Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preserve and Fund the USPS

I'm a great fan of the US Postal Service (USPS). They do what they were chartered to do and what no one else will do, especially for the price. They deserve the funds for their employees, the carriers, their services, their needs and their facilities. And they deserve the funds to upgrade their techonology to be in the forefront of delivery services for the American people.

It's that simple. They are the best, and they don't deserve to be underfunded by Congress. They can't be self-supporting, everyone knows, so don't force them into something less of what we want and need from our Postal Service and their service. Remember, it's our Postal Service, not Congress'.

And now the talk to "improve" the USPS for cutting costs, like stopping Saturday service. Why? There's no real reason for doing so. And there's no real reason to cut hours of carriers or worse lay them off. They have families and can't be expected to bear the brunt of the costs.

And like cutting pay and benefits. The carriers, as a union, are under contract, so their pay and benefits have to be negotiated. Don't take that away. The other employees are civil service employees, and cutting their pay and benefits are frozen like all federal employees and like me, all retirees.

They too have families and shouldn't bear the brunt of the costs, especially when the wealthy are getting richer with lower taxes. You don't balance the budget on the backs of working families, and all of the USPS employees are working families. They don't deserve the Republicans' anger and hate.

I've used the Post Office all my life and still depend it for everything I mail, including packages, my tax return and other important mail (priority registered or tracking). They have only lost a few boxes, all in one shipment in 1987 which was suspected to be a contract shipping company problem (Arizona to Washington), and sadly I lost 8 years of personal field books.

Otherwise, they've been perfect, something I can't say about UPS or FedEx as I've had packages lost or stolen, or as they said "undelivered" or "delivered and customer lost" in the last 10 years. That said, I like UPS and FedEx, but rely on the USPS for my packages because I can use a generic box to avoid disclosing any contents of value.

Anyway, Congress owes this country a postal service which serves everyone everywhere and no one but the USPS has or will do that. We know that. So stop being political with them and keep their funding, or better add to their funding, to ensure their future for all of us.

Dear Democrats

It appears you, the Democrats, we the people, elected to represent us and make sure our government actually works for us, have decided to become cowards and Republicans, and then sell our values to the Republicans out of fear of being chastised in public and blame for any failures to reach a compromise on the 2010 budget and possible government shutdown.

You have become worst than we could ever imagine. You started down that road over the healthcare reform act, jettisoning good democratic and public supported elements like the public option and women's healthcare, not wanting to provide regulation to curb the cost of healthcare and health insurance, and worse giving in to every Republican stupid demand.

Then you sold us out over the income tax extension for the wealthy. You sold us promises which were emptier than a deflated New Year's Eve party ballon on New Year's day. All for getting a treaty and other bills you could have gotten without selling us out for the rich and corporations.

And now the budget and possible government shutdown. I won't get into where's Obama with this. He's long out to lunch pandering and catering to Wall Street and energy corporations and international interests, albeit his decisions and actions with Libya are decent. But I will ask and argue why you have negotiated for the budget to the first offer the Republicans put on the table.

You left all your bargaining points on the floor, and now being where the Republicans started, they're pushing you more right, right into their agenda and budget, all of which hurts the American people. You sold us out for your political careers and fears of the 2012 election.

You know we won't vote for any republican in 2012 and will consider you the lesser of evils, but you have consistently shown you have no backbone and no balls to be there for the working, retired and needy people of this country. What are you afraid of? Go ahead make the Republicans shut down the government. Get some passion and a voice to speak out for us and against them.

You want to know why you're not liked by the American people and more so the voters? Try Harry Reid for starters. Talk all he wants, he doesn't inspire anyone to back the Demcrats or convince anyone they're on our side. He keeps compromising to the Republicans for fear of the filibuster. He changed the rules but nothing has changed. The rules still keeps the minority in power over the majority.

He screwed himself, the Democrats and the American people. For what? He almost makes the voters want to give the Senate to the Republicans, if only to get him out of power as majority leader and the Democrats will elect a new minority leader. And now he's giving away the store in the name of compromise, but it's not, it's the Republican agenda pure and simple.

So, my advice to the Democrats? Simple. Get some backbone and balls and stand up for America and the American people. Anything less is a sellout on both.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No New War

Mr. President,

No! No means no. No new war in Libya.The American people don't want it and can't afford it in lives, resources and money. Your statement today (3/18/11) sounds oh so close to what then president Bush said to Saddham Hussein. Too close to history and reality. You're taking us down a deep military rabbit hole we can't get out, in the near future or years. And even with France and Great Britain's help won't offset the problems.

I will hope for the best but this is not what the American people need or want. So, Mr. President, tread lightly because we have long memories and we remember 2003-04 and Bush's bullshit about Iraq. We won't be taken again. You've worn out a lot of your capital from 2008 and are losing support for 2012. Adding a war won't help and will hurt if we're still there next year.

We're not getting out of Iraq for years. We won't be winding down in Afghanistan until 2014-16. And we don't want to be in three wars during the next presidential term. You're turning Republican every day and this proves it even more. Democrats aren't against war, just bad or needless wars. There are other solutions in Libya than war, and you didn't take them.

We'll be with you for awhile, but while you gave Kaddafi notice, we're giving you notice. You made the decision for this country. We get to make the same decision in November 2012. If we're out of Libya by then, ok, we'll consider re-electing you, but you still haven't done enough on your promises. If not, well, maybe we just won't vote for you. Not for your opponent, just not for you.

ABC and ESPN Sucks

Update.-- Sunday. And just when I find it, or really they, couldn't suck more, they outdo themselves. They scheduled a 90-minute recap of the race today at 3:00 PM except when the men's ATP finals went long and well into the show, they simply didn't air it. It was scheduled in the coming week for several other times in the hours between midnight and 4 am. Gee, like we're all awake. Just record it. And my response? Simple, screw ABC. I already boycott them anyway, so now they can go screw themselves.

Update.-- Saturday. This sucks even more. My ISP doesn't carry service. So no race on TV. No race on the Internet. No race for me. And so to ABC and ESPN, no viewer and now no customer. I still watch ESPN occasionally but ABC just lost one customer.

Yes, the joint ownership of these networks suck, really suck. I've never liked ABC Sports for the delay broadcasts even in recent years when the news of the events was already known and written. Who wants to watch a race when everything is available on the Internet? And I've never liked their coverage of any sports event with Brent Musburger. He's an ignornate, opinionated jerk who puts his face and voice into something either he doesn't know or is so biased as to demean the opponents.

And now ABC/ESPN who now has the broadcasts rights to the American LeMans series races has decided not to provide live network or cable television coverage of this year's Sebring 12-hour race, the oldest sports car race in the US. It's only available on, the internet channel, which presumes you have the broadband connection to keep the video running on your browser while doing other work.

In the past years Speed Channel had the ALMS races and put a lot of work into the Sebring race. They did a great job and I could put it on Saturday while doing other things around the house. They have great announcers, excellent television coverage and almost all 12 hours of the race.

I don't know what happened for ABC/ESPN to get the ALMS races but so far they're lost one viewer in me. All of the rest of the season pales in respect to the Sebring race. And they've decided the NCAA tournament reaps more money. Screw the sportscar fans. Just buy the rights and screw the public. At least they could have provided it HD pay-per-view, but no, screw the cable companies and their subscribers too.

Well, for that I can say in return, screw ABC/ESPN and their NCAA coverage. I'll boycott them as they're boycotting me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Washington Post

This week the Washington Post unveiled a newly designed Website for the news with a totally revamped daily newspaper presentation, from the previous style more typical of news Websites to one displaying an image of each page where the reader clicks on the article to expand the view within the window and then offer the print version option. And does it work?

It might for some but for me, it sucks. And for several reasons. First I don't want to see an image version of each page and try to discern the articles which can't be read but only clicked for larger view. Granted the photos are better, but the sizing of the overlay for the article doesn't fit some user set browser windows and it bleeds over the left margin rendering it unreadable.

The reader has to resize the window to accommodate the size. Not smart because a lot the right side is taken up with ads. It's a situation where the coding puts the text along the left margin of a large window size withtout a border or scrolling. And they don't offer the traditional style option. It's the new one or nothing, or go to the individual sections for all the news and not just today.

Well, I like the Washington Post, and I buy several print newspapers several days a week and would buy a copy of the Post but it's not available locally. I love sitting down and spreading the paper out and scanning every page and reading article I see. But I don't want this in my browser. The images are too small to read the article even with a large HD cinema monitor.

I realize offering both style is too much work for a Website newspaper. It's inefficient to format everything twice. I would only suggest they reduce the ad space on the right which takes up too much space and enlarge the image so at least reader might be able to read some of the articles without having to see the expanded view and then add a border and better scrolling on the expanded view.

But all of this seems almost too much too late. Granted they need to attract visitors, preferably beyond their regular readers, but at the expense of the regular readers and in a way that seems more glitz than content? The content is there, it's just more work to read it. And no I won't resize my browser window just for them.

So what would I do? Simple, borrow the NY Times model for on-line subscription with the Times Reader service. I subscribe to and like I can download the entire paper to read off-line with easy readability and printability. Now that's innovative for their readers and makes money for the paper. Something the Washington Post could learn.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why USA Today lied

Today the newspaper USA Today published a story, Wisconsin and Private Sector Pay. It's a bogus story with bogus numbers, and it's unfair for USA Today to have published this story suggesting public sector employees earn more than private sector employees, in terms of pay and benefits.

Despite all the statistics in the story, they more than half way into it, wrote:

"The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience. In an earlier job-to-job comparison, USA TODAY found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits."

This means they compared total of all the employees' pay and benefits by state at large. Clearly public sector jobs don't include the vast majority of jobs, especially low wage jobs, and don't include many employers who don't provide or provide only basic healthcare insurance or pension benefits.

They didn't compare similar jobs, employees with similar education or experience, or employees with similar responsibilities. The studies which have done have concluded public sector employees, and especially federal, employees where grossly underpaid with fewer or less benefits.

This is true of federal employees which have consisted been under paid by 20-22% since the first study commissioned by President Carter. Studies by every president since, including Reagan and George W. Bush, have shown this to be true. The benefits of federal employment is in retirement where the annuity is about the middle of state and equivalent private sector empoyees.

Almost all local, state and especially federal employee have rights and protection dictated in local, state and federal laws. The private sector doesn't have such laws and can avoid not providing them to their employees. It has been unions over the decades who have helped private sector workers gain those same benefits.

To compare governments with corporations, and really small to middle sized companies, who short change employees for short term profit is not fair. The writers at USA Today know that and should have written an article which reflected the truth and be fair with all employees, and not bias it against public sector employees.

This story was disingenuous of the truth to public sector employees, and should retract it or correct it to use statistics appropriate for the discussion.

Screwing the People

Rememer when then candidate Obama in 2008 promised that the public option was a must in any healthcare reform legistlation. It was a right of the people to be guarranteed a right to good affordable health insurance and be assured of good healthcare with rights and protections against rejection or denial of coverage or claims or cancellation of coverage.

It seems the public option got lost in his fight to get healthcare reform. It was one of the first, and quickest, casualities of the negotiation with the right wing and tea party members of Congress. And it was Obama who quickly forgot it in the name of getting something. In short he screwed the people who most need health insurance or can't afford it.

Then he negotiated the rights of states for opt out of provisions, including the right to offer insurance pools to low income folks and high risk folks. And already a number of states, under Republican Governorships, have said they won't even consider it let alone even allow them to exist in their states. Again, he screwed the people who most need it or could least afford it.

And now he's decided to let states opt out of the individual mandate without waiting for it to be tested through the courts. There are several cases which will be heard before several different federal appeals courts, and probably eventually the Supreme Court. But he's decided to screw the people and agree with the states to opt out before that.

He's making the court cases moot and giving in to the Republicans who have said it's illegal. While not agreeing with them, he's agreeing to their goal. He's screwing the people again. Those who most need it or can least afford it.

This healthcare reform will slowly be gutted, unfunded or repealled by the time it gets fully implemented in 2013-14. And by then, a significant number of people in this country will be uninsured or underinsured with no options except at public expense, giving arguments to the Republicans the law doesn't work and only adds to our healthcare costs.

In short, President Obama is screwing himself now beside the people. He is slowly returning health insurance back to where we started with only a few changes, which the insurance companies will find ways to avoid.They did they in the negotiation by using the Republicans, and some Democrats, to write provisions and amendments which favored them or didn't help you.

Instead of rejecting you and your family, they'll simply not offer anything. Instead of denying your claim, they'll simply put so many administrative and appeal proceedures in the way, you'll give up. Instead of cancelling your coverage, they'll simply change the plan with reduced coverage and then raise the premiums where you can't afford it.

They will in short, screw the people pushing those most needing care onto the public rolls and sector, forcing Medicare or Medicaid to pick up the cost. But as states reduce their Medicaid coverage and rolls, to save money, it will simply put people out on the proverbial-medical street. And as the Republicans, with Obama's help, change Medicates, it will produce the same result.

In the end, nothing will change and in 2016 will be talking the same issue that our healthcare system and health insurance programs are broken. Health insurance won't be better or affordable. Healthcare will still be the highest in the world and uncontrollable. And we'll have the same percentage then as now of uninsured people.

We simply went in a circle, and while the insurance companies got richer, we, the people, got poorer and less. We got screwed all the way around. No thanks to President Obama and his failed promises.