US Senate

The Democratic Presidential Debate Will Be One Of Substance, Intelligence, And Sincerity, Unlike The Republican Debates!

The Democratic Presidential debate taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada tonight will be substantially different than the first two Republican Presidential debates.

It will include only five candidates, unless Joe Biden shocks everyone and shows up at the last minute.

It will include three former Republicans in earlier life—Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee.

It will include a declared Socialist, who is really a Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders.

It will include three former Senators, a sitting Senator, and a former Governor.

It will include five people who have their differences, but not that much chasm between them, and they all have records of substance.

It will include five people, all with great intelligence and sincerity.

Any of the five could fill the office of President, which cannot be said of the majority of Republicans who are running for the Presidency.

None of these five candidates have demonstrated a mean spirit, or prejudice, or narrow mindedness in their political careers, while almost all of the GOP candidates have ugly things about their backgrounds, records, and public utterances.

The talent in the Democratic Party is far greater than in the Republican Party, which now has probably its worse set of candidates in its entire history, and even worse than in 2012.

When one looks back at GOP Presidential contenders in the last few decades, they include some really competent, decent, and well intentioned political figures.

That cannot be said about the GOP in 2015, which is in the process of disintegrating before our eyes.

The only good thing about the growing indications of the self destruction of the Republicans is that they will be replaced by a new group that fits in the mainstream, and will force the Democrats to work harder to keep a moral and ethical edge on the new party that will emerge.

“No Labels” Convention Being Held Monday In New Hampshire To Promote Bipartisanship

Today, a convention under the name “No Labels Problem Solver Convention”  is being held in New Hampshire, promoted by former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman and former Democrat and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

The convention expects a thousand or more participants, including eight Presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump and George Pataki.

The purpose is to promote bipartisanship, the dealing with important issues in a way that brings progress, rather than the constant deadlock now prevailing in our political system on the national level.

The convention is gaining attention of the news media, and it is hoped that it will lead to a new attitude that will benefit the nation at large.

The goals include the creation of 25 million new jobs over the next decade; making American energy secure by 2024; protecting Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years; and balancing the federal budget by 2030.

This is the time to unite around a future which avoids confrontational scenes like we are now seeing from the so called “Freedom Caucus” of Republicans in the House of Representatives!

The Constitutional Crisis We Tend To Forget: Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, And Gerald Ford In 1973

The tragedy of the John F. Kennedy Assassination in 1963 led to a decision that the nation needed an amendment to provide for a replacement Vice President, when there was a vacancy in that office.  We were faced with a Speaker of the House, John McCormack, who was 73, and a President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, Carl Hayden, who was 86, at a time when the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, had had a severe heart attack eight years earlier.

This was a delicate time, and led Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, and other legislators, to promote the 25th Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1967.  And that made the constitutional crisis which followed six years later a little easier to deal with.

Richard Nixon became the most lawless President in American history, as a result of the Watergate Scandal and other scandals.  But Vice President Spiro Agnew also became the most lawless Vice President in American history, and thank goodness we found out about Agnew’s lawlessness, including bribery and accepting cash gifts in the Vice President’s office, which Agnew had also done while Governor of Maryland and Baltimore County Executive.

Instead of having Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma as next in line, with Albert unwilling to take on the responsibility, the 25th Amendment allowed the appointment and confirmation by both houses of Congress of House Minority Leader Gerald Ford.

Ford became Vice President within two months of the Agnew resignation on October 10, 1973. and when he became President, Ford appointed and gained the approval of both houses of Congress to the appointment of former New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President, although it took four months to get him confirmed.

The problem of most Speakers of the House is their lack of competence to be President, which is still a problem for a period of months until a new Vice President is appointed and confirmed.  And also, three out of four years since 1947, the Speaker and or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate have been from the opposition party of the President.

So this still requires what this blogger has suggested in the past week in the midst of the Speakership crisis—a return to the Presidential Succession Act of 1886, which provided for Cabinet officers to succeed the President and Vice President, rather than the present law, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, which leaves us with the crisis we face now!

First Democratic Presidential Debate Gives Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, And Jim Webb Opportunity To Be Noticed And Gain Support!

The first Democratic Presidential debate, coming up on Tuesday, October 13, on CNN, gives three candidates their first chance to gain attention and support.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. former Rhode Island Governor and Senator Lincoln Chafee, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb have gained virtually no support, no more than one or two percent in polls, with all of the attention focused on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and with Vice President Joe Biden still considering whether to enter the race, although he will not be in the first Presidential debate.

All three of the “unknowns” have records worthy of consideration, but at this point, have what is considered to be zero chance to be the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Interestingly, three of the five candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination started as Republicans, including Hillary Clinton Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb.

And Bernie Sanders, technically has never been a Democrat, although he caucuses with the Democrats in the US Senate.

So only Martin O’Malley has ALWAYS been a Democrat, an ironic twist!

It will be interesting to see if any of the three “unknowns” gain any real momentum after Tuesday’s debate, with the best bet being O’Malley!

Marco Rubio Rising, Jeb Bush Falling: The Two Floridians A Generation Apart!

It now seems clear that Florida Senator Marco Rubio is gaining support, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is rapidly losing support in the Republican Presidential race.

Rubio always has called Bush his “mentor”,  as Rubio entered the Florida legislature during the tenure of Jeb Bush as Governor of the “Sunshine” State.

Also, Rubio is almost a full generation younger than Bush, born 18 years after Bush.

Bush, more than ever, is seen as representing the past, the Bush Dynasty, and has been out of office since the end of 2006.

Rubio is one of the youngest Senators, and has been in office since the new century began, and is portraying himself as the “new generation” of leadership, the kind of appeal that John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama used as a pitch when they ran for President on the Democratic Party side.

The Democrats now have a problem, if Marco Rubio is able to become the Republican Presidential nominee, as their three leading candidates—Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden, if he enters the race–will be 69 to 75 at the beginning of their term of office, making them 24 to 30 years older than the Florida Senator.

Generally, the nation goes for the younger candidate for President, with the exception in modern times of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

Martin O’Malley, former Governor of Maryland, represents the “younger generation” in the Democratic Party, but has not “taken off” at all, a perplexing situation, and again, a problem for the Democratic Party as it enters the 2016 Presidential competition.

Marco Rubio Emerges From “Pack” Of Republicans As “Officeholder” And “New Generation” Of Leadership!

It is interesting that in the midst of the “non officeholders” —Donald Trump, Carley Fiorina, Dr. Benjamin Carson—together gaining a majority of the support in most public opinion polls for the Republican Presidential nomination, that we are seeing the rise of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and to a lesser extent Ohio Governor John Kasich, in the polls, while others, including Jeb Bush, are losing support.

Rubio is taking advantage of the situation to point out that he is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and that he is a “new generation” of leadership, surpassing his own “mentor”, Jeb Bush!

Rubio has many weaknesses, but the fact that he is Hispanic, is from the  leading “swing” state, Florida, and makes a good personal appearance, are all factors in his rise.

The question is whether he can overcome the “non officeholders” and continue to improve enough in debates to end up as the leader in the polls in the next few months before the Iowa Caucuses occur on February 1.

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!

JFK In 1960; Carter In 1976; Clinton In 1992; Obama In 2008; Vs Martin O’Malley In 2016: Why The Difference In Fortunes?

In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy overcame Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, Senator Hubert Humphrey, and Senator Stuart Symington to win the Democratic Presidential nomination, despite being Roman Catholic in religion, and offered “a new generation” of leadership, after President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter overcame Senator Frank Church, Senator Birch Bayh, Governor Jerry Brown, and Congressman Morris Udall to win the Democratic Presidential nomination, despite being the first Southerner since 1848, and offered “a new generation” of leadership, after President Gerald Ford.

In 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton overcame former Senator Paul Tsongas, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Bob Kerrey, and former Governor Jerry Brown to win the Democratic Presidential nomination, despite revelation of a sex scandal, and offered “a new generation” of leadership, after President George H. W. Bush.

In 2008, Senator Barack Obama overcame Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Joe Biden,  Senator Chris Dodd and Governor Bill Richardson to win the Democratic Presidential nomination, despite being African American, and offered “a new generation” of leadership, after President George W. Bush.

In 2016, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, despite his outstanding record as Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Governor, has gained no traction against Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and even Socialist Bernie Sanders, all much older than him, and despite O’Malley offering “a new generation of leadership”, instead of going “backward” a generation in age from President Barack Obama.

The question is why O’Malley has gained no substantial support, despite his charisma and good looks, often seen as equivalent to how JFK, Carter, Clinton and Obama came across as being, before being elected President of the United States.

The concern is that the Republicans may nominate a candidate who is much younger than the Democratic nominee, someone such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul.  History tell us that most often,  the younger nominee wins over the older nominee opponent, as with Kennedy and Richard Nixon, Carter and Gerald Ford, Clinton and George H. W. Bush, and Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The Democrats, in theory, have a “bench” of potential younger candidates in the future, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, along with the potential of new senators and governors who might be elected in 2016 and beyond.  But for right now, O’Malley is the Democratic “bench”, and he has failed to stir any support, very frustrating to him and anyone who is worried about the “old timers” who are the top three Democratic nominees for the Presidency this time around.

Bernie Sanders Leads Hillary Clinton In Iowa And New Hampshire: Time To Take Vermont Senator Seriously!

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is no joke anymore, as he now leads Hillary Clinton by 22 points in New Hampshire and by 10 points in Iowa in the latest polls.

Sanders is seeing his support mounting, while Clinton seems to be quickly falling apart.

Of course, two states do not make a nomination, and Hillary is ahead of Sanders by a wide margin in South Carolina.

But it is clear that it is not only the Republicans who are rejecting the so called “Establishment”, but also the Democrats, who seem to want a genuine, authentic, consistent principle driven candidate, and Bernie Sanders is therefore, the “man”!

Whether Sanders can sustain his surge and go beyond Iowa and New Hampshire is the question, but right now, his performance is making Vice President Joe Biden, another person who is genuine, authentic, and and consistent principle driven, reconsider whether he has the “fire in the belly” to challenge Hillary Clinton.

Certainly, the Democratic nomination, once thought to be guaranteed to Hillary Clinton, as in 2008, is again up for grabs.

Last time, it was a first term African American Senator with an odd name of Barack Obama; this time, it is the longest serving Independent member in the history of Congress in both houses, a Socialist, a person of Jewish heritage with a “Brooklyn” accent, and would be the oldest President upon inauguration of any of the potential Presidential candidates,  Bernie Sanders, who is the surprise of this campaign season!

Republican Party History: Key Dates Of 1860, 1912, 1964, 2016—the 52 Year Syndrome!

The Republican has had a long, controversial history since its founding in 1854 as a party opposed to the expansion of slavery, and containing within itself, those opposed to the institution of slavery itself.

After only six years, the Republican Party reached majority control of both houses of Congress and the White House, with Abraham Lincoln.

From then until 52 years later, 1912, the GOP dominated American politics, except in the South, where the Democrats prevailed.

In 1912, the party split between former President Theodore Roosevelt, an extremely popular and path breaking President, the greatest Republican President since Lincoln, and the incumbent President, William Howard Taft, who was supported by conservatives of the time against TR’s Progressive Party challenge, which led to Taft only winning two states and 23 percent of the national popular vote, and putting Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the White House.

While the Republicans recovered in the 1920s, and almost defeated Wilson in 1916 with their nominee, Charles Evans Hughes, the Great Depression decimated the Republican Party, and the Democrats became the majority party, while the Republicans continued to battle between moderates and conservatives, with the moderates winning the nominations for President, until finally, Senator Barry Goldwater defeated the Establishment  forces led by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1964, 52 years after the earlier collapse.  Goldwater went on to lose the popular vote in a two way race by a larger margin than ever in American history, with Lyndon B. Johnson winning over 61 percent of the national vote.

This massive defeat did not end the civil war in the GOP, with Gerald Ford just barely winning the nomination over Ronald Reagan in 1976, and losing a very close race to Jimmy Carter.  But Reagan then won the White House, and the right wing felt it was in its glory, although Reagan was, actually, very unpredictable in his policies and views, and would today, probably be rejected by the extreme right wing in control of the GOP in 2015.

The right wing was unhappy with George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney as insufficiently conservative, and now there is full scale civil war in the GOP, including revolts against Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  The rise of Donald Trump, Dr. Benjamin Carson, and Carly Fiorina, all non office holders, demonstrates the right wing desire to fight the GOP establishment, but what it means is certain defeat in 2016.

Likely, no matter who is nominated, the Republican Party is, seemingly, at a 52 year mark, again ready to implode upon itself, and give the Democrats long term control of the Presidency, as the situation now appears!