Friday, December 16, 2011

Raimondo's faulty pension data begins to sting Rhode Island

As seen in this blog in prior posts, the pension law changes shoved down the throats of our weak kneed legislature was based on faulty assumptions that I argued would lead to economic decline in this state. Raimondo's most egregious error was to rely on data from actuaries that live in outer space. Her insistence that the life expectancy for retirees should be 87.6 years on average is absolute hogwash. Using such bad data created the crisis which she so joyfully capitalized on.

I draw your attention to the chart. This chart represents a random study of deaths in Rhode Island during the Fall of 2011. Days were randomly selected and age at death calculated from the obituary page of the Providence Journal. In total, there were 257 deaths recorded. The average age of death was 77.4 years and out of the 257 deaths recorded during the study; 50 people lived past 88 years. The green line represents Raimondo's science fiction while the red line represents today's reality. (Please note: On the chart the green line says 88.6 but it represents the 87.6 year target - my mistake) Raimondo's unbelievable pension plan actually adds on 10 years of life in one giant leap of economic whackyness.

I know this information is anecdotal and not a scientific study. This chart does provide a view of the present day longevity of Rhode Island residents. It can be used for comparison purposes. You need to also remember that the chart represents only those people with the hard cash to pay the Providence Journal for the listing. These folks may actually live a little longer than those without the cash. Regardless; the assumptions made by Raimondo are wild-ass assumptions.

Now on to the state's economic decline. Today's Providence Journal rag has a lead story entitled; "Job losses edge up for fourth month." (Please note: I no longer link to the Providence Journal as policy for this blog) Rhode Island lost 1,900 jobs in November and the unemployment rate is again increasing for the first time in nearly 2 years (10.5%). In the same edition of the Journal, the national news headline is: "The Economy: Edging toward recovery" The national unemployment rate has ticked down to 8.6%. While things are getting better in the nation, Rhode Island's downward spiral continues. I guess stealing $billions from retirees is not working. Rhode Island can't even add jobs during the Holiday season. Do you think it has something to do with consumer confidence and retirees holding tight to their money? You bet it does! Get ready for 19 more years of this. Is it coincidence that Rhode Island has been faltering economically during the past 4 months: The same 4 months as the pension debate boiled?

In other more promising news: The Rhode Island Supreme Court denied the state's request for summary judgement on the issue of state pensions being contractual. The Supreme Court sent the case back to Superior Court for trial because the unions have a solid case. Maybe it will take the courts in Rhode Island to straighten up the economy. God knows, the Governor and Treasurer can't do it. Retirees have won round 2!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Anti-Union = Anti-American

In a country filled with political braggadocio, politicians that despise unions are UN-American. I am sick and tired of listening to people blast unions. The landscape in America today has 1% controlling a near majority of wealth in this nation while the middle class struggles to pay the bills, put kids through college and plan for a decent retirement. When will the 1% be happy? When they control 100% of the wealth? Are we all to return to slavery - working our entire lives to enrich our owners. Now just imagine what this country would be like if there was never a union.

Unions have fought for the middle class and stood up to the powerful interests that could care less about worker health, safety, security and retirement. The system has been tipped too far in favor of the wealthy and this needs to change. Take for example the pension systems of private companies. Thanks to our enlightened Congress, pension plans of private corporations are company assets that can be leveraged in favor of the big money interests. When the corporation is sold, the pension plans frequently get stolen leaving the workers with little and the Federal Government partially filling the void. We subject ourselves to constant bailouts of industries that want to do business overseas so they don't have to pay taxes here at home and their actions are always at the expense of the working stiffs.

To get to my primary point, anti-union is anti-capitalism. Why in a free society can't workers organize to argue for justice in the work place? Unions have found a capitalistic niche that should not be overlooked. While unions collect dues from workers, they serve as a leveling force in our society. As unions falter, so will the middle class. Let me think of a government system that hated unions and outlawed them: How about communism? The Scott Walkers of our country, most Republicans and the fanatic radio talk show fringe would turn this country in the direction of communism. I'm serious, there are those that feel that outlawing unions is a good thing. There are those that feel that autocratic rule is the way to get things done. The way to keep the rich rich and to hell with anyone else.

Let's get one thing straight, unions are capitalistic ventures and free marketeers ought to be supporting their role in our society. Management at the negotiating table represent the many (stock holders and monied interests) while unions represent the workers. Unions have a way of leveling the playing field and Americans need to understand their importance to the middle class. Remove unions and we are far closer to totalitarian rule. If you oppose unions, you do not support free market systems. If you believe that the wealthy have a right to make their millions while workers are silenced, then you are anti-American.

We just witnessed another step towards autocratic rule in Rhode Island when General Treasurer Gina Raimondo pushed her pension reform legislation. She did not even consider negotiating with unions. She could not be bothered. Again; I tell Rhode Islanders and Americans, be careful what you wish for.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Profiles in Cowardice

I want to make it clear that what I am about to say is not meant to reflect on those legislators that voted against the Raimondo-Chafee pension reform bill that was passed last week in Rhode Island. I give a special thanks to my local representative, Scott Guthrie, who did the right thing.

The rest of you are truly profiles in cowardice! You have fixed nothing. You have gone after the middle class in this state with a hateful, shameful, immoral and illegal strategy that will put a stranglehold on our state's future. You are asking 50,000 individuals to come up with the $ billions to bail out over 1 million people. You have not lived up to your oath of office; you are thieves and you lack the intelligence to ask the appropriate questions.

Reneging on your oath of office is quite despicable. You all took an oath to uphold the constitution of the state: Am I right? The RI Constitution insists that no ex-post-facto law may be past regarding any contract(Article 1: Section 12): Am I right? The Constitution further stipulates that all taxation will be fair and equitably distributed(Article 1: Section 2): Am I right? To date the superior court has ruled that pensions are in fact contracts and the COLA is a part of that contract: Am I right? You ignored the court's ruling and voted for a bill that, to the best of your knowledge, was unconstitutional: Am I right? You choose to pass a law that uses absurd assumptions regarding the longevity of retirees (87.6 years): Am I right? You choose to tax public employees only, an act so outrageous that the average state retiree ($27,000 annual pension) will lose over $180,000 during a 19 year period: Am I right? You ignored your oath of office by not upholding the Constitution: Am I right? You should all resign immediately: Am I right? You will not resign: Am I right? You are cowards: Right!

General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said in the Providence Journal that as she looked out her window, she felt good knowing that the teacher below will have a pension one day. She was proud of the fact that the system which was less than 50% funded is now over 60% funded. I have news for her! Change the longevity assumption back to a reasonable figure and the pension fund will be 80% funded so the promises made to public employees can be kept.

I just read an article in the "Science News " magazine, February 26, 2011 (this information was available to Raimondo). The title; "U.S, falters in life expectancy gains", discusses the United States falling behind other developed countries in life expectancy gains. The average life expectancy for those over 50 years of age is 79 for males and 83 for females. How dare you rob our future without the appropriate questions being asked.

I hold no allegiance to thieves and I really don't like cowards. Have a nice Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Veterans Day Comment

This Veterans day I did a lot of thinking about my father who passed away 8 years ago. He served in the Navy in the North Atlantic before the official war. He was an original crew member of the Battleship Massachusetts (1941) and stayed with her throughout the war. He served as a signalman so he had opportunity to observe the war from the bridge. When decisions were being made in the heat of battle, he was there. From Casablanca and then to the South Pacific, he took part in numerous battles; Tarawa, Leyte Gulf, Coral Sea, Guam, Siapan, Palau, Okinawa, the Marshall Islands and the Gilbert's. Like most war veterans who were in the thick of things, he never spoke of his experience; at least not often. Beware the veteran that is always talking about their war stories.

My dad spent his later life working to memorialize the Battleship Massachusetts and spent thousands of volunteer hours on her behalf. This is the way he coped. I know he saw a lot - he saw a lot of men die. I can't relate to his experience but I can relate to the man he became. I remember the way he treated an employee who had been scarred horrifically from war. The man's name was Red Brady and he had a serious drinking problem. Red was a binge drinker and would disappear for a week or more. His psychological hurt was so debilitating that he was claustrophobic and could not go behind any locked door. Because of his drinking, his wife had to drive him to his appointments (he repaired kitchen and laundry appliances for my father's business). He couldn't even service my father's largest client; a psychiatric hospital in Waltham, Massachusetts, because they locked the doors behind you when you entered. My dad had to cover all of those calls.

One day, sensing the frustration in my father, I asked him why he kept Red working when anyone else would have fired him long ago. My father then told me that Red has some trouble that is not his fault and he is coping as best he can. Wanting further clarification, I pressed on. My father then told me that Red was aboard ship when it was torpedoed and the ship partially sunk. Red was trapped for days below deck before he was rescued. I then understood; my dad knew that Red's story could possibly have been him. My father would never judge him or fire him for that matter.

This is truly a great memory that I have preserved over the years. My father made his decisions long before anyone invented the term "post traumatic stress". Red certainly suffered from post traumatic stress and my father didn't need any psychologist to explain it. This lesson taught me to recognize post traumatic stress in veterans that I would have to supervise one day. And, yes, I had to deal with a severe case of post traumatic stress in a Vietnam veteran that sought the help he needed. That person went on to become a great supervisor within the division I was managing. I learned from my father; I learned from a veteran; I've learned from all veterans. There are wounds that we can not see, we can not totally understand, but we have to learn to live with. I'm glad that Red Brady had my father to help him. I'm thankful for the service of Red Brady, my father and all veterans.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is Rhode Island being lied to about pensions II?

OK: The title says it all. We continue to learn about more lies to Rhode Island regarding the proposed pension changes of Governor Chafee and General Treasurer, Gina Raimondo. This article follows a previous article posted on October 4, 2011 in this blog.

First and foremost, we now learn that the General Treasurer is using 87.6 years as the projected life expectancy of the average retiree. No wonder why she says that the state contribution to the pension has to increase to 35% of salary. How truly foolish is this? The U.S. government says the age should be 78 years. (I'm not linking a source because I read this in the Providence Journal and I do not want people to migrate to that site to make more money for that rag). I just attended a Bar Mitzvah where the oldest person was 85. She was frail and had trouble walking because of a previous stroke. While we all know some people that make it past 87.6 years, start counting all of the people you know that did not make it to that age.

Here is another lie to confuse the issue, courtesy of the Providence Journal. A recent article listed "myths" surrounding the pension system. One myth that they tried to tackle involves issues surrounding the state's required contributions. The Journal clearly states that this issue is simply not true, the state made all of its contributions except for some $60 million in payouts to rescue the wealthy in this state during the banking crisis (they didn't say the "wealthy" - I did because our Governor chose to meet all obligations in bank accounts that exceeded $100,000). Your public employees paid for your bailout.

Here is the rub! Even the General Treasurer has the intelligence to say the following: "The state made contributions "as required by law" (note the quotation marks). When I was working budgets, I was livid when Governor DiPrete tapped into the pension contribution for the first time. I remember seeing half of the state's contribution disappear. This trickery continued during the Sundlun administration and yes, they cooked the books to please the legislature. Gina Raimondo is right when she says that unrealistic numbers were used to justify the state's robbery of its pension accounts. The robbery continued. Don't tell me that the state always made it's contribution. When union bosses have robbed the pension accounts of its members, people go to jail. Nobody in this country has been jailed for pulling corporate pension funds or public pension funds. The Journal rag is lying to everyone when it refuses to make this point perfectly clear. The Providence Journal was absent from these facts at a time when it needed to let the public know. We all know that the Journal wanted to be absent because they never liked public pensions because it makes their newspaper operation look cheap in their worker's eyes. The state did not meet it's pension contribution for over 2 decades. The employees made every contribution and also took a 20% pay cut to bailout the banks. We bailed out the banks with our pensions and our salaries. Thank you very much!

Additionally, the $60 million that the Journal seems to brush aside today would be approximately $232 million out of the projected $7 billion shortfall that Raimondo is claiming because we are all going to live to be 87.6 years of age. Yea!


Friday, October 28, 2011

RI General Treasurer's pension plan will devastate businesses

It's curious why General Treasurer, Gina Raimondo would propose her pension reform act before the RI Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality. To date, she has lost in the courts. After seeing her jubilant waves to the "Engage Rhode Island" rally and her refusal to speak to the retiree rally on October 26, 2011, it became clear to me that she only cares about her political future. She should have been saddened by having to be the instrument of broken promises. The jubilation was a shameful act.

The Providence Journal’s pension reform chart (COLA Wars, October 27, 2011) tells an interesting story. Raimondo’s plan is the largest business killing legislation that anyone could dream of. How can the Rhode Island business community and the Governor wave the flag?

The average state retiree will have a cumulative income loss of between $185,500 and $139,386 and the average public school retiree will experience a cumulative income loss of between $227,406 and $146,464 over the next 19 years. With over 50,000 retirees in the system at any one time, the loss to Rhode Island’s economy will be close to $10 billion during the next 19 years. Now let’s assume a subset of retirees is pissed off enough to move out of state. If 20,000 people with their spouses move to states without a state income tax and the family income is $60,000, the state’s economy will be losing an additional $1.2 billion each year. Over the 19 years the total loss to the state’s economy could be well over $30 billion. Make a COLA adjustment but don’t eviscerate retirees and businesses.

I’m glad I don’t own a small business in Rhode Island. If I did I would be fighting this legislation. Be careful what you wish for.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Random Reasonings XVII

An occasional column of random thoughts and observations:

  • No COLA for 19 years is what Rhode Island's General Treasurer came up with? I was willing to give some back for the benefit of everyone but I am not going to get raped without fighting.
  • Regarding the RI rape of retirees; I wrote the governor, treasurer and every single legislator. You should all do the same. I wrote the Providence Journal today that reported the average retiree ($27,000 pension) will lose $9,286 over the first 10 years of the treasurer's plan. Fact checkers at the Providence Journal are too stupid to do the math as is the treasurer's office. The $9,286 is the loss of income in year 10 alone. What about year 1 through 9? The average state employee will lose $48,805 in the first 10 years and $165,142 in the 19 years of the treasurer's plan.
  • Barack Obama has been the greatest foreign policy president in my life time. I wonder if he was born in the United States?
  • Did you hear that Mitt Romney said Obama's job program would make everyone millionaires and then we would all have to pay higher taxes? Nice one Mitt: make me a millionaire, the 99% are all for it.
  • Did Dick Cheney's pace maker stop? I thought I heard a sucking sound!
  • That sucking sound was actually public employee retirees leaving Rhode Island and moving to New Hampshire or Florida to avoid paying state taxes on their pensions.
  • Only democrats can overthrow terrorist regimes without losing a single U.S. troop. Obama - great job in Libya and Clinton - great job in Bosnia.
  • Funny; the Iraq war is over but the Republicans are still fighting it. I guess they are still looking for the WMD.
  • Herman Cain - be serious - order pizza!
  • Rick Santorum - do you still practice rhythm - I hope so.
  • If the General Treasurer of Rhode Island is raping the retirees, can we all have access to abortion?
  • There is no truth to the rumor that Sarah Palin has a "thing" for Herman Cain. There may be truth to the rumor that Sarah had a "thing" for Barack Obama. He was a black basketball player and they both spent time in Hawaii. Was that before Hawaii was a state?
  • What Tea Party?
  • What will happen when 10% of Rhode Island's population moves out of state because of General Treasurer, Gina Raimondo? I would not even invest in a McDonald's in this state.
  • Obama has delivered on almost all of his campaign promises, the exception being the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison.
  • Raimondo and Chafee make Wall Street look like it has compassion on a par with Mother Teresa.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Is Rhode Island being lied to about pensions?

I suppose because I have a direct interest in the outcome, I've studied this issue fully. The brickbat bullies that dominate the airwaves and printed word have not done their homework. Some folks are just fighting for the sake of fighting. They truly believe that they are paying my pension. They are very wrong.

I paid for my pension. Any problem with the system is a direct result of the leadership in this state not living up to it's promises. Are there problems? The current issue has been largely driven by the move of the State to decrease the actuarial growth chart and assume a longer living period for it's retirees. The power of a defined benefit pension plan is in the long-term cost averaging advantages that the state will realize. Individuals may be vulnerable in a defined contribution plan because of market fluctuation and timing associated with retirement dates.

While there may be small problems to deal with, we are being lied to and I mean a whopper of a lie. Rhode Islanders are being told that the state will have to now contribute 35% of salary to save the system. What? Are you fucking kidding me? 35%? Nobody has said that this is a one year issue to infuse the system. We are being led to believe that this is for the future - the foreseeable future at least. Please everyone, I beg you to get out your calculator and do the math. A school teacher that starts at $40,000 per year and tops out at $100,000, 35 years from now would have contributed somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million. Now the teacher retires and let's assume a small actuarial growth of only 5 percent annually, the teachers pension check should be $250,000 per year. This is how absolutely crazy the sob story is. For those of you that are math checkers, don't forget that the teacher is contributing 9.5 % each year (total annual contribution would be 44.5% of salary and don't forget the 7% compounded growth).

Now I know that there were tremendous abuses that the system is still paying for, but those problems are dying. Abuses have been addressed during the past 25 years. Did you know that the Rhode Island system grew by over 20% this year and the actuarial certainty being provided to our citizens is based on old data? Do you know that Rhode Island finished last year with a $60 million surplus which brings the rainy day fund to $130 million?

Now our infamous "Republican" Treasurer (she calls herself a Democrat - just another lie) wants to establish a hybrid plan so that retirees share the risk of the system. Are you kidding me? Do you know what a money maker this is for the state? If the state only met it's fair contribution, dollar for dollar, and made minor adjustments to pay for the sins of the past, a defined benefit pension plan is a huge money maker for the state. Pensions are paid from the accumulated wealth of the system generated by the hard working employees. When the employee or spouse dies, the system swallows the principle. In the case of a school teacher, 19% contribution, half from the teacher, is more than enough to meet the defined benefit.

I know that there are certain jobs that might really want to swing the way of the 401K plan that the General Treasurer is proposing. If I were press secretary to the governor, I'm probably only there for a short time. If you are a school teacher and have chosen the career for your future, you want a defined benefit plan. We need this in place to retain and recruit the best teachers. For new hires, I am not opposed to a choice. Treat the employees like people not pawns. Provide a choice even if you decide that the employee contribution needs to increase to pay for the sins of the past. Give the employees that are not fully vested a choice! Stop shoving things down our throats and try a little honesty.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rhode Island retirees win round one.

For those following the pension crisis in Rhode Island, I am happy to say that the employees and the retirees won the first round in court. Now the issue goes directly to the RI Supreme Court. Judge Taft-Carter, in a well thought out argument sided with the workers and retirees. Your pension is in fact a contract!! It is therefore, unconstitutional to change the system for those fully vested employees and the existing retirees. Furthermore the judge ruled that the COLA was in fact part of the contract.

This is not stopping our not-so "Democratic" Treasurer, Gina Raimondo from pursuing her Republican agenda of screwing people out of their hard earned pensions. I have written her office on multiple occasions and have received no confirmation. I even went as far as offering possible concessions (if done right) but made it clear that we have a contract. She still intends to pursue a bastardized pension system of 401K and defined benefits for current employees. This strategy is pure Republicanism. Her intent is to eliminate the COLA for retirees for a period of time until the system is deemed healthy again. Can you see a future politician going before the public and saying; "I'm in favor of re-instating the retiree's COLA"? What kind of drug is Raimondo on?

Let's say that she is successful in removing the COLA. What does that mean for me personally? In my case, I will lose about $2000 per year. My taxes go up, my food costs go up, my fuel costs go up etc. I guess in year one I will make the following changes to my life style: No more Providence Journal rag ($440 savings), We eat out twice a week if not more often, so I will no longer have 2 drinks at dinner only 1 ($500 savings), I'll reduce my Cox cable subscription ($500 savings), I'll reduce charitable contributions ($500 savings). I have now made it through year one and largely maintained my standard of living.

Let's go to year 2. I'll need to economize by another $2000. I guess we will only eat out once per week ($3200 savings), but we still have to eat at home but should be able to count $2000 in savings for year 2.

What about year 3? No more dry cleaning my clothes ($700 savings) (I hate the idea of hurting Barry, my friend), we reduce our trips to the movies to once per month ($700 in savings), no more security system on the house ($480 savings) (Sorry Roger, I love you man, we go a long way back to when you were just a kid) and I'll kill a few magazine subscriptions. I'm by year 3.

What about year 4? I'll still need to find another $2000. Now it is time to really attack the charitable giving by gutting donations and my family Temple membership. Wow! That's great, I got through year 4.

Do you think the COLA will return? Dream on! I'll need to find another $2000 to keep up with inflation. I'm starting to run out of ideas. Maybe it's time for the big move. We could sell the house in Rhode Island where we pay $9,000 annually in property taxes and move to the Cape. A home in Mashpee at comparable value is currently taxed at around $3000 annually (Wow, a $6,000 annual savings). Not only do I save here, I will no longer have to pay income tax on my state pension to Rhode Island ($3000 in savings). I can start to collect my social security and my disposable income has now skyrocketed. I can eat out twice a week, hell four times a week. I can have 2 drinks at every meal and I can go to the movies whenever I want.

Let me see? There are currently 60,000 citizens in Rhode Island that share my predicament and many of them are certainly married. That means that 100,000 people could seek similar solutions.

I feel bad for my favorite restaurants and the wait staff, local businesses that I frequent and the charities that I have faithfully supported. If only the state would return to the tax rates for the wealthy that existed before Republican leadership and tax the yachts that line Narragansett Bay, maybe then the state could acquire the financial resources to meet its' obligations to contracted retirees as required by the state's Constitution.

Here's the final kick: Aren't you glad we have such astute businessmen, brilliant politicians and an exceptional Media rag in the State of Rhode Island?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do not bundle your phone and internet services

Most people today, including myself have chosen to bundle our electronic services in order to save money. I strongly recommend that people avoid this practice. Here is what happened to me.

For legal reasons and because I am only 95% sure that the story I'm about to tell is accurate, I will not tell you my service provider. Here is what happened.

For a 2 week period I had been receiving a phone call from the 617 area code and the line was always empty except for the first time the call came in. The first time the call came in, when questioned, the person on the end of the line said he was "Eric from Verizon". After that first call, that same number would call our house 4 to 5 times daily. Each time the phone was answered, we had no response, just empty air. I checked the number against all Verizon offices in the 617 area code and their was no match. I was positive that the phone call had some illegitimate purpose, but what?

One day around noon I was working my e-mail account when the phone call came in. Again, there was nothing but empty air. I hung up the phone and exited my e-mail thinking I had finished for the time being. Five minutes later, I realized that I forgot to send an e-mail so I tried to re-enter my account and my identity was stolen. Coincidence or criminal activity? I immediately began the painful process of trying to contact a live person at my e-mail provider. Thanks to the help of the Reference Department at my local library, I was given a group of numbers to call.

Here is the funny thing, as I dialed these numbers, the number would show up on my e-mail entry page under "user name". My telephone was talking directly to my computer on my e-mail page. I recovered my e-mail in approximately 50 minutes, but the damage was done. Minutes later I started getting calls from treasurers of organizations I belong to asking why I was requesting wire transfers of money. A crime has been committed but does anyone care?

Nobody cared; nothing was stolen, the police could care less; but even more outrageous, the service provider could care less. After warning 3000 people in my address book, I decided to have it out with my service provider.

I sat for 3 hours trying to explain to person after person what had happened and was met with only denial. What really burned me was my service provider would not even put me in touch with a forensic person to study my claim. The company supervisors also denied they had fraud units - this is an absolute lie.

I spoke to a person who shall remain nameless but has intimate knowledge of communications and how these systems work. This person is about the smartest person I have ever known and his resume includes work in national defense, NASA and a host of other impressive high tech companies. He absolutely agreed that this is how my e-mail was stolen. Now my 95% certainty has shifted to 99%.

My service provider simply did not care; not even when I told them that my only alternative is to UN-bundle. I blocked the bogus number from reaching my phone through the service provider, but the crooks could be working off of dozens of numbers and they could call again at any time. Now I take the phone off of the hook when I'm using my e-mail, but I intend to change my phone to a different company.

Beware; I hope you have not had the misfortune that I had.


Obama needs to get out of the middle of the road.

As the saying goes; a man in the middle of the road is more likely to be the one hit! This is exactly what is happening to Barack Obama and it is really the first time I am seriously questioning his leadership.

The recent fall of the stock market because of the S&P downgrade of the U.S. credit worthiness is directly related the handling of the debt crisis by the President. Obama can cry foul all he wants, but he had the opportunity to make sure that did not happen no matter what Congress eventually did.

Obama should have stepped up as Bill Clinton suggested and used his authority to put congress in its place. Obama should have used the 14Th amendment to the Constitution. What does the 14Th amendment say? "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, ..... shall not be questioned." The 14Th amendment goes on to say that Congress should police this article.

Obama chose the wimp approach - the middle road - and simply waited for Congress to do its job. A job which Congress new it had to do regardless of what the President said. A month before the default date, Obama should have come out strong and told the world that America will never default on its debts as it is not permitted in our Constitution. He should have gone on to say that if Congress does not do its job which they are sworn to do, then he will do his job under the Constitution to which he has sworn allegiance. President Obama should have used his office to ensure that U.S. debt will be honored and if Congress failed in its duties, he will extend the debt ceiling by executive order.

Obama failed the American people on this one and he needs to realize that the Republican Congress will do every thing it can to see him out of the White House. It's time Obama stood tall and fought back. It's time Obama gets out of the middle of the road. He is going to get rolled over and may never recover.

I'm a fiscally conservative liberal Democrat and I'm mad as hell!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Letter to Governor Chafee and public pensions

Below you will find my recent letter to Governor Chafee that addresses problems with the actions taken in Central Falls regarding the stripping of publicly earned pensions. While the jury is still out on this, it was important for me to state my position and hope that government does the right thing. We can't exist like Germany in the 1930's with wealth being stripped from a select group of people. In Germany, it was the Jews while in America, it seems to be the public employees. Republicans continue to scapegoat public employees and it needs to stop. Besides the attack on public pensions, this year in Rhode Island all longevity increases for state employees was stricken from the law. In Rhode Island, employees enjoyed a 5% bump in pay 4 times throughout their career. That right was taken away without negotiation. Let's hope that Rhode Island's Governor can make a national statement. He has before.

The Honorable Governor Lincoln Chafee

Office of the Governor

222 State House

Providence, RI 02903-1196 July 21, 2011

Dear Governor Chafee:

I could not get much sleep last night thinking about the plight of retired public employees in Central Falls. What is currently happening is reprehensible, morally wrong and, quite possibly, illegal. This country is approaching a precipice and I think it is up to you to stand strong and correct injustice.

The consequence of government action amounts to the taking of wealth from a select group of people (public employee retirees) and reminds me of the taking of wealth from the Jews by the Germans of the 1930’s. Removing the hard earned rights to a pension will result in a waterfall of events that include; foreclosures, personal bankruptcy, inability to enjoy your last years by eating out in Central Falls restaurants, court actions involving alimony payments and significant marital stress.

Beyond the consequences, I want to talk about the legality of such takings. To begin with, the United States Constitution has established priorities for payments of public debt. The validity of the public debt of the United States…including debts incurred for payment of pensions … shall not be questioned.” U.S. Constitution, Article XIV, Section 4. While the clause uses the “United States”, Congress has clearly elevated the importance of paying pensions when considering the public debt. If I read this amendment like most people read the second amendment (eliminating part of the sentence) than the taking of pensions is unconstitutional.

I want to look a little closer at the Rhode Island Constitution and Article 1, Section 2 says a whole lot. I’m talking here about tax burdens being equally distributed. “…the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens…” Confiscating wealth of retirees is an unfair distribution of the burden of debt. Government has its way to correct short budgets through taxation. This taxation should be equally shared by all and retirees should not have to folk over half of their earned pensions. By doing so, the public employee becomes the scapegoat, stripped of earned benefits, robbed of their future and paying a higher tax levy to government.

Additionally, Rhode Island has not exhausted its taxing potential and laws that eliminate the sales tax from the boats and yachts that line Narragansett Bay is not constitutionally sound. In this instance, wealthy citizens that can afford the toys of the Bay are excluded from taxation forcing higher burdens on everyone else.

Furthermore, when discussing options for solving pension issues for state employees, the Rhode Island Constitution is very clear. “No ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be passed” RI Constitution, Article 1, Section 12. It is my strong belief that retiree agreements in state government must be met. I have no problem with amending the system for future retirees, but existing retirees should not be obligated to pay a higher tax burden. The Constitution of RI is clear; the burden must be shared equally.

Governor Chafee; I have seen you stand tall many times in the past. I could never forget you standing tall in the Senate when it came to Iraq. I remember you standing tall on the changing of the name of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations by pointing out that the U.S. Constitution would have to be changed. You brought this to light after years of hemming and hawing in this state. I fully appreciate your understanding of constitutional law.

I am no lawyer, but what is occurring now in Rhode Island will spread throughout this country. We need to be making statements about the importance of maintaining the public trust. I was almost denied a mortgage refinance because the bank held feelings that public pensions may be pulled. We need you to stand tall and do what is right. Please do what is morally right. Protect public pensions and share the burden of taxation to fix the problems. Please make a statement now that gets the attention of everyone across this country. You have done it before and I hope you will do it again. I’m counting on you. You are my friend.



Monday, July 11, 2011

Republicans are killing democracy

OK: I admit, that is a pretty strong statement in the title of this post. With the recent Supreme Court decision that treats corporations as individuals, moneyed interests will buy the future and buy the votes. It is so hard for me to believe that 48% of Republicans are Republican. Walk into any trailer park and I'll bet you will find significant majorities voting Republican. Why? I understand the top 2% of the Republican party voting Republican, but don't tea party folks realize that the Republican leadership wants to strip them of social security and their medicare benefits.

For you middle class Republicans, you have to realize that it is the Democrats that have fought for better lives for all citizens. The private sector has some great people providing jobs throughout this country (people of both parties), but in the end, every American needs to be worried about their future. Social Security and Medicare are easily fixed by raising taxes only slightly on the rich in this nation. Hell - During the Eisenhower administration, citizens making over $1 million per year were taxed at a 91% rate. World War II had to be paid for. All Obama is asking is for the wealthiest in our society to pay 39% instead of 36% of income (Clinton level taxation). Bush pushed the tax cuts for the middle class and the rich but this long ugly experiment simply has failed. Government needs to raise revenue just like any business. Our wars need to be paid for and with the wealthiest calling the shots, they need to pony up.

I would ask Republicans to join "Patriotic Millionaires For Fiscal Strength" and I would also urge everyone to read "Bush era tax cuts the largest contributor to the public debt."

I could never be more eloquent on this issue than a former Supreme Court Justice:

"We can have democracy..... or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both". Justice Louis D. Brandeis

With the current Republican intransigence, I ask you; are Republicans killing democracy?


Saturday, May 21, 2011

A cool President Obama just minutes before decision to take down Bin Laden

Well: You need to see President Obama's comments at the Correspondents dinner in Washington DC. He not only takes down Bin Laden, he really takes down Donald Trump without firing a shot if you know what I mean. How Obama could multi-task at this crucial moment in American history is simply worthy of praise. How could anybody not think Obama is up to the job of leading this country? If you did not respect Obama, you damn well should respect him now. Please check out Obama's comments (click here)


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Where the hell have I been during the take down of Bin Laden?

Sorry to be missing in action again, but this time I was really missing in action. I severely hurt my back 4 weeks ago, washing a kitchen floor - believe it or not! The back pain has been so bad that I can't really spend any time at the computer. I will be having surgery in less than 2 weeks so I hope to be able to regain my full use of my back and legs.

The raid on the Bin Laden compound was absolutely one of the finest political acts of our time. Barack Obama can easily be defined by one word; courage. Barack's entire team should be congratulated for their guts. I certainly never saw guts like that during the Bush administrations.

At any rate, you have to see the act by Seth Meyers at the President's correspondence dinner that was being held at nearly the same time as the raid on the Bin Laden compound. As I have said in this column before, the U.S. simply can not trust the Pakistani government. I am so happy that the administration is on the same page.

Good bye Bin Laden forever: Rot at the bottom of the ocean with all of your pornography!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Federal taxes are at their lowest point in decades

After filing my taxes for 2010, I noticed that my effective tax rate was just under 10%. This is about as low as it has ever been. Why all of the Tea Party angst? Republicans continue to keep screaming about taxes while they have no concept of economic reality. The reality I'm talking about is the need to raise revenue to pay for their ridiculous war in Iraq and the failings of the Bush administration to keep the economy on course. It's funny how Republicans never mentioned the deficit when Bush was President but they blast Obama daily for inheriting his mess.

There is a great web site that I happened upon the other day called; "". In one article, the top marginal tax rates from 1916 to 2010 are charted. Categories of taxation on the chart include income tax, corporate tax and capital gains for the period. Just look at the picture; a picture is worth a thousand words in this case. I'm still not sure that Republicans will get it as they are still tied to Reagan voodoo economics that has caused our massive Federal deficit.

I have a smaller problem with lowering the corporate tax rate from the current 35% to 25% as even Obama has suggested. The key here is to have 100% of U.S. corporations paying taxes, not the current 25%. Corporate lobbyists have done a great job making sure their interests avoid taxes. The middle class has no such luxury in this country.

So why all of the fuss about taxes? It's truly a ruse created by the Republican Party to win votes through radical propaganda. Barack only wants to turn the green line on the chart back to where it was during the Clinton administration. Remember, this is only being considered for those incomes that exceed $250,000 per year (35% to 39%). Please note that this rate was 91% during the Eisenhower administration and at 50% during the Reagan administration.

Republicans continue to say that America has spoken because of the 2010 election. I hate to clue them in but, Barack Obama won in 2008 by over 5 million votes and ran on this very concept. Barack stood in front of the American people and insisted that the top marginal tax rate needed to be where it was during the Clinton administration. Tea Party Republicans are simply wrong.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Election 2012: What will it look like?

Palin, Bachmann, Huckabee, Romney - Pawlenty, Barbour, Paul or Trump - who will win Republican minds, radio radicals and tea party butts? OK; sorry for the funky posing of the question, but I feel that it is time for me to make a few predictions before the s--t hits the fan. Noticeably absent from the list of Republican hopefuls is a name we all know; Bush! I do not think that Jeb Bush is stupid enough to enter the fray in 2012, even if they wanted to draft him. Jeb bush is waiting for 2016.

I have made a few predictions in this column and they have been accurate to date. I predicted that Sarah Palin would get a job with Fox news but that would be the extent of her career. Since she quit as Governor of Alaska, I have no reason to back off of that prediction. Even many Republicans hate her - she stands no chance! She did take a job with Fox news: I'm not looking bad at this point. If you study these pages, you saw that I urged people to buy stock in Ford Motors when the price was at approximately $2.00 per share. Check the ticker; you would be rich if you had listened to me.

Now I'm going to put my "Nostradamus" hat on and make a few predictions. Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. He will have tremendous problems getting the nomination; but look at the field - my God - there is no crystal ball here. The big question is who will be his nominee for Vice-President. This is where things get real complicated, but not for the reasons you might perceive.

In the final analysis, I see the Republican Vice-Presidential choice coming down to a toss-up between Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi and Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas. My prediction is Haley Barbour because of all of his connections to the oil money. Money always "trumps" ideology. Sorry Donald; you already went bankrupt once and screwed a lot of people in the process.

Why Haley Barbour as Vice-President? Romney lacks no credibility with the evangelical right in this country and his Mormon faith will drag him down. Romney will need to address this problem with his pick. As I see it; he has two choices, Huckabee or Barbour. Neither of these guys can light a fire in the Democratic states. Barbour will be detestable to the Democratic voters but they won't care. Huckabee would have a greater ability to pull in the independent voter and the evangelical right, but only in the states the Republicans are going to lose anyway. This raises Haley Barbour to the surface because Republicans need to win states like North Carolina and Florida. Barbour will be strong with the evangelical voters but more importantly, he will bring in money. Scads and scads of money from the oil companies that will continue to bleed the middle class until we are all walking the streets!

What about the Democrats? Do you really think that the ticket is going to be Obama/Biden. That worked once, but maybe, just maybe, the ticket to success will be changing the ticket. I don't think this is a long shot, but how about an Obama/Clinton ticket? That's Hillary Clinton! Obama is going to need to infuse some excitement after his middle of the road first term.

So here is my early prediction: Obama/Clinton vs Romney/Barbour. I would not throw Joe Biden out the door. Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State are positions that come to mind for Joe Biden that has served his country well.

OK; I've laid it on the line early on. Let's see what happens. By the way; if Romney and Barbour win, the Mayan's were right!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

The saga of getting your opinion before the people

While I'm grateful that the Providence Journal finally published my opinion piece this week, I am distressed about some things that happened along the way. For out of state readers, I know this may be a little boring. I'll head to national issues in my next post. For now, here is the story.

The "Journal" endorsed Linc Chafee for governor who ran on a platform of changes and expansion of the sales tax. His plan was to reduce the tax from 7 to 6% and create a second tier of 1% on some items and services. The "Journal" has continually attacked the plan. Not only had the paper been attacking the plan, they have allowed a stream of opinion pieces for key state figures (two who ran against Chafee and lost) who are well known in political circles. The "Journal" gave these writers almost a half page space.

I noticed that there was absolutely no balance on the opinion page which drove me to write my piece. After over 3 weeks and no luck seeing publication, I wanted Governor Chafee to feel that he had support in the community regardless of the one-sided attempt to control thought by the "Journal". I copied my opinion piece, mailed it with a cover letter to Governor Chafee on a Friday. The following Monday I was contacted by the "Journal" as it had become clear that they would publish. My suspicion is that it took an act of the Governor's office to jog the article forward, but I have no evidence of this.

On Thursday, April 7, 2011, the "Journal" printed the article. That's fine but what really upsets me is a simple change they made to improve their position in this thing. At one point in the article the conversation goes as follows: "The "Journal" writes that " state employees continue to receive annual pay increases"". My response was; "this is not true". The "Journal" changed my response to, " this is grossly misleading" (view my previous post of March 25 2011).

I want to say that "grossly misleading" was not my statement and is not accurate. There have been many years that I could point to where state employees got no pay raises. The "Journal" is trying to split hairs here because in any given year, some employees may receive a longevity increase which happens 4 times in a career. This happens in any given year for a small percentage of employees but should never have been part of the "Journal's" blanket statement. The "Journal" tried to create the idea in the head of the readers that state employees get raises every year and that is absolutely not true.

On the "Truth-O-Meter", the Providence Journal fails this test and rates a "Not True". Enough of this topic already!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tax cuts for the rich killing the middle class

The title of this article says it all, but nobody could say it better than Berkley Bedell. Berkley is a businessman and former politician that dedicated his life to making things better for other people. You have to read his own story (click here).

Yes, America is badly hurt by tax cuts for the rich. There may have been a time to reduce taxes on the wealthy, but that time is not now. The wealthy are continuing to pay a smaller and smaller percentage of tax while the middle class struggles to pay bills on a daily basis. Reaganomics has gone too far. Supply side economic theory has done nothing but make the wealthy wealthier while impoverishing the middle class. Enough is enough!

By the way; my letter to the Providence Journal in support of Governor Chafee's tax plan finally was published. I applaud the Journal for publishing my thoughts, although I must say there is a story within the story that I will not repeat here. I must say that you need a very thick skin to publish these days. Individual opinion seems to mean less in this country. It seems like you have to belong to a "tea party" or something. Offer your opinion and you get swamped by brickbats that do not have a clue about what you are saying. The comments to my opinion piece were largely attacks on my person that had no foundation. The authors of those attacks have probably listened to talk radio for far too long and have no right to question my integrity.

If you have read this blog, you will know that many of Berkley Bedell's comments have been discussed here for some time. Berkley is the age of my mother and he makes me realize that there are still great Americans in this country with the age and wisdom to guide us forward. Thank you Berkley for you service to us all. Please make sure you read Berkley's story (click here).


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Donald Trump and any "Birther" are just stupid

Well, I wanted to stay away from this issue because it is stupid for me to be talking about it; however, I have to say something again. Republicans continue to jump on the "birther" bandwagon and it is so bad that almost 50% of Republicans think that Obama is not an American. You are all stupid beyond belief, but nobody is more stupid than Donald Trump. Donald Trump, the self serving ego maniac thinks that he is presidential timber when all he can talk about is Obama's birth certificate? What a sick and increasingly stupid country this is becoming. If Donald Trump wants to be president, why doesn't he talk about .. ahem.. the economy?

Do you want to see Obama's birth certificate? It is there for everyone to see (link to Obama birth certificate). How about a picture? Do you want a picture? Oh! What about the raised seal from the state of Hawaii ? It can't be official until we see that.

How about independent unbiased verification? That means verification from people that are not stupid. Try "FactCheck.Org" . I would bet that there are many Republicans working for ", they're just not the stupid 50%. How about official government verification? Do you want to see a picture of that? Just go to the "" site.

Here is the bottom line. No president in our history has had to face such insane questioning. I wonder why this is happening now? Well Donald Trump, its called racism and if you think that it is anything different you are not only stupid, you have serious personality flaws. I for one do not want a psychiatric head case running for president. It seems like the Republicans have many head cases that have an interest in the White House.

All I have to say to the 50% of stupid Republicans is that I am very happy that our white house has become a black house. That's right; the White House is now occupied by a family that has an almost unbelievable American story that far surpasses any story coming at us from the Republican side of the isle. At least Barack Obama insists that his children stay grounded and stay in school (unlike Sarah truancy coordinator). The continuing reluctance of key Republicans to correct the record with the stupid people just ruins their ability to reach the independent voters. Fine by me!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Chafee's tax plan in Rhode Island makes sense

The following article was a recent letter to the editor of the "Providence Journal" which has not yet been published. It is my hope that they will quickly print this letter as day after day Governor Chafee is taking a beating in this newspaper over his proposals to raise taxes to close a budget deficit. How the hell do the Republicans always think that they can close deficits by reducing taxes for the wealthy? It's refreshing to see a governor take an approach that includes raising revenue as well as reducing spending.

Journal misses the boat on Chafee tax plan

I must say that the “Providence Journal” misinforms when advising citizens on Chafee’s tax plan (Editorial; “Chafee tax plan’s flaws” March 13, 2011). Consider this; Governor Carcieri reduced the number of state workers by 3000, reduced state pensions for future retirees, reduced state income taxes for the wealthiest, furloughed state employees for 12 days, and the deficit grew as did the unemployment rate. Something is not working, but what?

Fewer employees means more outsourcing of government work and privatization costs may very well be playing a significant role in driving deficits. We have seen in past “Journal” reports the exorbitant costs associated with outsourcing work to private concerns by some state agencies. Right-sizing state government may lead to significant savings and assist in improving pension liabilities.

The “Journal” comments that, “state employees continue to receive annual pay increases”; this is not true. Your editorial staff is always looking to balance the budget to the detriment of state employees. This will have a limited effect, and here’s why. From previous “Journal” reports, the estimated annual cost of each state employee is just under $100,000. With approximately 14,000 employees, all salary, fringe and pension cost approximate $1.4 billion. The state budget is estimated to be $7.5 billion this year. Employees account for around 18.5% of total spending. You can’t fix the problem with a focus on only 18.5% of cost, reducing income from the wealthiest while blindly outsourcing government work.

Additionally, you attack the sales tax as being “regressive” and “not exactly what you want to expand”. On the very same day, the “Journal” reports; “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S Bernanke, at the National Governors Association winter meeting …… advised governors that lowering their sales tax rate while broadening the variety of goods and services to which the tax applies would result in a steadier stream of revenues, better positioning states ….” (“Chafee says he’s trying to ‘share the sacrifice’” March 13, 2011).

Governor Chafee is doing exactly the right thing, managing government with his brain and not a lopsided ideology. Does Chafee get it all right? No. The Chafee administration needs to really perform the “Big Audit” of privatized service cost which may be significantly driving deficits and study “right-sizing” government strategies. I would further advise Chafee to reduce the recommended 6% tax on car repairs to 1% and tax the yachts that line Narragansett Bay at the 6% rate. Until the toys of the wealthiest among us are taxed on a par with the taxes facing the middle class, Rhode Island is missing the boat.



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Public Pensions and the Fight Ahead

Governor Scott Walker, Republican ideologue from Wisconsin has done something that I did not think possible a few months ago. Walker has mobilized unions that will serve as counterweight to any Tea Party movement in this country. Governor Scott has ruined chances for Republican leadership in my estimation. Good for him; keep talking Scott Walker, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, you guys are the best thing to happen to the Democratic Party since Franklin Roosevelt had to step in and clean up the Republican mess left by ideologues like you. Remember Republicans; Democrats won 5 consecutive Presidential elections and they only lost because a moderate for all of the people stepped forward to rescue the ideological bankrupt Republican Party. Dwight was a guy for all of the people.

Walker's attempt to strip employee unions of power has nothing to do with the reality of state financial burdens. Everyone needs to read the current McClatchy Report; Why employee pensions aren't bankrupting states. This is a great report that underscores the true reason why Republicans are trying to gain political capital by scapegoating public employees and attacking their pensions.

In Rhode Island, our new Democratic Treasurer, Gina Raimondo has had the nerve to say that she believes that retirees may not own their pensions nor do state employees. Oh really: Who the hell do you think put the money into the fund? Employees put 8.75% of their income and school teachers put 9.5% into the system over their careers of 30+ years, and the state matches that whenever they feel like it (this is the problem), and now you say that system is taxpayer money? Gina Raimondo, you border on delusional and do not belong in a position to speak for the citizens of a free country! You will not get my vote next time around and never will get my vote unless you apologize to all of the hard working public employees across this state.

Governor Lincoln Chafee will be proposing steps to help secure the state's financial position tomorrow. One recommendation will be to increase state employee and teacher contributions to 11.5% for an interim period until a comprehensive pension overhaul can be achieved. Rhode Island employee contributions are already the highest in the Nation and now the move is to increase that by 2% for teachers and 2.75% for state employees?

At first I was really angry at the idea, then I realized it may well be brilliant. The Congress just reduced contributions to Social Security for workers and employers by 2%. This is something that Obama should never have agreed to do. Republicans will use this loss of revenue to argue for privatization of social security. Chafee's plan will result in little change in take home income for public employees that pay into state retirement as well as social security. Money that formerly was going to the Federal Government will now accrue towards the state's retirement plan.

Union workers do not want their pensions decreased. My guess is that most union workers will see this as a step toward fully funding the promises. I must admit though, until the state of Rhode Island taxes all of the yachts in Narragansett Bay, I find it hard to take money away from the hard working middle class.

One last comment that I have already made a half dozen times before in this blog. Donald Carcieri, our past ideologue governor attacked pensions and attacked public employees every day for eight years. Carcieri took 3000 state employees out of the system and yet his final budget proposal called for a 9% increase (from $7 billion to $7.8 billion). Employees are not the problem as salary, fringe and benefits of all employees account for 17% of the entire budget on an annual basis. Public employee pensions are not bankrupting the system. Republican privatization practices are bankrupting the system (more money to their friends).


Monday, March 7, 2011

What about Libya?

Should Barack Obama move us in the direction of military intervention in Libya? My answer at this point is no! It is now time for other countries to step up and take the lead while the United States deals with its current entanglements.

I am so happy that Obama is in charge at this point in time. You know for certain that John McCain would have jumped right into the fray because that is exactly what he has said. McCain jumps before knowing where he is going to land. At least Obama is surveying the neighborhood to find the best spot for our nation to land.

The good news is that some of our friends are finally stepping up to the plate and taking a leading role in determining the efficacy of a no-fly-zone. The United Kingdom and France are leading a United Nations effort to limit Moammar Gadhafi's ability to control the skies over Libya. Why shouldn't they play a leading role? Britain and France were active imperial powers that helped give us the Middle East that we know today. The United States is a johnny-come-lately to the region.

Regardless of what country supplies the military might, I'm relieved to see Europe step up to the plate; after all, most of the Libya's oil flows to Europe. Britain and France should damn well be concerned what happens to their own interests. Why should the United States always be fighting the world's battles? Don't forget that the Lockerbie Scotland incident was an attack on Europe as well as the United States.

United States military intervention in Libya could very well set off World War III. We are so lucky to have a thoughtful President who is willing to study the issue fully before committing more U.S. troops in foreign lands. From the "Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli" is not a reason to go to war and that is exactly where we would be if Obama followed John McCain's stupid, idiotic advise.

I don't have the exact quote, but John Kennedy said something like this when referring to Vietnam; If a country wants to be free, they must find their freedom on their own, it can't be handed to them. Of course, John Kennedy was taken from us before major decisions to escalate our involvement in Vietnam were made by subsequent administrations. Thank you Barack Obama for taking the time to think and to lead!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Changing Mike Huckabee

So what's up with Mr. Mike these days. It seems like he has made a decision to travel down the low road to a possible run for President. How irritating was it to hear him make a claim that Obama was not one of us because "he grew up in Kenya"? Obama first visited Kenya at the age of 26. It is well known where he grew up. It's just more lies from the Republican machine that includes Fox News and just about all of it's TV personalities.

Lawrence O'Donnell had a great story on a recent broadcast that accused Huckabee and Bill O'Reilly with lying to the American people about Barack Obama. O'Donnell then gives an outstanding accounting of how great the American story of Barack Obama actually is. Huckabee goes on O'Reilly's show to tell America that Barack Obama is not one of us because he was not a Boy Scout or little league player when he was growing up.

The Boy Scout reference brought me right back to my childhood. Now let me think; I believe it was the first Monday of every month our troop leaders would pile us into cars and we would travel to the YMCA (you know what that is) to go swimming. Yes it is very important for kids to know how to swim, but to this day I have no idea why we all had to be completely naked. That's right, I said 30 or 40 boys aged 12 to 16 swimming naked at the YMCA while the dirty old chaperons sat along side the pool and leered at us for an hour and a half. Thank God my own father only traveled there as chaperon once. It's one thing to change in the locker room, it's quite another to be talking to all of your male friends completely naked. Funny thing is that this did not bother me as much as the dirty old men leering at us from the sidelines did.

Not surprisingly, Boy Scout troops always have a spiritual leader and ours was a Catholic Priest, not from our Parish I might add, that never missed a trip to the good ole YMCA. I wonder what he was doing when he got home? Did anybody wonder why I quit the Boy Scouts by the time I was 14? I was just a little nervous around some of our community leaders.

That experience provided me with the knowledge that parents need to be very aware of their child's surroundings and not assume that a great organization, like the Boy Scouts is safe. Pedophiles flock to organizations such as this. I can't begin to tell you what else I learned in the Boy Scouts of America, but I need to keep this post as clean as possible. When my son was to travel on his first overnight (7 day outing) camping experience, I was quite concerned. I simply did not trust the troop leader and I felt that he liked looking at little boys a little too much. The camp director was a very good friend of mine and lived at the site. A week before my son's trip I took him to the camp and introduced him. My son was instructed that if he were uncomfortable for any reason, he should go to the director's house and I would be there shortly.

Well, nothing happened that he knew of on that trip. My wife called me paranoid. Two years after that trip and a year after my son left the Boy Scouts early, his Troop leader was arrested for molesting young boys.

Those are my Boy Scout high times - Mike Huckabee. In the end, I think my wife was quite impressed by my suspicious nature as was my son. I'm not saying that the Boy Scouts is a bad thing here; I am saying that some people's experience may not measure up to Huckabee's glorified view of the Boy Scout experience.

Maybe we are better off that Barack was not a Boy Scout? let's face it Mr. Huckabee, you don't think Barack Obama is a true American because he played basketball; you know, the sport that blacks like to play the most!


Friday, March 4, 2011

What Can I Say?

Let me start by saying that I am sorry for being away so long. I'm actually dizzy from the actions of the new Congress and disappointed that the voting public is so stupid. That's right; at times the voters are just amazingly stupid. You need only look to the re-election of Richard Nixon to know that.

There is so much to talk about since I've been away, I don't know where to begin. How about this new Congress that wants to cut $60 billion from this years appropriations. I have no problem with cutting $60 billion; I have a problem with where the bone heads want to make those cuts. John Boehner and crew want to cut the money from the Environmental Protection Agency, The Security and Exchange Commission, The Consumer Protection Bureau, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. What kind of memory do these Republicans have? Can't they remember that our economy was taken to its knees at the end of the Bush administration because of the pro Wall Street attitude? My dog has a better memory than the current Republicans in Congress.

How about the idiot in Wisconsin; that would be the Governor, who does not have the guts to negotiate with any union. What a weak kneed example of America patriotism! He blames the state employees while he cuts the taxes of Wisconsin's big corporations. Then this idiot expects only the public employees to pay the bill! Outrageous!!!!

I miss Keith Olbermann! You can always connect to him at his new site, the Fok News Channel.

On the positive side of reality, Senator Lincoln Chafee is now Governor Lincoln Chafee who provided me the energy to create this web site. If you want to learn more about this, just follow all of the Chafee links. I was there on election night when this Republican turned Independent garnered enough votes to become Governor (37% in a 4 way race). Since his election, he has done nothing but impress me with his approach to leadership. While Linc is no longer a Republican, he represents what Republicans used to be. One small example of Linc's efforts to deal with the deficit in this state; instead of attacking state employees and teachers, his administration did announce the reduction in payments to outsourced law firms by 15%. What a great idea! Privatization is killing government and this is the area where real savings can be found.