around my wife. We walked away from our seats muttering about warmth and where to find it. This was fun. Let’s get out of here.

Inauguration Day, Washington, D.C., the Capitol steps, 2009.

We walked by some people straggling behind. Not moving. Cardboard, placards literature laying about. A breeze moving things, hordes of people, somewhere warmer. But these people, these few people, stayed. Unbothered by elements and that gene like birds have that make us want to follow the more formidable mass. These people stayed. Waiting for some thing more than the great evidence of speech and song and universal cheering, tears.

What more can there be? A half a million screaming, crying, shivering Americans and huge screens showing this man, this most unlikely citizen, swearing on a book that he will faithfully preserve, protect, defend and uphold our sacred document. Bands played. The man himself made a great speech. Ella sang for god’s sake. Couples, strangers hugged, celebrated and made for the buses. But not these frozen few. They just stayed, actually staring at the screen. Some looking high up towards the Capitol Dome. What else could there be?

“What are you waiting for?” I thought I would just ask.

“The chopper,” said one.

“The ex-President,” said a woman next to him.

“Bush,” said another with a hard look towards me like I should know.

“Marine One,” said a kinder soul. “We’re waiting for Marine One. It’ll be coming up there. Rising above the dome any minute.”

“Oh,” I said.

She went on: “Just proof. I want proof. I want to see that son of a bitch haul his ass out a here. That’s how they go. The old first couple is escorted by the incoming first couple and shove them into Marine One and off they go. See ya.”

She looked back at the dome. So did every one else. Everyone who was still there.


I am not an Obama fanatic. I did not favor a surge in Afghanistan; didn’t support the nature of the financials bailouts; wanted universal health coverage; wanted proper prosecution of the thieves of Wall Street, believe the war on drugs must end yesterday.

But here, now, just shy of four years later I can look back and I can have respect for this man. He said he was going to bail out Detroit and he did; he said he was going to pass the stimulus package to stave off loss of jobs and rebuild infrastructure and he did; he said he was going to surge in Afghanistan to facilitate a later winding down of that war and he did; he said he was going to end the inane war in Iraq and he did. He passed Obamacare like he said he would. He reversed the loss of job growth trend like he said he would. He extended unemployment benefits and helped folks keep their homes like he said he would. And on and on it goes.

In the more freezing cold, the unbearable bone chilling cold, I stood, unmoving, looking too at the dome. My wife beside me. Looking up. Listening. I hadn’t cried today. I was among the few. I was glad to be there. Excited. Glad to witness history. I felt sad for this man who is now president. This man, whose most likely greatest achievement in his life he has probably already accomplished.

I looked up. Tears, but only from the wind that physically hurt my eyes. This dome. I remember someone saying… a tour guide? a Capitol policeman? A congressman? I remember someone saying:

“This is your building. You own it. You decide who can have an office in there and you can decide to kick ‘em out.”

“Same with the white one down the block. Yours. You’re the landlord. You rent to who you want to rent. YOU own it.”

I heard a rumble. Felt a stir. Some people got up off the ground, up from chairs. Those leaning straightened, looked straight up. On the big TV screen I saw two couples now on the other side of the Capitol walking towards the chopper, Marine One. They stopped, tilted heads away from the running blades. One couple patting the other, shaking hands and sharing hugs. Very formally acted out as to let us know that this is how we do things here. Good mannered, the way we move power from one man’s hands to another. A marine saluted and the doors shut. No wasted time, the chopper headed upwards out of the screen’s view.

But like a well executed film edit the thing, the chopper in full voice, escaped above the dome in full sight, in real time, straight up above it. It was then, just then that I was attacked by something deep in my chest. It could have been the icy wind kicked up by this flying thing cutting through to the bone. The phrase “Long live the King,” flew through my mind. And I realized then that coronations, inaugurations, they are funerals first, aren’t they? Someone’s gotta go for this to be happening. Just then in my chest, something. And I started to cry. I, the only one it seemed who’d risen above such easy display all day. What is this? I cried, trying to hide now audible sobs, sounds grotesque. Stop! My wife looked over confused. No more than I. Stop! I couldn’t.

This takes a while to figure out, this stuff. If you asked me then and there as my wife delicately did, I’d have nothing for you. No answer. Dunno. It was like I had done something wrong. I was ashamed. I had that feeling of failure that surrounds you and swallows you whole, makes you less a man. Shame.

In eight years we had lost ourselves as a people. I’m thinking this to myself. I think in big sentences sometimes. Ignore it. We have caused the death of hundreds of millions of Arabs for reasons I can’t get my head around. Thousands of American servicemen and women. Tens of thousands of life altering wounds both physical and psychological, spiritual. We entered into another war which just twenty years earlier brought down an empire by being as stupid. We have bankrupted our treasury with these wars and the inane war on drugs while aiding and abetting Wall Street’s theft of our savings and our homes. We have been systematically killing arts in our culture and in our schools while supporting windfall profits and tax breaks for the oil and war cartels. Big sentences. Ignore it. I’ll take responsibility. My fault.

I now know the thing that happens to children that is unthinkable. They think it’s their fault. They shoulda done this; avoided; run; attack; something. I shoulda done something.

I almost voted for Nader in 2000. I thought it really didn’t matter. They’re all the same. Now when I come across that indifference I get a little charged up: “If the other guy won? We would never have been in Iraq; we’d have invested in alternative energy and been leading the world market in the next difference making industry; we would not have continued the systematic destruction of the middle class, the deaths of unfathomably countless Arabs in Iraq (whatever the grotesque number is!)…”

Our president has helped alter a force of nature. An economic tsunami that was poised to wipe us out. Response is everything. Just this past week as we hunker down in New York and all points here in the east we see a difference maker; a builder of castles unwilling to do any other thing than yield just momentarily to the storms but then roll ‘em up and get to work. To work.

Slowly, methodically if need be.

How long does it take to destroy a sand castle? And then how long to build it back up?

The helicopter, as only it can do, spun left and rocketed toward the Potomac, one last pass over the Oval office where so much had been undone. I fixed my eyes on the chopper. Stayed fixed to that as if it should bring me relief from whatever this was. No help. But fixed I stayed on it as it withdrew, became small, until the dot, the spec that was left was no longer there. Shame. It’s visible only while you look at it. But it’s always there.

I shudder to think what will happen if this president does not retain the lease to our Oval Office. This challenger is better at stomping on sand castles, enjoys it, finds the fun. He is more sophisticated, a better practiced version of what we last saw flying in a dot over the Potomac. He is against everything that I am for. Leave that dust alone. Avoid! Run! Attack!

Wait. Wait one moment. That building is ours. We own it. We the lessor, we renew the lease. We do.

Your keys, Mr. President. ++

The Tuesday That’s Bound to Matter All the Way to 2052
Norman Lear, People for the American Way via HuffPo

We’ve all been asking one another how we feel about Tuesday’s vote. Before Hurricane Sandy, it was just about all I could think about. Then someone called this line to my attention. From Mark Twain:

“Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.”

I would dearly love to know what Twain would make of our current election landscape of super PACs, billionaire bullies, Etch-a-Sketch candidates and the most cynical, flagrantly dishonest ads imaginable. Thank God for the Twain-like piercing irreverence we get several nights a week courtesy of the essential Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Humor is a wonderful survival mechanism and teaching tool. But as much mockery as our politics deserves, we mustn’t abandon ourselves and our citizenship completely. Past the laughter and the ridicule, we have to do something. There’s just too much at stake.

More than 30 years ago, Barbara Jordan, Father Hesburgh, Andrew Heiskell and other religious, business and civic leaders — along with thousands of individual Americans — joined me to start People For the American Way precisely because we weren’t ready to abandon our country to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart and other televangelists. I had started watching them thinking I would skewer their pretentions the way Paddy Chayefsky had nailed corporate news in Network. But what made me set aside those plans was hearing one of the television preachers call for God to get rid of Supreme Court justices who weren’t ruling the right way.

That was my wake-up call then.

Thirty years later, the Religious Right and its allies still have their eyes on the Supreme Court. Thanks to a series of right-wing nominees who joined the Court before the Obama administration, the right wing’s decades-long desire to roll back the New Deal and just about every good thing that has happened since then has a friendly ear on the pro-corporate court.

What will get me to my polling place this year, more than anything else, is this: I believe Barack Obama will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will vote to overturn Citizens United, which wiped out reasonable limits on campaign funding. And Mitt Romney would appoint Supreme Court Justices who would uphold it.

That’s enough for me. By now we’ve all seen the torrent of corporate money — over 2 billion dollars, we read — pouring into our elections, and the ocean of smears and unaccountable, dishonest attacks that’s washing over our airwaves.

These aren’t just an annoyance. And we make a mistake if we see them as just “politics as usual.” This Supreme Court — which is treating corporations as if they were actual citizens — has dismantled laws designed to keep money from overwhelming the interests of real citizens. They are putting the interests of corporations above the rights and interests of actual human beings. And things will get worse as long as those with the most money are allowed to dominate our elections.

The choice of who runs our country won’t be put up to a vote. It will increasingly be put up for auction. And individual Americans will see their interests sacrificed to the companies and billionaires who fill Karl Rove’s coffers. That’s not the kind of democracy I fought to defend in the second world war. In fact, it’s not really democracy at all.

This election isn’t just about two candidates. It’s about two very different ways of looking at democracy. Governor Romney has named Robert Bork as Chairman of his Justice Advisory Committee, the same Robert Bork who opposed broad protectionism for free speech, questioned the constitutional right to privacy, opposed the integration of public accommodations by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and whose own nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected in a bipartisan 58 to 42 vote.

The Governor has also said that if elected he will appoint Justices who think like Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, all of whom supported Citizens United. President Obama, in contrast has shown us the kind of Justices he’d choose. He’s picked two of them: Sonia Sotomayor (who joined Justice Steven’s brilliant and inspiring Citizens United dissent) and Elena Kagan, who joined Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer this spring seeking to get the Court to re-examine Citizens United.

We never know just when a Justice will leave the Court, and can’t know how many vacancies the next president will be asked to fill. But right now the radical corporate-court conservatives are already winning most of the close cases. Adding one or two or three additional far-right justices could cement a pro-corporate, anti-citizen majority for the decades.

We are talking LIFETIME appointments here.

The next appointees could be serving into 2052. All of us who care about the country we are leaving to our children and grandchildren need to keep that in mind.

Whether we call ourselves Republicans or Democrats, what do we think about our democracy?

If we want more corporations having unlimited power to pour more money into our elections, let’s vote for Governor Romney. If we want to put some reasonable limits back in place, we should vote for President Obama. It’s as simple as that.

On Tuesday, I’ll be thinking about 2052. And you?

Norman Lear ++

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ The Reverand Martin Luther King

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