California Political Leaders Need To Open Up To Future Generation Of Leadership!

A major problem in American politics is the refusal of political leaders of both parties to recognize when it is time to retire from the scene, and allow a new generation of leadership.

Too many US Senators and Congressmen stay on until their late 70s and early 80s, and this includes Governors and other state officials as well.

While there can be no official retirement age mandated, it seems appropriate that these political leaders accept reality, and allow for a generational change.

A great example is California, heavily Democratic, but led by people who should make clear that they will NOT run again past 2014.

This includes:

Governor Jerry Brown 76 (nearing 81 at end of next term in 2018); Senator Diane Feinstein 81 (with her term ending in 2018 at age 86 plus); Senator Barbara Boxer 73 (76 when she finishes her present Senate term at the end of 2016); and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi 74 (past 76 at the end of the next Congressional term in 2016).

Is it too much to expect that people in public office who are nearing age 81; age 86; age 76; and past 76 at the end of their present or future terms recognize it is time to leave, no matter how good a record they have in office?

Ego and power is what keeps these and other people in public office, but it is time for change and new faces in Congress and the state governments!

Capital Punishment In Oklahoma And Arizona: Obscene, Barbaric And MUST End Nationally!

The issue of capital punishment is always controversial, but with the reality that support for it is declining, and it is becoming much more difficult for states which allow capital punishment to gain the appropriate drugs to be administered, so as to avoid violation of the Eighth Amendment, “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”!

We have now witnessed the obscene and barbaric use of a mixed cocktail of drugs which set up what is barred–botched executions in Oklahoma a few weeks ago, and now today, in Arizona!

The inmate who was executed in Oklahoma took 40 excruciating moments to die, and today, it took two hours for the inmate in Arizona to die!

This is totally unacceptable, and the whole concept of capital punishment itself is despicable, and MUST end nationally, as it does not deter crime, and too many people are executed who have been on death row, a situation in which many have been exonerated of their crimes by DNA evidence!

But even if a criminal is truly guilty, the idea that America allows capital punishment when only a few nations do so, including China and Iran, makes us stand out as uncivilized, as compared to other western democracies in the world!

Governors Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Jan Brewer of Arizona should be condemned for their hardline stand, amazing even more so in that to imagine women authorizing unconstitutional “experiments” with unknown cocktails of drugs is to make one wish to vomit!

It does not take courage, but rather lack of humanity, for these two GOP Governors to have allowed such a despicable example of violation of the Constitution of the United States!

Expansion Of Executive Orders Of FDR, Ike, LBJ On Prevention Of Job Discrimination Under Federal Contracts Now Expanded To LGBT Community By President Obama!

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to do what Congress has failed to do, but needed doing!

In the tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson, Obama is expanding the concept of Presidential action to prevent job discrimination under federal contracts with corporations, which originally covered race and ethnicity, then became one of gender, and now will cover workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender!

This is the moral and ethical thing to do, as no one should be fired because of his or her sexual orientation, any more than for race, ethnicity, or gender!

It cannot apply to all workers under the executive order, as only Congress could do that, and that seems unlikely, but it can cover workers employed under federal contracts.

So this is another in the long line of contributions that Barack Obama has made to ending of discrimination by government against its own population.

Assuredly, it will infuriate the Right, and there will be further discussion of possible impeachment, but that will all go for naught, as impeachment, even if it occurs, and it might, will NOT lead to Obama being forced out of office.

And again, a reminder! If it were to happen, we get Joe Biden, and that would be a great alternative, and insure a Biden victory in 2016!

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Rousing Speech On “Eleven Commandments Of Progressivism”!

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, on a book tour for her recent publication, but also rousing progressives with her inspiring ideas, gave a speech last week at Netroots Nation, the progressive gathering often seen as the alternative to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held annually.

Warren summarized the views of those who are progressives and liberals, including:

The need for regulation of Wall Street.

The belief in science, and its role in preserving our environment.

Neutrality on the internet, not favoring powerful corporations.

Raising the minimum wage, therefore allowing a full time worker to avoid living in poverty.

A livable wage for fast food workers, with public support for them being demonstrated.

The avoidance of crushing college loan debt for students, by arranging realistic debt payments.

Protection of Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, so that retired workers can live in dignity.

Equal pay for equal work for men and women.

Promotion of equality in marriage, including gay marriage.

The need for immigration reform, as immigration is part of the story of American history.

The belief that women should control their own bodies, and corporations should not control the private lives and medical care of any of their workforce.

Also, her conclusion about conservatives is so appropriate, that they will do whatever they need to do to protect their own interests, and would say to all of the rest of us that you are on your own!

Presidents And Intelligence

A YouGov Survey on the past eight elected Presidents, therefore not including Gerald Ford, ranks their “intelligence” with unusual results.

The word “intelligent” has different meanings to different people.

Is it based on grades while in school?

Is it based on ability to get things done effectively?

Is it based on oratorical skill and charm and charisma?

Is it based on accomplishments in office?

Is it based on personal popularity with the American people?

Is it based on reaction to crises that arise?

Does being “intelligent” matter as much as other characteristics, including: honesty, experience, ability to inspire, boldness, and having a sense of humor?

What it comes down to is that how people react to Presidents is very personal, and trying to rank them on the word “intelligence” is simply extremely political in nature!

According to the YouGov poll, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most “intelligent” of the eight recent Presidents, followed by Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Notice that the first two are also seen as most “successful”, while Obama, even under attack recently, looks better than the rest, and the senior Bush is remembered for the Persian Gulf War, which led him to an all time high public opinion poll rating of 91 percent.

The other four recent Presidents, generally seen as “failures”, or at least seen as negative, are in order: Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George W. Bush.

Interestingly, George W, Bush and Barack Obama have the highest percentage, both 17 percent, thinking they are not intelligent at all! This is purely emotion based on opposition that each has had from his critics!

What it comes down to is that this poll is basically useless, as it fails to look at historical reality and the record of each President!

If that was done, one could argue that LBJ should rank the highest in pure accomplishment in domestic affairs, in a way that still affects us, while Richard Nixon would rank highest in pure accomplishment in foreign policy, despite his many other shortcomings, including Watergate.

In pure native intelligence, based on information we have on their backgrounds, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter would rank the highest.

Ronald Reagan has been over inflated in image, while George H. W. Bush has been underrated for his accomplishments.

Barack Obama cannot be adequately evaluated while in office, while George W. Bush, ranking last, seems likely to remain that way for the long run!

Left In Democratic Party Not Comfortable With Hillary Clinton, Looking Elsewhere For Primary Challenge!

Hillary Clinton may be the runaway favorite in most polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination for 2016, but we have never seen a non-incumbent to compete without an opponent in their party’s battle for the Presidential nomination.

So we are starting to feel, see, and sense that there will be challengers to Hillary, and the speculation has become wide and deep that any or some of the following will, indeed, challenge the former Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady:

Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia
Governor Jerry Brown of California
Former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont
Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri (totally new to any speculation)
Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado

There is discontent with Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street; her gaining as much as $275,000 a speech before wealthy donors and groups; and the image of her as a “hawk” in foreign policy. She is seen as part of the “Establishment”, and as not sufficiently understanding of the plight of the middle class and the poor. Her husband worked against the left, sticking to a centrist viewpoint in his years in the White House, and while there are salutes for him as a former President, the Left is looking for someone more in the line of doing more for the poor and middle class, and staying out of foreign wars, and regulating Wall Street.

So that is the appeal of Warren, Sanders and O’Malley in particular, but the idea of Brown coming back, mentioned in an earlier blog entry, is fascinating, and Dean trying again after 12 years is also intriguing! And imagine a “Nixon”, not related to the former President, running from the “heartland”, the state of Missouri, which was always on the winning side of every election from 1900 to the present, except 1956, 2008, and 2012, but close in the first two years!

And of course, Hillary could decide, ultimately, NOT to run, and then it is a true donnybrook in the making for the Democrats in 2016!

Could there be a surprise in the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes? After 2008, who can say?

The World In Chaos: Not Unlike Past History, So Keep Things In Perspective!

In the summer of 2014, the world seems in chaos, and for those of us who are alive, it seems as if these are the worst times in human history, but it is far from being so, and far from being unique!

Remember the Cold War Years of 1945-1991, when it often seemed as if nuclear war and total destruction would occur!

Ask those who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the rise of Fascism, Nazism, and Imperial Japan, and the total devastation of World War II, with the resultant mass loss of life!

Examine the turmoil and anarchy of World War I, and its dramatic effects on the world and America!

Study the period of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars during the quarter century from 1789-1815, and its effect on the nations of Europe and their colonies!

Investigate the turmoil of the wars between England and France, and the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants all over Europe in the year from 1500-1789!

Explore the Hundred Years War period, and the Crusades of the Medieval and Early Modern period of Europe and the Middle East!

Learn about the wars of ancient times in the Roman Republic and Empire; the Greek City States and the conquests of Alexander the Great; and the Egyptian Empire!

When one has studied and reflected on the historical record, one realizes that human history has been one of constant crisis, chaos, and often anarchy, and no less now than before!

So we face the crisis between Russia and Ukraine; the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; the struggle for dominance in the Islamic world between Sunnis and Shiites; the nuclear threat of Iran; the Syrian Civil War; the Afghanistan War; the threat of Islamic extremism on nuclear power Pakistan; the disintegration of government and stability in Central America, leading to the migration of women and children to the American border in the American Southwest; the constant saber rattling of renegade North Korea; the growing influence and aggressiveness of China in its “neighborhood’; and the constant threat of terrorist acts anywhere and everywhere in the world of 2014!

No President can solve all of these problems, as no matter who resides in the White House, we are only able to do the best we can to react to events, as we do not shape them, but also with the need to recognize our limitations to shape the world in America’s image!

A Rational, Sensible Proposal: Two Californias, Two Texases, Two Floridas, Two New Yorks, Northern Virginia And Washington DC Unified As A State!

There has been a lot of speculation and discussion about the creation of new states, and this was discussed in a post on July 4 on this blog.

However, despite the move toward a ballot measure to create SIX Californias, it will NOT happen, and neither will five Texases, nor three New Yorks, nor two Marylands, nor two Illinoises, nor two Pennsylvanias, and even another suggestion, two Colorados!

However, it is NOT unreasonable to suggest that there could be a division of the following states into two states each–California, Texas, Florida, and New York.

A Northern and Southern California would make sense, as the state is overly large, with 38 million people, with a division being the North California state would include San Francisco and Sacramento and the Silicon Valley, and Central California, while South California would include Los Angeles and San Diego, and the heavily populated areas around LA and San Diego.

A Northern and Southern Texas might be divided along the following lines—North Texas being the Panhandle and West Texas along with Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area; and South Texas including East Texas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio and down to the Rio Grande River boundary line except for the Western area around El Paso, which would be in North Texas.

A division of New York would be the New York City counties, along with Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland Counties, a total of nine counties, with the other 53 counties North of the city of New York (including Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester) being named New Amsterdam, the original Dutch colony name.

A division of Florida would be Northern Florida and Central Florida as North Florida, and South Florida being the counties of the Keys, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.

Finally, a good idea would be to add Northern Virginia to Washington DC, name it Columbia, and revive the old failed amendment for statehood for DC, by adding those northern Virginia suburbs to the nation’s capital, and ending the discrimination against the 700,000 residents of DC, by making them part of a state, with the state known as North Virginia!

No more Congressional seats in the House of Representatives would be created, except for the addition of the District of Columbia to the Northern Virginia suburbs, so there would be 436 House members, instead of 435. However, there would then be 55 states, creating ten new US Senators; requiring 56 instead of 51 Senators to be a majority; 61 instead of 55 to end filibuster on executive branch nominations; and 66 instead of 60 Senators to end all other filibusters.

Commentary on this is welcome!

The Death Of Famed Political Scientist And Historian James MacGregor Burns At Age 95

Sad news has come, that famed political scientist and historian James MacGregor Burns, of Williams College, has passed away at the advanced age of 95.

A professor at Williams College for nearly a half century, and then at the University of Maryland, Burns was the author of some twenty books, as well as a famed textbook in the field of American government, which this author used in his classes over the years, in several different editions.

The first to write a study of his friend, Senator John F. Kennedy, as he was running for President, Burns became most noted for his three volume history of the United States; his two volume study of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1956 and 1970 (which had a profound effect on this author); a study of the three Roosevelts (Franklin, Eleanor, and Theodore); studies of Congress; and also analysis of the Supreme Court. He won the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award for his second volume on FDR (The Soldier of Freedom) in 1971.

There are few scholars in political science and history who have had the massive effect on those fields that Burns had, so he will be missed, but also remembered for his tremendous contributions.

Senator Elizabeth Warren And Senator Rand Paul Gaining Attention In 2016 Presidential Race!

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul are gaining a lot of attention for the 2016 Presidential race with their recent speeches and campaigning.

Warren, a freshman Senator, who gained fame from her campaign for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has stirred the imagination of left wing Democrats, who are unhappy with the comparatively centrist campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Warren has made issues of unemployment compensation, raising the minimum wage, attacking Wall Street, and calling for revising the college student loan system, which has effectively enslaved millions of students in unending college loan debt, due to high interest rates.

She comes across as folksy, not bad for a former Harvard professor, and has gained large audiences in red states such as Kentucky and West Virginia, where she has campaigned for candidates Alison Lungergan Grimes and Natalie Tennant for Senate seats. Remember, however, that she was born and lived for years in Oklahoma.

She is a new face, in the sense of national exposure, but only two years younger than Hillary Clinton.

Paul, the son of former Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, has gained attention by his attack on Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who have both called for returning troops to Iraq. Paul makes it clear that America should not return to involvement in Iraq, and he seems to have the American people on his side, based on public opinion polls. He comes across as principled, while neocons attack him as isolationist, which he denies.

It is still hard to imagine either Warren or Paul gaining the nominations of their parties for 2016, but anything is possible, and they are certainly adding a lot of interest into the race!