Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

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Location: Topsham, MAINE, United States

My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Planned Parenthood and Double Speak Politics

Republican founders of the women's health group Planned Parenthood were unknown to me until I saw Cecile Richards explain the origins on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, was a guest on Wednesday's Morning Joe (May 30) to discuss a political ad endorsing President Barack Obama for president because, she said, "Mitt Romney is out of touch and wrong for women.”

She explained Planned Parenthood's Republican origins, but now its under attack by right wing extremists who are eating away at the very institution their conservative founders supported.

In fact, Peggy Goldwater, wife of the conservative icon and former Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, was among the group's first Board of Directors.  

But, now, Republicans are speaking against Planned Parenthood. 

I don't understand how Republicans can accept this double speak. Opposition to Planned Parenthood is right wing gobbledygook. 

Yet, many Republicans continue to support Planned Parenthood, in spite of the party's right wing attempt to destroy the group because they provide women with reproductive health care (well, that's what they say, anyway - I believe there's a threat to right wing dogma somewhere in their vitriolic opposition.). 

Responsible Republican women speak in support of Planned Parenthood at this website:

"An essential community provider of lifesaving primary and preventive care, Planned Parenthood represents the very best of traditional Republican values — which is why so many Planned Parenthood health centers were founded by Republicans years ago. Republicans for Women's Health are proud to support this vital American institution, which safeguards women’s rights to control their reproductive health and destinies from government interference, and provides necessary care that enables women to plan their families and lead productive lives."

By turning on a program their conservative ancestors founded, right wing Republicans demonstrate ignorance about social issues. They don't get that providing access to preventive health services will deter expensive consequences.

Republicans who support Planned Parenthood do so because the care provided prevents unwanted pregnancies and, thereby, brings down health care costs. Women's preventive health is among the most cost effective ways of providing health care - in other words, caring for women before they are pregnant allows them to be healthier when they choose to become mothers and teaches them how to care for their reproductive health so they can be self reliant citizens.

Moreover, right wing extremists who oppose Planned Parenthood's revenues through Medicaid funding are showing disrespect to their conservative founders, who understood the benefits, and costs, associated with caring for young women during their reproductive years.  

Richards emphasized  how no federal funds pay for abortion.

Even more convoluted double speak goes to the root of the funding for all federal programs - like defense monies, for example, are obtained from the same tax pot as funding designated for Planned Parenthood.  It makes no sense for right wing extremists to support defense spending, designed to defend our nation by killing our enemies, but oppose protecting the health of women who give birth to future generations.

Planned Parenthood is endorsing President Barack Obama through a political ad campaign identifying the wrong mindedness of Republican attacks on women's reproductive health.  

"Romney has said in the past that he would 'get rid' of Planned Parenthood and eliminate funding for the Title X Family Planning program that provides family planning, including contraceptives, and related preventative health services to low-income families through a network of independent clinics, faith-based organizations, and community health centers. Title X was enacted in in 1970 – by Republican president Richard Nixon."

Straight talking and clear thinking Republicans should know better than to support political double speak about Planned Parenthood.  Otherwise, the fall's 2012 national elections will awaken women voters to the danger of electing a right wing administration, who are out of touch with women's issues. 

Women voters won't abide double speaking politicians who overtly want to destroy their access to reproductive health care - especially for working low income women who need Planned Parenthood to remain healthy.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Maine's Angus King Submits Ballot Signatures for Senate Run as an Independent!

AUGUSTA Maine - A joyous 150 supporters crowded into the American Legion Post 2 in Augusta to cheer and congratulate Governor Angus King for his over the top number of petition signatures, thereby qualifying for the November election's Senate Campaign to fill the seat of retiring Senator Olympia Snowe.  
"We're on the ballot!," campaign manager Ann Rand announced to the cheering audience.

Speaking to supporters, King talked about the importance of supporting his Independent candidacy to help break political deadlock in the US Congress, where legislative compromise has been elusive.  "We need to create a dialogue for compromise!," said King.  

In fact, the nation's founding fathers reached important compromises during the 1787, at the US Continental Congress when they met at the Philadelphia Convention. During their deliberations, the Colonial patriots reached important compromises in their deliberations, especially creating the two houses of Congress - the House and the Senate, thereby, reaching difficult decisions to create the government we live under today.

Enthusiasm for King's Independent political messages is bringing together Republican, Democrat and Independent voters.

In anticipation of negative campaigning by his political opponents following June's Democrat and Republican primary elections, King asked supporters to stand up against political attacks.  "Feel free to write and set the record straight. Please speak out against negative campaigning," he said.  King's campaign intends to conduct a positive election campaign.

For information contact

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

President Obama - Spirited Leadership in Difficult Times

Many Republicans give the word "grumpy" a bad name. Their scowls sink listeners into despair, because they stumble when asked to say anything good or uplifting.  

Senator McConnell, Congresswoman Bachman and Congressman Ryan must practice public speaking with a severity meter. Sound waves from their harrumphing demeanor might even scratch eardrums.

In contrast, President Obama carries an infectious smile to his audiences.  His professional demeanor is consistent, his spoken English is perfectly lovely and he can even sing a serendipitous charming tune.

Although news media salivate at the opportunity to mock US Presidents when they flounder, little news is made about President Obama's ability to remain optimistic, spirited and consistently professional, regardless of the situation.

Ted Turner founder of CNN international news was widely quoted on his interview with Piers Morgan, because he spoke about loosing Jane Fonda and his passion for protecting the environment. Yet, Turner also made this observation on President Obama's steadfast leadership.

Transcript: "MORGAN: What do you think of President Obama? How is he doing?  TURNER: I like him. I like him. I -- he's had an extremely difficult job. And I think he's done amazingly well and he's got his spirits up, and he did -- he never gets discouraged, which is really important in a leader, particularly a leader that's leading us in times of great difficulty."

Certainly, challenging economic times impact everyone adversely, so it's helpful for a leader to project pleasantness, honesty and integrity.  President Obama's infectious smile can't cure our nation's ills,  but his spirited leadership can, at least, create a tone of optimism and hope.  Although the nation's abundant right wing "nay sayers" thrive on denigrating President Obama, often lying to gain media attention, they're unable to lower his high energy level or his personal popularity with the general public.  

Middle Class Americans need uplifting leadership, especially given the Republican agenda to destroy programs that allow us to participate in the American dream of achieving success. Republicans want to cut Medicaid and Medicare while supporting expensive defense projects.  Who benefits from defense projects?  The rich, that's who.  We need a leader who defends our middle class against  assaults by venture capitalists who are vigilant about finding financial opportunities for their rich colleagues.

President Obama's spirited leadership has the right uplifting tone for our challenging economic and divisive political times.  Although Republicans work overtime to bring Obama down, they fail to provide Americans an alternative.  

Rather than lift us up, their response is to project pessimism through grumbling and whining. Their obstructionist public policies are focused on cuts to middle class programs like Medicare, student loans, military benefits, repairs for our nation's infrastructure, farm subsidies, Head Start for children and public education programs, to name a few.

President Obama's spirited leadership and uplifting speeches are the perfect anecdote to pervasive Republican grumpiness.  

Ted Turner's positive quote about President Obama should receive more media attention than his remorse about loosing Jane Fonda.

Difficult times deserve uplifting leadership - think Winston Churchill.....


Monday, May 28, 2012

In New Hampshire and Maine - When Right Isn't Right Enough and Ron Paul's Campaign Lives On

News media aren't reporting the very evident Ron Paul campaign still politically alive in New Hampshire and Maine. In fact, Paulism is dividing the right wing.

Driving between Hampton and Exeter New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon was more than experiencing the charming landscape brushed with the colors of Spring flowers, blooming rhododendrons and Memorial Day bunting on colonial clapboard houses.  

Plenty of Ron Paul political signs were bruising the loveliness of the New Hampshire post card melange - five months post the state's GOP primary. 

The signs weren't just left overs from New Hampshire's winter primary where Mitt Romney won the state's Republican delegates.  Rather, some Paul signs looked freshly painted.  One was a Ron Paul red-white-and-blue plywood billboard firmly planted in front of a trailer park - like it was there to stay.

These political signs scream dissatisfaction with the outcome of Romney's win in the New Hampshire Republican primary (and he owns a home in the state!).  

In other words, Libertarian leaning New Hampshire Republicans are saying that Romney is too moderate. He's considered liberal!  He's not "right" for political conservatives still holding out for a Ron Paul right wing candidacy.

A sparsely reported story in Maine demonstrates how pervasive Ron Paul supporters are about their right wing candidate.

"AUGUSTA, Maine – With Mitt Romney's nomination all but decided, Ron Paul supporters wrested control of the Maine Republican Convention and elected a majority slate supporting the Texas congressman to the GOP national convention, party officials said as the two-day convention neared its end Sunday. The results gave the Texas congressman a late state victory."

Die-hard right wingers aren't convinced about Romney's credentials. It probably explains why the front runner Romney hasn't moderated his right wing extremism to attract voters who would rather support a centrist.

This right wing "Paulism" is bound to show up at this summer's Republican convention in Tampa. If Romney ignores this right wing crowd, he risks a divided national convention, a horrible political outcome.

As a right wing Republican, a tethered Romney promises to destroy the progress of health care reform, roll back sensible immigration policies rooted in the reality of our American immigrant history and destroy compassionate social policies.

Nevertheless, this Republican polarization might be a good omen for incumbent President Obama who enjoys overwhelming support within the Democratic party.  A united Democratic party can galvanize against divided Republicans, if momentum support for the President can be sustained.

Given my experiences driving through sign dotted New Hampshire and living in Maine where the Paul candidates stormed the state's GOP convention, I'm confident Republicans have no choice but to bow to their right wing.  

Moreover, many Republicans are simply too concrete about right wing extremist dogmas to consider compromise or moderation.  This concreteness might just sink the party, unless Romney can pull them out of the spiral.

Often, being right means being "dead right".  

For Democrats, being right means remaining unified in support of middle class values and to protect the progress made by previous administrations who won public support for progressive policies.

But, why aren't news media reporting more about Paulism ?  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

American Catholic Bishops Must Need More Work: Now They Sue Over Birth Control

Every Roman Catholic Church I know is worried about revenues while American Catholic Bishop are now  going to the expensive courts to sue over birth control?  (The Week, June 1, 2012 page 3)

Apparently, Roman Catholic Bishops don't have enough problems to solve, they're creating more.

Most dangerous about this lawsuit is that it could be a build up for the US Bishops to intervene in this Fall's election, says columnist E. J. Dionne

"More than 40 Catholic institutions, including the archdioceses of New York, St. Louis and Washington DC filed lawsuits this week challenging the Obama administrations' requirement that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control."  

This lawsuit claims the inclusion of birth control coverage by health insurance plans proposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is an infringement on religious freedom because the Roman Catholic Church disapproves.  Although the Roman Catholic Church opposes use of artificial birth control, exceptions are supported for the purposes of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, to protect religious nuns from the consequences of rape and to treat women with reproductive system diseases.  Practically all Roman Catholic health care facilities treat women who are using artificial birth control for the purpose of preventing pregnancy.

Okay, blog readers- I've read the classics about Saint Thomas a Beckett and Saint Thomas Moore. These two martyrs for the faith were religious zealots who lost their lives while standing on conviction for going against King Edward the IV (Beckett) and King Henry VIII (Moore). Birth control should not become a political power struggle, as other issues were in times past.

But I believe American Bishops have reached The Tipping Point on this birth control issue. They're on the wrong side of it from a social teaching perspective and from a religious point of view as well.  Although I'm obviously no theologian, I know that birth control used for the purpose of family planning improves the health and welfare of women and families. In my experience as a nurse and a practicing Roman Catholic woman, I've never understood why women are considered sinful for practicing birth control while men are never cautioned by the church for using Viagra to improve their sexual performance.  From a religious perspective, women have a right to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies, period!

Living inside socially insulated church chanceries and advised by chancellors, the Bishops have little idea what it's like in the real world.  Moreover, they're collectively such an old group, it's hard to say if their sainted mother's would have used birth control pills if it were available to them. But, if they grew up in families with less than 5 children, it's a good bet their mother's practiced family planning, including other forms of birth control.

Columnist Maureen Dowd says the issue is more about the all-male clergy trying to put women in chastity belts.

If this fall's US election turns out to be a ridiculous social war between American Bishops and President Obama because of birth control, the outcome will be another embarrassment against the Roman Catholic Church.  Birth Control is already practiced by an overwhelming percentage of Roman Catholic Women.  

Although some social issues might trump the nation's economy as an election issue, birth control isn't one of the burning topics that will change public opinion. 

But, when Roman Catholic Bishops ask their faithful for more money to operate their chanceries, they will have to explain how much of their declining revenues are used for legal fees to fight political rather than religious battles.  Frankly, I don't see a Saint Cardinal Dolan in the Roman Catholic litany of saints because of his stand against insurance coverage for birth control used by women.  

Rather, the Cardinal of New York would want his religious biography to highlight his compassion for the heath and welfare of women and children, rather than a legal brief against the use of birth control.

Roman Catholic Bishops will face the same outcome at the end of their lives as every other person on the face of the earth.  They have enough sins to defend.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day and Paul Ryan's Republican Budget

America's Memorial Day is important and fundamentally means tax payers get what we pay for when we fund our US military with tax money.  

Today's Washington Post story indicates there may be hope for Republicans who might finally "get" his connection.

Yet, budget austerity, supported by right wing extremists like Congressman Paul Ryan and Tea Party colleagues, risks funding the quality of health, welfare and retirement programs for the brave military people who secure his own pay check. 

Worthwhile expenses to protect our nation's freedom and safety aren't isolated to the cost of funding an excellent military. There's associated financial and ethical responsibilities to care for the quality of lives for veterans who have contributed their youth to ensuring our National Security. 

Military men and women enter service at a young age and thereby contribute their youth to protecting our National Security. They deserve more than tributes, flag waving and medals. They also deserve well earned benefits.

Our nation's young men and women volunteer to serve in foreign conflicts, they respond to national emergencies like the "war on terrorism" and provide humanitarian assistance during natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the cluster tornado outbreaks in Joplin, Missouri.

But, if Congressman Ryan and his budget hacking colleagues have their way, the veterans benefits assured to today's military will be cut.  If Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge survives, the GOP will continue to cut tax funded programs like health services veterans receive through the Veteran's Administration and Medicare.

Budget hackers in Congress should cut their own salaries and staff expenses before reducing any veterans benefits.

Except, there's a win-win solution called "income" from tax revenues. This seems like a "no-brainer" solution to funding the federal budget. (In my opinion, those who don't support raising the income part of the budget may, indeed, need to find a brain.) 

Increasing income is especially doable when raising the percentage of taxes paid by the rich and super wealthy only takes one majority vote by the US Congress.

Congressman Paul Ryan and the selfish tax hawk Grover Norquist should volunteer to serve for 3 months in the US military - they can even have junior officer status.  Ryan deserves to be a Navy Ensign for three months.  Norquist should be a Marine Second Lieutenant.

After Ryan and Norquist serve in the military, they can evaluate how their austerity measures impact the quality of life for Veterans. After the 3 months voluntary service, these two prominent individuals can assume they have the credibility to ask Americans to cut services to Veterans, without first looking to raise sensible revenues by asking the rich, like both of them, to pay more of their fair share.

Ryan and Norquist likely respond, like most Americans, with pride, when we stand for the tribute to Veterans and the performance of the Star Spangled Banner national anthem.  Both of them might need a historical reminder that the anthem was written during the War of 1812, when we defended our freedom, a second time, against Great Britain.  

Surely, Ryan and Norquist know and believe that "Freedom is not Free".

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Scott Walker is the Ultimate Divider Politician - Wisconsin Must Remove Him

Regardless of how Wisconsinites feel about figure head leader Governor Scott Walker, they cannot retain him as Governor. This man has caused a political civil war in the state where he is now a completely ineffective leader.  In the private sector, Walker would have been let go months ago for lack of leadership skills and inciting poor morale.

Leadership is not Walker's strong suit.  He appears to be incapable of fighting his own political battles.  

For example, my mail in Maine includes requests to give money directly to Scott Walker in Wisconsin.  I assume millions of these fund raising letters, loaded with lies, were sent around the country.  This direct mail appeal to individuals smacks of desperation.  

Moreover, with opinion polls  tightening around Walker's recall, he's bringing in other Republican state governors to walk around Wisconsin to keep his right wing tea party base energized. Walker can't seem to muster enough of a Wisconsin coalition to carry his cause, he's soliciting money from individuals around the country and using tax money paid to other state governors, in their salaries, by wasting their time campaigning against his recall. Americans don't pay our state governors salaries to "carry the water" for their political friends.

Understandably, Walker must be exhausted by months of assaults about how his failed leadership has divided Wisconsin.  Recall efforts notwithstanding, his political reputation will continue to be barraged by whatever his involvement was in a complicated problem called the John Doe investigation, which happened while he was Wisconsin's attorney general.

Worse, Wisconsinites cannot retain a governor who lies to his citizens: 

"Members of Congress who questioned Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker when he testified before a US House committee last year are asking the chairman of that committee to help them determine whether the controversial anti-labor governor made deceptive statements while under oath?"

There are many other allegations about Walker's inability to be truthful, especially evident in the millions of dollars his defensive campaign has invested in expensive untruthful television ads to fend off a recall.  With the US Supreme Court now allowing that lying is somehow protected under our Constitutional rights to free speech (Citizens United), a political action committee can pay to trump up any concocted idea imaginable, so long as the public is gullible enough to fall for the information.  This kind of unbridled and dangerous political advertising requires very expensive counter communications because the truth doesn't appear to have the same value as fact after a lie is in the public domain.

Recently, Walker called on the National Rifle Association to pay for an ad claiming his challenger Tom Barrett is anti-hunting and threatens second amendment rights to bear arms.  Barrett quickly claimed this ad is a lie. Barrett's arguments in defense of hunting rights and the Second Amendment are convincing.  I believe Walker's ad is a lie. Shame on the National Rifle Association for supporting incendiary and unsubstantiated lies.

Wisconsin;s daunting recall election debacle has gone beyond personalities. It's about political ideology. Clearly, Walker is incapable of continuing as Wisconsin's Governor, but his right wing dogma is protected by quasi supporters who carry his cause.

Walker is incapable of being an effective governor, but those who claim to support him are doing so out of a conviction about busting labor unions and other conservative right wing issues. 

Those opposing Walker are targeting him personally with allegations of  corruption and perjury.  

From an organizational systems perspective, there is no way Walker is capable of moving forward, regardless of the outcome of the recall election.

Therefore, in the interest of preventing a Wisconsin Civil War, I believe Walker should resign or be recalled.  If Walker is recalled, Barrett may become an interim Governor, as a result, transitioning to a freshly elected administration.  Either candidate who gets the majority vote on election night of the upcoming Wisconsin recall cannot claim victory when the state will remain divided by Walker's caustic leadership style.

If Wisconsin's Republicans and anti labor advocates want to move their state "forward", by implementing right wing public policies, they must first remove the divisive, embattled and exhausted governor. 

For the sake of a united Wisconsin, the state's voters must find a truthful and effective leader.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Koran Teaching Applies in Women Poisoning: Poison In a Scorpion's Tail and a Snake's Tongue As Well As in Certain People's Eyes

Certain people have poisoned eyes in the same way that scorpion's have toxins in their tails and snakes have venom in their tongues. In other words, some people are plain toxic. This reference is an undocumented quote from the Muslim Koran.

Regardless of the Koran's attributed source, it certainly fits with the evil intent perpetrated by the heinous poisoning of Afghanistan women who were targeted for harm by Taliban Muslim extremists, because they were involved in teaching or going to school.

CNN news reports 122 Afghan girls and their teacher were attacked with a poison spray causing many to be hospitalized.

"The Afghan people know that terrorists and the Taliban are doing these things to threaten girls and stop them going to school," said Khalilullah Aseer, spokesman for Takhar (Afghan) police. "That's something we and the people believe. Now we are implementing democracy in Afghanistan and we want girls to be educated, but the government's enemies don't want this."

What do Taliban evil doers fear when they perform cowardly acts that harm and inflict fear in innocent people, especially women? Obviously, the Taliban's horrible intentions are thwarted by enlightenment that accompanies the education of women.

Human rights advocates report how educated African women improves the health of the entire community:  

"When you educate a girl in Africa, everything changes. She’ll be three times less likely to get HIV/AIDS, earn 25 percent more income and have a smaller, healthier family."

An educated man is one person, but educate a woman and you educate a family - a quote in the public domain.

Educated women quickly learn how to manage the size of their families, start small home businesses and creatively feed their families.  Jealous Taliban men would apparently prefer to punish women then learn from them about how to improve their human conditions.

Although 122 Afghanistan women endured the horror of poisoning due to bold efforts toward education, the act is bound to rebound on the perpetrators of the sickening incident.  

I'm confident the Koran teaches retribution for evil acts. As the Taliban are the poisoners of women, they are as low on the scale of human development as are scorpions and snakes.

"As for him who disregards the message of God, God will direct him to ever increasing retribution. " Qur'an Jinn 72:11-17 ... "

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Majority Agenda - Urban Legends, Negative and Misleading Ads

Freedom of Speech includes the right to create Urban Legends. 

An Urban Legend is a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms.

In other words, Americans and corporations are free to speak lies in political action committee negative (PAC) ads - a right recently upheld by the US Supreme Court in the Citizens United ruling.  

New Majority Agenda is using Political Action Committee money to spread Urban Legends to Americans.  But who gives money to spread truth?

Moreover, this New Majority Agenda is a flashback to the President Nixon's concept of a silent majority - a conservative skewing of Urban Legends.

In other words, New Majority Agenda is digging up dead conservative ideas from the past.  Using slick production, the  negative political ads are topped off by a lovely woman's voice-over reminiscent of June Cleaver, the 1950s mom in the popular series "Leave it to Beaver".  Of course, the PAC's website is printed in red, white and blue print.  

Here are the Urban Legends in the New Majority Agenda website:

Lie:  "Redesign the tax code to help American business be competitive and productive, and make tax compliance easier and fairer for job creators and individuals alike."

Freedom of Untruthful Speech allows this lie to go unchecked.  A redesign of the tax code will be hugely complicated and costly to ordinary middle class tax payers.  Any "redesign" would likely include political skulduggery and more regulations than practically any sane person would want to understand.  

Lie: "Block President Obama’s effort to raise taxes on families, small businesses, and consumers."

Freedom of Untruthful Speech allows this lie to go unchecked:  President Obama has never proposed to raise taxes on families, small businesses and consumers.  This is the most outrageous lie in the website.  President Obama has consistently called on taxing the super rich.  There is no evidence whatsoever to support the Urban Legend on the New Majority Agenda website.

Most disturbing about this misuse of Freedom of Speech is the solicitation of money - people apparently give money to support Urban Legends embedded in PACs.  Americans abhor politicians who lie to them, but many appear willing to support hearing from corporations that spend money spreading Urban Legends.

I thought New Majority Agenda would be a right wing extremist group.  After checking the website (a hit counted on their stats but necessary for information)....this New Majority Agenda is a dangerous nostalgic flashback to the old Silent Majority that many thought went down with the demise of President Nixon's conservative era.  

Apparently, Urban Legends have more "lives" than re-makes of the tragic Titanic sinking. 

Thankfully, a counter to the New Majority Agenda is an ad narrated by President Obama who speaks about his unpopular decision to support America's automobile industry.  His economic decision proved to be the right choice.  Hearing our President defend his own decision is very powerful and effective communication. It's also costly.

Now we see why this 2012 Presidential campaign will cost close to a ridiculous $1 billion- to pay for political ads- one to counter another.  Negativity needs expensive truthful responses.

Every Urban Legend requires a truth counter point - because, unfortunately, many Americans find Urban Legends to be more compelling than truth.

A New American Agenda should include a reversal of the Supreme Court's Citizens United Ruling. We need an outpouring "viral" demand for disclosure of who pays for Urban Legends and those who create negative political discourse. 

A New American Agenda would support Freedom of Truthful Speech.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Medical Surgeries - Necessary and Unnecessary: Prostate Testing etc.

Surgeon Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC is on the news shows talking about the recent ruling against routine prostate cancer screening testing called "PSA".  Her report raises the opportunity to discuss the use of surgical intervention when outcomes may not indicate this is the preferred treatment.

In "What's the Right Choice for You?", Dr. Snyderman writes:  "Prostate cancer is, after all, the second-leading cause of cancer among American males (after lung cancer). More than 232,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. And though numbers are dropping, nearly 28,000 will die from it."

Prostate cancer is aggressive when diagnosed in a young man, but almost all aging men will develop anomalies in their prostate. For many aging men diagnosed with prostate cancer, the progression of the disease is so slow that the likelihood of mortality is higher with other age related chronic illnesses. For example, a 70 year old man diagnosed with prostate cancer will likely live his life expectancy and die from some other age related illness.

But the larger issue relates to the necessary and the unnecessary needs for surgical interventions - not only for a potential false positive in a PSA for prostate cancer, but for other conditions as well.

When I worked for medical research projects where small area variation analysis (SMV*) were presented to physicians by the Maine Medical Assessment Foundation, the outcomes for back surgeries was an area of educational focus.

In the research, the same patient satisfaction surveys were given to people who had back surgery for pain and to those who did not choose the surgical option. At first, the two populations reported different outcomes - those who chose surgery said they felt relief from pain while those who sought other treatment reported continued symptoms.  Nonetheless, at the five year post diagnosis survey, both groups reported the same outcomes.  In other words, the people who chose back surgery for pain did not improve in their functional analysis any more than those who made the alternate choice to accept other forms of treatment, like physician therapy or chiropractic treatment.

In prostate surgery, a similar analysis can be researched.  Men who chose prostate surgery may, or may not, have lived for 20 years beyond the diagnosis.  At the time when I worked with SAV analysis, the life expectancy between both the surgical and non-surgical groups of men diagnosed with prostate cancer at about age 70 was nearly the same.

When it comes to mortality from prostate cancer, a candidate for surgery must always evaluate the risks of the intervention versus no treatment at all.  Complications from prostate cancer surgery may be worse than the disease.  Likewise, with any surgery.  Risk of infection and medical error may be greater than living with the symptoms related to back pain or prostate disease.

Although prostate surgery draws the attention of viewers on talk shows, the underlying issue is the over use of surgery and the expenses related to misuse.  When thinking about mortality related to any cancer diagnosis, the fact is, the treatments are expensive related to outcome.  Some cancers respond well to pharmaceutical and other interventions without the need for radical surgeries beyond removal of the primary tumor.

Surgery expenses are not limited to the cost of the medical care and evaluating whether it's needed.  It's more about the expenses related to the risks of having surgery when the alternative may be just as effective and less invasive.

Dr. Snyderman has a succinct communication style where she gets to the conclusion of a medical report very quickly. Sometimes, I find her opinions on medical matters to be loaded with a surgeons point of view - so I assume she is excellent in her physician practice.  In her health column she writes, "If your (prostate) tumor is slow-growing—and the vast majority of prostate tumors are—then there's no immediate health risk. The recommended course of action would be to simply monitor the tumor's growth. Regular PSA testing is an effective way to do that."

Other times, however, Dr. Snyderman misses opportunities to explain risks and benefits of medical research findings.  

In the case of options for prostate cancer treatment, her reports would be more effective if she presented the life expectancy and the patient satisfaction survey outcomes of both the surgical and non-surgical options.

*Small area variation analysis is a research tool used by health services researchers to describe how rates of health care use and events vary over well-defined geographic areas. Significant variation has been shown to exist in the rates of hospitalization for chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia, hypertension, and in surgical procedures, such as hysterectomy, cholecystectomy, and tonsillectomy. Potential sources of variation include differences in underlying morbidity, access to care, physician judgment, quality of care delivered, patient demand for services, and random variation. Small area variation studies have been used to determine if significant variation exists across geographic areas and to describe relationships between the observed variation and potential causal factors. Methodologic concerns include the definition of small areas, defining the at-risk population within each small area, sample size, case mix adjustments, and stability of rates over time. The use of small area analysis in primary care will require definition of appropriate small areas for ambulatory care, description of the variation in ambulatory events across small areas, development of appropriate measures for ambulatory case mix, and development of appropriate tools to measure the outcomes of ambulatory care.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Voting Rights - What I Learned from Andrea Mitchell

I'm impressed by the video on MSNBC where news journalist Andrea Mitchell promotes reducing barriers to voting rights. She speaks about the importance of supporting voters rights and opposes exclusions called for by "some political parties and interest groups".  I'm wondering if Ms. Mitchell speaks for many of her colleagues in her video.

Esquire's political blog asks Ms. Mitchell to clarify who or what she speaks about when calling for inclusiveness. This debate caused me to seek more info.

Charles P. Pierce writes, "There is only one political party working to keep people from voting". In other words, he asks Ms. Mitchell to be specific about what political forces are working against her point of view."

I learned the right to vote is not exclusive, but, rather, the way qualified citizens are provided access to voting is a state by state issue. Although the US Constitution prohibits barriers to voting based upon religion, sex or other caveats, the States can (and some do) create exclusionary processes, like proof of citizenship.

Americans have fought very hard for voting rights - it's was not a given right of citizenship. Women organized themselves to obtain the right to vote. Likewise, Racial minorities received a Constitutional amendment to be assured the right to vote.

Pierce writes April 30th in his blog: "Back in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer, volunteers were deeply schooled in the various regulations and tactics used to deprive African Americans of their right to vote, and how those regulations and tactics differed from county to county, city to city and, often, sheriff to sheriff. Now, the basic goals of these laws are the same everywhere they've been passed, but they differ just enough in the different states that the people attempting to blunt their effects have to be made aware of every local subtlety...."

Right wing conservatives tend to be strict constructionists about the US Constitution. They believe every word of it as written.  Therefore, the idea that conservatives should tamper with voting language for the presumed purpose of skewing the demographics of the electorate is yet another example of the hypocrisy within their ranks. Right wing extremists and strict conservatives either believe in the US Constitution and voting rights, as written and ratified, or they don't.  

Democrats and Progressive groups believe in eliminating all barriers to voting rights while many Republicans and Right Wing Extremists advocate for process barriers.

Voting rights is an example of "what goes around comes around" issue.  By restricting people from voting, the political issues will eventually turn against the exclusionary group.  Excess access to voting, however, can lead to voter fraud.  Changing any voting laws will eventually backfire on the group perpetrating the cause.

Rather, Secretary of States should be charged with eliminating voter fraud, as recent information in Florida found 53,000 dead people listed on voting rosters.

Ms. Mitchell's video supporting reducing barriers to voting rights is very likely not her "voice in the wilderness" on this issue. 

On the contrary, I suspect Mitchell speaks for many journalism colleagues - and her point of view is likely influenced by her experiences. She has reported on elections in countries where voting is not a protected right and can even be associated with the risk of personal harm.  

I'm confident Ms. Mitchell is passionate about voting rights, but I also wonder if her candor is a salient warning to right wing extremists who should pay attention to the media they selectively denigrate.

We should all learn more about voting rights and work as hard as our predecessors have done to protect them.



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guns and Garage/Yard Sales

An innocent community garage/yard sale brought out gun pickers over the weekend.

Our neighborhood advertised the sale on Craig's List, which is probably why gun shoppers found us.

Nonetheless, we were stunned when those among the curious shoppers were gun buyers!

"Any guns?" the buyers abruptly asked.  My husband, thankfully, is quick with this kind of query.  "We keep all the guns we need," he responded.  Clever man! That way, gun shoppers won't think we're  living in the Maine woods without artillery protection.  Sad, very sad, comment on our condition. We felt it was necessary to suggest there are guns in our house.

Gun shoppers have a distinctly proprietary perspective. The guns purchased at yard sales are even less regulated than those purchased at gun shows. No receipts!

I'm wondering how many guns the pickers were able to purchase as they trolled various garage/yard sales.  Probably many.  They also, quite likely, sell the guns shortly after purchasing them - making big profits, with no paper trail.

I'm so relieved nothing sold at our particular table in the neighborhood garage/yard sale will be used to kill either people or animals.

We'll never know if guns purchased by the gun pickers as they troll are put to nefarious or deadly use.

Maybe future garage sales should post "no guns" for those of us who are, frankly, offended by those who are using this neighborly activity to further a deadly project for profit.

Response sent to me via email from Gail in North Carolina:  "Had you not written the blog about people looking to buy guns at yard sales I would have never believed it. Is that actually legal in the state of Maine to sell a gun at a yard sale? ..."


Friday, May 18, 2012

US Bank Authorizes Illegal Entry in Sabattus Maine

It's true!  US Bank, a mortgage company, authorized an illegal break in at my son's Sabattus ME lake home in January 2012!

Although we have a lawyer and are suing for this illegal criminal act, the Bank acts like they did absolutely nothing wrong. It may take years plus more thousands of dollars to bring the bank/mortgage company to justice.

When the bank authorized the break in, the thieves known as Five Brothers confiscated thousands of dollars of my sons belonging and we don't know where his possessions went!

My son is interviewed in the above video broadcast on Maine WGME Channel 13 news.

He rightfully tells the interviewer how the US Bank president will likely receive a bonus because of his status but my son will be made into a victim, even though the Bank is clearly engaged in illegal activity.

Our rights as property owners appear to be in jeopardy if behavior like the US Bank illegal entry is allowed to go unchecked.

Indeed, my son was one month behind on a mortgage payment, but he was not anywhere near foreclosure, nor was his lake home abandoned as the bank erroneously and illegally claimed. He is current with his mortgage at this time.  He had no notice from the Bank that anything was wrong, they simply broke into the house and allowed Five Brothers to rob my son.

I am sending this video link to all major news broadcasts, not so much because I want my son to receive the feedback as I hope others who find themselves innocent victims of bank fraud and illegal acts will know they can fight back - a class action suit is a good idea!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wars and Who Fights Them

Electronic communications allows my 1963 graduating class to participate in virtual reunions. We're a chatty e-Google-Group, who came of age during the 1960s.

Every day, we discuss shared experiences and memories. Recently, we discussed the emotional difficulties of living through many wars. 

My Maryland high school friend wrote about her visit to Washington DC to see the Viet Nam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and Arlington Cemetery. Her discussion was about the brutality and extraordinary expenses of wars.

"It seems to me that there must be an alternative to war.  Can't we make the leaders of the  countries thinking about war sit in a time out and contemplate what they are about to do?  Why do they choose to send our youth to war?," she writes

It's hard to remember a time over the past 50 years when there weren't wars.

Reflecting on the many wars my Dundalk High School graduating class lived through since we marched toward graduation, our electronic discussion board wondered why wars recruit young people? In fact, some aging early boomers in our group offered to join the military and fight wars. One said he would volunteer to take the place of a young person going to war!

From Arizona, my high school friend wrote: "When the 1st Gulf War was initiated, I suggested that those of us who were older and still fit, should go. Why take the youth? I would have volunteered."

A wonderful idea came from one classmate who might even have a solution to preventing Americans from going to war. He suggests requiring the legislators who authorize wars to be among those who serve:

He writes, "...and wherever American Military are in harm's way the Senate and Congress must be deployed with them and serve 6-8 weeks rotating one third at a time.  Let them see close up what they do to our finest...."

Our class lived through the end of World War II, many of our parents are Veterans of the European and Pacific battles.  We also lived through the Korean Conflict, which continues to this day.  About half of us were born after the discovery of Atomic Power, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Many of us knew people who are now among the names carved on the Viet Nam War Memorial.  Several alumni served in Viet Nam, or their spouses went to war, as my husband went to Viet Nam two times.  We also lived through the Gulf Wars I and II, the devastation of September 11, 2001 and the War on Terrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq.  

Indeed, we have experiences to share and advice to give to those who send people to fight wars.

It seems to me, a Senate Committees should call my high school class to testify about how we believe it may be possible to end American involvement in Wars.  Let's look at Congressional officials, eye to eye, and tell them it's their time to serve in any future wars!  

Novel idea? Or something of fiction.  

We experienced alumni agree - Those who cause wars should be required to fight them.

Public Comment from Joe in Bangor Maine (sent to me via email):  "Why should Congress fight any war? They have failed since the World War 2 era to even Declare a war in violation of the Constitution which they have taken and oath to preserve and protect. Besides too many of them get money from those who make money from war. They can with a wink and a nod clamor for our "protection" while storing up money for their re-election!" 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Popularity - This Fall's Election is a Virtual Co-opting of High School "The Musical"

Columnist Kathleen Parker says we should pull out our childish Magic 8-Balls to keep track of who's the most popular candidate we might choose to be president of the United States.

President Barack Obama was more popular a few weeks ago than he appears to be in recent released polls taken since he announced his support for Marriage Equality aka "same sex marriage".

As our US economy improves, the news media, often dominated by entertainment rather than "real news", looks for whatever buzz American voters are responding to, lately.  Given Parker's take on news published in today's Washington Post, the idea that a president might be focused on international policy now impacted by anti-austerity elections in France and Greece, plus an already improving economy, aren't popular enough topics to create news worthy of making President Obama more popular again, or "lately".

A politicians' position on Marriage Equality has nothing to do with the ability to be President of the United States.  In my opinion, this social issue has zero impact on who is qualified to be president. Nonetheless, the "Gay Marriage" subject makes popularity news.

Will news media bravely resist the pressure of publishing such irrelevant news?

Although cynicism and irreverence often goes hand in hand with politics, the business of electing leaders cannot be treated as entertainment.

Personally, I'm weary of the high school musical tone of the presidential election campaign.  Republicans are pulling Romney to the right while House Speaker Boehner panders to this conservative constituency and threatens the important Debt Ceiling vote in the US House.  This is news!

Democrats sometimes act like they live in a bubble about President Obama's re-election chances. They had better wake up and work hard find enough votes to win the fall election, and soon!

Somewhere in the middle, tensions between the two polarized political groups, R's and D's, must subside as running the American government is essential.

Like Disney's High School Musical, somebody must eventually find a solution to political drama.  Compromise, statesmanship and leadership must prevail, or the political ending will surely be something like the Romeo and Juliet story the High School Musical is based on.

But, right now, each political team on the ideological tug of war are singing their same rhetorical tunes, over and over, creating a cacophony, resonating on deaf voters, many of then not paying much attention to what the singing is about.  It's as though our national elections are being co-opted by childish popularity polls.

Electing a President of the United States can't be like producing a high school musical.

Americans need to ask more about how politicians will lead us, rather than be caught up in how popularly their sound bites of the day entertain us. It doesn't matter, at all, what either candidate thinks or says about Marriage Equality, especially when this issue is completely irrelevant to our daily lives!

Moreover, entertainment news should not determine who we politically like today or snub in the polls.

Serious public policies are at stake when leaders are chosen.

Let's demand more real news from our media and resist the Magic 8-Ball analogies.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Supporting Simpler Medical Care - Gawande Calls for a New Kind of Doctor? (What Does He Mean by "New"?)

"(Dr. Atul) Gawande has found reason to question the assumption that the most expensive care must be the best care. "What we're discovering is that the best care, the places getting the best results, are often among the least expensive," he said. In those places, doctors and nurses providing care function like teams."

I'm dating my "nursing-self" but recall when "operating room nurses" used checklists to be sure surgeons didn't leave instruments or sponges inside patients while they sutured!  Believe it or not, surgeons typically began sutures before the nurses finished the checklist!  Yup, you got it, patients were re-opened without their knowledge to find a clamp or sponge not counted in the checklist.  Although these incidents were rare, they happened often enough for me to report them in this blog.  Even one incident where a surgical utensil was left inside a sutured patient was (is) more than enough.

Lesson learned, reducing the incidence of surgical errors and post operative infections are directly correlated to how diligent surgeons are to counting utensils.  Does this preventive count bring down the cost of health care?  Yes.

Indeed, Atul Gawande writes about how the best care is often the least expensive.  This certainly isn't new information but it takes a physician of Gawande's respect and stature as a surgeon to succinctly communicate this message to his professional colleagues and, thereby, to the public.  Yet,  Hungarian physician Ignas Semmelweis (1818-1865) was largely ignored when he tried to convince his peers about the infection preventing technique of hand washing.

Physicians cringe when they're reminded how midwives figured out how to reduce the incidence and mortality of postpartum women who died of puerperal infections during the 18th and 19th century. Midwives routinely washed their hands between deliveries, thereby reducing the incidence of transference of deadly bacteria from one woman to another.  Physicians didn't believe in hand washing  until it was proven women who birthed with midwives didn't die as often from infection as those who delivered their babies in hospitals with physicians attending - specifically, physicians who didn't wash their hands.  Semmelweis identified the preventive procedure of hand washing as being associated with reduced infection rates, but his conclusions were largely ignored by his peers.

Did hand washing improve the outcomes of obstetrical procedures while bringing down the cost of care?  Yes.

Gawande is calling for a new way to improve clinical outcomes while reducing the cost of quality care.  He calls for medical professionals to work as teams rather than alone.  Although most patients consider their physicians to be the primary source of all their health needs, the fact is, no one physician knows everything there is about anybody or condition.

If two physicians and one nurse work together to develop a care plan based on a check list of priorities  identified for particular illnesses or procedures, the rate of error would certainly go down.

Let's look at airplane pilots, for example.  Even the smallest commercial airliner in the US has a pilot and co-pilot - and they use checklists, too!

Paying for two airplane pilots brings down the risk of pilot error, thus reducing the human costs of deadly accidents.

A medical team of providers, likewise, would have the same result.  Consider the patient's body to be an airliner - seated inside are hundreds of systems needing care because no single illness or injury is isolated to just one organ.  Indeed, an injury to a bone also interferes with muscles.  An infection in the skin will change blood white cell counts.  So, if a human body is as complex as a commercial airliner, then we need more than one pilot to navigate us through chronic illness, injury and diseases.

When I worked as an administrator for emergency medical services, we reduced pre-hospital errors by implementing protocols for all common procedures.  At the time, the emergency medical services providers called it "cook book EMS", but it worked to improve patient outcomes.  In other words, more people lived to receive medical care in a hospital rather than needing resuscitation.  We measured this with quality improvement data taken from pre-hospital run sheets tracked over time.

Obviously, as a nurse, I applaud Dr. Gawande's work educating his peers about improving medical practice.  His vision of a "new" way to practice medicine is rooted in the tradition and oath: "First Do No Harm".

I'm reasonably sure Dr. Gawande appreciates a nurses point of view on his good work!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nursing - Two Media Features During National Nurses Month: Expanding Roles

Mother's Day Washington Post and the weekend Bill Moyers National Public Broadcasting interview program gave nurses feature spots on Mother's Day Weekend - during National Nurse Appreciation Month. Do these features represent all nurses?

Washington Post highlights the national campaign launched by Nurse Practitioners (advanced practice nurses) who are educating the public about their role in expanding access to quality and affordable primary care to help fill physician shortages.

A more controversial, out of the ordinary, story aired on Moyers and Company, a National Public Broadcasting interview program where the commentator conducts civil conversations with people engaged in public policy through the media or politics.

In the story "Serious as a Heart Attack", Moyers interviewd RoseAnn DeMoro, from National Nurses United, about how some nurses are engaging in labor movements beyond their scope of practice, so to speak, and supporting initiatives like "99%", "Occupy" and a movement calling for a National Transaction Tax.  (Prolific Florence Nightingale surely never wrote about these issues!)$350_billion_from_financial_transaction_tax/

Do these two features speak about all nurses, for all nurses or suggest all nurses agree with the above?
I'm a nurse. This is my opinion:

Nurse Practitioners are excellent primary care providers!  They excel when their practices are synergistic with physicians, especially when they refer clients to appropriate specialists, as needed.  Kudos to Nurse Practitioners for launching a campaign to explain how nursing has grown from being bedside caregivers to key providers in health care.  Nurse practitioners are raising the standard of care for all providers and improving access to care for people who might otherwise be unable to receive health care because they live too far from a facility or cannot afford to pay - nurse practitioners fill both these voids and more!  I can safely say most nurses applaud the expanding role of advanced practice nurses - who work hard to achieve higher educational goals and provide excellent care.

As for "Serious as a Heart Attack", and National Nurses United- ahhh (!), not so fast to leap on this point of view.

Nurses are one of the most trusted professional groups.  I sincerely hope spokesperson RoseAnn DeMoro isn't using the compassionate support nurses receive from public opinion to promote national economic policies, especially ones we, frankly, are not familiar with.  In my years in nursing education, traditional- baccalaureate and graduate - I didn't have even one course in economic theory.  Surely, nurses should understand more about economics, but, if you polled student nurses, I'm confident a course on economics and tax policy would be way-way down on their academic priority list!

During the interview between DeMoro and Moyes, I waited for the correlation to be explained between nursing and economic-tax policies- if there was a connection made, it escaped me.

So, why is National Nurses United involved in the unfamiliar National Financial Transaction Tax?
I don't know.

Of course, nurses are advocates for our clients-patients- their families and other care givers.  To the extent these groups are involved in the care of a client, I suppose it makes sense to help provide for their economic as well as physicial well being whenever possible.  Nonetheless, I can't understand the correlation - not yet.

So, with some caution, I must advise Mr. Moyers to bring on other nursing advocates to help better explain RoseAnn DeMoro's point of view.

Otherwise, it has been a great media weekend for nursing - who'd-a thought even 20 years ago that nurses would be on the cutting edge of such prestigious news?

Happy Mother's Day and Nurse Appreciation Month!

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rosa Parks - One small act that changed our world for the better: National Cathedral Tribute

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
  ~Anne Frank

Anne Frank did not live long enough through the heinous discrimination of the Holocaust to see the world changed for the better, like she innocently envisioned in her quote.  Anne Frank died in 1945, in Bergen-Belsen.

Rosa Parks, considered the First Lady of Civil Rights, lived from February 4, 1913 to October 24, 2005, long enough to fulfill Anne Frank's vision of an improving world, where discrimination is overcome by respect.  It was one simple act of non-violent civil disobedience on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, that raised the long dormant racial social conscience of our nation and inspired the Civil Rights Movement.  In spite of years of turmoil to overcome racial discrimination, the world has become a better place for Negroes, since the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery public transit bus, because of her Negro race.

In honor of her courage, the National Cathedral in Washington DC recognized Rosa Parks with the dedication of a sculpture of her created by Chas Fagan and stone carver Sean Callahan, located on the Human Rights Porch.

I wish more churches would honor modern heroes who were tested by the challenges of their times, especially as America is divided by political theory, ie, conservative, ultra conservative, moderate and progressive. Right now, we need heroes to honor, people who make the world better.  In fact, people unite during dedication ceremonies, where plaques, memorial benches and sculptures remind us to live our lives in the spirit of Anne Frank, Rosa Parks and others who have believed and acted so the world can be a better place.

Isn't it wonderful to be able to enter a sanctuary where we might even recognize and identify with the likenesses of people who have made the world a better place? Holy statues are lovely, but a mix of saints and locally inspirational heroes are a Godly mix.

At the time, Rosa Parks probably didn't know she fulfilled the vision of Anne Frank on December 1, 1955, when she did not waste a single moment to help change the world.

Each of us has the capacity to improve the world today. We're able to put aside personal ideologies for the sake of compromise and work together to change our world.  Indeed, every human being has the responsibility to make the world a better place, but we may need another heroine of ordinary status to raise our conscientiousness, like Rosa Parks and Anne Frank.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Economic Stalemate - When Boxed In Politicians Call for Reinforcements

"Global investors increasingly prefer President Barack Obama to Republican challenger Mitt Romney and most say they believe the incumbent will remain in the White House for another four years.
Asked who would be the better leader for the global economy, 49 percent favor Obama against 38 percent for Romney, according to a quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll. In January, the two candidates tied on the question."
Political pundits discuss polls when they run out of fresh material to talk about.  This morning's news is about how President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Romney are tied in the polls when people are asked how each would handle the nation's economy over the next four years.  What the pundits don't report, of course, is the link above, showing how investors feel - the experts who prefer President Obama over Romney.  Obviously, pundits don't rely on experts when they have all the answers themselves - --- (oops!).
But, it's the American people who decide elections, all the people - not pundits or experts. It's about the voters. 
If voters need convincing about how disastrous the Republican economic policies are for our nation's recovery, then I'll offer my own punditry on the subject. Frankly, my analysis is just about as expertly created as anything readers will find published by any other pundit.
Here's what I think - both parties need to call in reinforcements to get their candidates' message out.  In my opinion, Republican voters are not convinced their presumptive candidate can carry their conservative message to the end of what proposes to be a brutal fall campaign.  Democratic voters are worried about President Obama's seeming inability to bring down the nation's unemployment rate to under 8 percent.
When politicians are boxed in, it's time to call for reinforcements.
Romney's reinforcement regiments are tired and unimaginative. There's no Romney "brand"   to improve our nation's economy.  Although Romney spews rhetoric about his work with Bain Capital and the Olympics successes, each of these has down sides.  
Bain Capital has put many people out of work by buying companies, laying off workers and selling the labor created margins to obtain profits.  The US Olympics success came with a lot of federal money to sweeten the prospects for Mr. Romney; so, he pulled off the project with lots of government help.  Not a good harbinger for cutting government spending.
President Obama has called up some of his reinforcements, by surrounding himself with news not necessarily related to the economy.  By his leadership, he removed from our earth the evil person of Osama Bin Laden.  Moreover, President Obama has firmed up his position on a divisive social issue - he now supports same sex marriage.  In firming his support, Mr. Obama can now approach younger voters without an obstacle in front of him, because the college crowd overwhelmingly supports same sex marriage. In the scheme of world events, who really cares about same sex marriage?  It's just a political obstacle to get off your plate; plus, it defines Mr. Obama as being different than Mr. Romney.
What other reinforcements remain?
For Mr. Romney - nothing.  If the economy improves, there are no more reinforcements available.  Indeed, the economy is improving, but not fast enough for many out of work people.  Do these unemployed people who are economically marginalized sincerely believe Mr. Romney will put them back to work, when he has opposed the government stimulus money for our US auto industry and been in management of Bain Capital? Anyone who believes this must be delusional.
For President Obama there are still some reserves.  Everyone agrees, the economy is improving, albeit, not as quickly as we prefer.  Nonetheless, with every agonizing micro-improvement, our economy moves forward.  
Perhaps the best reinforcements President Obama can call on are the people who will be harmed if the Republicans elect Romney in November.
Although mega-millions, perhaps, even a billion dollars, will be spent in this fall's election, the people who go to the polls will decide the outcome.  That includes the poor.
President Obama needs reinforcements to win on the US economy issue.  Let's use some of the millions raised by starry eyed Hollywood types to reach out for votes in unlikely places where people will be harmed by the intentions of conservative economics.  
If people who rely on Social Security, student loans, Medicare, Medicaid, access to affordable health care and labor laws to protect the minimum wage would make a pledge to become President Obama's reinforcements for the Democrats, then, this fall's election will save our nation from entering a regressive economic dark ages, where ordinary people become feudal pawns of the rich.  Call on the reinforcements of the disadvantaged, the poor and those who are prevented from being middle class because of repressive Republican economics.