Friday, November 28, 2014

A review of World Order by Henry Kissenger

New Republic -- A book Review of Henry Kissinger’s book World Order by Anne-Marie Slaughter

Some lengthy articles are of such value that they are worth the time and effort to read. This book review by Anne-Marie Slaughter is a article of such significance. Anne-Marie Slaughter is a professor emerita of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, who also served as director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011. She is president and CEO of New America.

As a junior at Harvard in 1963, I took a course from Henry Kissinger on Foreign Affairs. It was all about the balance of power and the essay that I chose to write to counterbalance this was “The Role of Ideas vs. Power in Foreign Policy.” I thus have a bias toward the important points and historical perspectives which are eloquently presented in this book review concerning American foreign policy. Click here for the review.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Death Row Exonerations - One in Eleven

One in Eleven Death Row Inmates since 1973 have been Exonerated.

Our legal system doesn’t always get it right.

  • Reuters 11/19/2014 -- Ohio man exonerated after 39 years in prison, to be released Friday

  • Ohioans To Stop Executions:

    The week ended with the exonerations of three men. Brothers Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman (who now goes by Kwame Ajamu), and Ricky Jackson became Ohio’s 7th, 8th and 9th death row exonerees. The three were wrongfully convicted in Cuyahoga County in 1975. Wiley and Ricky were freed yesterday after 39 years of imprisonment. Kwame was released in 2003 but not officially cleared of wrongdoing until now.

    These men spent more than 103 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. In one day, the number of death row exonerations from our state rose from six to nine, and took the national total over 150. This is a somber reminder why our work in 2015 and beyond is so important.

  • List of those freed from death row
  • Death Penalty Information Center

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is it too much to ask the Republicans to now put forward and pass their own bills on immigration and healthcare?

Could they not even do this incrementally in a timely fashion?

Quotes from my own congressman, Pat Tiberi (R-OHIO).

“That's the hundred million dollar question,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), “How do you stop an inaction? That's the tough question that I don't have the answer to today....Just to go a step further: 'shut the government down.' That doesn't stop this inaction. Don't fund immigration service. That doesn't stop this inaction. How do you stop this inaction?”
“That doesn't stop the action of the executive order. That's what we have to be smart about this. I think he wants us to do that. In a really weird way, I think he wants us to be fighting him on a personal level and not focused on the issues, because he got beat on the issues in the November election. If we make this about him – which I think he wants us to, that's why he's doing this – it's a huge distraction on all the policy issues, [like] repealing pieces of Obamacare,” Tiberi said.
Pat Tiberi has been a congressman since 2001. The question is why aren’t he and the other Republicans now putting forth and passing positive legislation on immigration and health care. There are even large areas where there is a consensus. That would be the message that the Republican party should be taking from the last election. Both parties have been rebuked in the opinion polls and by the electorate. It might also be a good idea for the Congress to stay in session for the first three months to do some of the heavy lifting, particularly in terms of jobs and the economy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Two views on President Obama’s plan for executive action on immigration

Obama knows that this is a trap for Republicans. Their response should be to be to just move forward in a positive timely manner with an immigration bill.

  • New Republic -- Erwin Chemerinsky and San KleinerObama has the law - and Reagan - on his side on immigration

    “Indeed, presidents of both parties have tailored immigration policy to their own goals. In 1987, the Reagan administration took executive action to limit deportations for 200,000 Nicaraguan exiles, even those who had been turned down for asylum. Similarly, President George H.W. Bush in 1990 limited deportations of Chinese students and in 1991 kept hundreds of Kuwait citizens from being deported. President Bill Clinton regularly used his power of prosecutorial discretion to limit deportations; in 1993 he gave 18-month extensions to Salvadoran residents, in 1997 he limited deportations for Haitians, and in 1998 he limited deportations to Central American counties that had been devastated by hurricanes.”

    The president has the constitutional authority to decide to not proceed with deportations. It has always been within the president’s discretion to decide whether to have the Department of Justice enforce a particular law. As the Supreme Court declared in United States v. Nixon, “the Executive Branch has exclusive authority and absolute discretion to decide whether to prosecute a case.”

  • WSJ Opinion - Rep. Goodlatte (R) , Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee -- Congress will fight Obama’s Power Grab

    The president’s amnesty plan for millions of unlawful immigrants clearly violates the Constitution.

    “Mr. Obama’s plan to violate the Constitution must be stopped. The Framers wisely gave Congress many tools to guard against the executive branch accumulating too much power. My colleagues in both the House and the Senate will take inventory of the tools afforded to Congress by the Constitution, such as the power of the purse and the authority to write legislation, to stop the president’s unconstitutional actions from being implemented.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Proposed Ohio HB 663 -- Secrecy surrounding government executions

This is what the death penalty comes to:

  • Secrecy surrounding government executions
  • Hindering judicial oversite
  • Hiring physicians to violate their ethical code

Proposed Ohio House Bill 663 does the following:

  • Makes the sources of Ohio’s lethal injection drugs confidential state secrets that cannot be revealed even in court of law or as a result of a subpoena.
  • Makes null and void any local, state, national, or international contract that prevents executions in Ohio from being carried out (i.e., a manufacturer prohibiting the use of its drugs or other equipment in executions).
  • Encourages medical professionals to violate their codes of ethics by participating in executions and gives them legal protection if they do.

This would become a defining issue for the legislatures and Gov. Kasich who has presidential ambitions in 2016. Never underestimate the Republican's ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Political Polarization - Red State, Blue State: Polarization and the American Situation

Two ideologically based societies have developed within the United States, and the differences between them are growing.

Map of red states and blue states in the U.S. based on presidential elections since 2000. Red: The Republican candidate carried the state in all four most recent presidential elections (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012). Pink: The Republican candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Purple=The Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate each carried the state in two of the four most recent elections. Light blue: The Democratic candidate carried the state in three of the four most recent elections. Dark blue=The Democratic candidate carried the state in all four most recent elections.

Washington Examiner - The Political map of the future?

It’s a map of the United States showing the congressional districts won by Republicans in red and those won by Democrats in blue. (Map courtesy: Kurykh/Wikipedia)

The Wealth of States

“In early 2012, The Wall Street Journal published an editorial, “The Heartland Tax Rebellion,” which brought to national attention the movement in many Midwestern states to replace their state income taxes with revenue sources that are less damaging to economic growth. The opinion piece compared the nine states with the highest personal income tax rates to the nine states without earned income taxes. In each category of growth (population, gross state product and employment) no-income tax states come out ahead, while high tax states lag behind.”

Thursday, November 13, 2014

We need to clarify our values in what is a battle of ideas

  • WP - United Nations asks United States to clarify its position on torture

    "It has been nearly six years since President Obama, on his third day in office, signed an executive order banning torture or cruel treatment of U.S. detainees."

  • CBS News - Abuse at Abu Ghraib

    "When 60 Minutes II reported the first details of the Army investigation into Abu Ghraib, we didn't reveal that it was written by Gen. Antonio Taguba. His report is a scathing indictmentof the prison's lack of manpower, training and adherence to international standards."

  • Equality as an Affirmation of Our Common Humanity

    We are missing a defining opportunity in the history of the moral and political philosophy of the liberal tradition; first, by not defining our primary moral value as equality, understood as a respect for the dignity and worth of our common humanity; and second, by not defining our government as a constitutional democracy, which is the only way to convey both the substantive and the procedural concepts of equality that it incorporates.

Three views on income inequality

  1. Online WSJ - Phil Gramm - How to Distort Income Inequality

    "The Piketty-Saez data ignore changes in tax law and fail to count noncash compensation and Social Security benefits. A new study in the Southern Economic Journal, we know what the picture looks like when the missing data are filled in."

  2. Slate - Yes, the Middle Class Really Is Sinking

    "How badly is health care eating into paychecks? According to Reeves’ Brookings colleague Gary Burtless, health insurance and noncash benefits from the government made up 17 percent of after-tax income for the middle fifth of American households in 2010. In 1980, it was just 6 percent."

  3. The Guardian - Fed chair Janet Yellen says income inequality is un-American

    "The lower half of U.S. households ranked by wealth held just 1% of total wealth last year, down from 3% in 1989"

The Conservative and Pragmatic Trend in the States

Republicans pick up governorships from Democrats in liberal strongholds like Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois.

  • What Senate Republicans can learn from the GOP-led states

    "Republican leaders in the states have been successful while the national party has struggled because GOP governors are focused on reforms that are relevant to the daily lives of their citizens."

  • How Larry Hogan used tax data to turn Maryland red

    "New taxes were costing Marylanders $3.1 billion a year — on top of the levies they already were paying. Maryland joins high-tax states in the Northeast, Midwest and California among those with the largest exodus between 2007 and 2010 The bottom line was stunning. Maryland lost $1.7 billion in taxable income to other states in just three years under O’Malley and Brown."

  • Walker Wins Again

    "Stories of Walker’s reforms helping schools and lowering property taxes proliferated in the press. Walker’s Democratic opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett,couldn’t name a single school that had been hurt by the law."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Four opinions on new congressional agenda

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell Lay Out GOP Goals

Sen. Rob Portman -- Jobs for America

  • Adopt Common Sense Health Care Solutions
  • Power America’s Economy
  • Begin Living Within Our Means
  • Reform Tax Code To Spur Economic Growth
  • Require Cost Benefit Analysis in the Formulation of Regulations
  • Create Competitive Workforce
  • Increase Exports to Create More American Jobs

WP -- Charles Krauthammer -- Seize the Day, Control the Agenda

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A First 100 days Focused on the Economy and Jobs

“The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.”

The Republicans now have an opportunity to address the primary concern of the electorate which remains the economy and jobs. There is also, however, a great concern about our national debt and the burden we are placing on the next generation. In 2010 Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen even stated that, "The most significant threat to our national security is our debt." The key to addressing the issues such as jobs and the national debt is to create greater economic growth.

At least a major part of the Republican agenda, now that they control Congress, should be to spend the first 100 days passing legislation to improve the economy. This is also an agenda where there might be areas of bipartisan support. Promoting the economy would involve energy legislation, which would also help create jobs and make America more energy independent. There is a well recognized need to fix a broken tax code with reform. The Congress could work with President Obama on free-trade deals. Passing a budget rather than fractured resolutions would be a step toward responsible financial oversight.

There will be the more complicated and partisan issues, such as ObamaCare and immigration reform, which will need to be addressed. The Republicans, however, will need to demonstrate their ability to govern effectively to maintain their majority in the Senate. The Republicans, will be defending 24 of the 34 Senate seats at issue in 2016. Addressing the economy in the first 100 days of the new Congress, is an achievable agenda which is both needed and which would resonate with the concerns of the voters.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Harry Reid would continue to obstruct compromise

During Clinton's second term, when both houses were held by the GOP, a great deal was able to be accomplished by bi-partisan legislation. The Republicans now need to be able to demonstrate they can be pragmatic and capable of governing going into the 2016 presidential elections. On the other hand, President Obama will be concerned about his legacy. Therefore, significant progress may be able to be made, with compromise, on immigration reform, the federal budget, energy policy and modifications of both the Affordable Care Act and Dodd Frank financial regulations.

Senator Mitch McConnell has indicated that he didn't expect to be able to repeal the healthcare law, stating "It would take sixty votes in the Senate" and "nobody thinks we are going to have 60 votes". Obama will still maintain significant control with the presidential veto. On the other hand, he will have little incentive for any compromises with a Democratic Senate that continues to be lead by Harry Reid.

No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal
National Book Award Finalist

The New York Review of Books - Afghanistan: ‘A Shocking Indictment’ - review of No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal

“Gopal’s book is essential reading for anyone concerned about how America got Afghanistan so wrong. It is a devastating, well-honed prosecution detailing how our government bungled the initial salvo in the so-called war on terror, ignored attempts by top Taliban leaders to surrender, trusted the wrong people and backed a feckless and corrupt Afghan regime. . . . It is ultimately the most compelling account I’ve read of how Afghans themselves see the war.”
—The New York Times Book Review

At Amazon

  • “The level of craftsmanship in this book is often awe-inspiring. . . . Provides unique insights into America’s intervention in Afghanistan and makes important contributions to our understanding of the conflict there.”

    —Foreign Policy

  • “Haunting . . . Presents a stirring critique of American forces who commanded overwhelming firepower, but lacked the situational knowledge to achieve their objectives . . . Gopal reveals the fragility of the tenuous connection between intention and destiny in a war-torn land.”

    —Publishers Weekly

Tunisia Elections Possible Model for Region