Cuba

The 2010s: 15 Major Events Which Had An Impact

We are ending a decade in nine days from today, although technically a decade begins with a “1”, not a zero, but to most people, the fact that the number changes from “1” to “2” as the first digit, marks it as a new decade.

So looking back ten years, what are the major events in public affairs that have had an impact?

In no special order, here are the most significant events of the past decade:

The “Arab Spring”, which led to turmoil in the Middle East, and led to civil war and massive bloodshed in the area, but ultimately being overcome by authoritarian leaders and conditions of anarchy and chaos.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), accomplished in the second year of the Obama Presidency.

The death of Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, after avoiding capture for nearly ten years.

The election of Pope Francis by the Catholic Church, having a massive impact on Catholic doctrine, and liberalizing the church’s doctrines and teachings.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, leading to sanctions against Russia by the US and many European nations, and leading to Vladimir Putin working to undermine western democracies for the remainder of the decade.

The rise of the terrorist group ISIS (ISIL), which controlled large portions of Iraq and Syria, and engaged in massive abuses and tortures and executions, eventually mostly overcome by efforts of European nations and the United States.

The candidacy and election of Donald Trump to the Presidency, despite his divisive rhetoric and elements of nativism, racism, and misogyny.

Gay Marriage decision of the Supreme Court, a revolutionary change in American society.

Restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, after five and a half decades of total isolation.

The massive tragedies of gun violence in schools, theaters, churches, synagogues, nightclubs, open air concerts, shopping malls and supermarkets, with no attempt to address the issue due to the power of the National Rifle Association over Congress and President Donald Trump.

Russian intervention in the Presidential Election of 2016, helping to secure the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College, while losing the popular vote by 2.85 million votes, largest loss of popular vote of an Electoral College winner in American history.

The effects of the “Me Too” movement of women exposing sexual harassment against prominent public figures, causing many to lose their careers and reputations.

The horrendous policy of separating migrant children from their families at the southern border with Mexico and Central America, causing great condemnation of the Trump Administration.

The Robert Mueller investigation of the Trump Presidential campaign, and the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 2018, leading to the impeachment of Donald Trump after exposure of the Ukraine Scandal.

The growing reality of climate change and global warming, with the US under Donald Trump refusing to keep the Paris Accord of 2015 on goals for lowering of carbon emissions.

The Donald Trump Plan: Attack Democrats As Anti Semitic, Anti Israel, And As Socialist

Donald Trump has a plan to win the Presidential Election Of 2020, attack Democrats as Antisemitic, anti Israel, and as dangerous “Socialists”, equating that term with Communism, in relation to totalitarian dictatorships such as the old Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Cuba.

This is pure demagoguery, as two thirds of Jewish Americans regularly support the Democratic Party, and many American Jews, while supporting Israel in a broad sense, do not support the hard line view of Benjamin Netanyahu and his right wing government in Israel.

And Socialism is part of American history, as with policies of many Presidents since Theodore Roosevelt through Barack Obama in both the Democratic and Republican Parties.

We are a capitalist nation, and always will be, but Socialist ideas have made America a better place.

The Democrats will have to deal with the manipulation of Donald Trump to overcome these accusations, but the new push of Trump to abolish ObamaCare completely, without any replacement for tens of millions of Americans, should be made the major issue among many others in the upcoming campaign.

Three Democratic Presidents In Past Half Century Promoting Peace And Diplomacy In Foreign Policy

The three Democratic President in the past half century—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama–all promoted peace and diplomacy in foreign policy.

Hopefully, the next Democratic President elected in 2020 will do the same.

Carter promoted the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel; brought about the Panama Canal Treaty; and opened up diplomatic relations with mainland China.

Clinton promoted the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, although later the progress made was reversed with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Clinton also opened up diplomatic relations with Vietnam. And he also was able to bring about the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, between Catholics and Protestants.

Obama ended involvement in Iraq in 2011, although later sending some troops back to deal with the rise of ISIS (ISIL). He also opened up diplomatic ties with Raul Castro’s Cuba, although lately, the progress made has been derailed by Donald Trump and by incidents involving attack on the hearing of diplomats in Cuba, not only the US, but also Canada. Additionally, the Iran Nuclear Agreement was arranged, with the backing of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia. Sadly, Donald Trump has backed away from the agreement, and the future is uncertain, including the possibility of war with Iran at some point.

Each of these Presidents had to use military force, as Carter did to try to rescue the hostages in Iran in 1980; Clinton bombing Serbia and Kosovo over murder of Muslims by Christians in the former Yugoslavia; and Obama continuing US intervention in Afghanistan.

But all three Presidents are seen as having the right intention, and did what they could to promote reconciliation and negotiation, rather than military confrontation.

Whoever is the next President needs to revive this tradition.

A further elaboration of this article will be published on HistoryNewsNetwork.org this Sunday, and all of my more than 100 published articles on HNN are listed on the right side of this blog.

The Urgent Democratic Platform For 2020: 30 Goals For The Next Decade

What MUST be part of the Democratic Party platform in 2020, no matter who is the Democratic Presidential nominee?

In no special order, it MUST include:

Medicare for all Americans of all ages
$15 minimum wage by 2022 everywhere in America and Paid Family Leave
Free public university and college tuition for the first two years or 60 credits of higher education
Wiping out of college debt which prevents many young people from marrying, having children, buying a home, having a future
Repeal of Citizens United, which has allowed corporations to be called people, and destroy political campaigns with large donations, and instead promote public financing of campaigns
Responsible Gun Control legislation
Protection of Women’s Rights, including abortion rights
Enforcement of gay and lesbian and transgender rights
A responsible immigration reform program, reversing the damage done by Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, John Kelly, Kirstjen Nielsen, Stephen Miller and Thomas Homan
Revival of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties that have been curbed by Donald Trump
Protection of the Social Safety Net of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
Labor Rights promoted, including prevention of “right to work” laws
Environmental regulations revived and strengthened
Consumer Rights revived and strengthened
Investment in infrastructure across America
Condemnation of violations of human rights in other nations, including Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, the Philippines and elsewhere
Revival of NATO alliance and other alliances that have been weakened in the Trump Presidency
The end of protectionist tariffs, which undermine the American economy
Strengthening of relations with Cuba, and attempts to overcome strains and tensions with Iran, and revive the Iran Nuclear Deal
Promoting total separation of church and state, with religion not being promoted by government
Reenactment of responsible corporation and Wall Street reforms
Protection of Native American lands and properties
Criminal Justice Reforms for those not involved in violent Crimes
National restoration of Voting Rights to former convicts who have paid their debt to society
Decriminalizing Drug Use and Sales, so as to overcome the Opioid Crisis, and allow Medicinal Marijuana without penalty
Promoting funding for the Arts and Culture across America
Dealing with poverty and homelessness in America
Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and move toward statehood as the 51st state
Tax Reform to require a fair and equitable tax system for all, not just the wealthy
Reviving respect for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press

Would all of these 30 “planks” be successfully accomplished in the term of the next Democratic President from 2021-2025? Most certainly, highly unlikely, but these must be the goals of the next Democratic administration, as we attempt to recover from the disaster and tragedy of the Donald Trump nightmare!

A Year Of Donald Trump: A Horror And A Nightmare!

I published on Sunday a summary article on the first year of Donald Trump at History News Network–historynewsnetwork.org. I have published regularly on Donald Trump on History News Network, and some of those articles have been picked up also by Time Magazine and Newsweek Magazine, and all of those articles are on the right side of my blog.

A day before the anniversary of the inauguration, I will summarize here the points that I made in that article:

Donald Trump has been a nightmare, and his unpredictability, and the refusal of the Republican Party to come to grips with it, has created a constitutional crisis greater than the Watergate Scandal under Richard Nixon 45 years ago.

Donald Trump has demonstrated clear authoritarian leanings that endanger all Americans and their basic freedoms and national security.

Donald Trump has undermined the judicial branch of government. with his attacks on an independent judiciary, and his appointments of unqualified people to lifetime positions on the federal district courts and federal circuit courts.

Donald Trump has assaulted the Bill of Rights, and is a threat to the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans, Latino Americans, Native Americans, women, gay and transgender Americans, and members of the news media who dare to investigate and question his white supremacist, nativist, racist, and misogynistic utterances and policies.

He has connected himself to dictators and authoritarians in nations like Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, and the Philippines, and in the tradition of such past regimes as Nazi Germany , Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union.

Donald Trump has pursued policies that threaten and undermine the domestic reforms of Presidents from both political parties from the time of Theodore Roosevelt onward, endangering the Social Safety Network of Social Security. Medicare, and Medicaid, and government regulation of industry and big business, and oversight of key problems involving the environment, consumer safety, labor protections, health care, and science and education.

Donald Trump has given us the most corrupt and incompetent cabinet and advisers , making the shortcomings of Ulysses S. Grant, Warren G. Harding, and Richard Nixon pale in comparison. There is no sense of ethics, commitment, scruples, or compassion on the part of Trump and his team, but only with the advancement of the top one percent, over the needs of millions of ordinary people.

Trump’s family has become in one year more controversial, and lacking in ethics and morals, than any Presidential family in history, with the aim seeming to be a family dynasty with no limit on their lust for money and power.

Donald Trump has undermined foreign policy and international relations, alienating our allies, and consorting with dictators all over the world. He has declared war on the diplomatic community, the national security apparatus, and the intelligence agencies that are out to protect American national security. He has been reckless in his dealings with North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, and with the Middle East cauldron. He has alienated our allies, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Korea with his weird, unpredictable behavior.

Donald Trump’s narcissism, ignorance of history and science, obnoxious behavior and incessant lying make him a terrible model for the future generation of Americans, who used to be able to look up the President of the United States as someone they could respect.

These reasons are justification for action to remove Donald Trump from the Presidency, whether by impeachment, use of the 25th Amendment, or forced resignation after indictments of family members and top advisers by Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Constitution Day: 230 Years And In Danger From Donald Trump In 2017, But The Constitution Will Survive!

Tomorrow, September 17, is the 230th Anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by 39 delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

The so called “Founding Fathers” brought about a document that was not perfect, but has survived through the crises of the Civil War; the Great Depression; the two World Wars; the Watergate Crisis; and now faces the challenge of the most dangerous Chief Executive in American history bar none!

By comparison to Donald Trump, Richard Nixon was a choirboy, dangerous in many ways, but also accomplished in many ways.

Nixon contributed some real positive developments in his five and a half years as President from January 20, 1969 to August 9, 1974, while Donald Trump has accomplished essentially nothing, other than the adding of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Trump has threatened constitutional norms, with his attacks on civil rights, civil liberties, the news media, the judiciary, the intelligence community, and the basic institutions of government, including the government agencies themselves, which he is trying to decimate in their effectiveness and even in their numbers, when more is needed in a growing nation with 325 million people.

Trump has threatened the security and safety of millions of Americans of minority religious and racial groups, and he has had the support of white supremacists, Neo Nazis, Neo Confederates, and the Ku Klux Klan, which he tries to equate with those opposed to these groups.

Trump has undermined our relations with our allies in Europe and Asia, and the tensions with North Korea have been increased by his reckless tweets and rhetoric, and the same goes for Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, adding to the potential for military intervention everywhere.

Our relations with our direct neighbors, Mexico and Canada, are at the worst in many decades, and our closest ally, the United Kingdom (Great Britain), is becoming more exasperated by Trump’s utterances. The same situation exists with Germany, France, South Korea, and Japan, and our major rivals, China and Russia are perplexed with Trump as well.France

There is great concern that Trump might use nuclear weapons, which no official other than the Secretary of State can even discuss with him directly under present policy, and Trump has the final say on that.

There is also concern that Trump could attempt to declare martial law if there was another September 11 type of attack by terrorists, suspending the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

And to top it off, Trump seems to many to have a form of dementia, maybe Alzheimers, or just mental instability that is often a problem with aging seniors, but having him in a position which could provoke world wide war and disaster is an alarming circumstance of massive proportions.

Trump is a danger, but we must have confidence that the Constitution will survive his threat, but we must all be vigilant, and be ready to react if any threat seems evident as imminent.

The worst thing we could all do is trust Donald Trump, and sit back and just accept whatever he does, so thank goodness for the free, independent news media!

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.