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A Country in Chaos

31 Aug

This has been a tumultuous month for our country to say the least.  Towards the middle of the month we had a clash between Neo Nazi’s and the Antifa.  It ended with a Neo Nazi running members of the Antifa over, injuring many and killing one.  In the last week a Hurricane has devastated Southeastern Texas.  We as a country survive these problems but we are missing something important; a leader who is there to comfort a stricken nation.

Racists and Neo Nazis are nothing new in our country but they have new energy under our current president.  President Trump has had several chances to condemn these hate groups, and he has whiffed almost every time.  The President seems to think it is more important to keep his base intact than to represent all Americans.  Recent presidents before him would not have made the same tone-deaf statements that our President did.

Despite what some Trump supporters think we are moving past the era of the KKK and Neo Nazis.  That’s one of the reasons Confederate Statues are coming down.  The country is moving towards a more diverse one.  Anyone who is against that can move on or move out.  Fareed Zakaria summed this up several years ago when he said, “You can’t love America in theory, but hate it in fact.”

There will always be some resistance on our country being multicultural.  The best thing we can do is fight racists every step of the way.  We saw that in Charlottesville were peaceful protesters were run over by a Neo Nazi.  What happened in Charlottesville was tragic.  The Presidents responses to the terror attacks in Charlottesville did nothing to comfort what happened there.  The violence that happened at the rally are only at the feet of those who bring hate into our country.

The Republicans that are left defending Trump are either doing so in the hope that he will help them pass their agenda, or were with Trump before he became president.  If you are selling your soul to get your agenda passed you don’t belong in our government.  Most of the honorable Republicans have either completely distanced themselves from Trump, or they are no longer Republicans.

Before I end this blog post I want to say something about the ongoing effects of Hurricane Harvey.  Donate to help victims of the storm or donate your time if to help those in need.  We have many disagreements as a country, but we need to be united in our support of rebuilding areas affected by the storm.  I am also urging members of congress to support a relief bill.

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First Hundred Days

31 May

I’ll be honest; I’ve never been a fan of the phrase, “First 100 days.”  It is mostly used for the presidency but congressional Democrats in 2007 also used the phrase first 100 hours to describe the legislation they wanted to get done in their first week after taking control of congress.  The phrase, “First 100 days” was first used to describe FDR’s first 100 days of his presidency.  FDR also had the advantage of having large majorities in both houses of congress.

When FDR first took office he inherited a worse mess than when Obama took office.  The economy was in a constant downward spiral, banks were failing left and right, and he had a looming international crisis not too far off.  FDR and congress knew they had to act fast if they wanted the country to survive the Great Depression.  In the first 100 days FDR signed into law The New Deal legislation which helped alleviate poverty, and got people back to work.  It created confidence among the American people that things would get better.

Since FDR left office many presidents have tried not to live up to the 100 day standard.  Our current president did when he was running for office.  He said that he would get so much done in his first 100 days.  I think President Trump thought that running a business would be the same as running the country.  I agree with what Trump said now that the first 100 days are a ridiculous standard.  Having said that Trump consistently said during the campaign that he would get all of this stuff done in his first 100 days and that it would be so easy.  What President Trump now realizes is that running a country and running a business are not the same thing.

President Trump is now in the same position many politicians have put themselves in.  He has to deliver on some of his promises.  The midterm elections are next year.  I heard an interview with Trump supporters earlier this year.  One of them was asked, “How long will you give Trump to deliver on these promises?”  They replied, “2 years.”  I wonder how many of Trump’s supporters will be with him next year when they go to the ballot box, especially if nothing gets done between now and then.

Russia Investigation

31 Mar

Last year, during the election there were reports that Russia was trying to interfere with our election.  While President Trump has denied there is link between him and Russia during the election, some of the people around him are under investigation for talking to the Russians before the election.  The investigation has hit a road block in the House of Representatives but it is going forward in the FBI as well as the U.S. Senate.  My hope is that the Democrats and Republicans pursue this and find out what happened in our election last year.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was forced to resign recently after only several weeks on the job.  It was revealed that he had spoken to Sergey Kislyak around the time the Obama administration put sanctions on Russia because of their interference in the 2016 election.  Michael Flynn lied about it and was forced to resign.  He has since agreed to testify in exchange for immunity.  The President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner also spoke with Sergey Kislyak before Trump became our president.

The U.S. House Intelligence committee were looking into connections between the Trump administration and Russia.  That changed when Intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes rushed to defend Donald Trump and cancelled hearings this week.  Since congressman Nunes seems to be covering for Trump instead of investigating, Nunes should recusal himself and resign from congress if he is covering up a crime.  Attorney general Jeff Sessions has already recused himself from the FBI Russian investigation because of his contacts with the Russians before the Trump Administration took office.

I think President Trump had contacts with the Russians before the election and collaborated with them.  This would be considered Treason at the very least.  I am basing this on information we know already.  I do not make these charges lightly and I would like a full investigation to find out what happened.  The FBI and U.S. Senate are currently running investigations between Trump and the U.S. election last year.  We don’t know what all of the facts are so we need to find out so that we know what happened in the last election.

Alt-facts

31 Jan

Donald Trump has only been in office a week and he hasn’t changed a bit from what he was during the campaign.  Congress has only approved a small handful of his appointments.  He has issued a series of executive orders.  His worst executive order is his one to ban people from coming to the U.S. from 7 Muslim-majority countries.  This is Un-American plain and simple.  It has already been halted by a Federal judge.  It has been said over and over again that we are a nation of immigrants.  Donald Trump’s grandfather was an immigrant.  We are repeating the mistakes of the past.

Unfortunately the U.S. has an ugly history when it comes to welcoming immigrants or people who are different than us.  African-Americans have and continue to face discrimination.  In the 1800’s we weren’t exactly welcoming towards Irish immigrants or Chinese Immigrants.  During WWII Jews faced Antisemitism.  We should have known better considering where our ancestors came from.  Americans escaped England to avoid religious persecution.  Many of the refugees coming from war-torn countries are doing the same thing.

There will always be people who want to deny what our existence as a country was founded on.  Our founding fathers were not deeply religious as some have suggested.  We are not a Christian nation.  We are a nation of many religions.  If people can’t accept that then they should leave.  My great-grandmother escaped Russian territory before WWI ended to escape anti-Semitic pogroms.

There are many more stories like my great-grandmothers.  If we wish to continue as a country we should be welcoming refugees with open arms.  Most people’s security concerns about refugees aren’t based on facts.  We already have very strong refugee screening program in our country.  President Trump’s executive order has put U.S. citizens in danger across the world.  If we continue on this path we won’t be the only ones restricting access to our country.  Other countries will respond with bans on U.S. citizens.  That doesn’t further anyone’s goal or make us safer.

2016 Recap

30 Dec

2016 has been a strange and disappointing year.  Donald Trump was elected president.  Senate Republicans blocked President Obama from appointing someone to the Supreme Court.  We lost many great people including John Glenn, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Muhammad Ali, among many others.  I wish I could be more optimistic for what lies ahead next year.

We have a president-elect who hasn’t changed much since he was elected.  Many presidents surround themselves with the best and brightest.  Donald Trump is surrounding himself with incompetent people and ideologues.  I think Trump will run into some opposition with some of his picks to help run the government.

I am however optimistic that we may finally be able to get an infrastructure bill passed.  The Democrats are willing to work with Trump on some issues and I hope they do.  I do however want the Democrats to fight Trump like hell on any of his extreme policy ideas.  Trump has said that he wants to tear up the Iran Deal and the Paris Climate Change deal.  That will not be as easy as he thinks.  Both deals are multi-national agreements.  The Paris Climate Change deal will expire in November 2020… at the end of Trumps first (and hopefully only) term.

The Republicans have an easier senate election map in 2018, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.  The president’s party usually loses seats in midterm elections.  (Recent exceptions being 1998 and 2002.)  It will also be interesting to see how Speaker Ryan and incoming Senate Minority leader Schumer will work with the president-elect.  House Speaker Paul Ryan will have to deal with the Tea Party wing, moderate wing, and the Trump supporters in his party.  Senator Schumer will lead the opposition as well as prepare his members for 2018.

Donald Trump will get a rude awakening next year, as with his supporters.  Governing is not as easy as Trump made it sound during the campaign.  Congress is very good at blocking legislation.  The presidents who have been able to get things done legislatively have either been insiders or have friends in congress.  Trump is no insider and he only has a small handful of supporters in congress.  I think Trump supporters will give him a lot of leeway, but they will turn on him if he doesn’t deliver on something.

Running the government is not like running a business.  Governor Rauner of Illinois hasn’t been able to pass his agenda through the Illinois legislature and he is a former businessman.  Trump will not be able to get everything he wants done.  If he tries to push congress around he won’t be able to get much done.  President-elect Trump has already faced several challenges in picking a cabinet.  If he is having this much trouble picking people to be in his administration, he will have a tough time running his administration.

Aftermath

30 Nov

The Democrats lost an election they should have won.  The Senate lead for the Republicans had narrowed and a Republican will be president despite the Democrat winning more popular votes.  No I’m not talking about this past election I am referring to the 2000 election.  I bring this up because history has a tendency to repeat itself.  I am also saying this to people who were as disappointed as I was by the election results.

Before I went to bed on election night I learned that Hillary Clinton had called president-elect Donald Trump to concede the election.  Like most of the country I was stunned.  What caused him to win in an upset?  Hillary Clinton did not do enough to win over working class people.  She expected to win Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania instead of campaigning hard to win them.  The WikiLeaks hack and the DNC favoring her over Bernie in the primaries also cost her.  Her email scandal and the FBI announcement weeks before the election didn’t help.  We won’t know all of the reasons why she lost for a while but what I mentioned covers the bulk of it.

The Democrats are in a bind.  They lost senate races that they were favored to win.  Donald Trump will get to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice because the Republicans blocked President Obama’s appointment to the Supreme Court.  The Democrats have several options, fight, compromise, or do both.   My hope is that the Democrats don’t obstruct the way the Republicans did under Obama.  Trump says he wants to get infrastructure spending done.  If he wants to get it done, the Democrats should work with him on it.  There has also been bipartisan talk about investigating the Russians trying to influence our election.

I do think they should fight Trump on his extreme proposals.  Donald Trump has said that he wants to create a Muslim registry.  If he tries to implement that I hope that the Democrats and at least some Republicans will block it.  If the Republicans try to privatize Medicare or Social Security I hope the Democrats block it from happening.  I do however want to see the government fully functional with a long-term budget getting passed and not temporary stopgap measures like we have seen in recent years.

The next four years will be interesting to say the least.  The mid-term elections are only 2 years away.  Keep your head up Democrats and get your act together. Otherwise it is going to be a very long four years.

Faux Patriots

31 Jul

The DNC and RNC conventions were the past two weeks.  We saw hope and optimism from the Democrats and more fear-mongering from Republicans.  How did we get to this?  We used to have two different but sensible political parties.  Shutdowns or threat of a government shutdown use to be almost non-existent.  Now they are the norm.  The Republican Party values use to be small government, limited to non- intervention in foreign wars, and prided itself on being a big tent party.  Those days are long gone.

I am a Democrat.  I have voted for Democratic candidates in pretty much every election.  I have never been a Republican but there used to be people in the Republican Party I respected.  Most of the Republicans I respected have either left the party or lost reelection.  The Republicans had people who stood for Civil Rights like Senators Everett Dirksen and Nelson Rockefeller.  Now they have politicians like Senator Jeff Sessions and congressman Steve King who………

Fear mongering and hate have taken over the Republican Party and this began before Donald Trump officially became their party’s nominee for president last week.  After the Civil Rights Act passed, the Republicans used the Southern Strategy (which is?) to take back the south.  Fear and hatred were used to rile up people when talking about immigration.  The RNC convention in particular last week seemed free of any facts.  Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the country and build a wall along the southern border.  Discouraging immigration is not patriotic, it is denying who we are as a country.

The Republicans have embraced Trump as their nominee and are denying what this country is made from.  The United States was founded to escape religious intolerance and we were built by immigrants.   We keep hearing Republicans refer to “real Americans” and say that they want to take their country back.  Oh, back to where or from whom?  The ideals of America don’t come from a small group of people; they come from everyone in the country and the Constitution from which it was designed. Fareed Zakaria referred to this on his show when he said about Conservatives,

 

They are misty-eyed in their devotion to a distant republic of myth and memory and yet they are passionate in their dislike of the messy, multiracial, capitalist-and-welfare-state democracy that America actually has been for half a century – a fifth of this country’s history. At some point, will they come to realize that you cannot love America in theory and hate it in fact?

 

I think it is time for Republicans to realize that American and Americans have changed.  If they are unable to realize this, then hopefully they will in November.

 

  1.  Zakaria: Can Conservatives love ‘real america’

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/21/zakaria-can-conservatives-love-real-america/