Category Archives: Democratic Debate

Our story, integration


In response to two of David Brooks’ columns about “our” problems, 7/23 & an earlier one, I wrote the following. From the recommendations and replies, I gather I’m not the only one who feels this way…

 

Bill Abbott
Oakland California July 23
David,
The “we” you see is not the one I experience. You write,
We post-Cold War Americans haven’t really settled on what story we are a part of.
Really? I’m pretty clear what story I’m part of. Objective truth exists and is important. We are measured by how we treat the least among us. Science works because it is based on reality. Hope can overcome fear. Do unto others as we wish to be done to ourselves. The challenges we face mean we have no-one to waste, yet too many people are poor, marginalized and left behind. Women’s rights are human rights. Black lives matter. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Love wins. We don’t educate our neighbor’s children because of charity, we educate them because we will have to live with them. We are not perfect, we have never been perfect, but we can always get better. That’s my story. That’s the story of my country, and of humans in general.
The first President I voted for was Jimmy Carter, in 1976. I’m still waiting for a Republican I could vote for to appear on a ballot. Any ballot. Local, State or Federal.
In an earlier column, you wrote, “As a nation we seem to have lost all enthusiasm for racial integration.” Maybe that’s true for you. Its not true for me, or my friends, or our kids, or the cities and states we live in. Come visit us in Oakland. We are still working on it. Its hard work, that doesn’t mean its not the right goal.
Bill
546 Recommend
6 REPLIES
Mark Thomason commented July 24
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Mark Thomason
Clawson, MIJuly 24
@Bill Abbott — Not everywhere is California. To win, we need the politics of the Venn Diagram overlap. I don’t devalue what you say, nor what is said in other regions. I say there is enough in common to make a politics that will resonate with a majority of voters, without using hate and fear.
2 Recommend
TinyBlueDot commented July 24
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TinyBlueDot
AlabamaJuly 24
@Bill Abbott
Mr. Abbott, please consider running for office in some capacity. Your remarks are clear, intelligent, and convincing. And I agree with every word you wrote, perhaps especially the line, “We are measured by how we treat the least among us.”
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Leslie Durr commented July 24
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Leslie Durr
Charlottesville, VAJuly 24
@Bill Abbott Brooks isn’t talking to you or to many of us. He’s talking to the disaffected white people who have been co-opted by the Republicans to ‘look over there, not over here.’ And, yes, some of them actually read the NY Times.
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Au Gold commented July 24
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Au Gold
New Jersey, USAJuly 24
@Bill Abbott Well said!
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Pete Hollister commented July 24
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Pete Hollister
Oregon WIJuly 24
What a great comment. Bravo!
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Leslie Durr commented July 24
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Leslie Durr
Charlottesville, VAJuly 24
@TinyBlueDot We really need people like you who resonate with Bill Abbott’s words in places like Alabama to run; Oakland already has it down pat.
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Today’s note to Speaker Boehner. Raise the debt ceiling. Raise my taxes. Reduce spending. In that order.


(I sent essentially the same points to our Senators and Representative Lee too.)

Speaker Boehner,
Budgets, a borrowing limit and taxes are the topic du jur. Here are my priorities:

#1 Raise the debt ceiling. The Tea Party wackos can say anything they want, but they don’t have a majority in the congress to override the veto of the Adult in Chief, nor do they run the Senate. You’re playing “dog in the manger” and it belittles you, your party and our country. You’ve stated your opinion. The nation does not agree. Time to do the people’s business, without gimmicks or gotchas.

#2 Raise my taxes. We’re well off. Really. If we’re paying 17%, of our income in taxes, as Turbotax tells me, then it should probably be 18% or 19%. Thousands more, per year. Giving rich people tax breaks and living on the credit card is crazy. Time to stop. Paying down the accumulated debt would be good too.

#3 Cut spending. Start with all the things people say they now get that they don’t need. Not what other people get, what they benefit from themselves. Don’t cut something that benefits Paula to make Peter happy. People willing to give their own money, in the form of higher taxes, or forgo benefits they enjoy, lower payments, have something to say. People who want to cut other people’s benefits or get a net reduction in what they pay and have someone else fix the problem aren’t worth your time. That would include the majority of the Republican Party and pretty much all of the Tea Party.

Stand tall. Show some leadership. Propose an unconditional rise in the debt ceiling, at this late hour, and see who the real patriots are. Stanley Crouch once observed that not getting what you want is a democratic act. Perhaps the fundamental one. Kings and dictators and juntas rule by inspiration and conviction. Democracies are ruled by compromise.

Cutting billions of dollars in spending at the last minute under intense pressure, while the tinfoil hat brigade just want to wreck everything they don’t understand, isn’t any way for our great nation to be governed. You’ve had months to prepare for this business. Tossing out plans the CPO hasn’t scored yet isn’t doing what I pay you for. Your district elected you, but having asked to be Speaker, you work for me too. You’re doing a terrible job. Come to your senses.

Raise the debt limit. Raise my taxes, and your own. Cut spending on what we can’t afford. Or step aside and let an adult take the job.

Best regards,
Bill Abbott

abbott.bill@gmail.com

I just sent this letter to our Representitive Lee. Just In Case She Wondered. Yeah, President Obama’s organization emailed and asked me to do it. I was happy to jump in.


Dear Representative Lee,
As your constituent, I’m writing to tell you why I’m such a strong supporter of health reform.

I was once a young person with a minimum wage job and no health insurance. I had no regular doctor. If I got sick, I treated myself with over-the-counter medicines and hoped I got better. If something serious had happened to me, I would have been yet another indigent in the Emergency Room. I couldn’t help but compare this development with my childhood. My dad was in the Navy and I was a military dependent until I was 21. I experienced “socialized” medicine first hand- seeing the doctor that was available, going to a big building full of doctors and patients, It worked fine. In fact, back in the 1960s, it was being operated by a large fraction of 18-22 year-olds who were either draftees or who volunteered to get some hope of picking a billet.

My late, first, wife was a writer, an independant, and simply could not find comprehensive health insurance. We’d lived together for 8 years, and I proposed to her and we got married. At the stroke of a pen, she suddenly had the same coverage I had. I’m not sorry we got married, but the system is perverse. We tried for months to find coverage for her. It wasn’t there. We had a pile of cash in the bank. And this was 25 years ago! She died at a young and untimely age, but not from the notional cause (weight) that the insurance industry claimed made her a bad risk.

As an adult with choices I have Kaiser through my workplace. Terrific health care, comprehensive, focused on “health” rather than “treatment”. They don’t bill some pot of money in the skhy for each and every step they take. They do their best to keep me healthy and keep the money they can save.

We pay more for health care than any other nation, and I can assure you that we don’t receive what we’re paying for. The for-profit insurance model is based on denying coverage and excluding the sick and potentially sick. Its simply wrong. We’re already paying more than any reasonable, “world class” system would cost. And getting less.

My wife and I are looking at retirement in another 10-15 years. And our son will leave school and start his adult life in 10 years or so. Our existing health-care system will be spurting money and not addressing either public or private needs in 10 years. We’ve got to fix this thing, and we can’t wait any longer,. People I love are depending on it.

The Republican party has an irrational mistrust of any collective social structure. They are intent on destroying even the for profit insurance we now have. That’s why the Randian lunatics want private health savings accounts. They want to peel off the healthy and well paid, so that there’s a “moral” hazard to being poor, or sick, or both. If you want coverage, in their universe, you should work harder, become rich, and pay out of your wallet. Unless you’re in Congress, of course.

Now they broadcast scary lies and dissemble in ways that should make them blush. I don’t know what their mothers taught them about sharing, or taking care of others. I know that their stone-wall opposition to health care reform is based on fear and delusion. Don’t be frightened of them. You’re from the Bay Area. They’re not serious players in our district.

There are others who would rather have the perfect package, as they understand it, and won’t accept compromise. They’re wrong. There is not a majority of voters in favor of single payer. Maybe someday. Not now. As Stanley Crouch observes, “Not getting your way is a democratic act.” Please don’t draw an imaginary line in the imaginary sand ad require the nation to line up on the right side. Lets get STARTED on fixing our broken health care system. Nothing final is going to happen this year. With your help, perhaps we can start something.

Please see my message to you, along with the stories and photos of other Americans from your district and across the nation, at http://my.barackobama.com/HereFor

Thank you.

Bill Abbott

Open Letters To Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. No more squabbling!


I submitted these two to the two candidate’s web sites this afternoon. I wrote to Senator Clinton first, then Senator Obama, re-using as much as I could, since I had similar messages for both of them.

Dear Senator Clinton,
Dear Senator Clinton,
My wife and I are lifelong, registered, Democrats. We watched the debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus last night. We were appalled by the tone your negative, mud-slinging attack on Senator Obama set. We were nearly as appalled that he’d come prepared to wallow in petty finger-pointing with you, but you clearly started it, sustained it and lost the most by it.

You cannot seriously go back through every vote Senator Obama has cast in his lifetime in elected office, with your own vote to support President Bush’s dishonest war standing there in the room with you like the proverbial elephant. Don’t go there. You have no credibility. This is precisely the ‘old’ politics that we, the people, want change *away* from.

Nor should you go back into anybody’s prior legal work for ammunition to attack their character. You have nothing to gain. Many voters remember the mysterious appearance of your *lost* law records in White House.

Your behavior at the debate was not worthy of a leading candidate, much less a President. If you want to be President, you must *act* like a President. By all means, have a “war-room” somewhere that responds, quickly, strongly and truthfully, to rumor, inuendo, suggestions and lies. But don’t use your precious and brief time in the spotlight to generate more of that garbage, or even to respond to the great majority of it. The President of the United States of America doesn’t descend to petty gotcha politics.

The President of the United States of America has a full-time job understanding the situations we find ourselves in, both foriegn and domestic. They also have a full time job synthesizing a vision of where the country is going, and leading toward that vision. Not simply reacting to the events of the day, year or century. You need not farm out most of the job the way the present office holder did when he started, but you cannot micro-manage the executive branch. Jimmy Carter proved this for all time, by trying and failing. Even malignant egomaniacs like Richard Nixon deligated. You must too. And when you do, be crystal clear on what you want done, and hold people accountable. Starting with yourself.

At this point, the 2008 Presidential election is yours to lose. You took a big step toward losing last night. Don’t repeat it, and it will be forgotten. If you do repeat it, last night will be remembered as the beginning of the end.

Best Regards,
Bill Abbott
Dear Senator Obama,

My wife and I are lifelong, registered, Democrats. We watched the debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus last night. We were appalled by the tone Senator Clinton’s negative, mud-slinging attack on you set. We were nearly as appalled that you’d come prepared to wallow in petty finger-pointing with her. She clearly started it, sustained it and lost the most by it. You dind’t do yourself many favors, however, and you need a better strategy for the future.

You cannot seriously go back through every vote Senator Clinton has cast, without going into her vote to support President Bush’s dishonest war. You got that one right, but the challenge now is what to do. We cannot go back and fix the past. Senator Clinton’s descent into mud slinging is precisely the ‘old’ politics that we, the people, want change *away* from. If you feel the need to criticize her for a vote, stay in the top 5 you disagree with. Make your point, and move on.

Your behavior at the debate was not worthy of a leading candidate, much less a President. If you want to be President, you must *act* like a President. By all means, have a “war-room” somewhere that responds, quickly, strongly and truthfully, to rumor, inuendo, suggestions and lies. But don’t use your precious and brief time in the spotlight to respond to that kind of garbage, at least not the great majority of it. And don’t generate more of it. The President of the United States of America doesn’t descend to petty gotcha politics.

The President of the United States of America has a full-time job understanding the situations we find ourselves in, both foriegn and domestic. They also have a full time job synthesizing a vision of where the country is going, and leading toward that vision. Not simply reacting to the events of the day, year or century. You need not farm out most of the job the way the present office holder did when he started, but you cannot micro-manage the executive branch. Jimmy Carter proved this for all time, by trying and failing. Even malignant egomaniacs like Richard Nixon deligated. You must too. And when you do, be crystal clear on what you want done, and hold people accountable. Starting with yourself.

At this point, the 2008 Presidential election is Senator Clinton’s to lose, but I’m rooting for you. She took a big step toward losing last night. Don’t jump on the same, sinking, ship. I support you because I sensed you were less inclinded to that kind of politics. I gave the local volunteers a check for your campaign and I wear one of your buttons, today. Don’t make me regret that decision. Watch the tape of last night. Senator Edwards is the one who looks Presidential. I’m sure he’d appreciate my vote.

Best Regards,
Bill Abbott