Month: February 2017

Divergent paths

Sixty is the new forty.  Sixty-eight is not.  It’s just old.  I am still younger than our newly elected President.  It is a time for introspection. How is it that Donald Trump became a self-professed billionaire president instead of me? It is petty of me to point out that he had a several million dollar head start.  As last born of my parents’ four children they had without complaint taken on three jobs between them by the time I was judged old enough not to do dangerously stupid things, left unsupervised.  That enabled us to enjoy a princely lower...

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Protect Medicare Advantage

To the Editor: I am writing to you as an Oregonian and senior. I am one of over 348,000 Oregonians that benefit from having a Medicare Advantage health care plan. While many people have heard of Medicare and Medicaid, not as many people have heard about Medicare Advantage or know just how beneficial it is for seniors. For myself and every senior on Medicare Advantage, the health plan provides many more options to live a healthy lifestyle, including preventative screenings, routine checkups, the Silver & Fit and Silver & Strong fitness programs, and a gym membership among others. These aspects, which are not often available under traditional Medicare, truly have been a tremendous blessing for me. The program further helps encourage an active lifestyle, leading to a better overall quality of life. Despite this, almost every year Congress proposes new cuts to Medicare Advantage, threatening the very programs that help take care of and promote healthy lifestyles for 348,000 Oregon seniors. More and more seniors are relying on the program, yet it continues to face possible budget cuts at the hands of our legislators. I am so grateful for the support Reps. Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader and Earl Blumenauer, who have already voiced for the program and sincerely urge Oregon’s other members of Congress, and the other seniors relying on Medicare Advantage, to stand up to Congress, let them...

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A picture of American shame

By MICHAEL GERSON  The image of President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, signing an executive order that (among other things) excludes Syrian refugees from America, is indelible. Three powerful American leaders, targeting and dehumanizing some of the most vulnerable people on earth. A picture of bullying. A picture of cruelty. A picture of national shame. It sits in my head beside images of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, bewildered by the loss of their old lives, assets depleted, living (in some cases) eight to a room, exploited by human traffickers. Many families feel compelled to put their boys to work and their girls into early, forced marriages. “My home is all broken in Syria,” a girl of 6 told me while coloring a kinetic picture of helicopters and bombs. Trump is a champion at punching down, but seldom this far. This executive order is a security measure that very few actual security professionals would prioritize, given that refugees are some of the most carefully vetted people who enter the country. Meanwhile, the downside of (in effect) targeting foreigners by their religion is immediate and considerable—worrying American Muslims and embarrassing America’s Muslim friends and allies in the world. When some radical cleric in, say, Central Asia, says, “The new American president hates Islam,” he does not require a conspiracy theory to...

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Early impressions shaky

Granted, it’s early to make conclusions about our new president and his cabinet.  Nevertheless, there are a couple of serious concerns here that have already come up in the past two weeks. The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and political traditions have established freedoms that have not been seen, even considered, in many parts of the world.  They are (1) a free and fair vote and (2) a free and respected press. These are two premises upon which our American society, its values and standards, has been built and have endured the tests of time for more than two hundred years. President Donald J. Trump now insists, regarding the last election, the one that elected him, that there were three to five million who voted illegally and, further, that these fraudulent voters cast their ballots for his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton: This proven would enable Trump—who won the Electoral College vote—to claim the popular vote which every pertinent fact on the subject has denied him so far. He demands that an investigation take place even though there is a total lack of evidence to back up his assertion while a universal conclusion has been reached that there was no fraud.   When Trump makes charges of this kind he reinforces the prejudices of his true believers, who apparently believe, without question, everything he says, while, in doing so, they undermine confidence in our democracy which, as we know from history, is a fragile condition. Another matter that confounds is Trump’s assault...

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