Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quote of the Week

As reported in the Christian Science Monitor,  Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders said during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Tuesday this week the democratic foundations of the nation are currently enduring their most severe attack in history on both economic and political fronts.

“We are well on our way to see our country move to an oligarchy, where power rests in the hands of a few families,” he said.
Senator Sanders said inequality in the US is worse than it has been at any time since the 1920s. He noted that 23 billionaire families have contributed at lease $250,000 each so far in this year’s campaigns.
He added that the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans – roughly half the country.

“What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same billionaires and the corporations they control: ‘You own and control the economy; you own Wall Street; you own the coal companies; you own the oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we’re going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government.’ ”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What is Willard Hiding?

Another interesting revelation about Willard’s non-revelations came to light this week.  Romney saw to it that the American public is unable to examine his tenure running the Olympic games with any particularity in order to evaluate his capabilities in running a large organization.  The reason this cannot be done is simple.  The documents  generated by his activities concerning the Olympics have been destroyed.  Does this sound familiar?  Have we heard this tune before?  Why in the world would these documents be destroyed?  What is the man hiding?  When Willard left his job as governor of Massachusetts every document, every computer, every e-mail was destroyed.  Why were these documents and e-mails destroyed?  What about his activities as governor of Massachusetts is the man hiding?  As a presidential candidate, Willard’s refuses to release his income tax returns so that his candidacy can be evaluated.  The brief glimpse of one year raises some questions about his commitment to America as he’s shipped millions of dollars in various foreign bank accounts generally used by tax evaders and thieves.  His IRA is worth $106 million dollars when by law the contributions to such a device is limited to $6000 per annum.  How did he do that?  There may be perfectly valid reasons for so doing, but if there is, Willard ain’t telling.  The question is why not?  What does he have to hide in this go-round?  Then, there’s the vagueness of his campaign policies and principles.  He is heavy on the criticism of Obama, but offers nothing of substance as to what he would do differently, except for lowering taxes on the very rich.  What do we really know about the man, his policies, his thinking?   I guess what one needs to do is  read the Tea Party Manifesto, if there is one, to understand  Willard’s opinions.  In that regard he is like a puppet on a string, dancing along with whatever far right thinking emerges from the Tea Party. 

As Maureen Dowd said in today’s New York Times, “So far, Mitt’s casting a shadowy silhouette, hiding his fortune in foreign tax havens, hiding tax returns, destroying and hiding records as head of the Olympics and as governor, hiding a specific sense of where he would take the country.  Americans don’t want to play hide-and-seek with their presidential candidates. Romney should listen to himself: The time for stonewalling is over.”
Just saying . . .

Friday, July 20, 2012

It Is About the Economy

Willard Romney makes a good point.  This upcoming presidential election is about the economy.  His constant hammering of the subject caused me to wonder just how well the economy has done since President Obama took over on Jan 21, 2009.  I Googled that date for information on the stock market, one of the best indicators of the state of our country’s economic health. describes the level of the market on that date;

“The Dow Jones closed below 8000 for only the second time since this level was broken back in October. This is a break down and is viewed as bearish. There are two support levels worth watching, 7773.71 and 7449.38. 8000 has been a huge support level and I wouldn't be surprised to see us bounce around this level for several days or weeks for that matter.  . . . As long as we stay below 8500, I continue to be bearish on the overall stock market and stocks in general.”

Yesterday, the Dow Jones closed at 12,943.36 (source; my I-phone app).  Let me do the math (counting on fingers and toes . . .) the Dow Jones this morning is 4943 points higher than when Obama took office as president, nearly 40% higher!  When I head out to the golf course to play with my buddies today, I’m going to tell them I don’t want to talk about politics.  I want to talk about my tax returns which reflect an average increase in income the last three years in excess of twelve per cent per year.

Just Saying . . .

Monday, July 16, 2012

Reasons to Support Obama

A good friend has responded to my Mitt v Mitt blog by asking me the following questions.  "Can you give me a few reasons to support Obama in the election? Other then being an advocate of class warfare what has he accomplished? Do we really need 4 more years of a no growth economy?"  This is my response:

An issue of trust; that’s exactly what the major issue regarding who our next president is about.  As a voter, with a tendency to be liberal when it comes to individual rights and conservative when it comes to government spending, I am looking for the person I can trust. During the campaign Romney has proven he will do or say anything  to get elected.   I don’t trust him.  I think its best to start and mention the things I don’t like about Obama and his policies.  I don’t like the way he negotiates with the Republicans.   One of the principles of effective negotiating is the art of never starting at where you want to end, i.e. one should. instead, aim to reach the goal  by incremental concessions.  Obama doesn’t do that.  He stated early in his presidency that he was in favor of tort reform in medical malpractice cases.  It is my opinion that the most effective check on the way physicians and other health care professionals manage our health care is the threat of being held accountable for their misdeeds in a public forum.  There is a lot of malpractice going on out in the field.  The AMA estimates that more than 100,000 people a year die from acts of malpractice.  Let me remind my friends who are so adamant about their right to bear arms as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution that we also have a 7th Amendment to the very same document which guarantees us all a right to trial by jury in civil matters.  Now, let me get to the main issue;  what do I like that Obama has done that deserves his re-election?  Let’s start at the beginning.  Obama came into office inheriting the Bush administration’s record of war, debt, spending, and torture and it is the progress away from that dismal period of our country’s history that I think he should be judged.  It is a fact that Obama has delivered magnificently in several key arenas;.
The Economy:  When Obama took office, the United States was losing around 750,000 jobs a month. The last quarter of 2008 saw an annualized drop in growth approaching 9 percent. This was the most serious downturn since the 1930s and there was a real chance of a systemic collapse of the entire global financial system.  In that time frame, he continued the bank bailout begun by Bush, initiated a bailout of the auto industry, and worked to pass a huge stimulus package of $787 billion, which by all measures is credited with preventing a depression worse than the 1930s.  As the stimulus took effect, the U.S. has added 2.4 million jobs, more than the net jobs created under the entire Bush administration. In 2011 alone, 1.9 million private-sector jobs were created.  One of the important and real contributions made by the Tea Party was to sensitize the country, including our politicians to the size of government.  In the public sector, there are now 607,000 fewer people working than there were when President Obama took office.   Overall government employment has declined 2.6 percent over the past 3 years. (That compares with a drop of 2.2 percent during the early years of the Reagan administration.)
Taxes and Spending:  Contrary to Republican rhetoric, i.e. Obama is not a socialist who has raised taxes.  A third of the stimulus was tax cuts, affecting 95 percent of taxpayers; he has also cut the payroll tax, and recently had to fight to keep it cut against Republican opposition. His spending record is far better than his predecessor’s. Under Bush, new policies on taxes and spending cost the taxpayer a total of $5.07 trillion.
Obamacare:  The Affordable Health Care Act was an idea pioneered by the archconservative Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney and is much more moderate than its critics claim. The Congressional Budget Office has projected it will reduce the deficit significantly over the nest ten years.   The plan needs improvement and the administration is open to further reform.  It has agreed to allow states to experiment in different ways to achieve the same result.  Since federal law mandates that hospitals accept all emergency-room cases requiring treatment, the requirement that 44 million current ‘free-riders’ (Republican phrase, not mine) pay into the system is not socialism, but fiscally prudent. It is conservative thinking. 
Summary and Miscellaneous Achievements:   A depression was averted, the bail-out of the auto industry was successful and the bank bailouts have been repaid to a great extent by the recovering banking sector. The Iraq War has been ended on time with Afghanistan being next in line.  As a person with more than a passing interest in the science of intra-uterine development, I have familiarized myself thoroughly with the impact of various hormones in that time period on gender identification.  As I result, I believe that most persons of homosexual orientation were born that way and should be treated as equals, not as sinners of immoral conduct, as a rather large subset of the wonderful scope of human diversity.  Under Obama, gays now openly serve in the military, and the Defense of Marriage Act is dying in the courts, undefended by the Obama Justice Department. I believe that global warming, human-caused, is not a myth.  I believe that eventually, carbon-based fuel supplies will be exhausted and to ignore this fact is to doom our children and grandchildren to drastic changes in their lives in ways that are unimaginable today.   Under Obama, vast government money has been poured into noncarbon energy investments and fuel-emission standards have been drastically increased.  Then, there are others important issues; Torture was ended, two moderately liberal women replaced men on the Supreme Court.  Politifact recently noted that of 508 specific promises made by Obama at the outset of his first term, a third had been fulfilled and only two have not had some action taken on them. To have done all this while simultaneously battling both the Republican party (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s has admitted that his primary objective is denying Obama a second term) and an economic situation bordering on disaster is about as much as anyone can expect.  Obama at all times has conducted himself with grace and calm under incredible pressure and has had to manage crises not seen since the Second World War and the Depression, without a single significant scandal to his name. 
Finally, I like the guy.  I respect him.  I don’t respect Romney for failing to man up and take the credit (and responsibility) for Obamacare.  The funny part of this latter observation is that he probably would have gained more votes from independents like me if he had done so.
Just saying . . .

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mitt v Mitt

The blog today is short and sweet. It features a four minute video highlighting some of the problems that Mitt faces in his quest for ascendency to the presidency.  Keep in mind that this is being presented the same week that his claim that he did nothing upon behalf of Bain after 1999 is contradicted by a 2002 written disclosure to the state of Massachusetts that he was currently an executive (CEO, President) of Bain Capital and his sworn testimony in 2002 that he was attending frequent board meetings in person and by phone of various Bain entities.  In earlier blogs I have presented solid evidence to question the man’s character and integrity, but now the ability to be truthful must be added to the list.  Take the time and watch this: 

Just saying . . 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Right to Arms (and Life)

I was thinking about our Bill of Rights a couple of times yesterday, particularly the Second Amendment which allows us to bear arms (i.e. weapons, pistols, rifles, shotguns, assault rifles, etc.), .  I thought about it when I read about the woman who hugged a policeman and was killed when his revolver accidentally discharged.  I thought about it a second time when I read that a federal judge in Florida tossed out another provision of the new Florida gun statute (yes, the same statute receiving so much publicity recently when George Zimmerman, the self-authenticated watch dog, stalked a young black man and shot him to death).  The provision rejected by the federal judge made it a crime in Florida for a doctor to ask a patient about gun ownership.  I am not making this stuff up.  That’s what the law really said.  A doctor couldn’t have a conversation about gun ownership because, apparently, it might lead to a suggestion that the guns might be stored safely in order to prevent harm to a child.   I would guess that the Florida legislature is probably considering a new law making it illegal to use a cautionery “Drive safely’ to friends, family, children when they are going on a long trip.  Nobody,particularly our government, should tell us what to do is the apparent motif of the politicians in that state. 

This insanity prevails in Michigan as well.  The Michigan legislature has recently passed a law no longer requiring mandatory protective headgear for motorcyclists, and I understand that the deaths in the first three months since its passage are three times greater in the helmetless, but free, group than those smart enough to protect themselves.  A proposed bill under consideration by the Michigan State legislature would change the current law that prohibits people with concealed weapons permits to carry their hand guns in churches, bars, schools, sports arenas, etc. When I go to my church, the tendency is to hug a lot and hugging is not necessarily just among friends, but strangers who happen to be sitting nearby.  We’re all there for the same purpose, right?  I ask myself, what if this stranger is carrying a firearm?  What if his only purpose in attending my church is to show others that he has a weapon and can wear it in church?  What happens if, like the unfortunate lady yesterday, that firearm discharges while he is being hugged by a fellow worshipper?  Then, there’s the combination of alcohol and guns.  Do we really want to be around an angry person with a gun who is drinking heavily at a bar?  How about a sporting event where the kid is sitting on the bench because he is not as good a player as the kid out in the field?    Is it a solution to take the weapon to the event to have a little talk with the coach to guarantee some playing time?  How about a nice little chat with the teacher who gave your kid a bad grade?  It would seem to guarantee a better grade if the teacher noticed the gun sticking into your belt.  If you think that’s a good idea, please don’t visit the schools where my grandchildren are students.  But you can do something. A petition drive to prevent this bill from going into law is being led by Rev. Eric A. Stone – pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Essexville, MI.   You can sign the petition and forward it to all of your friends as well.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Opposing Views Sharpen Thinking Skills

I received the following e-mail this morning from a good friend who is at odds with me on political views.  I regularly inundate him with my views from my blog and he (good naturedly, I might add) doesn’t hesitate to present me with his as well.  I think it is a good time to mention this, because from time to time in the past, I have had readers of my blog get upset when the topics generate some viewpoints that others don’t want to hear or read.   During the last presidential election, I had one good friend who asked to be dropped from my blog list because in his view he thought I was sounding too much like Keith Olbermann.  From my viewpoint, I think dialogue between and among people of opposing views is essential to develop the critical thinking skills to make intelligent decisions about, among other things, who should guide our country as president.  It is within this spirit that I pass on a portion of today’s e-mail. 

Tom, I thought you might enjoy this and could possibly pass it on to the others who receive your blog.

The folks who are getting free stuff, don't like the folks who are paying for the free stuff, because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff.

The folks who are paying for the free stuff want the free stuff to stop, and the folks who are getting the free stuff want even more free stuff on top of the free stuff they are already getting!

Now... The people who are forcing the people to pay for the free stuff have told the people who are RECEIVING the free stuff, that the people who are PAYING for the free stuff, are being mean, prejudiced, and racist.

So... The people who are GETTING the free stuff have been convinced they need to hate the people who are paying for the free stuff by the people who are forcing some people to pay for their free stuff, and giving them the free stuff in the first place.

We have let the free stuff giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free stuff than paying for the free stuff.

Now understand this. All great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figured out they could vote themselves money from the treasury by electing people who promised to give them money from the treasury in exchange for electing them.
Thomas Jefferson said it best: "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

The United States officially became a Democracy in 1776, 235 years ago.
The number of people now getting free stuff outnumbers the people paying for the free stuff.
We have one chance to change that On Nov 6th, 2012. Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it.

My comment on the above:

My initial thought on reading the above was “Wow, did Jefferson really say that?”   The concerns about ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are legitimate in the above ‘essay.”  Several questions are unanswered for me.  Am I (having paid into social security at substantial rates for more than 45 years) now considered to be one of the ‘have nots’ getting the free stuff?  Are the children receiving a Head Start benefits the free stuffers?  How about college kids receiving loans to obtain an advanced education? Or are we talking about millionaire farmers still being paid millions of dollars not to grow stuff?   About the Jefferson quote I did some homework and found out the following:

When widely syndicated columnist Cal Thomas posted a commentary on his website (1/15/09) opposing federal bailouts, he cited the same ‘quote’ from Thomas Jefferson to bolster his argument:

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” Thomas described this as “ancient wisdom,” which, he said, “is almost always better than what people come up with today. Consider that it became ancient because it was wise.”

But consulting The Works of Thomas Jefferson available in full at the Online Liberty Library, as well as the Library of Congress’ online Jefferson site, Ed Darrel of Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub (2/1/09) could find no evidence authenticating this quote.  As Darrel, whose website targets historical falsehood, observed, “Jefferson seem[ed] oddly prescient in th[is] quote, and, also oddly, rather endorsing the views of the right wing.”

The quotes could not be authenticated on the Jefferson Library website ( either, which includes the quote in Thomas’ column in its list of frequently cited “Spurious Quotations.”

The quote can not be verified in the Jefferson Cyclopedia database at the University of Virginia.

Just Saying . . .

Friday, July 6, 2012

Running in Circles

Can Romney lead this country in any direction except in circles?  I had an epiphany this morning as it finally dawned on me what Romney’s pattern of campaign behavior resembles.  I was walking through a near-by neighborhood when I saw a young dog chasing its tail.  I stood and watched it for a moment and felt an eerie familiarity percolate in my brain.  I started laughing when I realized that it was exactly how Romney is running his campaign.  He is struggling mightily and continuously to avoid running in circles. A definition of full circle is to return to an earlier or first position or situation after leaving it.  Today’s struggle is the observation that former governor, who set up a healthcare system in Massachusetts — the best of its kind in the country — is now trying to pretend he doesn’t remember how it works.  As reported today in the New York Times, “On Monday, his campaign said Romney believed the identical requirement in President Obama’s health care law was a penalty, paid through the tax system. Two days later, Romney rushed to the cameras to contradict the campaign and insist the mandate was a tax.”   

There are two aspects of my morning observation that are pertinent to this discussion; one humorous, the other troublesome.  The humorous aspect we all get.  Who cannot be amused at the spectacle of a grown man dodging and weaving his way around issues and positions struggling mightily to keep from returning (full circle) to places where he has been in the past?  The other, more ominous, is that the man will do anything to appease the right wing of his party even if, in so doing, he makes a fool of himself publicly for reversing and going in the opposite direction of where his initial impulses and common sense reactions might take him.   I think the American public wants more from a leader than someone who will disagree with his opponent and his former self just to garner votes.  How about demonstrating some character and integrity instead?

Just saying . . .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What’s In It For Me?

An editorial appearing in today’s (July 4, 2012) New York Times has triggered the memory of an incident that occurred in my professional life.  I had this really big case in Chicago back about ten or so years ago.  Without going into the details, suffice it to say that it was going to be a battle of the experts.  An important issue was at stake and without the most knowledgeable experts in the world, the case was a loser.  So I went to this guy in Phoenix, met with him there.  He was by everyone’s measure, the most outstanding scientist in the world on the topic at issue.  We had lunch together during which the discussion was astounding.  Ever since that day, I wished that I’d taped the conversation because its scope and the wisdom and understanding the man brought to the table was mesmerizing.  But in the end, the thing that struck me most about the meeting was something he said at the end of the discussion after I asked him what his fee would be for participating in the trial.  He smiled graciously and the subsequent conversation went (as best I can recall) something like this;

Prospective witness (big smile on his handsome face):  “Before I tell you, I have to mention the most important rule of my life.  This is the rule that has guided me throughout my life, dictated my efforts and determined all my actions.  Are you ready?

Me:  Nearly swallowing my tongue, I couldn’t speak. (Imagine that, a speechless lawyer).  I sat up straighter in my chair and simply nodded.

Prospective witness:   “The number one rule in my life is to always ask the question ‘What’s in it for me?’” 

Me:  I swallowed again.  I tend to be slow-witted, but I began to get the drift.  I needed clarification, so I asked, “What do you mean?”

PW: “I mean exactly what I’ve just said. What’s in it for me?  Everything in your entire case is because of work I’ve spent a life time doing.  The reward for you and your client is going to be enormous if I agree to testify.  The publicity from the case will make you famous and will bring new clients flocking to your door.  All because of me. So I ask the question again, what’s in it for me?”

Kurt Andersen in the above-referenced editorial writes about the genesis of the ‘what’s in it for me’ way of thinking in the feel-good late 1960s. ““Do your own thing” is not so different than “every man for himself.” If it feels good, do it, whether that means smoking weed and watching porn and never wearing a necktie, retiring at 50 with a six-figure public pension and refusing modest gun regulation, or moving your factories overseas and letting commercial banks become financial speculators. The self-absorbed “Me” Decade, having expanded during the ’80s and ’90s from personal life to encompass the political economy, will soon be the “Me” Half-Century.
People on the political right have blamed the late ’60s for what they loathe about contemporary life — anything-goes sexuality, cultural coarseness, multiculturalism. And people on the left buy into that, seeing only the ’60s legacies of freedom that they define as progress. But what the left and right respectively love and hate are mostly flip sides of the same libertarian coin minted around 1967. Thanks to the ’60s, we are all shamelessly selfish.”

I have struggled, really struggled, to understand the enigma of how well-meaning Americans can stand up with placards at Tea Party demonstrations that say “Keep the government away from my social security.”  This morning, another barrier to my lack of understanding was removed and triggered by the flashback of the old memory coupled with Andersen’s writing.  Most of us simply don’t care about the other guy.  It’s about my social security, not yours. 

The strict constructionists of our era are fond of going back and reminding us what our forefathers had in mind when they wrote a constitution dedicated to the pursuit of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Andersen  included a pithy reminder from Thomas Jefferson (who wrote the Declaration of Independence) in this morning’s essay:  “Self-love,” Jefferson wrote to a friend 38 years after the Declaration, “is no part of morality. Indeed it is exactly its counterpart. It is the sole antagonist of virtue leading us constantly by our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our moral duties to others.”
P.S.  I paid the witness the enormous amount he quoted and the case settled with a non-disclosure agreement the day after he was listed as a witness.

Just saying . . .  

Monday, July 2, 2012


Mitt has found his campaign style.  In a nutshell it can be summarized; I can promise you anything, just don’t ask me how.  It sounds like it would make a good country song.  I’ll tinker around with my guitar and let you know what chords should be played, but the lyrics go something like this;

“Baby, I’ll tell you anything you want.  Just give me what I want. 
“I can create jobs and make the economy grow  . . . somehow.              
“I can cut government spending and cut taxes . . .  somehow.
“I’ll tell you what you want.  Just give me what I want.
“I can fix immigration and education too . . . somehow. 
“I can deal with the healthcare system . . . somehow
“And entitlement programs will be no more . . . somehow.
“I’ll tell you what you want to hear.  Just give me what I want.
“Just make me president and all will be revealed.
“I’ll hide in the fog until the search party passes.
“Just make me president and all will be revealed . . .somehow.”
But how, specifically?   He ducks issues when pressed for answer. This is the Romney strategy.  He’s not telling.   Two clues as to what he might do?  He ships his personal money over to secret Swiss bank accounts, and is an expert in shipping jobs away from the American economy.  As the Washington Post recently pointed out:
“During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

If we elect the man, there won't be much left for buyer's remorse,  Just Saying . . .