Archive for June, 2011


Florida: Reflections on Sunshine State

After 2½ years in Florida, we are moving back to Wisconsin, where Irene accepted a job in Madison, with the VA. After packing our boxes, I had a chance to reflect on our stay in the Sunshine State.

Climate was the primary reason we moved here in the first place. Although Florida is hot much of the year, humid all the time, and rainy in the summer, we picked it over the low humidity and clear skies of Phoenix, mainly because the southwest lacks water. Charlotte, Atlanta and Dallas were also ruled out, because their winters are not warm enough.

Although the temperature in Tampa-St. Pete reached 92 F each day, every year, for five months straight, like winter in Wisconsin, people just stay inside, in their climate-controlled buildings and cars. While northerners question the risk of hurricanes in Florida, not one hit the state in 2½ years. For me, the best part of Florida was the ability to go outside and take a walk nearly every day.

Health care was the second consideration when we moved. The Medicare crowd is a major industry in Florida, due to the number of retirees. On the plus side, I found a primary care physician I liked, and had a reasonably good hospital stay for an appendix operation. On the bad end, five different people at an eye clinic examined me one morning (four too many), because they needed to justify pay-for-service billing practices, on the incorrect assumption I was a Medicare patient; an orthopedic doctor also would have run unneeded X-rays for a shoulder issue one time, until I told him I had no health insurance; and as to the dentist, I could have flown back and forth to Wisconsin and still paid less than what I paid.

The cost of living was a consideration when we left Wisconsin. The foreclosure crisis here actually kept us from buying. The old saying is “you get what you pay for.” Here, we looked at bargain properties and ultimately learned of the reasons they were low-priced. Also, Florida condo dues are uniformly too high, homeowners insurance is too expensive, and real estate taxes are just as bad as they are in Wisconsin. There are a lot of available properties in Tampa-St-Pete, but the financial well-being of condo associations was a major concern.

Transportation was good and bad. The Tampa Airport is convenient, and urban areas are connected by freeways and large streets. The problem was the number of bad drivers in Tampa-Bay. Does Florida mandate driver’s education in high school? If not, why not? While turning, no one uses a simple blinker, except cars driven by Snow Birds from the Upper Midwest. Many just cut in front of others, hoping for the best. It’s almost like Cairo or Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a jungle out there. No wonder auto insurance is more than double what it was in Wisconsin.

In the category of recreation, to be honest, we did not use the Gulf Coast as much as we could have. There are nice beaches, boat cruises, and golf courses, but we always seemed to be doing something else.

In the final analysis, life is about people, not places. A person in the middle of a desert, surrounded by a few friends, can have a better time, than a single person all alone, in the midst of a big city. Since we have family in the north, our decision to return was motivated by that. To the nice people we met while down here, good-bye. Perhaps we will meet again. My blog will be down for a least a week. Once we are resettled again in Wisconsin, I hope to start writing again.


Regulation Of Phones Was Not Bad

When my Verizon phone bill came to a higher than usual sum this month, I had to question it, since I rarely call anyone. As I examined it, I noticed I was charged extra for going over my 500 minutes. After a couple calls to Verizon, certain overcharges were reversed, but the episode reminded me of how things used to be.

In the old days, each geographic area had just one Telephone Company, which was granted a monopoly, but was regulated by the government. The system worked fairly well, as land line reception was good, monthly bills for local calls were a set sum, and the only added charges were for itemized long distance calls.

We did not pay for each and every local call. Users made as many of them as they wanted, no matter how many minutes were consumed. Now, the meter is constantly running as to local calls.

Back then, we were billed only for the long distance calls we placed to someone else. Now, we are charged every time someone calls us, locally or from a long distance, whether or not we want to talk to the caller. Even if the call is unsolicited, we get billed.

We are also subjected to other charges. This month, my bill once again had “messaging” charges, despite previously notifying Verizon on three separate occasions not to allow any texting. Since the phone company is unregulated, these abuses continue.

In the old days, the phone company would install phones and take them back when service ended. Now, consumers are forced to buy them. As the phone company continually upgrades equipment, they convince consumers to spend hundreds on the latest gadgets (most of which are not needed), while they reap huge profits.

The rate of inflation as to phone service and equipment over the past few decades has galloped in relation to other expenses. Since there are now only a few phone companies, there is little effective competition, and there continues to be a need for regulation.

While cell phones have been a major technological advance in terms of flexibility over the traditional land lines, the decline in federal regulation over phone companies has hurt consumers. It would be refreshing to hear politicians promote regulation again.


Afghanistan Withdrawal Like Vietnam’s

Although I respect President Obama and would vote for him over any Republican, his schedule to withdraw from Afghanistan looks more like a political timetable, than anything connected to the reality on the ground, and it resembles Nixon’s Vietnam plan.

Richard Nixon was elected in 1968, based on a secret plan to end the War in Vietnam. At the start of President Johnson’s last full year in office, in Jan. 1968, the U.S. had 486,000 men in Vietnam. When Nixon was sworn in, he first increased troop strength from Jan. through April 1969, to a peak of 543,000, before starting a very slow de-escalation. By Jan. 1970, 475,000 boots were still on the ground and nearly as many as there were two years earlier.

Instead of just getting out of Vietnam immediately, as he implied in the 1968 campaign, Nixon broadened the war in April 1970, by conducting an invasion into neighboring Cambodia. That surge, if you will, accomplished nothing, but more death and destruction.

While Nixon told the American people in Jan. 1971, the U.S. was pulling out, the number of troops still stood at 234,000, two years after he took office. Instead of simply withdrawing, which is what most Americans wanted, Nixon re-escalated the war again in Feb. 1971, by backing a South Vietnamese invasion into Laos. Among other losses, that effort destroyed 89 U.S. helicopters and crews.

As of Jan. 1972, three years after Nixon was sworn in, the U.S. still had 156,000 troops in Vietnam. When the North Vietnamese launched an offensive across the DMZ in March 1972, instead of just letting it go, Nixon resumed the bombing of North Vietnam, which President Johnson had halted 3½ years earlier. Nixon then ordered the mining of Haiphong Harbor, in May 1972.

To insure a political victory, Nixon instructed Sec. of State Henry Kissinger to announce: “peace is at hand” in Oct., just before the Nov. 1972 election. This helped Nixon defeat Democratic Sen. George McGovern, a decorated WWII combat pilot. Once Nixon was in his second term, in Dec. 1972, he quickly resumed a vicious full-scale bombing campaign over Vietnam, known as the Christmas Bombings. Nixon finally gave up in Vietnam on Jan. 27, 1973, under the same terms he could have had 4 years earlier.

Two years later, after Nixon had resigned, the inevitable occurred on April 30, 1975 as the North reunited all of Vietnam and finally ended the conflict for the Vietnamese. President Ford acknowledged: “America is no longer at war,” on May 7, 1975.

Like Nixon, Obama gave the impression he would end the war, sooner than later. Under the recent plan however, it will take at least four years to get out of Afghanistan. Like Nixon, Obama increased troop strength, before starting to reduce it, a cleaver plan someone in the Pentagon must have dreamed up. Like Nixon’s incursion into Cambodia, Obama’s cross-over into Pakistan was without legal authority.

The Afghan withdrawal, scheduled to be done by Oct. 2012, is timed to insure victory in the Nov. 2012 election, just like Kissinger’s peace is at hand statement in Oct. 1972 was made to seal a win in Nov. 1972. The saddest part of the whole thing, is just like Nixon, Obama could have obtained the same result, if he had withdrawn immediately, upon taking office in Jan. 2009. The sad truth is we will not have gained anything but more body bags by staying another four years. The reality on the ground is we can never “win” in Afghanistan, no matter how long we stay. It was a lesson most Americans learned about 40 years ago already.


South Africa: The Obamas Meet Mandela

As I watched the news of Michelle Obama and her daughters visiting Nelson Mandela in South Africa, it occurred to me Michele was born in 1964, the same year Mandela went to prison, and her children, ages 10 and 12, were not even alive in 1990, when he was released. Since the South African story is no longer new, and young people may not know it, it is time for a review.

When the all-white Nationalist Party won the 1948 South African elections, they ushered in a new era of racial prejudice, known as apartheid, which divided South Africa into black and white districts, under a Group Areas Act (1950). Separate residential areas were mandated based on race, as blacks were evicted from their homes, and forced to relocate. Blacks were not allowed to hold certain jobs, or receive equal pay for equal work. They could not use white buses, trains, restaurants, restrooms, theatres, or beaches. They were not allowed to vote, or permitted to protest.

When unarmed blacks, inspired by independence in other parts of Africa, protested an ID papers law, they were shot and killed by the police, in the Sharpsville Massacre (1960). The UN called the event a danger to peace, and asked South Africa “to abandon their policies of apartheid and racial discrimination.”

The white South Africans instead conducted searches without warrants, and authorized 90-day detentions, without trial (1961). Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid African National Congress leader, was sentenced to life in prison, for allegedly plotting sabotage (1964). A UN admonition to release political prisoners, and an end arbitrary trials and executions, was ignored.

Another 600 blacks were later slain, as 10,000 marched through the Southwest Township (SOWETO), near Johannesburg (1976).

Hope spread when the all-white government in neighboring South Rhodesia abdicated (1980). Anticipating change, the UN warned South Africa not to carry out death sentences against African National Congress inmates, and asked them to drop treason charges against political prisoners, like Nelson Mandela (1980).

As forced relocations continued in the townships, blacks were killed near Johannesburg and Cape Town, and a state of emergency was declared. The nation came close to civil war (1985). 25 million South African blacks were no longer willing to be governed by 5 million whites. They kept up the pressure by torching the cars and houses of collaborators, as the government detained hundreds without trial, accused them of treason, and denied them due process. Many black activists were hung (1986).

Democrats in the U.S. House voted to impose sanctions, as the UN urged members to suspend investment, discontinue using the South African currency, and embargo military equipment (1985). American corporations, who controlled 125,000 jobs in the oil, auto, and computer industries, withdrew from the country (1986).

The final push for freedom began when President F. W. de Klerk replaced Prime Minister Botha (1989). Beaches were opened for blacks and they were no longer barred from four communities, exclusively white for 39 years (1989). De Klerk lifted the ban on Mandela’s African National Congress and started talks.

On Feb. 12, 1990, after 27 years in prison, Mandela was released, in an act praised around the globe. He flew to the U.S., appeared before Congress, and requested American support (1990-91). After the Parliament repealed racist legislation (1991), De Klerk announced the end of apartheid, as some whites left the country (1992). A National Peace Accord was signed (1992), and De Klerk and Mandela received Nobel Peace Prizes (1993).

Once the blacks of South Africa gained majority rule, they elected Nelson Mandela president (1994-99). Mandela, a man of peace and great patience, set retribution aside, and instead created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which held hearings on what happened during the apartheid era (1996). The recent Obama audience with Mandela gave us the opportunity to reflect upon the South African struggle, and their first black president, a man of great conviction, who spent over a quarter of a century in prison.


Redistricting Must Be Done Fairly

Congressional redistricting in Florida is big business, since it will divide 18,801,310 Floridians into 27 districts of roughly 696,345 each. Depending on how the Republican majorities in the state government draw the lines, the GOP could win 24 of 27, even though the number of voters supporting each party was evenly divided in the last presidential and gubernatorial elections.

If theoretically the Republicans could herd 696,345 Democrats into each of three districts from Jacksonville to Orlando, Tampa to St. Pete, and in Miami, they could quarantine off a total of 2,089,035, leaving only 7,311,620 to face 9,400,655 Republicans in the state’s remaining 24 districts.

They could then determine the number of Democrats in the other 24 districts by dividing the remaining 7,311,620 by 24, which comes to 304,650, and could apportion the Republicans per district by dividing 9,400,655 by 24, which comes to 391,693.

Since 391,693 Republicans per district would represent 56% of the vote, and 304,650 Democrats per district would be only 44% of the vote, the Republicans could win 24 districts this way, while losing only three, despite equal statewide votes for each party.

The process of manipulating districts to engineer an outcome is called gerrymandering. To be sure, Republicans will certainly engage in it, while simultaneously denying any intent to do so. Frankly, I would be shocked if each of the Congressional Districts were drawn to have 348,172 Democrats and 348,172 Republicans.

With the help of the U.S. Supreme Court in Easley v Cromartie (2001), the herding of blacks in North Carolina into one oddly-shaped gerrymandered district was approved in a 5-4 vote. Now, blacks do not object to these heavily concentrated districts, as they help their candidates score easy victories.

What they may not realize is they are being used by Karl Rove Republicans to create disproportionately more Republican seats, as explained above. The loss of Democrats in the House also affects state-wide races, like the recent U.S. Senate contest, because it reduces the number of candidates qualified to run for statewide office. In the last race, Democrat Kendrick Meek of Miami, a black man, was beaten badly in a statewide contest. The Democrats could have won that race with a stronger candidate, but their bench was weak due to gerrymandering.

When I moved to the Tampa-Bay area, I was shocked to see the extent of gerrymandering used to create a Democratic district. The blacks of St Petersburg, in Pinellas County, were combined with the non-whites of Tampa, in Hillsborough County, located clear across the Tampa Bay (body of water). This certainly explains why Republicans won most seats in the urban Tampa Bay area. Hopefully, the media will expose gerrymandering this time, and contiguous districts will be fairly drawn.


European Union Needs More Power

Since 54% of the 483 million-member European Union (EU) come from Germany, France, Britain and Italy, too much is being made of the Euro Crisis, as only 2% of the EU population lives in Greece, 2% in Portugal, and less than 1% in Ireland. The Euro Crisis simply does not directly affect 95% of the European Union.

Britain, one of three to opt out of the Euro, with Denmark and Sweden, is now smirking on the sidelines and hyping the crisis, as the German Bank tries to craft bailouts for Greece, Portugal and Ireland. But British criticism of the Euro-zone is not the answer. The Euro instead needs more, not less power. What the UK could do to help and restore Euro confidence is to boldly abandon the Pound and adopt the Euro.

Here, in America, many are unable to follow the EU story, since the organization did not even exist when they were in school. The EU had its origins with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) (1952), and the Common Market, also known as the European Economic Community (EEC) (1957). The EEC later became the European Community (EC) (1967), and finally the European Union (1992), which now has 27 member states.

The EU established an Economic and Monetary Union, which opened a European Central Bank in Frankfurt (1998), and circulated a Euro Currency (2002). Britain, Denmark and Sweden opted out of the Euro. The Central Bank controls Euro monetary policy and affects national spending, since Euro-zone states are now unable to print their own currencies and must make up for budget shortfalls by borrowing. The EU adopted a Stability and Growth Pact to limit national budget deficits, but Greece, Ireland and Portugal failed to comply. With no money to print, and none to borrow at reasonable rates, a crisis developed.

A European solution is not as easy as the one implemented in the U.S. during the recent financial crisis, where Congress and Federal Reserve Bank stopped things from spinning out of control. Although EU institutions look like those in the U.S., since they have an executive in Brussels (Commission and Council of Ministers), a 732-member Parliament in Strasbourg, and a Court of Justice, in Luxembourg, they are not as strong as their U.S. counterparts. The EU is not really a political union able to make its own decisions, but rather an organization which is dictated to by its 27 member states. The EU Parliament has no general lawmaking power and cannot tax and spend. All the EU can do is issue directives to member states and ask national governments to implement EU policy.

Some say the EU will never become the USA of Europe, but it’s just a matter of time. It took the U.S. 172 years to assemble 50 states in one union across North America, and it will take many years to complete the European Union picture.

For now, instead of Britain, Denmark and Sweden resisting the Euro currency, as they have in the past, they should courageously convert to it and give the EU more power. All 27 member-states should grant their EU institutions the authority they need to keep their currency strong, so they can correct the budgetary problems in the member states, such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland.


Saudi Arabia: Women Need Equal Rights

After the men of Saudi Arabia were recently ordered by their king to drive tanks into neighboring Bahrain to crush a pro-democracy uprising, a counterattack of sorts was launched last week when the Saudi women courageously took to the streets and drove cars in violation of a sexist law that bars them from operating vehicles.

Although the protest occurred in Saudi Arabia, discrimination against women pervades the entire Persian Gulf. I saw a sign at a hotel swimming pool in Dubai, United Arab Emirates that said women could use the pool between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. only. A Ponderosa Steak House in Doha, Qatar, had one entryway for men and another for women and families. As I walked through the wrong door, not noticing the warning, the waiter escorted me to the correct section for men. Throughout the Persian Gulf, where temperatures can rise to 106 F in the shade, men wear comfortable white cotton with their faces exposed, while women dress like nuns in hot black robes, with everything covered but their eyes.

Saudi Arabia’s Stone Age policy of limiting the use of vehicles to men, and other such Persian Gulf practices, are due to a lack of a representative democracy, where women are excluded from the process, a mix of church and state, and geographical isolation.

Undemocratic monarchies, like the Saudi Arabian kingdom, should be overthrown. Voices on Wall Street and in the Pentagon, who fear change in the region, should be ignored. While markets may momentary get the jitters, during a transition away from a monarch, a democratic leader will certainly continue the sale of oil and there will be no long-term disruption in energy supply.

After establishing a republic, the mixing church and state must be addressed. The problem is any form of government in Saudi Arabia will favor Islam, since the Prophet Mohammed was born in Mecca. The only way to guarantee women freedom from backward religious beliefs is to use the tension between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims to guarantee some constitutional rights.

Perhaps the best way to move the isolated Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabian kingdom into the 21st Century is through increased communication. Not all Muslim states live in the Stone Age. Those along the Mediterranean rim, physically closer to Europe, have had a greater exposure to Western values and customs. Until recently, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf was simply too far away to hear arguments supporting equal rights. With the Internet, the idea of equality is able to spread, and change is now possible.

The West should support democratic movements among our Persian Gulf allies; we should advance the American idea of a separation of church and state, and continue interjecting modern ideas into isolated regions through the Internet and other forms of communication, so someday soon equal rights can be achieved.


Puerto Rico: Choose Independence

President Obama’s recent visit to Puerto Rico serves as a reminder that a plebiscite will be held there before the end of 2012, on whether the island should: 1) become independent; 2) remain a U.S. Territory; or 3) seek statehood. Independence would affect U.S. aid; statehood would be an unwarranted U.S. expansion; and keeping the current arrangement would perpetuate an outdated neo-colonial system. Although plebiscites in 1967, 1993, and 1998, resulted in leaving things just as they are, this time, Puerto Ricans should vote for independence.

If Puerto Rico requests statehood, the U.S. Congress would have the final say, since the U.S. Constitution provides: “New states may be admitted by the Congress” (Art IV, Sec. 3). The problem is the Congress now has no appetite for new states. 45 were added before the end of the 19th Century, and only three joined in the early 20th Century: Oklahoma (1907), New Mexico (1912) and Arizona (1912). As Arizona became the 48th state, nearly 100 years ago, the continental U.S. was filled in and completed.

Alaska and Hawaii were admitted in 1959 by a Congress of young WWII veterans, who had developed sentimental ties to the Pacific in WWII. The problem with Alaska and Hawaii is their physical disconnection from the contiguous mainland. Since it is 1,500 miles from Alaska to Seattle, Washington, and 2,400 from California to Hawaii, it would have been much better if Alaska had been sold to Canada, and Hawaii was granted independence.

The two wrongs of adding Alaska and Hawaii, do not justify a third mistake of admitting Puerto Rico, located 1,000 miles from Florida. If Puerto Rico is joined, under a theory that distance is no object, then why not add Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands? At some point, we need a physical boundary.

The other issue as to Puerto Rico is their deep-seated historical tie to the Spanish culture. Even though English is taught in schools, anyone who has ever visited San Juan is well aware the island is a Spanish-speaking commonwealth. It was ruled by Spain for 405 years, from 1493, when Columbus arrived, until 1898, when the U.S. seized control, in the Spanish-American War.

The U.S. should have immediately granted independence to the island in 1898, but Republican President McKinley kept it. Things became more complicated in 1917, when citizenship was granted to Puerto Ricans, so they could serve in the U.S. Army in WWI.

It is time for the most successful island in the Caribbean to stand up as an independent state and to rid itself once and for all of their status as an American dependency. Upon independence, those born on the island would become Puerto Rican, not U.S. citizens. Those with U.S. Citizenship could keep that status. Puerto Rico and the U.S. must now finally end the colonial era dependency, reject the idea of statehood, and support total independence.


Microsoft Madness: Unwanted Updates

I get up at around 6:25 a.m. every weekday and start the morning by finishing a daily blog, which I generally finish from the day before. I usually post my new work around 7:30 a.m. Today, as I was just about to complete a story, my laptop was suddenly and viciously attacked by a “Microsoft Update.” My computer shut down, without my consent, to download some unknown features, which were not requested by me.

When my computer finally came back online, all of my work in progress was gone. All of my new work from this morning had been erased. I tried to find it somewhere, anywhere, but it was hopeless. After a while, I had to give up. Not even the Coast Guard could help. My work was simply gone.

But the optimist in me just couldn’t not let go, no, not just yet. They say a body may be dead, but it is not gone, until it is stone cold. So I searched for a phone number. I needed to call someone, anyone, who might be able to help. I needed to talk to a human being. I found a Microsoft number online. After all, the dreadful loss was caused by their unsolicited invasion.

I was first connected with a person whose English was so bad, she was almost impossible to understand. After she repeated one word three times, I asked her to spell it out, until I was finally able decipher that she was trying to say the word “update.” I was very patient. Eventually, she got to a point, where she tried to push me off onto Gateway, the manufacturer of the hardware. I quickly said they didn’t make the software, nor did they invade my computer or destroy my work in progress. So, after more of this and that, she finally referred me to a tech, who spoke English.

I was referred to a woman in New Delhi, India. This one took control of my computer and searched for the lost work. She shut it down in an attempt to “restore” the previous work, but the prior file we found did not contain the draft that had been lost when the invasion of the “Microsoft Update” occurred.

So the story I had worked on was gone. I ended up writing this piece instead. I lost more than a hour from before the invasion, and another hour plus afterward, talking to the two different Microsoft representatives, neither of whom was able to retrieve my work. I spent another hour writing this replacement story.

It’s not the first time I went through this kind of ordeal, and I am sure I am not the only one who ever had this experience. I left the Indian woman with the suggestion that their engineers stop working with other young people, who already know how to operate computers, and instead listen to older people like me, dinosaurs from the Typewriter Age, so they can perhaps design a system with ordinary human beings in mind. Maybe then, there would finally be fewer computer losses, like the one I had today.


Republican Debate New Hamp (6-13-11)

Seven Republicans answered questions on CNN on June 13 in their first presidential debate. Four of the seven are unlikely to get the nomination, because voters usually pick Governors or Senators, who have had statewide experience. Since House members Bachmann, Paul, and Gingrich have not served an entire state, and Cain has not held any office, they are not credible candidates. Of the three with credentials, former Sen. Santorum was beaten badly in a re-election bid in Pennsylvania, and he is damaged cargo. This leaves only two plausible candidates: former Gov. Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Romney of Massachusetts.

Before addressing Pawlenty and Romney, let’s examine what the party stands for by reviewing the statements of the others.

CAIN opposed auto industry loans that successfully saved GM and Chrysler, along with countless jobs. He supports Ryan’s voucher plan, which would destroy Medicare, as we know it. He would phase out Social Security Retirement, the most popular government program ever implemented. He would single out Muslims, in violation of the 1st Amendment, and would solve a problem that does not exist, by baring Sharia Law in U.S. Courts.

BACHMANN would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (yes, she really said this). She opposed government loans that prevented the recent Great Recession from becoming a Great Depression. She opposes the right to abortion. She criticized President Obama for working with allies like France, as to Libya.

GINGRICH would dismantle the National Labor Relations Board. He would not pay Medicare “crooks,” as he put it. He supports unconstitutional loyalty oaths for Muslims.

RON PAUL, usually an interesting man, would have denied government assistance to all private enterprise. He said average retirees draw three times as much as they contribute to Medicare, but his numbers need a fact-check. As to Afghanistan, he courageously said he would not duck the issue by waiting for the generals to act; he would pull out now, and would save billions of dollars.

SANTORUM criticized sending jobs overseas, yet he historically supported free trade. He opposed loans to help American industry. He supports the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, and apparently thinks elderly people will somehow be able to afford private health insurance premiums. He would not close U.S. military bases around the world, as he thinks we need every single one of them.

PAWLENTY opposes unions and labor laws that protect ordinary working people. He thinks Congress created the housing bubble, but did not explain. He supports an unspecified option, other than Medicare. When asked about separating church and state, he left non-believers out of the 1st Amendment, as he referred to “people of faith.” He is proudly pro-life. He would allow the 50 states to have their own immigration laws, even though the constitution clearly delegates naturalization to Congress. He promised to bomb other countries.

ROMNEY opposed the auto industry loans that successfully saved thousands of American jobs, saying he would have let them go bankrupt. He dodged a question about Afghanistan, and cowardly failed to indicate a willingness to withdraw, by saying he would instead defer to generals or conditions on the ground.

As a group, Republicans oppose saving American industry and their jobs. They oppose labor laws that protect ordinary working people. They would repeal environmental protection. They wish to destroy Medicare, as we know it. They appear to be ignorant of the problems with private health insurance. Some would end the Social Security Retirement System. They support a Christian Nation, to the exclusion of other faiths and non-believers. They would discriminate against Muslim-Americans and would require loyalty oaths. They would deny women the liberty to have an abortion. They talk about spending too much, but refuse to close unnecessary military bases around the globe, and promise no end to the waste of tax dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only thing they were really good at was convincing me not to vote for them.