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Republican Split On Obama’s Cuban Initiative Will Cause Turmoil In GOP Presidential Race

President Barack Obama’s decision to change policy toward Cuba is already stirring up controversy in the Republican Party Presidential race.

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona went along on the trip to Cuba to bring back Alan Gross and an American spy in exchange for three Cuban spies, and he has long believed that the 54 year old policy of isolation of Cuba has been wrong, and needed to be revisited.

But Flake is not running for President, so he is a rare standout for his views on Cuba in the Republican Party, although his actions and words insure a tough race for reelection, when he comes up in 2018.

But the big news is that Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a full fledged Presidential aspirant, has taken the same stand, just as his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, took on Cuba for many years, making him a pariah in the Republican Party.

Rand Paul has come under bitter attack by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, two rivals of his for the nomination, and both Cuban Americans. And others in Republican leadership have also joined in the attack, including Jeb Bush.

The question is whether Rand Paul has forfeited any chance to be the GOP Presidential nominee by his decision to back Barack Obama on this initiative.

It will, most certainly, stir up the race, and make future attitudes and policies toward Cuba a key issue in the Republican Presidential primaries, as it is likely that the critics of Obama’s changed policy will promise to restore the isolationist policy that has been in existence for a half century, were any of them to become President.

Ironically, though, by 2017, we will be nearing the end of the Castro brothers in power, as Raul Castro has said he will retire in 2018, when he is 87, and Fidel Castro is 92. So the end is near for this two brother dominance of the future of Cuba!

President Obama Not Acting Like A “Lame Duck”!

Barack Obama could be said to have suffered a defeat in the midterm elections, when his Democratic party lost control of the US Senate, and the House of Representatives majority became the largest since 1929 for the Republican Party.

And yet, Obama has been on a “tear” since, and it is clear that he is NOT acting like a “lame duck”, and will work to accomplish as many goals as he can, with or without cooperation of the GOP majority in Congress.

Obviously, Obama cannot pass legislation on his own, but he can veto legislation, and prevent destructive behavior by the Republican majority.

So new House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin can wish to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but Obama will be able to prevent much, if any damage, to these signature programs promoted into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Obama has been able to get judicial appointments approved by the outgoing Democratic Senate majority, and those judges have lifetime tenure.

Obama can, legally, by executive order, promote many changes that do not need Congressional approval, and every President has utilized this power to bring about changes, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but the issue of the authority to use executive orders is a clear cut one!

So Barack Obama still has two years to bring historic change, and he is now liberated to do what he wishes to do that is allowable under our Constitution and history, and he no longer needs to be cautious, but instead can become aggressive and outspoken, knowing that even if he was to be impeached and brought to trial by the Republican Congress, that he is untouchable, as there is no way to gain a two thirds majority in the US Senate to remove him.

Instead, he has the opportunity to make his Presidency more transformative and historic at a time when so much of what he has already done is bearing fruit!

Obama Supported By Chambers Of Commerce, Catholic Church, Public Opinion Polls, And Many Others, On Cuban Policy

President Obama has taken a gigantic step in changing Cuban policy, and his initiative will overcome the opposition of Cuban American Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, along with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and many other Republicans and some Democrats, other than Menendez.

This Cuban initiative was promoted by Canada’s Conservative government; Pope Francis; Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona; and many other rational people who knew that the policy against Fidel and Raul Castro, beginning under Dwight D. Eisenhower, and lasting through what is now eleven Presidencies, was having no real effect on the Cuban government, and harming its citizens. The Chambers of Commerce and the Catholic Church in America have also endorsed the change in policy. And, interestingly, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has also backed the Obama policy as rational and reasonable, which it most certainly is! And public opinion polls show about 60 percent support a change in Cuban policy.

Yes, the Castros have been horrific on human rights, but we have have relations with many oppressive governments, which are more than half the nations in the world. These have included Communist governments, as in China and Vietnam, for instance; but also numerous right wing dictatorships in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East over the decades.

If we can deal with Vietnam, where 58,000 Americans died, then we can deal with Cuba a half century after the Cuban Missile Crisis!

Either we accept that fact, that it is time to change a Cuban policy which has never worked, or we need to cut off relations with most of the nations in the world, and live in isolation, and our own “dream world” of reality!

December 19, 1998: The Impeachment Of Bill Clinton! A Day Which Will Live In Infamy!

On this day 16 years ago, the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted charges of impeachment against President Bill Clinton!

Two charges, perjury and obstruction of justice, gained a party line majority vote, and the 42 nd President faced trial in January and February 1999, and was found not guilty, with only 45 votes for conviction on perjury, and 50 votes for conviction on obstruction of justice, with 67 votes needed to convict and remove. Ten and five Republicans supported Clinton on the two counts, and all Democrats supported the President, while 45 and 50 Republicans voted to convict.

The impeachment and trial was a mockery, with no just cause, just an attempt to besmirch the reputation of Bill Clinton, but it failed, in the sense that Clinton came out shining, growing in popularity, and this has continued since 1999.

So any attempt to impeach Barack Obama will have the same effect, with the same result, but that does not mean that the Republicans, with 54 Senators now, instead of 55, will avoid moving toward impeachment, since the GOP is much more right wing now than even in 1998-1999!

Historic Action Of Barack Obama On Changing Isolation Policy Toward Cuba!

When history is recorded on the Obama Presidency, the President’s move to end the isolation of Cuba, a failed policy for 54 years, will be high on the list of accomplishments!

The decision under Dwight D. Eisenhower to start an embargo on Cuba on January 17, 1961, was an historic mistake that has failed to bring down the regime of Fidel and Raul Castro.

Who would have thought that, through thick and thin, and even without Soviet support for the past 20 years, that the Castro brothers would have the continuation of the longest personal dictatorship in modern times, surviving through eleven Presidencies?

It is not an issue of endorsing the harsh dictatorship of Fidel and Raul Castro, as that, rightfully, has been, and continues to be, something worth condemning.

But if we were to decide not to deal with governments that are oppressive, then we would not have diplomatic relations with much of the world, and certainly not with China and Vietnam, but Richard Nixon opened up to China; Jimmy Carter established diplomatic ties to China; and Bill Clinton established diplomatic ties with Vietnam, a scant generation after 58,000 Americans died in the disastrous Vietnam War!

The Castro Brothers, in their mid to high 80s are on the way out, and Raul has said he will retire in 2018, and there is no obvious family heir, so the opportunity to influence the future of the island is likely by America having diplomatic relations with Cuba, and promoting trade, travel and opening up to American influence.

The Congress should lift the embargo, but even if they do not, short term, the failed policy is on its way out, and a majority of Americans support opening up to Cuba.

Barack Obama has been a profile in courage on this, and Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Robert Menendez, and House members Ileana Ros Lehtinen, and Mario Diaz Balart, and other Cuban American politicians are living in the past, with their narrow minded views on their homeland to go into the dustbin of history! The older generation in Florida and elsewhere may still be bitterly opposed to change, but the younger generation supports opening up to Cuba, which will have a massive short range and long range effect on that nation!

Presidents In Last Two Years In Office: Tradition Of Opposition Congress And Little Legislation Accomplished!

When one looks back at the past century of Presidential history, it is clear that it is common for the President to have to deal with an opposition Congress in the last two years of his tenure, and in two cases, a divided Congress in the last two years in the White House.

This, of course, means little can be accomplished, other than by judicial appointments, and by executive orders, as significant legislation is unlikely.

Look at the list of Presidents who dealt with opposition Congresses in their last two years:

Woodrow Wilson–1919-1920
Dwight D. Eisenhower–1959-1960
Richard Nixon–1973-1974
Gerald Ford–1975-1976
Ronald Reagan–1987-1988
George H. W. Bush–1991-1992
Bill Clinton 1999-2000
George W. Bush–2007-2008
Barack Obama–2015-2016

Add to this list two Presidents who had a divided Congress in their last two years:

William Howard Taft–1911-1912–Democratic House and Republican Senate
Herbert Hoover–1931-1932–Democratic House and Republican Senate

So if all the Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama are counted, it means ELEVEN Presidents faced a Congress unfriendly to them in the last two years of office, with only TR, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter having “friendly” Congresses in their last two years, with Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy in office too short a term to qualify, since they died in office, unlike Gerald Ford, who actually completed a short term.

So 11 of 17 Presidents, two thirds of the total, have had to deal with the reality of the decline of their ability to control events, other than judicial appointments and executive orders!

Tom Coburn Blocks Funding To Prevent Veteran Suicides, Now 22 Per Day, As He Leaves The US Senate

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is about to leave the US Senate after ten years, and six previous years in the US House of Representatives.

Coburn has been one of the absolutely worst members of Congress, known as MR. NO, constantly blocking action on numerous pieces of legislation by using “senatorial privilege” to use a personal block to prevent legislation he does not like. He has abused his position in the Senate, and will NOT be missed by anyone who believes in rational, decent behavior, which Coburn seems incapable of!

Coburn has opposed abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and gay rights, and has supported gun rights and the death penalty. He has also been against deficit spending and pork barrel projects to the extreme. He has also worked against environmentalists on a regular basis, in that joining his Oklahoma colleague, Senator James Inhofe, making Oklahoma the state with the combination of the two worst Senators of any state in the Union!

Coburn is a medical doctor, an obstetrician, who, however, has opposed Obama Care. His commitment to life is clearly, a mixed one, as he has now caused outrage in opposing a bill to promote veterans suicide prevention, which is at 22 veterans per day, complaining it would not work, and that its $22 million cost is too much. This is beyond belief, as $22 million is a literal drop in the bucket of the federal government budget, and is supported by a vast margin of the US Senate and House, as the least that can be done to stem the suicide epidemic facing former military personnel.

The whole concept of “Senatorial privilege” to use a personal block to stop a bill should be ended, as no member of Congress all by himself or herself, should be able to stop what a vast majority of the Congress wishes to do!

How can this Senator sleep at night, and we can all hope that he will drop his opposition to this bill before Congress adjourns, as there is no justification for his preventing what the vast majority of Congress supports! He can vote NO of course, but should not be able to block the legislation all on his own!

Barack Obama Should Veto Continuing Resolution, Forcing Congress To Stay In DC And Change $1.1 Trillion Budget!

One of the most important pieces of legislation to reach Barack Obama’s desk–the $1.1 trillion Continuing Resolution legislation that would cover the government budget through September 30, 2015, and allow Congress to leave, and would avoid a government shutdown—should be vetoed by President Obama!

This is a bold move, to ask Obama to veto the bill, but it has many problems, including allowing the big banks, led by Citigroup, to avoid responsibility for another collapse of the banking system, which seems more and more likely, and would have taxpayers save the banks once again, adding to the national debt! This would be possible by the repeal of the Dodd-Frank legislation that prevents future such disaster! Senator Elizabeth Warren has made national news by her denunciation of this action on the Senate floor.

Additionally, allowing wealthy people to give ten times what they can now contribute to political campaigns is a further extension of the Citizens United Case, in which the Supreme Court has allowed millionaires and billionaires to engage in the “buying” of elections, through unlimited spending!

Also, pension protection for public and private pensions would no longer be guaranteed, causing disaster for millions of workers who would no longer be assured of the protection of their hard earned pensions when they retire, or even for those who have retired.

Additionally, nutrition standards set by Michelle Obama would be relaxed; and DC would not be able to allow marijuana use, losing control over its own jurisdiction by interference of Congress, despite the vote of the population in November’s election.

24 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted against this bill, including most of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and it should be vetoed by Obama, on the basis of too much lost and too little gained.

It is time for Obama to show aggressiveness, as what does he have to lose now?

Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Turn The Democrats Toward A New Populism!

The two New England heroes of progressivism, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, are pushing the Democratic Party to return to its principles, and promote a new Populism, in which the battle for the middle class and the poor; the ethnic minorities; women; gays and lesbians, labor; the environment; support for veterans; and protection of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and ObamaCare are the priorities over protecting Wall Street privilege and engaging us in never ending foreign conflict with our troops as cannon fodder for the interests of those who feel invasion and war actions are the answer to our problems at home, which they, most certainly, are not!

It looks more than ever that Hillary Clinton, if she runs, will be challenged by one or the other of these two progressive heroes. Hillary may end up as the nominee of the Democrats, but her closeness to Wall Street and her “hawkish” image in foreign policy hurt her for the battle ahead!

We need a President who is willing to challenge the establishment, and we need a President who will fight Wall Street and the defense establishment, and work to undermine the one percent oligarchy which is undermining our democracy!

We need a President who has principles that he or she will not bend, to continue the work begun by Barack Obama, but needing a continuation under the next President!

A Warren or Sanders candidacy would make Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, or any other Democrat, work to return to the base that has made the Democratic Party a party of great accomplishment, instead of acting as a moderate alternative to the Republican Party.

Three Outstanding U.S. Senators Retiring: A Loss To The Institution

As the 113th Congress nears its end, setting a record as the worst, most unproductive Congress in modern history, it is time to reflect on the loss of three outstanding US Senators who are retiring, after decades of exceptional service.

Those three Senators are:

Tom Harkin of Iowa
Carl Levin of Michigan
Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia

Harkin and Rockefeller served 30 years in the Senate, while Levin served 36 years.

All were principled men who stood up for the middle class and promoted progressive values and principles in their years in the Senate.

All three were men of conscience who worked against right wing attacks on the Democratic Party and its constituents, and added dignity to the Senate.

All three will be greatly missed, but will go down in the annals of Senate history, as having been among the greats in its history.