Saturday, November 22, 2014

Obama and the Immigration Situation

Not everything I do is political.  I've been a little lax on this blog because I was working on writing and publishing a novel on vampires.  If you're interested, it's called "Vampire Tales - Book One - Genesis" and you can find it at most online book dealers.

Now on to Obama.  Since moving to Tulsa I've been surrounding myself with more and more Republicans.  Those who are not truly Republican are still rather conservative.  I consider myself to be a breath of fresh air for their stale minds.  Just about everyone I meet here gets their news from Fox.  It's sad, really.

After Obama wrote his Executive Order on immigration, these people have been asking me what I think of my president now, assuming that I would now change my mind considering how he has taken power that the president is not allowed by the constitution.  Or I would be ashamed of how he has taken a "my way or the highway" approach and gone off on his own without regard for the work of the Congress.  Or at the very least that I would agree that the will of the people in this last election is that the Republicans are best able to run the government and we should agree with that wisdom.

To all of this I say, get real.  

In the first place, Obama is an expert when it comes to the constitution.  He knows where the power lies and he knows what he can and cannot do.  He knows, for example, that only congress can change the laws that would grant green cards, so he did not go that far.  He went as far as the law would allow him to go.  That is not a power grab.  That is doing his job.

Now let's look at the elected bodies.  The senate passed a bill for immigration reform.  That is the job of the senate.  That bill was sent to the house.  The house is then to re-write the bill, if they don't like it the way it is, and vote on it.  If it's the same bill, it goes to the president for his signature.  If not, it goes back to the senate to be re-worked by that body.  When they reach an agreement it goes to the president. 

In this case, the senate passed a bill and sent it to the house.  The house has been sitting on that bill for more than 500 days.  For over a year they have ignored their job duties and done nothing.  We did not elect them to not do their jobs.  The president told them if they were not going to do their jobs he would do it for them.  They did not do their jobs.  He did his.  That is not a power grab.  That is doing the job we elected him to do.

As for a "my way or the highway" approach, they seem to be a tad bit mistaken on who has that attitude.  Mitch McConnell stated six years ago that his primary concern was to make sure that Obama was a one-term president.  Six years later he now claims he wants to work with the president.  John Boehner has consistently shown that he will not work with the president.  If anyone needs evidence of that, look at how many times Boehner has brought measures up for a vote to repeal Obamacare.  It's over 50 times now.  Yet, they could not find time to vote just once on immigration reform.  It's not Obama who has the "my way or the highway" approach.  That badge sits squarely on the chest of the Republicans.

And lastly, the "people" did not speak in the last election.  In fact, the majority of people do not speak in any of our elections.  It's very sad that so few people in this country vote but that's the reality.  Most do not.  For the 2012 presidential election, there was a much larger turnout than for 2014.  And the 2012 voters voted for Obama.  So, if you want to argue that it's the will of the majority, that would be for Obama, not for a Republican led House of Representatives and Senate.  

No, I will continue to support Obama.  I stand behind his ideals and beliefs and I share his vision for a better America.  Our immigration laws are unfair and need to be rewritten and he has taken a step in that direction.  Hopefully his action will cause the Republicans to finally pass reform legislation and get our country moving again.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mary Fallin, Running on her Record

Mary Fallin was elected governor of Oklahoma four years ago on the platform that she would improve the economy and reduce unemployment.  Four years later, the economy has improved and unemployment is below the national average.  How much of this has been achieved through Fallin's efforts is debatable, however, Fallin is running for re-election based on her record.  As the incumbent candidate, she should.  Her record is what the voters need to look at to decide if she is the best candidate going forward.

Let's look at Fallin's record:

Fallin was presented with a study early on in her term to improve the prison system in Oklahoma.  Our prisons need serious work and this could have been accomplished years ago, however Fallin threw the proposal out.  Now, she is looking into it, not because she believes in the idea but rather because she is running for re-election.

Fallin, like nearly all American governors, supported Common Core.  Her support was one thing she did well.  However, Common Core will only work with proper implementation and when it was revealed that it did not work, rather than take responsibility for her part in the debacle, she immediately distanced herself from the wreckage.  Janet Barresi took the fall and lost her re-election bid.  Fallin is still in the running.

Our state is among the lowest in education, largely because our teachers are among the lowest paid.  You get what you pay for and excellent educators are leaving Oklahoma to teach elsewhere for better wages.  Our teachers' salaries aren't even in line with the teachers in our neighboring states.  Fallin claimed there isn't any money in the budget to raise their salaries, yet she was able to find money to raise the salaries of the heads of several state departments who were already being paid more than the teachers.  Her reasoning was that their salaries should be in line with the national average in spite of the fact that a) Oklahoma's cost of living is below the national average and b) teachers aren't even in line with neighboring states, let alone the national average.

Yes, Mary Fallin should run on her record.  And once her record is evaluated, voters should ensure that she does not get another four years to ruin our state.  We just can't afford her kind of leadership.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Israel vs. Hamas

In any conflict there are at least two sides but the most important element is the truth.  Getting to the truth can only be achieved when one knows the facts.  In the present state of unrest between Israel and Hamas, the facts do not seem to be important.

Last month three Israeli teenagers were abducted and executed.  Without any evidence to support their claim, Israel accused Hamas.  Hamas has denied involvement but that fell on deaf ears.  When the bodies of the victims were found, Israeli citizens retaliated by kidnapping a Palestinian teenager and setting him on fire.  They burned him to death.  The perpetrators of this crime were apprehended but it is extremely doubtful that they will receive proper punishment for their crime, given that their victim was a Palestinian.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) though now known only as the Islamic State has apparently claimed responsibility for the initial abduction of the Israeli's.  ISIL is a jihadist militant group that grew out of Al-Qaeda.  They are not Hamas, they are not connected to Hamas and Hamas does not exert any control over them.  Yet, Benjamin Netanyahu continues to blame Hamas, even though he apparently knows that Hamas was not involved.

When Israel killed an innocent Palestinian youth, the Palestinians had a right to defend themselves.  They did so with rocket strikes against Israel.  Israel has retaliated with airstrikes against Palestine.  This must be put in perspective.  Palestine has launched over 800 rockets and killed no one.  Israel has struck over 1,300 times and killed nearly 200.  The vast majority of the casualties are civilians.  Israel knows this.  Israel does not care.

All Americans should be aware of what is going on in Israel.  United States Foreign Aid to Israel makes up more than half of the foreign aid to the entire world.  We give more money to Israel than to any other country but we get nothing in return.  Israel is not an oil-producing nation, so they do not supply us with oil.  In two wars that the United States started (Iran and Afghanistan), Israel has not supplied any military assistance.  We get nothing for the money we spend.

The Arms Export Control Act states that the United States may stop aid to countries which use U.S. military assistance for purposes other than “legitimate self-defense.”  Palestine has a right to retaliate when Israel burns one of their children alive.  Israel cannot correctly call their current actions against Palestine "self-defense."  As such, the United States should immediately withdraw all military assistance from Israel until such time as Israel agrees to enter into peaceful negotiations with Palestine.  Such negotiations must include an immediate cease-fire, releasing Palestinians held as prisoners without the benefit of due process and returning land illegally seized from Palestine since the agreement of the borders in 1967.

Israel is killing innocent Palestinians and the United States is supporting that effort.  When will the people of this great nation stand up for those who are being oppressed by our allies?

Friday, July 4, 2014

It's Up to Men to End Abortion

For decades now we have heard that abortion must be legal because it is a woman's right to choose.  I agree.  We have also heard that abortion is murder.  I understand that sentiment but I cannot say that I fully agree.  Murder is too strong, as that entails a crime against a person and abortion is an exercise of the woman's right to her body.  

The loudest voices in this argument have been the voices of men, particularly among the elected officials and women have often felt that this was unfair.  Women claim that if men got pregnant abortion would have been legal centuries ago.  Perhaps this is true but we will never know for certain.

One thing I do know, however, is that men can end this once and for all.  I am suggesting that we do just that, beginning on January 1, 2015.  That gives us nearly six months to prepare.  Once we implement the program, we should expect to carry it through to its full term of five years for completion.

Many states have passed legislation to curtail abortions and many of those laws have been overturned by the courts.  Even if the states win, they still lose because they must pay to defend the lawsuits brought against them.  This is not a step forward.

Several states have recently passed legislation that would close the majority of the abortion clinics within their borders, which does nothing to stop the abortions; it merely moves them across the state line.  That does not solve the problem, but enacting this program will cause these clinics to close simply because they won't have the necessary patients to keep them open.

This program is simple because it does not require legislation, it does not cost any money to implement and it does not involve women.  It is the men taking the initiative and handling this problem once and for all.

Beginning on January 1, 2015, all across America, men must abstain from sex with women.  Now, I know this might be difficult but there are alternatives.  For example, you can take matters into your own hands, so to speak.  This is not the ideal situation but it has its benefits.  Not needing a partner means not caring if you're showered and shaved.  Small talk is avoided and no promises need to be made; or broken.

Sex with a woman is allowed so long as it is either oral or anal.  The difficulty with this is that, while the man is often more than willing to make this sacrifice the woman is usually not on board with the idea.  Suggesting that her sister might be willing to help out just might get her to re-think her position.

Lastly, having sex with another man is fine.  Actually, it is encouraged.  Since most states are either allowing gay marriage or at least considering it, the taboo on man-to-man sex is no longer what it once was and in reality, a lot of men have been looking for an excuse to try anyway, so why not just give in?

Implementing this program is simple, and once done, pregnancies in this country will drop to zero.  When no women get pregnant no women have abortions.  As time goes on, the abortion clinics will close, due to the fact that they will be under-used to the point that they cannot afford to stay open.  Legislators can get back to working on actual problems that need their attention, not on regulating women's bodies, and this whole argument of whether or not abortion should be legal can finally be put to rest.

The program will conclude on December 31, 2019.  Men, the ball is in your court.  Can you rise to the occasion?  Are you willing to stand firm and show exactly what you're made of?  Join me and together we will end abortion in this country.

Monday, March 24, 2014

How To Be A Great President

Since the days of Harry Truman, presidential administrations have been ranked by their approval, expressed as a percentage.  Looking at the approval rating of all presidents from that time forward as they left office, only two were higher than 60%.  As far as greatness goes, these two men can truly be said to have been great presidents.

Ronald Reagan left office with the highest approval rating to that date, at 63%.  During the eight years he was in office, the cold war ended, tax cuts for individuals increased, nuclear arms were reduced worldwide, the war in Afghanistan ended (that didn't last very long), the first female Supreme Court Justice was appointed, the Air Traffic Controllers who went on strike were fired (they would have cost the tax payers $700 million had they received their outrageous demands), a successful rescue mission was launched in Grenada and the Strategic Defense Initiative was implemented.

When Reagan left office, the country was prosperous and at peace.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 950.68 on the day Reagan took office.  When he left, it was at 2,235.36.  

While Reagan's 63% approval rating certainly sounds impressive, and it especially is when compared with the 34% that both Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush had when they left office, or the pitiful 24% that disgraced Richard Nixon's administration.  But impressive as 63% is, it was not to remain the highest.  That title is currently held by William J. Clinton who left office with a 66% approval rating.  Highlights of the Clinton years included an impressive 115 months of economic expansion, 22 months of job creation, the highest home ownership in American history, the lowest unemployment rate to date, the lowest crime rate in 26 years, the smallest welfare rolls in 32 years, the lowest poverty rate in 20 years, the first female Attorney General and the first female Secretary of State and the conversion of the deficit to a surplus.

When Clinton left office, the country was again prosperous and at peace.  He took office with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 3,241.95 and left when it was a staggering 10,578.24.  

These two men have one very important fact in common, and it is this commonality that made them great.  Reagan was a Republican, but the House was controlled by the Democrats.  The Republicans held a slim control of the Senate, which they lost in 1987.

Clinton is a Democrat and his first two years saw him with a Democratically lead House and Senate.  That reversed in year three when the Republicans took control of both houses and that control remained until the end of Clinton's presidency.

What each of these men had to do was work with the opposition.  No president runs this country on his own.  They all have to have the backing of the other elected officials in order to be successful and the truly great know that in order for this country to excel, no one political party can ever have its way to the detriment of the other party.  There has to be a negotiation where each party gets some of what it wants but neither party gets it all.  When we have this balance, when we work together, we are truly the United States of America and our history shows that when this happens, we can achieve greatness.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fullerton Police Officers Found Not-Guilty in Beating Death of Kelly Thomas

Two former Fullerton police officers were found not-guilty of murder charges stemming from the death of a suspect, Kelly Thomas after a violent altercation with the officers.  Thomas died from asphyxia, according to a coroner's report.  The two officers were charged with murder when surveillance video showed their violent altercation with the suspect.  Today, a jury found both officers not-guilty on all counts.

I agree with the verdicts.

This case is very complicated and not simply a matter of police officers using excessive force (which they definitely did).  This case, like most cases, needs to be examined from the very beginning and a determination must be made as to the proximate cause of the incident.  A proximate cause is that item which, were it not present, the outcome could not have happened in the same way.  More on that later.

Kelly Thomas was a 37-year-old homeless man who roamed the streets of Fullerton, California.  Apparently, he was schizophrenic and had been involved in numerous run-ins with the police.  According to a story in the Orange County Register, from 1990 until 2011, he had been arrested 92 times.  While the majority of these arrests were for minor incidents, not all were.  His most serious charge was for assault with a deadly weapon.  This is not the type of man who should be left to wander the streets.

And therein lies the problem.  Kelly Thomas was born to Ron and Cathy Thomas in 1974.  Ron is a former Orange County sheriff's deputy.  Ron and Cathy continue to live in the area, so why was their son homeless?  Why was a schizophrenic with a history of violence and criminal activity allowed to roam the streets unchaperoned?

I have not been able to find any good reason why Kelly was homeless.  He had a family living in the area and from their actions since his death, they appear to have loved the man.  Why, then was he homeless?  Apparently, the family was not able to deal with his mental illness so they released him to the streets so he could be someone else's problem.  I cannot reach any other conclusion.  If this is so, then the proximate cause of this action was the action of the parents.  Had their child not been homeless, the police would not have been called to stop him from breaking into cars.  The parents, then, are the cause of this entire incident.

If that is the case, then the city, with their limited training in dealing with mental illness, stopped a violent criminal.  Undoubtedly they went too far and firing the officers involved is certainly just but charging them with murder, in my opinion, goes too far.  These officers were sworn to protect the citizens and since Kelly Thomas had a history of violence, they did what they had to do to ensure he didn't bring harm to anyone.

What about the parents?  Why aren't they being charged?  Because their child was an adult it is within their rights to release him but I would suggest that this is a problem with our society.  When a couple brings a child into this world, that couple should be responsible for that child.  In the case of a child with a mental disability, the parents are responsible for that child for the child's entire life.  Ron and Cathy Thomas apparently absolved themselves of that responsibility.

Nearly a year after the death of Kelly Thomas the Fullerton City Council agreed to a settlement of one million dollars with Cathy Thomas.  A civil lawsuit by Ron Thomas is still pending.  The amount of that suit has not been disclosed.  It seems that the parents made out very well in this case.  They are rid of their burden and have made a good deal of money to boot.  They really should quit while they're ahead.

One more thing, I keep seeing this photograph of Kelly Thomas in the news stories:

This picture is from 2002, nearly ten years before his death.  There is another picture that was taken by police in 2009, two years before his death.  That picture is this one:

That paints a much different picture of the man.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Governor Christie and the George Washington Bridge

By now everyone has probably heard about the problems New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is facing with a certain incident on the George Washington Bridge.  For anyone unfamiliar with the story, it happened when Christie was in the middle of his re-election campaign.  The George Washington Bridge connects New Jersey with New York City and enters Jersey in the city of Fort Lee.  Fort Lee's Mayor, Mark Sokolich is a Democrat (Christie is Republican) and did not support Christie in the election.

A top aide to Christie (Bridget Anne Kelly) sent an email to Port Authority of New York and New Jersey representative David Wildstein, who was appointed to this post by Christie.  The email said, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."  Wildstein replied with, "Got it."  He then ordered the closure of two of the three traffic lanes going into New York and kept them closed for four days.

Estimates are that as many as 500,000 vehicles were impacted by this action, resulting in millions of dollars in lost wages and time spent in unnecessarily heavy traffic.  There is also one death that has potentially been attributed to the closure.

Wildstein has resigned his position and when the cause of the closure was determined, Christie fired Kelly as his aide.  In press conferences Christie has maintained that he did not know anything about this incident until long after it was done and even went so far as to personally apologize to Mayor Sokolich for the unfortunate event.

All of this is well and good and on the surface makes it seem that Christie should not be implicated in this, however there is more to it.  Christie hired Kelly.  He should have either done a more extensive check of her background and moral character or at the very least made sure she understood that he had zero tolerance for such political shenanigans.  Christie also appointed Wildstein and he should have ensured that Wildstein was instructed appropriately as well.  Obviously, this was not done.

Christie is now considering a run for the office of President of the United States.  As President he will be appointing the entire Cabinet of his administration, as well as Ambasaddors and Judges, including possibly Supreme Court Judges.  Given his record of hiring and appointments, I have to seriously question whether he is the best person to be given this responsibility.  We don't need people like Bridget Kelly and David Wildstein running any part of our country.