Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Regular order

As Sen. John McCain says, “ We need to get back to regular order.”
Indeed there is much wisdom in that admonition.
     The way government is supposed to work is when we identify a problem, we analyze the cause. And then try to fashion a reasonable remedy to address that problem. Unless , of course, that problem is massive carnage caused by our loose regulation of high powered guns and ammunition. In that case, we are told not to “politicize” the issue, and to simply pray instead. 
    I don’t disagree that prayer is powerful, and needed, but so is sensible gun registration and regulation. Our Legislative bodies are told by the NRA that any regulation is unacceptable, so Congress refuses to go there. That is far from “regular order”, and it is lamentable, because it makes us incapable of addressing a major issue, to wit: the proliferation of massive gun violence which is unique to our country. No other country is experiencing such gun related carnage. Clearly, they have problems created by terrorists with explosive devices and weaponized vehicles, but not from the guns which bedevil us. 
   Is it not time to try to draw new lines in the sand when a crazed wealthy gunman can shoot nearly 500 people like fish in a barrel out of a hotel window with legally obtained weaponry by the dozens, that may face been illegally modified? Their only sin was enjoying a country music concert, which , in America, we should be free to do without risking our lives. 
     Are we to simply observe a moment of silence, pray, and  and go about our lives as powerless eunuchs who cannot use “regular order” and common sense to do something about it? I think not. We have to take on the gun lobby to take back our country and restore sanity and “ regular order”. If we fail to do so, we have only ourselves to blame. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I am every bit as much a yankee doodle dandyish guy as anyone, and I always love to wave the flag on the Fourth of July , and any other patriotic occasion. I get a lump in my throat when I hear the star spangled banner being sung at the beginning of sports events , and my eyes mist up when Kate Smith sings God bless America during the 7th inning stretch. 
    This year, however, I have been getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read tweets from the current occupant of the Oval Office which are inconsistent with our democratic values, and contemptuous of a free press and the First Amendment. His conduct is not just unseemly, it is downright un-American. I will still wave the flag on the Fourth, but my unabashed enthusiasm for the expression of my patriotism is tempered somewhat by the reality of the intemperate conduct of our current President. 
He does not make us proud to be an American . He makes us embarrassed by the reality of his juvenile tit for tat reaction, which is not only Un-Presidential, but Un-Christian as well. There is no  turning of the other cheek here. 
it's all about striking back at your enemies.
      I believe it was Richard Nixon who , at the end of his Presidency, famously said, 
Always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.".
So hate not America. Love what is best about our country. And navigate around our current President. The best thing that could happen is that we simply pay him no heed. 
    May God continue to bless America in spite of it all. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

39 states had their electoral databases hacked by Russian spies. That is a fact. The Attorney General has not been briefed on this? The President met 9 times with the head of the FBI, and never asked about the "Russian thing", and is photographed laughing and joking with Russians the day after he fires the FBI head, and only Russian photographers were let in to film that moment. Huh?
     I know. It strains credulity. But so does that Dear Leader cabinet meeting. And to think the President was thrilled by it and furious at those who mocked and criticized it. Unfortunately his world has become our world, and we are all upside down as a result. And the blind partisanship of the "see no evil Republicans" is Trumping our constitutional democracy. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Chicken Little Republicans

Chicken Little Republicans

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! So says a chorus of Republican Congressmen, convincingly. The problem is that the evidence for that claim is wholly unconvincing, and simply does not support that conclusion. Unless there is further sabotage to the health care program now known as Obamacare, the system will survive. It would even thrive with a few fixes and tweaks. Instead, the Republicans have figuratively hired dozens of crop dusting planes to seed the skies to produce as much rain as they can in the hope that the resulting torrential downpour will wash away what's left of the program. Political prognosticators always need a reliable bogeyman to rail against so as to advance their agenda. So, " Obamacare" became the bogeyman. 
     The real agenda? Cutting Medicaid by $880 billion in order to fund tax cuts for the top one  percent of our citizens. The stage has now been set for Republican tax reform plans. What? All of the rhetoric aside, the plan which takes away health care coverage for the poor, the elderly, and the disabled rewards the rich and punishes the poor. There is not enough lipstick in an Estée Lauder warehouse to cover up the fact that they are offering us an ugly pig. Repeal and replace has been a Republican hoax all along. They believe in repeal, but they have no sensible program to replace it. 
     The fact that the Republican House members were able to join ranks to finally pass something does not mean that that "something" is worth anything. The end zone victory celebration was a bit premature. They were cheering a half-time comeback, but the game is far from over, and one interception , spectacular as it may have been, does not a victory make. 
     The saddest part of this whole saga is the loss of integrity and credibility of moderate House members, many of whom reside in NY, and who have let their party loyalty trump their common sense. Seven of the nine New York Republican Congressmen voted for the bill. Dan Donovan of Staten Island and John Katko of Central New York were the only profiles in Republican courage. North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik offered a pitifully unconvincing rationale for her vote, and Congressman John Faso of the Hudson Valley reversed polarity on a direct promise to one of his constituents with a brain tumor after personally hugging her and telling her he would never vote to change the pre-existing condition exemption in the current law. They are two Congresspersons who should be given the bums rush for their timidity, insincerity and inability to stand up for their constituents against  their own party's leadership demands. 
     Simply put, they caved. They put Party above people, and that is not acceptable, in fact, it is contemptible. There are no winners here to be cheered. The Congressional win is only temporary. There is a Senate to contend with, and if these congresspersons attempt to further excuse their votes by saying they were relying on the Senate to fix what they had ineffectively crafted and passed, that is even worse. What happened when Mr. Smith got to Washington? Jimmy Stewart died. So did his fighting Congressional spirit. It has been replaced by political operatives who do the bidding of those special interests that fund their campaigns, and the average citizen be damned. Sad, but true. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Abe Lincoln and the Affordable Health care Act

"When I find myself in times of trouble , Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, Let it be, Let it be." Those are wise lyrics penned by Paul McCartney. It never hurts to pause and pray, and with the Republican Congress passing the repeal of the Affordable care act, it is time for contemplation and prayer. Pray for the Senate to see the light. Pray for the electorate to see through the pious platitudes of those representatives who assured their constituents they would not lose under this new Health care bill, knowing full well that that was not true, and pray for our President that he will be hoisted upon the petard of his own insincerity by the constituents who voted for him but could now be the biggest losers if the bill he supported becomes law. 
   Sometimes it takes radical action to awaken the public to what could really happen, and it is my sense that this "victory" for Ryan and Trump will be the rope from which the noose is fashioned , and from which they will all eventually be hung. 
     The irony here is that Trump's voters will finally come to realize that they have been had. They have been sold a bill of goods that will not materialize. Coal is not coming back. Building huge walls while letting our bridges crumble is not the answer, and squeezing those with meager resources to enhance the fortunes of those who already live in a world of plenty is doomed to fail, eventually. Whether this is the event that will turn the light bulbs on in those living in dimly lit quarters, only time will tell. But, the photographic evidence of a group of older white mostly millionaire men cheering their victory in the rose garden may finally galvanize voters as never before. It looked like a smug frat boy reunion, or a gala grand opening for a Trump golf course. In my view, the radical right wing's attempt to 
repeal " Obamacare" will not succeed, in large part because what they are replacing it with is a much more inferior product. Ultimately,  those who have shown their true colors will be shown the door., and given an unceremonious heave ho. "Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, hey hey hey...goodbye!" And don't let the door hit you in the derrière on the way out. 
     And to my fellow Democrats, a word of advice: Keep your sunny side up. It may get a little worse before it gets better, but 2018 will soon be here. Stay alert. Remain vigilant. And don't let anyone forget what just happened. And remember those immortal words of the greatest Republican President ever: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Re-building or Re-Making the Democratic Party

Whither thou goest Democratic Party? These are trying times for those who embrace the jackass label. The challenge is to step into the best of the traditions of the party of Jefferson and Jackson, a/k/a the party of the people , without becoming a caricature in the process. That may require some adept maneuvering which the new party leadership has not yet demonstrated. 
   The road show involving new Chair Tom Perez and almost standard bearer Bernie Sanders did not entirely inspire recently. Sanders was cheered , and Perez was booed. It was a shaky lift off at best. Many of Sen. Sanders supporters, predominately young, obviously still " Feel the Bern", but it is a tough task for him to transform that passion into one that will build the Democratic Party. Part of the problem is that Bernie himself confesses to being an independent, not a Democrat. That limits his credibility as a preacher for the party. Why join and support a party that he won't join, although he supports Its goals. There is something inherently flawed about that message. 
     And Tom Perez, for all of his Hispanic bona fides and Labor Cabinet Secretary credentials, has all of the charisma of a thin, raspy voiced, college economics professor . In short, he hasn't the looks and the charm of a Marco Rubio, or the passionate persuasiveness of a Ted Cruz type. I think the party needs a better spokesman, but even more importantly, it needs a. convincing message. Just railing against the idiocy of Donald Trump is not enough. 
     In my opinion, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, would have been a better choice. He is young, sincere, charismatic, a good speaker, and he has a message, both personal and political. The Democratic National Committee chose not to embrace the new, but clung instead to the old, and its slip is showing as a result. And the decision to continue Nancy Pelosi in the House as Democratic leader may have been  an appropriate recognition of her leadership skills, but it is still viewed by many as a throwback to the old guard, Hillary, etc.
   If the Democrats are serious about taking 
back the House in 2018, they have to provide some new leadership and a new message. Criticizing the "do nothing Republican Congress" will help, but something positive is needed. 
     Sending Vice-Chair Keith Ellison out on the hustings with Bernie Sandra was not much better than Perez, although at least he wasn't booed. We still need to do better. Enlisting grass roots elected officials like Mayors,  who have connectivity with their constituents is a good idea. Developing a concise pithy message is even more important. I always tried to explain the difference between the two parties this way to my college aged government students.: 
Republicans say, " I've got mine...go get your own", while Democrats say, "I've got mine, can I help you get yours?" Therein lies the difference in the approach of the two parties, in a nutshell. Back in the Clinton days, the message we were told to convey, as Surrogate Speaker's, was a three worded one: " Opportunity, Responsibility, Community." Ensure opportunity, promote responsibility and develop as a community. It worked out pretty well back then. 
   But today, we Democrats need a new slogan. Something that gets right to the heart of the matter. So , the slogan could be " Republicans have got theirs...Democrats will help you get yours...and keep it. " I think that works. What do you think? 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Acute case of Trumpitis?

Donald Trump makes me sick. Literally. I finally figured that out , but I am still looking for the cure. So far, it is elusive. I have been hospitalized twice since the Trump inauguration, first, with a very bad case of bronchitis, and then a couple of weeks later with a bad reaction to blood thinning medication which I have been taking for a newly diagnosed A Fib condition. Until now, I have had no problems with my heart. In fact,  I have been the picture of health. Granted,  I just turned seventy, and maybe some chickens have come home to roost, but I largely blame Trump for my current problems. 

   I am having a vey difficult time reconciling my long term respect for our institutions of government, and the utter joke it is now becoming under Trump. I taught high school social studies for several years, and in later years, American government courses at the college level, and always tried to instill in my students a basic respect for our values and our institutional set of checks and balances. But the current state of affairs  leaves me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and my search for a corrective bromide has been so far,  elusive. Every time I turn on the news, it only gets worse. Watching the cartoon channel can only go so far. The news has become like
 " This day in crazy...". I only wish I could summon the ostrich like properties of the Republican leadership in Congress, and stick my head in the sand with them, but there doesn't appear to be enough sand In the sandbox to cover the multitude of craziness with which we have been besieged since Donald Trump ascended what he appears to think is a throne. So Donald Trump being the cause of all my recent maladies is as plausible a theory as the one Trump ascribes to that his predecessor had his "wires tapped" and is a bad, nasty guy. 
   I was in a restaurant in Venice,  Florida the other night listening to an Irish piano bar singer who was quite entertaining. It was a welcome respite, until he ended the evening by passing out small American flags for the crowd to waive as he sang Lee Greenwood's " Proud to be an American". The lead waitress grabbed my hand and made me lead a conga line to a George M. Cohan medley of "it's a grand old flag". 
     Ordinarily, I am happy to engage in unabashed flag waving, but for some reason, I had very mixed feelings about this conga line and felt compelled to sit down after two rounds around the restaurant. I just don't feel like celebrating the current state of affairs, and the direction our new President has taken the country in. My flag is becoming unfurled, and that's not good. 
    I don't want to cheer on anti immigrant round ups and Mexican wall building, and I refuse to praise Vladimir Putin. I also think the press has a legitimate right to hold this or any administration accountable, and that our first amendment rights are sacrosanct. 
   So until sanity is somehow restored to our government, I am going to channel my inner Yankee Doodle Dandy in a different way. I am going to try to heal myself, and start by erecting a " Gardol" shield around my news consumption. Maybe I still can't flip the channel, but I can at least turn down the volume. Or even better, put on my headphones while I walk the treadmill  at the gym and listen to The Bee Gees " Stayin' alive!" Right now that appeals to me a lot more than Lee Greenwood.