Saturday, February 28, 2009

How Long Will Newspapers Last?

How long will Newspapers last? I hope as long as people have puppies. It's been tough times for the industry, trying to adjust to the impact of the Internet. Yesterday, The Rocky Mountain News from Denver, Colorado published its last edition after 150 years. In Rhode Island yesterday, it was reported that the Providence Journal (Pro Jo) was going to lay off over 70 employees. This follows previous downsizing episodes at the paper.

Are these papers failing because of the Internet, or because of cutbacks to their news pages? I can only talk directly about the Providence Journal at this point because this is the only paper that I have read consistently over 35 years. The paper has grown so small that it is now being referred to as the Providence Pamphlet. The nickname demonstrates their problem.

A few years ago, the Pro Jo stopped printing the Wall Street numbers. While providing a broad overview, people could no longer follow their investments. Consequently, they turned to the Internet. Not too long ago, the Pro Jo stopped printing a TV section in their Sunday paper. Do you know how many people really depended on that? I know my wife did; now she gets TV Guide. I used to look forward to the Sports page. Now they cover only the Rhode Island teams with very little mention of other teams around the region (I'm a UMass fan; can't find any news here). Consequently, I'm driven to the Internet again. It seems like every downsizing move they made has driven us to the Internet. Once you're on the Internet for your news, you learn that you get news faster. By the time the paper arrives, it's old news, or no news.

Is the paper making some fundamental mistakes? I think so. The Pro Jo has been against state employees since forever; this doesn't endear them to a lot of readers. They seem to have plenty of print space in some sections; heck, the news seems to only cover 30% of the paper. How long do we have to endure the continuous feature, "Love Stories"? I haven't read one. If I want to read a book, I'll get a good book. This series has taken up miles of newsprint.

People need information that they can directly connect to. The Providence Journal has lost its way and gotten far from things that people want to see in the morning. If it's not in the morning paper, then you know what? We all turn to the Internet. Once there, we have found a way to get our information when we want it and it's free.

At least the Pro Jo finally got one Presidential election right by endorsing Barack Obama. Their support of George Bush through two election cycles had to hurt them. I think they can survive, they just need better leadership. Many subscribers will probably keep buying the paper as long as they have a puppy in their life.

Blog On

Friday, February 27, 2009

Radio Talk in America Hits a New Low

I happened to be listening to radio talk (WPRO, Providence, RI) today and had to stomach outrage towards Obama because he had the nerve to travel to Camp David once and back to Chicago once. What a truly disgusting display of ignorance. Good ole Buddy didn't help any as he continued to agree with the rant of his callers. Seems like Republican folks were mad they had to pay for all of this.

OK, Obama and his family did spend a weekend at Camp David and the long holiday weekend in Illinois. Did you see the Obama speech honoring Abraham Lincoln when he was home in Illinois? It had to be one of the greatest speeches in modern political history. He did travel to the land of Lincoln to celebrate Lincoln's 200th birthday. He had to be back in Washington though; the girls could not miss school. (Sarah Palin pulled her kids out of school for 5 months and dragged them across the country during the election. She should have been charged; isn't this against the law in Alaska?)

Now let's just look at the Bush record: As of August 2003 (2 years and 8 months into his 8 year Presidency), Bush had spent 166 days on vacation in Crawford, Texas. Between the family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine and Camp David, Bush had taken off 250 days as of August 2003 ( That's a grand total of 27% of his time on vacation in his first few years. Bill Clinton spent 152 days on vacation during his entire eight year Presidency.

Remember when Bush spent 5 weeks on vacation ignoring the Nation's business just before 911? How could we forget the dedication when he was on vacation during Hurricane Katrina and stayed right where he was as people struggled for their lives?

I try to be patient with people, especially when politics is involved; but sometimes you can't. You people on the radio today are just being foolish; and your opinion is based on an unbalanced hatred of Democrats or Blacks or both. How do you sleep at night?

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Privatization Myths - Reagan's Mistake

I want to talk about what I feel is the largest misconception regarding the operation of government. That's right, privatization is in large part a myth. Ronald Reagan's disaster of leadership can be summed up in this one word, privatization. Reagan didn't invent it. It's probably been around for centuries, at least that was one story I read. What Reagan did was to move this issue to the front burner, because he felt that government was the problem. He created a commission to study the ways that government could be downsized by turning over jobs to the private sector.

I started preparing public budgets in the 1980s and I vividly remember the time when privatization was the answer to all of the country's ills. I used to fight for a 4 or 5% increase in my budget each year and I would be livid when I was told, you're only getting 3%. How could I make ends meet? As privatization became the rage, I noticed something quite different; now I was told you have to cut your budget 10%. That would be difficult if it happened one year; funny thing though, it kept on happening, year after year after year.

Why do people believe that private business can do it cheaper? We just went through a period when we saw story after story in the Providence Journal about the cost of the privatized work force. Some 650 employees were hired by the State through the private sector. It turns out that the overhead cost was over 100%. We were told that this was standard practice in the industry. Secretaries that could be at work for the state for half the cost were being paid by private entities, while the connected folks took off with millions. At least this story got reported.

When I retired from the State, my exit interview was focused on the costs of privatization and the sham that it is. I outlined my disgust with a system that would not hire any new employee, yet it would pay the private sector $850 thousand for a j0b that should only cost $200 thousand. Contractors being paid to watch over contractors is the way the Republican leadership sees things. In this case that I'm very familiar with, a contractor was paid $45 thousand to supervise the job site. If the state hired the construction engineers that it should have, that person could watch over a dozen construction projects. Hell, they used to! The entire project was bloated with contractor rip-offs. I had a good feel for this as I had just contracted for the building of my own home. My home was 3000 square feet and the contract was close to $200 thousand. This State contract involved a building that was a lot smaller and cost taxpayers $850 thousand.

Remember the $1million dollar lawyer the Department of Environmental Management hired for the conduct of a single case? Tell me that the Public sector can't do this cheaper and I'll call you a fool.

How about "Blackwater", remember them? They just changed their name because of their incompetence in Iraq. Iraq has to be the first outrageously privatized war in history. What do you think about paying a mercenary $500 thousand each year for a job that was formally done by our own military? This is cheaper than paying a soldier? The head of "Blackwater" could not even tell Congress how much money he made, although he said it was over $1 million per year. This compares to the $160 thousand that General Petraeus was making. What about the no-bid contracts in Iraq? You remember; "Halliburton"!

Privatization merely replaces public transparency with a profit culture that is out of our view. It's out of our view until the private sector starts asking for bailouts! Ronald Reagan got it wrong and is partially responsible for today's financial disaster. Privatization as cost savings for government is in large part a myth. If you don't believe me, just google "privatization myths". Government is not the problem, the Reagan sheep are!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Changes to "Governing Against The Tide"

Learning to blog is actually a lot of fun. While there is a lot to talk about today with President Obama's speech last night, I focused my energies on making improvements to this site. Besides the weekly poll that I will be conducting, today's additions include the following:

  • Quotation of the Day (Left column): A random quotation that will change each day with a link to the famous person.
  • This Day in History (Left column): A daily selection of events that occurred on the current day.
  • News Map (Bottom of page): This is a great feature that allows you to click anywhere in the world and connect to the daily newspaper from the closest major city.
  • Watch TV Shows Directly (Bottom of page): Just click on the available link and you are there.
  • Cheeky Quote (Left column): a collection of quotations that change every half hour.
These are enough changes for today. I'll continue to research improvements. Obama was great last night in his first speech before the full Congress.

Blog On

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

URI Students Work to Save the North Woods

Times sure are different; as bad as this economy is, things are better than when I went to college. I have had the pleasure of working with a group of students at the University of Rhode Island that are dedicated to saving an area of campus known as the "North Woods". The University would like to construct a new Research Park that would utilize almost 30 acres on the north side of campus. Unfortunately, this proposed park would land right on top of a 100 year- old forest that has been largely undisturbed.

Students have started to do all of the right things. They have gathered information, asked to meet with professors, sought advice from a number of sources and developed a plan to approach the Administration. Nobody is trying to make headlines here. These students believe that a research park is a good thing for the University; they are just concerned about URI losing rural character and an important teaching tool that they are all familiar with. When concerned about how to handle any press, a group prepared a press release to focus the discussion appropriately.

I have had the honor to work with so many of these students that truly care about their University and the North Woods. They understand that URI needs both a research park and this natural laboratory.

When I attended UMass (1968-1972) student grievances were handled a little differently. On my first day at UMass, student orientation, June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy was assassinated. This happened just 3 months after the loss of Martin Luther King. I remember a visit to the campus by Hubert Humphrey after he lost the election to Richard Nixon. Humphrey actually came to our dorm. A group of disgruntled students surrounded him and demanded that they meet with him privately. The scene was very tense but he handled it well. He never got to speak to the student body that evening because an obnoxious professor took over a microphone and would not stop his rant against the war in Vietnam. Humphrey had to walk off stage. Strom Thurman, Senator from South Carolina, came to campus to speak one time and was greeted by students dressed in KKK garb. As they approached the stage, Thurman exited through a back door and got into his limo. I stood and watched in horror as students tried to turn the vehicle over. He managed to escape without anyone getting hurt. When UMass announced a hike in tuition from $50 per semester to $150, a group of student protesters had a sit-in at the Administration building.

Times have changed. Students have changed and it's all for the better. Let's hope that there is a win-win for everyone here. Can you imagine one of these dedicated students arriving at the University 40 years from now and taking a walk through the North Woods on their way to a meeting at the Research Park? They would be proud and they should be proud.

I still wish tuition was $50 per semester though!

Blog On

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hats Off to Charlie Crist!

Charlie Crist, Republican Governor of Florida was very impressive on yesterday's, "Meet the Press". Some of his words are worth repeating:

  • "We are in a crisis".
  • "Barack Obama is trying to do the right thing".
  • "None of us has a crystal ball".
  • "It's a matter of helping people".
  • "It works well, helps people, it does what's right". (Regarding the Stimulus Bill)
  • "One-third of the Stimulus is tax cuts"
More impressively, Crist talked about traveling around Florida visiting unemployment offices. He went on to state: "I've stared in people's faces". I wonder how many of his Republican colleagues could say the same thing or Democrats for that matter.

Charlie Crist; you care, and I salute you. If all Republicans as well as Democrats behaved as you have, this Country would be a lot closer to solving the problems before us. Your leadership at this time will be remembered by all voters. Thank you.

Blog On

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Random Reasoning's ll

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations:

  1. In "Governing Against The Tide's" original poll conducted last week, 77% of respondents said they strongly supported the Obama Stimulus Bill.
  2. One estimate on the loss of wealth in our economy was put at $15 trillion. This includes loss of equity in property as well as other direct losses. That number represents $50,000 for every person in America.
  3. Most Americans believe in God. Most Americans believe in the 10 Commandments. Most Americans believe in capital punishment. Thou shall not kill? Most Americans must be confused.
  4. Slumdog Millionaire better win tonight.
  5. Each year the flu shot changes because the flu virus evolves.
  6. Did you see the movie Doubt? In the final scene the Mother Superior doubts her faith, not the guilt or innocence of the priest. That's the way I saw it.
  7. If genetics determines whether we are liberal or conservative (See the post of February 10), is genetics responsible for whether we are Red Sox fans or Yankee fans?
  8. Happy Birthday Charles Darwin! We continue to evolve. The Church does not.
  9. Did you see that Mitt Romney is selling 3 of his homes? I guess he wants fewer than 7 when he runs for President in 2012.
  10. Remember when radio and television stations were required to present opposing views? Whatever happened to that? I can still see Archie Bunker voicing his opinion. The FCC needs to look at this again.
  11. Why is Bernie Madoff not in jail?
  12. Any church, whose leaders express a preference for a political candidate, even if that expression is in a subtle form of coercion, should be taxed!
  13. Is Ken Lay (Enron scandal and friend of the George Bush Sr.) still alive?
  14. Light years measure distance, not time!
  15. A teacher in Minnesota has found a new way to teach. They have installed new work stations for students that allow a student to stand during class as well as be seated. She reasoned that if students were given the opportunity to move around more, they would stay focused and they would also burn more calories. That teacher is absolutely brilliant. Why didn't I think of that?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Will the U.S. Automakers Survive?

I've decided to change gears today and talk a little bit about the economy. Keep in mind I'm no economist. I was frustrated by an Associated Press story yesterday that reported on General Motors (GM) stock price hitting a 70 year low. I have always bought GM products, yet 4 years ago when I purchased my last car, I was given reason to pause. I'm not surprised that GM is in trouble; serious trouble.

As I purchased my Pontiac Vibe in 2005 (4 wheel drive, 31 MPG, mini SUV), I asked the salesman what the construction next door was all about. He told me that they were building a new Hummer dealership. I was shocked! Didn't GM have a clue about the future of our oil supplies? I did, and I don't sit in or anywhere near their boardroom. How can these captains of industry be so clueless?

I did a little research and came across GM's 4 point turnaround plan from November, 2005. If the people making the decisions then are the same people today, my prediction is that GM is going down and shouldn't get any more taxpayer money. In the report, it is mentioned that Pontiac G6 sales were up 100% in 2005 vs. 2004 (a car with good gas mileage). They reported the HUMMER brand had posted its largest increase, up 86% with the launch of the H3s (a vehicle with terrible gas mileage). The plan called for rolling out luxury SUVs, large pickup trucks and entry luxury cars (vehicles with poor gas mileage).

When people in a boardroom are so far removed from Main Street, they just can't seem to get it right. GM's new approach (2009) is to restructure the company by focusing on the core brands, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC. They probably have more Pontiac's on the road but Pontiac will become a highly focused niche brand. Saturn will be phased out. Can you see a father telling his son: why don't you go down to the dealership and buy yourself a Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac or GMC truck. Ya, these brands are real sexy for today's youth.

If I had to bet on an American car company, I'd bet on Ford. They managed to have enough cash to avoid Federal loans at this time. In the very little bit of research I did, they seem to be competing very well overseas. In one report I saw, Ford placed 3rd in the European Union and 1st in Ireland. My past problem with Ford was poor mileage performance, but I think their team has been turning that around. Heck, I'm no financial guru, so don't listen to me; however, I'm going to suggest that the current stock price of $1.85 per share might be a good opportunity. With incentives to buy cars in the Stimulus Bill, and help in the credit markets, we will start buying cars again. Ford is my bet to survive and get through this. GM; I think you may have lost me as a customer.

Blog On

Friday, February 20, 2009

A New Job For Dick Cheney

Well, a story on MSNBC today discusses a proposed law in Texas that would allow hunters to shoot feral pigs from helicopters. I guess they like the fact that hunters in Alaska can hunt from the air. That's real sporting. I've been a hunter all of my life, but I have to tell you, shooting an animal from the air is just chickenshit.

The story informed us that at least 2 million feral hogs were tearing up crops, ripping down fences and eating everything along the way. Have you ever been to Texas? I have visions of sage brush, tumbleweeds, cactus and rattlesnakes. I think they must have been eating for a long time because there just doesn't seem to be much left of the state; at least that's what I remember. In Alaska, brave hunters can shoot bears and wolves from the air. There is certainly no dedication to conservation or sportsmanship here.

This brings me to a great story about Aldo Leoplold my favorite conservationist, as he wrote about an incident when he shot and killed a wolf. He writes: "We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."

My Dad was a huge inspiration in my life. We shared many days in the field and I would not trade that for anything. He taught me that when you take an animal's life, it is your responsibility to clean it and eat it. I live by that creed.

A few years ago, I read a story about Dick Cheney hunting at a shooting preserve in Pennsylvania. It seems that their party shot 450 pheasants on this one day. Cheney was quite pleased; if my memory serves me correct, he had shot 75 of the birds. What do you want to bet that he never cleaned one?

I have a new job for Dick. Send him to the sage brush of Texas and let him shoot all the feral pigs he wants to. Just don't go hunting with him!

Blog On

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Defining Stupid

I need to define stupid. I'm looking for just the right words here, so bear with me while I think out loud; idiotic, dumb, unconscionable, imbecilic, putrid, unintelligent, thick, witless, dopey, brainless, daft, mindless, laughable, puerile, asinine, irresponsible, senseless, short-sighted, ill-advised, fatuous, half-baked, inane, crack-brained, Governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina, and Idaho. I'll go with the Governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina and Idaho. Crack-brained is a nice touch though!

You see, these great leaderes are the ones that want to turn down that horrible economic stimulus money; that's right, the crack-brained Republican Governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina and Idaho. I hope the voters in these states take note. Remember, they are all Republicans.

Of course, it's all posturing and I'm sure that they will not become all of the things I listed above; or will they? I'm not taking bets on this one folks. To hear them talk, they seem to be covering all of the "stupid" bases! Stupid is what crack-brains do.

Hats off to the other Republican Governors that supported the President. Maybe your crack-brained friends will turn down the money and your states can benefit significantly by receiving additional resources. Governor Carcieri; you escaped this one. At least you're not talking about turning down the help that Rhode Island so desperately needs. You should have supported the President though. Funny thing here; I just found out that our Governor is on a week's vacation.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are Oil Companies Taxing Us to Death?

That's right! Oil companies at the conclusion of the last administration were taxing us to death. The oil companies directed the most outrageous transfer of wealth from Middle America to their pockets in the history of capitalism. Exxon-Mobil alone recorded a profit in 2008 of $45.2 billion, the largest corporate profit in history, and at a time when our economy was in the tank.

People are rightly concerned when government raises taxes marginally on a commodity such as gasoline; however, the oil companies can grab it from you whenever they want. This gross distortion of our economy occurred at the end of Bush administration. Bush stayed silent as oil buddies lined their pockets. Coinciding with this economic hold-up, our economy crashed. While the housing market and banks suffer the brunt of the criticism, I have not forgotten about the role of big oil. Every single commodity depends upon oil to get to market. Consequently, profit margins in every industry were significantly challenged this past fall. The profit to Exxon-Mobil alone amounts to roughly $150 for every man, woman and child in America in 2008.

People cry, foul, when government increases a tax by a few pennies. When industry taxes us, we somehow feel that it's different; its business as usual. I for one am tired of corporations that apparently are not accountable for taxing us to death. If these companies could show us the alternative energy and break us free from Middle Eastern oil, then it's worth it; however, I think not. Exxon-Mobil will continue to push its own agenda and rip us off at every opportunity.

Thank God administrations have changed. Maybe there will be caution in the board rooms because of our current President.

Blog On

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Scapegoating of Public Employees Continues

A scapegoat is defined as a person or group made to bear the blame for others or suffer in their place. That's right, scapegoat. It's a strong word, but if you don't think that public employees are being demonized because of their benefits, you have been living in a bunker. The vitriol being thrown at public employees is everywhere. It starts right at the top with our inept Governor and follows through to newspapers, talk radio and now another biased study from the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC).

As discussed in the Providence Journal yesterday, RIPEC has concluded that major changes are needed in the RI pension plan. I'm not opposed to changes, I'm opposed to the main conclusions that the plan needs to move from the defined-benefit plan to a defined-contribution plan. You can define contributions all you want, but I know that the only folks that will be required to contribute will be the public employees. Government will always play with their contributions to balance budgets. Why do you think the pension plan has problems now? Public employees have not missed a contribution.

Let me throw some things out and understand that I'm just going to be talking about the state employee side of the equation. State employees currently cost the state somewhere between $1.3 - $1.5 billion each year (salary, health, pensions and other fringe). The state's budget is approximately $7 billion. The cost of running the employee portion of our state is approximately 20% of the entire budget. This year, employees contributed approximately $90 million to the pension fund and the state matched with $133 million according to the RIPEC study. Now the state's share is more than dollar for dollar, but this is only because they have been stealing from the system to balance budgets for years. Is this the fault of the employees?

If dollar for dollar contributions were made every year, the state would be saving $43 million in this year's budget, the system would be sound and cost-averaging principles would be at work in the system. It's probably a good thing that the state is forced to overpay now because the stock market is so low (buy low, sell high).

The $133 million in state payment to the fund is around 1.9% of the entire state budget. If you roll in the cost of teachers, this grows to approximately 3.2% of the state's budget. Do you brickbats think that the state's fiscal crisis will be solved by attacking a budget area that is so tiny? Really, 3.2% is like the average family turning off the lights to save electricity.

Of course the Governor wants the state to go one step further and evolve into a 401K system for employees. This is so his cronies that work for the state a few years can get some kind of interest on their forced contributions. There is no dedication to public service here. Carcieri's folks have no intention of making public service a career. Hell, there's no money in it. And, imagine what state we would be in if there were no pension plan. The pension plan is a state asset that is a powerful economic tool if managed appropriately.

Do private workforce employees feel that when an employer matches their 401k money, that the money is all theirs? Yes, because it is. If the state matches employees dollar for dollar, is it the employees? What I'm trying to say is that the pension system is not taxpayer money. Maybe it's taxpayer money once removed, but the pension system belongs to the employees just like your 401K and the state employees earned it.

Also, in a study of states the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2003 that Rhode Island ranked 21 nationwide in state employees per capita, the lowest by far in New England. I'm sure with the recent cuts to the ranks, Rhode Island has slipped further. We are not overwhelmed with state employees, in fact the opposite may be true.

State employees do have a healthy retirement, especially because they pay into Social Security in addition to the state retirement system. Yes they can retire and maintain a comparable income if they put in the time. This is great for the state because most will retire here. If you reduce their retirement, many more will move to states without an income tax and Rhode Island will be paying out but not taking in. This is the future that RIPEC proposes.

Stop scapegoating the public workforce. You will never solve the state's money problems here.

Blog On

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Random Reasoning's

Today's column will be a collection of random thoughts and observations. Comments will be in no particular order; they are just thrown out there for fun. On occasion you will see future posts of, Random Reasoning's. Here we go.

  1. This week's Gallop poll shows that only 39 % of Americans believe in evolution. In other studies, it was found that the only country that had fewer people believing in evolution was Turkey. That's right, the United States and Turkey (both real turkeys). I guess folks in other countries are just better educated.
  2. Should the Bush Administration be investigated by the new Justice Department? Hell yes!
  3. Most lay people believe that a theory is some haphazard guess. The truth is that a theory has undergone repeated and rigorous testing. Personally, I believe that evolution is closer to law than theory; however, scientists are the true conservatives.
  4. Human carbon emissions have been growing 3.5% annually since 2000. During the 1990's, annual emissions averaged .9% (Christopher Field, Carnegie Institution of Science). George W. was elected in 2000.
  5. The majority of Republicans don't believe in evolution. Seems like they vote for beliefs instead of knowledge. I'll take knowledge any day; that we have a handle on. They can be pretty dumb at times.
  6. I want to send an invoice to the Providence Place Mall. They should be billed for the half hour of my time doing their work, which was collecting my parking fee.
  7. I never check out my own items at any store. Why should I? I'm not being paid to do the store's work.
  8. Artificial selection has been used by people for centuries. Evolution is natural selection conducted by nature (God if you want). People that don't believe in evolution must also believe then, that man is more powerful than God.
  9. Ever want to send a bill to your doctor for your time when you've been waiting there for over an hour for an appointment. Your time has value to!
  10. If somebody commits a rape, did God want that rape to occur? If the person that was raped gets pregnant as a consequence, did God want that pregnancy? What if the girl was 12?
Blog On

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stimulus Bill Passes as Boehner Whines

Thanks to the Democrats and 3 brave Republicans, the stimulus package made it through Congress to the President's desk. Republican John Boehner of Ohio, the House Minority Leader, threw a tantrum of sorts by dropping the entire bill on the floor and expressing his outrage at his fellow legislators. This is what he had to say last night as reported by multiple sources; "The bill that was about jobs, jobs, jobs has turned into a bill that's about spending, spending, spending".
This is the very same John Boehner that said the bill was too large to read. Do you think he actually read the bill so that he could comment on it?

Here's another little fun story about John Boehner that may shed some light on how he operates when dealing with the people's business. In a Gannett News Service story from March 20, 2007, Nicole Gaudiano reports about Boehner's appointments to key Congressional committees. The issue concerned the appointment of Maryland Republican Wayne Gilchrest to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. It seems that Boehner would not appoint anyone to the committee unless they deny that humans are responsible for climate change. The following exchange was reported in the article; "I said, 'John, I can't do that' " Gilchrest, R-1st-Md,. said in an interview. "He said, 'Come on. Do me a favor. I want to help you here' "

No moderate Republicans or science-minded members were appointed to this key science committee by Boehner. Do you now think that Republicans can effectively lead this Country - find solutions to our energy problems - work towards cleaning the environment and solving our Nation's most critical challenges? With Boehner's leadership, no they can not. Boehner is wrong, wrong, wrong.

We need politicians that are willing to debate issues and arrive at solutions together. When you have a John Boehner that tries to close the dialogue at the start, you have lost the ability to govern effectively. Mr. Boehner, you are the idiot of the day.

Blog On

Friday, February 13, 2009

Who Are The Real Thieves?

Who do you think are the real thieves in this economy? The House of Representatives just passed the Stimulus bill following the Conference Committee settlement. The Senate is expected to pass the bill later today. If you are to believe John McCain, he thinks that Barack Obama is the real thief. Thank God you're not President, Mr McCain!

Today, John McCain offered this bit of wisdom when talking about the Stimulus package; "and is nothing short - nothing short - of generational theft." How to go John. You Republicans almost bankrupt the Country by fighting unnecessary war in Iraq, squandering a budget in surplus from the Clinton Administration, refusing to put safeguards to our economy in place and cutting taxes for all of your friends that own 7 houses. You see John, the real thieves have been members of the Republican Party. Through lies and incompetence you have all stolen from our generation.

It's the people my age, the baby boomers that have everything to loose. The rug has been pulled out from many of them. Barack Obama is trying to fix the problem. It was your problem and George Bush's problem. Republicans can't muster one vote in the House even after they watered down key provisions that may well be necessary for the correct stimulative effect? OK voters, remember that. Haven't you Republicans seen the writing on the wall during the last 2 elections?

What do you want to bet that the all white man's banking club that marched before Congress this week are all Republicans? Anyone willing to take that bet?

Blog On

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Old is the Earth?

In High School many years ago, my Social Studies teacher, Brother Leo (A Christian Brother) proposed the following question; "Is democracy always right?". The class debated the issue for the entire period, took a vote and concluded; "yes, democracy is always right". He then proposed the following; a teacher brings a hen into a classroom of grade school children and asks the class to decide whether it is male or female. The class votes and decides that it is male. Did democracy work? Yes it did, but it got it wrong was his response.

Almost half the U.S. population believes the earth is less than 10,000 years old. While studies seem to vary considerably, (2% of the U.S. population scares me) responses do depend on how you ask the question. One Harris poll found that 73% of Republicans believe in creationism as compared to 58% of Democrats and 57% of Independents (high for all concerned, probably because of the question) (The , November 10, 2006).

This is really scary stuff! Mike Huckabee won 5 states in the Republican primaries. He espoused changing the Constitution to make it more like the Bible and he believes that the earth is 7,000 years old. Yes, he believes that people walked with the dinosaurs. Sarah Palin, our latest Republican Vice-Presidential joke believes the same thing.

As I write, this is getting scarier! Theocracies can get in the way of democracy and, in the end, get the question wrong. If you don't believe me, look at Hamas. How can we afford leaders that are so wrong?

The earth is an estimated 4.5 billion years old and that's the fact; and the hen is female, and that's the fact. When was the last time we had a Democrat running for President that believed the earth was 7,000 years old?

George Bush and all the other Republicans should have had Brother Leo's class. Maybe if they had, they would be very careful how they propose to democratize populations that may get the question wrong. Then again, they think they were always right, yet they always got it wrong.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Republicans Lost on "Lost" ?

I really dislike the show "Lost", but I think the writers should amend their script and listen to Michael Steele. Today I was searching for information about the President's Stimulus package regarding allocation of "indirect costs". Anyone that has dealt with Federal grants knows what I'm talking about. I believe that indirect costs need to be capped at 10% or eliminated entirely so that all the money finds its way to the street, or at least 90% of the money. I'm not going to read the whole plan, but it seems like there is only an effort to identify unusual or exorbitant indirect cost. This is not enough control if true, and I am disappointed in the Administration, if this is the case.

While researching the issue, I came up with this gem in my search. David Weigel reported in "The Washington Independent" on January 31, 2009, comments made by the new chair of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, during a pep talk to Congressional Republicans at a weekend retreat. As reported, Steele started with the following: "Let me start by saying, the goose egg you laid on the President's desk was just beautiful." He went on to state the following: "You and I know that in the history of mankind and womankind, government - Federal, State or Local - has never created one job". He continued to say: "It's destroyed a lot of them".

Wow!! Have Republicans jumped off the cliff or what? Is there anyone in America that knows what he's talking about. Where is the courage in the Republican ranks? A tough road lies ahead for the Grand Old Party and what an absolute disgrace to this country. Thank God they are not in a leadership position at this time.

It's like trying to explain the polar bear on the tropical island. Yes, the Republicans are lost and their only hope is to find their way back home. The road before them is as complicated as the road before the writers of the TV show.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Are We Liberal or Conservative?

In an article published in the Boston Globe just before the election, November 2, 2008, authored by Eve LaPlante, it is reported that scientists are discovering our political leanings may be powerfully influenced by genetics. It was reported that: "...unconscious reaction to threat - how much we startle at frightening images and noise - determine our political views...". Kevin Smith, a University of Nebraska political scientist who co-authored the study which appeared in the "Journal of Science", states: "Political reactions are gut responses rather than rational weighing of pros and cons".

If this is true, it certainly explains a lot. You can never seem to debate somebody long enough to get them to change their mind. I guess my blog won't change any one's mind. That's OK though, progressive thinking people need ways to connect with their own ideas. They certainly can't go to radio talk shows in this state, all they'll find is aggravation. At least liberals now have an outlet on MSNBC at night.

How do I stack up in all of this? My Dad must have had conservative genes (he was from the South), - my Mom must have had liberal genes (she was from Boston). I'm not gun shy. I never startled when a gun is discharged even if I didn't expect it. I've been a hunter all of my life and I believe in gun rights. I guess I should be leaning conservative.

I can point to a moment in my life when my political leanings were cast forever. May 4, 1970 and the shootings at Kent State University. I supported John Kennedy as a kid, but heck, I was only 10. When the Vietnam war started to rage I was supportive of efforts to reign in the Communists. Then one day, something happened. I learned that our Country had been bombing Cambodia without Congressional knowledge - Richard Nixon had been hiding the truth.
I was embarrassed and I had many students telling me, "we told you so". You see, I was one of those students that stood up at campus workshops on Vietnam and spoke in favor of the Nixon Administration. At one point, I held up a copy of the "Communist's Daily Worker" newspaper (yes, you could find these on college campuses in 1970) and called pure propaganda its headline, "Nixon Bombs Cambodia". I told students that this is simply not true as the story would be in the Boston Globe; after all, we have a free press. Many months later, the country learned of Nixon's secret bombing campaign in a neutral country without Congressional knowledge.

I felt a seismic shift in my political thinking on May 4, 1970 and my political destiny was cast in stone. I quit ROTC at the end of the semester and still got my A. I had been lied to by my President and was made a fool for supporting him. That was it; I worked for George McGovern in 1972 and never looked back. I guess it took powerful images at a troubling time to make me a liberal. I don't think that genes played a role.

The bright side in of all of this is that if genes are involved, maybe somebody can develop a pill to cure the problem. My god, I hope liberals come up with the pill first!

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Where are the Republicans?

Reading my earlier posts, it may seem like I don't like Republicans. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many in my family are Republican and half of my friends lean Republican. I vote for Republican candidates almost every election cycle and I've never pulled a straight party line lever in my life. I hope some of my Republican friends take no offense with what I have to say. My favorite President, Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican.

Frankly, the Republican party has been hi-jacked by right-wing ideologues that have no intention of governing in the middle where good government is found. Today's Republican legislator has one answer for every question; "cut taxes". We need to go to war in Iraq; cut taxes, we need to improve education; cut taxes, we need to have quality health care for all citizens; cut taxes, we need to clean up the environment; cut taxes, and on and on. You can't vote for a party that has only one answer, there are too many questions.

Republicans should take a look back at Teddy Roosevelt. John McCain claimed he wanted to be a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I saw flashes of that before he ran for President. Now he's followed the lemmings off the cliff. Roosevelt supported the working class and the unions. Many in his party were outraged at his support for the United Mine Workers. As President he saw the injustice and would not stand idly by. As a conservationist, there was none better. Over 100 million acres set aside during his administrations, 50,000 acres for each day in the White House. This high water mark in conservation no President will ever reach. And when confronted with his contempt for Russia for the plague of the Tsar's pogroms against the Jews, Roosevelt responded by hiring the first Jewish Cabinet Secretary in the nation's history, Oscar Solomon Straus in 1906.

Of course we all loved Abe, and Ike. It's just getting much harder to find great Republicans like John Chafee, Lincoln Chafee, Lowell Weicker, Chuck Hagel and Dwight Eisenhower. I want a choice - a Republican choice. I do not want a neo-conservative. Lincoln Chafee said it best; "The political center, when it arises, will lead the way to a truly great American era".

I think Barack Obama is trying to find that center, but it's like being blind in the wilderness. Until the center is found, I'll be leaning towards the Democrats.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Republicans Still Don't Get It

On today's "Meet The Press" I had to listen to Republican Senator John Ensign from Nevada whine about the stimulus package before the Senate. What really gets to me is when Republicans throw out information that purports to be fact, when actually, they are being dishonest. I guess you could say they are lying to the American people. Ensign said today: "Economists are saying this stimulus plan is a disaster" Now I don't doubt that Senator Ensign found an economist to say something close to this. Let's look at the broader facts.

In Today's Washington Post, this is what was said in this regard: " overwhelming number from both parties are saying that a government stimulus package -- even a flawed one -- is urgently needed to help prevent a steeper slide in the economy." They are talking about economists here. The article went on to say: "Many economists say the precise size and shape of the package developing in Congress matter less than the timing, and that any delay is damaging".

In fact, of the few economists that opposed the stimulus, some of them are changing their position because the Federal Reserve Board has no more room to drop interest rates. Also reported in the article was a statement that alluded to the Senate changes: "Most economists agree that the Senate alterations in the plan would undermine stimulus aims". The change that I am most concerned about is the removal of a significant portion of stimulus aid to the states.

During this crisis, the country has lost 3.5 million jobs to date with half of that occurring in the past 3 months. January saw a decline of 600,000 jobs. That's 20,000 jobs lost each day. What the hell are the Republicans thinking? It would be quite the spectacle to see a Republican filibuster. As they blabber away, each hour almost 1000 jobs would be lost. Maybe its time to watch them blabber? If I did not care so much for the people affected, I would say blab on.

It will be interesting to watch this play out as the Republicans are removing aid to their own states. I hope they are walking into a disaster. It would be a disaster of their own making. How can they deny the needs of their own states? Voters take note! Nineteen Republican governors were calling for this much needed aid while their Senators play politics as usual. They are denying their own Republican governors? There is only one word to sum up most Republican legislators at this point in time: disgusting.

Unfortunately, the Senate changes probably won't mean much in Rhode Island as we have a governor that does not believe in putting anyone to work. He would take the stimulus money and find a way to give it all away. What do you want to bet that we will be bailing our Twin Rivers. Rhode Island has to be the only state that has backed a casino. Carcieri's policies have lead to the worst decline in employment this state has seen in decades. He talks a good game of putting the private sector to work, but he has been a dismal failure in this regard. He certainly won't go out an hire public employees because his vision is to dismantle public service. I take that back, he may give his favorite cronies a state job at $150k per year, but nothing for the rank and file. You know, the real people that get things done. Walk on Steve Cass!!

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Neo-Conservatives Need an Education

Yesterday on MSNBC I heard Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn state the following in relation to the President's stimulus package: "A government job does not create economic wealth" Senator Coburn, you are either lying, mentally challenged, or just plain at the bottom of your class. Government has provided countless stepping stones for building personal wealth through the hard work of public employees.

Have you ever heard of NASA? Government scientists have not only provided products to the business world, they have continually fostered innovation in the private sector to meet their needs to continue our presence in space. Think about that the next time you use your microwave, computer, or blackberry. Senator Coburn, have you ever heard of the Internet, or as George Bush would put it "the Internets" (funny thing here, my spell check has red underlined Internets). Well, besides our safety and freedom, the Internet is the greatest gift to the American people and the world from our military. Yes, that's right, public employees at work creating the greatest engine of wealth in the history of mankind. Maybe you need to rethink this!

I'll go back a little further in time and talk about something that I am familiar with. Ever hear of the McSweeney-McNary Act of 1928. Go look it up. This act increased the Forest Service role in research. The U.S. Forest Products laboratory, built at an earlier time (1910) in Madison, Wisconsin, became the centerpiece of wood products research for this country. You should visit there someday. Ever hear of plywood, particle board, laminated beams, pressure treated lumber and on and on and on? That's right, public employees providing innovation to the private sector, thereby, generating wealth.

I'm confident that the state of Rhode Island is a slightly better place because of some of the work I did as a public employee. A number of non-profits now reside in the state through the work of state foresters in the region. Landowner taxes on forest lands have been brought into line, providing the opportunity for individuals to continue to own their land. Land trusts are now found in every community with the help in some instances of public employees. The logging community has been able to function through efforts to build Best Management Practices, and arborists have been trained and licensed. Senator Coburn, you are just wrong!

While I'm at it, I have one more bone to pick with Neo-cons. Senator John Thune from South Dakota really got on my nerves yesterday when he appeared on MSNBC. Would you all stop saying the "Democrat Party" Yes there are democrats, but when you refer to the party, it's the "Democratic Party". I tell this to all of my friends that are members of the "Republic Party".

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Friday, February 6, 2009

What I Would Tell Governor Carcieri

In previous posts I've been quite harsh on Rhode Island's governor. I met the man and he is really personable. He seems to be a quite, likable guy with a corporate raider mentality. I just learned yesterday that he was not one of the nineteen Republican governors that signed the letter in support of the President's stimulus plan. In fact, he wrote a letter opposing the approach used in the plan. How unfortunate for Rhode Island. Instead of support, he continues to espouse the old Reaganomics's trickle-down philosophy as the only way to deal with the crisis. He may be nice, but he's wrong.

Instead of continually throwing bricks, I've decided to outline what I think should be done in this state. Before doing so, I want everyone to know that I know a lot about cutting the costs in government. When first appointed to my leadership role, my agency had 65 full time employees (FTE). When I departed 20 years later the agency had 29 FTE. Four years later, the agency has less than 20 FTE. Downsizing was appropriate in 1986, but not today.

What follows is my 8 point plan to help turn the state around and this is what I would offer to the governor.

1. Rightsize state government. Downsizing continually is not the answer, rightsizing is. Government can do many things better than the private sector at a huge savings. A case in point; a construction project that hires an engineering firm to watch over the contractors. In a case that I'm aware of, a very small project paid out close to $45,000 for one person to watch over the project. He may have shown up on site a dozen times. If the state filled their old positions, this one employee could watch over a dozen projects at tremendous savings. Contractors watching over contractors is simply a bad policy.

2. Decentralize purchasing with controls. If purchasing were somehow decentralized with the appropriate checks and balances, almost every purchase off of the state's master price agreements could be made for less money. Better deals can almost always be found. As an example, I'm aware of a project to put a new roof on a very small building. The price off of the master price agreement I'm told is $10,000. The actual cost if I contracted the job privately would be in the range of $5,000 (more on this in a future post).

3. I would limit government borrowing. I would seek a 5 year plan that would restrict the borrowing power of the state. I would cap any borrowing at 80% of the level of bonds that retired in that period. So, if the state had retired $100 million in spending during the period, the state could only move forward with $80 million in new borrowing. Any exception would require the vote of the people. This would be a short term program to slow down the growing government debt. Rhode Island should not be building a new state police barracks at this time.

4. Establish a commission or commissions to oversee and monitor contracts. Performance on state contracts or lack thereof is costing taxpayers millions. I would look to private citizens to assist the state with this, not public employees or legislators (more on contracting issues in a future post).

5. The Office of Personnel Management must develop a minimum staffing level plan. The personnel office should develop this plan to assist with rightsizing efforts in government. The plan could establish a base line so government can ensure that jobs get done. There is Federal money out there at risk that citizens know nothing about. While past plans have been done, a new approach here is needed. Under no circumstances should the plan be prepared by consultants. We pay state employees, they can develop a plan.

6. Strengthen the public employee pension system. I would recommend working with the unions and ask for some sacrifice without demeaning the workforce. As an example, I would allow options for the employees. I would ask all new hires upon entering the workforce to increase their contribution level to 10.5% if they want the 3% COLA upon retirement. I would ask state employees, who already pay the highest contribution levels in the country to increase contributions from 8.75% to 9%. I would keep teachers at their current contribution levels. I would establish by law that the state must always match contribution levels dollar for dollar capped at 9.5%. I'm aware that state contribution levels today far exceed the 9.5% cap because of the past practice of stealing from the fund to pay for budget balancing. I would seek additional ways to deal with unfunded liability (more on this in a future post).

7. I would make sure that state money goes to state infrastructure. No taxpayer money should be used to build, or maintain any private business. A revolving loan fund is fine, but it needs to be a loan. I would never use taxpayer dollars to fix the Civic Center (this should be a going concern with appropriate resources derived from events - How many times do we have to fix this?), no more building of Westin Hotels and shopping malls. These are all fine things but this is not the responsibility of taxpayers. I know this requires a change in the culture in this state, but enough is enough.

8. I would repeal the tax relief for those making over $250,000 that the governor signed into law at the beginning of his administration. I would give strong consideration to establishing personal property taxes on the large boats around Narragansett Bay. I would lower the sales tax to 5% and broaden its base. I would oppose 5% sales tax on car repairs and home repairs.

I'm sure that the governor would laugh at some of these ideas as well as many of our Democratic legislators, so this is not a Democratic or Republican thing. I just feel that there are many other ways to deal with our problems in this state. As Barack Obama has said: "They just have it wrong". Trickle-down Reaganomics has gotten us into this mess, it will not get us out of it.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Carcieri Continues His Crusade to Destroy RI

Last night on Rachael Madow's show, Paul Krugman the Nobel prize winning economist commented on the decline of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). He stated emphatically that the decline began during the Reagan administration as the SEC was viewed as too powerful. After all, government "is the problem".

Today, our Reagan loving governor outlined proposals to drastically cut taxes to the wealthy and powerful in Rhode Island in addition to totally eliminating corporate income taxes. Guess what? CEO's are thrilled. Only 4 states have no corporate income tax; however, those states may well tax businesses in other ways. To be fair, the report did say that those making over $1 million would pay a slightly higher tax. Taxpayers will save $125 million. There seems to be no speculation on how this might affect middle income taxpayers. I think it's: screwed again.

For how long will we live with such idiotic economics. Guess what folks? The government will lose $125 million on top of a projected deficit of $450 million. Even if there is a slight incentive to grow, the return will be lucky to approach 10 cents on the dollar. You have to be kidding me! In this economy do you really feel that small business is going to jump out there and start doing great things. There's no demand out there, stupid. Carcieri continues to propose digging a deeper hole with the dirt coming out of the hole thrown on the public employees.

Any economic stimulus money from the Obama administration will be watered down in the state of Rhode Island because of this ancient thinking. Look forward to 10% unemployment for 5 years and 15% unemployment is not out of the question. Rhode Island was the first to feel this economic slowdown and we will be the last to climb out of it. Thank you very much Governor Carcieri.

One more thought; remember when our people loving governor lowered the income tax on those folks making over $250,000 annually in this state. The promise was that it would improve our business climate and create jobs. Where are they? Ya, that worked! Of course the legislature must share in the blame. Most legislators probably make more than $250,000. God forbid you think about establishing a personal property tax on all those boats surrounding Narragansett Bay.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fiscal Problems and a Governor's Approach

The following post is a letter to the editor of the Providence Journal that the paper never printed. It outlines in a few words my disgust with the Republican administration's approach to handling a state's fiscal problems. Since the letter was written, over 1100 state employees were forced to retire because of disincentives forced upon the employees by changes to the retirement system. The fiscal deficit skyrocketed following the employees departure. The Governor at present is trying to repeat this feat with further changes to the retirement system.

To the Providence Journal:

I need to take a moment to comment on Governor Carcieri’s latest attempt to solve the states fiscal problems (“Governor’s planned cuts raise concern” Oct. 5, 2007). Let’s step back to look at the big picture. The state’s annual budget is $7 billion. There are 15,000 state employees and as reported in the Providence Journal, each position costs approximately $90,000 for salary and benefits. I’ll be conservative and use $100,000 as the cost for each employee. State employee costs therefore are $1.5 billion annually, or approximately 20% of the state’s budget.

Where is the other $5.5 billion? Mr. “Big Audit” Carcieri continues to target state employees and he continues to demonize them as being the problem. Well, they are a very small part of the problem yet they are always asked to solve the state’s fiscal crisis.

Fact of the matter is privatization practices have been killing the state. Exorbitant contracting costs and contractors watching over contractors are tolerated because it is viewed as “business friendly”. Everyone needs to remember that there are a lot of people getting very rich off of taxpayer dollars but those folks are not state employees.

It’s not about “downsizing” state government, Mr. Carcieri; why don’t you try “rightsizing” state government and find your savings from the $5.5 billion that is left over after paying your state employees?

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Political Roots - Understanding Self

The following story Chronicles my early political life. The images contained in the story have followed me throughout my life.

Political Roots – Thoughts on Change

I was eleven years old. The year was 1961 and traveling through the south with Massachusetts license plates could, on rare occasions, be hazardous to your health. In my family’s case, we were lucky; my dad kept a level head and managed to find a small police station in rural South Carolina. The truck that tried to run us off the road and followed for over 100 miles disappeared in the dark southern night.

Our destination was Americus Georgia, the hometown of my father’s parents. My southern relatives were great people that clung tightly to southern traditions. This was not an easy time in the south during the first years of the Kennedy administration. My dad, having grown up in the south viewed life a little differently. Surviving the war in the South Pacific, marrying my mom from Boston and settling in the northeast probably changed him.

As children, my sister who was thirteen and I could not fully comprehend the turmoil. We would question and not understand why most stores downtown excluded blacks. In the stores that allowed blacks to enter, items on the floor had 2 separate prices; the lower price was always for the white customers.

My grandmother was dying of Parkinson’s disease and because of her deteriorating condition needed help daily. On this trip, the help was a young black girl that probably was not more than 14 years of age and that certainly seemed to belong in school. I can’t remember her name but I vividly remember the incidents that followed.

After this young black girl served dinner to the ten of us in the dining room, she went out to the kitchen to eat alone. My sister insisted that this girl be allowed to eat dinner with us at the dinning room table. It was politely explained to her this was not done in the south. My sister lifted her plate and walked into the kitchen, sat down and ate her dinner with this girl that was so near to her own age. I was very nervous and remained seated and ate my dinner. By the time desert was served, I mustered up the courage to join my sister in the kitchen with her new friend. Through this all, both my parents never said a negative word.

After dinner, I walked outside and found a young black boy who was about my age in the street by himself. I asked him if he wanted to play catch. He said he did not have a glove so we shared mine, taking turns catching ground balls and fly balls in the street. It just so happened that this boy was the brother of my sister’s new friend. He was sent by his family to walk his sister home. They lived down the street at the beginning of the black section and all of the houses along this side of West Church Street were in very poor condition. My sister and I walked our friends back to their house and they invited us in. I can remember a large kitchen table, but that is not the thing that stayed with me all of these years. Above the table on the kitchen wall was a framed color photograph of President John Kennedy. It seemed to be the only thing in color in a black and white world.

Through this all, my parents only offered positive support and my loving southern relatives never said a negative word. At least I can’t remember a negative word, but maybe there were some discussions when my sister and I were out of the house. While southern traditions would at times dictate behavior, it did not change the fact that I’m confident my very sick grandmother cared deeply, and yes, loved her care givers.

This brings me forward to today, November 4, 2008, some 47 years later. I’m proud to have a framed picture of President Barack Obama hanging in my den. To me it completes a journey of hope; the hope that all people can learn to love and respect one another. I’m as proud of hanging this picture in my den as that poor black family was proud of hanging their picture so long ago.


Governing Against The Tide

As I begin my new venture into blogging, I have chosen the theme "governing against the tide". What in the world does this mean? I have been totally frustrated with popular belief that public employees are to blame for the economic woes of today (2009). Ronald Reagan said that government was "the problem". I could never understand this philosophy that demonizes government. It is my belief that Reagan, who started the great march towards the privatization of government services is responsible for our current economic decline. It is my intention to post my thoughts on the problems of government based upon my long career inside of government. What I see as problems in government have few connections with popular opinion that we hear continuously on conservative radio talk shows. We need to think differently; and this is what this blog is all about. I hope to make the case, using facts, that will hopefully add a new dimension to popular misconceptions about government.

I want to make one more statement before I begin my blogging career. I choose the title of this blog based upon the title of the book written by Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator from Rhode Island who courageously left the Republican party and endorsed Barack Obama for President. I highly recommend reading his book, "Against the Tide", as he has a lot to say about governing.

Blog on.