The president gave a great press conference and in what may be quite historic only called on female reporters for questions to the chagrin of a lot of men (and that rhymes appropriately). I watched the press conference and until someone pointed it out on a later news program I did not notice that all those asking the questions were women. Bully for Barack! It’s about time.
The press was long a bastion male only fraternity and women took a lot of flack (and still do in some venues) over getting their chances and opportunities to show that they could report the news of the day just as well and in many cases even better than men. For far too long a lot of news outlets (and there is still some of that even today) news programs went for the pretty face, especially if it was a female. So a lot of women had to climb a much higher standard just to get a toehold.
On to the press conference. The president was definitely in rare form and in a slightly festive mood it seemed to me. He seemed relaxed and confident and ready to take on the next two years of what promises to be a hard-nosed battle with congress that is now in the hands of the Republicans. But he seemed ready for that battle and prepared not to just stand by idly and try to polish his legacy, but ready, willing and able to make moves and take actions that will have a lasting impact on our nation and its people and upon his legacy.
He isn’t acting like a lame duck and his poll numbers have jumped up over 10 percent in the past couple of weeks reflecting his mood and the fact that he is standing up to congress and saying you want to work on immigration, you want to work on jobs, you want to work on improving our infrastructure then go to work and pass a bill or else I will do whatever I can to make whatever I can happen.
He is saying I am willing to work with you to help our nation but I am not going to stand idly by and let you dismantle Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. No I will use my veto powers when they are needed.
And the ball is in the GOP court they can’t blame Harry Reid and the Democrats any more. If they won’t act to make a difference then it will be on their heads and it will be left up to them to explain why they are anti-women. Why they are anti-seniors. Why they are anti-minority. Why they don’t want to do the right thing and fix our infrastructure. They can’t whine their way out of the next two years.
And already we are seeing the strain that governing is putting on them and they haven’t even yet begun to govern. The Cuba action by the president has opened up a deep rift in the party of no and it is likely to widen as the days grow longer and they find themselves burdened with the art of actually having to govern and make laws that make a difference in the lives of our citizens and not just for an exalted few Citizens United elite who put them in charge.
Elections do have consequences and the consequences for the GOP may not be pretty. They are facing a president who is not bowed nor cowed by their intransigence but emboldened by it. To echo the cry of Geronimo, Who will they send against him now?
Relations with Cuba? Normal relations with Cuba? OMG! There is going to be an explosion on the right. But in the interest of sane and common sense it is something we should have done a long time ago. We continued our relations with the Soviet Union, and Nixon unmixed old Red China. We even have relations with Angola. So why not Cuba. And who better to make that happen than Pope Francis, after all he took his name from St Francis of Assisi!
Of course Ted Cruz late of Canada is agin it! Newty is agin it! Mitt is agin it! Marco Rubio doing a palid imitation of Tom Coburn seemed be not only agin it but he also seemed to be dissing the Pope because the Pope ain’t agin it! In a landmark historic move President Obama with the help of the Pope reached an agreement to normalize relations with Cuba after over 50 years of angst and decades of blockade and generally stupid moves by both the Cuban government and the US government to the contrary. It is something whose time has come and it should have come much sooner.
Yes Cuba is still a communist nation but mostly in name only and normalizing relations with Cuba will have an enormous impact on a number things all of them good for the US. Cuba quit trying to export their revolutionary brand of communism many years ago because nobody in the Americas were buying it and they have been seeking to have normal relations with the US for many years. Castro desperately needs good relations with the US and I for one believe we will see a dissipation of their brand of communism within the next few years. Communism doesn’t work and it never did but we as a country have kept it alive for much too long.
Our own inability to deal with communism effectively has kept Cuban communism alive way past it discard date. America does so much better when it leads by example of what democracy does than trying to push our brand of democracy off on other country who need to find their own way to freedom and democracy. You can’t force democracy on people by the point of a gun or bayonet. The British learned that lesson many years ago but we still have a bunch of neo-cons who think we can force feed democracy on another country when it just can’t be done.
Democracy is as the saying goes a very bad form of government. It is imprecise, imperfect and very, very messy as we Americans have come to realize. The way it works is the way it works, but when you try to force what we believe to be true upon people who have little or no knowledge as to what freedom means or what self-governing stands for it just doesn’t work.
Left to their own devises most nation will eventually come to some kind of democratic accommodation that works for their nation. We have interfered too long in too many places for reasons that often have more to do with economics and greed than they do with spreading democracy. We need to keep doing what we do by example and let other nations chart their own path.
We have created far too many dictatorship because of our desire to spread our democracy and influence. It is time we let nations float on their own standing beside them as partners and helping them chart their own independent course to whatever brand of democracy that works for them.
I’m sure there will be those who say I am naïve but what we’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked and Cuba is a perfect example of that failure.
Apparently, not many people have a clue since the latest poll says that 51% of Americans would approve of torture in some cases. Or they would approve of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques whatever that means. Well it actually means torture, and in particular waterboarding. Which as a technique was outlawed in this country until our version of Darth Vader showed up in the persona of Dick Cheney. Of course he contends that our torture of prisoners worked, even light of all the evidence piling up to the contrary.
The problem with Dick and his ravings is many faceted. First of all we as a nation are and have been for some time signatory to a document that outlaws torture, call it Enhanced Interrogation Techniques or whatever you like, torture by any other name would stink as much. And until the ole Dickster came along every president including the GOP demigod Reagan (who signed a document against torture) have kept the faith began by George Washington standing against torture or EIT if you want to call it that.
Torture empirical evidence proves that torture at its most heinous is never an effective way to glean information about what the other side is doing. More times than not any information gained through torture doesn’t pan out is sketchy and in most cases is misleading at best and in the worst case scenarios is downright false. I know we see spy movies and novels and torture is used as an effective plot device but in real life it doesn’t work that way.
And to say we’ve done in the past is true in part, but in every case prior when we as a government discovered that we were doing it, it was dealt with. In the during the campaign in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th Century several members of our army were summarily cashiered because they had been found to have used torture to try to gain information. George Washington who set the standard against the use of torture when he refused to allow captured British Hessians to be tortured.
He warned against the use of torture in his farewell address to the nation and other presidents after him continued down the years to stand by that. That is until we got to the neo-cons led by Dick Cheney. Cheney and members of the CIA who participated and devised the methods they used are now trying to change history and cover their butts with oil so that they can slip away and go hide in the deep dark corners from where they crawled out from under the rocks they were hiding under.
The poll just released is, in my opinion, skewed to make it seem like torture should be okay in certain instances like after something like 9/11, but we as Americans shouldn’t be falling into that trap because Enhanced Interrogation Techniques is a benign sounding term that doesn’t sound half bad as what it actually stands for. Let them take a poll that gets specific and uses the raw language of torture and then let us see how Americans feel about torture.
We as a people and as a nation should never approve of the systematic torture of anyone. Torture is wrong on so many levels and all the evidence (Dick Cheney not withstanding) proves that it doesn’t work and never has. We as a people and a nation are better than that and we are certainly better than the Dick Cheney’s of the world who are at best demented and at worst without any human compassion or dignity.
In a Bizarre end of career speech Senator Tom Coburn rambled about things that were unfathomable to almost everyone who was listening. He even cried a little crocodile tears most likely although they may have been sincere, who knows? Most of what he spoke about was pretty much off in left field and left those who actually were listening scratching their heads and saying to themselves WTF was that all about?
But it was what he didn’t say and what he didn’t do. He is solely responsible for withholding a bill that would have benefited veterans especially in light of the fact that 22 veterans commit suicide almost everyday in this country. Dr. Tom for whatever insane reason that resides within his obviously demented mind has refused to release the bill and in his last bizarre act of stupidity again refused.
As a veteran I say so long Dr. Tom and good riddance. I wish him no ill will but I will say any veteran who ever voted for this clown should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. He hated the postal service, he hated unions, he hated workers and their families and he definitely hated veterans as he proved time and again. But I am and can be forgiving because that’s who I am as a liberal thinker.
But, in the case of Dr. Tom Coburn I am having a very difficult time in the doing. As a veteran who served my country in time of crisis I was fortunate that my service had no lasting ill effects upon my mind or body. But I have a brother who served in Vietnam who has had a hard time dealing with life over the years since his two tours of duty in Vietnam, the last one nearly ending in his death, which fortunately didn’t happen.
But I know something about veteran’s issues since my uncle Ray who survived a tour of duty in a Japanese prison camp and spent the remainder of his life paying for it until his untimely death at the young age of 56. He suffered from PTSD all of his adult life and was in and out of VA Hospitals over a period of many years. He battled depression and suffered from horrendous nightmares until his death.
I forgive Dr. Tom Coburn for his sins of omission but I will not forget what he could have done to come to the aid of thousands of our current veterans suffering the scars of battle that Dr. Tom never had to face. I hope he is able to sleep well at night because I know a lot of veterans who don’t and because of Dr. Tom’s refusal to do the right thing won’t!
Goodbye Dr. Tom Coburn and the US Senate is a much better place without you!
In congress these days we have only two people who carry the ball for the people– Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Pretty much them standing against the onslaught of corporate money and creed. They are the conscience of the nation and without them all would be lost. The lack of statesmanship in our congress creatures is appalling. And it holds true sadly for both sides of the aisle. When corporate money gets in the way of what the people want then the people get the shaft and corporate gets the gold mine.
The recent rush to pass the budget bill to keep the government running the spotlights were turned off and into the bill came a bunch of hidden agenda in the form of essentially gutting the Dodd/Frank bill that was passed in the wake of the Wall Street debacle of 2008. It was passed as a protection against those greedy bastards on Wall Street (pardon my language but that’s exactly what they are) of pulling their shenanigans all over again as they really want to do.
But Elizabeth Warren was having none of it even if the president, Nancy Pelosi and a whole bunch of republicans were ready to set sail on that sea again. Elizabeth threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings and nearly derailed the bill in the house and flipped Pelosi to coming back over to the correct side. Now the bill’s in the Senate and it will be up to Harry Reid as one of his last acts as Senate Majority Leader to step up to the plate and try to hit a home run for the people against once more doling out more corporate welfare.
If those onerous sugar teats that was placed in the bill during under the cover of darkness gets kicked out we can thank Senator Elizabeth Warren for her service in remembering that she serves the people not the corporate lobbyists. We are going to need her will, guts and expertise over the next two years if we as the people are going to have any thing left for our side, because as soon as the republicans take over it’s Katy Bar The Door for poor people, working people and what is good for our nation and our citizens.
You can start down the halls of congress and on each door you will be able to see the ink still drying on the doors of congress that say Corporate Lackey or Corporate Shill. But with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren the buck stops at their door and we will sorely need them over the next two years if any real power of the people is to survive.
We the people will be under attack from day one. Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and all the programs that have been put in place to help ordinary people of this nation will be under attack with intent to destroy. The United States Postal Service the one public entity that should be protected by the constitution will also be subjected to attacks in an attempt to siphon off the most profitable parts and end door to door delivery and six-day delivery and delivery to every household and business in the nation.
The very fabric of our nation and all of the safety nets put in place for our seniors and the most vulnerable among us will be placed on the chopping block and the lopping off will begin. Elections do have consequences and this election may spell dire consequences for our nation and its citizens.
The United State Postal received the highest rating of any government agency by a wide margin despite all the boo birds on the right who say the USPS is outdated. Among all government agencies the postal service was rated in a recent Gallup Poll at 72% approval rating. In the number 2 position at only 58% was the FBI. The only other agencies receiving a 50% rating or higher was the CDC and NASA both at 50% approval. The VA came in last at 29%.
The real plus area for the postal service came from young people in the 18-29 age range which gave the postal service an overall approval rating of 81%. Gallup noted that every single category gave the postal service high marks ranging from 65% of those age 65 and over to the 81% by those in the age group of 18-29.
“The results of the Gallup Poll demonstrate that the Postal Service is, indeed, a national treasure.” APWU National President Mark Dimondstein said. “The USPS won high marks, despite the efforts by the Postmaster General and Board of Governors to dismantle it, degreed service standards, close mail processing plants, and despite ongoing threats to end Saturday mail delivery.” he added.
The survey appears to bode well for an organization that has been battered by bad publicity for quite some time. Despite its difficulties the overall image of the USPS has remained remarkably positive. This reservoir of good will may serve the USPS well as it strives to adapt to the changing world in which electronic communication and commerce are rapidly replacing traditional mailed letters. As the volume of letter has declined, the USPS has evolved to become as much a courier of packages as it is a way to send and receive 1st class mail.
The survey points up that in this day of rapidly advancing e-commerce, the future of the postal service could be very bright. If congress would just lift the onerous yoke it has placed around the service with the requirement to prefund future retirees health benefits 75 years in the future (a requirement no other company or government entity in the world has had placed on them) it would be operating at a $1.4 billion dollar profit for this fiscal year.