Category: "culture/news"

Give Change a Chance

In 2008 Barack Obama was elected by a sizable majority of voters. Now, just over a year and a half into his term, he has accomplished about as many of his campaign promises as you would expect a president to be able to do in such a short time and during a recession.

If anything, he has been more of a centrist than many of us hoped. Don't ask don't tell has yet to be repealed. The American military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba is still open. We still have troops in Iraq (though it's much fewer than when he took office). Last year's health insurance reform bill did not include a public option, and we're still waiting for energy reforms and reforms on Wall Street to ban or regulate some of the risky practices that contributed to our current economic troubles. But on each of these issues, Republicans would be much worse.

All things considered, I think the Obama administration is doing an excellent job. He passed health insurance reform that will rein in some of the most abusive practices of insurance companies and help more people get coverage. The Obama administration has increased funding for our veterans. He passed consumer protections for credit cards. Scientific research is getting more funding. Lobbyists are getting less access to executive branch officials. And he hasn't started any new wars.

The economic stimulus bill has created jobs and helped to start our recovery. Forty percent of it was tax cuts. It also provided $1,500,000 to the Adrian community for education and infrastructure improvements, protecting jobs in our area and preparing us for the future.

Obviously many people disagree with my assessment. It's typical for the party in power to lose some congressional seats in a midterm election during an economically tough period (Clinton lost 52 House seats in 1994), but I don't know of any good reasons to give control of Congress back to the Republican Party.

Many of the complaints I'm hearing are related to budget deficits, and it's true that the deficits have increased under Obama. But again, this is typical for recession. And he certainly doesn't deserve all the blame. The previous administration made the unprecedented move of cutting taxes during wartime. Bush also signed into law an expensive and unfunded Medicare drug program. With two extremely expensive wars, tax cuts for the richest Americans and many other spending increases, Bush took the budget surplus given to him by the Clinton Administration and turned it into the deficit that he handed off to Obama.

There are two ways to reduce the deficit: increase revenue or decrease expenditures. Though there is a lot of noise from the right about the deficit, I'm not hearing many concrete and feasible ideas for reducing it. The GOP and the Tea Party want to cut taxes. That will make the deficit worse, not better. They do talk about cutting spending, but they are rarely specific. For example, the Republican running for the house in my district was pressed for suggestions on spending cuts and she named the federal highway beautification funds, a budget item only slightly larger than the subsidies paid to her own farm.

Only two years after America voted to put the GOP out of power and give the Democrats a chance to fix the mess, people are getting impatient. But giving control back to the Republican party is a mistake. Missouri is poised to elect Roy Blunt (R) to the Senate. He's consistently rated as one of the most corrupt members of the House. Do we really want him representing us in Washington? I'll be voting for Robin Carnahan. I would be proud to have her serve alongside our other Senator, Claire McCaskill.

I'd like to speak to the people who supported the Democrats in 2008 who are thinking about switching or just not voting. Get out and vote Tuesday. Obama is accomplishing what we sent him to DC to do and I'm proud to continue to support him. Let's keep the change going.

Muslim Community Center

If Muslims shouldn't build a community center in lower Manhattan because a few nutjobs from one sect of their religion committed grave crimes near there, then we shouldn't allow any churches to be built near schools because a few nutjobs from one sect of that religion have raped children.

Or maybe the psychopath killers in al-Qaeda don't represent all Muslims any more than the psychopath rapist priests represent all Christians.

Election announcement

This April I will be running for the office of north ward alderman in Adrian, Missouri. Last spring I was appointed to serve the remainder of someone else's term, and now I am running for my own term. No one else filed for this office, so I am running unopposed.

The city has several projects going and I look forward to seeing them completed. Any day now we will be breaking ground on our water line replacement project. After that is complete (early this summer) we hope to begin some improvements of street surfaces. We are also looking at plans for expanding our water production plant. These infrastructure improvements are laying the groundwork for the next period of growth in Adrian.

I look forward to seeing these projects completed and if you live in my ward (north of Main Street) I would appreciate your vote this April.

Serve and Protect

What if police coverage worked like health coverage?

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Fortunately, we all share the cost of providing police protection to everyone.

This American Health Care

This American Life devoted two episodes to the health care system in America. I found them very informative.

More Is Less (MP3)
Someone Else's Money (MP3)

Tool-Using Monkeys

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Health Care: The Problem

Much of the discussion our nation is having about health care is centered around the advantages and disadvantages of various proposed reforms. Maybe we need to give a little more attention to the problems themselves. I understand that conservatives have many legitimate concerns about a greater role for government in our health care system. Those concerns should play an important part in the national dialogue. But what I'm not seeing from conservatives is an acknowledgment of the problems with our current system.

A Harvard study (PDF) concluded that 44,000 Americans die each year because they lack health care coverage. That's 14 times the number of deaths from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Many Americans enthusiastically supported two costly wars because they felt this would prevent future attacks like 9/11. As tragic as those attacks were, their cost in human lives and in dollars pales in comparison to our health care crisis.

As I've pointed out before, in the United States we spend a greater share of our money on healthcare than any other nation in the world. Yet by many metrics, we are less healthy than the other developed nations (all of whom have some sort of universal coverage).

So before I advocate any specific reform, I would like to hear some reactions to the problems of American healthcare, especially from conservatives. What do you have to say to those who cannot get coverage because of pre-existing conditions? Setting aside specifics for a moment, can we all agree that it would be a good thing to have everyone covered? Or would you prefer that things go on basically as they are now?

Health Care Fact Check

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healthcarefactcheck.com

Military equality

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