Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obama vs Romney: Oct 1 Update

As of today, we're looking at a runaway slam-dunk for President Obama over Mitt Romney by an electoral vote of 348-190.

Romney's verbal gaffes and inability to connect with average Americans has seriously hurt any chances he had to pick off important swing states. In fact, it would be fair to say that the election is being lost by Romney more than it is being won by Obama: we expect many normally-Republican voters to just sit this one out in disgust. 

Ironically, it was Obama who feared a stay-at-home electorate earlier in the campaign, as progressive democrats grew increasingly disappointed by the President's military and environmental policies.  But Romney's penchant for embracing wealthy voters in overt and naïve ways - exacerbated by his wife's general cluelessness - has seen his poll numbers slide in almost every region of the nation.

In fact, President Obama is not polling appreciably better anywhere than he did last election, or than in the last few months; rather, Romney voters have begun to desert him and have decided to stay home, vote for a third party candidate, or remain undecided.

In key swing states -  Florida, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina - Obama has clearly pulled ahead.  States viewed by some in the media as 'swing,' such as Colorado and Wisconsin, were never really in doubt at all and are solidly in the Blue column.

In this month's edition, we also move a few more electoral votes to the Democrats: Iowa, which we had felt confident would go red, is now blue again; and Nebraska - which divides its votes based on Congressional Districts - is likely to give one vote to Obama, in spite of the Republican's successful gerrymandering of Omaha during last years' redistricting.

And, we make note of three more states that are within the pollster's margins of error, but which should be reliably red: Georgia, Montana, and Arizona. We are keeping these in the Republican column for now, but if Romney continues to make these out-of-touch gaffes during the October debates, and if Obama finds a bit more mojo, the Republicans could be looking at losing even these previously safe red states.

I also am going to go out on a limb to make another prediction:  overall turnout will be low.  Many Americans remain unenthusiastic about both candidates. While some (including yours truly) will cast their vote for a third party candidate, many will stay home.  The election will be determined by degrees of disappointment, rather than degrees of enthusiasm.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On 9/11: My Love Affair with New York City

 [What follows is an adapted reprint of last year's  9/11 post]  

In 1642, a Dutch ship owner named Bastiaen Van Kortrijk carried a group of settlers to the newly-found colony of Nieuw-Amsterdam. In return for helping to populate the new colony, he was awarded a land grant (or Manor) in what is today called “The Bronx.” His descendents would marry into the Corsa (or Corszen, or DeCoursey) family, another Dutch sea-faring family, who would occupy that land until after the American Revolution, when it was divided and sold off to pay debts (today these lands are better known as Fordham University, the Bronx Botanical Gardens, and the Bronx Zoo.)

The early days of New Amsterdam reflected a spirit of tolerance and diversity that was ground-breaking for its day. Within a decade of its founding, 18 different languages were being spoken in New Amsterdam. The Dutch, in fact, were a minority in their own colony, as Portuguese, free Africans, Germans, French, English, Swedes, Hispanics, native West Indians and Brazilians, Poles, and Bohemians settled the Colony...a far cry from modern nativist cries for an “English-Only!” country. Unlike the strict religious codes of Puritan New England, New Amsterdam guaranteed religious freedom for all, making it a favored destination for immigrating Jews and Quakers. And while the British Crown was guaranteeing a monopoly on all trans-Atlantic Trade for the British East India Company, free global trade was the norm for companies in New Amsterdam.

It’s no wonder that New York Times editorialist Russell Shorto called the people of New Amsterdam, the “UnPilgrims.” Tolerant, diverse, liberal, and commerce-oriented, these people were the founders of New York City…and are the deepest roots of my own family tree.

The Van Kortrijk - Corsa family and their descendents would live though more than 350 years of New York history. They would serve as local guides in George Washington’s army, as the first lithographers at South Street Seaport during the Civil War, and as blacksmiths on the Hyde Park Vanderbilt estate. Three centuries after landing on New York’s shore, my father would be born – where else, but in New York City. He would marry into another local New York family that had, in part, made its mark operating speakeasies during Prohibition – The Riviera, The Chop House, the Lafayette Grill – on Long Island’s south shore in the City of Long Beach. I would be raised not far from there, in Baldwin Harbor, growing up close to the bays and clam flats at a time when living near the canals meant you were on ‘the wrong side of the tracks.’ Accordingly, we were known as “Harbor Rats” and “Clamdiggers.”

One of the most enduring institutions on Long Island – the center of our social circle – were the volunteer Fire Departments. My great-grandfather would serve as Chief of Long Beach; my grandfather, Captain of Hose Company #1 in Baldwin; and my father, as Chief. My Uncle would follow him as Chief, and my cousin remains, to this day, an EMT in Brooklyn. The calendar of our lives was comprised of Parades (My sister and I were both in the Fire Department Drum & Bugle Corps), Tournaments, Department picnics and Christmas parties and installation dinners – and punctuated by the anguish of knowing that loved ones were in the middle of buildings aflame almost every day of the year. The sound of the fire alarm put us all on edge in a way that is hard to convey to those who have not lived with the daily risks to a firefighter’s life.

And so it is in that life-context that I watched in horror as the World Trade Center, one of the iconic symbols of New York City, began collapsing on itself – and on the firefighters and fellow New Yorkers trapped inside.

As one of my friends so poignantly reflected some weeks later in a letter, “Not a single neighborhood on Long Island has been untouched.” My best childhood friend would recount to me the horror of running through lower Manhattan – having been late for his appointment at the World Trade Center – as parts of bodies landed around him and on him. My brother-in-laws' (Bill) family, all new york city residents and workers, would take various routes home, including joining thousands walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Bill, a hospital administrator, was supposed to be in New York City going over architectural plans...but to quote my sister, "..someone called to tell us Bill was back in the hospital preparing for what would never come---survivors." My cousin, the EMT, would lose six men from his company when the South Tower came down.

And I would stand with fellow New York natives where I worked, and watch, and feel helpless.

In the 10 years since that day, I figure that I have been back to NYC perhaps some 50 or 60 times. Each time, as I approach, I get a bit more animated, talk a little bit faster, and smile a little more broadly. Wo-hops in Chinatown, concerts in Central Park, Ty's and Rockbar in The Village, Sici's in Soho, the pace of the Financial District, The Eagle in Chelsea, student hostels in Morningside Heights, the Garment District, Shows and Bubba Gumps in the Theater District, Arcadia Spa and the Filling Station in Chelsea, my old office and Saturday Night Live studios in Rockefeller Center, The Boilerroom and funky vintage shops of the Lower East Side & Alphabet City, taking in the Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park, outside dining and Tiramisu in Little Italy...and pizza everywhere. I can't get enough.

And in those 10 years, I have been back to Ground Zero at least half a dozen times. I cry each time, without fail, and I do not expect that will ever change. Actually, I do more than cry - I fall apart. Yes, it was an attack on the United States, on western civilization, and on freedom. But for me, it was more than that.

It was an attack on MY city. MY home. MY family. Almost 400 years of MY ancestor’s footprints on a city that outshines every other city in the world in its energy, its excellence, its diversity, its drive.

And while others felt they needed to flee New York in the aftermath of 9/11, I had the opposite reaction. Everything in me screamed,
No one can f*ck with my city like that and get away with it.!”

I may be currently living in New Hampshire, but I am wrapping that up. Someday – soon - I WILL return to my Home.

As Daddy Warbucks sings in “Annie,”

“What is it about you?
You're big - You're loud - You're tough
N.Y.C. - I go years without you
Then I can't get Enough!

Enough of the cab drivers answering back
In the language far from pure
Enough of frankfurters answering back
Brother, you know you're in NYC…

Too busy, Too crazy…
Too hot, Too cold, Too late, I'm sold
Again, On NYC

….Oh NYC
You make 'em all postcards
You crowd, You cramp…You're still the champ
Amen For NYC

The shimmer of Times Square
The pulse, The beat, The drive!

….Oh, NYC
The whole world keeps coming
By bus, By train, You can't explain
Their yen for NYC

You're standing room only
You crowd, You cramp
You're still the champ
Amen For NYC

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Lynyrd Skynyrd Drops Confederate Flag

Lynyrd Skynyrd – the last of a dying breed – announced today that they were dropping the Confederate Flag as a backdrop to their concerts.

Guys as old as me, raised in working class neighborhoods, will always count Lynyrd Skynyrd as one of the best rock and roll bands of all time.   Kings of the “southern rock” style, the band had seven platinum albums between 1973 and 1977, which included their iconic hits  “Freebird,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “That Smell,” and “Simple Man.”  The ubiquitous Confederate Flag hung as a backdrop at every concert, and the band regularly expressed pride in their southern (Gainesville, Florida) origins.

But according to the aging members of the band, the time has come to portray themselves as Americans, and the American flag will replace the confederate flag at concerts.  

“Groups like the KKK have hijacked the flag, and we don’t want our fans to think that we’re associated with that kind of thinking,” said Gary Rossington, the last remaining original member of the band.

In one of the most famous set of lyrics in rock history, Lynyrd Skynyrd used their song “Sweet Home Alabama” to refute criticism aimed at the south by fellow-rocket Neil Young:

“Well I heard old Neil sing about her;
Yes I heard ol’ Neil put her down.
Well I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don't need him around anyhow.”

 At the height of their success in 1977 – the year I graduated High School – tragedy struck.  On October 20, 1977, just three days after the release of “Street Survivors” – an album eerily named and even more eerily designed with the cover engulfed in flames -  their  plane ran out of fuel near the end of their flight from Greenvilee, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The plane crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi, killing lead singer/guitarist Ronnie Van Zand, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray.  The other band members: Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, Leon Wilkeson, Gary Powell, Artemis Pyle, and Leslie Hawkins) and road crew suffered serious injuries.

After a breakup of the band following the crash, Rossington, Collins, Wilkeson and Powell formed a new band, the Rossington-Collins Band, which released two albums between 1980 and 1983. In an effort to avoid the charge of being a ‘reborn” Lynyrd Skynyrd, they chose a woman, Dale Krantz, as lead vocalist. Rossington and Collins eventually had a falling out over the affections of Dale Krantz, whom Rossington married.

In 1987, Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited for a full-scale tour with five major members of the pre-crash band: crash survivors Gary Rossington, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkeson and Artimus Pyle, along with guitarist Ed King, who had left the band two years before the crash. Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother, Johnny Van Zandt, took over as the new lead singer and primary songwriter  The reconstituted Lynyrd Skynyrd has since gone through a large number of lineup changes and continues to record and tour today. One by one, the members of the pre-crash band have left, been forced out, or have died.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the group No. 95 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all time.  On March 13, 2006, Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   In October 2008, Lynyrd Skynyrd's song “Freebird” was named the 3rd greatest guitar solo of all time by Guitar World.

Last month, they released a new studio album, Last of a Dying Breed.


Chris Kluwe: Open Letter to Emmet C. Burns, Jr.

 On the ballot this November, Marylanders will be voting on an initiative to enact Marriage Equality in that state.  Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has  urged support for that measure (Video below), prompting a strong reaction from anti-equality legislator Emmet Burns. The Baltimore Democrat wrote to Ravens owner Steve Biscotti, urging him to silence his players. That letter was made public, and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe - who as a gay brother-in-law and is fighting an anti-Equality initiative in Minnestota - responded with the letter below.

Dear Emmett C. Burns, Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of the United States government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail:

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents in order to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to argue that the Ravens should silence Brendon Ayanbadejo from voicing his support for same-sex marriage, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, but you come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on Earth would possess you to say something so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person's right to free speech. To call that "hypocritical" would be to do a disservice to the word. "Mindfuckingly, obscenely hypocritical" starts to approach it a little bit. 

2. You wrote, "Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement." Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who is, according to your Wikipedia page, "deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland"? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you're going to say that political views have "no place in a sport"? I can't even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for "beautiful oppressionism"). 

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different from what you believe, or act differently from you? How does gay marriage affect your life in any way, shape, or form? Are you worried that if gay marriage became legal, all of a sudden you'd start thinking about penis? ("Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!") Will all your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely. Gay people enjoy watching football, too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population, rights like Social Security benefits, childcare tax credits, family and medical leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA health care for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gay Americans? Full-fledged citizens, just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you? 

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter in some small way causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot-in-mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it. 

Chris Kluwe 

P.S. I've also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage, so you can take your "I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing" and shove it in your closed-minded, totally-lacking-in-empathy pie hole.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Will an East Coast Strike Derail Obama's Re-election Bid?

 Historically, followers of presidential campaigns have looked for an “October Surprise” – a news event with the potential to change the course of the election.  Over the past few decades, the “October Surprises” have included a false announcement of the Vietnam War winding down by then-President Johnson during the 1968 Humphrey-Nixon-Wallace contest; Henry Kissinger’s announcement that a Vietnam peace was “at hand” just before the 1972 Nixon-McGovern election; the 1992 (Bush-Clinton) breaking of the Iran-Contra affair; and the release of George W. Bush’s drunken driving arrest just before the 2000 Bush-Gore election.

But sometimes, the ‘surprise’ comes from elsewhere…such as when Iran announced that they would not release the American Embassy hostages just before the 1980 Carter-Reagan election.  And that could well be the case this year.

Yes, Mitt Romney might release his Tax Returns (or they may be released to media sources by hackers claiming to have obtained them).  

Or perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu will decide to launch a surgical strike against Iran’s nuclear complex, forcing President Obama into the position of taking a hawk-like military stance (which will disappoint progressives, but not be good enough for Neo-con Republicans).

Or maybe it will come in the form of a looming longshoremen’s strike that has somehow evaded news reports, but which could shut down 14 ports and 95% of all shipping traffic on the east coast.

On September 30, the employment contract between the U.S Maritime Alliance (representing container carriers and port operators) and the  International Longshoremen’s Association expires.  Talks for a new contract broke down on Aug. 22 over wages and benefits, with no clear path to agreement in view. The union had requested a "last best offer” from Management, and the Alliance Management refused.  The union said last week that it was now “making preparations” for a possible strike on Oct. 1.

At the urging of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the National Retail Federation, President Obama has ordered mediators to reopen talks between the groups.  The breakdown in talks comes in the midst of a concerted effort by Philadelphia area port operators, in an alliance with Del Monte Brands, to transfer dock operations away from ILA workers and towards lower-paid laborers.   

“Many companies are making contingency plans, but clearly even the best plans will be problematic in the event of a full- scale shutdown at East and Gulf Coast ports,” said Peter Gatti, executive vice president of the National Industrial Transportation League this week.  “Even the potential shift of that freight will put extraordinary demands on all modes of transportation, particularly for rail.”

In 2002, U.S. West Coast ports closed for 10 days after the Pacific Maritime Association locked out members of the International Longshore and Warehouse union, who it said were intentionally slowing down work.  President George W. Bush ordered an end to the shutdown under the Taft-Hartley Act, but the short lock-out cost the U.S. economy more than $1 billion a day. 

The resolution – or not – of this situation could well be the “October surprise” for 2012.  If the President is able to secure a negotiated settlement, it will earn him political capital.

But if an agreement is not reached, it puts the President in a no-win situation: as long as the strike continues, the economy will be further depressed, and Republicans will seize on the opportunity to criticize the President and unions.  If the President steps in and orders the dockworkers back to work, he will be seen as betraying blue collar workers, unionists, and progressives.

I fully expect Obama to win re-election, based on today’s numbers and sentiments.

But if this is the “October Surprise,” all bets could be off - especially in the three critical coastal swing states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida...and heavily unionized states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin.


Friday, September 07, 2012

Romney Campaign Buttons Outsourced to China


For the last 40 years or so, I have collected political campaign buttons, especially Presidential Campaign buttons.  I finally decided to shed some of my collection this year, and have been selling some of my prized buttons on eBay.  From FDR through the 2000s, I have hundreds of them (including one from 1876, which I intend on keeping).

In spite of the many differences among them, there is a common theme to all of them, throughout the years:  they were made in  the United States.  Whether the candidate was a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican, there has been a historic tradition that you not only have your buttons made in the America - - you have them made at union shops.  The all-pervasive “union bug,” the symbol of the manufacturing unions, has been printed  on the edges of US political buttons of all parties for – well, - generations.  The "Union Bug" was first used by the "Carpenter's Eight-Hour League," a union that adopted a stamp in 1869 for use on products produced by factories employing men on the eight- (as opposed to ten-) hour day. 

I have included some samples from my own collection at the bottom of this post.  The “bug” not only sends the message that the candidate supports blue-collar workers and American-made products, it is often used among collectors to validate a button as ‘legitimate’ and not a recent, cheap reproduction.  Common unionized manufacturers – still in existence after more than 80 years - include Bastian Brothers of Rochester, NY and N. G. Slater of New York City.

This year’s Republican platform slams China.  It criticizes their currency policies (a fair criticism), and goes on to warn of GOP plans to use tariffs and international organizational pressure against Chinese imports.  It criticizes the Chinese military presence off of her own shores, and supports weapon sales to Taiwan.

So one would not think that a campaign that is criticizing China; that is threatening tariffs on imports from China; whose standard bearer, Mitt Romney, is trumpeting his ability to create jobs while ducking charges of outsourcing American jobs …would have had its campaign buttons made … 

Guess where?  

In China.

Just got to shake my head.

[UPDATE:  The Romney Campaign was contacted by this Blog on the day we ran this story, through the official campaign Press inquiry channel they requested we use, and was asked to provide the name and address of the company used to make these buttons.  The campaign has chosen, so far, not to respond.]

Pictures of Political buttons with American Union Bugs :  Gerald Ford (Republican, 1976), Wendell Willkie (Republican, 1940), Jimmy Carter (Democrat, 1976) and John B. Anderson (Independent, 1980).

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Elizabeth Warren: Full Text of DNC Speech

Thank you! I'm Elizabeth Warren, and this is my first Democratic Convention. Never thought I'd run for senate. And I sure never dreamed that I'd get to be the warm-up act for President Bill Clinton—an amazing man, who had the good sense to marry one of the coolest women on the planet. I want to give a special shout out to the Massachusetts delegation. I'm counting on you to help me win and to help President Obama win. 

I'm here tonight to talk about hard-working people: people who get up early, stay up late, cook dinner and help out with homework; people who can be counted on to help their kids, their parents, their neighbors, and the lady down the street whose car broke down; people who work their hearts out but are up against a hard truth—the game is rigged against them. 

It wasn't always this way. Like a lot of you, I grew up in a family on the ragged edge of the middle class. My daddy sold carpeting and ended up as a maintenance man. After he had a heart attack, my mom worked the phones at Sears so we could hang on to our house. My three brothers all served in the military. One was career. The second worked a good union job in construction. The third started a small business. 

Me, I was waiting tables at 13 and married at 19. I graduated from public schools and taught elementary school. I have a wonderful husband, two great children, and three beautiful grandchildren. And I'm grateful, down to my toes, for every opportunity that America gave me. This is a great country. I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class; that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives. An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that seniors could live with dignity; an America in which each generation built something solid so that the next generation could build something better. 

But for many years now, our middle class has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered. Talk to the construction worker I met from Malden, Massachusetts, who went nine months without finding work. Talk to the head of a manufacturing company in Franklin trying to protect jobs but worried about rising costs. Talk to the student in Worcester who worked hard to finish his college degree, and now he's drowning in debt. Their fight is my fight, and it's Barack Obama's fight too. 

People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here's the painful part: they're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs—the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs—still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. 

Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do. I talk to small business owners all across Massachusetts. Not one of them—not one—made big bucks from the risky Wall Street bets that brought down our economy. I talk to nurses and programmers, salespeople and firefighters—people who bust their tails every day. Not one of them—not one—stashes their money in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. 

These folks don't resent that someone else makes more money. We're Americans. We celebrate success. We just don't want the game to be rigged. We've fought to level the playing field before. About a century ago, when corrosive greed threatened our economy and our way of life, the American people came together under the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt and other progressives, to bring our nation back from the brink. 

We started to take children out of factories and put them in schools. We began to give meaning to the words "consumer protection" by making our food and medicine safe. And we gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets. We turned adversity into progress because that's what we do. 

Americans are fighters. We are tough, resourceful and creative. If we have the chance to fight on a level playing field—where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot—then no one can stop us. President Obama gets it because he's spent his life fighting for the middle class. And now he's fighting to level that playing field—because we know that the economy doesn't grow from the top down, but from the middle class out and the bottom up. That's how we create jobs and reduce the debt. 

And Mitt Romney? He wants to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. But for middle-class families who are hanging on by their fingernails? His plans will hammer them with a new tax hike of up to 2,000 dollars. Mitt Romney wants to give billions in breaks to big corporations—but he and Paul Ryan would pulverize financial reform, voucher-ize Medicare, and vaporize Obamacare. 

The Republican vision is clear: "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own." Republicans say they don't believe in government. Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney's the guy who said corporations are people. 

No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that's why we need Barack Obama. 

After the financial crisis, President Obama knew that we had to clean up Wall Street. For years, families had been tricked by credit cards, fooled by student loans and cheated on mortgages. I had an idea for a consumer financial protection agency to stop the rip-offs. The big banks sure didn't like it, and they marshaled one of the biggest lobbying forces on earth to destroy the agency before it ever saw the light of day. American families didn't have an army of lobbyists on our side, but what we had was a president—President Obama leading the way. And when the lobbyists were closing in for the kill, Barack Obama squared his shoulders, planted his feet, and stood firm. And that's how we won.
By the way, just a few weeks ago, that little agency caught one of the biggest credit card companies cheating its customers and made it give people back every penny it took, plus millions of dollars in fines. That's what happens when you have a president on the side of the middle class. 

President Obama believes in a level playing field. He believes in a country where nobody gets a free ride or a golden parachute. A country where anyone who has a great idea and rolls up their sleeves has a chance to build a business, and anyone who works hard can build some security and raise a family. President Obama believes in a country where billionaires pay their taxes just like their secretaries do, and—I can't believe I have to say this in 2012—a country where women get equal pay for equal work.

He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable. Where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street. President Obama believes in a country where we invest in education, in roads and bridges, in science, and in the future, so we can create new opportunities, so the next kid can make it big, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. That's what president Obama believes. And that's how we build the economy of the future. An economy with more jobs and less debt. We root it in fairness. We grow it with opportunity. And we build it together.
I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school. One of my favorite passages of scripture is: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40. The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and called to act. Not to sit, not to wait, but to act—all of us together. 

Senator Kennedy understood that call. Four years ago, he addressed our convention for the last time. He said, "We have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world." Generation after generation, Americans have answered that call. And now we are called again. We are called to restore opportunity for every American. We are called to give America's working families a fighting chance. We are called to build something solid so the next generation can build something better. 

So let me ask you—let me ask you, America: are you ready to answer this call? Are you ready to fight for good jobs and a strong middle class? Are you ready to work for a level playing field? Are you ready to prove to another generation of Americans that we can build a better country and a newer world? 

Joe Biden is ready. Barack Obama is ready. I'm ready. You're ready. America's ready. Thank you! And God bless America!