Shooting Safeguards. A Society Armed

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copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Once again, Americans are up in arms or perchance, better armed and dangerous.  Only little more than a week into 2011, citizens have had to confront their fears, feelings, all at gunpoint.  It began on a calm, clear Saturday.  In a Safeway Store Tucson parking lot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords held one of her customary Congress on the Corner events.  It was January 8, 2011.  Friends and admirers from each political Party turned out.  Suddenly, cordial chatter turned icy cold. gunshots shattered the calm.  People were slaughtered.  Some survived.   However, as a nation, we were all wounded.

Retorts followed.  Seemingly, a culture was changed, or was it?  Just as has occurred, many times in the recent past, people quickly took sides.  Blame was ballied about.  Solutions were also presented.  Some argued for stricter gun control laws.  Others used the occasion to validate a need for less restrictive restraints on gun ownership.  Persons who held a position similar to the most prominent victim proposed a need to protect themselves.

On January 14, 2011, Grand Old Party Representative, Louie Gohmer of Texas, Proposed a Bill that would allow members of Congress to carry guns on Capitol Hill.  Days earlier, after the infamous Tucson, Arizona  shooting, several congressmen vowed to keep the weaponry they already own closer to their chests.  In light of the recent event in Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords home District, one that cast a permanent dark shadow over the lives of many,  Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz expressed his firm belief, it would be best to bring his Glock 23 with him when he meets with constituents.  This long time gun-owner is not alone in his position.  Other members of Congress chimed in.  

Indeed, this distinctive stance is not solely a Republican posture.  Heath Shuler, a Democrat from North Carolina, Vice-Chairman of the House Sportsmen’s Caucus stated that he too would pack heat when on the city streets, even when he strolled the streets of a the highly secured Capitol.   Steve Cohen, another Congressman who sits on the Democratic side of the aisle offered his reflection.  “It’s not that I’m going to be like Wyatt Earp,” declared the Tennessee Representative.  However, he noted, he would reapply for his permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Questioned about lawmakers’ decision to take matters into their own hands, to carry concealed weapons, Terrance Gainer, the Senate’s Sergeant-At-Arms and former Washington, District of Colombia Police Chief, offered his concern.   Gainer told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” The “peace officer” avowed, ”I don’t think introducing more guns into the situation is going to be helpful.”  Nonetheless, just as Educators did only a few years ago, Congresspersons stand strong against gun restraint.

Original © copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

School Shooting Safeguard; Arm Educators

In the last few weeks, [Fall of 2006], school shootings have dominated the news.   The frequency of these seems to be increasing.   People throughout the nation are panicking; what are we to do?   President George W. Bush spoke of this situation in his Saturday, October 7, 2006, radio address.   He proclaimed, “We will bring together teachers, parents, students, administrators, law enforcement officials, and other experts to discuss the best ways to keep violence out of our schools.”   Conferences have been called.   The problem has been discussed for years.  

President Bill Clinton convened such a forum in 1999.   Educators, policy-makers, law enforcement officials, and adolescent-development specialists came to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study on May 21, 2002.   Each group was equally intent on investigating the causes and effects of Lethal School Violence.   In the symposiums, experts sought solutions.   Everyone wanted [and wants] to protect our progeny.  

At the time, programs were initiated; yet, the violence continued.   In the last month or more, we as a nation are wondering; is there no end?   Will our children, our Educators, we, as a society, ever be safe?

Citizens again ask how can we secure our schools and shield our offspring from societal harm.   Finally, an answer comes from a Wisconsin lawmaker.   Representative Frank Lasee proposed that Teachers and Administrators carry guns daily and use these when necessary.  “In the wake of school shootings in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Pennsylvania” he would “introduce legislation that would allow teachers, principals, administrators, and other school personnel to carry concealed weapons.”  At the time, the Republican Representative believed our communities will be safer if everyone were armed.

Unrelated To Gangs

We know that communities have long been concerned with gang violence.   However, what has occurred in recent years differs.   On January 29, 1979, individual outbursts came into our collective consciousness.   According to the Indianapolis Star, “Brenda Spencer, 16, opened fire with a .22-caliber rifle at an elementary school across the street from her San Diego, California home.   She killed two people and wounded seven because she `didn’t like Mondays.'”

Upon hearing this story, our country held its breath as it does now.   Jointly we release a communal sigh.   Still the violence increases as is evident in these last five weeks.   There is talk.   What measures can we take to guard against weaponry?

Cable New Network reported, metal detectors were introduced in educational institutions after a 1992 shooting.  

In 1994, the federal government began requiring school safety programs in an attempt to crack down on violence on school grounds.   Many schools introduced metal detectors to check for guns, knifes and other weapons . . . although the Supreme Court eventually overturned the federal requirements, most school safety measures remained in place.   In Los Angeles, California for instance, [as of 1997] all high schools still use some sort of metal detectors.

However, it is clear, these actions do not secure the premises.   Zero tolerance campaigns were invoked.   Violations are and were numerous.  

Parents, administrators, teachers, and staff were told to observe student behaviors; they were asked to attend to warning signs.   Discipline problems were considered predictors; yet, this was not always the case.   Offenders did not only come from within the school system, they enter and exist throughout society.   Witness the killings within the last month or more [before and during September 2006.]

Machines and Mandates

Whatever we choose to reflect upon, when looking at violence in our schools, our homes, or in our airports I ask us to bear in mind that traditional methods for preventing violence are not working.   I think we must look at why people do what they do.

Violent crime continues to be a major problem and I suspect this will continue as long as we look for simple solutions.   I observe, when we as a country, focus on machines and mandates as a means for deterring violence in schools and within society at-large, we ignore the violator.   I believe the life of the perpetrator is most telling. This is the key component in a crime that can be influenced and altered.   If we address it early enough and treat root causes sincerely and seriously we can make a difference.

More Are Killed

However, instead, we look at guns, knifes, box cutters, gels, powders, matches, lighters, and bombs as though these are the killers.   We work tirelessly to prevent these from entering the systems, schools, airports, office building, and prisons.   Rarely do we address the authentic reason for killings.   People and what goes on in their heads, hearts, and souls cause death.

I propose we look at life, at our daily existence and the stress our culture promotes, rather than hypothesize; how might we use technology and authority to control the minds and misdeeds of men and women.   I theorize if we assess the way in which we live and the life standards we choose to accept, then, we might be able to prevent these carnages.  

I request that you, dear reader, consider what passes for the “common wisdom.”   Is it sensible?   Please ponder accepted theories and simple solutions with me.   Then ask yourself, what might we do to truly change what comes?

On Monday, October 2, 2006, a deeply distressed man entered a one room Amish schoolhouse.   He excused all the male pupils and personnel.   He was interested in only the young female students.   It is not known whether the church-going milkman intended to molest the girls; though there is evidence to suggest that he did.   However, what is certain is that the perpetrator shot these little lovelies before taking his own life.   Pennsylvania schoolhouse killer Charles Carl Roberts IV revealed in a telephone call to his wife, at the age of twelve he molested two young relatives.   Events of 20 years past haunted the man throughout his life.   Guilt took Roberts’ life and the lives of several young innocent Amish girls.

Five days earlier, in Bailey, Colorado an armed drifter walked into Platte Canyon High School.   He then entered a classroom.   The transient demanded that all the men leave the area.   He wanted to be alone with the girls he corralled into a classroom.   According to a student and her mother, Duane R. Morrison seemed to prefer smaller, blonde girls.   This disturbed wanderer with his quarry of petite flaxen hair maidens proceeded to sexually assault some of the six young girls he held hostage.   Ultimately, he shot one before killing himself.   Some social scientists theorized `girls are the targets in school violence.

MSNBC News reports revealed, after the crime, “at their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Morrison’s stepmother said she and her husband, Bob Morrison, have no record of him being, having any trouble before.”   “We just know the way he was raised,” Billie Morrison said, declining to elaborate.  “How was he raised?   Some experts think the relationships established in the lives of the killers might offer answers.   In the series of recent rampages there is a seemingly notable consistency.  An article in the Christian Science Monitor observed . . .

“The predominant pattern in school shootings of the past three decades is that girls are the victims,” says Katherine Newman, a Princeton University sociologist whose recent book examines the roots of “rampage” shootings in rural schools.

Dr. Newman has researched 21 school shootings since the 1970s.   Though it’s impossible to know whether girls were randomly victimized in those cases, she says, “in every case in the US since the early 1970s we do note this pattern” of girls being the majority of victims.

A Complex Problem

Prior to these two incidents, the focus and fantasy was on troubled adolescents.   These were thought to be the persons responsible for such horrendous school crimes.   Some behavior experts hypothesized; violent young persons had been bullied in school.   They were browbeaten at home.   These youthful aggressors were tormented by their own inner struggles.   They act out after years of deep-seated frustration.  Might we consider the cause and effects of troubles early in life.

Forensic psychiatrist Keith Aldo says mental health problems, especially among young people, too often go ignored and untreated.   “Everybody in the class often knows who the troubled kids are.   Parents know.   Teachers know,” he says.   “And if anything we should know that there is a preventative bit of medicine, psychological medicine to be dispensed in our classrooms earlier than we have been doing.”…

He says unresolved issues can continue to haunt a child throughout life.   “The more that you can express your feelings of fear, the more that you can talk about your reactions to terrible events, the less that those events are going to be toxic to you later on.”

Aldo says airing such concerns helps build a stronger and safer community.   Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, agrees.   He says the community must work at making schools safe places.   “It happens by making sure that the first and best line of defense is a well-trained, highly alert school staff and student body who are aware of changes in behavior of other students as well as strangers who are walking around in parking lots and the hallways of our schools.”

I believe the more recent incidents confirm the quandary has many causes.   The dilemma is not limited to youth acting out against their harassing, haranguing, or hounding classmates.   These incidents are not only a reaction to discrimination from peers.   Parents are not the central problem.   This transgression is as all others, complex.  

The complexities that cause violent crime in our nations schools are similar to those that create terrorism. Rex A. Hudson reflects in a report prepared under an Interagency Agreement for the Federal Research Division..

Terrorism usually results from multiple causal factors – not only psychological but also economic, political, religious, and sociological factors, among others.   There is even a hypothesis that it is caused by physiological factors, as discussed below.   Because terrorism is a multi-causal phenomenon, it would be simplistic and erroneous to explain an act of terrorism by a single cause, such as the psychological need of the terrorist to perpetrate an act of violence.

For Paul Wilkinson (1977), the causes of revolution and political violence in general are also the causes of terrorism.   These include ethnic conflicts, religious and ideological conflicts, poverty, modernization stresses, political inequities, lack of peaceful communications channels, traditions of violence, the existence of a revolutionary group, governmental weakness and ineptness, erosions of confidence in a regime, and deep divisions within governing elites and leadership groups.

International terrorists, sadistic student rebels, and lone executors have a common bond; society and stressors impact their lives severely.

Student’s killers are often exposed to frequent slights from peers or parents, just as some terrorists feel slighted by our treatment of their culture and religious practices.   These snubs are evident if society as a whole and those functioning within the system choose to recognize them.   The stress in young lives can be reduced or eliminated if we attend to these grievances quickly.

Frustration and Persecution

We might realize that lone shooters, those that walk into our schools also are victims of a fragile upbringing.   There are reasons that these solitary shooters might aim at young girls, blondes, or the most innocent among us.   Again, if we as a community choose to be aware of what we are creating for our children, we can save them before they become adult or adolescent killers.

Religious or political zealots, the defiant, defensive, and the righteous also are products of their environment.   They may act out against nations or peoples; still, the source of their rage is apparent if we choose to look for it.   Each of these executors feels persecuted and why not.

In a world where frustrations are ignored or attributed to authority figures, women, or circumstances beyond our control, there is much to feel frustrated about.   Students feel stuck in school, at home, or in lives that demand much of them and give little in return.   Adults, loners and cult followers alike, feel lost in the unresolved circumstances of their past and present.   They want to affect the future.   However, in the future, as in the present, and the past, people are not the focus.   Folly and failed systems are.

We evaluate preventive mechanized and legal measures.   We disregard the fact that these are not effective.

I propose we look at life, at our daily existence and the stresses our cultures promote.   I theorize if we assess the way in which we live, the life standards we accept, then, we might be able to prevent these mass and individual tragedies.

Can we as a nation protect ourselves from aggressors?   I contend, guns cannot prevent a crime.  Only if we face the genuine pain that prompts their reactive behaviors will our children, our Educators, and our communities be safe.

References For Reflections . .  .



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Of/By/4; The Belly Belatedly Understood



Of/By/4 in 18 minutes By Lawrence Lessig

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Dearest Mommy and my natural father . . .

I apologize.  My belly, my bloated body, only belatedly do I understand.  It never was in the genes.  The abundant meat that weighed heavily on my bones was not caused by my chromosomal structure; it was piled on by Congressional and corporately funded campaigns.  Mommy and the husband who helped make me, much to my embarrassment, today I acknowledge my error. I was spoon-fed, and not by the two of you.  Legislators, Lobbyists, and big businesses that place misleading labels on chemically cooked up cuisines put corn fillers on my every plate. I chowed down.  My little body bulged out.  From the inside out, I grew bigger and wider.

I am so sorry.  I did not realize.  Sugar and high fructose corn syrup made me other than pleasingly plump.  I thought it was you, the givers of my DNA, Deoxyribonucleic acid.  I believed that genetic material was my doom.  Oh my parents, trans fats and trans fatty acids made me do it, blow up like a balloon.  

I know I blamed you. Now I understand.  Only your votes could have prevented my childhood obesity.  

Perhaps, the chemicals that clung to the frozen foods we were all fed persuaded you as well.  I remember the ample advertisements that tempted us to indulge.  TV dinners. Yum!  Soda to sip on. Sensational. Potpies and popped corn all cooked in a jiffy.  Delicious!  It seems, in retrospect, our preferred diet did us in.  Fast foods, we thought, bought us time.  Indeed,  these processed products only purchased candidates and ensured greater corporate profits.  

Oh yes; the junk we ate also added pounds, advanced poor health, and did I  mention, help promote people whose claim to fame was the desire for absolute power.  We were appeased and deceived, Corporations and Congressional candidates achieved.  

My dear parents, today, I accept what I was unaware of for the many years I gluttonously gulped on boosted beverages, or swallowed all the overly salty, starchy, sweetened fare. My fat was not yours or mine.  It was theirs. Big businesses gained on my back and yours.

Your apologetic, loving and lumpy daughter . . .

Betsy

References for reflection, food for thought . . .

 

The Right Rob Babies of Rations



Rep. Alan Grayson to Republicans: Stop Taking Food Out of the Mouths of Children

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

For weeks now Americans have watched as the Right Rob Babies of Rations.  Today Representative Grayson spoke to this reality.  His heartfelt words addressed what he frequently observes.  Republican Congresspersons seem to avoid, forget, or have never considered, let alone experienced chronic joblessness, poverty and hunger.  With each vote against an unemployment compensation extension, envoys who label themselves “Right” engage in an ethical wrong.  Members of the House, safe and secure in their jobs, elite, and esteemed, rob mothers, fathers, and children of the funds needed to purchase food.

It would seem, those on the “Right,” through their repeated words and actions, wish to state, “Let them [the unemployed, their spouses and progeny] eat cake.” I trust that many in the Grand Old Party think food can be found in the proverbial bootstraps.  There is reason to believe that the Republicans think the families of the jobless must have some sort of lifeline to grab hold of.  After all, we have heard the sentiment, out-of-work persons must do as Conservatives have; pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  

Santa Claus Has Come To Health Care Reform



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copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

“Tis the season to be Jolly” This was the sentiment expressed by President Barack Obama.  The actual words were, the health care Bill passed on Christmas Eve was “the most important piece of social legislation since the Social Security Act passed in the 1930s.” Together with the proposed regulations our Representatives approved weeks ago, citizens of this country can rest assured “the toughest measures ever taken to hold the insurance industry accountable” will soon be law. This would be wondrous news if only the legislation brought joy to the land or authentic health care coverage to the American people.  

Millions muse; it will not.  The American people are reminded of the professionally wrapped gift boxes left under the tree or stashed on a shelf near a Menorah, Kinara, or near the Fanouz, These too, may glitter like gold.  Still, the contents can be as lackluster as the new directive, meant to better manage America’s medical system, would seem to be. Whether we celebrate traditional holidays or only observe those who do, most of us have learned, all is not as it appears to be.  

Sure, some may wish to reassure the public in the same way they would if a lad or lass learned that Mommy and Daddy not Saint Nicolas, bought the presents, and they will return what the tot thought a disappointment.  The conference committee has yet to meet. Congress seems posed to impose initiatives, that establish every individual must be insured.  Allowances will be made for those who cannot reasonably afford medical coverage.  Only Americans who experience an extreme hardship will qualify for government assistance. For the masses, a substantial financial penalty (2 to 2.5 percent of a persons income) will be charged to citizens who violate the mandate.  

People who now think themselves comfortably ensconced in an employer paid policy may be fine with the bequest, for now.  However, once they learn, what they thought beautiful ribbons and bows are strings attached to the package, sorrow might set in.  If a forty percent [40%] proposed excise tax is adopted almost two-thirds of the employers recently surveyed by Mercer, a benefits consulting firm, said they expect to reduce employee benefits rather than pay the levy.  

Nevertheless, an ebullient Barack Obama asserted Americans need only  Trust us.”  The White House is as Santa’s Workshop.  Good gifts are made here.

The American people are skeptical.  Today, throughout the land many wonder whether they can trust that life is lovely in this holiday season or that the President can produce as he promised.  The country’s Chief Executive appears certain he can; indeed, he has.  The Obama family delayed their traditional Christmas departure to Hawaii until the President was sure his health care reform plan was safely secured in the Senate.  Sadly, for common citizens, this legislation was as a Christmas stocking full of coal.  It was not wondrous or reason for a celebration.  For the American people rest and relaxation was not possible.  The sense of good cheer was lost.  It went the way of Single Payer and the public option. Average Americans had awaited the treats President Obama pledged to provide.

Few recognized that in 2003, the precedent was established.  Then, in an Illinois campaign speech, in front of an AFL-CIO chapter, the candidate declared his dedication, “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program.” (applause) “I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see.”

All those years ago, just as Mister Obama had done more recently in his presidential bid, after he offered reason to believe in the best of possibilities, did he dash all hope.  He articulated his angst and said, “But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”   Before Americans knew him well Barack Obama “presented” reasons that passed for resolve.  As his momentum increased so too did the mission.  Give the gift of hope and then withdraw it.  

It was September 7, 2009.  As President Obama stood with union members, who gave him an enthusiastic reception at Cincinnati’s Coney Island Park, he stated his commitment “I continue to believe that a public option within the basket of insurance choices would help improve quality and bring down costs.”  This pronouncement was not an exact proposal offered for execution.  

Later, Senator Obama espoused the need to insure everyone affordably in Iowa, at the The Heartland Presidential Forum.  A Plan for a Healthy America appeared prominently at his website during his Presidential bid.  Even after he took residency in the White House, Mister Obama sang the praises of the “public option.”  He did so in a speech given in front of a confrontational crowd, the American Medical Association.  

These stalwart supporters remembered what the President has now presumed was but history buried long ago.  In a Cable News Network interview, aired on Super Tuesday Primary Election Day 2008, Senator Barack Obama stated, “If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody buy a house.”

The Presidential aspirant articulated what millions of Americans avow; “The reason they don’t have a house is they don’t have the money. So, our focus has been on reducing costs, making it available. I am confident that if people have a chance to buy high quality health care that is affordable, they will do so. And that’s what our plan does, and nobody disputes that.”  

No one, except perchance, President Barack Obama.  After less than six months in the White House, the once seeker, and speaker of a much-admired truth, disputed his own plan.   Nonetheless, just as little ones do during the holidays, those devoted to the dream retained hope.  

Whilst Mister Obama called the public option his preferred choice and stressed his want to ensure broad coverage, he has never demanded that it be part of a final bill. The need for competition, or a choice other than private insurers policies would be nice, however, Mister Obama did not require these.

Earlier and now again, Barack Obama waved the possibility that pleased the American people, and then did not fully work to make the dream come true.  

As summer began, and the spring was no longer evident in Barack Obama’s steps.  It was then that Obama first explained he was Open to a Mandate on Health Insurance. Independents and the more Progressive began to understand; the Emperor wore no clothes.  Perchance, it was thought by the more enchanted, Santa’s bright red suit was only a bit soiled, stained, and worn

One need only ponder the duality of words dispensed.  President Obama acknowledged that his acquiescent approach to health care legislation had likely been a mistake and that he had “probably left too much ambiguity out there” by allowing the House and the Senate to draft bills.  Yet, just as the mythical reindeers and the Claus’, Mister Obama has chosen to do nothing other than let the narrative lie.

Definitive details, or even a refined design, were not outlined.  Not in the Presidential campaign; nor from the halls of the White House.  He did venture out on occasion and give voice to his signature issues: hope and change.

However, only days before the President bequeathed his gift on the American people, in the White House, President Obama defended himself against abundant criticism.  In an Oval Office interview with The Washington Post, Mister Obama rejected the notion that he has compromised too much to secure health-care reform. He said that it was not true that he anointed Congress the sole authority to pursue what was thought to be his broad legislative agenda.

In the dialogue, Obama vigorously sanctioned the soon to be health care reform law. He said it was just as he pledged to deliver.  Like Santa Claus, President Obama had looked at his list.  He had checked it twice.  The President postured that he was not naughty.  Indeed, he had been very, very nice.  Mister Obama had no misgivings, and offered I am  “not just grudgingly supporting the bill. I am very enthusiastic about what we have achieved.”

“Nowhere has there been a bigger gap between the perceptions of compromise and the realities of compromise than in the health-care bill,” Mister Obama said. “Every single criteria for reform I put forward is in this bill.”  Challenged by the claims that he had not done as he vowed to do, the President stated,  “I didn’t campaign on the public option.”

With an abundance of contradictions many muse, that, just as children, the American people have been carefully led through the Santa lore, Americans slowly and surely came to believe in “change.”  Barack Obama, as a Senator swayed the malleable minds of those desperate to believe in a dream.  He offered opportunities.  He showed us why it was vital that we serve someone or a cause greater than ourselves.  

As a candidate, Mister Obama presented the American people with possibilities.  As he spoke, unimaginable sugarplums that would satisfy a nation hungry for health care improvements danced in the heads of voters.   On Christmas Eve morning, as Mister Obama celebrates his transformative triumph, citizen cry out. “Is this the health reform Obama promised?” The answer is indubitably “No!” What has been passed in the Halls of Congress is not even close to the change Americans were led to believe in.

In an Albuquerque town hall, August 2008, heard the poised United States Senator speak.  Then, and there, he was eager to please, He offered “If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system,”   However, he added, there is a distinction between his desire and what he would do.

Little more than a year earlier, Candidate Obama concluded what he now says he never did.  With circumstances as they are, there would be widespread opposition.  In his days as a candidate, Barack Obama deduced; we must tread lightly and carry the big stick called change.  Such was the pattern on the path to the Presidency.

The “fierce urgency of now” was prominent in the Obama rhetoric Mister Obama proclaimed. “People don’t have time to wait,” Obama said, “They need relief now.”  Then, in the same breath, careful not to claim that he could convert the current health care behemoth, the Presidential challenger relented. , “So my attitude is let’s build up the system we got, let’s make it more efficient, we may be over time-as we make the system more efficient and everybody’s covered-decide that there are other ways for us to provide care more effectively.”

Back then that was the rationalization,  believers bellowed with Barack Obama.  There is a Santa Claus.  Fairy tales can come true.  It can happen to you if you are young at heart and elect Mister Obama to serve as President.  The public trusted the person who now occupies the Oval Office, when he said we will not fail.  There will be change “Not this time.”  

With words warped in time and space, the thought is President Barack Obama has become practical, or perchance he is as he always was, anything but Santa.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus?  Reality, Reform, References and a Skewed Reality  . . .

Prescriptions



Lieberman: I Won’t Vote for a Health Care Reform Bill with Medicare Buy-In, Public Option

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On the eve of what was thought to be, perhaps, a sign of progress in the six-decade long health care reform debate, joblessness mounts.  Depression increases.  The intensity of illness is on the rise.  Few if any can afford to visit a doctor.  People are unemployed, under-employed, and if an individual has an income, hours are reduced.  There is barely enough to pay the most basic bills. let alone insurance premiums.  Yet, staffers have been asked, no told, by business owners, workers must pay a larger portion of their health care coverage.  Bosses bellow in unison; with profits down, certainly the corporations cannot continue to offer perks.  Medical indemnities are a privilege, not a guarantee.  If you feel ill, if you are injured, take two pills and call no one in the morning.  

Do not dare telephone the Democrats.   They have made their peace with the health care crisis. Republicans will not respond to the cries of a public, and Independents are, as you know independent! The decree; health care reform was dead on arrival.

Each of these bodies assures the American people.  A prescription for the cost of exceedingly high health care in America, well essentially, there is none.  Any cure will be but a compromise.  That is the way Congress works.   Representative are comfortably covered.  Senators are too.   The American people can suffer, and they do.

Universal Single Payer, Not for Profit programs as an idea was scrapped before it ever reached the Halls of Congress.  The possibility of a Public Health Insurance Option?  Tea Party protesters, who were persuaded by advertisements bought and paid for by Pharmaceutical companies, Insurers, and an Ex-Chief Executive Hospital  Entrepreneur eliminated any hope for that opportunity.  

Should the poor, the poorly covered, or the persons who cannot possibly pay for policies become sick, magnate, underwriters, and makers of medicines will worry not.  Illness and accidental injury will add to their shared incomes.  Drug manufacturers, those who assess risks, and moguls will all be fine.  Each will be financially made more comfortable if nothing changes.  Senator Joseph Liebermann, Independent, [in name only] “Democrat,” from Connecticut will also be firmly fixed if prospects for reform are dashed.

For less than a week, there was chance, the slightest potential, that the ever-popular Medicare program  would be  expanded.  While Medicare For All was another unfulfilled dream, swiftly dropped from the Congressional debate, it was proposed that the program as it exists today, could be enhanced.  The thought was persons ages 55 through 64 could begin to collect benefits if only the Democrats and Republicans agreed to this compromise.  That would help twelve percent of Americans who are without health insurance.  That amounts to 4.3 million people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Yet, as of late, Monday, December 14, 2009, the word was that Medicare Buy In Plans may also be dashed.  Senator Lieberman would see to that.  On the weekend, the Connecticut independent Democrat, indicated he would not vote for it.  Tonight, a closed-door meeting was held, or perchance, the “Progressive” Party was held hostage from within the Chamber.  

Mister Lieberman understands that the majority  cannot move without his support.  The American people will not procure a health care reform Bill unless Joe votes for, rather than against any proposal.  

Some consider what might have motivated the Senator.  Granted, Connecticut has the highest U.S. concentration of insurance jobs.  However, the Senator pledges, this, and ample contributions from these corporations, do not play a role in his decision.  Lieberman says, he is concerned solely for the citizens of this country.

Regardless of what is true for the Connecticut Senator, the expansion of Medicate depends on him.  Hence, the Democrats relent.  Those who most desire a radical transformation have resigned themselves to the reality, without Joe, resolutions are a “no go.”

As he exited the Monday evening meeting, Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana was heard to murmur, “If dropping the Medicare expansion is necessary, that’s what should be done.”

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia said that it was not yet clear if there would be enough votes to pass the bill, but that he believed Democrats would rise to the challenge. The American people wonder as they ponder all that has occurred so far.

Meanwhile, with the memory of a breakthrough behind us, the number of unemployed grows.  Misery and melancholy amongst the masses multiplies.  infirmity increases, and wounds go unattended.  Time with a physician is thought too pricey.  People are out of work, without adequate wages, and earnings have eroded.  Essentials are expensive and many have been eliminated. Dollars for insurance dues?  Only Congressmen and woman can afford those, or the time to dilly-dally with the destiny of those who long ago lost the power to govern.  Thus, the prescription remains the same.  Take two pills, or none, and call no one in the morning.

Health Care Reform, and the Reality of Party Politics . . .

MoveOn Obama Budget

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The mail arrived.  It was from MoveOn.org.  Overwhelmed with work, I thought to delete it.  I noticed the surname of the sender was the same as a friend of mine.  Only that [cosmic] coincidence led me to open the message and peruse.  I read Daniel Mintz’s words with interest, for he spoke of what I miss in the news.  Mister Mintz did not focus on the folly of a few executives at American International Group, Incorporated (AIG).  The representative  from MoveOn offered what is more real to me, an average American.

As we’ve seen with AIG this week, the powerful don’t give up their special treatment without a fight.  They’re spending millions on lobbyists to quietly kill the provisions that would make them help pay for America’s priorities. 1 And despite all the posturing in Congress over AIG’s bonuses, too many senators are still listening to the banking and insurance lobbyists on the issues that aren’t in the headlines.

So we need to speak louder than the lobbyists . . .

Today’s Washington Post calls it “a populist budget” 2 because it cuts taxes for most Americans while ending unfair tax advantages for the richest among us.  The best part is that it takes all the money we’ll save and invests it in critical national priorities that will help build and strengthen the middle class.

Obama’s budget gives tax breaks to working families instead of CEOs.  And it closes the tax loopholes for special interests that cost us billions, like:

  • The loophole that lets companies take tax breaks for sending jobs overseas.  This will save us more than $200 billion over the next decade. 3
  • The loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay a 15% tax rate on their income, instead of regular income tax like the rest of us.  That will save us more than $20 billion. 4
  • The loophole for big oil companies that gives them huge tax breaks even when they’re posting record profits, saving us more than $30 billion over the next decade. 5
  • The loophole that gives the richest Americans bigger tax breaks for their deductions.  Right now, a teacher who contributes $1,000 to the Red Cross gets a $150 tax break.  A Wall Street executive making the same contribution gets a $350 tax break. 6

Quality references were offered for each claim.  Research for me is more real than rhetoric.  Almost as an automaton might, as I read, I reached for the telephone.  I smiled at the thought that I might respond as directed.  I called my Senator in Washington, District of Columbia.

I was surprised when I heard a ring.  Too often, when I have attempted to connect with this individual Senator I receive a busy signal.  Bill Nelson is frequently busy, but it seems he does not always speak on my behalf.  His record on the issues that are most meaningful to me is as inconsistent as is my ability to speak with someone in his office.  I am; however, thankful that Senator Nelson, is at least closer to my truth than Senator Mel Martinez, of Florida is.

As the phone rang and rang, I wondered, would I only have an opportunity to leave voice mail.  No; a man answered.  He said, “Senator Nelson’s office.”  I shared with the gent as I later did with MoveOn.org.  Now, I offer what was said with any reader who might wish to consider.

In my conversation with Senator Bill Nelson’s office, I shared my name, address, and my serious concern for the constant distractions.  Rather than attend to substance, the need for green jobs, health care for all, quality education provided equally for our children, America cries of a discontent for bonuses.  While the ten percent of the AIG bailout bestowed upon the privileged in additional benefits may be important, for me, it is not the cause for my greater apprehension.  

Tax loopholes, the levees unpaid by the wealthy, the money held back without an approval of the Obama budget, I believe these are far more significant, if we are to create other than the economic crisis we now have.  I reminded the office worker, the last Bush budget proposed was for $3.1 trillion.  That submission did not include the supplemental costs of war we all knew were coming!  In truth, I am fascinated by a fixation that promotes falsehoods.  I think the Obama financial plan is far more restrained than George W. Bush’s expenditure ever were.  

The Senate associate listened, or so I hope.  He was extremely quiet.  He closed the conversation by saying he would pass my message on.  A perceived lack of enthusiasm on the part of the gentleman I spoke with leads me to wonder; can I or we believe much will change.

Please, if you have not already dear reader, as a concerned citizen, would you too call your Senators, Congresspersons, anyone and everyone who might have the power to help pass the Obama budget.  I offer a few ways to locate your Representatives.

References . . .

Bobby Jindal – Science Fail

© copyright 2009 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson


To view the original, please travel through Bobby Jindal – Science Fail


Bobby Jindal, the GOP governor of Louisiana delivered the Republican response for Obama’s Joint Session of Congress speech. You know it didn’t go well when Fox talking heads calls it lackluster. You are certain it sucked bad when folks over at Little Green Footballs, Free Republic and Red State think he made “Palin look smart,” “guarantees 8 years of Obama” and “anti-science.”

Yeah, Republicans complaining about a candidate being too anti-science. I was shocked too.

But Jindal actually called out volcano monitoring as wasteful, pork barrel spending. The first thought that entered my tree-hugging liberal mind was “there goes his support in the American West.”

According to the US Geological Survey Circular, the US states that have active or possibly active volcanoes are New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. Wyoming is an especially troubling issue since it has Yellowstone – one of the largest volcanoes in the world. 640,000 years ago, Yellowstone erupted and it ejected 240 CUBIC MILES of rock and dust into the sky.

In late 2008 and early 2009 Yellowstone experienced quake swarms – one swarm had over 500 earthquakes in a seven day period.

If Yellowstone goes, most of the midwest would be unlivable and the effects would be felt globally. Mass famine and death would result.

Maybe Jindal is right, we don’t need to monitor anything that dangerous. Just like we ignore hurricanes. What’s the worst that could happen?

President Obama Address; The Power of People



President Obama Address to Congress February 24, 2009

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On Tuesday, February 24, 2008 the Earth moved.  The shaking began in America, specifically in Washington, District of Columbia.  In the United States Capitol, the ground swelled.  The seas parted.  People who thought they would never come together, in a joint session Congressmen and women, concluded, perchance, it was time to unify, to work for a common cause.  Indeed, throughout America, the quake of an address delivered by President Barack Obama reminded citizens that they could, and perhaps should, consider that America is powerful when the people are one.    

The economic crisis did not cause the shift in stony plates, although it certainly added to the tremor.  Health Care or the lack of it for near fifty million did not give rise to the seismic activity.  A population poorly educated did not budge boulders.  Nor did these issues do other than increase the fear American people felt.  What shook the terrain was a speech, the first, to an expectant nation, to Senators, Representatives, Justices, and to a world who looked on, since Barack Obama became President of the United States.

People from each political Party finally found reason to believe change would come.  Perhaps, the process had already begun.  The once so-called “stimulus package” was, with the President’s words, now really a recovery plan.  

Republican embraced the idea, or ideal, of personal responsibility.  The country’s Chief Executive stated, “What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.”

“Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that for too long we have not always met these responsibilities, as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or to look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.”

Progressives were thankful that the tone was optimistic; yet genuine.  While the situation seemed dire hours earlier, for those out of work, without a home or health care coverage, the President’s proclamation was welcome.  

On this evening, on this historic occasion, Barack Obama said, “While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”

The President continued to speak to an attentive audience.  “The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and our universities, in our fields and our factories, in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.”  The Commander-In-Chief proclaimed this truth to a people ready to return to a more hopeful reality.

The words were reminders to Americans.  We, the people are innately strong, stronger than a monetary or momentary wobble.  President Obama pronounced; “Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure.”

Indeed, President Obama assured Americans, we have the power.  We are the force, more formidable than the intensity of bank failures, foreclosures, business, and personal bankruptcies.  Tis true, he said.  Stock markets sank.  The economy declined.  Bridges and roads crumbled.  Health care costs rose.  Savings shrank.  New sources of energy were not secured.  Nonetheless, in America The United States can take a little rattle.  They can endure a few rolls.  We, if we work together can and will survive.  American can and will do as it has done.  We will thrive.

President Obama offered inspiration and a forgotten note.  “Now is the time to act boldly and wisely, to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”

The President’s voice did not quiver; nor did the people shudder.  A wave of relief rose from the throngs who waited anxiously to hear, “Now is the time to jump-start job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that is what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.”

Tonight the tenor change.  People, planet-wide moved.  The drift was not without direction.  Rescue and recovery were in sight.  Americans understood, they could save themselves with a little help from the friend who stood before them, Barack Obama.  Citizens heeded the call.  The people are powerful, more forceful than any crisis, when they work together as one

Please peruse the text, roll up your sleeves Americans.  It is time to get to work, to rebuild the country we love.


February 24, 2009

Transcript

President Obama’s Address to Congress

Following is a transcript of President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, as recorded by CQ Transcriptions.

Obama: Thank you very much.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and the first lady of the United States… (APPLAUSE)

… who’s around here somewhere…

(APPLAUSE)

… I have come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others, and rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has: a friend, a neighbor, a member of your family.

You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost, the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread, the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope.

The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

Obama: But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

(APPLAUSE)

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and our universities, in our fields and our factories, in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.

Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

(APPLAUSE)

Obama: Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that for too long we have not always met these responsibilities, as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or to look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.

The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank.

We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before.

The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform.

Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for.

And though all of these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity, where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election.

A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations…

(APPLAUSE)

Regulations — regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well, that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely, to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.

Now is the time to jump-start job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that is what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.

It’s an agenda that begins with jobs. As soon…

(APPLAUSE)

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by Presidents Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government — I don’t — not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited — I am.

I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. And that’s why I pushed for quick action.

And tonight I am grateful that this Congress delivered and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.

(APPLAUSE)

Over — over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector, jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, laying broadband and expanding mass transit.

Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.

(APPLAUSE)

Because of this plan, 95 percent of working households in America will receive a tax cut, a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1st.

(APPLAUSE)

Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college.

(APPLAUSE)

And Americans — and Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm. Now…

(APPLAUSE)

… I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work, and I understand that skepticism.

Obama: Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.

And that’s why I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort, because nobody messes with Joe.

(APPLAUSE)

I…

(APPLAUSE)

I have told each of my cabinet, as well as mayors and governors across the country, that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend.

I’ve appointed a proven and aggressive inspector general to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud.

And we have created a new Web site called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.

So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track, but it is just the first step, because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.

I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family’s well-being. You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe, your insurance is secure. You can rely on the continued operation of our financial system; that’s not the source of concern.

The concern is that, if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins. You see…

(APPLAUSE)

You see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education, how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.

But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. And with so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or even to each other.

When there’s no lending, families can’t afford to buy homes or cars, so businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further.

That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, to restore confidence, and restart lending.

And we will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small-business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.

(APPLAUSE)

Second — second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages.

It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values, Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped to bring about. In fact, the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.

(APPLAUSE)

Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy.

Obama: Now, I understand that, on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives bank bailouts with no strings attached and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions, but such an approach won’t solve the problem.

And our goal is to quicken the day when we restart lending to the American people and American business (OOTC:ARBU) and end this crisis once and for all. And I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer.

(APPLAUSE)

This time — this time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks, or buy fancy drapes, or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

(APPLAUSE)

Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government and, yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade.

That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and the results that followed. So were the American taxpayers; so was I.

So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you: I get it.

But I also know that, in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger or yield to the politics of the moment.

(APPLAUSE)

My job — our job — is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility.

I will not send — I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.

That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks; it’s about helping people.

(APPLAUSE)

It’s not about helping banks; it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend. And if they can get a loan, too, maybe they’ll finally buy that car or open their own business.

Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.

(APPLAUSE)

So — so I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary, because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system.

(APPLAUSE)

It is time. It is time.

(APPLAUSE)

It is time to put in place tough, new commonsense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation and punishes shortcuts and abuse.

Obama: The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short term, but the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world.

The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care, the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we’ve come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs.

I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America, as a blueprint for our future.

My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited: a trillion-dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber — Democrats and Republicans — will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars, and that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges.

I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves, that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity, for history tells a different story.

History reminds us that, at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas.

In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry.

From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age.

In the wake of war and depression, the G.I. Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history.

(APPLAUSE)

And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again.

That is why, even as it cuts back on programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.

(APPLAUSE)

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well, I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders, and I know you don’t, either. It is time for America to lead again.

(APPLAUSE)

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We’ve also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history, an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, in science and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

Obama: But to truly transform our economy, to protect our security and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.

So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. That’s what we need.

(APPLAUSE)

And to support — to support that innovation, we will invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power (OTCBB:SOPW) , advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

(APPLAUSE)

Speaking of our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not and will not protect them from their own bad practices.

But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it; scores of communities depend on it; and I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, none of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don’t do what’s easy. We do what’s necessary to move this country forward.

And for that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, 1 million more Americans have lost their health insurance.

It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it is one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget. Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. We can’t afford to do it.

(APPLAUSE)

It’s time.

(APPLAUSE)

Already, we’ve done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last 30 days than we’ve done in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full-time.

(APPLAUSE)

Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives.

It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American, including me, by seeking a cure for cancer in our time.

(APPLAUSE)

And — and it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that’s one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

This budget builds on these reforms. It includes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform, a down payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It’s a commitment…

(APPLAUSE)

It’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue, and it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform. That’s why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. Once again, it will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and our conscience long enough.

So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.

(APPLAUSE)

Obama: The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.

In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity. It is a pre-requisite.

Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, and yet just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation, and half of the students who begin college never finish.

This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education, from the day they are born to the day they begin a career. That is a promise we have to make to the children of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Already, we’ve made a historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We’ve dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life.

We’ve made college affordable for nearly 7 million more students, 7 million…

(APPLAUSE)

… and we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.

But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources; they need more reform. And that is why…

(APPLAUSE)

That is why this budget creates new teachers — new incentives for teacher performance, pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest — we’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools. It is…

(APPLAUSE)

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and as educators to make this system work, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it.

So tonight I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.

And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself; it’s quitting on your country. And this country needs and values the talents of every American.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s why — that’s why we will support — we will provide the support necessary for all young Americans to complete college and meet a new goal: By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That is a goal we can meet.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s a goal we can meet.

(APPLAUSE)

Now — now, I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why, if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage…

(APPLAUSE)

And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch, as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country, Senator Edward Kennedy.

(APPLAUSE)

Obama: These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children, but it is up to us to ensure they walk through them.

In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent, for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child.

(APPLAUSE)

I speak to you not just as a president, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That’s an American issue.

(APPLAUSE)

And there is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children, and that’s the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. That is critical.

(APPLAUSE)

I agree, absolutely.

(APPLAUSE)

See, I know we can get some consensus in here.

(LAUGHTER)

With the deficit we inherited, the cost…

(APPLAUSE)

… the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that, as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down. That is critical.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I’m proud that we passed a recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.

And yesterday, I — I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs.

As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time, but we have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade. In this budget…

(APPLAUSE)

In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate…

(APPLAUSE)

We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq…

(APPLAUSE)

… and — and reform…

(APPLAUSE)

… and — and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will…

(APPLAUSE)

We will root out — we will root out the waste and fraud and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier. We will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

(APPLAUSE)

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, let me be clear. Let me be absolutely clear, because I know you’ll end up hearing some of the same claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people. If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, a quarter million dollars a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime.

(APPLAUSE)

Obama: In fact — not a dime.

In fact — in fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut — that’s right, a tax cut — for 95 percent of working families. And, by the way, these checks are on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, to preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing cost in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come, and we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead 10 years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules and, for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(APPLAUSE)

For seven years, we’ve been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.

(APPLAUSE)

Along with our outstanding national security team, I am now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.

(APPLAUSE)

And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al Qaida and combat extremism, because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world. We will not allow it.

(APPLAUSE)

As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: We honor your service; we are inspired by your sacrifice; and you have our unyielding support.

(APPLAUSE)

To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.

(APPLAUSE)

Obama: To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend, because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. And that is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists…

(APPLAUSE)

… because living our values doesn’t make us weaker. It makes us safer, and it makes us stronger.

And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture. We can make that commitment here tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun, for we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America.

We cannot shun the negotiating table nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand.

To seek progress towards a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century — from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty — we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power.

And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe, for the world depends on us having a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world’s.

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us, watching to see what we do with this moment, waiting for us to lead.

Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege, one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans, for in our hands lies the ability to shape our world, for good or for ill.

I know that it’s easy to lose sight of this truth, to become cynical and doubtful, consumed with the petty and the trivial.

But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places, that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of ordinary Americans who are anything but ordinary.

I think of Leonard Abess, a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, “I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn’t feel right getting the money myself.”

I think about…

(APPLAUSE)

I think about — I think about Greensburg — Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community, how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay.

“The tragedy was terrible,” said one of the men who helped them rebuild. “But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity.”

Obama: I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina, a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom.

She had been told that her school is hopeless. But the other day after class, she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this chamber. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp.

The letter asks us for help and says, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself, and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina, but also the world. We are not quitters.”

That’s what she said: “We are not quitters.” These words…

(APPLAUSE)

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that, even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres, a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

I know…

(APPLAUSE)

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far.

(LAUGHTER)

There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed.

(APPLAUSE)

I know that.

(APPLAUSE)

That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do, if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis, if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity, if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then some day, years from now, our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, “something worthy to be remembered.”

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

References for a new rumble, roll, a reality . . . .

Confessions of Dick Cheney





Dick Cheney Interview ABC News

Cheney Aware of Gitmo Waterboarding

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There was a break in the news.  On Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer was noticeably moved.  He excitedly reported; Dick Cheney confessed.  Broadcaster Blitzer’s words were a bit more tempered.  He said, “This just coming into The Situation Room.  The Vice President, Dick Cheney, has given ABC News an interview and confirming now publicly that the Bush administration did engage in the very controversial interrogation tactic of waterboarding.”  The Commentator then asked America to listen to the clip.  ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl inquired of the outgoing high-level government official, “Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?”  Without hesitation, the Vice President responded.  “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the — the process cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do.  . . .  (T)hey talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do.  And I supported it.  

Viewers vented.  Some shifted nervously in their seats.  However, The Judicial Watch was not amused.  Nor were they elated.  The answer was not the one this Conservative organization, hoped for, groped for, and searched for though the courts, for all these many years.  Vice President Cheney did not confess to sins conceived long before September 11, 2001.  He told said nothing of the maps and charts of Iraqi oil fields.  Foreign suitors for Iraqi oilfield contracts were not discussed as they had been in March 5, 2001, six months and six days before the infamous September 11 attacks.

No, Dick Cheney, spoke of none of what might have interested Judicial Watch.  Perchance, those involved with this institute listened and wondered of the Iraq oil map. would the Vice President confess to knowledge of these?  From appearances, it seemed he would not.

Seeming pleased with his decision and participation, the man second to the Commander-In-Chief avowed, “It’s been a remarkably successful effort and I think the results speak for themselves.”  Indeed, the consequences do speak volumes, as does Dick Cheney’s willingness to disclose what for so long has been an elusive truth.  Yet, a few wondered; was this statement a confession, or merely a confirmation of what had long been known, an acknowledgment of sorts?

As the words tripped off Dick Cheney’s tongue, the public began to talk.  Millions were ecstatic.  He admitted it, they declared.  Throughout cyberspace and in local communities people were all abuzz.  Announcers throughout the airwaves and people on the streets pondered.  “Did he just say that?”  The answer was, of course he did.  Richard Bruce Cheney knew, as he has reason to understand.  He is indeed, above the law.  A myriad of moments affirmed this for him.  Given years of opportunities, the Democrats consistently have chosen not to touch him.

Oh, a few tried.  More might insist that Dick Cheney be removed from office, just as many attested to the need to indict the President.  However, nothing was done.  

Former Senator and nominee for the President, George McGovern could not convince the Democratic leadership.  Florida Congressman Robert Wexler actively campaigned to, at least, begin hearings.  In November 6, 2007 Dennis Kucinich offered a Privileged Resolution in his attempt to avail the Congress of the need to censure Cheney.  However, the Democrats averted the opportunity.

Hence, Dick Cheney trusted he was safe to speak of virtually anything.  Specifically, the Vice President was certain he was safe to discuss his role in ‘purposeful persecution.’  Mister Cheney recalled that the Democrats decreed by their silence that torture was sanctioned.  In reality, Progressives presented the President and his Cabinet with a dictum of faith in the practice.  Those who supposedly sit on the Left side of the aisle signed, sealed, and delivered a permission slip for abusive behaviors on the part of Americans in December 2002, almost six years to the day from what some had hoped was a confession.

The news today that leading Democrats, including Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi, were informed about the torture of military prisoners and allegedly didn’t just acquiesce but actually approved it is not something that particularly surprises.  The descent into war crimes under this administration provoked very little public Democratic anger or resistance for the years in which it was used most promiscuously.  The presidential campaign of John Kerry offered only token opposition.  The subject never came up in a single presidential debate in 2004.  And the way in which the torture issue has subsequently been raised by Democrats bespeaks opportunism as much as principled outrage and opposition.

What was perhaps more extraordinary and less discussed from the ABC interview was the anomalous question posed to a reflective Vice President Cheney, had he changed.  Earlier in the interview, Dick Cheney had offered that the 9-11 terrorist attacks had definitely became “a prime motivation” for his future decisions.  He said, the events that occurred on that September day in 2001 ‘critically shaped his actions in the years that followed.’  Yet, concurrently, he attested to the fact he had not changed.  

Dick Cheney’s answer was accurate and insincere, all in the same breath.  Judicial Watch, Incorporated, “a Conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, [which] promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government,” might say this man is a marvel, an artist, and an articulate obfuscator.  Judicial Watch should know.  

When the Bush Administration formed the National Energy Policy Development Group and then proceeded to hold meetings in private, Judicial Watch sensed a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act.  The foundation took legal actions.  “Unfortunately, on May 9, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Vice President’s Energy Task Force did not have to comply with the Federal Advisory Act.”

Hence, with a history of the Democrats and the Courts on Cheney’s side the man felt no compunction to share what might have caused some havoc, were there any mayhem to be had by opponents of the Administration.  Jonathan Karl, the ABC News Journalist, who some thought captured a confession on tape affirmed and asked for another perchance candid comment,  Mister Karl stated, “You probably saw Karl Rove last week said that if the intelligence had been correct, we probably would not have gone to war.”  He was greeted with what is arguably not a confession; nor is the retort correct, or incorrect.

Cheney: I disagree with that.

This portion of the answer is true.  Dick Cheney did differ with the notion that, were the intelligence correct, the United States would not have gone to war with Iraq.  However, his reason was not as he went on to state.  Stockpiles, an intent on the part of Saddam Hussein to supply terrorist organizations with arms or money did not incite the Vice President or likely the Administration.  Granted, Dick Cheney did and does believe as he shared on air.

This was a bad actor and the country’s better off, the world’s better off, with Saddam gone, and I think we made the right decision, in spite of the fact that the original NIE was off in some of its major judgments.

What the Vice President neglected to say was what the Courts ruled he did not need to reveal.  ““Executive privilege was improperly invoked by Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and now the Bush administration,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated.  No, Dick Cheney did not, would not say that.  A confession of such clarity certainly would not come from this public servant, at least not yet.  That admission would be breaking news.  Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer and every other Broadcaster, were that declaration of guilt to occur, would have a real reason to be excited.  The Judicial Watch Educational Foundation would be elated.  Were that to happen, perchance, the American people would be moved to finally act.  For now, the public acquiesces while they sit and await an authentic confession.

Confessions and Concessions . . .

Car Manufacturers Con



Automakers Return With A Plan

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Weeks ago House Representatives refused to award the auto industry a blanket bailout or even a bridge loan.  Policymakers insisted they must see a reasonable plan to revamp a business near bankruptcy.  The legislators set a deadline for delivery of the proposal, December 2, 2008.  This same date was reserved for another auto review; in Florida a delayed vote on emission regulations would finally be realized.  The two tales may seem separate; certainly, the cities where Congresspersons will meet are far apart.  Nonetheless, the sagas are inexorably connected.

As automobile manufacturers submit plans that advocate an eagerness to adjust to a new reality, at the same time they lobby the automobile sector, as they know it.

Consumers, taxpayers, may have already been critical of the industry; yet the question is, will fear of widespread job loss cause common citizens and Congress not to inquire as they might.  Is an anxious America too anxious to ask; have we not seen this house of cards, or cars, once before.  Did the car corporations not deal from the bottom of the deck in the past and might they again do us in?  The American people need only consider the dichotomy of two news stories.  On December 2, 2008, Big Three automakers try again for a bailout, and (Florida) State panel ponders stiff rules on car emissions.  

In Washington, this Tuesday, with hat in hands the automobile manufacturers submitted their plan to Congress.  The plea was as a cry of “mea culpa.”  In Florida, the Big Three forge ahead with a contradictory strategy.  They endeavor to delay a green development.

The car corporations Chief Executives prepare to sit on the Hill.  The perhaps duplicitous tycoons hope  to beseech lawmakers in the next few days.  Please forgive us they may whimper.  As requested, we have spent weeks away from the world of Washington.  The Big Three might tear as they proclaim the error of their ways and ask for forgiveness.  Corporate tycoons have been humbled.  Automakers state they will change their ways.  If the trio can obtain a bridge loan, they promise to be good, penny wise, and not pound foolish, if only given a second chance.

Admittedly, the triad say, our first attempt to explain the dilemma was a lemon.  They understand the reason the House of Representatives asked General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler to provide lawmakers with detailed plans on how they might use federal money to ensure their long-term survival.  For General Motors, Rick Wagoner, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally, and Chrysler’s Robert Nardelli resigned themselves to the reality, twenty-five billion would not be forthcoming if the dole was used only to avoid an immediate collapse.  Today, December 2, 2008, the three declared would be a new dawn.  

The automobile moguls have abandoned the use of private jets.  The significance of what had became a symbol of corporate greed was not lost on the entrepreneurs who now pledge to be frugal.

For the return trip to Washington, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally will drive to the scheduled Thursday hearing in a in a gas-electric hybrid vehicle.  General Motors and Chrysler Corporations released reports that their CEOs would not fly in personal planes.  The implication is business class was just fine.  Word is the auto-industry Senior Administrators agreed to a substantial pay cut.  The public is told two of the executives would work for a salary of one dollar a year.  A paltry one hundred pennies would suffice.  Sources do not mention the millions that these three might have spent, saved, and stashed away for years.  Likely, they have plenty of money, individually to survive.

Instead, talk is of strategies to sell off lines that do not do well or are no longer viable sources of income.  General Motors has arranged to put it Hummer division on the market.  Granted, that was done six long months ago.  Now, the car company considers the sale of Saab, or even Pontiac, and perhaps Saturn.

Ford’s management was able to secure a buyer for Jaguar and Land Rover.  Indian carmaker Tata Motors purchased the products earlier.  Alan Mulally, on Monday, mentioned he would acquire funds from the sale of another luxury line, Volvo.  The magnate also stated Ford Motor Company could survive if the recession were not as long and deep as some fear.  Deflation or Depression could wipe his company out, as could the connection to a failed General Motors or Chrysler.

What was not offered of on the federal Hill was that which occurred concurrently in the flatlands of Florida.  On the same day that the automakers expressed their woe, and willingness to be different, to the Congressional leaders in Washington, they attempted to thwart progress in The Everglade State.  As the manufacturers plead their case earlier in the District of Columbia, in Florida, the industry tycoons stood firm in their decision to maintain the status quo.  

The nation’s most important industry is putting its best effort into lobbying Washington and Tallahassee instead of designing and building cars and light trucks that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The Big Three showed reckless disdain for the idea of new designs and the development of vehicles that used renewable energy.  Despite the concerns expressed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the automakers have actively worked against the adoption of clean car standards in the South East.

Thirteen [13] other States have thankfully assumed the same stricter California standards.  It is increasingly obvious that the people prefer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tail pipes.  Yet, lobbyists for the car manufacturers knowingly choose to defy the desires of the public.  The Big Three do as they have done for decades.  As they attest to their guilt, they work to undermine actual progress.

General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler turn to the federal government whenever they can.  In Florida, the trio requests, the people be patient.  The automobile-makers avow the citizens “should wait a few weeks longer.”  Industry leaders decisively declare Washington will impose stringent standards soon.  Again the words not uttered by the Big Three are the ones most worthy.

The federal standards the car companies are still waiting for, known as CAFE, have yet to be enacted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Instead, the headlines have all been about the car companies being rebuffed in Washington as they’ve sought taxpayer funds to cover years of bad business decisions . . .

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) conducted a study of the proposed rules affect in Florida and found that consumers who purchase vehicles that are compliant with the standard spend less on gasoline on a monthly basis than the increase in their monthly auto loan payment.  This direct, short-term consumer pocketbook test alone justifies ERC ratification of the standard.

The CFA report also found that the clean car standard serves the long-term consumer interest because reduced gasoline consumption reduces the vulnerability of the economy to price shocks, enhances national security and improves public health and the environment

Perchance the automobile moguls are not as dishonest they appear to be.  They may be but blinded by a desire to recover from losses too deep to imagine.  Reports also released today, December 2, 2008, reveal November, sales fell drastically.  General Motors sold 41 percent fewer vehicles although they began a year-end clearance sale several weeks early.  The former industry leader sees the writing on the walls.  

The triumphant vehicle producer Toyota also suffered a 33.9 percent fall from grace.  The Japanese company that had long claimed glorious sales offered phenomenal incentives to purchase their wares.  Yet, still they were virtually crippled by an economic crisis.  Honda’s sales also declined, 31.6 percent.  Ford Motor Company fared only slightly better.  The corporation with “a better idea” lost 30.6 percent in sales.  Even the esteemed BMW [Bavarian Motor Works] said its sales dwindled.  The numbers were a startling 26.8 percent below what they has been in previous months.

While there is abundant reason to worry, and fear for the future, if Americans lose sight of what the Big Three truly do, consumers will again be duped as we were decades ago.  No cry or intent to change, can cast a new course.  Citizens and Congress could choose to invite a crucial conversation.  The people and policymakers might explain; had General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler come to the Chambers and said, we have decided to work with Florida lawmakers and secure stricter standards, perchance lawmakers and laymen would believe the trio intended to retool.  

Were the car companies to state and relate  a need to impose stiff regulations on the industry that had served them well, Americans might trust the sincerity of those who now beg for a financial advance.  Had the Big Three done more than ask for more dough, and sell-off the securities that tie them down, then, maybe the American consumer, taxpayers, could believe as the Chief Executives claim, there is a need to be benevolent.  Such assurances have not materialized.  Obstinate actions have.

It is said, the Almightily helps those who help themselves.  Perhaps, the public and policymakers might do the same.

Sources of sorrow, sales, and auto industry realities . . .