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

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Social Contract

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.
Elizabeth Warren reasoned: “There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own.  Nobody.  You built a factory out there - good for you.  But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.  You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.  You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory... Now look.  You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea - God bless!  Keep a hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

During this presidential cycle, we’ll hear a lot of people telling us that’s wrong with America.  I’m all for that, because that in my opinion is what our already weakened representative democracy is all about.  We should never be satisfied with the status quo.  We should keep asking questions, that challenge our political leadership to recognize what’s wrong with our government and fix it.

We should focused on making the golden rule the heart and soul of our social contract with each other.  It’s true that we must take responsibility for ourselves, but we also have an obligation to others.  Every child in America needs to have the nurturing and support that they’ll need to succeed. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Finish The Job

On 8/27/15, President Obama returned to New Orleans to see first hand the progress that has been made in the last 10 years, since Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the city.
After acknowledge the obvious recovery, Obama noted: “So we’ve made a lot of progress over the past 10 years.  You’ve made a lot of progress.  That gives us hope.  But it doesn’t allow for complacency.  It doesn’t mean we can rest.  Our work here won’t be done when almost 40 percent of children still live in poverty in this city.  That’s not a finished job. That’s not a full recovery.  Our work won’t be done when a typical black household earns half the income of white households in this city.  The work is not done yet. 
“Our work is not done when there’s still too many people who have yet to find good, affordable housing, and too many people -- especially African American men -- who can’t find a job.  Not when there are still too many people who haven’t been able to come back home; folks who, around the country, every day, live the words sung by Louis Armstrong, “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”
Tens of thousands of African-Americans fled New Orleans after Katrina, and haven’t return.  The city’s poverty rate has remained near 30%.
Racial inequality isn’t unique to New Orleans, and hasn't dampened the city's enthusiasm for what has otherwise been a steady recovery that includes new construction, jobs and visitors.
However, the gaps between rich and poor, and whites and blacks provided a solemn backdrop for Obama’s tour of the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward, where he visited residents and assess the district’s recover.
President Obama concluded: “That's what you've gotten started.  Now we got to finish the job.”

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Arrest Warrants Withdrawn

Ferguson, Missouri’s Municipal Court Judge Donald McCullin has announced sweeping changes to the city's court system, that includes an order to withdraw all arrest warrants issued in that city before December 31, 2014.  He also changed the conditions for pretrial release.  According to a press release all defendants will be given new court dates with alternative penalties like payment plans or community service.
Those accused of minor traffic violations should be less likely to end up behind bars.  Under McCullin’s new policy, they won't be arrested but instead will be released on their own recognizance and given another court date.
Many of the warrants that were issued were from traffic tickets and for fines defendants couldn’t pay, as well as failure to appear in court have been wiped clean.  The court will revisit those cases, with new warrants issued only if a defendant fails to show up in court later.  And all suspensions of driver’s licenses are now null and void.
These rulings came after a year of protests and an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after racial tensions exploded over the August 2014 shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson.
A grand jury declined to charge Wilson in that case, determining that the shooting was justified.  Justice Department investigation further concluded the shooting did not violate Brown's civil rights.  A separate Justice Department report was followed by the resignation of Ferguson's police Chief Thomas Jackson.  Those decisions didn’t quell anger on the streets of Ferguson. 
In March, the U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation found that Ferguson police and the city's municipal court engaged in a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against African- Americans.
For example, in 88% of the cases in which the Ferguson police reported using force, were against African-Americans.  Between 2012 and 2014, black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
Ferguson Township Democratic committeewoman, Patricia Bynes noted: "As an activist you are going to stay mad because you are not going to always get all that you want.
"But because of the pushing and the pressure that protesters put on Ferguson, I am considering it a win and a very big win.  It's an olive branch.”                                                       
See my post of 3/16/15, “Holding People Accountable” for additional information.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Stock Market

Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz is the chief economist of the Roosevelt Institute, and a professor at Columbia University.

Regarding recent fluctuations in a stock market, he explained: “I think between the two extremes it’s more than the flash crash.  And on the other hand, it’s not like another Great Recession.

“We haven’t really fully recovered from that crisis.  And what has happened is the stock market has gone up as if we have fully recovered.  So part of the story here is reminding us that the world isn’t really on firm ground.  Just to give some examples, it’s not just China that’s having a problem.  Europe is growing very slowly.  There’s all the problems with the euro.  People think there’s a resolution to the Greek crisis but Greece is going to be in depression.” 

With respect to Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie’s assertion: “This president thought that money was free and easy and that he could spend as much of it he wanted to without consequence to the American people because where did he get that money from?  He borrowed it from the Chinese.  Lots and lots of money from the Chinese.  And remember that when the Chinese hold this much of our, debt if the Chinese get a cough, we get the flu.”

Stiglitz noted: “In terms of the fact, what he seems to be saying was that since Obama became president, we have been spending beyond our means.  That was true back in 2001 and 2003, Bush pushed through a tax cut that we couldn’t afford and then went to war and put it entirely on the credit card.

“When Obama took office our economy was in a deep recession, revenues went down and if he hadn’t spent the money, we would have gotten into a depression.”

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blaming Immigrants

Thirty years ago, America spearhead the world in the percentage of college graduates, but the percentage of our children who graduated from college was declining in 2003.

In 2003, the first year of his administration, conservative Alabama Governor Bob Riley proposed “Amendment One,” which would have made swift changes to the state's tax system.  The plan essentially consisted of income tax breaks for lower brackets, offset by various tax hikes on consumption, property and income from higher brackets.  The plan sought to address was the strong dependence the Alabama tax system placed upon sales tax, which made the state budget dependent upon the economy in the state.  The plan was estimated to yield an overall state revenue increase of $1.2 billion per year.  

The plan also included accountability reforms, including changes to teacher tenure policies, and accountability for school systems. The plan also included provisions for a scholarship program for Alabama students to attend college and funding of other education initiatives.

Support as well as opposition for the plan came from traditionally opposing forces in Alabama, and crossed party lines.  This included support from pro-business organizations, including the Business Council of Alabama and many Chambers of Commerce, as well as prominent education organizations, including the Alabama Education Association.  Other progressively-minded non-profit groups supported this plan, including many organizations that had sought changes in the Alabama tax system for many years.  These organizations saw this as an opportunity for Alabama to invest in the future of the state through investments in education and governmental reforms.

Governor Riley wrote:“Alabamians are faithful people who believe that creating a better world for our children and helping our neighbors are both sacred duties...Jesus says one of our missions is to take care of the least among us.”  Alabama Republicans defeated the tax plan.

In yesterday’s post I pointed out that Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks said: “I’ll do anything short of shooting them, anything that is lawful, it needs to be done because illegal aliens need to quit taking jobs from American citizens.”

A modern economy requires state and federal government to invest in education.  If Alabama politicians had listened to Governor Riley in 2003 they might have developed a better educated workforce, that would be more competitive internationally, and created more jobs.  They should have been paying attention to families, who wanted a better future for their children.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bragging Rights

Donald Trump is clearly the front runner for the Republican nomination, and has been leading in the national Republican polls for more than a month.  He wanted to have bragging rights by having the largest crowd of people attend his campaign event so he held it in a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  The stadium holds about 50,000 people. 

Initially, it seemed a little surprising that the event was held in Alabama, but considering, that in 2011 Alabama Republicans did something so radical, that no other state has done anything like, it’s not.

On 10/3/11, "New York Times" reported: "The vanishing began on Wednesday night.  The most frightened families packing up their cars as soon as they heard the news.  They left behind mobile homes, sold fully furnished for $1,000 or even less, or they just closed up and in gesture of optimism, left the keys with a neighbor.  Two, five, ten years of living here and then gone in a matter of days to Tennessee, Illinois, Oregon, Florida, Arkansas, Mexico, who knows, anywhere but Alabama."

Thousands of people in Alabama abandoned their homes in the middle of the night after Alabama Republican passed the most anti-immigrant law in our country.

On NBC, Brian William reported: “Now we go to Alabama where a federal judge has upheld the toughest immigration law in the country, a law that goes so far as to tell elementary schools to investigate their kids.  Opponents of this law are promising a fight.”

Alabama’s immigration law gave police and teacher new responsibilities, to check people’s birth certificates and enforce what until then was federal immigration law.  The goal of Alabama lawmakers was to scare undocumented immigrants to effectively deports themselves.

Overnight, thousands of Latino children disappeared from schools, some undocumented, but other Hispanic children also were just as afraid of what would happen if they showed up in school.

Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks bragged: “I’ll do anything short of shooting them, anything that is lawful, it needs to be done because illegal aliens need to quit taking jobs from American citizens.”

Alabama Republican Senator Jefferson Sessions stood next Donald Trump at football stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  Trump had asked Senator Sessions to write his anti-immigrant plan.  Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has made it his signature issue to crackdown not just on illegal immigrants, but he is also against legal immigration.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Affording College

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have separate proposals to make college education more affordable.

Sanders insists: “The college for all act will provide free tuition at every public college and university in America.”  He estimates that the cost of his plan will be $750 billion over ten years.

Hillary said: “No student should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university.”  The estimated cost of her plan would be 350 billion over ten years. 

Regarding those plans, Economist Beth Akers points out: “I caution against putting too much stock in any of these numbers that we have at this point.  These are kind of sketches of what the candidates have in mind but where the expenses coming from in this plan, both of them are talking about refinancing outstanding student loan debt which is going to be expensive, lowering interest rates and then also increasing subsidies.

“The big difference between the two plans is on how they’re increasing subsidies on the finance.  The Sanders plan is talking about free tuition across the entire public education system, both by community colleges and that public four-year institutions.

“Clinton’s plan is much less generous on this front.  They’re still going to rely on students and their families to contribute out of savings and out of current income to foot the bill.”

Economics professor, Austan Goolsbee notes: “Given the composition of Congress, each one of them relies on a substantial tax increase to pay for it.  I think right now they wouldn’t work as you couldn’t get them through.

“But, I think, to highlight this issue is quite important.  The reduction in educational attainment is a key component of why we’ve had a rising income inequality in the country.  I think addressing affordability is key.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bernie Sanders Priorities

“Wall Street's greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior drove this country into the worst recession since the Great Depression.  For too long, this billionaire class has corrupted our political system.  We must act decisively to make our economy fair again.
“Wall Street's dangerous manipulation of our economy has helped divert most of all new income to the top one percent, contributing to the most unequal level of wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth.
“Today, we live in the richest country in the history of the world, but that reality means little because much of that wealth is controlled by a tiny handful of individuals.  The skyrocketing level of income and wealth inequality is not only grotesque and immoral, it is economically unsustainable.
“The reality is that for the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class have rigged the rules to redistribute wealth and income to the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country.  As a result, Wall Street exists as an island unto itself, benefiting only the extremely wealthy while using our money to get rich.
“Too many firms on Wall Street using high-speed trading to try to make a quick buck. But it's risky and unproductive.  Banks can execute thousands of stock trades a second thanks to sophisticated computer algorithms.
“Wall Street can keep doing this if it wants—but they'll have to pay a tax on every one of those trades.  And this tax on Wall Street speculation would be enough to pay for my plan to make tuition free at every public college or university
“In the midst of all of this grotesque inequality in our country sits a handful of financial institutions that are still so large, the failure of any one would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans and send the world economy into crisis.
“Most of the major Wall Street financial institutions that we bailed out because they were ‘too big to fail” are now bigger than they used to be.  The six largest financial institutions now have assets equivalent to nearly 60% of our GDP, issue 35% of the mortgages, and oversee 65% of credit cards.
“My view: If it's too big to fail, it's too big to exist.  That's the bottom line.  As president, I will break up the big banks and restore some sanity to our banking system.
Banking should be boring.  It shouldn't be about making as much profit as possible by gambling on esoteric financial products.  The goal of banking should be to provide affordable loans to small and medium-sized businesses in the productive economy, and to Americans who need to purchase homes and cars.
“That is not what these huge financial institutions are doing.  They're instead creating an economy which is not sustainable from a moral, economic, or political perspective.  It's a rigged economy that must be changed in fundamental ways.
“We need banks that invest in the job-creating productive economy.  We do not need more speculation with the American economy hanging in the balance.
“Our tax system is wildly unfair — rigged to benefit the very rich.  Major corporations that earn billions in profits stash their money in tax havens and pay nothing in federal income taxes, while billionaire hedge fund managers pay a lower effective tax rate than nurses or teachers.
“In order to reverse the massive transfer of wealth and income from the middle class to the very rich that we have seen in recent years, we need real tax reform which makes the wealthy and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes.  It is fiscally irresponsible that the U.S. Treasury loses about $100 billion a year because corporations and the rich stash their profits in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other tax havens.
“We need a tax system which is fair and progressive.  Children should not go hungry in this country while profitable corporations and the wealthy avoid their tax responsibilities.
“The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time.
“I can understand how this might feel daunting.  We are up against a billionaire class that has bought our political system to enrich itself, and is now faced with the breakup of their oligarchy.
“Know this: when people come together to organize, we can beat any amount of money thrown around by the Koch Brothers, Goldman Sachs executives, or anyone else.
“Our political revolution is underway, and when it is built, we will win not just against Wall Street, but we will win the White House.”

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Let Diplomacy Work

Retired Major General Paul Eaton has explained: “Interference by Congress won’t strengthen our negotiators’ hand, it will make it harder for them to do their job.  Diplomacy is far more likely to work without backseat driving from Congress.  Congress has the responsibility to do everything it can before putting American troops in harm’s way — which should only be a last resort.  That means letting diplomacy work and not undermining our negotiators."

Recently, Iraq War Veteran Garett Reppenhagen wrote: “The last time the U.S. Military was called on in the name of stopping Weapons of Mass Destruction, I was stationed in the Diyala Province in Iraq as a Sniper in the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division.

“I participated in combat missions while the infrastructure of the country was destroyed, sectarian violence divided communities, millions were displaced from their homes, countless Iraqis were killed and injured, and our fellow service members were caught in the middle.

“After helping to secure the scene of a HEMTT Tactical Truck that was destroyed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, and watching two female soldiers medivaced knowing they would likely not survive their injuries, I started to wonder what could have prevented the conflict I found myself deployed to.

“Aside from the many American troops killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the burden of war continues to impact our veterans. Substance abuse, traumatic brain injuries, incarceration, homelessness, and suicide are just some of the issues veterans face coming home from war. Although these sacrifices are high, our military members take pride in risking their lives for our homes, families, and country.

“That is why we need to ensure we do everything we can to prevent future war unless it is absolutely necessary. Our country needs to exhaust all diplomatic efforts before the possibility of military action is warranted. We owe it to the men and women that choose to serve this country.

“The deal our State Department, and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, has negotiated with Iran is the best diplomatic effort we can agree upon. It has great potential to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and prevent the future deployment of our Armed Forces.

“Before we see more of my brothers and sisters in uniform medivaced away from the combat zone let's support diplomacy and support the Iran Deal.  We have a very unique and important voice in this debate.  Thank for helping to ensure that it's heard.” 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Our Female Candidate

In 1995, incumbent President Bill Clinton was the candidate to beat in the presidential race, but everybody was talking about First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, because of her decision to attend the United Nations Conference on Women.  The political uproar by conservative Republican was that the first lady of the United States was daring to give a high-profile speech about women’s rights in Beijing, China.

President Clinton hadn’t made an official trip to China, but the Hillary decided that she’d go first.  She was already under a microscope at home, after her unprecedented role in trying to pass national healthcare reform had suffered a stinging defeat when it failed.  There were legitimate foreign policy reasons to cancel the trip, and her husband’s re-election was not a sure bet. 

When Hillary arrived in Beijing, thousands of women from all over the world had converged on Beijing to hear her speak.

First Lady told those attending the the United Nations Conference on Women:  “Voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loudly and clearly.  It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food or drowned or suffocated or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

“It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

“It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

By the way, recent polls show that 75 percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Democrats favor background checks for gun shows and private sales.  Everyday, 48 children are killed or injured by guns in America.  And, when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation the chances that a woman will die increases by 500 percent. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Our Socialist Candidate

Bernard Sanders was first elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981.  Twelve years later, NBC News Anchor, Tom Brokaw reported: “New England has a tradition of political independence going all the way back to the Boston Tea Party.  And in Burlington, Vermont, tonight, one very independent Yankee is being sworn in for his third term as mayor.” 

Sanders pointed out: “To us what socialism means basically is a democracy.  It’s a society where you don’t have a handful of giant banks and corporations controlling the economic and political life of the nation.”

In 1987, Sanders ran for governor of Vermont as a third- party candidate, but lost with only 14 percent of the vote.  In 1988, he ran for Vermont’s open congressional seat, but lost that race to a Republican named Peter Smith.  But when Smith, ran for re-election two years later, Sanders beat him by 16 points, and he held that House seat in Vermont for the next 16 years.  He then ran for the U.S. Senate in Vermont and won by more than 30 points.

Today, Senator Sanders has packed venues across America as he campaigns for president, drawing larger crowds than any other candidate in either party.  His message has been consistent: “I would like to see somebody who speaks for the underdog, for the people who don’t have decent health care benefits, somebody who understands that in America today, 50 percent of the people don’t even vote anymore and the vast majority of that 50 percent are poor people and working people who have given up on the system.

“So, essentially, I would like to see a candidate who has the guts to have a vision that America could be a land for all people and not just the land controlled by the super rich.”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Issues Part 4

As noted on 8/4/15, Senator Sanders list of issues that should be considered by voters in order to determine, who the Democratic nominee for president will be.  Issues Part 4 is the final excerpt from the list.
“Today, the United States has more people living in poverty than at almost any time in the modern history of our country.  We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major nation, and millions of seniors and people with disabilities struggle to put food on the table because of insufficient Social Security benefits.

“In my view, we have a moral responsibility to make certain that no American goes hungry or sleeps on the street.  We must also make certain that seniors and people with disabilities can live in dignity.  Not only must we vigorously oppose Republican attacks on the social safety net, we must expand benefits for those most in need.  That is why I have recently introduced legislation which would extend the solvency of Social Security until 2065, while increasing benefits for those most in need.

“We need to stop using prisons as a response to poverty.  Our criminal justice system needs to be reformed so that we do not continue to house non-violent offenders at huge expense when that money could be used to rebuild communities and create opportunity. We need federal leadership to reform policing in America, to end racial profiling, and to fight the illegal activities of hate groups.  We need comprehensive immigration reform that protects families and leads to a responsible and realistic path to citizenship.
“Throughout much of our history, the elite in America has divided people along racial lines in an effort to consolidate wealth and power.  We need to simultaneously address the structural and institutional racism which exists in this country while at the same time vigorously attacking the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which is making the very rich much richer, and everyone else - especially the African-American community - much poorer.  Meanwhile, too many people of color in this country find themselves subjected to a system that treats citizens who have not committed crimes like criminals.  We have more people locked up in jail than any other country on earth.  We need to invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.  Finally, no person should have to worry that a routine interaction with law enforcement will end in violence and death.  Black lives matter: we must reform our criminal justice system, move away from the militarization of police forces, and invest in community policing.

“The United States must join Germany and many other countries in understanding that investing in our young people's education is investing in the future of our nation.  I have introduced legislation to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lowering interest rates on student loans.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Three Decades

Nearly 30 years ago, Mayor Bernie Sanders was asked: “How does a socialist like yourself keep winning elections in a country we generally consider that has a two-party system?”

He replied: “Well, I think we win in Burlington, I should point out that in Burlington, I am the mayor and I won on four occasions, but we have 13 people on our city council.  A board of aldermen and six of them are progressive and so it’s not just me.  We have probably the only strong three-party city in the United States of America.

“And I think that the reason we win and continue to win is that increasingly people are frustrated and angry about a two-party system which is dominated by big money and which does not pay attention to the needs of working people or elderly people or poor people.

“I think if you talk common sense to the people and say the government is supposed to represent the needs of those people who today are not getting a fair shake, you know what, they’ll vote for you. 

“And the problem that we have nationally in this country is that the two-party system dominated by big money is not delivering for ordinary people, which is why people are giving up on the political process, why they’re not voting, and why there is a great deal of anger and frustration at the political system as it now exists.”

Those remarks sound much like those Senator Sanders has recently given in campaign interview in Iowa or New Hampshire.  These themes are exactly the same themes that he is now campaigning on to be the Democratic presidential candidate.  He has been on the national stage for more than three decades, and has espoused the exact same beliefs.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Economic Advantages

Apparently, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush completely agrees with President Obama’s strategy regarding how, we should go about defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

In a speech last week, Jeb Bush proclaimed: “We must support the Iraqi forces which right now have the will to win, but not the means.”  President Obama had said: “We will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground.”

Jeb Bush admits: “We must give these forces the consistent advantage of American air power.”  Obama had said: “We will conduct a systematic campaign of air strikes against these terrorists.”

Jeb Bush acknowledged: “The United States must engage with friends and allies and lead again in this vital region.”  President Obama had said: “America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners.”

Jeb Bush argues: “We do not need and our friends don’t ask for a major commitment of American combat forces.”  Obama had said: “These American forces will not have a combat mission.  We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.”

Jeb Bush concedes: “Only Iraq Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds can decide if they will live together and share power and resources in a way that will serve their interests.”  President Obama had said: “American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves.”

Certainly, Jeb Bush will continue to disagree with a former senior member of our intelligence community, Michael Scheuer, who had decades of experience in national security issues. 

While with the CIA, Scheuer wrote "Imperial Hubris."  In that book he emphasized: “We must recognize that our invasion of Iraq was not preemptive; it was an avarice, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

Issues Part 3

As noted on 8/4/15, Senator Sanders has submitted a lengthy list of issues that should be considered by Democratic voters when determining who to nominate for our next president.  Issues Part 3 is another excerpt from that list. 
“I have discussed some of the major crises that we face. Let me give you the outline of an agenda which addresses these problems.

“The truth is that real unemployment in our country is not the ‘official’ and widely-reported 5.4 percent.  Counting those who are underemployed and those who have given up looking for work, real unemployment is almost 11 percent.  Even more disturbingly, real unemployment for white and Hispanic youth is over 30 percent, while African-American youth unemployment is over 50 percent.

“We need a major federal jobs program.  The most effective way to do that is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.  To do that, I have introduced legislation which would invest $1 trillion over 5 years to modernize our country's physical infrastructure.  This would create and maintain at least 13 million good-paying jobs.  It would also make our country more productive, efficient and safe.

“As a member of Congress who voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China (PNTR) and is helping to lead the opposition against the TPP, I will continue my opposition to trade policies which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs as corporate America shuts down plants here and moves them to low-wage countries.

“Today, millions of Americans are working for starvation wages and median family income has declined by almost $5,000 since 1999.  The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is totally inadequate.  We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage - $15 an hour over the next few years.  Our goal must be that no full-time worker in this country lives in poverty.  We must also bring about pay equity for women.  There is no rational reason why women should be earning 78 cents on the dollar compared to men who perform the same work. “Further, we need to implement ‘family values’ for American working families.  It is unacceptable that the United States is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee family and medical leave, sick time and paid vacations.
“Today, the richest 400 Americans own over $2.2 trillion in wealth, more than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.  Meanwhile, nearly half of all Americans have less than $10,000 in savings and have no idea how they will be able to retire with dignity.”

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Spending Taxpayers Money

Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker claims to be a fiscal conservative, and a champion of the taxpayer.  Last month, he decided to take on his state’s higher education system by slashing $250 million from the University of Wisconsin system.

After announcing that he was a presidential candidate, Governor Walker responded to the threat of moving the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks to another city by signing a bill that approved $250 million for public financing for a new arena for that NBA basketball team.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, taxpayers would ultimately have to pay $400 million in interest over 20 years.  The new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks, who run hedge funds in New York City, insist that they will put up $150 million.

Handing taxpayer money to billionaires seems like an obvious violation of basic  principles of modern free market conservatism.  Even, the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group founded by the Koch Brothers who have given a million dollars of support to Walker’s policies have come out against the deal.  They told the Huffington Post: “From our perspective, this just isn’t the role of government and we should be using our resources elsewhere.”

The national finance co-chairman of Scott Walker’s presidential campaign is John Hames, who through a limited liability corporation registered under his son’s name, donated $150,000 to a super PAC committee backing Walker.  And, by the way John Hames is also co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Founded by the Charles Koch Foundation the Cato Institute is a libertarian public policy research organization dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.  Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.
The executive vice president of the Cato Institute, David Boaz insists: “You can pretty well assume anything politicians say about economics is wrong.  All economists know, they have studied this, it doesn’t work, it’s not a good way to increase jobs, increase income or increase growth.  And you’ve got Democrats who say they want to stop helping the rich and you’ve got Republicans who say they want to stop intervening in the economy, and yet when you put an actual chance to stop on the table, you find both Democrats and Republicans are right there to subsidize millionaire players and billionaire owners.”

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Three Existential Threats

Retired Marine General James E. Cartwright oversaw our nuclear arsenal from 2004-2007.  He believes that there are three existential threats humanity faces: a major asteroid strike, a worldwide pandemic, and nuclear weapons.                    

On August 6, 1945 the world witnessed the devastation that just one nuclear weapon can cause, when the United States dropped the atomic bomb, the first nuclear weapon ever used in warfare, on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.  Those bombs killed more than 100,000 people instantly, and caused untold damage in the aftermath.  Another 150,000 men, women and children lost their lives from injuries and other health problems sustained as a result of those bombs.

Every year on August 6, thousands of people gather at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, which in 1945 was ground zero for that first atomic bomb explosion.  They reflect upon the devastation and to honor those who lost their lives.

General Cartwright was stationed in Japan several times and had the opportunity to visit Peace Memorial Park on numerous occasion.  Japanese schoolchildren visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park as a part of their studies and are assigned to collect other visitors’ impressions and thoughts.  On more than one occasion, these children have approached General Cartwright to ask him to write in their notebooks.

He told Ploughshares Fund: “I found the activity interesting, particularly from the perspective that it had become a part of their heritage, it was not a source of poor relations between the two countries.  As soon as you signed the book the conversation turned to music, clothes, movies, etc.  They had found a way to strike a balance between a very dark day in our history, juxtaposed with their total fascination with our culture.”

In 2012, General Cartwright explained in the New York Times: “The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war.  There is the baggage of significant numbers in reserve.  There is the baggage of a nuclear stockpile beyond our needs.  What is it we’re really trying to deter?  Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century.”

Today, nuclear weapons are 100 times more powerful than those that the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should serve as a somber lesson, reminding us all of the destructive power of nuclear weapons.

Friday, August 14, 2015


In his first major foreign policy speech, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush argue that the Obama administration had failed to stop the growth of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS ), and placed part of the blame on Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state during Obama's first term as president.
He called the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2009 a “fatal error.”  Actually, the greatest foreign policy fatal error regarding Iraq was to invade Iraq in the first place.
Jeb Bush seems oblivious to the fact that the withdrawal plan to remove our troops from Iraq was put in place by his brother.  In fact, the Status of Forces agreement that was signed by President George W. Bush and Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, set a timetable for the drawdown our troops.
However, the Status of Forces Agreement, that Bush signed didn’t include the usual agreement to exempt our troops based in foreign countries from local criminal laws.  The agreement with Iraq required, that it be approved by the Iraqi parliament, but our Congress was never consulted.  Bush signed the deal requiring our combat troops to be out by 2011.
A scheme to keep our combat troops in Iraqi cities after mid-2009, was revealed by the  New York Times.  Pentagon planners had proposed to relabel combat units as training and support units.  As many as 70,000 troops would be maintained in Iraq for a substantial time beyond 2011, despite an explicit agreement, which required that all of our troops be withdrawn.

Despite General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq assertion that it’s our military's prerogative to unilaterally determine what troops remain in Iraqi cities, the Iraqi government made it clear that our military had no such right.  These military plans were made behind the scenes to get Obama to consent to the subversion of the intent of the Status of Forces Agreement.

Instead, Obama announced:“As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.  So, today, I can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.  After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.  Across America, our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families.  Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Proactive Proposals

In 1992, America was shocked by the riots in Los Angeles following the acquittal of police officers who beat African-American Rodney King with their nightsticks on the side of an L.A. highway.  The beating was captured on tape, and after no one was held accountable for that beating, L.A. rioted for six straight days, 53 people died, and thousands were arrests.

“Black Lives Matter” co-founder Alicia Garza insisted: “Black Lives Matter is demanding the respect and dignity for black people in this country so that all people can live better lives is really at a turning point.  And, we are here to make sure that our communities continue to be safe.  We are here to make sure that our communities have the things that we need and we are here to make sure that anti-black racism is eliminated once and for all.

“I think what’s important to be mindful of is that there have been demands for a long time now.  And it’s just now that folks are kind of turning their attention to asking, what are the policy solutions?  What are the policy implementations we’re going to be leading here?

“And I think what we need to be mindful is that both requires that candidates are proactive in thinking about what is it that they plan to move in the same way that they give us you know, the package of issues that they’re going to be working on when they take office.  This issue needs to be one of them.  And they need to be putting forward proactive proposals.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never has and it never will.  So, it’s important that we push to ensure that our issues are at the forefront.  And certainly had we not been disrupting, had we not been pushing, had we not accepted business as usual, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

For Your Information

The quotations below are from a speech made by President Obama on 8/5/15. 
“Today, I want to speak to you about this deal, and the most consequential foreign policy debate that our country has had since the invasion of Iraq, as Congress decides whether to support this historic diplomatic breakthrough, or instead blocks it over the objection of the vast majority of the world.  Between now and the congressional vote in September, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising.  And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should -- for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.  I raise this recent history because now more than ever we need clear thinking in our foreign policy.  And I raise this history because it bears directly on how we respond to the Iranian nuclear program.”  
“That program has been around for decades, dating back to the Shah’s efforts -- with U.S. support -- in the 1960s and ‘70s to develop nuclear power.  The theocracy that overthrew the Shah accelerated the program after the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, a war in which Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to brutal effect, and Iran’s nuclear program advanced steadily through the 1990s, despite unilateral U.S. sanctions. When the Bush administration took office, Iran had no centrifuges -- the machines necessary to produce material for a bomb -- that were spinning to enrich uranium.  But despite repeated warnings from the United States government, by the time I took office, Iran had installed several thousand centrifuges, and showed no inclination to slow -- much less halt -- its program.”
“It is true that if Iran lives up to its commitments, it will gain access to roughly $56 billion of its own money -- revenue frozen overseas by other countries.  But the notion that this will be a game-changer, with all this money funneled into Iran’s pernicious activities, misses the reality of Iran’s current situation.  Partly because of our sanctions, the Iranian government has over half a trillion dollars in urgent requirements -- from funding pensions and salaries, to paying for crumbling infrastructure.  Iran’s leaders have raised the expectations of their people that sanctions relief will improve their lives. Even a repressive regime like Iran’s cannot completely ignore those expectations.  And that’s why our best analysts expect the bulk of this revenue to go into spending that improves the economy and benefits the lives of the Iranian people.” 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Issues Part 2

As noted in my previous post of 8/4/15, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has submitted a lengthy list of issues that should be considered by Democratic voters when determining who to nominate for our next president.  Issues Part 2 is another excerpt from that list. 
“Despite substantial gains, we still have a long way to go to achieve equality for minorities.  Instead of investing in opportunities, we are locking people up at an incredible rate.  We now have the highest incarceration rate in the entire world with over 2 million in prison and millions more on probation or parole.  We have a broken immigration system that divides families and keeps millions of hard-working people in the shadows.

“Most of the major Wall Street financial institutions that we bailed out because they were ‘too big to fail,’ are now bigger than they used to be.  The six largest financial institutions now have assets equivalent to nearly 60% of our GDP, issue 35% of the mortgages, and oversee 65% of credit cards.

“Our tax system is wildly unfair--rigged to benefit the very rich. Major corporations that earn billions in profits stash their money in tax havens and pay nothing in federal income taxes, while billionaire hedge fund managers pay a lower effective tax rate than nurses or teachers.
“Despite growing poverty among seniors, almost all Republicans, and some Democrats, want to cut Social Security and benefits for disabled veterans.  They want more austerity for the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor, and more tax breaks for the rich.

“The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.  The United States spends more on the military than the next nine biggest-spending countries combined.  Today, there are massive cost over-runs with defense contractors and the Pentagon cannot even pass an independent audit.

“We are at a moment of truth.  We need to face up to the reality of where we are as a nation, and we need a mass movement of people to change that reality.

“Let's be clear.  This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders.  It's about a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: ‘Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.’”

Monday, August 10, 2015

Crucial Health Services

Jeb Bush said: “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”
Bernie Sanders responded: “We need to be investing in organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide absolutely essential health services for women, particularly in low-income communities.  And Americans need a president who knows women in this nation deserve a whole lot more than $3 a person for health care.  Jeb Bush saying that a half billion dollars for women’s health care is too much shows just how low the Republican candidates will sink to cater to the radical fringe in this election.”
Front-runner, Hillary Clinton has made her position on Planned Parenthood very clear: “I’m proud to stand with Planned Parenthood, I’ll never stop fighting to protect the ability and right of every woman in this country to make her own health decisions”

Planned Parenthood has been under fire since a series of undercover videos were released by an anti-abortion advocacy group.  The videos show doctors and Planned Parenthood executives discussing fetal tissue donation.  The organization behind the videos claims that the footage proves the organization illegally sells body parts, but Planned Parenthood insists everything it does is legal.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million a year from the federal government and directs it to community health centers.  Many Republican 2016 presidential candidates and lawmakers have come out against the organization.

In a video, Clinton noted: “Unfortunately, these attacks aren’t new, they’re more of the same, we’ve seen them in Wisconsin where Gov. Walker defunded Planned Parenthood and left women across the state stranded with nowhere else to turn.  We’ve seen them in Florida where Jeb Bush funneled millions of taxpayer dollars into abstinence-only programs while gutting funds for crucial family planning programs.  And we’ve seen them in Texas where Gov. Perry drastically cut funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings and then signed legislation that forced health centers across the state to close their doors.”

Senator Chuck Schumer voted to stop a hard-right initiative that would have defunded Planned Parenthood.  Schumer voted to ensure millions of Americans would continue to have access to cancer screenings for cervical and breast cancer, as well as, HIV testing and for other sexually-transmitted diseases.  After the vote to defund Planned Parenthood failed, several Republicans threatened to shutdown the government unless we cut funding for Planned Parenthood’s crucial health services.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Sanctuary Cities

A Pew Center report shows that the number of undocumented immigrants coming from Mexico has actually declined after the recession of 2008 and the undocumented population is stable at 11 million.  That report notes that the deportations hit a record high in 2013, about 400,000 per year, many of whom were criminals.

There are over 200 cities, counties, and states across America, who are considered sanctuaries that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation by refusing to comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers or impede open communication and information exchanges between their employees or officers and federal immigration agents.  These state and local jurisdictions have policies, laws, executive orders, or regulations to this effect.  These sanctuary policies obstruct federal law authorizing ICE to administratively deporting illegal aliens without seeking criminal warrants or convictions from federal, state, or local courts.  Although federal regulations require cooperation, the federal government has never sued nor sanctioned a sanctuary jurisdiction, nor denied federal funds.

In contrast, the Obama administration has made it difficult for the states and localities which choose to aid in enforcing immigration laws, in some cases going so far as to sue to have such assistance prohibited.  In a November 2014 policy memorandum signed by the Homeland Security Secretary, the administration reversed longstanding policies by directing ICE agents not to issue detainers except in rare circumstances, and explicitly allowing sanctuaries to ignore ICE efforts to take custody of deportable undocumented immigrants.

Although, immigrant-rich communities are much safer compared to the national average, congressional Republican have passed a bill that would withhold certain federal law enforcement grants to state and local governments that bar their officials from taking certain immigration-related actions, such as gathering or maintaining information on the immigration or citizenship status of individuals or sharing such information with federal immigration authorities.

You would think that congressional Republicans would defer to law enforcement officials, such as the sheriff of El Paso County, when he tells them, that they don’t want to be enforcing federal immigration law because they want the cooperation of every single person in the community in which they’re trying to keep people safe.  

When a segment of the local population fears that law enforcement is going to enforce federal immigration law or try to determine immigration status, they usually don’t come forward as witnesses.  They don’t help prevent crimes or solve those crimes that have been committed.

Saturday, August 08, 2015


The following in an excerpt from remarks made by President Obama at American University regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal.

“‘Peace is not the absence of conflict,” President Reagan once said.  It is ‘the ability to cope with conflict by peaceful means.’  President Kennedy warned Americans, ‘not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than the exchange of threats.’  It is time to apply such wisdom.  The deal before us doesn’t bet on Iran changing, it doesn’t require trust; it verifies and requires Iran to forsake a nuclear weapon, just as we struck agreements with the Soviet Union at a time when they were threatening our allies, arming proxies against us, proclaiming their commitment to destroy our way of life, and had nuclear weapons pointed at all of our major cities -- a genuine existential threat.

“We live in a complicated world -- a world in which the forces unleashed by human innovation are creating opportunities for our children that were unimaginable for most of human history.  It is also a world of persistent threats, a world in which mass violence and cruelty is all too common, and human innovation risks the destruction of all that we hold dear.  In this world, the United States of America remains the most powerful nation on Earth, and I believe that we will remain such for decades to come.  But we are one nation among many.

“And what separates us from the empires of old, what has made us exceptional, is not the mere fact of our military might.  Since World War II, the deadliest war in human history, we have used our power to try to bind nations together in a system of international law.  We have led an evolution of those human institutions President Kennedy spoke about -- to prevent the spread of deadly weapons, to uphold peace and security, and promote human progress.

“We now have the opportunity to build on that progress.  We built a coalition and held it together through sanctions and negotiations, and now we have before us a solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, without resorting to war.  As Americans, we should be proud of this achievement.  And as members of Congress reflect on their pending decision, I urge them to set aside political concerns, shut out the noise, consider the stakes involved with the vote that you will cast.

“If Congress kills this deal, we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear program, or the sanctions we have painstakingly built.  We will have lost something more precious: America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy; America’s credibility as the anchor of the international system.

“John F. Kennedy cautioned here, more than 50 years ago, at this university, that ‘the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war.’  But it’s so very important.  It is surely the pursuit of peace that is most needed in this world so full of strife.

“My fellow Americans, contact your representatives in Congress. Remind them of who we are.  Remind them of what is best in us and what we stand for, so that we can leave behind a world that is more secure and more peaceful for our children.”

Friday, August 07, 2015

Equal Treatment

The “Black Lives Matter”movement has shown that a growing number of Americans insist that our country needs to give African-Americans the same rights as white.

A recent Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of Americans believe that to be the case.  Prior to Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Missouri less than 50 percent of American felt that more changes were needed to guarantee equal treatment.

Today a majority of white Americans agree that we need to do more around racial justice in this country.  Over 60 percent of independents and more than a third of Republicans also agree.  Even within the Republican Party, there is movement in agreement in terms of public opinion with the broader demands of the movement.

Dorian Warren is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University.  He has pointed out: “So it is really striking to me when you ask a Republican presidential candidate about the Black Lives movement, and you ask a Democratic presidential candidate about it, you’re getting two very completely different answers here.  It’s almost as if there’s no common ground.

“There are two ways in which movements influence American politics.  One is through agenda settings.  So, at the National Urban League Conference last week, all three of the major candidates on the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders all gave speeches addressing the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, around police accountability, around the criminal justice system and mass incarceration, around issues of disinvestment in especially black communities and communities of color.  It is almost as if the movement could have written the speeches that those three Democratic candidates gave.”

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Single Issue Voters

People tend to vote for a candidate, who is either a Republican or Democrat simply because it’s a family tradition.  Some wives vote the way their husbands do, because the man of the family is allegedly more politically informed. 

We’re sometimes urged to contact our representatives in Congress and tell them how we’d like then to vote on a piece of legislation, and that is important.  I’m concerned with those who are advocating that on a single issue, a current member, or a former member of Congress shouldn’t be re-elected.

Pollsters at NBC and Marist ask Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, what is more important to them, a Republican nominee for president who shares their positions on most issues, or a Republican nominee for president who has the best chance of winning the White House?  In both Iowa and New Hampshire, 67 percent of Republican voters said they want a nominee for president who they agree with rather than one who can win.

In my opinion, 67 percent of Republican voters are being illogical.  First and formost they should be nominating a candidate for president, that has the best chance of defeating the most likely Democratic candidate for president.  Currently, that appears to be Hillary Clinton.

Although, I prefer Bernie Sanders, I’d also like to be able to claim, that I voted for the first African- American and the first female president.  For me to vote for Hillary because she is a female would be a single issue vote.  I’m advocating that voters of both political parties consider more than a single issue when making their decision.

Democratic voters have a multitude of  important issues to be considered.  However, I’m giving less consideration to very controversial legislation that will never get passed by a Republican controlled Congress.  I’m watching the polls and looking for specific issues whereby Hillary and Bernie disagree on important issues before I commit to one candidate or the other.  Electability and experience remain at the top my list.     

Republican voters will decide to vote for a candidate, who is against reasonable gun control legislation, funding Planned Parenthood, same sex marriage, comprehensive immigration reform, abortion rights, improving the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, increasing the minimum wage, strengthening the Voting Rights Act, reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, and contest legislation that would guarantee family and medical leave, sick time and paid vacations.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Manure Spreader

In an interview Dan Rather the host of "The Big Interview" on AXS TV provided an explanation as to why Donald Trump is so popular with Republican primary voters.

The following is an excerpt from Rather’s explanation: “Donald Trump is voicing what a lot of Republican primary voters are thinking but they don’t want to say.  They don’t know how it will go down.  Not only do they like it, but they love it.

“Secondly, Donald Trump is the epitome of an anti-Washington candidate.  They love that.  But the John McCain thing which I thought then and believe now is a big mistake.  He damaged himself personally and damaged his chances for what he wants to accomplish.  However, John McCain and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina are not all that popular with the large segment of the Republican primary voters.

“Third, what he said about immigration, about Mexicans, abhorrent to most of us -- again, that’s something that’s reflected.  It’s a deep down feeling of a lot of people that don’t want to express or feel they can express it and Donald Trump is expressing it for them.  And besides that, he’s tapped into the anger, frustration, rage and fear of a lot of people not all of them in the Republican Party, who are sort of scared about what’s happening with their country.  And he’s tapped into that.

“But Trump is the classic leading man figure, and American politics, particularly presidential politics, is theater.  Trump understands that it’s theater.  Theater needs a leading man.  He plays like a leading man.

“Now, how long this lasts?  I don’t know.  The question now is whether he’s a shooting star and can begin to fade or whether he’s a planet, who’s going to be around this Republican primary process for much longer than most people think.

“I am of the opinion that the latter is true.  I think he’s going to be around longer and maybe a lot longer.  He’s a Republican’s nightmare, because as long as he’s in their party running in their primary, most of the candidates feel like they’re facing a manure spreader in a windstorm.”

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Issue List

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has submitted a lengthy list of issues that should be considered by Democratic voters when determining who to nominate for our next president.  Over the next  two weeks, I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from that list.
Part 1. “This country faces more serious problems today than at any time in modern history, and establishment politics will not successfully resolve them.
“Corporate greed is rampant, and the very rich keep growing richer while everyone else grows poorer. Despite an explosion in technology and a huge increase in productivity, the middle class continues to disappear, most Americans work longer hours for lower wages, and 45 million live in poverty.
“The skyrocketing level of income and wealth inequality is not only grotesque and immoral, it is economically unsustainable. It is unconscionable that 99% of all new income goes to the top 1%. It is absurd that the top one-tenth of 1% own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and that one family (the Waltons of Walmart) has more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans.
“As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, the billionaire class is spending huge amounts of money to buy candidates and elections. We are now witnessing the undermining of American democracy and the rapid movement toward oligarchy where a handful of very wealthy families and their Super PACs will control our government.
“The scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and is already bringing catastrophic damage to our planet. Yet, the Republican Party is prepared to reject science in order to gain campaign contributions from the Koch brothers, Big Energy companies and others who make billions on fossil fuels. If we do not act boldly on climate change, the planet we leave to our grandchildren may be uninhabitable.
“The United States once led the world in terms of the percentage of our young people who had college degrees. Today, in a highly competitive global economy, we are now in 12th place. Hundreds of thousands of bright young people have given up on the dream of higher education, while millions of others leave school with oppressive debt.
“Our infrastructure -- roads, bridges, rail, airports, water systems, wastewater plants, levees, dams -- is crumbling, and Congress refuses to appropriate anywhere near the necessary funds to rebuild it. If we do not invest substantially in infrastructure, a bad situation will only become much worse.”

Monday, August 03, 2015

Daniel Kurtzer

Former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, professor of Middle East policy studies at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School has joined four other former U.S. ambassador to Israel in signing onto a letter to Congress in support of the Iran nuclear deal.

Much of opposition to the deal with Iran is about Israel’s security, a nation that was created in the wake of the Holocaust.

Regarding Mike Huckabee’s comments, Daniel Kurtzer noted: “Well, it’s an outrageous comment, a very sad commentary about the nature of our politics.  There are serious issues to be debated here.  But for anybody to equate what the president is doing to what Adolf Hitler did in World War II is just extraordinary.

“In some ways, it’s a form of incitement, and we have seen results of that.  Twenty years ago in Israel, there was the same kind of incitement against Yitzhak Rabin, and that led to a tragic outcome.

“I just hope people really stand back and understand Mr. Huckabee has crossed a serious line here.  Every Republican candidate should stand up, condemn this and ask him to retract it.”

Daniel Kurtzer, who was our ambassador to Israel for four years explained: “In the Gulf War of 1991, when Iraq fired dozens of Scud missiles at Israel, Israel had done nothing.  Again the concern that Iraq in 2003 would react to the American invasion by launching perhaps weapons of mass destruction.

“So, it’s fair for the Israelis to be concerned, particularly about Iran.  They are a country that’s called for Israel’s destruction, denies the Holocaust.  I think the concern is a realistic motivation to look at this agreement and see whether it works.  The reason I support the agreement is I think it is the best way to curb Iran’s program, to give us 15 or 20 years of time to see whether or not the Iranians will change their behaviors both in their nuclear program and outside of it, and to move them farther away from the possibility of acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“It’s the whole idea that somehow if you engage in diplomacy, you are selling out the country.  We heard this as early as 2008 from President George W. Bush when he went to Israel and he equated diplomacy with Iran as appeasement.  In a sense, setting the stage for the outrageous comments we’re hearing now about Munich and Chamberlain and even Hitler.”

Sunday, August 02, 2015

El Paso, Texas

Rep. Beto O’Rourke represents El Paso, Texas.  He insists: “El Paso is the safest city in America.  It has been for the last four years.  And what I try to share with people and I want to share it with Mr. Trump is that is in large part because of and not spite of the large number of immigrants who come to El Paso and the fact that we’re conjoined with Ciudad Juarez in Mexico forming the largest binational community anywhere in the world.

“And we’re also not an anomaly.  You look at Laredo, Texas, you look at San Diego, California, or you look at an immigrant city like New York City, they’re all far safer than the average American city that’s not on the U.S.-Mexico border.  So, he’s got the facts all wrong on this one.  But I’m glad he’s at the border, and maybe he’ll learn the truth while he’s there.

“I was at an event last night with the wife of a senator and we were talking about Trump...  She told me, that he speaks for a lot of conservative Republicans in this country who are genuinely afraid of Mexico, Mexicans, and the border.  So, what he says resonates with those voters.  And, that is the reason he’s polling at the top of the field in the Republican primary right now.

“My challenge and your challenge as a journalist is to make sure that we share the facts and truth about the border.  And that the U.S. side of the border is safer than the average American City, that last year we had 480,000 apprehensions.  And that’s compared to 1.6 million fifteen years ago...

“So, any fact that Mr. Trump would choose to look at would contradict completely the narrative that he’s telling.  But unfortunately, what he says resonates with anxieties and fears that people have about the border, about Mexico, about Mexican-Americans, which is absolutely unfortunate.

“But I think this is an issue where given enough rope, he’s going to do far more damage to himself, to the party, and to that whole narrative than I could ever change by the facts I’m sharing with you.

“So, I think this is one where we’re happy to allow this to play out and for Mr. Trump to continue to talk and stand at the top of the field for the Republicans in their primary challenge.”