Month: January 2013

Poverty Level In US Higher Than Any “Developed” Nation

After nearly thirty years of the “Reagan Revolution”, the triumph of the conservative movement,. America ends up, in published data, as the worst nation on its poverty level of any “developed” nation.

The Economic Policy Institute has published data that show the following:

22 nations in Europe, plus Canada, and Australia and New Zealand and Japan, have a lower poverty rate, with the US having a 17.3 percent rate.

25 nations have a lower child poverty rate, with the US having a 17.1 percent rate.

America has a more stratified class system than any of the other democracies, and we always hear that we do not wish to be like Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Certainly, we have a lot to be proud of in our history, but we also have to recognize that the standard of living has declined under the “Reagan Revolution”, and now we are trying to dig ourselves out, and to refuse to recognize the high poverty rate, and particularly its effect on children, we are harming the future of our nation!

A First: Two Vietnam War Veterans In Charge Of Our Foreign And Defense Policies

Here we are, 40 years after the Paris Peace Accords ended US involvement in Vietnam, and we finally have two Vietnam War veterans in charge of our State Department and Defense Department, with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts taking over the State Department on Friday, and former Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska facing a Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow, in which he will be challenged by critics who never served in Vietnam, and could best be described as “chicken hawks”!

Hagel will have a rough reception, but he will be confirmed, rightfully, and he and Kerry will bring a different perspective to our foreign and military policies, the concept of thinking clearly and moving toward confrontation and engagement only when absolutely necessary for our national security and safety.

Kerry and Hagel are a repudiation of neoconservatism, which sees engagement in wars overseas as always a good thing, and constantly looking for places to send military force to promote American capitalist values and Christianity, and in so doing, antagonizing much of the “third world” nations of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. That is why they are fighting so hard to stop Hagel, but they will fail to do that.

Kerry and Hagel know the horrors of war and the reality of military life, and Hagel has war wounds to prove it. They will be excellent advisers to President Barack Obama, and will help to promote sanity in our foreign and military policies. May we wish both of them good fortune as they chart the course of America at a time when rational, sane behavior is essential for America’s revival from a decade of war and economic turmoil.

178th Anniversary Of Andrew Jackson Assassination Attempt Reminds Us Of Constant Threats Against Life Of Barack Obama

On this day in 1835, America witnessed the first assassination attempt against a President, as Andrew Jackson subdued his own assassin, Richard Lawrence, who fired two weapons, both of which misfired, the odds of such an event being estimated at one in 125,000 attempts!

Sadly, we have witnessed four Presidents assassinated in office—Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. We have seen two Presidents wounded in assassination attempts—Theodore Roosevelt out of office and Ronald Reagan. We have also seen Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Gerald Ford shot at, with the assassins missing their mark. And we have had direct threats against Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, and other, more indirect threats, against other Presidents.

But Barack Obama has had the greatest number of threats of all, averaging 30 per day, according to an an article in the Huffington Post!

So on this anniversary of the first assassination attempt, a prayer for the safety of our President is in order!

Age Vs Youth: Will The Republicans And Democrats Be Switching On Their Presidential Nominees In 2016?

When one analyzes the two major political parties in the past forty years, it has been a general reality that the Republican Party has run Presidential candidates who tend to be much older than the Democratic Party nominees for President.

Witness Richard Nixon, nine years older than George McGovern in 1972; Gerald Ford eleven years older than Jimmy Carter in 1976; Ronald Reagan thirteen years older than Jimmy Carter in 1980; Reagan seventeen years older than Walter Mondale in 1984; George H. W. Bush eight years older than Michael Dukakis in 1988; Bush twenty two years older than Bill Clinton in 1992; Bob Dole twenty three years older than Clinton in 1996; John McCain twenty five years older than Barack Obama in 2008; and Mitt Romney fourteen years older than Obama in 2012. Only in 2000 and 2004 did we see George W. Bush older than Al Gore by only two years and in 2004 actually younger than John Kerry by three years.

This phenomenon is maybe just a coincidence, but it has often been said that the Democrats go for youth and the Republicans for experience in their Presidential nominees.

Well, if that is the case, it is about to be switched dramatically in 2016 if one assumes that either Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden are the likely front runners for the Democratic Presidential nomination, as Hillary will be 69 in 2016, and Joe will be 74 in 2016. Clinton would be the second oldest first time nominee, behind Ronald Reagan, and Biden would be the oldest first time nominee.

The Republicans are certain to nominate a candidate decades younger, such as Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, or Ted Cruz, all born in the early 1970s, being therefore mid 40s in 2016. If you consider Chris Christie, Scott Walker, or John Thune, they were born in the 1960s, so would be in the mid 50s. Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann all were born in the 1950s, so would be in their late 50s or in the 60s. There is no candidate born in the 1940s seriously mentioned, unless one expects Newt Gingrich to try again for the Presidency, being just a year younger than Joe Biden and four years older than Hillary Clinton.

The Democrats have alternative possible candidates in Martin O’Malley and Amy Klobuchar born in the early 1960s, so either would be mid 50s in 2016, but Andrew Cuomo and Mark Warner, born in the mid 1950s would be nearing or at the age of 60 when running in 2016, and Elizabeth Warren, born in 1949, would be 67 in 2016, only about two years younger than Hillary Clinton.

So we are seeing a likely switch from an older to younger Republican nominee, and a younger to an older Democratic nominee, and the difference in years could be massive, as it was in the past forty years in most Presidential elections.

A final thought: In the nine elections between 1972 and 2012 when the GOP nominee was always older than the Democratic nominee, the Republicans won the election four times, and the Democrats five times, so basically, trying to determine whether age or youth are an advantage is clearly a pure guessing game!

The Exit Of Sarah Palin: We Hardly Know Ye And Do NOT Wish To Know You Better!

After four years and five months, the saga of Sarah Palin is finally over, as her services are no longer required at Fox News Channel.

First making the national news at the end of August 2008, when Senator John McCain made the tremendous mistake of selecting her as his Vice Presidential running mate, she now exits the news at the end of January 2013.

Therefore, for a total of 53 months, she has plagued the public discourse with her stupidity, ignorance, prejudicial views, and her obvious jealousy that others were gaining more attention.

But she was a smart business woman, making millions on her mediocrity, and the story of a very ordinary, unqualified person being a potential heartbeat away from the Presidency, had McCain won the White House, was a story that terrified intelligent people.

When one looks back on all those journalists who made us think that Palin would run for President, and was qualified in the minds of some Republicans and conservatives to be the Commander in Chief, it makes us realize how gullible and naive many people really are.

And the report that Fox News Channel offered to keep her at a reduced contract, which she turned down, just proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how delusional Sarah Palin is about her own knowledge and intellect!

It is good to clean out the files on Sarah Palin, and see her as a phenomenon which has run its course, and America is the better for it ending finally in January 2013!

Sarah Palin, we hardly know ye, and we do not wish to know you better! Goodbye and good riddance!

Republican Persecution Complex: A Serious Disease!

The Republican Party has caused its own downfall with its mean spirited, nasty campaigns, and its unwillingness to separate themselves from the power and influence of Fox News Channel, the right wing talk show hosts, and the rhetoric of their own reckless candidates and office holders, and powerful lobbying groups.

Portraying their party as victims, Speaker of the House John Boehner says Barack Obama wants to “annihilate” the Republican Party, and Paul Ryan, the House Budget Chairman and 2012 GOP Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney, said on Sunday that Obama wants to “conquer” the opposition party, rather than compromise.

Somehow, they forget that George W. Bush was out to promote his own program after reelection in 2004, not in the mood for compromise.

The Republicans have not been willing to compromise for four years, and now they are using the psychological term called “projection”, accusing the President of what they have been doing, out to defeat the President and compromise on nothing. It is a despicable trick which no sane person will agree with, as they have shown total intransigence, and threatened anyone who diverts from orthodoxy that they will have the opposition of powerful interest groups, and Tea Party opposition for renomination.

The only way the Republican Party has a future is to modify their ideas, come back to the moderate center, become the party of the 1960s and 1970s, before Ronald Reagan and conservatives “hijacked” the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower!

“Gang Of Six” Becomes “Gang Of Eight” On Immigration Reform

As a new immigration reform plan is unveiled by Senators, the “Gang of Six” described yesterday in a blog entry has now become a “Gang of Eight”.

Joining the group, which had included John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Dick Durbin of Florida are Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado.

President Obama is to speak about this issue in Nevada on Tuesday, and it seems as if, finally, there may be a move toward real action on an issue that has been highly divisive, including a failure to get a McCain-Ted Kennedy bill through Congress in 2007 under President George W. Bush, who had pushed for it, but failed to see it succeed. Let us hope for quick action!

Loss Of Two Progressives In 2014–Senators Tom Harkin And Jay Rockefeller

It is sad news that two leading Democratic progressives in the US Senate—Tom Harkin of Iowa and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia—have decided to retire in 2014, leaving a major gap that could affect the Senate balance, although both would have come under fire from Tea Party Republicans for sure if they had run, each for a sixth term.

Both have served since election in 1984, and Harkin had been in the US House of Representatives for ten years previously, and Rockefeller had been Governor of his state for eight years previously.

So both have served their state and nation for approximately 40 years, and are leaving in their mid 70s, a good time to leave, and an opportunity for fresh blood to come into the Senate.

Both were great public servants, and Harkin was this blogger’s personal favorite for President when he ran in 1992 in a field including Bill Clinton.

Both will be missed, and it will be hard to replace them with men or women with their commitment to principle, decency, and humanity!

The “Gang Of Six” And Immigration Reform Moving Ahead

President Barack Obama has made immigration reform one of the major goals of his second term in the Presidency, and now, after much resistance for years by the majority of Republicans, suddenly we have a “Gang of Six” US Senators who are cooperatively working together toward that goal, making the likelihood of such reform much more likely.

The members of the “Gang of Six” are:

Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Dick Durbin of Illinois

Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

This group includes Senators from key states that have growing Latino population—New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Arizona and South Carolina.

it includes two leading Hispanic Senators, both Cuban—Menendez and Rubio.

It includes two Democratic leaders, the number 2 and number 3 in the leadership—Durbin and Schumer.

It includes former Republican Presidential candidate McCain, and his good friend, Graham.

If any combination of Democrats and Republicans can accomplish the goal of recognition of the need for a reasonable immigration reform, rather than the anti immigrant view of Mitt Romney during the Presidential campaign of 2012, it is this group of US Senators!

40th Anniversary Of Paris Peace Accords Ending US Involvement In The Vietnam War

Forty years ago today, the US involvement in the Vietnam War, which had led to the deaths of 58,000 American soldiers since 1961, came to an end with the Paris Peace Accords between the United States, North Vietnam, the Vietcong, and South Vietnam.

Originally hailed as a great moment, it turned out to be a fallacy, as two years later, North Vietnam attacked South Vietnam, and conquered it within the month of April 1975, leading to massive escapes by those who did not wish to live under Communism, with those fleeing being known as the “boat people”.

The Vietnam War had divided America as nothing since the Civil War, with the anti war movement flourishing in America, and major social upheaval occurring, including splits in families over the war, and the destruction of the Democratic coalition that had won overwhelmingly under Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and the growing distrust of government under both Johnson and Richard Nixon.

It is ironic that a major critic of the war, who fought in it, and testified against continued US involvement, John Kerry, soon will be our Secretary of State under a President who was 12 years old when the Paris Peace Accords were signed.

Vietnam veterans have never been treated properly and with full respect, since the war ended four decades ago, but the Obama Administration has done a great deal to try to make the aging of the veterans of that war more easily adjustable, as these survivors, man of them physically or psychologically disabled, live on as testimony to the folly of the war strategy of the US government.