Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We need to take back our country - What?

It's time for me to move away from state issues and begin to focus more on the upcoming election of 2012. The phrase in today's politics that upsets me the most is; "we need to take our country back". Back from whom? Even Barack Obama jumped into the fray with his state of the union speech by proclaiming, "our country is back". Obama is referring to the return of a healthier economy, but what do Republicans mean by proclaiming; "we need to take our country back"?

There have been 56 presidential elections in US history and 44 Presidents. Barack Obama won the last election by 9,549,105 votes which is the 5th largest margin of victory in US history. Only Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt for one of his four terms had a larger margin of victory. Obama's victory was 1 week old before Republicans started proclaiming the need the take "our" country back. Who the hell is "our"? What about my country and the majority of Americans that chose to support Barack Obama? Republicans continue to claim they speak for all of us when clearly, they only speak to a minority.

What did Barack promise in 2008 and has he lived up to the promises made to the majority? Let me recall a number of promises; end the war in Iraq, universal health care for everyone, increase our efforts in Afghanistan to better pressure al Qaeda, maintain middle class tax cuts and only increase taxes on those earning over $250,000 each year, end "don't ask, don't tell", support gay unions but not gay marriage, promote equality for women in the work place, pass a stimulus package to jump start the economy and get people back to work, save the US auto industry, pursue greater regulation of Wall Street, work towards a secure energy future, support alternative energy and close Guantanamo Bay prison.

That was a lot of promises and that is what the 9+ million majority expected out of this President. Has Obama delivered? I grade his performance as an A-. Obama has delivered on most promises although some solutions required compromise. Obama has not been able to close down Guantanamo Bay because of intransigence in Congress. His health care plan leaves a lot to be desired, but it's a start. Nobody has been able to achieve what he has on this difficult issue. Obama has performed remarkably in an atmosphere of hatred towards his presidency.

Let's be honest, "we need to take back our country" is all about racism. I don't think you could find a President that has so closely aligned his governing with his promises. Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana gave the Republican response to Obama's address to Congress and stated that there are fewer people working in the United States today than at any point during the last 3 years of the Obama presidency. Is this propensity to lie going to be the future of our politics? Republicans that can't make the facts fit their agenda just like to make things up. We have had steady job growth in this country in 18 of the previous 24 months, there has been 15 consecutive months of steady job growth and the unemployment rate has declined from 10% to 8.5% nationally during the past 24 months. Given the state of our union when Obama became President, I think he is truly heading towards being one of our greatest leaders.

For the racists and haters out there that want to "take our country back"; love it or leave it! It's my country!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Open letter to the "Providence Journal"

This letter speaks for itself:

Dear Editors:

After over 35 years subscribing to your newspaper, we must inform you of our intention to cancel our subscription. This action is not taken without significant thought towards what the people of Rhode Island deserve. We have determined that they do not deserve your unbalanced and hateful treatment of public employees. Your incessant use of page one headlines biasing the pension debate was nauseating, especially when scant attention was paid to many important national and world events that required coverage.

Your paper’s cheerleading of the stealing of $billions from the retirees of this state showed a lack of fairness that is required from a major state newspaper. Your intimidating tactic of making sure all readers in the “Letters” section know when a point of view emanates from a public employee is truly classless. Your lack of judicious treatment of the pension debate was obvious even to those without a direct stake in the issue.

Your newspaper continually allowed one-sided arguments in major editorial pieces that demonized public workers until the vote was taken. After the vote, you finally allowed one major editorial writer to provide a defense of the state retirement system. Your newspaper refused to seek the truth regarding the flawed actuarial assumptions made by the General Treasurer, Gina Raimondo which inflated the pension liability to epic proportions (average life expectancy of 87.6 years) (see attached). Your paper refused to make the case that Raimondo’s assumptions were based on recession era math and that through cost averaging, the pension fund will rebound (The pension fund made 20.4% last year).

Additionally, your newspaper refused to investigate the financial assumptions being made by the Raimondo team that the state would have to contribute 35% of salary for the foreseeable future (pure hogwash). Try doing the math yourselves: An absolute lie was forced down the throats of Rhode Islanders and you made decisions to ignore the truth. Working until the age of 67 is also unwise. This requires a new worker out of college to work 45 years before retirement and carries with it many economic realities not properly addressed or debated by decision makers.

One of your pet providers to the “Letters to the Editor”, Karl Stephens, Barrington (December 17, 2011) criticizes your newspaper for not blasting Jon Corzine for the $billions missing from MF Global Holdings solely because he is a Democrat. Typically, Mr. Stephens is concerned about the $billions stolen from investors but could care less about the $billions stolen from the public employees that invested their lives and money in the state retirement system. We are sick and tired of your 3 nut-case letter writers from Pawtucket, Saunderstown and Barrington that you give voice to every month (you know who they are!)

Simply put; your newspaper is no better than Bernie Madoff. At least Bernie Madoff ended up in jail for life. Nobody will do time for the stealing of $billions from the retirees of this state and your newspaper put the blame solely on the shoulders of the public employees. We all cared about the folks that got robbed by Madoff and others but nobody cared about the public employees. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Now it’s time to pay the piper; so to speak. We will no longer support your biased newspaper to the tune of $416 per year. The debate about loss of funds to “Crossroads Rhode Island” is just the beginning. Have you checked out the demographics of the folks who go to Twin River Casino? Do you think there are a lot of retirees? Do you think they will continue to drop their extra cash there? Not if they don’t get a COLA for 19 years! The economic fallout from the disastrous decision to so radically change the pension system is just in its infancy.

If you think you treated public employees fairly, just ask the person in the street what they think about public employees. We were demonized by Raimondo and others but you folks at the “Providence Journal” did the greatest disservice to the public employees by not seeking truth as journalists should. It is every journalist’s duty to be fair and unbiased in their investigation and reporting.

After over 35 years; farewell!