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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.

Resistance

28 Feb

Last year I saw two movies with similar stories, one based on a true story and one not.  Anthropoid is a story about resistance during WWII in occupied Czechoslovakia.  Rogue One is a sort of prequel to Star Wars: A New Hope.  In Rogue One the main character is reluctant to join the Rebellion.  When someone joins a rebellion or resistance movement they are doing so knowing that they are risking their lives with no guarantee of success.  (Spoiler Alert.  If you haven’t seen either movie or don’t know about Reinhardt Heydrich then I would stop reading past this paragraph.)

In Anthropoid, two Czech resistance fighters parachute into their occupied homeland.  Early in the war the allies gave the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia) to Nazi Germany.  There is some debate over whether or not this was a delaying tactic or done to stop war.  The Czech government in exile ordered the two resistance fighters to assassinate Reinhardt Heydrich, then 3rd in the Nazi hierarchy.  Heydrich was also sent to Prague to crush the resistance movement there.  He mostly succeeded.

The two Czech resistance fighters Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik meet with what is left of the resistance movement in Prague.  They debate but ultimately decide to go ahead with the dangerous mission.  They know that even if they succeed in assassinating Reinhardt Heydrich they will put their families and even occupied Czechoslovakia in danger.  Kubis and Gabcik also know that they may not make it out of Czechoslovakia alive.  The assassination succeeds, but it turns out to be a pyrrhic victory.  Thousands of Czechs are rounded up and shot.  Two villages are burnt to the ground with most of the population being sent to concentration camps or are shot.

Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik manage to escape after the assassination but they both are forced into hiding.  They eventually seek refuge in a church.  Before they can escape they are betrayed by one of their own.  The resistance fighters and the family who tried to hide them didn’t much outlive Reinhardt Heydrich.  The question most people ask about this is was it worth it?  Its tough for me to say because I was not in that situation.  I think it was because of how horrible a person Heydrich was.

In Rogue One Jyn Erso is separated from her family at a young age when her mother is killed and her father is forced to develop the Death Star.  Jyn Erso eventually decides to accept the risky mission of retrieving the Death Star plans.  Her and several other Rebels succeed in delivering the plans but sacrifice their lives doing so.

In both of the movies the main characters are resisting a brutal regime with a constant risk of death.  The characters both make their sacrifices for the greater good.  I am not comparing the situation the country is in now to Nazi Germany, far from it.  People resist in dire times at great risk.  We have the right to protest in this country.  We can speak out at any time without fear of prosecution or imprisonment.  There is no excuse for any of us to resist or speak out against something that is wrong especially considering people in worse situations have done so at greater peril.

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.

The Home Stretch

31 Oct

We are in the home stretch of the presidential election.  The candidates are making their final arguments to the voters and early voting is happening as we speak.  This election is important, but also a disappointing one.  With less than two weeks until the general election we have two most unpopular candidates in modern history.  In this presidential race we have reached the bottom.

In the beginning of the month an old tape of Donald Trump was released where he admitted to sexual harassment at the very least and sexual assault at worst.  The Access Hollywood tape has effectively ended the presidential race.  Republicans have finally condemned him and some have rescinded their condemnation of him.  The damage has been done.  After he got the nomination I thought that he had a slim chance of winning because of his tendency to act like a toddler.  The Access Hollywood tape has put his campaign in jeopardy and may even put the House Republican majority in jeopardy.

Republicans running for the House and Senate are in a bind.  Congressmen Joe Heck of Nevada is running for the U.S. Senate in Nevada.  His previous support for Trump may cost the Republicans a chance at picking up a senate seat.  Some Republicans are at risk of losing support if they abandon Trump.  What you are seeing happening right now is exactly what Republican insiders were afraid of when Trump announced his run last year.  He is damaging Republicans down ticket.

After the 2012 election the Republicans did an analysis on why they lost.  Although Romney won a high percentage of the white vote he lost women and Hispanics which cost Romney the election.  The Republican Party vowed change to appeal to more voters, but nominating Trump has done the opposite.  Trump is on track to get a lower vote of Hispanics than Romney did and Trump’s comments on women will cause him to lose a majority of the female vote.  The Republican establishment wanted to pass an immigration bill but they were unable to get it through the House of Representatives because Tea Party Republicans objected to it.

What happens after the election is somewhat uncertain.  If Trump loses (which he likely will) he will leave the Republican Party in ruins.  Trump’s supporters will probably blame a rigged system as well as the base of the Republican Party for not supporting Trump.  The Republican base will blame Trump and rightfully so for blowing a winnable election.  None of this had to happen.  If the Republicans nominated John Kasich or almost any other Republican candidate they would be leading Hillary Clinton.  The Republican Party will need to quell the talks of the election being rigged.

I will close my final blog before the election with this.  Please vote.  It is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen.  Go to www.ballotready.org and research candidates positions on the election and find your polling place.