2106 The Candidates The Issues The Media The Fiasco

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I was watching Meet the Press this past Sunday and saw Chuck Todd interview Jeb Bush. The entire interview was about Jeb’s drop in the polls. Why was he dropping, why wasn’t he the frontrunner, what does this say about his future Todd kept asking. I kept longing for Todd to ask “how would you safely get us out of Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria?” Or, “the numbers look good on the economy but they aren’t good for every day Americans, they are earning less working more and tens of millions of uncounted unemployed people, how specifically would you address this?”

But, no. All he asked were unimportant irrelevant questions. This is what our media has become. No substance, just about producing ratings. It is very much a shame in that the American people aren’t being educated so they can make informed make decisions. And, the candidates don’t have to talk about anything specific.

Everyone is talking about the CNBC debate and the GOP candidates getting together to make demands of the media before the next debate. This is an extremely dangerous situation. The news media is supposed to be the 4th estate of the U.S. government. They should never give in to the demands of any candidate. As President Obama said last night, how could these crybabies ever deal with Putin if they can’t deal with CNBC moderators?

So true.

The CNBC debate wasn’t as much of a fiasco as everyone has made it out to be. But, the debate itself was set up very poorly. Five or 6 different people asking questions? That’s too many people. Asking Trump if his candidacy was like a comic book character, asking Jeb why his numbers are dropping. See above. The audience wants substance, not BS.

The point is really no longer about if George Bush made the wrong decision invading Iraq (YES he did) or if Obama’s seemingly lack of strategy has made the situation worse (probably); the point is how do we fix it. How would each candidate fix the messes we are involved in. Sorry Mr. Trump, staring down your rivals won’t change anything.

If you look at the candidates from the GOP I am hard pressed to find one acceptable candidate. Sure, Trump and Christie make me laugh with the ridiculous things they say, but they aren’t suitable. Carly? How many times does this woman have to lie for people to get it. She shamelessly plays the gender card by saying ‘Hillary’ ever other word. Carson, Huckabee, Jindal, Cruz all just so full of bigoted hate and pandering to their bases. Unsuitable. The rest? Forgettable.

On the Dem side it’s a bit different since so few are running. Really the only two meaningful people left are Clinton and Sanders. Whereas I have not decided yet, Bernie talks a great game but can he win in a general election? Hillary is probably the most prepared and competent person to ever run for the presidency. It would be nice to see a strong experienced leader that doesn’t need the learning curve Obama and Bush needed.

There are so many things going on today that choosing our next leader is vitally important. Even if you just look at the Supreme Court, a Dem must win.

There are so many other issues as well. Actually being able to create real jobs that can pay enough for a family to live on. There is a reason why we have more people living in poverty than any other time in our history: because the newly created jobs, while impressive in numbers, are low paying, part time, and unacceptable. A dire warning to Hillary, if you keep up the Obama happy dance about the economy you will look out of touch and uncaring.

There are so many other issues from income inequality to education to legalized discrimination to Climate Change. And many many more. But we aren’t hearing any substantial conversations on any relevant issues, and, we probably won’t.

Right now this is a fiasco. Candidates running wild, trying to bully the news media. The news media unable or unwilling to ask candidates the questions to move our country forward and the worst of all; I don’t think there is one candidate running who has the American peoples best interest and the country’s best interest as their first priority. It’s all about them.

So, where does that leave us? In a shitty place. This is definitely not what our founding fathers wanted for the future of this country.  Together we must change everything.

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Twenty Fourteen Is So Unusual Yet So Familiar ** We Can Change It

IMG_2175Look around the world. Crisis with ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Lebanon in a state of collapse. The United States torn by the latest race crisis and a vicious attacking of a president in his second term.  And, of course, the never ending Israel Palestine peace agreements.

Now, I didn’t really pay much attention to politics until it was thrust in my face on September 11, 2001 when 2 iconic towers that were 3 blocks from my home were demolished and I wasn’t able to return to my home for weeks. Then I started to pay attention. Yes I knew for the bombing in 1993 but killing 6 people was not the goal of the terrorists. It didn’t invoke fear in us New Yorkers or the country in general. 

Flash back to the mid to late 1980s. I was in college and paid little attention to politics. But, what I did hear was, “Reagan taking too many vacation days, Reagan out of touch with every day people.” Flash forward to 1998 with Bill Clinton. He was the victim of a vicious right wing mob mentality. Did he have sex outside of marriage? Yes. Was he not upfront about it. No, he wasn’t. To have the GOP impeach him over this was much more than nonsense and posturing. This was the exact time the Clinton administration was starting to go after bin Laden. Was their attention diverted because of the impeachment? How could it not have been?

Flash forward to 2006 – 2008. Everything Bush did was wrong. He was criticized about being out of touch, his approval ratings were dismal. He was accused of taking too many vacation days.

Flash forward to today. President Obama is being accused of all of the above. And more. If you think Obama walks on water and can do no wrong; stop reading my blog and tweets and get some help. There is no one on the face of this earth who does no wrong and doesn’t second guess themselves. So, Obama is being treated to the same treatment most of the 2 term presidents have been treated to. Don’t take it personally. Get over it.

More importantly is what happens next. ISIL is a serious threat, can Obama get a global coalition together to defeat, dismantle and destroy it? Let’s hope so. Not because we are DEMS or GOP, but because we all should want what’s best for the world. The race issue in the United States, I am not sure how that will be solved. I think the media does a horrific job of making things worse, just to get ratings. We don’t know what happened that day so we aren’t in a position to make a decision. Once we know swift action should be take; with facts in hand.

What can you and I do to make our current and future prospects in the United States better? It comes down to listening with an open mind. Don’t ever be like a Fox viewer who listens to nonsense all day. Hear. Listen. Learn.

When we know the facts we use our greatest power to vote.  

 

Obama’s Wars *** Weigh In

IMG_3815I know everyone today will be talking about Mr. Obama’s speech at West Point laying out his future approach to terrorism and America’s place in the world. This piece is not about that. It’s about President Obama’s Wars.

First, it’s so ironic to call them Obama’s wars, since he didn’t start them, wasn’t involved in their strategy. They were handed to him when he came in to office in 2009. Now, it was no surprise to him that this is what he was inheriting and this is what he campaigned for.

The other day President Obama laid out a time line of withdrawal from Afghanistan. He was immediately criticized by Senators McCain and Graham. Now the 2 of them do bring up good points about setting a date certain for withdrawal and how that is not the optimal way of ending a war. It should be more about ‘conditions on the ground.” Whereas that’s a nice sentiment it’s completely unrealistic.

The GOP hawks have criticized Obama to no end about the way he removed our troops from Iraq and how there is a Civil War going on there now and al Qaeda has captured land the U.S. Military fought and died to liberate. As I have mentioned before, that disgusts me. That our soldiers lost their lives and now Qaeda flags fly there.

What everyone is missing is that ‘conditions on the ground’ will never be good enough for us to leave. The McCain’s of the world say we should have left 10 or 20K troops there. Nice thought but, that would not have been enough to fight off al Qaeda, since the 200k troop force we had there didn’t fight them off.

The same goes for Afghanistan. The conditions will never be right for us to leave. We need to understand we weren’t there to remake their Country. We tried and it didn’t work. Our mission there was to decimate the al Qaeda group that attacked us on 9/11. Between Presidents Bush and Obama that goal was accomplished. We should have drawn down years ago.

In Afghanistan we are in a no win situation. Since the ‘core’ Qaeda was mostly decimated every terror group calls themselves affiliates of al Qaeda. President Obama was correct when he said that now it is time for the Afghans to set their own  future. It’s time for them to protect themselves and time for Americans to come home.

This might be pie in the sky dreaming, but I wish George W. Bush would come out and applaud what Mr. Obama has decided to do. I also wish he would have had his back over the NSA spying scandal.

Whether you are an American citizen, a past president, me, we should all have the same goal. Keeping the United States of America safe and the best place on earth!

My Response To John McCain NYT Piece

IMG_3782Mr. McCain you do make some valid and some interesting points. I think your general thesis for your argument is incorrect.

American weakness, as you called it, I believe started with George W. Bush. The utter failure of the Afghan and Iraq wars is the time people around the world stopped seeing us as invincible. I remember seeing you on the Sunday talk shows during the Iraq war, talking about how poorly it was being handled. You made suggestions on what should have been done. While our military is the best in the world, the strategy that was used in both wars made the U.S. look not only weak, but incompetent.

An incompetent opponent is not one to be feared and not a strong one. It was not in Crimea where Mr. Putin showed his disregard for America’s place in the world. Putin’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 would be a better example. Putin was not afraid of W. and W. did nothing about it.

It’s not right to criticize President Obama’s ‘reset’ with Russia; when you can look back to hear George Bush ‘seeing in Putin’s eyes’ or whatever he said. Sometimes it’s not our POTUS, sometimes it’s Putin.

As far as Iraq goes, you have said it is Obama’s fault for the chaos there because there isn’t a residual force or 5 or 10,000 American troops. That is completely wrong. The U.S. could not control Iraq when we had 200,000 troops there. Ten thousand wouldn’t help them now. The fact that an al Qaeda flag flies in Fallujah is sickening after so many Americans lost their lives their freeing that city.

As far as Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Russia, Crimea; the U.S. needs to decide if we want to be on a constant war footing. Because of the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan the American people don’t want to be involved. That’s a direct result from the fiascos of the last 2 wars. Many have lost faith and trust in all government, more I believe have lost faith in the governments ability to best utilize the military.

While I do agree that Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is opaque at best, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize him for each and every global crisis we have had. I would like to hear a clear foreign policy from the Obama administration, but not holding my breath.

The point of this piece is to disagree with almost all of your conclusions, not to slam President Bush, although it would have been helpful if he knew about Sunni and Shia being at war for 700 years, the point is that America being the place everyone feared is not on Obama’s shoulders.

I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, but one must learn from history in how to move forward.  You seem to have selective memory. I hope you read this. And, I thank you for your service to our Country.

What is America’s Place in Today’s World?

Today in the Washington Post there was an article about how it was easier for women to commit suicide than seek divorce in Afghanistan; as heart breaking as that is its not an uncommon story that we hear from the Middle East. You hear about public stonings, rape victims being put to death for infidelity; women not allowed to leave their homes. These are just a few examples but there are many many more; they also include Egypt after the Arab Spring having someone try to be a new dictator; chaos in the government, army and police in Afghanistan; similar situations in Iraq. Full out Civil war in Syria. Iran who represses its citizens, has public stonings as well and is trying to obtain a nuclear weapon. And of course the never ending violence surrounding Israel and its right for existence.

My questions is what can the United States of America do about any of this. We have tried for a peace deal for Israel since the states inception. We have been in Afghanistan for over 11 years trying to help them build a better society but its not working. We tried in Iraq, we toppled a brutal dictator and tried to help establish an Iraqi democracy. Results there are tentative at best. But, we cant change everything. Condoleezza Rice wrote an interesting op ed piece in the Washington Post a few weeks ago; she discussed what America’s place in the world should be. That is a great question for all Americans; what place do we want in the world? Do we want to be the world’s police, get ourselves involved in every battle every insurgency? Or do we want to focus on our protection, like the war against terror and using drones.

These questions of course are extremely difficult to answer. Can anything we do change the hatred for thousands of years with the Sunni and Shia? Can we modernize societies that cut peoples hands off for stealing? Our being in Afghanistan should teach us that we cant change another country’s culture. Sure, maybe if we had a couple million troops there for 40 years we might be able to, but we would also be seen as occupying the country which would in turn make for even more fighting.

Its my belief that change will come only when those involved want it. The surge didnt make Iraq stable, the Sunni Awakening did. These people all have to want a better, safer, freer life. There are things we can do however. Number one is for us to get our act together. For us to act as a united country; no matter who is president we stand behind them. Right now we look like a mockery of what we once used to be. We have partisan bickering over the words Susan Rice said; when the real issue is what happened, why wasnt their security. We as a country need to come together. Our GOP and DEMS are acting like the Sunni and Shia; in constant battle. Obama meeting Romney for lunch today could be such a great uniting act; but I am doubtful it will be. So, first is have politicians here all on the same page, all with the same goals, making our country better. That would set a huge example to the world. Second we should create or help to create some sort of Arab Muslim UN of sorts where new democracies in the Mid East can go to for help. Turkey is a democracy that could help other countries learn to govern, protect themselves and be free. Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Libya they could all use guidance. Their peers should try to help them. Also America should always let it be known we stand for peace and freedom for all people and will help in anyway we can; without going to war.

There are things we can do to help around the world, the policies we have been pursuing are not working. We should rethink them using some of my suggestions above. But we need to get our house in order first, and our financial house too. We should be that Shining City on the Hill that everyone wants to live in and we should help others achieve it.

President Al Gore – We Would Be Better Off – Must Read Before Voting

You know how its fun to play the “what if” game; what if something different had happened what would the outcome be today. There is a big what if that I have thought about that I have never heard anyone mention. What if Al Gore was president on September 11th? How would he have reacted and what would his decisions as POTUS mean to us today.  Every decision made by George W. Bush has a direct impact on our lives today; as do all previous presidents. But what really interests me is Bush v Gore, GOP v Dem; how decisions are made, what impact those decisions have and for our upcoming election who is more likely to make good decisions for the Country.

Back to that September morning and lets say Al Gore was the president. Now its obviously very difficult to know what someone else would have done in this kind of situation, and the Dems always get criticized for being soft on war. First, according to Clintonians they warned the incoming Bush administration that our biggest threat was from terrorism. If this is true would Al Gore have done more to prevent 9/11? That would be nice if it never happened but for this scenario it did happen. I think Gore would have gone full force into Afghanistan to root out the terrorists and try to find bin Laden and topple the Taliban regime. The major difference I think is that Gore would have kept his focus on Afghanistan until the job was done. Also, Gore might have used the Powell Doctrine, which is go in with overwhelming force; which Bush did not do. The US barely had any troops on the ground.

The main difference with the war would have been not going into Iraq. I think its a sure bet that Gore would not have invaded Iraq; this has huge consequences. One, it would have kept the focus on the terrorists in Afghanistan, we might have found bin Laden back then. We could have possibly left in 2003 or 04. In addition to the colossal waste of money and human life the United States could have kept its reputation as the sole military superpower that has complete competence.  The Iraq war made our country look weak, unfocused and unable to get the job done. Thats still going on in Iraq today. Also Iraq was an excellent counter weight to Iran.

Another huge issue that Gore would not have done is the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. These tax cuts are one of the largest parts of our National Debt. They were unnecessary at the time and now have us so far in debt that we are on the verge of bankruptcy. This is also a huge issue. The tax cuts were promised to promote growth and create jobs; they did neither. We are in such dire straits with our economy today that we cant get rid of them. But the bigger question is, what would our economy be like if they were never enacted? How much stronger would we be financially today and throughout the 2000s if there were no tax cuts?  I dont know enough about the financial crisis to know how much of the blame for that goes to W. and how much goes to others; I dont completely understand the credit default swaps, no matter how many times I have seen them explained with illustrations.

Think before you vote. Which party is more likely to go to war, cut taxes and increase the debt? Which party is more responsible, has been the only party to run surpluses and is less reckless. If Al Gore had been president our debt would be about 2/3 less than it is now; the prestige of our country and military might would still be in tact; we could have been war free since 2004. If you really think about who, the person and the party, has the right rationale for making decisions and you carefully weigh Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, the clear winner is President Obama.

Time To Change The Mission In Afghanistan

Has the world turned upside down?  When I saw in yesterdays news that ‘President’ Karzai was demanding that all US troops go back to their bases; I was shocked, utterly shocked.  The United States of America and its Military do not take instructions from anyone but the Commander in Chief or his appointed Generals.  Earlier in the day I read that the Taliban had called off talks with the U.S.A.; a known terrorist group says they don’t want to talk to the most powerful country on earth?  After the burning, accidental burning, of some Koran’s 6 US military and civilians working to make it better in Afghanistan are shot dead at point blank range.  Then one wonders why the next day an American soldier loses it and goes out and shoots 16 innocent Afghans?  Now, in no way am I saying their killing was justified.

Now take a step back and look at all of this internal (American and Afghan) game changing events.  Its my opinion that we have the wrong mission in Afghanistan.  We talk about not being able to leave because al-qaeda might come back; al-qaeda are like roaches, they will be back, in fact they are everywhere.  President Obama has brilliantly used the drone program to eliminate many terrorists and people that are a threat to the US; he has used this approach much better than W. did.  The mission to leave some sort of stabilized government and population in Afghanistan in my opinion is impossible.  The Afghans are in the 8th Century, we can’t bring them to the 21st Century; even if we stayed there forever.  Vice President Biden’s plan was what we should have done and what we should immediately do now.  Change this mission to counter-terrorism.  This way 10 or 20,000 troops can be there, the drones can be there and we can protect our interests.  Our interests are the safety of our homeland and the crushing of terrorist groups.  Its time for strong leadership, its time to change the mission, its time to bring the other 80,000 Americans home.  It obviously can’t be done so we look weak or like we are running away; it must be done in strength.