While we are asking questions

There will be a great deal written about Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony under oath. I emphasize the last two words of the preceding sentence. The President and his advocates’ rebuttals will not be under oath, at least at this time, so we should remember this fact.

Yet, it got me to thinking about asking various people a question under oath to see how they would fare. In no particular order:

Senator Marco Rubio, you have bragged on playing a heavy role in the federal government stiffing insurance companies for taking on adverse risk under the ACA. Can you explain to Americans why they must suffer with higher insurance premiums for you to score political points?

Senator Mitch McConnell, The New York Times reported that just before the 2012 election, you had a report by the Congressional Research Service buried that concluded trickle down economics does not work. In light of the recent failures of that approach in Kansas, where tax rates have just been increased to pay for services, does that seem dishonest to hide such information from Americans, especially since the President’s tax plan had some of Kansas’ ideas?

Former President Barack Obama, do you feel remorse about not pushing the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction plan back when it might have gotten some footing and we could have done more with our debt?

Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while you may have reason to raise issues about the election, would you say that you ran a poor campaign, not focusing on states that you took for granted such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania while you tried to win states like Arizona? Do you feel you let your opponent speak to the disenfranchised voter more than you did?

Senator Ted Cruz, you single handedly shut down the government in October 2013, almost causing us to default on our debts until ten female senators broke the impasse. Do you feel that showed you as part of the problem with Washington? Why should we trust your judgment?

President Donald Trump, since you have been shown to lie about 70% of the time as a candidate and incumbent and your five biographers all note you have a problem with the truth, why should we believe what you say just about anything?

There are more folks I would like to ask questions of. Let me know some of yours.

 

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Sequestration and GOP Candidates Defense Gutting Comments

I find it interesting when politicians and leaders try very hard to load blame on someone else. The rule of thumb is take credit for good things, even if you had a little do with it, and lay blame on others when it does not fit your narrative when you or your party did have a hand in it. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s blaming others for the Flint water crisis is a good example. Another is the Republican led Congress blaming the President for the Phoenix Veterans Administration disaster, when the problem has been festering for years and that same Congress just two months before did not pass a $60 Billion plus funding bill to shore up the VA.

On the Presidential circuit, GOP candidates are blaming the President for “gutting” defense, when they seem to forget this unusual word “sequestration.” First off, the military was not gutted and the cuts were based on military leader recommendations given a tighter budget, as a result of the sequestration cuts. But, the Republican led Congress played a huge role in sequestration to cause these cuts to occur, which the Republican Presidential candidates fail to mention.

Back in the summer of 2011, the debt ceiling needed to be increased. Speaker John Boehner and the President worked hard to reach an agreement, but Boehner could not deliver the votes from his strident conservative members. So, they agreed to lift the ceiling, but there had to be a bipartisan committee formed to come up with some plans for budget cuts. If the committee failed to agree, Boehner and Obama set up larger across the board cuts called sequestration that would automatically go into effect.

The two major players felt that if they made the sequestration cuts so onerous, no one would let them happen. Even they underestimated the inability of Congress to do much of anything. The bipartisan committee failed to agree on any actions being split by party lines. So, the cuts went into effect with the military leaders making recommendations based on the reduced budget. Members of Congress had varying degrees of reactions to these recommendations, especially when they realized it meant people in their states and regions being impacted. Yet, they are the ones who set this in motion as they had numerous occasions to stop the sequestration train.

I am not writing this to let the President off the hook for his role. Yet, to assign him the blame alone and overstate the cuts saying they gut the military is a little over the top. I do want people to know that the lack of collaboration and strident views of members of the Republican party in Congress had a huge role in the sequestration. In fact, for most of his tenure as Speaker, Boehner usually got “must-have” legislation using more moderate GOP members to vote with Democrats. In this instance, Boehner did not want to move in that direction to stop the full sequestration cuts on the military spending.

So, when candidates are blaming the President for every so-called bad thing that has happened, you may want to take that with a grain of salt. And, you may want to ask those candidates for a truthful answer on how the economy, stock market, jobs growth and unemployment has all fared under this President.

 

 

Marco Rubio, Thom Tillis and a few odds and ends on climate change

In the past few weeks, there have been several definitive reports from the United Nations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and various scientific groups, which highlight even more definitively that climate change is here, it is human-influenced and we need to increase our efforts to do something about. When scientists say we are 95% certain that climate change is human-influenced it is as close to slam dunk as you can get. Additionally, it was reported by yet more scientists, the western ice sheet in of Antarctica is irreversibly melting and will contribute more to sea level rise. And, the President’s rightfully spoke about the need to ratchet up some things we have already begun with respect to moving toward renewable energy and conservation.

The reaction from the right, whose efforts are funded heavily by the fossil fuel industry, is to draw yet another line in the sand inching their position back and attacking messengers, pieces of data and continuing the stance that climate change is not human-influenced. At a GOP US Senate primary debate in North Carolina, Speaker of the NC House,Thom Tillis, and his three rivals all raised their hands to the question of “who believes client change is not human-influenced?”

The other day, GOP US Senator Marco Rubio, who is a possible presidential candidate, stated that he did not believe that climate change was human-influenced. I find these stances amusing and sad on several fronts, especially from Rubio who should be appealing to a younger audience that is not buying the fossil fuel story. Rubio resides in South Florida and the Miami area is in great jeopardy due to sea level rise. The rising sea level has already infiltrated the water run off system from roads in parts of Miami. The sea water is coming up through the drains in the gutters and is increasingly flooded streets each time there are significant storms. It is so bad, that four counties in and around Miami have banded together to actively plan to withstand sea level rise with a projected budget of $200 Million. They have received national acclaim for addressing the issue now. *

Tillis, who is running against US Senator Kay Hagan, should not get off easily either as he has effectuated decisions that are harmful to our planet and state of North Carolina. On his watch, the NC General Assembly refused to accept a peer-reviewed scientific report that the sea level off NC coast would rise 39 inches  by 2100. Similar reports were accepted in Virginia, Maine and Louisiana and the 39 inches may end up on the low side. Under Tillis’ eye, the NC General Assembly would only accept an 8 inch increase projection, based on looking backward at the previous 100 years. Looking backward is about as good a metaphor as you will find. The sad part is there has been a war on the environment in NC ranging from letting electronic bill board companies cut down more trees without permission to severely cutting the Department of Energy and Natural Resources, who was having a hard enough time governing coal ash dumps and other issues before the Duke Energy spill.

The stance on climate change continues to baffle me, especially when the evidence is piling up in front of your eyes. I left the Republican Party in 2006, with a principal reason being their stance on global warming. That was 8 years ago. What many don’t know is the fossil fuel industry had a concerted effort with a public relations firm to convince Americans that global warming was a hoax using industry provided data, data out of context and hired gun scientists. They did an excellent job in their efforts. Yet, there was no denying even in 2006, that global warming was an obvious problem. It was so obvious, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did a TV commercial with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to say he was wrong about global warming. It should be noted when Gingrich ran for president in 2012, he said he was wrong to say he was wrong, a flip flop of global proportions.

Climate change is the greatest issue facing our planet. It is far more than sea level rise that we need to worry about. Forest fires will be worse, droughts will be worse, hurricanes hitting landfall will be worse and stalled weather systems will be worse. These are already happening. But, the scary part is palatable water will be a major concern, food production will be a major concern and the chemicals in the ground to grow food and stop pests, will simmer like in a crock pot making environmental healthcare effects worse. The remedial costs of fixing these problems once occurred will far exceed the costs of proactively addressing the issues now.

For supposedly reasonable candidates to say that we are not influencing climate change is harmful to Americans and all earthlings. It does a disservice to people and we need to challenge them on why they believe the way they do. It is that important.

* Here is a link to a post I wrote on the Miami planning for sea level encroachment.

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/miami-2017-billy-joel-may-need-to-change-the-ending-with-the-encroaching-seas/

 

 

Two Republicans who need to be heeded by the GOP

Two Republicans have stood out in my mind as people who represent more than what the Grand Old Party has become – Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. They stand out as they both have reputations of being bipartisan in their thoughts and deeds and for recognizing one overarching truth – they represent all of their constituents. Of course, they have a more conservative bent, but being a Republican should not overshadow that they represent folks from Maine and New Jersey. Yet, while they would both be great Presidential/ Vice Presidential candidates, the sad truth is they get demonized in their own party for their actions, beliefs and behaviors.

Why is this so? Quite simply, they are not strident enough in their conservative beliefs. Those who are on the extreme side of their party do not recognize Collins and Christie’s mainstream virtues for what they are. The extreme side views them as weak and giving in. In a nutshell, that is what is wrong with the GOP as people who would govern with a conscious and work collaboratively with others are demonized. Christie continues to be vilified for not only working with the President, but thanking him for his help for New Jersey citizens after Hurricane Sandy. He was also viewed poorly for telling Mitt Romney he did not have time for a photo shoot as he was working to help people who lost everything. His vintage Christie comment was, unless the candidate is going to help me help these people, tell Romney not to waste my time.

Collins was the leader behind the women senators who helped make the debt ceiling/ government shutdown deal to reopen the government and let America pay its bills. They worked with a bipartisan group of senators to make it happen. Attached is a link to a post I wrote a few weeks ago.

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/three-women-gop-senators-who-bring-needed-reason/

She also will be submitting a bill in the Senate which will received bipartisan support to help end discrimination toward gays in the workplace. It should have over 60 senators vote in its favor, over the objections of the Heritage Foundation’s political activist arm. When you read her bio on her website, she uses the word bipartisan often. What I also like about her is she shows up and goes to work. In July of last year, she registered her 5,000th straight roll call vote, never having missed one while in the Senate.

Let me state a few obvious things from this Independent, former Republican’s view. Note, I am former Democrat, as well, describing myself as fiscally conservative and socially progressive. The GOP will not climb out of its abyss “tripling down” on extreme conservatism. The party double downed after last year’s election, which was a huge mistake. By limiting their sources of information and data to those who are telling them what they want to hear, the party is not understanding the problems, addressing the demographic changes or listening to what mainstream America is saying. For example, there was genuine surprise by conservative news sources that Romney lost, even though the survey data said he would.

I have written before how the last slate of GOP Presidential candidates was very weak. If the party puts up any of the following candidates – Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, former Governor Sarah Palin, Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Paul Ryan in 2016 – they will likely get trounced in the general election. Rubio showed some hopeful signs when he was on the bipartisan immigration group of senators, but now he has kowtowed to the strident view in his own party and is against the Senate plan he helped pass. There are some flip-flops that are more noteworthy than others and being against something you helped pass is akin to Romney being against his previous version of Obamacare that is working well in Massachusetts.

The better GOP candidates would be Christie or Collins, or if the GOP leadership could woo former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels away from Purdue University, he would also be an excellent choice. Daniels chose not to run in 2012, my guess is he knew Obama would win. The key to all of them is they are fiscal conservatives, yet they also represent all constituents. The GOP needs to move back toward the center. The business community and funders are giving the party strong signals to get more collaborative and govern. The funders want a ROI on their investment. That is the key reason the Koch Brothers fund the Tea Party around the country. Yet, if that party cannot deliver an ROI to the Koch’s, they will stop funding it and move to another set of representation who can. They have already distanced themselves some, when the defunding Obamacare strategy was not working.

So, GOP please do not triple down on extreme conservatism. Bring the party back to being a reasonable voice at the table. America needs reasonable voices from both sides. Stop standing against everything and stand for something. Starting with Collins and Christie would be a very good move.