Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Edna Chase


Yesterday, The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor, that had been submitted by Edna Chase of Fly Creek.

“This letter is in defense of our public school teachers.  It is completely unfair to them to have half of their evaluations based on test scores.  In a perfect world all children would have parents who care about their schooling, food always available in their homes, at least one parent bringing in a paycheck and the mental ability to do their school work.

“Sadly, this is not the case for many children today.  In fact, some children are living in the family car!  The lack of basic necessities affects the child’s ability to learn, which cannot be made up by the best of teachers.  Teachers are doing the best they can under the circumstances.  Children are only in school six hours a day.  I think it would be a better idea to do less testing.  Let the teachers prepare the day-to-day, month-to-month tests with a standard test (like the Regents used to be) at year end.

“While the governor complains about the cost of education, perhaps we might consider the cost of all of these standardized tests.  Whether on paper or computer the companies providing these tests intend to make a profit.

“Today’s teachers deserve our respect and gratitude for doing a difficult job.  Let’s allow them to do what they do best — teach, not test.  The children will be better off.”

****
Unfortunately, if the State of New York is going to increase the funding for public schools, taxpayers are going to expect their elected representatives to make sure that our teachers are doing a better job regardless of the circumstances. 

Actually, not all teachers are doing the best they can under the circumstances.  It’s easy to blame the family, but teachers have been dealing with those issues for generations, and still have managed to motivate students to learn the material presented in the classroom.

Only standardized testing will provide an accurate picture of what students in school districts across our state are learning.  In some cases students will put forth significant effort, when they know that they’re competing with students statewide  They’ve done this is sports competition, why shouldn’t they do it in academic competition.

In my opinion, many public school districts have been spending far too much time and money on sports competition and too little on achieving academic excellence.  More time in the class room and less time on the football field or basketball court is a serious problem that should be addressed.   

Monday, March 30, 2015

Temporary Protection


Comprehensive immigration reform is the moral thing to do, because it will give solace to millions of people who are worried about being wrenched from their families.

There are roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in America and the Immigration Policy Institute estimates that President Obama executive order last year could grant temporary protection for as many as 5.2 million undocumented workers.

When there is no forward movement on an important issue such as immigration reform a president has a responsibility to the American people who elected him to try to fix that which is broken.  Everybody including Speaker Boehner recognizes the immigration system is broken.  Last year, the Senate came up with legislation to fix our broken immigration system, but it was never allowed to come up for a vote in the House.

Speaker of the House, John Boehner had a group of eight working on a comprehensive bill, but it was never brought to the floor for a vote.  Although, Boehner has claimed that he wants to see comprehensive immigration reform it hasn’t happen.  Our immigration system is broken and House Republicans have continued to refused to take meaningful action to address it.

After President Obama issued his executive order, Speaker Boehner claimed: “Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the President says he’s acting on his own.  That’s just not how our Democracy works.  The President has said before that he’s not a king and he’s not an emperor but he’s sure is acting like one.  And he’s doing it at a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”

The American people assume that our democracy has been working in Congress, but it isn’t.  We’ve seen obstruction, gridlock, a record number of filibusters, but not any substancial action. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership


Presently, America is in a race with China to secure a trade deal with countries in the Asia Pacific, which is the fastest-growing markets in the world. The countries that would be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), received 62 percent of American exports in 2014.
President Obama said: “past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype.  That’s why I’ve made it clear that I won’t sign any agreement that doesn’t put American workers first.” 
TPP gives America the greatest opportunity to level the playing field for American workers, by putting in place tough new standards on labor, the environment, and in other areas that will make the Trans-Pacific Partnership the most progressive trade deal in the world. 
Failure to secure this trade agreement will result in America business losing opportunities to create new high-paying jobs through expanded exports, because other countries would get preferential access to the fastest-growing markets at our expense.
American businesses would have to drop out of competition or move their production overseas to access those markets.  We’d fail to secure strong labor and environmental standards for trade in the world's fastest-growing region.

There’d be no enforceable rules ensuring countries set a minimum wage, end child labor, or enforce workplace safety.  There’d be no enforceable rules ensuring countries address the ivory trade or wildlife trafficking.

We’d continue to be unable to protect American innovation, because there would be no rules protecting American invention, artistic creativity, and research.  We’d be limited in our ability to develop creative ways to speed the flow of new medicines to patients and ensure an open Internet.

It’s time to level the playing field and secure a trade deal that reflects the best of our values and ensures the strength of our economic future. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yemen


Last September, Shiite Houthi rebels from northern Yemen moved south and took the capital city, Sanaa.

ISIL a.k.a. ISIS bombed two Shiite mosques in Yemen, killing more than 130 worshippers at prayer as, the Shiite Houthi forces closed in on Yemen's second major city, Aden.  Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who Saudi Arabia and President Obama had backed fled the country.

As the United States closed its embassy and withdrew its last troops, Yemen slid into total chaos, with rebels and jihadists on both sides capturing military bases and seizing tanks and heavy weapons.

Recently a coalition of Sunni nations, led by Saudi Arabia, launched massive airstrikes against the Houthis, with a Saudi adviser threatening to send 150,000 ground troops into Yemen to restore the Hadi regime.  According to a Saudi adviser the airstrike included 100 Saudi jets, 30 from the United Arab Emirates, 15 each from Kuwait and Bahrain, 10 from Qatar, and a handful from Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, plus naval help from Pakistan and Egypt.

Jack Goldstone is a Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University.  He pointed out that Yemen was on the top of every expert's list as the fragile state most likely to fail next.  Goldstone noted: “What is surprising is that U.S. policy ignored all of this and proceeded on the premise that simple drone bombings al Qaeda terrorists could keep Yemen intact and stable.”

Mr. Goldstone has concluded: “Rather than working to secure these things, the U.S. administration has succumbed to the illusion that precision bombing or other surgical interventions to remove dangerous elements will sustain broader social and political stability.”

In fact, we don’t need more troops on the ground in order to protect the interests of Saudi Arabia, and other oil rich Arabian Peninsula, Sunni states, who have supported ISIL.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The ISIL Threat


Regarding the ISIL, a.k.a. ISIS, threat President Obama has pointed out: “Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy.  They try to portray themselves as religious leaders -- holy warriors in defense of Islam.  That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.”  And they propagate the notion that America -- and the West, generally -- is at war with Islam.  That’s how they recruit.  That’s how they try to radicalize young people.  We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.  Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek.  They are not religious leaders -- they’re terrorists.  And we are not at war with Islam.  We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.

“Now, just as those of us outside Muslim communities need to reject the terrorist narrative that the West and Islam are in conflict, or modern life and Islam are in conflict, I also believe that Muslim communities have a responsibility as well.  Al Qaeda and ISIL do draw, selectively, from the Islamic texts.  They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith, that Islam is somehow inherently violent, that there is some sort of clash of civilizations.

“Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology.  They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism.  No religion is responsible for terrorism.  People are responsible for violence and terrorism.

“And to their credit, there are respected Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith.  They want to make very clear what Islam stands for.  And we’re joined by some of these leaders today.  These religious leaders and scholars preach that Islam calls for peace and for justice, and tolerance toward others; that terrorism is prohibited; that the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.  Those are the voices that represent over a billion people around the world.

“But if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we're going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people, if we're going to lift up the voices of tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim community, then we've got to acknowledge that their job is made harder by a broader narrative that does exist in many Muslim communities around the world that suggests the West is at odds with Islam in some fashion.

“The reality -- which, again, many Muslim leaders have spoken to -- is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances  -- sometimes that's accurate -- does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy; does buy into the idea that Islam is incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it's been polluted by Western values.

“So those beliefs exist.  In some communities around the world they are widespread.  And so it makes individuals -- especially young people who already may be disaffected or alienated -- more ripe for radicalization.  And so we've got to be able to talk honestly about those issues.  We've got to be much more clear about how we're rejecting certain ideas.

“So just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam, that there’s an inherent clash in civilizations.  Everybody has to speak up very clearly that no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents doesn't defend Islam or Muslims, it damages Islam and Muslims.

“And when all of us, together, are doing our part to reject the narratives of violent extremists, when all of us are doing our part to be very clear about the fact that there are certain universal precepts and values that need to be respected in this interconnected world, that’s the beginnings of a partnership.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Netanyahu’s Credibility


In order to get re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the idea of a two state solution with the Palestinians.  Now that he’s been re-elected he is claiming that he still wants a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, President Obama said: “We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn't happen during his prime ministership, and so that's why we've got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region.”
Netanyahu has said in at least three post-election interviews that he still believes in Palestinian statehood, despite his pre-election flip-flop on the issue in what experts called a desperate appeal for conservative votes.
Reportedly, Obama told Netanyahu that the United States would reassess aspects of its relationship with Israel after Netanyahu's earlier provocative statements opposing the creation of a Palestinian state.  Some administration officials have said the United States is considering signing on to a U.N. resolution which supports a Palestinian state.
In The Huffington Post interview, Obama pointed out: “That although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly.
"If that is lost, then I think that not only does it give ammunition to folks who don't believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the name of democracy in the country."
House Speaker Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to address Congress, plans to visit Israel at the end of the month.  The trip will come around the deadline for an initial nuclear deal between Iran, the United States and other world powers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Iranian Nuclear Intentions


In September 2002, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told our congressional committee:"there is absolutely no question whatsoever" that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was developing nuclear weapons at "portable manufacturing sites of mass death."  Netanyahu warned: “Once Hussein had nuclear weapons, the terror network will have nuclear weapons," placing "the security of the entire world at risk."
Netanyahu is again the prime minister, and has made an identical claim about Iran.  However, this time not only has our intelligence community disagreed with his assessment of Iranian nuclear intentions, more than 200 retired Israeli security officers have publicly criticized Netanyahu’s assessment.
Netanyahu's assessment reinforces a senario regularly advanced by many American and Gulf Arab pundits, that Iran is bent on overthrowing an otherwise stable regional order, and that inaccurate perspective is actually hurting our country.
In fact, a stable Iran is essential to more stability in the region.  As nuclear talks with Tehran enter a decisive phase, reconciliation with Iran is vital to halting the decline of America's strategic position.
After 9/11, efforts to consolidate a highly militarized, pro-American Middle East were intensified, but it has resulted in a less stable Middle East, with more sectarian and ethnic conflict, and violent than at any point in modern history. 
The United States has provided a textbook illustration of imperial overstretch, as we’ve  become weaker, both regionally and globally.
Our failed strategy began in 1953, when Eisenhower’s CIA sought dominance, by installing the Shah to power.  That brought twenty-five years of tyranny and repression upon the Iranian people, which concluded with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in 1979.  The staff of the American embassy were held hostage for more than a year and that CIA covert operation helped convince many people throughout the Islamic world that America was its mortal enemy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Regional Balance of Power


America need to stop trying to dominate the Middle East, and instead embrace the concept of a regional balance of power.  A balance of power in which major regional states, acting in their own interests, and constrain one another.
Under any political system, Iran would be a significant regional power, due to its geographic location, hydrocarbon resources, and large, educated population.  The Islamic Republic, was built by the Iranians themselves, and represents their interests, not those of rulers beholden to foreign powers.  It’s legitimacy is something American politicians must accept in order to foster a stable Middle East.
Iran has gained influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Syria, by backing political structures that could produce governments committed to foreign policy independence.  Presently, President Obama is seeking cooperation with Iran against common foes like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, in order to balance counterproductive policies of America's regional allies.
At first, America's bond with Israel didn’t evolve from shared democratic values or a response to the Holocaust.  In fact, our government only started providing Israel with significant military assistance after the 1967 War, when Israel seized pivotal territory from Egypt and Syria, two Soviet allies opposed to American regional dominance.  After the Cold War, our political leadership calculated that ensuring Israel's military superiority over its neighbors helped America in it’s pursuit of dominance over the Middle East, even though occupying millions of Palestinians made Israel less democratic. 
Our government's demographic data show that the number of Arabs under Israeli control, in "Green Line" Israel, Gaza, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the West Bank exceeds that of Israeli Jews, making the Israeli state a minority regime for the people it governs.
Israel's minority regime has been facilitated by our politician’s guarantee to continue its military edge to keep over 100 million Arabs under an undemocratic state, and puts America on a war footing with an Iran, who is unwilling to join an inherently unstable regional order.
Israel's concern about Iranian obtaining a nuclear weapon isn’t that Tehran would use it against a nuclear-armed Israel.  In fact, former Defense Minister Ehud Barak explained in 2012, it is that a nuclear Iran would "restrict our range of operations."
Actually, this is precisely what a truly stable balance of power requires.  America needs constructive relations with all major regional states, including Iran, so that they constrain one another's reckless impulses.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tremendous Odds


President Obama has succeed against tremendous odds.  He was raised by a single mother and his grandparents.  At one point, his mother was on welfare and the family lived in a modest apartment.  Obama’s attendance at a private school in Hawaii was made possible by his grandparents, sacrificing their own prosperity for the sake of Barack and his sister.  His grandfather helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp while serving in the Army and his grandmother worked on the Boeing assembly line during World War II.  Obama was accepted at Harvard, and became president of the Harvard Law Review.  

In February 2009, employers slashed 651,000 jobs.  The unemployment rate was sitting at 8.1 percent, and eventually went up to 10.2 percent.  Less than a month after President Obama took office, in late January 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed.  Not a single Republican member of the House voted for the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

The Dow Jones closed at 6,547 on March 9, 2009.  Since, then the stock market has more than doubled, replenishing the 401(k)s of millions of families.

Last year was the best year for job growth since 1995.  Over the past 5 years, the private sector has added nearly 12 million new jobs.  Our economy added 295,00o jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5% from 5.7%.  This past year, our economy gained more than 250,000 job every month.  We’ve seen 59 consecutive months of private sector job growth, which is the longest stretch in history.

America is number one in oil and gas production, and we’re also number one in wind power.  Our economy is creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.  This remarkable record was accomplished in spite of Republican obstruction, which has continued to this day. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tackling Climate Change


Our federal government is using less energy than at any time in the past four decades.
Thirty-five years ago, President Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of White House’s West Wing, but they were taken down by his successor, Ronald Reagan.  New solar panels are again on the roof, and those panels are producing power that the government doesn’t then have to buy off the grid.
Thanks to the investments made over the past six years, our country is becoming a leader in solar energy.  Last year, the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the economy did as a whole.  It’s possible to grow our economy, while at the same time do the right thing for our environment, by tackling climate change.
An increasing number of businesses and homeowners have followed suit not only because it’s good for the environment, but its also good for their bottom lines.  Even China has committed to limiting their emissions for the first time. 
America is leading by example.  President Obama signed an executive order that will cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from the 2008, while also increasing the share of electricity that the federal government uses from renewable sources to 30 percent within the next 10 years.
Corporate executives from some of our leading companies are stepping up and making similar commitments.  IBM, GE, Northrop Grumman and some of our largest Fortune 100 companies are likewise setting ambitious goals.  Cumulatively, this will allowing us to hit some key targets that will slow down climate change.  Furthermore, those companies will save money, which helps their bottom line, and will at the same time create jobs in America. 
As a demand for solar, wind and other renewable energies grows, the overall price will gradually come down.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Better Example


In his State of the Union Address, President Obama asked members of Congress to consider setting a better example.
“So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who every day live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper.  And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example. 
“So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes.  I’ve served in Congress with many of you.  I know many of you well.  There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle.  And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for -- arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.
“Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns.  Imagine if we did something different.  Understand, a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.  A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.  A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues and values, and principles and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.
“A politics -- a better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up with a sense of purpose and possibility, asking them to join in the great mission of building America.
“If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments, but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.  We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care that she needs.”  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Voter Turnout


How can we offset the influence of money in politics, and fix our abysmal voter turnout rate?  In fact, 63 percent of eligible voters didn’t vote last November.  That means about 144 million Americans, which is more than the population of Russia didn’t vote.

President Obama has lent his support to a movement to implement mandatory voting, because that could prove to be a short-term solution to the excessive amount of money that's being spent on elections in our country.  He cited Australia as one of the countries that has mandatory voting, but there are many more.

According to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, at least 26 countries have compulsory voting.  Failure to vote is punishable by a fine in countries such as Australia and Belgium.  And, if you fail to pay your fine in Belgium, you could go to prison.

Aside from campaign finance issues, America has been attempting to deal with one of the lowest voter turnout rates among developed countries.  Nevertheless, Republicans have been passing legislation on a state level, that would require registered voters to prove that they are who they say that they are at the polls with a government issued photo identification card.

According to a Brennan Center review last year, almost two dozen states, since 2010 have enacted laws making it harder to vote.  “The Nation” has recently reported: “From 2011 to 2015, a total of 395 new voting restrictions have been introduced in forty-nine states.”
The people, who tend not to vote are usually younger, of minority groups, and of lower income.  Obama recently pointed out: “There's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.  We should wanna get them into the polls.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has openly endorsed automatic voter registration, and now the state of Oregon has become the first state to officially embrace the measure.
Seventeen years after Oregon became the first state to hold all elections with mail-in ballots, it is taking another pioneering step to broaden participation by automatically registering people to vote.
Under the legislation, every adult citizen in Oregon who has interacted with the Department of Motor Vehicles since 2013, but hasn't registered to vote will receive a ballot in the mail at least 20 days before the next statewide election.  The measure is expected to add about 300,000 new voters to the rolls.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Loretta Lynch’s Nomination


In November, President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as his attorney general and nearly 3 weeks ago her nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, with three Republican Senators voting for her.
Lynch is a highly regarded and well-qualified federal prosecutor who has the support of law-enforcement authorities and politicians on both sides of the aisle.  But that hasn't stopped right-wing media from mounting a smear campaign to short-circuit her nomination.

Republican opposition to Lynch has grown, since she testified during her confirmation hearing in January that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration are legal.  Some GOP lawmakers aren’t convinced that nominee Lynch wouldn’t be a repeat of Eric Holder, who has experienced an antagonistic relationship with congressional Republicans.

On 3/15/15, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN's Dana Bash: "I had hoped to turn to her next week, but if we can't finish the trafficking bill, she will be put off again."

Senate Democrats have noticed that an abortion provision has been embedded in the a human trafficking bill, that would prevent victims of human trafficking from using restitution funds to pay for an abortion.  Consequently, they are presently holding up that bill.

Adam Jentleson a spokesman for Minority Leader Harry Reid argued: "There is nothing stopping the Senate from confirming Lynch and continuing to debate the trafficking bill this week, except Senator McConnell's unwillingness to bring her nomination up for a vote.  No more excuses, no more delays.  Confirm Loretta Lynch now."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the judiciary committee pointed out: "The Senate can debate legislation and vote on nominations at the same time."
Democrats have pointed out that Lynch's nomination has been held up in the Senate longer than any attorney general nominee in three decades.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Used Excessive Force


Documents provide by the Ferguson Police Department recorded 151 instances in which their officers used excessive force.
The Department of Justice explained: "Our finding that FPD force is routinely unreasonable and sometimes clearly punitive is drawn largely from FPD's documentation; that is, from officers' own words." 
Based on those reports, the Justice Department’s investigation revealed that police officers were quick to escalate encounters with subjects they perceive to be disobeying their orders or resisting arrest.  The officers’ use of force in some cases had no basis in law, while others were simply punitive and retaliatory.  
Furthermore, the DOJ’s report noted: "In addition, FPD records suggest a tendency to use unnecessary force against vulnerable groups such as people with mental health conditions or cognitive disabilities, and juvenile students."
Ferguson police regard Electric Control Weapons as an all-purpose tool bearing no risk. For example, a correctional officer fired an ECW at an African-American woman because she yelled an insult at the officer and wouldn't go to her cell.  She’d been arrested for driving while intoxicated.  The officer said he used the Taser because she wasn’t doing as she was told.
The DOJ pointed out: "Canine officers use dogs out of proportion to the threat posed by the people they encounter, leaving serious puncture wounds to nonviolent offenders, some of them children."  
According to the Police Department's records every single time an officers released a dog to bite an individual involved an African-American.  Officers failed to warn suspects that they would release a dog.
For instance, an officer deployed a dog on a fleeing suspect even though he had just patted down the suspect and knew he wasn’t armed.  Officers are only supposed to release a canine, if they fear for their life or believe the suspect may be armed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Can You Imagine?


A solution for the predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Ferguson, already exists in NYC’s Harlem.  The following information describes the core principles of the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ).
HCZ: “has always been driven by the belief that the success of our children and the strength of the community go hand in hand.  Their needs are inseparable and must be addressed together in order to break the cycle of generational poverty and give our kids a real shot at the American dream.
HCZ is: “Aimed at providing comprehensive, critical support to children and families and reweaving the very fabric of community life.  Project began as a one-block pilot in the 1990s.  With bold ambition, careful planning, and a strong infrastructure, we set out to address not just some, but all of the issues children and families were facing within a finite geographic area: crumbling apartments, rampant drug use, failing schools, violent crime, and chronic health problems.
“Building on the success of this early initiative, we launched a 10-year strategic plan in 2000, steadily and systematically expanding the depth and breadth of our programming to encompass 24 blocks, then 60 blocks, and ultimately 97 blocks.  Today, the Children’s Zone serves more than 12,000 youth and nearly 9,500 adults and our organization as a whole serves over 13,700 youth and 13,200 adults.
“With 70% of children in the Zone engaged in our pipeline of programs each year and thousands of youth well on their way to achieving the ultimate goal of college graduation, we have not only reached the tipping point, but also have become a national model and thought leader in the fields of education, youth and community development, and the fight against poverty.
“What has enabled us to achieve such unprecedented success is our steadfast application of five core principles: Serve an entire neighborhood comprehensively and at scale to create a ‘tipping point’ and definitively shift the culture of the community.
“Create a pipeline of coordinated, best-practice programs to give our children and families seamless support from birth through college and maximize their outcomes.  Build community among residents, institutions, and stakeholders in order to create a healthy, positive environment where our children can thrive.  Evaluate program outcomes and create a feedback loop to provide managers with real-time data and strengthen services.  Cultivate an organizational culture of success rooted in passion, accountability, leadership, and teamwork.”

Monday, March 16, 2015

Holding People Accountable


Six days after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Police Chief Tom Jackson called a press conference to release the name of the officer who was involved in that shooting.  But to everyone’s surprise, he also released surveillance footage, that showed the victim of the shooting participating in a strong arm robbery not long before he was shot.  The release of that surveillance video of Michael Brown at a convenience store was unexpected.

In another press conference that same day, Chief Jackson felt the need to give an elaborate explanation as to why he felt compelled to release that tape.  He explained: “We’ve got a lot of Freedom of Information requests for this tape, and at some point, it was just determined we had to release it.  We didn’t have good cause, absent any other reason to not release it.

“What I did was release the videotape to you because I had to.  I’ve been sitting on it, but too many people put in a request for that thing and I had to release it.”

However, there is no requests on-record for the tape.  Chief Jackson also misled the public into thinking that Officer Darren Wilson was responding to the convenience store robbery. 

The city manager resigned before Chief Jackson.  The police captain, a sergeant, and a court clerk, who had been sending numerous racial stereotyping e-mails, were among the first to resign.

Ferguson Judge Ronald Brockmeyer resigned after the Justice Department’s investigation showed that he brought in millions of dollars to Ferguson through what DOJ called creative use of fines and fees. 

The Missouri Supreme Court announced that it will take what it calls the extraordinary action of reassigning all Ferguson municipal court cases to the circuit court to help restore public trust and confidence.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Read History


The Oneonta Daily Star published the following letter to the editor, that had been submitted by James R. Koury

“When I saw that Mr. Kabat responded to my Feb. 10 letter to the editor, I laughed and was not going to respond.  However, after some additional thought, I decided that Mr. Kabat’s letter and, most specifically, his statement that I was attempting to rewrite history, just could not go unanswered.

“First, I stand by my original premise about religious liberty simply being a guise for discriminatory actions by those who simply wish to institutionalize even further their religious bias on a secular society.  No matter how much Mr. Kabat wishes to sugarcoat his religious bias — discrimination is discrimination.

“Second, he states that I am trying to rewrite history.  My dear Mr. Kabat, you NEED to put your Bible down for a moment and read a history book!  America was not founded as a Christian nation as the following quotes by our founding fathers can attest.

“‘The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.’ —  John Adams

“‘The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. ... But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with all this artificial scaffolding…’ — Thomas Jefferson.
There are many more!

“Last, the U.S. Constitution contains more than 4,500 words.  Not one of them is ‘Jesus,’ ‘Christian” or “Bible.’  If the founding fathers wanted a Christian nation, I think they would have riddled that document with religious wording.

“No, Mr. Kabat, we are not a Christian nation, despite many of our founding fathers being deists.  They knew even back then the danger of allowing religious zealots to get control of the workings of government.” 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Obamacare Costing Less



The estimated cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, is continuing to fall.
Recently, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the Affordable Care Act will cost $142 billion, or 11 percent, less over the next 10 years, compared to what the agency had projected in January.
The nonpartisan agency said the Affordable Care Act will cost less for two reasons.  The most significant of which is that health insurance premiums are rising more slowly, and thus requires less of a government subsidy.
The second reason is that slightly fewer people are expected to sign up for Medicaid and for subsidized insurance under the law's marketplaces.  That's because the agency now says that more people than anticipated already had health insurance before the law took effect, and fewer companies than anticipated are canceling coverage.  Three million fewer people are expected to sign up for Affordable Care Act provisions by 2025.
By 2025, the CBO estimates that the total number of people who will be uninsured is expected to be smaller than previously projected, because more will have had health insurance to begin with.
This is positive news for “Obamacare,” which has been accused by Republicans of killing jobs and draining federal coffers.  The CBO warned last year the health care law could reduce full time employment as some chose to give up work that provided health care as they relied instead on the government's subsidies.
In March of 2010, the CBO predicted that the law would cost $710 billion during the period from 2015 to 2019, but didn’t try to come up with projections beyond that.  After several revisions, the law is now expected to cost $506 billion, or about 29 percent less than projected in 2010, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Undermining the President


Nearly every Senate Republican signed on to a letter to Iran's leaders warning that without their approval, any Iran nuclear deal signed by President Obama will be null and void after he leaves office.
The letter authored by Senator Tom Cotton states that the Constitution requires any international treaty to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate, and anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
The letter is signed by 47 Republican senators, including every member of GOP leadership and all four the the chamber's potential presidential contenders: Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.
Prior to a meeting with the European Council President, President Obama noted: “I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran.  It's an unusual coalition.”
"I think what we're going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we're going to get a deal or not.  Once we do, if we do, we'll be able to make the case to the American people, and I'm confident we'll be able to implement it."
Iranian Foreign Minister, Javid Zarif said:"We believe this letter has no legal value and is indeed just a propaganda ploy.  What’s more, while the negotiations have not yet borne fruit and there no agreement yet, pressure groups in the U.S. are so worried that they are using extraordinary measures to prove that they, just like Netanyahu oppose any kind of agreement."
"This proves that they are not only strangers to the norms of international rights and regulations, but they also are not familiar with the intricate details of their own Constitution regarding the authority of the President of the United States in executing foreign policy."
Vice President Biden believes the letter was:"expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations" and beneath the dignity of the institution I revere."
"This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America's commitments—a message that is as false as it is dangerous."
“Honorable people can disagree over policy.  But this is no way to make America safer or stronger.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the letter a "continuation of a partisan strategy to undermine the President's ability to conduct foreign policy."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Retirement Security


After the financial crisis shook a lot of people’s faith in a secure retirement, our economy has steadily grown.  Last year was the best year for job growth since 1995.  Over the past 5 years, the private sector has added nearly 12 million new jobs.  
Our economy added 295,00o jobs in February, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5% from 5.7%.  This past year, the American economy has gained more than 250,000 job every month.  Since President Obama took office the stock market has more than doubled, replenishing the 401(k)s of millions of families.
Although, most financial advisers prioritize their clients’ futures, there are some who direct their clients towards bad investments in return for backdoor payments and hidden fees.  Bad advice that results from those conflicts of interest has cost working families about $17 billion every year.
Obama has calling on the Department of Labor to update rules to protect families from conflicts of interest by requiring financial advisers to put their clients’ best interest before their own profits.  He is commitment to ensuring that all hard-working Americans get the secure and dignified retirement they deserve, by fighting for policies, that benefit middle class Americans.  Bad advice that results from those conflicts of interest has cost middle-class and working families about $17 billion every year. 
More work needs to done to make sure that our recovery reaches ever Americans, not just those at the top.  Middle-class economics is about the concept that our country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everybody does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. 
President Obama won’t accept the notion that nothing can be done to ensure that responsible Americans who scrimped and saved can retire with security and dignity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Never Compromise


Prior to the Republican controlled House of Representatives voting to pass a “clean” bill to fund Homeland Security, former Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota pointed out: “Well, you know, those Tea Party folks got elected by saying we will never compromise, whereas you’ll never catch us compromising on anything.

“You know, if there is somebody just now tuning into this controversy, I’ll bet they think this is some complicated, complex, very difficult issue with which to deal, it’s not at all.  This issue is very simple.  Do you pass appropriations for the agency called Homeland Security at a time when this country is beset with all kinds of terrorist threats?  Do you pass that appropriation?

“Speaker Boehner can’t seem to control his caucus and so, they’ve tried to make this about some other subject but it’s not.  You know, as I said in the pass, it’s one thing to shoot yourself in the foot, but it’s quite another thing to take aim and that’s exactly what they’re doing at the expense of the country.”

Former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert instituted the “Hastert Rule,” which stipulates that no legislation will be allowed to come to a vote in the House unless it was supported by a majority of the majority party.

Republican conservatives attempted to write the “Hastert Rule” into the bylaws of the House Republican Conference.  That rule has only one purpose, and that is to prevent the majority party from ever having to compromise on anything.

Senator Dorgan insists, that when the county needed to do something in our national interest.  The House Speaker should bring the bill to the floor and work both sides and get as many votes as you can from each side. 

Fortunately, Speaker Boehner took Byron Dorgan’s advice and disregarded the Hastert Rule. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Racial Stereotyping


A Department of Justice investigation of Ferguson, Missouri’s police and city court officials concluded: "Our investigation has revealed that these disparities, at least in part, occurred because of unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans." 
In fact, racial stereotyping was promoted in emails shared among police and court officials.  Examples of those e-mails includes a 2008 claim, that President Obama wouldn't likely be president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”
Another e-mail joked: "An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination.  Two weeks later she received a check for $3,000.  She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from.  The hospital said: ‘Crimestoppers.’”  
A 2010, email included a photo of a group of topless, dancing black women, seemingly in Africa, with the caption: "Michelle Obama's High School Reunion." 
The DOJ investigation found no indication that any officer or court clerk, who engaged in those communications was ever disciplined.
African-American drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26 percent less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
The DOJ determined the city's municipal courts and local government relied on the police force to serve essentially as a collection agency.  The city court issued more than 9,000 arrest warrants stemming from minor violations like parking and traffic tickets.  According to the report, the city wasn't just focused on revenue through tickets, but the fines associated with late payment of fines and additional arrest fees.
Ferguson’s Mayor James Knowles has admitted: "We must do better not only as a city but as a state and a country.  We must all work to address issues of racial disparity in all aspects of our society."



Monday, March 09, 2015

Specific Information


The series of civil rights violations described in the Justice Department report provided specific information, regarding how a 32 year old African-American male in lost his job as a federal contractor.
As noted yesterday’s post, he was cooling off in his car after a basketball game in a public park, when a Ferguson police officer approached.  The officer demanded the man's Social Security number and identification before accusing him of being a pedophile and ordering the man out of his car.
The officer asked to search the man's car, but the African- American male refused, by invoking his constitutional right.  Then, the officer arrested the man at gunpoint and leveled eight charges against him that included not wearing a seat belt, despite the fact that he was sitting in a parked car.  The officer also cited him for making a false declaration, because he gave his name as Mike instead of  Michael.
The DOJ investigator was told that because of those charges, the man lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years.
The Justice Department report revealed that city officials repeatedly pushed the Ferguson police department to increase city revenue through ticketing, which resulted in the disproportionate targeting of African-Americans.  
The probe concluded: “Many officers appear to see some residents, especially those who live in Ferguson's predominantly African-American neighborhoods, less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.” 
African-Americans were targeted by those practices, ticketed and cited for minor violations at a higher rate than white residents.  African-Americans were almost exclusively on the receiving end of some violations.  For example African Americans accounted for 95 percent of the “manner of walking in roadway” charges and 94 percent of “failure to comply” charges.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Highly Toxic Environment


After a Department of Justice report revealed a range of abuses committed against African American residents by the Ferguson, Missouri police force.  Mayor James Knowles admitted: "We must do better not only as a city but as a state and a country.  We must all work to address issues of racial disparity in all aspects of our society."
Mayor Knowles outlined a number of steps the city was taking to comply with DOJ recommendations to reform its police force, that the DOJ report found to have engaged in systemic racism against the city's African American residents.
The DOJ report identified several city employees as having sent racist emails.  Two of those identified are police officers and one employee at the department.  They have already been fired, and two more are under investigation.
The Justice Department completed a months-long review of the case and released those results.  The DOJ report cited “unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans,” and points to a number of violations of constitutional rights.
Attorney General Eric Holder reported a “highly toxic environment” existed between Ferguson police officers and the city's African-American residents before Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown last year.
Holder pointed to the use of excessive force overwhelmingly against African-American residents, noting that only African-Americans were bitten by police dogs, with “no alternative explanation” except that racial bias exists.  A 14-year-old African-American boy was waiting for his friends at a house, unarmed, when police released a dog that bit his ankle, thigh and arm.
The Ferguson's police department regularly violated residents' First Amendment rights by conducted illegal searches and unlawfully detained citizens and competed with each other to “see who can issue the largest number of citations in a single stop.”   An African-American man was cooling off in his car after playing basketball in a public park, when a police officer approached him and accused him of being a pedophile.
The DOJ determined the city's municipal courts and local government relied on the police force to serve essentially as a collection agency.  African-American Ferguson residents felt they were being used as the city's personal ATM, by the way the police department hit them with traffic fines.  One woman has paid $550 on what was original a $151 fine for two parking tickets.  More than seven years later, she still owes $541.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

A Hopeless Strategy


For six weeks, House Republicans clung to a hopeless strategy for funding the Department of Homeland Security.  They mistakenly believed, that they could force President Obama to sign a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security, which would include provisions that would nullify the President’s executive actions on immigration.  Many Republicans foolishly believed Obama would sign such a bill because funding the Department of Homeland Security is so important.

Possibly, House Speaker John Boehner never believed that was likely, but he had to pretend to believe it, so that the extremist right- wing of his party wouldn’t rebel against him.

After Senate Democrats successfully filibustered the House bill in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to offer a clean bill that Democrats would support and President Obama would sign.

As funding for Homeland Security was about to runs out, Republicans leadership in the House decided to stop clinging to their failed strategy and offer a new idea.  They offered a plan to vote on a clean, three-week extension for Homeland Security funding, which would do nothing more than delay an inevitable Republican surrender by a few weeks.

John Boehner was doing the same thing, that he’d done since becoming the Speaker of the House.  He allows the extremist right- wing of his party to beat their chest, and scream, while they tried to figure out a way to nullify Obama’s executive order on immigration.

At the end of the day, John Boehner recognized that eventually he would have to take the deal Senate Majority Leader McConnell was giving him, because it was only a question of when, he would have to allow a vote on a clean bill.  Boehner had come to the realization that, congressional Republicans were not going to allow Homeland Security funding to expire.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Term Limits


There is no historical evidence that our founding fathers intended to impose term limits for any federal office.

Our sixth President John Quincy Adams was the son of our second President John Adams.  The father certainly knew, and shared the intentions of our founding fathers with his son.  John Quincy became an entrenched, professional politician, who after leaving the office of the presidency, was elected to the House of Representative to served the last 17 years of his life with far greater success than he had achieved in his presidency.

In 1936, voters overwhelmingly reelected FDR with the largest margin since George Washington, when he carried every state, but Maine and Vermont.  In 1940 and 1944, voters again reelected FDR because unemployment had come down, and the Great Depression had ended.  Before FDR died, the Commander in Chief had made sure that our country would win World War II.

Senator Barbara Mikulski is the longest serving woman in the history of Congress.  She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and began serving in the Senate in 1987.

There is nothing wrong with being a professional politician, because they’re serving a constituency.  If they fail to listen to the concerns of a majority of the voters in states or congressional districts, that put them in office, they’d be former politicians.

Initially, I was bewilder that in its unanimous endorsement of Rep. Gibson the Oneonta Daily Star’s editorial board pointed to his promise to limit himself to one more election after this one.  That seemed to be a very peculiar reason for endorsing a political candidate.  

Recently, Gibson has admitted that he has considered the possibility of being a candidate in the 2018 election cycle.  Now, I realize the Star’s editorial board endorsed an ambitious, cunning, civilian politician.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Subjective Truth


Over 20 years ago, after a brief discussion with a heterosexual friend, I recognize that there wasn’t a logical reason to oppose same sex marriage.  Today, I suspect that many places of worship contribute to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.  After 50 years of marriage, I realize that it would be terribly unfair to deny the benefits and happiness that marriage can provide to those of a different sexual orientation.

Versions of golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” is shared by 21 world religions.  This rule is also referred to as the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

Robert Reich wrote: “The greatest conflict of the 21st century is between; those who believe in science, reason and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through scripture and religious dogma.”

The truth revealed through scripture is subjective truth predicated by one’s faith.  By definition faith is belief in God, and in the doctrines and teachings of religion.  Faith is the antithesis of skepticism, distrust and objective truth.  I’ve become distrustful of most religions, because they stifle freedom of thought, and blind the righteous to the role faith plays in perpetuating human conflict.

Religious zealots have claimed our Constitution was divinely inspired.  It fact, those enshrined founding fathers signed a Constitution that allowed only white, male, literate, land owners to vote.  Do we really want a Christian form of government, that isn’t much different than the Taliban?

People of faith tend to be intolerant of religions other than their own.  Congressional Republicans shouldn’t become too confident that the God, they worship only cares about profits, and not homosexuals, undocumented immigrants, the working poor, or racial and religious minorities. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Michael Whaling


Michael Whaling of Sharon Springs recently had the following insight published as a letter to the editor in the Oneonta Daily Star.

“As someone who grew up in a home rife with racism and anti-Semitism, I am fully aware of its dangerous, poisoning aspects. 

“Another less-discussed result of being raised in this environment is a reluctance to publicly criticize Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians for fear of being branded an anti-Semite.  At this critical time in history, open, frank discussions of these policies are urgently needed without fear of slanderous, unfounded characterizations in response.

“Israel must stop building settlements in the occupied territories.  President Obama said two years ago that the 1967 boundaries should be the starting point for negotiations. Israel should move its boundaries back to the pre-1967 map.  Without these actions by Israel there will be no peace and the conflict will certainly widen.”

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Solving the Problem


At the MSNBC/Telemundo town hall meeting, President Obama called on voters to press the 2016 Republican field of candidates for complete answers as to how they would handle the undocumented population currently living in our country. 
He said: “When they start asking for votes, the first question should be, ‘Do you really intend to deport 11 million people?  And if not, what is your plan to make sure that they have the ability to have a legal status, stay with their families, and ultimately contribute to the United States of America?’”

Looking ahead to 2016, Obama called on young people to look to the future.  He told the audience, when it comes to voting, staying home is not an option. because everyone has a responsibility to vote for representatives, who advocate on behalf of the things that they care about.  He urged voters to make immigration reform a successful social movement and a key issue in the next presidential election.
Obama pointed out: "Every major social movement, every bit of progress in this country, whether it's been the workers' rights movement or the civil rights movement or the women's rights movement, every single bit of that progress had required us to fight and to push and you make progress.  You don't get everything right away, and then you push some more."
He also defended the legality of the executive action, that House Republicans are so upset about, and noted that passing comprehensive reform in Congress should be the end goal.  When asked about the failure of Congress to pass legislation he laid the blame squarely on the GOP.
The White House has repeatedly insisted, that it has the authority to utilize "prosecutorial discretion" when deporting undocumented immigrants, focusing law enforcement efforts on those who represent a danger to society. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Undying Allegiance


The Senate debate and vote on a Keystone XL bill was about payback to Big Oil, specifically to the billionaire Koch brothers.  The Koch brothers fossil fuel interests include oil pipelines and refineries, which are aligned historically with Republican priorities.
Three conservative groups, the Heritage Action, American Energy Alliance, and Americans for Prosperity release a total of 7 key vote alerts on amendments that would count on their congressional scorecards.  The alerts serve as a warning: If a senator votes against the group's interest, he or she risks future attacks from the right.  All three groups are tied to the Koch brothers.  Americans for Prosperity is considered the Koch brothers' "main political arm.”
All three groups endorsed the Senate Keystone XL bill, because Koch Industries stands to gain financially from the pipeline’s construction.  The company owns an estimated 1.1 million acres of leases for Canada's tar sands and the pipeline would likely boost development there.
The groups also helped defeat an amendment from Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, that would have reinstated the wind production tax credit for five years.  Senator Heitkamp couldn't even scrape together a majority of senators for what historically has been a popular, bipartisan policy.  Wind energy happens to be big in red states, so it has the support from Republicans like Iowa's Chuck Grassley, but it has long been a target for conservative, fossil-fuel-aligned groups, who all recommended a "no" vote on the amendment, in line with the Koch network's campaign to eliminate renewable tax credits, while oil's tax breaks remain politically untouchable. 
Just three Republican Senators backed Heitkamp’s amendment, while many senators from major wind states voted against the measure.  Some said they voted against it because it didn't phase out the credit over time.  Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who represents Colorado, a top 10 wind state voted against the amendment.  He had touted his clean energy credentials during the campaign, but after benefitting from Koch ads and donations, Gardner moved to an anti-wind position, which put him in good company of other Republicans, like Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who also flipper after accepting influential Koch donations.
All of this was for naught, because President Obama kept his promised to veto the bill.  But if nothing else, the two-week charade on Capitol Hill has allowed Republicans to declare their undying allegiance to the billionaire Koch brothers generous campaign donations.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Immigration Town Hall


At an MSNBC/Telemundo town hall, President Obama took questions in English and Spanish regarding his immigration policy. 
When host Jose Diaz-Balart asked the question: "Why do the Democrats and GOP play political ping-pong when American families suffer as a result?"

President Obama answered: “Let me just say, that’s just not true -- the notion that Democrats and Republicans play political ping-pong.  Democrats have consistently stood on the side of comprehensive immigration reform.

“Democrats have provided strong majorities across the board for comprehensive immigration reform.  And you do a disservice when you suggest that, nobody was focused on this, because then you don’t know who’s fighting for you and who’s fighting against you.

“But let’s not be confused about why we don’t have comprehensive immigration reform right now.  It’s very simple.  The Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to call the bill.  Had he called the bill, the overwhelming majority of Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, would have provided the majority in order to get that done.”

Obama was also questioned in Spanish about whether Jeb Bush, who has a good chance of being the Republican nominee for president in 2016, might be a cause for hope on the Republican side, because of his relatively more moderate position on the issue of immigration reform, since he had championed comprehensive immigration reform in the past. 

Obama responded: “I appreciate Mr. Bush being concerned about immigration reform.  I would suggest that what he do is talk to the speaker of the house and the members of his party because the fact of the matter is that even after we passed bipartisan legislation in the Senate, I gave the Republicans a year and a half to just call the bill.  We had the votes.  They wouldn’t do it.”