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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Investing in our Future


Hillary Clinton would invest in infrastructure, clean energy, and scientific and medical research in order to to create more higher paying jobs and strengthen our economy.  She’s committed to scientific research to create entire new industries.  Investing $10 billion in “Make it in America” partnerships would serve to further revitalize American manufacturing.  

Investments would be made in a more resilient power grid that would provide enough renewable energy to power every home.  We invent the technology, and we should be using and exporting it. 

She’d expand incentives like the New Markets Tax Credit that can bring business, government, and communities together to create good jobs in places that have been left behind, such as the neglected neighborhoods in our cities, coal country, Native American communities, rural areas ravaged by addiction, and those industrial regions that lost jobs, when factories closed during the recession.  And, she’ll urge Congress to provide funding to repair schools and water systems in “Rust Belt” cities.

Over 5 million children live in homes, that don’t have access to the internet.  Clinton wants every household in America to be connected to broadband by the year 2020.  She believes, that if we want to do something about the achievement gap, we have with other advanced countries, we should start by helping children be able to do homework assignments by using the internet.

She has promised a major push to empower small businesses and entrepreneurs, with national initiatives to cut red tape at every level and expand access to credit, especially through community banks and credit unions.  She’ll propose a new plan to simplify tax filing for small businesses.  Presently, the smallest businesses spend 20 times more per employee to prepare their taxes compared to larger companies, which should be as easy as printing out a bank statement.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dan Rather


On Facebook, former CBS Evening News anchor, Dan Rather responded passionately after Donald Trump implied that people with guns could stop Hillary Clinton as president from appointing anti-gun judges.

He wrote: "When he suggested that ‘The Second Amendment People’ can stop Hillary Clinton he crossed a line with dangerous potential.”  By any objective analysis, this is a new low an unprecedented in the history of American presidential politics.  This is no longer about policy, civility, decency or even temperament.  This is a direct threat of violence against a political rival.  It is not just against the norms of American politics, it raises a serious question of whether it is against the law.  If any other citizen had said this about a Presidential candidate, would the Secret Service be investigating?"

Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller claimed: “It’s called the power of unification; 2nd Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power.  And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump”

Rather responded: "Candidate Trump will undoubtedly issue an explanation; some of his surrogates are already engaged in trying to gloss it over, but once the words are out there they cannot be taken back.  That is what inciting violence means.  To anyone who still pretends this is a normal election of Republican against Democrat, history is watching.  And I suspect its verdict will be harsh."

Dan Rather conclude by quoting from Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address: "We are not enemies, but friends.  We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.  The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Monday, August 29, 2016

Back to Work


Hillary Clinton is the daughter of a small-business owner and the granddaughter of a Scranton, Pennsylvania factory worker.  Her mission in the White House will be to make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top.

Hillary will press Congress to make college tuition-free for the middle class.  She’ll push to free millions of people who already have student debt by making it easier to refinance and repay what they owe as a portion of their income.

She believes that every family should be able to tell their children, that if they work hard, they’ll be able to give their children the opportunities they deserve.

Voters need to ask themselves the following four questions:
1. Which candidate has a specific plan to create good-paying jobs?
2. Which candidate will restore fairness to our economy and ensure that those at the top pay their fair share of taxes?
3. Which candidate will fight for working families?  
4. Which, candidate will be able to bring members of Congress together to deliver results that will make a difference in their lives?

Economic experts predict that Trump’s agenda would pull our economy back into recession.  Trump’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, initiate a trade war with China, and deport undocumented immigrant consumer, which would result in the loss of 3.4 million jobs.  Reportedly, Hillary Clinton’s economic plan would create more than 10 million new jobs.

Hillary believes that every American willing to work hard should be able to find a job that provides dignity, pride and decent pay that can support a family.  Her plan begins by putting Americans to work building and modernizing roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, ports, and airports.  Today, most of our infrastructure investments were made by our grandparents’ generations.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bigot


Donald Trump claimed: “Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.  She doesn't care what her policies have done to your communities.  She has no remorse.  She's going to do nothing for Hispanics and African-Americans.”
Clinton responded to Trump’s allegations by arguing that fringe elements have taken over the Republican Party.
She explained: “From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.  He's taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.  His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.

“A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far reaches of the Internet, should never run our government or command our military.  Ask yourself: If he doesn't respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

Hillary Clinton pointed out, that Trump is linked to the ‘alt-right,’ an informal group of mostly white conservative men aligned with the Republican Party that sees Trump as the only choice in 2016.  The "alt-right" lives primarily online, regularly pushing racist, homophobic and sexist content.  Trump has been embraced by the fringe groups, in part because he tapped Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, as the CEO of his campaign.  Bannon has boasted that his former publication is “the platform of the alt-right.”

Clinton also noted:"All of this adds up to something we've never seen before.  Of course there's always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment.  But it's never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone.  Until now.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Autopsy


The following is an excerpt from a weekly column by the editor of the Oneonta Daily Star, Sam Pollak.
“The GOP still holds most of the governorships, controls most of the statehouses, will probably still have enough senators to filibuster any bill it dislikes, and thanks to some clever gerrymandering, is likely to retain a majority in the House of Representatives.
“Combine that with the fact that Democrats generally cannot be bothered to vote in off-year elections.  With more Senate seats to defend than the GOP in 2018, a Democratic majority will likely last only two years.
“Republicans, you’ll be more than OK.  Unless, of course, you want to elect a Republican president.
“What that would take would be overcoming the Democrats’ natural advantage in the electoral college, getting back to the traditional Republican values of lower taxes, strong defense, fiscal responsibility and small government, and most importantly, following your own advice.
“That advice came after Barack Obama took Mitt Romney’s lunch money in 2012.  The wise men and women of the Republican Party did a report — they called it an ‘autopsy’ of the election. 
“Those smart people sifted through the rubble of a massive electoral college defeat and came to 100 pages of conclusions, including these: ‘Among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, must be to embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,’ the report read.  ‘If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.’
“Then, during 2015 and 2016, GOP presidential hopefuls fought to see who would be the most anti-immigration of the bunch.  Trump took the title by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.
“By the year 2050 we’ll be a majority-minority country and in both 2008 and 2012 President Obama won a combined 80 percent of the votes of all minority groups,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a press conference for the report.  ‘The RNC cannot and will not write off any demographic or community or region of this country.’
“Then, of course, Trump did just that.  He’s polling at about 1 percent support among African-Americans.  ‘Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be,’ the report said.
“Trump has come out against marriage equality.  The report also recommended an outreach to women voters.  Trump’s boorish, vulgar comments about various women have many females flocking to Clinton.”

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Founding of ISIS


Recently, Donald Trump claimed on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, that President Barack Obama deserves the blame for the Muslim terror group's rise because of the US military withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which left a power vacuum for a Sunni Muslim terrorist group to exploit.
In Iraq, the problem is 60 percent of the population of Iraq are Shiite, 20 percent Sunnis and 20 percent Kurds.  The Sunni population doesn’t want to be ruled by the Shiite majority, and Shiites don’t want to be ruled by ISIS, who are former Saddamists.

In 2010, Iraqi Shiite politicians refused to grant our troops immunity from prosecution.  Iraq’s Prime Minister Abadi, who is also a Shiite didn’t want our combat troops in Iraq.  However, he still wants our military to continue airstrikes against ISIS. 

Republicans remain critical of Obama’s withdrawal plan from Iraq and seem oblivious to the fact that the withdrawal plan was put in place by George Bush.  A Status of Forces Agreement was agreed to by Bush and the Iraqi government, who required, that it be approved by the Iraqi parliament.  Our Congress was never consulted.  Bush signed a deal requiring our combat troops to be out by 2011.  And, congressional Republicans did not complained when he signed it.

ISIS can be traced back to 2004, when Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi became a major player in the insurgency against American led forces that had toppled Saddam Hussein.  They were also against the Shiite-dominated government that eventually replaced Hussein.

In 2006, members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, infiltrated a thousand-year-old sacred Shiite site in Samarra.  They planted bombs that destroyed the famous gilded dome al-Askari Mosque.  Those terrorist morphed into ISIS, and their savage act of religious vandalism started Iraq’s slide into a civil war.  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Harming America


The Oneonta Daily Star recently published the following letter to the editor, that was submitted by Andrew Reinbach of Burlington, N.Y. 
“There are clearly people who insist that Donald Trump should be the next president of the United States.  And they seem delighted that he is getting under the left’s skin.
“It’s not so much that Trump is getting under ‘the left’s’ skin.  It’s just that most Americans believe that Russian agents, unwitting or otherwise, have no business running for POTUS, and Michael Morrell, the former head of the CIA and a political independent, says Donald Trump is an unwitting Russian agent.
“Likewise, most Americans usually listen when 50 retired members of our national security apparatus — all Republicans — say electing Donald would put the United States in serious danger.
“We believe that the president of the United States should honor his oath of office and ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’  Donald Trump, on the other hand, keeps promising he won’t do that.
“We don’t think a candidate for POTUS should be the business partner of a man named Felix Satter, a man convicted of felony stock fraud in the U.S., did time for driving a broken wine glass stem into a man’s face, and was accused by American diplomats of laundering funds for Iran.
“We don’t think a candidate for POTUS should have been either found guilty of, or settled claims of, being dishonest 236 times — one every other month for 30 years.
“And we think that no candidate for POTUS is special, and, like every candidate since Richard Nixon, should show us his or her taxes and detailed medical reports.  Mr. Trump says he can’t release his taxes because he’s under audit, but that didn’t stop Richard Nixon.
“In short, people supporting Donald Trump are trying to harm the United States, whether or not they realize it.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hillary’s Economic Plan


The top 1 percent are defined as households making more than $730,000 a year.  Reportedly, the top 1 percent of households would see their taxes go up by more than $78,000 on average under Hillary Clinton’s economic plan.  The plan would require that the top 1 percent pay more than three-quarters of tax increases, and the majority of tax filers would see little change in their after-tax income.

Clinton’s tax plan would reduce deficits in the first decade by $1.1 trillion and by another $2.1 trillion in the following decade.

She would impose the so-called Buffett Rule, that requires those with adjusted gross incomes over $1 million to pay a minimum of 30 percent of their income in taxes.  Furthermore, the plan would impose a 4 percent surcharge on adjusted gross income over $5 million.

Clinton’s plan would limit the value of certain deductions and exclusions to 28 percent.  Thereby, reducing the benefit of tax breaks for anyone in tax brackets higher than 28 percent.

Individually and combined those measures would make figuring one's tax liability harder.  For instance, filers would need to compare their tax bill under both the regular code and the Alternative Minimum Tax to what they would owe under the Buffett Rule, and pay whichever is highest.

Capital gains are a major source of wealth for very high-income filers, who make more than $400,000.  Under today's tax code, they pay a 20 percent tax on realized gains from investments held more than a year.  Clinton would preserve that rate, but only for investments held at least six years.  Under her plan, realized gains on investments held less than six years would be taxed on a sliding scale.  The top capital gains tax rate would then fall by about 4 percentage points each year thereafter until it reaches 20 percent in year six.

Clinton’s plan would require so-called carried interest to be taxed as ordinary income.  Carried interest is a portion of investment profits paid to managers of hedge funds, venture capital funds, and other private equity funds.

Money and assets left to heirs would be taxed more heavily if they come from larger estate.  Estates worth more than $3.5 million ($7 million for married couples.)  Hillary Clinton’s plan would also raise the top estate tax rate to 45 percent from 40 percent.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wealth Distribution


The wealthiest 10 percent control three-quarters of all family wealth in America.  The wealth of those families totaled $67 trillion in 2013.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the top 10 percent of those families, who had at least $942,000, held 76 percent of total wealth.  The average amount of wealth in top 10 percent was $4 million.

Everyone else in the top 50 percent of the most wealthy families held an average of $316,000 per family.  That leaves just 1 percent for the entire bottom half of America’s population.

For families in the bottom half, the average amount of wealth held was $36,000.  However, if a family fell into the bottom quarter of that group, they had zero wealth.  On average they were $13,000 in debt.

Wealth was higher for households headed by someone 65 or older.  Median wealth for those families was $211,000, or almost three and a half times higher than the median for households run by someone 35 to 49.

Families run by adults with college degrees, had a median wealth of $202,000, or nearly four times that of families headed by someone who only had a high school diploma.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis looked at what it called "marketable wealth," which are assets that are easily traded and have value after someone's death (e.g., real estate, stocks, bank accounts, 401(k)s and equity in a business).  From those assets it subtracted non-mortgage debt (e.g., credit cards, auto and student loans).

Most political discussion focus on income inequality.  Although, income is important it’s not the only part of the wealth equation.  The recession from 2007 to 2009, hit investment and real estate values as well as jobs, thereby taking a bite out of everyone's wealth.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Politically Motivated


Benghazi had already been investigated by four House committees, and three Senate committees, before the House Select Committee Investigation on Benghazi began.

Today, that committee’s investigation is the lengthiest investigation in congressional history, ans it’s staff of 18 people were paid an average of $128,000 apiece.

Former committee investigator, Major Bradley Podliska alleged 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.

Chairman Gowdy claimed that our military didn’t mount an armed response.  However, former Secretary of Defense Panetta explained in 2013 that our military didn’t rush to Benghazi because they couldn’t get there in time.

Last November, Republican members of the House Select Committee interrogated Hillary for 11 hours, before releasing a report that found no evidence of wrongdoing by the former Secretary of State.

Career counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke served under four presidents beginning as an analyst on nuclear weapons under Reagan.  He established a record for continuous service in national security policy positions.

Regarding the House Select Committee, Clarke said: “This has been completely examined many times.  And we shouldn’t even dignify this with pretending that it’s a serious effort.  The fact of the matter is everyone in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, knows this is a political stunt, and that’s all that it is.  It’s a political stunt using the lives of dead Americans, and there’s no reason in my mind to give the Republicans or anybody who says that this is serious any credibility whatsoever.  Just call it for what it is.” 

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.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Defense of Freedom


The following is a recent letter to the editor of The Oneonta Daily Star, that Duncan Smith submitted. 
“I wonder, if you are not politically correct, are you politically incorrect? And if it is vital to add the phrase ‘Radical Islamic’ to the term ‘Terrorists,’ shouldn’t we also be careful to use ‘Radical Christian Terrorists’ when speaking of groups like the KKK or the Aryan Nation?  I mean, how can we defeat them if we avoid naming them?
“And, ah, the ‘rigged’ system.  Donald Trump is already crying foul.  Or is he just crying?  Here is a man who knows a rigged system when he sees it because he has enjoyed the fruits of one all his life — born white, male, rich and well-connected.  I am sure a lot of African- and native-Americans laugh, or cry, when they hear him claim that what he thinks should be his birthright is being stolen from him.
“Remember, in our framing documents, African slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of allotting states their number of representatives.  You read that, didn’t you, Donald?  And, of course, slave states used that enhanced power to protect their ‘investment.’  After Emancipation, Jim Crow laws and intimidation continued for decades to rig the system in favor of European-Americans.  Rigged, rigged and rigged again.
“Our history is plagued by like policies intended to keep wealthy white males in positions of power.  When the Donald makes the demonstrably false statement that removing laws aimed at limiting the vote of people he thinks don’t like him will result in a flood of illegal votes, he demonstrates that he wants to continue a system rigged in his favor.
“Defense of freedom requires us to check power in ways that produce balance, not unfairly tip the scales.  And that includes being sure the Second Amendment is not used to trump the First.  Just say’n.” 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Path to Citizenship


Illegal immigrants do not represent an assault on our sovereignty.  If that were true, it would be the first time in world history that a country employed its invaders.
According to reputable economists a path to citizenship for over 11 million illegal immigrants would ensure that our economy would continue to grow.  
Voters need to realize that immigration reform should be based upon the views of economists and nonpartisan academic researchers, and not partisan propagandist.  Comprehensive immigration reform would level the playing field so that American workers wouldn't be taken advantage of, by undocumented workers, who are being exploited by employers.
Millions of undocumented people are contributing to our economy, and paying $12 billion a year into Social Security.  By passing immigration reform, our government would stimulate new income, that would continue to grow our economy.
The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration reports that undocumented workers contributed nearly $300 billion to the Social Security Trust Fund.
Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz noted: “Alexis de Tocqueville described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called ‘self-interest properly understood.’  The last two words were the key.  Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now!  Self-interest ‘properly understood’ is different.  It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being.  Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite.  It was a mark of American pragmatism.  Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Economics 101


Which candidate for president has already established a record of help working families?  

The answer to that question is Hillary Rodham, who began by working for the Children’s Defense Fund, by going door-to-door to make sure, that children with disabilities would get a quality education.  As our First Lady, Hillary Clinton worked with Congress to push through a Children’s Health  Insurance Program that continues to protect millions of children.  And, although, she was unsuccessful, she tried to get Congress to pass national healthcare reform starting in 1993.  

Recently, she has supported raising a federal minimum wage, because it would enable low-income families to spend more at businesses in their neighborhoods.  

Hillary recognizes that in the 21st century, women are often the sole or primary breadwinner in an increasing number of families.  Our government should make it easier for working parents, and caregivers to succeed.

Today, she wants Congress to make quality, affordable childcare available to all Americans and limit the costs to 10 percent of the family income.

Clinton wants Congress to act, by expanding Child Tax Credit to provide relief to tens of millions of working families, who are struggling with the costs of raising children.  Guaranteeing equal pay for women won’t just increase their paychecks it’ll boost family budgets.  Paid family leave will keep skilled, talented Americans in the workforce.  Those are the reason every other advanced country does it.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry Ford understood that paying his autoworkers the unprecedented sum of $5 a day would enable them to buy the cars that they build.

In 2012, billionaire venture capitalist, Nick Hanauer explained: “If there was no one around who could afford to buy what we had to sell, all those companies and all those jobs would have evaporated.” 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trump’s Tax Plan


Donald Trump’s tax plan would give trillions in tax cuts to big corporations, millionaires, and Wall Street money managers.  Resulting is our national debt exploding, and eventually lead to massive cuts in priorities like education, healthcare, and environmental protection.
Trump’s plan would allow him to pay less than half the current tax rate on income from many of his companies.  He’d pay a lower rate than millions of middle class families.  An expert at the Tax Policy Center described Trump’s plan as: ‘a really nice deal for Donald Trump.’
Although for decades other presidential candidates have released their tax returns, Trump refuses to release his.  Consequently, exactly how nice a deal it would amount to is hard to determine.
We do know that the 400 richest taxpayers in America would get an average tax cut of more than $15 million a year from Trump’s tax loophole.
There’s also the issue of the Estate Tax, which Trump wants to completely eliminate.  If we take his word for how wealthy he is, getting rid of the Estate Tax would save the Trump family $4 billion.  
On May 4, 2005, Lou Dobbs interviewed billionaire Warren Buffett, who at that time was the second wealthiest man in the world.  Buffett noted: "The rich are winning.  Just take the estate tax, less than 2 percent of all the estates pay any estate tax.  We raise $ 30 billion from estate taxes.  I would like to hear a Congressman say who they are going to get the $ 30 billion from if they don't get it from estate taxes.  It's nice to say wipe out this tax, but we're running a huge deficit, so who does the $ 30 billion come from?"
Fortunately, most very successful millionaires are not "carnival barkers" like Donald Trump.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Truth Matters


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported our economy added 255,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate is 4.9 percent.  Jobs growth under the Obama administration reached a record of 70 consecutive months.
At the end of Bush administration the wealth of most American families declined at a rate nearly seven times faster than when the stock market crashed in 1929.  Home foreclosures numbered in the millions.  Deficits were soaring because hardworking Americans, who had been paying taxes were suddenly unemployed.
We lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008.  An additional 700,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in.  Twenty-four days after Obama took office the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed, without a single Republican vote in the House and only 3 Republican votes in the Senate.  That legislation prevented a devastating financial crisis from getting worse and turned the economy from contraction to expansion.
After the worst recession in 80 years, our deficits have come down, 401(k)s have recover, our auto industry has had record sales, unemployment reached an eight-year low, and private sector businesses created 15 million new jobs.
Maine’s Senator Susan Collins was one of the 3 Republican, who in 2009 helped the Democratic majority in the Senate to pass the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  She has been in the Senate since 1997, and recently announced that she isn’t going to vote for Donald Trump, because she finds him unsuitable for office: "based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics."
The Golden Rule requires that we treat others with respect. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” is shared by 21 of the world religion, but hypocrites throughout the world aren’t practicing what they preach.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Words Matter


Trump started a new controversy with remarks about the right to bear arms that were interpreted by many as a threat of violence against Hillary Clinton.
He said: "Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment.  By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks.  Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know.  But I tell you what, that will be horrible day, if Hillary gets to put her judges in, right now we're tied."

The Secret Service's communications director Cathy Milhoan confirmed "the U.S. Secret Service is aware of Mr. Trump's comments."

On CNN, a Secret Service official confirmed:"There has been more than one conversation"on the topic.  The Trump campaign declined to comment on what that Secret Service official had to say.
Trump claimed: "This is a political movement.  This is a strong political movement, the Second Amendment.  And there can be no other interpretation ... I mean, give me a break."
Hillary Clinton responded:"Words matter my friends, and if you are running to be president or you are president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences.  Yesterday we witnessed the latest in a long line of casual comments from Donald Trump that cross the line."
The former head of the CIA, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, told CNN's Jake Tapper: "If someone else had said that outside the hall, he'd be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.  You're not just responsible for what you say.  You are responsible for what people hear."

Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager explained: "What Trump is saying is dangerous.  A person seeking to the be president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way." 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Controversial Candidate


Criticism of  Donald Trump over the Khan controversy came swiftly, from his own party including McCain, whom Trump had derided for having been taken captive in the Vietnam War.  However, McCain, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan haven’t given any indication they’d withdraw their support for Trump.

Trump has also been criticized for appearing unaware that Russian forces had annexed Crimea in early 2014.  After being informed of that reality, he decided to argued that the people of Crimea "would rather be with Russia than where they were."  That same argument was used by Putin to justify his annexation of the disputed Ukrainian territory.

Trump claims that fostering better ties with Putin would benefit areas of American foreign policy, including the fight against ISIS.  He said: "If we could get along with Russia, wouldn't that be a good thing, instead of a bad thing?"

It would be a good thing.  Actually, it would also have been a good thing if FDR and Churchill had been able to get along with Hitler.

Trump was criticized for calling on Russia to release deleted emails from Clinton if they had obtained them in a hack of the Democratic National Committee.  

Although, federal officials said there is strong evidence indicating the breach was perpetrated by hackers working on behalf of Russia intelligence, President Obama explained that the FBI was still investigating the hack, and noted that cybersecurity was just one of a long list of disputes, between Putin and himself.

Obama's administration, through the Justice Department's national security division, continues to investigate the hack, but neither the White House nor the FBI have publicly blamed Russia for the intrusion.

Donald Trump dismissed accusations that Putin could be behind the hack in order to tip our presidential election in his favor.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Deliciously Ironic


The following excerpt was written by Eric Sasson, who frequently contributes to The Wall Street Journal. 

“They could have come out against Trump without backing Sworn Enemy Number One.  Susan Collins and John Kasich, for instance, are two notable Trump resisters who have not thrown their support behind Clinton. 

“These Republicans could have chosen to back a third-party candidate like Gary Johnson, or, if that wasn’t palatable, explain that they will be abstaining in the presidential race and voting Republican down-ticket. Endorsing Clinton is, for all intents and purposes, an admission that the progressive Democrat—the woman who has promised to build upon the Obama agenda, the ‘corrupt,’ ‘crooked,’ scandal­–plagued, Benghazi-lying former secretary of state—is the person they prefer to see as president.

“Supporting Clinton in the face of Trump may not be tantamount to endorsing all of her policy prescriptions, but it sure as hell is saying that she has a better vision for America.  By rejecting the leader of their party, these Republicans—whether they mean to or not—are rejecting what their party has become.  Perhaps they think that by defeating Trump resoundingly, they will be able to root out the extremists who have taken hold of their party.  This assumes there will even be a party for them to return to after Clinton wins—which she now looks likely to do, overwhelmingly—and not some drastic mutation they no longer care to be a part of.  

“There is something deliciously ironic about members of the Republican Party establishment, which for years has at least tacitly embraced all of the most vicious conspiracy theories about the Clintons and the Obamas, now turning to Clinton as their savior.  Where, one must ask, was their loyalty to country when right-wing media was running Vince Foster conspiracy stories and 24-7 Benghazi marathons?  What has made them decide that this is the moment they must finally speak up, and not, for instance, when Mitt Romney was getting Trump’s endorsement after he ran off at the mouth about Obama’s birth certificate?

“For decades, the right has caricatured Clinton as a power-hungry, corrupt she-devil.  The hyperbolic, conspiracy-tinged approach was applied to Obama as well, with Republicans maligning him as an illegitimate foreigner who was the worst president of their lifetimes (if not ever).  If all these accusations are true, shouldn’t Republicans be doing everything in their power to ensure an end to his reign?  Clinton may save them from Trump, but she won’t be saving them from the cementing of Obama’s legacy. 

“Perhaps, then, what these Trump defectors reveal to us is not the sacrifices they are making for the good of their country, but rather how hollow and disingenuous Republican hatred of Clinton really is.  One doesn’t endorse ‘Lucifer’ unless she’s not really all that bad—indeed, far better than the guy picked by your own party.

“How is it, then, that the Republicans have nominated their own greater of two evils?  Push a narrative long enough—keep feeding your base that their president is illegitimate and his would-be successor a crooked liar—and you can’t really be surprised that many of them believe Clinton really is the devil, someone who should be ‘locked up’ and ‘be put in front of a firing line and shot for treason.’  Just because party establishment types know to take the most extreme rhetoric of talk radio and right-wing media with a grain of salt, doesn’t mean the average Republican voter of 2016 does.”

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Judgement and Temperament


President Obama has publicly insisted: "The Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president, and he keeps on proving it."

Obama’s description of his feelings about Trump is unprecedented.  He recalled disagreements with previous GOP presidential nominees Sen. McCain and Mitt Romney, but he never had a sense, that those Republican nominees for president were unfit to serve.

Our Commander-in-Chief explained: "The notion that he would attack a Gold Star family that made such extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our country, the fact that he doesn't appear to have basic knowledge of critical issues in Europe, the Middle East, in Asia, means that he's woefully unprepared to do this job."

Obama has placed responsibility for Trump's statements squarely on his fellow Republicans.  Although, many Republicans have denounced Donald Trump’s statements regarding the slain Muslim soldier's family, they didn’t withdraw their support.

Obama asked the leadership of the Republican Party: “What does this say about your party that this is your standard-bearer?  This isn't a situation where you have an episodic gaffe.  This is daily and weekly where they are distancing themselves from statements he's making.  There has to be a point at which you say, 'This is not somebody I can support for president of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party.'”

"I don't doubt their sincerity.  I don't doubt they were outraged by some of the statements that Mr. Trump and his supporters made about the Khan family.  But there has to come a point in which you say, 'Somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn't have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world.'"

Trump’s responded: "He'll probably go down as the worst president in the history of our country."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Trump Offering Fear


Although, Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.”  Donald Trump has called it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix.  It doesn’t matter to the Republican nominee for President that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades.  Trump isn’t offering any solutions regarding those issues.  He tends to just offer slogans, and fear.  He wants to scares enough misinformed frightened voters, to win the election in November.   
If you are concerned about paying bills, and seeing the economy grow, by creating more opportunity, the choice is clearly Hillary Clinton.  If you want a president with a lifelong record of fighting for higher wages, better benefits, a fairer tax code, and stronger regulations on Wall Street, vote for Hillary Clinton.
If you’re concerned about, a Commander-in-Chief, who will keep your family safe in a dangerous world, the choice is again clear. Hillary Clinton is respected around the world, not just by world leaders, but by the people that serve those foreign leaders.
Many people outside of the United States have worked closely with Hillary on intelligence, diplomatic, and military teams.  They’ve been impressed by her judgment, experience and temperament to meet the threat of terrorism.  Those experiences are nothing new for Hillary.  Our troops have pounded ISIL without mercy, taking out their leaders, and taking back territory.  As Commander-in-Chief, Hillary won’t relent until ISIL is destroyed, and she’ll do it without resorting to torture, or banning entire religions from entering our country. 
On the other hand, Donald Trump has called our military a disaster.  He doesn’t have a clue about the thousands of men and women who make up the strongest fighting force the world has ever known.  He suggests America is weak, cozies up to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, and told our NATO allies, who stood by our side after 9/11 that they’ll have to pay up if they want our protection.
America’s commitments don’t come with a price tag.  That’s one of the reasons why almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago when Obama took office. 
America’s strength, our greatness, doesn’t depend on Trump.  It doesn’t depend on any one person.  And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election, because democracy requires people working together. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Huge Mistake


The following in an excerpt from an article written by Eric Sasson entitled: “Republicans Are Realizing They’ve Made a Huge Mistake.” 

“Three Republicans—Representative Richard Hanna, former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, and former Chris Christie adviser Maria Comella—announced they would support Hillary Clinton in November.  And in the face of a growing rebellion over his ongoing feud with the Muslim family of a slain U.S. soldier, Donald Trump announced he was not ready to support the re-election bids of three high-profile members of the GOP: John McCain, Paul Ryan, and Kelly Ayotte.

“The events of the last week have led many to wonder why Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are still attempting to thread what has become an increasingly narrow needle.  Both leaders have condemned Trump’s comments several times already, only to remain behind his candidacy.  In the face of Trump’s remarks against the Khan family, their loyalty is beginning to seem foolhardy.

“Of course, it’s one thing for Obama to call upon Republican leadership to denounce Trump, and quite another for them to follow through.  Trump overwhelmingly won the Republican primaries.  Indeed, he garnered more votes than any other Republican in history (although he also got the most votes against him too).  Make no mistake, Ryan and McConnell, and senators like McCain, are relying heavily on these voters to turn out in the general election and vote for down-ticket Republicans.  To pull their endorsements would be to effectively denounce these voters as well, falling into exactly the trap that Trump has often spoken of: that of an elite establishment that thinks it knows better than the voting public.

“Alienating these voters is, in their minds, simply not an option, with control of the Senate clearly up for grabs.  If Trump voters stay home, the argument goes, then Democrats win.  Which explains the precarious balancing act Ryan and Co. are attempting: criticize Trump just enough to distance the party from Trump, but never outright condemn him and scare away his voters.

“One has to wonder, however, if we’ve reached a turning point with the Khan story.  Trump’s refusal to walk back his attacks on the Khans has dominated the headlines for days and presents a nearly existential conundrum for a party that prides itself on being a champion of the military.  The cost-benefit analysis that these Republican leaders are engaging in may be shifting.  Is holding on to the Senate really worth the irreparable harm that Trump is doing to the Republican brand?

“Furthermore, there is little chance that the Khan controversy will be the last of Trump’s PR disasters.  With future offenses seemingly inevitable, Republicans will time and again have to offer their mealy-mouthed condemnations, while Democrats, the press, and moderate conservatives will keep demanding that more forceful steps be taken.  Standing by idly while Trump runs their party into the ground seems to be the very definition of spinelessness.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Not Ransom


President Obama dismissed suggestions a that a $400 million payment to Iran was ransom paid in return for the release of American hostages.
Obama explained: "We do not pay ransom. We didn't here, and we won't in the future.  Those families know we have a policy that we don't pay ransom.  And the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we're looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them we don't pay ransom, defies logic.

"We announced these payments in January.  Many months ago.  It wasn't a secret.  We were completely open with everybody about it."

Secretary of State John Kerry insisted: "First of all, the United States of America does not pay ransom and does not negotiate ransoms with any country.  We never have and we're not doing that now.  It is not our policy."

The money was flown to Iran on a plane carrying wooden pallets stacked with Swiss francs, euros and other currencies.  The payment was made with Obama's approval as the first share of a $1.7 billion settlement resolving claims at an international tribunal at The Hague.  Those claims were linked to a failed arms deal, when Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi ruled Iran.   The Islamic Revolution toppled the brutal regime of the Shah of Iran in 1979.  Our country cut ties with Iran, and we were left with the disputed Iranian funds.

Iran had been seeking more than $10 billion in arbitration.  The Obama administration announced in January that it would pay $1.7 billion to Iran.

Cash was delivered in an unorthodox manner because Iran was still isolated from the international financial system due to international sanctions.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Civil Liberties Threatened


Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote regarding a Fourth Amendment case, that the 5-3 majority's opinion"corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives."
A Utah man challenged his arrest based on a stop that was later found to be unlawful.  Edward Joseph Strieff Jr. was stopped by a police officer who was conducting surveillance on a house based on an anonymous tip about drug activity.  After Strieff left the house, the officer detained him and ran his identification, finding an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation.

The officer then searched Strieff, finding methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, and arrested him.  Strieff challenged the conviction, saying the evidence came from an unlawful stop.

Justice Thomas wrote for the majority opinion: "There is no indication that this unlawful stop was part of any systemic or recurrent police misconduct.  To the contrary, all the evidence suggests that the stop was an isolated instance of negligence that occurred in connection with a bona fide investigation of a suspected drug house."

Justice Stephen Breyer joined the Supreme Court’s conservative panel of Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas.

Although the man arrested in this case was white, Sotomayor wrote: "The white defendant in this case shows that anyone's dignity can be violated in this manner.”

She insists: "Do not be soothed by the opinion's technical language.  This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants -- even if you are doing nothing wrong.

"The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer's violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.

"It is no secret that people of color are disproportionate victims of this type of scrutiny.  For generations, black and brown parents have given their children 'the talk' -- instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger -- all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.”

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a similar legal argument.  And, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Sotomayor in most of her dissent, and laid out an argument that the opinion allows law enforcement broad latitude to violate Americans' constitutional rights if they can find any small mark against them.

Monday, August 08, 2016

FBI Documents


Last April, Saudi Arabia warned that it would sell off billions in American assets if our Congress passes a bipartisan bill that would allow victims of 9/11 and other terrorist attacks to sue foreign governments.

Twenty-eight pages of the 9/11 Commission Report were said to focus on the role of foreign governments in the plot had remained classified.  Saudi officials asked our government to release the redacted pages in 2003, saying it would give them the opportunity to defend themselves against claims of involvement.  But, the Bush administration refused, saying the material would jeopardize their ability to gather intelligence on suspected terrorists.

President Obama had continued that policy, but recently decided to release that classified information.  The documents analyzed by the 9/11 Commission have finally been released.  It’s about what the FBI and CIA officials uncovered in their investigation of the intelligence failures surrounding the 9/11 attacks.  Much of that information involved Saudi Arabia, its diplomats and its financial support of Islamic groups and causes.

1. California-based Saudis aided two 9/11 hijackers.  Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassan gave money and other help to two of the hijackers, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi when they arrived in San Diego in February 2000.  FBI officials told the 9/11 commission: "There are indications in the files that his encounter with the hijackers may not have been accidental."

2. A Los Angeles-area mosque was a "site of extremist-related activity."  FBI documents show, that The King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, California, received substantial amounts of money from "Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdulaziz.  The mosque is reportedly attended by members of the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles and is widely recognized for its anti-Western views."  The FBI identified Shaykh al-Thumairy as one of the Imams at the mosque who "may have been in contact" with al-Midhar and al-Hazmi.

3. A telephone number found in the phone book of Abu Zubaydah, a 9/11 plotter captured in Pakistan in March 2002 belonged to a Colorado-based company that managed the "affairs of the Colorado residence of the Saudi Ambassador" Prince Bandar bin-Sultan.  According to FBI documents, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States, Bandar had especially close ties to the family of Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush.

4. The FBI reported, that an unnamed Saudi who was on a State Department watch list slipped into the United States without the notice of the Customs and Immigration and Naturalization services because he traveled here with another Saudi royal, Prince Khalid al-Bandar.  The documents showed the FBI only learned of the trip after the fact.

5. CIA documents show, that Saudi officials were uncooperative in U.S. attempts to learn more about Osama bin Laden.  Documents showed, that the former chief of the CIA's anti-bin Laden unit, known as Alec Station: "thought that the U.S. Government's hope of eventually obtaining Saudi cooperation on this matter was contrary to Saudi national interests."

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Peaceful Change


I recently read a headline that insisted: “Follow Paine’s example and reclaim America’s democracy.”  Democratic politicians and voters aren’t experiencing a time: “that try men’s soul’s.”
Those pushing the idea of a revolution, stop short of calling for an armed rebellion, to avoid being accused of treason.  We don’t need another Civil War that resulted in nearly 1,100,000 casualties and claimed more than 620,000 lives.

Republican Party holds a significant majority of 248 of the 440 seats in the House of Representatives.  They have 54 seats in the Senate, which is also a clear majority.  Since, Republicans in the Senate refuses to give Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court a hearing, the conservative and progressive Justices remain at four each.  On the state level Republicans have 31 of 50 Governors, and control in 70 of the state legislative chambers.

Unfortunately, the Republican party continues to complain about where our country is headed, even though their hand remains on the steering wheel.  Consequently, I’m concerned that Donald Trump the presidential nominee of the Republican Party might become a threat to our democracy.

Fortunately, a recent CNN/ORC poll reported President Obama's approval rating of 54 percent now stands at its highest level since just before his second inauguration in 2013.  That is the most positive approval rating of his second term.
Compared to other recent two-term presidents, Obama's approval rating at this stage of his presidency ranks on par with Ronald Reagan's ratings in 1988, and are approaching Bill Clinton's 57 percent at this point in 2000.

Obama is approaching the end of his two-terms in office.  After, Bush completed his second term in office, his approval rating was 22 percent, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s was 13 percent.

Peaceful change only requires fair elections, not a revolution.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

New National Polls


Hillary Clinton has widened her lead over Donald Trump in a pair of new national polls, after Trump finished one of the worst weeks of his campaign.
Clinton opened up a 15 point margin in the McClatchy-Marist survey 48 percent to 33 percent, which was conducted while Trump defended himself  against criticism by the Muslim parents of a slain American war hero and also House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of the GOP's most popular and powerful figures.
Last month, Clinton held a narrow 3-point advantage, of 42 percent to 39 percent in a McClatchy-Marist poll.

The NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, gave Clinton a 9 point cushion of 47 percent to 38 percent.  A CNN/ORC poll also showed Clinton with a 9 point advantage over Trump nationally.

Clinton has nearly tied Trump among men in the latest NBC-WSJ poll and enjoys a 22 point upturn in the McClatchy-Marist survey.  With women, Hillary has an overwhelming advantage, 50 percent to 30 percent according to McClatchy-Marist and 51 percent to 35 percent in the NBC-WSJ poll.

Arizona Senator Jeff Sessions, a longtime Trump ally, told CNN, that the polling numbers weren’t permanent.  He attributed them to a post-Democratic National Convention bounce, and "some events" that have occurred in the past week. 

Sessions told CNN's Erin Burnett: "The numbers had him up not long ago.  He's down some now and I think you'll see a rebound, no doubt about it, heading into November."

The NBC-WSJ survey of was conducted from July 31 to August 3, and the McClatchy-Marist poll between August 1-3.

According to Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight .com at the present time Hillary Clinton has an 81.7 percent chance of winning the election as compared to 18.3 percent for Trump.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Fear and Hate


In his first inaugural address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously warned: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Most Americans don’t recall a warning by Ann Landers, who wrote: "Hate is like acid.  It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well as destroy the object on which it is poured."  Ann Landers was a pen name used by advice columnist Ruth Crowley in the 1940’s and 50’s.

The two excerpts below are from remarks made by Robert F. Kennedy on April 5, 1968. 

“When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.”

...“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all.  We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others.  We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.”

A favorite tactic of Republicans has been fear-mongering, because it seems to be the only argument available to them.  Fear was used by the Bush administration to scare Congress and the American people into a war that cost over 4,000 American lives to remove a bad man.

President Bush insisted: “We cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice asserted: “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapon, but we don’t want the smoking to be a mushroom cloud.”

In “Superpatriotism,” Michael Parent points out: “Once fear takes hold, evidence becomes largely irrelevant.”  

Today, the question remains, are we still going to allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear?  Our democracy requires calm, dependable, pragmatic and reasonable voters.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Hillary’s Record


As a young woman, Hillary Rodham Clinton worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, going door-to-door to make sure, that children with disabilities would get a quality education.  
As our First Lady, she worked with Congress to help push through a Children’s Health Insurance Program that continues to protect millions of children.  
After her unprecedented role in trying to pass national healthcare reform was defeated, she accepted an invitation to speak at the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, China.  
Thousands of women from all over the world travelled to Beijing to hear Hillary Clinton explain: “It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food or drowned or suffocated or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.  It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.”
Michael Bloomberg was elected as the Republican Mayor of NYC, two months after 9/11.  At the DNC, he acknowledge: “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.”
Hillary Clinton understands, that most issues are rarely black and white, and that even when you’re 100 percent right, getting things done requires compromise.  She knows that for progress to occur, politicians have to listen to each other.  She’ll continue to fight for progressive principles, while trying to find common ground.
Today, by changing enough minds over two decades, 20 million more people have healthcare.   

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Remember


At the end of Bush administration the wealth of most American families had declined at a rate nearly seven times faster than when the stock market crashed in 1929.  Home foreclosures numbered in the millions.  Deficits were soaring because hardworking Americans, who had been paying taxes were suddenly unemployed.

We experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  America had lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008.  An additional 700,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in.  Twenty-four days after Obama took office the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed, without a single Republican vote in the House and only 3 Republican votes in the Senate.  That legislation prevented a devastating financial crisis from getting worse and turned the economy from contraction to expansion.

Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, that protects Americans from the worst practices of insurance companies.  Coverage won’t be revoked, premiums won’t be arbitrarily raised and insurance companies won’t be allowed to use a pre-existing condition to deny coverage.

After the worst recession in 80 years, we’ve seen our deficits come down, 401(k)s recover, our auto industry achieving record sales, unemployment reaching eight-year lows, and private sector businesses creating 15 million new jobs.

We began to free ourselves from our dependency on foreign oil, by doubling our production of clean energy.

More of our troops are home with their families, and justice has been delivered to Osama bin Laden.

Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, opened relations with the people of Cuba, and brought nations together around a climate agreement.

Policies are now in place to help students with loans, protect consumers from fraud, cut veteran homelessness, and marriage equality is now a reality across the land.  

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Compassionate Patriots


Our Declaration of Independence ends: “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

In a speech entitled: “Love of God, Love of Man, Love of Country,” Frederick Douglass explained: “I make no pretension to patriotism.  So long as my voice can be heard on this or the other side of the Atlantic, 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.”

In 1925, Clarence Darrow volunteered to defend John Scopes' right to teach evolution.  He is also remembered for writing: “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’m an agnostic secularist, who supports the concept that our government and religion should be totally separate.  Religions provide a great deal of comfort throughout the world.  However, many hypocritical people haven’t been practicing the Golden Rule, that requires: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  That value is shared by 21 of the world religions.  It’s an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others.  It’s also called the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

Religious dogma is by it’s very definition uncompromising.  Tolerance and compromise aren’t enough to ensure that every American is a valued citizen.  Compassionate patriots understand that patriotism requires loving every citizen. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

Republican Agenda


Donald Trump has alienated many of the Republican party faithful insiders, who waged the “culture wars” during the 1980s and ’90s.  Back then many Republicans believed, that they were fighting a “war for the soul of America.”  In his 1992 convention speech, Pat Buchanan called for a struggle that pitted the conservative religious right against the secular, progressive factions in American politics who advocated in favor of abortion, gun control, affirmative action, and separation of church and state.  In fact, nearly all of the Republican nominees for president during the last two decades have been emphasizing the culture wars.
Instead of continuing their traditional political agenda of free trade, military intervention, and trickle-down economics, Republicans began drafting platforms that emphasized the culture wars, that called for blocking women from serving in combat roles in the military, abolishing federal funding for abortion, and rolling back the spread of pornography, which they consider a “public health crisis.”
If you watched the recent Republican National Convention, you might have assumed the only agenda of the Republican Party is to literally to burn Hillary Clinton at the stake.

Chants of “Lock her up!” and “Guilty!” were encouraged by several speakers.  Hillary was called “a piece of garbage.”  Ben Carson accused her of being connected to Lucifer.  One of Trump’s advisors called for Hillary to be “put in the firing line and shot for treason.”

It has become obvious that the Democratic Party isn’t up against a typical Republican opponent.  Their only proposal for helping middle-class Americans seems to involve calling for Hillary to be vilified.

They don’t seem to have a plan to defeat terrorist.  Other than vilifying the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the Republican Party hasn’t a plan to improve the lives of hard working middle-class or the poor.