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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Empty Chair

Clint Eastwood will always be my hero, but his performance last night reminded me of a quote from Louis Kronenberger "Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week." Clint Eastwood got in his outrage last night but the anger on Ann Romney's face this morning on CBS said that they were not happy campers. Although the performance was pretty bad, it would not have been given a prime time critique if they would have given him a 5:30 P.M. slot. It is my understanding that the non network portion of the campaign will get about 10 million viewers, but it doubles and triples that when the three major networks come on at 9:00 P.M.. Clint Eastwood came on at 9:03 PM, and his dribble went on for 12 minutes... The Romney camp wishes that they would have use that time to air the videos showing a lighter side of Mitt Romney and his family. That's what campaigns do. I would hate to be the person who booked and placed Clint Eastwood at that time slot. I would bet that even the most diehard Republicans is talking about Clint Eastwood's performance last night. Some pundits were saying that Clint Eastwood denigrated the office of the presidency, but I wouldn't go that far. It’s a campaign; that’s what they are all about.

The lead-up to the Romney's speech was pretty boring for me, but I kept watching because I wanted to hear Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and of course Mitt Romney.

I felt Jed Bush had to chide President Obama for the constant attacks on his brother; it was a family honor thing. He didn't seem too comfortable doing it, but his eyes lit up when he started talking about education. His emphasis was on school vouchers, but that leaves out funding for those who choose to stay in public schools. It was a good speech, and it gives me hope that we can keep the doors open for discussion. Jeb only mentioned the Republican governors who have taken up the cause of education but that's OK because it was a Republican convention.

Marco Rubio was just another line of 2016 presidential hopefuls who spent most of his time at the podium talking about his accomplishments. He's is a good speaker, but he didn't use much of his persuasive power to convince the independents on why they should vote for Mitt Romney.

The Romney said that the candidate had been bothered with cold symptoms earlier in the week, but he felt fine last night. I thought that he looked older because he didn't show his usual campaign stump demeanor. I imagine nervousness had a lot to do with it because he was about to give the speech of his political life.

The Romney campaign gave Mitt an "A" realizing that the speech won't go into history as being a good one, but it's as good as the candidate gets. Political speeches are not his forte. He's at his best at a debate forum where he can recite memorized details about a debate subject.

As an Obama supporter I wanted more details on how he would govern as the chief executive. He mentioned divisiveness and wasteful spending but he put the blame solely on the president and his party. I'm glad that he mentioned that jobs were a priority and said that his administration would create 12 million jobs. He got that 12 million job number from a CBO estimate of 250,000 jobs a month regardless of who’s president when the economy finally kicks. As a liberal, I was offended that he would mock the president for being concerned about climate change. If elected this will be a major concern for Mitt Romney, and I would hope that he doesn't ignore it for political reasons. We set a record high in Victoria yesterday, and that's commonplace all over this nation. As president Romney will continue and expand "Drill baby drill" which will not help our future energy needs but it does satisfy big oil and that's what funding his campaign.

Towards the end Mitt Romney did deliver a militaristic speech but did not utter word about the 87,000 troop we have in Afghanistan. He delivered lines that would make a neo conservative gleam with pride, and as he insisted on more intervention in Iran and Syria. I don't know where he gets this obsession of standing up to the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Why would anyone be interested in starting another Cold War? The most important endorsement on foreign affairs is the one from Colin Powell, and he's on the record of saying that he feels many of Romney's advisors are "quite far to the right." "And sometimes they might be in a position to make judgments or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second thought. For example, when Gov. Romney not too long ago said the Russian federation is our number one geostrategic threat. C’mon, Mitt…think! That isn’t the case. And I don’t know whether Mitt really feels that or…It’s been catching a lot of heck from regular GOP foreign affairs community. We were kind of taken aback by it. Look at the world. There is no pure competitor to the United States of America. All of the problems we talk about – Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, you name them all – they come to about 700 or 800 million people in a world of 7 billion. What are the rest of them doing? They’re increasing their economies; they’re building wealth; they’re educating their kids; they’re building their infrastructure. That’s what we need to be doing."...I think that.President Obama will once again get that coveted endorsement.

Whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and the Republicans helped themselves with this convention is subjective but it's just one third of the pie. Mitt Romney will get a do over in the debates and there is still the upcoming economic data coming up. I think that they need to modify the old Ronald Reagan line" Are you better off than you were four years ago? “Let’s see, four years ago we were in the worst financial crisis since the 1929 Depression and I personally lost $12,000 value in my portfolio. I'm certainly doing better but I'm not going to pretend that I don't know the context of what Mitt Romney was talking about.

As for context, last night Clint Eastwood said "do something to yourself" and everyone who heard or will hear it knows the meaning and intent; it’s the same for the "Pray for Obama” sign.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tonight it’s Mitt’s Turn

Let me start by saying once again. Republicans are brilliant campaigners, but they can't govern. Representative Paul Ryan gave a brilliant “red meat" speech in a soft-spoken tone. Paul Ryan was speaking for the audience but also to the 6% who are undecided. The informed voters already know the facts, so Mr. Ryan knew he had ample opportunity to sway the unsure, who usually don't fact check. Paul Ryan put the Obama campaign on defense knowing that they now have paint Ryan as a pathological liar. Independents don't like dirty campaigns, and Ryan knows it. It's like that football player who retaliates with a punch of his own and then gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Democrats still think that having the facts on their side will matter, but they still haven't found an antidote for politicians who lie and when confronted will double down on that lie. For example, last night Ryan implied that Obama shut down a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. He and the residents of Janesville know that the plant was closed down in December of 2008 before Obama took office. Oh he told a tearjerker that was based upon a campaign promise by Obama when he visited Janesville in 2008. The Bush administration closed down the working portion of the plant in December of 2008. President Obama inherited an economy that was losing 750,000 jobs a month; I guess Mr. Ryan could indict the president for several campaign promises. He placed the blame of our credit rating being downgraded without saying it was the house Republicans who refused to negotiate to pass the debt ceiling. The two biggest whoppers were facts of omission when he said the president walked away from Simpson -Bowles without saying that he did the identical thing. The other was implying once again that the president raided Medicare without mentioning his own budget where he takes the equivalent amount. All in all, Ryan did what he had to do, and he did a brilliant job by putting the Obama campaign on notice. He's the first-generation Xer in the Republican Party to run for the office of the vice president. He's the future leader of the Republican Party and last night, he proved it.

I have never forgiven Condoleezza Rice for the propaganda she put out in the lead-up to the Iraq war, but I have to admit she gave a great speech last night. She had the house eating out of her hands. I only wish she would have denounced voter suppression, but that may have put a damper on her speech that was tailored made for the crowd.

I saw an up-and-coming star in Republican Party in New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who knows how to use the words to excite the crowd. Her biggest line, I thought was when she told the story of her working for her parent's security firm. She said at 18, she guarded the door of the local Catholic bingo night ,sporting a .357. Magnum; naturally, that brought the house down.

Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC summed it pretty good by saying that the GOP helped their cause last night. He said the crowd went home happy and excited, and they won't pay any attention this morning, to that fact check portion of their daily newspapers. The independents are being cornered at the water cooler this morning, by Democrats and Republicans with their version of Ryan's speech.

 I was waiting for Mike Huckabee to stand up for Todd Akin remarks and the GOP piling on but evidently he knows where his  bread is buttered.

I respect John McCain for his service and how he conducted his 2008 campaign but is there a war this man doesn't support? If left up to him we would have troops in 5 Arab nations and not in his words "leading from behind." He needs a warm glass of milk and some cookies and just chill.

Tonight ,Mitt Romney will have to make the speech of his life and like many; I can't imagine him surpassing the excitement the crowd showed for Condoleezza Rice and Paul Ryan last night. I guess the excitement will come as the Republicans accept him as their leader in their fight to supplant President Barack Obama.

Last night my wife had this to say when she heard the excitement of the convention crowd “OH MY GOSH." This is her first rodeo, I told her that we hadn't even come up to bat; a 3-0 lead in the first inning is nothing when you have the two best orators in Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the world of politics has ever known and Joe Biden can hold his own.

 I've been critical of our newspaper's online forum lately but the recent blog by Pastor AT Coffee brought new life to the forum. Hopefully, this will be the trend for the future. The author refused to engage in the usual ad hominem attacks, so the opponents had to concentrate on the subject he wrote about.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Big Pep Rally

Bruce Plante Editorial Cartoon

The political conventions of today are no longer exciting unless it's your party that's having the gala. All the speeches are now vetted by the presumptive nominee's people and fed into a teleprompter. There's not a chance that we will hear anything that will resemble Pat Buchanan's "1992 Culture War” speech but there are elements in the GOP who would still stand up and cheer that type of speech.

I don't know if last night's speeches were choreographed or negotiated because it seemed to me that the governors were touting their own success, bashing Obama, and barely mentioning Mitt Romney.
Ann Romney gave a good speech in support of her husband, although it's hard to imagine that as a young couple, they ate off an ironing board that was supported by two saw horses. It's well known that Mitt Romney sold some stock to get by, but it's their story and they're sticking to it. Ann Romney was there to humanize Mitt Romney, and she did as well as a wife could do. Ann gave a wink and a nod to women voters assuring them that Mitt Romney is on their side. She emphasized love for one another.

Chris Christie followed Ann Romney as the keynote speaker for the night. I thought that he contradicted Ann Romney emphasis on love by saying, "We need politicians to care more about doing something and less about being something." "Tonight, we choose respect over love." As usual, his words played to the base by blaming the unions and everything Democrat as the reason for our doldrums. Christie's speech didn't have the usual pizzazz because he was obviously using a teleprompter. He's a much better speaker when he's spontaneous. Rachel Maddow said he went into 1,800 words of his 2,600 word speech before he mentioned Mitt Romney. Fox New's Chris Wallacxe was not impressed saying " I have to say, personally, I thought it was one of the most off-key keynote speeches I ever heard." He noted that Christie said the word "I" 37 times, "Romney" seven times, and "jobs" one time.His speech sounded more like an audition for a 2016 presidential run. I was surprised that Christi and Ann Romney praised the most significant pieces of legislation ever produced by the federal government, the G.I. Bill because their dads made good use of it. Thank FDR for that.

I don't know why the so-called liberal media bothers to interview the politicians who are attending the convention. It'll be the same way when the Democrats have their convention next week. When the media asks a Republican about their platform or the views of Todd Akin, they all say," the platform is there just for show, and only the liberal media is worrying about Todd Akin." Even Todd Akin is convinced that the liberal media conspired to get him. It doesn't matter to him that every GOP leader and talk show host from conservative media wanted him to get out.

I was surprised that MSNBC, Fox, and CNN did not cover Ted Cruz's speech live. I saw the speech this morning and it convinced me that he's a legitimate Tea Party candidate. His speech was more about liberty than anything else.

I can remember the days when we found something else to do when political conventions were being televised on all three networks. A pundit said that he wouldn't be surprised if the televised portion will be reduced to the final day.

It’s interesting that Afghanistan was missing from the speeches. It was day one, perhaps they are leaving that for Mitt Romney.

Fact checkers sites are not needed anymore because campaigns no longer care if you call them out for lying. The campaigns are results oriented. We only have to look at our local letters and comments on our online forum to see that people are taking the campaign ads as fact and they repeat them verbatim.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Totally Recharged

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Now that I'm getting older,it takes a lot to prepare for the two and three seminars I attend every year. I try to go to the Corpus Christi seminars because it's so close and the traffic's not as bad. This year seminar was held at Delmar College which was an area I was not familiar with, so my wife and I made a trip Saturday to scout the area to familiarize myself with the surroundings because I hate last minute surprises. In the old days, it was, take it as it comes and deal with it; I'm much more calculated now.

At my age, 4:30 in the morning is much more of a fog that it was and 20 years ago. I knew that I had to be on a road no later than 5:30 A.M. to attend an 8:00 A.M. seminar. My clothes were laid out the night before, the cooler was next to the fridge, so I wouldn't forget to pack drinks, my attaché case was in my car (tank full), and I wrote a note attached to the front door "Take meds." I put my seldom used iPhone headset in my ear, just in case I received a call and then it was "Corpus Christi here I come." I didn't allow for the first day of school, so that took an extra 10 minutes or so to get to my destination. As usual, GPS took me right to the front door.

I don't know about other retirees but legion357 nailed it several months ago when he told me that I missed the back and forth interaction. That's so true because even though the seminar was interesting, the new people I met, couldn't wait until the break, so we could continue our political discussions. It all started innocently because I was just sitting there prior to the start of the class, reading my USAToday,when someone made a comment which led others to do the same. We met at the first break and continued after each break and during lunch. I really enjoyed a conversation I had with a moderate Republican. It was an enlightening experience. He told me that he was going to vote for Mitt Romney, not because he likes him, but because he thinks, he will get a handle on the spending. He also told me something I found interesting; he said, “no one will believe that Democrats will hurt Medicare recipients, no more than people will believe that Republicans want more gun control." Those things are etched in stone.

It was a perfect setting for a civil discussion because we were going to be there for eight hours, so we had to be on our best behavior. My new liberal friends from Corpus Christi think that Victoria Democrats are too passive, thus allowing Republicans to take over. I've tried to explain that we have an older conservative population, but that didn't work with my new friends because they were to the left of me; if you can imagine that...:-)

I never opened my iPad, got back to my newspaper or my iPhone after the instructor told us to turn it off. At no time did I feel the need to check my email messages or my blog, and I just made one phone call to my wife letting he know that everything was all right.

After being made aware of that Ron Paul was speaking on CSPAN Sunday night, I immediately started watching his last political speech. It was sad in a way because it reminded me Willie Mays in his last days of playing major league baseball. Ron Paul sounded bitter, and he had a reason since he was shunned by Mitt Romney. He could have had a speaking engagement, but he didn't agree with the conditions. His speech would have had to be vetted and approved by the Romney campaign, and he would have had to include a full Romney endorsement. Ron Paul could not agree with it so his speech turned out to be one of liberty to drink raw milk, etc. The Ron Paul supporters and delegates have been treated as second-class citizens and some were kept away from the national convention.

It's good to be back even though I wasn't far away. Has it been your experience that when you mention Victoria, the one you were talking to will respond with" I have a relative or a friend who lives there, lived there, or I have been there?" I've only recalled a couple of times where I had to tell someone that Victoria was about 115 miles from Houston, but they were not from Texas.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why Attack the Poor?

I shouldn't be surprised because I've seen and read about the ignorance of attacking the indigent in these precarious times. During the 1929 Great Depression, the poverty-stricken farmers were the scapegoats instead of the big banks who had a great role in bringing down our financial system. I wouldn't mind it so much if the claims of millions of able-bodied men too lazy to go to work were true and backed by documented facts. The information I get by reading our local paper and our online forum is equivalent to neighborhood gossip. A couple of back -to- back letters indicate that hard-working Republicans are supporting democratic leaning ingrates with their tax dollars. There's even one neighborhood Jezebel, who has six kids and is clamoring for more just to receive more government money. How many times have I heard stories like that before?

The truth is Democrats aren't as anxious as their Republican counterparts to make drastic cuts on entitlements and social programs. Those programs are in need of reform and reasonable cuts, but it shouldn't be at the expense of giving tax cuts to the wealthy. That doesn't make economic or moral sense. I do know that we should heed to the warnings of the Congressional Budget Office about the fiscal cliff that we are approaching. We will go back into a recession if we insist on the $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to hit in January. Those are the issues we should be concentrating on instead of constantly hammering the poor.

There certainly is some waste in the SNAP (food stamps) program, which comes out to $176 million but that's just 0.0444% of the $400 billion total waste of government dollars. We are a wasteful nation; we throw away 40% of our food supply, which amounts to $165 billion every year. That's the reason I can never understand why some people are totally against child nutrition programs and free school lunches. Do we want to punish the children, so we can send a lesson to possible irresponsible adults? I would rather error on the side of compassion, especially after seeing what we throw away.

Our country was hemorrhaging jobs at the rate of 500,000 to 750,000 a month before President Obama ever took office, so why is it surprising that the costs of food stamps went from $17 billion to $76 billion during the recession? Are we supposed to believe that John McCain would have kept the food stamps cost at $17 billion during the recession? 46 million Americans are on the SNAP program and 87% of those are seniors, single moms and children, so that leaves about 6 million of our fellow Americans vulnerable to being called lazy able-bodied people living off the government dole. Those people have to be careful because they're being scrutinized because their neighbors are probably reading their mail to come up with their assumptions. That's funny because a government check is a government check; there are no known ways of how to tell if they are SSI checks, Social Security or a tax refund. I wonder if the busybodies know the difference between their primitive mythology and actual facts. I will admit that I don't have any substantial facts to back up my assumption that people would rather work for a living at a decent wage then depend on something that's neither permanent nor guaranteed.

I've been told many times that it's the role of the church's and individuals to give a helping hand to the poor, not the government. That's good in theory; in fact ideal but a lot  of poor children would starve waiting on that to happen, and statistics bear that out. A 2011 IRS report reveled that “In 2008, the IRS says, Americans wrote off $172.9-billion in charitable contributions, a 10.6-percent drop from 2007. Its estimates for 2009, released this month, project a 14-percent drop, to $148.6-billion."

I won't pretend that this blog will generate a good discussion about public policy, the role of government, or the safety net because people are locked in their own beliefs. It doesn't really matter whether it's 1929 or 2012. My opponents on this subject will call me a statist because I'm not in lockstep with their beliefs. I believe that government definitely has a role as a policeman in some cases, but frequently it's mostly about being the equalizer. I love the idea of entrepreneurs building their business from the ground up, but I don't look down at them if they take advantage of a government grant or a preferable loan rate for start-ups. I don't believe that we will get out of our economic doldrums without the help of government because the free market corporations are not stepping up. I saw a group of Romney supporters at one of his political events wearing tee shirts, with “I built this business" across the front. Do those people suffer from an inferiority complex that they need to be reminded of their accomplishments every day? If you're really that great you don't have to toot your own horn; others will gladly do it.

This blog will take the place of my occasional “Saturday Rant" blog because I'll be out of town tomorrow...I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why is health care so expensive?

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My monthly Reader's Digest came in yesterday, and as I was thumbing through it, I came across an article titled" Why Hospital Bill Costs What it Costs" by Kimberly Hiss. You old timers know that whenever  we wanted to sound intelligent, we would quote something from the Reader's Digest.

Although I'm clueless when it comes to medical stuff; cost stirs my interest.

The author told a story of a radiologist whose son needed, foot surgery, so he started shopping around for the best prices. The first hospital that he called gave him a quote of $37,000, and then he asked them if that was with his in -network discount and was told, no and they would get back. Someone from the hospital called back later with a recalculated price of $15,000 to $25,000. The radiologist asked a surgeon if he operated anywhere else. The surgeon said that he often used an outpatient center charging $1,515. The radiologists correctly pointed out that with two or three phone calls he saved almost 90%.

We all like our doctor and generally people tend to be pretty trusting of the medical system. When we get our bill, we usually pay our 20%. Sometimes our faith is left in the hands of the medical coders because most doctors cannot explain the complexity of medical billing. For example, the cost of a MRI may factor might be based on buying or leasing the machine, staff salaries. Climate controls electric bill, a competitive pricing, or overhead costs like malpractice insurance. All these coders are trained professionals certified by the American Academy of Professional Coders and  they operate on three sets of universal codes, but the system is so complex that many times it's left to their interpretation. The patient may end up paying for a transposition error.

As technology advances those charges rise. There was a patient from Louisville Kentucky who received a bill for $45,300 for prostate surgery and an overnight stay. Why so much? The hospital used the new robotic procedure, so their bill was structured so that the first users were helping to recoup the equipment's initial costs.

The hospitals are not always the villains because they're usually overridden by negotiated contracts they made with the insurance companies and fixed payments by Medicare and Medicaid. Generally, hospitals will try to shift some of the costs not paid by the government to commercially insured patients.

Then there is the outrageous, or it may be a typical billing charge but I thought I would list an example of some hospital costs that may appear on your detailed billing:

1. The marking pen to mark the right body part for surgery...........$17.50
2. Adult blood pressure cuff.................. $20
3. Charge for the nurse to hand your medicine taken by mouth.....$...87.50
4. Pulse Oximeter Probe (pieces put on a finger to measure oxygen)......$100
5. Warmer air blanket..........$113
6. Operating room..........$200 per minute

I barely hit the surface in summarizing this interesting article which should be read by the skeptics who don't think we need to do anything about the rising cost of health care.

My company made me aware of the rising health care costs 10 years ago, so I knew when health care cost became 18% of GDP, it was not sustainable. I knew it would lead to bankruptcies, under utilization, and eventually death for some who are uninsured. I heard an economist say that the "rising health care cost is the Plutonium inside the U.S. “Debt Bomb.” The government already pays for over half of the medical costs in the United States and 10,000 seniors are moving into Medicare every day.

We're going to have to start using the only weapon left at our disposal; we're going to have to start making criminals of those who abuse our medical system. That doesn’t mean that we can’t do our part by requesting detail billing and reporting discrepancies.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


A letter writer submitted a letter stating that our current president wants us to share in a Utopia, which is an imaginary place is considered to be perfect or ideal. The writer never referenced a link, so the readers have to take his word that it came from the teachings of Karl Marx or a French novelist I doubt anyone is familiar with. It fits the right-wing perception that President Obama is a Kenyan, Muslim, socialist dictator who's leading us off the cliff.

The writer submitted a cut and paste to describe a form of socialism, but I rather doubt that he understands the different forms of socialism that we're acquainted with today. Economic socialism is where goods and services are produced for their use-value rather than profit. It's the exact opposite of capitalism we enjoy in the United States of America.

A poster complimented the letter writer and blamed the 69 million people who voted for the inexperienced Barack Obama, as if the seasoned Senator John McCain and Sarah Palin would've had us on the road to recovery right now. He seemed to have forgotten that we had a experienced president and vice president who got us into this mess. An hour in civics’ class can do a lot to familiarize people on how our government works. Laws are made in Congress, not at the executive branch. Do these people really think that we are exchanging our free-market economic system for a socialist one? They can't be serious. I understand using a little hyperbole now and then, but it's time to deal with reality.

I really enjoy the HBO series "Newsroom" because it provides me a way of dealing with the fringe element. The show comes up with questions people should ask those who espouse the letter writer views. Last week’s episode had the network vying for a political debate with the Republican candidates. They invited the Republican representative to see a mock interview of the candidates. The main character asked one of the cast members playing a GOP candidate to name three freedoms that he had personally lost since President Obama was elected. The person playing the candidates immediately said"ObamaCare." The moderator then asked him if he was still seeing the same doctor, the candidate said yes and subsequently couldn't name three freedoms he had lost since President Obama was elected. The moderator was about to ask  the chacter playing Michelle Bachmann what God sounded like because she had stated many times that God spoke to her, but the Republican debate spokesman stormed off the set and refused to give the network the right to host the debate. The political candidates have to agree on the moderator, format, and network before they debate. The big losers are the American people because we allow the politicians to use the debates as a venue for their talking points. They don't even have to answer the question; remember Sarah Palin switched subjects in the 2008 debate.

If our media was more like the fictitious one, “Newsroom" we wouldn't be parroting the talking points of our favorite politician. The GOP chairman, Reince Priebus, was asked about Medicare the other day, and he immediately said that the Senate has not passed a budget for 1200 days. It was as if he had to blurt that out whether it had anything to do with the question he was being asked about. I wish a pundit would tell them that the GOP House of Representatives would automatically reject a senate budget, so it's a fruitless exercise of fruity, even though the senate is constitutionally bound to produce one.

A lot of people like to say that the fringe elements from both parties are taking over the discourse of our politics, but I will disagree until someone shows me the equal amount of Democrats saying stupid things. I agree that both sides use talking points and sometimes exaggerate the facts, but I still don't think it's equal for both sides. I'd be more than happy to see the evidence of such.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What are they thinking?

And then they opened their mouth

It was a pretty exciting weekend for political junkies because the gloves came off and what you see is pretty much what you are going to get. The weekend talk shows didn't cover U.S. Representative Todd Akins’s ill-advised remark but instead focused on Joe Biden's stupid remark. Joe Biden will be the Democratic candidate for vice president, but as we speak, Senator Cornyn is looking for a legal way to replace Todd Akin, even though he had a slight lead over Senator Clair McCaskill for that important Missouri Senate race. The Republicans have already lost the woman's vote, but this might change the mind of some Republican women in this red state. This is the same Republican Congress that wanted to change the definition of rape earlier this year. It's not about one remark; it’s the cumulative of Neanderthal comments and actions coming from Republicans. It reminds me of Clayton Williams’s remark when he was running against Ann Richards, for governor of Texas, when he said, " If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."

"Akin, a six-term congressman running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, was asked in an interview broadcast Sunday on St. Louis's television station KTVI if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.
"It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said of a rape victim's chances of becoming pregnant.

Akin said in an emailed statement later Sunday that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not specify on which points or comments.

"In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin's statement said."

This week with George Stephanopoulos had a very interesting panel of partisans who laid out the Medicare arguments for both sides. Kimberley Strassel, Senator Pat Toomey, and Grover Norquist represented the right and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Austan Goolsbee, and former inspector general of TARP represented the left. The right thinks a free market solution is best to save Medicare. They think that the voucher system will create a climate of competition, which will lead to lower prices. That's classic supply side but insurance companies will take the younger healthier customers, and the older folks will be will be sent to government Medicare leaving us with the same expensive system but now the burden will be an on recipient's not the government. On the other hand, the Democrats will gradually reduce pay to the providers while bringing in new patients to hopefully make up the difference. The elephant in the room is the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act. The fundamental solution is to bend the cost curve because the" average, per-capita cost of providing healthcare services in the United States rose by 7.32% for the past 12 months ending in August, a rate of inflation wildly above the 1.1% overall inflation for the same period, according to new study by Standard & Poor's."

Meet the Press had an exciting panel which produced a rising new star in the Democratic Party, Mayor Kasim Reed. The Sunday talk shows are usually about each side trading talking points and with little interruption in between. Ted Cruz started out with praising Paul Ryan saying that he would bring conservative principles to the discussion. Peggy Noonan followed up with more praise for Paul Ryan until the mayor couldn't stand it anymore. Mayor Reed lit into Ted Cruz pointing out that Paul Ryan voted for all of Bush's tax cuts, two wars off the budget, Medicare Part D, which increased the deficit, causing Mr. Cruz to say he didn't agree with all the Paul Ryan's votes. That's just the point, if left unchallenged; people would have gone away thinking that Paul Ryan was a real deficit hawk as the media has portrayed him.

The Democrats of 2012 are now going on offense, a tactic I haven't seen since 1992. They can challenge the GOP when they rightfully go after Joe Biden stupid remark when he said, " “put y’all back in chains” by not defending that remark but reminding them that they are not one to lecture. I think the voter ID laws that will suppress the minority vote will do more harm than Biden's remark. It's going to be important to stay on offense because the “Swift Boaters" and Karl Rowe have just begun the play.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where do they get those notions?

A letter writer in today's paper described Democratic Party as one that doles out the goodies in exchange for votes. Where did they get that notion is a rhetorical question because I know exactly where it came from. It's a generational myth that's been successfully passed down. That myth took off after the New Deal was passed, gained strength after Medicare, civil rights and affirmative action became law. It’s a simplistic view, but the writer believes it because he took the time to write a letter expressing his feelings knowing that his friends, neighbors, relatives and friends will now know how he feels. The letter writer wants his country back, but he had it from 2000-2008 and what did he do with it?

I wonder if anyone really thinks that a Democratic candidate goes around talking to potential voters while handing out stacks of food stamp applications? Do those same people think that Democrats should go around demonizing legislation that was passed by Congress and signed by a president? Democrats do support a safety net and the theory of social justice. The Democrats I know believes everyone should pull up themselves with their own bootstraps, but we also realize that some don't own a pair of boots. I believe in the type fiscal conservatism that means that the government should not spend more than it takes in, but I don't approve of austerity measures.

Let's pretend I’m a congressman who believes our country is spending much more than it takes in, but I also know that we are trying to turn our country around. My counterpart believes the same thing but has a different approach to solving our problem. I'm more flexible when it comes to balancing the budget because I know that we will have to make allowances for security measures, weather-related disasters and other unforeseen problems. I also know that we should never neglect education, innovation incentives, and infrastructure. I would walk away from the bargaining table if my counterpart didn't cut one dime from defense spending but instead increased it and, provided tax cuts for the wealthy, while making all his cuts on the safety net side. If the letter writer wants to call that “doling out the goods," then I am guilty as charged. I also believe that defunding Big Bird, Planned Parenthood, and other small items of the budget is just to satisfy a political interest. Its equivalent of sitting down at the kitchen table with your new budget, after the wife lost her job and the husband got his hours cut and the first thing that he throws out there is taking his own coffee and sack lunch to work. It's not a "you've got to start somewhere" situation because we know that entitlements and defense spending are the big-ticket items we need to bring back under control.

I would like to bring a different viewpoint to the “remember crash victims were also illegal" article because it's important to understand all viewpoints if we're going to make any headway in our divisive country. The title alone could be offensive because it doesn’t really matter if the crash victims were illegal; they are dead? It gives more clarity to the story and it's important to know but in the case of this article it was meant to send a message. It's not as if it was imperative for the letter writer to remind us of the crash victim's status. I knew right away that they entered this country illegally, but I didn't automatically reach for the word" criminal." I could agree with misdemeanor trespassing that led to their deaths and injuries, which could've been avoided, as other accidents that had nothing to do with entering this country illegally. I also knew that the race card would be used as an offensive and defensive weapon. The local Hispanics are defending people who look like them, so they don't particularly want them demonized. Others are saying, “don’t let your sympathy get the best of you" because those people were breaking the law. I believe it's becoming routine to ask after every major accident “were there any illegals involved?"  Here is the original article.This type of rhetoric will continue until Congress comes up with a comprehensive reform package, or we get back to 4.0% unemployment.

 Even with the new VA FB format ,I've noticed that when asked to present facts like actual cases of voter fraud or any subject where documented facts are important,posters will either go away  or changes the subject...It's as if it's a battle between myths & unverified postings against those wanting a discussion.

That's  the way I see it.

 I keep trying to get back to nonpolitical subjects that I would like to write about but the Advocate letters and comments and national politics are like a giant magnet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pay Attention Seniors

It’s hard being number two

I know that I said that no one should be paying attention to the 30 second political ads, but I didn't factor in the play they would get in the media. Play close attention to the Paul Ryan interview where he stumbles and seems like he's looking for the exit gate. I've got to give credit to Brit Hume for putting aside his partisan views and instead using his journalistic skills in pinning down Paul Ryan. The reason Paul Ryan had the “the deer in the headlights look" is twofold, the first being, he was trying to say the right words that would not get him in trouble with his boss because it's no longer his plan. The second reason is that he is accusing President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare to fund Obamacare. Brit Hume did his homework; he knows that the Ryan budget calls for the same $716 billion Medicare cuts, but his plan would short-change the beneficiaries; where is the president's cuts would short circuit the providers. The Romney/Ryan will include a repeal of the current healthcare plan. The Ryan plan did not have a provision to close the doughnut hole. The Ryan plan does not guarantee Medicare nor could it have anything that was provided in the affordable Health Care Act because the Republicans want to repeal it.

The GOP can no longer use the word "Mediscare" in describing their opponents because they are using the same tactic on the president.

The president did take $716 billion out of Medicare in over 10 years; to cut down the rate of growth, eliminate subsidizing the Medical Advantage program and remove wasteful expenditures. The president's action did not take a dime out of the Medicare recipient's pockets, in fact, fact some of that money went to preventive care for seniors, closing the doughnut hole in prescription-drug purchases because seniors are not excluded from the Affordable Health Care Act. The Republican legislators cannot say that Obama does not want to talk about reforming Medicare and say he took $716 billion out of Medicare at the same time without sounding hypocritical. You can't have it both ways.

I've got to give it to the Republicans because they are great campaigners. Several Republican legislators are using their moms in their ads saying," Sonny boy wouldn't take away Medicare from his mother." Oh' if she only knew. Every since its inception, Republicans have been trying to wither down Medicare enough for its eventual demise. Newt Gingrich famously said, "he would like to see Medicare “wither on the vine” and has supported plans to privatize Medicare.

I don't know of a single republican, and you can't walk ten feet in Victoria without running into one, who wants to privatize or get rid of Medicare. They have seen their parents, and grandparents praise the program and now they, themselves understand the meaning of guaranteed health care when you most need it. I would bet my last dollar that seniors would make the sacrifice to keep the guarantee of Medicare even if it meant paying co pays or paying a little more, but we must keep in mind that most of these people are on a fixed income.

The Ryan plan gradually raises the Medicare eligibility age to 67. That doesn't seem like a big deal since we are living longer, and it would save a lot of money. I don't normally use personal stories, but I don't think my personal example is out of the norm. When I retired, my blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress factors came down considerably, and I knew that in eight years I would be eligible for Medicare. I became an insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic at age 62. I have it under control, but I shudder to think of what would have happened if I didn't have health insurance. I can't imagine retiring at age 67 before starting a wellness program that Medicare provides. I still have Aetna, but I haven't used it for the two years other than Medco for my drugs, since I've been on Medicare because I haven't met the $2000 deductible. To make a long story short, our legislators have a great health care plan, but they don't have any idea what affect their policies will make on the average Joe. It's not always about what the Congressional Budget Office calculates.

I hope that we get back to discussing the issues because I caught a glimpse this morning of why people hate politics. This morning the host of "Morning Joe" Joe Scarborough was having a fit over a Democratic Super PAC ad accusing Mitt Romney of being responsible for a worker's wife dying of cancer just because Bain Capital shut down the plant, leaving the workers without health care. It is a fictitious ad because the wife had her own insurance, and she died six years after the plant closing. He was also angry about the words Joe Biden used yesterday at a campaign stump when he said, “Look at what they [Republicans] value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks write their own rules — unchain Wall Street,” Biden said a rally in Danville, Va. “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” Both could be seen as crossing the line but that line was blurred a long time ago.

It's going to be a long 85 days but I would bet my life savings that if injected with sodium pentothal(truth serum) most republicans wishes that Romney and Ryan would have left Medicare out of the discussion for now because repealing Obamacare without a plan to take it's place and messing with Medicare is a scary political platform.

Monday, August 13, 2012

If you were born after 1958..Play close attention

The 2012 presidential election will be the most important one in our lifetime because voters will get to vote on the direction of the country. It’s possible that the presidential candidates will nominate at least one Supreme Court judge in the next four years but most importantly the eventual winner will decide the direction our country will  take in reforming Medicare, Medicaid, and defense spending.

Mitt Romney made an outstanding choice, but it was one he had to take since he was boxed in. The Romney campaign saw that the numbers were definitely in favor of the president. Mitt Romney has changed the topic from being about his tax returns, now  that he's picked a person who will share the criticism from  the Democrats. The choice pleases the conservative base and the opposition party. Congressman Ryan is a decent well -liked family man who knows his supply-side economics'. Paul Ryan is supposed to be a deficit hawk, but he voted for the two Bush tax cuts, the two wars, a prescription-drug plan that was not paid for and the Bush bailout of Wall Street, and the GM bailout, President Bush started. Saturday, Paul Ryan admitted that President Obama was left with a bad hand but said that he left the country in worse shape; which is impossible since the Obama's administration inherited losing 750,000 jobs a month? He went onto say that the president controlled both houses and he got everything he wanted, which was not true. He left out the part where the Senate used parliamentary tricks and the filibuster to deny the president. The president got what he could barely pass because the GOP fought him on every proposal. That's history; we will now have discussions on the serious matters.

It's important to know that Paul Ryan's first budget included a voucher(he called it premium support) to replace Medicare as we know it, but he got a lot of flak from his fellow Republicans, so he changed it and got one democratic senator to co-sponsor Ryan II, which included an option to opt out.The Ryan II bill passed the house but failed in the Senate. Last night, Mitt Romney slammed the president saying he stole $700 billion from Medicare to finance Obama Care. Right next to Romney sat Paul Ryan whose budget does the same thing but Ryan's cuts will go to the beneficiaries, and Obama's cuts are on the providers. The president's action saved Medicare an additional eight years, which is not enough, but it's a start. The Republicans know after many years of losing the Medicare fight that this popular program is considered a Holy Grail. The first thing that they will say, " if you are currently on Medicare your benefits will remain the same" that's not exactly true because prescriptions drugs will be higher if the Republicans repeal, the Affordable Care Act and the doughnut hole goes unfilled. Those people younger than 54 will have to consider that but probably won't. The younger folks will also have to entertain the idea of buying health insurance at age 65 with a voucher capped at a certain percentage of GDP. It's basically putting the extra cost on the beneficiary instead of the federal government. Paul Ryan's budget will issue block grants to the states for Medicaid. I can see rest homes being a thing of the past and about 17 million poor people without any form of health insurance. Those younger than 54 better take out a membership in a health club,stay active, cut back on your sugar intake and live a health lifestyle or you will have a rude awaking when you turn 65. A large savings account won't hurt because I don't think the private insurance companies will be cheap.

I'm reading an interesting book about how progressives are letting the conservatives identify the issues and the answers. Progressive should be arguing against the upward redistribution of wealth. We could solve the healthcare issue, but the ideas wouldn't pass Congress because it would hurt the health professionals, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals. I'll start with a free market cost analysis. For example, a heart valve replacement costs $160,000 in the U.S. and only $9000 in India and a knee replacement costs $40,000 in our country and only $9000 in India. Using those numbers ,the government could send their Medicare, Medicaid and VA patients to Canada, India, and Singapore and save some big bucks. The savings would offset future premium costs for those patients and dramatically bring down the cost of healthcare. Many would not want to go overseas but there is a way and the free market would force our health care providers to compete. The free market principals' conservatives’ use are always aimed at the people at the bottom. The lower wages and benefits cuts they seek ,consistently come from those who can least afford it. To emphasize a point, the Obama Administration made deals with the pharmaceutical companies, and the American Medical Association and other special-interest groups that defeated the Clinton initiative in 1992. The Obama Administration didn't figure that the healthcare lobbyist would play both sides of the fence, so the Affordable Health Care Act was demonized anyway. The main point is that we outsource jobs that eventually hurt the non-professional, but we would never think about outsourcing the professional workforce. The middle –class are never considered in our trade talks.

The Republicans are going to try to make this election about government vs. the free market, but they will use their interpretation of the free market. In all of Ryan speeches so far, he has ended it by saying, “you built that business" and Mitt Romney emphasizes that by saying, " yes the school bus driver took you to school, but he can't take credit for your good grades." I'm paraphrasing, but it's enough to give you a good picture on how they will run. It's a top-down strategy where government is a wedge issue.

I see where the Romney people are coming out of the woodwork since the announcement of Paul Ryan as the vice president pick. It wasn't lost on the locals because they too are starting to write letters praising Romney after months of silence and obvious disappointment in their GOP's nominee.

There is no doubt that Medicare,Social Security, and Medicaid need some serious reform but so does defense spending. We mustn’t make all the cuts on the social programs without touching defense and asking the wealthy to pay more. I think it’s stupid  and selfish of us to take a 20% tax cut rate (including the wealthy) on the backs of the poor,handicapped,students and the elderly.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Who are today’s Republicans?

A couple of days ago, an old sparring friend of mine called to check up on me and then after a few minutes of formality, we picked up where we left off 10 years ago; arguing about politics. My very conservative Republican friend would crawl over glass to vote for another Republican. He's pretty much in line with what the national Republican surrogates are saying and doing, so I use him as a way to check the temperature of the local GOP.

My friend hasn't wavered a bit in his hatred for President Barack Obama, and he's not afraid to admit it. He said that he would vote for any one in the Republican Party over President Obama. We agreed that the economy has already hit rock bottom and whoever gets elected, will reap the rewards in a couple of years when our economy starts rolling again. I asked him about the dismal GOP presidential primary turnout, and he said it didn't matter who won the primary, considering the candidates, at that point he thought that the only requirement of a president was to have a couple working digits, so he could sign partisan Republican legislation. He said that “compromise" was equivalent to "kissing your sister.” I think that's where Republicans are today; they don't like Mitt Romney, but they will pretend to like him, not forgetting that the number-one goal is to defeat President Obama. That's why I like to talk to my buddy; he doesn’t skirt the issue. He'll admit that he's not exactly thrilled supporting a Mormon( he's a protestant evangelical), and he knows in his heart of hearts that Romney is a liberal, and he's just renting his conservative credentials until his second term. He said that he'll take that chance hoping that his party controls Congress. I can't pin down my friend's thoughts on the Tea Party. My friend is an establishment Republican, but I don't know if he's a member of the local GOP.

The national Tea Party movement is  trying to replace the establishment Republican Party because they think the established GOP  lack of charisma, loves the status quo and that the party needs to go back to it’s roots. A Tea Party leader in Columbia, South Carolina said this of the GOP platform"It's a piece of paper," "It doesn't mean squat."Matt' Kibbe has been the President and CEO of FreedomWorks since 2004, and he's a spokesman for Tea Party values. I think that Chris Matthews caught him off script and off guard the other day when he showed him a chart that contained the percentage of the budget every program represented. He asked him directly" what would you cut?" Mr.Kibbe wasn't ready for the question, so he said he would reform Social Security and Medicare and give block grants to the states for Medicaid. The Tea Party may be a grassroots effort, but they know that their words have to be on message with the Republican talking points. It tells me that they have a message but not a detailed plan. It was a simple question for a group that wants small government and extremely low taxes. If my memory is correct, the local established GOP is having its own power struggle with the Ron Paulites, Libertarians and Tea Party, but the latter three may the same bunch.

Here it is Tea Party,where are you going to cut?

Today's Wall Street Journal and Peggy Noonan's columns expressed their outrage over a Democratic super PAC ad featuring a Missouri steelworker named Joe Soptic who implied that Bain had closed the steel mill he was working at, leaving him without health insurance, and that eventually was a cause of his wife dying from cancer. It's a bit of a stretch anyway you look at it but so was the Willie Horton ad. It's a little late in the game for those on the right to try to claim the victim card. It's going to be a tit- for- tat from now until November. It didn't help Romney that his spokesman said that if Mr.Soptic had been living in Massachusetts, he would've had Romney care. That tidbit caused Ann Coulter's Adam's apple to bulge out even more than normal, and it also got the ire of Laura Ingraham. They both called for the firing of the Romney spokeswoman because of what she said. It's my belief that the spokeswoman wasn’t off message at all; I think the Romney camp wanted her to deliver that message to the 6% to 8% undecided vote.

It looks like the Republicans don't want their nominee, Mitt Romney, to talk about his accomplishments, such as working with Democrats in Massachusetts, his governorship, Romney care or Mormonism. This is the same party that was against the repeal of "don't ask; don't tell" where gay military personnel could hold up their hands to defend the constitution, but they would have to lie about their sexual orientation. They opposed the repeal in spirit, but they never took any real action against it. Mitt Romney said he would reinstate it, but that's just talk.

I'm sure the GOP will figure it all out by the time of their convention at the end of this month. They will come out of there united in their quest to unseat Obama and will try to convince the 6% who are undecided to do the same. Romney could make nice with the base by picking Paul Ryan as his VP choice but then once again he is conceding just to get along.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Our own Echo Chamber

The online chatter, network punditry, and arguments between ourselves have become a giant echo chamber where new ideas cannot penetrate.

I really don't know why, but periodically I will take a peek at our newly improved Facebook format, our online forum has taken because old habits are hard to break. It's still the antiquated “you’re a racist, and I'm not" type of dialogue that takes place every day.

I’m my own echo chamber, repeating my ideals thinking that maybe one day we will get beyond the viewpoints that have not worked in the past.

One of the favorite subjects is illegal immigration, where someone will submit a blog just to do a little race- baiting, knowing that he won't have to wait long before someone bites. The whole discussion will be between individuals who don't know (nor do they want to) a thing about the economics' of illegal immigration, and that's what it's all about.

The discussion will start with a poster calling the immigrants criminals or the preferred illegal aliens because it sounds more demeaning. The posters will step up on their pedestal and tell the world of how their ancestors who all came here it legally; of course, they can't prove that because illegal immigration didn't just start a few years ago. They probably don't know that the first offense for crossing into this country illegally is a misdemeanor and then they're usually processed and sent back to their country of origin, where they will not have to wear that label “illegal alien" again. The topic then has a life of its own, where unverified opinions will be the prevailing method they will use. The open borders crowd will first try to play the sympathy card, which will quickly be rejected, so there is no other options but to engage in ad hominem attacks.

As I was riding of my bicycle this morning, I kept wondering if there was a solution to this problem had that has divided us for so many years. I compare the people that keep coming to our country illegally to cigarette smokers (although cigarettes are legal products) because they both know the consequences of bad choices, and we cannot force them into submission... We taxed the tobacco consumer and made it harder for them to support their habit in public places, so why wouldn't that tactic work for illegal immigration?

We call the people who break our immigration laws criminals, but we don't do the same for the businesses who hire them. It costs a lot of money to raid an establishment that's known to hire the illegal immigrants because there’s court costs’, processing, over time for surveillance and then the transporting fees. Why not make these raids revenue neutral for the Feds? We could charge the indicted companies the entire amount of what it takes from day one until the time we release the immigrants, on top of the normal penalties. The full amount would include the costs for medical, education, and back taxes. We know that jail time would only mean that they would just transfer ownership, but astronomical fines would bankrupt them.

That sounds relatively easy and the "no amnesty crowd" would go along with this but those companies have lobbyists. Do you really think they're going to let the politicians take a stand against the companies? In this case, I will compare the drug addict to the American consumer who cannot go cold turkey. We want and demand cheap products; especially in this economy. For each additional raid ICE makes, the more, the consumer will pay at the register. My conspiratorial mind tells me that we won't hold too many raids because we need cheap labor, if our country is going to maintain the 1.5%, growth or expand it to 4% growth. I agree with Ron Paul when he said that if we were at 4 to 5% unemployment; we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Yes, we can make this issue tolerable, but it won't be until after the American voter gets tired of the Hatfield and McCoy answers. The ideal time would be tomorrow because the southern border is manageable right now. The answer is still and always will be a comprehensive reform package where each side has to do the unthinkable; compromise. We can't allow 11 million undocumented people living among us. Attrition will never work, so the answer is that most of the 11 million will likely stay, but they shouldn't be at the head of the line for citizenship. It will be a long drawn-out process with documentation being the priority. There are those who compare our immigration policies with other countries, saying that we are the most lenient, but that's not the issue. The other countries kept their immigration under control, but we did not, either for greed, necessity, or incompetence. We need to update our inept computer system, so we can carry out the E- verify a system without fear that the system would cost a U.S. worker their job. Those wanting voter ID laws should accept the concept of a tamper proof national ID card.

It all starts at the voting booth, so if you like the status quo then vote for those wanting to amend the 14th amendment, implement voter id laws but not a national ID. Card, and those who are advocating attrition only, open borders, or English only causes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Walter Williams: Big time propagandist

I'm going to have to set my alarm and start taking my blood-pressure medication at 5:00AM, if this morning's Walter William’s column titled “Liberals, Progressives and Socialist” is an example of what we will be seeing for the next 89 days. It's the same red baiting tactics but Mr. Williams just inserted some new names and deleted ACORN.

Walter Williams is just a black version of Glenn Beck but with a lot more education. He's a libertarian and a supporter or Ron Paul, and endorses a laissez-faire economic system in which the government should not interfere with commerce. Anything short of that is considered socialism or communism. He's out there on the outer edges because he believes in legalization that would allow someone to sell their own body organs and after reading the founders documents, he concludes that it is the right of U.S. states to secede from the union. Mr. Williams’s appeals to the low information voter and those who like to get their ears tickled, but I have to give him props, as I would any snake oil salesman; he's made a lot of money off the gullible.

The first four paragraphs of his article accurately describe some of the most ruthless regimes, but he inserts his definition of what their motive was. As Glenn Beck does, he picked up the words "social justice"(imagine him using a chalkboard)  and did his best to link the Wall Street occupiers to the fascist and totalitarian dictators who committed mass murder. If pushed, he would say, "I was not calling them mass butchers I was just be saying that's how Hitler got his start in Germany." It's 6° of Kevin Bacon to the extreme. The propaganda wouldn't be complete, unless there was a reference to an Obama appointee or a former member of the administration. He uses a controversial statement from Anita Dunn speech to some high-school graduates  where she said “Mao Zedong and Mother Teresa as two of her "favorite political philosophers." Beck stated that the speech revealed Dunn as a Maoist, while Dunn stated that, her reference was meant to be ironic, and was a quote borrowed from Republican strategist Lee Atwater. If that's the best he's got, he is deceiving his readers but then again, as long as their ears are tickled; nothing else matters.

Walter William's fear mongering article wouldn't be complete, unless he used the words" loss of freedom or liberty." In a typical victim fashion, he blames the academic community, the media elite, stalwarts of the Democratic Party, and organizations like the NAACP, La Raza, and Green for All, the Sierra Club and the Children's Defense Fund. I guess they are more fearful than the Neo-Nazi clubs. I guess voter suppression doesn't register as a loss of freedom in his mind. Mr. Williams is an ideologue, who believes either you with him or against him (and he's always right) because, if you don’t like his opinions, then you believe in the primacy of the state over individual rights. The author asks," you don't believe it, just ask yourself: which way are we headed tiny steps at a time-toward greater liberty our toward more government control over our lives?" How ironic, I would bet that Mr. Williams believes in the republican led personhood bills headed toward our legislation. Mr. Williams and his ilk, do not own the definition of liberty or freedom; I am 67 years old and have never been fearful of losing my freedom or liberty. It's always available at the ballot box; sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.

Mr. William's piece is just the preamble to the familiar culture war politics we are about to endure. It's the first shot across the bow because the previous Romney campaign tactics are not working, so they need to go to what they think will work, and that is welfare. Recently, the Romney campaign launched an ad stating that Obama is gutting Welfare Reform Bill Clinton, and the GOP led Congress voted and signed into a "welfare to work" legislation. The Ad Praises Bill Clinton, trying to lure the Reagan Democrats and uses the typical "too lazy to work" byline to reel in the 6% moderates. The only trouble is, that the ad is a complete lie. According to ABC News "These requirements are quotas, which states must meet to receive federal welfare dollars under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, pronounced “taniff”): certain percentages of enrolled households must meet “work activity'” requirements, including work training, job searches, “job clubs'” that offer job-search advice, and job searches with verified paperwork from employers where jobs were sought.

HHS announced that states can propose pilot programs, which can include changes to how qualified welfare recipients are counted. If HHS approves a state’s program, it will grant a waiver from federal work-activity requirements. For instance, HHS suggests, states could propose, “projects that demonstrate superior employment outcomes” if work-activity participation rate requirements are dropped and replaced by other measurements of “employment outcome.”

This is another area where the federal government wants to give more rights to the states, but it's demonized for political gain.

I'm feeling a lot better now, but my work is not done because there are many misconceptions that are being thrown around as facts about the constitution and the role of government. I can't do much with a “unverified comment" but if I can make one person aware of another viewpoint, it might help them from being a victim of propaganda. I am just a lowly poster without clout but I'm aware of that; I’m not like the gun owner that thinks he needs a gun to protect him from a repressive regime.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Are we all alone?

Are we all alone in our galaxy, which contains 200–400 billion stars, at least that many planets, and of which 10 billion of those are habitable? I don't think so, but my opinion is not based on any scientific fact nor have I ever seen an unidentified flying object (UFO).


I brought this up because last month was the 65th anniversary of the 1947 UFO controversy where it was reported that an extra-terrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants had crashed, and the dead occupants were taken to a place that was called Area 51. Even though the United States Air Force issued a press release stating that a flying saucer had crashed, they quickly recanted saying that it was a high-altitude surveillance balloon, and the space aliens were actually crash dummies that were on board.


In an interview with the Huffington Post, retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Richard French said they were actually two crashes. This story is coming from a person whose job it was to debunk UFO stories. Lieutenant Colonel Fred said that the first UFO was shot down by an experimental U.S. airplane that was flying out of White Sands, New Mexico. The airplane was equipped with an electronic pulse type weapon that disabled the alien spacecraft's electronics, causing it to crash.

Mr. French said he was told about the second UFO crash a few days after the first one by another military officer, a confident source from the White Sands Proving Grounds. They think the second UFO was trying to recover part and survivors of the first crash.

Another retired officer, Army Colonel John Alexander, who had access the 1980 official documents and UFO accounts, disputes the claims of retired Lt. Colonel Richard French. Mr. Alexander said that they were still developing pulse- power weapon systems in the 1980s, so it couldn't happen. In the 1960s,they had a laser system but the range was extremely limited, and they didn't have operational laser systems in that time-frame.

It shouldn't be a surprise that we would have conflicting stories coming from the military, and the civilians involved in the controversy. And there’s another story about an ex-CIA agent name Chase Brandon, who found a box at CIA headquarters in the 1990s labeled Roswell. Mr. Brandon opened the box , read the material and looked at the photographs and said, “ it was a craft that clearly  did not come from this planet."

I would be interested to know if any president of the United States knows the exact details of the alleged crash in 1947. I'm equally puzzled as to why some credible sources say religion would be destroyed if they knew that there are creatures coming to earth from other universes.

I tend to believe NASA Astronaut Scott Carpenter when he said, " At no time, when the astronauts were in space were they alone: there was a constant surveillance by UFOs." I've heard stories from a relative and a friend who have claimed to have seen a UFO, and I don't have a reason to doubt them, but that's a puzzle I hope we solve before I leave this Earth.

Monday, August 6, 2012

We need fresh ideas

Congratulations baby boomers, we're the first generation who can say that we will put more into Social Security than we received. Spare me; don’t tell me how much you could have earned if you would have had a chance to invest it. Number one, you don’t know and the other is, it’s a” you pay for others as others paid for you” retirement supplement Yep, if you're a baby boomer, we can say that we weren't as much of a socialist as our parents and grandparents were. However, that's only a comfort for those people who use that line of reasoning.

Every since I heard the word " misinformation" sometime last week , I just can't get that word out of my head. I agree that the media, in one form or another is the probable cause, but I think of it as replacing the roof shingles. It's best if you replace the old shingles and felt paper and start anew. We still have people trying to convince us what the founders meant, or they want to use philosophy from the 1900s. America was once an isolationist country and afraid of the military; we're now at a leader in the global economy and have the largest military known to man. The fundamentals are the same, such as spending less than what we bring in but today; we have to deal with huge budget and trade deficits and preventing our financial sectors from bringing down our country, with their predatory schemes.

I flipped on Fox News Sunday to hear what potential Texas senator to be, Ted Cruz, had to say, but I can't say I was surprised when I heard the boilerplate rhetoric. I was disappointed because, if elected, he'll be another obstructionist. When asked if he would compromise with the Democrats he said, "I am perfectly happy to compromise and work with anybody,” Cruz said. “Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians. I’ll work with Martians. If — and the if is critical — they’re willing to cut spending and reduce the debt."... That would sound reasonable except, he won't consider raising taxes. We're back to that," won't take $10.00 in spending cuts for $1.00 in revenues" deal. For the record, I am very anti- Ted Cruz and his ilk. I understand his line of thinking; he thinks that the government does not need any more money to spend, but he doesn't understand that we cannot cut our way to prosperity. Ted Cruz is bought and paid for by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.,so he 'll never understand that it's going to take a balanced approach.

Try going back to my " replacing the roof'" analogy'" where I said that we were going to have to start fresh. I think the partisan propaganda we've been fed throughout the years won't allow new ideas to penetrate. Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel, realizes that our Federal government is tapped out but the infrastructure in Chicago is in a state of the decay. The mayor knows that the city of Chicago won't be able to grow unless they fix the infrastructure. What company would want to move to a city full of potholes, busted water mains, and inferior public transportation?

 The mayor will use conventional methods like raising utility bills and issuing bonds, but the city will negotiate a private-public trust fund with three banks to fund their needed repairs. For the record, the city of Chicago sold their parking meter rights to a private company, that is making 10 times more than what the city ever did, and they have also issued long-term leases on their parking garages, which amounts to the private sector owing that source of revenue for a long time. Chicago is not letting those two mistakes stand in the way of yet another risk taking proposition. On paper, it looks like a win- win proposition; the banks have been waiting for a safe investment to spend some of their low-interest money on. The city will use private contractors and make them pay for any cost overruns because, as we know; cost overruns and can run into millions. The city will install cost saving devices such as smart meters and use that savings to pay off their debt. If everything works well, the city will get their needed repairs without extra cost to taxpayers. Cities and states are copycats, so if this project works in Chicago other cities and states will adopt it. This is just a temporary measure until our country's economy recovers, and then we can go back to federal government grants and loans when it's more feasible.

I know that occasionally we will take an exit road to discuss some social issues and that's OK, as long as you understand that some will evolve and others won't. The economy doesn't work that way. The economy is like a baseball pitcher who has to make adjustments on every hitter, umpire, and his capability. I heard a great discussion about the Keystone XL project this morning. On one hand, the proponents of fossil fuels say the tar sands from Canada will provide $45 billion a year in revenue and 500,000 jobs by 2035. I think it's a bit exaggerated but on the other hand, what will it do to the natural gas and alternative fuels industry? We shouldn't let the lure of cheap fossil fuels make us forget the environmental impact that this project will have on greenhouse emissions. That's why I say we need to keep an open mind and not be persuaded by those who stand to benefit by our lack of interest.

Yet, another senseless shooting but again this is not the time to talk of measures to try and prevent those “impossible to stop” tragedies. If only one of those Sikhs were armed! I can hear the same old talking points.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

You didn’t build that

What he actually said

Last night I received an e-mail with a link, alerting me of another LTTE that was full of distortions. This morning I reread the letter and decided to address the issue and only mention the letter writer (without using his name) for background information. The letter writer's logic is not unique, so my response is to all who hold his views. I don't do "cold turkey" but I thought it was pretty good advice not to mention locals who chose not to participate in this venue...It's my version of a  12-step program...:-)

It's funny because I hated diagramming sentences when I was in high school, but I suspect it was because I didn't know what I was looking for, and the "compound predicates" confused me into submission...:-). Today that's what I do with a post, letter, or an article when I want more clarity. Hey, it only took 45 years for me to get some use from it.

The very first sentence told me that the letter writer was a red- baiter who still fears the socialists of the Cold War, and it was yet another us vs. them(government) letter. You read this letter in our fine hometown newspaper, The Victoria Advocate, or you can read it here.

I didn't need a clarification of Obama's speech because I understood the context on the day he gave it. The ad Mitt Romney aired- cut out the part where Obama emphasized that infrastructure, friends, teachers, parents and relatives helped everyone of us along the way. The Romney campaign knows that because Mitt Romney told the 2002 Olympians, “You Olympians, however, know you didn't get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided; communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians; let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities."..You tell me the difference between the two speeches.

The letter stated that everyone paid taxes to provide the necessities, but that's only partially true. Ask the residents of Cuero, Yorktown and Kennedy if the big Ford Shale trucks are paying proportionately for what their damage has done to the roads. The letter goes onto define success in a limited sort of way because even the guy in the Romney ad had several thousand dollars available to him in government grants and loans. Its equivalent of someone getting into the front door because of affirmative action and then denying others by saying, “I did this all on my own."

How quaint, the writer stated, “the rich should pay taxes at a reasonable higher rate but Obama chooses to ignore reason, the economy, and the jobs provided by the rich." A quick look at the stock market and corporate financial reports will tell you that the corporations and the rich are doing reasonably well in this economy. The jobs are not there because there is no demand that justifies a lot of hiring. The 2001 & 2003 Bush tax cuts benefited the rich but did not produce jobs, and that's a matter that cannot be disputed. He can call it demonizing the rich all he wants but this weekend; they'll be out on their yachts not worrying about the problems of the middle class.

The last paragraph of the letter emphasizes the need for understanding economics' instead of repeating partisan talking points. Turn off the television when a political ad comes on because like all the other advertisements, they are meant to prey on the uninformed. I don't think the informed are stupid; they're just occupied with more important things in his or her life. That's too bad because politicians know that and will take full advantage. We need to know that outsourcing started 30 years ago and it had nothing to do with President Obama, Mitt Romney or Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric. How ironic, quoting Albert Einstein saying,” The difference between stupidity and genius is genius has its limits."... If someone is getting their information from political television ads, then they don't know politics or anything about the issues because the 30-second ads are subliminal messages designed to fool the uninformed.

I've decided since "Mohammed cannot go to the mountain. I'm going to bring the mountain to me" meaning that my main mission at Vic Ad was to present my side of the issues; I can't do that anymore because I refuse to join Facebook. I wish that I had more opposition because that's the only way that we can turn the corner. Too many people take it for granted that the sole thing the left wants is government intervention to protect the interest of the poor and disadvantaged. That gives the right the chance to put portray progressive and liberals as wanting to tax the winners in society in order to reward the losers, and then they can put on a charade as being the champions of a hard work and innovation. Progressives and liberals in Washington are starting to make inroads now, by accusing conservatives for pushing the agenda of the wealthy. Liberals and progressives need to continue the narrative because the rules governing the markets are written by the rich and powerful and they are meant to redistribute the wealth upward.

In the coming months, I will give my version of how the game is fixed to benefit the affluent. The wealthy will complain about the Federal Reserve but will use it for their advantage, and conservatives will always portray themselves as free marketers, but they aren't. A free market does not need “Free trade agreements or patents and copyright protection." As always, I will welcome contradiction.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Will Texas move to the extreme right?

I'll Believe Corporations Are People When Texas Executes One

It's time for a “not interested in Texas politics" person like me, to sit up and take notice because it's possible that Texas can get more ultra conservative than it already is. It could take the word "ultra" to another level.

The victory by Ted Cruz Tuesday night set up a political shakeup where a whack job like Debbie Medina could be a legitimate candidate for governor. The Texas house has 40 members who are not coming back, and it is expected they will be replaced with more conservative Republicans if you can imagine that scenario. Rick Perry will not be a favorite because of his flubs in the presidential debates, and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is coming off an upset loss. The far right feels emboldened because the establishment has been defeated. I can see where Atty. General Greg Abbott, the main power behind the voter ID law, will have the heads up in the governor's race.

We keep talking about being broke, but Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst spent and raised $19 million and Cruz raised and spent about $8 million. Outside groups spend another five million against the two candidates, but they supported Cruz with $2.8 million compared to $684,871 for Dewhurst according to CRP data.

I have to give the forces behind Ted Cruz, their political props because this time, they picked a Harvard graduate who can go on the talk shows with less bellicose in his rhetoric. I started laughing when I saw one of Ted Cruz campaign ads that shunned David Dewhurst for being a moderate and a compromiser. Really! Is at all you have? It's been said that the only difference between Cruz and Dewhurst are that the former had a longer list of federal agencies to abolish.


Don't be fooled by this sheep in wolf's clothing because senator to be, Ted Cruz, is 100% tea party. The pundits are already trying to tout his appeal to the Hispanic community. Not so fast, as Gail Collins of the New York Times put it in describing the rise of Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio and his twin brother Joaquin, who is a state legislator and is running for a safe democratic seat in Congress. She jokingly said," we will see your one Cuban -American Harvard law graduate who memorized the constitution when he was in high school (Cruz) and raise you, Mexican American twins who went to Harvard's law and got elected mayor and state representative." She left out the part of Mayor Julian Castro being the keynote speaker at the democratic convention. Wasn't Barack Obama the 2004 keynote speaker? We know how well it went for him. The pundits are wrong thinking that Ted Cruz will bring more Mexican- Americans to the Republican Party. Mexican Americans are not swayed by surnames, but they are by the harsh rhetoric.

I've eaten two Chic-fil-A, sandwiches in my entire life, and I didn't think they were that great, but the recent controversy will not influence me either way. It's much ado about nothing, but I see it's continuing anyway. I do wish people would understand that free speech only applies if the government tries to suppress it. The private sector cans infringe on your supposed free speech rights and there is not a lot you can do about it. Oh well, Mike Hucklebee and Ted Cruz benefited and so did a couple of mayors, so to each, their own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It’s always a Catch 22

I don't think we'll ever be able to prove who the job creators really are. We have always considered our bosses to be the job creators but what would happen if the employees were to take their pay and only bought foreign goods? What if we didn't have enough consumers buying the goods? It's a Catch 22.

That's where we are today. We have two major parties and an element of one party with three different theories on how to get this economy back on its feet. The Republican Party wants to make it easier for big business to hire by lowering taxes and scaling back what they called job- killing regulations. The Democrats want to continue to use Keynesian policies such as a joint venture with the private sector to repair our infrastructure, until our economy improves. The third element, the Tea Party, wants to drastically cut our budget back to 2006 levels, no matter what the outcome. Meanwhile, we are not doing any of the above. We should congratulate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Boehner for agreeing to fund the government for an additional six months. It still has to be approved by Congress.

We all make assumptions and think it's a truth certain. This morning I was watching Joe Scarborough telling us for the umpteenth time, that he was a small government conservative and praising the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Adam Smith. He was also praising conservatism as if it was the only economic philosophy that made sense. Joe was on the defensive because the new NYT/CBS poll had President Obama ahead  in 3 key swing states  and in Florida by six points(Scarborough's home state) even thou the state has a Republican governor and the majority of the legislators. It's even more remarkable since our unemployment is still high and showing no signs of coming down before the election. Joe advised the Mitt Romney camp to come out with another ad saying " Obama got his near $900 billion stimulus package, unemployment was at 8.3%, today it's at 8.2% ." This will drive home the point that we spent $900 billion for .1% drop in unemployment. That's the outcome but not the real story.

Mitt Romney is not a good politician, and he showed it recently with his overseas trip. He had to know that his trip was going to be compared to Obama's 2008 trip where he wooed the Europeans, drawing 200,000 Germans at one event. We can argue that Romney's gaffes won't matter in November, but his mistakes are cumulative and the clock is ticking. Joe Scarborough thinks that all Romney has to do is tout the small government conservative message, and it's in the bag but this is 2012 where it's all about the candidate's plan for the future,  money and optics. Romney has the money but nothing else. The people may say," I don't have a job, and neither does my brother-in- law and Obama has been in charge but Romney sounds and acts like the person that fired us."Obama wins the likability factor hands down.No matter how hard he tries Romney will always have a hard time proving that he understands the middle class. 

Today is August 1, 2012, so that means the Affordable Care Act,  will provide women, with the limited exception for those working for pervasively religious employers, to have access to all contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration as well as to sterilization procedures and to related patient education. And pregnant and postpartum women will have access to the counseling and equipment needed for breastfeeding -- one of the most effective ways mothers can protect both their children's health and their own.

"Women, with the limited exception for those working for pervasively religious employers, will have access to all contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration as well as to sterilization procedures and to related patient education. And pregnant and postpartum women will have access to the counseling and equipment needed for breastfeeding -- one of the most effective ways mothers can protect both their children's health and their own.

Finally, the ACA will ensure coverage of screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence."

This is what Nancy Pelosi meant when she said," we have to pass the bill, so you can find out what's in it." Crudely put and it does take some interpretation, but I understood what she meant.

What does Mitch McConnell think of all this? He said it's time to add an amendment to repeal Obama care. And he wonders why the GOP has been accused of waging war on women. It's no better at the other chamber where the GOP controlled House of Representatives tried to pass yet another abortion bill, yesterday, instead of working on a jobs bill. They're not paying attention to the memo that states that women represent the largest voting bloc, and they vote.

It looks like Texas took the first step to ensure that gridlock will remain the status quo in Washington by voting in Ted Cruz  over David Dewhurst. It was a terrible blow to Rick Perry and the establishment Republican Party in Texas. David Dewhurst was a conservative's conservative but Ted Cruz was to the right of him. Ted Cruz with the help of the Tea Party, and outside influences was able to pull off the upset. This is after; David Dewhurst lent his campaign $25 million and bought a family-size Chick-fil-A just to cover all the bases. The man I voted for, Paul Sadler spent a whopping $132,000 to defeat his opponent. I heard a Republican pollster say that Ted Cruz will win handily in November but the GOP will pay because in 2016, Texas will become a purple state. He said in Travis County alone there are 600,000 unregistered future Democrats who will be courted by the DNC in 2016.