News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 9, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Sept. 9, 2012

The Tribune-Star

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Propaganda from Bucshon

Congressman Larry Bucshon’s letter to the Tribune-Star (Sept. 4) is a mass of generalities and unsupported claims that he uses to attack President Obama. It’s also almost identical to a campaign mailer that arrived a month or so ago in my mailbox.

These long-winded pieces of propaganda rely on a whole lot of repetition to try to make their point. “Failed policies” — three times. “Uncertainty” — twice. “Unnecessary regulations,” “increased regulation,” and even “increased government regulation.” I noticed that these same phrases occurred regularly at the Republican National Convention, so apparently Rep. Bucshon and his party believe that you can convince anyone of anything if you say it often enough.

Another problem with Rep. Bucshon’s rhetoric is that “policies” and “philosophies” (another favorite vagueness of his) don’t “fail,” as he says repeatedly. Laws may fail, actions may fail, human beings may fail, but policies and philosophies are based on beliefs and values and principles. You can disagree with them, but don’t call them failures. And what are these “failed” policies and philosophies exactly?

I’d also appreciate a specific or two from our representative. Just what “unnecessary regulations” is he talking about? What is it that small businesses “fear”? What is the source of all this “uncertainty”? Deadlocks in Congress, perhaps? Refusal to compromise or negotiate? Vague Republican plans for drastic changes in Social Security and Medicare? The impossibility of cutting taxes for the rich and balancing the budget and reducing the deficit all at once?

Rep. Bucshon claims that he has voted for more than 30 jobs bills that now “languish in the Harry Reid-controlled Senate.” A quick look at Rep. Bucshon’s website reveals that among these bills (passed by the “John Boehner-controlled House”?) are the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, and the Southeast Arizona Resource Utilization & Conservation Act. Defining these as “jobs bills” is nothing more than self-serving hypocrisy.

Two words that the representative really likes are “I” (12 times) and “my” (six times), which may suggest what his letter is really about. The congressman says that families and small businesses are looking for “serious solutions for our country’s serious problems, not more political rhetoric.” As the Book of Luke says, “Physician, heal thyself.”

— David Stanley

Terre Haute

Many questions for Seelyville’s Town Council

On Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, those who attended the Seelyville Town Council meeting were treated to a truly awful spectacle.

It was well-scripted, coordinated, staged, and rehearsed, but sadly, lacked a good musical score. There were threatening and ominous low tones mixed with deep booming drums, like the theme from “JAWS”. The main actors were Jerry Reynolds (owner of Reynolds and Co.), Town Council member; Richard Shagley II (he wants to be sure everyone knew that was his name), town attorney, and Connie Hinsenkamp, the newly elected clerk/treasurer. Council members Jerry Jones and John Wade had minor supporting roles this time.

After the meeting, one person accurately described it as “a bunch of grade school boys bullying a girl who wandered into their midst.”

The stage was carefully set with all the men in taller desk chairs, while the clerk was left a short folding chair; to give the men a more commanding position. I have attended these meetings for over 12 years and seldom do they last an hour (the shortest being 19 minutes). They were brief because the council refused to conduct any business when people were watching. Since the new clerk took office, she has actually read the minutes aloud, and given a brief financial report. Getting revenge, the council, attorney and staff delight in making minor corrections to the minutes; requiring her to make corrections and resubmit them the next month. This never happened once in the previous 12 years. Why?

Mr. Shagley then discussed a new ordinance that would give the town manager power to approve all expenditures; the performance then began. Mr. Shagley led off with an unrelated question about a claim that the council had previously approved.

This cued Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Shagley to begin; working from scripts of written notes, the two verbally attacked the clerk. What followed was a well-timed (and obviously practiced) exchange. All in rapid succession, and ignoring the clerk’s attempts to explain that she did not have invoices with her. Mr. Reynolds warmed to the task, eagerly leaned forward, running his finger over his notes; while Mr. Shagley stood and walked forward, to add height, forcing the clerk to look up, awkwardly, at him as she answered.

He is, after all, a trained lawyer, isn’t he? Were we in a courtroom?

The council, as a matter of public trust, is required, by law, to read the claims before they approve them, and ask any questions (in the open meeting); they never did before, so why change now?

Once they criticized and provoked the clerk, by these tactics, they demanded that she just walk into her “office” and get the files. Again, she went over the facts: since working in her “office”, after office hours, was not acceptable (no access to the restroom); she was not allowed into the Utility Office, and it was quite clear, by locking her out of office, that she was not welcome; she had moved her “office” to her home, like all past clerk-treasurers. Mr. Shagley told her to leave the meeting, drive to her home and get the requested invoices. They knew they were going to ask for them; why not tell her to bring them? Why did they insist she leave the meeting?

Brent Spier, town manager, led the office staff in public statements of what a “warm and fuzzy” place the office was to work, and how the clerk must be mistaken. He showed signs of stress and as things progressed, slumped forward and complained of a headache, at one point. Does this suggest he knew from the start what was going to happen; or did he just realize that the council had made him the fall guy, if anything happened over any claim he may approve?

The council and town staff all worked to get Ms. Hinsenkamp elected, and now they want her gone. Why? What are they all hiding?

The council and Mr. Shagley condemned the newly elected clerk-treasurer, Connie Hinsenkamp, during the August meeting; trying to make her look bad in front of the residents of Seelyville, and as I said before, it did not work.

Someday; somehow, the truth will be exposed. Then the whole town will decide who is wrong. If I am proven wrong; I will be willing to say so, on these pages. If it goes the other way, I will wait for the town to do the same. It may be a long wait, I fear.

On behalf of myself and the others who are watching this drama unfold.

— Wayne Langman


Reasons abound to replace Obama

There are many, many reasons to vote Obama out of office including: (1) the worst economic recovery since the depression; (2) 23 million Americans without a job; (3) $5 trillion of out-of-control spending (with a total lack of concern for the catastrophic deficit); (4) an apologetic foreign policy that alienates our friends and coddles our foes; (5) innumerable attempts to divide us based on class, race, genre and age; (6) disdain for hard work, success and small business; (7) and Obamacare.

Here in Indiana, as pointed out by Brian Howey in last Sunday’s Tribune-Star, Obamacare is shaping up to be the central issue. Independent of how the national election goes, we need Mike Pence as governor to ensure that obscene federal requirements, if not repealed, are implemented in the least offensive manner. Hoosiers correctly sense that 2,700 pages of dictates, fees, fines, taxes, penalties, mandates, rationing, price controls and “the Secretary shall decide” are alien to a democratic society.

A review of some of the specifics makes it clear why Hoosiers feel this way.

• More than $800 billion is imposed by 20 new or higher taxes. These taxes include punishing younger seniors if they don’t buy “qualifying insurance”, a surtax of 3.8 percent on dividends already scheduled to rise to 39.6 percent; an excise tax on medical device manufacturers which will be passed on mainly to senior consumers; a whopping 40 percent tax on higher cost insurance plans; an increase by 33 percent to medical deductions allowed; and an extension of the Medicare payroll tax to unearned income (like the sale of some homes).

• An unelected, unaccountable board of 15 bureaucrats to control medical spending by rationing care. A created institute will define “expensive treatments that will no longer be proscribed.” These already include mammograms and prostate cancer screening. This Board and Institute are amount the 159 new boards, bureaucracies and programs codified by the law. And an estimated 6,500 to 16,000 IRS agents will be added to enforce the law.

• Cuts in Medicare amounting to $700 Billion which will cause an estimated 40 percent of doctors to exit the program when their fees are arbitrarily cut. It raises the premiums for Medicare Part D for 17 millions seniors to pay for the deal struck with Big Pharmacy to gain their support. Medicare Advantage cuts will force seniors to lose their current care by cutting enrollment in half and choices by two-thirds.

• Requires everyone, including the healthy young, to buy government specified, one-fits-all plans that impose new mandates that raise average costs to a family by $2100.

• Requires employers to provide government specified insurance or pay a fine (now called a tax). This fine/tax is arbitrarily imposed on firms that cannot afford to provide insurance; and in the case of those that now do provide insurance, it gives them the choice to pay the tax and drop expensive insurance. This forces many, including retirees, out of the insurance they like onto the government plan, thus accomplishing what Obama wants and exposing his lie that you can keep your insurance if you like it. The CBO estimates that more than 20 million people could lose their employee-sponsored insurance (some private estimates are 65 million).

• In order to get the bill passed special benefits were doled out for votes including, $300 million in reimbursements to Louisiana, special benefits to Libby, Montana; special payments to Tennessee; and increased payments just for hospitals in Hawaii. The HHS Secretary can provide exemptions which have gone mainly to members of union plans.  

• Creates “Public Education” grants for ACORN and AARP.

• Provides a $5 billion fund that has served mostly to bail out union retiree programs that have made unsustainable health care promises and a slush fund for things like bike paths.

• Is wide open for abuse. Subsidies can be obtained without verification of citizenship. Individuals can be made eligible for an unlimited number of periods of assistance and 63 percent of non-elderly Americans are made eligible for “low-income’ subsidized insurance.

• Permits taxpayer dollars to flow to health plans that fund abortion while imposing penalties on those who marry when compared to those cohabitating.

This travesty was initially promoted as a way to reduce health care costs and insure the uninsured. Instead, the costs will soar. The CBO says the costs will be twice what Obama estimated in 2009 and that premiums will increase over the next decade faster than in the past five years. And 20 million of the 50 million uninsured will remain uninsured and the quality of care will suffer as incentives to be a doctor and to produce life-saving drugs are chilled.

Obamacare must be repealed and replaced and that will take a President Romney and a Republican Senate.

— Thomas B. Tucker

Vigo County

From the belly of the beast

I figured that Ms. Romney’s speech would be the real keynote address, leaving Gov. Chris Christie’s late-night turn a soporific turn-off among speech-weary conventioneers. So a week before the convention, I suggested an abbreviated speech that follows. I’m still waiting for a reply from the good New Jersey governor.

(After the humongous ovation dies down …)

Mr. Chairman, fellow Republicans, fellow Americans, and fellow fatties … Yes, you heard it right — fellow fatties! We’re not full-figured, we’re not large-sized, we’re not stocky, we’re not hefty or zaftig, we’re not plump, we’re not overweight or weight-watchers, we’re not jumbos like Dumbo the elephant, we’re not plus-size, we’re not big-boned, we’re not — I love this one — more to love. Face it. We’re fat! So ditch the euphemisms. Face the music. Or at least the semantics. Wisdom begins with the simple act of opening your eyes.

Now for the good news. You — I beg your pardon — we are not alone. As you know, two-thirds of Americans are overweight. I won’t go into stats on morbid obesity because you have exhibit number one before you. Sadly, 20 to 30 percent of our kids are overweight, thanks largely — and I do mean largely — to parenting that falls short as good examples.

Now some say there’s a simple solution to a complex problem. Since we live in a democracy, based on majority rule, and since the majority are overweight, the obvious solution is simply to change the weight charts and make overweight stats the new normal. Voila! Problem solved. We wish.

But it would be cheating. Take Oprah, for example. For yoyoing, that billionaire broad has got to be the all-time gold-medal champ. So many ups and downs, she’s surely lost count.

Finally — FINALLY! — she allegedly had come to accept herself for what she really was (which psychologists and Gaga have urged us to do). She said she was happy with her body the way it was, the way God intended her to be. Later on — surprise! surprise! — after packing on more pounds, comes the real kicker: maybe God really didn’t intend her to be a foodaholic after all. So, for those of you who read the tabloids, you are now privy to the secret truth: Ms. Winfrey is now dieting again, with, of course, the help of trainers and dietitions at multiple thousands per week.

As old Soc said about 2500 years ago: “Know thyself.”

So on, now, to the meat of the matter … oops! That’s not quite the right metaphor for the adipose problem.

 As the polls show, the election promises to be very close. The worst fear of Republicans is that President Obama will squeak out a win because of one crucial factor — the women’s vote. The gals just don’t dig the idea of the government, the courts, the lawmakers, or our party deciding intimate and complex choices about their bodies that they think should belong to them, along with their husbands and doctors. Moreover, many of the distaff set are not happy about shutting down Family Planning Clinics, along with accessibility to birth control (i.e., family planning) and other matters of women’s health.

Now as one of the fattest Republican politicians, if not THE fattest (President William Howard Taft, 1909-1913, was one whale of a guy but hardly as fat as what you behold), let me put on the floor this proposal: We hereby declare by popular fiat that the Republican Party is the Pro-Fat Party. That would clearly unshackle millions upon millions of women from the curse of guilt about their body image.

OK, while holding that thought in your mind, consider this: the Republicans are clearly losing the gay vote since gays favor same-sex marriage and numerous rights that go with that legality. Since gays are about 10 percent of the U.S. population, now over 300 million, that means one helluva lot of gays are voters. Half of which are women. Two-thirds of which are overweight lesbians. If our party could seduce … uh, rather, attract those chicks to the Pro-Choice-When-It-Comes-To-Eating Party (forget all the other political stuff), I believe our party would be destined for a win in November.

Killing two birds with one stone, as it were: neutralizing the Dems’ edge among both women and gays. Comes down to which is more important: food, politics, or sex? Guess which two you can live without!

Suggested slogan for the renovated party: Fatties for Freedom from the Fear of Food.

Speaking of slogans, I notice the Dems are up to their dirty tricks. You’ve probably seen the bumper stickers: “OK, shrink the budget, but shrink Christie, too!”

Listen up, you wise guys and bigots — personal sleaze attacks ain’t gonna win you any votes. Just wait until November. He who laughs last laughs best. So if you hear a big belly laugh, it’ll be from me. And I’ve got the belly for it.

— Saul Rosenthal

Terre Haute