Cuba

Ken Burns’ New PBS Documentary On The Vietnam War Due In September

Ken Burns, the brilliant documentary producer, is about to present to America what may be his most brilliant series yet, on the Vietnam War, scheduled for 18 hours on PBS in late September.

Burns, of course, produced series on the Civil War, Baseball, National Parks, Jazz, The Roosevelts, The War (World War II), The West, New York, Prohibition, Jackie Robinson, and other creative films, many of which have been seen as the best documentaries ever produced.

No one can accuse Burns of not tackling difficult subjects, and this new extended series, will be exhaustive in covering all angles of the impact of the Vietnam War on Southeast Asia, as well as the United States.

With the Vietnam War now part of the past for 42 years, since its ultimate end in 1975, it is time for a thorough study of that war which divided America like no event since the Civil War, and Ken Burns does a superb job!

The President of Vietnam was greeted at the White House last week by President Trump, with nary a mention of the fact that we fought there for a decade, and lost 58,000 military personnel. As I watched, I wonderered why there is still so much tumult over Cuba, with the hint that Trump would cut back on the advancements in the relationship between America and Cuba made under Barack Obama, a nation where we lost no combat troops.

Donald Trump Refuses To Take Responsibility For Failed Yemen Raid, Death Of Ryan Owens: As Truman Said, “The Buck Stops Here!”

Donald Trump has demeaned the office of the Presidency by his refusal to take responsibility for the failed Yemen Raid that took place two days after his inauguration.

At dinner with son in law Jared Kushner and his White House Counselor Stephen Bannon, he decided to authorize a raid that the Obama Administration had been reluctant to do, because of lack of full intelligence information on the likelihood of its success.

Trump should have been in the Situation Room with top military and intelligence officials, but he decided to try to make himself a hero, and in so doing, caused the death of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens.

Instead of taking responsibility for this blunder and the death, Trump blamed the “Generals” for the failure, and lied that much intelligence information had been successfully gathered, which others, including Senator John McCain have challenged as untruthful.

And then, Trump paraded the sobbing widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens at the President’s Speech to Congress, and after a great salute to her by an applauding Congress, bragged that a record had been set for the longest applause ever at a Congressional session, an unseemly point to make at that point of time, and just to add to his narcissistic image. This is absolutely horrible behavior by a Commander in Chief.

Harry Truman had a sign on his desk, “The Buck Stops Here!”. Presidents do NOT blame others for their shortcomings and failures, and John F. Kennedy took the blame for the failed Bay Of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, and Jimmy Carter took the blame for the failed attempt at a rescue of the Iranian Hostages in 1980.

It is time for Trump to stop passing the buck, and act like a President is supposed to act, stop blaming others for his failed actions!

The Positive Contributions Of The Barack Obama Presidency

So here we are on the last full day of the Barack Obama Presidency, which I have been writing about since August 2008, and just about daily since 2010.

Barack Obama has been an historic President, and will end up in the top ten of our 44 Presidents over time, if not immediately.

Barack Obama was the most pilloried President since Richard Nixon, but for no good reason, and a lot of it was based on pure racism, sorry to say, but the truth.

But Obama brought us a dignified, classy persona to the White House, as did his wife Michelle.

He gave us the biggest expansion of our health care system, and much of it will survive the Donald Trump and Republican onslaught in the end.

He gave us the concept of limited military involvement, after decades of too many interventions overseas, and ended our involvement in Iraq, and cut back dramatically on the unwinnable war in Afghanistan.

He gave us the possibility of ending the threat of Iran as a nuclear power, and opened up a new relationship with Cuba, after 55 years of ignoring reality.

He accomplished through the use of technology and drones the elimination of thousands of terrorists worldwide, and took the gamble to bring justice to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

He started moving the focus of American foreign policy to Asia and the Pacific, and kept good relations with America’s NATO allies, and kept Russia’s Vladimir Putin on edge. about how America would react toward his aggressive stands.

He made climate change worldwide a crucial focus, and participated in international agreements, and accepted science over conspiracy theories, and made us realize global warming was a danger to American national security.

He took an economy that was the worst since the Great Depression, what is called the Great Recession, and turned it around, with the greatest job growth over eight years in American history, the greatest stock market growth, and the greatest drop in the unemployment rate that has occurred in any administration.

He accomplished in health care what Presidents since Theodore Roosevelt to Franklin D. Roosevelt to Harry Truman to John F. Kennedy to Lyndon B. Johnson to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush had been unable to do.

He brought about the revival of the American auto industry, and advanced the rights of workers to overtime pay and increased minimum wage, and the rights of consumers through the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

He advanced women’s rights, including to equal pay, and gave DREAM kids a reprieve from possible deportation, and promoted the idea of universal pre school and community college education, and worked to try to deal with the student loan crisis.

He advocated fair treatment of Muslims in America, and became the champion of gay equality in the military, gay rights in society, and gay marriage and transgender rights.

He became a great advocate of the environment, adding to our national parks and national forests and endangered sites, and continued the tradition of earlier exceptional environmental Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton before him.

He utilized executive orders to expand the rights of the American people, and worked for legal and judicial reform, and appointed Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

He cared about the weak, the powerless, and the forgotten groups in American society, and set a good moral basis in his own life and that of his family, becoming a model for young people as to how a President should conduct himself.

He avoided lashing out at those who promoted bigotry, and also showed emotion after his failed attempts at immigration reform and gun safety legislation. He had real tears, emotions, and sincerity in the Oval Office, which has hardly ever seen that, and hard to think of any earlier President quite like Obama.

He also faced the greatest number of threats of any President since Abraham Lincoln, as delineated in my Assassinations book, and demonstrated great courage and equanimity in waking up every day, knowing he was a target for hate mongers who wished him and his family ill will.

And finally, he had two terms of office without any hint of a personal, or otherwise, major scandal!

So Barack Obama was a FINE MAN, a different spelling of this author’s and blogger’s last name, and he will rise in the Presidential rankings to the top ten, and likely higher in the middle of the top ten at some point in the future, as he was truly a transformational President!

Goodbye, President and Mrs Obama, we will miss you, and wish you many decades of good health, prosperity, and happiness, as you continue to contribute to American betterment! God bless you both!

Giant Historical Figure Fidel Castro Dies, A Transformative Figure, With Great Negative Impact On The World!

Fidel Castro of Cuba, the most significant figure in Latin America in the 20th Century, and one of the most vicious dictators of modern times, passed away at age 90 on Friday.

He left behind a legacy of a brutal dictatorship, which while making some improvements in health care and education, took away any semblance of civil liberties and civil rights, and imprisoned, tortured, and murdered dissidents in great numbers over more than a half century of rule.

Castro was the longest lasting leader of modern times, with only Queen Elizabeth II of England having come to office about seven years before Castro took over the capital of Cuba, Havana, on New Years Day 1959.

Who would have thought that someone who came to power on the island of Cuba, which had been a playground for wealthy Americans, under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, at a time when this author was in high school, would last in power for a half century, and then be replaced by his younger brother, Raul Castro, a decade ago, and still rules?

Castro became the dire enemy of the Unites States, and Cuban exiles fleeing to Florida in 1959-1960 and again in 1980 (the Mariel Boat Lift) and constant escapes since then, have affected the history and politics of Florida and the Republican Party, with Cuban Americans flocking to support of the party after John F. Kennedy failed in his attempt to remove Castro from power in the Bay of Pigs Fiasco in April 1961. This made Cuban Americans the one Hispanic group that would refuse to support the Democratic Party, as many Cuban Americans saw JFK as a Communist for failing to succeed to remove Castro. This led to the most dangerous moment in the Cold War years, as Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union’s leader, formed an alliance with Castro, who had declared himself a Communist, and installed Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, with the Cuban Missile Crisis bringing the world closer to the danger of a nuclear war than any other event in history before or since. Only with the cool headed leadership of JFK was nuclear war averted.

Castro was a maniacal figure, who also abused the rights of gays and lesbians in Cuba, and initiated aggression overseas by supporting national liberation movements in Latin America and Africa, and the people of Cuba suffered economically under his five decade rule. Few more influential and significant dictators have existed, and those he is often compared with–including Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini–only lasted 25, 12 and 21 years compared to his 47 plus years.

The question is how Cuba will evolve now, with brother Raul Castro, age 85, having said he will leave power in February 2018, only 14 months away, and also how Donald Trump will react to the death of Fidel Castro, after Barack Obama had begun new relations with Cuba in 2015.

1992–Young, Southern, Appealing Ticket (Democrats); 2016–Young, Southern, Appealing Ticket (Republicans)?

In 1992, the Democrats offered a young, Southern, appealing ticket—Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas (age 46) and Senator Al Gore of Tennessee (44).  They were both photogenic and represented a new generation of leadership after Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.  The fact that both were from the South did not undermine their candidacies.

Now in 2016, we have a potential similarity offered by the Republicans—Senator Marco Rubio of Florida (age 45) and Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina (45 on Inauguration Day in 2017).  They are young, Southern, appealing, photogenic, and represent a new generation of leadership.  And they are ethnic minorities, with parents from Cuba and India.

Could the Republicans revive their party and save it from Donald Trump, age 70, and an outsider who is destroying the Republican Party?

We shall see in the coming days, weeks, and months!

The “Lame Duck Presidency” Transformed By Barack Obama As He Enters Last Year Of Presidency!

The standard argument is that once a President is reelected to his second term, his power wanes quickly, particularly after the midterm election of his second term.

That has generally proved to be true, as occurred with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

But it most certainly has NOT happened with Barack Obama!

The “Lame Duck” Presidency does not exist, as Obama has seen the victories in the Supreme Court on gay marriage and ObamaCare; has seen him move to start relations with Cuba and negotiate an agreement with Iran to prevent nuclear expansion; has led to him speaking openly on the problem of race relations and crime; has led to great initiatives on the environment; and has led to him openly challenging Republicans on a whole host of issues, and when defied, using executive orders as earlier Presidents did to overcome Congressional recalcitrance,

Of course, Obama is helped by the fact that the economy has improved dramatically under his time in office; and by the fact that we are not engaged in a major war with large numbers of troops on the ground, getting killed and wounded; and has no major scandal that saps energy from the office of the Presidency.

So do NOT expect Barack Obama to sit back in his last 12 months in public office, as he has every intention and desire to promote more change in every way he can in the economy, in foreign policy, in executive orders, and in making the Presidency an office of great power and promotion of reform!

Top 10 Political Stories Of 2015

As the year 2015 ends, we look back on the major political stories of this eventful year.

The ten major stories of the year are as follows:

The rise of Donald Trump, and the threat he represents to the Republican Party, the conservative movement, and to the American people in general. He is promoting a Fascist agenda, including nativism, racism, misogyny, and a belief spreading among white working class men that somehow he is the new Messiah, who will solve all of the problems brought about by the failings of the George W. Bush Administration.  These  include the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, which fueled terrorism; and the Great Recession of 2008, which is still reverberating among those less educated and more suspect to demagoguery. And also,those who refuse to accept Barack Obama as a legitimate President find Donald Trump appealing.

The surprise appeal of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is gaining support among the millennial generation, and men and women under 45, who are more educated than average Americans, and find his democratic Socialist ideas appealing.  There is no question that the younger generation is much more liberal than other Americans, and this bodes well for the Democratic Party, if Hillary Clinton continues her move to the left, pushed that way by Sanders’ agenda.

The final acceptance of gay marriage and the advancement of gay rights on all fronts, including the rights of transgender people, but with much discrimination still evident by those who resist change.

The disappearance of John Boehner and the rise of Paul Ryan to the Speakership of the House of Representatives, and the issue of whether Ryan can be any more effective in dealing with the Tea Party Movement, which helped to bring Boehner to the point of resignation.

The growing racial tensions in the nation, due to increased examples of police abuse toward African American men, and even women, along with Latinos, and the growing militarization of law enforcement, a dangerous trend.

The rise of more domestic terrorism, including in Charleston, San Bernandino and elsewhere, some of it inspired by ISIL (ISIS), but also by right wing Christian extremism.

Barack Obama’s changed foreign policy, including opening up to Cuban diplomatic relations; making a deal with Iran’s government on nuclear weapons; attempts to cooperate with other nations to deal with Islamic terrorism, meaning ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria; and trying to work with a hostile Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, who made life more difficult for Obama by openly consorting with Republicans over the President.

The growing impact of social issues on American politics, including not only gay rights and gay marriage, but also abortion, gun control, immigration reform, and climate change.  All of these controversies will impact politics in a dramatic fashion in 2016 and beyond.

The issue of individual rights to privacy, and the growing role of intelligence gathering and government snooping, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, and other government agencies, who feel that they must intrude and investigate all social media and phones and computers, to protect us.  This is seen by many critics as a violation of our civil liberties.

The evident deterioration of the effectiveness and competence of the Secret Service, in its role as protector of the President and his family; the Vice President; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and all Presidential candidates, as the Presidential Election year of 2016 awaits us.  The last thing we need is any incident that affects the health, safety, and lives of any of the candidates or the top leadership of government.  If such were to happen, it would undermine our whole political system and stability in massive ways!

 

Rand Paul Attacks On Bernie Sanders As Future Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, And Pol Pot Is Outrageous And Preposterous!

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has not been doing well in polls, fund raising, or in the two Republican Presidential debates held so far.

As a result of his failures, and the complete disaster that his libertarianism represents to any intelligent person, Paul has gone on the attack against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is doing very well in public opinion polls, particularly among millennials, despite his “Democratic Socialist” advocacy.

Paul has said that Sanders would bring dictatorship and a mass genocide to the world, similar to Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, Mao Tse Tung of China, and Pol Pot of Cambodia, a totally outrageous and preposterous assertion.

One would think that Bernie Sanders is somehow dangerous, when he is not one bit dangerous, while Rand Paul’s vacant libertarian Ayn Rand philosophy of selfishness, greed, and lack of concern for the poor and disabled is the true sickness and evil in political discourse!

Paul is doing what Donald Trump is doing, asserting that Socialism in the American variety is the same as Comunism, as the Soviet Union, Communist China, and Fidel Castro’s Cuba, demonstrating that neither Paul nor Trump have a clue as to the massive differences between American Socialism and Communism, as practiced in totalitarian dictatorships.

The fact that Sanders is advocating Scandinavian style Socialism (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), and that the New Deal of FDR, the Great Society of LBJ, and Barack Obama’s reforms represent similar ideals and goals is made out to be something to panic over, when we have been living with “Socialism” for a century, and not many Americans, even those who say they hate Socialism, are about to give up the benefits and successes of the New Deal and Great Society, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, labor reforms, consumer reforms, and environmental reforms!

To label Sanders a dangerous Communist reminds us of the Joseph McCarthy era, already being started on right wing talk radio and Fox News Channel, and the American people should not allow themselves to be subjected to such hysteria and mass panic, when there is not an iota of truth to the allegations of the right wing, and the libertarians, led by a failing Presidential candidate, Rand Paul!

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!

 

Pope Francis: A Gift To The World And Supporter Of Progressive Causes Shared With Barack Obama!

Pope Francis has arrived in the United States, and will be here for six days, traveling to Washington, DC, New York City, and Philadelphia.

It is clear that Pope Francis is a gift to the world and a supporter of progressive causes that he often shares with President Barack Obama!

This Pope is, clearly, the best Pope in the sense of promoting reform, since the time of Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) and the Second Vatican Council.

Pope Francis has made enemies among conservative Catholics and evangelical right wing Christians, who do not pursue the true message of Jesus Christ, the promotion of the poor and the disabled and the sick.

Pope Francis has condemned predatory capitalism which has no concern as to its effect on the poor.

Pope Francis has spoken up on climate change and global warming, infuriating those in the conservative movement and the Republican Party who only think about profits, and reject science.

Pope Francis has attacked the growing income inequality in the world, a dangerous disease that threatens global stability.

Pope Francis has worked to resolve problems in the Catholic Church, and to have a more open mind on divorce, abortion, gay rights, and other controversial social issues, while not wholly backing all of these cultural changes.  But he has demonstrated greater tolerance of differences and opened up a sense of change, which is desperately needed in the Catholic Church, if it is to grow and prosper in the long term.

Pope Francis has engaged in bringing about the restoration of a relationship between the United States and Cuba, something long overdue.

Pope Francis has worked to help Syrian refugees, and generally to encourage immigration reform around the world, as to reject immigrants is against the American historical tradition, and worldwide would be the growth of another Holocaust, as Jews and other refugees suffered in the Second World War.

Pope Francis is a transformational Pope who, hopefully, will have a long range effect on the Catholic Church and the world.

Pope Francis has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is hoped that he will win it, as he richly deserves it!