Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Executive Action

President Obama insisted, that the Senate did the right thing by passing immigration reform legislation 521 days ago.  He has repeatedly warned that if the Republican controlled House did nothing, he’d take executive action on immigration.  

The truth is that House Speaker Boehner and his Tea Party caucus have obstructed almost everything that our first African- American president has wanted to do without introducing any reasonable alternative.  The Republican controlled House passed 400 bills and sent them to the the Democratic controlled Senate, who did its job of preventing the Tea Party caucus from rewriting our nations laws regarding women’s rights.

Obama took executive action, to help approximately five million people, many of whom have lived in America for 20 years, and have children who are American citizens, be able to temporarily stay.

The congressional Republican agenda is about cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but not about addressing the serious problems facing the American people. 

They can pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, or they can continue to rally their extreme right-wing base by talking about immigration.  Eventually, they’re going to alienate the vast majority of the American people who understand this country has enormously serious problems that need to be addressed.

The cost of inaction, by Republican on immigration reform in the past 521 days includes $ 50 billion over the next 10 years that would have been realized under the bill the Senate passed, to shore up the Social Security trust fund for future generations.

Time has passed where state and local governments has had to forgo an estimated $2 billion in new revenues that could support key investments in health and education.  

American agriculture has continued to be affected by unpredictable and unstable work flows, which usually leads to higher prices and lower production.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Obstructing Infrastructure

At a Senate hearing earlier this year Tom Donohue, president of the typically conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce voiced strong business support for raising the gas tax for the first time in 20 years.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO pointed out that every billion dollars spent on transportation infrastructure would create 35,000 well-paying jobs.

There are more than 14,000 miles of high-speed rail operating around the world, but none in the United States.

There are going to be problems with our seaports, because a new generation of large cargo ships will begin going through the expanded Panama Canal in about a year, but only two of the 14 major ports on the East Coast will be dredged deep enough to accommodate them.

The most glaring example of congressional inaction is a 104 year old railroad bridge over the Hackensack River in New Jersey.  According to Amtrak President Joe Boardman the bridge is the Achilles heel of the Northeast rail corridor.  It handles almost 500 trains a day, and is the busiest train traffic bridge in the Western Hemisphere.  It’s not reliable.  The Portal Bridge is based on a design from the 1840s and was obsolete shortly after it was completed in 1910.  It's a swing bridge that needs to be opened several times a week for about half an hour to allow barges to pass up and down the river.  The problem is it fails to lock into place on a regular basis, and causes trains to stack up.  When a train stacks up, it can stack up traffic all the way down to Washington and all the way up to Boston.

Replacing that bridge would cost under a billion dollars, and would provide tangible evidence that Congress can get something done, but it hasn’t happened.

Friday, November 28, 2014

More Spending

On Nov. 23, 2014, CBS News, 60 Minuets aired the following factual information regarding the failure of Congress to make investments in our nations infrastructure.
Of the more than 4,000 bridges in metropolitan Pittsburgh, 20 percent of them are structurally deficient, including one of the city's main arteries.  The Liberty Bridge was built in 1928 when cars and trucks were much lighter.  It was designed to last 50 years, but that was 86 years ago.  Three hundred bridges become structurally deficient each year in the state of Pennsylvania.  That’s one percent added to the already 23 percent they already have.

Philadelphia isn’t any better off than Pittsburgh.  Nine million people a day travel over 900 bridges classified as structurally deficient, some of them on a heavily traveled section of I-95.  Twenty-two miles of I-95 goes through the city of Philadelphia, and there are 15 structurally deficient bridges in that 22-mile stretch.  Fixing all the roads and the structurally deficient bridges on that stretch of our nation's number one highway would cost $7 billion.

The I-95 bridges were built in the early 1960s and are more than 50 years old.  They’re the same vintage as the I-35 bridge that collapsed in Minnesota in 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145.

Ray LaHood was secretary of transportation during Obama’s first term, and before that he was a seven-term Republican congressman from Illinois.  He is currently co-chairman of Building America's Future, a bipartisan coalition of current and former elected officials that is urgently pushing for more spending on infrastructure.

LaHood announced public spending on infrastructure has fallen to its lowest level since 1947.  America used to have the finest infrastructure in the world, but is now ranked 16th according to the World Economic Forum, behind Iceland, Spain, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.  Large corporations like Caterpillar and GE insist, that it's hurting their ability to compete abroad.

The last time Congress passed a major six-year transportation bill was in 1997, since then there have been 21 short-term extension.  The problems with transportation infrastructure go well beyond roads and bridges and the gas tax.  A shortage of airports runways and gates with along outmoded air traffic control systems have made U.S. air travel the most congested in the world.

Improved infrastructure attracts investments from international corporations, who provide more good paying jobs  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

John B. Webb

The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor, that had been submitted by John B. Webb of Cooperstown.

“Congressman Gibson’s characterization of President Obama’s executive order on immigration as a ‘mistake,’ as headlined in Saturday’s edition, is yet another example of his obedient and thoughtless espousing of the conservative Republican Party line.  He supports securing the borders as if Obama’s actions have not made border security a priority.  He accuses Obama of breaking the law when credible legal authorities certify that no laws have been broken.

“He proposes that the undocumented come forward to declare their criminality so they can be punished, as if such an outlandish plan could ever be implemented.  And THEN he promotes the House’s muddled immigration plan when the Senate has already introduced effective bipartisan legislation that, if endorsed by the House, would have made the Executive Order unnecessary.  He failed to notice that the agricultural sector, significant in his own district, finds that the executive order did not go far enough. Obama’s order wasn’t a mistake; Congressman Gibson’s failure to buck his party bosses and press for House support of the Senate bill was the mistake.

“But there’s also a human side of this immigration picture.  As a lifelong educator, I spent most of my career in schools and communities with undocumented children and adults.  I know first-hand their challenges, sacrifices, bravery and dedication to hard work. I also know the terror and mistreatment they so undeservedly experienced at the hands of immigration authorities.  Congressman Gibson’s support of his Republican cronies’ immigration policies, in the face of that human picture, is disappointing at best, and to me, downright un-American.

“It’s Thanksgiving, a holiday when we celebrate our immigrant heritage.  We are all pilgrims, born of immigrants.  President Obama did the right and legal thing. Congressman Gibson is the one who has made the mistake.” 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Falling Apart

America’s roads and bridges are crumbling, our airports are out of date and the vast majority of our seaports are in danger of becoming obsolete.  This is the results of decades of neglect, and isn’t disputed by either political party.  Business leaders, labor unions, governors, mayors, and congressmen have complained about a lack of funding for years, but aside from a one time cash infusion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Recovery Act of 2009, nothing much has changed.  By the way, that stimulus package was passed without the vote a single House Republican, 
Nearly 70,000 bridges in America, or one out of every nine bridges are considered to be structurally deficient.  Every day five million people travel across bridges that either need to be replaced or undergo major repairs.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 32 percent of the major roads in America need repairs, but the primary source of revenue is the Highway Trust Fund, which gets its money from federal gas taxes of 18 cents a gallon and is nearly insolvent.  
The ASCE has estimated that to bring our infrastructure up to par, we would need to invest 3.6 trillion dollars by 2020.  That kind of investment would have create jobs, boost productivity, repair structurally deficient bridges, roads and water mains, and stimulate the economy.  Everything from raising the gas tax to funding infrastructure through corporate tax reform has been suggested.

On September 8, 2011, President Obama delivered a speech to Congress, to unveiled the American Jobs Act.  He sought to shift the national conversation away from austerity and towards job creation, and presented a sensible plan, filled with ideas that have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support.  Independent analysis projected the American Jobs Act could create as many as 2 million jobs in 2012.

He proposed spending $50 billion for immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that had receives a grade of “D” from the ASCE.

The President asked Congress to pass a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion, in order to leverage private and public capital and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects of national and regional significance, without earmarks or traditional political influence.  And, called for a high-speed wireless services to at least 98 percent of Americans, including those in more remote rural communities. 

Republican lawmakers ignored Obama’s proposals.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Legacy of Discrimination

The following is an excerpt from the remarks President Obama made last night.
“As you know, a few moments ago, the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision.  It’s an outcome that, either way, was going to be subject of intense disagreement not only in Ferguson, but across America.  So I want to just say a few words suggesting how we might move forward.
“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law. And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.  There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.  Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words:  ‘Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.  No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.  I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.’  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone.  We should be honoring their wishes.   
“I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.  Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day.  They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.  As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence -- distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact. 
“Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.  The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.  Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country.  And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.  The good news is we know there are things we can do to help.  And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement.” 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Net Neutrality

More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could barely imagine a generation ago.  The reason we have seen such incredible growth and innovation is that most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally.  That principle is known as “net neutrality,” and it asserts that an entrepreneur's fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student’s blog should not be unfairly slowed down to make more money for advertisers.
President Obama has issued a powerful statement in support of Net Neutrality, by urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt “the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality,” by aggressively regulating Internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T.  Our President has insisted: “We cannot allow Internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s original net neutrality proposal allowed Internet service providers to engage in “commercially reasonable” deals, including some involving paid prioritization.
Obama’s statement comes amid intense debate among Internet service providers, technology companies and lawmakers as the FCC tries to draft new net neutrality laws that will stand on solid legal footing.  They are replacing the rules that were struck down by a federal appeals court in January, on the grounds that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate Internet companies the same way it does telephone carriers.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out the president’s statement reflects that “millions of Americans have made their voices heard in support of net neutrality.”
The president emphasized that the final decision is up to the FCC, an independent agency.  Wheeler has said he wants to vote on new net neutrality by the end of the year, but with the White House and others weighing in and pressure from all sides as the agency tries to craft a complicated hybrid proposal, that looks increasingly unlikely.
President Obama has made it clear, that the FCC’s final decision shouldn’t put a gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.
As the FCC considers new rules regarding how to safeguard competition and user choice, we cannot take that principle of net neutrality for granted. Ensuring a free and open Internet is the only way we can preserve the Internet's power to connect our world.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gibson is Mistaken

Congressman Gibson has joined a chorus of Republican voices in opposing President Obama’s executive order to provide relief to millions of immigrants remaining in our country illegally.

Indeed, Obama’s plan would offer protections to some 4 million undocumented parents, and extend protections to young immigrants brought into the country as children.

The William-Wilberforce Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act of 2008, is the reason unaccompanied children coming to our boarders last August weren’t deported.  That law dictates how children caught crossing the border without their parents must be treated. 

President George W. Bush signed the law in December of 2008, in order to protect children from countries who don’t share a border with our country.  It applies to children from Central America, where thousands of children were fleeing violence.  It’s a bipartisan law to protect children by giving them an immigration hearing.  Technically it applies only to unaccompanied minors, and it doesn’t provide automatic asylum.

Rep. Gibson accused President Obama of “selectively choosing not to enforce the law, something he is duty bound to do by his oath of office.”

Perhaps, Gibson doesn’t understand the concept of prosecutorial discretion.  President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security has been “selectively choosing,” from 11 million undocumented immigrants to deport criminals, not families with children.  Gang members, not hard working mothers who are provide for their children.  They’ve been prioritizing, just like law enforcement agencies do every day throughout our nation.

Deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.  President Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than Bush's ever did.  The number of deportations each year had more than tripled.  During the first fiscal year of the Obama’s presidency, 387,790 immigrants were deported, which was almost 100,000 more during the last year of the Bush presidency.  There’s no question that, Obama has been following the immigration laws. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Higher Purpose

The following excerpt is from President Obama’s address to the nation regarding the executive action he's taken to fix our nation's broken immigration system.
“First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.
“Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.
“Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.
“I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy.  Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable – especially those who may be dangerous.  That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.  And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security.  Felons, not families.  Criminals, not children.  Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.  We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day.
“But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally.  And let’s be honest, tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic.  Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you.  It’s also not who we are as Americans. After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time.  They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs.  They support their families.  They worship at our churches. Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.  As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it: “They are a part of American life.”
“Now here’s the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules.  We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded.  So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.  You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  That’s what this deal is.
“Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t.  This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently.  It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future.  It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive – only Congress can do that.  All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.
“I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty.  Well, it’s not.  Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.
“That’s the real amnesty — leaving this broken system the way it is.  Mass amnesty would be unfair.  Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.  What I’m describing is accountability — a common-sense, middle-ground approach: If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported.  If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.
“The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century.  And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.
“I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution.  And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.  Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a deal breaker on every issue.  That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this.  Americans are tired of gridlock.  What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose — a higher purpose.”

Friday, November 21, 2014

Taking All The Risk

Last week, House Republicans voted 252 to 161 to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.  On 11/18/14, the Senate failed to approve the pipeline, and were only 1 vote short of the required 60 votes.  Some Democrats thought that approving the pipeline would help Senator Mary Landrieu’s reelection chances in Louisiana.

Sen. Mitch McConnell claimed the Keystone pipeline would: “create a stunning number of jobs.”  

President Obama noted: “As a policy matter, my government believes that we should judge this pipeline based on whether or not it accelerates climate change or whether it helps the America people with the their energy cost and their gas prices.  And I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone Pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.

“Understand what this project is, it is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else.  And it doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.

“You know what does have an impact on U.S. gas prices is the incredible boom in U.S. oil production and natural gas production that’s taken place under my administration.”

Some have claimed construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would create 42,000 jobs, but after it’s completed in 2 years, others point out only 30 full-time jobs would be needed.

The oil would flow down to the Gulf of Mexico and then be shipped overseas.  It’s not going to lower our gas prices.  Basically, our country will take all the risk and gets none of the rewards.

Judging from Obama’s statement above, Congressional Republicans shouldn’t hold out a whole lot of hope for his approval of the pipeline anytime soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It’s Working

Mitch McConnell claimed: “It’s no secret that every one of my members thinks that Obamacare was a huge legislative mistake.  It’s fouled up the health insurance market.  It’s put states in a deep hole in terms of the Medicaid expansion and their own ability to finance it a few years from now.  If I had the ability, obviously I would get rid of it.”

Senator McConnell seeks to take away health care coverage from the 10.3 million previously uninsured Americans, who have received insurance coverage since October 1st of 2013.

The growth of healthcare cost dropped from 2010 to 2013.  Today, healthcare costs are growing at an annual rate of 1.1 percent, which is the slowest rate for any three year period on record.

Hospitals are projected to save $5.7 billion in uncompensated healthcare cost, because they’re no longer picking up the tab for those freeloaders who could afford healthcare insurance, but took advantage of free emergency rooms.  Approximately, 74 percent of those savings are coming from states that expanded Medicaid.  Unfortunately, in 23 states Republican governors haven’t expanded Medicaid.  If those governors had gotten on board, the hospitals in those states would’ve saved billions of dollars.

In fact, 8.2 million senior citizens have saved over $11.5 billion on the cost of drugs.  Plus, young adults under that age of 26, who are covered on their parent’s policies are also saving money.  

Apparently, Senator McConnell wants to go back to the days that health insurance companies could deny coverage for preexisting condition, cancel polices, and place limits on coverage.

Maybe, congressional Republicans will some day come up with a plan.  However, keep in mind, that the facts stated above are verifiable.  The truth is Obamacare is saving money for millions of Americans and more importantly its saving lives.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Senator Warren

Massachusetts, Senator Elizabeth Warren frequently speak her mind regarding the unfair nature of our current economic system that clearly favors big banks and the upper-class.  They’ve been receiving extensive tax breaks, and earning huge profits on the backs of the middle and lower classes.

In a speech, at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, Sen. Warren announced: “The biggest financial institutions figured out they could make a lot of money by cheating people on mortgages, credit cards and payday loans.”

She was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the 2008 financial crisis.  The agency has returned billions of dollars to Americans who were wronged.

Warren made headlines by arguing that student loans should have the same interest rates that banks get when they borrow money from the Federal Reserve.  Her plan is to refinance student loans with low interest rate, that wouldn’t punish students for seeking an education, something that is required by our modern society.  She reminds people: "Student loans issued from 2007 to 2012 are on target to produce $66 billion in profit for the United States government."

She wants a minimum wage increased, because “No one should work full time and still live in poverty.”

A minimum wage increase would pull many families out of poverty and provide a valuable stimulus to the economy.  If low-wage workers make a living wage and have more income to spend, they’ll spend more in their local economy.  The current national minimum wage is embarrassing for a country that prides itself on its equality and freedom.

To those critic, who paint her as a socialist, she has been pointing out: "We can't have a market that functions unless we have a government that functions.  That's the heart of it."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Harmon Rebuttal

After the Oneonta Daily Star published my letter criticizing their editorial board for unanimously endorsing Congressman Gibson for re-election, a letter submitted by Jack Harmon of Stamford was published. 

In his letter, Harmon claimed that he was confuse by my mentioning Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma.  My point was that all veterans don’t deserve our respect.  Although, Gibson was re-elected in my opinion he isn’t dedicated to the best interest of all Americans.  

The Daily Star’s editorial board actually admitted: “While there is much we would like to change about Gibson’s record, including his stances against Planned Parenthood, campaign finance and immigration reform, women’s rights to chose, marriage equality, and his ridiculous 50 some-odd votes against Obamacare, there is also much to like.”

Perhaps, Harmon will reveal what’s to like about Congressman Gibson’s voting record?  Other than obstruction, what has he accomplished during his 4 years in Congress?

The Daily Star’s editorial board bought into the claim that he’s a moderate, because he “voted against Paul Ryan’s draconian GOP budget proposal the last time around.”  Only an ideologue would have signed the Americans for Prosperity climate pledge to take no meaningful action on climate change if it would hurt Big Oil companies.  That pledge is commonly known as the Koch brother’s pledge.  Gibson was elected on November 4, 2010, but signed that pledge on June 9, 2010.  He ran on a platform of “eliminating onerous regulations,” but hasn’t offer any specifics.

Having a flag that was raised briefly over Congress presented to our American Legion is inconsequential compared to having Social Security privatized; Medicare turned into a voucher system; and the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act repealed.  
As an Army officer, Gibson fought to establish representative democracies in Iraq and Afganistan.  As cunning civilian politician, Rep. Gibson has been serving the enemies of democracy, who have been sabotaging our representative democracy, by using voter suppression, and restrictive voter I.D. laws to target minorities.
By the way, a copy of my critical letter to the Oneonta Star was posted on Mind and Destiny on 11/7/14.  It’s entitled Newspaper’s Endorsement. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Official Record

President Obama said: “This law failed by seven votes -- when seven Republicans, who had co-sponsored the bill, had co-sponsored the idea, suddenly walked away from their own proposal after I endorsed it.  So, they make a proposal, they sign on to the bill, "I say, great, good idea."  I turn around, they’re gone.  What happened?”

Mystery solved!  In 2012, Robert Draper’s book: "Do not ask what good we do inside the House of Representatives,” reported that a group of senior Republicans met on inauguration day in 2009 to plot a strategy for opposing our first Africa -American president on all policy, on every bill.  They would oppose Obama as a matter of strategy even when they actually agreed with him, they would say no, to anything he suggested. 

That strategy has been fruitful for the Republican Party, because they won the House in 2010, and now the Senate in 2014, by ensuring that nothing gets done in Congress. 

After 2010, Congress was officially in the record books as the least productive Congress in the history of Congress.  However, they’re about to lose that distinction to the current Congress which is set to wrap up having done even less than any Congress before them.

The Obama administration is determined to get things done, even without the cooperation of the legislative branch of government.  Although, Obama couldn’t raise the minimum wage, he was able to raised it for federal contractors.

Congressional Republicans couldn’t agree to do anything about ISIS, other than produce campaign ads.  Obama mounted a military campaign without Congress that pushes the limits of what a president is allowed to do under the War Powers Act.

Congressional Republicans couldn’t agree to do anything about Ebola, so as our Commander- Chief, Obama sent troops and logistical support to West Africa, with the anticipation, that some day they’ll act on his request for funds. 

Policy in our country should be made with congressional approval, but that seems to depend on ones political affiliation.

A new Pew Survey poll discovered a clear majority of American believe Republican leadership should try to work with Obama to accomplish things even if it means disappointing some of their Republican base.

However, when pollsters ask only Republican voters the same question, two-thirds of those voters said their leaders should not work with Obama even if it means that less gets done for the country.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Remaining Weapon

President Obama has only used the veto twice during his presidency.  He’s been protected by a Democratic majority in the Senate.  A presidential veto is the last remaining weapon in his arsenal.

Things are likely to change in January, when Republicans take control of the Senate.  Should Senate Republicans follow the path of their House counterparts, Obama will most likely be dealing with bills to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, cut entitlement programs, and weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

At a news conference Obama predicted: “Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign.  I'm pretty sure I'll take some actions that some in Congress will not like.” 

Republicans and Democrats both want to reform the nation's immigration system.  But so far the Obama administration and the Republican controlled House haven’t reached an agreement that would increase border security and ease deportations.

The House had its chance on immigration reform, but backed away from the bill that passed the Senate last year on a bipartisan basis.  Instead, President Obama is considering announcing an executive order that would drastically reduce the number of deportations.  That action could enrage Republicans, and an executive order wouldn’t go nearly as far as legislation.  When the next Congress begins in 2015, the bipartisan Senate legislation becomes void, and any new immigration bills would have to pass the Senate again.

Although, an executive order would most likely forestall any hope of getting House Republicans on board, Obama promised: “You send me a bill that I can sign, and those executive actions go away."

Senate Republican leadership warned, that the chances of an immigration bill being passed after Obama's executive action would mean any legislation to fix our immigration system would have to wait until after this Congress, and after Obama leaves office.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Prospects for Cooperation

If Obama wasn't getting anywhere with the last Senate on stemming carbon emissions, he certainly won't gain any traction with this one led by Sen. McConnell, who defeated his opponent by framing her as an ally in Obama's "war on coal."

President Obama has already put forth executive actions curbing emissions from coal plants and putting new limits on emissions.  More unilateral moves to combat climate change will be on the docket next year in Paris at the international climate change conference.

Any laws designed to curb carbon emissions will meet a quick end in the Republican controlled Senate.  Some congressional Republicans, who continue to deny that man-made climate change exists are chairing key committees with oversight over Obama's Environmental Protection Agency.  Prospects for lasting changes have been dimmed.

Although the chances for a deal on bipartisan trade policies and tax reform also appear slim, the Obama administration believes those areas offer the most potential for cooperation with Senate Republicans.

Major trade deals, with Europe and a dozen Asian countries, have been stalled, because Senate Democrats refused to provide "fast track" authority to Obama to get the pacts hammered out.  They're worried the trade deals could result in more jobs being shipped overseas.  Republicans consider the plans as potentially a boon for American business. 

Obama and Republicans want to lower corporate tax rates and simplify the tax code.  Unfortunately, a key players in favor of a simpler tax code will no longer be around.  Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was open to a tax deal with Obama, but is retiring at the end of 2014.  That leaves open the question of whether or not there's an opening for a deal.  If there is, it could become a major part of Obama's legacy.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ignoring Experts

Ignoring experts didn't put a man on the moon, cure a disease, built a business, or nourish the mind of a young child.

Conservative are more interested in promoting their radical agendas, than listening to what experts tell them.  Bush’s idea of invading Iraq has proven to be a total disaster.  Now that they’ve won control of Congress, they’ll again try to put their often cruel agenda into action.

Kurt Eichenwald contributing editor to Vanity Fair and New York Times wrote: “Conservative know-nothings dismiss the professionals as know-nothings themselves, despite their training and expertise.  And that could be the problem.  Too often, it seems, conservatives have scorned experts as incompetent, biased, or otherwise worth ignoring because they came up with answers that didn’t fit their politically desired answer... there is not a lot in the last three decades to give conservatives bragging rights, and with almost every fiasco, they blame someone else.

“What matters here, though, is not that conservatives have been reckless in the past.  It is that ignoring expert opinion is a fatal flaw, one that has proven to do immense damage to this country—financial catastrophes, arming enemies, bloody wars, and the like.  There is, a confidence that borders on arrogance that has repeatedly led to disaster.  Add to that the constant refrain of ‘liberal bias,’ which has proven to be a crutch conservatives use as a substitute for putting fingers in their ears and singing, ‘La-la-la.’”

Examples of blunders made by conservatives over the last 3 decades include the clandestine sale of weapons to Iran, and Oliver North illegally diverting proceeds from those arms sales to support Contra rebel groups in Nicaragua.  

Lyndon Johnson’s surgeon general mandated that cigarette packs have a health warning, when Democrats had a supermajority in both chambers of Congress.  And, in 2009, Obama signed “The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” into law.  However, every Senators from tobacco farming states of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia voted in opposition to that legislation.  Notable exceptions were Virginia Democratic Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner, who supported the measure, despite their state's connection to the tobacco industry.

Conservatives have also stubbornly claimed, that tax cuts will pay for themselves, raising taxes will cause a recession, abstinence only education will work, oversight of Wall Street is unnecessary, and repealing the Glass-Steagall Act would bring economic success.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Prosperity for Everyone

In this recovery, the median family income is dropping, while all the economic gains are going to the wealthiest Americans.  Congressional Republicans won’t be able to reverse this trend with their supply-side, trickle-down, fiscal austerity policies.  It was tried following the stock market crash of 1929, and it’s not going to work.  During the Great Depression, President Hoover’s only solution for the starving, homeless unemployed was private charity.  

FDR took office in 1933, with the unemployment rate at 24.9%.  He increased spending on New Deal programs, and followed with massive spending on WWII weapons.  The highest tax rate for top earners in the last century, was just under the 94 percent rate for income over $200,000 initiated during World War II under Roosevelt's presidency.  The Revenue Act of 1935 introduced the Wealth Tax, a tax that took up to 75 percent of the highest incomes.  Many wealthy people used loopholes in that tax code, until the Revenue Act of 1937 cracked down on tax evasion.

During the administrations of President Truman and President Eisenhower, a 92 percent marginal income tax rate applied to top earners.  At the time, the highest tax bracket was for income over $400,000.  Presently, a top rate of 39.6 percent is paid on income above $406,750 for individuals and $457,600 for couples.

Raising taxes only on the wealthiest Americans won’t work.  We’ll also need to raise the minimum wage, invest in education and infrastructure, lift the cap on income subject to Social Security payroll taxes, resurrect Glass-Steagall Act that limits the size of the banks, make it easier for low-wage workers to unionize, and raise taxes on corporations with high ratios of CEO pay to average worker pay.  We’ll need a comprehensive agenda for shared prosperity for everyone.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Award Recipient 2014

The International Reading Association, Jeanne S. Chall Research Fellowship is a US $6,000 grant established to encourage and support reading research by promising scholars.  Its special emphasis is to support research efforts in the following areas: beginning reading (theory, research, and practice that improves the effectiveness of learning to read); readability (methods of predicting the difficulty of texts); reading difficulty (diagnosis, treatment, and prevention); stages of reading development; the relation of vocabulary to reading; and diagnosing and teaching adults with limited reading ability.
"Do Spellings of Words and Phoneme Segmentation Training Facilitate Vocabulary Learning in Preschoolers"
Robin O'Leary  Queens College, The City University of New York

After a successful career in theatrical performance, Robin O'Leary decided to pursue another lifelong goal of becoming an early childhood teacher.  She holds an M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Robin was a teacher and school director for the NYC Administration for Children's Services Division of Early Childcare and Education, and the growing Universal Pre-Kindergarten program in New York City. Robin's concern and interest for young children led her to explore preschooler's letter name knowledge, phonemic awareness and mnemonic value for orthography with her adviser Dr. Linnea Ehri.  Robin is currently an adjunct lecturer in the fields of education and reading at Queens College and Teachers College, respectively.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Enemies of Democracy

I was amazed that in its endorsement of Rep. Gibson the Oneonta Star’s editorial board pointed his promise of “term - limited himself to one more election after this one.”  That seems to be a very peculiar reason for endorsing a congressional  candidate.

Anger initially motivated me to be critical of the editorial board for unanimously endorsing Gibson for re-election.  I was angry because my original letter to the editor wasn’t published before October 31st.  That letter quoted favorable economic results from the September jobs report.

The editorial board didn’t strongly agree with Gibson’s political record, so I’m wondering if the Star hopes to attract more Tea Party Republicans to subscribe to its newspaper.  After all, their newspaper is in the middle of a heavily Republican congressional district.  In order to thrive endorsing Gibson would make sense from an economic perspective.  We’ll never know a person’s true motivation, or hidden agenda.

I’d like to see more Republicans reading the Star, because I’ve never been enthusiastic about preaching to the choir.  If more editorials and letters express those unique opinions of Chuck Pinkey and Texan William Eckardt, more readers will certainly get to know the enemy better.

Indeed, Republicans have become an enemy of our democracy, because they’re owned by their corporate masters.  In order to maintain and extend their power, they’ve succeeded in promoting voter suppression, and restrictive voter I.D. laws that target minorities. 

Regarding Wisconsin’s voter ID law, Judge Richard Posner a conservative appointed by Reagan cited a Harvard Law School report that found the cost of documentation, travel and waiting time to get required ID to be as much as $175.  That’s 100 times more than the $1.50 poll tax, a minority voter had to pay at polling station prior to voting in 1963.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Economy Stupid

The Daily Star’s editorial board admits: “While there is much we would like to change about Gibson’s record, including his stances against Planned Parenthood, campaign finance and immigration reform, women’s rights to chose, marriage equality, and his ridiculous 50 some-odd votes against Obamacare, there is also much to like.”
Specifically, what is to like?  The editorial board endorsement of Gibson concluded: “And frankly, with the hefty Republican majority in the House, his votes are unlikely to decide even one issue.”  The editorial board ended with a typical Tea Party Republican sarcastic remark by claiming that they: “doubt that Eldridge could find his way around the district without a GPS.” 
Possibly, the editorial board’s endorsement didn’t change the way anyone voted.  However, they completely ignored our national economy.  A survey of foreign business leaders had confirmed that our country was again viewed as the best place to invest.  The unemployment rate fell from 10 percent in October of 2009 to 5.8 percent at the end of this October.  Private employers added 230,000 jobs in October, thereby exceeding economists’ expectations.  September's private payrolls were revised up to 225,000 from the previously reported 213,000.  Our economy had produced more than 200,000 private-sector job for seven straight months.  Private employers had added jobs for 56 straight months at an average rate of more than 186,000 per month.
The implications of a national elections aren’t only about this area.  For many of us in Delaware County having a new bridge across the Delaware River at Delhi, or having a flag that was raised briefly over Congress presented to our American Legion are considered completely inconsequential compared to having our Social Security privatized; Medicare turned into a voucher system; the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act repealed; and the Environmental Protection Agency eliminated.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Political Neophyte

The Star’s editorial board labelled 28 year old Sean Eldridge a “political neophyte,” and endorsed Gibson, who has served two terms in the House of Representatives.  Gibson’s only accomplishment has been to enable Tea Party Republicans to obstruct Obama’s agenda.

Two years ago, the editorial board justified their decision to enable Republicans to keep control of the House, by describing the Democratic candidate, Julian Shreiberman as “an empty suit.”  This time, they’ve acknowledged that in a meeting with Eldridge they found him to be “bright and articulate, and has studied the issues.  Mr. Eldridge is not an empty suit.”

The reasoning of the editorial board became confusing.  It claimed that Eldridge: “is the owner of what amounts to an empty address, and that should deeply concern residents of the 19th district.”  

Eldridge can afford to purchase a million dollar home, and fund his own political campaign.  He didn’t have to sign the Koch brother’s pledge, or accept donations totaling $16,500 from General Electric.  Now, he’s a pawn for that immensely profitable corporation, that for 3 decades dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River.  Eldridge has no reason to do the bidding of the Koch brothers, or General Electric, who by the way doesn’t pay taxes. 

My opinion regarding marriage for gay, lesbian, and transgender couples has evolved during the last 25 years.  After more than 50 years of marriage, I fully recognize that it would be terribly unfair to deny the benefits and happiness that marriage can provide to those of a different sexual orientation.

Devout Catholic homosexuals struggle with the teaching of their faith and sometimes resort to suicide.  I had hoped to see a role model of an independent, bright, articulate, openly gay married man representing our congressional district in Washington D.C. 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Cunning Politician

The Daily Star editorial board’s decision to endorse Chris Gibson started by admitting: “On the one hand, there is a candidate (Eldridge) whose votes in the House of Representatives we would likely appreciably support than the other.”  But, then they turn on Eldridge by claiming: “However, the other candidate (Gibson) has shown himself to be a thoughtful, hard-working representative who has been anything but an ideologue.”

Gibson has proven to be thoughtful and a cunning politician.  Obviously, the editorial board bought into the claim that Gibson is a moderate, because he “voted against Paul Ryan’s draconian GOP budget proposal the last time around.”  Other than obstruction, what has he accomplished during his 4 years in Congress?

Only an ideologue would have signed the Americans for Prosperity climate pledge to take no meaningful action on climate change if it would hurt Big Oil companies, that pledge is commonly known as the Koch brother’s pledge.  Gibson was elected on November 4, 2010, but signed the pledge on June 9, 2010.  He ran on a platform of “eliminating onerous regulations,” but hasn’t offer any specifics.  

Gibson voted for H.R. 1, which would have totally eliminated Title X funding for family planning and teen pregnancy prevention.  It included an amendment that would have completely defunded Planned Parenthood.

Gibson voted for H.R. 2. “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” that would have allowed insurance companies to once again discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums and deny women care because of a pregnancy, by calling it a pre-existing conditions.  He voted to repeal Obamacare over 50 times.

Gibson voted for H.R. 3. “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” that tried to redefine rape as “forceable rape” only, which would exclude statutory rape and women who were drugged or verbally threatened.          

Friday, November 07, 2014

Newspaper’s Endorsement

It wasn’t a surprise, that the editorial board of the Oneonta Daily Star again unanimously endorsed Congressman Gibson for re-election.  They have demonstrated for a long time that they don’t support a progressive agenda.  However, the reasons they supported Gibson were questionable. 

For example, they wrote: “Mr. Gibson is a lifelong resident of Kinderhook in what is now the 19th district, except when he served in the Army, retiring as a colonel after tours in the first Gulf War, Kosovo and Iraq.  He has received four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.”

Except for 3 years in the Marine Corps in the 1950’s, I’ve lived my entire life within a half hour drive of Gibson’s congressional district, that has been recently gerrymandered from Republican strongholds in 11 counties.  Should that reality give my political agenda more authenticity, than Gibson or those of the Star’s editorial board?

Does having also served in the military make my political views more creditable?  Should I have been signing my letters to this newspapers for the last decade: Former Sgt. Jim O’Leary USMC?  Does the fact that I enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Korean War make my political views more creditable?

Having been a military veteran shouldn’t make a difference, after all, former Army veteran Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.  That bomb killed 168 people, and wounded were more than 500.

Republicans on newspaper editorial boards have proven to be very inconsistent with their praise of those, who served in the military.  In 2004, they questioned the patriotism of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who had honorably served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

American Heroes

The following an excerpt is from a speech President Obama made regarding our medical professionals, who are dealing with the Ebola epidemic. 
“As I said yesterday, we know that the best way to protect Americans from Ebola is to stop the outbreak at its source.  And we’re honored to be joined today by some of the extraordinary American health workers who are on the front lines of the fight in West Africa.  We just had an opportunity to meet, to talk, for me to hear about their service in truly challenging conditions.
“And some of these men and women have recently returned; others are heading there shortly.  But all of them have signed up to leave their homes and their loved ones to head straight into the heart of the Ebola epidemic.  Like our military men and women deploying to West Africa, they do this for no other reason than their own sense of duty.  Their sense of purpose.  Their sense of serving a cause greater than themselves.  And we need to call them what they are, which is American heroes.  They deserve our gratitude, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect.
“Now, over the past few weeks, I’ve met and spoken with doctors and nurses who have treated Ebola patients.  That includes some who’ve been diagnosed with and beaten Ebola themselves, like Kent, and like nurse Nina Pham, who I was proud to welcome to the Oval Office.
“And I want to say to all the doctors and nurses out there what I’ve told the doctors and nurses here today -- each of you studied medicine because you wanted to save lives, and the world needs you more than ever.  The medical professionals and public health workers serving in Africa are a shining example of what America means to the world, of what is possible when America leads. 
“I said this at the U.N. General Assembly -- when disease or disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the world calls us.  And the reason they call us is because of the men and women like the ones who are here today.  They respond with skill and professionalism and courage and dedication.  And it’s because of the determination and skill and dedication and patriotism of folks like this that I’m confident we will contain and ultimately snuff out this outbreak of Ebola -- because that’s what we do. 
“A lot of people talk about American exceptionalism.  I’m a firm believer in American exceptionalism.  You know why I am?  It’s because of folks like this.  It’s because we don’t run and hide when there’s a problem.  Because we don’t react to our fears, but instead, we respond with commonsense and skill and courage.  That’s the best of our history -- not fear, not hysteria, not misinformation.  We react clearly and firmly, even with others are losing their heads.  That’s part of the reason why we’re effective.  That’s part of the reason why people look to us.  And because of the work that’s being done by folks like this and by folks who are right now, as we speak, in the three affected countries, we’re already seeing a difference. ”

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Conflicting Information

On 10/31/14, I read in the County Shopper: “The general malaise that has settled over the land is as bad or worst than when Jimmy Carter was in office and the economy remains in the doldrums.”
I had just read in our daily newspaper: “The U.S. economy powered its way to a solid annual growth rate of 3.5 percent from July through September, out pacing most of the developed world and appearing on track to extend its momentum through this year and beyond.”
This conflicting information prompted me to look up the word “doldrums.”  The word refers to a state of stagnation or recession as in business.
The general malaise assertion began a full page political advertisement paid for by Joel Canfield.  Actually, I found the ad was rather amusing.  Could Mr. Canfield be deliberately distorting the facts, or is he really that misinformed?
The article in the daily newspaper went on to point out: “It turns out the world’s biggest economy did a lot of things right after the Great Recession that set it apart from other major nations."
When President Obama took office, we we’re in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Our country had lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008.  An additional 700,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in.  On February 13, 2009, twenty-four days after Obama took office the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed, without a single Republican vote in the House and only 3 Republican votes in the Senate.  By doing so, they prevented the worst financial crisis, since the Great depression from getting worse and turned the economy from contraction to expansion.
A recent survey of foreign business leaders confirm that America is again viewed as the best place in the world to invest.  We added 248,000 private sector jobs in September.  That amounts to 10.3 million private sector job created over 55 straight months, which is the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in our history.  The unemployment rate fell from 10% in October of 2009 to 5.9%.  That’s the first time unemployment has been below 6 percent since July 2008.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a retirement portfolio the Dow Jones has been closing over 17,000, for the first time in history.  Given that we started with the Dow Jones bottoming out at 6,600 points in 2008, we’ve made enormous progress. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Melinda Hardin

The Oneonta Daily Star has published the letter to the editor, that Melinda Hardin of Cooperstown submitted.

“Sean Eldridge is the candidate to vote for in Tuesday’s election.

“Although Chris Gibson bills himself as a moderate, his votes in Congress tell a different story.  He has voted against debt relief for college students, against expanding Head Start, and in favor of cutting funding for Pell Grants.

“Congressman Gibson stated in a recent debate with Sean Eldridge that he believes reproductive choices should be between a woman and her doctor — yet he has consistently voted to restrict a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.

“Congressman Gibson believes a wage of $10.10 per hour is “too much.”  The mantra is that most minimum wage workers are teenagers holding part-time jobs.  However, according to the Economic Policy Institute, 88 percent of workers who would be affected by raising the minimum wage are at least 20 years old, and a third of them are at least 40 years old.  Sean Eldridge supports raising the minimum wage; he believes that not only would this help families, it would also boost the economy.

“When asked about his position on fracking, Chris Gibson hedges, saying he would support it if it could be made safe.  The scientific evidence is in at this point: fracking dangerous to our health, releases enormous amounts of methane, and cannot be made safe.  Sean Eldridge is unequivocal in his opposition to horizontal hydrofracturing and believes it should be banned in our state.

“The bottom line is that Chris Gibson supports regressive policies that do nothing to help close the appalling income gap between the 0.1 percent and the middle class.  Sean Eldridge has already partnered with small businesses and helped to create jobs in our area. As a congressman he will continue to help our country move forward.”

Monday, November 03, 2014

John B. Webb

The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor written by John B. Webb of Cooperstown.

“Joe Mahoney’s article on Gibson/Eldridge makes it apparent why a vote for Sean Eldridge is essential if we are to have responsible, thoughtful representation from our district in Congress.  Chris Gibson has shown little leadership, courage or, worse, willingness to buck the positions of his fellow right-wingers, despite his claims of being an “independent” Republican.  By voting with the Republican Party way more than he gives the impression of, he has failed his constituents, the everyday working citizens whose lives have been so negatively impacted by the failure of Congress to take any responsible action. 

“His position on the budget made him a party to the threat of government shutdown over opposition to affordable health care, care that is so badly needed in this area.  His adherence to the politics of austerity reflect a flawed understanding of economics. His opposition to an adequate cost of living increase is hurtful to our local workers.  His position on Planned Parenthood undermines the well-being of families.  His opposition to immigration reform means heartless deportation for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, even though they who do well in school and live lawfully.

“His flaunting of his service as a soldier and dedication to veterans is an almost unbearable affront considering the failure of this Congress to provide our veterans with adequate access to competent treatment and timely payment of disabilities.  And his self-righteous claims of independence from ‘big money’ are utterly false.

“The theme of this year’s congressional elections should be CHANGE!  We need change to break the impasse that the Republican party has imposed on our government.  Sean Eldridge represents that change, ideologically and substantively.  Eldridge supports the very issues and programs that can mean a better way of life for the people of our area; Gibson opposes them.  We need to send Sean Eldridge to Congress!”

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Margaret Green

The Oneonta Daily Star has published the following letter to the editor, that was submitted by Margaret Green.

“A commercial approved by Chris Gibson states that his support for Social Security is strong and that there will be no change to it or Medicare.  However, he voted for the first Paul Ryan budget, which would reduce funding to Social Security and Medicare, so I wrote to him asking to explain the discrepancy.  I received a response that did not address the discrepancy.  He merely repeated the content of the commercial.  According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Gibson also voted for the Cooper-La Tourette Budget, which raises the retirement age to 69, reduces the annual cost-of-living adjustment and reduces benefits to low-wage earners.  So, we have words versus votes.

“Further research shows that he also says that he supports continued coverage of pre-existing conditions, continued parent health care coverage for children up to age 26, affordable student loans, Pell Grants, and full disclosure of campaign contributions; YET, he voted for legislation against each of these.  He says he opposes Citizens United, YET voted for legislation supporting it.  His words and votes also differ on immigration reform and Head Start funding.

“Luckily, Sean Eldridge, Gibson’s opponent, supports strengthening Social Security and Medicare, making college affordable, defending women’s rights, defending common-sense gun rights, reducing taxes for middle class families and small businesses, reforming farm policy aiding area farmers, and investing in our economy, which Eldridge has already done as founder of Hudson River Ventures.

“Gibson complains that Eldridge is funding most of his campaign.  I thank Eldridge for using his own funds with grass-roots support.  This shows independence.  Some of Gibson’s funds come from Wall Street and big oil companies.

“Votes should match promises.  Eldridge deserves a chance to show us that his votes will.”

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Die Hard Democrats

The Delaware County Times twice published the following remarks by Harold Kelly of Durham within the past month.  

“You may also want to engage the people of the 19th not just the “Die Hard Democrats” that have been pulling the same lever since FDR for Presidential and Congressional elections.

“That’s not what this writer calls voting.  That is what I call IGNORANCE !!!”

I’ll begin by informing Harold Kelly that I’ve been pulling the same lever for the last 60 years, because the Republican Party does nothing to benefit the working poor.

I’m one of those “Die Hard Democrats,” that witnessed, what FDR did for our country in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, and I voted for Eldridge, because Congressman Gibson would have supported the policies of President Hoover in 1932.  I don’t consider those people, who voted for Gibson “IGNORANT,” but merely misinformed.  Suggesting that people are ignorant isn’t a very persuasive tactic, because it motivated Die Hard Democrats to vote.

Consequently, I’ll continue my mission to provide all voters with factual information about Rep. Gibson and his Republican colleagues.

Gibson votes for H.R. 1, which would have totally eliminated Title X funding for family planning and teen pregnancy prevention.  It included an amendment that would have completely defunded Planned Parenthood.

Gibson voted for H.R. 2. “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act,” that would have allowed insurance companies to once again discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums and deny women care because of so-called pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy.  He voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act over 50 times.

Gibson voted for H.R. 3, “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” that tried to redefine rape as “forceable rape” only, which would exclude statutory rape and women who were drugged or verbally threatened.          

Paul Ryan’s budget passed the House with Gibson and 234 Republicans voting in favor of a Medicare overhaul.  The plan, Gibson voted for would have required our government to no longer directly pay health care bills for senior citizens.  Instead, recipients would choose a plan from a list of private providers, which the federal government would subsidize.  Furthermore, he joined House Republicans in shutting down our government in 2013.

On 6/9/10, Gibson signed the Americans for Prosperity climate pledge to take no meaningful action on climate change if it would hurt Big Oil companies, that pledge is commonly known as the Koch brother’s pledge. 

Gibson ran on a platform of “eliminating onerous regulations,” and doesn’t care about health destroying pollution.  His voting record on environmental issues is 17 percent, and he’d like to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, and give fossil fuel corporations free rein to pollute our air and water.