Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Republicans should stop running for president

These days it seems like everybody is running for president. Guys you’ve heard, guys you haven’t, and guys you don’t even want to hear about. There are governors, senators, formers and current CEOs of large companies and even a retired neurosurgeon getting into the act. There are so many candidates that soon we might be hearing Bugs Bunny has finally decided to try for the GOP Nomination. (That is one candidacy I might find myself backing, by the way.)
But back in January, Paul Ryan, the running mate on Mitt Romney’s ultimately doomed ticket in 2012, announced he is not running. Of course, that didn’t make the national news in a big way; nobody started around the clock coverage of his decision not to run. But now that announcing a bid for the Republican nomination seems to have become the Grand Old Party’s pastime, it seems like Ryan’s decision not to run should have received more attention, for the reasons he gave were not only good ones, but they showed a level of maturity many of the bids, which everyone including their candidate must know are doomed to failure, do not have.
Ryan announced in January he is staying in congress because he believes he has work to do. He wants to overhaul the tax code. Of course, that job is going to take a very long, and most don’t think he will even be able to bring his new plan, should he even finish the massive job before the second coming, will even come up for a vote for at least a year from now. But Ryan is proof that the Republican Party still has people in it that are willing to do what they were elected to do-that is, actually govern this nation rather than use their seat as a stepping stone to the White House.
The influx of sitting senators and governors seeking the nomination is especially difficult for Republicans, as in 2016 their new found hold on the Senate will be tested, as so many Republican seats are up for grabs, compared to a relatively small number of Democratic ones.
Taking a look at Rubio, who has announced he will not also be running for senate, and Paul, who probably will also not run for reelection to the senate, just to name two seats that will now be much easier for Democrats to take. Then there are governors like Christi, whose BridgeGate scandal many believe will hurt him if he decides to run for president, conceivably that means he will also be hurt at home in New Jersey, and paradoxically he would spending less effort and time in his bid at reelection to governor, should he lose his shot at the White House.
Then there are all the presumably eligible, interested and capable people, from Carson to Santorum to Huckabee to Fiorina, all of whom are not in office, and all of whom are running for president; which means of course that even were one of those four to win, three would still be left out in the cold.
It seems that with all of the long shots in the race, it would be much better if most of them were to abandon their bids, and do something unthinkable-run for lower office. Of course they don’t want to do that. They think they see a chance for them and they want to be president. It’s a perfectly understandable desire, but also perfectly dangerous to the Republican Party as so many of their best and brightest are risking it all on a presidential run, and by the laws elimination only one of them can win, while at the same time leaving the rest battered and bruised.
So it seems to me, and the facts tend to agree, that the best thing for the Republican Party right now would be if a lot of them stopped trying so hard to be president, and got back to running for other offices if they’re out, and actually governing if they’re in. It’s counterintuitive, I know, especially these days. But it’s the best thing for them. Sorry if the medicine doesn’t always taste good.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rick Santorum: There is no path for him

Rick Santorum

Today, near Pittsburgh, Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania, two time candidate for president, and hard-liner right wing conservative announced that he trying a second time to become the President of the United States.

Iowa radio talk show host Steve Deace, a controversial man widely credited with being kingmaker in Iowa in the 2008 election, costing Romney the nomination then, told me this morning “I don't see a path, but Rick's entire political career has been overcoming the odds from his very first race.”
Santorum is not in the top tier of candidates at this moment in the polls, but that does not, by any stretch of the imagination mean he is out of the race. Far from it. History is speckled with long shot contestants coming from nowhere to win, and Santorum has what quite a few politicians in the race for the Republican Nomination do not: strong backing not only for his agenda, but for him personally.
Santorum’s route to nomination will not be easy. He opposes gay marriage at a time when it is not popular to do so, bringing down on him the wrath even of the top Republican in HBO’s hit show Newsroom. And he also is seen by many as overly defensive and uptight. He also has a history of ideas that are a bit weird, to say the least. For instance, in 2012 on the campaign trail Santorum said "See, I always believed that when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a teleprompter.” Where he got that from we'll never know.
In his announcement speech moments ago, Santorum held up a piece of coal and spoke of his grandfather, a coal miner, who had come to America “for this, freedom!” The moment encapsulated something many in recent weeks have been talking about, how Santorum has moved from focusing primarily of social issues, as he did in his last campaign, to economic issues, and the fate of the blue collar worker.
At a time when America is seeing a shift which many say is decimating the middle class, one would think that this would be a rallying cry, but the truth is that before Santorum gets to run in the general election, he has to win the nomination. And the Republicans that vote in that are historically better off, more likely to be white than the general electorate, and more rallied by social issues than economic ones.
Santorum has many weaknesses, and at this moment few strengths. There is no voter base which is expressly his, and the field is so crowded that one can only agree with Deace, I don't see a path for Santorum to the White House.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Biggest and the Baddest


America considers itself the greatest country in the world. Rightly so. No other nation in world history has been as successful in defending freedom, opportunity, and openness for all as we have. We are the nation that invented the airplane, developed the automobile, put a man on the moon, won both World Wars against authoritarian governments seeking domination of innocent people, and we are the nation that has made so many advances in so many areas that it is impossible to name them all.

We are a country whose leader is considered the leader of the free world, and indeed, is the most powerful person on the planet. But every four years Americans can go to the polls, and vote him or her out, and they do. And our president, with enough fire power at his fingertips to blow the entire planet out of existence simply steps down meekly. It is a part of the miracle of America, where you can believe what you want, and say what you want, and not strung up on a light pole, or beaten to death because somebody doesn't like where you worship, or who you voted for in the last election.

We are a peaceful nation, we don't like war. But  paradoxically we are the country with the world's largest, most powerful, most advanced, most threatening and most un-apologizing military might in the history of ever. America has many secrets to its greatness, but this is one of our greatest.

It was our soldiers that won our freedoms in the 1770s, and fought for them again throughout the 1800s, even in our darkest hours, and it was our soldiers that kept our nation together, even when it looked like it might cease to exist forever. And it was our soldiers who brought freedom back from the brink of extinction during the great wars of the twentieth century.

Yes, we Americans are a peace loving people, even our soldiers are peace loving. But you can't have peace unless you are able to defend it. We haven't won every fight, militarily or economically, and we as a nation haven't always been perfect, but there is one thing we can say. We have the most patriotic, we have the best, the bravest, the baddest military ever. And that's something we can all be proud of.

Today, Memorial Day, is a time when we thank our soldiers for all they've done. And they deserve it.

Andrew C. Abbott

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rand Paul Gets a Victory for all of us

Today, in a story even the Huffington Post could not ignore, Rand Paul’s filibuster, which ended days ago, continued to pay dividends, not only to the rising star of the Republican Party’s campaign for the presidency of the United States, but also in his attempt to end the government’s collection of millions of American’s phone records without a warrant.

The PATRIOT Act, signed into law by George Bush after the tragic 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, has to be renewed by midnight on the night of Sunday, the 31st of this month, or the powers granted to the American Intelligence community, specifically, those granted under section 215, which the NSA and others interpret as allowing them to collect millions of American’s phone records without a warrant, will end.
That was what Rand Paul, whose father Ron Paul was one of the few Republicans in the House of Representatives not to vote for the PATRIOT Act on its first passing, took to the floor to filibuster against. Yesterday, as the clock ticked down, the Senate was unable to pass a continuing measure. The Senate departs now for recess for the week, and the House is already gone. They won’t be back until Sunday, when they will have only a few hours remaining to pass a bill most agree they won’t be able to. If that continuing resolution fails, the articles granting the intelligence services such as the NSA power to collect our phone records will end, and the long saga which began with Edward Snowden, will end in at least one victory, for we, the people.
There are many, including Marco Rubio, the Jr. Senator from Florida who is also running for president, and a friend of Rand Paul’s, who argue that America needs to be more concerned with its security than about how legitimate it is for the government to collect the phone records.
But that is not the case. The Constitution clearly states in the fourth amendment that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Under Section 2015, no warrant is needed, and the "things to be seized" are not "particularly" described. In other words, a simple reading would insinuate that Section 215 is unconstitutional.
A nation is nothing if not built on the rule of law. In the mad dash to find security after 9/11, this act, and possibly others, went too far. It has taken far too long to rectify, but at last, it looks as if Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is going to die a peaceful death, at home in its bed. RIP.
This is only the beginning, even the Whistleblower Edward Snowden, the man who told us all about this in the first place admits there is much more to do. But it does feel like the tides are shifting, and maybe, just maybe, this could be the beginning of a time when Americans right to privacy, real privacy, is finally secured.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Stand with Rand: The Third Dynasty Awakens

Senator Rand Paul

Much has been made in recent months of two political dynasties, both of whom have a candidate or a presumed potential candidate in the race for the White House in 2016. The Bushes and the Clintons. But there is a third person who family has been connected to politics for years past.
That family is The House of Paul. It started of course with Ron Paul, the congressman from Texas, (crazy uncle Ron, they called him) that guy that actually thought that maybe government control of everything is not a good idea, and maybe the constitution actually means something.
Now Senator Rand Paul, with his catchy “Stand with Rand” slogan and the motto “Recapture the American Dream, Defeat the Washington Machine” is also running. And last night, he reminded the nation not only that he is a candidate, but also that he is a conservative libertarian, and certainly his own man within the Republican Party, when he bucked Mitch McConnell, head of Senate Republicans, and for 10 and one half hours, took control of the senate floor to protest the extension of the Patriot Act. Calling it unpatriotic, and saying he wouldn’t let the senate vote to pass it. With the senate leaving town today, he is probably right, with his filibuster, McConnell’s clock is winding down.
Paul’s Filibuster is a bit like his campaign in mini. Paul has said that he is a better man for the nomination than the likes of Ted Cruz, (who supported him) or Marco Rubio, (who disagreed), for, even though he agrees with them on many things, when it comes to the general, he will better appeal to young people and even Democrats. A quick scan of those who stood with Paul and gave him breathers during his 10 ½ hours speech shows that of the ten senators, seven of those who stood with Rand yesterday were Democrats.
Rand Paul is a man in the top tier of candidates for the Republican Nomination. He is loved by far right conservatives, winning the CPAC straw poll two years in a row. He also is a man who often bucks the party elite, as he did yesterday. (It’s alright though, Paul and McConnell are both from Kentucky, and McConnell has already endorsed Paul.)
Whether you agree with Paul or not about the Patriot ACT, or if you think the government should be collecting millions of Americans phone records without a warrant, (hint: they shouldn’t be), there is no question that Paul is a man who knows how to grab showbiz. Every online news site this morning was talking about him, (ok, except for the Huffington Post, some star of something had worn a great dress last night to somewhere, so they had to cover that breaking news), and during his filibuster, which many people tuned in to watch at least parts of, he not only hit the Patriot Act, he also gave a bit of a campaign speech, talking about what a great job he’d do as president.
There is a long way to go in the race, but Paul at least is showing that he is a senator who tries to do things, not just talk. People like that.
Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, May 18, 2015

Carly Fiorina: Difficulties Everywhere for her

Carly Fiorina is  the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She was fired from that job in what she describes as a “board room brawl.” When she was forced out, the stock in the company went up 7%. It had previously dropped by nearly half during her tenure. Carly Fiorina is the former candidate for the US Senate in the state of California. Despite Sara Palin trying to help Fiorina win, she lost by 10% of the vote.
Carly Fiorina has been described as one of the worst high level executives of all time. It has been shown that before getting into politics, according to the Los Angeles Times in a report Fiorina herself said was true , she rarely voted in elections. She was apparently too busy being CEO in a tenure that caused her to be listed with America's worst CEOs by CBS. So one might think that having lost in politics, having been fired from business, she might just drop out of the public sphere altogether.
But no, Fiorina, still showing the tenacity that allowed her to work her way up the corporate ladder to become the first woman in history to lead a top-20 company isn’t letting anything stop her. She is running for president.
Some people don’t want to take her seriously, and indeed, her record of difficult circumstances, which some claim were made worse by poor leadership on her part, including the fact that about 30,000 people were laid off from Hewlett-Packard during her tenure will be major hurdles. However, presidents have overcome difficult or less than glamorous pasts before, most notably perhaps Abraham Lincoln, another man who had a difficult business past, and was himself a failed senate candidate, went on to become one of the most loved and most important presidents America has ever had.
Carly Fiorina
Fiorina on the other hand, interprets her tenure differently. She is open about being fired. But says that things happen. She also says that when anyone is fired at the top of a company, stocks begin to move. She defends herself by talking about the good things her company did, including the level of ingenuity, including eleven patents a day. As for the 30,000 layoffs, Fiorina says that she had to lay off some to keep the company alive.
Not only are the numbers bad for her on in the race for the Republican nomination, where, despite being the only woman in the field she consistently polls very far beneath the top several candidates. Having never held political office before is also a historical difficulty. No one has won the White House without holding office since Dwight Eisenhower.
Which means the only thing she will be able to fall back on, at this point, will probably be Hillary-bashing, the favorite sport of Republicans at the moment, and a litany of'I had a job, unlike all these young senators who went straight into politics.' (Fiorina is 60 years of age.)
As for what Fiorina believes, or what she will actually do if elected, well, the specifics on that will have to wait until its convenient for her to tell us. Although many may attack her for the lack of actual promises with numbers and data, specifics are always something lacking in any campaign. Politicians don't give to many in attempts to keep everyone happy.
Its hard to imagine a scenario in which the historically strong, diverse, and conservative field of 2016 candidates, with their strong support from younger voters, as well as the excitement that has drafted some, including Ben Carson, from private life into running, would break down so badly that Fiorina, another candidate beneath whom there is no groundswell, would be able to win.
For Fiorina, there is some daylight. As the only woman in the Republican field at the moment, she will garner headlines. But those headlines won't all be good, and for Fiorina, she is fighting  a war on too many fronts.

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, May 15, 2015

You have the Right to Work

There was a time when little children would work an entire day, skipping school to do it, and only make 4 cents for their back breaking work. There was a time in America when men worked back breaking jobs for 12 hours a day, often in very unsafe conditions, just to get enough money to feed their families. There was a time in America when there were such tragedies as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York, in which over a hundred girls died because the managers had locked the doors on them so no one could leave the job and cost the owners money.

Of course, these abuses are things of the past. We don’t lock innocent girls in anymore and children don’t mine coal for 4 cents a day, at least not here. This is in a very large part due to the advent of the unions, those volatile, controversial institutions which have saved many a man and woman from harsh conditions, and caused many a capitalist to lose sleep at night.
However, for all the good unions have done in America, from the fields of California to the high rises in Chicago, they are a lobbying group. Not that lobbying groups are bad, but they are a lobbying group nonetheless.
In America, we have a long tradition of not forcing people to be in clubs or lobbying groups or anything they don’t want to be in. If you want to leave the nation all together, you are free to do so. And that is why forcing people to be a part of a union not only makes no sense, it is un-American.
But all the same, many states are non-right-to-work states. Either you are a member of a union in many industries, or you are out of a job.
In some states, such as possible Republican candidate Scott Walker’s, Wisconsin, have made their state right to work states-Which is completely logical. You have a right to a union. Nobody who was intelligent would say unions are themselves a bad thing. But if you can’t afford the dues, or simply don’t want to join one, you have a right to work anyway. (Yes, everybody has a right to work.)
For a long time I thought militant unions had an argument for why people should not have a right to work and not join a union. I had never heard it, and I was sure it was wrong, but I thought they must have something that they at least saw as rational, however wrong it was. But I have realized that the militant unions do not have a reason you should not be allowed to work unless you were one of them. The only argument is “it would hurt unions.”
Well that’s unfortunate. But I have a question that should be asked to anyone stomping their feet and shouting that everyone should have to be a part of a union. “Someone not joining the NRA would hurt the NRA, so shouldn’t we all be forced to join? They are a lobbying group, aren’t they?” Anyone making the argument that everyone should be forced to join a union might as well make the argument that everyone should have to, by law, join the NRA.
It probably won’t win the argument right off, but it might get somebody thinking.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

When the President disagrees with Democrats, and Republicans agree with Obama

The "free trade" zone
It used to be that when there was a “trade war” generally two European Countries that had little or no quarrel with each other, and barely even knew what they were fighting about, would fit out ships and guns, conscript men and outfit officers, and send them all out to some far corner of the world to fight a war that might last for months or years, and generally have little or no effect.

Fortunately, modern trade wars aren’t fought, for the most part, with guns, but with words. And the biggest trade war of words going on right now is actually a civil war, that is, a war among the Democratic Party. In a way it is tempting to say it is a war between the left, (President Obama) and the far left, (Elisabeth Warren) but would be making it too simple. Some far lefties (think Al Sharpton, no one has ever accused him of being rightist or moderate) stand with the president, in backing his trade agreement.

The trade agreement that it is all about if the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, and Elisabeth Warren and the other Democrats don't like it, while, apparently, the Republican congress and Mr. Obama do.
But, like the trade wars of old, we don’t really know what all the fuss is about. We don’t actually know what we are arguing about, because we don’t know what the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually entails. The talks, including more than a dozen countries have been going on for a decade, and have been secret all of that time. We know some of the things, or at least think we know some of the things, that are inside.
On his way out, the president is doing his best to
make his presidency worthwhile
For instance, it would create a humongous free trade zone on the Pacific Rim. To quote Rolling Stone “from Canada down to Chile, across to New Zealand, and up to Korea and Japan, by way of Australia, Singapore and Vietnam (notably excluding China).” All of that are would be a free trading zone suddenly.
But all the other stuff in it? Well we don’t really know, and the president isn’t telling us, despite Elisabeth Warren asking him to. We do not even know what exactly this massive "free trade zone" would even mean.
The agreement has yet to go to congress. Maybe it isn’t done yet, I don’t know, I don't think anybody outside of the White House and the other negotiators do.

But the president has asked for fast track authority. That is, the legislation will go to congress, and there it will be given a simple yes or no vote, in other words congress, if they find it is a great deal but it has a really bad clause they don’t like, can do nothing about it. They can only vote yes or no.
Republicans are all up for giving the president that fast track authority, so that they would be unable to amend the deal, only decide yes or no on it. Democrats are all down about it. And now, in a strict party-line vote, all Republicans voted yes, give the president fast track, and the Democrats nearly all voted against Obama. Enough of them voted no that, for the moment, fast track has been defeated.
I do not understand why. Not why the Democrats voted against the fast track, thus leaving congress with more power, what I do not understand is why this historically Republican senate voted yes. Our president has not, in the past, shown himself to be a genius at foreign policy, often times quite the opposite. The trade deal is certainly something-once it comes to congress-that should be looked at. But to give the president fast track is very risky indeed, and without leaving congress in control of its constitutionally given powers, could give us a bad deal.
Of course, fast track legislation is not yet dead. It lost this time, but at any time, with the Republicans in control, it could come up for another vote, and by then the president may have strong armed enough Democrats to give him the 60 votes he needs. That won't pass the agreement, which has not yet come to congress, but it would make it far easier to get through when it does.
For Obama, it is the 4th quarter of the game, and the clock is ticking out. He is desperate to do something that will mark his presidency as having been worthwhile. So far, it hasn’t been.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, May 11, 2015

Huck's in

Mike Huckabee, another boy from the town called Hope, who learned to shoot before he could drive, who comes from a real rags to riches story, the former governor of Arkansas, and the former host of a show on FOX which I used to watch when I could, has announced he is running for president of the United States.

This is not the first time good old Huck has thrown his hat into the ring. The former governor, and 59 year old politician also ran in 2008, when he won Iowa, but after that was unable to go on to win the nomination.

Huckabee is pro-life without exception, and very conservative, but right at the beginning of his campaign I would point several things out. Firstly, he is running his campaign in an attempt to carry the Christian South, and the ultra conservatives. However, he seems to have forgotten that many Americans are no longer ultra conservatives, and although there are still many out there that are, and they may even be enough to carry him to the nomination, it is highly unlikely he could win in a general campaign.

He is much loved by some, however, he does not have the large following of younger voters, that the likes of Rand Paul and Marco Rubio have, nor does there seem to be a major grassroots campaign swelling up beneath him.

He has run into trouble, and rightfully so, when he attacked things the president's daughters were doing. Attack a man or woman all you want in politics, but people's families should always be left out of whatever debate you are carrying out. Although that issue is not likely to hurt Huckabee, it is a cautionary note to the rest of us.

At this point, Huckabee is just another name in the field, and not near top of it at any rate. He may do well, and he may win the nomination, but I sincerely doubt it. At any rate however, I wish him all the best.

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, May 8, 2015

Everybody was wrong

Milliband, head of the communists,
 lost everything last night

It’s like the day after the party, and everybody has a headache.
In the newspapers today across the countries of Britain and America, there is mortification, hand wringing, and confusion. All the polls were wrong, very, very wrong. The elections for Prime Minister yesterday was predicted by every metric, every number, and every one either put the Labor and Tory parties at neck to neck, or Labor just a little bit ahead.
Well, as it turned out, the British people did trust their Prime minister, and were thankful that during his time in office he has created a thousand new jobs a day, and they liked the fact that he promises by 2017 to let them vote on whether they want to stay members of the European Union.
Labor lost so bad that the head of the party, Ed Milliband, resigned. The Liberal Democrats lost so bad that the head of their party, Nick Clegg, resigned. UKIP lost so bad, holding on to only one seat that the head of their party, Nigel Farrage, resigned. That guy didn’t even win his own seat.
The Tories beat everybody. They beat everyone so bad that they don’t even need to form an alliance with another party. They have more than the majority necessary, something no one thought they would get, to rule on their own, without having to care what any of the other parties thought.
Just yesterday people were heralding the end of the two party system in Britain. This morning they are wondering where they went wrong. It’s sort of like when Mayweather got in the ring with Pacman. All the hype and nothing happened, the guy on top stayed on top.
The good news is that this time, there is no one to arbitrarily decide that suddenly the contest never happened, and the Tories can get back to what they have been doing. Resorting a certain amount of freedom in Britain, moving the country more right of center, and fixing an economy damaged from 13 years under Labor.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The British Elections Today: Too Close to Call

The candidates

The traditional two-party system is breaking down in Britain, which makes the outcome more uncertain” That was the New York Times this morning, admitting that neither they nor anybody else knows who will be the next Prime Minister of Britain when the polls close at 10:00 PM London Time this evening.
And in Britain, they aren’t even guessing. In fact, in England, it is a crime that carries a hefty fine and up to six months in prison just to talk about anything, from economics to politics, that might in any way effect the election, on Election Day.     
At the moment, the tallies are just a little bit in favor, by 3 or 4%, of David Cameron holding on to power, and the Tories and their conservative ideals to be swept to another 5 years of power and majority rule in Britain. If that happens, the face of global politics could be changed drastically if David Cameron holds true to his promise to let the people of Great Britain vote on whether or not they would like to remain in the European Union.     
There are seven candidates for Prime Minister at the moment, and they are all running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to round up the last few votes here and there.     
It is going to be a long few hours for some, as coalitions are made and sweat pours down the suits of politicians. The reality is that even after this whole thing is over, after all the votes are cast, and everything is done, there is only a one in ten chance that we will have a winner. In reality it will probably be days or even weeks before someone, probably Cameron, or his arch rival Ed Milliband, the Labor shadow minister who is so hardball he unseated in own brother, who will stand in Buckingham Palace at the end of it, receiving instructions from the Queen, to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.           
The Election is so close, that even in Vegas, where over 100,000,000 dollars have been bet, there still has not been declared an official front runner.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, May 4, 2015

Writing from Ferguson: The Two Americas

I write this from Ferguson, Missouri, the place where all of the racially charged friction began.  I am here for a conference being held in a large convention center, attached to a massive Embassy Hotel, with beautiful inside waterfalls and wishing pools where you can throw coins in, and with well-dressed attendants.
But of course, that’s not why Ferguson is famous. It’s the protests, beginning with the tragic death of Mike Brown after an altercation with a police officer, and the looting and riots following.
I have travelled to 45 states in the nation in my 17 years of life with my preacher father, and in that time I have seen both Americas. I have been with multi-millionaires, and have walked streets where people were begging for food. In California, I once met a man, who was so poor he could not even afford a bar of soap, which he was walking the streets begging for. I recall, as I, after finding one and chasing him down to give it to him, and seeing the joy in his eyes, thinking about how this man, (who was a black gentleman) didn’t care or even probably know about political parties. He had no idea what great economic forces had forced him out work, all he was looking for was a bar of soap so he could take a bath.
In Kansas City, another man was playing a lute and sitting in a park, hoping for a dime. I asked him to play Concerning Hobbits. I then asked him if he had a home. He’d had one until 2008, when, he said, for some reason he didn’t understand, he’d lost it. After that he’d lost his job.
Of course, I knew what had happened in 2008, about the Subprime Mortgage Crises, but all he knew was he had lost his home. It’s hard to rationalize about the rise and fall of markets when the market falls on you.
There really are two Americas. And from Colorado to Main I have seen them well defined. One of rich to middle class that understands what is happening, but since life is basically good, food is on the table, and the kids can go to college, they don’t have to worry too much.
But there is the Other America that is so infamous; those that just barely live from paycheck to paycheck or the ones that don’t even have one.
Riots, like we have seen in Ferguson, and are seeing in Baltimore, although horrible and inexcusable, are understandable some ways, if we look at them through the view of those at the bottom, through the lens of those who don’t know why, only what. They don’t know why the jobs and schooling and safety aren’t there, but they know it’s not, and to their eyes no one is doing anything about it. And when, at least in appearance, and sometimes in fact, the very ones who are supposed to protect them resort to excessive violence, the anger wells up.
As we have seen in Baltimore and Ferguson, protests began peacefully, but like so many movements, it is not far from discontent and anger to violence, and it only takes a few exploitative thugs to set things off.
It’s not a racial issue; it’s an issue of the Other America. The America that is beneath the radar, the ones without special interest groups in Washington, the ones for whom few people stand up.
I’m a high school kid. I don’t have the answers to poverty; I don’t know how we’ll fix all of this. But I do know that the problems are real, we can’t push them aside. And I do know that a house divided against itself cannot stand. America is divided into two parts; and the divide is getting bigger, and often times neither side understands the other. Until we can unite, and make it no longer us and them, but just us, until we realize that it’s just us Americans here and we’re all in this together, that one group’s problems are all of our problems, we can’t fix this. But when we do realize it, we can start to.

Andrew C. Abbott


Friday, May 1, 2015

Uncle Bernie from Brooklyn

Bernie Sanders

Kansas City, KA – Some people call him the people’s senator, some people call him Uncle Bernie from Brooklyn. I just call him nuts.
Bernie Sanders, four time mayor of Burlington Vermont, and eight term member of the House of Representatives, and now the Jr. Senator from Vermont in his second term, the boy born in Brooklyn New York is now running for the nomination of the Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders said not long ago on NBC’s Meet the Press that if he announced he was running, as he did yesterday, it would be because he thinks he can win. That fact alone betrays him to some as being out of touch with reality.  Sanders problems are so many that I do not have time for them all.
For one thing, he is only at 4% in the polls, consistently polling behind Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination by 40 to 60 percentage points. Another one of his many problems is that he isn’t actually a Democrat. He is a self-described Socialist, and independent, in fact he is the longest serving Independent in the history of congress, although he does sit on the Democratic side of the chamber, and caucus with them, he is registered with neither party.
Sanders, at 73 would not only be the oldest man in history ever elected to the Oval Office, he would also certainly be the worst President the United States of America has ever had.
In recent weeks the Democratic Party has been staunchly positioning itself as the party of the past, with the likes of Hillary Clinton. As if her ideas were not old enough, they brought in Sanders, a socialist.
I have heard it said that the college kid Hillary Clinton would not like the candidate Hillary Clinton, because she has become too moderate. Well Bernie Sanders is like the college kid who nobody ever told it was time to grow up in his views about politics. He is still an ideological child.
He has said in the past that it is immoral for people to make a lot of money. (How much he believes is too much, as far as I know, has never been specified.)
Sanders is against Wall Street, saying the middle class needs to come first. He has attacked Hillary Clinton’s recent money problems, saying it will not be an issue for him because nobody on Wall Street likes him, which is true, and for good reason. Socialists are not friendly to businesses, they tend to see them, for some reason, as the bad guys. At a time when our economy's growth has been tenuous at best, we need a friend of Wall Street and Main Street, not one who hates the one and is a dubious friend, at best, of the other.

Socialists, (and Sanders has self-described himself as such) are also antithetical to basic American Principles, like freedom and liberty. They are people screaming loudly into the void against injustices that are real, but offering solutions that only make things that much worse.
His only criticism of Obamacare is that it didn’t go far enough. He wants the government to pay for all healthcare in this nation.
If Bernie Sanders were to become president, (relax, he has a better chance of landing a ride in the TARDIS with Dr. Who), then he would make Barak Obama look like another Ronald Reagan.
Andrew C. Abbott