So Much To Talk About And Weigh In On: Iraq, Economy, POTUS and More

IMG_1845Let’s start with president Obama. I have seen in the news media a piling on of negative criticism of everything he does. Now I am not one of those that thinks he walks on water and if you have read any of my blog you’ll see the many things I disagree with him on and think he has done wrong. But, I feel like it’s open season to bash him everywhere, for everything and that’s not right.

Maybe presidents shouldn’t have second terms. I feel like this is a complete replay of the end of George Bush’s second term. Everyone criticized everything Bush had done and it was a negative spiral that encompassed the entire 8 years. What pisses me off about Obama is he doesn’t know messaging. He makes no attempt to talk about his successes and lets the right call him weak and taking America down a notch. All of Syria’s chemical weapons have been removed and are being destroyed. I shouldn’t have to read that in the newspapers, Obama and his team should be out there talking up these things. No, success does not speak for itself. People follow a narrative given to them by a lazy media. George Bush, or Karl Rove, was brilliant in convincing the media and American people that war was needed in Iraq. He had his entire team out the with excellent messaging talking about why it was essential. We know the results of that. But, the point is Obama makes no attempt to talk up his victories. That is a grave mistake because people don’t pay attention and listen to the squeaky wheel: Dick Cheney.

Iraq is a complete disaster. Anyone who claims that it’s Obama’s fault doesn’t understand the situation. If he had left 10k troops in Iraq that would not have stopped what’s going on now. When we had close to 200k troops there we couldn’t contain the situation. Bush opened a Pandoras Box with toppling Saddam. I believe that was the catalyst for the Arab Spring, the uprising in Syria. Yes, you can clearly state that Mr. Obama has not explained a coherent foreign policy. I think all of the criticism of him from the right is what makes our Country look weak. We should be united in times of crisis.

In my view, the only way the U.S. could make an impact on Iraq and Afghanistan is to have 1 million military troops in each state  there for about 100 years. We can’t remake those states, they need to want to remake them themselves.

Turning to domestic issues, again Obama has failed in messaging. He should know the basics; people pay half attention to issues and believe what they hear the most. Has the Obama team been out there saying this problem with the immigrant children coming here is that president Obama is following a law president Bush put into place? No, he and his team are not informing people of the facts. It was the Bush law that made it impossible to return children immediately. Instead, Obama says, I won’t go there for a photo op. The American people can see this as complete arrogance and being out of touch. Once again Obama is letting the GOP try to frame the story. When, what’s needed for Obama is for him and his team to get out there and talk about why they are doing what they are doing.

And, in reality, what most Americans are focused on is jobs and unemployment. I keep seeing articles about why the public doesn’t feel better about the ‘improving’ economy. That’s because it’s not improving for tens of millions of people. The public’s #1 focus is their economic security. With approximately 40 million adults unemployed and millions more only being able to find part time jobs this is why the public isn’t feeling good. It’s why they aren’t spending money. The unemployed don’t have money to spend. The employed are too fearful of losing their jobs.

No one is focusing on job creation, job growth and good paying jobs. Raising the minimum wage isn’t going to solve this. We need jobs that pay much more than that.

Whether warranted or not, people hold POTUS responsible for everything, especially the economy.

 

Everything About The Way We Vote Must Change, Part 2

IMG_0274I can’t emphasize enough primaries and easier access to voting as I talked about in Part 1. Let a candidate come to New York for their first primary, see how well they fare. It bothers me a lot that inconsequential states like Iowa and New Hampshire can make or break a candidate. Who are they? Also to reemphasize about easier voting. This is a must. No more talk of voter suppression; all states should have voting by mail and/or voting online. We must stop making it difficult, or inconvenient for people to vote.

Electoral College This needs to end. Maybe it was feasible when our Country had 12 states, it’s not now. Winning the vote means you win the most votes. George Bush won the election when he was 500,000 votes behind Al Gore? That’s not right. I live in New York. New York is a Blue state so I could say I don’t even need to vote. Everyone needs to vote. And majority rules. I am sure there are other people in Red states who might vote DEM and their vote is overwhelmed by GOP votes. This needs to stop. One person one vote. This will make candidates talk to the populist and their issues rather than cow-tow to the loud voices of the right or left wing. They should be speaking for America, not fringe groups with agendas.

The Senate I don’t think it is right for the Senate of the U.S. to have 2 representatives per state. That is not democracy. Tiny states shouldn’t have the same voting rights as large states. We should have the number of Senators per state based on the population of the state. This would make the government run much smoother. No more letting the few who are pandering to a vast minority to obstruct our government to the point of complete paralysis as it has been for the last 5 years. What is happening today in the United States is an exact replay of the Great Depression. The last few years, as in the 1930s, you have a base of people who think austerity is the answer. If we look at history we will know that austerity is what caused the second recession and kept the U.S. in Depression for over a decade. Having more voices in the Senate can change that.

Other things to think about 

Term limits is something to consider. Although with what is going on today, the lunatic tea party is being somewhat curtailed by the old guard. So, term limits would get rid of the old and let the insane run the asylum. But, on the other hand, maybe they would be good. Letting new people come into govern and it might help the culture of corruption. I am undecided on this issue, let me know what you think.

You have to ask yourself at some point, why hasn’t president Obama, or Bush, changed the tax laws so corporations aren’t able to save tax dollars by keeping Trillions overseas? The American people would be behind that. The American people would be behind tax incentives for hiring right here in America. Why doesn’t that change?

It makes you wonder, who really is running this Country. Stay tuned for Part 3.

 

Let’s Party Like It’s 1999 — Bill Clinton George Bush McDonald’s

IMG_1843Who knew Prince would be so right in the lyrics he wrote in the early 1980s: Two thousand zero zero Party Over, OOPS Out of Time! I hope I am wrong about this but to me it’s looking a lot like 1999, the height of the Dot-Com Bubble era. The Nasdaq is now over 4,200, at its pique it was somewhere around 5,400; after the bubble burst it was at around 1,500 for years. The Dow is now flirting with 16,000. Today, as in back then, we had companies worth billions of dollars, but generated no revenue. Stock in general were over priced. I am hoping we are not heading for the same situation today. The jobs, good jobs, market didn’t recover from the recession starting in 2000; and they have only gotten worse since the financial collapse of 2008.

What many people don’t know is that in the later quarters of 2000 our economy was slowing almost to a stop. When George W. was inaugurated we were already in recession. Since the effects of the recession tend to be felt months later every thought it was Bush that caused the recession and the bubble to burst. It wasn’t. For most of Bill Clinton’s time in office the GDP was growing at over 4% (compared to about 1.5% now). The severity of the dot-com bubble bursting was so deep that it basically wiped out all of the growth for Clinton’s term. Since the growth was in the dot-com businesses, when they all went down Clinton pretty much had a record of no growth. The surpluses that were supposed to be there for as far as the eye could see came to a screeching halt. Bush was blamed for that, but it happened before he got into office. Trust me, he made it plenty worse though.

Our politics should be more open and honest. We should all know what the cause and effect of economics are so we can come together to do what’s best for our Country. Rather than pointing fingers at W. or Obama, we should all have a better understanding of these issues so our Country can grow with prosperity. W. of course made it worse with those tax cuts that are what’s driving most of the nation’s long term debt. They should never have been put in place; maybe only for families with an income of $50,000 or lower. But not everyone else. And the wars of course made everything worse. The loss of life, the wasted money. The ruining of the reputation of the United States as being the most powerful country on earth put in to question by the botched handling of the wars. It’s such a horrible shame that everything that goes on comes down to political pointing fingers. Not learning from the successes and failures of  past and current presidents.

Now we come to McDonald’s, Wal Mart and other workplaces that don’t pay a living wage. How does all of this fit in to what I have just been talking about. Easily and in one word. Jobs. We didn’t recover from the recession of 2000, the collapse of 2008; we need a major jobs bill. And I mean MAJOR. We need to get people back to work with jobs that pay living wages. We need to create jobs for the 10s of millions who have been unemployed for over a year. We need to stop bickering about every little thing and work together so people can restore their dignity, have a job that can feed their families. Our priorities are wrong. Our school children ranked 30th globally in knowledge. Our infrastructure is old and decaying. It’s time to invest.

The Country and the People will be better off for it, all around.

What Every One Missed Tuesday And Today And More

IMG_3399Tuesday night’s election results were a stinging loss for the tea party and the radical right wing. Even Chris Christie’s win showed moderates could be voted in strongly. The win in VA was a clear defeat for the tea party. Is this just backlash from shutting down the government  or a real move away from the radical non compromising right that has left this Country paralyzed. What was briefly mentioned in the news was that all the exit polls at all the locations said people’s top concern is still the economy and their jobs. This has been the case for over 3 years. What are our elected officials doing about what the people want them to be working on? They are ignoring it completely. President Obama uses empty rhetoric about pivoting to jobs but he has never done it. He barely mentions job creation; the last bill he came up with for jobs was in September 2011. Two years ago. That’s unacceptable. Especially since the American public has for more than 2 years said their top priority was jobs and economy. Now everyone knows its not the presidents job to create jobs, job creation bills come from the Congress. This Congress is filled with people who care little about the American public and only themselves and their jobs. I’d still like to hear Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid mention a job creation bill. So, what was the take away from Tuesday? Not what the American people said, just the overall politics of the races and what it means for 2014 and 2016.

What did people miss today about the jobs report? Umm, that it sucked. Creating 200,000 jobs is barely breaking even. And the fact that we have the New Normal of thinking this is positive news is an extremely worrisome sign. We need job growth of 500,000 per month for a year to get people back to work. People wonder why so many people are on government assistance like food stamps; its because they can’t find jobs. Some have jobs and still can’t afford food. For those that think the cruelty of cutting aid to people who need it should really take a closer look at the jobs situation. Workforce participation dropped again this report; that means that more and more people are giving up looking for work. All of those people are eventually going to be subsidized by the government. Why not invest that money now so they can get jobs, support themselves, lift their self esteem, and also bring in more revenue to the government. Seems simple, but no.

In other news, are we seriously close to signing a deal with Iran when inspectors haven’t been in their country yet? The sanctions are working, make them stronger and tighter and push for an immediate Syria like inspection and removal. Lightening up sanctions now is the wrong things to do. I hate to agree with Dick Cheney, but in this case I do.

ACA continues to haunt the president and the democratic party. I am still flabbergasted why Obama didn’t hire someone PR firm to inform the public all of the benefits of the program, 3 years ago. They should be hiring a crisis management team now. Remember when George W. was selling the Iraq war? He had his entire team out there week after week on the Sunday talk shows. Cheney, Powell, Rice the whole crew. Couldn’t Obama have taken that kind of route to inform people how this would benefit them? Or send out doctors, business people, spread the word that this will be good for them.

Consumer confidence fell last month by the most it ever had according to Gallup. GDP for the U.S. is 70% consumer spending. when consumers lose confidence they spend less. Their lowered spending has direct impact on growth. Predictions by economists are saying this years Holiday season will have the slowest rise in spending since 2009, that’s not good. What’s the solution to confidence, economic fears, job loss concerns? Simple, a multi year massive jobs creation bill.

Duck and Cover ** Obama Blinks ** George W. Bush

Image 62Wow, where to begin, the last few days have been mindbogglingly inane. President Obama could not look any weaker than he does at this moment. Its obvious what the White House is saying was not their original plan. They saw public opinion polls and what happened with our strongest ally voting down the use of force, so now Obama says he wants Congressional approval? Thats a load of crap. He doesnt want to be  blamed for strikes that have no support.  We had full Congressional support for the Iraq war in 2003; that didnt make us stronger as a Nation when things started going wrong.  And now this, Syria, is going to be the top priority of the United States government? Mr. Obama continues to focus on the wrong things; things most people aren’t interested in. Recent polls say 70% of the people have job creation and the economy on their minds. Yet this is completely ignored by this president. Instead of campaigning full throttle for getting people back to work. Consumer spending is down and thats a bad thing, the less consumers spend the fewer number of jobs that are created.

President Obama has done so much good for bringing America into the 21st Century in so many ways; from promoting equality with gay people to changing drug laws that were ineffective and discriminatory. I dont think things like this would have happened with a Republican in the White House.  Bringing health care for all would not have happened. Its a shame that he has been such a disappointment in so many other ways. They say having someone new in Washington is good, fresh blood, new ideas. A younger president makes the country feel younger. That was true with JFK, not with Obama. I think its good to know the ways of Washington before you become president. Knowing how deals are made, calling on deeply rooted relationships across the isle to help get things done. For 2016 lets nominate someone that knows the score, Hillary, Biden, not new comers like Paul Ryan, Rand Paul etc.

Back to Syria and the mess thats going on now. First off, we should never have been in the place we are now. Obama should have never drawn a Red Line without having a military plan ready to go and act on it immediately. Obviously his Red Line comment was ill conceived, but thats why we are in the situation we are in now. A President of the United States makes a statement/threat it must be carried out. Our president’s word has to be ironclad. This duck and cover of waiting 2 weeks before the Congress gets back makes him look weak to the rest of the world. In Syria and Iran they are already declaring victory. But this entire subject opens up a whole new can of worms. Whats our strategy, are we just going to lob a few missiles at Syria then call it a day? No one seems to think that would do any good. So do we get more involved in another Middle Eastern state and go for regime change? Spend years bombing Syria? When in reality there isnt a whole lot we can do. So we need a strategy. Why is it ok to kill 100,000 people but killing 1,200 with WMD the turning point? Obviously the bigger message is to Iran and what would Obama do when they also cross his Red Line?

We are in a lose/lose/lose position right now. We dont want to become involved in the Syrian civil war; we have a president who foolishly stuck his neck out and now has to act – but what should he do. Then we have one of the most dysfunctional Congresses in history and you want to task them with doing the right thing? There is no right thing. There is no right answer.

The reason George W. is in the title of this piece is that he and Obama could not be more different in their approaches to foreign policy. Bush was the Texas cowboy who invaded Iraq and made a complete mess of Iraq and strengthened Iran. But, I think, the world had more trust and fear of Bush than Obama. They knew Bush would follow through. Obama’s message to the Muslim world was one of outreach and compassion. So, why is the U.S.A. hated more now in the Muslim world than when Bush was in office? Good question.

This mess is all Obama’s making; if he had wanted Congressional approval he should have sought it months ago. I dont see a good outcome coming from this.

Why We Need Marriage Equality

IMG_1401Whats happening in the country right now is pretty remarkable in regards to Americans views of gay people. More and more Americans approve of same sex marriage, the latest CNN poll showed 58% of the public approves of same sex marriage. As more people realize they have gay kids, relatives, friends they realize there is no reason to discriminate against gay people. And for the upcoming generation, people under 30, they dont care in the least of someone is gay or straight. There are still ultra conservatives that are highly against gay marriage; I always wonder why those people dont spend more of an effort to reduce divorce than they do to try to deny peoples civil rights. Let me be totally clear, the way I see it and the way I understand the Constitution all citizens are to be treated equally and are able to pursue happiness. This issue is clearly a legal and moral verdict that says gays should be able to marry and be treated as equals to their non-gay peers.  Its pretty amazing that it was as recently as 2004 that Karl Rove used same sex marriage as a political wedge issue to get people out to vote for George W. Bush. The hate towards gays that that brought out was a disgrace in American history. It allowed gay youth to be bullied, beaten and killed. Karl Rove using peoples lives like that will certainly haunt him if there is an afterlife.

I want to focus on other parts of this issue; same sex marriage is good for our country, community and family itself. In the past gays had always been ridiculed, portrayed in movies as hopelessly destined to live a miserable life. In the Reagan years Ronnie was known to tell gay jokes to his buddies. Ronnie also, because of his bigotry towards gays, ignored the HIV/AIDS crisis for 7 years because he thought it was a gay disease. This of how many lives around the world would be saved today if Reagan allocated research funds to combat the disease. Now its a global epidemic with millions dying, which perhaps could have been lessened if Reagan had lifted a finger. This is an example of how discrimination against gays has actually hurt the entire world.

I want to talk about how acceptance of gay people will help the world, the U.S.A. and most importantly gay youth. When I was a kid struggling with my sexual identity I honestly didnt know what I was. Depictions of gays on TV or in the movies were all of very effeminate hairdresser type people. I knew that wasnt me so it was confusing for a teenager. I am so glad that there are positive role model examples for gay youth now, people who are willing to speak out and come out. Suicide rates among gay youth are about triple what they are of non-gay youth. Now if young people can see positive role models who are gay they can start to feel better about themselves and more accepted into society. This is where same sex marriage comes in and comes in strongly. If a young man in high school realizes he is gay and can not only deal with the fact that its ok he is gay; but he along with his non-gay friends can grow up and pursue part of the American dream that includes getting married and having a family. This is so important that the youth in our country feel that they have a future. Its equally important for the country to see that gays can and want to settle down for a longterm traditional marriage. What a great example this would show society, especially if the gay divorce rate is significantly lower than the non-gay divorce rate. Having married gay couples in a neighborhood, with or without children, would show such great stability to our nation that has a divorce rate of over 50%.  Also for those gay married couples that want children what better way is there for them to adopt, to have an arrangement to have their own kids. Stability is what this country needs and same sex marriage can bring it to our society.

Same sex marriage is vitally important to the future of our country. That high school boy no longer has to think of committing suicide he can think of a future just like his peers. For society the stability this could bring is something to learn from.  Its time to think about the future, the future of kids growing up who will one day run this country and world. People are born gay, just like they are born left handed. Its time to let the gay community become complete equals of non-gays and our society will be better off.

My goal is to have that high school boy or girl realize their future has the same opportunities and excitement as their peers. Join me in making a better future for them.

What If We Were Wrong About George W. Bush?

Image 73Today we think we know everything, we decided Bush ruined the economy; going into Iraq was the biggest military blunder the United States ever made. Adding the new Medicare entitlement, issuing TARP they were all things that we see now as a failure. After all one of the biggest drivers of the long term National debt are the Bush tax cuts. What if the way we look at things today is in fact proven wrong in history.

Lets start with Iraq; common knowledge now says going to war to remove Saddam Hussein was a complete waste of American and Iraqi lives, it took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan; a war that could have ended perhaps 10 years earlier if properly fought. But what if in history that time of invading Iraq was what made Muslim countries realize they didnt have to live under a dictator, they too could have free lives. Women could have equal rights with men. This could have been the catalyst for the Arab Spring; toppling the dictator in Egypt. And as we are seeing unfold the uprising of the Syrian people. Right now its an ugly mess that no one knows what to do about. Egypt seems like it could turn into an extreme state; Libya is a mess and mass slaughter is going on in Syria. But, what if, this is how freedom works. Perhaps in 50 years the Middle East will all be free democratic societies? They say the people of Iran are very similar to the people of America. Imagine a Middle East with no wars, no conflicts; all because they make their decisions democratically and all voices are heard. Imagine if the start of all this came from George W. Bush’s idea to topple Saddam and give the Iraqi’s freedom and democracy. In 50 years Afghanistan could also be a free prospering democracy with a thriving economy and justice for all, especially women. And, in turn, if the Palestinians’  also opted for freedom rather than war and terrorism and the long standing grudge with Israel was over. Imagine a future where education and tolerance were taught instead of hatred and violence. And what if this happened because of the invasion of Iraq.

As far as the economic meltdown in 2008; and the lackluster job growth during the 00’s we now know a few more things. One is that all of the economic success of the Clinton administration was due the the tech bubble which burst as W. was coming into office. The glory days of 4% GDP were really a myth. That left W. in a big hole when he entered office. At the end of his term in office the bank failures and economic collapse were largely due to the over leveraged mortgage market. But, it was actually Bill Clinton that signed the infamous law that let the speculators and Wall Street take the gambles they did. It was  Clinton, not Bush, who deregulated the mortgage market such that allowed for its collapse. Whereas Bush is the one that takes complete blame for the second Great Depression we are still going through, what if it actually wasnt his fault or his doing? So, one of his biggest legacy failures might not have been caused by him.

The overspending and creating a new entitlement with Medicare today is seen as a failure; in the future it could be seen as the beginning of universal healthcare for all in the United States of America. What president Obama has initiated as his healthcare plan could be viewed as a continuation of that plan, what all other industrialized wealthy countries have: Universal Healthcare. Bush’s actions could be seen as a step in the right direction.

What we must admit now is that we dont know what the future holds. All of the ‘what if’s’ I just stated could turn out to be completely wrong; but perhaps they could be proven to be completely right. Look 50, 100 years into the future, Mr. Bush could be seen as a visionary who promoted a free society. His work in helping with AIDS was remarkable. We do have to realize that we dont know now what the future will hold. What we must acknowledge is that today’s thinking could be proved wrong.

We might have been completely wrong about George W. Bush and his legacy in history. Or not.