Ted Springer
Vail, CO, Colorado

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April 22, 2013
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Vail Daily letter: Respect, indeed

This is in response to a Vail Daily letter to the editor (April 10) in which the writer takes pains to explain his lack of respect for Barack Obama. I do appreciate his enumeration of those areas in which he agrees with Obama. I, in turn, share some of the conservatives' values - personal responsibility, hard work, ethic of getting ahead and family values (no better example than Obama here).

But the letter writer's subsequent denigrating of Obama is where I respectfully disagree. So to conservatives, I say: How do I disagree with thee? Let me count the ways.

The writer asserts that 49 percent "just flat out don't agree with his (Obama's) politics." Actually, the popular vote figure is 47.2 percent (Official Federal Election Commission report).

But to make such an all-encompassing statement is simplistic at best. The fact is that millions in that 47 percent no doubt agree with numbers of Obama's policies and actions (the writer himself, for example.) And the figures on issues such as gun legislation (90 percent favor comprehensive background checks), immigration, marriage equality and so on) show citizens' agreement with Obama. Yet another example: Medicare and Social Security.

The writer accuses Obama of taking the country down the road of big government. Really? The fact is that Obama has in fact moved the country back toward the center (ask millions of liberals who are now smarting under a number of Obama's "centrist" plans, including his work on entitlements).

And is Obama "taking us down the road of big government and socialism"? Margaret Thatcher, no liberal, famously said, "You in the U.S. don't know what socialism is. Get a dictionary and look it up."

The fact is that under Obama, the proportion of federal work force to civilian work force has simply not grown (Bureau of Labor statistics.)

And ObamaCare utilizes private health insurers for the bulk of health care. Too bad, actually, to have the prime motive of profit (the health insurance companies) trump the motive of better helping citizens to experience good health.

The national debt? Obama signed $1.5 trillion in spending cuts into law in 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act (Center on Budget and Policy data). We know that Dick Cheney was quoted as saying, "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." Over the years, deficits have been lower in Democratic years than in Republican years.

Perhaps the writer isn't aware that his contention that Obama has not proffered a budget is untrue. Perhaps the writer is watching too much Fox TV, Rush Limbaugh and John Boehner.

As for our "loss of national pride," I would suggest that that is a fiction. I believe that most U.S. citizens would agree with the Western nations. His image abroad is infinitely better then was George W. Bush's. According to Global News during Nov. 2012 "recent polls indicate that if the world were able to vote for the next president of the U.S., Obama would win hands down."

The writer talks of the "warm, easy-going, relaxed, friendly George W. Bush. Yes, he was friendly and sometimes relaxed (except when he authored a hugely costly and mistaken war). But I would really argue with his description of Obama as "stiff, stuffy, formal and unfriendly."

Really? Obama's rating on key attributes include: 71 percent say he is warm and friendly, and 61 percent say "he cares about me." (Pew Research Center, 2012.)

Regarding Obama's release of background information. I wasn't aware that he hadn't.

So let's take his college experience. In Harvard Law School, he was editor of the Law Review, probably the highest distinction anyone in his class could receive. Does the writer really believe his school performance is lacking? And regarding his background, records of working with the underprivileged population in Chicago is well documented (and shows his humanitarian self).

Flip-flopping. How hypocritical to accuse Obama of flip-flopping when the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, was the king of flip-floppers. Yes, Obama has changed his mind ever so few times, and explained exactly why each time.

How about golf? Truth is, Obama is not a golfer. He's a basketball player. Is playing a round of golf with John Boehner so bad? Perhaps the writer would like to keep Obama out of the gym, accusing him of acting frivolously by shooting baskets. Good exercise, right?

Now, as promised, let me count the ways that I lack respect for most Republicans. They try to scuttle any legislation regarding guns.

A minor breakthrough in Senate will allow debate on the subject. Yet how would you guess the Republican-led House will react? The NRA is yet very, very strong, and will make it clear to legislators that they won't support them financially if they don't hue to the NRA stance.

They try to kill abortion at every chance (including killing Roe v. Wade) and specifically regarding rape, it makes no difference the circumstance - rape, incest, medical problems. Instead, they want the government to decide what a woman can do with her body. The Republicans, so anti-government, are hoping to make government the adjudicator.

They are trying to kill Planned Parenthood in spite of the good the organization does in advising women on raising their children, counseling women on their choices.

Most conservatives deny mankind's contribution to global warming. Forget what science shows.

They make it difficult for minorities and the elderly to vote in national elections. Republican legislation has resulted in 7- and 8-hour waits at some polling places, and they have in some cases reduced hours of voting plus early voting. That's not, of course, democracy.

They fight any raise in the minimum wage in spite of the fact that today's minimum wage is equivalent to that in Reagan's time.

They will kill early childhood education if they can (see Paul Ryan's draconian budget proposal). This is in spite of the fact that early education pays huge dividends later, in school and life. Don't Republicans, who one would think embrace investment, see the that investiment in these kids now is a truly effective action for the future?.

They will starve public education, resulting in larger class sizes (Romney: "class size doesn't make any difference"), teacher layoffs and such.

They endorse an "I made it so why can't they?" attitude, ignoring the fact that many millions born into poverty simply won't have the same chance to make it as more well-off citizens. They desperately need our help to have a chance of making it.

They refuse to consider raising taxes, including reducing loopholes, on the super wealthy. Some two-thirds of citizens want taxes raised on that group. A nonpartisan study by the Congressional Research Service (November 2012) "found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory." The Republicans immediately moved to have the report buried or withdrawn.

And, of course, the United States is at the top of Western nations in inequality of wealth.

So, no, I don't hate Republicans. I just don't respect most of them. And I don't hate the letter writer. I just don't agree with him when it comes to his energetic put-downs of Obama.

Thus we liberals must continue to fight the good fight and keep those letters to the editor coming.

Ted Springer

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The VailDaily Updated Apr 22, 2013 10:39PM Published Apr 22, 2013 10:38PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.