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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.

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.

Return of the Moderates?

28 Aug

Beginning with the 2010 primaries, some moderate Republicans lost to their Tea Party opponents.  Some Tea Party candidates won the general election that year but many in the U.S. Senate elections lost.  In 2012 Tea Party candidates again cost Republicans the chance to take back the Senate.  In 2014 the Republicans either marginalized their extremists, or had some of their candidates hide their previous views.  They won back the Senate that year.  This doesn’t mean the Tea Party is done for but they are still being marginalized and sometimes rejected from their own party.

The Republican Party has an identity crisis.  Part of the party still wants to pass immigration reform while the other part of the party wants to deport all immigrants.  Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President because of the anti-immigration part of the Republican Party.  Republican insiders are panicked because they know that pissing off the Hispanic population is a recipe for disaster in a national election.  (Just ask Mitt Romney and Sharon Angle)  If the Republicans lose in a landslide in November the party leaders will get the message but some in their party will continue to be opposed to immigration reform.

Utah Senator Mike Lee took a hit in the polls for supporting the 2013 government shutdown.  He has since joined with Democrats to fight for a Criminal justice reform bill.  Mike Lee’s change in tone was somewhat of a surprise, but some of the most surprising political news came in an election primary in the state of Kansas recently.  One of the most Conservative members of congress Tim Huelskamp lost his primary in Kansas by 16 points.  He clashed with John Boehner when Boehner was the Speaker.  Boehner removed him from the Agriculture Committee which is a crucial committee to be on when you represent a rural state like Kansas.  His inability to work with either party was his downfall.  One voter outlined why he voted against Huelskamp in the primary.  “Getting kicked off the Agricultural Committee is a crime that can’t be forgiven.  I don’t mind the independent voice, but you’ve got to figure out how to work with people.  (NY times “Tim Huelskanp, Anti-Establishment House Republican, Loses Primary in Kansas.”)

Congressman Tim Huelskamp lost in a wave election in Kansas that ousted conservatives across the state.  Kansas governor Sam Brownback has caused massive budget problems for his state, and has endangered some Kansas Republicans in the process.  Last election cycle, an independent came within striking distance of winning one of the two U.S. Senate seats.  Brownback was lucky to get re-elected in 2014.  Governor Brownback’s budget cuts could cause permanent damage to his party in Kansas.

Elections have consequences.  Kansas has already seen some of that.  I don’t know what will happen in the election this year but the Republicans are worried about Donald Trump’s impact on congressional senate races.  In a way they are in a lose-lose situation.  If Trump wins he could cause permanent damage to the party if he loses he could cost them control of the U.S. Senate.

 

  1. New York Times, “Tim Huelskamp, Anti-Establishment House Republican, Loses Primary in Kansas.”http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/us/politics/tim-huelskamp-roger-marshall-kansas-primary.html?_r=0

Terror in Paris

30 Nov

The World has been in a stage of near constant conflict in recent history.  In the 1930’s and 40’s it was with Germany and Japan.  The Cold War dominated geopolitics for almost 50 years after World War II ended.  In the 1990’s we saw the rise of Islamic Extremism/Terrorism.  Since the 9/11 attacks we have been focused on combating terrorism.  The United States has taken part of most of the combat aspect of fighting terror until recently.

After 9/11 we attacked Afghanistan seeking to bring Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to justice.  Today, Al Qaeda has been significantly weakened.  Unfortunately our blunder invading Iraq has further destabilized the region.  As a result our nation and the rest of our allies have been wary about sending troops into another war in the Middle East.  Several weeks ago, some of that has changed.  On November 13th France was attacked by ISIS, killing over 100 people and wounding many others.  France has since gone on the attack bombing ISIS bases in Syria.

Parts of the world are united in the fight against ISIS.  The main concern I have now are how will U.S. and France Respond?  After we were attacked at Pearl Harbor part of our response was to set up Internment camps.  After 9/11 we passed the Patriot Act and invaded Iraq.  I have not been impressed by some people response to the attacks in Paris.  Governors across the U.S. are trying to block Syrian refugees from settling in their states.  France has committed to taking in Syrian refugees following the attack on their country.  Accepting refugees is the right thing to do.  People also need to consider that if we send refugees back that some of them will join ISIS if they have no one else to turn to.  How we respond domestically to terror can be as crucial as how respond militarily to terror.

ISIS like Al Qaeda before them are not just a threat to the United States and our coalition, they are a threat to the world.  The world needs to understand the mistakes of the past.  War is not won or lost on the battlefield alone.  The reason part of Iraq are now run by ISIS are because we left with a military solution but no political will.  The soldiers of the Iraqi army that we trained dropped their weapons and ran when ISIS approached even though ISIS was easily outnumbered.  The Iraqi army that we spent billions to train fell because they felt ignored by their own Prime Minister al-Maliki.  To defeat ISIS we need a coalition of nations that will commit to defeating ISIS militarily and politically otherwise they will come back.

Anti-Vaccine Movement

28 Feb

There has been a lot of talk about vaccines lately following the current outbreak of Measles in different parts of the U.S.  The latest outbreak has happened because a small but significant amount of people have chosen not to vaccinate their kids.  Some have suggested that this is simply a matter of personal choice or freedom which it isn’t.  This outbreak has been caused by misinformation and widespread fear.  Things need to change or we will have a bigger problem on our hands.

Vaccines have been an integral part of our health since the smallpox vaccine was invented in the late 1700’s.  Smallpox causes skin lesions, and can cause lung problems, blindness, and death.  Smallpox has since been eradicated because of the use of vaccines.  Vaccines have weakened or eliminated many diseases that once caused havoc on the general population.  Some of this could change if a large part of the population decides not to vaccinate their kids.

Andrew Wakefield wrote a paper in a medical journal claiming there is a link between the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) and autism.  The report has since been discredited and he lost his medical license for falsifying his report.  There are rumors that he was paid several thousand dollars to write this now discredited report.  So why do people still believe him?  Some people are still using his report even though it has been discredited.

Jenny McCarthy has been one of the most prominent people to claim that there is a link between autism and vaccines.  I don’t know why people listen to her because she has no medical background whatsoever.  The damage she caused has been substantial. As I mentioned, there has been a measles outbreak in Disneyland.  This isn’t an issue of your choice affecting only you, this effects everyone.

Polio is another disease that once ravaged the world and is now nearly extinct.  Jonas Salk created a polio vaccine that caused a significant drop in cases after it was introduced and that number continued to drop until it has been practically eliminated around the world.  That is why vaccines are important.  I understand there are people who are severely immunocompromised that can’t take a vaccine, but everyone else should get vaccinated.  The results speak for themselves, vaccines work.

It is incredibly important that everyone vaccinate their children.  The vaccine for polio came out 2 years after my dad was diagnosed with polio.  My dad never got the chance to get vaccinated for polio.  It is stupid that people are taking vaccines for granted.  Even if the vaccines were to cause autism (which they don’t) what does that say about you as a parent?  If you would rather your child die from a preventable illness than develop autism than you need to rethink whether you can call yourself a good parent.