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January 10, 2014

Dear Readers,

I want to let you know that “Around the Political World with John Rothmann”  is temporarily on hold.  I will be posting regularly on Facebook, please visit my page @ www.facebook.com/johnrothmann2 and be sure to click “like”!  

Thanks for your support,

John

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann ~ November 21, 2013

  • It looks like an “agreement” has been reached between the U.S. and Afghanistan,on the future of their relationship after the scheduled 2014 end of the U.S. combat mission. In a letter to President Karzi, President Obama wrote, “As this agreement states, U.S. forces shall not enter Afghan houses for the purposes of military operations, except under extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals.”  The plan includes some U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan.  Concerns are real about agreement.  Trust between the U.S. and the Karzi government is minimal, and it is clear that the Taliban will oppose the “agreement.”  The Afghan situation is not good and all of the so called agreements will not resolve the outstanding problems that continue to plague that troubled country.  Despite reports, no U.S. apology was included in the statement by President Obama. President Karzi spoke of the lack of trust between the U.S. and Afghanistan openly in his remarks this morning.  The whole situation is troubling.
  • The talks with Iran continue in Geneva despite the rhetorical blasts coming from Iran.  The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted the Zionists calling them “rabid dogs.”  Khamenei went on to declare that, “The real threats to the world are evil powers including the Zionist regime and its supporter.  The Zionist regime is doomed to destruction because this regime was formed by power and imposed on the world and nothing which is imposed will last.”  These rhetorical excesses were set aside by Secretary of State John Kerry who stated, “We have the best chance we have had in a decade, we believe, to halt progress and roll back Iran’s program.  We will not allow this agreement, should it be reached, and I say should it be reached, to buy time.”  Kerry has stated that no decision has been reached on Iran continuing its nuclear enrichment program.  The odds of a genuine agreement being reached are minimal.  The talks in Geneva are designed to produce a tentative, limited agreement as a preliminary step to reaching a negotiated settlement.  If Iran is serious about reaching a deal Israel and Saudi Arabia ought to be sitting at the negotiating table.  The fact that this will never happen is a good indication of the improbability of a successful conclusion to the talks. 
  • Senator Harry Reid is indicating that the Democrats in the Senate are seriously thinking of using the “nuclear option.”  Democrats could use their majority in the Senate to change the rule of operation when it comes to some presidential nominations.  The current rules require a two-thirds vote for confirmation.  A rules change would make a simple majority enough to secure confirmation.  This would be a far reaching change in Senate operations and the effect will be felt on many levels.
  • In another blow to the Affordable Care Act a number of top rated hospitals throughout the nation have announced that they will not participate in the program.  The reasons are financial.  Obama Care faces increasing skepticism from the American people.  Republicans are planning a major P.R. push against the program in anticipation of making it a major issue in the 2014 mid-term elections.
  • Representative Henry “Trey” Radel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor cocaine charge and then announced that he will take a leave of absence from the House of Representatives rather than resigning.  He said that he will donate his salary to charity.   It is hard to imagine that Radel will not resign.  He owes that to his constituents who are entitled to a full time representative in Congress.
  • Illinois has become the sixteenth state to ratify same sex marriage.  The nationwide move to marriage equality is growing.   The Republican Parry continues to formally oppose same sex marriage.  This will be an issue in the mid-term elections.
  • It has been announced that California will have a $2.4 billion surplus in this budget year.  The question now is what to do with the money.  How about reducing the state debt and building up the reserve? 
  • It appears that the B.A.R.T. Board will reject the new contract.  We could be back to the potential for a strike due to what may have been a mistake in the contract.  The unions have approved the deal, but the Board says it can not go along with the contract.  The unions’ say they are prepared to resume talks, but only if the Board approves the contract. The issue at hand is the provision for six weeks of family leave for B.A.R.T. workers that was missed by the B.A.R.T. negotiators until after the unions approved the new contract. 
  • As the nation prepares to remember the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, President and Mrs. Obama were joined by President and Mrs. Clinton at the grave site at Arlington National Cemetery.  Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Senator Robert F. Kennedy was joined by other members of the Kennedy family for the commemoration. No speeches were given.  Taps were played.  The nation will pause tomorrow to remember, to mourn and to reflect on those tragic days.  One can not help but wonder how history might have been different if President Kennedy had lived.
  • President Obama honored sixteen Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom yesterday.  One of those honored posthumously was my friend Bayard Rustin.  It was Bayard who organized the March on Washington in 1963.  He was a close associate of Martin Luther King Jr.  He was black, he was gay, he was a conscientious objector, he was an advocate of non-violence, he was a great friend of Israel who proclaimed him self to be a Zionist and he was a walking stick collector.  He was a remarkable human being and I am so glad that his life and legacy have been honored with the nations’ highest civilian honor.

I will be taking a Thanksgiving break for the next few weeks.  “Around the Political World with John Rothmann” will resume the week of December 9th.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a joyous Hanukkah. 

Pass the link www.johnrothmann.com on to your contacts.

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann ~ November 20, 2013

  • C.B.S. released a new poll this morning that is not good news for President Obama.  Obama’s approval rating has fallen to an all time low of 37%. 57% disapprove of Obama. His trust rating has fallen to 49%.  Support for the Affordable Care Act has fallen to 31%, with 61% disapproving.  The White House believes that these numbers will improve as the glitches in the computer program are corrected.  Those corrections are set to be corrected within the next several weeks.  The Obama Administration believes that once Obama Care is implemented, support for the program will grow.
  • The White House admission that President Obama was notified in March that there would likely be problems in the Obama Care roll out has increased the damage to his credibility.  The report by McKinsey & Co. pointed out the probability of problems with the computer program.  The emphasis on the negative is that Obama was notified of the potential glitches.
  • The Supreme Court has sent the Texas abortion law back to the lower court rather than simply overturning the law. In the meantime the law stands.  Once the lower court has ruled, the law will almost certainly go back to the Supreme Court.  The real story is that the Supreme Court decision was a 5 to 4 vote.  The Court split along the predictable conservative and liberal lines.  Justice Anthony Kennedy remains the swing vote on the Court.  With more tough issues coming to the Court, how Justice Kennedy rules will almost certainly determine many controversial cases in the foreseeable future. 
  • In Albuquerque, New Mexico, voters rejected 55% to 45% a measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks.  Since 2010 thirteen states have approved such laws.  This was the first test in a municipal election.  This battle over abortion will certainly be fought in other cities across America. 
  • The battle in the Senate over the hold up over three Obama judicial nominees continues to provide discussion about using the “nuclear option” to revise Senate rules.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid justified the potential action by saying, “We need to do something to allow government to function.”  Senate leaders continue to discuss what to do in order to avoid changing the Senate rules.
  • Republican opposition in the Senate to ratification of a United Nations treaty affirming the rights of the disabled has stalled a vote in the Senate.  Two former G.O.P. presidential nominees, Bob Dole and John McCain, both with war time related war injuries, have been active supporters of the treaty.  Utah Senator Mike Lee is leading the opposition to the treaty. Part of the argument against ratification is based on the position that the treaty would lead to an increasing number of abortions and would limit parental control of their children.The Republican Party of today is very different from what the G.O.P. once represented.  Bob Dole was correct when he said that Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Dole would not be nominated by the G.O.P of today.  
  • Former President George W. Bush appeared with Jay Leno on the “Tonight Show” last night.  When asked about the possibility of his brother Jeb running for President Bush responded, “Jeb should run for president if he wants to.  He’d be a great president.”  The latest polls show the former Florida governor among the top four contenders for the G.O.P. nomination in 2016.  The other contenders listed were Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.  They all received about 15% in the popularity poll.
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared that “we (Iran) do insist that we will not step back one iota from our rights.’  Khamenei’s statement comes as the nuclear talks begin again today in Geneva.  France has pledged to insist that Iran comply with stringent restrictions in order to prevent it form acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.  The talks are at a critical point.  Failure to achieve an agreement will leave few options for the world in the face of Iran’s determination to be a nuclear power.  Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have expressed grave doubts about the proposed agreement.  Israel has stated that it will not be bound by a bad deal.  The whole world will be watching what happens in Geneva.
  • It appears that the proposed long term security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan has a number of stumbling blocks still to be overcome.  The real question is if any agreement between the U.S. and the government of President Karzi will have any meaning.  Even if an agreement is reached, the Taliban and other forces in Afghanistan remain opposed to any foreign presence in the country.  With the self imposed departure deadline of 2014 still in place, the U.S. faces a highly problematic situation.
  • Car bombings in Baghdad have become routine.  In the latest blasts, 37 are reported killed and over 80 people have been wounded.  While little attention is focused on the ongoing situation in Iraq, the violence continues and the tragedy grows.
  • The battle for control of Egypt continues.  In the Sinai 10 Egyptian soldiers were killed and 35 were wounded by a car bombing.  Radical Islamic forces claimed credit for the attack.  Demonstrations continue in Cairo and the battle for control of Egypt will intensify as the trial of ousted President Morsi approaches. 

Pass the link www.johnrothmann.com on to your contacts.

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann ~ November 19, 2013

  • It will be announced today that J.P. Morgan Chase and the Justice Department have reached a $13 billion settlement.  J.P. Morgan did not have to admit wrong doing and will be off the hook from future legal action.  $13 billion is a large sum, but it is a small price to pay for the tremendous damage done during the financial crisis.  J.P. Morgan will stay in business and those who lost so much will continue to suffer the consequences of massive irresponsibility. Last year J.P. Morgan had a record profit of $23.4 billion so they can afford to pay the settlement and still make a profit.
  • Even as the Supreme Court declined to take up a case dealing with abuses by the National Security Agency, the N.S.A. has admitted that it committed improper actions during the course of its activities.  The question of how to insure national security versus operating within the law remains a point of debate.  Ultimately the Congress will have to step in and prepare guidelines to insure that future abuses are avoided.
  • President Obama informed insurance executives that the U.S. will not offer to pick up the tab for expenses incurred from the admitted errors made in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  This is a serious problem which has yet to be overcome.  The meeting on Friday at the White House has not settled the question of what will happen next.  It appears that additional costs incurred will be passed on the consumers.  That will mean higher costs for those who want to keep their health care plans.  This reality is not good news for the Obama Administration. The ruminations, accusations, and controversies about Obama Care continue to grow. 
  • A little more than one year after the 2012 presidential election, the Washington Post/A.B.C. News poll shows that if the election were held today Romney would have had the edge in the popular vote.  According to the poll Romney would have 49% to Obama’s 46%.  Given the statistical margin of error and the electoral vote breakdown, my bet is that Obama would win the election if it were held today. 
  • Republicans in the Senate have blocked a third Obama judicial nominee.  Robert Wilkins joins Nina Pillard and Patricia Millett in having their nominations delayed by the G.O.P.  The probability of the use of the “nuclear option” over the filibuster rule in  the Senate remains a real possibility.
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has not ruled out running for president in 2016.  Describing himself as a temperate not a moderate, Bush will present himself as a responsible conservative.  The real question is if he can overcome his last name.  Is the country ready for a third Bush in the White House?  That is the question that Bush must answer before he decides to throw his hat into the ring.
  • President Obama will meet with key Senators today to ask them not to act on a Senate resolution to toughen sanctions on Iran.  Talks with Iran are set to resume tomorrow and it seems likely that the Senate will hold off on a vote.  If the talks fail, the push for tougher sanctions and possible military action will be on the table.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has announced that Israel has determined that Iran already has enough low grade uranium to produce five nuclear bombs.  There are also reports circulating that Iran has constructed a new secret nuclear site.  The days ahead will be critical in determining what will happen next in the international effort for to derail Iran’s nuclear program.
  • The Iranian Embassy in Beirut was the target of a pair of bombings.  One Iranian diplomat was killed along with more than twenty other individuals.  An al-Queda group has claimed credit for the bombings. The ongoing war between Sunni and Shiite forces remains a daily part of life in Lebanon.  Don’t confuse Iran with the facts. In an effort to place blame and depict Israel as the perpetual villain, Iran immediately accused Israel of being responsible for the attack.  Israel issued an immediate denial.  It is precisely this sort of response be Iran that calls its credibility into question.
  • Lebanon is overwhelmed with a massive influx of refugees from Syria.  The population of Lebanon has swelled by more than 25% as people flee from the ongoing Syrian civil war. 
  • There is talk of putting the Syrian chemical weapons on ships and letting them float at sea.  Warnings are being issued that this is not a good idea and could represent a real threat in the future.  The problem is that no nation wants to receive the weapons for destruction.  Albania has said no and no other nation has stepped up to say they ate willing to take the weapons.  This is yet another obstacle in the path of securing the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons.
  • Talks to end the Syrian civil war appear to be no closer to convening in Geneva..  All sides in the conflict are voicing reasons for not talking. Even if they were to meet, the gaps between the various factions and the Assad government are seemingly unbridgeable.. That means that the battle for control of Syria will continue for the foreseeable future and the regional tragedy will continue.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in Warsaw at the climate conference.  Kerry pledged, “The United States is absolutely committed to doing our part.”  What that really means remains to be explained.  The major issues of green house gasses, rising oceans and the impact of global warming remain on the table.  Many in the scientific community continue to point out that little tangible action seems to be having an impact on what many perceive to be a growing danger to our world.
  • The nation and the world are preparing to observe the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Watching, listening and reading to all of the accounts of those tragic days reminds us of what we all lost on November 22, 1963.
  • Today marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s immortal Gettysburg Address.  The entire address was only 266 words in length and took only two minutes to deliver.  It remains among the most brilliant addresses ever spoken.  Many of you will recall that on this date, each year, I would play on my radio program, not only a reenactment of the address, but also an eye witness account recorded in the 1920’s.  I wish I were on the air today so that I could share this with you on this anniversary.  Take a minute today to read Lincoln’s wise words.  They are worth remembering and committing to our memories and inscribing in our hearts.

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann ~ November 18, 2013

  • Tornadoes in the Middle West are raising increasing concerns about the intensity of storms world wide.  Swarms of twisters have hit and the impact is massive..  Many are expressing concern about the intensity of the tornadoes.  Global warming is being blamed by some for the apparent increasingly dangerous weather patterns. True or not, there is clearly a rising concern about the impact of storms around the world.
  • Relief efforts in the Philippines continue in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.  The death toll mounts and the impact of the massive storm will be felt for years to come.
  • The Red Cross remains the safest, most effective place to contribute to relief efforts at home and abroad.
  • The battle over Obama Care continues unabated.  39 Democrats voted for the Republican measure in the House.  They are clearly worried about their chances for re-election. It is clear that the G.O.P. bill will go no where in the Senate.  As the partisan rhetoric continues to fly, it is equally clear that Obama Care is here to stay.  The Republicans do not have the votes to repeal the law and President Obama has stated clearly that he will veto any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 
  • President Obama’s personal poll ratings continue to sink.  Democrats are very worried about the impact of “The Second Term Curse.”  It will take more than good public relations to restore confidence in Obama and his Administration.  As the 2014 elections are less than a year away, the time to put the “Credibility Gap” behind Obama is viewed as critical to Democratic success in the battle for Congress.  The Republicans are feeling more and more confidant about their chances of holding the House and gaining seats in the Senate.
  • Obama nominee for the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Robert Wilkins is facing a Republican filibuster in the Senate.  Democrats are indicating that the “nuclear option” of changing the Senate rules is back on the table.   There is reluctance on both sides to change the rules but the divide in the Senate continues and frustration is growing.  It is always important to remember that the majority today will almost certainly be the minority of tomorrow.
  • Former President Bill Clinton observed that, “I hope we have a woman president in my lifetime and I think it would be a good thing for the world as well as for America.”  When asked if he was talking about his wife, Hillary Clinton, Clinton responded, “If I knew the answer to that I couldn’t say.  But I can give you an honest answer.  I have no idea.”  If you believe that, I have a bridge made out of gold that I can sell you cheap!!  The Clinton bandwagon for 2016 is rolling.
  • The Republican Party is facing the “war of the Cheney family” as Mary and Liz Cheney do battle over same sex marriage.  Mary married her long time partner and Liz, who is seeking the G.O.P. senate nomination in Wyoming, has declared her opposition to same sex marriage. The rhetorical battle increased over the weekend with the media serving as the battleground.  This debate is emblematic of the social issues dilemma faced by the G.O.P.  Will the Republicans keep their base narrow or will there be an effort to move toward a “big tent” approach.  So far, the base has the upper hand.  Without reaching out, many are asking about the future of the G.O.P. in the presidential race of 2016.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico will vote tomorrow on a ban on abortion.  In an unusual move, the issue has been put on the municipal ballot.  This is yet another indication of the determination of foes of abortion to fight this battle on every front.  If it passes, there will be a court appeal. 
  • Attorney General Eric Holder went to Court on Friday to prevent the House from obtaining documents relating to “Fast and Furious.”  Judge Amy Berman Jackson will rule on the Holder appeal.  No matter how she rules, there will be an appeal.  For whatever reasons, Holder does not want the documents released.

There is more in the news.

  • Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been indicted for treason.  He will be put on trial by the current government.  Musharraf was a strong ally of the United States and his trial is certain to increase tensions in an already troubled country. It is always important to remember that Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal of more than one hundred weapons.  Another factor to be considered is the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and India.  The Indian sub-continent remains a troubled area of the world with many potential and actual dangers.
  • The weekend brought more violence in Afghanistan.  With the Elders on the verge of agreeing to a deal, opposition to an arrangement with the United States over the planned withdrawal in 2014 was in the forefront of the cause of violence over the weekend.  The deal involves maintaining an American presence in the country and the Talban is determined to prevent that from happening.  Even if an agreement is reached, the problems and tensions will certainly continue to grow.
  • The continuing civil war in Syria has caused thousands more refugees to flee to Lebanon. Lebanon’s population has swelled by more than 25% in recent weeks. The humanitarian disaster which has emerged due to the tragedy in Syria continues to grow in the Middle East.
  • A key Syrian rebel leader Abdul Qader Saleh, was killed in a government air strike.  Saleh was an Islamist radical associated with the Nusra Front, a part of al-Queda in Syria.  His departure from the scene will be mourned by the opposition to Assad, but if his ideology were ever to triumph in Syria, it would be a huge problem for the region and the West.  That represents the paradox of what to do in Syria.
  • Albania has joined the chorus of nations who have rejected becoming the repository for the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons.  No nation is stepping forward to become the repository for this task.  What to do next with the chemical weapons is a real problem for the world to resolve.
  • French President Francois Hollande is on a state visit to Israel.  He has pledged to hold the line in negotiations with Iran on their nuclear program.  The Israelis are greeting him very warmly. 
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Iran trying to move the Iranians closer to a nuclear deal..  Iran and Russia have had increasingly warmer relations. Talks between Iran and the West continue this week.
  • Egypt continues to be in turmoil.  Mohamed Maburk, an Interior Ministry official, was assassinated in front of his home.  The government is pointing an accusing finger at the Muslim Brotherhood.  Protestors continue to demand the restoration of ousted President Morsi to power.  Morsi remains in custody and his trail for murder and corruption is set to resume in January.
  • The most heart warming story of the week was the crime busting, super hero efforts of “Bat Kid” in Gotham/San Francisco on Friday.  Three cheers for our City and the Make A Wish Foundation for making a dream come true.  What a wonderful event and what a magnificent tribute to the human spirit.  I loved the San Francisco Chronicle “special edition” with feature stories by Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Perry White.  What a super way to celebrate a super day in all of our lives.

Pass the link www.johnrothmann.com on to your contacts.

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann ~ November 15, 2013

Criticism of President Obama continues to mount on all sides.  His credibility has been severely compromised and today will be yet another tough day.  Despite his effort yesterday to assume responsibility, admit failures, attempt corrective measures and restore confidence, friends and opponents continue to have doubts about the Affordable Care Act. The whole situation continues to be an ongoing, confusing, mess.

  • The House of Representatives will vote on a bill today to allow individual existing health policies to continue.  The question is not if the bill will pass, but rather how many Democrats will cross over and vote with the Republicans.  Democrats are very uneasy about the political implications of what is clearly a growing fiasco.  A number of Democrats are indicating that they will vote for the bill in order to help President Obama keep his often stated promise that “if you want to keep your plan, you can keep your plan.”
  • The insurance industry is indicating a rejection of the Obama order to restore cancelled policies.  The industry did what Obama wanted by cancelling the policies and is now put in the position of having to figure out how to restore the policies.  The argument is being made that it will cost a fortune to restore the cancelled policies.  The industry maintains that is will be impossible to restore the coverage within the month.  To restore the same coverage, after it has been cancelled they assert, is very difficult if not impossible.  It is hard to understand how President Obama could have made his announcement without making sure that the insurance industry was on board with his order.
  • It has just been announced, even as I am preparing this edition of “Around the Political World with John Rothmann”, that President Obama will meet with insurance industry leaders today in an effort to get them to support his order.  One is left to wonder why he did not take this action prior to his announcement.  Continuing missteps by the White House continue to create doubts about the political acumen of the Administration. That is a polite way of saying that the Administration appears to be incompetent.  What a gift to the Republicans.
  • Speaker John Boehner has stated again that the whole program should be cancelled.  He does not have the votes to take that action.  Republicans are convinced that there opposition to Obama Care, including over 40 House votes to repeal, will be a political asset in the 2014 mid-term elections.
  • It is never to late to admit a mistake.  The “Patriot News of Harrisburg” has retracted an editorial dismissing the Gettysburg Address of President Abraham Lincoln as “silly remarks” that should be consigned to “a veil of oblivion”.  It took 150 years, but the apology has finally been made!

There is more news to discuss.

  • The tragedy in the Philippines continues to grow.  Even as mass burials are held, some relief supplies are arriving.  The U.S. military has been a tremendous asset in delivering the much needed aid.   Many of you have asked where you should go to make a contribution.  The Red Cross is the most effective address to deliver your contributions.  All contributions are welcome.  A smaller contribution, even $5.00, goes a long way in the Philippines.  Make your contribution today.
  • Speaker John Boehner has stated that he favors tougher sanctions on Iran.  In his press conference yesterday, President Obama asked that negotiations with Iran be given a chance to succeed.  Republicans and Democrats in Congress seem to support tougher sanctions. 
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is in Egypt.  There is growing concern in the U.S. and the West that the Egyptian military government is rotating out of the American orbit for the first time since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  Russia has only one firm ally in the Middle East and that is Syria.  Given the instability in the region, the Russians are looking for a way to increase their influence and impact in the Middle East. 
  • The war in Iraq continues unabated.  The civil war between Shiites and Sunnis continues to gather momentum.  There seems to be no relief from the continuing tragedy.
  • In exactly one week we will mark that tragic moment when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  It is hard to believe that 50 years have passed since November 22, 1963.  For those of us how remember that day, the memories will never fade.  Over the next week we will relive that moment that changed history and our lives. Several questions have come in asking what book to read about those tragic days.  The best read is “The Death of a President” by William Manchester.  I reread my copy this week and it is, with out a doubt, the most compelling account yet to appear.

I will be filling in for Dr. Bill Wattenberg on “The Open Line to America” on Sunday evening between 8:00 and 11:00 P.M.  There will be a lot to debate and discuss and you are invited to join in the discussion. Spread the word!!

Pass the link www.johnrothmann.com on to your contacts.

Have a great weekend.  I will be back on Monday.

 

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann ~ November 14, 2013

President Obama faces a revolt that includes Democrats as well as Republicans.  The revolt extends to two key issues. President Obama is clearly on the defensive and is scurrying to try to repair the damage.

  • The first point of revolt is over Obama Care.  With criticism of the Affordable Care Act, growing and increasing concerns being expressed by Congressional Democrats, the White House sees trouble ahead.  Some Democrats are indicating their support for a Republican sponsored bill calling for individuals to be able to keep their health care plans. That bill is due for a vote by the House tomorrow.  Democratic concerns have been reinforced by comments by former President Bill Clinton and Senator Dianne Feinstein among others. 
  •  106,000 signed up for Obama Care in October.  This is far below the expected number of applicants.  It is reported that younger people who are needed to sign up in order to support the program, are not signing up in the necessary numbers.  The Obama team is saying that the web site will be fixed by the end of November but there are doubts being expressed that it really will be fixed.  As problems mount, Democrats are becoming increasingly concerned about the electoral implications in 2014 of Obama Care. The White House will have to hustle to reassure Democrats and keep their forces in line.  Tomorrows vote will be critical and will no doubt reflect growing concerns by Democrats.
  • Republicans are thrilled that their concerns about Obama Care are now being reflected in Democratic rhetoric. They feel fully vindicated about their long standing expressed concerns about the Affordable Care Act.
  • The second point of revolt is over Iran.  Despite Administration pleas not to pass a resolution calling for stiffer sanctions against Iran, it appears that the pleas are falling on deaf ears.  National Security Adviser Susan Rice issued this appeal to the Congress.  “I think it is important that everybody understand what the deal is that needs to be reached and then they can make a judgment on contours.”  In a stunning contradiction, on the same day, President Obama extended for one year the 1979 action saying that our relationship with Iran is still “in emergency.”  The letter signed by Obama stated, “Our relations with Iran have not returned to normal.”  It appears that Congress will act in a bi-partisan action to toughen  sanctions against Iran over the Administration’s objections.
  • House Speaker John Boehner has announced that there will be no negotiations with the Senate over the proposed immigration bill.  The bill was passed by the Senate and has been totally rejected by the House Republicans.  This is another blow to Obama who had pledged to work to have an immigration bill passed in this session of Congress.
  • Although it will probably go no where, a group of Republicans in the House will introduce articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder.  Even if articles were to pass the House, they would be dead on arrival in the Senate.  President Obama has expressed full confidence in Holder.  It is always important to remember that impeachment is not a judicial act.  It is a political act.  The votes to remove Holder are simply not present in the Senate.

There is more news today.

  • While progress is being made in the Philippines, the tragedy continues to grow.  The death and destruction is massive and the full understanding of what has happened and what must happen has yet to be told.  In the meantime, aid is arriving.  The challenge is getting the aid to those who need help now.  The Red Cross is the best place to go to help in this humanitarian crisis.
  • The Shiite Muslim world is observing Ashoura,  the anniversary of the death of Husayn ibn-Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed in the battle of Karbala in 680 C.E.  This 7th century battle and the death of Ali live on in the minds and hearts of Shiite Muslims.
  • A car bomb rocked the Shiite town of al-Saadiyah, 90 miles north east of Baghdad.  The attack was timed to coincide with Ashoura.  It points out again the existing and growing tensions between Sunni and Shiite in Iraq.  Iraq remains in chaos and there seems to be little that either the U.S. or the world can do to repair that torn country.
  • The civil war in Syria continues to expand.  A major battle took place in the Damascus suburb of Hejeira.  Assad’s army seems to have won this battle.  What is certain is that the rebel forces will attempt to take back their seemingly lost position.  The back and forth struggles will continue for the foreseeable future.  Neither side hss the strength to win a decisive victory over the other side.  Individual efforts by different rebel groups, reinforce the fact that the opposition is not a united force.
  •  Even as the refugee crisis continues to grow, the threat of a polio epidemic continues to be a clear and present danger.  With the advent of winter, there are increasing concerns about the threat of other health threats.
  • The new president of the University of California system Janet Napolitano has called for a freeze on tuition within the undergraduate system through 2014.  Although not a done deal Napolitano said, “We will fight very hard so that there is no tuition increase.”  What will finally happen depends on the state legislature.  The determining factor will depend on the granting of a $120 million request from U.C.  No matter what finally happens, costs for students at U.C. are going to rise in the years ahead.  What happened to Governor Pat Brown’s “Master Plan for Education” which sought to have a tuition free university system for all California students who earned admission to the U.C. system?   The idea of a truly affordable path for students to receive higher education seems to be a far distant dream. The reality is that student loan debt now exceeds our total national credit card debt. 

 I will be filling in for Dr. Bill Wattenberg on “The Open Line to America” on Sunday evening from 8:00 to 11:00 P.M P.S.T. The program is heard nationally, and can be head in San Francisco on KKSF Talk 910..  Spread the word and do call in to the program.  We will have a lot to talk about on Sunday. 

Pass the link www.johnrothmann.com on to your contacts.

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Around the Political World with John Rothmann ~ November 13, 2013

  • With unrelenting attacks from Republicans, Tea Party activists and some talk show hosts on Obama Care, President Obama now faces voices of concern being raised by leading Democrats.  Former President Bill Clinton hit hard when he said, “I personally believe, even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”  The number two Democrat in the House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer has stated that he believes that corrective action must be taken.  On top of that, it appears that despite White House assurances, the web site HealthCare.gov will not be repaired by the end of November.
  • President Obama’s poll numbers are falling.  He is getting a 39% approval rating.  52% are expressing doubts about trusting Obama.  This is not good news for the White House.
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney has joined in the pile on stating, “I am inclined to agree with Bill Clinton” about his comments on Obama Care.
  • The Republican controlled House is set to approve a bill on Friday that would permit individuals to keep their current insurance policies.  The White House has announced its opposition to the bill. At the same time it is now reported that the White House is looking for a way to allow individuals to keep their health care plans.  Resolving this complex situation will require continuing contortions on the part of the Administration.
  • Former President George W. Bush is scheduled to appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on November 19th.
  • Hawaii is about to become the 15th state to approve same sex marriage. 
  • The Supreme Court issued its second ruling in two weeks on the Oklahoma state abortion law.  The Court rejected an appeal to require women to have an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the fetus,  The attempt to erode Roe versus Wade on a state by state basis continues with the Supreme Court at the center of determining the law. 
  • Despite the daily reports of gun violence, it is clear that the votes are not available in Congress to pass any legislation dealing with guns.  Individual state and local laws will ultimately end up in the Supreme Court for final adjudication.  Arguments about the true meaning of the 2nd Amendment continue to provoke great passions on all sides of the issue.
  • The tragedy in the Philippines continues to unfold.  Despite the massive outpouring of sympathy and support, it takes time to deliver the much needed life saving aid.  This will be a continuing cause of great concern as the emergency relief efforts are needed urgently.
  • The fingers of blame are being pointed in news accounts at the U.S., Iran, France, and anyone else who is available and can be faulted for the failure of initial talks.  The U.S. Congress continues to consider imposing tougher sanctions.  White House press spokesman Jay Carney, in an attempt to derail Congressional action, stated, “The American people do not want a march to war.”  His presumption is that tougher sanctions will not contribute to a climate of successful negotiations.    It is precisely the tough sanctions, coupled with the threat of the use of military force, that has brought Iran to the negotiating table.  The crisis can be resolved quickly and peacefully if Iran will agree to stop and roll back its nuclear program. 
  • The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate on several fronts.  The civil war continues with clashes between the rebels and the Assad forces.  Money from private sources is flowing to radical Islamic forces in Syria.  The forces of radical Islam continue to be the dominate opposition to Assad.  The humanitarian crisis continues to grow in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and throughout the Middle East.  The suggested attempts by some in the international community to find a peaceful solution to the crisis do not seem to be making any progress.
  • Even as some in the scientific community are suggesting that increasing use of nuclear power might help to reduce the threat of global warming, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is calling for Japan to phase out the use of nuclear power.  His comments come in the continuing aftermath of the disaster at the Fukushima reactor.  The debate over the use of nuclear power continues to grow.
  • Oakland renewed its debate, but did not pass a law which would have  imposed a curfew between 10:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M. on individuals under the age of 18.  In an attempt to curb school truancy, kids would not be allowed to wander between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 1:30 P.M.  The arguments at the City Council meeting were tough and divisive.  Issues involving racial profiling were raised with great passion.  Even if Oakland were ultimately to pass a curfew law, it would most certainly end up in the courts.  Left unanswered is the question, even if a curfew law were to be implemented, would it make a difference?  
  • It now seems certain that the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge is going up.  With a deficit estimated at $142 million there seems to be no alternative to a toll increase.  I am old enough to remember two key points about the bridge.  Once upon a time the toll one way was .25 cents.  We were also told that once the building costs surrounding the bridge were paid off, there would be no more bridge toll.  So much for promises!!!

Pass the link www.johnrothmann.com on to your contacts.