Letters: What Do You Think?

This week: Federal Budget Made Easy; Cartoon "Smacks of Vitriol"; Is the USA Next?; Cemetery Historic, Intriguing; and Health Care Decision Good News

Comments (3)
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Federal Budget Made Easy

The vague billions and trillions of dollars that get discussed throughout the budget season federally and statewide often have a numbing effect on me. I have always voted and had an interest in politics, but like many, I suspect, have paid more attention to the people than the numbers.

I've always been impressed by those who take time off from work and their families to visit their legislators, protest and support the issues they care about. I have joined in with small contributions financially or otherwise, but lately I have been feeling more of a draw to really understand the financial end of politics.

I turn 50 this year and am decidedly disappointed that it has taken me so long to begin educating myself about what really goes on in those hallowed halls in Washington and in my own State House. In the July 5 issue of the Valley Advocate, I was particularly impressed by a book review by Maureen Turner. I just ordered three copies of the book she reviewed, "A People's Guide to the Federal Budget." The National Priorities Project has always hovered in my mind as a great local information source, but I am going to make a commitment to supporting them now for the often underappreciated research they are doing right here in our own neighborhood. The timing of this book (and book review) couldn't be more perfect to spur me on.

Thank you, Maureen Turner, Valley Advocate, and especially National Priorities Project, for making this information available and accessible.

Becky George


Cartoon "Smacks of Vitriol"

The Tom Pappalardo cartoon Variations on a Theme that ran in the June 28 edition of your paper is one of the sickest displays of anti-Catholicism we have seen in a while. An attack on the heart and soul of Catholicism—the Eucharist—has no place in objective journalism. This isn't satire, it is blatant bigotry plain and simple. Would your paper run a cartoon that attacked the fundamental beliefs of Islam or Judaism? I would assume not, nor should you. That your paper ran this cartoon smacks of a vitriol that is disturbing.

Jeff Field
Director of Communications, Catholic League
New York, N.Y.


Is the USA Next?

Greece's economy is bankrupt because Greek politicians spent more money than they take in. They cannot pay their debt. Today Spain and maybe Italy are also in need of a bailout. This is exactly where the United States is headed. For over three decades, our career politicians have spent us into enormous debt.

The career politicians we continue to reelect are to blame. They are not addressing this problem. Today the Republicans are trying to retain Bush-era tax cuts. The Democrats are trying to spend more money on temporary job creation. Do the math. It all adds up to more debt. Greece, Spain and Italy have the European Union to bail them out. Who will bail us out?

Create term limits—don't vote for an incumbent.

Vote for any candidate supported by the GOOOH process (,

Serving in Congress should be an honor, not a career.

Billy D. Clifford
Austin, Texas


Cemetery Historic, Intriguing

A few years back, I was very much surprised to find this cemetery [the Springfield Cemetery, Crematory and Columbarium; see "Springfield's Hidden Emerald Heart," June 28, 2012] in the heart of the inner city of Springfield. The first time I visited, in 2007, I was impressed by the tiered rows and park-like design of the place. The Civil War plots are interesting in that they include the graves of soldiers from other parts of New England, as if they passed away en-route back home.

There are also the little mausoleums built right into the earthen tiers, starting at the lowest end of the cemetery and following the meandering road that leads up to the top section.

A very good site for photography buffs.

Bill Dusty
via Internet


Health Care Decision Good News

For us in Massachusetts, universal health care has never been an abstraction. Ninety-eight percent of our residents now have coverage, and many lives have been forever changed because of access to health insurance.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, more young people have health insurance. Because of this law, people with preexisting conditions are no longer being denied coverage. The list goes on, and the values inherent in the law are crystal-clear. Health care is a right for all of us, not a privilege for the lucky few. And yet despite today's decision, there are those out there already plotting the next phase of the assault on health care in the United States. Their interests are solely rooted in defeating President Obama, not in lifting up this country.

Do not be bullied. Stand strong for this president, and for his accomplishments. Make it personal, and talk to your friends, family, and coworkers about why this was a fight we are not afraid to have. Because when we fight for our values as Americans, and for the American Dream itself, we will win.

Deval Patrick
Governor of Massachusetts

Comments (3)
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Bill Dusty:

Some people changed regiments during the Civil War. Different States paid different wages. So when one’s original enlistment was up, one could join the regiments of a different state.

In my case my great-great-grandfather (Oscar Daniels Eastman) joined a Vermont regiment. He later switched to a Connecticut regiment. He then moved to Suffield Connecticut.

I have another great-great-grandfather, Samuel Cook. His real name was Cook and is buried in the Thompsonville Connecticut Cemetery, along with many other “Cook” union veterans. WhenI sent to the National Archives for information I found that the other Cook’s were aliases. They were from New York and had changed their names. Keep in mind that many states had a lump sum payment upon enlistment. It was probably more profitable if you could enlist multiple times.

Prisoners of War were also patrolled. They were allowed to return home on the pledge of themselves and both governments that they would not re-enter any army. By and large both sides honored the system. Some people tried to rejoin. You would have to go somewhere where you were not known to rejoin.

Posted by Robert Underwood on 7.13.12 at 6:46

My comment maybe a few years too late, but I thought maybe someone in the know might be able to look at the whole picture. Has any one looked in to what happens when an entire state is forced to get health insurance? I am sure more than one health insurance company saw this law coming and said 'Yie haw, we're going to get paid billions because the entire state of Massachusetts made it a law that you HAVE to have health insurance!'

I wouldn't put it past the governor to get some kind of kick back for making this law. But really, think of the pay offs, rip offs and the things nobody saw! I am not entirely sure if Mitt Romney got the ball going on this or if it was Deval. Regardless, there's a huge amount of money that's involved.

The only way that the proposed health care law for the entire US can work for the people is to remove health insurance companies. And by doing that removing the FOR profit middle man. It seems a no brainer to remove ALL the adminstration and stream line the entire health care process. I am not for eliminating jobs, especially now in this economy, but there's a huge amount of people that are getting rich because YOU have health insurance and a huge waste/loss of money because OF insurance companies! And if things continue as they are, everyone (the 99%) will be on Mass. health (or the equivilant) anyway.

It would seem that if you removed the insurance companies as the middle man you could reduce the cost of health care by 50 percent at least!

Posted by Lobsterman72 on 7.16.12 at 18:15

Indeed, Deval;

Heap copious praise upon thine great Insuro-King, dear governor; pay homage, offer a great fawning and obiesance unto Him. Issue polite treatment no matter his transgressions, and above all, favorable press. Lastly, and of paramount importance, offer Him unlimited access to the federal and state troughs.

You know what's REALLY infuriating about the Supreme Court's decision to nationalize RomneyCare, i.e. Chapter 58, i.e. 'Fraud In The Guise Of Health Reform'*? Some of my favorite 'liberal' talk show hosts, namely Ed Schultz, are pandering to it. Where, pray tell, would ANYONE find, buried in those allegedly 2800 pages - in plain English, not legalese - actual benefits that would accrue to the 99%? What an intriguing paradox: at a time when health-care professionals are decrying our ostensible obesity epidemic, Washington is now free to foist a clearly OBESE document on We, the Sheeple. To those black-robed denizens, we offer kudos, however, for at least pasting an HONEST tag upon the Abominable Constipation Act: Yes, it IS a tax. And as an interesting aside, 5 of the 9 Supreme Court justices are eligible for Medicare. So should they care?

Moreover, where are the level-headed critics of this bureaucratic Methuselah? How about some cogent input from the likes of Wendell Potter, who's excellent post as of yesterday:

points to the cunning, bald-faced greed of the insurance industry in their zeal to lap at the Medicaid trough for reasons Potter lays out in layman's terms.

Another intelligent, conspicuously absent pundit is John Stauber, co-author of "Trust Us, We're Experts!", in a brief, scintillating piece entitled, 'Obamacare Wins, We Lose', which appeared in Counterpunch:

But the best synopsis of this much-ballyhooed windfall for sick-care profiteers comes from my heroes Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, in a piece entitled, 'There's a Better Way':

"Drug and insurance firms dictated the terms of reform: “do it our way or do nothing at all.” The result was a lopsided bargain: the American people were allowed to expand Medicaid, ship a few scraps to community health centers and impose feeble insurance regulations. Insurers got hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and a mandate ordering the middle class to buy their defective products."

It couldn't be stated more articulately than that.

* Google: 'Fraud In The Guise Of Health Reform' - by attorney Joseph Gorman

For years, a local resident has had a homemade placard - slopped in red ink and facing a busy road, which screams:
"Wake Up, America!"

I'm dying to go ask him what it means.

Dave Hopkins
Western Mass

Posted by Dave Hopkins on 7.17.12 at 16:23



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