Two obstacles promise to continue

Two prominent Republican politicians in Congress promise to continue their hardheadedness should Hillary Clinton win the White House. Senator and former Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has begun percolating the idea that the Senate should not vote on any new Supreme Court justices. Not to be outdone, Utah Representative and Chair of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz has noted he will hold committee meetings with the purpose to throw dirt at Clinton and find something that will stick.

I don’t know about you, but I think Americans are tired of these kinds of antics. I have noted before that the media has been sloppy on their reporting of why people don’t like Washington lumping all of the reasons together. The majority of Americans want them to work together and get things done. There is a smaller percentage, primarily on the GOP side, that only want it done their way and compromise and collaboration are viewed as curse words.

The big problem here is the latter group is the predominant reason why the anger exists in the first place. Cruz has been a leader of the obstinate Tea Party and extreme right GOP members in the Senate. He single-handedly almost caused the US to default on its debt payments. Try that with VISA and see how far it gets you. And, then he advertises as a candidate that he wants to become President to solve all our problems. Senator Cruz, you are the problem, and if you want to solve it, then please resign.

As for Chaffetz, I have not been too impressed with his efforts. When Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified in front of his committee, Chaffetz put up a chart showing their ineffectiveness, saying it came from the Planned Parenthood website. After a whisper from behind her, Richards pointed out that chart was inaccurate and actually came from an anti-Planned Parenthood group website. She proceeded to tell him where it was wrong. It was one of the most effective put downs I have witnessed and showed that Chaffetz had not done his homework.

So, now Chaffetz wants to belabor anti-Clinton committee hearings. This comes on the heels of eight Benghazi hearings which former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice described as witch hunts. Yes, Clinton had some fault, but so did many others and the final report agreed with a nonpartisan report done three months after Benghazi. And, not to be outdone, Cruz does not want to vote on Supreme Court justices at all, violating the mandate under the Constitution. It was bad enough the GOP Senate leaders punted on nominee Merrick Garland, but now this ineffective leader wants to stonewall some more. I guess we should let it whittle done to zero justices.

Excuse my language, but when is this bullshit going to end? It might be helpful to the American people if our Congressional leaders tried something unique like governing. It has gotten so bad, our own military defines Congressional inaction as one of the gravest threats to our national security. Senator Cruz and Congressman Chaffetz, my strong advice to you is to worry less about keeping your job and just do your damn job.

 

Could your emails stand up to scrutiny?

As there continues to be a leak of emails from Hillary Clinton’s staffers and previously the Democratic National Convention as supplied by WikiLeaks, it begs the question could your emails stand up to scrutiny? Irrespective of the source of the hack, with the Russians being accused as the perpetrators, we are learning of various internal machinations of a political marketing engine.

These emails are on top of the emails she released to the FBI from her personal servers while Secretary of State. From the folks who have taken the time to go through the emails, they have found them to be monotonous, as most emails are. There is quite a bit of pedestrian stuff. In fact, one reporter who was not a fan of Hillary Clinton’s, said she became one by witnessing how organized she was and how much she devoted to planning.

Yet, with any mountain of emails, there are various things that come out, which range from sales messaging to, in the case, of her state emails, emails she should have noted and handled differently. She has admitted she has made a mistake in using your own servers, and has compounded them by not being transparent from the get go. That is due to an Achilles Heel of hers which is to be close-vested. I am sure a large part is due to being protective, as she has been vilified over time, in part because she is a strong woman.

But, back to my question. Would your emails stand up to scrutiny? If you were shown an old email or several that showed you at your worst, where you sent an email you should not have, would that make you a bad person? I once asked “who told someone years ago that it was OK to do something that turned out later to be unwise?” It turns out I was that someone, but had no recollection whatsoever.

Further, what if we saw the emails of a few more contentious legislators? What would Senator Ted Cruz, who is not known for collaboration, have to say in his emails? What about those of former Speaker John Boehner, who had to herd cats on the majority side to keep things from falling apart in Congress and could only get major things through when he involved enough moderate Republicans with the Democrats? What about Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, the poster children for how Washington cannot get things done?

But, what about those of Presidential candidate Donald Trump or RNC Chairman Reince Priebus? Now, those would have some quite interesting exchanges about the candidates and his campaign tactics. Priebus would have several on “what do we do about what Trump said?” What bothers me about WikiLeaks, is the emails are one-sided. Clinton is far from perfect, but is it fair to pour through her sausage making and not her opponent’s? I find this interesting as he is the one saying the election is rigged.

Just think about this as we see more stories from her emails. I am sure there are more less than flattering emails therein, but maybe we should just set them aside, unless and until we can see others from her opponent. I am open to comments.

Please Remember Rush and Vote


One of my favorite songs by the group Rush is “Free Will.” Within the wonderfully crafted lyrics is the following phrase;

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

This lyric resonates especially in this election season. In an election where our president may be selected from the lesser of two choices, opting not to vote may cause us to end up with the worst choice.

The Republican Party started out with seventeen candidates, but has managed to whittle it down to the two most horrible choices of the lot. It amazes me that Donald Trump can get people to overlook his past and his present and think he can change all of that nature in the future.

Senator Ted Cruz may be the most detested legislator in Congress. He has grandstanded, ridiculed and demeaned others. He almost caused us to default on our debt. One GOP Senator was caught in an unguarded moment and said he would vote for Hillary Clinton before he would vote for Cruz. He later revised that statement saying he never said it.

As for Clinton, she is by far the most qualified candidate in terms of her service as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State. But, she has had years of fair and unfair scrutiny by the conservative and mainstream media. The dilemma is the fair and unfair parts are clouded together.

So, she carries this extra baggage into the mix. But, she has been vetted more than any other candidate. And, she and Bernie Sanders answer questions better than the other candidates and understands that climate change and water are concerns, economic inequity is an issue and social injustice exists.

Both Trump and Cruz do not speak of climate change as an issue and do not talk of our water problems at all. And, both run counter to their rhetoric with proposed tax plans that would hugely increase the US Debt problem.

So, not voting may leave us with a President who will take us backwards and pick the next few justices on the Supreme Court who could unwind social progress.

Wearing jeans and passing out ball caps doesn’t make you a common man

The two leading candidates for the Republican nomination like to hob knob with the common folk. To show they are one of them, Senator Ted Cruz is wearing jeans and shirt with no tie. Donald Trump likes to wear his ball cap and hand them out as souvenirs. Yet, there is a big snag in their efforts.

Both Cruz and Trump have put forth tax proposals that have significant tax cuts for the wealthy. And, to make matters worse, both tax plans would materially increase the deficit to the extent there are not enough spending cuts to reduce the deficit, per former Republican Senator Alan Simpson.

While the tax cut for the rich is vintage Republican fare, the fact that both proposals increase the deficit run counter to the Tea Party concerns over reducing the deficit and debt. In Cruz’ case, it is especially hypocritical as he personally shut down the government in October 2013 and we would have defaulted on our debt if it were not for ten female senators who told Cruz to get out of the pool. Cruz said he did not care as he wanted to prove a point about the deficit. Yet, his tax plan would materially increase the deficit.

I have often said any Tom, Dick or Harry can get elected saying they will cut taxes. But, we need better stewardship than that. We need to pay down our debt and spending cuts cannot do it alone. That was the conclusion reached by the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Plan.

One thing is for sure. Neither Cruz or Trump can claim common status by doing exactly what the Republican establishment tends to do – favor the wealthy. That is not quite the revolution their fans are likely hoping for. Plus, being poor stewards with our debt strikes me as salesmanship and not governance.

We need to protect the children of the world (to protect ourselves)

There is one constant across all people, religions, and cultures. We love our children and want to protect them, nurture them and give them opportunity. Yet, we need to do a better job of protecting not just our children, but all children of the world. There are too many strident and zealous people who provide challenges to this goal. And, there is too much corruption among greedy leaders who stand in the way of helping.

Our missionary friend in Nigeria notes in his view the three greatest challenges we have are climate change, global poverty and global corruption. The latter seems out of place, but it is a major cause of disenfranchisement everywhere in the world, even in western countries. It stands in the way of getting resources and help to those in need and lays the groundwork for terrorist groups to find a way in to help. It is only too late, when the people realize the terrorists are far worse than the leaders.

Terrorists are very good at brainwashing adults and children leading them to extreme beliefs. Just as bigotry has to be carefully taught, so does hatred and zeal. It has to be nurtured and the terrorists are good at recruiting innocents and creating new generations of haters and using them as their army. It should not be lost on anyone, that the young impressionable person is strapping a suicide vest on, not the teacher.

Outside of the extreme example above, we tend to avoid thinking about helping our children. We have far too much short-sighted thinking that stands in the way of doing a greater good long term. We have too much corruption in politics that our profit makers get their way at the expense of others. And, the messages can easily be manipulated, so that blame can be assessed. We are too good at blaming others than looking at the real problem.

Here are few real truths that need to be addressed by leaders:

  • The World Economic Forum in their Global Risks report note the two greatest risks over the next ten years are the global water crisis and climate change inaction. Please ask your leader and want-to-be leaders what they intend to do about it. If they deny these issues are a problem, then do not vote for them.
  • The global maltreatment of women, including in western worlds, is an issue as it affects women and girls. Women must be viewed as partners not chattel, as to do otherwise is not only unjust, it is unwise, as women hold up half the sky. If a region does not value women, then it is competing in a world with half of its resources and intellectual capital.
  • To the first point, a major concern is overpopulation, which will heighten the impact of climate change and water. Our earth cannot support its people if we grow like expected and people consume more like western cultures. Plus, increased family size is highly correlated with poverty, so family planning is essential. The religions of the world need to get their arms around this issue and not prevent holistic family planning.
  • The refugee crisis must be addressed by all, including the US and Russia. Xenophobic fear mongering that is espoused by a few politicians does not serve the purpose. It is a resource issue and one country cannot bear the burden. Our Canadian partners are showing the US how to help, but we have decided to let politicians fear monger rather than help more. Russia needs to be part of the solution, instead of looking to gain influence at others’ expense which is Putin’s goal on most anything. Europe cannot do this alone and we need to get Syria more settled or the problem will continue.
  • When regions are in a state of disruption, little education is occurring. Our children are not getting the education they need if they are too consumed with just surviving. The refugee children are an extreme example of this, but when adults are disenfranchised, education suffers everywhere.

I have noted before that treating women better around the world will have an echo effect. It is not only the right thing to do, but economies will grow, we will be tapping more intellectual capital to solve problems and women do not compete like men do in politics, avoiding zero-sum games and seeking collaborations. I remind folks it took ten female senators to avoid the US from defaulting on its debts in October 2013, when Senator Ted Cruz single-handedly shut down the government.

Treating women better will enhance how we look to help our children. Girls are maltreated just like women, sometimes worse as they are sold as property or stolen. So, this echo effect will greatly help our children, through more stable economies and a greater focus on education. People should not lose sight that some of history’s greatest advancements came out of the Middle East. If we leave entire populations in disarray without education, that hurts us all.

 

 

While the Republicans bicker

While the Republican Presidential candidates and leaders bicker, it should be noted that the two Democrat candidates are far more civil and focused more on issues than mudslinging. Whether you agree with Bernie Sanders’ solutions, he is the most consistent candidate in speaking about our real issues in America. He is also offering more specific solutions rather than speaking in platitudes.

And, Hillary Clinton is giving a more pragmatic lens into why her approach is different than Sanders.This is the way it should be. I have heard neither candidate comment on the looks, sweatiness or intelligence level of the other. To me, that is an important distinction. Only John Kasich on the Republican side has had a similar sense of decorum and is speaking consistently about issues. Ironically, he has little chance of winning his party’s nomination as a result.

Yet, while these GOP shenanigans sink to new lows, a few other things are happening.

the 73rd consecutive month of job growth has occurred in the United States;
the unemployment rate remains below 5% at 4.9% per the Bureau of Labor;
the economy continues to be in growth mode, with the 5th longest growth period in our history and the most car and light truck sales ever in the US in 2015;
the business and tourism excitement with renewed relations with Cuba is palpable;
the Affordable Care Act has yielded several positives, but could use some improvements to make it better;
the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau created at the impetus of Elizabeth Warren has been hugely successful for punishing banks and credit card companies and getting compensation in penalties for defrauded and preyed upon consumers; and
Iranians have just voted in a greater number of moderates in their version of parliament.

We have problems in our country with the increased number of folks in poverty and disenfranchisement of urban and rural dwellers, but our country is doing pretty well. This is especially true in contrast to other countries. So, we need to build on these successes, not pretend they are not happening. And, we need to address the social injustice that is going on.

Dueling Banjos

In the early 1970s, Burt Reynolds breakout performance was in a movie called “Deliverance.” A highlight of a very interesting movie was a scene where a young boy and one of the adults on a rafting trip played “Dueling Banjos” in a song of instrumental one-upmanship, the boy with a banjo, the adult with a guitar.

It is with this backdrop, that I summarize dueling lies by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It should be noted the only truth is they both are lying. The parenthetical comments are the truth).

DT: Unemployment is not 4.9%. It is much higher around 30%. I heard one guy say it was 40% (We would be in a severe depression if that high. 4.9% is the truth per monthly BLS reports).

TC: It would not have been a big deal if we defaulted on our debt in 2013 (Not according to experts and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund).

DT: We are the most taxed country in the world (Not even close, 27th under one measure and 17th under another out of the top 30 wealthiest countries).

TC: Obamacare has been an utter failure (While not perfect and needing improvements, it has been pretty successful per a number of measures).

DT: 81% of white homicides are committed by black assailants (No, per the FBI it is more like 15% of the time).

TC: Donald Trump has recommended a tax plan that will increase taxes (No, like yours, both would reduce taxes to a degree, that the deficit will be significantly increased beyond the ability for spending cuts to reduce it per Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and a nonpartisan analysis).

DT: Global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese to steal our jobs (This may be the dumbest thing said by any candidate topping Ben Carson’s pyramid comment).

TC: I am the best solution to our problems in Washington (My opinion is the only way for Ted Cruz to be part of the solution would be to resign as Senator. He is part of the problem with his obstinance, grandstanding and name-calling).

To be frank, I am unimpressed with either of these candidates. They are both divisive  and not forthcoming with the truth. Trump’s history is one of exploiting others for money and has lapped the field in lying per nonpartisan fact checkers. Plus, he has demonized, mocked and name called several people and groups. Cruz has not only lied several times, accusations of his cheating have merit and he is known for grandstanding and not collaborating with his colleagues.

In my view, the best GOP candidate is John Kasich, but his voice is being drowned out by these two prima donnas. To me, Trump and Cruz’ leading the GOP voter polls is an indictment of the party.