Ted Cruz is the first Republican to formally declare his candidacy for President. His platform: repeal “every word” of Obamacare; eliminate the IRS; prevent same-sex marriage. Really? His first action after announcing was to go out and hustle for campaign money. His second action was to sign up for Obamacare, since he lost his family plan coverage when his wife quit her high-paying Wall Street executive job to join his campaign. Good thing he now has a coverage option that did not exist pre-Obamacare to help him out of his quandary. He is clearly a man for his time – if the time were 1916. Chance of becoming President: nil. Chance of getting the Republican nomination: quite plausible. He will certainly make the Republican primary season mind-numbingly crazy but highly entertaining to watch.
Donald Trump announced the formation of his “exploratory committee” to consider running. Trump is the best self-promoter around of The Donald, the P.T. Barnum fraud of our times. The only question is – why does the media, or the American public, care one twit about anything he has to say, given that his words are all a put-on of no real importance. He would have made Andy Kaufman, a comic master of the put-on, proud.
Speaking of Ted Cruz: he was born in Canada to a Cuban father escaping the Castro government and an American mother (of Irish descent). Sounds pretty much like Barack Obama’s birth story – except Obama was born in an American state. So now where are all “the birthers” who were supposedly so intent on protecting the presidency from “foreigners”? Was it really, as we long suspected, just about Obama himself? And why is Cruz, of all people, so stubbornly against immigration?
Benjamin Netanyahu was recently reelected prime minister of Israel. Say good-by to any peace progress in the Middle East for yet another six more years. We are now in our seventh decade of conflict in that area. Fear wins elections, and not just in America. Where are Anwar Sadat and Meacham Began when we really need them?
According to a recent Gallup poll, less than 40% of Americans approve of the Democratic Party. And less than 40% of Americans approve of the Republican Party. It is the first time in Gallup’s polling history that both parties have been less than 40% at the same time. Combined with a Congressional approval rating that is consistently less than 20%, does anyone think that there is anyone who knows how to run this country anymore?
If we really want to make Congress more effective, there is one simple step we could take that would help. Require all confirmation votes, and all sections of and amendments to any legislation, be germane to the core topic. Quit tacking on “extraneous issues” to pending matters, and just vote yea/nea on the issue’s merits. Case in point: holding up confirmation of the current nominee for Attorney General deemed “eminently qualified” by all concerned until the overwhelmingly bi-partisan-supported renewal of the Violence Against Women Act is passed, which is being held up over anti-abortion amendments that were quietly snuck into the bill. Congress insists on wasting time on political maneuvering and trickery instead of getting things done. For which the justifiably cynical American public has little patience left.
Ever notice that the loudest protests against the Affordable Care Act come from people who already have medical insurance coverage?
Indiana just passed a new law protecting its citizens from lawsuits if they refuse to provide commercial services due to their personal “religious convictions.” It was signed by Governor Mike Pence who inexplicably claimed that, “If this bill were about discrimination I would not have signed it.” The provocation for this bill was towards gays and lesbians, but the wording effectively allows people to pick and choose services towards ANY group and blame it on their religious beliefs. If Indiana needs some display signs to help enforce this new law, they can probably find plenty to reuse lying in basements and dust bins throughout the South saying “Whites Only” or “Colored Only.” Or the “Irish Need Not Apply” signs left over in Boston. Just some simple spray can editing would easily bring them up to date. And here I thought that all of those old “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” signs were actually eliminated 50 years ago. Back when African-American segregation was claimed to be justified as “God’s Will” because “God did not intend the intermingling of the races.” Religious exemptions belong in our churches, not in our public places and the marketplace.
Recently, Tom Cotton, a two-month freshman Senator from Arkansas, decided he also wanted to be the Secretary of State in the Executive Branch. He got 46 other Republican senators to sign an unprecedented and highly dangerous letter to Iran’s leadership about the current ongoing diplomatic negotiations to prevent Iran’s atomic bomb capability. (Combined with Speaker John Boehner’s unprecedented foreign affairs engagement, unprecedented is rapidly becoming the precedent.) I was tempted to chastise my home state friends in Arkansas for sending this arrogance to the U.S. Senate. But then I remembered that my adopted state of North Carolina also sent a similar freshman senator, Thom Tillis, who believes that requiring food and restaurant workers to wash their hands after every trip to the toilet, and posting signs to that effect, is an unnecessary regulatory burden on businesses. Instead, they should be required to post signs if that is NOT their policy, and leave it to the consumer to make a choice. Somehow, a requirement to post signs that do not require hand washing is supposedly not a regulatory burden. I guess questionable intelligence and conduct can come from anywhere. And I should not throw stones at my home state from within my current glass house.
In 1946, we started a cold war with Russia over its attempts to dominate other countries. In 1948, the Middle East erupted into military and diplomatic chaos over the United Nations’ establishment of the State of Israel. In 1953 America conducted a covert overthrow of the legitimate government of Iran, thereby justifiably earning their lasting distrust of us. In 1965 voter discrimination and barriers were made illegal. In 1965 and 1972 the Supreme Court affirmed women’s right to obtain “the pill.” In 1973 the Supreme Court protected, with some limitations, a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. In 1973 our reliance on imported carbon fuels was shown to be a national security issues, long before their adverse affects on our health and climate were subsequently discovered. In the late 1970s wage deviations between genders doing the same job were statistically proven. It is now the year 2015. Why are we still bogged down and continuing to argue on and on about these old issues? Can we not finally move on to the new very real issues that need addressing?
© 2015 Randy Bell www.ThoughtsFromTheMountain.blogspot.com