Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Tale

Thanksgiving is about people coming together.  Thanksgiving is about helping those in need.  Such was the tale of Hurricane Sandy.  State, federal and local agencies bonded to meet the needs of the people of New Jersey.

Sandy is also a contrast between Democrats and Republicans.  For three years Chis Christie has been attacked by his party for embracing Obama.  No Democrat has ever questioned Obama shaking hands with Christie.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hillary Clinton for President

As a life long progressive I feel the Bern.  But I also imagine the searing pain of a GOP victory.  Every four years presidential candidates stampede supporters to the polls with the claim that this is the seminal election of our lifetime.  Since most of us live more than 4 years it is seldom true. But 2016 matters.

Defeating ISIS and addressing income inequality are important.  But no more crucial than the domestic and international issues of past elections.  The primacy of this election rests on the nature and power of the opposition.  This is not your father's Republican party.  Without changing political positions, Kasich has moved from the right, to the left, wing of the party.  All the republican moderates could fit on the head of a pin and have enough room left over for a marching band.  This GOP is anti-science, xenophobic and jingoistic.  Republican tax plans and proposed budget cuts would take income inequality to 3rd world levels.

Well channeled resources have placed Republicans in control of a near record number of states.  With that power they have chipped away at women's health rights and minority voting rights.  Only a democratic lead justice department has moderated some of the excesses.

With control of a majority of states during the last reapportionment, the GOP locked in control of the House even though in each election Democratic candidates receive more votes in the aggregate.  The GOP Senate majority will be sustained if a winning Republican presidential candidate has coat tails.

The Supreme Court is conservative.  Over the next two presidential terms there will most likely be two vacancies.  If we lose the presidential election, the court will become ultraconservative.  Republicans will control all of the levers of government.

More than ever, electability matters.  A self described democratic socialist will not win over independents.  Bernie does not excite blacks or hispanics.  Progressive fervor, and a small increase in student voting, will not carry the day.  If we want to win, we need Hillary.

Experience matters.  Bill and Barack have been exceptional presidents.  But each had a rocky first year.  Eight years as first lady means Hillary can avoid freshman pitfalls.  She knows how the White House works.  She understands Congress through her time in the Senate.  No candidate in modern times has had a better grasp of foreign affairs.  She has policy depth, and even deeper empathy.  She cares.  So should we.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Mystery of Jeb! and The Donald

This is a tough year for pundits.  Early on Walker and Paul were touted as top tier candidates.  One is gone, and the other is headed for the kiddie table debate.

As Jeb! dipped his foot in the water, pundits assured us that with bags of money, and an elite organization he would cross the streaming media to the nomination.  Now he has a better chance of raising hard money poll dancing than poll watching.

Although fascinated with Trump, pundits assured us he was the flavor of the month. Republicans have been eating the same damn thing for 4 months and like it better than ever.  To  explain the remarkably unfickle GOP, pundits wove a tale of anger.

GOP establishment politicians, after convincing voters that a centrist democratic President is a radical, have been unable to repeal his signature achievement nor reign in his executive powers.    The establishment over promised and under delivered.  Hostility was furthered, as black, brown, gay, transgender and immigrant became the new white. This explanation has some merit, but it is not the whole truth.

A recent New Hampshire poll was shocking.  Absence may indeed make the heart grow fonder.  If ultra establishment Romney were in the primary, he would be leading easily with over 30%.  He would garner 1/3 of his votes from Trump, taking him down to 20%.  He would draw from other candidates, notably Jeb!, taking him from a dismal 9% to a microscopic 3%.

Voters distaste may be for Bush, rather than for the establishment.  Trumps allure may not solely be as an outsider.  Facts are unimportant to Republicans, who, like Russians, are drawn to a strong man.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why Do Republicans Hate America?

Republicans are some of the most blessed citizens in our country, enjoying everything America has to offer.  But while they often wrap themselves in the flag, they are shredding the values it stands for.

This country was founded on the precept of religious liberty.   Republicans protest that a baker might be asked to design a cake for a gay wedding, but rally in support of Donald Trump who proposes shutting down mosques.  Let that settle in.  Shuttering houses of worship.

Not to be outdone Ted Cruz wants to limit immigration to this country based on religion.  Trump further upped the ante, proposing that Muslim citizens, much like Jews in Nazi Germany, carry special identification papers.

Further disdain for the Constitution is palpable.  Republican governors are rushing to prevent freedom of movement of Syrian refugees in contravention of the commerce clause.  The same governors dismissive of the right to vote, are imposing restrictions to limit turnout by minorities.

Republicans threaten the security of Americans.  ISIS drools over the prospect of recruiting American Muslims with proof that this country is out to destroy their religion.  But it is not enough for the GOP to foster home grown terrorists, they also arm them.   The GOP has blocked simple precautions such as using the no fly list in background checks.  To date over 2000 individuals on the no fly list have  legally obtained weapons.

Perhaps we should prevent Republicans from entering this country.  But we would not do that.  We are Democrats.

GOP Flunks Paris Lesson

The GOP has long had a problem with science, but now they are flunking math.  For our numerically challenged Republican friends let us explain 7 is greater than 1.  One of the eight participants in the Paris atrocity might have entered as a Syrian refugee, the other 7 were home grown.  The ratio has increase as more members of the cell have been captured or killed.

Even as to the one alleged fake refugee, he would not have passed the US screening process.  Europe has absorbed a stream of refugees coming directly from war ravaged Syria.  The refugees coming to America have generally been in camps for a year or more.  They fall within a special program for the most vulnerable.  They consist of victims of torture, women who are heads of households,  and those with special medical needs.  Less than 3% are men of fighting age.  They are screened by the UN and screened and individually interviewed by us.

Life does not come with guarantees, only probabilities.  A terrorist might slip though, just as your next door neighbor may shoot up you neighborhood with an AK47.   Although I have not met your neighbor, I would hazard that neither are likely.

The greater threat is assisting ISIS to radicalize American Muslims.  Republican demagoguery is whipping the public into a frenzy and spreading fear in the Islamic community.  Imagine how you would react if candidates for president called for closing your places of worship (Trump), excluding people of your religion from entering the country (Cruz),  and setting up a government agency to proselytize other religious values (Kasich).  Ala Nazi Germany's requirement that Jews wear a yellow star, Trump has called for special identification documents for American Muslims.  Shamefully, even the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, David Bowers has cited with favor, the precedent of Japanese interment.

As I have said before, GOP bullshit is fertilizing home grown terrorists.  We may all reap what the Republicans sow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Obama is Beating ISIS

With wall to wall news we know more, but remember less.  Lost in the 24 hour news cycle is the simple truth that the president's strategy is working.   Just a year ago, with only token opposition, ISIS was devouring land, just a bite or two away from Bagdad.  The blitzkrieg was unstoppable, and their caliphate within reach.

Large scale movement of men and machines is susceptible to air power.  The air strikes ended the advance.  Like a shark, when ISIS is not advancing it is dying.  The second part of the president's campaign was to arm and train locals.  Although not yet taking root in Syria,  the Kurds and to a lesser extent the Iraqi army, are reclaiming much of Iraq.

With the dream of the Caliphate fading, ISIS has turned to Al Qaeda style terrorism, albeit with a better media presence.   The Paris attacks are a sign of weakness.  The land war is morphing into a war of ideas.  ISIS depends on radicalizing western Muslims.

ISIS has been more successful with the marginalized Muslim community in Paris than with the more successful communities in America.   Unwittingly, Republicans are aiding and abetting ISIS.  Presidential candidates are falling all over one another trying to radicalize American Muslims.

Trump wants us to shut down mosques.  Cruz proposes only accepting Christian refugees from Syria. Even Kasich, who like most of the GOP wants to limit government and shut down agencies, proposes a new agency to spread Judeo Christian values.  Not to be out done, Republican governors are taking (unconstitutional) steps to preclude relocation of  Syrian refugees to their states.

Home grown terrorists are being fertilized with Republican bullshit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cruz on the Cross

Senator, and presidential candidate, Ted Cruz has the solution to vetting Syrian refugees:  only allow Christians to enter our holy land.  We can hear the hallelujahs from the evangelical wing of the Republican party.  Perhaps they will be singing all the way into the primary voting booths.

Testing may be tricky.  These are the same people that believe our church going president is a Muslim.  Will this truly be the church militant, with an army of ministers guarding the border?

Republicans are shirking their responsibility.  The neocon wing of the party broke the Middle East with the ill advised Iraq war, but refuse to own it.  Security concerns will not solve the refugee crisis. Our allies in Europe and the Middle East have already absorbed nearly 2 million refugees.  Our proposal to accept 10,000 is a mere pittance.  Nearly 1/3 of the world population is Muslim.  If we propose to be the world leader, we must lead the whole world, not just bona fide Christians.