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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Angry Criticism


The Benghazi hearing offered an opportunity for Republicans to probe what they insist are still unanswered questions about that tragedy.
Hillary Clinton came under repeated angry criticism from Republicans who didn't accept her explanations as they tried to prove she ignored pleas from U.S. diplomats in Libya for better security and played the dominant role in the U.S. intervention in Libya, which was an initial success but left a chaotic failed state behind.
Republican congressman Peter Roskam noted:"I have heard one dismissive thing after another, but as his patience diminished over her repeated statements that though she accepted responsibility for what happened in Benghazi, decisions about security arrangements were left to U.S. envoys on the ground and security professionals in the State Department.  He demanded: “What did you do?  What did you own?"  And, as he ripped a piece of paper in two as a theatrical gesture meant to support his claim that requests for security from Stevens were denied.
Roskam claimed: "You laid this on Chris Stevens, didn't you?  They didn't get through to you.  They didn't get through to your inner circle.”
Clinton rejected that claim, by saying: "I am sorry that it doesn’t fit your narrative congressman, I can only tell you what the facts are.  I was responsible for quite a lot.  I was not responsible for specific requests and security provisions, that is not something I was responsible for."
Later, Rep. Peter Roskam accused Hillary Clinton of using the U.S. intervention in Benghazi to boost her own personal political brand.
Throughout the hearing, Republicans maintained that the panel was not created to serve partisan ends.  Republican Trey Gowdy, who chairs the Benghazi committee rejected Democratic claims he was leading the investigation to a pre-ordained verdict with the intention of damaging Clinton.  Gowdy raised his voice to insist: "This is not a prosecution, I have reached no conclusions."
Nevertheless, heated exchanges highlighted that the hearing was not only limited to an examination of Hillary Clinton's record on Benghazi but also the extent to which partisanship has shaped the investigation, with the Democratic candidates' allies repeatedly charging the GOP with politically motivated maneuvers.
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings noted that the probe had wasted 17 months and $4.7 million on a partisan fishing expedition that had turned up no new evidence on the attack, which occurred when she was secretary of state.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rachel Maddow


MSNBC's Rachel Maddow criticized House Republicans for turning the House Select Committee on Benghazi into “one big hilarious partisan joke.” 
She compared the ongoing investigation into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, to the 1983 attack on a U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, and argued that previous House Select Committee investigations weren’t overtly driven by partisanship the way the Benghazi investigation has been.
She has pointed out: “We have never had a congressional partisan carnival like this over an attack on a U.S. outpost overseas.  In the history of Beirut, of Khobar Towers, of the East Africa embassy bombings, of the 9/11 commission, even, of the attack on the USS Cole, on even the intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.” 
Maddow  also noted, that following the Beirut attack, Congress and President Reagan passed legislation that would require the secretary of state to create an "Accountability Review Board" after similar events, to assess what went wrong and what needed to be fixed.
Hillary Clinton appointed an Accountability Review Board after the Benghazi attacks, and Maddow emphasized that the board didn't go easy on the former Secretary of State.  She explained: "That Accountability Review Board came back with harsh criticisms for the Obama administration, and the State Department, in terms of what went wrong and why in Benghazi."
Rather than accept the ARB's evaluation, Republicans on the Benghazi committee dragged out the investigation for partisan reasons.  At the Oct. 22cd. committee hearing, lawmakers derided the board because Clinton appointed its members, even though that's what she was required to do by law.
Maddow concluded: “If God loves America, we will find out soon that somewhere there is a reset button that we can hit after this is over to erase this as a potential precedent for our country moving forward.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Javier Palomarez


In a recent interview with the CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Javier Palomarez said: “On the Democratic side, I’ve now had the pleasure of talking at length with the three leading candidates, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Secretary Clinton. 
“And I’m enthused by the level of interest and the willingness to engage America’s burgeoning Hispanic community on both sides of the aisle.

“And so, I’m very happy to see that on both sides of the aisle that there are people that value the contributions that America’s Hispanic community has made historically and continues to make to America both from an economic and a social perspective.  I’m very enthused by that.

“And I think as we move forward here, that 2016 now needs to be a year of action.  I’ve heard all the rhetoric.  I’ve heard a lot of dialogue.  We have been courted and had the opportunity again, the privilege to sit with a variety of these candidates, arguably the leading candidates on both ends.

“But now, it’s time for action.  And what I want to say are concrete policies, concrete plans, proposals for how we fix a variety of things in America.  Obviously, immigration is important to my constituency.  As you know, we represent 4.1 million Hispanic-owned businesses in this country that collectively contribute over $661 billion to the American economy.

“Beyond being business owners, however, we are voters.  We are taxpayers.  And we are concerned with all the things that all Americans are concerned with.

“But on this issue of immigration, it is a unifying issue amongst my constituency.  And so, we want to see concrete proposals and plans for how we fix America’s broken immigration system.  We view immigration reform as an economic imperative for the continued well-being of our nation.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rudy Giuliani


Regarding Donald Trumps controversial remarks about Hispanic workers, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said: “Most of the people coming in are good people seeking jobs.  They were not my crime problem in New York.  My crime problem were the people who lived here in New York, not the people who came here to New York from other places.”

When asked about sanctuary cities, Giuliani insists: “It depends on how you define a sanctuary city.  If, it’s a sanctuary city where illegals aren’t turning over drug dealers, killers, murderers, then you have a situation that’s wrong.

Giuliani points out: “On the other hand, you’re allowing people who are working hard to put their children in school, you’re making sure 50,000 children aren’t on the streets with nothing to do.  If you’re giving them medical services, you’re just being humanitarian.  And if you’re allowing them to turn in criminals, without being deported you’re catching criminals that you wouldn’t otherwise catch.”

Giuliani explained: “So if you define a sanctuary city as the way I just described it, well, then, it’s a sanctuary city.  But if you’re holding back people who are criminals, then you’re making a terrible mistake.  Those people should be turned over.  And they should be thrown out of the country.

A Pew Center report that the deportations hit a record high in 2013, about 400,000 per year, many of whom were criminals.

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.

There are over 200 cities, counties, and states across America, who are considered sanctuaries that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.  Although, immigrant-rich communities are much safer compared to the national average, House 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.

The Senate has recently rejected a motion to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed on a bill similar to the House bill that would withhold federal funds from cities and jurisdictions that do not comply with certain federal immigration laws.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Katharine W. Flanders


In a recent local commentary in the Oneonta Daily Star, Katharine W. Flanders of Delhi wrote the following:

“Most notable on your Opinion page is your abridgment of the First Amendment.  Please note, front and foremost in that amendment is the prohibition of government making any law that interferes with a religion or the practice of one’s religion.  That word ‘respecting’ means ‘pertaining to’ in this case.  The phrase ‘establishment of religion’ means any religious group.

“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. 

“Furthermore, this nation is in dire need of a crash course in the duties of our three branches of government.  Contrary to popular opinion, the Supreme Court does not make law.  That duty alone belongs to the legislative branch, made up of the House and Senate, known collectively as the Congress.  Among other powers, the legislative branch declares war, regulates interstate and foreign commerce and controls taxing and spending policies.  It cannot enforce law or rule on laws. 

“The executive branch consists of the President, presidential advisers and various departments and agencies.  This branch is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land and suggesting laws to Congress.  The POTUS has veto power over Congress, but does not have the power to make law, rule on laws, raise taxes or lower them. 

“The judicial branch consists of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal Judicial Center. According to the Constitution, ‘the judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.’  The U.S. Supreme Court ensures that each branch of government recognizes the limits of its own power.  It protects civil rights and liberties by striking down laws that violate the Constitution.  It sets appropriate limits on our democratic republic by ensuring that the changing views of a majority or a very vocal minority do not undermine the fundamental values common to all Americans, i.e., freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and due process of law.  It does not have the power to make law or enforce law. 

“Finally, the greatest threat to liberty and good governance is the willfully ignorant voter.  Each voter is tasked with investigating and understanding all issues at hand and all candidates’ records of public service.  Those that will not do so should stay home come voting day.  The end result of the ignorant voter is the fulfillment of this quote from Adolf Hitler, “What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.”

******
In my opinion, the article above is very informative, but I strongly disagree with the use of the term “willfully ignorant” and with the sentence: “Those that will not do so should stay home come voting day.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

An Inquisition


On 10/22/15, Hillary Clinton avoided major damage to her presidential campaign during a nearly 11-hour congressional hearing dominated by Republican criticism of her response to the Benghazi attacks.
She was cross-examination over the extent to which she has taken responsibility for the deaths of Americans in the September 11, 2012, attack, and her limited contact with our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, after sending him to Benghazi.  Ambassador Stevens was one of the four victims. 
Bitter political feelings festered during a contentious interrogation that eventually turned into an endurance test for Clinton.  Near the end of the grueling day, she said: "I came here because I said I would.  And I've done everything I know to do, as have the people with whom I worked, to try to answer your questions.  I cannot do any more than that."
After being repeatedly grilled on the details of the attack and how she had handled it, Clinton was forced to defend her use of a private email account while in office by GOP lawmakers.  She appeared cool and in command, but as the day wore on, she seemed to be increasingly impatient with the Republican line of questioning and with the constant interruptions from the Republican members on the panel.
She said: "I would imagine I have thought more about what happened than all of you put together.  I have lost more sleep than all of you put together.  I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done."
The independent Accountability Review Board that she set up as secretary had pulled no punches, by unveiling 29 recommendations for improving security for our diplomats overseas.  She noted that previous attacks on Americans abroad, including in 1983 on a U.S. Marines barracks and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, had produced changes to security procedures after nonpartisan investigations by Congress.
Clinton’s answers were no different than when she testified before the House and Senate on Benghazi two years ago.  She conclude: "I realize there are many currents at work in this committee, but I hope that the statesmanship overcomes partisanship.  At some point we have to do this."
Hillary Clinton’s performance came a week after a strong showing at the Democratic debate, as far as I’m concerned she has solidified her standing as the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic party's nomination.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Unifying Theme


The unifying theme in the Democratic presidential debate was that the participants weren’t seeking to run away from their progressive roots. 
After, Bernie Sanders who calls himself a Democratic socialist suggested America should look to countries like Denmark for guidance on how to help working people, the CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked: “You don’t consider yourself a capitalist, though?

Senator Sanders answered: “Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy?  No, I don’t.  I believe in a society where all people do well, not just a handful of billionaires.

Anderson Cooper pressed: “Let me, just to be clear, is there anybody else on this stage who is not a capitalist?

Clinton responded: “Well, let me just follow up on that, Anderson.  Because when I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.

“And I don’t think we should confuse what we have to do every so often in America which is save capitalism from itself.  And I think what Senator Sanders is saying, certainly makes sense in the terms of the inequality that we have.

“But we are not Denmark.  I love Denmark.  We’re the United States of America.  And it’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the inequities that we’re seeing in our economic system.”

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who has worked closely with most of the Democrats on that stage, pointed out: “I’ve watched two Republican debates and the contract was just incredible between our debate and their two debates in terms of substance, in terms of informational, in terms of the candidates’ respect for the voters and for each other.”

Senator Brown explained:“I mean, this is a party clearly now where I want it to be for all my political life, a party that fights for progressive values, a party that fights for fair trade.  A party that looks to raise the minimum wage, significantly, not just a dollar or two or three.  A party that’s going to stand up to Wall Street.” 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Incredibly Frustrated


All of the national poll numbers in the race for president show that Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican field.

Many members of the Republican Party vote for Trump, because they’re so disaffected with government and their establishment politicians.  Trump is an attractive candidate, because a lot of them were incredibly frustrated by the Bush administration on issues such as immigration, the bank bail-outs, his foreign policy.  They’re looking for someone not associated with Washington, which is the reason Trump and Ben Carson are surging in the polls.

The Republican Party is divided into politicians who want to govern and actually believe in government and governing, and the candidates who don’t.  Trump and Carson fall into latter group.  Every candidate in the Republican field is a conservative, but those supporting Trump like his bashing of Latinos, and the fact that he’s a birther.  It’s an emotional reaction.

Recently, 59 percent of Republican voters said that they can see themselves voting for Trump.  However, 51 percent said they imagine themselves voting for Bush.  Trump is in a stronger position than the establishment candidate Jeb Bush.  To vote for Trump, many Bush voters would have to reconcile their notions about ethnic prejudices against Hispanics.

Tea Party politicians have been talking about President Obama being the enemy, and not a “real” American.  There has been so much misinformation passed on from people like the Oneonta Daily Star conservative columnist Chuck Pinkey that conservatives have begun to hate anybody who’s not out there pushing misinformation.  If you actually believe that Obama is a Muslim, or a socialist dictator who wants to ruin America, you’ll take any means necessary to ensure that our government is unable to govern.  

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 has the support of 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’s to prevent the majority party from ever having to compromise on anything.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani is a classic moderate Republican, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, but he’s the kind of candidate that couldn’t get nominated by the Republican Party for president in recent years and probably not for decades into the future.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Another Select Committee


On Fox News, Rep. Kevin McCarthy bragged: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?  But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee.  What are her numbers today?  Her numbers are dropping.  Why?  Because she’s untrustable.  But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not...”

Democratic committee members, Elijah Cummings and Adam Smith have repeatedly noted that Republicans waited half a year before they requested their first document for their investigation.  Adam Smith called it not a legitimate investigation, and insisted it was a $3 million publicly financed political attack committee.

"The New York Times" editorial board has called for the House to shut down the Benghazi committee.  It wrote: "House Republicans may be disinclined to disband the select committee on Benghazi with the presidential race heating up, but at the very least, they should rename their laughable crusade which has cost taxpayers $4.6 million, ‘The inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.’”  

The editorial board that suggested what should be the title of the Benghazi committee added: "The effort to find Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the Libya attacks, was personally responsible for the deaths has lost any semblance of credibility.  It’s become an insult to the memory of four slain Americans."

House Republicans have a new select committee that could have the effect of limiting what options women have for their health care, but would also creating political headwinds for the Clinton campaign.

On 10/7/15, House Republicans voted to form a new select committee to "investigate" Planned Parenthood.  The new select committee has all the same overtones of the Republicans select committee on Benghazi has, which Kevin McCarthy publicly confessed to being created for partisan purpose, and already costing taxpayers $4.6 million.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two Worthy Candidates


During Hillary’s first presidential campaign, many pundits said that she would be too old to run for president eight years down the road at age 67.  Bernie Sanders is seventy four-year-old, thus Hillary’s age is no longer an issue.
Bernie Sanders is the only American politician brave enough or unwise enough, depending on your perspective to actually admit that he’s a socialist.  The word, socialist is completely misunderstood by most Americans.  Sanders is more of a socialist than Hillary Clinton, but not much more.  They both strongly support our socialist programs like Social Security and Medicare as do most Republicans.
Bernie’s surge in the polls in New Hampshire and Iowa without a doubt worried Hillary, but she has maintained a solid 20-point lead in national polls.
During the debate, Hillary was asked: “How do we rein in capitalism?   She answered: “It’s our job to rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn’t run amok and doesn’t cause the kind of inequities that we’re seeing in our economic system.” 

The debate exposed Hillary Clinton’s vote to authorize the Iraq war, which is the most serious problem she has had with liberal voters.
She pointed out: “Well, I recall very well, being on a debate stage, I think about 25 times with then Senator Obama debating this very issue.

“After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State, he valued my judgment and I spent a lot of time with him in the situation room going over some very difficult issues.”
If President Obama had never offered Hillary the job of Secretary of State, she’d have been standing on the stage as just another senator who was wrong about invading Iraq.  Beside, her were Bernie Sanders and Lincoln Chafee, who were right about invading Iraq.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Trump is Correct


In an interview on Fox News, Donald Trump insisted: "The fact is we had the worst attack in the history of our country during his reign.  Jeb insisted: “We were safe during his (George’s) reign.  That wasn't true."

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, CIA Director George Tenet was asked by Timothy Roemer, when did he first find out about the report from the FBI’s Minnesota field office that Islamic jihadist Zacarias Moussaoui had taken lessons on how to fly a 747.  Tenet admitted that he was briefed about the case on Aug. 23 or 24, 2001.

Roemer asked Tenet if he mentioned Moussaoui to Bush at one of their frequent morning briefings.  Tenet replied: “I was not in briefings at this time, and Bush was on vacation.”  He added that he didn’t see the president at all in August 2001, because Bush was at his ranch in Texas.  Tenet admitted that he also was “on leave,” for much of August.

The “Washington Post” calculated that Bush took; 149 visits to Camp David for a total of 487 days, 77 visits to Crawford,Texas for a total of 490 days, 11 visits to Kennebunkport, Maine for a total of 43 days.  Bush took off 1,020 days, which is more than a third of his entire presidency.

In May of 2006, Conservative Republican Clark Kent Ervin’s book "Open Target", suggested that little improved after 9/11.  He stated that Bush and Homeland Security didn’t take the threat of terrorism seriously.  Ervin was the former inspector general of the Homeland Security Department.

The 9/11 Commission confirmed that Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror.  Lee Hamilton, the former co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission insisted: “When it comes to protecting the homeland against terrorism, the United States has not done enough. There hasn’t been sufficient urgency, priority, resources, people, put into the protection of the people here at home.”

President Bush and congressional Republicans talked tough about homeland security, but their voting record indicated otherwise.  Democratic Senator Dodd offered legislation for several years after 9/11, which would have substantially increase our nation’s investment in homeland security, but congressional Republicans voted against every measures that would have increased funding for homeland security.

When Jeb Bush’s older brother President George W. Bush left office, his approval rating was only 22%, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s was 13%. 




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Democrats Debate


The 15.3 million viewers, who watched the Democratic presidential debate set a record.   The candidates engaged in an exchange of ideas that sometimes was combative but remained civil. 
After the debate Hillary Clinton noted: “In this debate, we tried to deal with the very tough issues facing our country.  That’s in stark contrast to the Republicans who are currently running for president.”  The participants were unafraid to draw contrasts with the participants in the Republican debate. 
Bernie Sanders interjected: “Let me say something that may not be great politics.  But I think the secretary is right.  And that is the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails.  Enough of the e-mails.  Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”  Hillary Clinton responded: “Thank you, Bernie. Thank you.”  They were even willing to defend each other when the moment demanded.  
However, the Democratic presidential candidates definitely confront each other.  Both, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley went after Clinton for her unwillingness to break up big banks and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act.

Senator Sanders told Hillary Clinton: “Congress does not regulate Wall Street.  Wall Street regulates Congress and we got a break off these banks.  Going to them and saying, please do the right thing is kind of naive. ”

Hillary used that opportunity to emphatically articulate where she stands politically.  She said: “I have a range of views but they’re rooted in my values and my experience.  And I don’t take a backseat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment.

“I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.  And I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground and I have proved that in every position that I’ve had.”

Monday, October 19, 2015

Buying Political Influence


Senator Bernie Sanders said: “Here is the difference in political outlook between the President and myself.  What I understand is that the power of corporate America, Wall Street, the corporate media is so great that real change to transform our country does not take place unless millions of people begin to stand up and say, very loudly and clearly, that the United States government has got to represent all of us and not just the top 1%.”
An investigation by The New York Times provides a better understanding with respect to who’s buying political influence.  Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the presidential campaign.  They are a very small subset of the 1% who are overwhelmingly rich, white, older and male, who are providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

The investigation found that most of that money benefits the political right.  Of the 158 families, the Times identified 138 families who back Republicans candidates.

Just 158 families have provided half of the money so far in the political campaign.   That’s because of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Supreme Court decision in 2009 overturned important provisions of Campaign Finance Reform.  
Prior to the Citizens United ruling 158 families could each make a single hard money contribution of a few thousand dollars.  Super Pacs opened up a new opportunity for unlimited contributions, and Republican super Pacs are raising most of the money.
In the old campaign finance policies passed after Watergate, there were rigorous disclosure requirements.  Today’s contribution disclosure requirement are much less rigorous, and easier to get around.  It’s possible to set up a limited liability corporation, so it can’t be seen who made the contribution.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Counseling Session


A “counseling session” on the spiritual state of two brothers turned physical at Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, New York resulting in the death of a 19 year old and serious injuries to his 17 year old brother.
Their parents, Bruce Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, each face one count of first-degree manslaughter.  The Leonards were each ordered held on $100,000 bail at their arraignment.  Four other church members were charged with second-degree assault.
The older brother Lucas was taken by car to a hospital in Utica, after church members found he wasn't breathing.  He pronounced dead at the hospital.
Lucas's 17-year-old brother, Christopher was hospitalized in serious condition after suffering blunt force trauma injuries.
The assaults occurred after night service at the church, when the congregation held a "counseling session" for the two brothers.
According to the New Hartford Police Chief : "Both brothers were continually subjected to physical punishment over the course of several hours in the hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness."
An autopsy showed Lucas suffered multiple contusions from blunt force trauma to the torso and extremities.  It was determined that the combination of injuries and the duration of assault contributed to his death.
New Hartford Police learned of the assaults after interviewing church members.  Authorities found several children in the church and called in child protective services.
Bail was set at $50,000 each for the other four church members, who the police identified as Joseph Irwin, David Morey, Linda Morey and Leonard’s older step-sister Sarah Ferguson. 
Religious conservatives believe that the book of Proverbs was assembled by King Solomon.  Prov 13:24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (diligently)."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ben Carson


Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is again struggling to explain his position on a statement that he made.  The retired neurosurgeon comments on abortion, Muslims, homosexuality, health care, and gun violence have Democrats, and some of his Republican rivals wondering what he’s talking about.
The Treasury Department has warned Congress that our government will hit the debt limit next month.  Some congressional Republicans in the past have advocated using the debt negotiations as leverage to extract spending cuts from Democrats.
Recently, in an interview with Kai Ryssdal on NPR’s Marketplace.  Carson would not directly answer whether he'd support raising the debt ceiling to prevent a default on some obligations.  Ryssdal pointed out. "This is debt that's already obligated.  Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?"  When asked repeatedly, if the ceiling should be raised, Carson kept insisting that he would not “sign an increased budget.” 
In March, on CNN's "New Day," Carson insisted that homosexuality was a choice.  His evidence for that was people "go into prison straight, and when they come out, they're gay."
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Carson said: "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”  He later clarified that he’d support a Muslim for the White House as long as the candidate rejected the tenets of Sharia law, which Carson has said are not compatible with the U.S Constitution.
In New Hampshire, Carson confused reporters by saying that the U.S. could become like Nazi Germany and the rise of a Adolf Hitler-like figure is not out of the question. Reporters asked who he thinks is like Hitler in the U.S.  Carson responded: "I think that example is pretty clear."  He wouldn’t elaborate, but insisted that he wasn't referring to Obama.
Carson said research using fetal tissue is unnecessary, to which obstetrician-gynecologist Jen Gunter wrote: "As a neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson knows full well that fetal tissue is essential for medical research.  Gunter authored "The Preemie Primer," a guide for parents of premature babies.
On Fox News, Carson claimed: "the number one cause of death for black people is abortion."  Regarding the Affordable Care Act he asserted: "Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.  And it is slavery, in a way.  Because it is making all of us subservient to the government."

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Lesson Learned


After Rep. Kevin McCarthy dropped out of consideration for Speaker of the House, Republican Congressman, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania noted: “The challenge for our conference is quite simple, that we need to assemble bipartisan coalitions to pass any important legislation around here.
“We may have to assemble a bipartisan coalition to elect the next speaker of the House of Representatives.  I said that whoever’s going to be the next speaker should not appease this group of rejectionists, you know, who have no interest in governing.”
Democratic Congressman, Alan Grayson of Florida pointed out: “McCarthy drops out of the race three weeks before the actual vote.  He couldn’t stand the heat.  And we taught them a lesson which will last.  No matter who is the next speaker, they’ll understand they can’t abuse power.

Rep. Grayson recommends: “You simply eliminate the Hastert Rule.  There’s 218 votes for all sorts of good things including immigration reform.  And if we simply set aside this demented idea that you could have a bare majority of a bare majority, basically a quarter of the institution, that can block everyone else from doing what they want, if we set aside that single idea, then the institution becomes fully functional again.  That’s called the regular order, and that’s the way it should be.” 
Former Republican House 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.  That rule has only one purpose, and that is to prevent the majority party from ever having to compromise on anything.

The House Freedom Caucus in Congress clearly wants a shutdown fight over Planned Parenthood.  That part of the Republican caucus is committed to a kamikaze model of legislating, but the majority part of the Republican House caucus think that again shutting down the government would be a very bad idea.
Congressman Grayson believes that the Speaker should start bring bills to the floor of the House, and work both sides to get as many votes as the Speaker can from each side. He noted: “Republican Charlie Dent said that on national TV today.  And I think my leadership is open to that.  I think what we all want is we want good government and we do not want the crazies to block that anymore in the future.”

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Profiting From Prisons


In America, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth.  Our country is home to 4.4 percent of the world’s population, and 22 percent of that population are prisoners.  One of the reason for this situation is because companies that profit from prisons have spent millions of dollars lobbying for laws that keep inmates behind bars for too long.
Recently, President Obama ordered the release of nearly 6,000 nonviolent offenders from federal prison, but according to Senator Bernie Sanders there is more that Congress can do.  Sanders insists that Congress has a responsibility to recreate our criminal justice system.  He believes that it cannot be done as long as corporations are allowed to profit from mass incarceration.
Prisoners have become sources of profit as laborers, who work for pennies on behalf of major corporations.  Our focus should be on treating people with dignity and ensuring they have the resources they need to get back on their feet when they get out.  
Senator Sanders has introduced legislation that will put an end to for-profit prisons.  His bill would bar federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private companies who manage prisons, jails, or detention facilities.  It will require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to improve their monitoring of detention facilities and eliminate private detention centers within 2 years.
This private-for-profit commercial enterprise is a $70 billion industry, so it’s not surprising they’ve corrupted our political process.  It has contributed millions of dollars to candidates in pursuit of laws that increase incarceration of nonviolent offenders.  That practice disproportionately impacts people of color.  Congress can stop the practice of governments guaranteeing prison occupancy as part of deals with private corporations that incentivize states to keep prison cells filled.  The practice of private companies charging exorbitant rates for prisoners to contact their families by phone needs to be stopped. At times up to several dollars per minute is the cost of talking with a love ones.  That kind of exploitation takes an already difficult family dynamic between husbands, wives, parents and children and strains it even further.
It is wrong to profit from the imprisonment of human beings and the suffering of their families and friends.  It’s time to end this morally repugnant process, and the era of mass incarceration.  Congress must put a stop to the abomination of private prisons profiting from human suffering.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Unflappable Hillary


In the first Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton proved to be unflappable throughout the debate.  She demonstrated her political experience and her command of the issues, while displaying a humor that put a more human face to her often criticized candidacy.
Clinton was repeatedly pressed by moderator Anderson Cooper to defend her changing stances on various issues, from the Pacific Rim trade deal to same-sex marriage.  She ended the tough questioning with a one-liner that fits her campaign: "I'm a progressive.  But I'm a progressive who likes to get things done."
David Axelrod, the chief strategist for the Obama campaign that trounced Clinton in 2008, stated:"She was poised she was passionate and she was in command.  If I were her campaign I would be thrilled with what she did tonight."
Clinton did very well when she came under attack from three of her opponents on the stage over her vote in favor of the Iraq War, by dismissing the idea that her judgment should be questioned over that vote by pointing to President Obama's decision to be his secretary of state.  She said:"I recall very well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then Senator Obama, debating this very issue.  After the election, he asked me to become secretary of state.  He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him in the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues."
When asked whether Bernie Sanders is "tough enough on guns," Clinton answered: "No, not at all,"and pointed out that Sanders had voted five times against the Brady Bill, which aimed to curtail gun violence.
Clinton also went after Republicans by making the case that she is the best prepared to take on the GOP in the general election.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Eight Investigations


In May of 2013, Oklahoma Senator, James Inhofe claimed that Benghazi was the biggest cover-up in American history, and a reason to impeach President Obama.  The attack on our diplomatic facility in Libya in the fall of 2012 resulted in our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans being killed.  There were a dozen attacks on our embassies during the Bush administration.  What are the grounds for impeaching Obama, and not other presidents when it happened on their watch?
At first, our intelligence community thought it was a spontaneous attack and have since admitted that they were wrong.   
The House Select Committee on Benghazi has passed the Watergate Committee as the lengthiest investigation in congressional history.  Reportedly, the committee has a Republican staff of 18 people, who are paid an average of $128,000 apiece.  Apart from harassing Hillary Clinton, the committee has no substantive accomplishments to report.
In 2013, Career counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke who served under four presidents beginning as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan and established a record for continuous service in national security policy positions, emphasized that there is nothing more that can be learn from another House committee investigation of Benghazi.  He insists: “This has been completely examined many times.  And we shouldn’t even dignify this with pretending that it’s a serious effort.  The fact of the matter is everyone in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, knows this is a political stunt, and that’s all that it is.  It’s a political stunt using the lives of dead Americans, and there’s no reason in my mind to give the Republicans or anybody who says that this is serious any credibility whatsoever.  Just call it for what it is.”

In August of 2014, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “I think the Accountability Review Board headed by a career ambassador, Tom Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, whom I have a great deal of respect, have looked at Benghazi thoroughly and made their recommendations, which are being implemented.” 

Benghazi has been investigated by the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee; the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; the House Armed Services Committee; the House Foreign Affairs Committee; the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
For those keeping score, that's eight investigations into Benghazi.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Major Bradley Podliska


A former investigator with the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Major Bradley Podliska is accusing the Republican-led panel of carrying out a politically motivated investigation targeting former Secretary of State Clinton instead of the objective fact-finding mission it was set up to pursue.
Major Podliska is an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve who describes himself as a conservative Republican.  He told CNN that the committee trained its sights almost exclusively on Clinton after the revelation last March that she used a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.  
Podliska insists that South Carolina Republican chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy turned a broad-based probe of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, into"a partisan investigation."  As chairman of the committee, Rep. Gowdy pulled resources away from probes of other individuals and agencies to focus almost exclusively on Clinton and the State Department she lead for four years.  The committee had already spent $4.6 million.
After nearly 10 months as an investigator for the Republican majority, Podliska was fired.  He’s preparing to file a lawsuit against the select committee, alleging that he lost his job in part because he resisted pressure to focus his investigative efforts solely on the State Department and Clinton's role surrounding the Benghazi attack.  Furthermore he said, that he was fired because he took leave from the committee to fulfill his military service obligations, which would be an unlawful firing.
In an exclusive CNN interview that air yesterday on "State of the Union," Podlisky explained: "I knew that we needed to get to the truth to the victims' families.  The victims' families, they deserve the truth, whether or not Hillary Clinton was involved, whether or not other individuals were involved.  The victims' families are not going to get the truth and that's the most unfortunate thing about this. " 
Clinton will testify before the committee for the first time Oct. 22, and the committee is set to release the findings of its investigation next year, in the heat of the presidential race.
Major Podliska is an intelligence officer, who was hired for his expertise with the intelligence community.  He was told that he was fired for using work email to send a social invitation to colleagues, assigning an "unauthorized project" to an intern, and allegedly putting classified information on an unclassified system.  Podliska disputes those accusation.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Living For Today


I understand why deeply religious people like Manuel Ybarra Jr. in Coalgate, Oklahoma, don’t embrace the lyrics of John Lennon’s: “Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try,  No hell below us, above us only sky,  Imagine all the people, living for today.”  

Furthermore, I disagree with his claim that: “justices who vote in favor of what God calls ‘wicked,’ or ‘evil,’ should be impeached and removed from office.”  

In America we have a Constitution, that provides for a separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative; the executive consisting of the President; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

On January 22, 1973, with a 7-to-2 majority the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe.  The Court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny.
The Court asserted that the right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, or the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
Fortunately, many Americans don’t recognize “God’s Supreme Laws,” just as reasonable Muslims throughout the world don’t recognize the tenets of Sharia law. 
Believe what helps you make it through the darkest nights, but don’t insist that your religious beliefs become law, because that isn’t treating people with dignity and respect.

A conflict exists between; those who believe in science, reason and logic, and those who believe that truth is revealed through scripture.  The truth revealed through scripture is subjective truth predicated by one’s faith.  Faith is the antithesis of skepticism, distrust, objective truth, and knowledge.  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.

I’m interested in today, not eternal life with a Supreme Being in heaven.  Especially, if that Supreme Being is judging people as worthy of salvation, who are bigoted, racists, and would deny women the right to contraception and abortion, or homosexuals the right to marry.

I’m “just flesh and bones.”  If I do have a “soul,” it’s not going to heaven or hell.  Start treating others the way, you’d like to be treated.  Now!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

House Freedom Caucus


House conservatives felt Speaker John Boehner was capitulating on their effort to defund Planned Parenthood.  There was increasing talk about removing Boehner from his leadership position.  On September 25, he announced his resignation. 
Two weeks later, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the heir apparent to the House speakership and the Republican establishment favorite to replace Boehner, withdrew from that race.  His announcement shocked Republican members of the House as they emerged from a meeting that was supposed to be an internal vote to nominate the next speaker.
Conservatives made it clear they did not want McCarthy ascending to the speakership unchallenged.  Although, he is well-liked by most Republican members of the House, it didn't stop a group 40-member House Freedom Caucus, from expressing their desire for someone who could stand up for conservative principles and be an effective messenger.
During an appearance on Fox News, Kevin McCarthy bragged that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was created to help take down Hillary Clinton's candidacy.  The potential Republican speaker of the House handed Clinton and the Democrats a gift, that breathed new life into the Clinton campaign.  Clinton’s poll numbers had been going down for using a private email address as Secretary of State.
McCarthy tried to clarify his remarks, but the damage had been done.  McCarthy was in trouble despite his efforts to placate conservatives by promising to be more inclusive.  The Freedom Caucus endorsed one of their own, Rep. Daniel Webster.  McCarthy realized, that there was no way he’d get the necessary 218 votes.
A recent poll found that 62 percent of Republican primary voters said they feel betrayed by their party, while two-thirds feel Republican leadership hasn't done enough to stop Obama's agenda. 
The question is who will be willing to attempt to unify the Republican leadership? 

Friday, October 09, 2015

Serve Our Citizens


A few years ago, Senator Bernie Sanders pointed out: “What you cannot have is a president where a minority can say we are prepared to shutdown government, we’re prepared to default and drive the entire world economy into a recession, unless you give us what we want.”
We have witnessed the politics of a shutdown, and should have recognized that there were no winners.  Standard and Poor's report estimated the 16 days of partial government shutdown took $24 billion out of the economy.
To resolve that economic crisis both political parties put in place harmful automatic cuts that made no distinction between spending, that we don’t need and spending we do.  The hope was that even as we were bringing down the deficit, we’d come up with a long-term approach to investing in the things that we need.  That didn't happen.
Consequently, those automatic cuts are keeping our economy from growing faster.  If we don’t undo those cuts, our economic and national security priorities in 2016 will remain at the same levels they were in 2006.
Between 2006 and 2016, our population grew by 8 percent, and our economy grew by 12 percent.  Today, we can’t fund our country the way we did 10 years ago because we have greater demands.  Other countries have tried to cut their way to prosperity, but it hasn’t worked.  We’ve grown faster than they have because we’ve made necessary investments for our growth.  Therefore, we’ve grown faster, and brought our deficits down faster than they have.  Since Obama took office, our deficits have been reduced by two-thirds.  We’re below the average deficits of the past 40 years.
Congress has to pass a serious budget, because only Congress can get rid of mindless cuts.  Their own non-partisan budget office estimates we’re going to add an extra half-million jobs to our economy next year alone.  We can immediately put half a million more people back to work if we just have a more sensible budget.
In budget negotiations, nobody gets everything they want.  They have to work together, in order to do the people’s business.  Eventually, members of Congress have to stop playing politics.  They need to pass bills to rebuild our infrastructure, improve our education system, keep our military strong, and help people prepare for and recover from national disasters.  Congress’s most basic job is to serve the American people.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Minority Voters


According to the Brennan Center many state have passed laws that impede the ability of minorities to vote, under the pretense of preventing voting fraud.  Requiring a driver's license to vote is the most common.  Actually, millions of metropolitan residence don't drive, or can’t afford a driver’s ID.  For example, in some places in Texas it can be over a 100-mile drive to the nearest department of motor vehicles.
Recently, Shelby County Alabama closed 31 driver's license bureaus.  A Birmingham News columnist reported: "Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed."
The case of Evenwel v. Abbott has come before the Supreme Court.  Having already undone protections against racial discrimination in voting, that conservative court is being asked to overthrow the "one man, one vote" rule.
Evenwel v. Abbott asks the Supreme Court to base representation in state legislatures solely on the eligible voter population, rather than entire population.  A brief has pointed out, that the Evenwel plaintiff's "interpretation of the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote is radical not only in its theoretical underpinnings, but also in its real, practical implications for the redistricting process."
If the Supreme Court sided with the appellant Evenwel, only a relatively small segment of the population, who are eligible to vote would be counted when drawing district lines.  Children, non- American citizens such as legal residents, and in many states people with felony convictions would also be affected by policy decisions made at the local and state levels.  They would not be counted and therefore denied equal representation.
Suppose those in communities harmed by these changes decide to register to vote.  They’d encounter roadblocks, such as stringent ID requirements, eliminated same-day registration, and reduced early voting. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Federal Aid


Senator Lindsey Graham is asking for federal aid for his home state of South Carolina as it battles raging floods, but he voted to oppose similar help for New Jersey and New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2013.  Recently, Senator Graham told CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "Let's just get through this thing, and whatever it costs." 
Graham was among the Republican senators and members of the House, who opposed a federal aid package in January 2013 to assist states hit by Hurricane Sandy, but when reminded of that vote he doesn't remember why he voted against federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  He told Wolf Blitzer: "I'm all for helping the people in New Jersey.  I don't really remember me voting that way.”
Many Republicans in both the House and Senate opposed the $51 billion Sandy relief package in 2013, because they claimed that it included too much spending on unrelated programs.
When a Hurricane hit New Orleans the Bush administration was slow to respond.  But fortunately, the Obama administration has made the recovery and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast a priority.  His administration has taken the lessons learned from New Orleans and applied them in places like New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

Our federal government has delivered resources to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to rebuild schools and hospitals, roads, police and fire stations, restore historic buildings and museums. 

Initially, hurricane Katrina was an example of what happens when our government fails.  Today, the recovery from Katrina and Sandy are examples of what’s possible when our federal, state and local government work together.  President Obama can be trusted to help the people in South Carolina, if House Republicans will authorize the funding.

Our federal government can and should play a positive role in our lives.  There are a lot of people, whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and Sandy.  Every election is about utilizing our government for its highest purpose, which is to help people when they’re in trouble.  When most people lose their homes, they feel like they have lost everything and they don’t know where to turn.  It usually affects their emotions, and influences how they view the role of government.

The problem is that many Republican politicians don’t want to admit that our federal government has an important role in dealing with disasters caused by climate change.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Struggling for Change


Issues that voters should consider as priorities when they vote in the next presidential election. 
Climate change is caused by human activity, and has already devastated our planet.  Our country must lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainability.  We have a moral responsibility to make certain that our children and grandchildren will be able to live on a habitable planet. 
The United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people.  Reportedly, 35 million Americans continue to lack health insurance and many more are underinsured.  Our country should be moving toward a Medicare-for-all single-payer system, because health care is a right, not a privilege.
We need the very wealthy and every profitable corporations to start paying their fair share in taxes.  In 1952, corporate income taxes provided 32 percent of federal revenue, but last year they provided only 11 percent.  For example General Electric, Verizon, Citigroup and Bank of America have recently paid nothing in federal income taxes.  The U.S. Treasury loses about $100 billion a year because the wealthy and many corporations stash their profits in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other tax havens.
Warren Buffett pointed out that as a multi-billionaire, he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.  It’s unacceptable that billionaire hedge fund managers are able to pay lower effective tax rates than teachers or nurses because they’re able to take advantage of tax loopholes that their lobbyists wrote.
Voters must fight back by launching a political revolution which engages millions of Americans from all walks of life in a struggle for real change.  This country belongs to every citizen, and not just the billionaire class. 

Monday, October 05, 2015

The Progressive Platform


Our government shouldn’t be owned by a handful of billionaires, it should be committed to helping all Americans.  As a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, our democracy has been undermined by the ability of the Koch brothers and other billionaire to buy elections.  The very wealthy can literally buy politicians and elections by spending hundreds of millions of dollars in support of the candidates of their choice. 
A constitutional amendment will be need to overturn Citizens United, but in the short term, we need to elect politicians to Congress, who will pass disclosure laws that will rein in the political power of wealthy campaign contributor.  Eventually, our country needs to move toward public funding of elections so that all candidates can run for office without being beholden to wealthy sponsor.
We need representatives in Congress, who will vigorously address the issue of wealth inequality which is making the rich much richer, and everyone else; especially the African-American community much poorer.
The elite in America have divided people along racial lines in an effort to consolidate wealth and power.  The structural and institutional racism which exists in our country needs to be addressed.
Too many people of color 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.  Our country needs to invest in jobs and education, not incarceration.
No American citizen should have to worry that a routine interaction with law enforcement could end in violence or their death.  We must reform our criminal justice system, move away from the militarization of police forces, and invest in community policing.
Furthermore, children shouldn’t be going hungry, while very profitable corporations and the wealthy avoid their tax responsibilities.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Kevin McCarthy


If California Republican, Rep. Kevin McCarthy is elected by House Republicans to be the next Speaker of the House, he will become the third in line to the presidency.
McCarthy would also become the least experienced person in modern history to hold that job.  Since he’s been in Congress he has had two bills passed.  We has able to get a post office renamed for country singer Buck Owens.  And, his other bill was to rename a research facility that was also in his congressional district.

In his role, as House Republican leadership chairman, McCarthy helped create the special select committee to investigate the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in Libya in 2012.  Special select committees were created after 9/11, Watergate, JFK’s assassination, and the Iran/Contra. 

The House Republican Special Select Benghazi committee has now outlasted all other select committees.  Democrats have long suspected that the reason it’s been stretching out as long it has is that Republicans are trying to get their Benghazi investigation as close as possible to the 2016 presidential election, in order to use it to hurt the likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Democratic committee members, Elijah Cummings and Adam Smith have repeatedly noted that Republicans waited half a year before they requested their first document for their supposed investigation.  Adam Smith called it not a legitimate investigation, and insisted it was a $3 million publicly financed political attack committee.

On Fox News, Kevin McCarthy bragged:"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?  But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee.  What are her numbers today?  Her numbers are dropping.  Why?  Because she’s untrustable.  But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought."
Recently on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton asked Hillary Clinton: “What’s your response to McCarthy’s comments?   She replied: “I have to tell you, I find them deeply distressing.  I knew the ambassador that we lost in Benghazi.  Along with him, we lost three other brave Americans who were representing us in a very dangerous part of the world.
“So, when I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan, political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost, but of everybody who has served our country.”

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Congressional Hearing


Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was ordered by anti-choice House Republicans to appear before the House Oversight Committee.  The hearing has been described as an appalling avalanche of anti-choice lies and misogynist attacks.  For almost five hours she was subjected to insults, interruptions, and personal attacks.  When she tried to correct their false claims, they cut her off.
In fact, Cecile Richards was interrupted 51 different times.  The anti-choice Republicans on the committee, who with one exception were all men repeatedly questioned Cecile's integrity.  One of them compared her to a criminal.   Another claimed that Planned Parenthood provides more abortions than cancer screenings and prevention services, which is completely in accurate.  
Republican House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who represents the state of Utah attacked Cecile Richards by claiming that she makes too much money.  I can’t imagine a Republican member of Congress ever saying that to a male CEO.
Chairman Chaffetz inquired: "The question before us is: Does Planned Parenthood really need a federal subsidy?  Does it need federal dollars? 
In fact, Planned Parenthood gets roughly $450 million a year in federal funding, of which almost $400 million is reimbursement for services covered by Medicaid.  Federal funds are prohibited by law from being used for abortion, and Planned Parenthood's federal funding covers services such as cancer screenings and birth control.
Planned Parenthood is under fire after a series of edited videos surfaced, which purportedly show organization officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue.
Planned Parenthood President Richards explained that the videos produced by conservative activists at the Center for Medical Progress are misleading.  She told the committee:"The outrageous accusations leveled against Planned Parenthood based on heavily doctored videos are offensive and categorically untrue. I realize, though, that the facts have never gotten in the way of these campaigns to block women from health care they need and deserve." But the videos have become potent tools for conservatives looking to end federal support for the group.”
In written testimony, Richards called the videos "a deliberate and systematic effort by David Daleiden and other opponents of safe and legal abortion to infiltrate our health centers, try to entrap our staff into potentially illegal conduct, and create discredited, doctored videos designed to smear Planned Parenthood."
The good news is that the latest polls show that the public opposes defunding Planned Parenthood by a 2 to 1 margin. 

Friday, October 02, 2015

Fundamental Changes


Today, the United States has the most unequal wealth and income distribution of any major country on earth.  Millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, while more than half of all new income goes to the top 1 percent, who need it the least.
More Americans are living in poverty than at almost any time in the modern history of our country, and we have one of the highest rates of childhood poverty of any major country.  Millions of Americans are struggling to put food on the table.
Congressional Republican response to this reality continues to be more tax breaks for billionaires, while cutting health care, education and nutrition programs.  In a democratic, civilized society our citizens shouldn’t be going hungry.  Congress should expand Social Security, and increase funding for nutrition programs.
Our economy isn’t sustainable from a moral, or economic perspective.  Fundamental changes need to be made.  The fastest and most effective way to create a large number of good paying jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure - roads, bridges, rail, airports, water systems, and waste water plants.  We should also be creating good paying jobs by hiring the teachers and pre-school educators to ensure our young people get a high-quality education.
I believe that a national minimum wage of $15 per hour is needed.  We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.  Nobody who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty.  We need additional legislation to ensure pay equity for women, because, they’re still earning 79 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as a man.  Millions of Americans, who work 50 to 60 hours per week receive no overtime pay.  People who work overtime should be getting time and a half.
In a highly competitive global economy, we needs the best educated workforce in the world.  Thirty years ago we led the world in the percentage of our people who had college degrees.  Today, many young people can no longer afford college.  And, others are leaving college deeply in debt.
Every person in our country who has the desire and ability should be able to get all the education they need regardless of the income of their family.  This isn’t a radical idea.  In Germany, Scandinavia and many other countries, higher education is either free or very inexpensive.  We should be doing the same.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Trump’s Immigration Plan


A letter submitted by Summit resident Walter F. Wouk was recently published in “The Oneonta Daily Star.”

He pointed out: “During a recent dial-in call with the Alabama Republican Party, Donald Trump estimated that it would take 18 months to two years for him to get the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to leave the country.  Trump said his two-year benchmark could be met with ‘really good management.’

“That’s all, folks — that’s his plan.  Don’t press the Donald for details, because there are none.  He’s going to do the job with ‘really good management,’ and that’s all you need to know.  If you’re a Trump supporter, you may want to avert your eyes, because I’m going to cite some facts and the Donald’s really good management plan is fact-free.

“An analysis by the Center For American Progress estimates deporting 11.3 million people would cost $10,070 per person, or $114 billion; and that only covers the ‘direct cost of physically deporting unauthorized immigrants.’

“The conservative American Action Forum, calculating the total cost to the economy, estimates mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants would cost between $420 billion and $620 billion and take 20 years.

“And who is going to pay for this?  Trump’s plan includes getting the Mexican government to pay for the wall he plans to build to separate the two countries, so it’s fair to conclude that the Donald expects them to foot the bill for returning their citizens, too.

“Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!  Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!  Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!  That’s all folks!”

*****
Over the years, Mr. Wouk has made several negative comments on line regarding my published letters in the Star.  Nevertheless, I must congratulate him for the factual information, that his letter provided.