I attended the Cass County Central Democratic Committee “Back to Blue” dinner at the German-American Klubhaus in Belton on Saturday night.
Three hundred people were in attendance along with a number of statewide, legislative and local candidates. I spoke briefly with Chris Koster, Andria Simckes, and Clint Zweifel. Jeff Harris and Sam Page were also in attendance.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D), who was delayed by a late flight, was the featured speaker:
Thank you very much. You have no idea how [garbled] it is to be here. I sat out on the tarmac from Washington for two and a half hours. Earlier today having addressed the area meeting of the American Federation of Teachers at a luncheon and then trying to get here in time to join you.
The captain of the plane actually came out, got out of the cockpit and said new federal law requires that we turn the plane around and take it to the gate, return to the gate, if anybody wants to do so. Only one is required. And then the airline attendant came over and said, “Aren’t you a congressman?” [laughter] And I said, “Yes.” And she said, “Did you hear the announcement?” And I said, “Of course I did.” And she said, “Did you want to go back to the gate?” And I said, “Just, you know, have you given everybody this individual attention?” And she said, “No, but the captain wanted to make sure you knew that we were following the new federal law.” [laughter]…
…It is good to be among family. This, this is family. And I think our party is more of a family than the other party. And I tell you why. And that is because if you’re part of a family, the biological family, everybody is accepted…the Democratic Party is a party that brings everybody in. Everybody is a part of the family. Anybody who wants to be for justice and peace and righteousness, they’re part of the family.
I ran into something interesting that I had never ever seen before. And I ran into it a couple weeks ago just thumbing through the Old Testament. And I stumbled upon something I am sure I had read, but I don’t think I digested it. After this great battle between the army of Saul and the Philistines, Saul is fighting for his life. He and his three sons are fighting and many of the army of Israel began to flee. And so when he realizes that he’s about to die, he says to his armor bearer, “Please kill me.” And the armor bearer refused. And so Saul falls on his sword and kills himself. The three sons are also slain. But the part I had never seen before is what happened next. Here in first Samuel, the last chapter, it says, and on the next morning the Philistines came in and stripped the dead. I thought, “Wow.” The Philistine army came in and stripped the dead. They took their clothing, jewelry, weapons, anything of value. They stripped the dead…Why not? I mean the dead can put up no resistance. They can register no protest. And I thought to myself, “You know that’s similar to what is said of editorial writers.” They sit on top of the hill, on white horses, watching the battle. And at the conclusion of the battle they ride down in glory and slay the wounded. The truth of the matter is what we have going on in our country right now is slaying the dead. When the poorest people, the working class people, the middle class people are dead to the sensibilities and sensitivity of the people in power. And what we’re doing is slaying them. We’re killing them again. All you have to do is look what happened in Katrina. The poorest people in New Orleans are the ones who were the victims. In the Ninth Ward twenty one per cent of the people who lived there had no telephones. Twenty four per cent, only twenty four per cent, had high school diplomas. Twenty seven per cent had cars, and so they couldn’t get out. And one of the things that [garbled] this nation off with this administration, where they would never look at them again, was when they saw Americans, poor America, screaming from rooftops, crying from front porches, sitting on the dome, begging for help. And Americans looked at that and said, “This reminds us of what we saw in Bangladesh. This reminds us of what we saw in the Sudan. This reminds us of what we see in the third world countries.” And Americans were embarrassed. Why? Because this administration stripped the dead. Those people in New Orleans were dead. And that was a turning point in this country. People decided then we don’t like these people, we don’t like Brownie. And Brownie was not doing a good job.
And so the president’s poll numbers dropped down to where they are now, twenty seven. Satan is at twenty nine. [laughter, applause] Some of the lowest poll numbers in the history of the republic, since we’ve been keeping poll numbers. The American public became angry.
When Julius Caesar went into battle it cost about seventy five cents to kill an enemy. That’s what it cost the Roman government. When Napoleon attempted to conquer the world it cost twenty one hundred dollars to kill the enemy. By the time we had the war to end all wars, World War I, it had gone up forty five thousand dollars. And by World War II it cost fifty thousand dollars to kill the enemy. Fifty thousand dollars. All you have to do is get the amount of money spent in the war and then count the number of troops, the Germans and Italians and Japanese lost in direct combat with us. It now costs a hundred thousand dollars for us to kill an Iraqi. One hundred thousand dollars. We have spent a half trillion dollars. One half trillion dollars. Killing people. Every person in this room, to date, to date, has spent four thousand dollars in Iraq. And it’s not over. And if John McCain goes to the White House it won’t be over. [applause]
This is crazy. For the first time in the history of the United States of America we launched a pre-emptive attack against another nation, a sovereign nation. John Kennedy said shortly after his inauguration that the United States, the proud people of the United States, will never initiate a war against another nation. All that went out of the door with George W. Bush. He enacted this new pre-emptive strategy that if anybody thinks that another nation might be thinking about thinking about attacking we can attack. Which means that if someone is working at Seven Eleven and they look outside and think that there’s somebody who wants to rob Seven Eleven you go out and shoot them. This is crazy. We’ve lost our prestige around the globe. And we’re ripping off our own economy. We are borrowing the money that we’re using to fight in Iraq. That is not tax dollars. Your children and their children and even their children will be paying off this debt. It is not nine trillion dollars. It’s nine trillion dollars plus. The money that we owe in loan guarantees to other nations and the money that we’ve taken out of the Social Security trust. It adds up to twenty five trillion dollars. That means that you can go to the moon and back twenty five times if you stack the dollars one dollar on top of the other. This nation cannot stand another four years of George Bush the three. [applause]
Look, there’s this man sitting in the park. Eating his lunch. Relaxing. A man walks by and he sits down beside him and he looks over and sees a nice little Doberman and he says, “Will your dog bite?” And so the man sitting there first says, “No, my dog won’t bite.” And so he reaches over to pet the dog on the head. The dog bites off his little finger. And he’s bleeding, trying to find the remains of his finger and he said, “You told me that this dog, your dog won’t bite.” Well he said, “My dog won’t bite. But this is not my dog.” [laughter] No matter what they say, no matter how they try to hide it, all of the problems that are adversely affecting this country, our children, and other nations. That’s their dog. That is their dog.
The sub prime mess. Twenty thousand people lose their homes each week in the United States. Twenty thousand. One point two so far, and it’ll go to three point five based on the most modest estimation. I’m on the committee that deals with the whole sub prime loan m
ess. What do we do? We bail out Bear Stearns. Bear Stearns got a bail out, the people who lost their homes get counseling. And it was the people like Bear Stearns that helped get people in trouble. Because those loans, those bad loans, were bundled into securities and sold on Wall Street. Worthless paper. And we must try to help the every day people who are losing their homes, particularly those who didn’t go in to it with any kind of plot to get something for nothing. This is their dog. The sub prime mess. This is their dog. The war is their dog.
And the same thing holds true as we look right now at the fact, this is unbelievable, this is absolutely unbelievable, that we are still struggling to make sure that people have a living wage. This administration would like to kill any kind of effort to strengthen labor unions. Because they are afraid of labor unions. They are afraid of people who stand up…the great theologian said that if you step on a worm it will protest by wiggling. And this administration doesn’t want any wiggling. They want us to just take it. And take it. Cowboy diplomacy. Cowboy domestic policies. Well the American public is tired. The American public is angry.
And that’s why when you look at the presidential primaries all around the country we are turning out two and three to one in terms of numbers. We are tired of it. [applause] When you look at what’s going on and you see that in Pennsylvania one hundred thousand new Democrats registered. One hundred thousand. There is a passion gap between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans are like at a football game they’re saying, “Rah, rah…rah, rah…rah.” Democrats are saying [shouting], “Do it to ’em! Do it to ’em!” [laughter, applause] They have no passion. They realize that this is their dog and they realize that the American public has found them out. All of this talk of about God. God, God. And then they go and vote against No Child Left Behind. God, God. They go and vote against minimum wage increase. God, God, They try to pull out Terry Schiavo in front of the nation. Who had no brain activity. The God that I know about is a God of love and peace and hope. And those of us who are part of this party are not morally superior to Republicans, we’re just better than they are. [laughter, applause] Look, it boils down to this – we’re right and they’re wrong. [applause] They’re wrong on the war. They’re wrong on trying to stop us from helping people who are losing their homes. They are wrong on trade. They’re wrong on trying to get us to pass a lot of legislation to send more jobs into foreign countries…
…Come November. Come November I think this is gonna change. I don’t care who wins at the top of our ticket. We ought to have a very cute rock run. I just think a real pretty rock, a white rock with some colors, with eyes and nose. [laughter] The rock can do as well as McCain. [laughter, applause] Yes we are. Yes we are going to win…
…He says to me, “You know, the Republicans are really, really turning me off.” They’re turning a lot of people off. Why? Because they gave oil companies a fourteen billion dollar tax cut. Fourteen billion dollars. And gas prices reached the highest they’ve ever been in history yesterday. Studies suggest that by September it will be four dollars a gallon. I talked to a Teamster who told me it cost him one thousand dollars to fill his gas tank. He has his own business, he runs his own truck. One thousand dollars. You think he’s going to vote for McCain? [laughter] I don’t care what he is. He could be a Republican,. He could be Richard Nixon’s grandson. He is not gonna vote for McCain. People are tired…the CEO of Exxon Mobil received a four hundred million dollar retirement package. Four hundred million dollars. Including access to a private jet. And most of us are struggling to just fill up our gas tanks. And if you want to convert people just stay at a gas station. Just hang around the pump. [laughter] “You’re a Republican. How did you like those prices?” [laughter, applause]
This is our season. This is our season. Because I think that most Americans are interested in and committed to treating everybody right. Making sure that when our seniors reach the sunset years that their Social Security is in place. They’re interested in their children getting the best possible education. They don’t want the nation to be embarrassed around the world because we have this go at it alone policy. And I am convinced that we’re going to have an easier time this year. Easier than, than, ever to convince people to come our way. Whether its Clinton or Obama I think we’re gonna have a new day.
Let me just conclude by saying to you that I had a, an opportunity to travel with Nancy Pelosi around the world actually. And nation after nation we sat down with people like Chancellor Merkel of Germany and listened to them criticize us for the fact that we won’t even accept the science of global warming. We listened to people in Australia tell us how backward we were and that they needed us to lead the world. Our rightful place is out front. Not so that we can dictate to people what happens, but we show people what happens.
I was Pastoring. As I was pastoring I got a chance to know all the kids in the neighborhood. And so one day school was out because we had a bad snow. And I looked outside our church window and kids had gotten cardboard boxes and they were using them as sleds and they were coming down this hill and they’re sliding into The Paseo. And so I’m thinking I gotta go stop this. So I go out and say, “Hey, come on, come on up. Come on up.” And as I’m going down the hill I slipped and landed on my back. And I looked up and all these kids are standing over me. And I was a little upset so I said, “What are you looking at?” And so one of those boys said, “We just wanted to see what you were gonna say.” [laughter] Well something needed to be said. [laughter] And that’s how people look at this country. They want to see what we’re gonna say. They want to see what we’re going to do. Well after next January this whole world will be a little more comfortable, they’ll breathe a little easier because we’re gonna take charge. We’re gonna take charge in jeff City. We’re gonna take charge in Washington. And we’re going to begin to take back America. We’re going to take it back.
People have stolen this country from us…
…And if we continue to allow these laws that were put in place from nine eleven we are going to continue to give away the rights of the American public and our children. We ought to be proud. We are the United States of America. The world’s only superpower. When the next president is sworn in the world, the world, will pause and pay tribute to the reinstitution of the United States of America. [garbled] Thank you very much. [applause]