Email letters, January 31, 2014

America must return to days of accomplishing great goals

It’s 3 a.m., and as I sit undisturbed by the noise of the world, I consider its problems during this time of extreme transition at the beginning of the 21st century.

I grew up in the ‘30s and ‘40s lean and hungry. Obesity was not a problem during those days. Our hunger was for self-improvement so that we could get ahead in the world.

I started my career as a structural engineer in the early ‘60s and remember John F. Kennedy’s challenge to America to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Americans enthusiastically accepted the challenge. I worked designing and building storage vessels to hold cryogenic fluids for the space industry. We solved problems that were previously impossible to solve. The outfall of the efforts of the time resulted in all the gadgets and advances that we so easily use today without much thought about the miracles that they are.

America was motivated and produced scientists, engineers, medical professionals and a myriad of other geniuses in high-paying jobs to accomplish the task

So, where are we today at the beginning of the 21st century?  It appears that we are creating a culture of dependency, whether from the recreational use of drugs, dope and alcohol; over-consumption; obesity; the continued extension of unemployment benefits and what to do with the increasing numbers of homeless; the shrinking backbone of America, the middle class; global warming; the growing of an aristocratic class of wealthy and politically bloated leaders; and the lack of leadership that is necessary to solve these problems.

The solution?  So simple. We need leaders of the caliber of John F. Kennedy to demand more of us. To demand that we take on a challenge that will motivate us to do great and difficult things. Whether it is to build an interstate rapid transit system similar to the interstate system of the Eisenhower era, or put boots on Mars instead of Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria?  A major war is an option but one to be avoided. World War III was averted by the space race that required incredible resources of brain and brawn, rather than young men killing each other.

We have such sorry leadership today. It is more intent on protecting its own self-interests and survival by offering palliatives rather than solid solutions. But, even worse, we ourselves bear the responsibility for tolerating such incompetence.

It is time for America to “cowboy up” and set the goals that will challenge us to do great things deserving of a great society. Even I, very old, want to get back into the fight.

Grand Junction

Way of funding government is similar to marriage proposal

The Constitutional process by which we fund our government is analogous to societal conventions for proposing marriage. The boy asks the girl “will you marry me?” The girl then considers whether she has a better alternative or is this man she loves. If she says no, she risks the man going away never to return. If she says yes, he is either the love of her life or the most acceptable that has proposed.

In our Constitution, the House initiates all revenue and spending bills. When members of the Senate receive the bill, they have to decide if it is acceptable to them or not. If they do not pass the bill, they risk the government having no money to operate, as they cannot propose a bill on their own.

This simple fact has been ignored by most of us, as most of us cite the House as responsible for the government shutdowns in 1995 and last year. In 1995 the House and Senate both passed an authorization bill that the president vetoed. The president then convinced most of the country that the House had shut down the government.

Last year, the House passed an authorization bill to fund the government, less funding for the Affordable Care Act. The Senate took no action, confident that the House would be blamed for the resultant government shutdown.

In summary, there are two conditions required for a wedding: 1) the boy proposes 2) the girl says yes. When the girl says no, the boy does not stop the wedding.

Grand Junction

Contrary to what Pramenko espouses, alternatives to ACA do exist

Many of the misstatements in Dr. Michael Pramenko’s commentary on “Obamacare repeal advocates haven’t offered good alternatives” to Obamacare deserve a truthful rebuttal.

First, most people would acknowledge that universal health care is a morally worthy goal. Second, most people would agree that the federal government is the least capable entity to deliver said health care.

It seems that the lies told in order to pass Obamacare; “If you like your healthcare you can keep it, if you like your doctor you can keep him, and this will save a family $2,500 a year” didn’t seem to bother the good doctor. Then add in the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase and many other promises made to keep all of the wavering Democrats voting for Obamacare against the desires of their constituents.

Even our own senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennett, were early and ardent supporters of the law before they knew what was in it and still are I assume. It has been one big deception from the beginning.

The gist of his column was that the GOP had no alternatives to Obamacare. If the good doctor would watch something other than MSNBC or NBC or the mainstream media in general, he would find out that there are many alternatives out there, not just from the GOP.

The good doctor wants to be able to keep his blinders on and pretend that Obamacare is it, even in the face of the health care rollout which cost somewhere between $600 million to $1 billion and still doesn’t work.

All of these alternatives begin by repealing Obamacare. The good doctor makes the claim that 2 million people have signed up with health insurance via Obamacare but conveniently leaves out the fact that almost 6 million people have had their health insurance canceled and tens of millions more are facing the same fate next year.

After repealing Obamacare, there are a lot of alternatives. Sens. Coburn, Hatch and Burr released a plan, the Patient Choice, Afford, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, which has two primary elements.  One is to repeal Obamacare, and the second is to restore the consumer, not the federal government, at the center of health care. In the House there is HB1321 as an alternative. There is talk about health savings accounts that are controlled by the individual and not the government.

The point is that Obamacare is a bad law and bad policy, and it is doomed for failure like every other socialist plan. The good doctor is right in that there is not one plan for when Obamacare is repealed, but perhaps both sides then could sit down together and work with each other to craft a plan that keeps the federal government out of the health care business as much as possible.

If Singapore and Switzerland can do it, I believe we here in the United States can have something better.

Grand Junction

Price of flying out of Grand Junction likely to go up

While the citizens of Mesa County stand by to see what further developments come about with regard to this airport scandal, one thing seems clear. Honesty and fiscal responsibility don’t necessarily go hand in hand with conservative ideals and politics.

So, let me tell you what I think may happen. First off, the price of everyone’s flight tickets in the future is going to go up. Regardless of any other factors, someone’s going to have to pay for this nonsense. If you fly anywhere out of the Grand Junction airport, that’s going to be you.

Your property and sales taxes might even rise sometime soon. The county supervisors will continue to try to cut funding for things such as transit, kids’ pools, river paths and road maintenance. They lay off employees who serve the community, all the while trying to make the books look better so they can co-sign a building loan for West Star Aviation.

The fraud allegations at the airport are putting the nix on them getting their own loan without the taxpayers being put on the hook for those loans. All this is so they can build a multimillion-dollar paint booth for rich people’s private jets.

Grab your hats and saddle up, folks. The good old boys are riding again.

Grand Junction

League of Women Voters favors anti-pollution goals

League of Women Voters of Mesa County has historic, established public policy positions that protect air quality and support industry growth. Our position is in line with the league’s statewide position to support measures that reduce air pollution from stationary sources and ambient toxic-air pollutants, as well as trans-boundary air pollutants.

Oil and gas development is not expected to disappear from Mesa County. In fact, the proposed Fram Whitewater project, with its addition of 108 wells in four years, will substantially increase pollution in Mesa County unless protections are put into place before the project begins.

The cost-saving recommendations compiled by responsible oil and gas companies, concerned environmentalists and the state division will serve to capture emissions that will enhance industry profits, as well as protect the health and welfare of residents, especially those who are hit the hardest by the degradation of our air: children, the elderly and those already suffering from compromised respiratory ailments. We support stronger protections for those living and working close to oil and gas operations.

Although we have not yet been classified as a non-attainment area, we have exceeded the national air quality standard for ozone enough times to indicate a decisive trend toward reaching non-attainment status in the near future. Such a label will not only reflect negligence on the part of government leaders who are directly responsible for public health, it will
greatly influence our tourist industry, our reputation as a national outdoor sports destination and our well known agricultural interests, including the fruit and wine district.

It is time for Colorado to lead the way. League of Women Voters of Mesa County strongly urges the Air Quality Control Commission to act responsibly to protect Colorado, including the highly vulnerable Western Slope, from harmful ground-level ozone and methane pollution.

League of Women Voters
Grand Junction

Feds offer flimsy explanation for Craig closed-door meeting

Here we go again - the head of the Department of the Interior has the press thrown out of a public meeting in Craig – not once, but twice – and it is all because of a “breakdown in communications.”

That would necessarily mean there previously were “communications” among the governor, Interior, Moffat County commissioner, and other interested parties, like the BLM.
How did they communicate?  We know they “communicated’, because there was a “breakdown in ‘communications.”  Were those ‘communications smoke signals?  Hand signs?  Maybe sky writing?  If not, there should be a record of said “communications” among all these appointed and elected officials. I was somewhat surprised Jewell’s office didn’t lay blame on the “man believed to be an Interior Department employee,” who would have naturally taken orders from Jewell herself. That wouldn’t fly very far.

Since Jewell was an appointed official by this administration, and since we have seen much of the same kind of behavior on the part of Holder, Napolitano, Clinton, the NSA and IRS, we, the people, would like to see an accounting of said behavior. Unfortunately, the man who has appointed these people to positions of high power does the same type of things. He has “a phone, and a pen.” What person in his/her right mind would expect anyone appointed by this administration to not consider himself or herself above the law?  A federal appointee should know the law.

Still, laws were broken, not by Moffat County, but by a federal appointee, and Noelle Leavitt Riley may choose to consider it a mea culpa on the part of Jewell, but that wasn’t an apology written by Interior Dept. communications director Kate Kelly – and should not have been written by Kelly in the first place.
It was blamed on a “communications breakdown,” and nobody even said, “I’m going to get to the bottom of this.” Nor did anyone say, “The person responsible is going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Jewell is in a good position.  Riley wants to hope that was an apology, Kelly is hoping the people will consider it an apology, and Jewell is thinking,  “If I don’t slide clean on this faux pas, sage grouse will definitely be on the Endangered Species List.”

Jewell has the whole shootin’ match right where she wants them, and we, the people, lose out again. Show us the communications, Sally Jewell!

Grand Junction

Rather than criticize, Tipton ought to offer clear solutions

Predictably, Rep. Scott Tipton had a critical article in Wednesday’s paper following President’s Obama’s national speech. He seems to have become a partisan political critic. Clearly, Tipton represents the national 10 percent Congress favorability rating.

I would like to read one clear and polished alternative direction for any agenda of which he is a critic. Being critical is easy. Being a clear, direct problem solver takes talent and creativity.

We need to succinctly know Tipton’s beliefs and solutions and not just hear his continual criticisms.

Grand Junction

There is ample reason for the Sentinel’s (and Tipton’s) apparent ambivalence on farm bill
Kudos to The Daily Sentinel for joining the The Washington Post in questioning the merits of the “compromise” Farm Bill (“Farm Bill yields mixed bag of reform”), even though it benefits Mesa County temporarily.

After two years of “negotiations,” and with Congressman Tipton (a member of the House Agriculture Committee) not voting, H.R. 2642 – the ten-year $956 billion “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2014” – passed on a bipartisan vote (162 Republicans and 89 Democrats “for”; 103 Democrats and 62 Republicans against). 

But, there is ample reason for the Sentinel’s (and Tipton’s) apparent ambivalence.

First, H.R. 2642 “only” cuts Food Stamps by another $8+ billion (in addition to last November’s $5 billion cut) – less than the $39 billion demanded by “Teapublicans” like Tipton, but accounting for half the purported “savings.”

Second, while imposing draconian cuts on – mostly — single women with children and the elderly, the bill provides guaranteed income to already wealthy “farmers” – and thus should more aptly have been titled the “Millionaire Farmers’ Welfare Act of 2014.”

With median household income in the U.S. at $51,000, H.R. 2642 authorizes subsidy payments to corporate farms and farmers earning up to $900,000 — after deducting all farming and other expenses (versus $250,000 previously).

Thus, even though the bill ends the statutorily disclosable (by Congressmen) “direct payment” program (because it was more rife with “waste, fraud, and abuse” than any other federal “entitlement” program), Tipton’s fellow-Republican millionaire absentee-farmer cronies in Congress will now receive no-longer-disclosable indirect payments.

H.R. 2642 also reveals Republicans’ socialistic tendency to protect favored groups (only) from the vagaries of the venerated “free market” by creating a new insurance program to protect farmers against price fluctuations – while guaranteeing insurers a 16 percent profit.

Perhaps all subsidies could be limited to real farmers with net incomes under $125,000?

Grand Junction







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Tom Kelley’s letter – “Rather than criticize, Tipton ought to offer clear solutions” – properly identifies our Congressman as a partisan parrot of Republican talking points.

Last Tuesday, the House passed H.R.7 – the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2014” – by a partisan vote of 227 to 188 (with Tipton absent due to a death in his family), a bill which prohibits private insurers offering federally subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act” (“ACA”) from covering abortions (a woman’s fundamental Constitutional right), which President Obama has promised to veto (if passed by the Senate), but about which Tipton was silent. 
Last Wednesday, Tipton issued a press release (from Cortez) criticizing the President’s State of the Union Address, parroting almost verbatim the “official” Republican response – replete with the same disingenuous misstatements of fact.  Thus:

First, Tipton accurately noted that “[t]he nation’s labor participation rate is the lowest it’s been in 36 years - more than 91 million unemployed Americans have given up on looking for work”, without also explaining that millions of those are retirement-eligible “Baby Boomers” still willing to work but displaced by the Republican Recession.  Meanwhile, Tipton cynically opposed extending unemployment benefits to the remainder.

Second, Tipton disingenuously claims that “[t]his Administration’s policies have killed jobs” when the facts are that the economy has created 8 million new jobs since President Obama’s policies took effect in mid-2009, and fails to explain why the Republican leadership has still not allowed the “American Jobs Act of 2011” to be brought-up for a vote – much less admit that the ACA will generate thousands of health sector jobs in the future.

Last Thursday, Tipton confirmed his support for the Farm Bill, which locks taxpayers into subsidizing his millionaire cronies and corporate “farmers” for another ten years—by cutting Food Stamps.

Kudos Mr. Tallarico.

I often wonder how much better off we would be if JFK had two full terms. I am a conservative, but JFK actually had good ideals that appealed to both sides of the fence.

Michael Higgins’ letter – “Contrary to what Pramenko espouses, alternatives to ACA do exist” – proves that Higgins is underqualified to critique Dr. Pramenko’s more-informed opinion, because Higgins can’t recognize “truth” when he encounters it.  Thus:

First, while acknowledging that “universal health care is a morally worthy goal”, Higgins ignores the fact that the most virulent oppenents of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) do not accept that premise – because of its implications for government involvement.

Second, contrary to Higgins’ bald assertion, most serious analysts of health care policy agree that our previous reliance on mostly for-profit health care providers did not deliver “universal health care” and instead contributed to unsustainable annual increases in both health care costs and health insurance premiums – necessitating government intervention.

Third, Higgins conveniently ignores health insurers’ chicanery in inducing trusting policy holders to abandon “grandfathered” coverage and issuing non-ACA-compliant policies—knowing that they would have to be cancelled (but without informing purchasers).

Fourth, Higgins overlooks last week’s PriceWaterhouse report that average premiums on ACA exchanges are lower than those of employer-sponsored health plans.

Fifth, Higgins distorts the truth of Dr. Pramenko’s column by falsely asserting that its “gist . . . was that the GOP had no alternatives to Obamacare”, when the column’s title clearly states that the GOP has offered no “good” – much less “better” – alternatives.

Sixth, Higgins then smugly exposes his sophistry by begging the very question Pramenko addressed:  Republicans have floated multiple “alternatives” regardless of merit – just to answer “replace with what?”.

However, if Higgins “would watch something other than” FoxNoise, he would know even the most recent “Republican alternative” fails to survive serious scrutiny.

The reason for the GOP’s failure to offer a better alternative is the simple truth that the ACA was and remains conservatives’ best-conceived alternative to the preferable “public option”.

Ref. to Mr. Tallarico’s letter:

I just heard on the national news that fighter jets will be patrolling the restricted airspace over Met Life stadium for the super-bowl. That’s fear, not freedom. Have the 9/11 terrorists actually won some semblance of victory?

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