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The Democratic Presidential Debate Will Be One Of Substance, Intelligence, And Sincerity, Unlike The Republican Debates!

The Democratic Presidential debate taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada tonight will be substantially different than the first two Republican Presidential debates.

It will include only five candidates, unless Joe Biden shocks everyone and shows up at the last minute.

It will include three former Republicans in earlier life—Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee.

It will include a declared Socialist, who is really a Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders.

It will include three former Senators, a sitting Senator, and a former Governor.

It will include five people who have their differences, but not that much chasm between them, and they all have records of substance.

It will include five people, all with great intelligence and sincerity.

Any of the five could fill the office of President, which cannot be said of the majority of Republicans who are running for the Presidency.

None of these five candidates have demonstrated a mean spirit, or prejudice, or narrow mindedness in their political careers, while almost all of the GOP candidates have ugly things about their backgrounds, records, and public utterances.

The talent in the Democratic Party is far greater than in the Republican Party, which now has probably its worse set of candidates in its entire history, and even worse than in 2012.

When one looks back at GOP Presidential contenders in the last few decades, they include some really competent, decent, and well intentioned political figures.

That cannot be said about the GOP in 2015, which is in the process of disintegrating before our eyes.

The only good thing about the growing indications of the self destruction of the Republicans is that they will be replaced by a new group that fits in the mainstream, and will force the Democrats to work harder to keep a moral and ethical edge on the new party that will emerge.

“No Labels” Convention Being Held Monday In New Hampshire To Promote Bipartisanship

Today, a convention under the name “No Labels Problem Solver Convention”  is being held in New Hampshire, promoted by former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman and former Democrat and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

The convention expects a thousand or more participants, including eight Presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump and George Pataki.

The purpose is to promote bipartisanship, the dealing with important issues in a way that brings progress, rather than the constant deadlock now prevailing in our political system on the national level.

The convention is gaining attention of the news media, and it is hoped that it will lead to a new attitude that will benefit the nation at large.

The goals include the creation of 25 million new jobs over the next decade; making American energy secure by 2024; protecting Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years; and balancing the federal budget by 2030.

This is the time to unite around a future which avoids confrontational scenes like we are now seeing from the so called “Freedom Caucus” of Republicans in the House of Representatives!

The Constitutional Crisis We Tend To Forget: Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, And Gerald Ford In 1973

The tragedy of the John F. Kennedy Assassination in 1963 led to a decision that the nation needed an amendment to provide for a replacement Vice President, when there was a vacancy in that office.  We were faced with a Speaker of the House, John McCormack, who was 73, and a President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, Carl Hayden, who was 86, at a time when the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, had had a severe heart attack eight years earlier.

This was a delicate time, and led Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, and other legislators, to promote the 25th Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1967.  And that made the constitutional crisis which followed six years later a little easier to deal with.

Richard Nixon became the most lawless President in American history, as a result of the Watergate Scandal and other scandals.  But Vice President Spiro Agnew also became the most lawless Vice President in American history, and thank goodness we found out about Agnew’s lawlessness, including bribery and accepting cash gifts in the Vice President’s office, which Agnew had also done while Governor of Maryland and Baltimore County Executive.

Instead of having Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma as next in line, with Albert unwilling to take on the responsibility, the 25th Amendment allowed the appointment and confirmation by both houses of Congress of House Minority Leader Gerald Ford.

Ford became Vice President within two months of the Agnew resignation on October 10, 1973. and when he became President, Ford appointed and gained the approval of both houses of Congress to the appointment of former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President, although it took four months to get him confirmed.

The problem of most Speakers of the House is their lack of competence to be President, which is still a problem for a period of months until a new Vice President is appointed and confirmed.  And also, three out of four years since 1947, the Speaker and or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate have been from the opposition party of the President.

So this still requires what this blogger has suggested in the past week in the midst of the Speakership crisis—a return to the Presidential Succession Act of 1886, which provided for Cabinet officers to succeed the President and Vice President, rather than the present law, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, which leaves us with the crisis we face now!

First Democratic Presidential Debate Gives Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, And Jim Webb Opportunity To Be Noticed And Gain Support!

The first Democratic Presidential debate, coming up on Tuesday, October 13, on CNN, gives three candidates their first chance to gain attention and support.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb have gained virtually no support, no more than one or two percent in polls, with all of the attention focused on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and with Vice President Joe Biden still considering whether to enter the race, although he will not be in the first Presidential debate.

All three of the “unknowns” have records worthy of consideration, but at this point, have what is considered to be zero chance to be the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Interestingly, three of the five candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination started as Republicans, including Hillary Clinton Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb.

And Bernie Sanders, technically has never been a Democrat, although he caucuses with the Democrats in the US Senate.

So only Martin O’Malley has ALWAYS been a Democrat, an ironic twist!

It will be interesting to see if any of the three “unknowns” gain any real momentum after Tuesday’s debate, with the best bet being O’Malley!

The Destruction Of The Speakership Of The House Of Representatives Under Republican Control Since 1994

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and is the top constitutional officer in the legislative branch of government.

The Speaker is chosen by the majority party in the chamber, and he has responsibilities which include introducing the President of the United States at a State of the Union address, and all other special speakers to a joint session of Congress, including foreign government leaders.  The Speaker has been second in line of succession to the Presidency since the Presidential Succession Act of 1947.

The Speakership has had its major figures historically, including those for whom House Office Buildings are named: Joseph Cannon, Nicholas Longworth, Sam Rayburn, and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.  It also has had a President, James K. Polk, and two Vice Presidents, Schuyler Colfax and John Nance Garner, as Speakers.  It also had three Presidential nominees, John Bell, James G. Blaine and Henry Clay.

Henry Clay was the greatest single figure in the whole history of Congress, who ran for President three times, including against Polk in 1844.  It also has had Thomas B. Reed, who promoted the growth of the office to its all time greatest authority, continuing under Joseph Cannon.

It also had John McCormack, who played a major role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and much of the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson.  Had there been no 25th Amendment passed in 1967, Carl Albert would have succeeded Richard Nixon when he resigned in 1974.  Were it not for Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be Speaker, there would have been no ObamaCare legislation passed in 2010.

It was a rebellion of progressives in the Republican Party in 1910 , in combination with the minority Democrats, that created a “revolution” in House rules, stripping the Speaker of the absolute control of events that existed under Thomas B. Reed and Joseph Cannon, but still the office has played a major role in American history.

Since the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, after 40 years of being in the minority, and keeping control except for 2007-2011, the Speakership has become an office of disaster and controversy.

First, Newt Gingrich became very confrontational with Bill Clinton, and caused crisis after crisis, until he was forced to resign, with his private scandalous love life being discovered as Bill Clinton faced impeachment for his own scandalous love life.  Bob Livingston was supposed to succeed Gingrich, but his own private scandalous love life prevented that, so Dennis Hastert, a back bencher, became Speaker, lasted longer than any Republican in the position, and avoided most controversy, until now in retirement we have learned of his abuse of male students while a teacher and wrestling coach in high school in the years before he engaged in politics.

John Boehner came into the Speakership under Barack Obama, and faced a Tea Party rebellion, which prevented ability to negotiate, and finally, he lost the confidence of his party, and decided to resign, but his planned successor, Kevin McCarthy, self destructed in the past two weeks, and decided yesterday that he would not run for Speaker, uncertain of support of the Tea Party element.  So now Boehner is back temporarily, and there is a major crisis among House Republicans as to who would be acceptable as an alternative, with Paul Ryan, head of the House Ways and Means Committee and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee, being pressured to take the job, but not wanting to take it.

The Speakership is in crisis, and the Republican Party has done great damage to the position in the past 21 years, and besmirched the historical reputation of the position and of the House of Representatives, and the only way to retrieve it is the hope that, somehow, the Democrats can regain control in 2016, but considered highly unlikely!

Focus Groups Demonstrate Lack Of Understanding Of Government: A Danger To America’s Future

Various cable news channels have been organizing focus groups, usually consisting of 12-15 people in places such as Iowa and New Hampshire, the locales of the first caucus and primary in February 2016.

There is no claim that these focus groups are truly representative of how the mass citizenry feels, anymore than all of the many public opinion polls.

What does come out of these focus groups, however, is a general feeling of disgust with government; failure to understand how government works; and a desire to “throw the rascals out”, and replace them with people who have zero experience in running a government that is responsible to its citizenry.

In no other profession or field of work do we have people wanting totally inexperienced individuals to take over as total “rookies”, and gamble that they will know what they are doing, and adapt to the realities of domestic and foreign affairs.

This is an indication of the total lack of knowledge, experience, and reality of what it is to run a government that serves 320 million people, which is a very complex undertaking.

There is the myth, widespread and dangerous, that government can be run as a business; that one can be ignorant of the facts and the history of our country and other nations; and somehow those who come in to power without background can “wing” it through every issue and crisis that arises.

This is very dangerous, and the ignorance and over simplification of government and its responsibilities by a large number of the population is alarming.

We may not like to understand the truth that government must tax; that there is no “free ride”; that when one earns more income, he or she has a responsibility to pay more taxes; that government cannot always do what the people want, as often, they have no clue as to the complexities of domestic and foreign policy; that tough decisions must be made; and that experience and knowledge really do matter.

Instead, we have those who could be called demagogues, who appeal to the fears and insecurities of a population which too often thinks that these people with no experience and no understanding can create magic and solve all issues, but life is not that easy and simplified.

To believe that Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Dr. Benjamin Carson are qualified to lead our country means that those who promote this are totally deluded and living in a parallel universe.

The Age Issue In The Presidential Campaign

This blogger has discussed before the reality that we are likely to have the oldest President in American history being elected in the Presidential Election of 2016.

Only Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower were past 70 when President, with Ike only three months beyond 70 when he finished his time in the White House, while Reagan was just weeks short of 70 when elected, and almost 78 when he left office after two terms.  Of course, Reagan showed signs of mental decline in his second term, as his son Ron Jr testifies to, and there were many hints that there was concern of his staff and his wife about his ability to deal with the responsibilities, and efforts to “protect” and “shelter” him.

The point is that there is no question that anyone beyond the age of 70 is more likely to have a health crisis, such as a heart attack, a stroke, Alzheimer’s, or cancer, than someone under the age of 70.

Yes, we live in a time when many people continue to work full time, including Supreme Court Justices, US Senators and Congressmen, corporate leaders, media figures, actors and musicians, and average Americans.

And yes, many “senior citizens” work part time, some because they need to in an economic sense, and others because they wish to keep active and engaged.

No one is saying that people over 70 should be “farmed out to pasture”!  But the pressures of the Presidency are greater than any other job, and affect all of us in the country, unlike any other job.  And that makes it ever more important that the best possible Vice Presidential candidates are chosen, and that he or she be substantially younger than an elderly President, since the odds of a Presidential succession during a term of office is far greater statistically.

Also, we have not had a Presidential succession in 41 years since Richard Nixon resigned, and 52 years since a President died in office (John F. Kennedy), so we are fighting against the tides of history, and more so with a President over 70!

Marco Rubio On Barack Obama: Rubio Needs A Reality Check!

Marco Rubio said yesterday that it is NOT the lack of experience of Barack Obama that is at issue.

Rather, it is Obama’s viewpoints and policies.

So Marco Rubio thinks providing health care for all Americans is a bad idea, heh?

So Marco Rubio thinks we cannot and should not do anything legislatively to deal with gun violence, heh?

So Marco Rubio thinks it was a good thing to shut down the government, and create constant crises over the budget and debt limit, heh?

So Marco Rubio thinks women have abortions for “fun” and “profit”, heh?

So Marco Rubio thinks it is bad to have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, heh?

So Marco Rubio thinks having an opening to Cuba is bad, even though Ronald Reagan dealt with the “evil empire”, the Soviet Union, heh?

So Marco Rubio thinks dealing with Iran in any form is wrong, and it is better to go to war against Iran without first trying diplomatic methods to gain our goals, as Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter,  and Ronald Reagan believed with China  and the Soviet Union, heh?

So Marco Rubio thinks working toward dialogue with both Cuba and Iran is wrong, but Richard Nixon established diplomatic openings to China and Bill Clinton to Vietnam, the latter a generation after we lost 58,000 military personnel, heh?

These are just eight areas where Marco Rubio thinks Barack Obama is wrong, but reality is that Barack Obama is correct, and it is Marco Rubio who is out of touch with reality and has a need to broaden his horizons and understanding of what is really important in domestic and foreign policy!


The Dire Need For A Change In The Presidential Succession Act Of 1947

In 1947, the new Republican controlled 80th Congress, the first Congress to have both houses being Republican controlled since 1928, acted in revenge against the memory of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt by changing the Presidential Succession Act of 1886.

That law in 1886 made the succession to the Presidency to be the cabinet officers after the Vice President, including in order, the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, Attorney General, Postmaster General, Secretary of the Navy, and the Secretary of the Interior. The original law in 1792 made the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House next in line before the cabinet members, and after the Vice President.

This was changed to the present situation in 1947, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and then the President Pro Tempore of the Senate would succeed after the Vice President and before the cabinet officers.

This has  led to people in the line of succession who, much of the time, have been the opposition party to the President, as in 1947-1949 under President Harry Truman; 1955-1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower; 1969-1974 under President Richard Nixon; 1974-1977 under President Gerald Ford; 1981-1987 in the House under President Ronald Reagan; 1987-1989 under President Ronald Reagan; 1989-1993 under President George H. W. Bush; 1995-2001 under President Bill Clinton; 2001-2003 in the Senate under President George W. Bush; 2007-2009 under President George W. Bush; and 2011-2017 under President Barack Obama.

This is not proper, to have the opposition party have the potential to take over the Presidency through having a Speaker of the House and/or a President Pro Tempore of the Senate of their party, rather than having the continuity of the administration though the cabinet members chosen by the President.

So 44 years between 1947 and 2017, out of a total number of 70 years, or just about two thirds of the time, the opposition party has been two heartbeats away from the Presidency, undermining continuity of government.

Also, just because someone is Speaker of the House (elected by one Congressional district) or President Pro Tempore of the Senate ( an often very old person in that position, elected from one state, who has longevity of service) does not make such a person qualified to be President, as much as a Secretary of State, Treasury, etc does!

So while it is unlikely to happen anytime soon, there really is a need to change the Presidential Succession Act back to the one passed and in effect from 1886-1947!

Once Donald Trump Starts To Lose In Actual Caucuses And Primaries, He Will Withdraw From Presidential Race

It is now clear that Donald Trump has been involved in a “lark”, regarding his Republican Presidential candidacy.

He has now told John Harwood of CNBC that once he starts to do poorly, he will get out of the race and go back to doing his business ventures, as he is not interested in losing causes.

It is clear that had public opinion polls NOT shown him to be leading, he would be out of the race already, and one has to wonder about the validity of these polls that keep on putting Trump, and fellow non government contenders Carly Fiorina and Dr. Benjamin Carson having a total of more than 50 percent combined.

Do Republican voters, even if disgusted with Congressional Republicans, and the Republican officeholder Presidential field, really want a”rookie” to run our government and deal with the world? Do they really want someone who is not used to negotiating with others, and just wants to be in charge to dictate, as is the case with Trump and Fiorina, to be their President?  The more one analyzes the situation, it is impossible to believe that any of the three “non officeholders” are going to survive the entire caucus-primary process and win enough popular support to have a majority of the delegates.

They are all protest votes, and none of the three have any real substance to their candidacies, and are just good at being a place to let steam off about the frustration felt by voters. This seems more of an opportunity to demonstrate disgust, but it is not a practical answer to put a non officeholder into the most complex and difficult job in the world!

Trump is going to discover that he cannot win the nomination, and has very high negative numbers, and that the polls are misleading.  So one can be assured that he will NOT be the GOP nominee for President of the United States!  Neither will Fiorina nor Carson prove able to withstand the pressures of the race and become the nominee.

What it will come down to, ultimately, is that one of the following three will be the Republican nominee, with the possibility that two of them will make up the Republican Presidential ticket: Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio.

The best bet is still a Kasich-Rubio ticket, but a possible backup of a Bush-Kasich ticket!