Pope Francis

The Plot Thickens As Mike Pence Hires An Attorney, And Jared Kushner Faces Business Dealings Investigation

So now the plot thickens, as Vice President Mike Pence has hired an attorney, and Trump son in law Jared Kushner is being investigated on his business dealings.

This makes the Trump scandal investigation even more complex, but occurring at a pace unmatched in the Watergate era of Richard Nixon.

The fact that Mike Pence feels a need to “lawyer up” is a danger sign for him, as it may mean that he has been compromised by being the Vice President for Donald Trump, and may have damaged his own reputation and credibility, meaning once again Donald Trump has done harm and may have destroyed the reputation of yet another person who is in his orbit throughout his life.

The possibility of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan being the beneficiary of the possible downfall of Mike Pence is chilling, as this author and blogger warned five years ago how horrible and disgraceful a person Ryan was, to put in line for the Presidency, when he ran for Vice President in the Presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. For that, I was bitterly criticized and attacked by right wing sources, including the BLAZE of Glenn Beck, and had nasty emails sent to me for expressing my right to freedom of speech.

One could argue that Ryan too has been compromised by working along with a man that he clearly has little personal regard for, all in his obsessive desire to take away the social safety net from the poor, and yet claiming to be a “good Catholic”, a true mockery of the teachings of the faith, as brilliantly expressed by Pope Francis in the Vatican.

The Coming Foreign Trip Disaster Of Donald Trump

Donald Trump is about to engage in a nine day foreign trip, which is bound to be a total disaster.

He will visit Saudi Arabia, the home of the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina, and it will be delicate to do so, after his anti Muslim rhetoric and his attempted Muslim bans.

He will visit Israel, after having revealed Israeli intelligence information to the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador to the United States in the Oval Office, and backing away from the idea of recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and hinting that Israel must agree to concessions to the Palestinians, as he pursues “the art of the deal”. Also, he has refused to visit Masada, since he cannot have his helicopter go to the top of Masada, and is unwilling to take a cable car to the Mount. He also plans only 15 minutes at the Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem, which will alienate many Israelis and American Jews.

He will visit Vatican City and Pope Francis, and has been highly critical of the Pope, who has been dismissive of Trump’s rhetoric and his planned Mexico Wall.

He will be at the NATO summit in Belgium, having alarmed members at his on and off attitudes towards the significance of the alliance, and his pro Russian tendencies that are now being investigated, and could lead to his Presidency in flames.

He will also be be at the G-7 summit with our major economic partners–Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan, to be held in Sicily, Italy.

There will be plenty of opportunity for flubs, blunders, embarrassments, and Trump is not good at sitting through long sessions, gets bored easily, and is not willing to do the preparation, and reading, required to be knowledgeable and competent at international meetings with experienced and competent diplomats and foreign leaders.

Despite what Trump claims, he is NOT a good student, and clearly has a variation of Attention Deficit Disorder, along with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and a likely possibility of Dementia or Alzheimers.

Trump is not up to this trip, which is too long and detailed, and cannot sleep in his own bed, and he is very intense about actually being seriously tested and challenged, as his Presidency deteriorates around him.

Barack Obama made his first foreign trip to Canada, and George W. Bush to Mexico, and after what is likely to be a disastrous trip, who knows if Trump will not just hole himself up in the White House, and scream and yell at his family and his aides, as he faces the end of his Presidency, as a total disgrace to the institution of the Presidency!

Paris Terror Attack Makes Clear Growing Threat To President And Presidential Candidates!

My new book on Presidential assassinations and threats has pointed out the constant and growing danger of assassination threats to our Presidents, including Barack Obama, and my recent op-ed in THE HILL on October 22 drew attention to the growing threat to Presidential candidates, with Donald Trump and Dr. Benjamin Carson now, after much delay, receiving Secret Service protection.  Hillary Clinton, as former First Lady, automatically receives such protection.

As I have pointed out, all Presidential candidates deserve at least some protection, with those doing better in attracting crowds and gaining in public opinion polls having more protection, which would now include Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush at the least.

The idea that the French President, Francois Hollande, was in danger at the soccer stadium at the time of the Paris terror attack last night, and had to be whisked out is alarming, and all Western European leaders, as well as those from Canada, Australia and the US are going to need  heightened protection in this age of terrorism gone overseas from the Middle East to the rest of the civilized world.

The western world is faced with a crisis that Pope Francis has called World War III, but without organized governments engaged in the terrorism, presenting a massive challenge as these terrorists are willing to commit suicide to achieve their goals, unlike the former Soviet Union, which was a constant threat during the Cold War, but also had leadership that wished to win, rather than sacrifice their lives.

So as a result, it was possible over time to overcome the Soviet threat, but in this age of terrorism, it is hard to see a resolution of this crisis no matter what the strategy is that is adopted.

We live in the most crucial time since World War II, and we need statesmanship and courage to meet the challenge!

The Crisis In The Speakership Of The House Of Representatives: Not A Laughing Matter!

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is, under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, second in line for the Presidency behind the Vice President of the United States.

Therefore, who is the Speaker of the House is not an idle matter, but of crucial importance, that he or she be a mainstream, responsible public official.

The Republican Party has produced disasters in the Speakership since 1994.

First, we had Newt Gingrich, who had a scandalous private life, and was extremely confrontational in his dealings with President Bill Clinton, and yet, right wing conservatives were unhappy with him, and he resigned after two terms as Speaker, a total of four years.

Then, his theoretical successor, Bob Livingston, was forced to turn down the Speakership, due to his own private life scandals.

Then, Denny Hastert became Speaker, seemed noncontroversial, and in comparison to Gingrich and Livingston, was just that.  But now, years after his decision to leave Congress after the Republicans lost control of the House in 2006, Hastert faces prosecution and is involved in a sex scandal involving when he was a high school wrestling coach 35 years ago.

And then, there was John Boehner, who lasted almost five years, but was under constant attack by the far right Tea Party Movement, and now has decided to resign at the end of October.  Boehner created constant confrontations with Barack Obama, but also, at times, was cordial with limits imposed by his party’s dynamics.

Eric Cantor, who was supposed to be Boehner’s successor, unexpectedly lost his seat in a nomination fight last year, just as he had the chance to become the first Jewish Speaker of the House, and his defeat apparently delayed Boehner’s decision to leave, until now after the Pope has visited the United States, and spoken before the Congress in joint session.  This event brought out the tears so common to Boehner, a devout Catholic.

Now the issue is who should succeed Boehner, two heartbeats away from the Presidency, with new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy  of California favored even though he has only been in Congress nine years, has sponsored no important legislation, and never would have been in this position had Eric Cantor not been defeated  last year.

McCarthy seems pleasant enough on a personal basis, actually more than Gingrich, Livingston, Hastert, and now Boehner, but will the right wing Tea Party movement be satisfied with him, and will he be responsible enough to conduct himself with a willingness to work with President Obama for the next year?

What if a true right wing extremist ends up as Speaker, with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a possible successor seen as a true extremist and often compared by many to David Duke, the former KKK leader, due to Scalise’s opposition to a Martin Luther King Holiday in Louisiana, one of the last states to adopt it?

America cannot tolerate a right wing extremist to be two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and it can be hoped that, under the present circumstances, Kevin McCarthy become Speaker, but somehow, although unlikely, hope that disillusionment with the Republican control of Congress leads to Democratic control of the House, as well as the Senate, to occur in the 2016 national elections.

Since the House is gerrymandered, giving the GOP control despite more total popular votes for the chamber being Democratic, this seems unlikely, but those who feel it is urgent that the next Democratic President have both chambers of Congress willing to work with him or her, must work very hard to try to elect a Congress controlled by the Democrats!

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!

The Likely “Best” Choice For The Republican Ticket In 2016: John Kasich And Marco Rubio

The first Republican debate is long over, and Donald Trump is monopolizing all of the oxygen in the room, but he is a calamity waiting to happen to the Republican Party.

It is clear already that the best ticket the GOP could offer the American people, in November 2016, would be to nominate Ohio Governor John Kasich for President and Florida Senator Marco Rubio for Vice President.

This would offer the American people a 64 year old Congressional veteran, with 18 years in the House of Representatives and 6 years as Ohio Governor—a man who is a clear cut conservative but centrist in nature, accepting Medicaid; accepting gay marriage as established and tolerant of gays and lesbians; having an element of compassion toward the poor working class, drug offenders, and mentally ill people; great experience in balancing budgets as head of the House Budget Committee; great communications ability, including six years as a talk show host on Fox News Channel; a very popular Governor of the crucial state for any Republican to win the White House; who has accepted that climate change exists; has supported gun regulation in the past; has supported criminal justice reform; is open minded on illegal immigration and eventual citizenship; and has an enlightened view of Christianity and its doctrines, so that recently he has been called a Pope Francis type personality.

However, others have said that Kasich has a “prickly” personality; that he has a “hair trigger” temper; that he is condescending, arrogant, and manipulative, which is, of course, quite disturbing. It also has been pointed out that he has weakened labor unions in Ohio, and has undermined public education in Ohio, in favor of charter schools. So, as with any candidate, he has definite shortcomings, but there is also the reality that, in comparison to his rivals, he stands out as having more potential as a candidate, and to have some, if not all, of the proper character traits, with no one having all, unfortunately.

So it is clear that Kasich is not preferable to a Democratic nominee, any of them in reality, but he comes across as the best person in the race on the Republican side at this writing.

At the same time, Marco Rubio, at age 45 in 2016, might be the best choice for Vice President. He has charisma; good looks; is Hispanic (Cuban American); represents another swing state like Ohio is, but Florida is the largest state to be a swing state; and while he is much more conservative than Kasich, he has potential for growth and maturity in his views over time. Rubio would not be thrilled to be Vice President, but it is a stepping stone to the Presidency when he is older and more seasoned. Besides, he has given up his chance to hold his Senate seat, so it would be more enticing for him to accept the Vice Presidency if he fails to win the Presidential nomination of his party.

This would be a team that would easily give the Republican Party their best shot at winning, but if they do not appeal to women, African Americans, Hispanics, the young, and to working class Americans, they have no chance of winning, so they need to moderate their image.

This team of Kasich and Rubio could accomplish what no other combination would be able to do–win the White House for the Republicans!  Having said that, the odds for the Democrats to keep the White House are excellent, and if Trump runs as an independent or third party candidate, it is guaranteed that the Democrats will win, and likely be certain to regain the Senate, and possibly,. even the House of Representative!

September 2015–A Month Of Federal Budget Deadline, Pope Francis Visit, Iran Agreement Debate For Congress!

When Congress gets back from its summer recess after Labor Day, it faces, along with President Barack Obama, a very challenging and significant month of major events.

The budget deadline is coming on September 30, and as usual, the Republicans in Congress are threatening yet again to shut down the government, with the issue of funding of Planned Parenthood being the major stumbling block, along with fights to cut “safety net” programs and promote yet more tax cuts for the corporations and the wealthy.

Pope Francis, certainly the best Pope in his progressive vision since Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), will be visiting the United States and speaking before a joint session of Congress. He will deliver a message that progressives will love, including concern for the poor; acceptance of change in the Catholic Church on many conservative doctrines, including an open mind on gays and lesbians and divorce; condemnation of unbridled capitalism; and advocacy of the need for action on climate change and the environment in general. The Republican controlled Congress will be uncomfortable over his message, but it will boost the Obama agenda and legacy.

Also, the bitter battle over the Iran nuclear deal is extremely divisive, with American Jews divided; Democrats divided; and Republicans in unison against the deal, and advocating military force against Iran. All that Obama needs to sustain the agreement is one third plus one of the votes in one or both houses. That seems assured now in the House of Representatives with the assistance of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, but in the Senate, it will be more difficult, since future likely Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has come out against the agreement. But as long as at least one house cannot override the veto, the President will triumph.

So a month of “fireworks” is assured, and who knows what else will occur, particularly with the 2016 Presidential race in full swing, and already highly controversial!

Hate Mongering Republican Presidential Candidates Who Would Disgrace The Office Of The Presidency!

There are anywhere from 15 to nearly 20 potential Republican Presidential candidates, and one can find faults and shortcomings with most of them, but there are only a few who can be labeled, by their utterances, to be hate mongers, wishing to stir up fear and incite audiences with their rhetoric. One is held accountable for what one says and what he promotes, and therefore, disqualify themselves for the honor of residing in the White House!

Those who would qualify for this dubious “honor” include:

Dr. Benjamin Carson
Texas Senator Ted Cruz
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

All of these five have been reckless in their desire to divide the American people, and have advocated lawlessness and disobedience of the federal government, including the court system and the Supreme Court in particular.

They have promoted hate and fear of gays and lesbians; immigration; women’s rights; racial justice; and have shown no concern about the poor and the sick, particularly on the issue of health care.

Interestingly, all five constantly invoke Christianity in their political pitches, and specifically, hard line Christianity of the evangelical and right wing Catholic variety, a total repudiation of the teachings of Jesus Christ, and a defiance of the principle of separation of church and state under our political system! And they all criticize Pope Francis and his liberal, open minded view of the meaning of Jesus Christ and his teachings!

Any of these five would totally disgrace the office of the Presidency!

Fortunately, it is highly unlikely that any of these five will win the nomination of the Republican Party, but if so, the odds of such an individual winning the Presidency are very low!

Barack Obama Since The Midterm Defeat: Finally Asserting His Executive Powers, A La TR, FDR And Other Outstanding Presidents!

Since the defeat of the Democrats in the Midterm Elections of 2014, Barack Obama has changed his whole manner and approach to governing.

Obama is now asserting himself, via his executive powers, a la Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and other outstanding Presidents.

In less than two months, Obama has done the following, all significant initiatives:

Declared his support for internet neutrality, meaning federal regulation of the internet.

Reached a momentous climate deal with China, to reduce greenhouse gases.

Issued an executive order protecting up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation, and protecting families from being broken apart.

Established regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency to limit ozone emissions.

Promoted new sanctions on Russia and Vladamir Putin for their intervention in Ukraine, crippling the Russian economy in a massive way.

Accomplished the confirmation of over 90 nominees to executive branch and judicial branch appointments, including the Surgeon General, held off for almost a year.

Normalized relations with Cuba, with the help of Canada and Pope Francis, and the support of some Republicans, including Jeff Flake of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

To have accomplished so much in such a short time, despite his party’s defeat in November, makes Barack Obama well situated to make his mark in the last two years, free of any controls, other than the Constitution and the precedents set by his predecessors in the White House!

Obama Supported By Chambers Of Commerce, Catholic Church, Public Opinion Polls, And Many Others, On Cuban Policy

President Obama has taken a gigantic step in changing Cuban policy, and his initiative will overcome the opposition of Cuban American Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, along with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and many other Republicans and some Democrats, other than Menendez.

This Cuban initiative was promoted by Canada’s Conservative government; Pope Francis; Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona; and many other rational people who knew that the policy against Fidel and Raul Castro, beginning under Dwight D. Eisenhower, and lasting through what is now eleven Presidencies, was having no real effect on the Cuban government, and harming its citizens. The Chambers of Commerce and the Catholic Church in America have also endorsed the change in policy. And, interestingly, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has also backed the Obama policy as rational and reasonable, which it most certainly is! And public opinion polls show about 60 percent support a change in Cuban policy.

Yes, the Castros have been horrific on human rights, but we have have relations with many oppressive governments, which are more than half the nations in the world. These have included Communist governments, as in China and Vietnam, for instance; but also numerous right wing dictatorships in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East over the decades.

If we can deal with Vietnam, where 58,000 Americans died, then we can deal with Cuba a half century after the Cuban Missile Crisis!

Either we accept that fact, that it is time to change a Cuban policy which has never worked, or we need to cut off relations with most of the nations in the world, and live in isolation, and our own “dream world” of reality!