What Two Presidents, A Cigarette, A Wheelchair, and the Media Have in Common

It has been fashionable to compare President Barack Obama to many of his predecessors. Liberals, facing the toughest midterms since 1994, have taken to recalling the presidencies Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan – two men who faced similar challenges during the same parts of their terms, yet ended their terms with high approval ratings and respected legacies. Conservatives prefer the example of former president Jimmy Carter.

In the early days of the Obama presidency, it was also rather fashionable to measure Mr. Obama against another president: the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Nowadays this comparison is less used. Mr. Obama and Mr. Roosevelt, however, do have at least one interesting similarity – and it is a similarity few talk about.

It begins with Mr. Obama. The current president is a consistent consumer of the tobacco industry’s products. In other words, the president smokes, and he does so regularly. If rumors are to be believed, after a long period of attempting to quit, the pressures of the highest office have caused the president to smoke more frequently than ever.

Not many people know this fact. Indeed, there is not a single known picture of Mr. Obama smoking while president; most of the pictures that do show him smoking are actually photoshopped images.

One might wonder what this has to do with Mr. Roosevelt. The answer is that Mr. Roosevelt, like Mr. Obama, had a personal weakness which in no way affected his capacity to be president, but which at the same time was viewed unfavorably by many Americans.

Mr. Roosevelt’s story is more well known. In 1921, at the age of 39, the future president contracted polio while vacationing in Canada. The disease left the president paralyzed from waist down and unable to walk.

As president, however, Mr. Roosevelt took pains to hide his disability from the public. In public appearances, the president never appeared in a wheelchair; to this day there exist only a few pictures of a wheelchair-bound Roosevelt. The media cooperated willingly, just as it does with Mr. Obama today. Whether Mr. Roosevelt was paralyzed or not didn’t really matter; he was still a fine president.

It is commonly held that the modern media no longer accords presidents the trust and privacy which they held in Roosevelt’s time, especially after the Watergate scandal. While the media hid JFK’s affairs from the public, it did not do the same for Mr. Clinton.

Yet, as the example of Mr. Obama’s smoking indicates, this is not entirely true. Just as the media played a willingly accomplice to FDR in hiding his paralysis from the public, it does the same today with the smoking habits of Mr. Obama. Even Fox News doesn’t run many stories about the president’s vice.

All in all, this constitutes a net positive. When Mr. Roosevelt was president, his physical condition had no bearing upon his abilities as commander-in-chief. The same holds true for Mr. Obama.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/



'Share the Wealth' Now, Obama

<p>Huey Long's FDR-prodding left populist movement -- <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.hueylong.com/programs/share-our-wealth.php"><strong>Share Our Wealth</strong></a> (a.k.a. Share the Wealth) -- seemed and still seems, from the perspective of the bottom 3/4ths, common sense, morally right, and doable <strong>now</strong> (more than ever!). Read below for the details, but here is how Long began a speech in <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.sagehistory.net/deprnewdeal/documents/HLongSOW.htm">January, 1935</a></p>
<blockquote>We are in our third year of the Roosevelt depression, with the conditions growing worse. . . .  . . . We must know the truth and speak the truth. There is no use to wait three more years. It is not Roosevelt or ruin; it is Roosevelt's ruin.  . . . We ran Mr. Roosevelt for the presidency of the United States because he promised to us by word of mouth and in writing:      <strong>*</strong> That the size of the big man's fortune would be reduced so as to give the masses at the bottom enough to wipe out all poverty; and     <strong>*</strong> That the hours of labor would be so reduced that all would share in the work to be done and in consuming the abundance mankind produced.  Hundreds of words were used by Mr. Roosevelt to make these promises to the people, but they were made over and over again. . . . Summed up, what these promises meant was: "Share our wealth."  When I saw him spending all his time of ease and recreation with the business partners of Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., with such men as the Astors, etc., maybe I ought to have had better sense than to have believed he would ever break down their big fortunes to give enough to the masses to end poverty-maybe some will think me weak for ever believing it all, but millions of other people were fooled the same as myself. I was like a drowning man grabbing at a straw, I guess. The face and eyes, the hungry forms of mothers and children, the aching hearts of students denied education were before our eyes, and when Roosevelt promised, we jumped for that ray of hope.  So therefore I call upon the men and women of America to immediately join in our work and movement to share our wealth.</blockquote>
<p>We are beginning the second year of the Obama recession. Is there any sign of resistance akin to Long's? Populist rebellion against the actual roots of our economic and political crisis: the vast wealth transfer over the last 30 years to the richest 10% and 1%, and the takeover of our media/political system by that 10% and 1% and big business? If a really popular populist resistance were to arise, it might come from the back roads of Louisiana and have a program something like <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.sagehistory.net/deprnewdeal/documents/HLongSOW.htm">this</a>:</p>

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On Our Bill of Rights Passed This Day in 1791

After the ratification of the Constitution, the First United States Congress met in Federal Hall in New York. Many of the delegates demanded a "bill of rights" that would guarantee individual liberties and freedoms in face of the powers granted to the Federal government. James Madison, the principle author of the Constitution and then a member of the US House of Representatives, initially opposed such an idea but fearing that the arguments of the anti-Federalists might lead to a rejection of the Constitutional project he then wrote and submitted 17 articles of amendment on June 8, 1789.

The Senate took up the bill and reduced the number to 12, by combining some and rejecting others. The House accepted the Senate's changes, voting on September 24th and 25th, 1789. Twelve articles of amendment were sent to the states for ratification. The first two proposed amendments, which concerned the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified. Articles 3 to 12, however, were ratified over the next two years - 811 days to be precise and a number to bear in mind later - by three-fourths of the state legislatures, and now constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution. These amendments known as the Bill of Rights were ratified on this day in 1791.

We take these rights for granted all too often forgetting the long course of human history and the fact that these rights are not yet universal and remain denied across much of our world. But at the same time our American Revolution remains incomplete for we still suffer the tyranny of economic oppression and the obstruction of Senators who think themselves monarchs often acting more as ambassadors from entrenched and powerful interests then as true representatives of the people. This nation has long strived to provide a just and fair distribution of the national income and yet there are those who continued to advocate for the interests of the narrow and profane at the expense of the general welfare and ultimately against the national interest.

If today is a typical day in these United States that we all profess to love so much then today sixty of our fellow citizens will die for no reason other than for lack of health insurance. If today is a typical day in these United States, then 6,427 of our fellow citizens who more often than not actually have some insurance will file for medical bankruptcy. Most medically bankrupt families were part of our once broad middle classes before they suffered financial setbacks often through no fault of their own. Sixty percent of them had attended college and 66.4 percent had owned a home; 20 percent of families included a military veteran or active-duty soldier. Seventy-eight percent of the individuals whose illness led to bankruptcy had health insurance at the onset of the bankrupting illness; 60 percent had private insurance. Their pursuit of happiness denied to satisfy the avarice of a few.

If today is a typical day in the United States, a land of an unbelievable bounty, then today one in four children will not have had enough to eat. In 2008, nearly 17 million children, or 22.5 percent, lived in households in which food at times was scarce. What does it say about our nation and more acutely about our political leadership when we permit and they let nearly a quarter of our nation's children suffer from such want despite having the means to ameliorate such human suffering. If tonight is a typical night in the United States, then 200,000 veterans of our Armed Forces will sleep on the street or in a shelter. The main cause of their homelessness is not drug or alcohol abuse, their problem is part of a broader and more systemic one -the problem is stagnant income and a lack of affordable housing. These on-going economic problems reflect a lack of political will to tackle them and not a lack of a means or resources. The main cure for homelessness is affordable homes. Nine million low-income renter households nationwide pay more than half of their income for housing. In no community in the US today can someone who gets a fulltime job at the minimum wage reasonably expect to find a modest rental unit he or she can afford. We in these United States endure a life that no other advanced industrial society tolerates. It is not because we lack the resources but because we lack the political will to once and for all unshackle ourselves from the bondage of corporate servitude.

On January 11, 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed "the establishment of American standard of living higher than we have ever known before." His address that day in a State of the Union Address laid out a vision that included a second bill of rights for these United States that remains as yet unfulfilled thwarted now as then by a rightist reaction that seeks to perpetuate their power through monopolistic rent-seeking practices via a legislative fiat. In this nefarious scheme, they remain enabled by the poltroonery of our elected representatives who pretend to serve the national interest when in fact they exist but to serve the interests of those who finance their campaigns. The nation is, indeed, conscious of this fact.

This speech, reflective of long-cherished principles of the Democratic party, is as relevant today as it was then and I urge my fellow citizens, especially those who share the view a more noble cause does not exist than to ensure a fair society for only such a land is truly free, to take five minutes to listen to words that still speak to the promise of these United States.

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Is ignoring Stiglitz, Volcker and reality viable strategy?

There are three interesting stories--all interrelated and all concerning the administration's avoidance of people or news--simultaneously circulating around the MSM this evening. Taken together, they paint a picture of our nation's leadership engaged in the implementation of misdirected economic policies that may be summed as: a strategy that, lately, appears to go out of its way to obfuscate reality and simultaneously give short shrift to, arguably, the two greatest economic policy thinkers of our time, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and former Federal Reserve Board Chair Paul Volcker.

So, is ignoring Stiglitz,Volcker, and reality a viable political strategy?

I don't think so. But, then again, it did work for George W. Bush for quite awhile...at least until it all blew up in his face.

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Indymac and the Democratic Party

On Friday, July 11, The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) closed the $32 billion IndyMac Bank, headquartered in Pasadena, California, and transferred operations to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

My Mom, who is 88 years old, has a CD at Indymac Bank.  She lives off the interest. Thanks to the Democratic Party and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, my Mom didn't lose her money when the feds seized the  bank in the second largest federal takeover in US history.  I haven't told my Mom about the takeover. She has Alzheimer's. If you can't figure out how to find the bologna in the refrigerator I figure you can go without knowing you almost got wiped out financially.

I, on the otherhand, am a wreck. I got her into Indymac! For years they paid the highest CD rate around--if you opened it online. Whoohoo. I've even  got a little money stashed  there.

The woman I talked to at Indymac today--who works for the FDIC--said people have been weeping on the phone. They had more deposited there than the FDIC will insure. If you are above $100,000 that money is out the door.

I was speechless on Friday. When I could put two words back to back they were x-rated:

 Holy fu*king shit! What a fu*king disaster. Jesus H. Chist, Dad, you were right. I mean you were RIGHT!!!.

And then --even though he has been gone for 10 years-- I whispered:


It was my Dad when  I was 18 who drummed the FDIC into my head with tales of the Great Depression and how people were wiped out and jumped from skyscrapers. And then he would explain how FDR and the Democrats fixed it so if the banks failed again, no one would be wiped out.

But c'mon, banks fail?? I didn't think it could happen again. And I certainly flirted over the years with money ventures and institutions that were not FDIC insured. But my Dad really pounded something into my thick head. Why flirt with disaster when the Democratic Party has provided a safety net? Over and over, in countless different ways he brought the point home.

Why? For a little extra money--you could lose it all. Stick with the FDIC. You'll be fine. Don't color outside the lines, Ok?

I'd nod my head, bored and despairing of his interminable lectures. Now, I find out that  these lectures from my depression era papa shaped my behavior with Indymac.And so my Mom and I are among those who are lucky this Monday.

Many others are not.

I supported Hillary Clinton for the nomination for the Democratic Party, and a cast of sore losers--unlike the woman they profess to support who has been gracious in defeat-- cannot understand why I now support the Dem nominee, Barack Obama. It is so fuc*king simple. It ain't the head of the party that matters above all else. It is the Party!!!

And I am living proof right now today that the Party matters.  Ok. Sure. The dem leadership hasn't been exactly angelic in the primary struggle. But I will take this party and these "fu*k-ups" over the Republicans any day.

Remember, it was Herbert Hoover who fired on the vets when the marched on the White House demanding their pay. And this is the same party that has backed our Coward in Chief from showing the coffins of our soldiers as they come home in body bags from Iraq.

Hillary knows what is at stake in this election. In Chicago Saturday for the American Federation of Teachers conference, she said:

The Republicans should hold a press conference and apologize to the country and say they're just not going to run anyone for president.

I am newly grateful to the Democratic Party today. And I urge you to think of this Party and it's long and grand tradition of standing up for the rights and welfare of working people. The Republicans for the last eight years have done nothing but gut every protection they could get their hands on.

Isn't it time to put the Party back in power that brought us the FDIC.  

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