Medicare

Rand Paul: An Interesting, But Flawed Candidate For President Who Cannot Fulfill His Promises!

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky became the second declared candidate for President yesterday, and he gave a fiery speech, surrounded by his admirers who are clearly very loyal and committed to him.

But to believe that Rand Paul can become the GOP nominee for President, and occupy the White House after January 20, 2017, requires a lot of illusion, and “smoke and mirrors”. It will, most certainly, NOT happen!

Rand Paul has appealing elements, no question about it. These include the need to protect our civil liberties from government encroachment by the National Security Agency; the need to rebuild our economy and help forgotten Americans to gain economic advancement, both middle class and poor; the need to stay out of foreign intervention unless essential, and avoid so many bases and expenses overseas, including no more increased spending on foreign aid; and changing the law enforcement system, including the unfair justice system that imprisons too many young African Americans for overly severe jail terms.

But at the same time, Rand Paul talks about balancing a budget, by cutting fundamental programs that are an entitlement for Americans through their payment of taxes (including Social Security and Medicare); has no solution for health care for millions on ObamaCare and those without ObamaCare and not able to gain Medicaid; talks about limiting federal intrusion in our privacy, a goal almost impossible to accomplish in an age of terrorism; has expressed doubts about the civil rights laws, including the basic one passed in 1964 under Lyndon B. Johnson; has to deal with the influence of his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul who is much more controversial with his public record of actions and utterances that many Paul supporters seem to be aware of; and has major opposition and criticism from the massive hawkish influence within his party in the Senate and from the neoconservatives, who seem to want war with Iran, and do not want to cut defense spending dramatically, if at all!

Additionally, Rand Paul is anti abortion and anti gay marriage, and while that will please the Republican Party, it will undermine his opportunity to attract a majority of women and young people, despite the fact that many young people claim to be libertarian, but mostly because they are truly ignorant of what the true nature of libertarianism is. Libertarianism will NOT gain power in America, and is a bankrupt philosophy not achievable in the real world!

Rand Paul will certainly make the Presidential race more interesting, but his connection to the Tea Party will also undermine him, and no scenario that is realistic puts him down as the 45th President of the United States!

Barack Obama After Six Years In The Presidency: On Way To Top Ten Of Our 43 Presidents!

As 2014 ends, Barack Obama is finishing his sixth year in the Presidency, and will officially mark that milestone on January 20, when he delivers the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress, controlled by the Republican Party, which has stood in his way, has been a constant barrier to anything Obama proposes, and hates the ground he walks on. Conservative talk radio and Fox News Channel, and conservative think tanks, would not be happy no matter what Barack Obama does or says. And there is a strong level of venal hate, very dangerous, that puts the President in the cross hairs of a potential threat to his life on a daily basis.

But despite all that, President Barack Obama has a record in office to be proud of, not perfect in any sense, but still outstanding enough to have a chance to end up in the top ten of our Presidents, if not immediately after leaving the White House, over a generation or more as time passes, and passions calm down, and particularly after Obama has passed away, an opportune time to reconsider the legacy of any President, particularly one so much maligned in his time!

The list of Obama accomplishments is endless, but key points include:

The adoption of ObamaCare, which will be seen as transformative over time, as much as Social Security and Medicare.

The successful tracking down and elimination of Osama Bin Laden, the perpetrator of September 11, 2001.

The ending of US military engagement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, two wars that were unwise to conduct in the first place.

The revival of the American economy, with 11 million jobs created; the unemployment rate below six percent; the greatest economic expansion since the Bill Clinton Presidency; the smallest increase in the deficit for the past decade; the 150 percent increase in the stock market; the lowest gas prices in five years; and the revival of the domestic auto industry.

The appointment of two Supreme Court Justices–Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and some exceptional cabinet appointments, plus the best Vice President in American history, Joe Biden.

The promotion of gay rights and gay marriage, insuring the end of discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

The advancement of environmental concerns, including dealing with global warming and climate change.

The promotion of a tolerant attitude toward immigration reform.

The establishment of a new relationship with Cuba after 50 years of a failed policy.

The promotion of labor rights in a time when labor has been under attack.

The protection of women’s rights against right wing attempts to undermine the advancement of women in all spheres of American life.

The avoidance of engagement in new wars, which the right wing is always itching for.

The courage of Obama to go after terrorists in a way that limits US military involvement, but effectively has killed more terrorists than George W. Bush.

President Barack Obama was the the right person for his time, and will be seen as that in history. He has met racist attacks by refusing to show anger, but instead class and dignity! He has admitted failure, but also has confidence in the morality of his cause. Considering the extreme opposition he has faced, what he has accomplished is miraculous beyond belief.

Despite having presided over the rapid decline of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress by vicious attacks and massive spending by right wing billionaires, he has made it clear that he will use executive orders to do what he feels must be done in the last two years of his Presidency. The right wing Supreme Court, with its Citizens United Case in 2010, and the lackadaisical attitude on voting of many Democratic constituent groups, has contributed to this decline in Democratic Party strength, but Obama has reacted by making clear that it will not deter his plans to make the nation a place better for the middle class and the poor.

President Barack Obama will NOT allow the prevention of further improvement of the New Deal and Great Society, and he is much to be admired, as a credit to the office he holds!

President Obama Not Acting Like A “Lame Duck”!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barack Obama: Who Is Our 44th President?

The attacks on Barack Obama, our 44th President, have reached a point of being totally ridiculous and preposterous in so many ways!

Critics say Obama is a Muslim, even though he never attended services at a mosque, and has called himself a Christian. Meanwhile, he has had America war against terrorist Muslims, and has used drones and troops to kill more Muslims than George W. Bush, including Osama Bin Laden!

Critics say Obama is a weak President, who has been unwilling to confront Vladamir Putin and defend Ukraine, while George W. Bush did not confront Putin on military action in Georgia in 2008; Lyndon B. Johnson did not confront the old Soviet Union on military action in Czechoslovakia in 1968; and Dwight D. Eisenhower did not confront the old Soviet Union on military action in Hungary in 1956.

Critics say that Obama is an “Emperor” or “King” because of action on immigration reform, but this is the same President they have said is “weak”, and when Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and all of the other Republican and Democratic Presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower took action on immigration, none of them were called “Emperor” or “King”. So Obama is a “weak” President who is also an “Emperor” or “King”?

Critics say Obama is a Socialist, but Obama accepted the Newt Gingrich–Bob Dole–Heritage Foundation–Mitt Romney concept of health care, when he pushed for “ObamaCare”, which gives private insurance companies full control over health care when many Democrats and liberals and progressives really want “Medicare for all”.

Critics say Obama is anti capitalist, but Obama has tied himself to Wall Street much more than many Democrats and liberals and progressives wish he had, and the stock market is at an all time high, up about 250 percent from when he came in.

Critics say Obama is adding more to the national debt than anyone, forgetting he came in at the lowest point in 75 years, and that much of the new debt was an outgrowth of the disastrous George W. Bush economic policies that would have added the same to the national debt if John McCain and Mitt Romney had been elected President.

Critics say that Obama refused to work with the opposition party, but NO President EVER had such obstructionism as Barack Obama has had, and Republican Presidents, in particular, have found that opposition Democrats, while challenging them, NEVER promoted total lack of cooperation as the extremist right wing Republicans, led by the Tea Party Movement, have done over the past six years. Despite that, Obama has presided over a long list of accomplishments.

Critics blame Obama for the loss of seats in Congress in midterm elections, when ALL Presidents have faced that, except Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. Harry Truman in 1946, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, Bill Clinton in 1994, George W. Bush in 2006, and now, Barack Obama in 2014, have seen the opposition party gain control of both houses of Congress. Also, FDR in 1938, Truman in 1950, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, John F. Kennedy in 1962, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, Richard Nixon in 1970, Gerald Ford in 1974, Jimmy Carter in 1978, Ronald Reagan in 1982, George H. W. Bush in 1990, and Barack Obama in 2010 lost seats, and in the case of Obama, control of the House of Representatives.

These are just eight ways in which the critics of Obama are manipulating the truth and the facts, and despite all these attacks, Barack Obama stands tall and will look much better in history than his critics wish to concede!

Disturbing Statistics On The Midterm Elections Of 2014: The Battle Cry For Progressives And Democrats!

Despite the economic improvements under Barack Obama and the obstructionism of the Republican Party for four years, the GOP won control of both houses of Congress, and reelected many Tea Party Governors, who by all sane judgements, should have been defeated.

Beyond that, 30 state legislatures now are controlled by the Republican Party; two thirds of state legislators nationally are Republicans; 31 states have Republican Governors; and the Republicans have a greater number of seats in the House of Representatives than they have had since 1928, when Herbert Hoover was elected, soon to be followed by the Great Depression.

And the percentage of voters participating was the lowest in any midterm election since 1942, in the midst of World War II, only about a third of the voting electorate.

This midterm was dominated by people over 45, and particularly over 65, who were heavily white and registered Republican, while traditional Democratic voting groups–African Americans, Latinos, women, those under 45, and those supportive of labor rights and the environment—stayed home in large numbers, not realizing the importance of voting.

If left to their own desires, the Republican Party, the Tea Party Movement, and the conservative think tanks and talk show hosts, would now set about to impeach President Obama (even though there is no chance of his removal by a two thirds vote of the US Senate); repeal ObamaCare; repeal the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; prevent any action on climate change; further destroy the labor unions that remain viable; continue to promote voter suppression which assisted the GOP victory; continue to allow the Koch Brothers and other reactionary billionaire and millionaire domination of campaign expenditures; fight to undermine feminism and civil rights enforcement; work against immigration reform; reverse the movement toward gay marriage and gay and lesbian equality under the law; and become engaged in multiple overseas wars that benefit powerful corporations and defense industries.

Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century, and we are more like the Gilded Age and the 1920s domestically, but with the addition of the war industries that have our young men and women, many of them from poor families, who are utilized as cannon fodder for war profits, and then mistreated as veterans in years after their war service!

Is this the kind of America that the majority of this nation want? If it is, they will get what they deserve. But there is a sneaking suspicion that this will, hopefully, motivate the vast two thirds of the population who did not vote, to rise up and participate in insuring, for the short run, resistance to the GOP agenda, and longer term, to insure a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President are elected in 2016!

The Contradictory Public Opinion Polls On Midterm Elections Of 2014

With 30 days to go to the Midterm Elections of 2014, the public opinion polls are again proving how unreliable they really are!

The Republicans are claiming, and many polls are indicating, that the party of obstruction and negativism; the party that wishes to privatize Social Security and Medicare; the party that denies Medicaid coverage to millions in many states; the party that has no alternative to ObamaCare; the party which has demonstrated racism, misogyny, nativism, and lack of concern for the middle class; the party which is promoting religion in government which the Founding Fathers opposed; the party which refuses to cooperate even on the ISIL (ISIS) crisis by coming back to Washington to debate and vote on what should be done; the party which has lied consistently and assumes that the American people are dupes who will accept any propaganda they spew forth; somehow is going to win control of the US Senate, and retain most Governorships, despite their pitiful record of being captive to the Tea Party Movement!

On the other hand, the Democrats, who should be proud of what has been accomplished by the Obama Administration, and the kinds of principles they espouse, is running scared, even though many polls indicate that the Senate will stay Democratic, and that most incumbents will win their reelection campaigns, and that the Democrats will take away the Tea Party Governorships of many Republicans.

While no one can say for sure, 30 days out, that the Democrats will perform well, it is hard to believe that the middle class of America, the women, the minority groups, labor, environmentalists, and other progressive groups will not realize the importance of voting, in order to guarantee the long range success of the Obama Presidency, which has now presided over 55 straight months of job growth, a record in modern times, and this pointed out by the conservative journal, FORBES Magazine!

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill Of Rights (January 11, 1944) Not Yet Achieved In 2014!

Now that THE ROOSEVELTS series on PBS, the seven part series presented to the nation by the great documentarian Ken Burns, is over, many thoughts and emotions cross one’s mind.

FDR offered so much to the nation in his New Deal, and in his leadership of the struggle against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan in World War II.

But what struck this author more than any of this, while watching this 14 hour series over the past week, is an often forgotten speech, the State of the Union speech of January 11, 1944, delivered by FDR in a joint session of Congress.

The speech dealt with the issue of a “Second Bill Of Rights”.

FDR knew that the Bill Of Rights had made America the beacon of the civilized world, with the basic civil liberties it granted to all Americans.

But FDR was looking ahead to the end of World War II, and envisioned a nation that would extend the concept of a bill of rights to other issues that affected all Americans.

So FDR called for a future guarantee of everyone having a decent job with a living wage; a guarantee of decent housing for all Americans; a guarantee of a decent supply of food, clothing, and leisure for all; a guarantee of a decent education providing opportunity for all to advance; an expansion of Social Security beyond the beginning of the concept nine years earlier in 1935; and  provision for a decent health care system for all Americans.

Now 70 years later, none of these have been accomplished, although Social Security has improved tremendously for the elderly, and for women who are widowed and children who lose a parent or are orphaned: Medicare has done so much to help the elderly and disabled; and ObamaCare, under great duress, has provided health care for millions of Americans who never had health coverage before.

But yet, conservatives and Republicans are out to make Social Security and Medicare privatized, and want to destroy ObamaCare!

But we have too many people who cannot find work, due to the Great Recession of George W. Bush and cannot even gain extension of the New Deal concept of unemployment compensation; many Americans live in substandard housing; many people go hungry and live in dire poverty; many have to work multiple jobs and cannot have time for leisure, with most Americans not able to have vacation time, less than any European democracy, or Canada or Australia;  and many children are denied a good education system and can only gain minimum wage employment as adults.

The right wing extremists are trying to destroy the New Deal and Great Society reforms, and return American to a century ago before there was social justice and economic opportunity and political reform offered, starting with the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

How can any decent American not rise up in protest and anger at the selfishness and greed of the elite one percent and their propagandists, who do not care what happens to anyone other than their own class?  Why is acquisition of obscene wealth and power so important that these right wingers have no humanity, no common decency, no desire to see their fellow Americans have a chance to succeed as they were given?  Why is the hatred of taxes so vehement, as if one can take his or her wealth to the grave, or give it in obscene amounts to offspring who will never know responsibility or the virtue of accomplishing on their own?  What is wrong with this nation, that 70 years after the “Second Bill of Rights” speech of FDR, we have made very little progress on the goals of the speech, and have even backtracked on them, and we have evil forces wanting to destroy the most significant programs of the New Deal and Great Society?

The Tea Party Out To Destroy All Progress Since 1900! Progressives MUST Fight To Retain Social Justice And Economic Advancements!

America has changed so much in the past 114 years, from the time of the Progressive Era, through the New Deal, the Great Society, and the time of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter. George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama!

America at the end of the Gilded Age was a selfish, greedy nation of the few elite wealthy victimizing the rest of American society.

But then came Theodore Roosevelt cracking down on big business; showing concern for labor; promoting the Food and Drug Administration; and vastly extending the concept of protection of the environment and conservation.

Then came Woodrow Wilson, who gave us the Federal Reserve Banking System; the Clayton Anti Trust Act; the Federal Trade Commission; and the first national labor laws.

Then came Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, changing our lives long term with Social Security; public works programs; bank deposit insurance; stock market regulations; the Tennessee Valley Authority; Federal Unemployment Compensation; and labor laws which gave workers and labor unions the right to collective bargaining.

Then came Harry Truman, who promoted integration of the armed forces and Washington, DC; advocated for national health care; and emphasized the need for national commitment to education.

Then came Dwight D. Eisenhower, who enforced civil rights enforcement; promoted federal aid to education; the development of an interstate highway system; and the development of a national space commitment.

Then came John F. Kennedy, who advanced civil rights; promoted the space program; started the Peace Corps; cracked down on the steel industry;  and advocated national health care for the elderly.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnson, who promoted massive civil rights laws; successfully passed Medicare and Medicaid; pursued a War on Poverty; massive increases in federal aid to education; began a national commitment to environmental and consumer legislation; and appointed the first African American to the cabinet and to the Supreme Court.

Then came Richard Nixon, who signed into law the Environmental Protection Agency; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the Consumer Product Safety Commission; and attempted wage and price controls to keep down the inflation level.

Then came Jimmy Carter, who further promoted civil rights; saw the need for an Energy Department; and became the third best environmental President after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon.

Then came George H. W. Bush, who signed into law civil rights legislation to promote disabled people.

Then came Bill Clinton, who promoted civil rights advancements; a greater commitment to education; and attempted a national health care program.

Finally came Barack Obama, who brought about ObamaCare; promoted great environmental expansion; advocated for equality of gays and lesbians including gay marriage; and started to take moves toward immigration reforms.

So much has been done by these twelve Presidents to advance social justice, and economic reform—eight Democrats and four Republicans.

But now, the 2014 Republican Party has been hijacked by the Tea Party extremists and the right wing radio talk shows and Fox News Channel and the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, and they have declared war on all humane, decent actions that have taken place in the past 114 years, including advocacy of destroying Social Security and Medicare and getting rid of national parks and all labor reforms and the rights of women and the poor!

This is all very shocking and unbelievable, but the battle for progressivism and the retention of the great work done from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama must be forthright and the battle for the future has just begun.  The Republican Party needs to be smashed and reconstituted, if the nation is to grow in the 21st century, rather than move backwards to the 19th century!

The Die Is Cast: The Key Senate Race And The Key Gubernatorial Race Of 2014!

As we look forward to the fall, and just two months until the Midterm elections of 2014, it is clear that there are two key races that will determine a lot of the future of American politics.

One is a Senate race, and the other is a gubernatorial race.

The Senate race is that of Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky against his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the election which is likely to determine if the Republicans win Senate control. It is a very expensive and bitter race, and pits the oligarchy and right wing conservative agenda against a young woman, half McConnell’s age, who is dynamic and charismatic and could be a great leader in the Senate, if only she can overcome the 30 year seniority of McConnell, who has shown no concern about the struggles of his state, and particularly of the large white population in the coal mining industry.

Probably, however, the most expensive single race will be that of former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who served as a Republican from 2007-2011, left the Republican Party, lost an Independent candidacy for the Senate against Marco Rubio in 2010, and then switched to the Democratic Party in 2012. Republican Governor Rick Scott will have tons of money, including his own wealth, to throw against Crist, and this is a classic struggle of a former Governor against a sitting Governor. Scott has been absolutely the worst Governor in America, and there are plenty of candidates for that description! He has done great damage to the environment and to health care and education, and is seen as a true detriment to the state, which is heavily Republican in its legislature, but is turning to Charlie Crist to try to revive the Democratic Party fortunes in the future. Scott also was involved in Medicare fraud, but avoid prison by paying heavy fines, but he should never have been allowed to run for public office after that massive health care scam!

Florida is the largest state to have a truly competitive gubernatorial race, as California with Jerry Brown and New York with Andrew Cuomo do not have really such a situation, and Texas might, with Wendy Davis challenging Greg Abbott, but the polls indicate Florida is a true tossup, as is the Kentucky Senate race.

So these two races are the key ones to focus on, as they will determine a lot of the political future of the next two years!