Saturday, December 31, 2011

Only One of My Least Favorite Colunnists

I had written this to send to my local paper. 

Since she is published in papers throughout the country I thought it might be alright to add it to my Blog.

                 Michelle Malkin is incredible.

She struggles so hard to find fault with President Obama and his family. Usually she launches her attack on Mrs. Obama.  She finds fault with the First Lady’s attempt to set an example for America’s kids by encouraging them to eat better and control their body fat. This has resulted in better school meals with more fruits and vegetables and less  french fries and other deep fat fried foods. How is this bad?

This week she decided to find scandals in the Obama administration where there are none. She begins by attacking Carole Browner, the President’s former adviser on air pollution. She negotiated an agreement with every supplier of cars in America which will require an average of 35.4 m/g by 2016, about the same as in China.

Malkin complains about the way this was achieved. As far as I’m concerned Ms. Browner could have locked the auto execs in a room and kept them there until they had worked out the details of this historic agreement. 

The Obama administration has built on that agreement to create a new one that will require performance equivalent to 54.5 mpg by 2025. It is estimated that these standards will over the next 14 years save Americans $1.7 trillion and by 2025 will result in an average fuel savings of over $8000 per vehicle.

I am sure Ms. Malkin and her far-right friends will still be able to find a gas guzzling truck or even a Hummer to drive around in. Maybe she should buy one now.  She can store it with all those incandescent bulbs she is saving.

She next turns her attention to the Affordable Care Act. She spouts tired old arguments regarding waivers that have been issued for existing but non-complying health care insurance packages.

There are a great many low income people who receive bare bones health insurance with big deductibles and low caps. These plans are usually referred to as “mini med plans”. Under the Act, real health insurance will not be available to them until 2014. The Act permits employers and unions to apply for waivers so these people will at least have some coverage until the act( the Supreme Court willing)  takes affect. In 2014 these plans must be replaced with plans that meet the standards set by the Act.
She also (along with most of her right-wing cronies) claims that the fact that a large number of plans in the district represented by Congresswoman Pelosi have been granted waivers shows that politics has been involved in this process. San Francisco, unlike most states or cities, requires small business owners to contribute to their employees health cost. In order to comply, a number of businesses combined to create funds known as HRA’s, which are mini med plans and qualify for a waiver. The large number of these in San Francisco accounts for the large number of waivers granted in that district. A plan administrator who obtained a great many of these waivers denied that politics was involved. In addition he pointed out that there would be no need for political help. The process was easy. You make application and if the plan qualifies it gets a waiver.

 My conclusion after reading this column was that Ms. Malkin considers any action with which she doesn’t agree a scandal. She quotes Dartmouth Political Science Professor, Dr. Nyhan, who wrote a scholarly 30 page paper setting forth the combination of events necessary to create a scandal. Ms. Malkin should have read more than the first page.

The rest of her “scandals” are the same, products of her far-right imagination. There are a number of thoughtful intelligent conservative columnists. George Will, David Krauthammer and David Brooks leap to mind. I would encourage  papers to employ one of them so that I don’t need to be, periodically, offended by Ms. Malkins far-right drivel.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Republicans Block a Tax Break for Working Class Americans

The children are at it again. In the House they are stamping their feet screaming and rolling in the aisle.

This time the adults are paying no attention.

The adults over in the Senate have decided not only to ignore this temper tantrum but to go home for the holidays.

The gang leader Jon Boehner has been left to beg the President to come talk to him and the Senators to come back from vacation so he will have some one to play with.

Mitch McConnell and the other kids in the Senate have realized how Santa feels about bad children. They hope that being good will be rewarded with lots of toys and other presents on Christmas morning. Not likely after the year they have had.

The President’s family has left to spend Christmas in Hawaii and I am sure he would like to be with them. His disappointment has been blunted by all the fun he is having in Washington.

 Every day he gets to go before the TV cameras or a press conference. Some of his best lines have been inspired by this tantrum. “Is Washington so broken that even when we all agree we can’t get anything done?” He had to bring people on stage to explain that a $40 tax break means a tank of gas to visit a sick relative, a present for a sick child, or being able to pay the heating bill.

I am sure the best part was watching his poll numbers climb, while the Republicans in the Senate chastised the children in the House.

Mitch McConnell had gotten major concessions from the Democrats. They had agreed to pay for the tax cut by imposing a fee on middle class people who receive a mortgage from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The alternative was to ask the millionaires and billionaires to pay for it. The Republicans moaned- “not the job creators”. Do this and they will not be able to afford a new Masserati next year. Think of the damage that will cause the Italian economy!

They argued that if the middle class can afford TVs and Refrigerators they can also afford to pay for this middle class tax break.

They got Obama to agree to decide whether the Keystone pipeline should be built within two months. It doesn’t matter whether the environmental studies are complete or not. Actually the only thing that matters to the children is whether they get their way or not.

I think the President always wanted to build it. Now he can say those nasty anti-environment Republicans made him do it.

Senator McConnell finally had to point out to the children in the other House that he had not only won but would get another bite out of the apple after the New Year.

Finally, after being attacked not only by the Democrats but Republican Senators, conservative columnists, the Wall Street Journal and Fox news Speaker Boehner raised the white flag and they went home to their constituents who must be wondering what they had elected.


Saturday, December 10, 2011


I have enjoyed the Republican primary including the never-ending debates. I have put off writing about the candidates, thinking things would shake out and I would have fewer to talk about.

I picture  it as a circus, with a center ring which contains a different act every few days. Outside is the freak show where performers are sent after they are kicked out of the big top.

Michele Bachman,  the first performer in the center ring, looked great swinging on her trapeze, high above the others. Then she began to talk.  She announced her candidacy in Waterloo, Ill where she said John Wayne was born. It turned out to be the wrong Wayne. It was John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer who lived in Waterloo.

She finally advised parents of young girls that their children should not receive an STD vaccine. She based this advice on a survey consisting of one mother who said her daughter suffered from autism after receiving the shot. People then realized that she was just a short Sarah Palin, and she fell into the net which funneled her into the Side show where she has remained.

Next into the center ring strode the lion tamer, snapping his whip and sticking a chair into the faces of the snarling lions. This man, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, famed for protecting his dog from wolves while jogging in the morning, and for his willingness to attack even social Security in his fight for conservative purity.

 In a debate he spent minute after minute struggling to describe Mitt Romney s flips and flops but ended the effort in embarrassing failure. He grandly proclaimed that he would cut the federal budget by eliminating three departments Education,Commerce and....  He had forgotten the third  and after a seemingly endless struggle to recall could only mutter "oops".  At that point the lions were laughing so hard that the audience was left to chase him out of the center ring, out of the tent and into the furthest corner of the side show.

Then comes Herman Cain, the handsome ring master snapping his whip as horses mounted by pretty ladies trot around  him. Strong, handsome, debonair.. the crowd loved him. Then two of the ladies slid off their horses and announced to the crowd that Mr. Cain had sexually harassed them. The crowd seemed unimpressed until a third lady, riding bareback, preceded to the center of the ring and announced that the Hermanator had offered her a job in exchange for sexual favors.  Even this wasn’t enough to arouse this crowd, but when a fourth lady rode her horse into the center of the ring and told the crowd that she had been his mistress for thirteen years and sprinkled  texts and e-mails around the ring to prove it, the women in the audience chased him out of the big tent, past the side shows and home where I am sure his wife will watch him much more carefully in the future.

During all of this Mitt Romney has remained in the Big Top, carefully working his way across, while balancing on the high wire. While he has generated little excitement, a substantial portion of the audience has offered support and encouragement. He has remained calm, thoughtful and in control...Presidential, one might say.

 But then, looking up, he sees starting out on the wire from the other end, his nemesis- the Newt. The Newt- whose campaign staff had resigned because he went on vacation instead of campaigning. The Newt- who preaches family values although he has been married three times and was committing adultery with the second wife while married to the first and with the third wife while married to the second. The Newt- who visited his first wife in the hospital while she was recovering from surgery to discuss their impending divorce. His answer to all of this? Do as I say- not as I do.

Despite carrying all this baggage and a great deal more, the Newt is advancing steadily, maintaining his balance and forcing Mitt to retreat.

In the meantime there are those who started in the side show and have stayed there. First there is Ron Paul. He wants to abolish five departments including the Department of Energy. This Department is responsible for overseeing all of our nuclear programs both commercial and military. It oversees almost all the basic research being done in this country. Does he really intend to abandon these programs?

Mr. Paul does get kudos for sincerity. He honestly believes the things he says.  During one debate he was forced to admit that a guy who was sick with no money and no insurance would just have to die. He also pointed out that not one member of his audience would shoot up heroin if drugs were made legal. Both of these responses drew applause.

It all makes you wonder who is attending this circus.  Hope no children are allowed.

Rick Santorum started in, and has remained part of the sideshow, bashing gays and fighting against free choice.

There is one who has been sitting in the parking lot. Handsome, intelligent, experienced both in government and business. He served as CEO of the family’s multimillion dollar empire and has worked for his country under four presidents including President Obama. He won a second term as Governor of Utah with over seventy percent of the vote. He recognizes that the world is warming, has advocated cap and trade although not now. He believes homosexuals should have the same rights as the rest of us but not the right to marry. He believes that we must do something to end the constant problem of illegal immigration, tightening our borders while helping those that are already here.

This crowd, at this time, won’t let him in the tent When the next circus is staged four years from now hopefully there will be a different audience, one seeking moderates who can work with others to find ways to move America forward. Jon Huntsman will be on that high wire but The Newt and Mitt will be home watching the circus on TV.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A friend gave me an editorial criticizing President Obama for failing to encourage Congress to vote on the Simpson Bowles’ (The national Commission on fiscal responsibility and Reform) recommendations to reduce the deficit.

The plan was never voted on because there were very few Democrats or Republicans who would support it. The democrats hated the proposed changes in Medicare and the Republicans hated it because it proposed, through tax reform,  large increases in government revenue.

The Commission recommended a $500 deductible plus a 50% contribution to the next $5000 of medical expense incurred by seniors. Voting for that would have been tantamount to submitting your resignation.

It also recommended, in the guise of tax reform, a substantial increase in taxes including a 15% tax on gasoline. Can’t picture there being much Tea Party support for that one.

It would have been wonderful to hear honest debate on the issues raised but in this political climate everyone is afraid to offer a compromise for fear of it being used in an attack ad in the next election.

If a Republican suggests that he will support tax increases if a Democrat will support spending cuts... he will face charges in the next election that he favors tax increases. If a Democrat were to vote for the changes in Medicare he would have been blasted for destroying Medicare.
Look at what happened to Democrats who voted for health care reform although the changes to Medicare made by that bill were minimal!

I believe that the President's big mistake was not allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire unless Congress acted to get our deficit under control. When he agreed to compromise he lost the battle but perhaps not the war.

It is possible that he didn’t want the tax cuts to expire while our economy was so fragile and in fact through that compromise and the recent one resulting from the Republicans blocking the increase in the debt ceiling, simply postponed the day of reckoning.

A year from now - 1.2 trillion dollars, 120 billion a year, will be automatically cut from the budget, half of it from defense. At the same time the Bush tax cuts will expire adding 300 billion a year in revenue. Together they will reduce the deficit by over 4 trillion dollars in 10 years ,enough to erase the deficit, without Congress doing anything (something they are really good at) . Neither side wants this and the result might be honest, real and hopefully public negotiations which may result in tax reform and budget cuts similar to those recommended by Simpson Bowles.

All of us should read the Commission’s plan. It is short and both easy to read and to understand. While it is easy to find fault with particular recommendations, it is hard to fault the plan in its entirety. The end result, a balanced budget, is of course what is really important.

Anyone wishing to review their recommendations can access them by clicking on this link:

A number of other plans have been offered. The Paul Ryan Plan can be found at

are two of them.

The Commission did not try to dictate specific spending cuts to specific programs (although it does make a number of suggestions) It attempted to provide a broad outline to follow in order to achieve both reductions in spending and increases in revenue.

Unfortunately it was completed after the 2010 elections and flew in the face of the newly elected Tea party candidates pledge to not increase taxes. The election also made it apparent that if you wanted to win a Republican primary, revenue enhancement was off the table.

The plan reduced tax rates, but by eliminating what it calls tax expenditures (deduction and subsidies that favor the rich and special interests) it increased revenue. It decreases everyone’s after tax income but the poorest 20% by only .025% and the richest 20% by 3.4%. When your income is over a million dollars 3.4% is a lot of dollars.

There were a lot of other suggestions for revenue enhancement that should have pleased democrats but apparently by not enough. A 15 % increase in the tax on gasoline (the proceeds dedicated to much needed highway construction and maintenance), a reduction in the corporate tax rate, eliminating mortgage interest as a deduction except on your personal residence, an increase in the capital gains rate and the tax rate on dividends to the rate your other income was taxed at and other changes which all seemed reasonable to me.

It says there are 75 special tax breaks for different corporations and other special interests. It proposes eliminating almost all of them. I saw that as a make-work project for lobbyists. It took them 25 years to convince Congress to stick these breaks in the tax code. If the Commission's report was approved the lobbyists could go back to full employment trying to obtain those exemptions again!

The reductions in discretionary expenditures were divided between security and non security spending with both areas suffering cuts. These recommendations were made in general terms leaving it to Congress and the Administration to decide where these cuts could be made while causing minimum damage. Again all of these recommendations seemed reasonable.

The recommendations were also sensitive to our present economic problems. Most provisions did not take affect until 2014 or 2015.

The plan contains much to love but you could make a multitude of changes and still end up with the same result. We are never going to create a system which satisfies everyone. We need to compromise. If we are going to save the country we need to elect people who are ready to do that. Centrists who are willing to engage in calm debate... not slaves to the Tea Party nor to the far left.

The polls show that 77% of Americans understand that tax increases are required.

The other 23% listen to Rush Limbaugh and Fox news. Unfortunately they are also the Tea Party and are choosing our Republican Congresspeople.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Great Light Bulb War

In 2007  the Energy Independence and Security Act was adopted. That Law in part, phased out the use of incandescent bulbs which were to be replaced by more efficient fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) or the even more efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Recently the Republican members of Congress (including our Connie Mack) voted to repeal this portion of the law, and the Republican controlled Texas legislature with the support of its Republican Governor, passed a statute to allow Texans to continue to buy incandescent bulbs despite federal law.

This seemed strange since the Federal Act was passed with broad Republican support and was signed into law by President George W Bush. After eliminating provisions raising taxes on oil companies the Act passed in the House 314 to 100 and in the Senate 86 to 8.

Their position NOW is that the government has no right to tell us what kind of light bulbs to buy.

In fact it should not be necessary to tell us what kind of light bulbs to buy. CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to ten years longer than incandescent.  While initially they cost a bit more (the price has been falling since production was ramped up and competition increased) over the long run they save us lots of money. For example an 18 watt CFL used in place of a 75 watt incandescent will provide the same amount of light and save you about $45 over its lifetime.

 Reducing electricity consumption reduces CO2 emissions. It is estimated that replacing one incandescent bulb with a CFL will reduce CO2 emissions by half a ton over the life of the bulb. CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury and must be disposed of like lead based paint and batteries as a hazardous material. LEDs, while more expensive, are even more efficient than CFLS, and last even longer.

 The early CFLs gave off the harsh white light we have come to expect from fluorescents. Now you can choose the light quality you want. Kelvin measured light color are shown on packages by a K number. Light bulbs emitting 2700k looks the same as an incandescent. As that number increases the light becomes bluer and brighter.

 Ever since they became  available I have replaced my burned out bulbs with CFLs and  in hard to reach places, with LEDs,  I have not had to replace any of the new bulbs although some are more than three years old! I fully expect the LEDs in my bathroom to still be working long after I am dead

Both of these new types of bulbs are cheaper and better for the environment. This explains why the Act had such broad based support even under George Bush’s administration.

What explains the Republicans and their Tea Party backers desire to return to using incandescent bulbs? The Internet is loaded with letters, articles and blogs criticizing CFLs. They are too expensive… but  they are not. They can’t be dimmed… but they can! They can’t be produced as a three way bulb… but they are! They contain a dangerous amount of mercury… but eating fish too often poses a greater risk! Their light quality isn’t good… but if you choose the right bulb it is the same or better.

 The government uses a number of different approaches to encourage better behavior from its citizens. The energy star program which forces companies to estimate how much it will cost to run an appliance is one of them. Advising car buyers as to how many miles per gallon each car will get was somewhat effective but requiring companies to build more efficient vehicles works much better. Industry including the lighting industry supports these programs. They only ask that the rules apply to everyone.  Once given the requirements they will meet or exceed them. Competition forces them to make the best product at the lowest cost they can.

I am unable to understand the principles that govern today's Republicans. Later I will talk about their push to put unhealthy and fattening foods back onto  our school's menu. I can't believe that they believe incandescent bulbs and fat kids are best for America.
Ron Taht

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tales of two Politicians

I recently read two books, one written by the former Republican Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, the other by Democrat Jennifer Grandholm, the former Governor of Michigan. I chose these authors since I thought they would contrast the right and the left, the conservatives and the liberals. I hoped that this would enhance my understanding of these conflicting views.

I will start with Daniels' book.

The Republican

I learned that he both hates and loves different groups of people. I will discuss them in the order of vitriol or love he expresses.

First there are the government employees, civil servants or as he likes to call them, with a sneer, bureaucrats. These are the lowest of the low., worthless, good for nothings who are overpaid and under worked.

He got rid of 18% of those employed by Indiana and since they weren’t doing anything nobody missed them. He says he accomplished this without inflicting pain, but I am sure some of those unemployed civil servants missed their pay check. I am also sure a few banks missed receiving those mortgage payments and the local merchants missed the periodic visits to their stores.

While he doesn’t like civil servants as individuals he really hates them when they gang up on their employer. With the stroke of a pen he ended collective bargaining and transported Indiana back to the 60’s when civil servants served at the whim of the political party in power. Now he and his cohorts could reorganize departments, promoting and giving to those they liked, while firing anybody who complains. I’ve known a lot of teachers, policemen, firemen public works employees, Government office workers and they all treated me well and provided the service that I expected and was paying for. I must not know those lazy bums in Indiana that the governor describes.

As much as he hates bureaucrats... he loves the rich. They are the job creators he says we need to reduce their taxes. Stop regulating them and sit back while they grow the economy! Sounds good to me! (especially the sitting back part, something I’ve gotten really good at since I retired)

The next group he hates is Democrats. He really dislikes the Democrat in chief, Barack Obama. He believes that they have cornered the market on attack ads. He accuses them not only of misrepresentation but of outright lies.


Perhaps it is because of the people I know but I receive one or two e-mails every week attacking democrats and so far about 99% of them are based on lies and misrepresentations. Type Obama into Snopes or Fact Check and see how long the list of untrue e-mails is.

While he hates Democrats, he loves Republicans, who never lie and are always sweet, warm and fuzzy. He particularly loves the Gipper, Ronald Reagan, and includes his down to earth quotes through out the book. He doesn’t mention the fact that Reagan cut taxes, increased expenditures and tripled our nation’s debt. He also loves G W Bush who did the same thing. In fact Daniels was the director of the Office of Management and the Budget during Bush’s first three years when he cut taxes and launched two wars, ultimately increasing our debt by 5 trillion dollars. When Bush did it: GOOD! When Obama does it: BAD!

Reagan’s Director of the Budget David Stockman at least realized what he had done and wrote a book, Triumph of Politics, apologizing to the American people. Too bad Daniels didn’t fess up to the mess he made before telling us how to fix it.

The part I enjoyed the most was when he suggested a truce between people who are discussing social issues like abortion or same sex marriage. The truce would prevent gays from advancing same sex marriage, leaving the status quo, which he loves, in place.

And then, he spends the rest of the chapter talking about all the laws he had passed making it more difficult to get an abortion and that was before he refused to give money to Planned Parenthood unless they quit providing abortions. A new definition of “truce”! - I can do whatever I want to advance my position but you can’t do anything to advance yours. That certainly would avoid arguments.

In another chapter he attacks the health care act. Of course he refers to it as Obamacare. At the end of that chapter he summarizes why he hates Obamacare and every other program suggested by democrats. He says” these programs demean and diminishes the rights of the free people Americans were intended to be” He doesn’t mention that it will provide health care for 40 million Americans who don’t have it now.

He attacks Obama for bailing out AIG. He doesn’t mention what would have happened to the world economy if AIG had been unable to meet its obligations to the worlds banks to whom it had sold billion of dollars in Default Credit Swaps. (Insurance on mortgage backed securities)

He also doesn’t mention that the bailout worked. AIG(or at least its parts) will survive and the taxpayer will not lose a nickel.

He criticizes the bailout of the automobile industry. He was upset because an Indiana pension fund with out standing loans wasn’t going to get paid, while retired UAW members were going to receive their pensions. When you weigh 100,000 jobs, 100’s of thousands of retired auto workers pensions and three major American industrial manufacturers against the companies general creditors even most Republicans would arrive at the correct answer. Once again this rescue is going to be accomplished without costing the taxpayer anything.

Would it hurt him to say, just once, good job Obama!!

There is never another side to his arguments.

He admires a fictional character in the book “The Time It Never Rained” by Elmer Kelton. This man, Charlie Flagg, lived in west Texas during the worst drought in American history. (1947 to 1957) Although government help was available he refused to accept it. Thousands of people, despite government assistance, lost everything during this difficult time as ranch’s and farms failed.

It is a lot easier to admire the fictional Mr. Flagg from the comfort of your office in Indiana rather than a stubborn old coot watching his fields dry up and his livestock die,,,,, when he could do something to prevent it.

Government was invented to provide help in times of trouble. I thought that was the agreement. The government can use my money to help you because next time I may be the one who needs help.

I might also mention Moses who saw drought in Egypt’s future and built warehouses to store food for that emergency. Good thing the Pharaoh had hired Moses and not Charlie Flagg! Or for that matter Mr. Daniels! They would have told the people to build their own damn warehouse. “You can’t expect the government to waste the rich taxpayer’s money looking out for you”. If that had happened the Jews would still be in Egypt, the Red Sea would never have parted and Cecil B DeMille would still be looking for stories to turn into movies.

The Democrat

Mrs. Grandholm doesn’t hate anyone. She was elected Governor of Michigan before the recession but not before the automobile industry began to fail. She immediately reorganized the various agencies of government needed to attract business’ to invest in Michigan. She traveled to Asia and Europe and attracted a number of foreign investments to her state. She also had to lay off state employees and get give backs from others to balance her state's budget. She did this by working with the unions rather than by destroying them. She worked with the Obama administration to gain investments under the stimulus act and to create “green” business’ including a number of companies that will build batteries for electric cars. She estimates that those businesses will ultimately provide Michigan with 60,000 jobs. She also was supportive of education reform championed by President Obama and put in place by his “race to the top’. She also worked with the Federal Government to take advantage of educating and retraining displaced workers and to try to place those people in new jobs. She says that everything she accomplished was with the consent of state employees, their union and the Republicans who were in the majority in both houses of the legislature during both her terms in office.

Mrs. Grandholm believes that both federal and state Government must target specific industries, help them with research and development and help them bring production to scale if we are going to compete with China and the rest of the world. China and India already do this... and as Mr. Daniels points out they are buying us.

In contrast to Mr. Daniels she seems to respect the opinions of others and was willing to listen to them and happy to work with them to help the people of her state.

Not crossing the chasm

I started by saying that I hoped reading these books would help me understand the chasm that exists between Republicans and Democrats. The chasm exists because Republicans are convinced they are right and it is impossible to reason with them.

Democrats, however, also believe just as strongly that they are right.

There are many areas where Mr. Daniels and I agree and many more where we disagree. Daniels says he wants to protect the safety net. He does not tell us what he would eliminate and what he would preserve. He is proud of his reorganization of the child welfare department in Indiana which changed it (he says) from failing to one of the best in the country.

While he has no answer for the millions of Americans who don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and are not insured through their employers he does want to preserve the government help that is now provided. He also seems to support Social Security although all these programs need to be “reformed”.

I would like to see his idea of a federal budget, what he would keep and what he would throw away. He wants to eliminate much of the IRS by "reforming" our tax code I could accept that although I am sure we would disagree over how the code should be changed.

He thinks privatization results in better service for less money He privatized meal preparation for inmates which did reduce the cost. While my research did not reveal the answer I strongly suspect the employees of the private vendor need food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet. I also suspect that it's employees have little or no health insurance and no pension If you add the savings I believe they will equal the ampunt costs were reduced and the companies profit. The cost of privatizing is always born by the working man.

He recognizes that some regulation is necessary but believes it should meet a cost/benefit analysis. I agree in principle but believe we would have a big fight over the details. He believes the processing of applications should be streamlined as there is no reason why one agency cannot provide all the approvals necessary. I experienced instances where I was trying to get approval from three different agencies only to find out later the people I was dealing with in numerous separate phone calls were in adjoining offices.

The area where we will never agree is on his social agenda. I believe that people should be free to choose there sexual identity, to decide whether to have a child and preventing scientist from using embryos, which are going to be discarded, is ridiculous.

The biggest problem I have with Mr. Daniels is his strong dislike of Democrats or of anyone that holds an opinion different than his. I was amazed by the depth of his dislike (hatred may not be too strong a word) of the President that permeates his book. If we cannot discuss our differences rationally we will fail as a country not because of the “red menace” (which refers to red ink) but because of gridlock.

Unless we respect each other and are able to rationally discuss our different opinions, ideas and vision we will never be able to move forward.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I am sound asleep.  The year is 2000. The Supreme Court has just decided that former Vice President Gore is now the President of the United States.  George Bush has returned to work on his ranch in Texas.  Cheney has gone hunting with Justice Scalia, where they wonder what happened, and Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz  are back at their think tanks planning for their next chance to attack Iraq, overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish Democracy in the Middle East.

 President Gore and his cabinet are thinking about the best way to use the surplus left them by President Clinton. There are some in Congress, where both houses are still controlled by Republicans, who want to cut taxes. They do not have a majority, let alone enough votes to overcome a Presidential veto. The administration wants to use these funds to strengthen the safety net, repair our infrastructure and invest in research necessary to establish 21st century industries and create 21st century jobs.

President Gore has long recognized the threat from global warming and begins working with the countries of the world to develop plans and programs to both defend against and ameliorate the problems that will come with rising sea levels and climate change.

9/11 happens! While President Gore is well aware of Al Qaeda and Bin Laden there is nothing he can do to prevent the attack.

 He is in his office working, quickly identifies the source of the attack and dispatches his Vice President to NY to assure the city and the families of the victims that they have the support of the federal government.

 He convenes the Security Council and, after reviewing his options, orders the Navy to fire cruise missiles from the Persian Gulf at every target they can find in Afghanistan.  He sends the CIA to assure the Northern Alliance, who has been battling the Taliban for years, that they have our support.  He also asks them to help us find and kill/capture Bin Laden and his lieutenants.

He directs the military to insert a force, as soon as possible, to catch and/or kill every member of Al Qaeda including Bin Laden, who has fled to his hideout in Tora Bora. Twenty thousand marines and special forces surround Tora Bora and after slowly closing in, capture Bin Laden and his top lieutenants. They are returned to NY charged with the murder of over 3000 people, convicted and after an expedited appeals process, are executed.

The World Trade Center is rebuilt in three years. On 9/11/04 it is dedicated, with a suitable memorial for those who died,  demonstrating Americas strength and resiliency.  

The president and his administration return to governing the country. When the recession strikes in 2007 our debt has been reduced to 4 trillion dollars. We are able to respond by providing a massive bailout for the financial system as well as spend billions of dollars to help the states balance their budgets without layoffs and to stimulate the economy.

 The recession is brought under control and our investments in new industries and to bail out the auto industry results in those companies being able to quickly absorb the unemployed. As soon as the economy recovers in 2010 we return to balanced budgets and reducing our debt.

All of this has been accomplished with broad bipartisan support. Republicans and Democrats praise each other for their rapid and affective response to the crisis. Congress receives an 85% approval rating. The Tea Party does not exist.

Then I wake up, read the morning paper, and think about what  actually happened while Bush had been  President.

The national debt in 2000: $5.6 Trillion
The national debt in 2008: $10.699 Trillion

The surplus in 2000: $230 Billion
The deficit in 2008: $455 Billion, a record                                                                                                                 
 Debt reduction 1998 to 2000: $360 Billion

Spending US Government in 2000: $1.789 Billion
Spending in 2008: $2.982 Billion

Thanks Bush and Cheney.
Thanks Supreme Court.

Thanks a lot you Republican voters.  

                  GREAT JOB, REPUBLICANS
        Now they want to fix the problems they created

In an earlier blog I said that the Tea Party wants to return the country to an earlier time, the beginning or middle of the 20th century. I would be happy to return to the year 2000. Let's abolish the Bush tax cuts and have the government spend the same amount and for the same things as it did that year.  Let's end our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Real Estate values have already returned to 2000 levels and as we work through the foreclosures and bankruptcy the amount of debt secured by real estate will go down as well. Hopefully as we regain our economic footing, unemployment levels will return to 5% its level in 2000.  Still dreaming!!!

Then we can purge our history books of any mention of the words George W Bush and live happily ever after.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The republicans admit to being half wrong... but wrong on the wrong half!

Although I may not sound like it, I was a Republican into my 50’s and a fiscal conservative my entire life.

I was raised with sayings such as “a penny saved is a penny earned”,
neither a borrower nor a lender be” and “God helps those who help themselves”. My parents were products of the Great Depression and tried to pass the lessons they learned on to their children. Thrift, hard work and a good education would allow us to live the American dream. They had three sons. Two became engineers, one with an Ivy League master’s degree, and the third, a lawyer (their only disappointment).

A fiscal conservative is one who believes that, like an individual, the government’s income and expenditures should be in balance. Borrowing for capital improvements that would serve at least as long as it took to satisfy the debt was acceptable, like buying a house or car is for an individual.

As long as we could afford it I also supported programs that would help people who were struggling to survive. These people had previously been supported through charity. Why shouldn’t all of us come together to provide them with help?

I thought that the Republicans agreed with me, but then Ronald Reagan was elected. He believed that he could reduce taxes and that would increase the governments income. This theory has come to be known as ”trickle down”, “supply side” and “Reaganomics”. I prefer the name given it by President George H W Bush, “VooDoo Economics”.

I was an economics major in undergraduate school and the idea that, by reducing income you could increase income, flew in the face of common sense and was contrary to everything I had learned about economics.

Let’s see how this “theory” worked in practice. When Reagan was sworn in a little over 30 years ago, our national debt was $994 billion. When he left office it had tripled to $2,867 billion. The national debt increased over his first term by 49% and by 40% during his second term.

While cutting taxes he also increased spending from $678 billion to $1,144 billion, almost double. Needless to say, Reagan had lost my vote long before the end of his first term.

During the middle of his second term I read “Triumph of Politics” by David Stockman who had served as Director of the Office of Management and the Budget during Reagan’s first term. He explained, rather patiently, that if you cut taxes you must also reduce expenditures or you’re going to end up with a tremendous increase in the amount you need to borrow.

In Reagan’s case he almost tripled America’s debt and doubled the government’s expenditures. Despite this he remains the darling of the Tea Party who say they want to make government smaller. I would appreciate it if someone, perhaps a member of the Tea Party, could explain this to me.

After that George H W Bush and Clinton vetoed bills that required expenditures that weren’t paid for, raised taxes, and by 2000 not only brought the budget into balance but created a surplus. Needless to say, this fiscal conservative was convinced and I have been a Democrat ever since.

George W Bush reinforced my decision. He practiced Reganomics, cutting taxes and increasing expenditures turning Clinton’s surplus into ever increasing deficits. In his eight years in office Bush increased spending from $1,821 billion to $3,107 billion He also managed to double the national debt increasing it from 5 trillion, 769 billion to 10 trillion 413 billion dollars.

During Clinton’s last term the debt decreased, for the first time since the 20’s, by 2%. During Bush’s first term the debt increased by 22% and in the second by18%.

I suspect that neither Reagan nor Bush really believed in supply side economics. What they did believe was that the best way to get reelected in greedy and irresponsible America was to cut taxes, while continuing to fund the Federal programs we love.

The Republicans now admit they were half wrong. They still want to cut taxes but now say they will reduce expenditures by eliminating all the programs that have been created to help the middle and lower class. The Tea Party which consists of middle class Americans thinks this is wonderful.

Have they lost their minds?

We can not hold Obama responsible for this economic mess. He took office in the middle of the deepest recession since the 30’s. Like Roosevelt he responded by saving the financial system and some of Americas biggest corporations ( Tarp) and by reducing taxes and pumping billions of dollars into the economy (the stimulus bill). These measures brought the recession to an end but have not solved the unemployment problem. Now he wants to continue tax decreases for the middle, class continue to pay unemployment insurance and invest money in America’s infrastructure. This time he wants to pay for these things by increasing taxes on people who make $1 million dollars or more.

The Republicans say they can support some of this.

Since they love cutting taxes they will support that part of it.

Since they are sworn to protect the fortunes of the rich they will oppose any tax increase on them.

Since they want any program to be paid for, they will take the money from the poor, the elderly or our children.

Incredible !!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Compassionate Conservative is an Oxymoron

The Republicans and their Tea Party supporters want to turn back the hands of time.

They must remember a different past than I do.

The world that existed from the beginning of the industrial revolution until the great depression had no child labor laws and no minimum wage. Employers could force you to work seven days a week with long hours and with no additional compensation. Forgotten, now, are the days of company towns where employees were little more than indentured servants. Employees who protested against their working conditions had to battle the scabs the strike breakers as well as the local police.

Back then the elderly and disabled were dependent on children or family and the charity extended by doctors and hospitals if they were to survive.

All of these problems and many more were overcome by our government. But perhaps even the Tea Party appreciates Social Security, Medicare, child labor laws, minimum wage and hour laws, collective bargaining and workplace safety. They may only want to go back to the 50’s and 60’s, a time I can remember...

I lived in New Jersey then.

On most days you weren’t able to see across the Delaware River because of the smog. When you drove across the Walt Whitman Bridge you had to roll up your windows and hold your breath because of the smoke and fumes being generated by the businesses below. You couldn’t swim in the bays behind the resort islands along the Jersey shore because of pollution. A good way to commit suicide was by eating a clam or an oyster.

During tourist season you closed your windows to reduce the smell from a nearby sewage plant and to prevent smoke and soot generated by a nearby electric power plant.

Many of you out there must remember the cancers caused by living near Love Canal. We still see the deformed people which resulted from the use of thalidomide.

All of these problems were created by private enterprise and were fixed or reduced by the government: by the Clean Air and Water acts, the Super Fund Act, and increased efforts to make sure medicine doesn’t do more harm than good.

Again... I have to believe that members of the Tea Party appreciate clean air and water and might want to make sure it stays that way. Perhaps the Tea Partiers want to reduce the size of the FBI, the DEA, Customs, the TSA and all the other federal agencies that do their best to make us safe. Or perhaps they want to reduce the budget for the Energy Department which is responsible for overseeing our nuclear material both for military and private use and oversees almost all basic research done in this country?

It is hard to believe they might want to reduce our investment in education at a time when we are trying to catch up to the education provided by other countries.

While I believe we could reduce spending on our military, the Tea Partiers don’t seem to be the type of people who would agree to that.

Perhaps we could stop maintaining our highways and bridges or our national parks? (Some people say we already have)

Tea Partiers would like to cut foreign aid and our contribution to the UN, although this would greatly affect our status in the world and the savings would be minimal.

Maybe they would like to cut funds available to fix the damage caused by hurricanes earthquakes and tornadoes. (They just tried that). Perhaps they could cut funds for the National Institute of Health! People can just do without those studies of the next drug to combat cancer and other diseases or to fight the next flu virus, right?

All of these expenditures benefit both conservatives and liberals and therefore I doubt if they want to seriously reduce or abolish them.

I am afraid that they are aiming at our safety net which exists to help and protect the poor, programs like food stamps, unemployment insurance or Medicaid. I also believe that these programs are what make this a benevolent, caring and civilized society. Apparently that belief is not shared by conservatives.

I was shocked when a question addressed to Governor Perry during the recent debate which noted that during his tenure over 200 prison inmates had been executed, received a loud ovation from his audience. I was even more shocked when Congressman Paul's reluctant admission that the man in the hospital who couldn’t afford medical care would be left to die also received loud and enthusiastic applause.

Congressman Boehner said when he ended the discussions which were an attempt to reduce the deficit, that there is a large philosophical difference between him and the President. I am proud to say that there is a large philosophical divide between me and the conservatives attending that debate.

Perhaps we could find a better way to bring our budget deficit under control. Perhaps increasing taxes and eliminating tax breaks for special interests combined with thoughtful cuts to spending would work. I hope that most Americans recognize that this is the only way forward.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Save Democracy! Elect new Congressmen!

I have been making fun of our congressmen, particularly the Republicans. They (both the Republicans and Democrats) seem hopelessly deadlocked and unable to govern.

We need to remember that Democracy is fragile.

Giving power to the people means that the people must be able to do the job.

Man’s first experiments with democracy were shortlived. Ancient
Athens and other lesser Greek city states were able to sustain theirs for less than 200 years. Athens produced one of democracies most famous critics. Plato said “that the most aggravated form of tyranny arises out of the most extreme liberty”. His answer was a benevolent philosopher king. I don’t think there are too many of them available these days.

Rome attempted to establish a very limited democracy (only aristocrats could vote or serve in the senate) until Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon in 49 BC, and Augustus declared himself Roman Emperor in 29 BC. After
Rome, democracy died until it was resurrected and finally put into practice in the U.S. in the eighteenth century.

I shouldn’t ignore
England. In the eleventh century the people were given some rights but remained subject to the will of the sovereign and the aristocrats.

Our Democracy has lasted 200 years but I am afraid it may be reaching its end. Democracy requires that its citizens curb their appetites, postponing gratification for the sake of the long term and be willing to sacrifice self interest for the common good. Americans no longer seem able to do this.

Congressmen’s insistence on getting their own way reflects the will of the people who elect them. Until a short time ago I could have a serious thoughtful discussion about economic or political issues with most of my friends. I still can, but the number of people I can do that with is quickly shrinking and the numbers who become rabid at the mention of a political issue (in particular something positive about our President) is rapidly growing.

The controversies seem not to be limited to Democrats and Republicans but exist between Republicans and Republicans as well. While it is painful - I have been watching the Republican presidential debates. Each candidate has his own jobs plan, his own plan for dealing with the deficit, his own solution for Social Security and Medicare his own way of changing taxes and his own way to solve every other problem facing America. They do agree, however, that everything President Obama has done or will do was or will be wrong.

They also all agree that the job killing National Health Act must be repealed. They don’t even apologize to the 50 million Americans who will continue to be without health care insurance. Any attempt at rational discussion of health care cause these people to go ballistic. What’s amazing is any mention of Medicare reform has the same affect on the same people.

What is the answer?

During my lifetime we have had extremists on the right and on the left.
America has succeeded because the vast majority of us are in the middle. These are the thoughtful, intelligent and educated, the ones I can still have a meaningful conversation with.

We need to select candidates who recognize that they are fallible like the rest of us. We need to vote for the candidate that does not have extreme views, whether that candidate is Republican or Democrat. We need to elect the candidate who can and will compromise in order to move the country forward. We must elect candidates who consider doing the right thing more important than winning the next election. It means that we must reject tea party candidates as well as candidates from the extreme left.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The children (sometimes called congressmen and women) are at it again. Last time they held our entire economy hostage refusing to raise the debt limit while they bickered over which of our governments programs should be demolished.

 This time they have decided to stamp their feet and roll on the floor while refusing to provide funds to help the victims of tornadoes, floods and wild fires unless 1.5 billion dollars is taken out of the budget.

They even chose the program they want to destroy. They want to take the money away from an energy department program which loans to companies who make advanced engines, batteries, and alternative fuels for cars.

The Department says it won’t be able to fund 18 pending applications. The Center for American Progress says that will prevent us from creating at least 43,500 new jobs. Of course it will also slow the development of more fuel efficient vehicles.

 All this, as the “Super Committee” appointed after the last go around (the debt limit compromise) is trying to agree on a way to reduce our deficit by 1.5 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. You would think 1.5 trillion would be enough to satisfy the children for a few months, but it isn’t.

 Some one needs to explain to the children that there is a budget process. When they begin work to develop the budget(s) they can change programs and/or abolish programs to their little hearts content. The problem is that they won’t stop bickering long enough to develop a budget.

 Regardless holding the victims of disasters hostage is the wrong way to do it.

 We the people need to send these kids home and hire adults who realize that they don’t always get there way. Some times you have to divide the toys up so everyone gets a chance to play.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I received this list of changes that have occurred since January 2009, the month President Obama took office. Unlike most e-mails of this type the list was basically accurate. It then says the President was responsible for these changes.. Of course he wasn’t. Usually the facts are wrong but the conclusion inevitable.  In this one the facts are right and the conclusion ridiculous.

The first seven changes referred to is the price of commodities such as corn, sugar, wheat, gold and oil. These items are sold in a competitive market worldwide and price depends on many factors, the most important of which are supply and demand. The price is in dollars and is the same in China, Europe, America or any place else in the world. Only in a socialist economy does government have control over these prices. Although some people would disagree with me we do not live in a socialist country.

 The next four items dealt with unemployment. It points out that unemployment was at 7.2% when Obama took office and it is now 9.1%. The author doesn’t tell us that in January 2008, when Bush was president, unemployment stood at 5%, soared during the next year of his term in office to 7.2%, and continued to climb to 10.1. And then as the recession was brought under control, (while Obama was President) fell to 9.1% where, sadly, it remains today.

 I do not blame President Bush for the recession and since Obama didn’t become President until a year after the economy collapsed I would think that it is ridiculous to blame him. I believe that the banks, real-estate speculators, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, congress, the president and the Federal Reserve and many others all share responsibility for either causing it or failing to prevent it from happening.

 I also do not give all the credit to Obama for bringing it under control, although his was a major contribution. The steps to accomplish that began with President Bush and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson (Tarp1) and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. Their effort was continued under President Obama (Tarp 2, the stimulus bills which included 300 billion in tax cuts( a sop to Republicans) and the continuation of the tax cuts in December 2010). The bailouts of AIG and the automobile companies helped as did the bailouts of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae which began under Bush and continues to this day. While the Republicans say cutting taxes will reduce unemployment they say this 300 billion dollar tax cut did not produce 1 additional job Tax cuts by Republicans apparently are the only ones that work
The author then goes on to point out that household income declined and the number of people receiving unemployment benefits, food stamps and people in poverty have increased. Duh!! What does he think happens during a recession? He doesn’t tell us that these things began under President Bush and continued to increase until stopped by programs instituted under President Obama

He also points out that money supply increased during the recession. That is of course one tool that can be used to battle economic decline and, surprise, they used it.

 He also points to the declining value of the dollar against world currencies. I don’t know to what degree governments can influence this but the President has welcomed this change since it makes it easier for us to increase our exports.

 Last he points to our exploding deficit, a subject close to my heart. The deficit had increased by five trillion dollars under Bush as a result of the Bush tax cuts, spending for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D and two wars. The deficit under Bush increased on average by over 400 billion dollars a year. This clown says the deficit increased 27 times as fast since President Obama was elected in the middle of a recession, 27 times as fast as any time in our history. Can anyone multiply 27 times 400 billion? 

The author is an asshole but still someone sends his nonsense to me and to many others. In this country too many of the “others” accept it as if it were gospel. 
After writing this I think that reciting accurate facts and then arriving at a stupid conclusion is worse than making up your facts to support a conclusion you like. Actually both of these are working to devestate our democracy.

The following is the e-mail I have been discussing
After two years of
Obama, here's your change!

January 2009
% chg
Avg.. Retail price/gallon gas in U.S.

Crude oil, European Brent (barrel)

Crude oil, West TX Inter. (barrel)

Gold: London (per troy oz.)

Corn, No.2 yellow, Central IL

Soybeans, No. 1 yellow, IL

Sugar, cane, raw, world, lb. Fob

Unemployment rate, non-farm, overall

Unemployment rate, blacks

Number of unemployed

Number of fed. Employees

Real median household income

Number of food stamp recipients

Number of unemployment benefit recipients

Number of long-term unemployed

Poverty rate, individuals

People in poverty in U.S.

U.S.. Rank in Economic Freedom World Rankings

Present Situation Index

Failed banks

U.S.. Dollar versus Japanese yen exchange rate

U.S.. Money supply, M1, in billions

U.S.. Money supply, M2, in billions

National debt, in trillions

Just take this last item: In the last two years, we
have accumulated national debt at a rate more
than 27 times as fast
during the rest of our entire nation's history.
That's over 27 times as
fast! Metaphorically speaking, if you are driving in the right lane doing
65 MPH, and a car rockets past you in the left lane 27 times faster, it
would be doing 1,755 MPH!
(1) U.S. Energy
Information Administration; (2)
Wall Street Journal; (3) Bureau of Labor Statistics; (4) Census Bureau; (5) USDA; (6)
U.S. Dept. Of Labor;
(7) FHFA; (8) Standard
& Poor's/Case-Shiller; (9)
RealtyTrac; (10) Heritage Foundation and WSJ; (11) The Conference Board;
(12) FDIC;

(13) Federal Reserve; (14) U.S. Treasury
tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and
impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in 29
months -- so you'll have one year and five months to come up with an
statement in this e-mail message is factual and directly attributable to
Barrack Hussein Obama. Every bumble is a matter of record and completely