Sunday, November 29, 2009

Radom Reasonings XVI

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations.

  • Wait until the age of 50 to have a mammogram? Any government money going to the researchers that came up with this trashy recommendation should lose their connection to Federal money immediately. Think about it; how many woman do you know that were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50?
  • Is there a health care conspiracy going on here? Remember the report from last year that recommended changes to the age guidelines for the PSA? I personally know a few people that had their prostate cancers found at a young age because of the PSA.
  • Alan Grayson is a great American who is telling it like it is. If you don't know who he is, shame on you - Google him.
  • In a recent poll, 38% of Americans indicated that Sarah Palin is qualified to be president. In a parellel poll, 38% of Americans have been determined to have the intelligence of a telephone pole.
  • Last week, when Palin was asked which blogs she reads, she responded by saying; "I read them all". I'm so happy that Sarah has paid a visit here. God! She does not even know what the f**k a blog is. Then again; 38% of Americans probably don't know what a blog is. The hardball questioner was the Katie Couric like, Sean Hannity. A fox in the hen house?
  • Sarah Palin last week; "the presidency is not on my radar screen". Was it later reported that 38% of Americans intend to buy Sarah Palin's book? There is stupid and then there is stupid!
  • Is Rhode Island's I-Way really the "bridge to bankruptcy"? Has anybody in this damn state figured out the future costs associated with caring for miles and miles of new bridge work? At least the old road went over the solid ground with a few over and under passes.
  • For those 38% of confused Americans, Obama has decided to try key terrorists in New York because they killed and targeted civilians. The terrorist being tried in military tribunals were classed as military combatants. There is a difference and it is so easy to see.
  • The State of Alaska should open up an immediate investigation to determine the fitness of Sarah Palin to keep her kids. I'm not kidding - what Palin is doing is a sin and is very harmful for her children. I fear for her children. If you did not know, she has the young kids traveling with her again for her book tour; this just after having them leave school to travel with her for a 5 month long campaign. She continues to use her youngest as a prop and expose this child to H1N1 all over this nation. Her kids belong in school!
  • Palin the quitter not only quits at her job as governor, she has quit parts of her book tour, she quit at a road race in Washington state yesterday and she has quit on her kids. I have a feeling she will find a way to quit on 38% of Americans.
  • I can't tell you how disappointed I am in the left wing of the Democratic Party. These Democrats need to lose the argument on abortion in the health care bill. As I've said before, abortion is but a single medical procedure performed in a limited number of health care situations. Let's get health care done and find a way to fund abortion for those in need later.
  • Chris Mathews was absolutely correct in his questioning of Rhode Island's Bishop, Thomas Tobin. Was Chris tough? Yes; he was very tough but sometimes you have to shake up an institution that is travelling far outside of the pulpit. Bishop Tobin; put it in the church where it belongs!
  • If you put 100 Americans in a room, how many of them would you have to use to screw in a light bulb? Come on now, this is not a hard question.
  • The answer is not 38. The answer is 39, as 38 would be too stupid to figure out the puzzle while the 39th would get the job done.
  • We all know that Governor Donald Carcieri is not the 39th American in the room.
  • The Secret Service agents at the gate for Obama's first State Dinner are also not the 39th Americans in the room.
  • Obama has to move forward in Afghanistan as he promised during the campaign. Osama bin Laden and his capture has to be a top priority - unlike the bumbling Bush administration priorities.
  • Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney (aka: Rummy, Dummy and Scummy) could never have been the 39th American in the room.
  • OK; I'll make it easy for you, for more on Alan Grayson, click here.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wisdom from the Woods XI

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines complex issues.

What the hell is President Obama going to do about employment issues this country is facing? Today I am bringing my class to a favorite spot in the woods to discuss recreation and the problems associated with maintaining public lands. You see; governments are not providing the human resources required to maintain the millions of acres in the conservation system. My favorite spot is a great place to demonstrate the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from the 1930s.

In today's world nobody seems to want to get their hands dirty. Nobody wants to foul up the keyboards of their computers. We do need to have people working in our woodlands as the CCC infrastructure that is still providing services to this day is now starting to fail. Our public lands are in deplorable shape and Governor Nothing (Carcieri) could care less. So we have a problem maintaining our conservation lands and we have a severe unemployment problem. Can't we put the 2 things together again.

I'm not suggesting that we recreate the CCC; but I do believe that there is a ready resource of talented people that could lend a hand to conservation agencies across this country. I think people can be put to work without spending much money. Today's unemployment benefits are continually extended as they should be. I contend that the first 6 months of benefits should remain as it is. After 6 months, why not utilize that unemployed work force to improve conservation infrastructure and to assist natural resource agencies collect data for critical monitoring programs. In other words, keep providing unemployment benefits but require individuals to work 3 days a week for those benefits. The remaining 2 days a week could still be used for employment search. There are many other areas of government that could use a helping hand.

Some will say that searching for work is a full time job. In a normal economy I would argue; yes. Today we do not have a normal economy and let's be realistic, many unemployed folks don't want to find that job until the benefits run out. In my former role I could have put dozens of people to work and I did during the downturn through the Carter years. The Emergency Job Unemployment Act(EJUA) as well as the CETA program provided multiple opportunities to get conservation work done. If the unemployed are getting paid anyway, let's find a way to utilize their talents.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Politics of Sport

OK; this is a political blog, but I find the need to talk about what everyone in New England has been talking about during the past week. I want to give my impression of the Patriots loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday night. There have been more discussions surrounding this game than there have been over the all important health care debate in the Senate.

Bill Belichick was right. Belichick made the right call on fourth and two with little time remaining. If he makes that play, the Patriots win. He has the best quarterback in the business and the best 3/4th down player in Kevin Faulk. Belichick was not showing disrespect for his defense; God, he never has done that. As a matter of fact, if Belichick had little faith in his defense, he would have been far more likely to kick the ball. On the ensuing series by the Colts, a Belichick lacking faith in the defense would have told his defense to let them score so they could put the ball in Brady's hands with over a minute to play. Belichick put total faith in his defense and had them make a stand. It did not work. Bill Belichick will make that same call many more times in his career and it will work more often than not.

If there is any criticism of Belichick, it has to involve the lack of time outs the Patriots possessed at the end of the game. That was very unlike a Belichick team. It probably had to do with the crowd noise in that closed in stadium. Lacking the time out made it impossible for Belichick to throw a red flag on the Kevin Faulk advance of the ball on 4th and 2. Film breakdowns have shown that Faulk made the play even though he had an initial juggle of the ball. The Patriots just caught a bad break. The worst bit of luck for the Patriots was the horrendous call by the Ref of pass interference when clearly the defender as every right to the ball. That replay shows from every angle, the defender turned ready to receive the ball and no contact with the wide receiver. That call was egregious and I certainly hope that the Ref gets disciplined for a remarkably bad call that cost the Patriots the game.

Enough already! Get over it and stop talking about it. You win some you lose some. Go on to the next game where I can assure you, Bill Belichick will have all 3 of his time outs left at the end of the game (at least 2 anyway).

There are a lot more games being played that are far more meaningful and most of those games are occurring in Washington DC. And I don't mean Redskin games.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kelo v. City of New London Revisited

Do you remember the landmark Supreme Court case of Kelo v. New London, Connecticut when the court ruled that lands taken by eminent domain could be transferred to other private concerns? In this case 7 homeowners had their property seized for commercial development. David Souter was the deciding vote in a 5-4 decision.

Well; after the court ruling and the destruction of all property, the land was cleared for the construction of a new Pfizer pharmaceutical plant. Yesterday the pharmaceutical giant backed out of the deal. New London is left holding a vacant lot without any consideration of the "public good". Truth be told, the confiscation of this land was never going to be in the public best interest. Contrary to popular belief, when commercial and industrial development occurs, the taxes of citizens in the community always goes up. While jobs may be good for some people, the benefit to the community as a whole is negative.

I think it unfortunate that the lawyers for the plaintiffs in this case did not have their hands on the tax study done by the Southern New England Forest Consortium, Inc. and the Trust for Public lands in Connecticut's case. Please view my April 15, 2009 post that graphically presents the case against the public good when commercial and industrial development occurs. That post was my tax day protest. The studies conducted clearly show that as the commercial and industrial taxable value increases in any community, the effective tax rates for residents always go up.

Yes, there may be good for some; however, the "public good" should be considered as this requires that everyone benefit. Private transfer of land to private concerns does not meet that simple litmus test. There is a clear and direct correlation between growing your commercial and industrial base and the subsequent increase in property taxes. Those unaffected by the development are damaged when their property tax increases. Taking lands by eminent domain requires that everyone benefit, not a corporate giant.

You may recall that there was a movement in New Hampshire to take away David Souter's cabin in the woods by eminent domain to build a rustic hotel and vacation destination. It's too bad that never happened. For those of you that believe that this is a liberal thing, think again. This action was taken because of corporate greed. I stand with the homeowners that had their life crushed by the hands of government and blame conservative thinking for this disaster of public policy. I sincerely hope that the landowners get their property back and succeed in pursuing further legal action against those involved. It's too bad you can't sue the Supreme Court. It's not often that such a bad decision becomes so painfully obvious so quickly. I hope there is a lesson in this for everyone. I was steaming when it happened and I'm still steaming over the injustice to the individuals in this case.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Abortion, Health Care and the Catholic Church

I urge all of Congress to get on with the health care legislation and eliminate the possibility of federal money being used for abortions. Liberals need to make sure that their own strongly held beliefs don't get in the way of passing this historic legislation. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater- so to speak. I'm sick and tired of hearing the endless fighting over the abortion debate. Abortion is but one single health care procedure. Americans need health care for the other thousands of medical issues that we all face in our daily lives. Abortion rights advocates just need to back off and find other ways to fund necessary procedures.

That being said, abortion is a right in this country and must remain a right. It is nobody Else's business! Growing up Catholic, I was always taught that we all have been given a "free will". We are taught that God always wants us to do good. God has not predestined us to do bad things in this world. If my 12 year old daughter were raped and became pregnant, she would be urged to have an abortion. God did not want a 12 year old to be raped and God does not want a 12 year old to be pregnant as the result of a rape. Here is were the true rub is; the Church would have us believe that God is the cause of the pregnancy. In classic form, the church avoids the science of reproduction and lays everything at the hand of God. We know that the pregnancy is the result of the action of man - not God. Believe if you must that God created Heaven and Earth, but God does not create the pregnancy (the exception maybe the Virgin Mary if you choose to believe that).

Pregnancy is the result of the action of a man and a women. When pregnancy occurs from the action of one man using a women (rape), I'm sure God never intended for that life to come into this world (see my April 9, 2009 post). Take for example the case of the 9 year old Brazilian girl that had been repeatedly raped by her step-father. At the tender age of 9, she became pregnant with twins in a country that outlaws abortion. The mother petitions the court to allow this child that weighed 81 ponds to have an abortion. The court agreed and the abortion took place. The Catholic Church's response was to excommunicate the doctor performing the abortion and the mother who petitioned for the abortion. The church did not excommunicate the step-father who was responsible for the surprise pregnancy. That guy thought he could get away with it until the girl got a little older and I guess the Catholic Church is more in tune with the behavior of the step-father.

It's time for the church to stay out of the papers and to preach their beliefs in the churches across this country. Don't you dare tell others what to do - Bishop Tobin! You are not God on earth and you certainly don't have all of the answers. My advice to Bishop Tobin is to pray on that and to pray for the victims of the heinous crime of rape. What a woman decides to do with a resulting pregnancy is her business - not yours. Life in the womb is precious but love needs to be an ingredient of conception and your love, Bishop Tobin, needs to extend to all women that have to make this gut wrenching decision.

As a side note; the Reverend Father Robert Drinan died today. He was the congressman from Massachusetts that had to make the decision of staying as the politician or staying as the Catholic priest. Father Drinan to his credit chose the latter. He must have been asking himself in his later years, what happened to his church? If the church continues to single out politicians, all churches Catholic and otherwise, should be taxed appropriately. The church silenced Father Drinan and then became super political. God speed, Father Drinan!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Radom Reasonings XV

An Occasional Column of random thoughts and observations.

  • Did you see where actor James Woods has sued Kent County Hospital involving an incident when his brother died of a Heart attack? That's funny; I thought Republicans believed in tort reform to reduce health care costs. I guess you believe it until it's you!
  • What do Rush Limbaugh, Imus and Bob Griese have in common? They have all made racists statements - Limbaugh just seems to always get away with it.
  • Is Bob Greise's comment, "he's probably out getting a taco" in the same league as Limbaugh's most famous top ten quotes? How about, "Obama is halfrican American" or how about, "Barack the magic negro" or how about, the time he told the African American women to "take the bone out of your nose" or how about the time he said the NAACP should have riot rehearsals. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies". Greise gets suspended and Rush goes his merry way without consequence. Any ditto head out there is a traitorous idiot.
  • As a Red Sox fan, I want to congratulate the New York Yankees. You guys had the best team.
  • Do you think Governor Don Carcieri can afford a $7.00 saltwater fishing license?
  • Have you seen where Jerome Corsi, made famous by swiftboating John Kerry now claims that the Fort Hood Shooter advised Barack Obama? Truth will usually win out but it may take a little time. Corsi's hateful claims should no longer be news - they should be totally ignored.
  • Rush Limbaugh should be ignored entirely by print and broadcast media, except for Fox Noise which is neither.
  • Did you see where Massachusetts is considering legislation to require sprinkler systems in all one and two family housing units. How stupid is that? I can see it now - every time I burn the toast I can take my shower at the same time.
  • Joe Lieberman is a loser.
  • To the folks in Maine, Fox Noise and the Gay community - Obama is not to blame for the defeat of the gay marriage bill in Maine. Obama never supported gay marriage although he has supported gay civil unions. There is a difference and the gay community should take note!
  • To Senator Sam Brownback and others that have wasted our time writing legislation to ban the creation of animals that are part human and part animal. Go back to school and instead of reading, writing and arithmetic, try taking a little science.
  • To those of you who feel that I think Obama can do no wrong - think again. When the hell is Obama going to propose significant legislation to reign in Wall Street to prevent further economic meltdowns?
  • Is the lack of H1N1 vaccine going to be Obama's Katrina?
  • Obama is right on when it comes to health care!
  • Dick Cheney needs to be carted away like Richard Hatch every time he gives an interview!
  • How's this for tort reform? Allow folks to sue insurance companies but limit the claims against the medical profession.
  • To the polling firm that called me the other day and asked; "Do you believe in the right to life?"; your game is painfully obvious. You must know that I totally messed with your poll and hopefully your ignorant head. The question should have been, "do you believe in a woman's right to have an abortion?"


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Grasping at Windmills

As this country struggles to find ways to deal with our dependence on foreign oil, we continue to grasp for alternative technologies without doing much thinking. The non-stop talk about the development of wind energy is great; but stop talking. Before this country actually moves ahead with pending proposals, somebody needs to start thinking.

Off shore proposals have been getting all of the press and political support. How stupid are we? Does anyone realize the excessive costs of developing our energy off shore? Building windmills that can live through 150 MPH winds is one thing; but what additional costs are needed to engineer wind energy facilities that can live through a 50 foot wall of water from a storm surge or rouge wave? Now you build them so you have to maintain them. How do you do that? You build a fleet of ships to service all off shore facilities. Now you need to build infrastructure to get transmission lines out to sea; I'll bet you that's not cheap! Of course you've made your decision to build your electrical grid and energy generators in the most corrosive environment on earth. That's right you giants of industry, didn't anyone ever teach you that salt water corrodes? I'm not saying that you engineering geniuses can't solve the problems; but at what cost?

While traveling in Austria a few years ago I marveled at the miles and miles of wind farms adjacent to the train traveling from Vienna to Saltsburg. You see, the windmills were growing in all of the agricultural fields. There was still plenty of room for crops and the land was serving multiple purposes. We are always looking for ways to help our farmers. Why can't our turf farmers in Rhode Island be growing windmills along with their grass. Why not line the median strips of major east coast highways (Route 95 - Maine to Florida - Route 195 in Rhode Island and Massachusetts) with windmills. The highway is close to the ocean, energy infrastructure is readily available along the way, maintenance can be accomplished using trucks from GM, Ford and Chrysler, windmills do not have to be able to withstand 50 foot waves, corrosion is of less concern because of inland locations, infrastructure to fuel electric cars will be roadside and construction costs have to be a fraction of the costs of developing off shore.

Building the future wind energy infrastructure needs to be done on shore. Some will tell me that there is a problem with wind. Yes you may lose a few turns on the generator, but east coast highways are all close to sea level. Build the structures high enough and you'll save billions on construction costs. And you know what? Our electric bills will be a lot cheaper and the construction can occur a lot faster.

Please start thinking!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thinking of Health Care

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about health care lately. As I approach 60 years of age, I suppose this is fairly common. My wife just had her second hip replaced at a fairly young age - I don't dare say it because she reads this column. In a few words; here is my take on my wife's experience:
Lousy forms - Great Doctor (surgeon) - Great nurses - Lousy forms - Great hospital - Lousy nurses - Adequate food (Hospital) - Lousy food (Rehab) - Disgusting food (Rehab) - Lousy forms - Too many computers - Lousy forms - Not enough nursing care - Lousy doctors - Lousy forms - Lousy ambulance drivers - Lousy roads - Lousy forms - Great physical therapists - Lousy forms - Good home care services - Lousy forms - Pain - Black and blue - Good insurance - Great husband!

OK; the great husband part might be a little much. We are both so lucky in the final analysis because we have health insurance. I can attest that my wife lived in considerable pain for a long time before the eventual diagnosis came our way. Even when we were informed that surgery would be required, the only question left was; when?

I can only imagine the pain that people will endure for years of their lives because they have no health insurance. Everyone in this country should have adequate health care. How can we improve health care and provide for keeping people well? Keep the good doctors - Keep the good nurses - Get some additional good nurses - Teach somebody how to cook - Teach ambulance drivers how to drive - Fix the damn roads - Fill out one form once (there was more time spent filling out forms than performing a complicated surgery) - Insist on good insurance for everyone - Keep the great husband.

My wife is so lucky because she has good health insurance and a good husband!! Let's see if she comments. She can't get to the computer yet!


Friday, October 2, 2009

The Health Care Public Option is Needed!

Ask yourself why the insurance companies are all fighting so hard to eliminate any chance of a public option? Why? Why? Dah! The insurance companies don't want the competition because the public option would blow them out of the water. Yes, Government can do it cheaper simply because there are no government employees expecting $25 million bonuses this year. It is a common misconception that government is always inefficient or more expensive.

I'll go back to my Postal Service example. When my son was living in Eastern Europe, I tried to mail a $50 package to him. He suggested using FedEx. The local FedEx office wanted $375 to send the package. I told them the package did not need a personal escort and left. The U.S. postal service took the package and I paid $42. The package arrived safe and sound. I immediately thought of all our citizens trying to mail care packages to Iran and Afghanistan. The U.S. Postal service is efficient and gets the job done for the lower cost.

When my son moved to Massachusetts from Rhode Island he moved from a semi-rural town to Cambridge, Mass. His auto insurance went down hundreds of dollars. Why? How could this be? Simple; the state of Massachusetts regulates the insurance companies (the few that agree to write insurance there) and the companies are held accountable. In Rhode Island, it's free market all of the way, and boy do we pay for it. Another side note: in Massachusetts the insurance companies are required to pay for any broken windshield. Not in Rhode Island, I've had to replace 3 because of our shitty roads.

Massachusetts, affectionately called Taxachusetts by the people that hate government is now projected to be leading the way out of the current recession. Many indicators are showing that Massachusetts never fell as far behind as most states and the recovery here is ahead of most states. Maybe the heavy hand of government is gently helping the people?

I do have a recommendation for a health care public option though. This is not my idea in its entirety as I heard one legislator outline something similar, but I can't remember who it was. I can't even remember whether the legislator was a Republican of Democrat, but I do remember thinking - that's a great idea! Simply put; the public insurance should kick in for catastrophic circumstances. If you define catastrophic illness as reaching a $100,000 threshold within a given period of time, the government would then assume the insurance and relieve the insurance company.

This would be a windfall for insurance companies, but the government should then insist on a commensurate reduction in premiums for their insured. This reduction would save all buyers of insurance as well as all business. This plan would provide a real shot in the arm for everyone struggling with today's costs. The government could hold the insurance companies feet to the fire by threatening to increase the catastrophic threshold if they don't respond by significantly reducing health care premiums. Business would not back away from health insurance commitments to employees because they could see their own bottom lines improving.

How do you pay for it? Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans as Obama has suggested. Additionally, tie taxation rates on the drug companies to an index that follows their cost of medications in the United States as compared to the identical medications in foreign nations. One of two things will happen; either the cost of medications will drop dramatically in this country or the government will enjoy a huge windfall to pay for citizens with catastrophic illness.

Do it Democrats! Do it now! Forget the Republicans; don't you know that the first word that a baby likes to use is "No"! Sounds familiar; No. Where have I heard that lately? I guess from some baby somewhere!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Governor Don Carcieri's incredible lack of leadership

Incredible! Unbelievable! Arrogant! Ignorant! Donald Carcieri! I understand that nobody likes a person that is just out there throwing names around with negative connotations. I'm sorry, but I'm mad. Donald Carcieri's latest attempt to attack state employees and demonize them is somehow worthy of a name of two.

Carcieri has called for Rhode Island government to shut down for12 days over the next 10 months in hopes of saving over $21 million at the expense of the state workers. Mr. "Business Man" should know that he will be taking $21 million out of the hands of small businesses around the state, as this loss of income for the employees represents disposable income. State employees will just have to put off buying that new refrigerator or TV or whatever. The employees will be cash strapped for the next year and will have to make significant sacrifices. They will continue to pay mortgage, taxes and other essentials, but will be severely limited in their disposable income. Restaurants, retail stores and other small businesses will enjoy the loss.

What's truly funny about some Republicans is that they continue to support Carcieri's position; after all, every Republican likes to scape-goat government. Blame the state workers! Go ahead - you brilliant thinkers that own small businesses throughout the state - go ahead and support Carcieri's handling of government. Your support is costing you money and many of you are just too stupid to realize it.

Of course, let's not forget that the biggest problem with the state today is the lack of revenue. Carcieri's plan just reduced revenue to the state by approximately $3.5 million (based on sales tax and income tax); but this is small compared to the financial loss to Rhode Island businesses. At every turn during the Carcieri years, our Governor chose the path of tearing apart state government. Carcieri has reduced the state work force to perilous levels. Federal money and Federal programs are being lost in this state because there are not enough employees in critical areas to get the job done. Carcieri does not care.

Carcieri has attacked the employee pension system with great success. With remodeled pensions, 3,000 fewer workers and no pay increases, you would think that Carcieri is saving all of us a lot of money. Think again! Go the the bottom line! Governor Donald Carcieri has just proposed a 9% budget increase for the next state fiscal year. Carcieri's budget request of $7.8 billion dollars is close to a $1 billion dollar increase over the previous year. While some of this represents stimulus money, Rhode Island can ill afford to follow this path. In Carcieri's new budget year, state employee salaries, benefit packages and pensions will represent approximately 17% of the entire $7.8 billion dollar budget.

Where the hell is the money going, Mr. Carcieri? How can you lock out state workers for 12 days at the same time you are increasing state spending by 9%? How can you raise state spending by 9% when the state is facing it's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? Your leadership style is likened to Herbert Hoover on steroids. You have no clue. Carcieri's leadership and policy direction is killing the state.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GOP's disgusting call for incivility

Today's Providence Journal ran a front page story on the call by Rhode Island Republican leadership to come out and shout people down at tonight's planned health forum hosted by Congressman Jim Langevin. State Republican Chairman, Giovanni Cicione has instructed his fellow Republicans that they have every right to protest. He's right, and, protest is not the problem. The problem is providing instructions to his supporters with these words; "The citizenry has the right to go out and shout at the top of their lungs."

No, you need to be corrected! Citizens do not have the right to prevent others from expressing their right of free speech and this is exactly what has been happening across the country. Using such terms as "death panels" (there is no such thing) and "Nazi Health Care" (inciting language) does not advance the debate. Applying these tactics during any public forum is simply an attempt to squash the debate. Yelling over anyone that is in support of health care reform to disrupt the meeting is coming close to creating a public disturbance.

I think that it is ironic that the same people who said Officer Crowley was right to arrest the Professor in Cambridge Massachusetts, will now show up tonight and act like Professor Gates.
Acting obnoxious is your right I suppose, but that does not mean it can rise to the level of disturbing the peace.

I sincerely hope that Rhode Island Republicans can set an example of true democracy. Have your say, ask your questions, but make sure that others share the same right. Actually, the Chairman of the Rhode Island Young Republicans, Travis Rowley seems more grounded in reality than party leadership. His comments in today's paper were not a call for disturbing the peace.

Anyone that approaches disturbing the peace at tonight's forum in Warwick should be escorted from the hall and not allowed to return. I'm not saying arrest them; but everyone has a right to speak and to those that would hinder my rights, you do not belong as part of the discussion. You are not a good citizen and you don't have the first amendment right to silence my speech.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Seething over health care!

Seething over health care is an understatement. Seething over folks that choose to believe the bull shit without seriously visiting the debate has become an unfortunate passion. Nobody speaks for the stupid better than Sarah Palin.

Have you notice that most of the folks screaming over health care are medicare recipients? They have their health care (flawed though it might be) and they would want to deny their grandchildren appropriate care. Health care scare mongers are the very people that insist we can't afford government sponsored care because it will bankrupt future generations. Notice to all irrational people out there; health care is bankrupting all of us, and it's not the government's fault.

The Providence Journal (Tuesday, August 4, 2009) had an excellent lead editorial calling for "Health care today". In that editorial, it was pointed out that the U.S. ranks 37th in the world by the World Health Organization for public health. Consider this fact; Medicare overhead is about 3 percent compared with for-profit companies that exceed 20 percent.

On a more personal note, I have knowledge of many friends and relatives that have needed the support of government to ensure quality health care. This country seems to have a great safety net, but what about those folks that I happen to know that have been working hard, can't catch any safety net and can't afford insurance. The nay Sayers see abuse in the system from people that are not doing their fair share; and, they have a point. Why can't everyone agree that people that are contributing and working hard should have a level of health care protection. This is the fundamental issue; not Sarah Palin's imagined "death panel"!

I have many friends and relatives that have joined the debate and the arguments in many cases are irrational. The arguments being used by the right-wing in this country are distortions at best, but they would best be described as deception, lies, fabrications, falsehoods and idiocy. Everyone in the U.S. should be protected by a level of health care - end of discussion.
How you get there needs to be rigorously debated but not postponed. Health care for Americans has been debated since Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party. Teddy was a good Republican and he got things right!

I am tired of listening to complaints about the health care in Canada and the waiting periods for elective surgery. Everyone goes to that argument without knowing any Canadians. Guess what? I know a lot of Canadians and they are very pleased with their health care. My own father, an American citizen and World War II vet was denied a much needed appointment at Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts when he was complaining of chest discomfort. Lahey Clinic offered an appointment, but he would have to wait months. My family happened to be friends with a cardiologist that set up an appointment for him immediately. Within the week my Dad had a 5 - way bypass surgery which improved his quality of life for his last 15 years. Don't ever tell me that Americans don't have to wait for health care!!!! That's a total lie. The for-profit consolidation of hospitals and doctors have driven up the cost of health care and have restricted access throughout this country.

We need change and we need it today! I'm seething over health care because I have experienced nightmares right here in the good ole U.S. of A.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Sing a little song for me"??

While there is a lot of news to talk about, I want to talk about the outrageous jury decision in the Joel Tenenbaum case. If you have not read the story, Tenenbaum was fined in civil court, $675,000 for downloading and sharing 30 songs over the Internet. While I believe in the absolute right of individuals and corporations to protect their copyright, I believe that the punishment must fit the crime.

How the hell can Tenenbaum be liable for $675,000 worth of damage by downloading 30 songs? Can you envision some 75 year old grandma sitting on the jury and subjecting this graduate student from Boston University to a life-long debt? What the hell is wrong with these people? Are recording artists starving to death?

Tenenbaum was wrong and violated copyright law, but the penalty should fit the crime. If I were on the jury, I would have awarded $30 for the violation, court costs and legal fees for the plaintiffs. The total fine should approximate $5000. This action reminds me that spilling coffee on my lap can be very lucrative. The music executives pursuing this case are disgusting.

If I were Joel Tenenbaum, I would follow through with his plans to file bankruptcy, but I would not stop here. I would connect with individuals that were similarly charged and I would lay the groundwork for a boycott of the music industry that would send a chilling message to stop the "bull shit". Do you realize how connected the high school and college community is? A planned boycott that would send the message to industry to, "stop the shit", would go viral in days. I would suggest boycotting all music purchases for 2 months (November and December). I would then outline my concerns that the music industry must address before the next year. If the industry did not adapt to the changing world, I would press the boycott the following year.

Joel Tenenbaum did not do $675,000 worth of damage to the music industry. The music industry is doing $670,000 worth of damage to Joel Tenenbaum. A controlled boycott that did not put the retailers out of business is a sound strategy for making music executives sweat over their next payment on their 65 foot yacht.

College students - It's time to step up and fight the corporate greed! You need to understand the power that is within your hands.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthers are absolute idiots!

Of all the political squabbles that surround us, the "birthers" movement is the saddest commentary on the United States of America. We all believe in free speech, but to continue to advance pure fiction in the name of truth is traitorous. That's right, all you birthers are traitors, idiots, imbeciles and morons. You don't have a point; you are just sick in the head and I'm getting tired of listening to your crap.

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii when it was a state. The newspaper announcement makes this issue perfectly clear as does his legitimate birth certificate. Even if Obama was born before Hawaii became a state; and this is not the case, Hawaii was a legitimate U.S. incorporated territory. Why is this so important? It is important because the Panama Canal Zone was only an unincorporated U.S. Territory until the "Torrijos-Carter Treaties of 1979".

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in (Downes v. Bidwell) in 1901 that unincorporated territories are not the United States. In 1905, in (Rasmussen v. United States) the courts ruled that the Constitution only applies to incorporated territories of the United States. Children born in the Panama Canal Zone were subject to the Naturalization Act of 1795, which granted statutory U.S. citizenship at birth. With the ruling of 1905 however, persons born in the Canal Zone only became U.S. nationals, not citizens.

Congress moved to correct the situation and passed a law in 1937 that grants citizenship to those individuals born in the Canal Zone after February 26, 1904 that had at least one U.S. citizen parent. I have found no reference as to whether or not the law passed in 1937 has ever been constitutionally challenged. Is John McCain a natural born citizen as our Constitution requires in order to hold the highest office in the land?

Why question Obama's credentials when McCain's are far more suspect? The only thing that truly bothers me in this discussion is that I remember the time when Senator Lowell Weicker of Connecticut was denied a chance to run for the Presidency because he was born in Paris, France. His parents, both U.S. citizens were living at the U.S. Embassy as his father was a U.S. diplomat. The mere location of Weicker's birth made him ineligible to run for President.

Well, I'm not tyring to make a case here because I don't want to be called a birther in my own right. Hell, then I would be the traitor, idiot, imbecile and moron. Personally, I feel that McCain had every right to be President and Lowell Weicker too. Weicker would have been a great President in my estimation. There can be no question about Obama's credentials for the job!

And to the "birthers" out there - get a life. That means you, Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama's "stupid" comment - stupid?

I guess even a politician as smooth as Barack Obama can say something stupid every now and then. I cringed when I heard Obama make the "stupid" comment during his press conference and I was immediately concerned. I knew that he would spend days away from the debate on health care to mend a few fences.

To Obama's credit, he responded like a decent human being should. He admitted to adding to the problem, not resolving it. I can imagine how difficult it was for Officer Crowley to approach a situation where a break-in is reported. You know the adrenalin would really be pumping. It is very important for an officer to take immediate control of a situation such as this.

I understand the position of Louis Gates and his anger at being questioned on his own property. What Gates should have understood was that the police were there to protect his property. Gates should have cooled down to explain the situation and should not have been pumping up the adrenalin on a potentially volatile situation. I agree with officer Crowley that Gates was in total control of the possible outcome.

What remains unclear to me is why Gates was arrested, brought to police headquarters, fingerprinted and photographed. What was the initial charge? Breaking and entering? Into your own home? It seems to me that no matter how loud and obnoxious Gates became, he must of been telling officers that the home he was in was his. A simple question to a neighbor or a little more patience on the part of the police may have resolved the tension. Hauling Gates down town did have a certain level of stupidity in it. Gates screaming at the police had a greater level of stupidity, after all, those guys are carrying guns and I'm sure some officers had guns drawn. If they didn't, they should have.

So I think there is enough stupidity to go around; Obama was stupid, Officer Crowley was stupid and Gates was stupid. I hope they can all come together now and have a beer at the White House as has been reported.

What still perplexes me though is that the presumption is that this was a race related event. I don't think it had anything to do with race. Most of the officers on scene were black from the photographs that I saw that day. I would hope that the police would have responded in a similar fashion if this incident involved a white person. Officer Crowley has an excellent record and personally has been concerned about racial profiling. Officer Crowley gets a bum rap in this regard.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama's call to support health care

I'm back and again I must apologize to readers as I have been totally consumed with visiting relatives that I have not seen in a long time. The beat goes on in my absence however, as Republicans keep finding new ways to astonish all.

Take for example, Michael Steele being asked a simple question; what company is your health care provider? That's right, the Republican Party Chairman does not know his health care provider. Now there is stupid and imbecilic. Michael Steele is definitely the latter. This is probably far worse than John McCain not knowing how many houses he owns. And these folks want to tell Americans what is best for their health care needs? How about that Sarah Palin, quitting her Governor's job (first term half way through) and thinking that she can remain a force in politics?

President Barack Obama has called upon progressive bloggers to jump out and support his health care plan. This is exactly what I intend to do. Obama was solidly elected on a platform of providing health care opportunity for all Americans and legislators that stand in the way need to watch out for the train that it going to hit them right between the eyes. The United States does not have the best health care in the world. Health care is a right - it's part of that silly "pursuit of happiness" thing.

One thing is for sure, the health care plan when passed will not be perfect. There will be a lot for people to debate and complain about. Obama is absolutely right however, let's get started and find answers along the way.

"Thank God I voted for Obama"; sounds like a good bumper sticker to me!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Brilliance vs Absolute Ignorance!

Before I speak to the topic at hand, I want to inform readers that it has been a busy time for me and will remain so for a week or two. Visiting relatives that I love dearly have been spending time here in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Consequently, I have been preoccupied taking care of family matters.

Brilliance vs absolute ignorance can serve as a characterization between Democrat and Republican. What the hell do I mean by that? Brilliance is really a characterization of the performance of Senator Al Frankin from Minnesota during today's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee, Sonya Sotomayor. If you did not see his performance, watch today's news. Absolute ignorance is a perfect characterization of Senators Sam Brownback, Lindsey Graham, Mary Landrew and 20 co-sponsors of legislation to prohibit the mixing of species (part human-part animal).

Can all intelligent people grasp what I have just said? It is true; we have U.S. senators wasting their time and our time on writing legislation for something that is biologically impossible. Did these idiots ever hear of chromosomes? I would vote for my dog before I would vote for any of these idiots!

Al Frankin; in contrast, was absolutely brilliant. One of his expressed concerns was the power of corporations to limit free speech on the Internet (or"Internets" as George W. Bush would put it). It seems like limited access to service providers that have a certain political view is causing problems in this country. I think he knows his stuff as he is referring to Republican media control here. I'm sure this includes Republican radio.

How about those ignorant Republicans that need a little more than "reading, writing and arithmetic"? Mary Landrew; the sole Democrat - go back to school!

As for Sam Brownback and his colleagues; you people are the definition of stupid!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Jackson - Palin Sagas

I hope everyone had a great July 4th weekend. I did a little kayaking and had a great time. News of course stops for no one and boy did this weekend bring some news.

Which saga do you think is more worthy of all of the media attention? I happen to believe that both episodes are getting too much attention. The Sarah Palin story is probably the more important one when you think in terms of how political decisions affect everyone. Michael Jackson affected a lot of people but in a different way.

Sarah Palin is nothing but a joke at this point; and I must say, a bad joke at that. She is a quitter and never deserved election by the people in Alaska. She has been one steady irritant to Democrats and Republicans alike. Palin continues to make all of the wrong decisions; that's why she has so many Republicans in Alaska and elsewhere mad at her. Ethics charges continue to follow her and she says that she just could not take it any more. Ethics problems plagued her because she is not an ethical person. Thank God she came nowhere near the Presidency.

If Palin believes that she has the ability to lead this country, she is sicker than I thought. If you can't do the job in Alaska, you will never be able to lift your head again. I'll say it now, anybody that votes for Palin in a Republican primary is an idiot. Anyone that votes for Palin for any position is an idiot.

In "Random Reasoning's X", April 19, is the result of a poll conducted by this blog about Sarah Palin's future. At that time, 64% of respondents said that she would be a news commentator on Fox News. To the 13 % that said she would still be Governor - You're wrong! She will become a commentator on Fox News because she wants her face plastered over the air waves. Her reasoning is plain, pure and simple. She knows that she can get more attention on Fox News than running the state of Alaska. She's crazy alright; crazy like a fox. If she can get more attention, she figures to be a more serious contender for the 2012 nomination. Why I may ask could anyone give her this opportunity when she can't put two sentences or thoughts together? We know that her ego is too big to be satisfied with fishing for Salmon. She will be a commentator on Fox News and she will run in 2012. Will Republican voters do the right thing or decide to join the idiot parade?

As for Michael Jackson, I will never judge him; it's simply not my place. To those that choose to judge; you can't know the whole truth. While he entertained many of us, he is most probably responsible for his condition that cost him his life. Like any other person in this country, give him a respectable send-off and get over it. The media is simply out of control here.


Monday, June 29, 2009

The budget robots move to eliminate 11 degree programs at Rhode Island colleges

Here we go again - time and time again - eliminate opportunity in the name of cost savings. There is no courage here - there seems to be no courage within administrators in power to make decisions over people's lives.

Yesterday's Providence Pamphlet (Providence Journal) had a lead story involving the elimination of 11 degree programs at state universities here in Rhode Island. As always, the excuse is to save money. Say what you want, money is never saved, especially if you look at the savings in the long run. Consolidation robots are having a field day. If you have read this site, you know that my position is diametrically opposed to the consolidation efforts of government and industry. Consolidation can be necessary when some organization is simply out of money; but you all know the truth, government is not out of money.

What will be missed is opportunity for Rhode Island; but more importantly, individual students are being deprived of potential. Citizens will be deprived of an opportunity to pursue their dreams within their home state because of the consolidation robots. If every state follows suit, this country is in dire shape!

I'll touch on just a couple of degree areas that are being eliminated at the University of Rhode Island (URI). B.A. Latin American Studies - who cares about those Latin Americans anyway; as Dan Quayle once said, who speaks Latin in this day and age? Next is B.A. Physics - we don't need to worry - we already know about the theory of relativity. This is the theory that when times get tough, robots consolidate programs relative to the amount of money available. How about this one; B.S. in Chemical and Ocean Engineering - we don't need this - the oceans are only our future as humans on this Planet - green energy from the oceans be damned! No more B.S. in Chemistry and Chemical Oceanography - take that Rhode Island - the "Ocean State".

I've only touched on a few of the changes coming to the Rhode Island educational system. To the administrators that can't find a way around the obstacles, turn the teaching back over to the teachers. Stop administering if you can't find the courage to establish new ways of doing business. While positions will be lost at the universities through attrition because of cost cutting, new ways to structure majors to meet the needs of students simply have to be found.

Damn it! Just look at what a college education costs today. Are you telling me that we have to have fewer majors than we had 10 years ago when the cost of an education was half of what it is now? Students are taking loans over $100,000 for 4 years of college and you can't find a way to make their education match their true vocation?

Fewer administrators, more professors and a little courage to meet the needs of the student is what is required. This can be accomplished with significant cost savings.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Backing a company that is too large to fail is an Obama mistake

I have never been a fan of consolidations in government or business. If you track back to my May 31st and June 2nd posts, I explain my position in greater detail. Cost savings are always disguised when the entity grows larger and more complex. Some of GM and AIG's problems grew out of the consolidations of the past.

Of all of the economic maneuvers of the Obama administration, the strategy that has me most concerned is the continued financial backing of companies that are still considered too big to fail. AIG, GM, Chrysler and major banks have been the recipients of tax payer bailouts. I continue to maintain that no company in America can become so large that it's failure would significantly damage our Nation.

I just came across this quotation that I think the Obama team needs to live by:

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex......It takes a touch of genus-----and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." Albert Einstein

While the auto industry (GM) is shedding divisions like Pontiac, the underlying intent is to make GM as strong as ever. GM officials will seek to do this in a way that would avoid competition. Removing a Pontiac from the market place will water down the competition for GM. Money thrown at AIG and the banks is going to end up in the hands of overpaid, over-egoed executives. This has already been widely reported to have happened. As for the working middle-class; they have been the ones that are forced to "sacrifice".

I keep going back to the AT&T model here. I think that it took courage to bust apart an American corporate icon that simply became too big and controlled too large a sector of the American economy. I maintain that GM needed to be broken into 4 separate corporations left to compete for our dollars. Insurance and banking industries need to be separated and appropriately regulated. We can no longer afford to let this failed marriage experiment in capitalism lead our lives. If we don't move in the opposite direction as Einstein proposed, our problems will remain with us for decades to come.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wisdom from the Woods X

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines complex issues.

Today's picture is another view from the Holyoke Range in Western Massachusetts. It's in the woods where I think anyone can do their best thinking. Too bad Mark Sanford wasn't in the woods walking the Appalachian Trail as first reported, he could have really cleared his head if he had done that. He'll have a lot of opportunity to be walking the woods in the future though.

Today is kind of a special day as it marks my 100th post to this blog. I started the blog 141 days ago and I've thoroughly enjoyed sharing my thoughts. I am also pleased with the number of people that have been reading these pages and I'm most impressed by the average time readers are spending here (approximately 6 minutes per visit). At some point I will share with readers additional numbers, but I want to have more information because I have only been tracking the traffic for 2 months now.

Today I want to just say a few words about the most important complex issue of our times, nuclear proliferation. North Korea is really scaring me and because of their deteriorating economy, it won't be long before they make a move against the South. I hope that the Obama administration is making preparations for this disastrous possibility. This is another mess you have gotten us into, George Bush.

Why pick on Bush here when the upper Korean peninsula has been a problem since World War II? I'll pick on George because he accelerated the nuclear arms race throughout the world like no other peer. He started his 8 years after being selected as President by Sandra Day O'Connor by calling North Korea, Iraq and Iran; "the axis of evil". Bush then proceeds to launch a preemptive invasion of Iraq based upon a series of monumental falsehoods (lies if you will). Now ask yourself; if you've been labeled the "axis of evil" and the people doing the labeling invaded without cause one corner of the triangle, you sure as hell would be making preparations for protecting your country.

The problem Obama faces is the American political system itself. Even if Obama could wheel and deal with some of our adversaries, they know damn well that the next American leader could end up being another Bush (I'm choking here). Eight years is not a lot of time to deal with such a complex issue. Knowing that the United States never invaded a country with a nuclear deterrent is all the evidence any country would need to accelerate and build a nuclear arsenal. Given the messages sent by the Bush administration, is it any wonder that the world is now going to have to deal with 2 unfriendly nations that posses WMD?

This is not a pretty picture and I don't hazard a guess at the outcome. I do know this; George W. Bush was a disaster for the United States and the world. I wonder; if Sandra Day O'Connor had a second chance to pick a President, would she still choose the worst mistake in American history? Al Gore won the election by 500,000 votes and he won the state of Florida. One person (the deciding vote on the Supreme Court) is responsible for the current day nuclear proliferation and the economic morass that we are in. The Florida Supreme Court had it right with their unanimous vote (to count all of the votes). George W. Bush, the selected President lived up to his reputation of failing at everything he had his hands in.

Do you remember historically it was the American strategy to keep the Winchester rifle out of the hands of American Indian? We wanted that distinct firepower advantage over our perceived enemy. Certainly the American Indian knew that they were perceived as an enemy. Wanting weapons to even the fight is just human nature and many rifles were acquired by the native tribes. While the consequences of nuclear proliferation is far more dangerous, the human nature behind acquiring the weaponry remains the same.

Perhaps the Obama administration can change the tone by changing perceptions. It is my feeling that the possibility for success is extremely low. I don't think that perceptions will change fast enough to prevent these nations from building nuclear arsenals. Change in North Korea is especially problematic because that is truly a "closed" society. I hope I'm wrong!

George W. Bush; because of all your stupid bullying tactics, you have accelerated the potential growth of nuclear weapons in the hands of dangerous people. Your legacy can be summed up in one word; "failure" (during the Bush years if you googled; "failure", it would take you directly to the White House).


Monday, June 22, 2009

Where's Waldo (Governor Mark Sanford)?

There have been some extremely bizarre stories that have surfaced during the past 18 months. The Palin stories and associated Republican ramblings have been the essence of late night TV, for good reason. Now comes the story of the missing Mark Sanford of South Carolina and you have to ask yourself; is this the Twilight Zone?

What the hell is going on with this guy? First of all, he has absolutely no ability to understand the political priorities of the day. Secondly, he has no ability to recognize his intellectual limitations. Now, I fear for his well-being and the well-being of his family. Governor Sanford's behavior is truly unusual. I can't remember when the disappearance of a politician was more troubling. The man has literally disappeared and is not telling people where he is, including his own family.

In Rhode Island, Patrick Kennedy has just disappeared, but we all know the reason because he was willing to share it with his constituents. It is common knowledge that Patrick has had substance abuse problems. Mark Sanford has serious reasoning problems, and this disappearance is just a manifestation of that.

While someone on his staff claims that he needed to get away to do some writing and he needed to get away from the kids (on fathers day), this does not excuse him from his responsibilities as husband, father, governor and anchor for his family.

To my conservative friends that have sung the praises of the leadership of Mark Sanford; is this the model of leadership you choose? Is President Obama's Father's Day example more appropriate for Americans to consume? Is this not a sad day for Mark Sanford's 4 sons that did not get to share Father's Day with him?

Unlike many people, I have "empathy" in my heart and I sincerely hope that Governor Mark Sanford is recovering from his personal problems. I won't speculate as to the cause of his mysterious disappearance; but I will remind readers that South Carolina is the state that kept Strom Thurmond's secret for approximately 8 decades. Strom Thurmond's secret; the fathering of a child with a black women when Thurmond was the foremost segregationist in the United States, was breath-taking.

In South Carolina, they seem to know how to keep secrets. Let's hope that Mark Sanford is doing some serious soul searching of his own and will be the better person for his time away. As for his 4 sons, they will not recapture the time apart and they will apparently have difficulty understanding it. How could they understand it if Sanford's wife does not know where he is?

I advise the good people of South Carolina that are looking for leadership to look towards the leadership of President Obama.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Washington D.C. after 911

I've just returned from a week in Washington D.C. where I went as a tourist for the third time in my life. I apologise to readers that have been looking for new posts during the past week, but my hotel did not have a public computer facility. So for the past week, I forgot what a computer felt like. Don't worry, I'm back and will be looking forward to offering more opinions on the issues of the day.

Last week's poll seemed to mirror the perceptions of the Congress and the public at large. The question; Do you support the appointment of Sonya Sotomayor to the Supreme Court had a 100% positive response, although 16% of respondents said "yes with reservations" The remaining 84% of respondents had no reservations.

I just want to say a few words about visiting the Nation's capitol as a tourist following the attacks on 911. While I've traveled to D.C. over 50 times in my life, I've only been the tourist on 3 occasions. I went when I was around 12 years of age with my parents, and then I took my son there along with my wife during the early part of the Clinton administration. Last week's visit saw many changes from the Clinton years.

Today, you need permission from someone in Congress to visit certain facilities such as the White House and Congress. Some 17 years ago, we toured the White house without a problem. Today, the selection process is kept secret as it probably should be. We applied 2 months before our visit and did not gain entry this time.

Every museum entry has tight security and the feeling of freedom that Americans enjoyed some 10 years ago seems to be somewhere in the distant past. I don't suppose that things will reverse themselves anytime soon. The most striking site was a guard standing outside of the Capitol with a long gun (probably and automatic weapon). It reminded me of my travel to Mexico many years ago on a business trip to Vera Cruz. Mexican Army guards seemed to be in a lot of places with their long weapons in hand. Somehow, we in America never thought this would be necessary.

Another familiar site was the presence of bomb sniffing dogs making their rounds through the park areas surrounding the Capitol and other key facilities. And of course, there are now barriers everywhere.

A lot has changed since 911. Most of this change is absolutely necessary. Spending an entire day in the U.S. Holocaust Museum 6 days after the attack there was a sobering experience. There was another striking fact however; tourism is alive and well in Washington D.C. The election of Barack Obama has been a real boon to the economy of this city. Threats aside, everyone still wanted to be there and enjoy what this Nation has given us. It was a great week.

I'm awfully glad that I had the opportunity to visit the city in a more innocent time. One thing that has not changed in the years I've been traveling to the city, the homeless are still everywhere, and that is a sad commentary on our society.

Check out the new slide show.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Random Reasoning's XIV

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations.

  1. In last week's poll; the question was, should Guantanamo Bay prison be closed and prisoners housed in U.S. prisons? This poll resulted in our first unanimous result; 100% of respondents answered: yes.
  2. Hey, John DiPetro from WPRO radio; you had better watch your step or Buddy Cianci is going to burn you with a cigarette.
  3. Did everyone in Rhode Island see the recent story about the RI Health and Human Services director being appointed by Carcieri? The scary part was the budget for HHS; $1.8 billion and scarier still; HHS services 300,000 Rhode Islanders each year. That's 1 in 3 Rhode Island residents are collecting some form of assistance. Wow! I don't know anybody collecting assistance, I only know people providing assistance (Meals on Wheels etc.).
  4. For those that don't follow where your tax dollars go; that's you the jokers at WPRO, the budget for HHS is $500 million more than the budget for servicing all of the state employee's annual - salary, benefits and pension costs combined.
  5. Did anyone see the geeky picture of Rhode Island's proud governor on the front page of the Providence Journal yesterday. That is some nerve to show up at a tea party protest and lambaste government deficits when you; Mr. Carcieri, you are the "Deficit King"!!
  6. How big is the Carcieri Governor's Office deficit for this fiscal year? Answer at the bottom of the column.
  7. Rush Limbaugh must be a "left wing" extremist! You heard it here first folks. It seems like Limbaugh tried to build the case yesterday that the Holocaust Memorial shooter (I won't dignify the event by providing the scum bag's name) was a "left wing" nut job. Now that's what I call entertainment. Rush; welcome to the "left wing"! I guess if you can't beat them, you might as well join them.
  8. Congressman, Mike Rodgers of Michigan spoke yesterday and proclaimed that the country has serious concerns about extremists on the left and the right. Ha!! I'm trying to think of what happened to all of those hippies. I think they all moved to Wall Street (yup! - ah- yuppies). That's right; I forgot, Rush Limbaugh is a left wing extremist!! Now it all makes sense. That damn left wing is always responsible for anything that goes wrong.
  9. Message to the Providence Journal: You captains of industry stopped printing the names of graduates at our high schools and colleges. Do you folks know how many grandmothers have now been disenfranchised because they don't get to see their flesh and blood in print? When was the last time you saw somebody at Cumberland Farms buying 10 copies of the Providence Journal? One more nail in the coffin!!
  10. Have you heard Donald Carcieri's new radio ad that tries to sell his economic strategy of lowering corporate taxes and eliminating the "death tax"? Message to Governor "Deficit": There is no such thing as a "death tax". That is Republican hate speech! The tax is called the "estate tax", and do you really think that all Rhode Islander's will vacate this state because their $750,000 estates will be taxed upon their deaths? All those that have a $750,000 estate; please raise your hands!!
  11. Let's not forget; anyone that has an estate approaching the estate tax level has found ways to prevent the tax to their heirs. You know it Governor Carcieri!!!!!!!!
  12. If privatization is so great, why did I have to send a package overseas to Hungary via the U.S. Postal Service? Well, Federal Express wanted $350 to send the $50 package. The U.S. Postal Service sent it for under $50. Everything arrived safe and sound. Seems like the government can just simply do things better and cheaper!!
  13. Governor Mark Sandford of South Carolina just had his Supreme Court order that he accept the Stimulus Funds for education in his state. What else can I say - the man's an idiot!
  14. The Governor's Office deficit for this year is $589,218 as reported in the Providence Journal. This deficit is on top of the outrageous $4.7 million dollar budget for what should be a very small office.
  15. Did you Get the message readers?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Republican Radio Making Noise

You have to read today's front page story of the Providence Pamphlet (Providence Journal) regarding the feud at Rhode Island's premier radio talk station, WPRO (click here). It seems like even neo-conservative talk show folks just can't get along with each other, let alone define a vision for fixing things in this country.

If you read between the lines it is clear that John DePetro is not a team player. He's lucky he only got hit with a piece of paper in the eye. His little tantrum because Buddy Cianci asked one of his guests (Bruce Sundlun) to stay for his show (the show that followed) is truly "school yard". Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to ...... act like A-holes! Let's face it, the line up on WPRO is disturbingly full of hatred, bigotry, arrogance and ignorance. The only host that shows some level of normalcy is Buddy, but even he falters frequently.

Republican radio seems to be obsessed with making the news instead of talking about the news. When they talk about the news, they use no basis in fact a high percentage of the time and consequently, generate the controversy that they all crave. They are all looking for the headline and are jealous when somebody else steals their thunder. In the end though, its the lies that we are all left to ponder. Rush Limbaugh is the "biggest" example of the need to make the headlines. He will say anything to make the nightly news cycle and it is mostly lies and hatred that he continues to foster.

Additionally, the problem with radio talk is the current culture centered on Republican philosophy that has failed us miserably. OK, it is Republican radio after all so one would expect radio hosts to sing the Republican song. We hear radio hosts repeatedly beat listeners over the head with the "Obama deficits" that will cripple us for years to come. I agree with the need to solve deficits, but get your facts straight! Bush era practices have lead to the lion share of future deficits. If you don't believe me; click here.

Many Republicans are highly critical of Keith Olbermann because of his reporting the liberal side of the news. I can understand that. His special commentaries can be extremely hard hitting and rude. If you have never watched his show on MSNBC, you should. Keith does something that conservative pundits never seem to do. Keith always backs up his sentiments with a stream of facts that can make your head spin. He especially loves to turn things around on Republicans when they make some off-handed stupid comment for political posturing. Just yesterday, Newt Gingrich made the comment that he is not a "citizen of the world" like Obama, he's a "citizen of the United States". Keith shows up with a tape of Ronald Reagan saying; "I am a citizen of the world" and all of a sudden, Gingrich looks like a fool.

From Limbaugh to WPRO right here in little Rhode Island, Republican radio needs to be reformed. If the FCC won't do it, then I think progressive citizens need to start seeking out new ways to change the dialogue. We need to start complaining to the sponsors of what has now become a joke in America.

I have one suggestion for WPRO. Try firing DiPetro; hell, he's been fired many times before for his bigotry. Then install Tara Granahan in his morning post. When she filled in for him last Friday, I heard her handle some of John DiPetro's usual crowd. She stood up to them with style and grace. Unfortunately, Republican radio is not looking for style and grace; they are looking for headlines.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Governor Donald Carcieri is the Deficit King

There was a recent mention in a Providence Journal column regarding the budget deficit that Governor Donald Carcieri's own office is running in this recession. Seems like the Republican that is more than willing to jump all over the Democrats for deficit spending has been leading the way. It sort of reminds me of all of the deficit spending during the Bush years. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, the nation's leading hypocrite is also called to mind.

What has gone on in our own Governor's office is no joke. First of all; I can't believe for the life of me, why the Governor's office needs $4.7 million per year. Rhode Island is such a small state that no Governor needs more than a handful of employees to get the job done. This much money in Rhode Island today translates into over 50 employees. Are you kidding me? I can see the office employing 15 employees and a few interns. Under no circumstances, should that office be costing citizens more than $1.5 million per year.

Now our business minded governor is suppose to have some sense when it comes to managing the people's money. He certainly has gone out of his way to take what he can away from the dedicated state employees that are not part of his office. Carcieri's office running a projected $589,218 deficit for the current fiscal year is about the most outrageous news I've heard emanating from the State House. I think it's criminal!

Let me put a little perspective on this. Multiple divisions within the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) operated on far less than this. A good example is the Environmental Police. Last I knew, the number of officers covering the entire state is in the vicinity of 35. That's 35 employees to handle duties on the Bay and throughout Rhode Island, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Environmental Police play a key role in keeping our food supply safe. Heck, the DEM Environmental Police force is only half the size of my town's Police Department.

The Governor's Office has become so bloated under Carcieri's leadership that the Legislature really needs to step up to the plate here. Carcieri is very reluctant to entertain hiring anybody outside of his immediate circle; however, when it is something that he personally wants, he will pursue it at the expense of everyone else. We don't need a Steve Cass employed, Mr. Carcieri. His job is meaningless.

I urge the Legislature to start cutting the 2010 budget by reducing the Governor's Office by $3.2 million to a more respectable and adequate $1.5 million. I would suggest privatizing the Governor's Office because Mr. Carcieri likes that strategy, but we all know that it would end up costing us more.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wisdom from the Woods IX

Wisdom from the Woods is an occasional column that outlines complex issues.

Today's picture is a unique view of where I spent a few years of my life. In the distance is the University of Massachusetts in Amherst framed by the Connecticut River and the Holyoke Range. I learned a lot at that university and my education has carried me a long way. It was at this place in a different time (1970) when my politics changed forever. No other picture could depict "wisdom from the woods" better than this one.

Today I want to say a few words about hate and the teaching of hate that is not only a problem in Islamic counties, it is a problem right here at home. This past week, the Kansas church group (I'm not going to give the official church name) came to Rhode Island to spread their message of hate against Blacks, Jews and Gays. A small group of church goers showed up with their children in tow to make an ugly scene. Actually, the scene was not so ugly because of the counter-protest by students at a local high school. Many East Providence school kids went as far as wearing yarmulkes all day long to support their Jewish friends. Thankfully, there was no violence.

These anti-American extremists from Kansas are sending a dangerous message; largely to their own children. I wonder how many future uni-bombers are being created because of the indoctrination techniques used by these evil people. I suppose that this is the cost of freedom and the protections provided by the first amendment to the Constitution. Is there a Constitutional way to restrict this hateful behavior?

I for one, believe that the Department of Education in the appropriate state should have the authority to monitor what is taught in the schools that these children attend. If this hate mongering is part of a school curriculum, we need to ensure that laws are in place to allow for the arrest of any perpetrators. While freedom of speech remains one of our founding values, freedom to brainwash young minds with hatred does not constitute free speech. I think this is akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater. I believe this needs to be the case even if the school is a private school. As a society, we can not afford to have hatred taught to young people. Any school, private or public should be subject to approved curricula; and if necessary, compliance should be monitored and enforced.

Activities of the Kansas church group and their brain-washing techniques applied to their young are no different than the use of the radical Madrases that teach radical forms of Islam throughout the Middle East. The radical Madrases teach hatred of Jews, Americans and the West the same way some of our radical bible beaters do.

This to me is a scary issue that needs to be considered. Government needs to find Constitutional ways of coping with this complete ignorance. I suppose our radio talk show folks that like to teach hate from their pulpits fit the definition of free speech. Teaching hate in a class room is far different. Teaching hate from a church is just pure evil; but maybe this issue can be appropriately addressed through refined tax codes.

Thank you for our freedom - World War II Vets (65 years ago - D Day)!! You men and women fought hate to preserve the freedom of nations. Your courage is not forgotten.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Why do I listen to Republican Radio?

I wish I could find an answer to the question I pose. Why the hell listen to talk radio when 95% of what you here is neo-conservative babble from mental midgets. Most of the time I try to crank up a little Neil Young or David Crosby when driving around town. On occasion, like today, my curiosity takes over and I succumb to the temptation to listen to fools.

President Obama's trip abroad to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany and France peaked my interest in what "the dark side" is saying. Except for one exceptional caller, what I heard was hatred, lies and ignorance. One caller this morning on Rhode Island's WPRO moaned on about Obama's religion. He needed to say; "I told you so, I told you he was a Muslim". Here we go again; somebody needs to straighten the idiot out, but don't count on the talk show host to do it. Obama is Christian and has been attending Christian churches most of his adult life. We all knew that his father was Muslim (although he was a non-practicing Muslim).

Callers went on to insist; the media was not allowed to use Obama's middle name during the campaign and nobody dared say Hussein. Where the hell were you people? Were you all living under a rock? Republicans across this country used his middle name to make sure that voters would identify him as a Muslim. Obama wrote a book; "Dreams from My Father" that fully outlined his early life. The book was written before his vaulting onto the national political scene so it is clear that he was hiding nothing. Intelligent voters knew his story during the campaign while others kept trying to make things up. It feels good today to have intelligent voters in the majority from my perspective.

A couple of callers went on to blast NBC for the recent Brian Williams, 2 part story on the Obama White House. Callers insisted that this never happened with past presidents and again there was no correction from the talk show host. I remember seeing a story on the Bush White House on prime time TV during the early part of his administration. I think it's true that there is a different relationship between the Obama administration and the Bush administration when it comes to the national press corp. While it is clear that Obama respects the press, Bush was very negative towards the press.

The old saying that you "reap what you sow" seems appropriate here. Obama is obviously trying to sow the seeds for peace in the Middle East, while Bush was sowing poison ivy. While the jury is out on Obama's ability to change the dynamics in that part of the world, at least he is leading this nation towards a new positive image. Gunslinging Bush did not get Osama bin laden "dead or alive". Obama's reaching out while remaining firm has gained respect around the world.

I think many more problems are solved when people respect each other. The hatred displayed on Republican radio will never solve problems. While talk show host after talk show host allow the continual vitriol to be spewed at Barack Obama, respect becomes the casualty.

Yes; my respect for many Republicans has also become a casualty because of the continual non-sense, hatred, lies and ignorance that we hear on radio. I think the FCC needs to take a new look at the Fairness Doctrine. If that does not happen, maybe progressives could start an Internet viral boycott of sponsors to these hateful, unbalanced Republican radio talk shows.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Consolidations in education - a wise move?

Conventional wisdom seems to like consolidations when budgets get tight. I'm not so sure that consolidation is a good thing; and quite frankly, I have learned that consolidations are a really bad strategy. While in business consolidations can save companies from bankruptcy, it has been my experience that well intentioned consolidations in government can be disastrous.

I recently read a short article on the plan at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) to abolish the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Natural Resources and the Environment in order to to form a single college which will be known as the College of Natural Sciences. In the words of Steve Goodwin, dean of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment; the consolidation of two colleges "better positions us to compete nationally and internationally and enhances our ability to attract and retain the best faculty and offer excellent education for our students." Who can argue with that? There is no doubt that dedicated people are trying to do the right thing.

Let's look a little deeper. Initially, by the fall of 2009, the new college will house the following programs: Astronomy, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Sciences, Food Science, Geosciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Microbiology, Natural Resources Conservation, Physics, Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences,Polymer Science and Engineering, Psychology, Stockbridge School of Agriculture and Veterinary and Animal Sciences. The plan seems to call for future college realignments which will result in disciplines like Psychology, Computer Science and Polymer Science and Engineering to find new homes by 2010. Even with that change, the new College of Natural Sciences is a monster!

Having been a UMass graduate (1972) with a forestry degree, you can imagine why I'm concerned. Does Forestry, Wildlife Conservation and Wood Technology seem a little buried? Here is the larger issue; while immediate cost savings may be demonstrable, larger is never cheaper. In time, the new college will prove more expensive. Think about it; consolidations in government seldom see anyone cast aside from the pay rolls. The new monster college will result in higher compensation for administrators. Initial savings are almost always impossible to maintain.

The new college will be under the same cost restraints as the original two. As time moves forward, decisions regarding program cuts will be made. Programs with the least power and the fewest students will be jettisoned like a bad penny. Administrators making the decisions will be too far removed from the issues to fully comprehend consequences. Students will not be better served and educational opportunities will be diminished. Some disciplines such as forestry will never command the student numbers of a mathematics program. The need for those 25 or 30 graduates each year in forestry may be critical to the state's environmental efforts in the decades ahead. When the dean of the college may well be a chemistry professor, understanding forestry issues will be a real stretch.

In my opinion, maintaining the original colleges will result in better decisions into the future. Think about the most successful businesses today. The fastest growing business segment involves the companies that are small with simple strategic visions. Netflix, Google, and Amazon, just to name a few, are now giants. Time-Warner did not have the corporate mentality to create an AOL. AOL was purchased by Time-Warner and now Time-Warner has had to cast AOL aside because administrators were too far removed from the culture. Time-Warner had no idea how to make decisions that would enhance the AOL position. I fear the same lack of sensitivity when consolidations take place in government and universities.

While administrators struggle with some harsh economic realities, I think they need to remember this - larger is not cheaper and bigger is not better.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Consolidations - bigger is not always better!

Having lived through consolidations in government, I think that leaders have to re-evaluate the efficacy of such actions. As we look at the current state of the economy; ask yourselves, is bigger really better? Was it better to have AIG so big that it could not fail? Is it better to have GM so large that it can't function in the down economy? Was it wise to split AT&T into multiple companies a few decades ago?

It seems like every time there is a financial crunch in government or business, administrators react by insisting on larger organizations. The argument is always the same; by consolidating operations, we all become stronger. I want to be diplomatic in my response; but I think I need to say, bull shit! While leaders of institutions are well intentioned when devising new, larger organizations, they need to fully comprehend the consequences. Administrators need to look beyond quarterly results, annual results and even bi-annual results. True leaders need to look at a longer time horizon; perhaps decades. I'll go as far as saying, bigger is almost never better!

I lived and supported a reorganization that consolidated environmental functions within the State of Rhode Island. In the late 1970's, the Department of Natural Resources was combined with the environmental regulatory functions housed within the Department of Health. The new agency was named the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). The arguments all seemed to make sense and the leaders behind the change were the most dedicated professional I have ever known. In retrospect, the change was disastrous.

In the new agency, financial pressures did not disappear. Over time, fiscal issues took an exhausting toll on one side of the agency. The new DEM, when faced with mandates from the EPA and others, struggled to find resources to accommodate the needs of everyone. The consequence of the merger resulted in the draining of financial and personnel resources from the natural resource areas and shifted those resources to the environmental regulatory areas. In 1986, I became the chief of the forestry agency that had 65 full time positions, coupled with dozens of part time summer positions. When I retired in 2005; a retirement fostered by the frustration of dealing with management needs, I had 29 full time positions. Today, my successor has only 17 full time positions. Responsibilities have been amended, but the public generally requires the same service.

This is not the end of the story. When I retired in 2005, the DEM had roughly the same total number of employees as when I started as chief. Emphasis and power changed the allocation of resources. The legislature, fed up with the regulatory burdens imposed on businesses and citizens, continually limited the financial resources of the department. The natural resource areas; the white hat side of the department, was devastated by the continual shifting of money and personnel towards the other side of the agency. The regulatory areas; the black hat side of the department, kept on growing and growing at the expense of natural resources.

Today, natural resources areas at DEM have been decimated, eviscerated, castrated and left to struggle with an almost impossible job. I feel for the employees that are trying to do their best for the people of Rhode Island. Rhode Island is not better off because of the shifting financial dynamics within the larger, "more powerful" agency. The larger agency has lost status in the eyes of the legislature and the struggle to correct the lack of fairness will take generations.

Bigger is not better!

Tomorrow, I will discuss another pending reorganization that will have lasting negative consequences for years to come. This story will involve the consolidation of two colleges at the University of Massachusetts.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Random Reasoning's XIII

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations.

  1. In Governing Against the Tide's last 2 polls, the full results can be found in the May 20, 2009 post. It looks like readers think that under no circumstances should government be bailing out newspapers and it looks like the Republican nominee for president in 2012 will be "Joe the Plumber". How sad is that?
  2. How many businessmen like Rhode Island's Governor Donald Carcieri does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer at the bottom of the column. Think about it for a while!
  3. Did you see that President Obama managed to conduct a selection process for the next Supreme Court Justice in less than a month while "asleep at the switch" Donald Carcieri has not even come close to selecting the needed justices for Rhode Island in over 6 months?
  4. Do the Republicans that want to close Gitmo really want to send these prisoners back to their country of origin? Ya; that will keep us safe. Same goes for the chicken Democrats.
  5. Did you just hear that Michael Steele declared that the Obama honeymoon is over? Now that's what I call a problem with premature ejaculation! On second thought; the Republicans have E.D., so maybe they just want to skip the honeymoon and stick to screwing the American people.
  6. Dick Cheney needs to keep talking so his prosecution can be expedited. When the hell will Eric Holder move to uncover the crimes of Cheney and company? I agree with Obama; no need for a Truth Commission, we have prosecutorial power to deal with the crimes. Get on with it!
  7. Can somebody out there do a cost/benefit analysis of the Alan Shawn Feinstein ads that permeate our television viewing? Not for nothing; the kids are cute, but enough is enough. Can't he take that money he is spending on the future embarrassment of his grandchildren and feed some people with it?
  8. Nobody can say the Barack Obama is not changing the color of the nation. An Hispanic Supreme Court nominee and the first black NASA Chief are positive steps. I think that he could add additional color by making Lisa Simpson his next Supreme Court nominee. Hell, she's smarter than Antonin Scalia and better looking too.
  9. CIA is suppose to stand for the Central Intelligence Agency. I'm OK with two words but I'm confused by the intelligence part. If you can't take accurate minutes to a meeting, your not the brightest bulb on the tree.
  10. Did you see that Michael Steele recently said that liberalism will "kill you"? Well it won't kill me; as for him, there is always hope. (I'm speaking of his message here).
  11. Dick Cheney is a traitor to this country. He is trying to create an atmosphere that will empower our enemies to attack us again. He may not understand this, but he never understood anything. He did nothing to prevent 911 when our government saw it coming, he lied about Iraq, he lied about torture and his lies continue. The media should ignore him.
  12. Carrie Prejean has her right to her opinions even if her mother is gay.
  13. The sickest story to appear during the past week involved the report on how George W. got his daily security briefings; apocalyptic biblical passages were supplied by Rummy to Dummy each day. To the Christian Coalition out there; this practice is reminiscent of radical Islam, and these are the guys you chose to lead this nation for 8 years - Dummy, Rummy and Scummy!
  14. Thank you Notre Dame University; you are first class. No thank you; Arizona State University, you just plain suck.
  15. Answer to the question: A minimum of five businessmen: one to organize the privatization process; one to ask for bailout funds because of the unforeseen expense; one to process retention bonuses to ensure the continuity of the work force; one to design a futures market to capitalize on the lost light; and one to report on the progress.
  16. "Let there be light"; now where the hell does that come from?