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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chief Justice John Roberts - Ruling Puts Penalty in the Right Account

Americans have been paying a penalty for those without insurance for decades!

Although Republicans can whine all they want about the penalty for not having health insurance in 2014, the fact is, middle class Americans and bureaucrats like Senator Mitch McConnell are already paying a penalty on their premiums. Yes, all of us have been paying for the uninsured for many years!

 Hello!!! Wake up!!! Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that this insurance penalty will now be placed where it ought to be- on those who consume health care without paying for it.
People who can't or won't pay for their health care drives up the costs because they are subsidized by those of us who have insurance.  In 2014, this situation will begin to reverse.  After the provision for mandatory health insurance goes into effect, more people will be required to pay for their health care. Those who are complaining about this mandate as a "tax" simply don't understand how the flawed system works now.

A recent CNN news poll (link above) reports how Americans don't support the Health Care Reform law, but the flood of negative ads about the badly needed reforms in the bill have never been countered, point by point, with facts. This has been a problem with communications supporting the bill since it was printed, even before it was passed!  But, the worst part is how the avalanche of money dumped on opposing the health care reform would likely pay the penalty fees for millions of people without health insurance. 

Yet, when Americans are asked if they support individual provisions included in the reforms, they overwhelmingly agree:

-Indeed, people want to keep children on their insurance plans until they are 26;
-They agree about protecting insurance for people with pre-existing conditions;
-Yes, they agree with eliminating  lifetime caps for insurance coverage; 
-Voters agree with opposing insurance companies practice of dropping people in the middle of treatment for chronic illnesses like cancer treatment;
-Voters agree with monitoring how much money insurance companies spend of YOUR premiums on your care - if they spend YOUR money for too many executive bonuses, they must provide a refund.

There is no way insurance companies can absorb the risk of the above benefits without the assurance that they will expand their beneficiary enrollments.  Therefore, when everyone has insurance, the providers of  the coverage can spread the risk while minimizing their fiscal exposure.

If only there were enough money to counter the negative advertisements spreading misinformation about the benefits of health care reform in the ACA (Affordable Care Act).

Until people see how these insurance benefits affect them, they appear willing to believe all the negatives without persuing the positives.

But the fact is, Chief Justice John Roberts put the penalty for not having health care into the correct column of being a "tax". He provided an opportunity for the Obama administration to explain how this penalty is really a cost shift back to the people who contributed to the high cost of health care - the uninsured.

Only people who won't buy health insurance will see this penalty.

Chief Justice John Roberts did American voters a huge favor. His ruling will, hopefully, cause voters to focus on how ACA impacts them. Rather than living in the moment of millions of dollars of paid negative advertising, loaded with misinformation about the benefits in the reforms, maybe his ruling will bring attention to how important the reforms are for improving access to affordable health care for more people.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Supreme Court Justices Vote in the Absence of Political Action Committee Millions

Americans certainly have their ups and downs with the US Supreme Court, but at least their landmark decisions are influenced by how each Justice interprets the law.  God help us if the Supreme Court makes a decision based upon negative television ads paid for by political action committees.

Of course, being somehow above the influence of paid political advertising doesn't necessarily equate to good decision making, but at least the Supreme Court is the exempt branch of government not subject to unbridled brainwashing.

Republicans are furious because the Health Care Reform law was found Constitutional by the Chief John Roberts Supreme Court. But these are political emotions without practical application.  When Republicans want to get their own way, they get rich friends to give them money to pay for political advertising to influence public opinion their way.  At least this type of voter education through paid media isn't impacting our US Supreme Court - at least, that's the way I see it.

Regardless of whether or not we agree with any, none or all Supreme Court rulings, we have some confidence in the court's ability to apply the law to their rulings rather than politics.  Although Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas test this hypotheses about law over politics, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's hope they, also, vote based on their interpretation of the law uninfluenced by political action committee advertising.

Representative Cantor, Republican of Virginia, says he's calling for a House of Representative vote to repeal the health care reform law now ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court yesterday.  Well, he's wasting tax payers time  and money.  Besides, Representative Cantor's health insurance for himself and his family, is paid for by the US Government.  What Representative Cantor really wants is to stir up negative public opinion without any factual basis.  In fact, the health reform law is loaded with Republican values.  The law helps real people to access quality, affordable health services AND pay for it with insurance they are required to pay for.  It's about individual responsibility!  Moreover, the law supports the growth of insurance exchanges where people can shop their own coverage!  What's more Republican than giving business to insurance companies?  Representative Cantor and his colleagues don't speak to the uninsured when they go on the national media and preach negative rhetoric against health care reform.

Of course, Representative Cantor will call on rich political action committee money to influence voters to support his wasteful opposition to the health care reform law.  This is already happening.

We know the health care reform law will help people to access health care because it will bring down the cost of health insurance.  The alternative to the law was to regress back to a time when people bartered for health care, because insurance coverage was unaffordable for millions of middle class Americans.

My recommendation to Republicans who can't quite get over one of their own, Chief Justice John Roberts, ruling to support the Constitutionality of the health care reform law, is to read a Civics 101 book.  Our US Supreme Court has remained above the undue influence of paid advertising to provide a Constitutional check and balance on the health care reform law.  In other words, ACA is now law based upon judicial decisions rather than on public opinion.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Health Care Reform : This Supreme Court Defined "Tax" is Already Being Paid By People Who Buy Health Insurance

Kudos to Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to define the penalty for not buying health care insurance as a "tax". Indeed, he's right.  Republicans already pay a big tax on their health insurance benefits when their premiums are calculated to pay for the cost shifting already going on among providers who pass the charges for the uninsured on to private payers.  So, now, the people who DON'T buy health insurance will pay this tax rather than having it shifted to those who already pay.

As for the expansion of Medicaid in the Supreme Court Ruling, this provision has always been a regulatory implementation under the authority of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the same government agency that oversees the reimbursement of Medicare.

In summary, the Constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Act (HCA) has been thankfully upheld!  This mandate, or now a "tax", is essential, because, in the absence of the supported requirement for everyone to buy insurance, the insurers would plead for being unable to afford to provide for coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Already, without taking a breath, enemies of President Obama are blasting the airwaves with anti health care reform negative advertisements. Yet, even the voice over by authority figures are saying they "don't know" what the law will mean in the long run.  What the HCA law means, absolutely, without reservation, is that people will pay for their own health care insurance or risk being penalized or "taxed", while those who already pay will not see costs for the uninsured shifted to their premiums.

HCA Medicaid coverage discussions and arguments will be figured out in the context of the authority CMS has to promulgate rules for reimbursement as published in the Federal Register.  Pundits should take time to interview CMS executives rather than political operatives if they want to get an authoritative opionion about this reform provision.

Regardless of how politicians feel about the Health Care Affordability Act, the Supreme Court has declared it to be Constitutional and millions of Americans will now be required to buy health insurance. What in the world do Republicans have against people buying insurance?

Those who oppose this Supreme Court ruling are the people who already have coverage. News pundits and right wing extremists should speak with the millions who will finally have access to health care denied due to their insurance status, before speaking to repeal and replace.

By the way, "Repeal and Replace" - with what? With Romneycare?


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Citizens United is a Fast and Furious Way to Get Your Name in the News

Congress has a horrible reputation right now, but many elected to serve are making it worse by fixating on dysfunctional politics.  Rather than fixing our economy, many in Congress are fast and furiously bowing to special interests. Congressman Issa of California, for example, worked hard to finally get his name in the newspaper. Who ever heard of him before the Fast and Furious debacle?  

Fast and Furious is rapidly attracting "tangential ideation",  a term mental health professionals use for people with certain mental illnesses. In other words, since many Americans know nothing about the Fast and Furious international incident with Mexico, the Congress can attach its NASCAR type name to nearly any special interest of the day. Some are associating Fast and Furious with second amendment gun rights and even abortion.  Fast and Furious could quickly ignite a buzz phrase for almost anything.

How can this happen?  

Because, Issa and other ego minded in Congress don't need to please the people they're elected to serve anymore. That's the old fashioned way it used to be, but not since the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. This court ruling allows corporations the power to control public officials through unregulated campaign contributions to political action committees (PACs). These PACs spend money to influence public opinion towards preferred candidates.  Ideas won't matter anymore. Rather, Congress will fixate on whatever corporations or special interests want, what's in their own best interest. 

The National Rifle Association and Right to Life Groups contribute to right wing PACs, so second amendment rights and women's access to abortion are now fast and furiously part of the Fast and Furious debate.

Although our US government is supposed to be fixated on improving our economy, finding ways to create jobs for the unemployed and working to get something done in Washington DC, the Congress is now wasting time on a witch hunt about Fast and Furious. They'd rather lynch Attorney General Holder for an incident gone bad, that he wasn't even responsible for, than do something productive to fix our economy.

It's certainly possible Fast and Furious deserves the investigation it's receiving from Congressman Issa's committee, because the scheme resulted in guns winding up in the hands of Mexican cartel terrorists who then murdered an American Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent.  

But, Fast and Furious has no business, whatsoever, wasting America's time associating its tangential ideation with second amendment rights to bear arms or, believe it or not, even abortion (at least one person in Congress wants to attach an anti abortion amendment to a potential Congressional contempt directive against Holder)!

It seems like some in Congress, who seldom see their names in the media, are looking to Fast and Furious as a way to grow their name recognition.

In an inverse correlation, as Congress represents corporate interests over the people served, they loose credibility.  Today, the very mention of  Congress creates instant disdain. 

Is there a Fast and Furious way to reverse this inverse correlation? Perhaps, by reversing the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, the US Congress might be directed to do the work of voters, to focus on the needs of the country, rather than using tangential ideation to get their names in the news.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Will the Supreme Court Vote for Voters, Please? Eliot Cutler and Governor Angus King Call for Voters to Rise Above Supreme Court Citizens United

Eliot Cutler introduces Governor Angus King - Two Independents Calling for Leadership in Politics
In Topsham, Maine June 2012

Sadly, super wealthy contributors to political action committees (PACs) received renewed support by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Citizens United ruling. Money is now influencing politics more so than voters.  

When will the Supreme Court rule in favor of voters?

Two Maine Independent political leaders joined voices against expensive negative campaign advertising paid for by unregulated political action committees, while speaking to supporters in Topsham, ME last Sunday.  

Gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler (I) introduced Governor Angus King (I) to supporters enthusiastic about chances for an Independent to win the 2012 US Senate seat, open since Senator Olympia Snowe announced her retirement.  King is running for that Senate seat.

Cutler and King rallied guests at a June yard party to vote for change in Washington DC. They asked voters to reject polarized government by electing King, an Independent, to fill Maine's open Senate seat.  

But, political change needs money. In other words, candidates, especially Independents, need a lot of money, more so now, since Citizens United has gushed unregulated money into politics like fire hydrants uncapped on a hot summer day.

Although Democratic and Republican parties funnel money to preferred candidates, the Independent candidates, those who can leverage influence in political processes, are hampered by their access to campaign contributions from national PACs.  Before the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, the Independent Candidates could often keep up with fund raising by Democratic and Republican opponents.  But, not now.  Citizens United allows unlimited contributions by anonymous individuals to PACs that use huge donations to saturate voters with paid negative advertising. 

Voters should demand the Citizens United ruling be overturned by new campaign finance laws.  Senator John McCain says this unbridled use of money in politics will poison the process for everyone.

Unfortunately, turning the tide on the tsunami of money pouring into PACs will take a Bow Echo weather system to reverse. 

Cutler and King have been somewhat effective breaking through the fortress of money paid to oppose them in Maine, but that's in the past.  Now, with national focus on King's Senate race, the PAC money unleashed by Citizens United is expected to find it's way into the state's politics, to likely support Republicans.  Batten down the hatches for a rough Senate campaign season!

Senator John McCain created a national outcry for campaign finance reform, but reforms passed with bi-partisan support are now dead. Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA, McCain–Feingold Act, Pub.L. 107-155)

"Senator John McCain, who helped rewrite the nation's campaign finance laws, said ...(the) Supreme Court ruling removing limits from corporate spending on political advertising means that campaign finance reform is dead."

But political leadership can bring hope for campaign reform resurgence. 

Angus King says he's running for US Senate for the very reason Senator Olympia Snowe stated in her retirement message.  "The great challenge is to create a system that gives our elected officials reasons to look past their differences and find common ground if their initial party positions fail to garner sufficient support. In a politically diverse nation, only by finding that common ground can we achieve results for the common good. That is not happening today and, frankly, I do not see it happening in the near future" she said, as reported in the Washington Post.

For whatever reason, ie, political, judicial, Constitutional or something else, the august body of our United States Supreme Court has upheld that money has the same freedom of speech rights as people do.  In other words, in my opinion, this means bribery is now a freedom of speech issue.  

Let's be clear. Political action committees don't shower candidates with unlimited financial support just because they feel like it - this is done to achieve influence over the candidates.  When candidates win as a result, they appoint their financial supporters (who are now anonymous) to key leadership positions. When key leadership positions are filled by party favorites, the bought and paid for candidates will have another constituency beyond the people they are elected to represent.  

Our democracy risks being owned. 

Candidates can become like thoroughbred race horses.  A trifecta winning will be to the political action committee rich enough to influence all three branches of government.

Angus King for Senate 2012 and Eliot Cutler for Maine Governor in 2014, are two true statesmen. They are Independents who can begin the sea turn against partisan politics as usual. But, winning candidates clearly need the mother's milk of politics to pull off victories when the Citizens United ruling allows their opponents to to tip the scales in favor of negative advertising paid for by the richest PACs.

Voters must rise above the Citizens United ruling. We must unite as citizens who oppose unregulated political action committee ownership of our elections.

We need political leaders who will influence the appointment of a Supreme Court that favors democracy run by voters- the responsibility of a US Senator, when a president puts forth a judicial nominee.  

Mainers need to elect Governor Angus King to the US Senate because, by his leadership, he can begin the process of bringing democracy back to the voters.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

My Egyptian Zen Prophesy - Elections and Governing

My February 2011 blog (link above) titled Egyptian Zen, prophesied the political anxiety stirred by the outcome of Egyptian elections held over the past weekend. Obviously, I'm not a reporter of prophesy, but I didn't have to be either one to make my prediction.

In other words, the Egyptian Spring's election may have bought on an unexpected frost.  Rather than electing someone who Westerners might consider to be politically secular, the people picked, instead, a conservative religious leader.

Journalist Richard Engel reports the Conservative Muslim Mohammed Morsi is the new Egyptian president, the first one ever elected by this country where the roots of modern civilization began with the rise the Pharaohs.

"Morsi becomes Egypt’s fifth president, following Mubarak, who was president for nearly 30 years before mass protests across the country forced him to resign in February 2011."

Although Egyptians demonstrated their collective genius by building extraordinary architectural and social systems, they are only now understanding the risks and benefits of living under a popularly elected democracy. As in any democratic process, the governing is more challenging than politics. As I wrote in February 2011, "Egyptian Zen", we'll see if the democratic process really works in a country where benevolent, powerful pharaohs have been the cultural, as well as political leaders. By a margin of about 51.7 percent, the Egyptians seem to have elected their image of the Biblical Moses to lead them into democracy. Whether or not this metaphor works to bring the people out of the dessert and into the light of freedom still remains to be seen. 

Will Mohammed Morsi deliver on his acceptance speech promise to be the President of all the people, including the 48 percent who didn't vote for him?

In Egyptian Zen, the answer is "we'll see".

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Shout Out to Nuns on the Bus!

News media alert! More attention to Nuns on the Bus please! 

While Republicans typically bow to the religious right wing of the party, they're withholding their response to Nuns on the Bus who are traveling behind Governor Romney's campaign stops to advocate in support people living in poverty.

While Congress is entrenched in partisan politics, a dedicated group of women religious are bringing focus to the moral issues of our day.  Unemployment and cuts to poverty programs are leading more middle class people into poverty while the US Congress defeats the anti-women equal pay for women act.  Congress is also cutting food stamps. This not only hurts the poor, but it also impacts on the income of farmers who project their income based upon consumption. Cutting poverty programs shifts costs of caring for the poor to other sectors of society, often more costly than offering basic assistance.

Moreover, the brave religious women are going against the intentions of the Roman Catholic hierarchy who directed them to spend more time supporting church issues. 

"These nuns are on a road trip protesting proposed federal budget cuts and rejecting what the Vatican is saying about them.

They made two previous stops before coming to downtown South Bend to Congressman Joe Donnelly’s office Friday on the fifth day of their tour.

The women are speaking out against proposed cuts in programs for the poor and working families in the federal budget that was passed by the House of Representatives and proposed by Rep. Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican. They also aim to deliver a spirited reply to the Vatican that has accused the nuns of being outspoken on issues of social justice, but silent on other issues the church considers crucial such abortion and gay marriage." (SouthBendTribune)

Representative Paul Ryan is a Roman Catholic, but has not yet met with the Nuns on the Bus to discuss their concerns.  It seems to me, a good Roman Catholic would be respectful of the Nuns on the Bus by listening to and responding to their positions.

This "Shout Out" blog is in support of Nuns on the Bus for their bravery.  Unfortunately, news media have abandoned coverage of news about the growing number of people living in poverty.  Governor Romney even said he isn't concerned about the poor.

It's time to Shout Down right wing tax cutting zealots who, by the grace of God, aren't yet in poverty.  

Let's Shout Out to Nuns on the Bus and even join them when possible!  Even better, shout out to all Americans who join these women in their noble mission to bring moral backbone to national domestic social policy.

But news media should join the Nuns on the Bus, (I believe Bill Moyers is doing just that),  to provide an echo to the shout out in support of their worthy mission.

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Governor Romney and the Giant Sucking Sound

Governor Romney has a hypocrisy problem. "Outsourcing".

US Business man Ross Perot created the image of a giant sucking sound of jobs leaving the country if the North American Trade Agreement was ratified. Governor Romney appears to have turned on the vacuum cleaner after the NAFTA passed, according to a damaging Washington Post article. It's called outsourcing.

"The 'giant sucking sound' was United States Presidential candidate and rich business man Ross Perot's colorful phrase for what he believed would be the negative effects of the (NAFTA), which he opposed."

"During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission." (Washington Post)

Regardless of whether or not NAFTA was inevitable, the political reality reflects on the hypocrisy of Romney's key campaign argument. He wants to bring jobs to Americans - many of them are the ones Bain Capital outsourced away.

Romney doesn't say how he'll bring jobs to the 8 percent of Americans who are unemployed. Now, he must defend why his wealth earned from founding Bain Capital contributed to American unemployment number.

My hypotheses: If elected, Romney will bring jobs back to Americans by breaking the back of the minimum wage laws.

Bain's money making strategy wasn't "rocket science". Just take business out of America, where the cost of employees are expensive, and put the related jobs in cheaper places. If the US unemployment rate is the temperature of the political campaign, then all Romney needs to bring down the fever is to reduce the cost of doing business at home. In other words, cut the cost of hiring people.

American voters must understand how venture capitalists make money. Like Bain Capital, venture investors receive profits from margins made by companies where the costs are slashed to provide a return on investment. The best way to create these quick and efficient profits is to cut the cost of hiring people. To bring these jobs back, the cost of hiring people will have to be reduced - cuts to minimum wage, benefits, health care costs and retirement (Social Security).

We now know Ross Perot was correct when he described the giant sucking sound of jobs leaving the US when NAFTA passed. Bain Capital and other entrepreneurs sucked the profits to their investors.

Governor Romney clearly participated in and benefited from the giant sucking sound. Let's not reward him for the hypocrisy he is trying to sell to American voters by electing him and his rich cronies to control the cost of hard earned middle class benefits.

We need a giant sucking sound to bring outsourced jobs back home. Americans certainly don't want to give me credit for proving my hypotheses.

Let's elect a President who supports our nation's economy by investing in our middle class and requiring the super rich to pay their fair share of taxes.

President Obama has the vision our nation's economy needs to reverse the giant sucking sound.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Access to Broadband - Cambodia is an Example: Like Access to Electricity

Kids swimming in rapids of a waterfall in rural Cambodia 

Maine Voices: Linking rural areas to the Internet is essential to economic growth.
Broadband connection is as necessary as federally funded electrical lines and highways were in their day.
By Angus King  Portland Press Herald

Visiting the developing country of Cambodia, in Siem Riep and Phnom Penh, but also along jungle trails in once land mine infested rural areas, my husband and I were struck by how the country embellished information technology. Broadband was available and nearly everyone carried cell phones. Our guide explained how even the most rural Cambodian communities create electricity co-ops where they purchased a generator and rented out time to people for charging their phones and computers. Many Cambodian communities have no electricity at all, but everyone seems to own and use a cell phone. Our guide said the monthly charges were very reasonable, a utility subsidized by the government, and included international calling service!
Contrast this experience with that of an American high school friend of mine living in a mountain area of North Carolina. She can't participate with our class alumni listserver because of limited broadband availability.

Last evening's Information Technology (IT) Town Hall Meeting at the Oxford Networks in Brunswick Landing, the location of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine, former state governor Angus King and Independent candidate for the US Senate spoke to a full auditorium about the importance of rural broadband access, and other IT related topics. 

Internet followers as well as those in the audience asked questions.

Broadband is like access to electricity was during the 1930's, said King.  "Would you buy a house today, if there were no access to electricity?"  That's the way rural life was for thousands of people during the President Franklin Roosevelt administration. Back then, economic development followed the federal government's investment in developing electricity to rural areas.  Today, access to electricity is taken for granted in rural areas. Our next challenge is to bring broadband access to everyone.  

In other words, in Julie speak - if Cambodia can do it, so can we.

Our Cambodian guide explained how the government invests in supporting access to cell phones and broadband, but look at the return on investment.  Small businesses were cropping up everywhere we went in Cambodia. Everyone we saw was using a cell phone- computers were evident in many stores and in the lobbies of hotels. Cambodia's economy is growing, people are climbing out of the Khmer Rouge oppression of the 1970's, they take great pride in demonstrating their willingness to be progressive.

Maine is a perfect place to demonstrate the value of improving access to increasing broadband availability.  Mainers are well regarded for being self sufficient, hard working and industrious.  Given access to broadband in rural communities, the state's entrepreneurial spirit can be ignited to inspire creative economic envelopment. 

Historically, visionary leaders understood and supported investment in expanding people's ability to access commerce.  President Abraham Lincoln understood the importance of trains and roads.  President Franklin Roosevelt made electricity available to places where engineers were challenged to build the Hoover Dam and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  President Eisenhower understood the strategic urgency of developing our nation's highway system, which is also essential for the transport of food.  

Governor King brought a visionary message about the importance of broadband access to the IT Town Hall Meeting in Brunswick - let's make broadband access available to everyone.  

After investing in broadband, King says, the government can take credit for creating the opportunities and then step aside to let ordinary "people ingenuity" take it to the next level.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Racial McCarthyism: Eric Holder- Attorney General is Surrogate for President Barack Obama

Eric Holder's strictly partisan contempt vote, by Isaa's US House Committee, is Racist-McCarthyism - the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence."Issa" for real? He and Republican swashbuckler colleagues don't "get" how their irresponsible actions are like politically lynching a Black Attorney General without due process.

A rumor inciting Washington DC and interested parties is that Attorney General Eric Holder could, conceivably, be put in the Old Capitol Prison for what the US House of Representatives considers his "contempt" in not producing more information about a scheme with Mexico gone bad called Fast and Furious.  This "prison" flashback image was created from comments made by former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said she could have put Republican adviser Karl Rove in the Old Capitol Prison for being in contempt by withholding information from Congress.  Of course, Karl Rove is a surrogate for all things Republican.  Now, Republican House Speaker Boehner might be in a tit-for-tat power struggle of "one-upsmanship", with Holder being the surrogate for President Obama.

(Boehner's ego saying, "Hey, if Pelosi could put Karl Rover in jail, then I can do better than her....".)

This bru-ha-ha erupted like a conflagration in an old dry forest because Attorney General Holder didn't produce documents Republicans like Issa want to see regarding the Mexican Fast and Furious operation, where guns wound up in the hands of drug lords.

Sadly, people were murdered as a result of the debacle including an American ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms) agent, but Eric Holder was not responsible for this fiasco. What Issa's committee wants is more information about the incident - more than the 7000 (seven thousand) pages they already have.  

In other words, information Issa wants isn't enough to lynch President Obama for this Mexican scheme, so his committee is going after his Attorney General instead. In fact, the entire operation was begun by the Republican Bush administration.

Is...aaah..."Issa" holding Holder in contempt without due process?  Is...aaah...."Issa" recreating Jim Crow if he puts Holder in the Old Capitol Prison, just because he can?  Is...aaah..."Issa" in need of a civil rights history lesson?  Is...aaah...Issa practicing Racial-McCarythism?  The answer is...aaah.... yes, yes, yes yes and yes.

At this point, the conflagration between Holder and Issa are blinding facts of the case. Facts are victim to smoke inhalation fueled by the heat in Washington DC.

If Attorney General Holder needs a reprimand for an incident caused by the former administration, he is likewise entitled to due process.  At this point, not one ATF agent or Republican Bush administration official has been questioned about this incident or the related information.

Republicans have been frothing at the bit to hold President Obama up as a red herring for anything to dust up political muckraking.  Now, they're desperately resorting to using a surrogate to get to the President, using racial-McCarthyism to capture headlines.  This mishandling of a Black Attorney General is another example of how Republicans are practicing regressive politics.  They need to read "Letter From a Birmingham Jail".

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote: "I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms." It's an epitaph Issa should pay attention to, an echo of King's message for people who leap to conclusions. 


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Paul Harris Fellow - What the Rotary Foundation Means to Me

Thank you Amy Chipman and the Rotary Club of Portland!

Heartfelt humility and gratitude are among the emotions I felt on June 1st, when Amy Chipman and the Portland Rotary presented me with a surprise Honorary Paul Harris Fellow.  I'm sincerely appreciative for this surprise recognition, because I've seen some of the thousands of disadvantaged people around the globe who are helped by the Rotary Foundation. It's largely because of the work of Rotary International and the Paul Harris Foundation that I'm honored to be a Rotarian.

My family lived for three years in the Philippines, where I witnessed thousands of Filipino people who carved a living with leftovers of the US military presence.  I saw women buy one carrot in the public market, or just one leaf of cabbage, because they couldn't afford to purchase food by the kilo.  My seamstress saved her salary to buy one used bed mattress from me, but I wouldn't let her pay for it.  

Frankly, a lot of debauchery, also, resulted from the decades of American military presence in the Philippines. Nonetheless, my family's experience was enriched by knowing many hard working people like Norma and Ester, Father Hofstee (an American Benedictine Priest who lived with the lepers in Tala) and the Irish Colomban missionary priests and nuns, to name a few. They all worked, hoped and prayed for a better life for their communities and Filipino families.

Norma was one of our family's industrious maids. She craved a better life for her only son by helping him to study so he could enlist in the US Navy.  At the time we lived in Subic Bay, in the 1970s, a Filipino national could apply to enlist in the US Navy where, if accepted, they typically worked in service rates to support mess halls or in officers quarters.  The type of work didn't matter, because Norma knew a life in the US Navy would offer her son a better chance at opportunity for the future.  But, her son had to pass an English language proficiency exam. So, Norma saved all her extra money for the purpose of paying to install one - just one- electric line to her humble house so her son could benefit from using an electric light bulb while he studied his English!

I saw Colomban missionary nuns care for the children of Filipino prostitutes because their mother's needed the work to keep the family from desperation. When the women eventually decided to give up their lives on the streets, the nuns would return the children to their mothers.  But prostitution was often the only way thousands of women could earn money to help their families.

It doesn't take a large amount of money to help industrious people in developing countries to achieve a better quality of life. What it takes are people or organizations dedicated to reaching out with financial or humanitarian help. People like Dr. Roger and Mrs.Elizabeth Fagan, of Portland, who bring audiology expertise to people in the Dominican Republic.  It takes the help of wonderful philanthropic organizations, like Rotary International.

Many woman can apply for access to micro grants through the Rotary Foundation to help start cottage industries, thereby avoiding the specter of prostitution, where they often wind up sentenced with prison time before leaving this line of degrading work. In other words, women can become productive citizens, rather than a drain on their communities, when given a chance to earn their living in industrious ways.  They can become seamstresses or masters at designing functional handiwork when offered a small loan to start their own businesses.

I know the money given to the Rotary Foundation is used for noble purposes because thousands of Rotarians from all over the world will attest to the value of the projects awarded these funds.

Thank you Rotary Club of Portland for recognizing my enthusiastic support for the humanitarian work of the Rotary Foundation with an honorary Paul Harris Fellow.  I am grateful on behalf of the people who are helped by our Foundation's tremendous dedication and good work.  I encourage everyone to learn more about how the Paul Harris Fellowship works and contribute to this very worthwhile and important organization.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Majority Agenda and Revisionist History

Revisionist- any advocate of doctrines, theories, or practices that depart from established authority or doctrine.

Revisionism is a subtle way of lying.  But, revisionist messages are saturating television political messaging and will get much worse as the 2012 election is imminent.

New Majority Agenda political action committee commercials spend mega-$millions to misinform Americans about President Obama's administration, by revising facts about his administration.

For example, revisionism begins with a story about how adult children are moving back home due to the economy, continuing to the tangential statement about how the US borrows money from China.  Facts:  Children began moving in with their parents long before President Obama was elected, this is not a current phenomenon of the economy. US borrowing money heavily from China has been an issue for well over a decade.  

Although the New Majority Agenda ads wrongly interpret facts, the most egregious statement leads voters to believe President Obama is the only President in history to ever borrow money.This is revisionism in it's pure form- a lie.

By creating a media environment where lies are accepted as truth, some right wing Twitterzins are spreading alarming revisionist history by micro-blogging even more lies. They revise economic theory about taxes, claiming tax cuts will solve the nation's unemployment problem. But, economists write about our nation's unemployment would be helped by more government investment in constructing stronger bridges, improve highways and build high speed railroads- some provisions included in the President's Jobs Bill, rejected by the US Congress. 

Even more remarkable, revisionists are even re-creating facts about the assassination of evil terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden and how President Obama executed the order. Two direct quotes from my Twitter feed:  From Dan Ames (@Dan1Ames)  "Anybody in his position would have made the same choice."   From James (@jimmy10campbell) "I'm pretty sure anyone would have done that move if they were president."

Revisionism so close to the facts of history is unusual while most Americans still recall the real facts.  Truth, by all accounts, supports how President Obama made the risky decision to kill Bin Laden in spite of skepticism from his national security team.  It's simply not true that "anyone" would have overridden Pakistan's sovereignty by ordering US Navy Seals to kill the terrorist.  It involved the invasion of a rather unreliable ally!  

Revisionism unchecked becomes like a broken water pipe.  Eventually, the flood of lies damages everything in its path.  

New Majority Agenda spreads revisionism using money the group would never consider giving to the poor. One way to fix this group is to cut out the root cause - ie, the anonymity of the donors.   

Lies are blinded by the light of truth. Disclosing the names of the people who perpetrate the New Majority Agenda lies can put light on the perpetrators of revisionism. Disclosure can prevent the spreading of revisionism before it morphs into even more lies.  Yet, the Citizens United ruling by the US Supreme Court protects the revisionist donors from defending their media mis-information messaging.

Tragically, there simply isn't enough money left over from responsible donors to counter the flood of New Majority Agenda revisionist lies.  It's up to voters to realize the intentions of New Majority Agenda by reading the truth.  

New Majority Agenda's media messages are negative propaganda. Voters should be outraged by the Supreme Court's interpretation of our Constitutional freedom of speech rights allowing such lies to go unchecked.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Romney's Enormous Bus- Would a School Bus Do the Job?

Governor Romney sat stiffly in front of what seemed a split screen during Sunday's Father's Day interview with news journalist Bob Schieffer, one of the few he's given outside of conservative Fox News.

Propped in front of a farm field with cows grazing in the background, Romney looked uncomfortable. TV cameras panned his enormous campaign bus, boldly evident to his left (visual right), the size of which was about 50-plus times larger than the peaceful cows. A farm field seems outside of Romney's elite comfort zones in the board rooms of corporate America. Romney didn't promise to create farm jobs, or did he?

These contrasting visuals were optical distractions to help avoid Bob Schieffer's question about how Romney would handle President Obama's directive to prevent deportation of immigrant children. Perhaps, distraction was the intention. Although Romney wasted Schieffer's and the viewers time with his babbling responses, he was able to make a non-verbal stutter about how the President's immigration directive was a political rather than moral decision. As the enormous campaign bus occupied a larger than life space on the cow field, it brought images to mind of how Republicans would prefer to pile all illegal immigrants on buses of similar size to send them back across the US border, without regard for their personal circumstances.

Romney's enormous bus is just one in a fleet of about 3 or 4, each on baptized with a Presidential name. They're road hogs, expensive to buy and costly to drive. I've no idea what combination fuel the buses need, but it's got to leave a significant environmental footprint. These buses are enormous billboards and political ego toys.

Would it make more sense for Governor Romney to drive the back roads of America in a revamped school bus or fire truck? I'm suggesting the Obama campaign take a look at other campaign bus options and decide on something more in keeping with the economic messaging he wants to tell to America during his summer travels. The money it takes the Romney campaign to drive their enormous buses would likely support the Head Start programs many Republicans want to cut out of our Federal Budget. Public schools could teach hundreds of children with the money spent on the exaggerated exuberance of those buses.

Although Romney would like to symbolically drive his enormous bus through President Obama's administration, he's wasting an extraordinary amount of money to create this boastful imagery.

Of course, we haven't seen the size of what President Obama might travel in when he's campaigning without the support of Air Force One, but it surely can't be a bigger bus than the enormous vehicle Romney is using. I even suspect the Romney campaign purchased all the dinosaur size models available, because they have money to spare.

When Romney's expensive entourage drives into a farm field near you, please ask the candidate if a school bus would have been a better choice? Thanks!

Meanwhile, buses and immigration notwithstanding, Governor Romney has yet to articulate why he wants to be President, while his campaign is energized by ideology rather than ideas.

Romney's enormous buses are occupying space, consuming television imagery and distracting voters from understanding the candidate. I guess the campaign is getting value for their extraordinary travel expenses.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Unelected Power - Godfathers Norquist and Koch Brothers

Some Americans were once upset when President Bill Clinton asked his wife Hilary to lead a campaign in support of badly needed health care reform, because she didn't hold an elected office. 

Constitution constructionists even threw around the founding fathers' concept of the balance of power.  How could the office of First Lady of the US be covered in the process of Constitutional checks and balances?  

But, today, filthy rich people, who don't want to pay taxes, are exerting undue influence over politicians, and the electorate without incurring outrage about the unconstitutionality of what they're up to.

Where's the outrage about unelected Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers, who wield unknown amounts of political power with money? They're examples of unelected rich people who control our country, like political Godfathers over America's elected officials. 

Norquist gives philanthropy a bad name. His money influences right wing politics, especially, in what should be illegal campaigns, to have elected officials in Congress sign pledges against raising taxes.  But, it's the job of Congress to evaluate the nation's revenues versus our expenses.  Norquist is on a quest to control Congress. His unelected power is nothing more than bribes, used to control legislation in his own best interest. In other words, since he's rich, he wants to be sure his income isn't taxed, so he can stay that way, along with his friends.

Who suffers when Congress is blackmailed by Norquist?  It's the middle class who suffers, because, rather than raise taxes on the rich, the austerity falls on program cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid assistance to poor, and disabled people, and their children, food stamps and Veterans benefits.
Norquist doesn't care about any of these programs, because he doesn't need them.

How can one unelected person have so much power over how Congress votes?  

Koch brothers Charles and David are billionaires who own the second largest privately owned business in the US.

Under the smokescreen protection of their considerable contributions to philanthropy, they're like clandestine right wing puppeteers who throw their loose money away on Political Action Committee (PAC) campaigns to lie to American voters, just because they can.  They're unelected, of course.  Moreover, few people even know or understand how these two get away with what they're doing. They keep a nefarious low profile, while using their rights as American citizens to free speech to support their own political hobbies. They're empowered to use their money for undue political influence because the US Supreme Court handed them a Constitutional freedom to lie, in the Citizens United ruling.

How can these two unelected brothers have so much unchecked power to influence American voters?

Where is the check and balance for people with money, who exert undue influence over our democratic institutions?  Well, it's called the voter, or it's supposed to be us.  

Unfortunately, less people read objective media information while we're deluged with brainwashing TV ads paid for by unbridled political action committees, where the donors are anonymous. A prime example of their power is in the decadent amounts of money sent to Wisconsin Governor Walker in his campaign to keep his office, against opposition about how he divided the state over labor issues.  If Governor Walker was so right in how he managed Wisconsin, why did he need $30 (some say $60) million to get his message out?

Negative PAC ads paid for by rich people like the Koch Brothers are expensive relentless campaigns of lies. Voters, the checks for political corruption, are blindsided by advertising manipulation from making informed choices needed to contain undue influence by rich political hobbyists. 

Americans need to vote the disciples of rich political Godfathers out of office.

When Republicans hold up the US Constitution as being inspired by God, they should also push back on the corruptible power of money in politics. Politicians should demonstrate support for the system of checks and balances instituted by the founding fathers in their inspired governing document, because there's no Eliot Ness of politics around today, brave enough to take on political Godfathers.

But, as voters, we can elect our leaders instead of allowing the rich to buy undue political influence over who governs the middle class.  

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Those Who Stayed - We Children of Immigrants

A side bar in The Week June 22, 2012:  
"Among the companies listed on the Fortune 500 in 2010, 204 werer founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Time"  (p. 34 The Week)

It's impossible to understand why Republicans are opposed to immigrants achieving legal status. It's a moral issue, but their reflex action is to create a misplaced political bru-ha-ha about how to care for people who simply want access to the American Dream for their children, and they're willing to work to achieve it. 

All who share our DNA with immigrant ancestors have a moral obligation to reach out and help other immigrants. Like our own ancestors, immigrants would rather endure the experience of discrimination and deportation in the US than return to their various countries of origin, where opportunities are mired in conflict and corruption.  Children of immigrants were brought to America by parents who took huge risks to get them here.  More to the point, we're all children of immigrants.  Thankfully, all of us stayed here.  

When Governor Romney can't articulate a shared compassionate response with President Obama, who announced his administration's policy supporting children of immigrants remaining in the US, it's another indication of how disconnected the entire Republican party is from caring about real people - middle class people.  

Let's not forget how candidate Romney said he didn't care about the very poor, and now it shows.

As for the President's policy to support children of immigrants staying in the US as being a political move, well, of course there's politics involved, but, who cares?  

Of course, Republicans lash out about the politics of the issue, while the truth is, supporting and caring for immigrants and their children exposes their hypocritical skin to morality.

As for Arizona's Governor Brewer's position about competition for jobs among legal and illegal immigrants, due to the compassionate nature of the President's order, there's simply no data to substantiate such claims.

Rather, the real data supporting the President's immigration policy are those of us who stayed. We children of immigrants have created Fortune 500 companies and grown America's economy. 

We children of immigrants thank President Obama for overriding the impotent US Congress by doing something to support others who are following in our footsteps.


Friday, June 15, 2012

New Majority Agenda Like a Long and Twisted Road

Blog readers keep asking one question about the New Majority Agenda. "Who are they?"

An unsophisticated website reveals nothing about the "who" in this negative campaign, conceptualized to create disdain about President Obama.  Rather, their website is a matrix where bold, unsubstantiated, untrue  long and twisted road of lies are printed in various fonts.

New Majority Agenda isn't required to reveal who are driving the ads.

Negative New Majority Agenda TV ads are psychologically driving average people into a state of voter cynicism.  Presumably, those who get on board with the ads become angry enough to vote with Republicans in the Presidential 2012 election.  Those who see the lies are turned off by the messaging.

But, where's the outrage about the lies?  It's like people are frozen in the headlights when New Majority Agenda lies are broadcast.  American could drag these ads off of television with enough outrage.

A media blitz by New Majority Agenda's millions in advertising dollars, paves a long and twisted road of lies toward the November election.  These ads don't educate voters. Instead, they're psychologically created to turn off enthusiasm for President Obama, dragging viewers through a funneled dust bowl of commercials, toward one densely negative wrong fork in the road, a conclusion that all economic woes in the US are President Obama's fault. Not true.

Cowards like the conservatively filthy rich Koch Brothers should come out from hiding behind their long and twisted road of lies, presuming they're the "who" behind the ads.  Who else can waste this kind of money?

Even egotist tax hawk Grover Norquist faces the public on interview shows to explain his extreme positions against taxation.  Will the filthy rich Koch Brothers face President  Obama with their lies?

People who lie for their living, like the Koch Brothers, won't state their opinions to President Obama's face.

Instead, they're throwing decadent sums of money into a blame campaign, telling the nation's TV viewers that the national debt is about President Obama.  Nothing is said about how deficit spending began with unfunded wars and a Medicare D "mandate" forced upon us by President Bush's administration.  These facts aren't stops along the long and twisted road of lies perpetrated by the New Majority Agenda.

It's discouraging for rational thinkers to realize how futile it's become to present facts to the average American voter when they are brainwashed by negativity.  Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost tax money - Medicare D might be a good benefit, but it's an unfunded drain on the program, plus, a cash cow for pharmaceutical companies.

New Majority Agenda negative messages will crash and burn in the face of truth, but the expensive ads will undoubtedly keep driving us all down a long and twisted road of extreme misinformation, toward November.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Defense Spending is Back Door Economic Stimulus (comment from Joe in Bangor at end of this blog*)

Defense spending has been declining, until it started accelerating out of control under President Bush 43:
  • $453 billion – the average annual defense budget for the nine years before Clinton took office.
  • $377 billion – the average annual defense budget during Clinton’s time in office, a 16.7% decrease.
  • $496 billion – the average annual defense budget during Bush’s time in office, a whopping 31% increase not even including the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are largely funded through supplementals not included in the official defense budget.
When Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps or Medicare are negatively  labeled entitlements, the connotation given to general assistance indicate these expenses aren't good for the economy.  

But, through twisted communications, defense spending subtly passes under the cliche "radar". Defense spending is often allocated, for political purposes, as economic stimulus expenses in strategic Congressional districts or where key Senate votes are located.

Defense contracts were declining during the Clinton Administration, as the blogger link above documents.  Now, Republicans want to grow defense spending, because extending lucrative contracts to rich corporations will bring wealth to business colleagues. Paying for defense expenses seems justified for Republican hawks, while cutting programs that help the middle class are expendable.  This makes no economic sense.

Social Security and Medicare are supposed to be paid for by the beneficiaries during their working years.  Moreover, Medicare should be sustainable through adjusted premium payments by beneficiaries and oversight of utilization.

Medicaid is a humanitarian program for people who experience serious and persistent mental illness or developmental disabilities.  

Food stamps provide many individuals and families with nutritional security as well as provides farmers with a reliable revenue stream.  

Social Security keeps senior citizens out of poverty.  Medicare provides health insurance for people over 65 years old and, by extension, supports jobs for health care workers who care for the elderly.

Defense spending creates generous margins for private contractors who build enormous profits from  manufacturing equipment and replacement parts for extremely expensive military equipment.

In other words, defense spending is a back door economic stimulus.  Call if what it is.

Rather than grow the defense budget, a better use of these expenditures would be investment in America's highways, bridges, high speed rail and more fuel efficient automobiles.  

Americans are being misled by Republicans who want to slash spending for middle class, elderly and poverty programs while calling for more defense spending which will support growth margins for big corporations.

*Comment from Joe in Bangor:This is one of the very best articles you have ever written...actually when you count all the "defense budget items"  it is over a TRILLION A YEAR ..FAR EXCEEDING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE SEPARATELY... JUST GOOGLE IT ...




Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What it Takes to Make a Modern Republican- What GOP Stands For

Republicans are supposed to be the "Grand Old Party", but the GOP acronym has evolved into a new meaning. 

Rather than Grand, the party is grumpy. Although Old, it's infiltrated with obstructionists.  Rather than a political party, recent obstructionist tactics, against improving our nation's economy, are partisan - even hyperpartisan.

At least former Republican Governor Jeb Bush has an awareness about the futility of his party's sharp turn to grumpy right wing politics.  He instinctively knows that today's GOP is more intent on winning ideological victories than governing. This grumpiness will lead to more of the same in the future, regardless of what political party is in control.  Governing will be more about 'tit-for-tat' than leadership.

Journalist Sushannah Walshe reported on the GOP hyperpartisanship comments by former Republican Governor Jeb Bush, son of President George Bush 41, and brother of President George Bush 43, made in New York City, for ABC News.

"On Monday, Bush said that both Ronald Reagan and his father, George H.W. Bush, would have a hard time getting nominated by the more conservative voters in today’s Republican Party. 'Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad, they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party, and I don’t, as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,' Bush said, giving the comments at Bloomberg LP headquarters in New York City."

Like an old story teller's lead sentence, I, too, remember a time when Democrats and Republicans learned how to get along.  

Recent ideological entrenchment is not demonstrating leadership. 
If the Grand Old Party wants to lead our great old nation, they must be less grumpy (personality implants needed for McConnell, Ryan, Walker, Bachmann and Cantor). They must lead rather than obstruct, and drop the partisan political entrenchment bullying, just because they can.

President Obama's political strategists should write up a list of the obstructionist tactics currently in place to confuse and block the administration's current jobs bill.  

Pictures and documentation of roads and bridges that can be repaired if Congress authorized highway safety monies, should be shown to the public- just as often as the negative New Majority Agenda runs it's brainwashing TV messages.

Do you suppose GOP legislators would pass a highway construction bill if President Obama wasn't president?  You bet. 

Rather than support good public policy that's good for our nation and the economy, the grumpy obstructionist partisans are sitting on their hands, labeling the fixing of roads and bridges is "big government".

Rather than praise government money needed to support public employees like police, firefighters, emergency services personnel and teachers, the Republicans preach about ways to fire them. 

Would GOP leaders out source public sector jobs to developing countries like the Philippines, if doing so found cheaper labor to fill the positions? You bet.

Jeb Bush said, since his  dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time, "...they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support, adding that Reagan would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”

Regardless of past political ideologies,  Americans wouldn't necessarily characterize either President Reagan or President Bush as grumpy, obstructionists or partisan leaders.  As retiring Republican Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine said recently, "there's a time for campaigning and a time for governing....". These leaders knew, or learned, how to govern.

Hopefully, voting Americans will figure out how grumpy, obstructionist partisan Republicans have stifled progressive public policy by voting in lock step against President Obama, rather than leading by consensus and compromise.

Republicans need a new leader to change the dynamics of the grumpy obstruction partisans back to the future of being a Grand Old Party again.  

Hmmmm. Is that leader Jeb Bush?