Democratic Party

Tea Party And Republican House Want Radical Changes In Medicare And Social Security!

Leave it to the Republican Party, and particularly its Tea Party extremists, to propose, as part of the House of Representatives budget proposals, to raise the eligibility age for future retirees for Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Presently, one must be 65 to gain Medicare, and the proposal is to raise it to 67!

Presently, one must be 67 to gain Social Security full benefits for future retirees, and the proposal is to raise it to 70!

This is pure right wing radicalism, by a party which overwhelmingly, in its past, opposed both Medicare in the 1960s and Social Security in the 1930s, when they were first made law!

These two programs are the most popular social programs, brought to America by the Democratic Party under Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and have had a lot to do with the growth of the middle class and a sense of security for the elderly!

Instead of raising the Medicare tax slightly, and raising the limit on Social Security to at least $250,000 income, instead of $117,000, insuring the viability of these programs long term, instead the GOP wishes to make life harder for those nearing retirement age, forcing many to work longer years full time, rather than having some time to enjoy life and take life easier after decades of toil, many of them often working at low wages, exploited by corporations and employers in general, who have an anti labor attitude!

This is an issue for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond, that under no circumstances will there be a radical change in Medicare and Social Security allowed, because of the greed, selfishness, and lack of concern for the average American by the elite upper class that votes Republican, and victimizes the rest of the population!

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!

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?

Ohio And The Republican Party

So the Republican Party has chosen Cleveland, Ohio, for its national convention in 2016!

This is a very interesting selection, to choose a strong Democratic city to hold their convention!

It is true, however, that Ohio is the ultimate “swing state”, as it, most recently, decided the Presidential Election Of 2004 in favor of President George W. Bush over Senator John Kerry.

And Ohio gave us six Presidents, all Republicans, from 1868-1923, with the elections of Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding.

Only Grant and McKinley were reelected, however, and only Grant served two full terms, with Garfield and McKinley assassinated in office; Hayes denied renomination of his party; Taft defeated with the worst popular vote percentage and lowest electoral vote for an attempted reelection in 1912; and Harding dying of natural causes in office. Also, Grant and Harding presided over the greatest corruption in American history on the national level until Richard Nixon came along!

Overall, these six Ohio Presidents did not add much to the record of the Presidency in a positive manner, with McKinley being rated the best of the group; Grant usually the worst, although now undergoing some historical rehabilitation; Harding also near the bottom of the list of Presidents, but also being reevaluated by some scholars: and Garfield seen as possibly the major loss of the group, due to his short time in office before being assassinated.

Ohio is also the home of Governor John Kasich, former long term Congressman and one of the leaders of the GOP in the House of Representatives, who is seen as one of the longer shots who might run for President, and this author has already mentioned him as a potential candidate, with some positives greater than the list of candidates usually mentioned in print as the most likely candidates.

But the reality is that Ohio is likely to go Democratic as it did in 2008 and 2012, and the Democratic Party can win the Presidency without Ohio.

For the Republican Party to believe that holding their convention in Ohio insures their victory for the White House in 2016 is truly delusional!

Two Experienced National Presidential Campaigners Who Could Challenge Hillary Clinton For Democratic Presidential Nomination: Al Gore And Jerry Brown!

The basic belief that goes around in political circles is that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic Presidential nomination for the asking, and has more experience and background than anyone who could possibly run against her in the primaries, with the major exception of Vice President Joe Biden!

But it is also noted that, actually, there are two very experienced Democrats who have run for President before, along with Hillary and Joe, and yet few are paying any attention to these two men!

I am talking about former Vice President Al Gore, who lost the Presidency in 2000 to George W. Bush, despite having won the national popular vote by about 540,000, but losing the contested election in Florida in the Supreme Court case of Bush V. Gore. Also, Gore sought the Presidency in 1988, before losing the nomination to Michael Dukakis.

I am also referring here to three time Democratic Presidential seeker, California Governor Jerry Brown, who sought the nomination in 1976 and again in 1980 against Jimmy Carter, and against Bill Clinton in 1992!

Both are tested, although both are from “long ago” in many people’s minds, since Gore has never tried for public office since 2000, and sixteen years is a very long time in politics. One could say that Hillary and Joe are also from “long ago”, but they have continued to hold public office consistently since the new century began, with Hillary only “retiring” in 2013 to write her memoir on her years as Secretary of State!

Jerry Brown goes back much further having been Governor of California at age 35, serving from 1975 to 1983; then later being Oakland Mayor and California Attorney General; and then returning to the Governorship 28 years after leaving it, and becoming the oldest Governor in the history of the state in 2011, and now running for a second term at age 76.

There have been rumors that Brown would love to run again, and dog the Clintons, as he did Jimmy Carter. It would be ironic if he was to challenge Hillary as he did her husband in 1992!

Of course, Brown would be nearly 79 were he to become President in 2017, and Al Gore would be nearly 69, just five months younger than Hillary Clinton, while Joe Biden would be 74 at the time of the inauguration!

One might say that having all these “old folks” running or considering the Presidency is disturbing, and add to that mix, two liberals who are rumored to run, If Hillary chooses not to run, or possibly even if she does—Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who would be 67 on Inauguration Day, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (technically a Socialist), who would be 75.

While we are at it, why not add Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee, to the list, with him being 73 if elected to the Presidency in 2016!

These people, all seven of them, represent a lot of talent and experience and brilliance, but ranging from 67 to 79 is NOT a good trend, particularly with the strong likelihood that the Republican Party will nominate someone much younger, probably by a full generation, or close to it, in years!

Republican Governors On The Run!

A number of Republican Governors, who have done a horrible job in office, are on the run, facing major challenges by Democratic opponents in November.

These include:

Rick Scott, facing a challenge from Charlie Crist in Florida.

Tom Corbett, facing a challenge from Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania.

Sam Brownback, facing a challenge from Paul Davis in Kansas.

Paul LePage, facing a challenge from Mike Michaud in Maine.

Scott Walker, facing a challenge from Mary Burke in Wisconsin.

Nathan Deal, facing a challenge from Jason Carter in Georgia.

Additionally, GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott, successor to Texas Governor Rick Perry, is facing a challenge from Wendy Davis.

Hopefully, many of these despicable GOP Governors, plus Greg Abbott in Texas, will lose in November!

The Supreme Court Of 2014 Most Right Wing Since Early 1930s!

The Supreme Court has been controversial at different times in its history, but the present Court of 2014 is considered the most right wing Court majority since the early 1930s!

Since the Warren Court, which began in the 1950s, we have never had such conservative Justices as we have now.

Three of the present Justices are among the most conservative ever to sit on the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito.

If one adds former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former Associate Justice Lewis Powell, we have the five most conservative Justice since 1953, a period of 60 years.

Not much behind is Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, both capable of surprises in their votes and rulings, but still most of the time joining Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

These seven named Justices were all picked by Republican Presidents–two by Richard Nixon; two by Ronald Reagan, plus his promotion of Rehnquist to the Chief Justiceship; one by George H. W. Bush; and two by George W. Bush.

But also, Republican Presidents have selected Justices who turned out to be quite moderate, and even sometimes liberal, including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice William Brennan by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Chief Justice Warren Burger and Associate Justice Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon; John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford; Sandra Day O’Connor by Ronald Reagan; and David Souter by George H. W. Bush.

Since 1953, Republicans have controlled the White House for 36 years, while Democrats have had control for 25 plus years, and that has caused the right wing tilt of the Court, which could have been even more so, if not for the surprises presented by the seven “less” conservative, and some “quite liberal” Justices listed in the above paragraph!

So the Republicans have chosen 17 of the past 25 Justices since 1953, with John F. Kennedy picking two, but one (Byron White) turning out to be conservative, and Arthur Goldberg leaving the Court after only three years, due to the urging of Lyndon Johnson that he become United Nations Ambassador. Johnson selected Abe Fortas to replace Goldberg, but he stayed on the Court for only four years, and left the Court under the cloud of scandal. The first African American Justice, Thurgood Marshall, would go on to serve as a champion liberal for 24 years from 1967 to 1991.

Jimmy Carter would have no appointments to the Court in his four years in the White House, the only such situation in the 20th century, and one of only four Presidents to have had no appointments, but the only one to have a full term in the Presidency. The other three Presidents were William Henry Harrison (one month); Zachary Taylor (16 months); and Andrew Johnson (almost a complete term, but so unpopular that the Senate would not confirm any Court appointments in his time in office).

Bill Clinton selected Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer; and Barack Obama has chosen Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as his appointments, so far, on the Supreme Court. So note that out of the eight appointments by Democrats in the Presidency, three have been women; five have been Jewish; one has been African American; and one has been Puerto Rican, with only Byron White being a typical white Anglo Saxon Protestant.

The question has now arisen whether Ginsberg, and maybe even Breyer, should retire, and guarantee that Obama could replace them, with the concern that the Senate might go Republican in November, making any Court appointment nearly impossible due to gridlock and stalemate. There is also fear that were the Republicans to win the White House in 2016, which is highly unlikely, that then the Court would be ever more right wing reactionary than it already is.

It is a calculated gamble for Ginsburg and Breyer to remain on the Court for now, but it is not uncommon for Justices to retire at very advanced ages–such as Blackmun at 85 and Stevens at 90!

So do not expect that either will retire, but with a good chance of Democrats retaining the Senate majority in 2014, or regaining it on the back of the Democratic Presidential nominee’s expected major victory in 2016!

Nations Breaking Up: Could It Happen Among American States?

We are living in a world where nation states have broken up, and where the potential for more such breakups is increasing.

Yugoslavia broke up into multiple nations in the 1990s, as did the old Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia.

Sudan broke up into two nations in 2011, and Iraq seems on the road to a similar breakup, sadly through religious revolution, fanaticism and loss of life.

There has been the threat in the past of Quebec breaking away from Canada, although that seems less likely now.

Scotland will decide whether to split from the United Kingdom in a referendum this September.

There are threats of the breakup of Belgium and Spain, where strong nationality groups wish for independence.

At the same time, there has been secessionist talk by right wing groups in Texas, and even outgoing Governor Rick Perry talked up the idea a few years back, and then abandoned such talk.

But seriously, without violence, not like the Civil War in the 1860s, there are ideas floating out on the political wilderness of the possible future breakup of eight states, and the theoretical creation of an additional 16 states as a result, requiring an additional 32 US Senators, making the total possibly 132, instead of the present 100, in the upper chamber, while not changing the number of members of the House of Representatives.

These possibilities are as follows:

California–six states instead of one—Jefferson (rural Northern California); North California (centered about Sacramento, the state capital); Silicon Valley (San Francisco and San Jose); Central California (Bakersfield, Fresno and Stockton); West California (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara); and South California (San Diego and Orange Counties).

Texas–five states instead of one—New Texas (Austin, the present state capital and College Station); Trinity (Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Tyler); Gulfland (Houston, Corpus Christi, Galveston); Plainland (Lubbock, Amarillo, Waco, Abilene); and El Norte (San Antonio, El Paso, Brownsville).

New York–three states instead of one—Suburban counties of Southeast New York (Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess and Orange Counties) and Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk); New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island); and Upstate New York (including the rest of the state, including Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton).

Florida—two states instead of one—South Florida (the Keys, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach); and Northern Florida (the rest of the state).

Illinois–two states instead of one—Chicago and near suburbs; and the rest of the state.

Pennsylvania–two states instead of one—Philadelphia and near suburbs; and the rest of the state, including Pittsburgh and Harrisburg).

Virginia–two states instead of one—Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC; and the rest of the state.

Maryland–two states instead of one—Baltimore, Annapolis, and Washington DC suburban counties (including Montgomery and Prince George’s County) and three rural eastern shore counties; and Western Maryland.

Is any of this likely to happen? Probably not, but great food for thought. It would require revolutionary changes in the US Senate, and would create new issues of which party would benefit, the Democrats or the Republicans, since the major metropolitan areas would be separate from the more rural counties in these eight states, and it would create a new dynamic in American politics hard to predict long term!