Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hopeless Romantic

Eliot Spitzer's indiscretions as Governor were tawdry, illegal and easy to disdain. Bill Clinton's indiscretions as President were sophmoric, shameless and filled with contemptible dishonesty. Mark Sanford's indiscretions, however, seem like something out of a romance novel. As a woman, and a hopeless romantic, I can't help but put Gov. Sanford in a whole different category. It is totally wrong for a logical person like myself to feel this way...he cheated on his wife, left his state without acceptable communication and possibly used state funds for personal fun...but man, the fellow has a heart and soul of a poet. If I was smitten before with his fiscal conservatism, I am definitely smitten now. Oh, it is just so wrong.

Posted on Thu, Jun. 25, 2009
Exclusive: Read e-mails between Sanford, woman
Sanford-Maria e-mails shed light on governor's affair

E-mails, obtained by The State newspaper in December, between Gov. Mark Sanford and Maria, a woman in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

At the time, efforts to authenticate the e-mails were unsuccessful. However, Sanford’s office Wednesday did not dispute their authenticity.

The State has removed the woman’s full name and other personal details, including her street address, e-mail address and children’s names.

McClatchy special correspondent Angeles Mase on Wednesday visited the 14-story apartment building in Buenos Aires where the woman lives, according to the e-mails, which included her address. A woman at the address answered to the name in the e-mails and, at first, agreed to speak to a visitor, but she declined after the visitor identified herself as a reporter.

Shown a photograph of Sanford, the doorman at the building said he did not recognize him. According to the doorman, the woman has two sons, one a teenager of driving age and the other younger. The e-mails refer to the woman’s two sons.


From: Mark Sanford

To: Maria

Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2008 03:09:44 +0000


You are glorious and I hope you really understand that. You do not need a therapist to help you figure your place in the world. You are special and unique and fabulous in a whole host of ways that are worth a much longer conversation. To be continued ...

Have been having a few email problems as I am getting email through an aircard at the farm, where access to computer world is more than tough. Please let me know if you have gotten my last two eamils (sic) so I know it is working in getting to your part of the world ...

Another glorious day outside. Hope you are doing well, and am anxious to hear about your week. Know that I miss you. Unbeleivably (sic) hard to imagine it has been a week. Please also send your mailing address as I want to send you an insignificant something next week when I am back in civilization that I think you might find interesting given our conversation.

Want to write an indepth note with some thoughts on our visit when I know you are getting these emails. Hugs and much love. M


From: Maria

Sent: Friday, July 04, 2008 4:26 PM

To: Mark Sanford

Subject: RE:

My beloved, (hope you also change the dearest ...)

I’am (sic) reading your last two mails sitting outside with a great seaview here in Ilhabela, a beautiful island near Sao Paulo. Have been thinking of you while watching the beautiful blue sea (a) great part of my day and remembering with a great smile on my face, the time we had spent together. As I told you before, you brought happiness and love to my life and (I) will take you forever in my heart. I wasn’t aware till we met last week, the strong feelings I had for you, and believe me, I haven’t felt this since I was in my teen ages, when afterwards I got married. I do love you, I can feel it in my heart, and although I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to meet again this has been the best that has happened to me in a long time You made me realized (sic) how you feel when you realy (sic) love somebody and how much you want to be beside the beloved. Last Friday I would had stayed embrassing (sic) and kissing you forever.

Don’t know why you think you bore me with the description of your farm. I am an urban girl but that doesn’t inhibit me from loving other things, specially if they are the ones you love. I was able to imagine the place with every single detail you wrote and had trassmitted (sic) me the love you have for your farm. It sounds to be a great and peaceful place and loved you had shared it with me.

Thanks for your beautiful words, I don’t know if I do need or not therapy but I have to find my new place in this new stage of my life. Life has been very generous with me and I want to return at least a little bit of what I have been given. I have time and think helping others who haven’t been as lucky as me will do me fine.

My address is (deleted by The State). It will be great finding at home once I am back, whatever you send me, I’ll keep it near my bed so as to feel you nearer.

Miss you so much... love you from the deepest of my heart. Sweet kisses.




Subject: RE:

Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 01:42:46 -0400

Beloved back to you...

Got back an hour ago to civilization and am now in Columbia after what was for me a glorious break from reality down at the farm. No phones ringing and tangible evidence of a day’s labors. Though I have started every day by 6 this morning woke at 4:30, I guess since my body knew it was the last day, and I went out and ran the excavator with lights until the sun came up. To me, and I suspect no one else on earth, there is something wonderful about listening to country music playing in the cab, air conditioner running, the hum of a huge diesel engine in the background, the tranquility that comes with being in a virtual wilderness of trees and marsh, the day breaking and vibrant pink coming alive in the morning clouds — and getting to build something with each scoop of dirt. It is admittedly weird but one of my more favorite ways of escaping the norms, constant phone calls and formalities that go with the office — and it probably fits with my weakness in doing rather than being — though you opened up a new chapter last week wherein I was happy and content just being. Last point worth further discussion. Afternoon projects had me outside and by days (sic) end I pretty much looked like a homeless person ... but in this case a very content one. Enough about my love of heavy equipment and woods at sunrise ...

While I was getting exhausted with one project after another at Coosaw work week, you were basking (I’m certain gloriously) on the beach..

Sounds great, hope to hear more about what sounds a great spot.

Will now finally get some sleep and write you a longer note with a few more profound thoughts tomorrow or Wednesday. In the meantime I send my love and hope you know I am thinking of you.. M

P.S. I do not want to raise expectations, when I say I will send something insignificant I promise I will do as I say! It wont (sic) be worthy of bedside placement ... was just going to find the movie the Holiday as we had spoken of it last Thursday. Its music was pleasant and made me think of you — its mood and the notion of a holiday (wrapped up in our case over two days) certainly fit as well ... (though our visit in some ways for me was as well less of a holiday than it was uncovering and realization of some things and feelings that again are worth longer conversation)

Had also hoped to find the cd of a song that played as I was flying home and also20made (sic) me think of you. Who knows if I can find the music ... so all you may be stuck with is a long released movie — and if you put it by your bed I really be worried! Love you, good night and kisses back to you ...


From: Maria

Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 8:14 PM

To: Mark Sanford

Subject: RE:

My love,

I decided to rent a car and went by myself to the other side of the Island where it is located one of the best hotels. It’s name is DPNY Hotel and I find it quite interesting. I had lunch there in a restaurant on the beach with great seaview. I sat under a palm and ate a mixed green salad with grilled abacaxi (pineapple) and honey. in the afternoon I sunbathe and read on the beach. I ve started here “The age of turbulence” from Alan Greenspan which I highly recomend (sic) you. At five I left back to the small town had a coffee with pao de queijo (cheese bread which is something tipycal (sic) from Brazl (sic) and it’s delicious) read some magazines, walked around and finally back to meu Pousada that is hotel.

In the Island is taking place the sailing week and Rolex competition and this was the reason for choosing the place and also why luckily I am most of the time by my own. It may sound bad but it’s how I feel it. As I told you I shouldn’t have done this trip but I would have felt worst if I wouldn’t have come because it was too over the date, he is a very nice guy, great heart ... but unfortunately I am not in love with him ... You are my love ... something hard to believe even for myself as it’s also a kind of impossible love, not only because of distance but situation.

Sometimes you don’t choose things, they just happen ... I can’t redirect my feelings and I am very happy with mine towards you. Hope you have had a good day, guess with much work.

Send you all my love and goodnight kisses. Sweet dreams from down south. I’ll dream with you.


From: Mark Sanford

To: Maria

Subject: RE:

Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 00:24:54 -0400


It was indeed a long day. I am most jealous of your salad under the palm tree.

Three thoughts in one note now that I have a moment. One the travel schedule is about to get real busy (and this distresses me for the way it may well make it more difficult to get your notes over the next few weeks), two unfortunately all the feelings you describe are mutual, and three where do we go from here?

One, tomorrow leave at 5 am for New York and meetings. Will think about you on its streets and wish I was going to be there later in the month when you are there. Tomorrow night back to Philadelphia for the start of the National Governor’s Conference through the weekend. Back to Columbia for Tuesday and then on Wednesday, as I think I had told you, taking the family to China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Thailand and then back through Hong Kong on world wind tour. Few days home then to Bahamas for 5 days on a friends boat for the last break of the summer. The following weekend have been asked to spend it out in Aspen, Colorado with McCain — which has kicked up the whole VP talk all over again in the press back home.

Two, mutual feelings. I have been specializing in staying focused on decisions and actions of the head for a long time now — and you have my heart. You have oh so many attributes that pulls it in this direction. Do you really comprehend how beautiful your smile is? Have you been told lately how warm your eyes are and how they softly glow with the special nature of your soul. I remember Jenny, or someone close to me, once commenting that while my mom was pleasant and warm it was sad she had never accomplished anything of significance. I replied that they were wrong because she had the ultimate of all gifts — and that was the ability to love unconditionally. The rarest of all commodities in this world is love. It is that thing that we all yearn for at some level — to be simply loved unconditionally for nothing more than who we are — not what we can get, give or become. There are but 50 governors in my country and outside of the top spot, this is as high as you can go in the area I have invested the last 15 years of my life — my getting here came as no small measure because I had that foundation of love and support so critical to getting up in the morning and feeling you could give and risk because you already had a full tank of love in the emotional bank account. Since our first meeting there in a wind swept somewhat open air dance spot in Punta del Este, I felt that you had that same rare attribute. Above all else I love that inner beauty about you. That gift of yours is going to make a tremendous difference in (The State deleted sons’ names) life — and in anyone’s life who is blest to be touched by yours — you need to rest very comfortably in that fact. As I mentioned in our last visit, while I did not need love fifteen years ago — as the battle scars of life and aging and politics have worn on this has become a real need of mine. You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night’s light — but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner — and unlike you I would never do that!

Three and finally, while all the things above are all too true — at the same time we are in a hopelessly — or as you put it impossible — or how about combine and simply say hopelessly impossible situation of love. How in the world this lightening [sic] strike snuck up on us I am still not quite sure. As I have said to you before I certainly had a special feeling about you from the first time we met, but these feelings were contained and I genuinely enjoyed our special friendship and the comparing of all too many personal notes (and yes this is true even if you did occasionally tantalize me with sexual details over the years!) — but it was all safe. Where we are is not. I have thought about it and in some ways feel I let you down in letting these complications come into a friendship that I hope will last till death. In all my life I have lived by a code of honor and at a variety of levels know I have crossed lines I would have never imagined. I wish I could wish it away, but this soul-mate feel I alluded too is real and in that regard I sure don’t want to be the person complicating your life. I looked to where I often look for advice and counsel, and in I Corinthians 13 it simply says that, “ Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude, Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right, Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things”. In this regard it is action that goes well beyond the emotion of today or tomorrow and in this light I want to look for ways to show love in helping you to live a better — not more complicated life. I want to help (one of Maria’s sons) with film guys that might help his career, etc. I also don’t want you walking20away (sic) from some guy (I take it the younger guy you mentioned a t dinner) because of me — and what we both have to see as an impossible situation. I better stop now least this really sound like the Thornbirds — wherein I was always upset with Richard Chamberlain for not dropping his ambitions and running into Maggie’s arms. The bottom line is two fold, my heart wants me to get on a plane tonight and to be in your loving arms — my head is saying how do we put the Genie back in the bottle because I sure don’t want to be encumbering you, or your options or your life. Put differently, given I love you, I don’t want to be part of the reason you are having less than an ideal week in what sounds like a cool spot.

Lastly I also suspect I feel a little vulnerable because this is ground I have never certainly never covered before — so if you have pearls of wisdom on how we figure all this out please let me know ... In the meantime please sleep soundly knowing that despite the best efforts of my head my heart cries out for you, your voice, your body, the touch of your lips, the touch of your finger tips and an even deeper connection to your soul. I love you ... sleep tight. M

PS. I will make it a point in NY tomorrow to drop by a store and get that movie I promised to send your way ... I am encouraged to know you will not keep it beside the bed least we have tangible evidence of two pathetic figures missing each other far too much to live a few thousand miles apart!


From: Maria

To: Mark Sanford

Subject: RE:

Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 23:22:29 +0000

You have not brought complication or are not bringing complication to my life, on the contrary you’ve fullfiled (sic) me with happiness and made me aware how you can feel when you love somebody. I can think with my head but only feel with my heart so I can’t avoid it even knowing is hopelessly impossible. The guy is the one I told you ,just three years younger than me, but I am not in love and won’t fall in love with time so I have to continue my way ... be alone for some time and if I am lucky enough will someday feel towards somebody, what I today feel for you. At least you made me realized it can happen.

I don’t know if I did understood (sic) well about what was unsafe or not safe. Before our mails use to have other contents ... if you want to go back to that and don’t write love things and so on because is not safe for you it’s ok with me, i (sic) love you and by no way would do something that can harm you, so please let me know.

I don’t know how we figure all this out and I am not interested in knowing. I prefer to think we’ll see each other again somewhere sometime in this life and in next. Will be missing you till then... . .

Have a great trip with the ones you love ... they are the kind of trips you will never forget and for your boys will be unworthable (sic) not only because of the places they will visit but for sharing all that time with you.

Send you millions of kisses that will last till we get in touch again. best wishes from the deepest of my heart.

P.S.: I don’t want to put the genius (sic) back in the bottle because I truly believe in freedom. I never gave you sexual details but now you don’t need to imagine you can close your eyes and just remember. I’ll do the same.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 TN Legislative Recap

I have always been an appreciative follower of Rep. Stacey Campfield's blog, here is his take on the winners and losers of this past year's legislative fun.

Who won the battles in the legislature this year. This is my point of view on the issues. I will do people later.


Slight edge Republicans

Dems keep an expanded failing pre K program, Republicans win on charter schools. Republicans would have lost charter schools as well if it wasn't for the easy stimulus money (100 million) Dems were in lock down and had it killed. When the media started to pick up on the money lost the story changed.

Democrats win in a landslide.

An all but complete collapse had many thinking a deal was cut for something else. That something else never materialized.

Illegal immigration and election reform

Democrats win

Holding the line and doing nothing was a victory. Stalemate is a win for them.



You may say "What? Republicans won that hands down!" Yes and no. Republicans got the issues passed we have wanted to pass for years but many Democrats were sick and tired of being beat up by the gun owners election after election. That wont happen again. Those who hate the gun issue made a ton of noise to make Republicans look extreme and wont be hurt by the gun owners anyway.


Wash. Possible Democrat victory.

Tax increases on small businesses unemployment, several fee increases and a lot of other business taxes get a bump. No broad tax increases so most people will not notice the tax increases immediately.

The budget.

Democrats in a landslide.

They got about everything they wanted. Republicans failed to hold a hard line on any big issue. Triggers making the governor cut when revenues don't make projections was the only possible victory but I can imagine what districts will get cut when it happens.



Having the constitutional officers is a huge change we at least know what the numbers are in an honest way. Getting election coordinators slowly but surely will pay off big long term. Dems keep control of most of the rest of the staff thanks to Kent Williams.


Dems in a shocker

I was expecting so much more on this issue. Republicans started out strong. Some deregulation occurred in the area of streams by just getting clear definition of what a stream is.

On other issues it looked like we were as bad or worse then our competition. We went with most of the regulation Obama wanted. Energy mandates and regulation on construction took huge jumps. Giving the government private health care information passed. Limits on who could run for offices serve as a volunteer firefighter or constable passed, losses on coal mining and other issues gave dems the clear edge by year end.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reaganomics vs Obamanomics

Gotta love Ann Coulter. In a recent email, she was plugging a book that is an investor "must read" but her preface is what caught my attention. It is just a matter-of-fact recap of the obvious. Bottom line, liberal economic/social policies have killed us thruout history. I know my braniac liberal leaning friends want to discount this theory because of social responsibility principles but "at what cost".

Me, personally...I just think government needs to get the hell out of the way.

Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics

Dear Fellow Conservative,

You know what really irritates me about liberals? (Besides the fact that they're spineless little girls in pretty dresses who can't play rough because it musses up their hair...)They always think liberalism fixes the problem -- even when it was liberalism that caused the problem in the first place!

Case in point, the Financial Meltdown of 2008 (and counting). To hear liberals tell it, it all goes back to Ronald Reagan -- who with his seductive "B-actor" charm fooled America into thinking that by slashing taxes, regulation, and government spending we could unleash free enterprise and create a new wave of prosperity.
Sure, liberals concede, that seemed to work for, oh, the better part of three decades, but now we're paying the price for all that "greed." The solution? A return to the pre-Reagan policies of Jimmy Carter, LBJ, FDR... Speaking of which, what will victory look like in the "War on Poverty"? When are they going to produce an "exit strategy" from that quagmire?

Unfortunately, the facts -- as always when you're talking about liberal theories -- tell a different story. A story in which all the major villains, it turns out, have one thing in common: government. That's right. From the "Community Reinvestment Act" that pressured banks into affirmative-action lending, to those "government-sponsored enterprises" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- who bought up all the resulting subprime loans and repackaged them as "investment grade" securities -- the greasy thumb-prints of government were all over this fiasco from beginning to end.

But those, as I say, are facts. And facts have no place in the fantasy world of Democratic policy-makers. Nor does history -- true history, that is, as opposed to the public-school propaganda that teaches, for instance, that FDR's New Deal got us out of the Great Depression, when in reality it only deepened and prolonged it.
But the question remains: What can those of us in the fast-dwindling, Reality-Based Community do to survive financially as the Obamacrats prepare a "New New Deal" that threatens to outspend the original by about ten thousand to one?

Personally, I don't have a clue. But thank goodness I know of someone who does.
His name is Mark Skousen, Ph.D., editor of the investment newsletter Forecasts & Strategies -- and he just might be the smartest financial advisor working today.
Don't let that "Ph.D." fool you -- this is no pointy-headed leftist like Obama's economic team who seem to think that all the economy needs in order to flourish are more liberals running the economy.

Skousen, after all, launched his career by predicting during the 1980-82 recession -- and to the scornful laughter of nearly all the other so-called experts -- that "Reaganomics will work."

Boy, did he get that right. And boy, has he gotten it right ever since:

• Like when he issued a "sell everything" recommendation to his Forecasts & Strategies subscribers just 41 days before the stock market crash of 1987 -- then told them to get fully invested again several weeks later, just in time for the recovery.

• And when he called the Gulf War of 1990 "a turning point for U.S. stocks" -- and the Dow subsequently began a bull market that didn't end for nearly 10 years.
• And when he told his subscribers in 1995 that the NASDAQ would double, and then double again -- which is exactly what it did.

• And when, just weeks before the NASDAQ collapsed in 2000, he warned his subscribers that tech stocks were dangerously overvalued.

• And when, in 2006 -- more than two years before the financial meltdown -- he warned subscribers that "we clearly are headed for fiscal disaster," and showed them how to protect themselves.

What's Skousen's secret? I think it begins with understanding the real laws of economics -- not the warmed-over Marxism that passes for "new thinking" to Obama's media groupies.

And here's the best thing about Mark Skousen. He knows how to make you money no matter how bad things get in the financial markets and the economy overall.
After all, he points out, the late billionaire John Templeton -- whom Money magazine called "the greatest stock-picker of the 20th century" -- began to build his vast fortune in the depths of the Great Depression.

Maybe you're not looking to be a billionaire. Maybe you're just looking to keep your head above water while the Obamacrats do their best to sink the economy. Either way, Mark Skousen can help -- and I urge you to give his Forecasts & Strategies a try.
The cost? Less than the tip on a John Edwards haircut -- in today's dollars, that is. After Obama gets done driving down the value of the dollar it wouldn't be enough to buy Governor Rod Blogojevich a haircut.


Ann Coulter

Friday, June 19, 2009


As I get older, I appreciate the wisdom of my elders so much more than I did as a youth who knew it all. Thanks for sharing Jeanette!

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17.. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42.. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today's Funny

I am in the middle of watching the death march that is our state's final legislation I am thankful friends send me a little humor to brighten my day. This one particularly amused me because I know some elderly rascals who would do this...on either side of the aisle!

Parking Ticket

Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket...We went up to him and said, 'Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?'

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tires.
So my wife called him a shit-head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, we didn't care... We came into town by bus and the car had an Obama sticker. We try to have a little fun each day now that we're retired. It's important at our age.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rural Divide

Really, the whole political schematics come down to an "urban/rural" showdown. If we got rid of the electoral college then maybe the VAST rural landscape could be counted in the Presidential elections.

“We’re an urban country, and the White House reflects the majority of the constituency of the country,” he said. “This is the problem we have with everything. Folks don’t understand what we do.”

This quote from the article below says it all. Maybe the rural coalitions need to come together and explain it to everyone.

Rural Dems have beef with ObamaBy: Lisa Lerer and Jonathan Martin
June 17, 2009 04:28 AM EST

Angered by White House decisions on everything from greenhouse gases to car dealerships, congressional Democrats from rural districts are threatening to revolt against parts of President Barack Obama’s ambitious first-year agenda.

“They don’t get rural America,” said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a Democrat who represents California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley. “They form their views of the world in large cities.”

Cardoza’s critique was aimed at Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, but it echoes complaints rural-district Democrats have about a number of Obama administration decisions.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a complete strikeout, but they’ve just got a few more bases to it when it comes to the rural community,” said Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

A rural revolt could hamper the administration’s ability to pass climate change and health care legislation before the August recess.

Democrats from farm states are some of the same moderate members Obama must win to get almost any piece of his agenda through the Senate: Landrieu and Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Without their votes, Democrats can’t move legislation over Republican filibusters — such as the one sure to come if the health care plan that moves through the Senate includes a public option supported by the administration.

In the House, rural Democrats threaten to marshal nearly 50 votes against the climate and energy bill backed by the administration.

“For Obama, it’s a very tough high-wire act,” said Frank O’Donnell, executive director of the environmental group Clean Air Watch. “The farm states are among those that the Democrats desperately want to keep in the fold at the same time the farm states historically aren’t very good on environmental issues.”

Obama made inroads to rural areas during his presidential campaign, a result of pouring significant resources into rural counties in key battleground states. According to exit polls, Obama won 43 percent of the rural vote — a 4 percent increase from Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

But some Democrats complain that Obama hasn’t paid much attention to the rural states since he’s been in office.

“We’d love to see him out in rural America more,” Lincoln said.

The conflict with rural Democrats burst into the open at the Capitol last week, when rural and moderate Democrats revolted against the decision to close roughly 3,400 General Motors and Chrysler car dealerships. The White House Auto Task Force endorsed some of the cuts in its plans to revamp the companies.

In rural America, especially, the looming closures pose a dire threat. Car dealers are not only an economic linchpin of many county-seat towns but also offer support for institutions and a way of life that can’t be easily replaced.

“In rural jurisdictions, your dealerships are pretty big employers. If you knock out four dealerships, the ripple effects of that are substantial,” said Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.), who represents a largely rural Eastern Shore district and is co-sponsoring a bill that could force the auto companies to honor their contracts with the rejected dealerships.

With GM and Chrysler forcing hundreds of local dealerships to close up shop, members of Congress are scrambling to save thousands of jobs and warning of severe political consequences that could come from shuttering what are often community pillars.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) questioned how independent owned and operated businesses have any financial impact on automakers.

“None of us can quite understand why they consider dealerships a drag when they are the ones that buy the cars, that take the financial risks. Many of the dealerships that are being closed are profitable.”

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that “all decisions about specific dealerships are made solely by the car companies on the basis of what they believe is in the interests of the long-term health and survival of their business.”

But lawmakers say the car dealership closings are just the latest blow to rural areas since Obama took office. The first sign of a disconnect between the White House and rural voters came in the administration’s budget, which included a plan to slash direct payments to farms with annual gross receipts of more than $500,000. After an outcry from farm-state lawmakers, Congress dropped the cuts from the budget.

Since then, much of rural Democrats’ unhappiness with the new administration has focused on the EPA. While Bush administration political appointees in the agency were skeptical of stricter environmental laws, Obama’s EPA has moved forward quickly on a host of new regulations, including limits on greenhouse gas emissions that farm lobbyists say will raise costs on farmers.

“There is a different focus [at EPA] than under the Bush years,” said Rick Krause, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau. “And there very well could be some political risk involved.”

Rep. Collin Peterson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, says the urban-rural disconnect under Obama is no worse than it was under his predecessors.

“We’re an urban country, and the White House reflects the majority of the constituency of the country,” he said. “This is the problem we have with everything. Folks don’t understand what we do.”

Still, Peterson wants the Department of Agriculture — rather than the EPA — to oversee what kinds of agricultural activities will qualify as “offsets” that benefit the climate under the climate change bill. The bill allows businesses to meet their emissions caps by paying farmers to cut emissions, a process that could result in big agricultural profits.

“A lot of us on the committee don’t want the EPA anywhere near our farmers,” Peterson said last week during a committee hearing.

A draft decision by the agency ruling that “indirect land use” issues must be considered when calculating the carbon footprint of corn-based ethanol also angered many in the farming and renewable fuels community.

While these issues play out most dramatically in farm states, they could have an impact that spreads much further. Forcing rural Democrats to vote for climate change legislation could create problems for the Democrats nationally in 2010 and 2012.

“If Collin Peterson and these rural and conservative Democrats in the House are unable to work out some arrangement with [Henry] Waxman and [Ed] Markey, it could resonate beyond the Beltway,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and a veteran Kentucky political reporter.

Cross noted that 80 percent of the electricity that rural cooperatives generate comes from coal-fired power plants — the same ones that would take a hit under the current legislation.

And many of these regions that run on coal also happen to be electoral swing states, leaving Republicans licking their chops.

“It will cost every North Carolinian somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,400 to $3,000 a year in just the electrical surcharge,” said Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who hails from a state Obama carried last year and would like to win again. “That’s a surcharge larger than their annual electric bill.”

A White House official said the administration is committed to alleviating any disproportionate burden on rural states. “The president has been clear that if there is a disparate impact on certain regions during the transition period, families and businesses should be compensated — the Waxman-Markey legislation includes provisions that do just that,” the official said.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Health - Personal Responsibility

Star Parker is usually dead-on with her assessments. I respect her opinion even more because she has pulled herself up by her bootstraps and has seen both sides of the spectrum. She is a black woman who tells it straight.

Want to know what troubles our American health care system?
by Star Parker

Consider the thoughts of psychiatrist and Nazi death camp survivor Viktor Frankl.

After spending time in our country as a visiting professor, he saw the looming dangers of freedom without responsibility. He observed: "Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast."

We as Americans accept that health care is an individual right, even if someone else is paying for it. The truth that every personal right must have an accompanying personal responsibility is now lost in our self-absorbed materialistic culture. We have only rights, entitlements if you will. Few have any idea what the costs are of the health care they receive. Many get it tax subsidized through their employer, many get it through Medicare in a now bankrupt Ponzi scheme in which those working pay taxes to pay for care of those retired, and more than sixty million Americans do not pay at all through Medicaid and SCHIP programs.

Hundreds of millions receive health care the costs of which have little or nothing to do with their own personal realities and then we wonder why those costs are out of control.

Now Ted Kennedy has introduced his solution to all of this, which also captures the thinking of our president. Set up a new government health care plan, subsidized of course by taxes, and call this choice because you are not forced to take it (although you are forced to pay taxes for it).

As Senator Kennedy announces more free health care -- meaning one group of Americans will get what another group of Americans will pay for -- the disconnect between who gets health care services and who pays for them will grow even greater.

Costs will be controlled, according to Senator Kennedy, by setting up a new army of bureaucrats who will get rid of proverbial "fraud and abuse," will decide for doctors how to treat their patients, and will decide for us how we should behave by dictating the preventative measures we must take for our own good.

To put on a show for what this all might look like, a few weeks ago President Obama "invited" representatives from the major sectors of the health care business -- doctors, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical firms, medical device manufacturers -- to the White House to tell us all how much they would commit to lowering costs.

The result was a supposed commitment by these groups to cut costs by 1.5 percent per year.

Aside from the fact that shortly after the White House announcement, industry representatives began issuing statements denying that they made any such commitment, let's assume it's accurate. That these groups do not know how to run their own businesses and that they can deliver the same products and services annually for 1.5 percent less if the president threatens them.

At our annual health care bill of about $2.5 trillion dollars, savings of 1.5 percent would be about $40 billion.

Let's consider how much of our $2.5 trillion health care bill are costs resulting from behavior that individuals choose.

Googling around and totaling up, I come up with about $240 billion, about ten percent of our total health care bill. This is roughly the total reported health care costs associated with obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and sedentary life styles.

Worth noting is that these occur disproportionately in low income groups who get their health care free. More than half our spending on HIV/AIDS, for example, is out of Medicaid. Can it be accidental that the huge health care costs related to lifestyle issues are most pronounced where individuals do not personally bear the costs of how they behave?

How can our health care problems be solved by more entitlements and bureaucrats when this is what is causing the problem to begin with?

Viktor Frankl had it right. At the heart of the solution for our health care crisis is personal responsibility. This means more freedom and more markets.