Saturday, July 28, 2012


As a lifelong Republican and now a born again Independent I presently embrace a show-me attitude when it comes to politics and most other aspects of life.   The outright lies and distortions offered mostly by the Republicans (the Democrats are playing the same game) are intended to polarize and inflame an already contentious political arena that’s spilled over into to our everyday lives.  There’s a firestorm going on and it will be interesting to see whether anybody takes the proverbial high road.  The consensus Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney took the low road on his trip abroad this week while trying to show us his foreign policy stripes and in this “charm offensive” – impress us with his capacity to maintain our traditional alliances and relationships abroad and perhaps even make some new Friends in the world arena.  If he wanted to look presidential, he failed miserably to the point of absolute embarrassment.

In one day Romney has offended millions of Britons, incurred the wrath of the British Media by ungraciously questioning Britain’s preparedness for the London Olympic Games, forgetting the name of the British Labour Leader and then acknowledging a meeting with officials of MI6 (British Secret Service) which in British protocol (this is basic) is a huge gaffe. All such meetings are considered secret and never openly mentioned. Gang, this is common sense stuff…

As a result of these inappropriate behaviors Romney has been rebranded Mitt the Twit, Party Pooper, Wannabe President and even Wazzock (Daily Telegraph) by the British Press.  By the way Wazzock as defined by the Urban Dictionary is “an idiot or daft person”.  Now we don’t think that Romney is an idiot or daft – just comes across as entitled, oblivious, insensitive and rude.  Unlike most politicians (and this may be the nicest thing I can say about him), he apparently has no intuitive inner mechanism that keeps him from opening mouth and inserting foot.  He will have to be kept on a very, very short leash and heavily scripted from this point on.  Any press conference with Romney could even be more exciting, unpredictable and perhaps even more entertaining than those offered by much maligned and ever awkward ex US President George W. Bush.  We wonder if Romney and his huge ego would allow himself to be so restrained.

Romney after two days of mostly heavily choreographed public meetings which obviously resulted in the opportunity for no special insights has now declared that London appears ready.  Eureka! We are assured that the Citizens of London and all of Great Britain and the Commonwealth Nations are now breathing a great sigh of relief.  The Romney campaign is predictably not commenting probably because they now realize the enormity of Romney’s damaging speak-talk.

On the bright side, Romney has been able to do what no one else could - unite all Britons at least for the next two weeks of The Games. It appears that even the Scots and English may even become better Friends.  All appear in lockstep and with a sense of indignant national pride have brought ridicule and shame on Romney and the Republicans.  

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses and anyone else so interested, though it is obvious, please accept our assurances that Romney speaks only for himself.  We do note, however, his great, potential entertainment value and encourage you ask his opinion on any subject so long as you treat any answer in that same genre.

And if you want a real belly laugh, just ask him how he feels about your National Health Service. Oh, the possibilities are endless…


Ned Buxton

PS - Short leash is now obviously a very long leash.  Romney's advisors are letting him say whatever he wants.  Since our original post Romney among other gaffes (missteps?) has endorsed moving Israel's capitol to Jerusalem which would surely start an out-and-out war and offended just about everybody bringing even more serious doubt about Romney's ability to handle delicate topics (international or not) with any sensitivity.  Stay tuned and pay attention... NB

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Some may wonder if I’m qualified to expound on the “secrets” of any “happy” and successful relationship” given that I’ve been married twice. Some may label me a “two time loser” though I’ve learned a lot in my 69 years and on that basis alone (I’ve been a good student) pretty much understand what the so-called “secrets” are.  But, with my humanity I was unable to put into effective practice (despite counseling) a sufficient number to recover those relationships. Granted these were two-way streets with lots of issues not of my creation.  While I won’t totally throw myself under the bus and while trite to say it - I certainly have accepted a grand share of the responsibility.

When a Friend and co-worker who had recently slain the dragon of deception and rejection asked me what the three ingredients of a successful relationship were, I paused as I wanted to preface any offerings by first making the point that given a sincere, honest and mature commitment between two people, most of this elemental advice is a given.  For those in successful relationships, you already get it. You know there is no great mystery or conventions of behavior, only a common sense, honest approach to the vagaries of living life in a committed relationship.  The key word is committed. If that word isn’t in your working vocabulary/heart/soul then no amount of advice will work.  Don’t waste your time by reading the rest of this post and understand that all your relationships will probably be short lived.

So for those successful folks there are no “secrets” though surely they can be fodder for inane posts (?) and the sometimes superficial window dressing for those other long-in-the-tooth, idyllic, exclamatory and nostalgic folks married for fifty years (or more) exclaiming and pronouncing their success and all because they followed certain cardinal rules. Now, mind you, they mostly offer good advice especially for inexperienced folks sincerely striving for that level of success.

So, we will now also offer the obvious - that the world of yesterday and today even from my parents’ generation to now, are as different as comparing the Puritans to the Unitarian Universalists. The world has changed and basic issues like communication while easier now are far more complicated (AFAIR). My generation of WWII babies followed by the fully liberated Boomers set the stage for this change which remains, thankfully, a work in progress.  

We surfed around the Internet to see what other folks were saying with many well intended couples offering their opinions and indictments of their imperfect understandings of the complete relationship.  I noted a few “cleave/bend unto me” and 180 degrees away from “obey and submit,” outdated specifics on how to deny and discourage any amorous overtures from a partner.  We rejected all as the symptoms of previous ages and repressive societies. No, they don’t work in the here and now…

Now come some of the hackneyed and clichéd offerings that still stand the tests of time though seem more appropriate to an introductory primer. We aren’t going to elaborate on the physical aspects of a relationship, just concede that it is an important part of a successful relationship.  We’re going to touch on a few pointers - just for starters - understanding that you first need have the maturity to make smart decisions based on the right criteria and then positively build the relationship. In short, you gotta wanna…   

Be good Friends - know what you need to know and to the best of your ability understand your partner before moving in together, putting ink to paper or tying the knot – no child molesters or axe murders please!  Engaging any relationship is a challenge and knowing right up front that along with the happily-ever-after, even perfectly matched people cannot always enjoy that delicious perfect harmony all the time.  Successful couples are motivated by the assumption and understanding that life is sharing all the good times and the bad – happiness and hardship. The mature realize that the “for better or for worse” premise is real, accurate, will probably be part of their future and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, requires commitment. Mature couples in truly successful, committed relationships love each other despite their faults and reject the mantra of instant gratification in our mostly disposable society. 

Listen, listen and then listen some more. I’m still working on that. Listening is the most challenging and difficult aspect of all communication and will have a major impact on the quality and ultimate success of all your relationships, personal and business. Active, aggressive listening skills are absolutely critical, period.  If you don’t understand how your partner feels then you have essentially given your relationship the death penalty.  Successful couples keep communicating, whatever and however difficult the topic and the circumstances.
Psychologists tell us that the ability to negotiate disagreements and differences of opinion to the degree you both feel OK is absolutely critical.  Just look what domination and the inability to collaborate and negotiate has done in Washington, DC – stalemate and contentious division. My Mother always repeated the old maxim, counseling us to always clear the air following a disagreement then learn, move on and never go to bed angry. Well, wonder of wonders, scientists now tell us that retiring and, “…going to sleep after experiencing negative emotions appears to reinforce or preserve them.” Mother was always right… always having the last word and winning at whatever cost is actually losing.  Agreeing to disagree is OK and knowing when not to push an issue over the top and keeping everything in context is a key relationship building skill.

Those that know me and read this post understand my HR roots and have heard me expound on the virtue of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. His tenets despite some contemporary controversy are as alive and applicable today as they were in 1943.  In any relationship when you satisfy the basic needs of an individual you can then move on to the two top tiers of Maslow’s Pyramid – Esteem (Respect) and then on to Self-Actualization where individuals, “reach a state of harmony and understanding” allowing them to proceed on to their full potential.  Well, my take is a little different from Maslow in that I think the mature and committed are in all those modes - probably most of the time - with the difference being a level of consciousness.
Mutual respect leads to a greater sense of worth that times two is a critical part of the formula for success. With trust and respect outdated and repressive concepts like domination and submission remain in the marriage manuals of the nineteenth century and before.  Mutual respect becomes the critical catalyst for the evolution of the healthy relationship.

Couples that fall into the trap of taking each other for granted are in for a rocky ride. Share household chores and don’t wait to be asked.  If something has to be done – just do it.  It’s also another great way to share time and what should be a reflexive, involuntary opportunity to walk the walk and be a real partner. 

It's tempting, once together, to forget polite and respectful protocol - little courtesies like opening the door, standing when your lady, an older person or VIP enters the room, serving your partner first or even when walking on the sidewalk concede the wall side - protecting them from the street and demonstrating your respect at the same time. These are not outdated niceties and do not diminish equal status in any partnership.

An aside here – I worked for a Japanese company for many years and while I found some of their practices as relates to women objectionable, I always admired their corporate culture and the courtesies extended each other.  We can learn a lot from the Japanese especially by the way they share meals.  For example, at the table you never pour your own drink and you always pour your partner’s glass.  Meals served in a business setting follow the same protocol where one never fills their own glass.  Meals are perceived as the opportunity to build and enhance business relationships. That’s an easy segue into a personal environment.

As a senior officer of the 78th Fraser’s Highlanders I would attend periodic “smokers,” essentially cocktail parties where we would entertain new candidates for The Regiment. There were hors d’oeuvres, lots of single malt and several Miladies of The Regiment. We engaged the candidates, got to know them better and carefully watched how they handled themselves socially, especially with the Miladies. Those that did not demonstrate the proper sensibilities, etiquette and respect were not invited back. Yes, organizations that uphold and embrace those values still exist.      
And now the coup de grâce which goes sideways with just about every relationship counselor and all the marriage manuals I have seen but appears to be real in our society today.  That one elusive element is pure unadultered luck, being at the right place at the right time; to be in the position to meet that best, right person even to start the process or when that greatest challenge happens it all seemingly works out?  Embracing luck as a component of a successful relationship does not diminish the verities of hard work which probably put you in that position.  Indeed, one does not come without the other - hard work and effort begat luck.  They go hand in hand. … you make your own bed – good or bad - but then you have to know the difference.  I have seen relationships where love was abiding and central to that relationship yet still failed though with a little luck they would have continued to flourish.

So, all the above along with some timely luck that will put you in that exclusive club of happy and committed couples who get it and make it happen.  Always live your days together to the fullest and strive to appreciate, as President Obama has stated, “that tension between familiarity and mystery.” Don’t necessarily hold anything back but keep spontaneity and surprise a part of your relationship. Love your partner like there is no tomorrow.

Then get down on your hands and knees and thank God for the miracle of it all.


Ned Buxton

Dedicated to CE who will flourish and find that right partner worthy of her attentions.  Aye, NB

Saturday, July 14, 2012


This post is not intended to be a pity party or attempt to profile Texas as the only victim of recent natural disasters, witness the Colorado fires; devastating tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri; the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan; Hurricane Irene on the east coast and the list goes on.  We need note only that in 2011 and so far this year, Texas has lived up to her Wild, Wild West reputation with all of the aforementioned in our title and from our perspective, all in the same genre - Disasters. 

SHAKEN NOT STIRRED–BUT MAYBE FRACKED: For starters earthquakes have recently rattled mostly north and east Texas with increased regularity though the nearby states of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri appear to be equally plagued. It’s speculated that many of these quakes are attributable to man and specifically the withdrawal but more likely the injection of fluids into the earth’s crust for disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” incidental to the secondary recovery of oil or gas.  It’s also because of the natural seismic activity of those areas though many of those regions saw little, if any activity until the fracking/injection started. Of course, the oil and gas companies are deflecting any such correlation though the U.S. Geological Survey has found that there is, “a statistically significant increase in the rate just over the past several years. And many of these are in areas where we know there is a lot of energy activity.”

These quakes have ranged from an innocuous 2.1 magnitude quake near Timpson, Texas on June 16, 2012 upwards to a much more impressive 4.8 magnitude quake on May 17, 2012 near (tada¯) Timpson, Texas.  From our perch we count five (5) quakes in the area since mid-May and note at least two active disposal wells in the immediate area. While we know there has been some limited, infrequent historical seismic activity in east Texas, it certainly appears that the recent substantial, alarming increase in earthquakes does coincide with increased fracking and fluid disposal in the area.

Most of the quakes around Dallas have had little, if any, impact except increasing awareness of the potential of man’s hand in all this.  There was also one alarming magnitude 5.6 quake which struck near the town of Sparks, Oklahoma around 11:00 p.m. Saturday November 5, 2011. That quake along with one of the fourteen aftershocks (magnitude of 4.0) that hit early Sunday morning was felt in my bedroom in Dallas.  The second one woke us up though mind you it was a very brief and minor shake but unnerving as hell. Please remember that Sparks is roughly 230 miles from Dallas. The cause of that quake continues to be debated.    

Mayor Ted Reynolds of Cleburne, Texas commented on the recent high numbers of quakes in his town thusly, “We haven’t had a quake in recorded history, and all the sudden you drill and there are earthquakes.” Celburne has experienced ten (10) earthquakes (2.1 to 2.8) during the last month alone – including a 2.7 quake today.  Of course, the gas and oil companies think that there isn’t enough evidence to draw any conclusions while the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and most of the residents of these areas think otherwise. We offer – quacks like a duck, flies like a duck, swims like a duck – well, you get the picture. Let’s hope we can come to some conclusions on the cause of these quakes.  In the meantime, most residents of Oklahoma and north Texas accept them as a part of life in the fast lane…

WEST NILE IN NORTH TEXAS: What are the chances of getting the West Nile Virus (WNV) in north Texas?  That question is now asked more frequently as the numbers of those affected grows daily.  We need note that it’s already here and in all the four major DFW Metroplex counties. Dallas County just reported its 26th case so far this year.  We had no West Nile cases in 2011 but, then again, we were in the midst of the hottest, driest year, ever. With the return of moisture along came the Culex mosquito, some infected with the West Nile Virus. The Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) folks note that we are already at a three year high very early in the season and loudly warn that this is a major public health issue.

Seems that many in our area haven’t gotten the message and/or just don’t consider this a big deal.  I’ve talked with folks who put their chances at getting the virus as so minimal - that the odds are so great in their favor of not contracting the virus – well, why take precautions?  Well, just ask the folks who’ve got it and the agonizing symptoms (admittedly, death is rare) and that puts a whole new spin on the disease.

WNV has impressively shown no bias, infecting amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals (that’s us). North Texas and the four largest DFW Metroplex counties (Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin) lead the pack with 70 reported Human cases and two deaths in Dallas County (only ones in the US) with other lesser (but no less serious) Human outbreaks in Louisiana, California, Arizona and Minnesota.  Now having said that, health officials estimate that there are many more unreported cases of the virus each year – that old tip of the iceberg.

Many north Texas counties and cities are now spraying for mosquitos reminding me of the summer evening ritual at Ole Miss when trucks spraying their insecticide rumbled down Fraternity Row.   

Let’s not hyperventilate about WNV but let’s not be stupid and invite illness either.  The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) encourages us to reduce the risk of exposure by eliminating standing water (especially in those flower pot saucers, bird baths and roof gutters) and other obvious mosquito breeding areas around our homes. Make sure that all door, porch and window screens are in good condition.  Protect yourself by reducing outdoor activity during evening/dusk to dawn hours and if you must be outdoors during those times, cover exposed skin as much as possible (long sleeved shirts and pants) and use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET. 

Those that know me are aware of my recent history with bug and spider bites – bottom line: I am a magnet for all such critters so I take extra care when outside. I take all the above precautions plus I’m trying OFF’s new clip-on system.  It appears to have worked so far but I am starting to have second thoughts about those vapors around my body (should I breathe?).  My old Friend Consumer Reports gave the device a Flunk after extensive testing and recommends spray or lotions instead, paying special attention to and following all the precautions when using products with DEET, especially when using on children.  

GUV’NER RICK PERRY: When Perry is not on the road stumping for his visceral and once bitter rival Mitt Romney, he’s in Austin acting as the state’s grand vacuous puppeteer. Perry gives great credence to the old saying about politics and strange bedfellows but his support of Romney is pure scripted hypocrisy.  

Perry recently joined Governors Rick Scott of Florida, Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana by rejecting the expansion of Medicaid or the establishment of a health insurance exchange, two major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act characterizing them as “brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state.”  All that despite the fact that according to the Texas Medical Association, “25 percent of the state’s population lacks health insurance — 6.2 million people, including 1.2 million children — the highest rate of any state.” The political water runs predictably deep here and we note the absence of any real alternatives despite substantial federal subsidies and the fact that if Texas doesn’t do it, the Feds will. When that happens maybe Perry really will embrace Texas succeeding from the Union…

No, we haven’t even touched on the almost four million acres (double the previous record) that burned in Texas last year, the June 13, 2012 hail storm (with up to bigger than baseball sized hail) that is expected to ultimately cause around 2 Billion dollars (US) in damage to Dallas and north Texas property and the outbreak of seventeen tornadoes on April 3, 2012 in north Texas.  I guess you heard about the recent historic floods in Houston?  Bright side – it ended their drought.  At least we (probably) won’t experience any tsunamis or volcanos?  

What a relief to know that there are no active volcanoes in Texas though we have identified five extinct volcanoes including Pilot Knob near Austin.  If you find comfort in that observation note that if a super volcano such as that ticking time bomb under Yellowstone National Park should erupt in cataclysmic fashion - scientists state, “There is little if anything that anyone from Montana to Texas could do to protect themselves.”

Welcome to Texas where the good far outweighs the bad.


Ned Buxton

PS - We first posted on 7/14/12 and have been updating the West Nile Virus statistics for the aforementioned DFW counties with the last update being 7/19/12 at 6:00 pm CST.  Since that time the number of WNV human cases has almost tripled. We will continue to update as circumstances warrant... NB

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Like many Americans I’ve been watching the goings on in Congress re. the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and then the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld key provisions of that act.  Having said that, the affirmation by the Supreme Court was a close vote and apparently on technical grounds. How do I feel about the PPACA?  For me the act and my take on it continues to be a work in progress.  I’m learning something new each day though referencing the title of this post; I have come to some conclusions but note - only after a lot of inquiry. Having said that who knows what will happen to the PPACA after November?

I’m struck by the ever escalating, visceral, sky-high emotions generated by the health care reform issue and what the Republicans sneeringly call “Obamacare”.  A Friend recently posted support for health care reform on his Facebook page and was greeted with the “F” word and other obscenities and all from so-called “Friends”. It also appears that no matter which side you are on, many are not familiar with the details or consequences of this plan. If we are not already there, it appears we have the potential to become a house divided.
Before I started research for this post I really didn’t know enough to comment intelligently on PPACA except feeling that reformation of the health care system in our country was absolutely imperative, if not the most important issue facing us.  As a former Human Resource Director watching the spiraling costs of health care and then trying to manage that in the context of a company benefits program was a great if not impossible challenge.  We routinely experienced annual double digit increases in our health care costs and wondered where the money was going to come from to pay for those benefits.  It came from higher deductibles, increased contributions by our Employees and the company, all complicated by shrinking margins and a diminishing bottom line though those costs were, not surprisingly, ultimately passed on to our customers.

We realized then, as today, that many folks were working with us just for the health care benefits.  Couple that understanding with our desire to be the employer of choice, we knew we had to be spot-on with our total employment package.  Without a comprehensive benefits program we weren’t going to be competitive in the hiring process, able to retain our top employees and failing that, the quality of our products and company’s reputation would ultimately suffer. 

Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that there are substantial blocks of our citizenry without any health insurance though we as taxpayers will still ultimately pay for their health care (pay me now or later).  So what to do about it?  Rather than sitting back and waiting for the end of days the PPAA looks to have great merit despite what the Republicans are saying.  Indeed, most of what they are saying appears to be cherry picking and taking out of context statements from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), good ole political spin or downright lies. We have accessed the non-partisan PolitiFact (Tampa Bay Times) and a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and will include some of their observations in this post. 

Every US President since Theodore Roosevelt (who first made health care a major issue in 1912) has tried to affect some degree of reform in our health care system and, believe it or not, that includes George W. Bush (Happy 66th Birthday!).  Most administrations haven’t been up to the task though many made small inroads to reform like Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.  Reality: Today despite these enhancements the US is spending more than any other developed country and ranks last in the quality of our health care.  While we concede that our infant mortality and low life expectancy rates are due in part to the dynamics of our culture and our diversity, they do reflect negatively on our health care system.  Something is broken

The health care crisis begs a solution and with that locomotive quickly bearing down on us we feel that the PPACA is a start. We are exasperated that the Republicans can do nothing more than rip apart carefully crafted, passed and vetted legislation rather than offering a reasonable alternative proposal.  What’s even more confusing is the reality and irony that Romney created and installed a very successful health care program when Governor of Massachusetts that was touted at that time as, The Conservative Answer.  Romney and the Republicans instead of embracing their Massachusetts success now try and distance themselves from the program despite that great success.  While Romney and the Republicans are now doing the dance that the Massachusetts model would not work in all states, they would probably prefer to have it both ways.  From their perspective to admit success and up their accomplishments in Massachusetts would be tantamount to conceding the election to Obama. Their tact? To always forward an agenda of limited government and state’s rights issues even though many states would probably never implement any health care reform requiring some form of additional federal assistance. 

The success of health care reform in Massachusetts despite similar, substantial condemnation makes it Romney’s Achilles’ heel (Santorum sure felt that way) and makes his criticism of what he calls Obamacare seem all the more contradictory.  Jon Gruber, PhD, professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who helped Romney and Obama policy makers write both the Massachusetts and National laws states that, “The federal reform is simply a more ambitious version of the Massachusetts reform...”  David Cutler, Harvard economics professor who also helped policy makers draw up the law further offered, “Within three years, we should see that the federal reform has covered the uninsured and The Massachusetts law has turned out to be a success.  People have gotten coverage. They got coverage at the rate we thought, and at the cost we thought.”  Well, the Massachusetts model is already a resounding success.

Since the ranks of uninsured Americans have risen overall for four straight years and given all the debate surrounding the PPACA, I was trying to figure out just how many Americans are really uninsured but couldn’t put a finger on an accurate number.  Still can’t…  Gallup reported last month that 17.1 percent of Americans have no health insurance, up from 16.8 percent in 2010. It would appear that figure includes undocumented aliens.  Since most Americans (like me) feel that we have no responsibility to provide health coverage for illegal aliens, out those figures come. We should note that many in this classification get medical care on our nickel through health clinics and ERs. So, we subtract the estimated 11.2 million undocumented and illegal US immigrants from our current population of 313,827,000 souls and we reveal a current figure of 302,627,000. Given that the percentage quoted by Gallup also includes illegal aliens we adjusted and reduced that percentage by .04% to 16.97% and will use that as our basis to make the following computation.  So, an uninsured 16.9% of our current legal population of 302,627,000 equals an estimated total uninsured population of 51,143,963? Yikes!

These figures are absolutely unfathomable though honestly I haven’t seen credible evidence to discount them. Optimistically, this appears to be a snapshot in time, an average of any given day, week or month.  Any debate about health care means we must account for those who may be uninsured but are in transition or receive medical care elsewhere witness state and federal public healthcare screenings and services that includes Medicare and Medicaid, S-CHIP, etc.  In addition, I know there are young people enjoying good health who have little or no insurance and others who can afford to be insured but have chosen to opt out. Having said this, we do concede that even if we back out millions more, the uninsured figure is still just too high.  Many health care professionals and advocates speculate that the number is probably around 49 million Americans.

All this leads us back to the Republicans and Mitt Romney who have been successful in scaring the hell out of the American Public by providing speculation and claims on the ramifications of PPACA. They have already come under the heavy scrutiny of the aforementioned PolitiFact,, Fact Checker (the Washington Post) and other like non-partisan, “consumer advocate” organizations who have found fault with many of their statements. 

We counsel and encourage a prudent evaluation of all assertions and statements from both sides of the aisle and note that all politicians including the Democrats and Obama have not escaped their scrutiny.  They are good, reliable yardsticks which taken in context are an important part of our system of checks and balances. Read their opinions and come to your own honest conclusions.  We note that many Republicans or Democrats when confronted with the truth disagree by merely throwing the ball back into the court of these organizations, labeling them as either “right wing” or “leftist” and therefore biased. Our opinion is that approach is intellectually weak and patently dishonest.

So, why address these issues now?  Well, I hear them bandied about in water cooler conversations and in a did you hear mode it’s apparent that folks believe that if stated – they must be true?  Let’s take a look at a few of the Romney and Republican claims about “Obamacare.”


Romney stated that "Obamacare … means that for up to 20 million Americans, they will lose the insurance they currently have, the insurance that they like and they want to keep."

Politifact Response – “That number is cherry-picked, and he’s wrong to describe it as only including people who "like" their coverage, since many of those 20 million will be leaving employer coverage voluntarily for better options. Romney also ignores that under the status quo, many more people today "lose" coverage than even the highest, cherry-picked CBO estimate. We rate his statement False.


This was the offering of our least favorite hockey mom, “phony pioneer girl” and caribou murderer, Sarah Palin, who back in 2009 conjured up the existence of Death Panels that would ultimately determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care and, if not, essentially providing a death sentence for them.  As reported by the esteemed and highly respected Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Miami Herald, Palin has resurrected this assertion in a recent post, "Though I was called a liar for calling it like it is, many of these accusers finally saw that Obamacare did in fact create a panel of faceless bureaucrats who have the power to make life-and-death decisions about health-care funding.”  Of course, Palin doesn’t mention who these folks are and isn’t likely to do so as they don’t exist.

We suspect that Palin may have seen the 1976 movie, Logan’s Run one too many times.  The movie portrays a seeming idyllic society in 2274 run by a computer where citizens given a polluted earth live out their lives in the pursuit of pleasure in an enclosed dome.  Turns out that given the lack of room, on their 30th birthday all are required to submit to a quasi-religious ceremony known as Carousel where they are “renewed” to what end they do not know.  Carousel is nothing more than a huge bug zapper in zero gravity synched to music. Contrary to being reborn all 30ish citizens become so much carbon dust. Those who do not submit are hunted down and executed. There is much more to this movie and the statement about a future repressed and dystopian society. Though we may wish otherwise, we don’t though remain confident that there are no bug zappers waiting for us when we turn 65 or become a “burden on society.”

Back to real life - the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare has confirmed time and time again that it has no age limit for treatment, there are no death panels, nor will there be.  Palin continues to do public service by opening her mouth validating the Republican defeat in 2008. As Leonard Pitts opined Palin’s death panel claims are, “about fear and the shameless manipulation thereof for political gain.”

Politifact gave this fabrication a Pants on Fire rating and honored this as their lie of the year in 2009. concurred.

Oh, by the way for the record, I eat meat, have a leather couch (and chair) and wear leather shoes and belts.  My grandfather was Range Master at the Massasoit Gun Club and for five years I shot expert (left-handed) in the NRA Junior program.  I have hunted and if required I would probably shoot an animal for food (I love venison), maybe even shelter but not for fashion, and unlike Palin, not for fun. Palin shot the caribou for her contrived and now cancelled TV show and for pure political spin.  The hunters I know think she is a fake, a wannabe that broke every cardinal rule of hunting.  Thanks for letting me rant…


We have heard this one offered by many Republicans including New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie.  Hoping to bring some inclusion into our post we were going to leave it at that.  It became clear, however, that this is one of the major claims and assertions brought by the Republicans.  So, we are going to lay this one at the feet of all such proponents within the GOP.  You know who you are.  Your numbers are legion…

By referring to the PPACA as "a government takeover of health care," Republicans are repeating a claim that’s been debunked so many times by various news organizations and non-partisan health care advocates as to heap ridicule on them for repeating it. Since the Republicans keep repeating this claim it’s clear they don’t care and like the way it plays politically.   

PolitiFact contacted seven health care experts from across the country and all reached the same conclusion that while the national reform greatly expands federal involvement, the law is largely built upon the existing private health insurance industry.  The PPACA “does not take over hospitals, and it does not offer government-sponsored insurance to all. It relies overwhelmingly on the free market, leaving in place employer-provided insurance and the popular Medicare program for people over age 65. It offers credits to Americans of modest means to help them buy private insurance.”

By no means is it a government takeover and PolitiFact recognized this claim as their 2010 Lie of the Year. Pants on Fire! concurred.


We have heard this one for several years emanating from the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Rush Limbaugh and many Republicans especially current Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner who in a recent several minute speech repeated this claim 14 times.  Mitt Romney now proudly carries the “Kills Jobs” standard and repeats this claim wherever he goes. 

Politifact offers, “The NFIB report doesn’t appear to take into account the subsidies in the health care law, only the costs. Specifically, the Urban Institute report noted that firms with fewer than 50 workers will receive $4.5 billion in employer subsidies in the form of tax credits. Taking both premiums and assessments into account, "small businesses would save 8.7 percent compared with their current premium contributions," the report said. This means that smaller firms would actually have "lower costs of labor and should be more willing to expand employment."

Medium-sized firms, for their part, would find their premium costs drop modestly, though individual companies that do not already offer health care coverage could see notable cost increases. And large firms would see an increase in premium costs by about 1 percent overall.”

Henry Aaron, health care expert at the Brookings Institution has added that employment decisions are not as cut-and-dried as critics suggest. Aaron has noted that increased usage of the health care system because of the law should create jobs within the health care industry itself. These job gains should partially offset potential job losses elsewhere.  Aaron further offered that given all of these factors, "The rhetorical hysteria explicit in the term ‘job killer’ is enough to make one despair for rational public debate."

Politifact continues, "The US Chamber of Commerce (or anybody else) has failed to prove that it will, and the best projections we’ve seen, based on how the law is actually written, do not suggest that the law will "kill" jobs. A close look at the studies cited by the Chamber of Commerce in support of the ad -- as well as other independent analyses of the health care law -- provide little, if any, evidence that the health care law will result in a significant net number of job losses. We rate the statement False.” concurred.

We could go on with predictably the same results addressing other absurd claims against PPACA though let’s address one more doozer of a claim and close this post out. 


Politifact responded to this claim from many though attributes this one primarily to one of Rush Limbaugh’s grander rants (OK, my characterization), “The health care-related tax increases are smaller than the tax increase signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and a temporary tax signed into law in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. And they are significantly smaller than two tax increases passed during World War II and a tax increase passed in 1961.

Politifact does concede that, “The tax increases in the health care legislation do reverse a trend of federal tax cuts and represent the first significant tax increases since 1993. But they are not the largest in the history of the United States.

And -- despite what Limbaugh said -- that means they cannot be the largest ever in the history of world. Limbaugh's inflated rhetoric takes a wrong claim and puts it into the realm of the ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire.”  Fact Checker and concurred.

Conclusion: Our caution and the purpose of this post is to keep an open mind and investigate the claims made by all politicians, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, etc. If it’s not obvious political spin look beneath the surface for the truth of the matter. Seek out respected, unbiased sources that don’t have a vested interest - save the truth. Use your common sense and separate reality from fantasy.
If I believed half of the claims referenced in this post, I’d be mad as hell too.  I would arm myself with the real facts and then pass the message on to Friends, Family, anybody else who would listen to me and then run to the polls to express my views. If, as many are reporting, that the Republicans fully intend to gut Medicare - a benefit I have literally invested in and paid for with a lifetime of work, then you haven’t seen anything yet. I suspect that will be the reaction of many Seniors who represent a substantial, dynamic and viable block of voters.   

Leonard Pitts' appropriately summed up the current political spin, talking head mind-set that has corrupted the public domain in a recent article responding to Palin’s resurrection of her absurd Death Panel claims.
"Not long ago, if you told a whopper like Palin's and it was as thoroughly debunked as hers was, that would have ended the discussion. These days, it is barely even part of the discussion. These days, facts seem overmatched by falsehood, too slow to catch them, too weak to stop them…

Indeed, falsehoods are harder to kill than a Hollywood zombie. Run them through with fact, and still they shamble forward, fueled by echo chamber media, ideological tribalism, cognitive dissonance, a certain imperviousness to shame, and an understanding that a lie repeated long enough, loudly enough, becomes, in the minds of those who need to believe it, truth…

It seems that not only are facts no longer important, but they are not even the point. Rather, the point is the construction and maintenance of an alternate narrative designed to enhance and exploit the receiver's fears, his or her sense of prerogatives, entitlement, propriety and morality under siege from outside forces…

This is the state of American political discourse… where a sense of dislocation, disaffection, and general been-done-wrongness has become sine qua non, coin of the realm, lingua franca of the true believers — and of their true belief in the desperate need to turn back the unrighteous Other and his unwelcome change…

The result of which is that Americans increasingly occupy two realities, one based on the conviction that facts matter, the other on the notion that facts are only what you need them to be in a given moment…"

I embrace Pitt’s sentiment but also hope that we have time to stop this runaway train by embracing the mantle of truth.  No more wink and nods or blind acceptance of “tsunamis of misinformation that swamps all serious political thought.”  Listen and act responsibly and hold people accountable for their words and actions. On that we can all agree then get along with the work of life and live a little more humanely in the process.


Ned Buxton

Special thanks to Kay Plumb author of Shadow in the USA, illustrated by Bob Hobbs for permissions to use their Eagle at the Podium graphic.  Well done, Aye. NB

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


July 1 – Belated Happy Birthday wishes to the True North Strong and Free.

A sentiment embraced and expressed by all in My Family.


Ned Buxton