Friday, November 27, 2009

Cal Thomas and a classic case of projection

In Thursday’s Op-Ed Cal Thomas provides a terrific example of the psychological term projection. He claims that the liberals are taking the country down the path to Socialism when in fact the conservatives have already taken us down the fascist path and all we’re trying to do is get back to where we were when Bill Clinton was in office.

Referring to the emasculated health care reform bill being debated in the Senate he claims, “This is about liberal Democrats realizing their decades-old dream of complete control of our lives.” It’s the conservatives that have a need to control everyone in every aspect of their lives, conservatives are the ones withholding civil rights from gay couples who want to share their lives together as married couples. It’s conservatives who want to maintain the outlaw status of marijuana regardless of what the science says about it’s use or what many Americans do anyway.

Later Mr. Thomas alludes to rationing being part of the health care reform bill and states, “The unwanted, the inconvenient and the ‘burdensome’ could soon be dispatched with a pill, or through neglect.” Apparently he’s unfamiliar with the tens of thousands who die every year due to lack of affordable health care insurance. Mr. Thomas thinks it’s OK for insurance companies to ration care in order to maximize profits but it’s not OK for the government to ensure as the constitution clearly states the “general welfare” of all Americans

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hope for the State Board of Education

Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau, candidate for the State Board of Education District 5, spoke at a meeting I attended recently and I found her presentation refreshing. She told us about her years in education as a teacher and her experience developing programs at Texas State University to improve student retention. Dr. Bell-Metereau also told us about the academic challenges faced by Texas students who attend out of state colleges due to their poor preparation in Texas public schools.

Dr. Bell-Metereau explained her work on a community board in San Marcos where she successfully worked with people across the political spectrum to accomplish the board’s goals. She is running for a seat on the SBOE because she was asked to run and was encouraged by her daughter who has suffered under the current board’s dumbed down curriculum standards which are supported by inaccurate texts chosen to meet a political agenda. She told us she respects the all volunteer writing teams and the hard work they do in an effort to give students the best possible curriculum but is appalled at the disrespectful attitude displayed by the incumbent who casually discards their work in favor of hastily crafted partisan based materials.

Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau promises to responsibly and ethically manage the Permanent School Fund without regard to personal financial rewards. I’m confident that if elected Dr. Bell-Metereau will be able to enhance the quality of our children’s educations through respectful exchanges with the other members of the SBOE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Congressman Cuellar - thanks but...

Today members of the Dem's Café and allied groups visited with Congressman Cuellar's aide to thank the Congressman for his support of the health care reform bill HR 3962, we also let him know that we weren't happy with his vote in favor of the Stupak amendment eliminating insurance coverage for abortions. We also delivered the visual aid and following letter.

Dem’s Café activists and allies

November 17, 2009

The Honorable Henry Cuellar
100 S. Austin Street, Suite 1
Seguin, Texas 78155

Subject: HR 3962

Dear Congressman Cuellar,

Thank you for standing with your constituents and the American people in voting for HR 3962. There is still a long way to go and we urge you to continue to work for a robust public option, one that allows everyone to participate and starts right away. The bigger the pool of participants the more efficient the system will be and the greater the savings your constituents will enjoy, as well as, according to the CBO, the greater the impact it will have on lowering the federal deficit.

While we appreciate your support for this historic legislation our happiness is tempered by your vote in favor of the Stupak anti-choice amendment and we will be working with our friends in the choice community to ensure that this dangerous measure is stricken from the final bill. President Obama has said that the Stupak Coat Hanger amendment goes too far and doesn’t maintain the compromise of the Hyde amendment. We’re counting on you to recognize that the Hyde amendment already is highly restrictive and including the Stupak amendment in the final bill is unnecessary and unjust as it would effectively eliminate abortion services from any insurance plan whether or not it is paid for with federal funds.

We understand that Catholic bishops put a lot of pressure on members of Congress to support the Stupak amendment. We ask you to realize that many of your supporters are not Catholic nor are they religious and our form of government exists because of the separation of church and state. We therefore urge you to step back from the Stupak amendment and allow it to die in conference.

If you’re going to support the Stupak Coat Hanger amendment then to be consistent you should work to eliminate coverage in Medicare and the Exchange for Cialis, Levitra, Viagra and penile implants.

Legalized abortion is now clearly understood to be largely responsible for the decrease in violent crime over the last 15 or so years by minimizing the number of unwanted children born to women too young or otherwise unable to care for them*. It has also reduced the number of battered children reducing the need for programs like Child Protective Services and Head Start. By eliminating women’s options you are guaranteeing the need for more police, SCHIP, Medicaid and CPS funding as well as the untold misery caused by the adolescents and adults those unwanted children turn into.

The Stupak amendment does not literally say that plans on the exchange can’t include abortion coverage, it just makes it completely impossible that a plan could for several reasons. To pretend that a reading of the Stupak amendment could not easily be used to stop the sale of plans covering abortion on the exchange is absurd. That is like claiming a law making it illegal to sell tubes capable of having a bullet pass through at high speeds would not be a ban on firearms.

If women and families are forced to have children that are unplanned and unwanted, then the government and society that imposes that burden on women and families must offset the burden with all of the necessary societal programs that are needed to sustain and enhance the child and the family. If you take away choice, then you must replace it with social and economic programs to help the families be responsible, productive tax paying citizens. When your fiscally responsible views collide with your anti-abortion stance you have to choose and fully support one or the other, which will it be?

Redistricting will soon be here and as I understand it Texas stands to pick up two new House seats. Your district may not remain the same so unless you are prepared for a primary challenge from the left you should remember that “Hell hath no fury like a woman disenfranchised”. If you plan to stay in office much longer you should remember that women support Democrats more often than men and women are more likely to be Pro-Choice than men so you’re throwing away the Democrat’s slim edge in the district. Virginia Governor candidate Creigh Deeds ran away from the Democratic Party’s principles and party stalwarts stayed home in droves on election day. The day that Democrats in your district don’t bother to vote because you don’t inspire us to come out is the day that the Republican challenger will beat you.

For the good of the country, the Democratic Party and most of all for the good of women we urge you to work to eliminate the Stupak amendment from health care reform legislation.


Dem’s Café progressive activists, Members of American’s United and allies

* "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime" by John Donohue and Steven Levitt published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2001

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Prosecute detainees or continue violating the constitution

President Obama is making another attempt to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and stop the farce of military commissions. The prison holds nearly 800 prisoners and only a few have even been charged with a crime. Of all the detainees that have been held at Guantanamo Bay only 3 have ever been convicted of any crime while in the Federal court system at least 195 terrorists have been convicted since 2001. Federal courts have been much more effective in convicting terrorists than military commissions.

Holding a detainee at Guantanamo Bay costs about $15,000 per month while prisoners in a Federal penitentiary cost about $2,000 per month. That makes the Federal penitentiary system over 7 times more cost efficient. Our Federal supermax prisons hold the worst criminals in the country safely and can do the same with terrorists. It’s an insult to our intelligence when Republicans use fear-mongering claims that terrorists will escape and kill us in our beds.

Let’s face it the only real reason that these people are held in Guantanamo Bay is so that our government can avoid legal requirements; such as having to appear in court to show cause for continued detention of the prisoner. The right to a speedy trial and the right to confront the accuser would also be imposed if the detainees were held on undisputed American soil. This isn’t about anything more than skirting our constitutionally guaranteed rights and we should all be very afraid of that.