Archive for the ‘fired up ready to go!’ Tag

An Open Letter to the GOP Leadership in Congress

Starting this past Thursday, and for the first time in nearly 15 years, I have health insurance.  It’s not great, but it’s basic coverage that I can afford.

Prior to the ACA (or Obamacare, if you prefer), the only insurance I was eligible for was both obscenely expensive–about a third of my pay–and covered damn near nothing until I was already five to ten thousand dollars out of pocket, which was money I wouldn’t have been able to save considering the third-of-my-paycheck price tag in the first place.

My coverage is not perfect, and it is not complete, but it means that this fiftysomething will be able to see a doctor for basic and preventative care for the first time in fifteen years, and will not have to rely on luck, optimism, and the emergency room.

What I want to know is this: before you start trying to dismantle the ACA, what program will you have in place to provide the same or better coverage at the same or lower cost?  What is your plan for my health coverage, other than hoping that I die before I qualify for Medicare and you can’t block me anymore?

Because I am not giving up my card without a fight.  If the new Congress defunds the ACA, then I challenge John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to take my card from me personally and explain to me why full-time working, tax-paying, law-abiding me doesn’t deserve basic medical coverage.  I want them to look me in the eye and tell me that.

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do if they defund the ACA and I lose my coverage.  I will be submitting my medical bills directly to their offices.  If they’re not going to let me buy my own insurance, then my health care is their responsibility to cover.

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What should happen in Washington–but won’t.

I genuinely believe that Speaker John Boehner would like to come to an agreement with the White House, for the simple reason that he’s an Ohio Republican, and we generally don’t grow extremist nutjobs around here, Joe (er, Sam) the (back-tax-owing, not really licensed as a) Plumber notwithstanding and Dennis Kucinich notwithstanding. Our Republicans generally look like George Voinovich rather than Ann Coulter, and our Democrats more like John Glenn than Abbie Hoffman. We’re a state that’s good at compromise. Even both our professional football teams wear essentially the same colors.

So I really do believe in his heart of hearts, John Boehner would like to find some sort of agreement that everyone will hate but can live with, and move on. But his own backbenchers won’t let him; if he dares try to compromise, the teabag contingent will happily revolt and throw him out of the speakership and either they’ll elevate one of the extremists to the speakership, or the teabaggers will sit on their hands and let Nancy Pelosi become a plurality speaker.

What Boehner should do, and won’t, is this: take a good head count of the votes he’ll lose by compromising, and speak to at least that many conservative Democrats (and there are plenty to choose from, especially from the south, and more than enough to cover the potential defections), and basically tell his extremist wing to go fuck themselves, this country needs to operate. At a stroke, he looks like the grownup and the statesman, and can claim the mantle of bipartisanship, rather than being the tool of his backbenchers and the poster boy for obstructionism.

Won’t happen. Ever. Not a chance.

Which is the real tragedy here.

On “the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I wonder how many people (especially the whiny sore losers posting petitions to secede) appreciate just how magnificent a document our Constitution is.  The First Amendment is a particular gem:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It is with the ‘petition the Government for a redress of grievances’ I want to get into here.  The White House website has a petition website for precisely that purpose.  They range from the sensible to the inane to the insane, but that’s the nature of the public commons.

Anyway, they recommend that the title complete this sentence: “We Petition the Obama Administration To…” so I did:


Take further steps against voter suppression

Since 2000, there has been a rise in voter suppression tactics across the nation.

Caging lists are used to purge legitimate voters from the system, often only on the basis of a single piece of returned mail. These lists frequently target districts that are minority, or have a history of favoring one party over the other.

Voter ID laws are being passed across the country, ostensibly to prevent voter fraud. However, a recent study has determined that in-person voter fraud is an essentially non-existent problem, with only ten cases since 2000 out of approximately 600,000,000 votes cast across the country.

The negative effects of voter ID laws are expected to fall disproportionately heavily on minority voters, especially if there is a fee to receive the ID card. Since this constitutes a fee in order to vote, this is unconstitutional under the 24th Amendment.

We the undersigned ask the government to do the following:

  1. Constitutionally challenge voter ID laws which levy any fee of any kind
  2. Vigorously enforce the anti-caging provisions of the National Voter Registration Act
  3. Explore setting minimum national standards for voting with regard to ballot types, accessibility, and especially with regard to certification of voting machines
  4. Require that the software on voting machines used in federal elections be open source, so that the process is wholly transparent and less open to manipulation
  5. Mandate that paper ballots should be available upon voter request
  6. Designate Election Day a federal holiday, or commit to a Constitutional amendment moving Election Day to a Saturday or Sunday, perhaps the first Saturday after the first Monday in November, which would retain the current range of Nov. 2-8. No one should have to choose between their job and their right to vote.

We believe that the problems with democracy can only be solved by more democracy.


This was the full version I wrote up — there is, however, an 800 character limit so the actual text was abbreviated.  I have posted my petition here; whether it reaches 25,000 in the time frame given, I don’t know.  I can but hope.

The lessons the GOP should learn from this election… but won’t

1. Losing ground in an election that was theirs to win is not a mandate.

John Boehner claimed a Republican mandate; considering his party failed to capture the White House, lost ground in the Senate, and at best will only manage to hold the line in the House, that’s among the more ludicrous things said by any politician and indicates self delusion matched only by Baghdad Bob.  If the American public issued a mandate, it was that it’s time to grow up and go to work, and that a Republican policy position of “NO!” is no longer tenable.  Since most of the victims have been freshman teabaggers, you’d think that would be an easy lesson to learn, but Republican knee-jerk obstructionism goes deep, and American patience has its limits.  The only Republican who came out well from all this is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

 

2. Demographics change

Even if they get away with their policy of “NO!”, time is going to cut their base out from under them.  They’ve been living on borrowed time on Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which relied on white anger against the Civil Rights movement to turn the Solid South for the Democrats into the Solid South for the Republicans.  The old South is changing, though, and the last generations that were born and raised in the segregated South are not going to be around that much longer.  Look at the broad swathe of blue through the South in the county results; Dixie is fractured right up the middle, and with the growth of a minority-majority America, that crack is only going to become a fissure, and then a canyon, into which all GOP electoral hopes will fall.  Virginia’s a full-blown swing state now, and North Carolina’s on the edge.  Considering the GOP’s substantial voter gap with Hispanic Americans, it won’t be long before Florida is reliably blue and Texas is a swing state.  If the GOP doesn’t reach out past tokenism, and doesn’t change track from its elitism, it’s going to be reduced to a minority party of the mountain states and high plains.

 

3. We are electing politicians, not priests.

The Republicans’ reliance on the laissez-faire economic Libertarians taking advantage of Talebangelical right-wing “christians” is on shaky ground.  The free marketeers have been dealt a major setback with Romney’s defeat, which is going to open the way for one of the religious extremists grab for nomination in 2016.  And that candidate is going to go down to an epic defeat, because he or she will be so monumentally out of sync with where the country actually is.  Keep in mind that the fastest-growing belief segment is ‘none of the above’ — not just atheists and agnostics, but various non-Christians, and the spiritual but not church-bound, who number about 20% in all as of last counting, and most of whom feel alienated by the GOP’s narrow-minded religious extremism.  So if the Republicans run someone in the mold of a Santorum or Bachman, all the Democrat will have to do is have a pulse, and not drool on camera.  Personally, I’d welcome that — it would send the party to the wilderness for a decade or so, and they might come back having learned some humility.

And before they start whining…

May I remind Republicans that Dubya lost the popular vote in 2000, before you start whining about Obama not winning the popular vote this year (should the current numbers remain that way) — so let’s not have any complaining on *that* account, please.

…so why is this election even close?

Here’s what I don’t get.  You have an intelligent, moderate Democratic president who, despite a Republican-controlled obstructionist House, has managed a recovery — modest, slow, and fitful, but a recovery nonetheless — left him by a Republican president and Republican laissez-faire ideas that have dominated national economic policy for thirty years.

About ‘moderate’.  Yes, moderate.  Not liberal, but only slightly left of center — and I have studied the relevant political theory, so I know the difference.  Obama is a centrist, not a socialist, and in any other democracy he’d be considered a moderate conservative.

Facing him is a man who, having been governor of one of the most liberal states in the country, could have been the face of New Republicanism, bringing the party back towards a more sensible center and abandoning the cultish and extremist ideology of the teabaggers and their ilk.

Instead, Romney went straight for the Kool-Ade, signing on to an extremist economic policy that caused the financial collapse we’re still trying to recover from, and to an extremist social policy that mistakes one narrow-minded misinterpretation of one religious book for civil law.

What I really don’t understand is why the business interests are aligned against Obama.  Historically, the major market indices almost always do better under Democrats than under Republicans.  Let’s take a look at the granddaddy of them all, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and we’ll take the first full day and the last full day of a president’s term that the markets were open (or in the case of Obama, most recent data as of this writing: 24 October 2012).

Obama 8,228.10 13,077.34 +4,849.24 +58.9%

Bush II 10,578.24 8,281.22 -2,297.02 -21.7%

Clinton 3,253.02 10,587.59 +7,334.57 +225.5%

Bush I 2,218.39 3,253.02 +1,034.63 +46.6%

Reagan 946.25 2,239.11 +1,292.86  +137.6%

Carter 962.43 970.99 +8.56 +0.1%

Ford 767.29 968.67 +101.38 +26.2%

Nixon 929.82 784.89 -144.93 -15.6%

Johnson 743.52 935.54 +192.02 +25.8%

Kennedy 639.82 732.65 +92.83 +14.5%

Eisenhower 287.60 632.39 +344.79 +119.9%

Truman 159.75 286.97 +127.22 +79.6%

Roosevelt 62.10 158.06 +95.96 +154.5%

Hoover 305.20 53.84 -251.36 -82.4%

Hm.  The only presidents to turn in end-of-term losses are Republicans.  Who’s better for business, again?   No wonder we use red for the conservatives in this country — it equals the color ink we should use for their economic policies.  The only Republican presidents who’ve outperformed Obama’s DJIA to date have been Reagan and Eisenhower.  Hoover, Nixon, Ford and both Bushes fail to measure up.  Best performer of all?  Clinton, of course.  Followed by Roosevelt.  Let’s go ahead and put them in order, shall we?

Clinton 3,253.02 10,587.59 +7,334.57 +225.5%

Roosevelt 62.10 158.06 +95.96 +154.5%

Reagan 946.25 2,239.11 +1,292.86  +137.6%

Eisenhower 287.60 632.39 +344.79 +119.9%

Truman 159.75 286.97 +127.22 +79.6%

Obama 8,228.10 13,077.34 +4,849.24 +58.9%

Bush I 2,218.39 3,253.02 +1,034.63 +46.6%

Ford 767.29 968.67 +101.38 +26.2%

Johnson 743.52 935.54 +192.02 +25.8%

Kennedy 639.82 732.65 +92.83 +14.5%

Carter 962.43 970.99 +8.56 +0.1%

Nixon 929.82 784.89 -144.93 -15.6%

Bush II 10,578.24 8,281.22 -2,297.02 -21.7%

Hoover 305.20 53.84 -251.36 -82.4%

Average standing of Democratic presidents out of the last 14 presidents?  6.29.  Of Republicans?  8.71.  So much for who’s better for business.

When you throw in a toxic social policy that says people should be legally discriminated against simply on the basis of whom they love, you come up with no legitimate reason to vote Republican.

Why I (still) won’t vote Republican, and why you shouldn’t either.

Actually, the reasons are many and varied, but I’ll stick with the big ones for right now.

  1. This current economic mess was caused by Republican deregulation. This is a Bush recession and has been since it started in the fall of 2008. Furthermore, had McCain been elected that year, unemployment extensions passed over the last couple years would not have been offered, or perhaps only the first would have been. I would be homeless right now without those extensions.
  2. ‘Fiscal responsibility’. The Republicans don’t have it. Of the national debt since 1977, Republican spending has added twice what Democratic spending has: $7.5 trillion under Reagan and the Bushes (and $4.3 trillion of that was Bush II all by himself) versus $3.7 trillion under Carter, Clinton and Obama. Yes, that’s right. Of the debt and spending that the Republicans are whining about, their own man is personally responsible for more of it than the last three Democratic presidents combined.
  3. The party has mistaken their own religious beliefs for Constitutional government, as worst typified by their near-absolute opposition to equal marriage rights. Are there a few Republicans who support equal marriage rights? Yes. Are they doing anything within their party about that? Absolutely not, as far as I’ve seen. And absent a Constitutional objection to gay marriage, they continue to push their religious objections.
    Wanna know how many churches have been forced to perform a same-sex marriage in violation of their internal canon law? None. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not a damned one. Which is as it should be. The churches get to make their own rules, so long as they don’t contravene certain basic health and safety rules. Even the health rules are weakened—Christian Scientists who refuse medical treatment, for example (although refusing medical care for their minor children is another matter entirely).
    The tradeoff in a civil society for non-interference by the government is that they do not get to impose their canon law on non-believers. You wouldn’t impose Jewish marriage rules on a couple Baptists getting married. Why would you impose Christian rules on Atheists?
    Or, to put it more bluntly, why would I consider voting for a party that considers legalized discrimination against me to be a good and desirable thing? For that matter, why would anyone support a group that favors institutionalized discrimination of any sort?
  4. The Tea Party. How is it that a few common sense and mild reforms of the health insurance system is the end of the Republic, but these people were nowhere to be seen when Dubya’s administration was authorizing torture and suspending habeas corpus.
    As far as I’m concerned, the whole teabagger movement is just a figleaf for an inner cadre of leaders who simply can’t accept that a black man is president. Sure, they claim that the incredibly racist signs that keep showing up at their rallies are “not our people”… but funny how they keep turning up, and how we never see those sign-carriers ejected from the rallies or from the organization.
    With regard to “Obamacare”: I’m all for it, and it needs to go farther. I haven’t had medical coverage in ten years. I thought this was a first-world civilized nation. Silly me.
  5. The GOP’s lapdog attitude toward business is appalling, and their solution to the problems we have is to apply more of what caused the problem in the first place: deregulation. There is nothing wrong with some basic, common-sense regulation of business. We’ve seen what happens when they don’t have oversight—you get Enron, you get the housing market crash, you get the near-depression we have right now.

I want to spend some more time on that financial thing.

The fact, supported by all the historical data, is that Democrats are better for the economy than Republicans are, and always have been.

Under Obama, we’ve already erased the losses on the Dow incurred under Dubya—the Dow stood at 10,581.90 the day Dubya took office and at 7949.09 on the morning of Inauguration Day, 2009 — a loss of 25%. As of 10/27/2010, it’s at 11126.28, gaining back everything Dubya lost and even topping the mark at the end of Clinton’s term. The other markets are all close to their pre-Bush levels —and all well above Bush’s closing levels.

Only three presidents have posted market losses between their first day of office and their last — and all three are Republicans: Hoover (lost 83.54%), Nixon (lost 16.10%) and Bush II (lost 24.88%). Nixon and Bush II extended their losses across all four major markets: the Dow, the NYSE, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ.

The president under whom all four markets posted their largest gains? Bill Clinton. All four markets.

President under whom they performed worst? For the Dow, Herbert Hoover. For the NYSE, Richard Nixon. For both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq? Dubya.

The answer is clear. If you vote Republican, you are voting to worsen our economy.

Things That Rock A Lot, #1

  1. Professer Julius Sumner Miller.
    And I say that’s wonderful. Why is there no DVD collection of his Demonstrations in Physics? For that matter, why isn’t there a complete DVD release of “Beakman’s World”?
  2. President Obama, who’s done more good for this country in just two and a half weeks of his presidency than Dummy did in eight stolen years of his–but mostly for being able to say those magic words, “I screwed up.” Personal responsibility in a president! Who’d’a thunk it?

Looking for words when they won’t come.

I fancy myself a writer. I still harbor hopes of being professionally published some day. I’d like to think that my amateur output at least doesn’t suck. I am my own worst critic.

So I hate not having words.

I still haven’t any for my feelings on the election. My thoughts are still unsettled, in a good way.

I haven’t stopped smiling. When I see a picture of Rev. Jesse Jackson crying in Grant Park, or Condoleeza Rice choking up a bit offering her congratulations, I tear up. When I contemplate that Inauguration Day is the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I tear up. When I catch a fragment of will.i.am’s Yes We Can, I tear up. Tears of joy, of relief, even of disbelief. Even a little of sorrow, thinking of my grandfather, who would’ve been so proud to see what America did on Tuesday, or President-elect Obama’s grandmother, who died Sunday night just short of his victory.

I feel like I’m waking up from a long nightmare.

Everything feels different. I noticed, walking to Kroger’s yesterday morning to get a copy of the paper, everyone was smiling. Broadly. Genuinely.

Kroger’s had sold out of newspapers shortly after opening. There’s a B&N a few blocks north. They were out, too. By this time, my hustling was joined by a young black professional, also searching for a copy of the paper before going in to work.

The B&N suggested UDF, but there was a 7-11 across the street, which I suggested we try first. They had three left. He grabbed two, I grabbed the last Dispatch and a USA Today. We were both smiling like lunatics.

It’s almost like something inside the country’s psyche snapped Tuesday night, that we remembered that it is okay to hope, it is okay to dream that the future might be better, that we are all in this together, that we are a better country than what we’ve been the last eight years, that we all have to come together to fix all the things that are broken.

It’s not a liberal thing, a conservative thing, a red, a blue, a purple thing. It’s an American thing.

I applauded John McCain’s gracious concession, although I admit to wondering where that John McCain had been the last three months. That John McCain, perhaps with Ohio’s Betty Montgomery as his #2, could’ve gotten even true-blue Democrat me to give him a second look.

And Obama’s victory speech was… right. He’s right. This isn’t the change, this is just the opportunity to bring the change about. We have a lot of things on our plate: a war in Iraq to end and one in Afghanistan to win, an economy in recession, a global climate in peril.

Can meet those challenges?

Yes. We. Can.

Into the home stretch… FINALLY!

I’m just back from the middle of a fairly monumental throng of fellow Buckeyes, gathered to see Barack Obama on the Ohio Statehouse lawn. Candidate-wise, I’ve been a very fortunate Democrat. Way back when, in 1976, my mom pulled me out of school to see Jimmy Carter on a last minute swing through Ohio, the Friday before the election. We were there early enough that literally the only thing between he and me was the podium, and I was fortunate to get to shake his hand (actually, I was damn near thrust in his face — I was only 12 and still relatively easy to lift).

In 1980, out of a sense of curiosity, I went to see Ronald Reagan at the Akron-Canton airport. Since I happened to be on the bus with the president of the College Republicans, I got a ticket into the VIP section, and in I went, carrying my camera and proudly wearing my John Anderson button.

I saw both Reagan and Mondale in ’84, getting to shake the latter’s hand. That was my first Presidential election as a voter.

Never got to see Dukakis in ’88, but I did see Jesse Jackson at a packed hall. Arguably the party’s greatest orator since FDR. I don’t know that he would have made a good President. I don’t think he would have been a bad one, like Grant or Buchanan or Nixon. But oh, how that man could talk.

In 1992, I teamed up with the BGSU College Democrats to get into a Bush rally shortly before the election. Carefully secreted in my then-fiancée’s purse? Broccoli, to wave at the president who’d famously declared his distaste for the vegetable (I like mine steamed, with cheddar sauce, thanks). :D

Not long after that, Bill Clinton made a late stop in Toledo the Sunday night/Monday morning before the election. I got his autograph on a corner of a campaign sign, a proud possession still.

Dry spell for 12 years.

2004, I saw John Kerry (with Bruce Springsteen opening for him) the Thursday before OVFF — my ex (the above then-fiancée) had just arrived in town for the convention—as in just arrived that minute—and we darted the three blocks north to see.

This year is the first time I’ve seen a candidate during the primaries, because it was all pretty much over but the shouting by the time the campaigns got to Ohio before. This is the first time I can recall that we were really in the thick of things. I saw Obama at Ohio State on 2/29, just before the Ohio primary (and have the video and pictures to prove it!).

I talked to my mom as I was leaving the rally. She’s been volunteering for Obama up in the Toledo area (yeah, yeah, home of Joe the Back Taxes Owing Unlicensed Plumber), and she says she hasn’t been this energized about a campaign since her first election: JFK. Seeing as how she went Dubya the last two times, I’m delighted. :)

She’s very pro-life. And she said the hard decision was this: Obama supports abortion rights, McCain supports the war, and she finds neither acceptable. In the long run, she finds the war more devastating, because abortion can be largely done away with by education: if you teach responsibility, it becomes less necessary.

Let me just note here, tangentially, that no one is for abortion. The rhetoric from the Other Side makes it sound like we want abortions to be mandatory. All we want is for them to be available if a woman is in a position to need one. We also want responsible sex education and an easier adoption system so that even though available, there are other options, and good pre- and post-natal care and assistance for families in need for those who choose to raise their child themselves.

I do not believe that one can be against abortion and also be against spending for AFDC, Head Start, health care, etc. It’s an immediate contradiction in terms if life is important before birth and not after. While I disagree strongly with Alan Keyes on many things, he is to my knowledge the only conservative politician who understands this and supports programs that care for the child after he or she is born and I applaud him for that.

If you’ve ever been faced with that choice, I understand your pain. When I was married and my wife was pregnant, we talked about it, because it was a difficult pregnancy. We chose not to, to ride out the difficulty of the pregnancy itself and the fact that I did not yet have a permanent job—which made our little girl’s stillbirth all the harder to accept.

I guarantee you, whichever way you decide, it will be the hardest conversation you ever have, even if it’s just wrestling with yourself. It’s not a light decision. No one goes, “Whups, I’m pregnant, I better go have an abortion,” and goes skipping lightly to the clinic without a second thought. It tore me up, and I wasn’t even the one who was pregnant.

Anyway, enough tangent, other than to note that the first time the abortion rate in this country went down after Roe v Wade was during Bill Clinton’s presidency—financial security, job security and a strong economy also make abortions less necessary.

I suppose if I were to prognosticate, it would be a pretty stout limb I was going out on to say that Obama will be elected on Tuesday. A landslide would be nice, but a clean, theft-proof win will do as well. I think Ohio may well go blue this time around, and I think Virginia will hold. Not sure about Florida or North Carolina. I think it’s just amazing that North Carolina and Virginia are in play, and that even Indiana, North Dakota and Montana are wobbly!

To go out on a limb just a bit, then — let’s say NC and FL go Obama and the final EV count is 353-185. Dems get 59 seats in the Senate, counting Sanders and Lieberman, allthough I shouldn’t be suprised if they jettison Lieberman. They’ll only keep him if he makes 60, and even then I don’t think the caucus can really count on him. What they really need–and what they won’t get unless minority turnout is through the roof–is 59+Sanders. I ain’t holding my breath.