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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Khizr Khan


Among the speeches made at the Democratic National Convention, that Fox News didn’t air, were remarks made by Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen Muslim American soldier.

With his wife at his side a tall proud father explained:  “Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.

“Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed.  We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.

“We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free.
Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer.  But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers.

“Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son ‘the best of America.’  If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.  Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims.  He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership.  He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.” 

(At this point, Khizr Khan reached into his jacket pocket and held up a copy of our Constitution.)

He said: “Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future.  Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?  I will gladly lend you my copy.  In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’

“Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?  Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.  You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

“We can't solve our problems by building walls and sowing division.  We are Stronger Together.  And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President.”

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Look Around


The following quotation is from the speech that Elizabeth Warren made at the Democratic National Convention.

“Look around.  Americans bust their tails, some working two or three jobs, but wages stay flat.  Meanwhile, the basic costs of making it from month to month keep going up.  Housing, health care, child care costs are out of sight.  Young people are getting crushed by student loans.  Working people are in debt.  Seniors can’t stretch a Social Security check to cover the basics.

“And even families who are OK today worry that it could all fall apart tomorrow.  This. Is. Not. Right!  Here’s the thing: America isn’t going broke.  The stock market is breaking records.  Corporate profits are at all-time highs.  CEOs make tens of millions of dollars.  There’s lots of wealth in America, but it isn’t trickling down to hard-working families like yours.

“Does anyone here have a problem with that?  Well, I do too.  People get it: the system is rigged.

“So-called experts claim America is in trouble because both political parties in Washington refuse to compromise.  Gridlock!  That is just flat wrong.  Washington works great for those at the top.

“When giant companies wanted more tax loopholes, Washington got it done.  When huge energy companies wanted to tear up our environment, Washington got it done.  When enormous Wall Street banks wanted new regulatory loopholes, Washington got it done.  No gridlock there!

“But try to do something, anything, for working people, and you’ll have a fight on your hands.

“Democrats have taken on those fights.  Democrats fought to get health insurance for more Americans. Democrats fought for a strong consumer agency so big banks can’t cheat people.  We fought, we won, and we improved the lives of millions of people — thank you, President Obama!

“Yes, we won, but Republicans and lobbyists battled us every step of the way.  Five years later, that consumer agency has returned $11 billion to families who were cheated.  And Republicans?  They’re still trying to kill it.

“I’m not someone who thinks Republicans are always wrong and Democrats are always right.  There’s enough blame to go around.  But there is a huge difference between the people fighting for a level playing field, and the people keeping the system rigged.

“Look at Congress since the Republicans took over. Democrats proposed refinancing student loans.  And Republicans?  They said no!  Democrats proposed ending tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas.  And Republicans?  They said no!  Democrats proposed raising the minimum wage.  And Republicans?  They said no!

“To every Republican in Congress who said no: this November, the American people are coming for you!”

Friday, July 29, 2016

Radical Choice


Michael Bloomberg is an American business leader, politician, and philanthropist.  As of July 2016, Bloomberg’s net worth of $46.7 billion, made him the 6th richest person in the United States and the 8th richest in the world.
Bloomberg’s address to the Democratic National Convention started with him explaining why he believe it’s imperative that we elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.
The following is an excerpt of his remarks: “When the Founding Fathers arrived here in Philadelphia to forge a new nation, they didn't come as Democrats or Republicans, or to nominate a presidential candidate. They came as patriots who feared party politics.  I know how they felt.  I've been a Democrat, I've been a Republican, and I eventually became an independent because I don't believe either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership.
“When I enter the voting booth each time, I look at the candidate, not the party label.  I have supported elected officials from both sides of the aisle. Probably not many people in this room can say that, but I know there are many watching at home who can.  And now, they are carefully weighing their choices.  I understand their dilemma.
“I know what it's like to have neither party fully represent my views or values.  Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence.  Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction.
“There are times when I disagree with Hillary.  But whatever our disagreements may be, I've come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country.  And we must united around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.
“I believe it's the duty of all American citizens to make our voices heard by voting in this election.  And, if you're not yet registered to vote, go online.  Do it now.  It's just too important to sit this out.
“Now, we've heard a lot of talk in this campaign about needing a leader who understands business.  I couldn't agree more.  I've built a business and I didn't start it with a million-dollar check from my father.  Because of my success in the private sector, I had the chance to run America's largest city for 12 years, governing in the wake of its greatest tragedy.
“Today, as an independent, an entrepreneur, and a former mayor, I believe we need a president who is a problem solver, not a bomb thrower.  Someone who can bring members of Congress together, to get things done. And I know Hillary Clinton can do that because I saw it firsthand.
“I was elected mayor two months after 9/11, as a Republican, and I saw how Hillary Clinton worked with Republicans in Washington to ensure that New York got the help it needed to recover and rebuild.  Throughout her time in the Senate, we didn't always agree, but she always listened.  And that's the kind of approach we need in Washington today, and it just has to start in the White House.
“Given my background, I've often encouraged business leaders to run for office because many of them share that same pragmatic approach to building consensus, but not all.  Most of us who have created a business know that we're only as good as the way our employees, clients, and partners view us.  Most of us don't pretend that we're smart enough to make every big decision by ourselves.  And most of us who have our names on the door know that we're only as good as our word.  But not Donald Trump.
“Throughout his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders, and contractors who feel cheated, and disillusioned customers who feel ripped off.  Trump says he wants to run the nation like he's run his business.  God help us.
“I'm a New Yorker, and New Yorkers know a con when we see one!  Trump says he'll punish manufacturers that move to Mexico or China, but the clothes he sells are made overseas in low-wage factories.  He says he wants to put Americans back to work, but he games the US visa system so he can hire temporary foreign workers at low wages.  He says he wants to deport 11 million undocumented people, but he seems to have no problem in hiring them.  What'd I miss here?!
“Truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.  He wants you to believe that we can solve our biggest problems by deporting Mexicans and shutting out Muslims.  He wants you to believe that erecting trade barriers will bring back good jobs.  He's wrong on both counts.  We can only solve our biggest problems if we come together and embrace the freedoms that our Founding Fathers established right here in Philadelphia, which permitted our ancestors to create the great American exceptionalism that all of us now enjoy.  Donald Trump doesn't understand that.  Hillary Clinton does.  And we can only create good jobs if we make smarter investments in infrastructure and do more to support small businesses.  Not stiff them.  Donald Trump doesn't understand that.  Hillary Clinton does.
“I understand the appeal of a businessman president.  But Trump's business plan is a disaster in the making.  He would make it harder for small businesses to compete, do great damage to our economy, threaten the retirement savings of millions of Americans, lead to greater debt and more unemployment, erode our influence in the world, and make our communities less safe.
“The bottom line is: Trump is a risky, reckless, and radical choice.  And we can't afford to make that choice.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Senator Cory Booker


The following quotation is from the speech Senator Cory Booker gave at the Democratic National Convention.

“Look, I respect and value the ideals of individualism and self- reliance.  But rugged individualism didn’t defeat the British.  It didn’t get us to the moon.  It didn’t build our nation’s highways.  Rugged individualism didn’t map the human genome.  We did that together.

“And so this is the high call of patriotism.  Patriotism is love of country.  But you can’t love your country without loving your countrymen and your countrywomen.  Now, we don’t always have to agree, but we must be there for each other, we must empower each other, we must find the common ground, and we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good.

“Let me tell you, we cannot devolve into a nation where our highest aspirations are that we just tolerate each other.  We are not called to be a nation of tolerance.  We are called to be a nation of love.

“That’s why that last line in the Declaration of Independence says it so clearly.  It says that we must make this nation work, we must mutually pledge to each other our lives and our fortunes and our sacred honor.  Tolerance is the wrong way.  Tolerance says I’m just going to stomach your right to be different, that if you disappear from the face of the Earth, I’m no better or worse off.

“But love knows that every American has worth and value, that no matter what their background, no matter what their race or religion or sexual orientation, love, love recognizes that we need each other, that we as a nation are better together, that when we are divided we are weak, we decline, yet when we are united, we are strong, when we are indivisible, we are invincible.

“This is the understanding of love that’s embodied in one of my favorite sayings.  It’s an African saying, and it says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.’

“This is the reason why I am so motivated in this election, because I believe this election is a referendum on who best embodies the leadership we need to go far together.

“Donald Trump is not that leader.  We’ve watched him try to get laughs at other people’s expense, try to incite fear at a time we need to inspire courage, try to rise in the polls by dragging our national conversation into the gutter.  We’ve watched him mock, cruelly mock a journalist’s disability.  We’ve watched him demean the service of my Senate colleague, saying, ‘He’s not a war hero.  He was a war hero because he was captured.’  Trump said, ‘I don’t like people who get captured.’  Would he say that to POWs from World War II?  Would he say that to POWs from Vietnam?  Would he say that to the brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, risking capture or worse?  That’s not the commander-in-chief.

“We’ve watched Donald Trump paint with a broad, divisive brush, saying that Mexican immigrants who came to build a better life in America are, in his words, ‘bringing crime, they’re bringing drugs.’  He called many of them rapists.  He said that an Indiana-born federal judge can’t be trusted to do his job because of his Mexican ancestry, a statement that his fellow Republicans have described as racist.

“We’ve watched Donald Trump, our children, our daughters, our nieces and grandkids have watched Donald Trump and heard him calling women degrading and demeaning names, ‘Dog.’ ‘Fat pig.’ ‘Disgusting.’ ‘Animal.’  It’s a twisted hypocrisy when he treats other women in a manner he would never, ever accept from another man speaking about his daughters or his wife.

In this great nation, where our founders put a fundamental principle forward of religious freedom, he says ban all Muslims, don’t let certain people into our America because of how they pray.

“Now, I take particular interest in the fact that Trump says he would run our country like he’s run his businesses.  Well, I’m from Jersey.

“And I’m from the great Garden State.  And we’ve seen how he leads in Atlantic City.  He got rich while his companies declared multiple bankruptcies.  Yet, without remorse, even as people got hurt and lost jobs by his failures, he bragged, and I quote, ‘The money I took out of there was incredible.’

“Yes, he took out a lot of cash, but he stiffed contractors, many of them small businesses, refusing to pay them for the work that they’d done.  You know, we in America have seen enough of a handful of people growing rich at the cost of a nation descending into crisis.

“America, at our best, we stand up to bullies, and we fight those who seek to demean and degrade other Americans.  In times of crisis, we don’t abandon our values; we double down on them.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our First Lady


“Thank you all, thank you so much.  It is hard to believe that it has been eight years since I first came to this convention to talk with you about why I thought my husband should be president. Remember how I told you about his character and his conviction?  His decency and grace?  The traits we have seen every day as he has served our country in the White House.

“I also told you about our daughters, how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world, and during our time in the White House we have had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised young women.

“A journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington when they set off for their first day at their new school.  I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those men with guns.  And that's all their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, What have we done? At that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation of who they would become.  And how well we manage this experience could truly make or break them.

“That is what Barack and I think about every day as he tried to guide and protect our girls from the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight.  How we urged them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith.  How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country.  How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level.  Our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

“With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us.  We as parents are the most important role model.

“Let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls but the children across this country.  Kids who say, “I saw you on TV,” “I wrote the report on you for school.”  Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, Is my hair like yours?

“Make no mistake about it, this November, when we get to the polls, that is what we are deciding.  Not Democrat or Republican, not left or right.  In this election, and every election, it is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.  I am with you tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend Hillary Clinton.

“I trust Hillary to lead this country because I have seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children.  Not just her own daughter, who she has raised to perfection, but every child who needs a champion: kids who take the long way to school to avoid the gangs.  Kids who wonder how they will ever afford college.  Kids whose parents don't speak a word of English, but dream of a better life; who look to us to dream of what they can be.

“Hillary has spent decades doing the relentless work to actually make a difference in their lives. Advocating for kids with disabilities as a young lawyer, fighting for children’s health care as first lady, and for quality child care in the senate.

“And when she did not win the nomination eight years ago, she did not get angry or disillusioned.  Hillary did not pack up and go home because ... Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own disappointment.  She proudly stepped up to serve our country once again as secretary of state, traveling the globe to keep our kids safe.  There were moments when Hillary could have decided that this work was too hard, that the price of public service was too high, that she was tired of being torn apart for how she looked, or how she talked, or even how she laughed.

“But here's the thing: What I admire most about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure.  She never takes the easy way out.  And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life. And when I think about the kind of president that I want for my girls and all our children, that is what I want.  I want someone with the proven strength to persevere.

“Somebody who knows this job and takes it seriously.  Somebody who understands that the issues of our nation are not black or white.  It cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.  Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can't make snap decisions.  You can't have thin skin or a tendency to lash out.  You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.

“I want a president with a record of public service.  Someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don't chase fame and fortune for ourselves; we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed.  And we give back even when we are struggling ourselves because we know that there there is someone worse off.  There but for the grace of God, go I.  I want a president who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters.

“A president that truly believes in the precedence that our founders put forth all those years ago — that we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story.  When crisis hits, we don't turn against each other, we listen to each other.  We lean on each other.  We are always stronger together.  I am here tonight because I know that that is the kind of president Hillary Clinton will be and that is why in this election, I'm with her.

“You see, Hillary understands that the presidency is about one thing and one thing only.  It is about leaving something better for our kids.  That is how we have always moved this country forward — by all of us coming together on behalf of our children.  Volunteering to coach the team, teach the Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.

“Heroes of every color and creed who wear the uniform and risk their lives to pass on those blessings of liberty; police officers and protesters in Dallas who all that really want to keep our children safe; people who lined up in Orlando to donate blood because it could have been their son, or their daughter in the club.

“Leaders like Tim Kaine, who show our kids what decency and devotion look like.  Leaders like Hillary Clinton, who have the guts and the grace to keep coming back and putting those cracks in the highest and hardest glass ceiling until they finally break through, lifting all of us along with her.

“That is the story of this country.  The story that has brought me to the stage tonight.  The story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, who kept on striving, and hoping, and doing what needed to be done.  So that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.  And I watch my daughters — two beautiful intelligent black young women — play with the dog on the White House lawn.

“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.

“Don't let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great.  That somehow we need to make it great again.  Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.

“And as my daughters set out on the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader worthy of my girls’ promise and all of our kids’ promise.  A leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.

“In this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best, we cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical.  Hear me: Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago.  We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of passion into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America.  Let's get to work.  Thank you all and God bless.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tim Kaine


Tim Kaine never aspired to be a vice president nominee, while growing up in Kansas.  His father ran an iron-working shop and he remembers the lessons that his parents taught him.  His mother told him: “You have to decide if you want to be right or do right.  If you want to be right, be a pessimist.  If you want to do right, be an optimist."
He attended a Jesuit boys school, and started attending Harvard Law School, but took a year off to volunteer with missionaries in Honduras, where he saw a system in which a few folks at the top had all the power and everyone else got left behind.
The experience convinced him that: “We've got to expand opportunity and equality for everyone, no matter where they come from, how much money they have, what they look like, or who they love.”
Tim married Anne who is from a family that feels the same.  Kaine’s father-in- law is former Republican Governor Linwood Holton, who in 1970 integrated Virginia's public schools, and placed his children in a recently desegregated mostly-black Richmond public school.
He had settled in Richmond, where he work as a civil rights lawyer, representing people who were denied housing because of their race or disability.  He attended City Council meetings to raise the issues, that he was dealing with on behalf of his clients, but became fed up with the infighting.  So in 1994, he started a political career by running for office, and won by 94 votes.  At the local level, he listened to people, learned about their lives, and tried to find consensus.
Eventually, he became mayor of Richmond, lieutenant governor of Virginia, and in 2006, he became Governor.  As Governor and as Virginia’s Senator, he had to make many tough calls during the recession.  
With his friend Hillary Clinton in the White House, he is looking forward to delivering results for people. Kaine insists: “We don't back away from tough fights.  We're energized by them.  Hillary and I have a strong progressive agenda and we're not going to get distracted from it.
“We'll make our economy work for everyone.  We'll make college debt-free.  We'll take on the NRA, we'll work toward comprehensive immigration reform -- we'll fight for paid family leave, and equality for women, and making sure every kid has a chance to live up to their potential.” 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Obama’s Approval


I received the following message from President Obama: “I wanted to take a moment to tell you why I’m so proud that Hillary has chosen Senator Tim Kaine to join her on the Democratic ticket this fall.
“Nothing can really prepare you for this job.  You come to learn that it's about having a firm grasp of the issues, sound judgment, and the tenacity never to stop fighting to make people's lives better.
“The thing about Hillary is, she already understands all that.  She does her homework, she masters the issues, and she never gives up.  She gets the job done.  And more than almost anyone I’ve worked with in Washington, Hillary’s the kind of person who sees a problem and says, 'How can I fix this?  What can I do to help?'
“But this job is also about surrounding yourself with the best possible people.  And there's no more important decision you'll make as a presidential candidate than choosing a vice president.  There are basically two paths you can take.  You can pick someone for purely political reasons, or you can pick someone who will be your partner in government.  Someone who shares your values.  Someone who will make you a better president.
“That's why I picked Joe Biden, and it’s a testament to Hillary’s character and integrity that she chose a man like Tim Kaine.
“Like Hillary, Tim is an optimist.  But like Hillary, he is also a progressive fighter.  He's the son of a teacher and an iron worker who's always got working families on his mind.  For nearly two decades, he specialized in representing people who had been denied fair access to housing just because of what they looked like, or because they had a disability.  And when a gunman killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech, Tim knew he had a responsibility as governor to offer more than thoughts and prayers to the community he mourned with; and as a gun owner, he stood up to the gun lobby on their behalf.
“There aren’t a lot of elected officials in Washington whom people like even more when the cameras are off than when the cameras are on.  But Tim is that kind of guy.  He’s a man who’s risen to the highest levels of government but still lives in the same neighborhood he did as a city council member in Richmond.  You just can’t find anyone with a bad thing to say about him, from the staff who’ve worked for him to the Republicans who’ve served alongside him.
“Simply put: Tim is a good man.  He's a true progressive.  And he will make a great vice president.”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trumps Choice


Donald Trump has selected Governor Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate.  He claimed that there's no one better for women.  And, promises that there's no one better for "the gays."  However, he's chosen one of the most anti-women, anti-equality Republicans in the country as his Vice President.

John Podesta is the Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.  He previously served as Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton and counselor to President Obama.

Podesta considers Mike Pence to be the most extreme vice presidential pick in a generation.  He noted that Pence was an early supporter of the Tea Party, who spearheaded a religious liberty bill that legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians, and which he’s been forced to revised.  As a member of the House of Representatives, Pence was a leader in the effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

As Governor, Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which permitted discrimination against Indiana’s LGBT residents, earned national backlash and ridicule from individuals and corporations alike, and cost Indiana $60 million in revenues.

He also signed into law one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws, that cut funding for Planned Parenthood across Indiana.  That law resulted in one community losing its sole HIV testing center.  And, eventually Indiana faced an unprecedented HIV epidemic.

Podesta insists, that Pence an “incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate known for supporting discriminatory politics and failed economic policies that favor millionaires and corporations over working families.”

Podesta believes Pence is: “no economic leader or friend to the American worker.”  He cited Pence’s opposition to raising the federal minimum wage and the statistic that incomes in Indiana are stalled at 38th in the nation.  Pence also lowered corporate taxes while cutting funding for higher education and pre-k.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Expanding Medicare


Donald Trump Jr. claimed: "We're going to elect a President, who will repeal and replace Obamacare without leaving our most vulnerable citizens without health care, and who will do it without destroying Medicare for seniors as Hillary Clinton has proposed."

Earlier this month, Clinton tweaked a proposal to expand Medicare as an option to adults as young as 50.  Some conservative suggested that proposal would destroy Medicare, since it invites more people into an already overloaded system.

Fox News commentator Betsy McCaughey insisted: "Medicare is stretched so thin to meet the needs of today's seniors that expanding enrollment is like inviting the neighborhood for dinner when you don't have enough to feed your own kids."  Shouldn’t helping the entire neighborhood of our sick and elderly be a moral obligation?

Medicare has a serious solvency problems, and is currently set to run out of funds by 2028.  And, it would seem likely that any expansion of the program would exacerbate that problems and shorten the life of the Medicare.  However, it has become a very popular program, and it’s unlikely that our next president and members of Congress would allow Medicare to go bankrupt.  I’m confident that they’ll look for ways to strengthen the program.

Despite criticism by Ronald Reagan, the program has continued to expand under both Democrats and Republicans since its creation in 1966.  Actually, small-government conservatives such as Reagan, Nixon and George W. Bush have expanded it.

Donald Trump Jr’s claim that Hillary Clinton’s proposal would destroy Medicare is ridiculous.  She hasn’t proposed to destroy Medicare, and has repeatedly expressed an intent to expand it.  Although, an expansion of Medicare might strain the system, it is highly unlikely the system would be allowed to collapse.  By the way, when will Trump provide specifics on how he’ll replace Obamacare? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Your Support


Robert Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.  Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century.  He was a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic nominee for president, but is now sending a Facebook book message to those who also supported Senator Sanders.
“May I have a word with those of you Bernie supporters who consider Donald Trump to be no worse than Hillary Clinton?  It’s a point of view a number of you have expressed on this page, and it's dead wrong.
“As I said when I endorsed Bernie for president, I view Hillary as enormously qualified to be president of the political system we now have. She is smart, capable, and experienced.  I endorsed Bernie because I thought he would help create the political system we need.  But Bernie will not be the Democratic nominee.  That does not mean the end of the movement Bernie advanced.  That movement was never about Bernie; it was about reclaiming our democracy and our economy.  And that movement will live on, and it will grow.  It needs your continuing activism and your tenacity.
“You are, of course, entitled to support anyone you wish to.  But if you don’t get behind Hillary you increase the odds that Donald Trump will be president.  That would be a disaster for America and the world.  Trump is a menace.  He is not just unsuited to being the president of the United States – a bigoted narcissist who incites and excuses violence – but his presidency would threaten everything this nation stands for: tolerance, inclusion, freedom of the press, equal justice, and equal opportunity.  It would make it far more difficult ever to achieve the progressive goals you and I share.
“What do you think?”

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Good Old Days


Electing President Obama didn’t create a more tolerant, less racially bigoted society.  However, it did reveal that the issue of racial bigotry goes much deeper than many Americans suspected.  The fact that Obama was elected President was in itself  just one indicator of how attitudes are changing.

The “good old days,”were far from being “good” for African-Americans when I enlisted in the Marine Corps during the Korean War.  During basic training at Parris Island, I witnessed a drill instructor with a bayonet chasing a naked African-American recruit, who was endowed with a large penis, from the shower room into the squad bay.  The sergeant was  threatening to castrate the terrified recruit.  That same person referred to as the “Yankee.” 

At Camp Lejeune, I was assigned to escort an African-American Marine, who had been in our company, from the hospital psychiatric ward to the bus station to make sure that he got onto a bus.

Off base in North Carolina, I didn’t expect to see water fountains and rest rooms labelled “For Whites Only.”

On a bus trip north, we stopped to pick up more passengers in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  A middle aged African-American woman, who looked like she had a hard day at work boarded the over crowded bus and  stood next to me.  I offered her my seat, which was about 4 rows from the front of the bus.  At first she didn’t accept the offer, but I insisted and she sat down.  I got off the bus in Washington D.C. to stretch my legs.  Two African-American men, who were sitting in the last row across the back of the bus approached, and asked if I played football for the Washington Red Skins.  They also informed me that the woman, who I gave my seat to could have been kicked off the bus, because it was against the law for blacks to sit in the front of the bus.  The incident occurred, about a year before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat near the front of a bus.

Back in the 50’s there were few, if any African-American  judges, large business owners, mayors, or members of Congress.  Racism and inequality persists, but regardless of a persons nationality, gender, race, faith; whether rich or poor, gay or straight, today is much better than the so called “good old days.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Political Will


In a recent weekly address, President Obama acknowledged that the aftermath of the tragedies that we've seen in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Minnesota, can leave us struggling to make sense of those events.
Nevertheless, he again reiterated that our country is not as divided as it may seem, because numerous occasions, he has seen signs of people coming together.  He has met with law enforcement on the challenges they face, and traveled to Dallas for the memorial service of the five brave police officers who died while protecting protesters with whom they may have disagreed.  He convened and participated in a more than four-hour long town hall meeting with police chiefs, Black Lives Matter activists, and state and local leaders.  At that meeting, he explained, that there is no contradiction between honoring police and recognizing racial disparities exist within our criminal justice system.
President Obama has admitted that although those conversations can be very challenging, we have to be able to talk about our differences.  We have to be open and honest not just within our own little circles, but also with those who may offer different perspectives on those challenges.  Because that is what America is all about.  We can eventually find solutions to these differences not only through policy, but also by forging consensus and finding the political will to make change.
He has repeatedly emphasized: “It won’t happen overnight.  The issues we’re grappling with go back decades, even centuries.  But if we can open our hearts to try and see ourselves in one another; if we can worry less about which side has been wronged, and worry more about joining sides to do right, as equal parts of one American family – then I’m confident that together, we will lead our country to a better day.” 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Original Sin

Many foreign countries don’t have a racial problem like America, because they don’t have the history of slavery that we do.  Racism was the original sin of our Constitution, and we try to pretend that it wasn’t.

Rodney King became nationally known after being beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers following a high-speed car chase while drunk on March 3, 1991.  George Holliday, videotaped much of the beating from his balcony, and sent the footage to local news station.  The footage shows police officers surrounding King,  and four of them repeatedly struck him with nightsticks, while other officers stood by.  Parts of the footage aired around the world, and raised international concern about police treatment of minorities in our country.

Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. Three were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth of assault with a deadly weapon but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force.  The acquittals triggered the 1992 Los Angeles riots in which 55 people were killed and over 2,000 were injured, and ended only when the California national guard had to be called in to end the riots.

In 1994, the O.J. Simpson murder trial verdict of not guilty was hard to believe for nearly every white person in America.  Many African-Americans applauded, not because they thought he was innocent, but because for once a black man beat the system that had been beating them.

How many videos can we dismiss, year after year of black people being brutally assaulted, or murdered.   Videos showing a white police officer killing a black person, apparently without justification have become all to common.

Racial prejudice against African- Americans exists, and something appears to be very wrong with the police culture in many of our large cities.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Stock Market


For a few weeks, American stocks have been riding a bullish wave of momentum.  The Dow in back to all-time highs.  The Nasdaq has a ways to go before it hits a new record, but the tech-heavy index is again above 5,000.  Investors are realizing that they have to put their money somewhere.

Last month, panic caused the global financial markets to be concerned.  Briefly, there was even some worry about the American stock-market.  Initially, European stocks were perceived as being a huge risk following the British withdrawal from the European Union.  There are still serious concerns about the health of China and other emerging markets.  European and Japanese bonds have yielded below zero, and oil commodities have started to retreat again after a temporary supply shock pushed it back above $50.

Despite concerns about sluggish growth and the upcoming presidential election, American stocks are much more stable than most other major developed and developing countries. 

Chief investment officer with Huntington Bank, John Augustine believes that the U.S. is the best place to invest in right now.  As long as companies report decent earnings for the second quarter stocks should keep climbing.  He expects consumers will continue to spend and travel and that the housing market will remain strong.

Augustine predicts that it won't matter, who wins on election day, since there will be more gridlock in Congress.  Our military-industrial complex will benefit, because both Trump and Clinton are more hawkish than dovish when it comes to national security.  Defense contractors could be winners regardless of what happens in November.

The Federal Reserve seems to be suggesting that it's in no hurry to raise interest rates again.  And the latest retail sales figures for June showed that consumers are still spending, especially on their homes.

***Interesting, but I won’t be investing in the stocks if Trump wins.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

He's a Faker


Initially, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg declined to retreat from her earlier criticism of Donald Trump.
She said: "He is a faker.  He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment.  He really has an ego. ... How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns?  The press seems to be very gentle with him on that."

Ginsburg had admonished Trump to The Associated Press and New York Times in recent interviews.  She said: "I can't imagine what this place would be -- I can't imagine what the country would be -- with Donald Trump as our president." 

Trump responded by telling The New York Times: "I think it's highly inappropriate that a United States Supreme Court judge gets involved in a political campaign, frankly.  I think it's a disgrace to the court and I think she should apologize to the court, I couldn't believe it when I saw it."

He later tweeted: "Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me.  Her mind is shot - resign!"

The 83-year-old justice had expressed no regret for the comments.  She noted: “At first I thought it was funny.  To think that there's a possibility that he could be president.  I think he has gotten so much free publicity.  Every other presidential candidate has turned over tax returns."

Trump told the Associated Press he probably won’t be releasing any returns before November.  However, in 1973, President Nixon publicly released his returns while they were under audit.  Trump’s tax returns are allegedly already being audited, so what’s the problem.

Most recently, Justice Ginsburg said:"On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them.  Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office.  In the future I will be more circumspect."

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Our Future


I have been devoted to the Democratic Party ever since FDR got us out of the Great Depression and made sure that our country would win WWII.
Clarence Darrow wrote: “I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic.  I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure — that is all that agnosticism means.”
I consider myself an agnostic secularist, who believes  in separation of church and state, and that our government should provide opportunity for every American.
Let’s assume the best in each other, not the worst because whatever our differences, we all care about our grand children’s future.  Presidential candidates should be debating Second Amendment rights, marriage equality, abortion, national security, and terrorism.
Many people disapprove of the Democratic Party’s position on gay rights. They also believe that our government should be smaller, and the very wealthy work harder than everybody else, so they should be able to keep what they have.  Those are important issues, but the agenda of the Republican party isn’t designed to help the middle-class.  It’s been obvious since the Great Depression and WWII, that trickle down economics and small government doesn’t worked.
Democratic politicians initiated Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and they’ll make sure that our government continues to pay for those programs as our population grows older.  The path to more jobs, higher wages, upgraded benefits, a stronger safety net, a fairer tax code, and trade on our terms is the agenda of the Democratic party.
After the financial crisis, Democrats passed the toughest Wall Street reforms in history.  Trump said that he’d dismantle those rules.  Less oversight on Wall Street would only make another economic crisis more likely.  Letting credit card companies write the rules wouldn’t make our middle class more secure.    

Friday, July 15, 2016

Left Empty-handed


In Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza Casino and Hotel sets abandoned.  Not far away is the old Trump Marina Hotel Casino, which was sold at a huge loss.  Down the boardwalk is the Trump Taj Mahal, that filed for bankruptcy in 2009.  The new management canceled workers’ health insurance and pensions.

Trump is allegedly a fantastic businessman.  His excuse for those failures is that Atlantic City went downhill, and it’s not his fault.  His businesses were failing before the rest of Atlantic City began struggling.  In fact, other businesses did poorly, because his bad decisions hurt the whole city.

Trump’s companies ran up hundreds of millions of dollars of debt.  He borrowed at high interest rates, and defaulted on loans four times.  Regarding one of those bankruptcies, Trump said: “I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mine.  What the hell did I care?”  He repeatedly defaulted and he knew, that others would be left empty-handed while he kept his plane, helicopter, and penthouse.

He convinced people that his Atlantic City properties were a great investments, and they invest their money.  But, he had arranged, that he’d get paid, no matter how those companies performed.  When a casino collapsed because of Trump’s poor management, hundreds of employees lost their jobs.  Shareholders, lenders, contractors, and small businesses took losses, and some went bankrupt.

Trump actually bragged: “Atlantic City was a very good cash cow for me for a long time... The money I took out of there was incredible.” 

Donald Trump has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past 30 years.  Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by ordinary Americans.  Painters, waiters, plumbers, and contractors didn’t get paid the money they had earned, not because Trump couldn’t pay, but because he wouldn’t pay.  Hundreds of liens have been filed against him, that go back decades.  They all told the same story: “I worked for him, I did my job, he wouldn’t pay me what he owed me.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Zika Virus


Recently, I received the following e-mail from Senator Chuck Schumer.
“Senate Republicans are failing to protect Americans' safety -- again.
“My Republican colleagues are stalling yet another bill that would provide funding to one of the most critical public health crises of our time: The Zika virus.
“They're playing the worst kind of politics: First, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to provide funding to combat Zika, but when it came time to work with the House, the GOP turned and inserted measures to cut funding for the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood at a time when access to healthcare should be a priority.
“All this while hundreds of United States citizens have been infected by the virus. I'm fed up.  This bait and switch is politics at its worst, and we can't let it stand.
“We don't have time to beat around this issue. Summer is in full swing, and mosquitoes are more prevalent than ever.  This is no time to stand between Americans and a cure for Zika.
“And, yet, Senate Republicans are choosing to play politics with women's healthcare rather than protect the hundreds of pregnant women who could be infected with this dangerous virus.  I shouldn't be surprised by Senate Republicans' inaction anymore, but this is really too much.
“We owe the American people more than senseless political games.  We owe them real solutions to real problems.”
***** 
This is what Americans will continue to get until they stop voting for Republican candidates.  In our political system we get what we deserve, because irrational, misinformed conservative Republican voters seem to out number compassionate, reasonable Democratic voters on election day in most states. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Makes No Sense


The Obama administration has made sure, that our economy works for everybody by strengthening and not weakening the rules that were designed to keep Wall Street in check.  He has also gone after those who avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
After our biggest banks were bailed out in 2007, President Obama made sure that they paid back every dime with interest.  Congressional Democrats had passed the toughest Wall Street reforms in history to make sure our government wouldn’t need to do that again.  Today, the biggest banks have to carry twice the amount of capital than they did before the banking crisis.  Our executive branch of government has been provided with new tools to guard against another “too big to fail” situation.
A new consumer watchdog agency is in place, that has already secured more than $10 billion for families who were cheated by irresponsible lending or irresponsible credit card practices.
Ever since those laws were passed, the big banks, and congressional Republicans have teamed up to try to roll back those rules.  The idea that citizens, who care about our economy would vote for a presidential or congressional candidate, who wants to roll back the rules, that were put in place to prevent another economic recession makes no sense.
The Obama administration has been cracking down on tax loopholes, like the ones that allow corporations to change their addresses, and claim that they’re an overseas company, so that they don’t have to pay taxes.  Our government has also cracked down on tax cheats who try to hide their wealth in offshore accounts in order to avoid paying taxes.
Congressional Republicans have opposed President Obama’s efforts to close those loopholes.  When tax cheats don’t pay their fair share in taxes, it means you’ll eventually be paying more. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Level Playing Field

The way to build an economy that work for everybody is to make sure trade deals works for us and not against us.  Isolating ourselves from other countries isn’t going to improve our economy.  And, tough talk that doesn’t mean anything isn’t going to make a difference.  What will make a difference is making sure that other countries raise their labor and environmental standards to levels that we set.  That’s what the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was designed to accomplish.  If you don’t like NAFTA, the TPP trade deal would overhauls NAFTA with enforceable, as well as, much stronger labor and environmental standards.  That means foreign competition won’t undercut us as easily.

China wants to set the rules for the 21st century.  The choice for voters and members of Congress is simple.  If you want to allow China to set the rules, don’t pass the TPP trade deal that the Obama administration negotiated.   But, if voters and members of Congress want to improve our economy, TPP needs to be pass.  The deal would cut taxes that other countries put on our products.  It would raises other countries’ standards to ours.  It would help middle-class families, by securing better wages for our workers.  When our workers compete on a level playing field, they’ll win.
After the financial crisis, Democrats passed the toughest Wall Street reforms in history.  Trump said that he’d dismantle all those rules that were passed and signed into law.  Less oversight on Wall Street would only make another crisis more likely.  Letting credit card companies write their own rules would hurt working families.  It wouldn’t make the middle class more secure.  How can candidates for President or Congress win an election, when they intend to dismantle rules that level the playing field for the middle class?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Exceptional


Hillary Clinton is proud to run on her record, because the choice before American people voters is clear.  She understands the value of strong alliances, clarity in dealing with our rivals, and a commitment to those values that made America great.  If America doesn’t lead, we leave a vacuum that will either cause chaos, or allow a country like China to fill the void.  Should China become the one making decisions about trade deals, our economy won’t benefit from those deals.

Some of the important things our next President must do to secure American leadership; and keep our economy growing in the years ahead are in areas in which Clinton and Trump strongly disagree. 

Clinton insists that we need to be strong at home.  That will require investing in infrastructure, education and innovation, which are the fundamentals of a strong economy.  We need to reduce income inequality, because our country can’t lead effectively when so many are struggling to provide the basics for their families.  And, we need to break down the barriers that hold Americans back, including barriers of bigotry and discrimination.

Trump’s economic plans would add more than $30 trillion to our national debt over the next 20 years.  He has a lot of ideas about who to blame, but no clue about what to do about it.  Nothing of what Trump has suggested would make America stronger, or solve our problems. 

Hillary recognizes that we must maintain our network of allies, because it’s an important part of what makes us exceptional.  Our armed forces fight terrorists together, and our diplomats work side by side.  Allies provide staging areas for our military, so we can respond quickly to events on the other side of the world, and share intelligence that helps us identify and defuse potential threats.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Choice Between


When people don’t pay their fair share of taxes, it means either you’ll pay more, or that government doesn’t have enough revenue to support rebuilding, and funding public universities.  Tuition will go up and you’ll have to figure out how to pay for a college education.
Some of the savings from wealthy people paying their fair share in taxes could be used to give tax breaks to working families to pay for child care, send their child to college, or parents saving for retirement.
If Republicans in Congress actually want a stronger middle class, our tax code should be designed to reflect that goal.  During President Obama’s first term in office, taxes were cut by $3,600 for the typical middle-class family.  Middle-class families have paid lower federal income tax rates during his presidency than at any time since the 1950s.
Republican propaganda regarding big-spending, liberal, tax-and-spend Democrats is not true.  In fact, the wealthiest Americans are still paying far lower rates than they have in the past.
When Obama ran for office, he promised to reverse the tax cuts that President George W. Bush put in place for wealthy individuals and he did.  Nevertheless, the top 1 percent are doing better.
Donald Trump’s tax plan would give the top one-tenth of 1 percent a bigger tax cut than the 120 million American households at the bottom.  It would explode our deficits by nearly $10 trillion.  That won’t bring jobs back, and it certainly isn’t fighting for the middle class.
Voters have a choice between more or less inequality.  The choice is between stacking the deck in favor of those, who are doing great or making sure everybody has a chance to succeed.  That’s the economic choice voters will have to make.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Senseless Killing


I’ve received the following e-mail from Hillary Clinton.
“Like so many people across America, I have been following the news of the past few days with horror and grief.

“On Tuesday, Alton Sterling, father of five, was killed in Baton Rouge -- approached by the police for selling CDs outside a convenience store.  On Wednesday, Philando Castile, 32 years old, was killed outside Minneapolis -- pulled over by the police for a broken tail light.

“And last night in Dallas, during a peaceful protest related to those killings, a sniper targeted police officers -- five have died: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens. Their names, too, will be written on our hearts.

“What can one say about events like these?  It’s hard to know where to start. For now, let’s focus on what we already know, deep in our hearts: There is something wrong in our country.

“There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing, too many people dead who shouldn’t be.  No one has all the answers.  We have to find them together.  Indeed, that is the only way we can find them.

“Let’s begin with something simple but vital: listening to each other.

“White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about seen and unseen barriers faced daily.  We need to try, as best we can, to walk in one another’s shoes.  To imagine what it would be like if people followed us around stores, or locked their car doors when we walked past, or if every time our children went to play in the park, or just to the store to buy iced tea and Skittles, we said a prayer: ‘Please God, don’t let anything happen to my baby.’
“Let’s also put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous job we need them to do.  Remember what those officers in Dallas were doing when they died: They were protecting a peaceful march.  When gunfire broke out and everyone ran to safety, the police officers ran the other way -- into the gunfire.  That’s the kind of courage our police and first responders show all across America.

“We need to ask ourselves every single day: What can I do to stop violence and promote justice?  How can I show that your life matters -- that we have a stake in another’s safety and well-being?

“Elie Wiesel once said that ‘the opposite of love is not hate -- it’s indifference.  And the opposite of life is not death -- it’s indifference.’

“None of us can afford to be indifferent toward each other -- not now, not ever.  We have a lot of work to do, and we don’t have a moment to lose. People are crying out for criminal justice reform.  People are also crying out for relief from gun violence.  The families of the lost are trying to tell us.  We need to listen.  We need to act.

“I know that, just by saying all these things together, I may upset some people.

“I’m talking about criminal justice reform the day after a horrific attack on police officers.  I’m talking about courageous, honorable police officers just a few days after officer-involved killings in Louisiana and Minnesota.  I’m bringing up guns in a country where merely talking about comprehensive background checks, limits on assault weapons and the size of ammunition clips gets you demonized.

“But all these things can be true at once.

“We do need police and criminal justice reforms, to save lives and make sure all Americans are treated as equal in rights and dignity.

“We do need to support police departments and stand up for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.

“We do need to reduce gun violence.

“We may disagree about how, but surely we can all agree with those basic premises.  Surely this week showed us how true they are.

“I’ve been thinking today about a passage from Scripture that means a great deal to me -- maybe you know it, too:

‘Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.’

“There is good work for us to do, to find a path ahead for all God’s children. There are lost lives to redeem and bright futures to claim.  We must not lose heart.

“May the memory of those we’ve lost light our way toward the future our children deserve.”

Friday, July 08, 2016

Proving Criminal Intent


FBI Director James Comey decided that he wouldn’t recommend charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of private email servers while secretary of state, thereby removing a huge shadow hovering over her presidential campaign.
Before delivering a stern lecture to Clinton and her State Department colleagues during her tenure as top U.S. diplomat between 2009 and 2013, Comey make it clear that the White House and the Justice Department: "do not know what I am about to say."
He then pointed out that the investigation examined whether Clinton or her aides had mishandled classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way.  Their conclusion was: "Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.  Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."
Comey criticism of Clinton's conduct offered her political enemies a trove of fresh ammunition for their assault on her character, honesty and trustworthiness, but he also noted, that a criminal intent couldn’t be proven.
Comey's decision not to recommend charges likely removes the threat of prosecution in the middle of Clinton's campaign for the presidency, but the political fallout will continue.
He said of the 30,000 emails that Clinton's team turned over to the State Department, 110 emails in 52 email chains were determined to have contained classified information "at the time they were sent or received.  Eight of those chains contained information considered "top secret," the highest level of classification.
FBI Director Comey conclude: "We believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence that there was no intentional misconduct in relation to that sorting effort."
He added that while the FBI could find no direct evidence of an intrusion into Clinton's server by hostile foreign governments: "It is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's email account.
“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.
"This investigation was done honestly, competently and independently.  No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.  We did our investigation the right way.  Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way."

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Underlying Cause


The House Select Committee on Benghazi released a report that found no evidence of wrong doing by Hillary Clinton.
The House voted to create the Select Committee after Republicans were frustrated that even their own GOP-led committees failed to find wrongdoing in the events surrounding the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
Former House Majority Kevin McCarthy admitted that the email revelation was a political coup for the GOP, and caused trouble for Clinton on the campaign trail.  It also sparked an FBI probe over her handling of classified data.  That report lacks any reference to clearly classified material on her email server, which could be a sign that there isn’t a chance that any prosecution could stem from her email arrangement.
Democrats have repeatedly accused the GOP of using their committees as a partisan crusade aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton in the presidential election and firing up the GOP’s misinformed base.

Former committee investigator, Major Bradley Podliska accused the Republican led panel of carrying out a politically motivated investigation targeting Clinton instead of an objective fact-finding mission it was set up to pursue.

Dr. Anne Stevens the sister of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in Benghazi doesn't blame Hillary Clinton for her brother’s death.  She instead pointed to Congress for under-budgeting the State Department.
Dr. Stevens explain:"I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta.  They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world.  But, what was the underlying cause?

“Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted. Certainly the State Department is under-budgeted.  I would love to hear they are drastically increasing the budget."

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Perfect Suckers


On 6/28/16, Jeet Heer, who is a senior editor at the New Republic wrote an article entitled: “Conservatives Have Groomed the Perfect Suckers for Trump’s Epic Scam.”  The following is an excerpt from that article. 

“In 2000, Donald Trump boldly told Fortune magazine, ‘It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.’  Sixteen years later, he’s structured an entire presidential campaign around making good on that boast.  While Trump is turning out to be a disaster for the Republican Party, the real estate magnate is pretty much guaranteed to come out richer.  That was the plan all along.  And conservative voters, conditioned by decades of right-wing politicians and media exploiting and enhancing their gullibility, make the perfect victims for his ruse. 

“Not so long ago, in the days before Marco Rubio endorsed Trump, the Florida senator called him a ‘con artist.’  It’s hard to imagine how anyone could dispute Rubio’s evaluation.  The operations of Trump University alone paint the convincing portrait of a swindler.  Yet the deeper question is how such an obvious mountebank could win the majority of a major party’s delegates.  Is there something in the nature of the Republican Party and its conservative base that made them particularly vulnerable to Trump’s deceptions?

“Trump continues to baffle pundits and politicians alike, because most can’t yet bring themselves to believe that the presumptive presidential nominee of a major party is running a Potemkin campaign—an elaborate ruse that looks like one thing but is actually another.  But there is no other way to make sense of Trump’s bizarre campaign—his amateur-hour fundraising, his spending nearly 20 percent of his meager campaign funds on businesses owned either by himself or his family, his refusal to run ads in swing states.

“Is there something in the nature of the Republican Party and its conservative base that made them particularly vulnerable to Trump’s “scampaign”?

“Republican strategist and Never Trump stalwart Rick Wilson hit upon the perfect coinage when he described Trump as running a “scampaign.”  It’s not that Trump doesn’t want to be president. 

“It’s that the real objective, win or lose, is relaunching his lucrative brand.  In recent years, Trump was getting diminishing returns with his main reality-show career, with The Apprentice facing dwindling ratings despite Trump’s false claim that it was the number-one show on TV.  So his move to politics was a way of revitalizing his celebrity and opening up a new revenue stream.”

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Filling in the Gaps


Over 16.4 million people have gained quality and affordable health care coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2012.  That number includes those young adults under 26 who are able to stay on their parents plan.  Part of what Obamacare was designed to accomplish was to fill in the gaps so that if you lost your job, went back to school, or decided to start a new business, you could compare prices, purchase coverage and get a tax credit for it. 
Congress needs fewer representatives in Congress, who repeatedly side with special interests.  Our country needs more members in Congress, who are willing to work with the White House to lower health care costs, provide the funding needed to fight public health challenges like the Zika virus and the opioid epidemic.  Accomplishing those kind of things would relieve a lot of worry for a lot of families.
Retirement security is another issue that needs to be dealt with by Congress.  President Obama has already taken actions to make it easier for more workers to save through their jobs, and to ensured that when they do save, they’re getting advice that’s not in Wall Street’s best interest, but in their best interest.
Unfortunately, many Americans don’t have any retirement savings.  Even if they’ve set up a retirement account, they often don’t have enough money at the end of the month to save as much as they’d like, because they’re barely paying their bills.  Fewer people have pensions, that they can count on, which is the reason Social Security has become more important than ever. 
Our representatives in Congress must insist that our wealthiest Americans contribute more money to Social Security.  That would provide more generous benefits so that future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned.  

Monday, July 04, 2016

Significant Decision


On 6/27/16, the Supreme Court reaffirmed and strengthened constitutional protections for abortion rights, by striking down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have drastically reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state, and would have result in leaving clinics open only in the largest metropolitan areas.

The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, which reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade.

The decision found that Texas’ restrictions that required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers violated Casey’s prohibition against placing an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.  This decision is the most significant decision from the Supreme Court on abortion in two decades and could serve to deter other states from passing so-called clinic shutdown laws.

The Supreme Court expanded a woman’s right to an abortion, which means that 20 similar requirements in other states are likely also unconstitutional, and imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.  The decision concerned two parts of a law that imposed strict requirements on abortion providers in Texas signed into law in July 2013 by Governor Rick Perry.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, which was joined in full by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the swing vote on the abortion issue.

Breyer wrote: "There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure.  We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an undue burden on their constitutional right to do so.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Breyer’s opinion by writing: "When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety."

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the majority opinion.   Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

The court has had only eight justices after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February, because Senate Republicans have refused to act on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.