News and Politics

Discussion about news and politics

Congressional Republican “Vacation” An Absolute Outrage With So Many Problems And Issues That Need To Be Dealt With!

There is criticism of President Barack Obama taking a vacation with his family, with so many foreign policy crises emerging. But it must also be said that the Republican House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House John Boehner, which sets up the Congressional calendar for both the House and Senate, is absolutely outrageous in its short calendar of work dates, and planning more time off to campaign, while there are so many problems and issues to deal with!

What is the Congress unwilling to deal with, which should be priorities?

The Border Crisis of Central American refugees, many of them children.

The funding of veterans benefits and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Highway Trust Fund, which will run out of money for infrastructure spending, and which will lead to layoffs of workers, adding to the unemployment rate.

The increase in the minimum wage, which has not gone up since 2009, while the cost of living has increased, as it would over any five year period.

The lifeline of the unemployment compensation, which has left many millions without any sustenance, and increased homelessness across the nation.

And these are just the biggest priorities, but this Congress, the 113th, is the absolute worst in modern history, if not at any time, surpassing the previous 112th Congress in negativism!

Privatization Of Education And Of Prisons Makes Profit More Important Than Anything Else!

The privatization movement, popular among conservatives and the Republican Party, produces disasters!

It creates charter schools which, only in rare cases, is better than public education, and gives children educators who are less qualified and lower paid. The results of charter schools are not good, based on statistics!

Additionally, for profit education on the university and college level is a boondoggle, ripping off taxpayers, and cheating gullible students who think they can get a degree worth the paper of the diploma, when instead they get inferior or no education, and tremendous debts that impoverish them.

Also, privatization of prisons is a horrendous idea, as the goal is to cut costs, recruit more prisoners, and mistreat those inmates in ways that have been shown to be extremely abusive!

The privatization industry caters to politicians who are willing to promote their unethical, immoral businesses.

An example is the GEO group, one of the worst prison corporations of all, making massive profits, and for awhile, was winning the contract to name the stadium at my institution, Florida Atlantic University, until there were student and staff protests, leading to the removal of the university president, and the cancellation of the contract.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is being catered to by GEO, in order to promote further expansion of their profits in the Sunshine State, an absolutely despicable event, which should be used by Democrats against one of the worst Governors in America!

Education and law enforcement, including prisons, should NEVER be privatized, as it makes profit more important than anything else, and lacks any sense of propriety, ethics, and morals!

Bad Move For President Obama To Attend Campaign Fundraisers And Go On Vacation In Times Of Crisis!

This blogger is strongly in support of Barack Obama on most issues, but he wishes to make clear that the strategy of attending campaign fundraisers, and going on vacation, in times of crises, is NOT the right strategy for the President to follow!

Seeing Obama making political speeches at fundraisers, and relaxing while drinking beer or going to a fast food establishment to have burgers and fries, or playing golf, or planning to go on vacation, leaves a terrible image that the President is disengaged from his responsibilities! It is true that Obama has taken fewer vacations than George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and almost every other recent President, but the perception of time off is not good at this time, and in the midst of the many crises the nation faces!

It is true that any President never truly escapes from his job, and that all that he needs can go with him to wherever he is located, but it, unfortunately, gives cannon fodder to his enemies, and makes him look lazy, disinterested, uncaring, and also confirms the criticism, even of his Democratic party supporters, that he is out of touch with reality, and does not like being engaged in problem solving.

Again, this is mostly perception, but that is damaging, short term and long term, to the image, legacy, and record of a President who has done a lot of good, has shown a lot of courage, and is being bitterly attacked more than any President of the past century, including Richard Nixon and George W. Bush!

Obama should not be giving fuel to the fire of his critics, and needs to cut back, dramatically, on campaign fund raisers, and should cancel a formal vacation, or send his daughters and wife on it, with him, maybe, showing up for a few days here and there, but sacrificing a lot of the formal vacation to stay in DC and connect with the multitude of issues that he faces!

Obama will have more than enough time in years to come to do whatever he wishes after January 20, 2017, but right now, he needs to be on top of his challenges as his priority!

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!