Democrats & Liberals Archives

Open letter to Senator Debbie Stabenow

Dear Senator Stabenow,

I was honored to have the opportunity to volunteer on your, and Governor Granholm’s, election campaigns, and I am so grateful that you both won re-election. I appreciate your hard work and service to our country, and to our state.

Our country and state are going through such wrenching times as a result of the failed policies of the Bush Regime. Our state is suffering from the collapse of the domestic auto industry which has been neglected by the Bush Regime. I have four issues of deep concern that I would like to share with you. We must honor our liberal principals but also be pragmatic and move toward the center in order to govern.

Issue 1 - Campaign Finance Reform

I believe that the most important thing that we could do for our country is to have public financing of elections. The public is sick and tired of "Bridges to No Where." Special interest lobbyists are an important part of our political system. We need their concerns, knowledge and expertise of the myriad perspectives surrounding the issues that our society faces. But $$$special interest lobbyists$$$ with checkbooks full of campaign cash are a corrupting influence on our political system. How can we ask elected officials such as yourself, to go begging hat in hand to $$special interests$$$ for campaign cash and then retain independent judgment. It is a blatant conflict of interest. Democrats tend to be a little "cleaner" than Republicans in this regard primarily because campaign cash from organized labor is a little "cleaner" than campaign cash from profit driven private enterprise. "Cleaner" does not mean clean. Profit driven enterprises give money for one reason; to increase profits. Democrats have also been cleaner because we have not had any power to sell. That has now changed. We must have public financing of elections so that liberals and conservatives alike can be responsive to the needs of the American people instead of having to cater to the needs of $$$special interests$$$ in order to win re-election. Mass media that uses public property like the air waves and rights of way for profit should be required to donate free air time to the electoral process. Even newspapers and magazines use taxpayer funded roads to deliver their product. Let them contribute some ink. The rest would be financed out of the general fund. One dollar spent on public financing of elections would translate into $100 dollars saved on pork barrel "Bridges to No Where." Lets not have any "Bridges to No Where" named after Democrats.

Issue 2 - The Iraq Debacle

Let us hope that the firing of Rumsfeld, and nomination of Gates signals that the Bush Regime may be preparing to "Flip Flop" on Iraq, open to outside influence, and seek more effective policies. LET US HOPE... We need new policies, not new faces. Gates will be yet one more Administration official with ties to criminal activity in Iran - Contra, as well as, politicizing intelligence, so they really have not reached outside of the insular bubble. This failed Regime has led us into a no win situation. It is now vital that we pick the least bad alternative. I believe that it is important that world super powers / imperial powers win their wars. We do not want to embolden our enemies. We do not want to leave a failed state and terrorist haven in Iraq. Yet the Administration's failed policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea have emboldened our enemies and Iraq has become unwinnable. Democratizing the Mid-East is a failure. We must talk to regional powers including Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia to find a solution that creates stability and controls terrorists.

Issue 3 - National Health Care

While we build "Bridges to No Where" millions of Americans go without adequate health care. Families go bankrupt as a result of medical expenses. People who are blessed to have insurance pay higher premiums because hospitals and Doctors have to treat the poor and uninsured for free. The life expectancy of Americans lags behind the life expectancy of other industrialized nations with national health care. I suppose that lowering life expectancy is one way to solve the Social Security crisis. Doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies have to manage the administrative nightmare of diagnosing, treating, coding and billing for hundreds of different insurance plans, with thousands of different regulations. I believe that we need single payer universal health care for everyone. I also believe that single payer universal health care for everyone is politically unattainable at this time. I know that the Democrats already have some good plans for reducing health care cost and extending coverage to more people. One thing that is missing is that we need for everyone to be placed into the same "risk pool" Older workers, workers with health problems, and older established companies with older higher risk workforces, (like the domestic auto industry), are at an unfair competitive disadvantage. Workers should not be discriminated against based on health risk. Otherwise dynamic and competitive companies, (like Delphi), should not be forced into bankruptcy simply because they have done the right thing by providing lifelong job security and health insurance to their workers. Requiring insurance companies to place everyone in the same risk pool would level the playing field for older workers, and established companies. Pooling risk is the entire point of insurance. Everyone should be in the same risk pool. We are all Americans. We are all together in this thing called life. We should stand together. We should face the challenges and risk of life as one.

Issue 4 - The Rule of Law

This country is a Republic.

Illegal Wiretapping - Torture - Due Process and the Constitution...

We must fight to protect and restore the Constitution. We still do not know what the Bush Administration is actually doing. We must have a full investigation (at least within the intelligence oversight committees) and find out exactly what the Bush Administration is doing in regards to torture, and wiretapping. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalas has admitted that he could not certify that the full extent of the NSA wiretapping program has been disclosed.

Many Americans believe that we must chose between being tough on terrorists and protecting our Constitutional Fourth Amendment rights. This simply is not true. It is true that we must be tough on terrorists. It may even be true that the FISA law may need to be updated. There will doubtless be some Republicans who will use the same tired line that we Democrats are soft on terrorists. But fighting for American civil liberties - as our founding fathers fought for American civil liberties - has nothing to do with being soft.

The Bush Regime's spin idea that we should not be concerned about domestic spying as long as we personally have nothing to hide is ridiculous. He, or some future president will use this awesome unchecked power to spy on political rivals, and undermine our Constitutional Democratic Republic. We must not allow that to happen.

The recent Bill that gives the President the right to interpret the Geneva Conventions must be repealed.

We must restore the Constitution. I do not believe that we should focus our energy on impeaching the President. We have bigger fish to fry. But the President must accept the rule of law. Failing that, we should not shirk from our Constitutional obligations, and we should be willing to impose the rule of law upon him through impeachment if NECESARY.

Thank You.

Sincerely,
Ray Guest

Posted by Ray Guest at November 10, 2006 8:30 PM
Comments
Comment #194543

Ray, I have no quarrel with most of what you say, which speaks for itself. I am curious however how you come to blame the Bush administration for the collapse of the domestic auto industry. Surely the fate of the auto industry is in its own hands? In fact, I would have thought that it has considerable advantages over foreign competitors, for instance not having to ship its product across oceans to reach its marketplace. I know that automakers in the US have large legacy costs, but if you take Germany for example, which is an auto industry leader, they too have large pension and social care costs and yet they turn out world beating products which they have little problem selling profitably. I don’t know about Japan’s legacy costs, although I do know that traditionally they looked after their workers pretty much for life.

You say that universal health care is politcally unobtainable at this time. Why? My country, which is a very small one and until recently a relatively poor one, has had universal health care for decades. There is a great deal of complaining about it regarding waiting lists and emergency admissions,, but when my dad, aged 89, needed a triple bypass operation, he was scheduled for it in a matter of two weeks. My brother, who was badly injured in a road accident earlier this year, was immediately taken care of with the best of care in very modern facilities. Many people in Ireland have private health insurance, which only essentially gets you choice of hospital and doctor and a much faster appointment with a specialist. But the public health care system is a very fine one, despite the political complaints about it, and it available to everyone. If a small country like Ireland can do it, why is it not politcally possible for the richest country on earth ( I think anyway ) to do it?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 10, 2006 9:56 PM
Comment #194548

Paul,The will to do it (Universal health care) is not here. We are to greedy and selfish, to think that we might have to spend money on something like health care for everyone makes us queasy inside. We quit looking at the future beyond the next quarter. We trust our corporations to look at our best interest, but not our government to do it right. Hopefully it is just a stage we as a “young adult” country (relatively speaking) are going through and as we mature perhaps things will change.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 10, 2006 10:53 PM
Comment #194561

j2t2

It has nothing to do with greed or selfishness. It has to do with what the government should or should not be involved with. The federal government has no business being in the health or education or housing business. Those are all things that should be taken care of in the private sector or the states.

Posted by: Keith at November 11, 2006 1:24 AM
Comment #194563

Life expectancy is slightly higher in the US than in Ireland, which speaks very well of the system here since the US has far greater racial and cultural diversity than Ireland and the US’s numbers are brought down considerably as a result.

Life expectancy is a poor measure of any nation’s health care system anyway because culturally determined factors (such as diet and lifestyle) are more important, and people live very long lives in some places with very little access to any healthcare at all.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at November 11, 2006 1:47 AM
Comment #194564

Paul, j2t2,

Things have sure slowed down here since the election. Thanks for your comments.

Paul,

Where to start? German cars sell well in the U.S. because of their reputation for quality and luxury - that said DaimlerChrysler is not doing all that well, and they are not a threat to the U.S. domestic auto industry. They eat a little bit of our American pie. We can live with the Germans. They practice fair trade and they make union made cars in America.

The Japanese still do not practice fair trade. They still maintain many unnecessary artificial barriers to U.S.imports. Most Japanese cars are made in North America by non-union workers. So shipping is not a part of their cost structure. It is a myth that the Japanese take good care of their workers for life. In Japan auto companies do not hire many permanent workers. Many of their workers are temps who do the same work for much less money and with no job security. Many of their parts are made in slave labor sweat shops with no job security. Those workers who are lucky enough to get full time / full pay jobs are tightly controlled. Japanese unions are company unions as opposed to industry unions in America. There is a Toyota union for example. Your boss today will be your union shop steward tomorrow and your boss again the day after tomorrow. Complain to him about health, safety, or working conditions at your peril. He also controls your access to company benefits like housing assistance. So the Japanese system is not nearly as egalitarian as it has been presented.

As mentioned above, most Japanese cars are made in America by non-union workers. Non-union workers from conservative “right to work” states whose base pay is close to the base pay of union workers - if you add their profit sharing bonuses that is. The Japanese companies pay that much because the standard is set by the U.A.W. and Japanese companies don’t want to be unionized. However, they are much younger companies in the U.S. so their legacy cost is much lower which puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage. In fact their legacy would still be lower than U.S. companies even if everyone was put into the same risk pool for health insurance because they do not have any retirees yet. That is just demographics. By the time that they do have retirees, their retirees will be disenfranchised and screwed. By then the U.A.W. will have been crushed and there will be no one left fighting on the front lines to set the standards. That is also just demographics.

Putting everyone into the same risk pool would be disadvantageous to the Japanese transplants right now, but if they were wise, they would jump on the band wagon and demand a level playing field now. The Chinese are coming and the “shoe will be on the other foot.” The Chinese will eat us for diner and save their sweet succulent asses for desert. That is the long term scenario that I predict anyhow. There are of course far too many variables for it to ever go down exactly like that. The domestic auto makers are not quite ready to roll over and play dead. We are like lions. We may be in our death throes but that just means that our claws are fully extended. Look for an alliance between Ford and GM within the next ten years or look for Ford or GM, most likely Ford, to be bought out by private investors - God help us all.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 11, 2006 1:48 AM
Comment #194565

Keith and Neo-Con Pilsner,

Thanks for your comments. It is nearly 2:00 AM - good night.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 11, 2006 1:55 AM
Comment #194566

Ray: You lost me on health care. A single payer system does not require insuarnce companies to put everyone in the risk pool. A single payer system does not require insurance companies at all. That is why they fight it so hard. What single payer does is pay health providers directly. This quite different than the socialized medicine” model used in most western industrial countries. The medical prefessionals would not for the government. The medical facilities and corporations would remain in private hands. The only difference is the government would set reasonable rates.The amount of money saved just by the reduction of paperwork alone has been estimated to be enough to cover the uninsured. Personally I would prefer the socialized system but single payer is a compromise that would work.
This would,as you stated,help out the companies struggling to do the right thing by their employees. It would also free up a huge amoumt of capital from those companies and the insurance industry. Most likely lead to a serious economic boom.

Kieth: You have some points. Some states are indeed working their way to single-payer systems. California just had one pass through the legislature and get to the Governors desk. He vetoed it(and also took plenty of insurance industry cash). As for the market place,you are correct. It is always better to let it work if it can. In this case it has failed and it is getting worse. There have been other times when the free market failed. The railroad monopolies were gougeing the whole country and holding us back. The feds stepped in to control them and passed anti-trust laws that have helped us grow for decades. The feds were the only power big enough to do the job.

Posted by: BillS at November 11, 2006 2:03 AM
Comment #194567

Neo-con: Please explain why diversity leads to a decreased life span. You might note also that our infant mortality rate is much higher than other industrial countries. It is even higher than Cubas. The explanation is access to health care. We can do better.

Posted by: BillS at November 11, 2006 2:12 AM
Comment #194570

—Ray Guest— Reed an Durban are already backing away from taking on the Republicans, to fix the changes
in the constitution President Bush has altered. I
will absolutely, work as hard to remove these
sooth Sayers, if they do not at least give it a good
try, as I did to help remove the Republicans. They
are sounding like a bunch of wimps already!
-

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 11, 2006 2:44 AM
Comment #194592
It has nothing to do with greed or selfishness. It has to do with what the government should or should not be involved with. The federal government has no business being in the health or education or housing business.

Keith,

I disagree. One of the main purposes of the Constitution is to ensure the general welfare of the country.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Constitution gives the Congress explicit tax collecting power towards that purpose.

Article I, section 8: Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

A healthy, well educated population contributes greatly towards the welfare of our society as a whole.

Those are all things that should be taken care of in the private sector or the states.

Fair enough, if the private sector or the state actually take care of the problem. So far they have failed.

Posted by: JayJay at November 11, 2006 11:34 AM
Comment #194594

It has been a while since anyone has suggested that I may be a wimp - but like Cinderella, I will try the shoe on and see if it fits.

I don’t like Bush - never have - probably never will. I think Daddy Bush cut a deal with the Iranians on behalf of Ronald Reagan, to have the Iranians hold American hostages longer in order for Reagan to get elected which may have directly resulted in the deaths of Americans on the desert during the rescue attempt. Daddy Bush was and is the good, smart, brave Bush. He served in the war. Big Brother Bush is the bad, cowardly chicken hawk, inbred, stupid Bush. We suspect much. We know little. Should we investigate in an orderly fashion? Yes. Should we waste time and energy chasing our tail and grasping at shadows? No. If we happen to find the smoking gun, should we impeach? Absolutely. Are we likely to find the smoking gun? Probably not. So should we put the search for a smoking gun that conceivably does not even exist front and center? No. We need to investigate in an orderly fashion, but we should put the business of governing this country first, for the good of all Americans. Let the investigations simmer quietly in the back ground. If we get lucky and stumble across a smoking gun, then we can nail the cahones of these illegitimate sons of dogs to a stump.

We need to focus on restoring the Constitution, solving the Iraq debacle, and other policy priorities - but keep a weather eye for that smoking gun.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 11, 2006 11:40 AM
Comment #194597

Ray,

As much as I dislike President Bush, you really cannot lay the problems the auto industry is having at his doorstep (nor the doorstep of Governor Granholm for that matter.) They brought on their own problems.

I live in Michigan in the heart of the auto industry. The problems the domestic auto industry is suffering today are self inflicted. They did a very poor job of managing their resources when times were good to them.

During the economic boom of the 1990’s the domestic auto industry was on fire. They raked in money hand over fist. They added greatly to their workforce to increase production and pretty much gave the union anything they asked for without looking ahead to what the future may bring.

Posted by: JayJay at November 11, 2006 11:53 AM
Comment #194607

Ray

Can I give you a little advice on negotiating?

When you want to accoomplish something, you have to get away from the need for personal vindication. You want to make it easy for your opponent to give you what you want.

You write, “Let us hope that the firing of Rumsfeld, and nomination of Gates signals that the Bush Regime may be preparing to ‘Flip Flop’ on Iraq…”

If you are selling me your car and I agree to pay your asking price, do you think it is smart to turn to your wife and loudly say, “Yeah, the dummie is about to come around”

In my daily work, I have to deal with a lot of people doing stupid things that I need to stop. I use a variation of “as you said … we will be doing something completely different.”

BTW - I disagree with the basic points of your article, BUT building on what you say, I think president Bush will continue to adapt his policies and produce an acceptable result in Iraq.

Posted by: Jack at November 11, 2006 12:36 PM
Comment #194616

In fact neo con, if you want to be pedantic, life expectancy is actually marginally higher in Ireland (CIA World Fact Book). The infant mortality rate in Ireland is 5.31/000 live births, compared to 6.43/000 in the US. Same source.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 11, 2006 1:27 PM
Comment #194623

Jack,

You wrote:

If you are selling me your car and I agree to pay your asking price, do you think it is smart to turn to your wife and loudly say, “Yeah, the dummie is about to come around”

Only if you are dumb enough… First, I am not negotiating with Bush. I would also say that I don’t think that he is listening, but given the NSA spying, he probably is… I could also point out that Bush, (whose actions are far more important than mine), wants to negotiate with us - this after calling us what??? - terrorists sympathizers, “the terrorists want us to win?”…

Never mind that. Bush Flip Flopped on Iraq as he has on many other things. You Repubs thought that Flip Flopping was such an important issue in the last Presidential election that I could not resist playfully pointing out that Bush Flip Flops. You Repubs are the ones who chose to lower the level of national discourse to the level of: No you are the flip flopper… no you are… no I am… You reap what you sow… So please, no crocodile tears now.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 11, 2006 2:11 PM
Comment #194632

JayJay,

Welcome neighbor. The domestic auto industry has done a lot to shoot itself in the foot - no doubt. My favorite; was Roger Smith choosing to create a “corporate look” for GM where he made the cars look the same on the outside while making them all different on the inside - different engines, transmissions, hood latches, door hinges, springs frames… no economies of scale, no economies of design, but stylistic cookie cutter uniformity??? That was an actual corporate policy. How could anybody ever think that was a good idea? That does not change the fact that putting people in different risk pools for health insurance creates an unlevel playing field and creates age discrimination. Bear in mind I have argued the other side of this issue in the recent past - but I have seen the light - somewhat - explanation required. After hurricanes in Florida and hurricane Katrina, I argued that we should not be in the same risk pool for homeowners insurance as people who choose to build at or below sea level on the beach in hurricane country, or earth quake country, or Mighty Mississipp flood zones. Rich people build on the beach, get wiped out every 10 years, and expect us to pay for their luxurious beach front life style choices through our insurance premiums and taxes. We are at much lower risk for acts of God and natural disasters in Michigan yet we shoulder the burden of their risk. If they want to throw themselves in front of God’s lightning bolts let them fry by themselves. I still feel that way a little bit. A rich person building on the Gulf Coast beach front is different from a person getting old in one important way. You have a choice about building on the beach. The only choice that you have about getting old is to die young - save Social Security - die. I have softened my position on home owners insurance somewhat. We do not need to subsidize peoples beach front life style choices. On the other hand the Gulf Coast region is a vital engine of our nations economy. We do need for millions of people to live in that region. So accordingly, we should shoulder our share of their risk. The same can be said for other regions. I suppose the same argument can be applied to health insurance. Certainly many of our health risks are life style choice related. It is easy to watch someone build a house on the beach - not so easy to watch me eat this succulent steak. So it is a harder thing to keep track of - nor should we. Here, I am referring to the problem of putting people in different risk pools for health insurance based on age.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 11, 2006 3:00 PM
Comment #194654

—J J snow & Ray Guest— Excellent articles both, an shows we still have the voices of reason an
understanding on this Blog. site, as well as being a good example for our Citizenry and our
Politicians.

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 11, 2006 8:01 PM
Comment #194656

Ray

It is just a difference in expression. I find it works better to look for ways to make it easier for people to do the things I want them to do.

I have nothing against being partisan and sometimes even nasty. But if you really believe that we should change policy and you think your adversaries are moving in that direction, there is no reason to be snotty, at least in between elections.

I was hoping that we could have at least a year off from the nasty attacks. Bush cannot run again. Cheney will not. Kerry won’t get your party’s nomination. Congressional elections are two years off. There are plenty of real policy differences. I had a brief (and I think civil)exchange with Woody re. We have very different perspectives. If we managed to find common ground, who would be flip flopping.

I know I am giving you too hard a time, given the nature of our blog writing. Btt a reasonable amount of “flip flopping” on both sides might help us reach a better solution.

BTW - This is not a rhetorical question. Do you think a U.S. “victory” in Iraq (i.e. reasonably democratic & stable Iraq) is possible?

Posted by: Jack at November 11, 2006 8:19 PM
Comment #194666

—Jack— why not offer the Iraqis their Country back
in exchange for all the AL-Qaeda an move on with
some resemblance of helping them rebuild with their
oil money.

Posted by: -DAVID- at November 11, 2006 9:49 PM
Comment #194684

David

If that were possible, the U.S. would have won. That is exactly the U.S. definition of success and always has been.

Posted by: Jack at November 11, 2006 11:29 PM
Comment #194692

Jack, Are you saying that by our own definition of victory, victory is not possibile?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 12, 2006 12:13 AM
Comment #194704

Jack,

You wrote:

BTW - This is not a rhetorical question. Do you think a U.S. “victory” in Iraq (i.e. reasonably democratic & stable Iraq) is possible?
I think that the democratic part of that ship has sailed - but I am not sure. If Bush really opens to outside influence??? Look - Iran wants stability in their back yard. See: Iran, Its Neighbours and the Regional Crises which was the foundation of my article titled: “Iran has won the war. It is time to sue for peace.” If we talk turkey to Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - who knows? - democracy? - maybe not - republic? - maybe not - stability? - maybe. Don’t bet the farm though.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 12, 2006 1:38 AM
Comment #194706

Jack,

I thought that my article was pretty moderate and conciliatory considering the fact that I want to hang the scurvy dogs.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 12, 2006 1:43 AM
Comment #194707

For the moment, I have let my membership lapse in: The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! I am willing to carry the olive branch. You Repubs should appreciate that. The honeymoon will be short lived unless I see dramatic, substantive, and rapid changes coming from this Regime.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 12, 2006 1:56 AM
Comment #194714

Jack asked: “Do you think a U.S. ‘victory’ in Iraq (i.e. reasonably democratic & stable Iraq) is possible?”

Jack, that question only begs an opinion, and is therefore relatively meaningless. The far more substantive question is:

Is there any plan available in detail which on its own merits, justifies hope that a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq is possible; and within a time frame which prevents the U.S. from paying more for that cause than its people will accept and can bear?

Hope without a practical plan, is worthless. Desire without a practical plan, is worthless. Bush desires and hopes for a victory in Iraq. But, where’s the practical detailed plan which justifies such hope and desire with the promise of reality at a cost we can afford?

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 12, 2006 4:22 AM
Comment #194740

David,

Well said as always. I would add. Clearly no such plan been revealed by this Regime so far. Are they preparing one? Lets hope.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 12, 2006 12:30 PM
Comment #194758

Ray, David et al

So, do we pull out right away?

J2T2

I was merely responding to David (not DR) who did not seem to understand the situation at all. He is proposing a solution that we all would take if offered, but one we will probably have to fight for. It is like someone saying, “how about if I give you a million dollars and you take it.” Yes.

Posted by: Jack at November 12, 2006 4:15 PM
Comment #194852

Jack, we wait for the Baker/Hamilton study group report and evaluate for the potential of a plan that will succeed in meeting the criteria I outlined above. If such a plan is not contained therein, then, we begin an orderly draw down of our troops and redeployment which leaves Iraq increasingly responsible for its civil war, while our redeployed contingent protects the capitol and Iraqi’s borders from large incursions.

In the absence of a better plan, that is the best scenario available at this time. It diminishes American costs in Iraq, while protecting Iraq’s oil revenues from falling into terrorist organization’s hands while Iraq’s civil war plays out.

If the U.N. develops a conscience about their civil war, let the U.N. pony up the troops to intercede (not very damned likely).

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2006 10:51 AM
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