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Suppression of Voting Rights

President George W. Bush signs the reauthoriza...

President George W. Bush signs the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in July 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Suppression of Voting Rights is consistent with the agenda of conservative right-wing groups and people.  There have been in the past Supreme Court decisions which negated the effects of the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution along with Civil Rights Acts of the 1860′s and 70′s.Many of the decisions affecting voting dealt with black voters and those decisions were based upon restricting federal enforcement and claiming that as long as the states themselves didn’t violate the Civil War Amendments then there was no  violation of the Constitution.

The decisions of the Supreme Court in placating the south ensured Jim Crow Laws and the extreme discriminating that took place until the middle of the 20th Century.

The Supreme Court began to look at rights under the US Constitution in the early 20th Century.  The Supreme Court made rulings that in affect began the journey to ending voter disenfranchisement.  Some of the cases that were significant were Guinn v Oklahoma 1915, United States v Classic 1941, and Smith v Allwright 1944. These cases are but a sampling of the need to protect voter rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 1870 enforcement Act began to have an impact on voter fraud in primaries.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed to curtail the the discriminatory practices of the South, literacy tests, poll taxes and other administrative actions deemed to adversely affect black voting.

The Fourteenth Amendment is referred to as the Equal Protection Clause.  This amendment prohibits states from denying equal protection of the laws to all people; the arbitrary use of laws that are discriminatory is prohibited; such as race.  it would appear that the suppression of voting rights,though claimed to prevent fraud, is in my mind direct violation of  this Amendment.  The Fifteenth Amendment clearly states that “the rights of citizens of the United states to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color or previous condition or servitude”.   The Constitution, the Civil Rights Acts and the Voting Rights Acts,  are I believe clear. The restrictions and suppression’s are designed to limit voter participation. They will affect the youth in college, because they are generally liberal or moderate and they are searching for anything that provides grounding in critical thinking especially in politics. Conservative thinking students will be disenfranchised as well.  Minorities will be affected because of community or cultural differences.  Minorities tend to be in a lot of gerrymandered districts or districts that are subject to the political and  administrative review of those in power.  The elderly will be affected because of lack of drivers license or other documents for proof of citizenship.

The states are using fraud as a catchall with little or no statistical or historical facts to deny anyone the right to vote.  It is ironic, that this problem became front and center after the Obama election. The GOP has its role in America misplaced. Suffrage is a right not to be denied.
Voting Rights Center | Fair Elections Legal Network. fairelectionslegalnetwork.com

via Voting Rights Center | Fair Elections Legal Network.

Romney’s Praise of Jewish National Government Health Care

Romney

Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Romney praises health care in Israel, where research says ‘strong government influence’ has driven down costs

Posted by Sarah Kliff on July 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

Romney’s point about Israel’s success in controlling health care costs is spot on: Its health care system has seen health care costs grow much slower than other industrialized nations.

How it has gotten there, however, may not be to the Republican candidate’s liking: Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.

Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.

Health insurance does not, however, cover every medical service. Dental and vision care, for example, fall outside of the standard government set of benefits. The majority of Israelis—81 percent —purchase a supplemental health insurance plan to “use the private health care system for services that may not be available in through the public system,” according to a paper by Health Affairs.

The national government exerts direct operational control over a large proportion of total health care expenditures, through a range of mechanisms, including caps on hospital revenue and national contracts with salaried physicians. The Ministry of Finance has been able to persuade the national government to agree to relatively small increases in the health care budget because the system has performed well, with a very high level of public satisfaction.

The Israeli Ministry of Finance controls about 40 percent of Israel’s health care expenditures through those payments to the four insurance plans. The  ministry decides how much it will pay the health plans for each Israeli citizen they enroll, making adjustments for how old a person is and how high their health care costs are expected to be.

It’s then up to the health insurance plan to figure out how to provide coverage within that set budget. If they spend too much—have a patient who is constantly in the hospital, for example—they will find themselves in the red. It’s that set budget—a capitated budget, in health policy terms—that seems to be crucial to the Israeli health care system’s success in cost control.

The candidate Mitt Romney seems to be very inconsistent about health care.  He praises a government run medical care system far more strict and less free market and yet he attacks the Affordable Health Care Act. The attacks are  based upon erroneous, fabricated, and politically motivated arguments without merit.  Mr. Romney asserts that the act; “puts the government between you and your doctor”, however his political campaign personnel cannot explain how. Nor can he.

The information below in part comes from PolitiFact.com

The overarching fact about the law is that it relies on the private sector. Employers still buy private health insurance for their workers. The law doesn’t change how much doctors are paid or what services they can provide, though it does create incentives and penalties to promote better care. (One example: It penalizes hospitals if patients are re-admitted soon after being discharged.)

It establishes a minimum benefits package for insurance plans and fosters competition among health insurance companies by creating shopping websites. These sites, called exchanges, will allow customers to pick insurance plans the same way they might buy other things online, such as refrigerators or airplane tickets.The law also gives subsidies to people of limited means so they can buy their own insurance.

The law sets up a panel to keep Medicare spending in check. The 15-member panel is called the Independent Payment Advisory Board and starting in 2020, it can recommend changes in reimbursement rates and other cost-saving measures. Health reform law opponents sometimes speak of this panel as a backdoor to rationing, but as PolitiFact has noted many times, claims about the IPAB are often exaggerated.

The law specifically prohibits the panel from suggesting anything that leads to rationing or reductions in either benefits or eligibility. Further, Congress has the power to overrule the panel’s recommendations.

The law is sweeping and is designed to have an effect on the quality and cost of care. But to assume that the outcomes will only be negative requires a very selective reading of federal law that overlooks many checks on federal authority.

First, Washington has given states the authority to set the standards for insurance plans so they can respond to local conditions.

Second, the law calls for creation of “strategies to align public and private payers with regard to quality and patient safety efforts,” and insurance company participation in those exchanges is part of that effort. But the law also expressly allows insurance plans to operate outside the exchanges.

Third, the strongest federal efforts to control spending lie in the federal Medicare program, not in the private market. Within Medicare, participation in the biggest cost-saving pilot — Accountable Care Organizations — is voluntary. The Accountable Care Organizations are intended to bring doctors and specialists together to treat patients and include financial incentives.

Fourth, all regulations must pass through an extensive public review process.

The individual mandate is something that many Americans don’t like.  However, our costs of health care in this country is rising and it is expected to rise another 5%.  People do have the right to refuse health insurance but, does the public and health insurance companies have the right to refuse to pay the “intended costs” because someone refuses health insurance, ” NO ”  all patients are required to be treated in hospitals.  The cost or “Tax” to those individuals is $750.00 for those over 18 and $375.00 for those under 18.  The tax itself does not come  close to the cost of hospitalization.  The market place and the insurance exchanges will aid in the management of those insurance costs.

The Affordable Health Care Act is by far a less government run program than the GOP would have you believe.  But, my question is for Romney,  how does he square his belief with Israeli Medical Health Care system with his attacks on the Affordable Health Care Act.

An Open Letter….

James Madison, Hamilton's major collaborator, ...

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Esteemed Voter,                                                                                                                     3 March 2012

In our Philadelphia Convention we worked toward creating a system in which the states maintained their independence and yet established a federal system for the good of all. I believed in the need for a federal government.  It was and is still necessary for the preservation of the nation.

We originally began with the Articles of Confederation because each and every state believed that they were in some form sovereign, or independent states from one another.  This sovereignty is manifested within the borders of the several states and within the people as a whole.  It is doubtless to say that the various positions of the states precludes any consistent political, economic, and common defense actions from being uniformly applied.  The idea of a president or sovereign with strong enforcement power, or legislative body able to raise taxes was abhorrent to the the several states.  The very idea of thirteen individual states, having laws that are superseded, non-binding, unenforceable or even in contravention with the Articles and is a danger to the existence of the thirteen states.  Thus the convention was called for in Philadelphia.

There is no doubt some would argue that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was held under false pretenses, that is to say, it was thought that a modification or an amending to the Articles was to take place and not a new form of government. I must say, in all honesty, the Articles were defective, contravened, and imperfect. It was time for a change.  In my thinking a Republic and not a democracy was the only proper form of government.

The Constitution is imperfect, it was a process by which two separate forms of government come together to form a single entity. States governments, and a federal government. The states were going to give up some sovereignty for the stability and protection of a federal government. The structure of the federal government would of course define the stricture of both parties and their powers. The structure of the federal government was meant to provide stability, a general government.

To obtain this federal government compromises were essential and so were many heated debates about states’ rights, a bill of rights and of course the power of the federal government. States Rights or the issues of the powers remaining with the states were a concern for many, but most delegates and others understood the need for a general government or federal government having broad but limited powers otherwise we would be no better than when we had the Articles.  Inherent and implied powers had to be defined within the constitution especially within Article 1; as that would be the most powerful of all Articles.

Knowing the the concerns of the states, it is I believe essential, they must concur and accept the importance of the “Necessary and Proper and the Commerce Clauses”  for they are significant in the creation of the Constitution and the Federal Government. To allow for individual states to take unilateral action against the Constitution is to vacate the premise that we are in this together. It is understood that not all of the states or ratifiers of this document agreed to it in total , but it did provide the best recourse to form ing a nation of common interests.  The argument for the right of “nullification” as proposed and in the Kentucky Resolution by Thomas Jefferson is not a viable solution. My own argument is viable only in that force or threat of cessation or force is definitely not an option. Nullification is not a viable proposal by any standard and vacates the purpose of the amending process. So, I say to those states that have such laws they are a waste of jurisprudence and legislative action.

The Bill of Rights which I initially opposed did so because I did not see the need.  I felt if the there needed to be laws or rights enumerated than what rights would have to be included or omitted. My basis for my thinking is the English Constitution, for as laws were grown it was understood that man had rights without question.  It also must be understood that each state is separate and autonomous and responsible to its citizenry.

In our history and confrontations over the Constitution one constant has remained, the American people agree to disagree over its power and its impact.  The Civil War; The War Between the States; was fought over economics, slavery as much as it was fought over the Constitution and the power of the federal government.  I must say, I wish we could have ended slavery in 1803 as we had compromised to do.  The roles of the states changed and so did the federal government from 1787.  It must be understood that the House and Senate defined much of the direction the country was headed. If the states were to define and modify any characteristics of the Constitution then the process of amendment would have been the best choice, it is also understood that amending is a difficult process, however preferable to war.

The strength of our system of government has been the design, whereas the three branches of government must perform a vital role in impeding, delaying, and controlling the power of government.  The system of government in place today is a Democratic-Republic influenced by political parties which are no longer reflective of the American public. I must admit I and a few of my contemporaries were not champions of the political party system because in my day the party was about centralized power. Today, the factions, and the lack of representation of the cross sections of the American people have led to the destruction of the of the political party process, that most Americans need and the federal government needs to perform its checks and balances.

As I watch, the current election process, I hear much about what is wrong and no solutions.  You live in a new era, it requires serious analysis, synthesis and less rhetoric.       The Supreme Court has many precedents and rulings which, at its disposal will shape the laws according to the Constitution.  The Legislative branch must review and define the limits of the law. It must use its power reasonably and limit the scope of the undefined power of the President.  The Legislative branch today is as it always was the most powerful and most dangerous.  It can by design limit freedom, rights, define freedom and rights, and can be influenced by factions within the local constituencies it represents, the money changers, and the powerful in other arenas.

The candidates of today curry favor with factions not the broad base of the party which is essential in todays world.  As I have said, I find no favor with political parties but they have been with us for a long time and unless the voters participate and limit the destructive nature of factions, the discussion of religious liberty, the rights of the people will be defined according to the faction in power.  The question then becomes does the party with the centralized power want the government to have centralized power? Or does the American people favor centralized power?

The Constitution is the Supreme Law of The Land. The states have a vital role to play, but they must recognize that by ratifying the Constitution they agreed to work within its framework.  Today, far too many factions are at work within the several states trying to redefine the Constitution and the role of the states and in the process vacating, violating, and re-defining, the principles of the Constitution and the constitutions of the several states.  If by chance the states were to gain the power of “nullification” or another form of annulment then the Federal Government would have a breach in making, enforcing and interpreting law.

Be forever cognizant of the Constitution, its impact on the several states, and most assuredly on the people.

Obedient Servant,

James Madison

The 2012 Election Republican Style

Republican Party (United States)

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The current battle within the Republican Party for the nomination to be President of the the United States is nothing short of a circus. Since, the voters do not demand discussion of the issues from the party and the candidates the voters are left with character assassinations, misrepresentations, and false beliefs. The voters of America have over many decades have put too much emphasis on the position of president.  Thus, the voter has forgotten that the laws come from the House and Senate.

Today, this nation is listening to candidates about conservative ideas which are in reality not reflected by the vast majority of Americans.  Their political, social, religious, and economic views and comments are appealing to a minority of Americans who possess those views.  The fact that the politicians are playing on the fears of the vulnerable by addressing each political view as if it were a litany of epistles is misleading, dishonest, and typically political.  A term which gets too much attention is “I am a true Conservative”.  What is a true conservative?  I am not sure anyone has met one. The 2012 candidates for president are using the term conservative as if it were the holy grail. It is a political position that changes depending on the “winds of the electorate”. Of course, there are those conservatives who are extreme in their beliefs and expect the nation to follow strict interpretations of all laws and traditional ideologies no matter the cost to individual liberties.

But then, the far right, who sees fear, might be the vulnerable. They would see change or  a perceived change as a threat. Then their goal would be to dominate through legislation political dissent, religious differences or even interpretations, equality, social and health issues and of course economic issues. The candidates of 2012, are playing to this conservative base hoping that the results will lead to an election.

The use of words like theology, violation of religious liberty when it comes to health insurance, or because of birth control are examples of appealing to a specific faction.  Abortion violates the Constitution? We are a Christian nation.  I believe in strict interpretation of the Constitution and states rights? How? In what way? The Marriage Protection Act is another example of fear mongering, is marriage really going to disappear?  Is Christianity in the US under attack?  Illegal Immigration and jobs?  Obama is making us socialist?

These are some of the buzz words or terms used to play to an audience, especially if the audience is considered hostile to the messenger or the audience is partial to a specific language or if that audience is geographically and socially predisposed to follow a set of mores different from those across the country.

Propaganda is the use of language to achieve a position or to convince, persuade, or influence a set of behaviors.  The paragraph above is but one example of how candidates and voters try to manipulate the way people think and vote.

The candidates have our attention because of media. The use of political groups, PAC’s, and money distorts the factual information available to the public.
It is the job of a free press to inform the public of a candidates position, ideas, theories, and any relative information essential to making an informed choice. It is especially important if the media that is supporting the candidate is misrepresenting or fabricating facts in order to support their candidate or disparage another.

The average American needs to listen to the words, not just hear the words to these arguments, the name calling, the redefining of issues, the use of language, the use of symbols, and the distortion of facts, by the current string of conservative candidates are meant for specific agendas, factions and constituencies to fill a perceived void that does not exist. It is all propaganda and it is all about getting elected.

The voter must demand better from the candidates. They must demand a discussion of the issues among the candidates.  But, in my case, I believe I will reserve my judgment on any candidate since none are willing to discuss the issues frankly and the Republican electorate isn’t ready for hard decisions.

Republicans forgot about Classic Liberalism

Portrait of John Locke, by Sir Godfrey Kneller...

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It is ironic that the very principles of John Locke, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and the and foundation of our country are being destroyed by the very people who profess that they want to protect this country.

Classic Liberalism is the very foundation of our country.  It has been perverted by both parties for the sake of ideology and power. In the case of the Republicans they have moved away from Classic Liberalism in such away that the very Founding Fathers would not recognize the abuse of power for the sake of business and laissez-economics. They use economics as a pretext for war, social change and interference with Constitutional rights.

They speak of limited government all the while using religion, family values, economics as tools to suspend or modify the Constitution.  They have in fact violated or will violate both individual rights and economic freedom in the name of security, terrorism, or national interests.  War is in direct contrast to Classic Liberalism.

The Republicans are not the only culprits in this scenario. The Democrats are complicit and in some cases a danger to economic freedom.  Conservatives in today’s world are a danger to the basic human, natural and the rights guarranted under our  U.S. Constitution..  The government does not gives our rights we have them from birth.

It is time that the American people wake up to the politics as usual. No matter the party as long as we elect the same people thru the same process the ideologies and language will not change.

We must return to Classic Liberalism as it was meant and defined by our Founding Fathers and philosophers of their day.

America’s Great Failing – Education

Seal of the United States Department of Education

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What has America done to Education?  America has in the past 50 years told our kids that competition, hard work, performance, and dedication to a goal was damaging to the mental and social well-being of society.  But, we also had an elite who was satisfied in that their role in society and this was somehow theirs without obligation to the Nation.

What we have is a country of 50 states with numerous counties and even more school districts being run as a patchwork quilt.   Some school districts are politically motivated,  some are religiously motivated, and some are just not motivated.  The school districts are handling kids from many backgrounds, various educational levels,  with funding problems, community problems, and too much leadership without accountability. School superintendents and school boards are either non-accountable or politically motivated by the perceived community standards and not educational standards.

An American Department of Education independent of the political appointments,machinations, and bickering must be established with a minimum of bureaucracy. Educators not theorists must listen to the teachers and educators at all levels to develop a program that strengthens not dumbs down our students and citizens of the future.

Can a U. S. Department of Education work for the U.S. ? Yes it can. But it takes leadership, patience, and a minimum of interference from the petty politics of the locals. Congress, especially the House must be limited in its scope and influence because though it may represent the people it represents too many factions.

The Department of Education must lead with education reforms and leadership that will sustain all of the states for the long haul.  It must do so without violating the tenants of the US Constitution, but be true to the values of science, mathematics, history, language, and problem-solving skills.  Teachers need to have the flexibility to establish tests in the curriculum that will measure that standard at its level or higher.  States and school boards will not have the flexibility to lower expectations, or modify the standard.  The standards would first be implemented at the 3rd grade and measured at every grade thereafter. The student would be brought along meeting the criteria of the standard.  At each grade level an expectation of accomplishment must be expected. Graduation or failure.  All class levels will have standards to be met in each subject area. Curriculum at the school level must be built around critical – thinking and problem – solving.

Funding for education must be equitable with additional resources available serving the needy students of society. There must be an investment in teachers, ongoing professional training, and paying teachers competitively and comparably.  More hands on mental thinking needs to be incorporated into the basics of learning by teachers.

Our education system requires a coherent plan that crosses all 50 states,  it must have the national will to marshal the resources to establish and meet long-term goals.

Benchmarks in education are important and they don’t take 20 years to implement.  The states should be establishing benchmarks or standards that make sense across the board. The standards established at local level must complement the national standard for science, mathematics, history, language, and critical-thinking so that a student in one state can move to another without either being a year ahead or a year behind. Punitive testing or the over reliance of testing does more harm than good. Tests must measure the accuracy of the knowledge of the student. Teachers who prepare and set up proper measurements should be able to do their own testing.  Students as well as (parents) must be held accountable for the in the class room.  Teachers with the coordination of counselors should have the last word on promotion. Experimentation in standards is not an option for charter schools, academy’s, or other forms of education. Education is a necessity for all not just for the college bound or skilled. The multiple expermentations in various schools and should be at a minimum unless there are strictly defined criteria and standards.

Waivers and elimination of graduation requirements are unacceptable. In seven states they have eliminated finals at colleges and in many states they have looked at or implemented alternated high school diplomas. that is unacceptable. The United states cannot compete world wide let alone internally within our own borders with poorly educated populace.

In New York City nearly two-thirds of on time high school students weren’t ready for college, as reported in the Wall Street journal, dated October 25th 2011.  The statistics across the country indicate that 60%  of high school graduates are not college ready and need remedial work.   In 2009 Arizona graduated less than 60% of their students. Colleges and community colleges must establish strict expectations of graduates and establish not only communication with the community, but expect high schools meet the standards of first year college students. It is not acceptable for colleges to be aloof. They must demand high school excellence.

As a nation and with the examples above this nation is in dire straits.  Education must be a high priority.  And for those who have dropped out, the WIA or Workforce Investment Act must be funded and real standards put in place to encourage to further higher education.  Students must be held accountable for their attendance, discipline, and academics.

We are no longer the leader in education. We are in the middle of the pack.  We must take this challenge and return to the future. Our children are our future, they will respond to expectations, rules, hard work, and honest evaluations with a maximum of critical – thinking.

The Demise of Customer Service

English: Good customer service requires high p...

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What a Horrible Experience Knowing that You are a Dying Breed! It isn’t a species, but it could be. It is Customer Service.  It is touted in every management meeting, in every Human Resource Office (HRO), in all the service oriented businesses across this country and around the world, but is it really alive and well.

There is no doubt there are businesses who pride themselves on the treatment of the customer. But, then there are those who have lock-jaw, cold shoulders, the deaf ear, and so many other descriptive terms that the customer probably has heard or seen more than is listed here.

Why, you ask is this epidemic so common.  Part of the problem is the increase in technology, the internet, and the lack of training and communication skills of the customer service or sales representative.  The second part of this equation is the arrogance of the business itself. The demand and the expectation of good service is ignored.  Many businesses function as though they are immune to or in actuality not required to be responsive to the demands of the patient. (customer).  Another aspect of this problem is that the lack of communication and social skills of many of the new employees.  The youth have in some cases such a bad case of cell phonitis  they cannot respond to the needs of the patient-customer. Their deficit in  these basic skills leads to chills, colds, fever and then the demise of the customer and in some cases the death of the entrepreneur.

One glaring sore upon customer service is the business who thrives on the term customer service, but in reality turns a blind eye, or puts impediments in the way to  discourage the customer from demanding good service.

It is common today to receive from businesses like Wal-Mart, Time Warner Cable, and other customer oriented services, situations in which, customer service representative is out sourced to a foreign business in a country where English is at best average or unclear leaving the customer confused and frustrated.  The chat or e-mail solution process can be just as bad because of poor writing and communicating skills in English.

The most frustrating aspect and damaging to customer service is when the employees of a large business like Wal-Mart has sales or other personnel working the aisles and they don’t speak English or cannot even tell where an item is by location.

Customer Service is an art, it is a part of business, which takes practice, time, and ultimately communication.   It must be emphasized that not all businesses are callous, cold, and without good customer service, even those who are callous do have good people working for them and in spite of them.

Customer Service is not as vibrant or healthy as it once was, I am not sure with the continued impersonal touch it will get much healthier.

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