Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Protest should mean not placating.

This is a response to the article "Obama Needs a Protest Movement" by Francis Fox Piven in The Nation (see below.)

Oh my, I am astonished. Frances Fox Piven says, "The astonishing election of 2008 is over. Whatever else the future holds, the unchallenged domination of American national government by big business and the political right has been broken."

What election is she talking about? While, for the time being only, government has been wrestled from the hold of the political right wing of the big business party, Obama and his centrist Democrat supporters are as equally dominated by the liberal wing of big business as the political right wing of big business ever dominated the Republicans. Otherwise, for just one example, Joseph Lieberman wouldn't still be chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and instead, there would be talk about the dismantling of the Department of Homeland Security.

If Piven's premise is true that the domination by big business was “unchallenged”, then it can only be true because the Democrats were the ones not challenging in Congress, There were plenty of challenges from outside government. Every indication of Obama's transition decision making so far shows that there will continue to be no challenge to those big business interests coming from the White House and Congress shows no signs of challenging bib business either.

Since Piven's whole article, and excellent history lesson, is really about the need to have a challenge to the continuing domination of American national government by big business, I wonder why she opens with such a patently false premise? In my view, such placating of Democratic centrists by massaging their egos and self-delusion when it comes to their being dominated by big business is exactly the problem we progressives have, not our solution. The bottom line is that if Obama needs a protest movement it is only because he doesn't want one, and that is the problem the American people have with the big business interests controlling Obama and Congress, whether they are called Democrats or Republicans.

Gregory Wonderwheel

----- Original Message -----
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 5:30 PM
Subject: Obama needs a protest movement

Obama needs a protest movement
by Frances Fox Piven

The Nation - 11/15/08 this article appears in the Dec. 01, 2008 issue

The astonishing election of 2008 is over. Whatever else the future holds, the unchallenged domination of American national government by big business and the political right has been broken. Even more amazing, Americans have elected an African-American as president. These facts alone are rightful cause for jubilation.

Naturally, people are making lists of what the new administration should do to begin to reverse the decades-long trends toward rising inequality, unrestrained corporate plunder, ecological disaster, military adventurism and constricted democracy. But if naming our favored policies is the main thing we do, we are headed for a terrible letdown. Let's face it: Barack Obama is not a visionary or even a movement leader. He became the nominee of the Democratic Party, and then went on to win the general election, because he is a skillful politician. That means he will calculate whom he has to conciliate and whom he can ignore in realms dominated by big-money contributors from Wall Street, powerful business lobbyists and a Congress that includes conservative Blue Dog and Wall Street-oriented Democrats. I don't say this to disparage Obama. It is simply the way it is, and if Obama was not the centrist and conciliator he is, he would not have come this far this fast, and he would not be the president-elect.

Still, the conditions that influence politicians can change. The promises and hopes generated by election campaigns sometimes help to raise hopes and set democratic forces in motion that break the grip of politics as usual. I don't mean that the Obama campaign operation is likely to be transformed into a continuing movement for reform. A campaign mobilization is almost surely too flimsy and too dependent on the candidate to generate the weighty pressures that can hold politicians accountable. Still, the soaring rhetoric of the campaign; the slogans like "We are the ones we have been waiting for"; the huge, young and enthusiastic crowds--all this generates hope, and hope fuels activism among people who otherwise accept politics as usual.

Sometimes, encouraged by electoral shifts and campaign promises, the ordinary people who are typically given short shrift in political calculation become volatile and unruly, impatient with the same old promises and ruses, and they refuse to cooperate in the institutional routines that depend on their cooperation. When that happens, their issues acquire a white-hot urgency, and politicians have to respond, because they are politicians. In other words, the disorder, stoppages and institutional breakdowns generated by this sort of collective action threaten politicians. These periods of mass defiance are unnerving, and many authoritative voices are even now pointing to the dangers of pushing the Obama administration too hard and too far. Yet these are also the moments when ordinary people enter into the political life of the country and authentic bottom-up reform becomes possible.

The parallels between the election of 2008 and the election of 1932 are often invoked, with good reason. It is not just that Obama's oratory is reminiscent of FDR's oratory, or that both men were brought into office as a result of big electoral shifts, or that both took power at a moment of economic catastrophe. All this is true, of course. But I want to make a different point: FDR became a great president because the mass protests among the unemployed, the aged, farmers and workers forced him to make choices he would otherwise have avoided. He did not set out to initiate big new policies. The Democratic platform of 1932 was not much different from that of 1924 or 1928. But the rise of protest movements forced the new president and the Democratic Congress to become bold reformers.

The movements of the 1930s were often set in motion by radical agitators--Communists, Socialists, Musteites-- but they were fueled by desperation and economic calamity. Unemployment demonstrations, usually (and often not without reason) labeled riots by the press, began in 1929 and 1930, as crowds assembled, raised demands for "bread or wages," and then marched on City Hall or local relief offices. In some places, "bread riots" broke out as crowds of the unemployed marched on storekeepers to demand food, or simply to take it.

In the big cities, mobs used strong-arm tactics to resist the rising numbers of evictions. In Harlem and on the Lower East Side, crowds numbering in the thousands gathered to restore evicted families to their homes. In Chicago, small groups of black activists marched through the streets of the ghetto to mobilize the large crowds that would reinstall evicted families. A rent riot there left three people dead and three policemen injured in August 1931, but Mayor Anton Cermak ordered a moratorium on evictions, and some of the rioters got work relief. Later, in the summer of 1932, Cermak told a House committee that if the federal government didn't send $150 million for relief immediately, it should be prepared to send troops later. Even in Mississippi, Governor Theodore Bilbo told an interviewer, "Folks are restless. Communism is gaining a foothold. Right here in Mississippi, some people are about ready to lead a mob. In fact, I'm getting a little pink myself." Meanwhile, also in the summer of 1932, farmers across the country armed themselves with pitchforks and clubs to prevent the delivery of farm products to markets where the price paid frequently did not cover the cost of production.

Notwithstanding the traditional and conservative platform of the Democratic Party, FDR's campaign in 1932 registered these disturbances in new promises to "build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid." Economic conditions worsened in the interim between the election and the inauguration, and the clamor for federal action became more strident. Within weeks, Roosevelt had submitted legislation to Congress for public works spending, massive emergency relief to be implemented by states and localities, agricultural assistance and an (ultimately unsuccessful) scheme for industrial recovery.

The unruly protests continued, and in many places they were crucial in pressuring reluctant state and local officials to implement the federally initiated aid programs. Then, beginning in 1933, industrial workers inspired by the rhetorical promises of the new administration began to demand the right to organize. By the mid-1930s, mass strikes were a threat to economic recovery and to the Democratic voting majorities that had put FDR in office. A pro-union labor policy was far from Roosevelt's mind when he took office in 1933. But by 1935, with strikes escalating and the election of 1936 approaching, he was ready to sign the National Labor Relations Act.

Obama's campaign speeches emphasized the theme of a unified America where divisions bred by race or party are no longer important. But America is, in fact, divided: by race, by party, by class. And these divisions will matter greatly as we grapple with the whirlwind of financial and economic crises, of prospective ecological calamity, of generational and political change, of widening fissures in the American empire. I, for one, do not have a blueprint for the future. Maybe we are truly on the cusp of a new world order, and maybe it will be a better, more humane order. In the meantime, however, our government will move on particular policies to confront the immediate crisis. Whether most Americans will have an effective voice in these policies will depend on whether we tap our usually hidden source of power, our ability to refuse to cooperate on the terms imposed from above.

Copyright c 2008 The Nation

[Frances Fox Piven is on the faculty of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the author, most recently, of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America ].

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Your Wish List for President Obama

The BBC has a story titled "Inside the presidential in-tray" that made me think of what I would put in President Obama's in-tray as my wish list of things that President Obama could do in the first few weeks of his presidency to make the hope of change be real and actual.

What I'm talking about are executive orders and presidential letters and decisions that do not require legislation or congressional confirmation. These are not legislative packages, and I'm not talking about cabinet appointments (which I assume is a discussion going on elsewhere), but about the kinds of things that President Obama can do on his own by presidential fiat or initiative.

I'm talking about what very practical actions President Obama can take and not just statements of philosophical or political postions. The idea is that these are very direct things to do or say that the President could hand to a staff person and say, "Write it up in the proper language and I'll sign it."

What's on your wish list?

Here's my wish list of presidential orders, just in the order that they percolated to awareness:

Foreign Relations Military issues:

- Order Guantanamo prison closed within two months and all prisoner immediately transferred to federal prisons where they will have the right of habeas corpus and access to attorneys.

- Order the immediate halt to the military tirbunal trials of prisoners in Guantanamo and that all trials be conducted in Federal courts.

- Order the immediate closure of all extra territorial prisons being operated for the benefit of the USA.

- Order the immediate cessation of all rendition programs whether they are "ordinary" or "extraordinary."

- Order the immediate halt of incursions by military actions by both troops and drone missle attacks on the soverign territories of Pakistan and Iran.

- Order the immediate cessation of all torture and so-called "enhanced interrogation" methods.

- Order that the US join and sign the Cluster Munitions Convention of 2008, and the global ban on Landmines with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and the US will comply with the terms of those treaties pending ratification by Congress.

- Order the immediate cessation by the Defense Dept of all unanium or other radioactive material munitions on the battlefield without specific and personal approval by the Commander in Chief.

-- Order the immediate removal of three brigades of troops from Iraq.

-- Order the cessation of the "stop loss" program.

-- Order clemency or pardon for all military personal convicted in courts martial for resisting the Iraq War.

-- Write a diplomatic letter to the Iraqi President and negotiators of the Status of Forces Agreement that the US will not keep any troops, even noncombat troops, in Iraq past 18 months without a vote by the Iraq parliment requesting that troops stay.

-- Write a diplomatic letter to President Karzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan telling him that the Afghanistan National Assembly must formally request the continuation of US and NATO troops within 12 months and set clear goals for the continued occupation for the troops to remain in Afghanistan. (Did you know that the Afghanistan Constitution prohibits non-muslims from being elected President? Something to think about in light of the current unconditional suuport of Afghanistan.)

- Order immediate compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [NPT] and especially (1) beginning implementation of the treaty provison in Article VI, to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control," and (2) providing a complete declaration to the IAEA of all nuclear materials in peaceful civil facilities under the jurisdiction of the USA and give IAEA inspectors routine access to the facilities for periodic monitoring and inspections as required by the Treaty.


- Order the immediate cessation of arrests at all ICE raids and the break-up of families in such immigration raids. If ICE raids are conducted the ICE officers may only issue tickets to appear at immigration hearings and must also issue citations to managers and owners at the same time or not do the raid at all.

Open Secrets:

- Order that all documents under presidential control related to the runup to the Iraq war be made available to the public to determine who was lying and when.

- Order that all defense department documents related to UFOs be made open to the public. (This may seem silly, but it is symbolic of a "nothing to hide" change in government.)

- Order that all documents under presidential control related to 9/11 and its investigation be opened to the public including all videos, photos, recordings or other evidence of the attack on the Pentagon.

Israel and Palestine:

- Give diplomatic notice to Israeli government affirming support for Israel but condemning Israel for its methods of self-preservation in violation of international law and the human rights of the Palestinians and informing Israel that it must immediately cease to blockade Palestian territories from outside air and sea transportation and the land travel from the Egyptian and Jordanian borders or as a STICK failure to cease this violation of international law will result in the US stopping all military aid to Israel and withdrawing the US veto that is protecting Israel in the UN.

- Give diplomatic notice to the two Palestinian governments that they must immediately cease attacking Israel and as a CARROT the USA will recognise the right of the Palestinians to their own state or states as they choose or as a STICK the US will approve the invasion of Gaza by international-- not Israeli -- troops in order to allow the Palestinian people to elect a new government that will enforce the cease fire and to hold a constitutional convention if the current governments do not begin planning for one.

- Tell both sides they are acting like knuckleheads and they have to fix this situation by Israel returning to the 1967 borders and both sides negotiating over how to settle the right of return issue (either land swap or reparations) and how to share Jerusalem; and they have to come to terms for a treaty within 18 months.

Domestic stimulus:

-- Order rhe immediate cessation of all no-bid contracts in the military and elsewhere.

-- Order the immediate review by FEMA of the unfinished related to damage by hurricane Katrina and report a recommendation for Federal assistance for the immediate return of all remaining displaced persons.

- Order the EPA to create a comprehensive plan for a national service Environmental and National Resources Conservation Corps.

- Order a review of the bloated Homeland Security Dept. to increase homeland security by dismantelling the HSD and redistributing the servives to appropriate agencies.

- Order all Federal Agencies to stop purchasing regular gasoline powered vehicles unless having a specifically approved exception and to purchase only alternative fuel vehicles such as either natural gas, biodiesel, or hybrid plug-in, behicles.

- Order the Defense Department to prepare alternative energy conversion plans for use of solar and other alternative energy sources for military use.

Presidential responsibility:

- Order the Justice department to conduct an investigation for possible prosecution of President George W. Bush, including but not limited to the charges of torture and murder as outlined in The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi and the Recommendations From Bush War Crimes Prosecution Conference to recommend whether an independent counsel should be appointed.
Obama has already stated that this is part of his thinking so there is no need to delay beginning the inquiry:
“What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.”

"I think it’s important– one of the things we’ve got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I’ve said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law — and I think that’s roughly how I would look at it.”

Okay that's enough for now. I am very interested in see what others would put in President Obama's "to-do without delay" in-tray.

I first posted the above at at Daily Kos but I got very few responses on the subject of a wish list for "to-do" items that would go into President Obama's "in-tray," that is, those things which a president can get accomplished merely by signing his name and not needing the cooperation of Congress to pass the legislation or confirm the appointment.

Apparently the concept of "what can President Obama do with the stroke of his pen?" is not as interesting to others as it is to me.

Now here is a website that may appeal to more people because it is not so policy wonky as I am and not about detailed action items but priority goals. At you can add your own priorities to the collective consciousness without becoming too bogged down in specifics.

Jim Gilliam says our priorities are combined on his website like TV's Neilson ratings to create a master list of priorities of the people.

From the website:
White House 2 is completely independent of the U.S. government, the official White House website at, and any political party. The only ideology here is the collective will of the American people. If you disagree with something, change it!

The site is managed by Jim Gilliam, under the direction of U.S. citizens like you. More about the site, our three simple rules, and strict privacy policy. Feedback and suggestions are welcome here, and please email press inquiries to

You can add priorities and change your ranking of your previously ranked priorities.

My first personal top ten priorities were:
1. Stop the Iraq War
2. Stop the Afghanistan War
3. Kill the Patriot Act
4. Enact Universal Single-payer Healthcare
5. Shut down Guantanamo
6. stop torture
7. restore habeas corpus
8. End using landmines, cluster bombs, and uranium munitions
9. End Bank's Power to Create Money- Only Create Money
10. Rebuild New Orleans making sure EVERYONE has a home

Check it out for yourself.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What McCain's Hero Really Stood For

WWTRS? What would T.R. say?

John McCain claims Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt as one of his personal heros. For anyone who actually knows the life and legacy of T.R. it is painfully clear that McCain doesn't know what he is talking about and that his feigned admiration for T.R. is just another of McCain's unending stack of lies. Wouldn't it be interesting if McCain actually took the time to read and follow T.R.'s words?

We've seen how McCain's campaign has become one long character attack. Here's what T.R. said about character attacks.
Gross and reckless assaults on character, whether on the stump or in newspaper, magazine, or book, create a morbid and vicious public sentiment, and at the same time act as a profound deterrent to able men of normal sensitiveness and tend to prevent them from entering the public service at any price.
Speech, "THE MAN WITH THE MUCK RAKE" April 15, 1906

The words of President Roosevelt himself give the lie to McCain's claim of admiration for the legendary Rough Rider. While T.R. used his military experience to forge a deep sensibility for peace and justice, McCain has only bulit a career of pettiness and poison with his military background.

Recently, Timothy Noah in Slate Magazine has pointed out the discrepancy of McCain calling Obama a socialist when Teddy Roosevelt was called the same thing, and in fact was far more openly sympathetic to socialists than Obama can ever be expected to be in the current atmosphere of American politics. Here's how Noah's article begins:

McCain's Hero: More Socialist Than Obama!

McCain can call Obama a socialist or he can call Teddy Roosevelt his hero. He can't do both.

By Timothy Noah
Slate Magazine
Oct. 23, 2008

Imagine that instead of telling Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher that "when you spread the wealth around it's good for everybody," Barack Obama had said the following:

We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.

The New York Post's Page One would blare: "OBAMA: I'LL
SEIZE 'SWOLLEN FORTUNES'!" Bill Kristol would demand to know, in his New York Times column, what godly powers enabled Obama to discern precisely whose wealth-David
Geffen's? George Soros'?-would "benefit the community." On Fox News, Bill O'Reilly would start to say something, then sputter, turn purple, and keel over backward in a grand mal seizure.

John McCain, meanwhile, would have to stop saying that Teddy Roosevelt is his hero, because the passage quoted above is from T.R.'s "New Nationalism" speech of 1910. Either that, or McCain would have to quit calling Barack Obama a socialist.

T.R. justified progressive taxation straightforwardly as a matter of equality. In his 1907 State of the Union address, Roosevelt said:

Our aim is to recognize what Lincoln pointed out: The fact that there are some respects in which men are obviously not equal; but also to insist that there should be an equality of self-respect and of mutual respect, an equality of rights before the law, and at least an approximate equality in the conditions under which each man obtains the chance to show the stuff that is in him when compared to his fellows [(bold) italics mine].

Noah goes on to compare the anti-socialist drivel coming from McCain with its witchhunt against "spreading the wealth" with T.R.'s plain contempt for people with "swollen fortunes" and "malefactors of great wealth."

As Noah also shows, T.R. was more like Obama than McCain as it was T.R. who also had to face the character attacks of being called a socialist.

T.R., of course, was no socialist. Indeed, his purpose was largely to prevent socialists from coming to power. But the trust buster got called a socialist a lot more often than Obama ever will. He writes in his autobiography:

Because of things I have done on behalf of justice to the workingman, I have often been called a Socialist. Usually I have not taken the trouble even to notice the epithet. Moreover, I know that many American Socialists are high-minded and honorable citizens, who in reality are merely radical social reformers. They are opposed to the brutalities and industrial injustices which we see everywhere about us.

T.R. then goes on to outline his strong differences "with the Marxian Socialists" and their belief in class warfare and the inevitable demise of capitalism. Later, he returns to his earlier theme:

Many of the men who call themselves socialists today are in reality merely radical social reformers, with whom on many points good citizens can and ought to work in hearty general agreement, and whom in many practical matters of government good citizens can well afford to follow.

Beyond the question of economic equality, progressive taxation, and the charge of socialism there are other ways in which McCain does not follow T.R. As stated in the introduction above, McCain has no compunction to run a campaign centered on character attack.

But T.R. also was capable of rising to the highest levels of public spirit far above the sloganeering of McCain. On the occasion of the celebaration of Lincoln's birthday in February 13, 1905, Roosevelt gave a speech on "LINCOLN AND THE RACE PROBLEM". One can only imagine what kind of different world view McCain would have to have to make a speech that included these following sentiments. I mean, has McCain ever made a speech on race issues in America, much less can you imagine McCain ever saying anything remotely like these words of Teddy Roosevelt?

Most certainly all clear-sighted and generous men in the North appreciate the difficulty and perplexity of this problem, sympathize with the South in the embarrassment of conditions for which she is not alone responsible, feel an honest wish to help her where help is practicable, and have the heartiest respect for those brave and earnest men of the South who, in the face of fearful difficulties, are doing all that men can do for the betterment alike of white and of black. The attitude of the North toward the negro is far from what it should be, and there is need that the North also should act in good faith upon the principle of giving to each man what is justly due him, of treating him on his worth as a man, granting him no special favors, but denying him no proper opportunity for labor and the reward of labor. But the peculiar circumstances of the South render the problem there far greater and far more acute.

Neither I nor any other man can say that any given way of approaching that problem will present in our times even an approximately perfect solution, but we can safely say that there can never be such solution at all unless we approach it with the effort to do fair and equal justice among all men; and to demand from them in return just and fair treatment for others. Our effort should be to secure to each man, whatever his color, equality of opportunity, equality of treatment before the law. As a people striving to shape our actions in accordance with the great law of righteousness we can not afford to take part in or be indifferent to oppression or maltreatment of any man who, against crushing disadvantages, has by his own industry, energy, self-respect, and perseverance struggled upward to a position which would entitle him to the respect of his fellows, if only his skin were of a different hue.

Every generous impulse in us revolts at the thought of thrusting down instead of helping up such a man. To deny any man the fair treatment granted to others no better than he is to commit a wrong upon him - a wrong sure to react in the long run opon those guilty of such denial. The only safe principle upon which Americans can act is thatt of "all men up," not that of "some men down." If in any community the level of intelligence, morality, and thrift among the colored men can be raised, it is, humanly speaking, sure that the same level among the whites will be raised to an even higher degree; and it is no less sure that the debasement of the blacks will in the end carry with it an attendant debasement of the whites. [bold added]

Yet how "indifferent to oppression adn maltreatment" McCain and the Republicans continue to be!

And while McCain and Sarah Palin go around the country stiring up the flames of regionalism with their "real America" campaign, Teddy Roosevelt talked like Obama about the United States and out people being the same throughout our nation.

Let us be steadfast for the right; but let us err on the side of generosity rather than on the side of vindictiveness toward those who differ from us as to the method of attaining the right. Let us never forget our duty to help in uplifting the lowly, to shield from wrong the humble; and let us likewise act in a spirit of the broadest and frankest generosity toward all our brothers, all our fellow-countrymen; in a spirit proceeding not from weakness but from strength; a spirit which takes no more account of locality than it does of class or of creed; a spirit which is resolutely bent on seeing that the Union which Washington founded and which Lincoln saved from destruction shall grow nobler and greater throughout the ages.

I believe in this country with all my heart and soul. I believe that our people will in the end rise level to every need, will in the end triumph over every difficulty that arises before them. I could not have such confident faith in the destiny of this mighty people if I had it merely as regards one portion of that people. Throughout our land things on the whole have grown better and not worse, and this is as true of one part of the country as it is of another. I believe in the Southerner as I believe in the Northerner. I claim the right to feel pride in his great qualities and in his great deeds exactly as I feel pride in the great qualities and deeds of every other American. For weal or for woe we are knit together, and we shall go up or go down together; and I believe that we shall go up and not down, that we shall go forward instead of halting and falling back, because I have an abiding faith in the generosity, the courage, the resolution, and the common sense of all my countrymen.

The Southern States face difficult problems; and so do the Northern States. Some of the problems are the same for the entire country. Others exist in greater intensity in one section, and yet others exist in greater intensity in another section. But in the end they will all be solved; for fundamentally our people are the same throughout this land; the same in the qualities of heart and brain and hand which have made this Republic what it is in the great today; which will make it what it is to be in the infinitely greater to-morrow. I admire and respect and believe in and have faith in the men and women of the South as I admire and respect and believe in and have faith in the men and women of the North. All of us alike, Northerners and Southerners, Easterners and Westerners, can best prove our fealty to the Nation's post by the way in which we do the Nation's work in the present; for only thus can we be sure that our children's children shall inherit Abraham Lincoln's single-hearted devotion to the great unchanging creed that "righteousness exalteth a nation." [bold added]

Also in his "New Nationalism" speech at the beginning of the twentith century, Roosevelt can almost be heard to be chiding McCain and today's twenty-first century Republicans directly when he said:

It is half melancholy and half amusing to see the way in which well-meaning people gather to do honor to the man who, in company with John Brown, and under the lead of Abraham Lincoln, faced and solved the great problems of the nineteenth century, while, at the same time, these same good people nervously shrink from, or frantically denounce, those who are trying to meet the problems of the twentieth century in the spirit which was accountable for the successful solution of the problems of Lincoln's time.

Today McCain, Palin, and the rabid Republican rank and file "frantically denounce" anyone who would try to meet the problems of this twenty-first century with the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt.

Excuse me, but T.R. quoted Lincoln saying:

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

This is the truth that years and years of conservative capitalist controlled education and propaganda has buried deep and out of sight of the collective consciousness of our nation.

What did McCain's "hero" have to say about the dangers of corporations? Originally the corporation franchise was a public benefit enterprise of limited duration. Since corporations was a term that implied "public-service" the term corporaiton was not used for for-profit enterprises and instead the term "combinations" was used. Here's an example, also from the "New Nationalsm" speech, of how "hero" T.R. felt about the necessity of control over for-profit corporaitons.

We have come to recognize that franchises should never be granted except for a limited time, and never without proper provision for compensation to the public. It is my personal belief that the same kind and degree of control and supervision which should be exercised over public-service corporations should be extended also to combinations which control necessaries of life, such as meat, oil, and coal, or which deal in them on an important scale. I have no doubt that the ordinary man who has control of them is much like ourselves. I have no doubt he would like to do well, but I want to have enough supervision to help him realize that desire to do well. I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.

Combinations in industry are the result of an imperative economic law which cannot be repealed by political legislation. The effort at prohibiting all combination has substantially failed. The way out lies, not in attempting to prevent such combinations, but in completely controlling them in the interest of the public welfare.

Bearing in mind thia quote from T.R., what does McCain have to say about "completely controlling" the for-profit corporations of today "in the interest of the public welfare"? If we had any adequate moderators of the presidential debates this is a question that would have been asked of McCain.

It is said that failure to learn from history makes us bound to repeate it, and again the words of T.R. ring as true today about Wall Street as they did 98 years ago.

The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. [bold added]

This is a prescription to change the system of "money-getting", and is a call to action that today McCain has not even acknowledged much less embraced. We know that Obama has given at least some lip service to minor incremental change even while he receives campaign comtributions from the same class of "enormously wealthy". Whether or not he can lead any real change is an open question. But McCain adamently opposes even any discussion of change or restraint on the "unfair money-getting" and the conditions enabling those men to accumpulate power.

Lastly, let us consider that McCain, Palin, and the Republicans would call anyone who criticizes President Bush and his Iraq war unpatriotic. WWTRS? (What woould T.R. say?) Fortunatley, there is no need to speculate because here are his words:

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else. [bold added]

McCain's entire public political personna, as it is built up around such images as holding Teddy Roosevelt to be his "hero," is shown by the very words of T.R. to be nothing but a sham, a phony con-game on the voters.

P.S. For a lighter side of calling Obama a socialist, here's a segment of the Colbert Report interviewing Brian Moore, the actual Socialist candidate for President,