Tag Archives: Politics

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.

The Roosevelts

31 May

I recently finished the Ken Burns documentary about the Roosevelt’s.  It goes into detail about the family that forever changed and shaped our country.  Some of them overcame obstacles from their health to become stronger.  Eleanor Roosevelt overcame a tough childhood to become a central figure in the country and one of the most active first ladies in our countries history.  The Roosevelt’s with their wealth could have stayed in the shadows and lived a private life but they choose to live a life of purpose.

He overcame asthma as a kid and became a fan of the outdoors.  It was through his work with nature that he learned to relate to the rest of the country.  He became president after William McKinley was assassinated.  Although Teddy Roosevelt came for much, he sought to give to those who had few.  He was responsible for child labor laws, helped end a coal miners’ strike and did more to protect the environment than almost any other president.

Teddy Roosevelt would be considered a liberal Democrat today by most standards.  Although he was liberal domestically he was very much a hawk on international issues.  He was the youngest person to become president but he still chose to end his career in public service earlier than he had to.  After getting elected president to a full term, he announced that he would not run for re-election.  His decision ultimately led to a split within his party which also led his cousin towards the path of the presidency.

The 1912 presidential election was a race between Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt.  The split within the Republican Party lead to Woodrow Wilson getting elected president.  Franklin D. Roosevelt served in the new administration as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.  Shortly after Woodrow Wilson left the White House, FDR contracted polio.  Like his relative Teddy, Franklin had to overcome health problems to become a public figure.  In many ways FDR’s polio strengthened him and helped him become the leader we know him as today.

FDR was elected president in 1932 in a landslide.  Although FDR never faced a competitive presidential election, he faced greater challenges in his presidency than anyone except Abraham Lincoln.  The economy was in a tailspin before FDR took office.  He acted swiftly by signing much of his New Deal legislation into law.  When our nation’s economy was struggling we did massive infrastructure building.  We built skyscrapers and the interstate highway system was conceived of.  Some of the jobs were temporary but it put Americans back to work and lifted the country’s spirits.

While the economy was still recovering a new threat was growing overseas.  Japan and Germany were invading surrounding territories.  Many Americans were not ready to go to war partly because the threat seemed to evade us.  That changed when the U.S. cut off fuel supplies from Japan in response to Japan’s aggression towards its neighbors.  Public opinion was unchanged until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.  The United States declared war on Japan and Germany declared war on us.  The war united the country and finally ended the Great Depression.  Unfortunately, FDR didn’t live to see the end of the war.

During her husband’s administration Eleanor became one of the most active and important first ladies.  After FDR’s death she became one of the most important people in the Democratic Party.  In many ways she was a better person than her husband.  She continued championing Progressive causes until her death in 1962.  Eleanor Roosevelt overcame a troubled childhood and became a giant in American politics.

Contested Convention?

30 Apr

The presidential primary season is winding down with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton getting close to clinching the nomination in each party.  The only chance the Republicans have of stopping Trump from winning the nomination is to deny him the amount of delegates he needs heading to the convention.  Hillary Clinton is well on her way to winning the nomination and will likely clinch before the convention.  If Cruz and Kasich prevent Trump from getting the delegates he needs to clinch the nomination we will see something we haven’t seen since 1976, a contested convention.

In the old days the presidential nominations were decided at the conventions.  There are pros and cons with the two systems.  The old system produced better candidates but it was less democratic.  We use to have better presidential matchups like Dewey vs. Truman or Stevenson vs. Eisenhower.  In 2000 and 2004 we had Bush v. Gore and Bush v. Kerry.  In some ways I prefer the old system, but the primary process also gives an outsider a better chance.

We are left with an interesting situation now that the primaries are almost over.  The two candidates leading their party’s nomination have very high unfavorable ratings.  Donald Trumps’ unfavorable ratings are higher than Hillary Clintons’.  The Republican Party establishment sees this and are understandable worried.  Donald Trump is blowing an otherwise winnable election for the Republicans.

The top two candidates in the Republican primary are literally the last two candidates that they wanted as their nominee.  Senator Ted Cruz can probably count the amount of friends he has in the Senate on one hand and Trump has seen very few if any endorsements from anyone in congress.  Both Cruz and Trump would lose the election to either of the Democratic candidates if the election were held today.  It is possible but I don’t see that changing much in the next several months.

Donald Trump is doing the opposite of what he should be doing if he wants to win in November.  In 2012 Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote by a large margin.  Trump is on track to do even worse.  Donald Trump’s approval rating among women are among the lowest of any candidate in history.  There will be a likely revolt within the party if he wins the nomination which would lead to many voting third party over Trump.  Only one of the factors I mentioned above could cost him the election.

The Republican Party is faced with a problem heading into the Convention no matter what.  If they try to take away the nomination away from Trump than his voters could stay at home, if Trump wins the nomination he could cost them the Senate.  There has been talk that Trump could cause the Republicans to lose complete control of congress.  The only way that could happen is if the Republicans have another election like 2006 or 2008.  That is a possibility but I am skeptical that could happen at the moment.  The Republicans don’t want to take that chance but they are running out of options fast.

Super Tuesday

29 Feb

Tomorrow we will have the biggest primary battle of the year.  On the Republican side it may signal whether Trump is well on his way to winning the nomination for his party in November, or we could find out that there will be a prolonged race to the Republican nomination.  The Democratic side will likely continue well past Super Tuesday.  Even if Secretary Clinton gets more delegates, Senator Sanders will likely keep going until the nomination is out of reach.  I also think that after Super Tuesday we will likely see John Kasich and Ben Carson drop out.

Although more of the delegates will be handed out Tuesday than any other day, no nominee will be decided.  Keep in mind that 8 years ago then Senator Obama was behind Hilary Clinton in the delegate count after Super Tuesday.  On the Republican side the race was practically finished with Mike Huckabee hanging on until McCain was close to winning the nomination.  This time around we could end up narrowing the amount of candidates after Super Tuesday, but not actually knowing who the nominees will be.

So how did we get here?  Donald Trump being the front-runner for the Republican nomination is something that I thought was improbable last year.  Most candidates who say offensive things would have been forced to drop out months ago.  The fact that he is able to maintain such support after saying racist, offensive things leads me to the conclusion that there still is a racist element to the Republican Party.  That doesn’t surprise me since Southern Democrats steadily became Republicans in the decades that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Law.

Donald Trump has shown refusal to explain or distance himself from White Supremacists.  (Most recently David Duke)  Donald Trump can still be stopped from winning the nomination, but that pathway has been rapidly narrowing.  If he wins big tomorrow there will be little the Republicans can do to stop him from winning the nomination.  That isn’t to say that his rise hasn’t been met with resistance within his own party.  Some Republicans have said that they will refuse to support Trump if he is the nominee.  Mainstream Republicans have wanted to stop him since he announced but have either been incompetent or unable to do so.

On the Democratic side there has been a rehash of the 2008 primary with some caveats.  Hilary Clinton is representing the establishment while Bernie Sanders has become the populist candidate.  The main difference between now and 08’ is that Secretary Clinton isn’t making the same mistakes that she made 8 years ago.  She has wrapped up support from many Democratic elected officials and she is taking Senator Sanders more seriously then she took Obama in 08’.  This doesn’t mean she will definitely win the nomination, but she is certainly in better shape for winning the nomination.

A lot will happen tomorrow.  We will find out if Trump is truly insurmountable and we will have a better idea who will win the Democratic nomination.  Keep in mind that a year is an eternity in politics, so a matter of months could shake things up.  If your state hasn’t had a primary I encourage you to register to vote if it isn’t too late, and vote if your state hasn’t had a primary already.

2015 Recap

28 Dec

This year brought more insanity in politics, an odd/offensive person as front-runner of the Republican Party, and terrorist attacks by ISIS.  We saw the retirement of a legend in news and satire as well as the return of Stephen Colbert.  In addition to that Republicans took control of congress for the first time in almost 10 years.  A new congressperson became Speaker of the House.  All of this is leading up to another presidential election year.

I’ve been remiss to mention Donald Trump in my blog, but there is no denying he is the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president.  I still have doubts he will win his party’s nomination.  Even if he were to get his party’s nomination he would face a near-impossible climb to the presidency.  He has alienated Hispanics, which are crucial to winning any presidential election.  He also has offended many other groups of people.   There is nothing genuine about Trump.  His most recent proposals to ban Muslims and suggesting that they should be registered should disqualify him from the presidency.

The other thing that this year brought was ISIS committing several terrorist attacks across the globe.  You can bet that will be a main topic during the presidential election next year.  ISIS is not much different than Al Qaeda.  If we can defeat Al Qaeda (which seemed insurmountable 14 years ago) we can beat ISIS.  In fighting ISIS we must have a strategy outside of militarily.  If we decide to block Syrian refugees as some Republicans have suggested, we are showing the world that we are as intolerant as ISIS.

Towards the end of the year Jon Stewart ended his long run with the Daily Show.  In an era where people don’t pay attention to the news, Jon Stewart drew people’s attention.   He covered what was important and became one of the most trusted sources of news.   After he left the Daily Show he helped bring awareness to the 9/11 first responders re-authorization.

One of the biggest changes of the year is that Gay Marriage is now legal in all 50 states.  The opinion of gay marriage has also changed among the people in the U.S.  A majority now support gay marriage.  The fight for gay rights aren’t over, but it took a huge step this year.  Gay marriage and gay rights will be a main topic in the election next year.

As with every presidential year, next year will be interesting.  The Iowa caucuses will be in the beginning of February.  New Hampshire will soon follow.  On the Democratic side, I think Hilary Clinton will be the nominee.  The Republican side is wide open.  Donald Trump could win some primaries, but the nomination fight will likely continue for several months.  Marco Rubio could make a race out of it if he wins one of the early primary or caucus state.  It will likely be a close election.  Stay tuned.

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.