Saturday, July 24, 2010

Believe it or not: Nancy Pelosi's speech to Netroots Nation

The water here in Las Vegas sucks eggs. My tea tastes like metal. And the sad thing is that the water power to the 27th floor of the Rio hotel is so weak that I have to run my bath water for 15 minutes before it becomes even warm -- let alone hot. What a waste of the Ogalala aquifer. It breaks my heart to see all that water go down the drain. But will I just break down and take a cold shower? Would you? Er, no.

With a shower or not, it was still time to go listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talk. Would she convince me that Congress isn't being run by special interests and theat she, Harry Reid and President Obama haven't sold out? Will they convince you? Let's see. Here are my quickly-typed-up notes -- from the front row. They may not be completely accurate, however. Blame that on my tenth-grade typing teacher.

When Nancy Pelosi came onstage, the first big question was whether her right-wing detractors were correct and she did have a face-lift. It was hard to tell. She does have a big smile. Maybe she was born that way?

"Pushing the gate open on healthcare was a big job but we did it. The leverage in Congress had to change from being in favor of the insurance companies to being in favor of the people. And we couldn't have done it without you." Without me? Am I finally getting some recognition? That would be nice.

But wait. Has Rush Limbaugh gotten a face-lift? Do I get the right to ask that about him? And what about Dick Cheney? How come I don't look as good at that age? "Because Cheney eats babies..." someone once said. But I digress.

OMG! They are gonna play a tape sent to us by President Obama! "We've been working hard for the past 18 months but I know that, for many of you, change hasn't come fast enough. But it took a long time to get here and it will take a long time to make it happen. But in ways large and small, we are working to make changes happen." Then the Pres showed a tape of Rachel Maddow listing all of this administration's accomplishments.

"We're moving America forward,:" the President continued. "And that's the challenge we face in November. Keep holding me accountable. Change doesn't come from the top down. It comes from the bottom up. Let's finish what we've started."

At the news stand here, the Globe (a National Enquirer wannabe) is pushing a front cover story that Obama was actually born in KENYA. They are still pushing that story? Give me a break.

"Will we see passage of ENDA any time soon?" someone asked Pelosi.

"It's almost embarrassing that it took Congress so long to pass a bill eliminating hate crimes. We're very proud that we passed a repeal of 'Don't ask Don't tell' in the house. When we started work on hate crimes, it was 22 years ago and we're still against any form of hate crime."

Pelosi then encouraged us to be leaders in this field of ending all discrimination in this country. "We won the 'Don't Ask' repeal by 40 votes. That's a big majority." And there's an education bill in the works too -- the Promise Act. Good.

"Republican senators have held up many job-creation bills, so we never know what will go on in the Senate -- so we been pushing education bills into other bills as well. But we are still pressing for a comprehensive education bill."

Pelosi is also pressing for comprehensive immigration reform. "What is happening in Arizona shouts out for getting a comprehensive bill passed. We have to keep the heat on for that."

Protecting Social Security? "I am opposed to raising the retirement age. Here's the context. We must be fiscally responsible and subject our spending to harsh scrutiny and are moving on all fronts to remove the deficit. But talking about Social Security and the deficit is like between apples and oranges. To change Social Security in order to balance the budget, they aren't the same thing in my view. As we make it more solvent, it will have a positive impact on the deficit. But we support Social Security. Our senior citizens should know that. This is its 75th anniversary."

When Social Security was first implemented, Frances Perkins went to Pres Roosevelt and told him about her plan, and he replied, "You've convinced me completely. Now make me do it."

"We can do only so much maneuvering," Pelosi continued, "but we really do need outside persuasion. Just ourselves alone can't make this happen. If you want these changes to come, make us do it."

In 2008, the president was inaugurated and he called for swift action. One week and one day after that, this congress passed the recovery act that saved 1.6 million jobs. "And we are going forward, not going back. Our goal is to reduce the deficit, reduce taxes for the middle class and to create jobs around climate change."

The House passed the unemployment bill last December but the Senate held it up until now. "We have a whole list, all of it paid for, but they dropped all the job incentives and just sent us back the bare bones. They demanded cuts to this unemployment bill but then demanded 700 billion dollars in unpaid-for tax benefits for the rich. Thank God we made the bill retroactive. But how many people can wait the additional six weeks for that check to arrive? This delay was due to the obstructiveness of the Senate. But. We are going forward, not going back. Obama has created more jobs so far than Bush did during his entire eight years in office.

'Jobs are important but people need to see what the Republicans are doing about this. Nothing."

"We want more manufacturing in America -- as a way to develop more jobs in America. Where our manufacturing heartland had been, we must stop the erosion of these jobs. 39 Republicans voted against our 'Fairness to American Manufacturers' bill. Anyone can bid on contracts here in the US so we are trying to get some reasonableness on this. In China you can't bid on contracts if you are from outside the country. We need to do that here too. This is very exciting."

The House is also working on a bill that will differentiate between crack and powdered cocaine.

"When I became Speaker, my flagship interest was energy self-sufficiency and climate change legislation. This is not an issue the Senate can walk away from. It is a national safety issue, a health issue. We are either going to lead the world on this issue or be left behind. We have a moral commitment to pass this planet onto the next generation." Billions of dollars go out of the country each day because of foreign oil. The emissions continue. We have to continue this fight."

"Do you plan to challenge big money's special interests?" someone asked.

"No use bringing up a bill unless you can show strength. You can't show weakness. Get up and show Congress how much this is of interest to you. It's fundamental to a democracy. Make your voices known on this subject. We can maneuver and persuade and this and that -- but remember Pres Roosevelt. Citizens United was a horrible decision. Foreign countries can now be having a large influence because of this, because there is now no full disclosure. PEOPLE [not corporatists] need to be in charge of our government. So let's grab that ball and run with it. I like to show strength going to the floor. In 2006 and 2008, the leverage changed -- to the consumers. The finance bill was the most important financial change in decades. And the most consumer protection in history. The leverage has changed. And in health too. For instance, it's no longer a liability to be a woman."

Regarding energy? "The oil patch, coal patch, every patch in the world was coming against us. This next election is very important. We need to have no regrets -- that we took responsibility. One in fifty kids in America is homeless. We need to bring education and jobs to every level in America. Prosperity on Wall Street at the cost of jobs on Main Street? How dare they?"

Some Senators look with fondness on the Bush administration, according to Pelosi. "But we are not going back. We now represent the American middle class."

Someone asked Pelosi about the role of women. "Running for office is not for the faint of heart. It's all about power. Know your power. If you go out there to run, it's difficult. But know who you are and don't let anybody diminish your knowledge or experience. Women hold the key to our future. I was a mother of five kids in six years -- so I got a sense of discipline and organization that way. We need young women at the seat of power. Some may not chose to go the family route but whatever your path, do it. Your presence at the seat of power is very important. Know YOUR power. What you bring to it. There is a whole change in what your daughters can do now. Young girls can go on to do anything and everything. And it's their patriotic duty to step up."

Pelosi is inspired by the women who went before her. "I went to the White House for my first meeting as a representative of the Democrats. I had no apprehensions because I'd been there before. I was sitting at the table of power and I felt packed and jammed on my chair. Sitting on the chair with me was Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Stanton, [etc.] All on that chair. And I could hear them say, 'At last we have a seat at the table.' And then they were gone. My first thought was, 'We want more.' We all understand our responsibility to women. We have every difference among us that we can name -- but because we are different, we build a very strong fiber listening to each other. We all want to do great things for our country. We all strive for common ground. But if we can't get bipartisanship, if we can't get it, we are still not going back!"

And the speech was over and we applauded. But what did her speech mean? Did it mean that she is still a progressive and is merely being held back from creating a true American democracy by Republican fossils who regret that they can no longer live off of America's blood and sweat like the vampires they are (no wonder vampire flicks are so popular among our youth!) Or has Pelosi, like so many of our other legislators, sold out to the corporatists who think that they own America -- and probably do.

Time will tell. But for right now. Nancy Pelosi is pretty much all we've got standing between us and complete oligarchy and the total end of our American Dream. For this reason alone we may need to give her more support -- and more snaps.

And last night I went to the Rio Hotel's fake Mardi Gras celebration and caught two strings of beads from the krews. I would have caught another string but just as I reached out, so big young muscular guy elbowed me aside and snagged it for himself. Hmmm. Was he going to end up becoming a Republican senator too? More than likely. Edging out Social Security recipients is already his specialty it seems.