Saturday, April 22, 2017

50 LETTERS!

22 April 2017


Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
101 Main Street #380
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Dear Congressman,

Re: 50 Letters!

By my count, yesterday’s letter regarding health care was the fiftieth I have mailed out to you since January 24th of this year! By my calculation, that would be $24.50 in postage alone! I’m happy to support the United States Postal Service, but that’s a lot of money. Well, by the standards of the ordinary citizen. I’m sure that you, as a US Congressman, enjoy the privileges of free postage, or at least a substantially reduced rate.

Which reminds me: I have not had a single response from you. Not a real one. True, I have had four boilerplate responses via email—but three of them were identical, sent out on the same day, probably the same hour. A computer glitch? So, really, two responses, but both boilerplate. My own letters, I can promise you, are individually thought out, written and printed before sending. It would be nice, one day, to receive a similar courtesy from you. Hand signed? How about it?

But then, of course, I do realize you are a busy man, and that your mail box must be full each day. Let alone your email box. I hope that much of the correspondence you receive is in line with mine; that is, to remind you that there are many voters out here in California’s 48th Congressional District whose earnest wish is for a representative more inclined meet with them, listen to their dissent, and take their views into account when voting.

You could, anyway, wish me a happy 50th!

Respectfully,


Peter Clothier, Ph.D.



Friday, April 21, 2017

HEALTH CARE. AGAIN!

21 April 2017


Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
101 Main Street #380
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Dear Congressman,

Re: Health Care. Again!

What is it with you guys?

I mean, really. Is it possible that Republicans fail to understand that their “repeal and replace” obsession is wildly unpopular? That those who’ll suffer the most are precisely their most faithful supporters? That no matter how hard you try to reach agreement between “moderate” (!) Republicans and the right-wing extremists, their concerns are simply incompatible: there’s no way to simultaneously cut costs AND provide the kind of “wonderful” health care system Trump promised his voters.

I know, I know, you have already responded to me on this issue—three times, in fact, and on the same day!—with boilerplate letters repeating word for word the familiar Republican talking points. But the intractable reality remains.

If, as promised (threatened?) the Republican-led congress returns to this issue in short order so that Trump can boast at least one victory in his first hundred days, I want you, as my representative, to vote no. Enough with this lock-step partisan intransigence that makes progress on this and every other issue impossible. It’s time for a return to reason and sanity. Vote no on repeal and replace.

A little less respectfully and with rather more impatience than before,


Peter Clothier, Ph.D.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

WRONG WAY ARMADA



19 April 2017

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
101 Main Street #380
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Dear Congressman,

Re: Wrong Way Armada

Are you a patriotic American, sir? I have no doubt but that you think of yourself as such. Does it not embarrass you, then, nor raise your ire, to witness such staggering incompetence on the part of your president* and his administration? Or was it a choice to lie to the American people? In response to the latest North Korean saber-rattling, Trump chose to rattle a saber that turned out to be nothing but a rubber sword, bleating about sending in an aircraft carrier “armada” to demonstrate American strength and resolve. His lie was later reaffirmed by his military and intelligence chiefs and, publicly, by his press secretary.

Trump’s “armada”, we learned days later, was hundreds of miles away and headed in the opposite direction.

What are the North Koreans to make of this? Our allies in the region? The rest of the world? What do they think of the pouting president Trump standing there with a limp, er… weapon in his hands? Of the disarray of his administration? Of the deliberate lies or at the least the misinformation passed on to the world by his military? Does our country not look weak and ridiculous in the eyes of the world?

Here’s my point: is it not time for some bold Republican to stand up to this man and speak the truth that is obvious to the rest of us—and to the world at large? To point out that this would-be emperor has no clothes? That he is absurdly, dangerously out of his depth in the Oval Office? That his ignorance and incompetence, if not his overweening and ridiculous ego, disqualify him from a position from which he can wreak serious and lasting damage on the world? Is it not time for just one of you to take a public stand, out of patriotism rather than party loyalty?

Could that man be you, Congressman? Are you willing to step up and acknowledge the obvious, and speak out before still worse things happen? Are you willing to lead, rather than follow the flock of seemingly suicidal sheep? As your constituent, I ask you to consult with your common sense and conscience. Enough is more than enough. Trump’s wrong-way armada proves the point.

Respectfully,


Peter Clothier, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

TR*MP'S TAXES

19 April 2017

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
101 Main Street #380
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Dear Congressman,

Re: Tax Day

I wonder how you celebrated Tax Day yesterday? Filing your taxes? I did mine a couple of weeks ago, and paid up my fair share. I hope you did the same.

And yes, Saturday, I joined one of the hundreds of “Tax Marches” across the country, demanding that the president* finally release his long-withheld returns. Given the small size of the community, we had an amazing turnout in Laguna Beach. The crowd stretched all along the main beach front, for the most part a dozen or so deep. By my reckoning, if there was a turnout in other cities proportionate to the size of the community, there must have been millions of us out there on the streets. And the president’s people have been telling us that no one besides the media is interested!

We are interested, Congressman. We were not negligible in numbers, nor paid to be there, as the president offensively suggested. We want to know how much he has paid over the years, and how much he has managed to avoid paying. We want to know about potential conflicts between his role as president and his business interests. We want to know what he owes, and to whom. We want to know if he might be obligated, financially, to that foreign power that meddled on his behalf in our election. We want to know the truth about the philanthropy about which he boasts, in relation to his vaunted wealth and income.

And this is not just idle curiosity. These are very basic matters, affecting the trust in which we need to hold the leader of our country. They are matters that cannot but affect the decisions that he makes—decisions that have lasting resonance not only in this country but throughout the world. Given his established record of lies, deceptions and hyperbole, that trust is already severely eroded, if not non-existent.

We have inherited a system of government that relies on “checks and balances.” I believe it to be the responsibility of elected representatives to hold the president accountable to the American people; and I ask you to join me—and so many of your constituents—in demanding the immediate release of information that affects the business of this country.

Respectfully,



Peter Clothier, Ph.D.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

REP. ROHRABACHER RESPONSE ON IMMIGRATION

Yet ANOTHER response from Rep. Rohrabacher--that makes four of them thus far today, though three of them are identical. This one regards my letter about Tr*mp's Executive Order restricting immigration from several Muslim countries. It's also, of course, boilerplate; and I think its point about "passing legal muster" is, as of this moment, moot. Still, here we go. (If you find the language almost impossible to read, you're not alone!)


Dear Mr. Clothier,

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding President Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) temporarily restricting immigration from six nations and suspending the refugee resettlement program.  I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

As you may know, on January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an EO directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny entry to the United States any national from the countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.  The EO specified that the suspension be for 90 days to give the Administration time to review its vetting processes to ensure the security of the United States.  It also suspended the resettlement of refugees in the United States for four months for the same reason.  On February 3, 2017, a Federal District Judge issued a restraining order to halt the EO, and on February 5, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request for a stay of the restraining order by the Department of Justice.  On February 9, 2017, the Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel unanimously upheld the decision by the lower court citing President Trump’s comments on the campaign trail regarding a potential temporary ban on Muslim immigration.  It also stated that Justice Department lawyers failed to provide evidence that that those affected by the executive order had previously carried out attacks on U.S. soil.

On March 6, 2017, President Trump issued a revised EO that removed Iraq from the list of countries affected, provided for a ten-day window prior to its implementation, lifted the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, and excluded all those who held valid visas.  Despite these modifications, the State of Hawaii challenged the new EO in court, and another U.S. District Judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt its implementation.

I believe these orders pass constitutional and legal muster.  Section 1182(f) of federal immigration law reads:

“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens to the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Moreover, claims that this order violates the clause in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that states a president may not suspend nationals based on national origin do not hold up when one considers the intent of that provision.  Its purpose was to prohibit racially and ethnically discriminatory immigration practices, but not those of a temporary nature issued in the interest of national security.  This order is not racially motivated, and contrary to the view of some, it does not constitute a “Muslim ban” either.  The facts simply do not support this moniker.  Forty-seven nations contain a population where Islam is the majority religion, and the revised order only affects six.  Furthermore, the six countries singled out for the restriction were identified as “countries of concern” by the Obama Administration in 2016.  I support the President’s effort to thoroughly review its vetting processes for those who attempt to enter our nation from war-torn lands that are known sources of terror in today’s landscape.  This is essential to keeping our homeland safe from radical Islamic terrorism.

I remain concerned, however, that this order does not go far enough to address the plight of Christians or other religious minorities in the Middle East that were designated as victims of genocide by the Obama Administration.  Upon review of its policies, it is my sincere hope that the Trump Administration will give priority status to these groups in refugee and asylum cases.  I offered a legislative proposal to address this problem in certain countries when I introduced H.R. 565, the Save Christians from Genocide Act, on January 13, 2017.  If enacted, this bill would recognize that Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, and Libya are targets of genocide and direct DHS to grant them first priority in the consideration of refugee and immigrant applications.

Again, thank you for giving me the benefit of your views.  Please continue to keep me informed on any federal issue of importance to you. 

REP. ROHRABACHER RESPONDS ON ACA

Was I just complaining about the lack of response from Rep. Rohrabacher? Well, excuse me. I just received THREE IDENTICAL email responses to my letter regarding the Republican attempt to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act.Well, they were boilerplate responses, and I'm not sure I see the need for the arrival of three of them simultaneously, but let's not carp. Here's the Congressman's letter"


Dear Mr. Clothier,

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding 
H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2017.  I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

As you may know, H.R. 1628 was introduced by Representative Diane Black of Tennessee on March 20, 2017, and subsequently referred to the House Committee on Budget.  If enacted, this bill would, among other things, significantly modify laws and regulations relating to health insurance in the United States by amending the budgetary portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.  These changes include, but are not limited to: (1) repeal of the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, (2) repeal of the employer requirement to offer health insurance to employees if the company retains 50 employees or more, (3) repeal of the Medicaid expansion, which allowed states to consider individuals with income at 133% of the poverty line eligible for Medicaid, (4) repeal of cost-sharing subsidies and (5) the establishment of a refundable tax credit to assist those affected by these changes with the purchase of health insurance.

Since its enactment, the ACA has inflicted economic harm throughout the nation in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, increases in costs to small businesses in the form of compliance mandates, higher health insurance premiums on individuals, and increased taxes.  These and other provisions of the ACA are bad for health care consumers as well as for the larger economy.  As a result of President Obama’s and Congressional Democrats’ misguided attempt to control health care costs through heavy federal regulation and punitive taxes, many Americans are struggling as they see their premiums skyrocket, their coverage lost, and/or their ability to choose a plan that best fits their needs eliminated.  Ironically, the implementation of this new law was described by one of its authors, Senator Max Baucus, as a "huge train wreck."  It has indeed lived up to that moniker.

Republicans have called for the repeal of the ACA since its enactment in 2010, understanding then that many of the above listed problems would ensue.  In order to rectify as many of these ills as possible, Congress initiated a procedure called Budget Reconciliation by passing S.Con.Res. 3 in the Senate on January 12, 2017, and the House on January 13, 2017.  That concurrent resolution set federal budget priorities for fiscal year 2018 through 2026 and directed the relevant committees of jurisdiction to write legislation that “reconciled” spending to the agreed to levels specifically relating to U.S. healthcare policy and the ACA.  As delineated in the Budget Act of 1974, this process allows for the House of Representatives and Senate to consider H.R. 1628 under expedited reconciliation procedures.  Importantly, considering the bill under reconciliation means that it would not be subject to the Senate’s usual 60-vote threshold to end debate and break a filibuster.  

The House of Representatives scheduled a vote on H.R. 1628 for March 23, 2017.  That vote was postponed to March 24, 2017, and ultimately canceled, because it became clear to House leadership that there were insufficient votes in the House to pass the bill.  It is my expectation that the House will consider a modified version of this bill that can garner consensus so that we can get to work on fixing the problems created by Obama Administration’s healthcare policy that focused on mandates and regulation rather than incentives and choice.  I hope that we can do so before the ACA completes the process of collapse it is currently undergoing so the American people can transition smoothly to a healthcare system that is friendly to consumers and businesses, patient-centered, and market-oriented. 

Again, thank you for giving me the benefit of your views.  Please continue to keep me informed on any federal issue of importance to you.  




Sincerely,

Dana Rohrabacher
Member of Congress


MY LETTERS, YOUR RESPONSES


18 April 2017

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,
101 Main Street #380
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Dear Congressman,

Re: My letters, your “responses.”

I don’t suppose you’ll have been spending much time over the spring congressional break wondering why you have heard nothing from me—but let me tell you anyway: chalk it up to family values. My daughter and our five-year-old grandson spent the long weekend with us at our Laguna Beach cottage. As a father yourself, you can imagine that it was a busy, sometimes noisy time.

Not incidentally, though, I do wonder what happens to my letters. Do any of them ever reach your eyes? I’m guessing that they get no further than a staffer, who at best glances through the content, highlights its subject matter, and passes on a report on “mail received” to you. At best. I received no answer to my (perhaps impertinent!) suggestion for a personal, one-on-one meeting, failing a Town Hall meeting open to all of your constituents. (By the way, I note that your Republican colleagues have been having a good deal of trouble with theirs—and, to my mind, deservedly so: you surely won’t argue with my contention that your party has been doing a terrible job of governing.) 

Regarding responses, though: I have received three thus far from your office, each one of them a boilerplate. Truthfully, I have expected nothing more. I write these letters more for public posting than with the expectation that you will read them, respond, or—least of all!—change your mind. They appear not only on Facebook, now, but also on my new blog, The Rohrabacher Letters, where I’m working to build a readership.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading—if you do. It would be good to hear from you.

Respectfully,


Peter Clothier, Ph.D.

50 LETTERS!

22 April 2017 Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, 101 Main Street #380 Huntington Beach, CA 92648 Dear Congressman, Re: 50 Letters! ...