Who Am I?

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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

I’M (STILL) WITH HER



Don’t act so surprised

I endorsed Hillary Clinton prior to caucusing for her in March, and I am returning my ballot for her at a drop off location.


A HISTORY OF PUBLIC SERVICE
If you missed the second debate, watch this 2-minute clip of Clinton highlighting her nearly 30-year history of public service.



OBAMA’S THIRD TERM

Immediately after Obama announced that he endorsed Clinton, the Republican Party called that Clinton was running for “Obama’s Third Term.”

Is that such a bad thing?

Let’s review some of Obama’s major accomplishments in his two terms. This is just a partial list of his accomplishments as our president, but if I was in charge of building the Barack H. Obama Presidential Museum, these are some of the things I would center around.

   1. Health Care Reform


The signature piece of Obama’s presidency. The Republicans tried on two occasions to repeal the law through the courts and countless show votes in Congress to repeal the law. While the law has its flaws, there are good parts such as being able to stay on your parents’ insurance until you are 26, no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, and you can keep your insurance if you change jobs.

Instead of working with this president, Republicans have campaigned on getting rid of it all together and returning to a health care system of have and have nots. Like clockwork, Congressional Republicans schedule ObamaCare repeal votes and as expected the president vetoes those bills.

Hillary Clinton vows to look at ways to improve the law which I believe will eventually get the United States to a form of universal health care coverage.


   2.      Dodd-Frank
In response to the global financial crisis, Congress passed stronger regulations on the financial markets to prevent the same mistakes and excesses that jeopardized the American economy.

Dodd-Frank also produced the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which acts as a watchdog organization for the various financial and banking institutions for the country. The bureau’s first director was Elizabeth Warren who specialized in bankruptcy law. Today she is a US Senator.


   3.      The Stimulus
Paul Krugman criticized the stimulus was not big enough. I totally agree, but it was necessary to respond to the financial crisis and restore confidence that yes, government CAN do something to help the economy.

$86.8 billion for Medicare
$2 billion for Community Health Centers
$1.3 billion for the construction of military hospitals
$1 billion for the Veterans Health Administration
$15.6 billion to increase the Pell Grant awards
$650 million for educational technology
$300 million for increased teacher salaries
$105.3 billion invested into infrastructure

Those are things that you can actually see and benefit real people.

And it saved or created 3 million jobs and ended the Great Recession sooner than expected.

The Stimulus also highlighted early Republican hypocrisy in the Obama presidency. Republicans claimed that the Stimulus contained too many pork projects and it was wasteful use of government resources.

Zero Republicans voted for the bill.

And how many of those Republicans were lining up to ask for those funds…?

There are many infrastructure projects in this country that need worked on. Take Colorado for example, I-70 from I-25 eastward has outlived its usefulness. A six-lane freeway is not viable given that Colorado’s population has grown since that stretch was constructed in the 1960s. The state’s environment also has contributed to the degradation of the road. And finally the design – a viaduct with a road underneath – is woefully outdated.

Clinton’s jobs program, which she described as the largest one since World War II, would be like Obama’s stimulus.


   4.      Osama bin Laden: KIA


5.      Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Treaty
Republicans did what they could to drag their feet to ratify this treaty despite that Ronald Reagan signed a similar treaty that reduced the large nuclear stockpiles between the United States and the then-Soviet Union. Previous Secretaries of State from both Democratic and Republican administrations praised this treaty for its ability to reduce the number of nuclear weapons as well as secure lose nuclear material which pose both a national security and environmental threat.


   6.      LGBTQ Equality

When President Obama assumed the presidency in January 2009, only 2 states recognized same-sex marriages. Also there was the immediate fallout from California’s Proposition 8 vote that defined marriage in the state’s constitution as one man, one woman and left many same-sex marriages in a legal limbo in that state.

Many in the LGBTQ community felt that Obama was not going to be their fierce ally in part due to appearing at Pastor Rick Warren’s question-and-answer session where he proclaimed that he believed that marriage was between one man and one woman as well as inviting the pastor to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. However, when asked about Proposition 8, he stated that discrimination had no place in a state constitution.

But Obama was like our country and evolved on LGBTQ issues.

Every June, the president has held a LGBTQ Pride Event at the White House. No other president has done that since, and I expect Hillary Clinton to continue this tradition.

ObamaCare does not deny coverage based on a person’s sexual orientation/gender identity and allows for Medicare to cover transgender persons to receive gender reassignment surgery if it is recommended for them to do so.

It was President Obama who signed the Byrd-Shepard Hate Crimes Act which updated hate crimes laws to included perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The law was named after two victims of tragic hate crimes from the late 1990s: James Byrd Jr, an east Texas black man who was lynched and Matthew Shepard who was a young man that was tortured and left for dead in Wyoming.

In December 2010, President Obama flanked by congressional leaders, military officers, and veterans on stage with many others watching signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal Act that allowed for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to serve openly in the military. Recently without much commotion, transgender persons were allowed to serve openly due to small changes in Pentagon policy and that advocacy was led by activist such as West Point Graduate Sue Fulton and those who operated in the shadows to change this policy.

In May 2012, he stated his support for same-sex marriage in an interview with Robin Roberts. I was very proud when he did this because he was saying that he believed that people, like my aunt and her wife, should be able to marry the person they love. 2012 was a presidential election year and he was willing to stake his presidency on making that statement.

Nearly three years later, marriage equality was reached in all 50 US states and territories on 26 June 2015.

While Trump says he will be an ally to the LGBTQ community, his party’s platform and his running mate says otherwise. The 2016 Republican Party platform has doubled down on reinstating bans on same-sex marriages, enforcing so-called religious freedom laws, and supporting the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy. If you want any further proof of the Republican’s hostility towards the LGBTQ community, look at who Trump selected as his running mate.


   7.      Appointed two Supreme Court Justices and remade the federal judiciary
This will probably be the least celebrated, but the most important accomplishment of the Obama presidency.

Quick question: how was same-sex marriage legalized across the country?

Well, if you said that state legislatures out of the goodness of their hearts repealed state-bans on same-sex marriage, you’re wrong.

It was through the court system.

It actually began in 2003 with a ruling in the Massachusetts state court system. Marriage-equality advocates over the next 12 years began to implement this strategy of using the courts to achieve this goal.

In 2009, Iowa ruled that its state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Anti-equality advocates tried to turf out the judges who ruled against them, but failed in 2012.

In 2010, a Reagan appointed federal judge in the 9th circuit ruled that California’s ban on same-sex marriage by Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The case later made its way to the Supreme Court where the court said that the defenders of Prop 8 had no standing and allowed the lower court ruling to stand. In the same year, 2013, United States v. Windsor ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

One by one, states – either through their state level judiciary or in the federal system – generally found the same conclusion: banning same-sex couples from marriage was unconstitutional.

The game changer was the decision from Utah in late 2013 followed by the 10th Circuit ruling and the Supreme Court essentially upholding the lower court’s ruling that set up the final showdown. The Utah ruling was significant because it was the first ruling out of a reliably red state and it eventually led to same-sex marriage being recognized in Colorado. But it also set up to where circuits were finding the same result that bans on same-sex marriages were unconstitutional. That is until the 4th Circuit overrode an Ohio district court and thus creating a circuit split and therefore leading to the historic challenge before the Supreme Court.

And we know how that ended.

The judges that Obama appointed to the judiciary will remain in the system long after he exits the White House as president.

For instance, the two justices Obama appointed to the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and the following year Elena Kagan.

Both justices sided with the dissent in Shelby County, a case that gutted portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Sotomayor joined in the dissent of Citizens United which was announced in January 2010 prior to Kagan’s addition to the court. In what is described as Citizens United 2.0, McCutheon announced in 2013, Sotomayor & Kagan were also in the dissent.

Here are some high profile cases where Sotomayor and Kagan were in the majority.

Both cases concerning ObamaCare
Fisher
Windsor
Obergefell

Think any of those cases would have gone in liberals’ favor under a President McCain? President Romney? President Palin?!

Obama could have gotten a third judge appointed, but Republicans are purposely holding the seat once held by Antoni Scalia in the hopes that a Republican president will get to fill that vacancy. While Merick Garland was not on many liberals’ wish lists, it highlights that a judge who easily passed confirmation for an appointment to lower federal courts with no problems was suddenly too controversial because Obama picked him for the high court.

Hillary Clinton will likely appoint judges similar to her Democratic predecessors: Obama and Bill Clinton. And Hillary Clinton will have her picks for the Supreme Court given that Obama has given her a fresh bench of judges to choose from in the various lower courts as well as fill lower court slots when appointees by previous presidents vacate those seats.

Speaking of those lower courts, Obama rebalanced the nature of the various federal courts as well. As observed by the New York Times in 2014, a majority of the federal circuits are now controlled by Democratic appointed judges. As of September 2014, only four federal circuits have a majority appointed by Republicans: 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th.

And it is not just the partisan makeup of the court that Obama remade. The demographic makeup too. A majority of Obama’s judicial appointments were women and nonwhite males as observed by Sheldon Goldman, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who studies judicial appointments.

It is worth mentioning that there are currently three Supreme Court justices that will be 75 or older after Inauguration Day: Reagan appointee Kennedy, and two Bill Clinton appointees Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

This is a generational opportunity for liberals that could lead to the striking down of laws that impede voting, gerrymandered legislative maps that lack competitive districts, so-called religious freedom laws that target the LGBTQ community, privacy rights in the social media era, right to work legislation that weakens workers’ rights, and any other unforeseen constitutional challenges that might come up in the years to come.

For appointments to the judiciary, it is imperative that Hillary Clinton has a Democratic-controlled Senate in order for appointments to receive as smooth of a confirmation as possible.


WHAT WILL BE LOST UNDER A PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
For starters, Trump will repeal all executive orders signed by President Obama. As a matter of fact, expect anything from the Obama years to be removed from the White House. It will be as if the events from 20 January 2009 to 20 January 2017 never happened.

Along with a Republican controlled congress, expect ObamaCare repeal within the first 100 days and millions of people will have no access to health care or stuck in an insurance limbo that is unsure if they are covered or not. Trump will fill the Supreme Court seat vacated due to Scalia’s death with a justice in the similar mold. Expect Senator Mitch McConnell to push the nomination through despite the Democrats best efforts to block using the filibuster and this process repeats if other vacancies happen during his first term.

Speaker Ryan’s budget will be signed to include construction to build a wall along our southern border but will have no way to pay for due to the budget including a YUUUGGGEEE tax cut for the wealthiest 1% of wage earners. Expect to see Social Security privatization as well as Veterans’ Privatization as well. Trump’s defense budget would cause the deficit to soar and push the national debt even higher.

Speaking of defense… it is going to get used in a big way as the United States makes another trip to the Middle East.

In the second debate, Trump promised a special prosecutor for the sole purpose of throwing Hillary Clinton in jail and continued those calls in several follow-up rallies. Another investigation into the Clintons will turn up nothing and waste taxpayers’ dollars. Trump will have a revolving door cabinet of sycophants and yes-men. The moment that one disagrees with him or tries to steer him away from a disastrous decision, he will be fired only to be replaced by a spineless stooge.

Most importantly look at what the states have implemented since Republicans won control of many state legislatures in 2010 and think about what that could mean at the federal level.

Voter ID law, religious freedom laws, anti-abortion language, open carry, further degradation of workers’ rights, repeal of any or all environmental regulations

Imagine those things at the federal level.
                                                                      
There will also be this other loss.

Our country is far from perfect in so many ways.

Our first black president cannot be replaced by someone who entered into politics by questioning his birth.

We would have embraced a bully as our president and nations that have gone down that path are not the same afterwards. As overserved by the New Yorker in May 2016 after Trump had effectively clinched the nomination, the nation may survive but the national psyche is not the same seeing that their institutions were weakened to the point that allowed an unstable authoritarian from either side of the political spectrum to gain control.

You may rationalize that Congress would be a check on a President Trump, but after the way Trump bulldozed his way to his party’s nomination along with humiliating his party’s leaders into supporting him, I highly doubt Republicans will stand up to Trump after witnessing their behavior during this campaign.

Trump would use the office as a sort of vendetta to get back at those that mocked or attacked him. He has vowed to sue his accusers within the first 100 days of his presidency.

A historical analogy to a Trump presidency would be Richard Nixon, only darker and more dangerous.


SHE’S QUALIFIED. PERIOD
Hillary Clinton is one of the most qualified individuals to seek the Oval Office with and would maintain the ship of state for the next four years.

President Obama in stump speeches said that Clinton is more qualified than he was when he took office nearly eight years and more qualified than when Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. And prior to being president, Bill Clinton had prior executive experience as Arkansas Governor.

As shown in the Democratic debates, stump speeches, interviews, and the three general election debates, Clinton not only has a grasp of the various complex policy issues that face our nation but has a willingness to study and learn the issues unlike her general election opponent.


I am also confident that Clinton will stock her cabinet with people who have the same passion and drive for knowledge and service that she has. I am of that similar mindset of always learning despite that my formal education is currently in a holding pattern.


HISTORY HAS ITS EYES ON US
It is said that every election is a time for choosing. I am more of a believer about elections having consequences.

A Trump presidency is a high risk, no reward consequence. I strongly believe that if things get too difficult for Trump that like many of his endeavors he will resign or double down on his insults until the people have had enough and reject him strongly in the 2018 mid-terms followed by a crushing defeat in the 2020 presidential election. The risk also includes the damages that will be done to institutions that many, including myself, have fiercely supported and defended.

A Clinton presidency is a low risk, medium reward consequence. Again as I stated previously, being Obama’s third term is NOT a bad thing. I see her building on Obama’s accomplishments and eventually establishing her own separate legacy. I hope to still be writing in 2020 and explain why Hillary Clinton deserves a second term while listing her many accomplishments. Then in January 2025, I want there to be a discussion about which Democratic president in my lifetime was more successful: Bill, Barack, or Hillary?

Throughout her political life, Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She has been in several battles in her lifetime whether it was investigating racism in schools in the 1970s, advocating for universal health care, proclaiming the crazy concept that “women’s rights are human rights”, getting the health care for the 9/11 responders, voting for improved benefits for reservists & supporting the Post-9/11 GI Bill as a senator, serving as our Secretary of State under Obama, and surviving the politically motivated Benghazi hearing.

This 2016 campaign saw her winning the Democratic primary against a very motivated challenger, withstanding the barrage of attacks on her health and fitness for office, and successfully beating back her Republican opponent in all three of their debate matchups.

She hasn’t won every battle, but she keeps fighting. I want that in a president.

But like in 2008, I recognized that history had its eyes on me.

Now in 2008, I considered myself to be a political independent after a vote I cast in 2004 that I saw the consequences of and now atone for. What sold me on Obama was that during the financial crisis, he was steady and cool. I understand McCain’s actions of suspending the campaign and returning to Washington, but when you are president, there are several ongoing events – major and minor of varying degrees. There is no time for a break.

It is eight years later and I recognize that history has its eyes on me and my fellow citizens again.

Are you willing to answer for the consequences of your vote?

I know how I will answer that question.

I voted for Hillary Clinton
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