Tag Archives: Obama. Romney


30 Oct

Privatizing First Responders: the New Carpetbaggers, By Louise Annarino, October 30, 2012

April 22,1970. My friend Daisy Ouwelein saw the fruition of her organizing work on the campus of The Ohio State University as we celebrated the first Earth Day with millions of fellow Americans. Rachel Carson had published SILENT SPRING a year earlier, alerting us to the dangers of DDT and pesticides. In 1969 a massive oil spill despoiled the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Dead rivers carried industrial pollutants to the Great Lakes. Daisy had asked my help to promote and involve others in the day’s activities: Senatorial Candidate and former astronaut John Glenn spoke about his proposed anti-pollution legislation in Hitchcock Hall. Students learned about their “responsibility of the land” from the editor of Field and Stream magazine,Mike Frome, at the Ohio Union. Students walked the polluted Olentangy River which flowed through campus, many students needing medical treatment for rashes and infections after wading or being jokingly thrown in it. Organizing workshops were held on how to handle and fight environmental problems.

Earth Day’s founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media and persuaded Congressman Pete McCloskey, (R-CA)to serve as co-chair. His National Coordinator  Dennis Hayes, with a staff of 85, promoted events across the country. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement. Students nationwide were already mobilized on college campuses in opposition to the Viet-Nam War. At OSU, students were in the midst of protests to end campus racism and establish a Black Studies Department, as well as end the war. The environmental movement became part of our generation’s understanding that the corporate world was using us as fodder for war and profit, with no concern for the destruction of human and environmental ecology.

Today, we see a continuing battle against these forces who refute the overwhelming evidence of climate change, genetically modify our foods, and wage war to seize and control natural and labor resources. They continue to pollute our soil/ air/ water, create disease in our children; and ask us to accept that “based on rates from 2007-2009, 41.24% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 2 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites during their lifetime.” http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html#incidence-mortality

As I watch events unfold over eastern 1/3 of The U.S. from Hurricane, now Tropical Storm, Sandy I wonder at those who would vote for a candidate who openly attacks environmental regulation and control, is unwilling to maintain and fund FEMA, who seizes and controls labor at home and abroad by outsourcing jobs,and who questions the very existence of climate change.  Presidential candidate Romney states that “it is immoral” for the government to pay for emergency responders, passing on the cost to his grand-children. Instead he argues that emergency response should be “privatized”. I for one do not want to sit in my attic as waters rise, wondering if a private company finds it profitable to rescue me, or if a private fire company thinks my home is worth saving from a fire. Think I exaggerate? It has already happened because of a  Tennessee family’s failure to pay a $75 fee.

Imagine if emergency services had been privatized in New York on 9-11; or today while first responders search and rescue in Atlantic City, NJ and across the Eastern Seaboard. Imagine if the unions of government workers had failed to oppose efforts to eliminate government workers. When there is trouble of this magnitude, when so many lives are threatened and our cities face unimaginable  infrastructure losses, “Who Ya Gonna Call?” Ghostbusters? No, city, county and state workers, the national guard and the coast guard. And who is going to coordinate this effort across geopolitical boundaries? And who is going to assist smaller towns and cities to handle the heavy costs incurred? The federal government, FEMA, and a president who keeps private profit out of the formula to maximize results at lowest possible cost, spread wide to absorb the sticker shock for an individual person or community. This is how it works best. This is what we have learned over time.

Those who ask us to privatize government functions are the new “carpetbaggers”. Like those carpetbaggers who descended upon a broken South when it was at its most vulnerable, to make personal profit as it struggled to restore some economic stability, today’s carpetbaggers have targeted the entire country,perhaps the entire world, as an “easy mark”. I have mentioned before the shell game https://worthingtonforobama2012.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/a-debate-or-a-shell-game-whom-does-romney-think-he-is-kiddingby-louise-annarino-october-1-2012/ being played out during the 2012 election. As you watch events unfold over the next hours and days, keep in mind that increasing environmental threats are real. Our first responders are even more important to our survival and entitled to not only our thanks, but to our financial support for the risks they take to protect us. They come when called out of civic duty; not to profit off our suffering.


THE DUMB BLONDE VS. THE ELITE,By Louise Annarino,October 27,2012

27 Oct

THE DUMB BLONDE VS. THE ELITE, By Louise Annarino, October 27,2012

This morning I watched a political add running in Arizona against an “activist” judge whom the ad also described as “violating the constitution because he made law”. The self-described middle-class housewife in a McMansion kitchen went on to say “the elite think we can’t understand, but we do.” I wanted to  shout out,“NO, YOU DON’T !” Her smug look, smiling that she had proved she was not just a “dumb blonde”, made me sad for her. Somewhere along the way, she had come to accept but resent the sexism directed toward her by those she trusted to love and support her. They used their own sexism to make her vulnerable to their manipulations, and to use her to attack candidates who know the law, are well educated and professionally competent; but, make her feel stupid. The ad makers play on the anger which has built up over time, the resentment toward real oppressors which they re-direct toward their opponents. I felt sorry for the woman in the ad and all those she represents. I felt sorry for all of us.

The first quarter I taught Business Law at Ohio University I learned a disturbing fact while grading my students first mid-term exam. They could not write a sentence. The essays were impossible to grade since sentence fragments could not sufficiently show my students had grasped the concepts I had been discussing with them for over a month. Mine was an upper-level course open to juniors,seniors and graduate students. How could they have gotten so far without being able to write, I wondered.

After returning their tests to moans and gasps of disappointment I wrote a simple sentence on the board and asked someone to come up to the front and diagram it. Blank stares and no volunteers was the response. My pleas for someone, anyone to speak up about why this was such a problem provided the answer: no one knew what I meant by “diagram a sentence”. It took a  moment for that information to sink in. Surely, I had heard incorrectly. But, no, they did not know what nouns,verbs, adverbs did within a sentence. A few students identified the adjective, and understood its function. They explained they had not had to write because all of their exams were multiple choice tests.

I found an empty class on the evenings my law class was not scheduled and invited students to attend my English class. They would need it because my exams would require them to write, and passing the test meant it was in their interest to attend the extra classes. I did not do this out of altruism, but out of desperation. I wanted to make it easier to grade those tests with certainty that the grade reflected a student’s full grasp of the subject matter. I wanted to shorten the time I spent grading! We helped one another in our common cause.

The other disturbing discovery that first quarter was that while in high school my students had not taken an American History course (no longer required), nor a Principles of Democracy course (not offered, or not required). It is extremely difficult to teach law to those with neither of those courses under their belts. What examples can one use to explain court decisions? Why do courts make the decisions they do? What guides the court?

Since every night of the week was now filled with Business Law and English, and since my “day” job was Associate Director of OU Legal Affairs ( I taught on overload contract because I love teaching AND had to pay back my school loans), I could not add more classes. Thus, I expanded my curriculum to include American and World History and P.O.D. Also, since racial and sexual discrimination is another topic they would need to understand but had never been taught, I used one week of class to run them through workshops I had designed. This complex amalgam of coursework became my template for all of my future classes: School Law,Law and Medicine,Social Welfare Law,Vocational Education Law, and my on-going Business Law courses. Each piece helped my students understand law with such depth that I am convinced they would not be easily duped by the ad I saw this morning.

What worries me is that too many Americans are being duped. They have no idea how a bill becomes a law, the role of committees, the power of committee chairs, Roberts Rules of Order and Congressional rules of House and Senate, difference between states powers and federal powers, how courts function, the role of the judge, grand-jury  and jury. I could go on and on. Such ignorance of basic governance by executive,legislative and judicial branches applies to members of both parties. The base of each party expects more than can or should be delivered by a governance system which relies on compromise and consensus to accomplish anything. We can see where this has gotten us.

Term limits have only made incompetence in governance worse. In term-limited positions the newly-elected representatives don’t stay in position long enough to learn the ropes and develop nuanced strategies within the rules, develop trust and create alliances with colleagues across the aisle, and grasp the long-view of what is good for the country they serve. They are focused on short-term celebrity and fund-raising for the next campaign.

Shortening the Congressional work week and schedule, to free up time for such fundraising and celebrity-building appearances has contributed to the problem. During 2012 the House was in session only 122 days (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/ds/h1122.html);the Senate, 123 days (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/ds/s1122.html). This is not to say members are not on the people’s business 24/7 because they are. However, it does mean they are not focusing on building a collegial enterprise for the good of the country. The Teapublicans found it quite easy to block any effort at consensus and cooperation between conservatives and progressive, between Democrats and Republicans. And the newly-elected Teapublicans  arrived with little appreciation or understanding for the historical and social context of cooperation which Congress had learned over time was necessary for good government. They came with the intent of stopping cooperation, blocking the first African-American president’s determination to build a “more perfect union” where Blue and Red states worked together for a common good. They are playing the role of the marginalized  and demeaned “dumb blonde” taking on the marginalized and demeaned “elite”.  And the Republican Party fell right in-step with them. Some decided it was time to retire.

I need another classroom!

SACRIFICING WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND RAPE, By Louise Annarino,October 25,2012

26 Oct

Sacrificing Women,Children and Rape,By Louise Annarino,October 25, 2012

The chart below by Brainwrap ,published today at Daily Kos illustrates how the GOP reframes the violence against women we call rape as simply another method of conception rather than criminal behavior. If rape is discussed as a method of conception rather than criminal violence it allows Republicans, Roman Catholic bishops, and others to exclude its consideration as a reason to allow an abortion exception for rape victims. After all, why should we allow abortion for any mere act of conception? Once we describe the question as one 0f conception only we can forget

about the need to protect women and to keep them safe. Thus, we are free to  criminalize abortion, even in the case of rape. Consequently, the  only person in need of our protection is the fetus; not the mother.

This is not new; nor is it necessarily partisan politics. Too often and for too long, we have allowed men to define rape as a sexual act, rather than a violent criminal act. Susan Brownmiller wrote of this   dismissive rhetorical formula in her book AGAINST OUR WILL: Men, Women And Rape, 1975 ,she wrote “Rape is a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” I would add that rape is also used against children. Wrongly defining it affects children as well as women.

Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is not a method of conception. Rape is an act of violence meant to intimidate, control, and weaken women and chldren. It is an act of domination and control by violent attack. It is often, though not always, perpetrated against women. Men can also be raped. Rape is a crime committed by an individual, or by a group of individuals (gang rape) which is not uncommon, nor rare.

Recently, we have learned that children are often victims of rape by priests, clergy, Scout leaders etc. Unfortunately, those who knew of these rapes perceived and reacted as if the incidents were sexual acts rather than violent criminal acts which should have been immediately reported to the police for criminal prosecution. Instead the rapist priest or troop leaders were re-assigned as if the behavior could be stopped by removing the rapist from the temptations of his sexual partners. Rape is never a sexual act. It is an abuse of power meant to dominate and control another human being. It destroys human beings. It is violent. It is terrifying.It is soul destroying. I live with its memory every day, and dream it every night.

The position of the Republican party is that a woman who is the victim of a criminal rape should be forced to give birth.Vice President Paul Ryan and at least 12 of 28 Republican Senate nominees, including Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel running against Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown take this position. Paul Ryan redefines rape and dismisses it is an act of criminal violence when he articulates this position,”I’ve always adopted the idea, the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.” But defining rape by criminalizing abortion this way vaccinates the horror of rape and re-injures its victims by denying the reality of their experience. It demeans  the victim and dismisses the crime. Ignoring the victim of a crime, re-victimizes the woman or child who has been raped.

During the past weeks as I heard the comments listed in the above chart, I found it difficult to sleep,eat,laugh and feel safe. I felt re-injured. I felt terror lurking beneath my skin, ready to bring me down. By calling rape “another method of conception” my experience with violent sexual assault was transformed into an innocuous,even harmless, sexual encounter. In effect, we are being told, “We see no reason why you should ask to be protected or kept safe from a mere method of conception. Asking us to do so, asking us to ALLOW you any CONTROL over your own safety, security or life itself will soon be a criminal offense, because we intend to make abortions,even in the case of rape, illegal. Women who are victims of the violent crime of rape are being told that we are the real criminals.

Why do Republicans need to define rape this way? To connect rape to contraception via  an act conception. Thus, they can justify access to birth control, allow employers to refuse to offer contraceptives coverage in insurance plans, to justify Catholic hospitals and clinics refusal to allow insurance company policies for their employees to cover contraception. Rape is yet again being used to dominate and control women, to intimidate us and bring us in line by redefining it as a method of conception. We feel re-injured by the Republican positions because we are being re-injured! These men declared their power over women and children in a new way; by refusing to allow us even the right to define our victimization as violent crimes. Any woman or parent of children should think long and hard before voting for ANY candidate who calls rape a method of conception.

The chart above paints a rosy picture of what Republicans intend for women and children. It seems to describe the types of rape. However, it is far worse. more insidious, and far more dangerous to our safety  because it does not merely define the type of rape; it removes the core, elemental use of violence which is at the heart of rape; instead defining it as an act for sexual pleasure or conception, not an act to dominate, threaten and control. Rape cannot be a crime if it just another method of conception, as defined by Paul Ryan, Josh Mandel, and the Republican platform. Women and children will lose their right to be safe, maybe even their lives, to protect a fetus and to insure continued male domination.

President Obama’s comments on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno explain why he deserves our support, “I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas. Let me make a very simple proposition: rape is rape. It is a crime.This is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s healthcare.”

OBAMA BRAVERY VS. ROMNEY BRAVADO,By Louise Annarino, October 21, 2012

21 Oct

OBAMA BRAVERY VS. ROMNEY BRAVADO , By Louise Annarino, October 21, 2012


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines bravery as courage:

: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty


The Merriam-webster Dictionary defines bravado as:

1.a : blustering swaggering conduct,

b : a pretense of bravery

2.  : the quality or state of being foolhardy

We need a president who is brave; not one who displays mere bravado.

Bravery is:

  • making hard choices every day to do the right thing, knowing every move you make will be blocked; and you, demonized.
  • bringing Bin Laden to justice, despite the risks of the unknown.
  • encouraging emerging democracies to pursue self-rule, and allowing them to do so without self-interest trumping fairness and respect; knowing that people who feel strong need not prove they are not weak.
  • speaking softly while “carrying a big stick” or a small drone.
  • disrupting terrorists hives, even when you know a few bees will always escape, and doing it day-after-day; while helping build new and peaceful structures for those desirous of peaceful conflict resolution.
  • following a foreign policy which understands that conflict can be used to create better understanding only if a “win-win” methodology is in place.
  • accepting responsibility as leader for known and unknown, authorized and unauthorized acts of subordinates.
  • refusal to kneel to those who are your equals, or think themselves your betters; and willingness to kneel with those who are oppressed.
  • sharing your affection, your anger, your shortcomings, your strengths, your thoughts, your feelings, your achievements and your failures transparently.
  • not allowing anyone else to define who you are.
  • pledging to do whatever it takes, regardless of personal and political loss to create a more perfect union,keep America safe and at peace, save America’s middle class, and reinvigorate its economy.

Bravado is:

  • making the easy choice, or no choice, or letting others choose for you; seeking  approval rather than a consistent and strong character.
  • kicking the can down the Palestinian-Israeli road because you believe Mid-East peace is a hopeless quest.
  • encouraging any foreign leader or government which allow corporations and business enterprises abroad to underpay workers, to avoid fair work-place practices and safety standards, and to degrade the environment,despite the negative impact of off-shoring American jobs and  hurting America’s balance of trade.
  • increasing military spending for out-dated arms and munitions to private contractors while cutting spending on military personnel, veterans health care and benefits, and blocking a veterans jobs bill.
  • Threatening to invade countries with whom you disagree, widening the gap to peace and increasing the likelihood of war your own children will not fight.
  • pledging a “winner takes all” foreign policy.
  • disavowing responsibility for your current and former positions, policies, legislation, and decisions; instead blaming others whom you deem as irresponsible victims (at least 47% of our population) for the shortcomings of your own budget proposals.
  • acting as though no one is your equal, and you are more entitled than others to preference, wealth accumulation, and inside deals.
  • refusing to disclose, share, inform or reveal your shortcomings, your thoughts, your feelings, your failures, your tax returns, your financial interests, your off-shore accounts.
  • allowing Teapublicans, right-wing Republicans, moderate Republicans, FOX News, Roger Ailes, Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Focus on the Family, Jerome Corsi and his current audience to define you. The only person whom  you do not allow to define you is YOU.
  • pledging to Grover Norquist you will never raise taxes, knowing you can kick that can down the road to the states (ala Bush); while refusing to provide details as you plan to raise fees, cut deductions,close loopholes etc. once the election is over and the cameras are dimmed.

When I pulled up my kiddie-rocker to sit with my Dad and watch the Saturday Night Fights, sponsored by  “a little dab will do ya” Brylcream, we would each pick a boxer to cheer for. Television was in black and white back then, limiting one’s choice to the guy in the black trunks or the guy in the white trunks. We had a grand old time. There was always next week to pick the winner. This election is just as clearly defined as the guys in Black and white, but our choice is NOW. It is a clear choice between a brave man of courage, or a dissembling man of bravado.

I choose bravery. I choose Barack Obama.

DEFICIT LIVES,By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

14 Oct

DEFICIT LIVES, By Louise Annarino, October 14, 2012

The effort to make Americans fear deficit-spending could be better used discussing what we should do to stop deficit-living. Core areas of our cities, small towns and rural areas are struggling to survive. Poverty has dug a hole, a social and personal deficit, in which large groups of our populace reside. The stimulus has stopped the slide into the hole for most, offered a hand up and out for many, but too many see no way out.

How did we get here, with holes so deeply torn in our social fabric that the middle class has fallen through those holes along with the impoverished? When we did we stop building and strengthening America so all of us could keep the American Dream alive? Instead we allowed charlatans in the think-tanks, lobbyist firms, and the media to paper over the holes, and keep us entertained so we would not notice that the pretty prints they used were mere paper. It started out slowly, but with fall after fall widening the holes entire sections of the fabric split wide open, until the entire fabric was in danger of slipping out of our hands. President Obama took a firm grip, and sewed stimulus patches made of strong material over the holes, all the while warning us that the cloth was worn and need to be replaced; that the holes had so weakened the fabric that major change was needed,and that the fabric could otherwise tear again. But those who met secretly during his inauguration to plot his own down-fall through those holes, pledged to keep them open.

Republicans blocked President Obama’s efforts to select and install a new fabric to support our lives. Many confuse this fabric with the ‘safety net’ strung below it; but, it is not just the safety net which is in danger from Republican policies and the Romney-Ryan Budget, it is the entire fabric strung above the net. Yes, the safety net is struggling; but, not because it was not well-designed, nor well-built, but because it is overloaded by those who fell through holes in our social fabric. It was never intended to hold so many of us. The one way we can relieve stress on our safety net is to replace the social fabric and pull as many Americans off the safety net and back up into the middle class as we possibly can. This is what President Obama intends to do, what he has been doing, and what he will continue to do if re-elected. We must cast our vote to re-elect him president, and cast our vote to elect Democrats to the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and to state offices who support his vision and will work with him to get the job done. What we do not need are those who insist we cannot replace nor repair the whole cloth; but, must simply remove people from the safety net through privatization of medicare, social security etc.

The National Poverty Center reports that the poverty rate was  22.4 percent, or 39.5 individuals during the 1950’s. “These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

I still recall the photos of starving children, eyes wide with uncertainty, on the porches of Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta which stirred President Lyndon Johnson to declare a War on Poverty in the 1960s, which led to the decline of poverty. President Ronald Reagan’s stance in the 1980’s was that we had lost the War on Poverty;and, that social safety net benefits did not justify its cost. We soon saw poverty levels increase.This Reaganomics view of poverty prevails today. But a new paper from Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan says it’s missing everything. “We may not have won the war on poverty, but we are certainly winning,” they write. When they looked at poorer families’ consumption rather than income, accounted for changes in the tax code that benefit the poor, and included “noncash benefits” such as food stamps and government-provided medical care, they found poverty fell 12.5 percentage points between 1972 and 2010.” In effect, they are explaining that the safety net does work.

The problem is NOT the safety net but growing income inequality in our social fabrichttp://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-12/record-u-dot-s-dot-poverty-rate-holds-as-inequality-grows During the last decade the highest quintile of earners saw their real income rise 1.6% and the top 5% saw their incomes rise 4.9%, while the middle class saw their incomes decline 1.9%. The very lowest incomes, those in the safety net, saw their incomes stay the same. None of this data means the income of those in the safety net is adequate. Nevertheless, the extremely poor (those with less than 1/2 of official poverty level earnings), remained at 6.6% of the population. The middle class has not fallen that low because President Obama’s policies stopped the fall. As more people returned to work in a steady rise over the past nearly 4 years, the fabric of America grows stronger as well.

More is yet to be done, as President Obama reminds us. We cannot reduce the deficit and continue Bush tax breaks for top earners. In fact we must increase their income tax rate,including an increase on capital gains. The estate tax must not be eliminated but increased for those at the highest earning bracket, who are the only persons currently required to pay estate tax, it having been eliminated for lower income earners decades ago. And we must end the round of ceaseless war which benefits military contractors, and corrupt government officials at home and abroad. President Obama, as Vice-President Biden affirmed in his recent debate with Congressman Paul Ryan insists that American troops will be out of Afghanistan in 2014. He suggests that we instead, rebuild America’s education and transportation systems, repair and further develop American infrastructure, invest in small business development and manufacturing, research and develop green and innovative technologies, reduce and redesign our military capabilities for more cost effective security at home and abroad.

We can do all this and reduce the economic deficit. But, we must also end our willingness to overlook poverty, especially for those most greatly affected by it, our women and children.We cannot grow our economy when our children are not given the tools they need to compete and succeed. The National Poverty Center reports: “The poverty rate for all persons masks considerable variation between racial/ethnic subgroups. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2010, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians.

Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty. (See the U.S. census chart below)

“There are also differences between native-born and foreign-born residents. In 2010, 19.9 percent of foreign-born residents lived in poverty, compared to 14.4 percent of residents born in the United States. Foreign-born, non-citizens had an even higher incidence of poverty, at a rate of 26.7 percent.” http://www.npc.umich.edu/poverty/.

Children Under 18 Living in Poverty, 2010
Category Number (in thousands) Percent
All children under 18 16, 401 22.0
White only, non-Hispanic 5,002 12.4
Black 4,817 38.2
Hispanic 6,110 35.0
Asian 547 13.6

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, Report P60, n. 238, Table B-2, pp. 68-73.

Those like Paul Ryan who argue we must reduce the deficit by reducing the safety net, decreasing income and benefits, weaken labor unions, reduce the size of government and lay-off government workers, privatizing government responsibilities as means to reduce government costs are “whistling Dixie” in more ways than one. Paul Ryan voted for unfunded Medicare Part D, which President Obama, unlike President Bush, has now included in his budget and improved through Obamacare by closing the donut hole. Including this expense within the Obama budget is really a disclosure of previously hidden Bush budget expenses. This is also true for the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which were passed as emergency measures, not budget items; included by President Obama in his budget and added to official budget deficit figures, but not done so by President Bush.

One must also note that Bush war-funding was historically unprecedented. To pay for World War II, Americans bought savings bonds and put extra notches in their belts. President Harry Truman raised taxes and cut nonmilitary spending to pay for the Korean conflict. During Vietnam, the US raised taxes but still watched deficits soar. President Bush did nothing to control the burgeoning deficits of war. Republicans and Democrats, unwilling to leave troops in the field without funding, settled with uncompromising Republican leadership and allowed this strategic undercounting of the deficit to go unabated and continued to vote for emergency war-funding, outside the regular budget bills. The willingness to kick the can down the road has become a hallmark of Republicans as they block every Democratic bill to increase jobs, reduce deficit, and stimulate the economy during the Obama administration. They are not ashamed , but proud of this tactic in their strategy to make  President Obama a one-term president. In the recently released video of Mitt Romney talking with his well-heeled donors in May he takes this tactic a step further,when he said the Palestinians were not interested in peace, the chances of a peace agreement was remote and the whole issue should be kicked down the field. Kicking problems down the field seems to have become an accepted Republican strategy. The Bush tax cuts added some $2.8 trillion to the national debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Congressman Paul Ryan voted for those cuts. To his credit, Ryan also backed the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout, most of which has been paid back, and the auto bailout.http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/. I mention this because it is disingenuous and hypocritical to blame the deficit on President Obama and democrats in Congress.

I first noticed this Republican disregard for current reality and for balanced budgets during 6 months of debate over Medicare reform in early 2003. I had falsely believed that Republicans were fiscally more conservative than Democrats. Clearly,I was wrong. Reagan, I was aware, had little to no regard for fiscal responsibility, but he had once been a Democrat after all !

Like many others, I saw the need for prescription coverage for seniors and hoped new legislation would allow the government to negotiate for lower costs and formulary control similar to V.A. cost-control efforts. Big Pharma lobbyists blocked, and continue to block such an effort. The bill came to a vote at 3 a.m., just minutes before it was scheduled to close, the clock was stopped for 3 hours with the bill losing, 219-215 while Republicans on the floor, and including President Bush by phone, strong-armed congressman to change their vote. “Then-Representative Nick Smith (R-MI) claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from ‘nay’ to ‘yea.’ After controversy ensued, Smith clarified no explicit offer of campaign funds was made, but that he was offered ‘substantial and aggressive campaign support’ which he had assumed included financial support.” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/is-paul-ryan-really-a-fiscal-hawk/261170/.

At about 5:50 a.m. the bill passed the House 220-215. The bill itself was finally passed in the Senate 54-44 on November 25, 2003, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 8. Now, Romney and Ryan threaten to eliminate Obamacare and its improvements of medicare, including Part D; plan to privatize medicare and social security. If these programs are more costly than they need be it is because of Republican refusal to rein in excess costs businesses extract from the program.

Medicare Part D did provide prescription coverage but did not reduce costs as much as it could have because of what it failed to include: it prohibits the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies, and it prevents the government from establishing a formulary. It did, however, provide a subsidy for large employers to discourage them from eliminating private prescription coverage to retired workers (a key AARP goal). Obamacare now provides subsidies to small businesses which makes their overall provision of health care insurance affordable. Efforts to include negotiating costs for drugs under Obamacare was blocked by Republicans.

Clearly, it is not Obama’s efforts to reduce medical and insurance costs which makes these medial social fabric programs a drain on government coffers, but the effort of Republicans to protect and expand financial gain of private service providers. President Obama and Congressional Democrats do not seek unfair advantage over private providers; but seek to stop unfair advantage, fraud and abuse by such providers. Obamacare is already predicted to save medicare $716 billion in such provider and insurance company abuses. That money is being channeled to provide more preventive, cost-free health care services for medicare users. This is how we create a stronger social fabric for the middle class. Improving and increasing medicaid coverage is another part of strengthening American fabric.

During an economic downturn, individuals lose jobs, incomes drop, state revenues decline, and more individuals qualify and enroll in Medicaid which increases program spending. However,data indicate that declines in state revenues were a much more significant factor for state budget gaps than increases in Medicaid spending. “Total state revenues dropped by 30% in FY 2009 compared to total Medicaid spending increases of about 7.6% in that year,” http://www.kff.org/medicaid/upload/7580-08.pdf.

Today, 50 states plan or are implementing a new policy to control medicaid costs in multiple areas. State revenues have shown positive growth fro the last 7 quarters, as the unemployment rate continues to drop (now 7.8%) and the GNP continues to improve. States must continue to make delivery of service changes designed to improve care and control costs, thanks to Obamacare. Its “maintenance of eligibility” requirements generally prohibit states from restricting Medicaid eligibility or tightening enrollment procedures. Obama’s focus on wise and educated restructuring of programs for maximum efficiency and best practices in care delivery are another part of strengthening the American fabric.

But, and this is important, these improvements take time. They must however occur if the American Dream is to survive. While government works to  balance budgets, streamline and improve services, reduces fraud and waste it must never forget the impact of income inequality on those African-American, Latino and immigrant single-mothers. we must help them raise their children out of the safety net and up onto the social fabric of the middle-class. We must provide preventive health care, women’s reproductive health care, and children’s health care to everyone in America. We must be certain every child is well-fed, provided with stimulating day-care and pre-schools to ready them for a top-notch education. They need warm clothes for winter, safe after school and summer programs, neighborhoods free of crime and violence. We must not only show them a way out of poverty, but strengthen and empower them to follow the path. I am reminded of the United Negro College Fund motto “ A Mind Is a Terrible Thing  to Waste.” Our American middle-class motto must be “ A Child is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”  President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden would weave this motto into the fabric of America. They will not kick American children down the road, until the deficit is paid off. They will not continue and increase income inequality with tax relief to those who don’t need it. They will reduce the economic deficit AND the human deficit, by reducing income inequality.  That is how we strengthen the American fabric for all of us.

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ROUND TWO;By Louise Annarino,October 7, 2012

8 Oct

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ROUND TWO, By Louise Annarino, October, 7, 2012


If you think my last piece which suggested we do not need a bully in the bully-pulpit was mere spin on the lack of an effective response to Mr. Romney’s debate performance by President Obama and Jim Lehrer, rest assured it was not meant to be so. The willingness within human culture to overlook and even applaud bullying is more prevalent than we recognize. In schools, workplaces, even on debate stages it too often rears its ugly head. Tim Field, [bullyonline.org] who believes only the best are bullied, describes bullying in a way we cannot so easily overlook:
“Bullying is a compulsive need to displace aggression and is achieved by the expression of inadequacy (social, personal, interpersonal, behavioural, professional) by projection of that inadequacy onto others through control and subjugation (criticism, exclusion, isolation etc). Bullying is sustained by abdication of responsibility (denial, counter-accusation, pretence of victimhood) and perpetuated by a climate of fear, ignorance, indifference, silence, denial, disbelief, deception, evasion of accountability, tolerance and reward (eg promotion) for the bully.”

Tonight, while I sat in the atrium of the pizza parlor waiting to pick up a pizza, I noticed several middle school girls, accompanied by a few parents, enjoying a birthday party in the adjacent party room. The birthday girl stepped through the open double-pocket doors into the lobby area as the party seemed to wind down, only to have the other girls close the doors behind her and refuse to allow her back inside. The other girls laughed and teased her as she quietly asked them to open the doors. They would not budge; but only grinned and giggled. Her efforts to dislodge one door moved every girl to hold it fast against her. As she shifted to the other side, they shifted against her,relishing their power over her. As the intensity of her pleas increased in anxiety but not volume, their glee increased. The parents paid them no mind,as the jollity of the girls on the inside increased, and the girl shoved to the outside became more resigned to her powerlessness. As the fight went out of the girl being kept outside the group and the reliance on the kindness of girlfriends was lost in the darkness, the game became meaningless and was abandoned. The birthday girls’s wounded eyes belied her “thanks for coming” to the parting girls, still laughing over their prank.


How often do we see this type of interaction and not recognize what it is and the damage it does?  When the suggestion of a faculty member at a university committee meeting is ignored by the group, only to be applauded 3 minutes later when a member of the faculty in-group suggests the very same idea, do we recognize bullying? In those moments the pretense of collegiality was forever lost. On the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination as a unformed Catholic school girl quietly bears the shouts of public school students as she walks home following early dismissal, “Ha ha! Someone finally killed your fish-eating president, you dirty Catholic!”,do we recognize bullying? In those moments safe passage on a city street was forever lost. Would we recognize it in what Mitt Romney did as a high school senior when he organized an assault on a fellow student stating, “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” and proceeded to cut his hair as Romney’s friends held him down? In those moments his pretense of innocent prankster was forever lost.


There is a fine line between strong leadership and bullying; the two can be easily and unfairly confused. I do not believe I have done so in this case. There is a mistaken belief that bullies pick on the weak. But, often they pick on those whose greater strength threatens their perceived dominance and control, whose greater strength they fear. I believe this is what drove Mitt Romney’s hyper-verbal aggression, unwarranted rule-breaking, and laughter-filled domination at the first presidential debate. He was too comfortable making others uncomfortable, too gleeful when breaking rules, too eager to distort-deny-ignore his own policies, too satisfied with his own evasions. To me, these are traits of a bully; not a leader one can trust. To me Romney’s fearful excitement, fueled by aggression, was far more significant than whether he won or President Obama lost the debate.


I also believe these traits are what drives the unwarranted attacks against Barack Obama by Mr. Romney and Teapublicans who fear the changing demographics seemingly embodied in an African-American president. I am not the first to remark upon this phenomenon. But, do we recognize the behavior we are watching as  bullying? Perhaps we do not do so because our president is so strong. Perhaps we don’t because we fear by doing so he will be called weak. We cannot afford to ignore the bullying, because the world cannot afford a bully in the bully pulpit. Bullies often attack those whose strength they fear. There is no way to appease bullies;their fear is a bottomless pit. However, kind people instinctively try to protect the weak. Strong people instinctively hold back their strength to avoid worsening the bully’s fear. But, we need not deny our strength to make weak bullies feel better about themselves. That is their responsibility. The first step in confronting a bully is to define him as one.


President Obama must admit he faces a bully, and do what each of us who have faced bullies have learned to do – stand up to the bully and challenge his displaced aggression ,projection of inadequacy, subjugation,criticism, counter-accusation, abdication of responsibility, pretense of victimhood, denial, deception, evasion of accountability; perpetuated by a climate of fear and ignorance while insisting on approval. Bullies cannot be rewarded with a pretense that they are fair or strong leaders. When they are not attacking the strong, they are attacking the weak. And who will speak for the weak? The strong must be willing to do so. President Obama must speak for all of us: women, immigrants,people of color, LGBT community, middle class, poor, small businesses, corporations facing take-over, even mother earth. This is why President Obama’s supporters were disappointed in his performance;not because he lost a debate, but because he did not defend them against the bully.


I said it before, and I shall say it again, “Bullies must never be called winners.” We cannot allow a bully to be elected to the bully-pulpit. Anger at President Obama is misguided by our own fear of ,and distaste for, Mr. Romney. It is time to stand together;not let fear divide us. Mr. President, we are counting on you to lead us. every day, we face down these bullies during canvassing, phone banks, fundraising, writing Letters to the Editor, and blogging. We have your back. We know we can count  on you to have ours.  Bullies beware!




DEBATING THE OPTICS,By Louise Annarino, October 1, 2012

1 Oct

DEBATING THE OPTICS, By Louise Annarino, October 1, 2012


Even Howard Dean is falling for Republican talking points today advising us to mute our televisions and simply watch the debate without sound. Newscasters on every cable and broadcast network are discussing the upcoming debates as if all the audience is capable of is watching body language,especially in camera shots of one candidate’s reaction to what the other is saying. The only value given to what is being said,rather than to how the candidates look saying it, is the search for zingers. I do realize optics matter; but, they do not matter more than the substance of what is being said. Such discussions as I have been hearing are disrespectful to the American public. We are not children. We are not fools. We understand the spoken word. We can think and we can analyze. We want and need to listen the details of where and how each man intends to lead our country. Romney consistently refuses, and so, does not want us to listen to President Obama tell us this. Distracting viewers from listening means Romney need say nothing; and what President Obama says goes unheard.


Certainly, newscasters and pundits do not intend to insult us. They need us to continue watching them. But,it is just so easy for newscasters to fall into the Republican trap. They understand optics because looking good means a wider profile and bigger bucks when delivering television news. It’s radio for the less lovely.  Howard Dean may have fallen into the trap because he recalls how the “Dean Scream” became a deflating debate zinger in his own run for the presidency. Republicans know they have messengers ready to fall into the trap. It is a brilliant strategy.


The Republican strategy is also brilliant,however, for more sinister reasons. If the debate can be reduced to optics only, Romney can appear on stage as President Obama’s equal. Both can appear equally presidential,even when only one sounds that way. Even worse, the white guy in the business suit almost always trumps the Black guy in the business suit. Although, with changing demographics, Romney may alter his tanning times to appeal to a broader audience, as he has done in the past. How better to attack an African-American president than to make the debate all about optics. This further broadens the appeal of Romney to subliminally racist viewers,without any use of coded language. The racial coding is within the image itself.


If we devalue what is said by the candidates,and focus only on how it is said we allow ourselves to be set up  for another Republicantactic Obama is a liar who uses his gifted rhetoric to lie to the American people. If no one is listening to his responses to the moderator’s questions, it is much easier to attack him in this manner. If we fall for an optics only debate,we fail our responsibility to be a fully informed voter.


Understanding the optics does give us additional information about each candidate. However, using optics as the central and most significant analytical tool while watching the debate is simplistic and makes us susceptible to propaganda. Listening to news analysis of the debate only from an optics viewpoint demeans American viewers. We deserve better. We have a right to be angry with those who are suggesting we set aside all of our senses to use only the one they can most easily manipulate.