A chat between the governor and the people

Passionate exchange of ideas with an elected official is what town hall meetings should be about and Gov. Nikki Haley’s March 7th town hall meeting in Greenville was a great example.  The Governor talked about the accomplishments she has had so far and stressed the remainder of her agenda for her first year in office.  She praised the senators and representatives who were present for the work they have done on some of her agenda and urged us to encourage them to pass legislation on the rest of her agenda.  She stressed the need for us, the citizens, to not complain, but to do something about it.  This is one area I could not agree more.  Our elected officials need to hear what we want them to do.

When she opened the meeting up to questions, there was no shortage of raised hands.  The questions ranged from cuts to Medicaid assistance for families of children with disabilities to unexpected huge tax increases to businesses to straighten out the mess with the unemployment fund.  Teachers, illegal immigration, spending cuts and tax relief were all address.  The Governor did her best to explain her positions and encourage people to contact the folks directly responsible for their areas of concern.  She stressed her commitment to businesses in SC, but was faced with a determined group of business representatives who urged her to rethink the tax structure recently restructured to replenish the unemployment compensation fund and repay the federal loan.  They believe that the large tax increases to a number of businesses could result in more layoffs and a slow down of economic growth in South Carolina.  The governor, while expressing understanding at the financial pain the taxes caused stood firm in her belief that this was a necessary evil.

Gov. Haley’s response to a question about cuts to programs that deal with paying for medical services, esp. therapy for disabled children was that while the state needed to look at the money side of the issues, she remained committed to making sure these decisions focus on health and not just money.  Not everyone felt that the state was acting with health as the primary goal as someone from the Children’s Hospital challenged her on this saying that the cuts to these programs were damaging health rather than helping.  The questioner made it clear that there is no financial benefit for him to order 3 therapy sessions over one session.  His decisions were based on the needs of the children and he felt that the cuts to the Medicaid programs ignored that.  The Governor assured him that the process was ongoing and the newly installed Director of the Department of Health and Human Services was equally committed to health as she was and she encouraged him to get in contact with Director Keck and work with him on the concerns of his patients and their families.

Overall, the Governor was effective in helping the audience see where she is coming from on a variety of issues and while not everyone agreed with her positions, they saw clearly her values.  I look forward to more town halls, esp. as we see more progress from Columbia.

Observations from the land of curtled cheese.

Observation #1:

The government plans sweeping, but hugely unpopular legislation and the American people are extremely displeased.  They decide it is time to do something, so they organize to rally and protest.  They show up wearing similar shirts, carrying signs, most homemade, with slogans expressing their displeasure.  Some of them are a bit rude; some compare the elected officials to bad leaders from foreign countries, some folks even bring flags that say Don’t Tread on Me. They shout and sing and make their demands.  When some people try to ask or answer questions, they merely keep chanting their mantra.  Their numbers seem to grow and they seem to be forming in many states across the country.  Members of the media take sides, declaring either that these people are patriots or they are trying to destroy the country.  So what do we call these people, the Tea Party?  Not this time.  Now they are unionized public employees, teachers, firemen, police, etc.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, or so I’ve been told.

 

Observation #2:

You’ve been elected to the State House; unfortunately, there aren’t many of your party there, so you are in the minority, REALLY in the minority, like so much in the minority that you can carpool to the Capital.  Now you are faced with an extremely controversial piece of legislation, a piece of legislation that cuts to the heart of your core political values.  You are also faced with the sobering realization that in a straight up or down vote, your side loses like the Washington Generals to the Harlem Globe Trotters.  What do you do?

A). Work hard behind the scenes showing those on the other side the finer points of your argument and trying to win them over and in the end when the vote is cast, vote against the measure with your head held high.

B). Publicly rally your constituents to show up and urge the other side to reconsider.  Go on the air waves to get your case to all and urge them to encourage the other side to reconsider and in the end vote, against the measure with your head held high.

C). Leave the state under the cover of darkness, stay as far away from the State   House as you can get, allow yourself to be interviewed from “an undisclosed location” andbasically shirk your most basic job description.  Oh and this is the part where your head is definitely not held high.

Guess which answer the Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature chose?

Jim DeMint and I agree? Really?

Most people, who know me, know I could be called an environmentalist.  I’ve successfully worked to get curbside recycling instituted at the town homes where I live.  Reusable shopping bags come with me to the grocery store.  If you check out my lamps, you’ll find compact fluorescent light bulbs and the list can go on.  I even wrote an op-ed piece for the Greenville News about the benefits of compact fluorescent light bulbs, so some might be surprised to hear me say that Sen. Jim DeMint and Sen. Mike Enzi are doing the thing with their legislation to repeal the federal government’s ban on incandescent light bulbs.

Incandescent light bulbs are definitely inefficient when it comes to energy use.  They don’t hold a candle to the life span of either a compact fluorescent or a LED bulb.  We all would save money by using alternatives to the incandescent bulbs and would reduce air pollution.  The question is, “Should the government ban these bulbs?”   No!   This is a case that should be decided by us, by average people making a decision to save money, to be more responsible when it comes to the world we live in.  Government can show us the benefits of energy efficient lighting.  They can offer loans and grants to businesses that are green, but the final decision is ours. I want to see the incandescent bulb go the way of the rotary phone and dial-up internet, but it must follow the path they led; companies creating better options and successfully marketing them to us.  The government can provide us with the facts, but leave it to us to make the change, which we are actually doing on our own, albeit, not as quickly as some would wish it.

So Sen. DeMint, even though you are only providing partial facts when discussing alternatives to incandescent bulbs, I agree with you that the government should not ban them.  Now, if you’ll stop using fear to get this legislation repealed, I’d be happy.

Ronald Reagan, as I saw him.

This post is a week or so late, as his birthday was a week ago, but I thought I’d give my two cents worth.  I am going to post something I wrote about President Reagan after his funeral.  I think the sentiment is just as valid today as it was then.

“I wonder how many times the words “Ronald Reagan” appeared in chat rooms, blogs and bulletin boards this week. I am sure it is an astronomical number. I had decided that I was not going to post anything about him this week, but I feel the need to rant.
I have made the statement many times that people are never as bad or as good as “everyone” says they are. This statement has never applied more than this week. There have been people on the right who have spoken about President Reagan in such glowing terms that you would think that only Jesus Christ was a better person than he was, and that only by virtue of Jesus being God. Then we have seen people on the left discuss President Reagan as if he had been a plague on our country and that his death is to be celebrated like the eradication of AIDS.
The truth about President Reagan, like most truth, is more in the middle. I read an editorial today where the writer made reference to the President as a father. As I thought about it, I realized that is an apt description.
President Reagan was like a good dad for our country. He was there when we thought that life was hopeless, that all we could look forward to was more trouble. He was the dad that helped us see that life was not ruined , that there was hope and that the future would be a great place. He faced down the bully, told him, “This is where I draw the line and you will not bother my children anymore.” and he beat the bully. He was the dad we could look up to, because he had principles and standards and he would not waver. He did not make up his beliefs based on what his fickle children felt were the right ones for that day. There was comfort in the knowledge that “dad” believed what he believed.
President Reagan was also like that good dad that we think sometimes, “just doesn’t get it.” He sometimes did not understand what we thought was important. Sometimes he was like the good dad that occasionally had favorites, sometimes overlooked one of the “kids.” He had blind spots like any other dad, and he also made mistakes in his attempt to do what he felt was best for his children.
So my final thought is this: Thanks Dad. I did not always agree with you, and you were not perfect, but I am glad we had you in our lives and we are a better nation because of you. Go on to your just reward. Rest in peace, President Reagan.”

Originally posted June 11, 2004 on “The Rantings of a Thinking Man.”

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Heroism in Tucson

Bill Badger and Joseph Zamudio

Patricia Maisch

Daniel Hernandez

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 at 10:10am, a routine public meeting between a U.S Representative and her constituents was shattered by a madman’s gun.  Six people lost their lives and 14 were injured with the Congresswoman’s life still hanging in the balance.  Tragedy is the word most often used to describe what happened last Saturday.  As I listened to the memorial held tonight, my focus changed.  Now, I look at what happened in Tucson and see heroism.  Let me explain.

A man pulls a semi-automatic pistol and starts shooting into a crowd of people at a local shopping center.  These average Americans were gathering to talk and listen to their legally elected Congresswoman when the crazed man emptied his extended clip into them, 30 rounds.  20 people are hit and the gunman grabs for his next magazine to continue his rampage.

Only he never gets the next clip into his gun.  Here is where the heroism of average people saved the day.  Roger Salzgeber, Bill Badger, Joseph Zamudio and Patricia Maisch are the names that should be on our lips.  These are the people we should be talking about around the water cooler, in the barber shop and in the garage.  When the gunman’s clip was empty and he was readying to reload, Roger Salzberger and Bill Badger tackled the man using a folding chair and their own bodies.  Mr. Badger grabbed the madman’s arm and pushed him to the ground in spite of the fact that one of the gunman’s bullets had grazed the back of Mr. Badger’s head.   Already on the ground for her safety, Patricia Maisch, the spitting image of any of our grandmothers, saw the men subdue the shooter and with them urging her to disarm him, leaned over him and grabbed the magazine he was desperately trying to get into his pistol.  Joseph Zamudio, leaving the Walgreen’s store across the parking lot, heard the shooting and starting running, not away from danger, but right into it.  He quickly lent his body to keeping the gunman down.  These people are us.  These weren’t trained police officers, but average citizens with a natural instinct to do whatever they can to help others.  They’ll tell you that they aren’t heroes, but they are exactly the definition of a hero.

There is one more name that we should be talking about when we talk about that day, Daniel Hernandez.  Saturday was his fifth day as an intern for the congresswoman.  When the shots rang out, the University of Arizona junior didn’t hesitate, but ran straight to his new boss’s side.  He held her in his arms; applied pressure to her head wound and kept her head up so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood, while at the same time directing others as they tried to administer first aid to other victims.  It’s believed that his quick actions may have saved her life.  He, too, rejects the label of hero, but I will join our President and say, Daniel Hernandez is a hero.

So while you argue over gun control or political speech in light of this tragedy, and you try to dissect the motives of a madman, take some time and praise the actions of average Americans who taught us what it means to be heroic.  Oh and if you must say the name of the 20 yr old mentally unstable man who caused so much pain, say these names, Roger Salzgeber, Bill Badger, Joseph Zamudio, Patricia Maisch and Daniel Hernandez and let’s remember Jan. 8, 2011 as a day of American heroes!

 

And we’re off

Bright and early this morning, a new chapter in my life began.  At 8 am, I became a radio talk show host.  The first show of Another Voice with Jason and Eric aired.  I was nervous, a good deal nervous before we started, but once we started talking, I was fine.  Guess that just proves I like to  hear myself talk.  We had prepared 3 topics and had a 4th ready if we ran out of things to say.  We only finished one topic and started the second one.  We had three callers and almost ran out of time before getting half way through the second topic, health care.  I really enjoyed it and look forward to next week.

This afternoon, I listened to the recording of the show and cringed.  I had no idea that one man could say “uh” and “Uhm” that many times in one hour.  I didn’t realize it at the time.  Now, I have to really work on cutting that out.  Overall, I was pleased with our first outing.  We have to work on a few things, like staying on topic, not running down rabbit trails.

If you are interested in some factual, reasonable debate, either tune into WOLT 103.3 in the Greenville, SC area or go  to WOLT-FM.com and click on the listen button next Saturday at 8 am.  We would welcome a call as well.