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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Foreign Policy

As Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady, Hillary Clinton represented our country abroad and help shape our foreign policy at home.  She has offered a clear strategy on how to defeat ISIS, strengthen our alliances, and make sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon.

She understands that voters aren’t merely electing a President, but also choosing a Commander-in-Chief, who will be deciding questions of war and peace.  Hillary Clinton has actually been in the Situation Room with President Obama to provide advise on tough choices.

As president Donald Trump would take our country down a dangerous path.  His ideas are dangerously incoherent.  He doesn’t have a strategy, and is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and responsibility.  He shouldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes.

Trump said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.  He threatened to abandon our NATO allies, and those countries who are cooperating with us to eliminate terrorists abroad before they strike our homeland.

He’d order our military to commit war crimes by torturing and murdering civilians who are related to suspected terrorists. 

He boasted, that he doesn’t have to listen to our generals, admirals, or ambassadors because he has: “a very good brain.  I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”  He praised Vladimir Putin and picked fights with the British prime minister, the mayor of London, the German chancellor, the president of Mexico and the Pope.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has experience with the Chinese over a climate deal in Copenhagen, brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, negotiating the reduction of nuclear weapons with Russia, pushing for global sanctions against Iran, and has stood up for the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people around the world.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mississippi Burning

Recently, both Federal and Mississippi authorities closed the books on one of the most notorious murder cases of the civil rights era.

Vanita Gupta, who is head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division reported: "The Justice Department has investigated this case three times over 50 years and has helped convict nine individuals for their roles in this heinous crime."

The decision means that no other suspects in the "Freedom Summer" murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964 will be prosecuted.

All three of those men were all civil rights workers, who were registering African-Americans to vote, when they were ambushed by a gang of Ku Klux Klan members on a rural road.  Their bodies were found 44 days later, buried in a earthen damn after an extensive FBI investigation.  Those killings were the subject of the 1988 movie "Mississippi Burning."

Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner were investigating the burning of a black church, when they were taken into custody for speeding by a sheriff deputy.  After being released from the county jail, a KKK mob tailed their car, forced it off the road, and shot them to death.

In 1967, prosecutors convicted eight defendants for violating the federal criminal civil rights conspiracy statute.  None served more than six years in prison.  The plot leader Edgar Ray Killen, a part-time Baptist minister, avoided prison in a trial, in which the jury hung 11-1 for conviction.  The lone holdout said she couldn't convict a preacher.

In 2005, the wheelchair-bound 80 year old Edgar Ray Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter in the “Mississippi Burning,” murders.  Reportedly, he is still in prison.  The trial in which Killen was finally convicted, and sent to prison was based on new evidence unveiled in 2000.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Historic Roots

On the same morning the massacre in Orlando, Florida occurred, Roger Jimenez the pastor of the Verity Baptist Church is in Sacramento, California posted a video of his Sunday sermon online entitled: “The Christian response to the Orlando murders.” 
He said: “People say, like, well, aren’t you sad that 50 sodomites died?  Here’s a problem with that, it’s like the equivalent of asking me, you know, what if you ask me, hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?  No, I think that’s great.  I think that helps society.
“You know, I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight now that 50 - you know, the tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.  I mean, the tragedy is – I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job.
“If we lived in a righteous nation and righteous government, then the government should be taking them.  There’s no tragedy.  I wish the
government would round them all up, put them up against the firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, blow their brains out.”
Faith is the antithesis of skepticism, distrust, and objective truth.  Most religions stifle freedom of thought, and blind the faithful to the role faith plays in perpetuating human conflict at home and abroad.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy a Baptist minister in 1892.  He structured it for public school programs and had considered placing the word “equality” in his Pledge, but knew some state superintendents were against equality for women and African Americans.
In school, I recited the original pledge which didn't include the seemingly innocuous words “under God.”  In 1954, Congress added those words after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus.  Thus, the pledge became both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.
Undermining the separation of church and state doctrine reached a peak in the 1950's, when President Eisenhower inaugurated the prayer breakfast.  Congress created a prayer room in the Capital and added the words "In God we Trust" to all paper money.  E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many One) was considered our motto, until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God we trust” as the official motto.
The 1960 Supreme Court decision in Engel vs Vitale ruled it unconstitutional for public schools to allow prayer, even though the prayer was non-denominational and students were allowed to abstain from the exercise.  President Kennedy understood many people were angered by the ruling, and suggested "a very easy remedy -not a constitutional amendment but a renewed commitment to pray at home, in the churches and with their families."
The historic roots of the deep division we’re now facing in our nation began when Congress added “under God” to the pledge.  Today, Republican politicians continue to weave piety with patriotism, while pandering to religious zealots. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mussolini Is Dead

The following letter in the Oneonta Daily Star was submitted by Bobby Walker of Cooperstown.
“Mussolini is back!  And he’s been back for a while.  Corrupt politicians have been taking over this country for decades.  They’ve been lying, cheating and deleting their way to power for years.  They take money from countries that suppress women and execute LGBT people.
“The takeover has been slow and total but we are at a crossroads in history this election season.  The people have caught on, the “mobs” are already formed.  Mussolini is scared because we are poised for a citizen take-back of our nation.  The silent majority is no longer silent and come November we will have a choice.  Will we continue to put Mussolini back into power or will we return this nation to one of the people and by the people, never to perish from the face of the Earth?”
What is Bobby Walker writing about?  In 1945, I clearly remember a picture of the dead bodies of Benito Mussolini and his mistress hanging upside down on the front page of a newspaper.
Not unlike Italian dictator Mussolini, our wealthy elite have historically coveted the assets of weaker nations and have used our military to gain an economic stranglehold over the natural resources of weaker nations.
Mussolini claimed: “And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it.”
Sinclair Lewis wrote: “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

Sunday, June 26, 2016

False and Misleading

Donald Trump described Hillary Clinton as “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”  As usual, his rhetoric wasn’t supported by facts.

Trump said that the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “was left helpless to die as Clinton soundly slept in her bed.”  Actually, two emails from Clinton show that she was awake after it was learned that Stevens had died in the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

He claimed Clinton: “accepted $58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei when she was secretary of State.”  He neglected to mention that the gift was accepted on behalf of the United States, and that it was transferred to the General Services Administration.

Trump asserted Clinton: “wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to settle Middle Eastern refugees in the United States.”  In fact, the total refugee budget was $1.67 billion in fiscal 2016.  It’s unlikely that as president, she’d be able to convince the House to add “hundreds of billions” to the budget for refugee assistance.

He claimed that our “trade deficit with China soared 40 percent during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State.”  The trade deficit did go up 17 percent, but trade is under the purview of the Commerce Department, not the State Department.

Trump blamed Hillary for the “disastrous strategy of announcing our departure from Iraq, handing large parts of the country over to ISIS and the ISIS killers.”  The departure date was set by President George W. Bush.  President Obama made the decision to keep that scheduled departure date.

Trump also described the North American Free Trade Agreement as: “Bill Clinton’s disastrous and totally disastrous NAFTA.”  President Clinton signed the legislation to implement NAFTA, but the agreement itself had been negotiated and signed by President George H.W. Bush.

Trump asserted Clinton would:“end virtually all immigration enforcement and thus create totally open borders for the United States.”  Clinton supported a Senate immigration bill that would have create a path to citizenship for those in our country illegally, but that bill also included large investments in border security.

The presumptive Republican nominee for president insists that the private server that Clinton used as secretary of State:“was easily hacked by foreign governments.”  Attempts were made to hack Clinton’s server, but the identity of the hackers hasn’t been determined and there has been no evidence that any of them were successful.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

General Stanley McChrystal

The following excerpt is from an article entitled “Home Should Not Be a War Zone,” that General McChrystal had published in The New York Times on June 16, 2016.  He is a member of the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense. 
“As Americans came together to celebrate the freedom that our great country affords and that our soldiers have given their lives to defend, 49 of them were murdered with a gun.  Scores more were injured.
“But that was just part of the bloodshed in our communities this past weekend, when at least 121 people across the country were fatally shot.  The tragedy in Orlando wasn’t even the only mass shooting; in Roswell, N.M., a man was charged on Sunday with shooting his wife and their four children to death on Saturday.  The oldest was 14; the youngest was 3.
“In 2014, 33,599 Americans died from a gunshot wound.  From 2001 to 2010, 119,246 Americans were murdered with guns, 18 times all American combat deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“That is a national crisis.  And as a combat veteran and proud American, I believe we need a national response to the gun violence that threatens so many of our communities.
“Those of us who served in the military were trained in the effective and safe use of firearms.  We were taught about the responsibility that comes with carrying a gun.  As combat infantrymen and special operators, we received thousands of hours of firearms training.
“In combat operations in places like Afghanistan, we often confronted the specter of dangerous people with powerful weapons who were a threat to their community and to our soldiers.  Our aim was to quickly determine who in that community was a legitimate actor who could be trusted with a firearm and who was not.
“Today, some of our politicians and the people who back them seem to promote a culture of gun ownership that does not conform with what I learned in the military.
“Here at home, many of us are alarmed by the carnage.  We are alarmed by loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers get hold of guns without a background check.  We are alarmed that a known or suspected terrorist can go to a federally licensed firearms dealer where background checks are conducted, pass that background check, legally purchase a firearm and walk out the door.”

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Economic Pie

Wages have grown, but they should be growing faster.  The reasons wages haven’t been grown faster over the last couple of decades is because some politicians, businesses, and laws have undermined the ability of workers to bargain for better deals.  Fifty years ago, more than one in four American workers belonged to a union.  Today, it’s about one in 10.  It’s not a coincidence that inequality grew, wages stagnated, and workers got a smaller share of the economic pie.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan actually said: “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”  Unfortunately, his trickle down economics hasn’t worked for middle-class workers.
Our government shouldn’t be changing our laws to make it harder for workers to organize.  We should be passing laws that make it easier for labor organizations to have a greater voice in the economy.  Some business leaders are doing right by their workers because its good for their workers, and also increases their bottom line.  When, Henry Ford began his assembly line, he payed $5 an hour, which was far beyond the prevailing wage.  Ford explained that he wanted his employees to be able to buy the products they make.
We need to do a better preparing workers for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of tomorrow.  Early childhood education works, and we should invest in better ways of doing it, especially since child care costs take a huge share of a family budget.  Making college more affordable and job training more available should be a priority.  One way to achieve that is to provide two years of community college free for every responsible student.  Mayors and governors are already addressing those issues across party lines.  Congress needs to do the same.
The reasons wages grew quickly in the ‘50s, ‘60s and the ‘70s is that our government put people to work building highways, bridges, and airports.  New frontiers in space and science, were explored.  Our government invested in research and development, which led to countless new discoveries and innovations.  We also passed GI Bills and educated a new generation of workers at public colleges where tuition was low.
A better economy requires Congress to make it easier for working Americans to save for retirement or bounce back from a lost job.  Unfortunately, most Americans don’t have the same benefits package or job security, that members of Congress have given themselves. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Doonesbury Cartoon

The “Weekend Comics” section of the Daily Star published a Doonesbury cartoon by Garry Trudeau, that provides voters with an interesting perspective regarding the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump.  The cartoon shows Trump making the following claims:

“No one is more conservative than me.”

“No one respects women more than me.”

“No one is stronger on the second amendment than me.”

“ No one reads the Bible more than me.”

“ There’s nobody more pro-Israel than I’m.” 

“There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have.”

“There’s nobody who feels more strongly about women’s health issues.”

“Nobody knows more about taxes than me, maybe in the history of the world.”

“I have studied the Iran deal in great detail, greater by far than anyone else.”

“Nobody’s been more successful than me.”

“Nobody knows banking better than I do.”

“ Nobody’s bigger or better at the military than I am.”

“I’m the lease racist person you’ll ever meet.”

“Nobody knows more about the debt than I do.”

“Nobody knows the system better than me.”

“Nobody builds better walls than me.”

“There is nobody more against Obamacare than me.”

“Nobody knows politicians better than me.”

“Nobody knows more about trade than me.”

I’ve looked into the validity of those quotes and discovered the Mr. Trump actually did make those comments.

Regarding Donald Trump, President Obama warned in 2011: “We’re not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


On 6/1/15, California state officials imposed a water ban, after record low rain and snowfall.  The scarcity was evident from the Sierra Nevada's shrunken snowpack to the dry wells of the Central Valley.

Graphics from the Los Angeles Times showed the progression of the drought from 2011 to the present, by using data from the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks dry conditions.  The drought worsened in 2014 and 2015 and had marginally subsided this year, until recently, when 100 degree plus temperatures became common and devastating fires began sweeping through southern California. 

Water from Lake Success flows through a concrete-lined ditch east of Porterville, California.  The reservoir's level had fallen during the drought, and the water that is still available flows through ditches to farms that hold senior water rights.  Downstream, the Tule River has been left dry, eliminating a source of groundwater recharge in an area where many wells have gone dry.

California is the country's top agriculture producer, and the drought raised tensions among farmers, government officials and environmentalists.  It has experience its driest four-year period on record.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump told supporters, that no such dry spell exists.  He claimed that state officials were denying water to Central Valley farmers to prioritize the Delta smelt, a native California fish nearing extinction.  He insisted: “We’re going to solve your water problem.  You have a water problem that is so insane.”

Trump’s comment came after Governor Brown issued an executive order updating water restrictions.  According to a news release by the California Government Operations Agency, the water rules were imposed in hopes of building the state's resilience in the long-term water conservation measures through monthly water use reporting and bans on clearly wasteful practices such as hosing off sidewalks, and driveways. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Stand United

The following is an excerpt from remarks President Obama on made on 6/12/16 regarding the horrific massacre that took place in Orlando Florida.

“This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends -- our fellow Americans -- who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live.  The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub -- it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.

“So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American -- regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation -- is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.  And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.

“Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history.  The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle.  This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub.  And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be.  And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.

“In the coming hours and days, we’ll learn about the victims of this tragedy.  Their names.  Their faces.  Who they were.  The joy that they brought to families and to friends, and the difference that they made in this world.  Say a prayer for them and say a prayer for their families -- that God give them the strength to bear the unbearable.  And that He give us all the strength to be there for them, and the strength and courage to change.  We need to demonstrate that we are defined more -- as a country -- by the way they lived their lives than by the hate of the man who took them from us.

“As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts -- friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives.  In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.  We will not give in to fear or turn against each other.  Instead, we will stand united, as Americans, to protect our people, and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.”  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dan Savage

Yesterday, I documented two Christian pastors, who supported the murders in Orlando because the victims were gay.
There have been others on the political right who have argued in response to the Orlando massacre that non-Muslim gay people in this country should turn against Muslims and become anti-Muslim after the attack because somehow Islam is uniquely violent and uniquely intolerant toward gay people, and the attack shows that.
Dan Savage is an author, media pundit, journalist, and activist for the LGBT community.  He explains: “You can’t draw a clean line between the LGBT community and the Muslim community because there are LGBT Muslims in the United States and all over the world.  Muslims are a part of the LGBT community, not distinct from it.
“LGBT people come from all races, all faiths, all ethnic backgrounds, all classes.  And Donald Trump attempting to pit the queer community against the Muslim community is not going to fly.
“I think of the reaction to the culture when HIV/AIDS slammed into the gay community, and hundreds, and thousands, and then tens of thousands of gay and bi men were dying.  The country, beginning in the office of the president, turned its back on us and ignored us and did nothing.  We had to get out there and fight the virus and we had to fight the indifference and the greed and the racism that made the virus deadlier than it already was, really for many years on our own.
Regarding reports that the Orlando killer Omar Mateen frequently visited the Pulse nightclub, and messaged people on gay dating apps; Dan Savage agrees that Mateen could be both a self-loathing deeply conflicted gay or bi man, who had been radicalized and also a religious extremist, because those circumstances aren’t mutually exclusive.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Christian Response

On the same morning the massacre in Orlando, Florida occurred, Roger Jimenez the pastor of the Verity Baptist Church is in Sacramento, California posted a video of his Sunday sermon online entitled: “The Christian response to the Orlando murders.” 
He said: “People say, like, well, aren’t you sad that 50 sodomites died?  Here’s a problem with that, it’s like the equivalent of asking me, you know, what if you ask me, hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?  No, I think that’s great.  I think that helps society.
“You know, I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight now that 50 - you know, the tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.  I mean, the tragedy is – I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job.
“If we lived in a righteous nation and righteous government, then the government should be taking them.  There’s no tragedy.  I wish the
government would round them all up, put them up against the firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, blow their brains out.”
Pastor Jimenez wasn’t alone, because Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona posted: “I just wanted to record a quick video about the news this morning about the shooting in Orlando.  I guess a Muslim terrorist went into a gay bar and shot them up, and there’s 50 sodomites, homosexuals, that have been killed, and another 50-some-odd injured.  And then the Muslim guy himself was shot by the police, it sounds like.
“And here’s the good news and the bad news about this.  You know, the good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles.  That’s who was a victim here.  The bible says that homosexuals should be put to death in Leviticus 20:13.
“Obviously, it’s not right for somebody to just shoot up the place because that’s not going through the proper channels.  But these people all should have been killed anyway, but they should have been kill the through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government that would have, you know, tried them, convicted them, and saw them executed because in Leviticus 20:13, God’s perfect law, he put the death penalty on murder, he also put the death penalty on homosexuality.  That’s what the bible says.
“And so, you know, the good news is that at least 50 of these pedophiles are not going to be harming children anymore.  The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive.”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Political Distraction

Republicans aren’t helping the fight against religious extremist, who are trying to kill Americans by criticize our Commander-in-Chief for not using the phrase “radical Islam.”  What would be accomplished by calling terrorist “radical Islamists.”  Calling a threat by a different name doesn’t make it go away.  It’s merely political distraction.  President Obama has made it clear how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism, and has called on American Muslims, and Muslims around the world to work with his administration to reject that twisted interpretation of their religions.

For seven and a half years, Obama has know the enemy, and thousands of those terrorists have been killed.  He ordered our Special Forces to take out bin Laden and they’re presently on the ground in both Iraq and Syria.  Our intelligence and law enforcement officers have spend countless hours disrupting terrorist plots.

The enemy is claiming that they speak for over a billion Muslims through- out the world.  They want our government to imply that we’re at war with the entire Muslim religion, because that would validate their propaganda.

Although the Orlando and the Fort Hood killers were American citizens, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump wants to bar all Muslims from emigrating to America.  

Should we start treating all Muslim Americans differently, because of their faith, and subject them to special surveillance?  That type of solution would make us less safe because it fuel the notion that we as a nation hate Muslims.  Young Muslims in our country and around the world would feel that no matter what they do, they're going to be under suspicion.  It makes Muslim Americans feel like their government has betrayed them.

The Bill of Rights makes it clear, that we don't have religious tests for people coming to America.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Trade Deals

A lot of trade deals in the past oversold the good that the deal was going to do for our economy.  One of the benefits of those trade deals is the reason why we’ve been able buy a large, flat-screen TV for a couple hundred dollars, and why the cost of a lot of basic necessities have gone down.  Some parts of our economy, such as the agricultural sector or the tech sector have done very well as a result of those trade deals, while other sectors and communities have been hurt by foreign competition.
The anguish of a plant closing here in America is amplified when other countries are cheating.  Some foreign countries are keeping American goods out of their markets, by unfairly subsidizing their businesses to undercut our businesses.  The worst violators don’t even have trade deals with us at all.
Obama is committed to going anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products, and he didn’t stand by when our competitors began cheating.  His administration has brought nearly twice as many trade cases against China, than the Bush administration.  It’s made a difference for thousand Americans, who are working today because we’ve stopped a surge in Chinese tires.  Every case that’s been decided, America has won.  Thus making sure that we’ve got a level playing field.

Foreign trade has helped our country a lot more than it has hurt us.  In fact, most of the manufacturing jobs that we’ve lost over the past decade weren’t the result of trade deals.  They were the result of technology and automation that enables businesses make more stuff with fewer workers.  In the past, an auto plant needed several thousand workers, but today they only need a thousand workers to produce the same number of cars because there are robots and machines that have replaced a lot of the work, that workers had previously done in factories.  The same is true office workers.  When was the last time you dealt with a bank teller.  Instead, we’re using ATM machines.

We’ll never put technology back in a box, and we must not cut ourselves off from the global supply chain.

Tariffs and trade wars won’t help the middle class.  Independent economists insist a trade war would trigger another recession and cost millions of jobs.  Cutting off trade and claiming that that’s standing up for American workers is wrong.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Transforming Politics

Many white Americans think reverse discrimination is as significant a problem as discrimination against minorities, even though black unemployment is twice as high as white unemployment.
The typical Hispanic woman makes 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns.  Insisting women get equal pay for equal work shouldn’t be a partisan issue, since Republicans have daughters, too.
The problem with the idea of reverse discrimination is that it has divided Americans, who have common economic interests and should be working together for a better deal from those people in our government, who serve them.  They’ve become cynical of government, and it’s kept working families from pushing our political system to actually address our economic challenges in a realistic way.  Families of all races, and backgrounds deserve higher wages.  Families of all races, and backgrounds deserve quality health care and decent retirement savings.  And, every child in our country deserves an effective education.
If we’re going to transform our politics so that it becomes responsive to working families and actually grows our middle class, we have got to stop pitting working Americans against one another.  We’re going to have to come together and embrace a vision of America where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules.
This year wages are growing at a rate of about 3 percent.  Working people are finally getting a bigger piece of the pie, but it needs to be accelerate.  The Obama administration has taken action to help millions of workers collect the overtime pay that they have earned.
Congress needs to raise the minimum wage higher, to ensure that full time workers aren’t living in poverty.  Some states and cities have raised the minimum wage, but a national law is need.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


The number of people trying to cross our border illegally is near its lowest level in 40 years.  It’s lower than before Obama took office.  It’s lower than during the Reagan administration.  New immigrants sometimes compete for service and construction jobs, but they also start about 30 percent of all new businesses in America.  Misinformed voters think that immigrants are getting a lot from our government, but they pay a lot more in taxes than they receive in services.
Immigrants are not the main reason wages have not gone up for middle-class families.  Those decisions are made in the boardrooms of companies where top CEOs are getting paid more than 300 times the income of the average worker.  Deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants is a fantasy that would cost taxpayers billions of dollars, while tearing families apart.  Logistically, it would be impossible, and it would not do anything to help the middle class.  
What would help our middle class is for Congress to fix our immigration system the way President Obama has proposed.  He supports a system, where everybody plays by the rules, so that we attain strong border security.  Obama wants to make sure that those families who have been in America for 10 years, or 20 years come out of the shadows, pay taxes, and go through a background check.  That kind of immigration reform would grow our economy faster, and shrink our deficits.  
We need a Congress that’s willing to make it happen.  Republicans have been making claims about our economy that aren’t supported by facts.  They continue to do this, because it has worked to get them congressional votes.  The truth is that while congressional Republicans are telling hardworking, middle-class families that the reason they’re getting economically squeezed is because of moochers at the bottom of the income ladder, or because of minorities, or because of immigrants, or because poor people aren’t willing to work; they’ve been promoting policies that protect powerful special interests and those who are at the very top of the economic pyramid. 
Tales about welfare queens and takers are broadcast every day on some cable news stations, and right-wing radio across America.
After hearing that same story all the time voters start believing it.  It’s no wonder people think big government is the problem, and that the deficit has gone up under Obama’s presidency when it’s actually gone down. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Come Together

The following excerpt is from the speech Hillary Clinton made yesterday. 

“As I look at American history, I see that this has always been a country of ‘we’ not ‘me’.  We stand together because we are stronger together.  E pluribus unum.  One out of many has seen us through the darkest chapters of our history.  Ever since 13 squabbling colonies put aside their disagreements and united because they realized they were going to rise together or fall separately, generation after generation has fought and marched and organized to widen the circle of dignity and opportunity.  Ending slavery.  Securing and expanding the right to vote.  Throwing open the doors of education.  Building the greatest middle class the world has ever seen.

“And we are stronger when more people can participate in our democracy.  We are stronger when everyone can share in the rewards of our economy and contribute to our communities, when we bridge our divides and lift each other up instead of tearing each other down.  Now we have overcome a lot together and we will overcome the threats of terror and radicalization and all of our other challenges.

“The bonds that hold us together as communities, as one national community, are strained by an economy with too much inequality and too little upward mobility.  By social and political divisions that have diminished our trust in each other and our confidence in our shared future.  I have heard that, and I want you to know as your president I will work every day to break down all the barriers holding you back and keeping us apart.  We’re gonna get an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, we’re gonna forge a new sense of connection and shared responsibility to each other and our nation.

“I remember how it felt, on the day after 9/11.  Americans from all walks of life rallied together with a sense of common purpose on September the 12th and in the days and weeks and months that followed. We had each others’ backs.  I was a senator from New York.  There was a Republican president, a Republican governor, and a Republican mayor.  We did not attack each other.  We worked with each other to protect our country and rebuild our city.

President Bush went to a Muslim community center just six days after the attacks to send a message of unity and solidarity.  To anyone who wanted to take out their anger on our Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens, he said: “That should not, and that will not, stand in America.”  It is time to get back to the spirit of those days, spirit of 9/12.  Let’s make sure we keep looking to the best of our country, to the best within each of us.  Democratic and Republican presidents have risen to the occasion in the face of tragedy.  That is what we are called to do my friends and I am so confident and optimistic that is exactly what we will do.”

Monday, June 13, 2016

Protecting Workers

History has clearly demonstrated that regulations enforced by government officials has an important role in protecting workers.
In 1911, at the New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City a fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or jumping to their deaths.  Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women age 16 to 23.
The profit motivated owners claimed, that they had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks and reduce theftThe fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
In 2013, a catastrophic building collapse occurred, in the Dhaka suburb of Savar, Bangladesh.  Cracks appeared in the structure the day before, but the garment factory workers weren’t told not to report for work despite concerns that the building's structure was not sound.  The building collapsed.  The final death toll was 1,127.
The Obama administration has not killed jobs through overregulation.  In the ‘60s and the ‘70s, our government began adding regulations, and rules to protect workers’ rights, and the environment.  Those regulations improved public health and safety.  They didn’t repress the economic growth that took place in the ‘60s and the ‘70s.
Obama has issued fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush.  He has issued fewer executive orders than any two-term president since Ulysses S. Grant.  Many of the regulations that the Obama administration has issued are to protect our air and water.  Other rules are designed to keep families from getting cheated when buying a house or investing their savings.  Those rules have benefited our economy a lot more than they’ve cost to implement.  They’ve helped poor and middle class families.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Biggest Myth

Republican politicians have perpetrated the myth that the federal government keeps growing, and wasting your money, by giving your tax dollars to people who don’t deserve it.
Actually, as a share of the economy, we spend less on domestic priorities outside of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, than our government did when Reagan was president.  When Reagan and George W. Bush were president, our deficits got larger.  When Bill Clinton and Obama held the job, deficits got smaller.  Our deficits haven’t grown over the past seven and a half year that Obama has held office.  In fact, the deficit has been cut by almost 75 percent. 
There are fewer families on welfare than in the 1990s.  Funding has been frozen for two decades.  There aren’t giveaways going on.  Aside from our government’s obligation to care for the elderly and those Americans with disabilities, the vast majority of people who get help from the federal government are families, who are working, striving to get back on their feet, and get into the middle class.  Sometimes, their children need temporary help from food stamps when their mothers and fathers are between jobs.  Those families are not what’s holding back the middle class, and neither is it the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act.
President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law over six years ago. Since then, our businesses have created jobs every month.  It was accomplished at the same time our government was covering 20 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance, thereby ending discrimination against preexisting conditions for everybody, including those who had health insurance, and while dramatically slowing the rate that health care costs were going up.
In the decade before Obamacare, employer-based premiums grew by an average of 8 percent a year.  Ensured Americans were paying that much more every year for health insurance.  Last year, premiums grew by 4 percent.  That’s half as fast as they were growing.  Today, the average family’s health insurance premium is $2,600 less than it would have been if premiums had kept on going up at the pace before Obamacare. 
For the millions of Americans who buy on HealthCare.gov, they get tax credits to help them pay for it.  The average price increase this year has been four dollars a month.  There hasn’t been a double-digit percentage increase.
Misinformation not government spending is squeezing the middle class. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016


According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. District Courts, there are currently 91 vacancies across the federal judiciary with 60 nominees pending.  Of that number 30 are considered "judicial emergencies" defined by the office as vacancies with a high number of filings or where a there is more than one authorized judgeship and only one active judge.

In a speech before the American Constitution Society, Senator Elizabeth Warren insisted: "Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and serves nobody but himself.”

She charged, that Donald Trump's attacks on District Judge Gonzalo Curiel were just an extension of the congressional GOP's playbook: “Where do you suppose Donald Trump got the idea that he can personally attack judges, regardless of the law, whenever they don’t bend to the whims of billionaires and big business?  Trump isn’t a different kind of candidate.  He’s a Mitch McConnell kind of candidate.  Exactly the kind of candidate you’d expect from a Republican Party whose 'script' for several years has been to execute a full-scale assault on the integrity of our courts.

“Like all federal judges, Judge Curiel is bound by the federal code of judicial ethics not to respond to these attacks.  Trump is picking on someone who is ethically bound not to defend himself, exactly what you would expect from a thin-skinned, racist bully."

Regarding Paul Ryan, who had called Trump's rhetoric "racist" in the wake of the nominee's claim that Curiel's ethnicity may have influenced his handling of a Trump University, Warren noted:"Paul Ryan condemned Trump’s campaign for its attacks on Judge Curiel’s integrity.  Great. Where’s Paul Ryan’s condemnation of the blockade, the intimidation, the smears, and the slime against the integrity of qualified judicial nominees and Judge Garland?"

"Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell want Donald Trump to appoint the next generation of judges.  They want those judges to tilt the law to favor big business and billionaires like Trump.  They just want Donald to quit being so vulgar and obvious about it.  Donald Trump chose racism as his weapon, but his aim is exactly the same as the rest of the Republicans.  Pound the courts into submission to the rich and powerful.”

Warren’s remarks are likely to heighten the feud with Trump, who has repeatedly called her "Pocahantas" over questions about her Native American ancestry that were raised in 2012.

Friday, June 10, 2016

How Authoritarianism Starts

Some conservative and libertarian legal scholars have warned that electing Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis.

Trump said, that he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations, and has encouraged rough treatment of demonstrators.

His proposal to bar Muslims from entry into our country tests the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom, due process and equal protection.

More recently, he attacked Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of the Federal District Court in San Diego, who is overseeing two class actions against Trump University.  Trump accused the judge of bias, and claimed Judge Curiel was Mexican.  Actually, the judge was born in East Chicago, Indiana, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Indiana University, and Juris Doctor from the Indiana University School of Law.

David Post, a retired law professor who writes a conservative-leaning law blog, said: “This is how authoritarianism starts, with a president who does not respect the judiciary.  You can criticize the judicial system, you can criticize individual cases, you can criticize individual judges.  But the president has to be clear that the law is the law and that he enforces the law.  That is his constitutional obligation.”

Senator John McCain insists: “Our institutions, including the press, are still strong enough to prevent” unconstitutional acts.”

However, David Post believes, that McCain’s view was too sanguine, given the executive branch’s practical primacy.  He explained: “The president has all the power with respect to enforcing the law.  There’s only one of those three branches that actually has the guns in its hands, and that’s the executive.”

Richard Epstein, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution note: “I don’t think he cares about separation of powers at all.  President George W. Bush often went beyond what he should have done.  I think Obama’s been much worse on that issue pretty consistently, and his underlings have been even more so.  But, I think Trump doesn’t even think there’s an issue to worry about.  He just simply says whatever I want to do I will do.”

Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid, opposition to abortion, homophobia and anti-gay legislation is high.

Theodore Roosevelt said: “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Thursday, June 09, 2016

First Female Nominee

Reaching the highest peak yet in a tumultuous and trailblazing political career, Hillary Clinton claimed victory exactly eight years after folding her 2008 Democratic primary presidential campaign against Obama.  Now after three decades of being at the center of American politics, Hillary has finally cracked, what had been the most difficult glass ceiling for America women.

Shortly after she became the first woman to lead the presidential ticket of a major political party, she reached out to supporters of Bernie Sanders, in an attempt to unify Democrats.  She praised Sanders for his long public service and mirrored some of his progressive economic rhetoric.  She insisted that their vigorous primary campaign was good for the Democratic Party, and, explained: "Tonight's victory is not about one person, it belongs to generations."  She also again pointed out to voters: "Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president."

At next month's Democratic convention, the former first lady, senator from New York State, and secretary of state will be confronting the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in a general election battle that is shaping up as one of the most significant campaigns in modern history.

So far Bernie Sanders is refusing to drop his bid despite overwhelming odds.  After Clinton's victory rally in Brooklyn, Sanders spoke to a roaring crowd in California to declare "the struggle continues."  He pledged to stay in the race through next week's primary in Washington, D.C., and to fight on for social, economic, racial and environmental justice at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Reportedly, President Obama waited until voting ended in the last six primary states to weigh in on the race by calling both candidates to congratulate them for "running inspiring campaigns that have energized Democrats."  The President will meet with Sanders today, at the Vermont senator's request.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Agnostic Secularist

Regarding yesterday’s post, I want to make it clear that I don’t consider myself an atheist, but I do consider myself an agnostic and a secularist.  Belief and knowledge aren’t the same.  Atheism connotes what a person does or does not believe, agnosticism connotes what a person does or does not know.

I “know” that there isn’t a logical reason to oppose same sex marriage.  Faith is the antithesis of skepticism, distrust, objective truth, and knowledge.  Most religions stifle freedom of thought, and blind the faithful to the role faith plays in perpetuating human conflict.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy a Baptist minister in 1892.  Rev. Bellamy structured it for public school programs and had considered placing the word “equality” in his Pledge, but knew some state superintendents on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.

There was a time in public schools, that we recited the original pledge which didn't include the seemingly innocuous words “under God.”  In 1954, Congress added those words after a vigorous campaign by the Knights of Columbus.  Thus, the pledge became both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

Undermining the separation of church and state doctrine reached a peak in the 1950's, when Republican President Eisenhower inaugurated the prayer breakfast.  Congress created a prayer room in the Capital and added the words "In God we Trust" to all paper money.

E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many One) was considered the motto of the United States, until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God we trust” as the official motto.

The historic roots of the deep division we’re now facing in our nation began when Congress added “under god” to the Pledge.  Today, Republican politicians weave piety with patriotism, and pander to religious zealots. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Secular Values

On 6/4/16, thousands of atheists took part in "Reason Rally," dedicated to boosting the political power of the growing number of non-religious Americans.  Signs bearing atheist slogans such as: "I think therefore I'm Atheist," proliferated the National Mall.  A small group of protesters stood nearby, holding signs that said: "God Doesn't Believe in Atheists."

Among the high-profile lineup at the Lincoln Memorial, was Bill Nye, the "Science Guy."  

Lawrence Krauss said: "I have dream that some day children are encouraged to reach their full potential by providing them with the tools they need to learn and encouraging them to question everything."

Other participants called for a non-religious approach to politics amid a hotly contested presidential campaign.  They also hoped to flex the political muscles of the religious unaffiliated, turning one of the fastest-growing groups in the country into a powerful voting bloc.

Lyz Liddell noted: “We want to see reason taking precedence over religious-driven ideology.”

The rally's major political issues are climate change, reproductive rights and LGBT equality, which are all hotly contested political topics whose opposing voices often come from the religious right.

The Secular Coalition for Americas scheduled meetings with more than two thirds of the members of Congress, whom they hope to lobby on behalf of secular values.  They expect to soften some of the social stigma of being labeled an "atheist."

Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was one of our first female combat veterans and the only American Hindu elected to Congress.  In 2012, her opponent argued that she shouldn't be allowed to serve because her religion doesn't "align" with the Constitution.  She insists: "A pluralistic, secular government is the only way to ensure that all individuals have the freedom to follow the religious path of their choice."

Monday, June 06, 2016

It’s Clear

In a letter to the editor of the Oneonta Daily Star, Nico Meyering wrote: “The GOP is being dominated and/or dismantled by Donald Trump.  At the national level, the party has only itself to blame.  Party leaders calling Trump a bigot have rung the alarm bells too late.

“Trump is a candidate who exploits biases and divides for political gain. fear he has few scruples and fewer ethics.  Future historians will study the 2016 election not because we could potentially elect a woman or a democratic socialist, but because Americans in general, and the GOP in particular, have allowed Trump’s brand of American authoritarianism to come this far.

“Trump’s fellow GOP candidates decry his outlandish and severe proclamations, but not because his stances are morally repulsive and completely wrong.  They instead object to Trump’s stances because they think a Trump nomination means four more years of a Democrat.  Further, on top of their moral silence, each candidate has vowed to support Trump if he becomes the GOP nominee.  It looks clear he will.

“Remember that when GOP leaders and mega-donors cobble together a last- second, last-ditch, too-late effort to stop Trump, they fear losing the general election, not a Trump presidency.

“Donald Trump tells us that Mexican immigrants are rapists, that Muslims should be banned from entering the US, and that some of his fellow candidates aren’t eligible to become president.  He casually promised to order war crimes.  But nobody from Lincoln’s party called him out on this until it was too late.  Even now, they object to Trump’s electability, not his hate-filled rhetoric.”

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Fixing the Economy

If you watch TV, you’ll often hear that the reason that people are angry is because nobody has paid attention to the plight of working Americans.

President Obama hasn’t been able to fixed many things, because the Republican, who control both the House and Senate have opposed just about everything that he has tried to do.
Obama recognizes that many Americans people have good reason to feel anxious about the long term trends of our economy, that is make working families feel less secure.
Despite the drop in unemployment, wages are continuing to grow too slowly, and that makes it harder to pay for college or save for retirement.  The gap between the rich and poor is greater now than it has been since the 1920s.  The increase of global competition, and the automation of more jobs have left many workers behind, and allowed a few at the top collect extraordinary wealth and influence like never before.  Those trends make it easy for people to feel that the system is rigged and the American Dream is increasingly harder to reach for ordinary people.  Consequently, many politicians have been preying on that frustration for votes.
Informed voters recognize that it’s the economy, that is driving this election.  They will have to decide between two very different visions of what it will take from our next president and members of Congress to strengthen our middle class.  Voters have to make that decision, just as my grandparents and parents did in 1932 during the Great Depression, when they vote for FDR.
Republican candidates for elected office have continued to tell America’s working class, that they’ve been victimized by a bloated federal government run by left-wing elitists.  And, that the government is taking their hard-earned tax dollars and it’s giving it to freeloaders and welfare cheats.  They claim that Democrats are strangling business with endless regulations, and that our federal government are allowing immigrants and foreigners steal jobs that our workers want.
Instead of telling you what they’re planning to do to fix our economy, they simply tell voters what they’re against.  Their basic message is anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, and change.
If what Republican politicians are saying is true, it would make sense to run on a platform of rolling back everything FDR achieved, and what President Obama has accomplished for over seven and a half years. 

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Accommodating Bigots

Marriage equality is the law of the land.  The federal government and U.S. military's nondiscrimination policies cover sexual orientation.  Adoption by same-sex couples is legal in every state.

Our country is moving forward, and transgender people are living with greater openness.  Sadly, we’re seeing efforts to reverse the gains that have been made in statehouses and courthouses across America. 

There's an election coming up and it would be easy for our next president to roll back the progress that has been made.

Donald Trump has claimed, that he considers himself a "traditional guy," when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.  He’d appoint Supreme Court justices who favor rolling back LGBT rights and allow individual states to discriminate against the LGBT community.  A Trump court would overturn Obergefell v. Hodges and bring marriage equality to an end.

Trump has promised that he’d sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which would permit taxpayer-funded discrimination by those who cite religion as a reason to deny services to LGBT people nationwide.  He’ll accommodate bigots by repeal many of President Obama's executive orders immediately, which could include an order protecting LGBT employees in the federal government from discrimination.

Recently, Trump released a list of 11 judges that he’d consider nominating to the Supreme Court.  He made sure the list included a judge who equated same-sex relations to bestiality, pedophilia, and necrophilia. 

There's a great deal of work left to do, because we still see small businesses, like pizzerias, bakeries, and florists, who have  discriminated against LGBT customers.  There are still county clerks who refuse to do their jobs and issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples.  And, in some places in our country, it remains legal for people to be fired solely on the basis of who they are or whom they love.

These inequities require legislative action at the federal level, but congressional Republicans, that control both the House and Senate will not do the right thing.  The House of Representatives recently tried to undermine President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton fought to make it possible for transgender Americans to have their true identities reflected on their passports.  As president, she will fight for the rights of transgender people, because no one should be harmed or mistreated for being who they are.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Eight Years

Our economy isn’t just better than it was eight years ago, it’s the strongest, and most durable in the world.

When Obama took office, businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month.  The auto industry was going under, families were losing their savings, health insurance, and in danger of losing their homes. 

For example, unemployment in Elkhart, Indiana peaked at 19.6 percent. Nearly one in five people were out of work.  Since then unemployment in Elkhart has fallen to about 4 percent.  In the state of Indiana nearly one in 10 homeowners were either behind on their mortgages or in foreclosure.  Today, it’s one in 30.  In Elkhart only 75 percent of the children graduated from high school.  This year 90 percent of them will be graduating.   The auto industry has had its best year ever.  Elkhart is considered to be the “RV Capital of the World,” and it’s set to ship nearly 400,000 RVs this year, which would be an all-time record.  Elkhart wouldn’t have come that far, if the Obama administration and congressional Democrats hadn’t made a series of smart decisions.  

They decided to restructure the auto industry, help families refinance their homes, and invest in job training so that those who lost their jobs could retool.  They invest in things like high-tech manufacturing, clean energy and infrastructure.  Consequently, entrepreneurs decided to bring back the jobs that communities like Elkhart had lost, but they also create new and better jobs.  People who had lost work in the construction industry because the housing market had collapsed went back to work rebuilding America.

By almost every economic measure America is better off, since Obama took office.  Our businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs.  That is the longest stretch of consecutive private sector job growth in our history.  We’ve witnessed the first sustained manufacturing growth since the 1990s. Unemployment has been cut in half.  Our dependency on oil that we buy from from foreign countries has been cut by more than half.  We’ve doubled the clean energy that we produce.  And, for the first time ever, more than 90 percent of the country has health insurance.

President Obama insists: “We can make it even stronger, and expand opportunity for even more people.  But to do that, we have to be honest about what our real challenges are, and we’ve got to make some smart decisions going forward.”

Thursday, June 02, 2016

I Do, Too

The following column is entitled: “We Like Hillary.”  It was written and published prior to the New York State primary election by Sam Pollak, the editor of The Daily Star.

“Here’s why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s New York primary.

“Besides her being the candidate with the most-relevant government experience and the most-detailed and -practical position papers on national and international issues, there’s one more thing.

“I like her.  I think she’s nice.  Not that I know her all that well, or, for that matter, hardly at all.  But from what little personal contact I’ve had with her, I’ve been more than impressed.  I hasten to add that this is my personal opinion, and not necessarily that of The Daily Star’s editorial board, which does not endorse in primaries.

“I first saw Ms. Clinton in person in July of 1999 when she held an event with retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan at his farm in Pindars Corners as she began her ‘listening tour’ of New York state.    

“The media, as is their wont, had gone a bit crazy over the news that the former first lady was running for the Senate.  So crazy that as the editor of the local paper, I found myself interviewed by various reporters from big-city newspapers and appeared on MSNBC telecasts twice that day.

“Some years later, Clinton spoke at an editors convention I attended in Washington, D.C.  She gave a well-received speech, then lingered to chat with various attendees.  When my wife and I approached, Clinton saw my newspaper name tag that included Oneonta and graciously gave the impression that she remembered me, even though the chances of that were beyond remote.

“How’s Kim?” she said with a smile.  She was referring to former Oneonta Mayor Kim Muller, one of her early supporters.  I cannot tell you how surprised I was that with all the people she had met as first lady and senator — all that must have been on her mind — that she could instantly recall the name of this mayor from such a small city.  And, as we chatted, she was … well … nice, not at all like the Lady Macbeth caricature you see so much from the television pundits.

“Muller, who was a Clinton delegate in the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver, described Clinton to me last week as ‘a stellar person.’

“I’ve never met Bernie Sanders, but he looks like a pretty good guy, like one of my avuncular uncles fulminating about when the Passover Seder will finally be over so that everybody can eat, already.

“The trouble with Bernie, though, is that his solutions for most of the ills he rails about in his stump speech are just so much pixie dust.

“He illogically promises a political ‘revolution’ that would force recalcitrant Republicans to go along with his policies.  In his heart, he must know that’s just not going to happen.

“He wants to break up the big banks, but that would require an act — and probably several acts — of Congress.  The chances of that are slim and none, and ‘slim’ is nowhere to be found.

“Same with his promise of free college tuition that has so many young people avidly supporting him.  His plan hinges on state legislatures kicking in a third of the $75 billion estimated annual cost.

“Forgeddaboudit!  Were Sanders to be elected, all those college students now ‘feeling the Bern’ would be incredibly disillusioned when they discovered how empty those promises are.        

“He talks about how he’s doing better than Hillary in early polls against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but the fact is that while Clinton has felt the wrath of the GOP for decades, nobody has really gone after Bernie yet. 

“But were he to be the Democratic nominee, the Republicans would scald the flesh off his body with (accurate) charges that he would raise taxes on the middle class, and they would turn ‘socialist’ into a dirty word you couldn’t distinguish from ‘communist’ with an armful of dictionaries.

“There will be those who will vote for Bernie just to shake things up, to ‘send a message’ to Washington.  Back in 2000, thousands of Democrats voted for Ralph Nader instead of Al Gore to ‘send a message,’ whatever that may have been.  The result was the election of George W. Bush, which led to an unnecessary war in Iraq and a conservative Supreme Court that OK’d unlimited spending on political campaigns and did away with Voting Rights Act protections.

“It is incredibly important to prevent Trump or Cruz from becoming president of the United States for reasons so obvious and numerous that we need not go into them here.

“I’m voting for Hillary on Tuesday in part because she’s the best bulwark against those two characters.  Also, she’s knowledgeable, prepared, tough, level-headed and respected internationally.  Besides ... I like her.”

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Bitter End

The final weeks of the primary season will wraps up on June 7th. when the last states, that included California and New Jersey, hold their primary contests.
Both the Republican and Democratic Party will field the two of the most unpopular nominees in recent history.
Donald Trump has made derogatory remarks about Mexicans, Muslims and call the Republican establishment leaders "loser."
His attempts to discredit Hillary Clinton have left no past scandal off the table.  And, he has called Sen. Elizabeth Warren "goofy," and "Pocahontas."
Clinton said: "This man, who is an unqualified loose cannon, is within reach of the most important job in the world.  I know that Trump thinks this is a point of pride, that people like me or President Obama raise questions and criticize him.  But it's not.  This is not a reality show.  It's not just politics.  It's really serious."

Bernie Sanders can’t win the nomination, but he’s drawing large crowds and insisting that he’ll carry on through the convention, even after the final votes are counted. 

Massive protests are expected at the Republican convention in Cleveland, and there is a potential for disruptions on the floor of the Democratic convention.  Trump and Sanders have condemned the unrest that has erupted among some supporters.  But, their rhetoric doesn’t seem to have cooled tempers and expectations of their supporters.

Trump has been consolidating the support of the Republican Party establishment.  They included former primary foes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  House Speaker Paul Ryan is playing harder to get.

Some conservative holdouts are still hoping that a third-party candidate could emerge to offer a largely symbolic alternative to voters who cannot face backing Trump or Clinton.  But, no well known Republican political figure is willing to take on that challenge.