Letters to President Obama

Note: This page has been created in the late summer/early fall of 2012. As of this writing, I personally can see no viable alternative for our nation other than to vote for the re-election of President Obama, and I suggest that everyone consider casting their vote to re-elect President Obama. From my perspective, Mitt Romney and the administration he would offer our nation would only bring us deeper into the mire into which we continue to sink. As such, my vote to re-elect President Barack Obama does not mean that I approve of many or even most of his decisions, nor is my work for this Constitutional amendment in any way connected with efforts to re-elect President Obama, other than the one vote from me he will receive, if I am still capable of that come this November.

It is my hope that the Constitutional amendment I am proposing and the introduction I have begun to provide in support of that amendment will reveal itself as our only viable investment, the only political action we can take that will offer real hope for the needs of the 99%. The following letters may more clearly reflect how I have personally considered President Obama’s potential choices and his actions, and perhaps some more insight as to why I have taken this action and why I am proposing this Constitutional amendment.

I have recently received a message from someone who received a copy of the flyer with my Constitutional amendment proposal who thought that I should be telling people that I’m working to re-elect President Obama.

I’m not working to re-elect President Obama, and I have never worked to actively support any of his candidacies. I have, and will likely vote for him again.

And, it should be clear from these letters just how much I disagree with so many of his decisions and his actions, and I have placed those letters here so that people may have the opportunity to know something more about who I am and some of my personal history. More will become available in the near future

However, my personal choice in this next presidential election has no relationship whatsoever to my motivation for the Constitutional amendment I’m proposing, a Constitutional amendment which I am almost absolutely sure President Obama would not support. I have envisioned my amendment proposal as a means for enhancing the actual representation of the real 99% of the people, and a proposal that I believe meets the needs of more than a great majority, a proposal that will improve our ability to stay working together as a nation, cooperating about those most important issues which are necessary for our mutual survival and flourishing, despite our various differences. The only clear category of political beliefs that I can envision as being against my  proposal are those who believe that money is the fundamental value which should determine just about everything.

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January 8, 2011

This Will Be My Last Message To You

Mr. President, I begged you a few days ago not to hire Wall Street to help you run our nation. You have done exactly that. I have now lost all hope in your integrity and in your loyalty to the Democratic Party. You appear to be simply another man blinded by the footlights, in need of nothing more than to perpetuate those lights shining on you for four more years.

It is ironic, at the least, that so many were killed today in Arizona, reflecting the growing decline of our nation and the rise of those who mislead us.

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January 4, 2011

Please, No More Wall Street Advisers

Mr. President, we are moving more and more to entrench a plutocratic society. You must show the middle class voters that you can run your administration and lead our nation without Wall Street sitting by your side. Please. Enough!

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December 15, 2010

Preventing Government and Military Personnel from Reading Public Web Sites is Myopic, Oppressive and Foolish

Mr. President, to ask that government and military personnel abstain from viewing material that is accessible to the rest of the world is even more ridiculous than the Catholic Church banning the use of condoms. What world do you truly live in? This is even more foolish than freezing the pay of federal employees. I find it more and more difficult to see you as the man of wisdom I thought you to be. Please, do something to give me and others hope, instead of trying to maintain some form of normative dance.

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December 15, 2010

Leadership and Clear Speaking, in Contrast to Politics as Usual?

Mr. President, I read with hope your comment to our leading corporate executives that “We focused on jobs and investment and they feel optimistic that, by working together, we can get some of the cash off the sidelines.”

“Getting some of the cash off the sidelines” would, if actualized, be cause for hope. However, when I read that you also say that “We want to be boosters because when you do well, America does well.”

Mr. President, how can you say something like that when it is so blatantly untrue? Corporate profits are at an all time high rate of growth, and yet our unemployment and standard of living for working class is in such dire straits. In your efforts to try to be all things to all people – a seductive role for someone in your position – you risk your integrity and any attempt at producing more cohesiveness for the Democratic Party. Does pragmatism mean that ALL values and ideals must simply be progressive affectations?

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December 7, 2010

Lines in the Sand are Easily Blurred by Political Winds

Mr. President, I wholeheartedly agree with your pragmatics, and that purist politics endanger the ability to accomplish anything, and I mean this from my personal experience representing workers. You have accomplished a great deal and it pains me to see how often this is not appreciated.

However, what I do not hear or see from you, at all, is that you can see the danger of the growing inequity, that we can evolve to a point where corporate profits are at an all time high and yet so many millions are unemployed or stagnating under debt and lack of progress. This growing income inequity is pushing us closer and closer to the kinds of inequity that we found in feudal societies. Until the American people begin to hear you speak clearly and regularly about this inequity, you will not find faith in your message.

In addition, the impact of the Citizens United decision on our discourse and system is a clear and present danger and must be addressed, both in its long term, and regularly in your presence and voice. These dangers of economic inequity and lack of equity in the polity must be addressed by you and your party or our nation will continue to sink into despair and further inequity. Your clear and calm demeanor is commendable. However, it also raises the question of whether or not you can truly perceive and care about what threatens us. Your message about the lines in the sand today were frighteningly vague and inadequate to me, and I suspect, to millions of others.

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December 6, 2010

I Fear That You Are About To Destroy Our Last Vestige Of Hope

Mr. President, please do not allow the Republicans to hold you and our nation hostage to tax cuts for the rich. You must stand strong and be our leader, not a complicit hostage negotiator.

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November 20, 2010

Subsidy for Israel in Return for Temporary Settlement Freeze is Shameful

Mr. President, Israel’s defiant actions against law and the world in its determination to continue to build settlements in the West Bank must be stopped permanently. That we, suffering a great economic setback, would consider giving away millions, if not billions, to Israel for only a temporary freeze on settlements amounts to blackmail. That you would consider this, if not actively  promote it, is for me the most astounding and unbelievable action of your presidency. Please do not do this.

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October 21, 2010

Palestinians and Israelis Have Equal Right to Statehood

Mr. President, the Israeli settlement activity is a crime against humanity, exceeded perhaps only by the South African apartheid and the holocaust in central Africa.

The Palestinian effort to achieve international recognition of statehood must not be hindered.

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September 24, 2010

Why aren’t the Democrats Quoting President Reagan’s Advisor Against Extending the Bush Tax Cuts?

David Stockman, President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the July 31, 2010 issue of The New York Times wrote in his Op-Ed, “Four Deformations of the Apocalypse” that extending the Bush tax cuts “would amount to a bankruptcy filing.”

Why aren’t you, Mr. President, and other Democrats making use of this prominent Republican’s statements to further highlight the absurdity of the current Republican Party’s position?

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September 17, 2010

Small Businesses Need Praise and Support, Corporate Raiders Need Exposure and Shame

Mr. President, it is apparent to most observing our political climate that the issue of jobs is the most crucial. The culture of large corporations is unlikely to help by the creation of new jobs, for the most part, because two many of these large corporations are looking to create already bloated profits by the merger and acquisition of other companies. This process and its culture of profit above all consistently destroys jobs as the mergers are designed to do. Somehow this process and culture must be clearly and loudly exposed, and legislation designed to reverse the effects of this. At the same time, Republicans must be clearly exposed as the force most against the process and culture that creates and maintains the most jobs in our country: The small business. The culture of small business and the creation of jobs must be clearly identified against the culture of corporate raiding and acquisition. I invite you read the story of the Simmons Mattress Corporation, if you are not already familiar, as one of the most obscene and egregious examples of what is destroying our country and our economy: “Profits for Buyout Firms as Company Debt Soared”

Note: The article cited at the end of this letter was published in the New York Times, October 4, 2009, by Julie Creswell.

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September 14, 2010

Elizabeth Warren’s Leadership is What the People Need

Mr. President, it is imperative that the people of our country see clearly that you are on their side and that you are willing to stand up against  the big business model which seeks profit at any price to human welfare or stability. We, and the Democratic Party, desperately need this clear and resounding voice of leadership. That message would be brought with exponential power, and at the most important pre-electoral time, if you were to also propose a Constitutional amendment that clearly stated that corporations are not persons and do not possess those same rights. Again and again we see that more and more of these large corporations, such as recently with the F.C.P.A. investigation into Hewlett-Packard, are egregious ‘citizens’ who need to be unnaturalized. Please.

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August 22, 2010

Leadership Clearly and Loudly Needed on the Issue of Muslim Peoples and their Faith

Mr. President, our challenges rarely get defined more clearly than this: “How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?” This from yesterday’s NY Times column by Frank Rich. This national insanity must be stopped before it literally destroys us. We need your clear and forceful leadership.

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August 16, 2010

Electrical Grid Protection from Solar Storms is Desperately Needed

Mr. President, catastrophic damage to our electrical grid is a real possibility. Such damage could leave millions of our people without power or water for months. Speak out now for the passage of existing legislation that can begin to provide us protection from this very real danger with giant surge suppressors.

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August 11, 2010

Our Leaders Must Protect our Access to Information and Economic Potential

Mr. President, our nation suffers from an ever decreasing level of informed discourse, as, among other evidence, our decreasing levels of educational achievement reveal. We need to stimulate our minds, but in order to do that we need access to the best information. Whether it is the blunting of informed political discourse promoted by millions spent to misinform our voters, or high costs and lackluster broadband service, our nation is becoming less and less free, in the best definition of mind and will. We need your leadership and voice to help us lessen the chains and constraints. We need to assure that people have equal opportunity for their web site and voice to rise to the level of the quality of its information, not the level of its ability to pay extra. If you truly believe in the gross error of the Citizens United decision, then we need you to lead the way to a constitutional amendment that will free us, and we need your leadership to protect us from the ever encroaching control of our nation’s mind by corporate mass media. Please be the leader you promised us.

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July 31, 2010

Support American Workers and Voters Now by Proposing a Constitutional Amendment

Mr. President, every day brings us more and more confirmation that too many large corporations neglect and reject their employees while their profits rise, and  too many of these large corporations grossly abuse our environment. Tea Party anger represents a feeling that many other Americans can find their own way to identify with, given the appropriate leadership.

It is too apparent that the Citizens United Supreme Court decision will lead to greater decay of intelligent discourse and creative solutions to our country’s and the world’s ills. Now, what is needed, is to remove that power of these corporate principalities, and renew an emphasis on one of the most important and dynamic forces in American history: The small business entrepreneur who lives at a level that relates to and recognizes his or her employees as humans with needs and rights.

Mr. President, the fiction that a corporation is the equivalent of a person is the greatest sophistry that our American legal system has ever perpetuated and we need to free ourselves from its chains upon us now.

By proposing a constitutional amendment declaring that a corporation is not a person you can bring about a unity and renewal of our culture and body politic that will be unequaled in our history. Be that leader that we need now, please.

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July 19, 2010

Women’s Rights in Afghanistan Must Be Made Sacrosanct

Mr. President, I feel ashamed that our government and our culture can talk about negotiations and compromises with the Taliban and remain virtually silent on the implications that could have for Afghanistan’s girls and women. Your clear voice speaking out on this issue is desperately needed.

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July 10, 2010

Financial Regulation Means Less Than Nothing Without Adequate Enforcement

Mr. President, I need to share an analogy with you about the relationship between law-making and enforcement. I live in the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. Not long before I moved here in 2003, the state legislature passed a law requiring motorists to yield to public transportation buses that are signaling to merge onto the road from a bus stop. Given the need to enhance the efficiency of public transportation, this law is a no-brainer. However, neither I nor anyone I know have ever seen it enforced nor even honored by any motorist, and I have repeatedly asked our bus drivers about this.

In fact, the congestion in our local bus system reached a point where the bus administration two years ago voted to eliminate one of our most utilized stops – i.e., considered necessary by most transit users – because the buses on average were spending too much time waiting to pull out and continue, resulting in buses behind schedule. Can we think of a more ironic and frustrating situation with regard to the people’s needs, legislation and enforcement? I hope you will consider this simple example and become more vocal and in favor of greater mandates of enforcement and stricter and clearer regulation in our future financial regulation.

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June 20, 2010

Financial Reform is in Jeopardy

Mr. President, the signs are becoming all too clear that our nation and your presidency are at risk of incurring the great shame of compromising all meaningful attempts at creating the financial regulation that both our nation and the world desperately need. Without this critically needed reform, your heritage will be overwhelmed by this despite the many, many accomplishments you have provided us. Your voice and leadership is desperately needed for financial reform to succeed. This is your most vulnerable area, given the close ties your financial advisers hold to the industry. The whole world is watching this.

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May 14, 2010

Assassination and Martyrdom of Anwar al-Awlaki

Mr. President, please consider well that the assassination and martyrdom of Anwar al-Awlaki and, for that matter, Osama bin Laden, might well result in the greatest long-term disaster our country has ever faced. The potential historic parallels to the martyrdom of Jesus are too clear. We must consider other means. And then, of course, there are the other considerations of our moral standing and consistency with respect to our Constitution.

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April 16, 2010

Law Removing Gun Legislation Attached To D.C. Voting Right Must Be Vetoed

Mr. President, the gun lobby’s attachments – and Senator Reid’s surrender – to District of Columbia Congressional voting rights legislation are an abomination of compromise and must be loudly spoken against and vetoed. Yes, this will empower the gun lobby and many gun owners who accuse you of wanting to take away their guns. However, these groups and individuals must be opposed openly and we must stand firm in our commitment to help make our nation’s capitol a safer place for residents and homes, rather than primarily a soft cushion for lobbyists.

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April 6, 2010

Regulators Need Firm Guidelines

Mr. President, structures that provide greater financial stability for our society will not provide the security we need if we continue to utilize the same basic culture of regulatory agencies we have historically created. The first regulatory agencies started us down the long and disastrous path where railroads and other corporations lobbied and persuaded regulators to give business what it preferred, at the expense of working people. Much about the current Senate bill will simply create the same type of structure, giving power to regulators to favor corporations without the strict instructions needed to protect the general population.

Mr. President, we need you to speak clearly and firmly for the kinds of change that will bring real change, instead of simply bringing us more of what doesn’t work in our regulatory culture.

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March 28, 2010

Thank You For Health Care, Jobs, Arms Reduction, and Your Stand Against Israel Building in East Jerusalem

Mr. President, please accept my gratitude for all of your efforts recently to improve our health care, create jobs, reduce the growth of arms, and for your firm stand against Israel’s development in the occupied territories: The latter is one of the most troubling issues underlying threats to world peace and I am comforted that you have the clarity of vision and courage to deliver such a message. Thank you.

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March 22, 2010

Edward Tufte will be needed for display of health care bill information

Mr. President, Edward Tufte brings unique insight to information display and is a most valuable resource for you to be using in advancing clarity to our complex political and economic issues.

I hope you decide that he will be needed to help with our growing health care misinformation problem, which has the potential to gravely exacerbate our partisan issues, instead of allowing the focus to rest on the needs of people.

(Note: Tufte’s best graphical depiction of data, and one used in the advertising literature which was often mailed to potential customers, is, in my opinion, his graphical depiction of the number of troops that Napoleon maintained at each point on his advance and eventual retreat from Moscow. It is unfortunate that that graphical display is not shown nor even referred to in the Wikipedia article on his work.)

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March 8, 2010

Biologic Drugs Must Have Their Protection Removed

President Obama must assert his leadership and demand that the protections afforded biologic drugs in the current proposed legislation be removed. Those protections amount to a windfall of billions in profit for drug companies and a gross contradiction of the directions we need to be moving in, if this administration is to maintain its role as a voice of working Americans. The proposed legislative protections will increase the economic drain that currently allows 43 percent of the drug budget for Medicare Part B to pay for only six of the current biologics. We need leadership to aggressively protect us from the growing encroachment of corporate America on the backs of working people and the continued disparities of income and wealth. Putting on the breaks here is one way to begin to reverse that gross injustice of wealth.

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February 23, 2010

Public Option is a Must

Mr. President, if you do not speak out – no, if you do not lead – for a public option, given the opportunities now in the reconciliation process, then you will irrevocably damage your reputation with me and with millions of others. Competition, combined with appropriate new regulation, is the only thing that will get private insurers to respond. And only a real public option will give private insurers real competition. Please help lead us in that direction.

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(Note: My apologies to President Obama and to any readers: I realized, that after about 20 letters posted to the White House email site, that I had not been specifically and appropriately addressing the letters to “Mr. President.”)

February 23, 2010

Consumer Financial Protection Agency

People are becoming more and more discouraged with the inability of our government to provide the kind of protections and services that are needed, especially the inability of Congress to stand firm, instead of caving in to business and financial industry lobbyists. With our lack of confidence in the progress on health care legislation already discouraging us, to lose the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, or have it substantially weakened will gravely increase our lack of confidence. Please, Mr. President, stand firm, and loud on the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, until the job is done.

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February 19, 2010

Afghanistan’s People: Our Future

“Winning the hearts and minds of people.” This is the theoretical goal of the lesson we are supposed to have learned about counterinsurgency. It may actually be the best way to assure our own literal survival.

The world has become too small for us to be able to continue to ignore our impact on the lives of people in other countries. We ignore the cultural values and day to day needs of others literally at our mortal peril. Afghanistan will truly be the watershed place of our future, or our precipitous decline.

Our military is seen by peoples of the Third World as a great threat and oppressor. We can make inroads by our actions, but the separation of military from non-governmental support must be a commitment we are clear and determined about, or we are doomed to fail.

Please make immediate changes so that developmental support for the people of Afghanistan is not canceled out by a refusal to make necessary changes in our country’s attitude about appropriate military activities. As with don’t ask…we need to be sure we don’t tread on a fragile fabric of potential trust in the peoples of the world. Without that, our cause and our future may be doomed. This is not some idealistic value cancelled out by realpolitiks. This is the issue which will determine our destiny. If for no other reason, imagine the benefits we could accrue with our on-going challenges with China. A Third World with a strong voice in our favor is the next ally we need to make sure of.

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February 3, 2010

EITC – Remind taxpayers about their potential eligibility for this credit

Since it is estimated “that between 15% and 25% of households  who are entitled to the EITC do not claim their credit, or between 3.5 million and 7 million households” (Wikipedia). President Obama, as he reminds us that he is our president and not Wall Street’s president, can show the people how this manifests specifically by repeatedly reminding people between now and April 15 to learn about the Earned Income Tax Credit (which Charlie on West Wing makes a point of complaining about, in terms of its obtuse name).

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December 18, 2009

Time to end Lieberman’s stranglehold on the Democratic Party

Senator Lieberman’s recent activity in attempting to derail significant parts of the health care reform bring to mind a question about his historic impact on the progress and future of the Democratic Party.

It seems like a bad dream, or at the least a badly made historic film, when we recall that this is the same man that Democratics sent to partner with John Kerry in their attempt to prevent George W. Bush from blackmailing by fear tactics and lies the U.S. voters into hiring him for a second term.

Look about you now, and think back: What were we thinking in allowing Senator Lieberman to carry – and derail – so much of the voice and spirit of the Democratic Party.

When you refuse to stand clearly for your values, others are given the opportunity to take preeminence in the vacuum you have left behind. You are abandoning us Mr. President. Real politics can only continue to hold sway when we continue to pay the blackmail it implicitly demands.

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October 5, 2009

Health Care for its Citizens is a Nation’s Moral Obligation

Our national mythology is steeped with the value of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, and the rugged individualism that results from the opportunity to build a profitable business and become wealthy.

However, if we are to succeed in a health care revolution, the primary message in forging the new mythology and values of our nation must be that health care of their fellow citizens is a fundamental moral obligation of any society. This message must go hand in hand with the message that it is morally reprehensible to profit greatly by anyone’s ill health. This issue is a major part of the growing wealth disparity in our nation.

We have never questioned whether it is the obligation of our government to protect us militarily, yet unlike virtually all other highly developed nations we have yet to evolve to the point of seeing clearly our nation’s responsibility to protect the health of each of its citizens.

Unless this value is taken in hand and communicated clearly to our nation, the confusion and fear over our attempt to change our health care infrastructure will continue to falter.

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September 17, 2009

Do Not Relent on Public Option

I must implore you, Mr. President, do not relent on a public option for health care insurance. The future of our democracy may literally lie in the balance over this issue, as we face increasing dominance and challenges for control of our culture by corporate interests.

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August 11, 2009

The Same Messages Bringing the Reality of the Need for Health Care Reform Need to be Repeated and Re-emphasized

The only additional issue that I see looming as large or larger than those currently addressed on http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck is the issue of to what extent people will be able to keep their doctor. The truth, as it appears to me, is that there must be circumstances where a doctor will establish limits about what insurance they will accept. Some doctors – admittedly a small percentage -currently will not accept any insurance because they practice by a subscription service, caring for those who can afford a substantial yearly flat fee.

Unless legislation is passed mandating all doctors who wish to practice to accept any and all forms of insurance, then there will be some limits on what doctor a citizen can have access to. This needs to be addressed clearly and honestly.

Beyond that, the same fundamental messages are going to have to be repeated over and over and over again. The opposition message which feeds into peoples fear confusion, and sometimes ignorance, will not stop, just as the birthers have not stopped. The current reality of internet media and coroporate control of mass media is such that in order for the Obama administration to succeed with health care reform – or any sensitive or controversial issue – their message must be continuously carried in a manner that invites and encourages discourse, something that apparently most Republican groups do not encourage. That message, while perhaps an affront to some who seek bipartisanship, is a hard reality, and it has barely been put out there in the many decades that it has been a part of the fundamental challenge. Simple comparisons of how Republicans have differred from Democrats in their willingness to invite people to the table such as George H. W. Bush’s veto of the motor-voter bill in the last year of his administration, contrasting with Bill Clinton’s priority and success of passing it very early in his administration.

While health care reform is a vital necessity, the challenges confronting its success can not be adequately addressed by focusing on the issues alone. The problems and roadblocks to intelligent discourse must also be put clearly on the table.

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August 4, 2009

Where Lies His Fundamental Responsibility: Wall Street or American People?

President Obama’s opposition to House legislation setting limits on executive pay is a major disappointment for myself, and I sense, millions of my fellow citizens.

Problems of excessive executive pay were identified decades ago by a President of Harvard University in a lengthy article written in a surprising break from those of his status. The problems he identified, as well as many others, have only become worse. We need to begin to change the direction of where we place our financial and moral investments and priorities. How do billions of dollars given to a few, who have gamed our financial markets and whose institutions were shored up by billions of public bailout dollars, benefit our greater society? How is it consistent with our alleged values?

We need specific answers to this question from President Obama.

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July 16, 2009

Goldman and others must be acutely examined for fraud in light of their claims for ‘remarkable’ profits. The excessive compensation rewards will only continue to drive irresponsible corporate policies, threatening a repeat of the current crisis.

This will be a crucial test of the integrity of the Obama administration given their close ties to these firms and the industry.

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July 6, 2009

(I suggested that Paul O’Neil’s July 5, 2009 NY Times Op-Ed titled “Health Care’s Infectious Losses” was a must read. I still regard it as such.)

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June 24, 2009

Funeral Processions Can Never Be Justifiable Targets While We Claim a New Era of Responsibility

Todays report of 60 dead after an attack on a funeral procession in South Waziristan must be addressed immediately by President Obama. The source of the missiles must be clarified and no matter their origin, this attack and anything like it must be unequivocally prevented and made off-limits by President Obama.

That this strike comes just days after our government has emphatically stated that civilians must not be targeted and that new policies are in effect to assure this now reveals us to be hypocrites at best.

It is time for President Obama to step up and clearly take some responsibility for this.

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June 16, 2009

Financial Regulation, Not Suggestions

It seems clear that President Obama understands what led to our financial crisis. However, it also seems clear from the plan he is putting forward, that too much of the financial industry will be allowed to continue as before with, at best, only suggestions of changes for their behavior, rather than real regulatory change.

This is not leadership, this is giving the financial industry what they want, rather than what the people, of this country and the world, need. Please stop with the political posturing and give us the leadership – and regulations – we need for our renewed security

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June 10, 2009

The Same Messages Bringing the Reality of the Need for Health Care Reform Need to be Repeated and Re-emphasized

The only additional issue that I see looming as large or larger than those currently addressed on http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck is the issue of to what extent people will be able to keep their doctor. The truth, as it appears to me, is that there must be circumstances where a doctor will establish limits about what insurance they will accept. For example, some doctors – admittedly a small percentage – currently will not accept any insurance because they practice by a subscription service, caring for those who can afford a substantial yearly flat fee.

Unless legislation is passed mandating all doctors who wish to practice to accept any and all forms of insurance, then there will be some limits on what doctor a citizen can have access to. This needs to be addressed clearly and honestly.

Beyond that, the same fundamental messages are going to have to be repeated over and over and over again. The opposition message which feeds into people’s, fear, confusion, and sometimes ignorance, will not stop, just as the birthers have not stopped. The current reality of internet media and corporate control of mass media is such that in order for the Obama administration to succeed with health care reform – or any sensitive or controversial issue – their message must be continuously carried in a manner that invites and encourages discourse, something that apparently most Republican groups do not encourage. That message, while perhaps an affront to some who seek bipartisanship, is a hard reality, and it has barely been put out there in the many decades that it has been a part of the fundamental challenge. To be successful, leadership must address this.

For example, simple comparisons of how Republicans have differed from Democrats in their willingness to invite people to the table such as George H. W. Bush’s veto of the motor-voter bill in the last year of his administration, contrasting with Bill Clinton’s priority and success of passing it very early in his administration.

While health care reform is a vital necessity, the challenges confronting its success can not be adequately addressed by focusing on the issues alone. The problems and roadblocks to intelligent discourse must also be identified publicly and put firmly on the table.

*

April 22, 2009

Bank Credit Card Company’s Behavior Needs to be Criminalized

Twice I have notified Bank of America that I reject their proposed increase of my credit card rate from %9.24 to %19.24 (%108 increase), as they notified me I had the right to as long as I agreed to ‘lock’ the card and not use it.

After my first notification was followed by their letter informing me of the reduction of my credit limit, but NO MENTION of my refusing the rate increase and locking of my card, I called the bank again and spoke to another credit analyst who confirmed that no record existed of my refusing the rate increase, as Christopher Ford, the first BOA credit analyst assured me he would make note of.

I have still not received confirmation from my second call when I again made notification of my refusal of the rate increase and agreeing to lock the card.

It appears that, under the current laws, I may be without recourse if, after telling me that they would lock my interest rate and card use, the bank continues to not make note of my choice and then after May 1 (my deadline for notification) implements the rate increase from %9.24 to %19.24, effectively stealing hundreds of dollars of unjustified interest rate increases from me.

I have never been late with a payment, and never missed a payment.

We desperately need protection and recourse from what may amount to my bank’s attempt to steal from me and others like me.

My call to the House Finance Committee yesterday confirmed that they have received many calls about this issue complaining specifically about Bank of America, as well as others.

Please help us.

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April 8, 2009

Banks Must Be Restricted in their Greedy and Unwarranted Increase of Credit Card Rates

Yesterday I received notice from Bank of America that my Visa interest rate would automatically increase from %9.24 (VAR) to %19.24 (VAR) unless I agreed to lock the card and not use it for further purchases.

I have had this card for five years. I have never missed a payment, nor have I ever been late for a payment.

In addition, Bank of America yesterday closed, without notice to me, my Mastercard that I had just days ago paid in full from a high balance of $3000 a year ago. In fact the credit analyst at BOA, Christopher Ford, explicitly told me yesterday that my Mastercard rate would remain unchanged (at %13.99 fixed), but instead closed the card immediately upon ending our phone call, without any notice or warning to me. With this Mastercard, as well, I have never missed a payment, nor have I ever been late for a payment.

Credit is a valuable source of security that often takes many years to establish. Our government has a responsibility to its citizens to protect and stabilize their borrowing power when they have acted in a responsible and trustworthy manner – even more so, when their payment history is exemplary.

The taxpayer assistance given to Bank of America and others, in light of this type of treatment given to responsible credit card holders, makes a sham out of one of the bank bailout’s alleged purposes which is to free up lending. Implicitly encouraging the increase of interest rates by %108 for people whose payment history is perfect makes a mockery of our government’s on-going relationship with the banking industry.

Senator Dodd’s bill enacting greater protection for consumers would protect people like myself and it must be supported. In fact, given the likely millions like myself, the bill should be amended to allow for a retroactive period.

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April 4, 2009

Uighurs Must Be Freed and Taken in by U.S

The problem of the prisoners at Guantanamo is a problem essentially created by the U.S. taking of prisoners in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It is a problem that is fundamentally our responsibility. Yes, it is appropriate for us to ask for the help of other countries to take some of these people, but despite the difficulties involved, both simple practicality and simple confrontation of shame require that we take the lead by example if we hope to renew the cooperation of other countries. These men must be freed before the conscience of our nation can be freed. Begin now by offering these men a home in the U.S.

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April 1, 2009

Change the Banks Plan

The president’s current plan for selling the bank’s failing assets will ultimately fail and destroy his credibility and further erode our economic vitality. He must revise his intentions and devise a plan that treats the banks assets in terms of their real value, regardless of how much effort this takes. If that means that banks and financial institutions must be temporarily taken into receivership, then that is the distasteful truth that we as a nation, and our president above all, must bear. We cannot continue to create what amounts to subversive deals which placate Wall Street, but further erode the integrity of our society.

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March 28, 2009

Don’t Deport Benita Veliz

Justice and our need for good citizens demands that President Obama and our Department of Naturalization assert our need for people like Benita Veliz and allow her to stay in this country.

Now 23, she has been here since she was 8 when she arrived with her parents on a tourist visa. This according to the NY Times in their editorial “Don’t Deport Benita Veliz,” which also reports “She was valedictorian at Jefferson High School, graduating at age 16. She went to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio on a full scholarship. She doubled majored in biology and sociology and fully deployed herself beyond the classroom in clubs, student government, choir. She volunteered in a children’s hospital. And she waited tables 45 hours a week in a Mexican restaurant.”

She is a model candidate for the many Dream Act naturalization bills currently being considered.

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March 12, 2009

I had, unfortunately, assumed that because we were so committed to helping the Afghanistan people build a society based upon respect and fairness for all people that Afghanistan was, in fact, making some significant progress toward that goal.

However, as the recent report shows (NY Times: Afghan Court Backs Prison Term for Blasphemy), the Afghanistan system of justice ranks with the most absurd of history, as a student, Parwiz Kambakhsh has been convicted of blasphemy, when he may have only downloaded and internet article. (The issue borders on the obscene, as it appears that the subject of the article is the condition of women’s life in Afghanistan, an issue that must be firmly kept high on the list of priorities for our engagement with the Afghanistan people.)

A man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison (reduced from death!), was not allowed to present evidence in defense of himself, and in his appeal which was held in secret, the witness against him who recanted was ignored, and his attorney was not allowed to speak with the appeals judges or prosecutor. Unfortunately, it seems that case is not unusual.

I can imagine that President Obama is at his limits with an overload of responsibilities. However, we risk sacrificing our most precious individual rights and self-respect if we allow such an injustice to pass in silence. I urge President Obama to publicly denounce this travesty.

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February 22, 2009

Denying Afghanistan Prisoners Habeas Corpus

The NY Times reports today “Obama Upholds Detainee Policy in Afghanistan.” At a quick glance, denying people the right to habeas corpus when they are taken as prisoners of war does not seem to be a contradiction of our essential values. However, it has been widely documented for many years that many, many of these prisoners in Afghanistan turn out to be innocent and become prisoners only because of our process of offering bounties for suspected terrorists. In this type of environment, denying people the right to habeas corpus is an obscenity, amounting to the grossest hypocrisy of everything we claim to stand for.

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February 20, 2009

Apology and Rendition

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is absolutely correct when he states that President Obama should apologize to the world and the Iraqi people for our war against Iraq. Two of the most proud moments in our history were when President Clinton apologized for our direct support of what amounted to the murder of thousands in Central America, and for our direct support of the military coup in Greece. These kinds of apologies are absolutely necessary for us to maintain hope of restoring a place of pride for our country in the eyes of the world and the texts of history.

In addition, it is absolutely necessary that President Obama publicly state and firmly embed a policy that we will never resort to renditions of our prisoners to third countries.

Without these two public acts, President Obama and the people of our country will only be able to claim a facade of honor as we face the world.

Barry McKenna
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Letters to President Obama by Barry McKenna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.