Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hunt for Red October

San Jose, CA – In common political talk, a Red State is Republican and a Blue State is a Democratic One. (Red State think Texas. Blue State think California) On November Fourth schedules will be scrambled, people will be in a rush, some will turn on the evening news for the first time since Inauguration Day, and everyone will find out if the pundits were right about this year’s midterm elections.

While the elections aren’t actually in October, it is the last month in which both major parties, (and a few minor ones) can try to gain support for candidates, both for the House of Representatives, (every seat) and the Senate, (a third of the seats.)
The Democrats hold the Senate, 55-45. The Republicans are looking for six seats. They would certainly love more, but six seats alone would be need to give them a majority in the Senate, and if they hold the house, where they are up by a bit more than six, they will control all of congress, leaving Barak Obama and the Democrats with a clear majority in only one branch of government, the presidency.
The Republican Outlook is hopeful. Barak Obama and friends have more than a little baggage carrying into the race. Not only do they have Benghazi, IRS, and the Affordable Care Act Website, (Obama Care) to worry about, they have the simple problem that they are the party in power.
When you are the president, you are everyone’s favorite, current sitting president. You are also everyone least favorite, current sitting president. Being at the front is always difficult. You get all the credit…for everything. I have read articles on the internet about bagels, and in the comments someone took the time to use some form of twisted logic to bring the president into the mix of cream cheese and raisin and cinnamon toppings, and make it all his fault. (Don't ask me how.)
The Democrats have held the reins, with a bit of struggling and input from the Republicans, for six years, and during that time not everything has gone well. Some of it was their fault, some of it wasn’t. But since they were at the wheel, it was all their fault in many people’s eyes.
In 1984 Tom Clancy published his first novel. The Hunt for Red October. A submarine, the Red October went missing. Just as the Republicans Red October went missing six years ago. In the novel, the submarine was never found again.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, September 25, 2014

“A page is missing:” The Resignation of Eric Holder

The Department of Justice, that institution once presided over by a Kennedy, and watched over by many of America’s greatest lawyer, has a motto worth reading. "Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur" Which means in normal talk “Who Pursues For Lady Justice.”

In the recent months of its existence however, there have been questions from all sides of the political spectrum about its handling of various issues, including Fast and Furious years ago, and in more recent times his handling of pot, guns, and gay marriage.
Barak Obama’s is an administration that has been rocked with scandals, from the alleged IRS targeting of Tea Party groups to the health care rollout that went less than swimmingly. More like drowningly. The overseer of that fiasco, although admittedly it was not entirely her fault, Kathrine Sebelius, resigned earlier this year with one last glitch. Finding, in her speech, that “Unfortunately, a page is missing.”
Eric Holder served and serves on the same cabinet, and, unlike Kathrine, he has been held in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives, and has been called all sorts of things and been accused of all sorts of charges. At one point the screen behind the FOX News panelists, with a picture of Holder stated “Department of Injustice.”
His resignation has been called for, for months, and yet Holder, the first African-American attorney-general serving under the first African-American President of the United States of America, stuck it out. As his tenure wore on, he fell under fire for his crack downs on the press, which ignited a fire storm from the one part of the country every politician who wants a future has to keep happy- the media.
The drama continued, and finally the missing page of the story was found today, when Eric Holder resigned his position. He will stay on until a replacement is found, but now he is a lame duck in many regards. Eric Holder came on the scene from private practice around six years ago and leaped immediately into controversy, and kept on doing so right up until now. He will depart Washington with his president being disapproved of by over half the nation, and nearly two-thirds thinking the entire country is headed in the wrong direction and downhill.
Republicans, in issuing statements about his resignation, made it abundantly clear that by them at least, and probably by the Democrats that also criticized him in his tenure, he will not be missed.

Andrew C. Abbott

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Green Talk, Green Walk

In New York City, two days ago, an estimated 310,000 people marched, holding up signs and shouting slogans about how much they love the planet. Dubbed the People’s Planet March, if the organizers of the massive (and larger than expected) turnout are to be believed, then it is the largest climate march in history. Some estimates put the marchers at over 400,000. By comparison that’s around twice as many people, depending on who counted the crowds that listened to the great civil rights speech “I have a Dream” Martin Luther King, Jr. gave back in the sixties.

In recent months the New Greens, as they might be called, have been in the news a lot. Specifically because they seemed determined that no matter what he does on the Keystone XL Pipeline, he is going to hear about it. If refuses to allow it the Republicans in Washington are going to kick up a fuss, and his party is already having enough trouble with plenty of other fuss about plenty of other issues this fall. If he lets it pass…there were around 400,000 of them on Sunday, at that was just New York City.
A Climate Summit with many world leaders, with Barak Obama expected to make a showing, begins today. The march was just the warm up. The march itself, according to organizers, was only the largest of over 2,000 such marches happening all around the world.
America does not have a Green Party of any significance, like the United Kingdom, where they hold one out of over five hundred seats, but it does have vocal activists ready to shout out what they feel. One undying theme rang through all the reports, these people are anti-Keystone XL.
Yet, among the marches, the summits, and pictures of Bono, one is reminded of the Hippy Peace Movement of the 1960s. They were growing to unbelievable proportions. They were growing wildly and getting more and more vocal. Then along came Richard Nixon who promised to end to the war in in the far off steamy jungle, and the whole thing ended.
Although not entirely of course, the Green Movement, as it is now emerging is in large part about the pipeline. If that becomes all it is about, than a decision on that could easily trigger the entire thing falling apart.
One is reminded that the hippies were once the new big thing. But we haven’t seen any in a while.
Andrew C. Abbott

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Time for Choosing: Ronald Reagan.

The speech that more than any other single one, perhaps, brought Reagan to fame. Given in support of Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign, it left some wishing Reagan was the one running, and not Goldwater.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

And its...its...NO

San Jose, CA – Tomorrow morning, in England, Queen Elisabeth II of England, Ireland, and Scotland will make the official statement -the prime minister joining in- to tell everyone in their official sounding voices with their official looking regalia the news. Some will probably jump up and down, and some will probably cry, but the vote is in. Over three hundred years of history are not to be thrown away in a single night. The people have spoken, and Scotland will remain a part of the (Still) United Kingdom. The third name in the Queen’s job description will stay there for William and Kate and little George and company to rule and protect for another three centuries.

It may be difficult to tell why the Scots wanted to stay. Perhaps they agreed with the British slogan “Better Together.” Perhaps they just prefer the Union Jack to any alternative. Scotland gave the right to vote to just about everyone for this referendum, including sixteen year olds, according to some reports, because they wanted the “hotheadedness” and abandon of young people excited to create a new country.
The Queen and Prime Minister of the (Still) United Kingdom
But it didn’t work. When the sun rises in the morning over Edinburgh it will rise over a country united, and stronger for it. There will be no Labor, Socialist government in Holyrood. Instead the day set for the official break will come and go. And another referendum, this time on whether the United Kingdom will remain a part of the European Union, is expected soon.
America’s ally remains in tack. The military and economic strength of England, Ireland and Scotland will not be diminished. The Jack still flies. William Wallace probably would have wept, but that was a different time, a different place, and the world has changed. We are Better Together. The people have spoken.
Andrew C. Abbott

Scott (Not?) Free?

San Jose, CA – The eighteenth of September, today, is Scotland’s chance to decide if they want to be a free nation.

According to The Guardian, the British Newspaper of British Newspapers, Americans up until the last few days have not shown much interest in the Scottish Referendum on Independence, because, as one described it, we "thought it already was free ever since we saw Braveheart."
Well, it’s not. They fly the Union Jack, their representatives are in the British House of Commons, and the Queen of England is the Queen of Scotland. But besides that, although Americans may not know much about it, for the most part it seems they are in support of Scotland leaving. “Freedom? Good! Freedom from Britain? Join the club! We are original members!”
The campaign was long and hard. It started with NO way ahead, and freedom looking like it didn’t have a pipe dream, but then changed to YES gaining ground, until everyone who was anyone in the United Kingdom joining in the debate, even yesterday, a famous sport player switching from neutrality to supporting YES for freedom. The queen even got involved. (Sort of. She said something about it in an informal setting, which with her and her popularity is the same thing.)
However, there are some possible reasons why Americans may be concerned if Scotland were to leave. One of America’s greatest allies would lose a third of its land mass, have a new and foreign country on the island, no longer would they be alone there. The oil import/exports would be disrupted, and even worse for England, and Scotland as well, the military pool would become much smaller. There would be two different currencies on the island, etc.
At ten o’clock tonight in Edinburgh, the capitol of Scotland, home of the Royal Mile, the place of so much history, the polls will close in the homeland of William Wallace. No one has bothered to pay the money necessary to hold exit polls, so there will be none. The results will not come out until sometime around eight o’clock Friday morning in Scotland, when the expected over 4,000,000 votes are counted.
And so we wait, to find if the Scotts will finally be free.

Andrew C. Abbott

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Loser's Luck

San Jose, CA – It may not be as bad for Mitt Romney as we thought that he lost the election.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous Frenchman who wrote his book Democracy in America in the seventeenth-century liked many things about America, but there were some things about us that made him uncomfortable. One of them was what he saw as the odd obsessive compulsive need of Americans to constantly to be shaking each other’s hands up and down. “They couldn’t seem to stop!”

Another thing he thought was different was their constant need to win. Every little game, he observed, both the boys and girls were desperate to win. He saw Americans as needing to be constantly graded. If you won, you were alright, and other things could be forgiven a winner, while losing might reveal some deeper form of weakness or character flaw in yourself. But then of course, there was the ultimate form of contesting. Politics. When the child grew into the man or woman, election was and is the ultimate form of grading. Everyone tells you what they think of you with their vote.
Of course, in some ways de Tocqueville was right. Losing hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot. Some people have trouble coping. Losing an election is a massive form of rejection. But there is another side of this fitful and fickle coin. For in politics, and perhaps in politics alone, there can occasionally benefits to losing.
In 1960 the Vice President of the United States, Richard Nixon lost the election to JFK, (how could he not?) and then, two years later lost a bid for governor.
But it was a blessing in disguise. Over the next eight years America had many difficulties, loads of them. But Richard Nixon was not in power. His name was untouched. Instead, he road above all of the fighting, and came to power eight years later.
Now America may be having a similar Nixon Moment. In 2012 America said no to Mitt Romney, and he has since said he is not running again. But then, what a politician says is not necessarily what he does. Former Senator Scott Brown earlier this year said he moved to New Hampshire for personal reasons, it had “nothing to do” with politics. Well, he’s in the race now, and doing quite nicely, I might add.
The very fact that Mitt Romney is claiming not to be running may make him more desirable. The thing just out of reach is, after all, usually what a child wants. According to preliminary results to a Newsmax Poll on GOP 2016 candidates that I saw recently, second place was Benjamin Carson, with 8%, but first place was Mitt Romney, at over 50%. The president's approval, according to the FOX News poll they regale you with at the end of every political article on their sight, is only 38%.
American's are very unhappy about the way the government is going, and Mitt knows that But he is not the man in White House, all the better for him.
Mitt, that internet documentary that told everyone he was not a robot has helped to polish his image a great deal. Meanwhile everything the president says is analyzed, and all his problems noticed. While Mitt can simply sit back and watch it all, and decide later if he wants to run for president. However, we must certainly hope that if he does run and win in 2016, he does not follow the Nixon story too closely.

Andrew C. Abbott

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Comeback Couple

San Jose, CA – In 1992 George Bush Sr. had not yet looked at his watch and found that it was time for the Republican Party to die. He was riding high on a wave built up by the Reagan Revolution, aided by Reagan Democrats, liberals voting for relatively conservative candidates. In 1992 the incumbent Republican President should have won the election. At one point his approval ratings were 80%.

Also in 1992 during the Democratic Primary, Democratic Nominee Hopeful Bill Clinton was having issues. Big issues. Not only had he lost the first primary badly, (Iowa Caucus), but the scandals were already beginning. There had been rumors before, but now word came out that he had dodged the draft. At the same time the famous Jennifer Flowers incident occurred, with Flowers claiming she and Clinton had an extra-marital affair.
The Clinton’s went on CBS 60 Minutes to refute the charges, and went to work doggedly writing and airing ads, pressing palms and assuring everyone it was a “draft he never dodged.” It worked. In the next Primary (New Hampshire), Clinton won second place, a huge surge from nearly calling quits only weeks before. He began labeling himself the Comeback Kid.
Of course, from that Comeback Bill Clinton never looked back. He went on to win the presidency that year, and again four years later. But during his second term in the White House, the scandals came again. And again. From Hair-gate, Travel-gate, and Whitewater, the Clintons, it seemed, were not able to stay out of trouble. Then there was the famous Monica Lewinsky Scandal which nearly made Bill Clinton the first president in American History to be removed from office by the congress. Yet, somehow, he survived.
But the scandals were there. It is now common knowledge that Clinton lied to the people. He lied to the investigators; he stonewalled, stalled and prevaricated. His own, perhaps closest aid, Dick Morris has since written a book Because He Could, wildly attacking his former boss, claiming, in so many words, he was a serial liar.
On the evening of September 11, 2012, the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by unknown militants of Islamic Faith. Four Americans died that night. Since then it seems to have emerged that the state department, possibly to the highest levels, failed that night. Of course, at that time the highest level was Hillary Clinton, the woman who had survived, with her husband, the Whitewater Scandal twenty years ago. She weathered that storm, and though she has since resigned from the Obama Administration she and her followers are attempting to weather this one too, which has now been two years and two days in the offing.
Bill and Hillary could have given up all those years ago in 1992 when the original bout of scandals was exposed. In fact, any person with less drive probably would have. They could have called it quits many times since then. When their good friend Vince Foster committed suicide, giving the conspiracy theorists a field day, or when rumors began that Governor Clinton had used the Arkansas State Police to fine consorts for him. But neither ever did. They always came back. And it looks like they are coming back again.
Polls suggest that Hillary is a leading candidate for the Democratic Nominee in 2016. The Clinton drive to win, and their winning machine may be ramping up again. Money is already gathering, and they certainly have answers for every possible scandal that the public will be reminded of.
But of course, Hillary has not yet said she will run. So it is still all speculation. But if she does, (an there are many, many who think she will) the Comeback Couple will be out again, campaign smiles on, arms out for hugging, wallets out for donations happily excepted. We will see them on television again, maybe even CBS 60 Minutes, heralding all things Hillary will do for America, just as, twenty-two years ago, they heralded all the things Bill would do.
Oh, the speeches will be well delivered, the makeup put on well, and Hillary’s hair dyed perfectly to hide the effects that long public service has had on her. But beneath it all we are left wondering, who are they really?

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, September 11, 2014


San Jose, CA - Thirteen years ago today the incident that more than any other from my young life was branded into my mind occurred. The horrific acts of nineteen hijackers and militant terrorists cost the lives of many, and the shook the world. We wept and prayed for the families that lost their loved ones, but we could not feel their pain as they felt it, and there is no one who can. We thank the First Responders, both those that made it out alive before the towers fell, and those that did not.
And as Americans we all say to the friends and comrades of the terrorists that aided them and have not been brought to justice: such needless destruction of human life is not a statement, it is a waste.
Andrew C. Abbott

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Scott Free: Scotland's Bid to Become its Own Country Again

Fontana, CA – Last year it was decided with Royal Assent that on September 18 of 2014 a referendum would be held in Scotland bearing the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

In 1603 Queen Elisabeth died without leaving an heir. A knight saddled up and rode through the night to tell the king of Scotland the good/bad news. The bad news was his aunt was dead, (or was it the other way round?) the good news was he was now king of England. And so James VI of Scotland became James I of England, he translated his famous Bible, and two countries of Scotland and England united and stopped fighting, (sort of) and merged into The United Kingdom.
But now Scotland is, like the proverbial Prodigal Son, wishing to leave its father’s house. For a long time now there have been stirrings in Scotland, of people wishing for Home Rule. The fires stoked by the Scottish Independence Party, although dropped from the Labor Party’s agenda. (England and Scotland’s form of Democrats.)
All three major parties in England are favoring the campaign “Better Together,” and trying to keep Scotland in, even offering greater autonomy. Some have even suggested that David Cameron, the Prime Minister of England and a Tori, should Scotland secede, may have to resign, as he has so identified with keeping Scotland with England.
David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Brittan
and opponent of Scottish Referendum.
As for his major opponents, the Labor party, they also have much to lose. Even though they are expected, in the upcoming election to win a majority, along with their coalition, in the house of Commons, if in 2014, Scotland were to vote to leave, in 2016, when the date would be set for actual break away, Miliband, head of Labor would find himself losing 40 members of parliament, and possibly his new found majority.
For a long time it looked like the referendum would receive a decided NO vote. But now, suddenly, the polls are showing a slight lead for the YES vote. Officials are now scrambling in England to call Scotland back, with the days ticking down to the vote. Even reminding them that they will not be able to use the British Pound should they decide to succeed.
There are now nine days left. The stocks in England and elsewhere have fallen due to fear of a YES. Were Scotland to vote YES, and leave, no one is quite sure what would happen next. They have been a part of the Empire for four-hundred years and more. Ever since that night when the rider galloped through the night with the news. Much has changed, but Scotland is still Scotland, and they now have the chance to decide if they want to, as they always did before that night, sometimes on rough roads and sometimes on smooth, go it alone.

Andrew C. Abbott

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ronald Reagan: 1981

One of the greatest speeches of a man who united both Democrats and Republicans, and for whom everyone still seems to have nothing but good things to say.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The M Word (the midterms)

Fontana, CA – In sixty-one days that other election is going to happen. No, it’s not 2016 yet, although you might think that if you watched the already beginning of jockeying for position in both of the major parties. It’s the election cycles that is, although not as exiting, definitely equal in importance to that of the race for president. After all, a president whose party controls neither house of congress is not likely to get much done, no matter how good his ideas are.

Of course, there is not one central candidate for everyone to get excited about. No massive debates watched by the entire nation as men and women attempt to gain their party’s nomination. Instead this is the year of smalls. 435 small elections, to be exact. (That is, compared to the race for president, house elections are small, huge amounts of money are still spent.) Not only is the entire House of Representatives being voted into the 114th congress, 38 governors and 33 senators will also be chosen.
Although the president is still secure in office, except for the distant and unlikely chance of impeachment, once the new congress is voted in in his sixth year he is considered a lame duck. The entire dynamic of the politics in Washington DC is changed. He cannot help them get reelected, and so the president loses some of his power.
During the last midterm elections there was a Republican net gain, due to the passing of the Affordable Care Act. (Obama Care) Now that it has come into action, the Dems have even more issues to worry about. Many pundits not only think that the Republicans will hold onto to the House, but they may flip at least six of the eleven seats where sitting or outgoing Democrats are either themselves or are leaving weak replacements to fight against rising Republican ire and momentum.
But of course, there is the little difficulty of the fact that these are the Midterms. There is always lower voter turnout in-between presidential years. (Turnout is much lower in those years anyway.) As the elections approach, the American people need to remember that this is still an important year. Even if the Republicans do win the presidency in 2016, if they lose the house, (which traditionally takes a long time to flip again) they could find themselves with a Republican president unable to get anything done due to Gridlock. In other words, if we neglect the M word we may soon be dealing with the G word.


Andrew C. Abbott

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Broken Reid

The Inland Empire, CA – Around forty years ago Harry Reid launched himself into politics. Although he lost an initial election attempt, he recovered, and now sits proudly as the Democratic majority leader of the senate.

Less than two weeks ago Reid spoke as the gathering of the Asian Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas. The speech is now remembered because of a remark seen by many as racist, which was so offensive to some of those present that they have since given their endorsement to the opponent of the candidate Reid was endorsing that night.
However, there is something else, not mentioned in all the outlets, although some covered it, that happened that night that is telling. While there Reid also mentioned a book. “I would recommend it to everyone,” Reid said. “It’s called Dowager Empress Cixi. Read that. It’s a best seller. It’s a great book. Everyone should read that. … This remarkable woman did so much for China.” Although he got the title wrong by just a little bit, the true story in the book is interesting.
The author, Jung Chang, writes of Cixi: “In some four decades of absolute power, her political killings, whether just or unjust … were no more than a few dozen, many in response to plots to kill her,” Four decades. The time Harry Reid has been in politics. Jon Ralston, a political writer, said of this “the parallels are clear.” A person trying to hold onto power no matter what the cost.
Recently, Reid, who is now 74, and apparently feeling it, has seemed to be slowing down. There is even the occasional whisper that he might not even run for reelection in 2016. He is currently in her fifth term in the senate. Among his more famous current happenings is an attack on the previously unheard of Koch brothers, billionaire conservatives, who he claims are “un-American” and trying to buy senate seats by pumping millions of dollars into campaigns all across the country.
Just recently, a large cutout of Harry Reid was placed at the Americans for Prosperity summit in Dallas. Everyone from Ted Cruz, Michael Pence, Rand Paul and Rick Perry showed up, as did the Koch brothers, the candidates showed up to remind everyone about themselves as 2016 draws closer, and also to bash Harry Reid, deriding him as a man who attacks the 1% while living at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and having a chauffeur.
The brothers assumedly showed to help them begin to get an idea about which horse to bet on in the presidential race. Their money could make an interesting talking point in 2016. But by then people may remember all the liberal millionaires and billionaires that donate, and be less concerned about the Koch family.
The cutout of Reid got a lot of attention, with people reportedly lining up to take pictures of themselves with him. Some punching him in the mouth, others giving him rabbit ears, others just taking selfies of themselves with one of the club of 100.
Reid may or may not run again in 2016, and if he does, he may or may not win. Forty years around politics is a long time. He has grandchildren, and he is getting older. His gaffes are becoming more regular, and his ramblings reportedly more pronounced. Within the last few months he made headlines by being admitted to the hospital. But perhaps worst of all for him is he has hit at the Koch brothers, a duo who could drown his opponent’s campaign in so much money, that even if Reid wins, his image could come out so battered that he could lost much of his authority in the senate.
One wonders why he attacked the brothers. But perhaps after forty years, he just didn’t much care anymore. Or perhaps he isn’t even planning to run again, although currently he still says he is. Whatever the case about Reid and the Koch brothers, one is reminded of the old movie line “they are coming for you.”

Andrew C. Abbott