Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who is really overreaching into women's lives? Listen up my daughters, grandaughters

Listen up my daughters and granddaughters. The ultra religious right wants to dictate how you live your lives, not just by delivering edicts from the pulpit, but from the legislature and the political podium. They want laws to carry out their religious mission whether you share their particular interpretation of the Bible or not. The result, the freedom to make choices about your lives and health care, the relationship with your doctor, the ability even to have the wherewithal and freedom to make those choices, is in jeopardy.

You have enjoyed freedom to make choices in your life time. You have taken it for granted that freedom is there for you. You have lived in the era of Roe v Wade, Griswold v Connecticut, and a majority of those governing guarding your rights. However, there are those who are determined to roll your lives back to the times of under which those who went before you lived.

No one is telling you to get an abortion or take the pill. You may never ever want to do any of this. Some just want to deny your opportunity and ability to make your own decisions about your health in consultation with your priest, rabbi or minister and/or your doctor. Some want to make it even criminal for doctors to help you make some of these decisions.

Be aware that personhood amendments that define life as beginning at conception put into the laws you must obey could make it illegal for you to get the pill, much less to take any other measures to plan your family.

I have seen you, my daughters, delay mammograms and checkups until you could afford the copays or get a job that provided health insurance. Be aware that health care reform we call Obamacare outlaws treating pregnancy as a pre -existing condition, preventing it to be used as grounds for denying insurance. Obamacare provides that mammograms, colonoscopies, checkups, and contraceptives will be provided to all without co-pays.

Your father/grandfather, an obstetrician-gynecologist,is a doctor whose ethical beliefs have been in synch with Catholic hospital policies in which he has been in attendance. He is furious with these attempts to interfere with his relationships with his patients by restricting his ability to advise what he believes is best to make sure the mothers and the babies he delivers are healthy in mind, body and spirit. The last straw this past month came when it became obvious that there were those who wanted to keep you from getting or affording contraceptives. A purpose of such medication is to help you avoid undertaking even more emotionally and physically painful procedures in the future, including treatment for endometriosis.

Do not fall for the line that health reform legislation is just a big federal government overreach. The most radical overreaches are those laws that restrict your personal choices and are being enacted at the state level, while the Republican dominated House of Representatives echoes some of the same legislative initiatives. Remember, who will be elected President could appoint justices that overturn Roe v Wade. Feed this in your voting decisions , or else in 2013 you may be in for a rude shock.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Obama's plan to reduce the deficit better and less painfu

 My column in the Sky Hi Daily News today:
Forget Congress. Forget the President's 2013 budget. Forget the deficit: Except for extending the payroll tax holiday, nothing much is going to happen in Washington until after the November elections. Congress will just be too busy posturing and pandering.

That is not all bad because what the Obama administration has been doing to improve the economy seems to be working. The better time to make changes will be in a year or two when our economic recovery is more secure and could survive any extreme or inappropriate attempt to fix the debt problem. About 40 percent of the deficit was caused by the 2008 crash and could be cured by recovery. Social Security and Medicare will not go broke this year or in the near future.

To avoid nasty surprises, we should demand that contenders for president be more specific about their post-November 2012 plans for the remaining deficit. The question is: Which party has the better proposal to reduce the deficit that also causes the least pain and collateral damage?

There is already a plan on the table that does make sense. The Simpson Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission report was serious, comprehensive, and fact-based.

A case can be made that the Obama administration is more likely to enact Simpson Bowles because it has already enacted or proposed a large number of Simpson Bowles recommendations, while the GOP has proposed and voted for some unpopular alternatives and has outright opposed others.

One Simpson Bowles proposal was to cut defense spending, and Obama has implemented much and plans more. The GOP, especially Mitt Romney, favors spending even more on defense.

Simpson Bowles recommended continuing Obamacare to reduce the deficit. Yes, their conclusion was that there are net cost savings (and not the fictional additional trillion dollars of costs the GOP wrongly pins on health care reform).

The GOP has no proposal to replace Obamacare other than to shove health care solutions and expense to the states to do as they will. Leaving health care to the free market, as the GOP often proposes, is a farce. There is no free market: Insurers are exempt from anti-trust action, free to collude to set prices and coverage.

Unlike Obamacare, the GOP offers no requirement to cover pre-existing conditions or to insure the 30 million uninsured, or to provide for everyone no co-pays for annual physicals, mammograms, and now maybe not even requiring inclusion of contraceptives. Those without insurance would still go insurance-naked, visiting the ER only when they got so sick they required expensive treatment, and passing their unpaid bills onto the rest of us in the form of increasingly unaffordable higher premiums. GOP plans contain no checks on health care costs to us or to the Medicare and Medicaid system, either.

Simpson Bowles concluded that tax fairness was needed and the deficit could not be reduced without raising taxes and letting Bush tax cuts expire, with which Obama agreed. The GOP could not stomach any of that and they proposed to increase the unfairness with more tax breaks for the rich, relying solely on cuts to social programs. Obama has also proposed a millionaires' tax, further getting the fairness part right.

Simpson Bowles recommended cutting $2.5 of government expenses for every dollar of tax increases. Obama has supported similar ratios, depending upon what is included in the calculations, but he has consistently supported more dollar-for-dollar cuts than tax increases.

Those who have the most at stake are the future seniors. Both political parties have fumbled or became MIA on solutions to keep Medicare and Social Security viable. A sensible recommendation made by Simpson Bowles was gradually to raise the retirement age to 70. That is far less painful than GOP plans: eliminating the “security” in Social Security by gambling retirement on Wall Street with no safety net to cover failed investments, and/or requiring $6,000 in annual Medicare co-pays.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shame on you, Franklin Graham.. You profess doubts the President is not Christian enough?

Today on MSNBC I heard Franklin Graham, son of great evangalist Billy Graham, feed into the birthers and haters of Pres. Obama by the old trick of saying. (paraphrased).".Well, the President says he is a Christian, but I don't know. Under Sharia law he is considered a Muslim.  I want him to profess he is a Christian using the terms that will convince me.."  I do not think this paraphrase distorts  the gist of what he said.  Shame. Shame. Rev. Graham, you must not have heard one of the most profound professions of Christian  faith ever uttered publicly by a president  and that President was Barack Obama, in address before the National Prayer Breakfast gathering in Washington  Feb.2 .  I am reproducing below it from the White House website.

Remarks by the President at the National Prayer Breakfast

Washington Hilton
Washington, D.C.
9:10 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Please, please, everybody have a seat.  Well, good morning, everybody.  It is good to be with so many friends united in prayer.  And I begin by giving all praise and honor to God for bringing us together here today.
I want to thank our co-chairs Mark and Jeff; to my dear friend, the guy who always has my back, Vice President Biden.  (Applause.)  All the members of Congress –- Joe deserves a hand –- all the members of Congress and my Cabinet who are here today; all the distinguished guests who’ve traveled a long way to be part of this.  I’m not going to be as funny as Eric -- (laughter) -- but I’m grateful that he shared his message with us.  Michelle and I feel truly blessed to be here.
This is my third year coming to this prayer breakfast as President.  As Jeff mentioned, before that, I came as senator.  I have to say, it’s easier coming as President.  (Laughter.)  I don’t have to get here quite as early.  But it’s always been an opportunity that I’ve cherished.  And it’s a chance to step back for a moment, for us to come together as brothers and sisters and seek God’s face together.  At a time when it’s easy to lose ourselves in the rush and clamor of our own lives, or get caught up in the noise and rancor that too often passes as politics today, these moments of prayer slow us down.  They humble us.  They remind us that no matter how much responsibility we have, how fancy our titles, how much power we think we hold, we are imperfect vessels.  We can all benefit from turning to our Creator, listening to Him.  Avoiding phony religiosity, listening to Him.  
This is especially important right now, when we’re facing some big challenges as a nation.  Our economy is making progress as we recover from the worst crisis in three generations, but far too many families are still struggling to find work or make the mortgage, pay for college, or, in some cases, even buy food.  Our men and women in uniform have made us safer and more secure, and we were eternally grateful to them, but war and suffering and hardship still remain in too many corners of the globe.  And a lot of those men and women who we celebrate on Veterans Day and Memorial Day come back and find that, when it comes to finding a job or getting the kind of care that they need, we’re not always there the way we need to be.
It’s absolutely true that meeting these challenges requires sound decision-making, requires smart policies.  We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can’t dictate our response to every challenge we face. 
But in my moments of prayer, I’m reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others. 
We can’t leave our values at the door.  If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union.  Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel -- the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action -- sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.
This is no different today for millions of Americans, and it’s certainly not for me.
I wake up each morning and I say a brief prayer, and I spend a little time in scripture and devotion.  And from time to time, friends of mine, some of who are here today, friends like Joel Hunter or T.D. Jakes, will come by the Oval Office or they’ll call on the phone or they’ll send me a email, and we’ll pray together, and they’ll pray for me and my family, and for our country.
But I don’t stop there.  I’d be remiss if I stopped there; if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends.  So instead, I must try -- imperfectly, but I must try -- to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.
And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody.  But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs -– from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato. 
And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone.  And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.”  It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.
When I talk about giving every American a fair shot at opportunity, it’s because I believe that when a young person can afford a college education, or someone who’s been unemployed suddenly has a chance to retrain for a job and regain that sense of dignity and pride, and contributing to the community as well as supporting their families -- that helps us all prosper. 
It means maybe that research lab on the cusp of a lifesaving discovery, or the company looking for skilled workers is going to do a little bit better, and we’ll all do better as a consequence.  It makes economic sense.  But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper; that as a country, we rise and fall together.  I’m not an island.  I’m not alone in my success.  I succeed because others succeed with me.
And when I decide to stand up for foreign aid, or prevent atrocities in places like Uganda, or take on issues like human trafficking, it’s not just about strengthening alliances, or promoting democratic values, or projecting American leadership around the world, although it does all those things and it will make us safer and more secure.  It’s also about the biblical call to care for the least of these –- for the poor; for those at the margins of our society. 
To answer the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”  And for others, it may reflect the Jewish belief that the highest form of charity is to do our part to help others stand on their own. 
Treating others as you want to be treated.  Requiring much from those who have been given so much.  Living by the principle that we are our brother’s keeper.  Caring for the poor and those in need.  These values are old.  They can be found in many denominations and many faiths, among many believers and among many non-believers.  And they are values that have always made this country great -- when we live up to them; when we don’t just give lip service to them; when we don’t just talk about them one day a year.  And they’re the ones that have defined my own faith journey. 
And today, with as many challenges as we face, these are the values I believe we’re going to have to return to in the hopes that God will buttress our efforts.
Now, we can earnestly seek to see these values lived out in our politics and our policies, and we can earnestly disagree on the best way to achieve these values.  In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Christianity has not, and does not profess to have a detailed political program.  It is meant for all men at all times, and the particular program which suited one place or time would not suit another.” 
Our goal should not be to declare our policies as biblical.  It is God who is infallible, not us.  Michelle reminds me of this often.  (Laughter.)  So instead, it is our hope that people of goodwill can pursue their values and common ground and the common good as best they know how, with respect for each other.  And I have to say that sometimes we talk about respect, but we don’t act with respect towards each other during the course of these debates.
But each and every day, for many in this room, the biblical injunctions are not just words, they are also deeds.  Every single day, in different ways, so many of you are living out your faith in service to others. 
Just last month, it was inspiring to see thousands of young Christians filling the Georgia Dome at the Passion Conference, to worship the God who sets the captives free and work to end modern slavery.  Since we’ve expanded and strengthened the White House faith-based initiative, we’ve partnered with Catholic Charities to help Americans who are struggling with poverty; worked with organizations like World Vision and American Jewish World Service and Islamic Relief to bring hope to those suffering around the world.  
Colleges across the country have answered our Interfaith Campus Challenge, and students are joined together across religious lines in service to others.  From promoting responsible fatherhood to strengthening adoption, from helping people find jobs to serving our veterans, we’re linking arms with faith-based groups all across the country. 
I think we all understand that these values cannot truly find voice in our politics and our policies unless they find a place in our hearts.  The Bible teaches us to “be doers of the word and not merely hearers.”  We’re required to have a living, breathing, active faith in our own lives.  And each of us is called on to give something of ourselves for the betterment of others -- and to live the truth of our faith not just with words, but with deeds.  
So even as we join the great debates of our age -- how we best put people back to work, how we ensure opportunity for every child, the role of government in protecting this extraordinary planet that God has made for us, how we lessen the occasions of war -- even as we debate these great issues, we must be reminded of the difference that we can make each day in our small interactions, in our personal lives.
As a loving husband, or a supportive parent, or a good neighbor, or a helpful colleague -- in each of these roles, we help bring His kingdom to Earth.  And as important as government policy may be in shaping our world, we are reminded that it’s the cumulative acts of kindness and courage and charity and love, it’s the respect we show each other and the generosity that we share with each other that in our everyday lives will somehow sustain us during these challenging times.  John tells us that, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
Mark read a letter from Billy Graham, and it took me back to one of the great honors of my life, which was visiting Reverend Graham at his mountaintop retreat in North Carolina, when I was on vacation with my family at a hotel not far away.
And I can still remember winding up the path up a mountain to his home.  Ninety-one years old at the time, facing various health challenges, he welcomed me as he would welcome a family member or a close friend.  This man who had prayed great prayers that inspired a nation, this man who seemed larger than life, greeted me and was as kind and as gentle as could be.
And we had a wonderful conversation.  Before I left, Reverend Graham started praying for me, as he had prayed for so many Presidents before me.  And when he finished praying, I felt the urge to pray for him.  I didn’t really know what to say.  What do you pray for when it comes to the man who has prayed for so many?  But like that verse in Romans, the Holy Spirit interceded when I didn’t know quite what to say.
And so I prayed -- briefly, but I prayed from the heart.  I don’t have the intellectual capacity or the lung capacity of some of my great preacher friends here that have prayed for a long time.  (Laughter.)  But I prayed.  And we ended with an embrace and a warm goodbye.
And I thought about that moment all the way down the mountain, and I’ve thought about it in the many days since.  Because I thought about my own spiritual journey –- growing up in a household that wasn’t particularly religious; going through my own period of doubt and confusion; finding Christ when I wasn’t even looking for him so many years ago; possessing so many shortcomings that have been overcome by the simple grace of God.  And the fact that I would ever be on top of a mountain, saying a prayer for Billy Graham –- a man whose faith had changed the world and that had sustained him through triumphs and tragedies, and movements and milestones –- that simple fact humbled me to my core.
I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment -- asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong.  I know that He will guide us.  He always has, and He always will.  And I pray his richest blessings on each of you in the days ahead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

War on Religion or political posturing: Religion in American politics; some history;

Column in the Sky Hi News today:
The announced policy of the Obama administration to require church affiliated institutions, hospitals and charity organizations to include insurance coverage for birth control for the many low-income employed has created a political brouhaha.

At stake is $50 per-month expenses for those who wish to have that kind of family planning which would not be covered by insurance.

The cries on both sides of the aisle have been high-volume outrage, ranging from “This is Obama's war on religion,” “It Is an example of overreaching big federal government,” to “The GOP is waging war on women, denying women's rights to family planning health care, …whether it is affordable access to mammograms, pap smears, and birth control, and abortions.” There is probably an element of truth in each of these positions, but let us get a grip on ourselves.

The policy was published in January and brought to the attention of the broader public by Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.

The flap then escalated to a political blowup regarding first amendment rights of freedom of religion, highlighting federal overreach arguments against Obamacare, and playing into other right-wing anti-Obama messages.

Obama switched his position so fast, it made heads swim, as he realized he committed a political blunder. He allowed religious institutions to exempt themselves, while mandating insurers to provide free birth control to anyone uncovered by insurance. That has not appeased Bishops opposed to birth control, but Catholic health care providers hailed the compromise because it accomplished the purpose of giving affordable access to women who choose birth control without making a church-sponsored institution provide it.

Republicans see enacting legislation as a way to keep the heated wedge issue on the front burner. Doing so takes the public's mind off an improving economy. Obama's failed economy is Republicans' major case to-date for election in the 2012 campaign, and this gives the GOP a way to refocus their pitch.

Twenty-eight states already require that church-affiliated institutions provide coverage, including Massachusetts, a heavily Catholic state, as part of Romneycare. That makes Mitt Romney's rant against it seem hypocritical. Like his defense of Romneycare, he is left with saying that it was OK for Massachusetts, but not for the federal government to impose it on any other state. That is a hair-splitting ideological position appealing to the anti-Obama and anti-federal right.

So far as Colorado is concerned, we already require that even churches themselves provide such insurance coverage, a position even more extreme than the Obama administration's policy that exempts churches. No one declared Colorado was at war with religion when that one was passed by the legislature. So let us take the attack on Obama as waging a “war on religion” as being motivated by a large dose of political posturing.

Here is the dilemma of American politics in modern times. When women began demanding the right to control their bodies and their lives in the 1970's, the conservative reaction to it was the making of religious beliefs on abortion as the single-issue litmus test for candidates.

I recall now Sen. Jim Inhofe's first political campaign for Mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1978, where my brother was a pro-choice Republican precinct committeeman. He was ousted by Inhofe supporters on one issue: Inhofe was pro-life. It happened in precincts throughout the city and then throughout the U.S.

I wondered at the time what abortion had to do with street-paving and sewers, but now I understand. It was the beginning of a political movement to gain political power and use techniques of governance so they could impose one segment of Christianity's' theological interpretation on others. Now called “culture issues,” that factor has dominated our national politics ever since, for better or for worse, depending upon one's own personal beliefs.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hope vs Back to the future; what would it have been like if the GOP won in 2008

My Column in the Sky Hi News on line edition today: The GOP presidential contenders are putting their eggs in one basket: The voters are feeling so much pain, anyone would be better than Obama. Oh?

Some in the GOP seem to yearn to return to the time of John Adams, when Abigail could run the farm and cash flow was only a nagging problem because she could raise their own food, sew her own clothes, and pay the doc in chickens.

That bucolic life is long gone thanks to the industrial revolution, the intertwined world economy, urbanization, an economy driven by middle income consumer spending, and expensive life-saving medical technology. “Each to his own and each on his own” has moral and economic implications. To what extent should we be our brothers' keeper? Is it good for the economy to leave one half of Americans near or in hopeless poverty?

To compensate for tax cuts, ground wars, and stagnant income, we plunged ourselves into deeper government and personal debt. Starry eyed, we put our money in unregulated investments based on questionable mortgage loans until the economy imploded in 2008.

When I hear voters wistfully say they just want it like it was before, for which “before” are they yearning? — the latter 1700s or the bubble of the early 2000s?. Most of the GOP's roadmap to prosperity is the bubble model that replicates their previous route that led to prosperity for the few, a col de sac for many, and eventual disaster for all.

Low taxes and less regulation did not lift the boats of the middle class much from 2001-2007, while the upper incomes soared, per the Congressional Budget Office. Job loss and recession began nearly the year before the crash of fall 2008. The theory that wealth trickles down to the middle class did not work well in practice.

The GOP is not about applying balm to middle income pains. They want to repeal help for Elm Street to aid Wall Street and Fifth Avenue, with more tax breaks to an already robust financial sector and the comfortable rich, repealing health care and Wall Street reform, and weakening consumer protection.

We can imagine a GOP future by going back to their past.  What would it have been like with a Republican or a Mitt Romney controlling Washington for the last three years instead of having the reforms and policies Obama supported and instituted? The financial sector would still be free to hoodwink investors and homebuyers, one bank failure could still bring down other banks, and we would still drown in the cost of more or indefinite ground wars. There would have been no pressure on banks to refinance responsible homeowners, and the housing market would be seeking an even deeper bottom. Detroit would have gone bankrupt; 1.4 million jobs would have evaporated as the industry would have moved abroad. The 2009 stimulus would not have been passed and another 2.3 million jobs would have been added to the unemployment count.

The Ryan plan would have passed so future seniors would pay $6,000 more a year for Medicare. 30 million citizens  could never hope to afford health insurance. Sending kids to college would have become a fading dream, with shrinking access to student loans, and continued unrealistic burden of paying back them back.

Simpson Bowles debt reduction plan would have been completely ignored because it recommended GOP no-no's   of reducing military spending, continuing cost saving Obamacare, and raising taxes on the rich, the very recommendations embraced by Obama.

In his State of the Union address, Obama gave us a new vision of “hope,” a fair shake for the future for the middle income. With all economic indicators zigzagging upward, he can rightfully claim he has indeed turned around the economy, if not yet cured it, and that a Republican future would be a leap back to the policies from whose consequences we are now trying to escape. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Candidates are summoning the ghosts of a racist past

My column in the Sky Hi News today:
We should be disturbed with the direction the presidential campaign is taking because ghosts of our country's racist past are haunting us again. The GOP and some of its candidates are the medium at the séance table. Racial tensions still lie beneath the surface of political correctness, but what this country does not need is leaders who exploit this dark side of Americana.

Perhaps part of this resurrection of racism is owed to the election of an African American President. There are those who neither accept it or believe that he should be there, or who think he was of, from, and for, non-Americans. Another element is resentment against the estimated 11 million illegals from south of the border and wanting those law breakers gone, ASAP, regardless of impacts on families or any positive contribution to our society. Anti- immigration sentiment has also, always permeated a segment of U.S. society since the latter 1800s influx of Chinese and Irish.

The immigration issue is delivered by many in the GOP with an acidic tone. Policies concerning Hispanics have become conservative litmus tests. They slap down Republicans who take a moderate position on immigration policies or amnesty or dare support the “Dream Act” that would allow children of illegals to get instate college tuition. Newt Gingrich is calling Spanish the language of the ghetto, unmasked his insensitivity to Latino culture. It is no wonder a recent national poll conducted by Hispanic Decisions revealed that 73 percent of Hispanic voters were either hostile to the GOP or believed Republicans “don't care too much” for them.

Immigration hard-liner Mitt Romney should not draw hope from the Florida primary. Florida Latinos are heavily Puerto Ricans and Cubans with unique legal immigration status. Immigration issues are much more important to those with Mexican and other Hispanic roots representing 20 percent of voters in Western swing states, including Colorado.

Obvious in the South Carolina GOP primary was, as some called it, Gingrich's “dog whistle”, using coded words with meanings familiar to Southerners to appeal to those who still hold the attitudes of the old South, a cynical southern strategy. Images of the welfare queen who bore children who lacked any work ethic, the subservient janitor, the food stamp abuser, the vote cheaters who voted as dead people have been summoned by the dog whistle. Yet, he stuck the dog whistle in his pocket when he had to appeal to more moderate Floridians.

Gingrich's calling the President “the food stamp president” is his way of linking Obama's race to welfare queens. He claims Obama has put more individuals on food stamps. Untrue, too. Per U.S.D.A. data, reported by USA Today, fewer individuals have received food stamps in the Obama administration than in the W Bush administration.

That minorities need to get a work ethic is another Gingrich reference to past racial stereotypes. Thanks to Gingrich's own efforts, welfare reform has succeeded to the extent that most families now have at least one member working. Gingrich wants to put those kids to work being janitors from a young age and suspend child labor laws to make it possible. The Obama approach is to give those kids a decent education, make it possible for them to go to college, and provide them a variety of role models with summer youth internships .

The GOP has also antagonized minorities by supporting a coordinated strategy to suppress participation by voting blocks favoring Democrats and dredging up memories of literacy tests and poll tax barriers to voting. GOP elected officials claim fraud is widespread when there is absolutely no supporting data. They have tried to make voting more difficult for elderly and minorities, many who do not have cars or drivers licenses, requiring them to produce a government issued photo ID. GOP elected officials also have tried to prevent mail ballots sent to less frequent voters, who are also elderly and minorities.