Saturday, March 28, 2015

2016 Governor Bobby Jindal Presidential Ambition: Power Vacuum in Louisiana Capitol or What?

Keywords or terms: Governor Bobby Jindal; Louisianans; Personal Ambition; Times-Picayune; New York Times; Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne; State Capitol; AWOL; American Exceptionalism; Indian-American; Poverty Rate; Health Outcomes; Health System; Aggressive Slashing of budget on Education; CNBC.Com; American Economic Legislative Council; Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran; and US Presidency
Bobby Jindal is gradually, if not completely, abdicating his responsibility to citizens of Louisiana; and, the various interest groups forming his constituent are crying out for help. There were reports that the governor has been out of the state for about fifty-percent of the time, seeking his personal ambition for a national office, while the duties and responsibilities of his office are left unattended. No matter how indifferent the governor is to current assessment of his state’s economy by many well-meaning Louisianans and outside observers, the shadow of his constant absence from the State’s Capitol, is unacceptable to tax payers and continues to undermine whatever achievements he may be adducing to his stewardship as the Governor of the Pelican State.
In what is probably an indication that things are not well in Louisiana, the State most read and probably the leading circulated Newspaper, the Times-Picayune, called for Republican Governor Bobby Jindal to step aside and let the lieutenant governor take over, in an editorial arguing that his national ambition is overcrowding the enormity of the challenges confronting the state. Coincidentally, or collaboratively, Charles Blow of the New York Times, saw the sense in Times-Picayune position and advanced that Louisiana has enormous problems and deserves a full-time governor, not one that is always ready to take off; concurring with the argument that Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, take over at the State Capitol. If the State’s economy and revenue base ever turn uglier, the strains over the governor’s constant travels outside the state will not only divide the state, but also create probably the worst advisory for his national ambition.
The state of four and a half million people, bordering the Gulf of Mexico, has been going through revenue short-falls due to the falling world oil prices and poor priorities in budget cuts. The Pelican State or Sportsman paradise, is gradually losing its zing as her governor goes AWOL, making residents wonder why they allowed the first Indian-American governor to last this long, as they watch their health, education and infrastructure deteriorate, and economy tank.  The ultimate issue before residents of the state now is for how long they are willing to have a governor, more interested in his national exposure rather than the advancements of the state’s economy and objectives. The backbone of the State Economy, big oil, is now in rough waters, will the state leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, continue to accommodate a fly-by governor? It was, and remains, the inevitable question, is the falling oil prices a pre-amble to more challenging future for the State’s economy?
Further, Poverty rate has been multiplying in Louisiana under Governor Jindal; health outcomes and health system, not much to write home about; and, an underfunded education system that is undermining the accomplishments of the State’s Research Universities in the past three decades. The governor is reported to have been away 165 days in 2014 and 74 days in 2013, while the state relies on borrowing and spending cuts, especially at public university to shore up the state’s budget. Aggressive slashing of the state’s labor force and budget, has handicapped so many business activities in the state and made Republican counterparts decry in no uncertain terms, the impact of budget cuts to all Louisiana public university system.
To make matter worse, Governor Bobby Jindal has directed his anger to all these observations in a letter forwarded to the New York Times editorial board insisting these observations regarding his stewardship as: “good examples  of how liberals at The New York Times and I have a different opinion on how to measure successful governance.” The reality however, about how bad things have gone under his stewardship as governor of the state, is probably indisputable with current statistics on education, business competitiveness and economic performance ranking by CNBC.COM and the Conservative Group, American Economic Legislative Council. Comparatively with other states in the union, Louisiana is 45th on education impact of its citizens; 40th in business competitiveness, and, 29th economic performance and ranking. The future from here is not as promising as many of the state’s residents know and are clamoring for alternative direction for the State. These are what Governor Jindal has failed to recognize by taking issues with others who are assessing his stewardship against criteria that are universal for all governors; and are reasons to alert him that his absenteeism from the state capitol is impacting the residents adversely, and may be doing more harm than he might be thinking.
The moral and political implications of how Governor Jindal has conducted himself, bring out two fundamental questions: is the governor really ready for the dream he is chasing? Is he really ready for the national stage, if he cannot appreciate that his state is standing on a sinking ground? As the governor crisscrossed the nation in private planes at the largesse’s of wealthy business supporters, giving speeches and campaigning for Republican candidates to local offices, his own state continues to be mired in economic woes. While residents of the state are expecting leadership in many areas of the state’s economy, the Governor’s attention is completely focused outside the state, looking for other opportunities for himself. By one estimate, it is feasible that the governor will be gone away from the state capitol for more time, as the campaigns for the White House precipitate over the next one year.
Moderate Republicans in the state worry that there is a gap between Governor Jindal’s ambition and the reality of the national political terrain; competing against other well-established and better funded Republican aspirants, Bobby Jindal hardly stands a chance. The former vice-chairman of Republican Governor’s Association continues to live off the largesse’s of rich Louisianan’s families as the Davidsons of Ruston, Zuschlags of Lafayette and Chouest family of Bayou Lafayette as reported in the Advocate Online, while advocating draconian economic restructuring that has led to loss of jobs for thirty thousand state public servants and an unending shrinking economy. The rationalization of Jindal’s stewardship of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge by the governor himself as a success, brings out another angle to his national ambition, can this man understand the fault line in confrontations with other national governments, if arguably he ends up becoming the US President. A leader who can hardly appreciate that his state’s budget is facing a new reality due to the falling oil prices, can he know when to, and when not to, deploy force against perceived or real threats from Iran or North Korea?
It is conceivable that Governor Jindal current ambition to seek supports and funds for a National Campaign for the office of US Presidency, is more important to him that being the Governor of the State of Louisiana. What will hanging around Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the State’s Capitol, do for him considering his national ambition? Such a question is probably the explanation for his muted decision to travel outside the state constantly, without batting an eye-lid. However, that is hardly what honorable statesmen do. When you are confronted with a decision to seek a different office; and the responsibility and duties of your current office seem to be overshadowing the possibility of reaching your higher or national goal; the ideal thing to do is to step down, give a genuine and heart felt explanation to your constituent for stepping down and immerse yourself in your new endeavor or enterprise. Anything short of this, is hardly honorable; and, this is what Louisianans are seeing and calling for the governor to step down.
Just as the apostle of Noam Chomsky’s caricatured new religion, American Exceptionalism - Bobby Jindal, has a muted response to his job approval rating of 28 percent as a governor of his home state, so is Louisianans’ discomfort with his using the state as a stepping stone to the higher office. It is true that the US Presidency is a more prestigious office for the child of an immigrant like him, so also are Americans outside the state wondering about the Governor’s antics with the context of national politics. Is he just lip-frogging the concept of American Exceptionalism to divert attention from his ineptitude as a governor or shortcomings in executive office? Can Governor Jindal really mount a successful campaign for the White House, when he has conducted himself as a traitor to the nation by signing Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran, on current White House negotiations on that nation’s Nuclear Ambition? The major opposition to the governor’s action on this issue is good enough turn-off to kill his ambition. The current slate of Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination have a better chance of being nominated over Governor Jindal as the party’s flag bearer; and this alone, is good enough for the Indian-American to see the writings on the Wall and return home to Baton Rouge. However, if he doesn't, there is no other way than see him as a governor not only about to go through implosion at his state level; but also, on a national stage.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 Presidential Campaign Message, uncompromising conservatism: the first among the Republican pack

Keywords or terms: Ted Cruz; Presidential Campaign; Republican Party; Extremism; Liberty University; Canadian-born; Natural-born Citizen; Foreign-born Citizen; Abolishing IRS; Repealing Affordable Care Act; American Taliban; Narrow and hallowed vision of Nationalism; Pro-Choice, Abortion; LGBT

There are many superlatives associated with the declaration of the first Republican to announce his run for the White House in 2016. Ted Cruz, born in Canada, recently naturalized as a citizen, US Senator from Texas, announced his candidacy yesterday before an audience of supporters at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia; with the mantra: the most conservative of all Republican Candidates. He wants his supporters to imagine a President who would repeal the Affordable Care Act, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, defend the sanctity of human life and uphold the sacrament of marriage. If you are in a different world from where the hardliners, call them American Taliban resides, you will be aghast at such a mission; you will be appalled that a 2016 Presidential Candidate is seeking to be extreme in his submission or judgement regarding what Americans want; and, you will probably want to tell Ted Cruz, you are a long shot candidate.

However, if you reside in the world of Tea Party, conservative idea-logs, angry Anglo-Saxon White male and anti-establishment gurus, whose ultimate goal is to vanquish order in the World of American Politics, then you are definitely with the foreign-born American who is seeking to rule over America, by undoing an institution with its roots in over two centuries. If I quote strictly the constitution as purist will often do, Article II Section 1 Clause 5 says, “No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Purely on this basis, Mr. Ted Cruz, is automatically disqualified. On the other hand, if I refuse to be a constitutional purist out of deference to other people; an accommodation that the extreme conservative brand of Senator Cruz’s candidacy and anti-establishment follower-ship hardly appreciates; then, I believe Ted Cruz’s 2016 candidacy is probably based on Amendment XIV, Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” To share in the fourteenth amendment, it is unfortunate that the Senator’s candidacy is based on a principle he is hardly aligned; since he considers himself, an extremist of a kind in the Republican Party; a member that cuddles the strict interpretation of the US Constitution.

Factor all these out, it is probably questionable if centrists among Republicans will offer a candidate seeking to abrogate the Internal Revenue Service, not to talk of repealing the affordable care act, an opportunity to fester his brand of presidential campaign beyond Iowa or South Carolinian primaries. Though libertarians are all for the abrogation of the only institution known to bring revenue to Uncle Sam to afford for governance, non-other factions in Republican party of today, has that much clout, to help the Canadian-born Ted Cruz achieve his improbable ambition. If Conservative Republicans are fed up with leadership of both major political parties in America, it is going to take more than a forty-four year old, Canadian-born, naturalized citizen of less than three years, to accomplish their mischievous dream.

Apart also from the question of eligibility in the case of Senator Ted Cruz, the issue regarding his Cuban father and American mother in a foreign land, giving birth to a Canadian child who ended up in Texas, who not till recently, three years’ US citizen I understand, will be one that the US Supreme Court may have to attend to lay to rest the question of eligibility. In case Cruz’s Presidential Campaign galvanizes enough support among the Republican Proletariat to move on to being the party’s flag bearer, the nation still has the question to answer: do we like or appreciate his kind of politics in 2016 and beyond? I have no issue with Ted Cruz’s candidacy based on his nature of birth: natural-born citizen vs. foreign-born citizen. My issue lies in his brand of politics, extremism.

To a great extent, controversy keeps everyone on his or her toes, and there are many academics who will argue that controversy is not only healthy for a bugging democracy; it ensures that the status-quo, does not just get over confident or complacent. The brand of controversy that Ted Cruz’s candidacy fans, is probably the disruptive kind. Imagine getting rid of the internal revenue service or denying females from having choices when it comes to issues of their health? Except Senator’s Cruz’s extremist rhetoric is different from his political reality, it is hard to appreciate his tone of advancements in political campaign message that may lead to further national government disruption or paralysis. It is not only benign, imagining what extremist groups and extremism have done to the current occupant of the White House, Ted Cruz candidacy’s message narrows democratic discourse to profanity: abortion, discrimination, pig-headiness and anti-establishments. These are subjects that close-off compromises and make governance very difficult. To adhere to the principal of my-way or the highway, as is often associated with conservative extremist’s rhetoric, hardly borders well for either a democracy, aristocracy, or theocracy.

For the baby boomers, a generation that experienced the Second World War and the nuclear arms race, the basic longing for team efforts in resolving national issues is very primordial. That generation understands what extremism can do to public psychic, just as we all saw in former USSR, Vietnam, and Eastern Germany. To maintain a thriving economy and a free democracy, no one must accommodate, let alone, tolerate extremism, the kind that is associated with Ted Cruz and his bedridden tea party supporters. With the rise of Tea Party and extremist groups, Establishment Republicans are gradually recognizing with dismay, that those mainstream Republican values they assumed will be passed on to succeeding generations, are now becoming mirage. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign message is not only an affront to Democratic values; it is actually calling to question the authenticity of mainstream Republican values. No argument, no matter how good, will justify extremism in a democracy. Part of the lure for the brand of Ted Cruz’s extremism in presidential campaign message lies in the conception that you can passionately believe in an idea or ideas, and vigorously chase those to the end, without caring about whose  gore is being let out; who is being devalued and what institution is about to be damaged.

Expression of extreme single-minded vision of what the future of America must be, Germane to Tea party and fellowship, has tendency of creating uncertainty, complexity and frustrations, even among die-hard extremists. The challenge that this kind of group or politician faces, is the question of resolving needs of multiplicities of peoples and multitudes of opinions on the way to addressing national political problems. In addition to the potential of ostracizing many minority groups in a democracy, extremism ideas or initiatives have the potential of breaking alliances that make people feel a sense of shared responsibility, commitment and reward. It is not only dangerous for our kind of democracy, it evaporates confidence and endangers public interest in pluralistic democracy; and in the long run, citizens become disenchanted and increasingly troubled on the course of the nation.

The impression that extreme group(s) and political agenda fanned by Senator Cruz’s presidential candidacy have to do with narrow and hollow vision of nationalism. Hardly justifiable, there is a form of succor that makes people like him and fellowship, feel a sense of ephemeral achievement or accomplishment, one only recognized by the extremist group’s membership. This is why, it is difficult to build a teaming fellowship behind that kind of candidacy. In the following months, Senator Cruz will find out that many Americans, including the deep pockets, are unwilling to give their money to extremist candidates; and hardly share his vision for America. In comparing donation to other Republican candidates as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, Ted Cruz’s campaign manager will ultimately find out that, whatever initial support that his candidacy may now be generating, will easily evaporate and the campaign left in shambles because of his chosen campaign message.

Further, the cornerstone on which Ted Cruz’s presidential candidacy rests can closely be aligned with hatred of others and governmental institutions. The campaign rhetoric is hardly built on the essence or reasonable persuasions of opposing groups, or others who hardly share his vision of America. Our Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people; not a minority fringe group(s) working to bring down the whole system. Our democracy depends on the dual strategy of securing a balance of power between the three arms of government, the legislative, executive, and judiciary; and, an openness of cooperation of people inhabiting those arms or carrying out the duties of those offices. This dual strategy means that each arm of government must see each other as both a potential opponent and a possible and formidable partner. The complexity and the ambivalence of this dual strategy, does not mean that Americans seek alternative course that can quickly turn the whole thing to a menace, nightmare; or persistent gridlock of unsolvable differences.

Finally, America will never be strengthened by a candidacy built on division and discrimination. If a presidential candidacy is to succeed, it must not subordinate the interest of a particular minority group, just as Ted Cruz’s campaign message to defend the sanctity of human life, a code phrase for anti-abortion and denying women’s right to choice in matters affecting their bodies; and, uphold the sacrament of marriage; another phrase of denying equality of sexes, or ostracizing folks with alternative life-styles (LGBT communities). His campaign message is a difficult sell in current day America, because of growing shift in American public opinion towards these issues. To make a counter insurgence or opinion to what progressives have considered imperatives in modern day America, seems a political suicide for any candidate seeking votes to help him or her win the US Presidency.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2016 Chris Christi’s Presidential Campaign message, Reforming Medicare and Social Security

Keywords or Terms: Retirees; Baby-boomers; Reforming Social Security and Medicare; Governor Chris Christie; Retirees and Senior Citizens; Tanked stocks and bonds; Recession and convoluted derivatives; Boeing Corporation; Bridgate; Mayor of Hoboken; New Jersey Public Pension Reversals by Courts; and, FBI interviews and criminal investigation. 
As a public servant and member of a country club a while back, I met two great couples; both retirees and former engineers with the BOEING Corporation, before they threw in the towel and substituted their engineering gabs for golf clubs and sweet river boat cigars. Unlike the rest of their friends in nursing homes, these retirees hardly depended on their social security benefits; however, they both swore that Medicare and Medicaid have been a life-saver. Without Medicare, I would be bankrupt considering the cost of keeping my wife and self alive after two by-pass heart surgeries, said one. These two couples vote; and they do so religiously every two or four years, or whenever there is a vote to be cast at the precinct. In fact, many of their friends, age mates and former colleagues, at home and in nursing homes, have one singular purpose and objective, to prevent any politician, any person if you ask them, from messing with Social Security and Medicare. Take the last statement as a mantra or assured commitment as long as these age group lives.
These committed Baby boomers are about to meet,  2016 Republican candidate for the White House, Garden State governor, Chris Christie; with his message of entitlement reforms. The governor is about to inform these retirees that their long earned entitlement needs a tweaking; or probably, eradication. Speaking with a round-table of policy analysts, Governor Christie intoned that` he will like to make overhauling of Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs as the center piece of his presidential campaign. A politically risky theme that will not only shock the two retirees or poke a finger in their nose; but will set in motion an avalanche of retirees’ interest, including a few who consider torching Social Security and Medicare, the holy grail of social-welfare programs, a no-go area for any presidential aspirant. This is probably one reason, many who heard about Governor Christie’s campaign for 2016 White House, wondered what in the world is the Republican former US Attorney for the State of New Jersey, with a guaranteed monthly pension and subsidized health care package attempting to do to America’s senior citizens: “Mess with the holy grail of entitlement programs?”
When I raised this alert with the two former Boeing engineers at the Church the other day, all I got was a somber, head shaking over the possibility of Governor Chris Christie getting their vote. In fact, one of them went as far as saying: Republicans like every now and again to mess with the old and elderly, the unfortunate and the helpless. This time around, they are going to get it! If you ask me what “it” means, I’ll just say, stay tuned. Though the nation had long been challenged with sustaining these social welfare programs for a very long time for generations of Americans who are retired, retiring or waiting to collect part, if not all their contribution to the system, a young brassy and probably flamboyant Republican candidate for the White House oval office wants to use them as puns. Early in our 2008-2011 recession, some Wall Street analysts and economists reminiscent over what would have happened if the proposal to privatize social security during George W. Bush (43rds) Presidency had materialized. Had that proposal materialized, many of our senior citizens, who lost a lot of their investment portfolios due to the recession and the bungled real estate market derivatives, will have resorted to the soup kitchen for sustenance. Many of our seniors and retirees still remember the fear they had on their faces, and the cloud of uncertainty that beclouded their future, as under-performing investments stock had turned to wastelands, about the time President Obama was taking office; with several stock portfolio and bonds rated close to junk by Moody’s. This is the same issue Mr. Chris Christie is about to re-visit once again as he shoots for the White House oval office in 2016.
Though divestment in social security contribution and handing over prior contribution to the system were seen as foregone conclusions during the last debate under another Republican White House, with a proposal allowing individual employee to invest part of their contributions in the stock market, very few at that time and even today, believe the proposal was a better alternative than the current arrangement. It defied logic, why a discredited proposal; or probably another complex economic postulation is going to be advanced by another Republican candidate; or Chris Christie’s campaign team, as a way forward for reforming Social Security, Medicare, and any other entitlement program. Frustration from the experience of the last recession is probably still fresh on the minds of many baby boomers; and any proposal, coming out of a Republican candidate, is probably going to raise an eye brow, if not derail any advancement by a seemingly interminable presidential candidate, Governor Chris Christie of the State of New Jersey.
Still the conclusion by Christi’s handlers and political advisers is: indeed, it is possible to advance the reform of Social Security and Medicare, despite the resentments and oppositions to those ventures at this time; and, still win the White House. A complaint that gained credence during George Bush era was that Social Security was about to go bankrupt and to shore it up, it was necessary to allow employees to take out their contributions while still employed and invest them in stocks or bond portfolio. In hindsight, was this a good proposal or was it not? Are the clumsiness and fraud in the financial sector that nearly brought the nation to her knees, wouldn't have done damage to the psyche of investors who would have lost huge sums of money just before the economy tanked? With the insistent and continued attack on Dodd-Frank reforming the financial sector by Congressional Republicans, do these people not know that Americans are wiser and can read between the lines?
Governor Christi seems to be making a statement, Social Security and Medicare need reform; and embracing the question, what would America do about it? Reforming Social Security and Medicare is long overdue and as a candidate for the Republican Party nomination, I am sending notices to friends and foes, that, though a former President failed to accomplish that needed reform, I am bringing in my bravado and New Jersey brashness to shake things up. Really? What America would want answered are: 1) whatever happened to the pension cut proposal for New Jersey’s public pension system? Did a judge not overturn the scheme to balance your state’s budget on the backs of retirees? 2) Whatever happened to the case of the closure of access lanes on George Washington Bridge – is it still part of a traffic study? 3) How is the reformer-crusader thing working for you – after Mayor of Hoboken insisted your office pressurized her to approve big development projects to your cronies? 4) How about your self-deluded mythology that you are a bipartisan problem solver? 5) is corruption not still well and alive in New Jersey, with all the news about your launching a PAC, are the self-interest groups already contributing, and expecting you to rob their backs, just as you did in your nomination to become the first inexperienced US Attorney prosecutor for the State of New Jersey? and, 6) How is the FBI interview and possible criminal investigation coming on?
One of the greatest difficulties of our time is the challenge of dealing with probably corruptible public servants. No one is alleging that the great Governor of New Jersey is corruptible, because of the political landscape in his state; however, there are some actions taken by the self-styled reformer governor of the garden state that beg for scrutiny. The cloud over Governor’s Chris Christie’s handling of some issues in his state, probably will serve as a fodder for many who are hearing his speeches and ambition for the White House oval office. We may not discover any fishy thing about some issues of directives from the New Jersey’s governor’s office; however, there are enough suspicion to believe that there is more to the campaign message to reform the bed crust of social program in United States. There is more to a Presidential aspirant who would like to balance the state or federal budget on the back of the elderly and fixed income earners.
The way Governor Christie has handled the Bridge gate scandal, and the way in which many away from his State consider his brash bravado, have already reduced his clout as a viable Republican nominee. There is no sign at this moment that he is not beleaguered by past executive actions that call his ability to run a White house squarely and fairly. The consequences of many of his past actions in position of power, are hardly forgotten by those who had suffered tremendously from Christie’s executive decisions, inaction or actions. For these and other reasons, it seems  rather unlikely that we are going to get his proposed reform to Social Security and Medicare; because, he is very unlikely to be the Republican flag bearer, with Jeb Bush in the race. Now, to my compatriot retirees, let’s just let him make all his noises, while we get back to our golf game and smoking our river boat cigars!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Governor Scott Walker: Contemplating Republican Foreign Policy Issues in the age of global terrorism?

Keywords or Terms: ISIS; Gov. Scott Walker; Terrorism; Computer virus; Foreign Policy Craft; YOUTUBE; Minnesota; Texas; Berlin; Belgium; Middlesex; London; Paris; Middle-East Conflicts; Former Governor of State of Alaska
2016 White House Republican aspirants’ ignorance of foreign policy issues has moved from party hallways to the front page. No longer can at least one of the candidates, Governor Scott Walker, be overlooked as merely fallible in a challenging world, where journalists are beheaded and broadcasted on YOUTUBE by ISIS and or Al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula to the horrors of millions across the globe. Nor can his interpretation of how to combat global terrorism likened to a sound understanding of the new cankerworm on the world’s stage.
Just Saturday, March 14th, Governor Scott Walker, one of the Republican aspirants for the 2016 contest, likened combating terrorism to a computer virus. It is becoming obvious that the Governor does not have a basic grasps of what terrorism is and what a huge challenge it has become on the world’s stage. For the records, terrorism is not a computer virus; neither can it be interpreted in a very narrow sense, as a mere problem that can be eradicated by ground hostilities in faraway places. Broadly defined, terrorism is a systematic use of violence, terror and intimidation to achieve an end. It is neither a computer virus susceptible to MacAfee antivirus eradication; nor a tangible object that could be flushed down a drainage pipe of foreign policy.
The diplomatic policy of interaction with other nations is complicated; the use of violence to accomplish this policy has been embraced by neoconservatives; however, experience has shown that neither the use of violence of war by state nor intimidation by extremist groups can accomplish this selfish end. The trade craft of foreign policy has been complicated with the rise of terrorism on the global stage.  It is no secret that global terrorism has become hard core, with religious alliance of multiple groups from several parts of the globe. This is why an aspirant to the highest office in the land must show a sincerity of purpose in understanding the new world’s challenge; alternatives to violence in combating it; and, the innermost secret that drives groups into alliance to fight for a dastardly common course.
Nearly everyone involved in this modern day gore feels he is fighting an entitled religious or philosophical war that will lead them to martyrdom. Further, many in the forefront of this bloody enterprise will be classified as having blind faith; however, a few are in revenge hostilities for many foreign policy blunders of leaders in both the western and eastern bloc. As a matter of note, there is a present and anticipated revolutionary commitment of both young and old people, whose only answer for failures in life’s choices has been to default to this unfortunate enterprise that gives them some sense of accomplishment(s). To have a Presidential aspirant label this horrible nightmare as a virus that can be eradicated by additional violence, is rather unfortunate.
I have never belonged to the sanctum sanctorum of religious extremists, let alone understand the inner secrets that drive a youth born or raised in the heart of Minnesota, Texas, Berlin, Belgium, Middlesex, London borough, or Paris, to succumb to propaganda put out by extremist groups in the name of religion to recruit for devious purposes; or, an un-winnable war. Neither have I dealt with counter-intelligence agencies fighting the new wars of the twenty-first century; however, as an observer of terrorist events that have taken place in the past two decades, here and abroad, I can say convincingly, it is going to take more than physical wars or annihilation, to win the hearts and minds of terrorist groups splintered across the globe. Revolutionary groups with religious manifestos are hardly interested in finding a common ground or settling for peace; rather, they have greater determination to have their voice heard, either through continuous violence or insistence disorderly behavior that are difficult to explain to the average person. A determination to avert further destruction are better met with negotiated diplomatic relations rather than meeting their force with another force. Examples of this last assertion are found in Iraq; Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria; Lebanon, Indonesia, Malta, and more.
I do not want to sound as if, from the point of safety and convenience of my northwestern suburb home– far from the tragedy of the World’s Trade Fair Center or the daily machination of Middle-East conflicts– that I am indifferent to the impact of terrorists’ violence; however, insurgency of any kind, are symptomatic of deeper issues, including past international confrontations, unsettled execution of treaties or settlements, and an unexplainable commitment of people to ideas that they probably hardly understand. I listen with immense delight or displeasure to characterization of serious issues as mere virus or excusable challenge that can be solved with violence of war; and ask, where has all these people been? Are they living in a different planet from me? Politicians seeking office have tendency to make superfluous statements to arrest the moment or get attention; however, when the statement rise to the level of ignorance of what is being discussed, I have no option but to see the politician as unfit for the political office.
It may not be naïve to consider Governor Scott Walker as unfit for the Office of the US Presidency with his characterization of terrorism as a computer virus. Most Americans who are assessing candidates for the 2016 White House contest are probably asking themselves the same question: Is Governor Walker really serious, or was he in jest, when he said fighting terrorism can be symptomatic of fighting a computer virus? The wisdom of admitting that he is in error over the weekend in New Hampshire may help salvage his image; however, if Governor Scott Walker continues to honker down on this trail of mis-characterization, he will probably end up like that Governor from the State of Alaska, who sounded just too incoherent at the meeting of Republicans in Des Moines, Iowa, a few months ago.
Not even in Republicans’ wildest dream would they have thought one of their champions of conservative values, would end up mis-characterizing terrorism. Many Neo-conservatives probably thought a few months ago that Governor Scott Walker displayed tenacity and valor in fighting trade unions in Wisconsin that could be translated to the whole country. However, with the current misstep over the weekend in foreign policy, they are probably realizing that this unicorn has lost his horn. The good news though for these neo-conservatives, there are abundance of other neo-conservatives among the field of Republicans aspirants seeking nomination as Republican Party flag bearer; it may just be time to move on to give these a closer look. The others preach economic freedom and rugged individuality, values that the neo-conservatives cherish. It may just be time to move on to them!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Executive Emails and Oil Fields Fracking: New Considerations in the run for 2106 White House

Keywords and Terms: Secretary Hillary Clinton; Governor Jeb Bush; Emails; Presidential Campaigns; Fracking; Super-fracking; Gulf-Coast States; ABCTV News program, THIS WEEK; General Colin Powell; Keystone XL pipeline project; Environmental, Social and Financial impacts; Republican Aspirants: Senator Marco Rubio; Senator Tom Cruz; Governor Rick Perry
During Ms. Hillary Clinton’s service to the nation as the Secretary of State, it was hard to understand why a remote server and personal account would not be ideal for official email traffic, just like some previous US Secretaries of State had done. There is an inherent indifference and probably a conflict of interest as we watch former Governor of the State of Florida make available email addresses of presidential campaign benefactors or prospective donors on the WEB, recently. The focus today is neither why a former US Secretary of State or the Governor of the State of Florida fell into doldrums or miscalculations of executive actions; or, why some citizens feel both actions of front runners for the 2016 Presidential Campaign for the White House are misgiven; however, it is to explore why fracking, a modern means of exploring oil and gas may be the key issue in the race for the 2016 White House.  It is a huge issue because the Democratic Party front runner, Secretary Hillary Clinton, has not shown her obvious opposition; but her probable opponent, Governor Jeb Bush, has affirmatively blessed and accepted the process as a viable technology to increase the source of carbon-based energy source.
In case you are wondering why not pay attention to exploring the former US Secretary of State action regarding personal emails for official duties, there is a current US House Committee seeking the secretary’s personal account and looking at the possibility of some error of judgment.  Meanwhile, for the records, it is not the place of this blog to look at issues under investigation; we always default to waiting until all the facts are in before looking at the merits or demerits of past actions of politicians.
In case you missed the news over the weekend, Former US Secretary of State under President Bush (43rd), Republican General Colin Powell, informed George Stephanopoulos, on ABCTV News Program, THIS WEEK, that he conducted public affairs on a personal email account while US Secretary of State; and, unless State Department server kept records of such emails, he does not have a hard copy of most of those emails. Discussing further politics on ABC Good Morning America on Sunday, March 8, 2015, Mr. Stephanopoulos believes critics of Ms. Clinton probably overacted on the email issue and he can hardly fathom why this rabble rouser issue is likely to fold up the 2016 Presidential Campaign of the former US Secretary of State under President Obama. However, since past actions seem to predict future actions, it is not out of place to re-visit this issue at a future date, if necessary. For now, we have chosen to explore a burning issue in the hearts of many environmentalists, scientists, oil and gas explorers, and our neighbors to the north, not to exclude one thing many Republicans are miffed about: The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline project and the failure of Congressional House Republicans to override a sitting Democratic President’s veto on the project.
What is fracking? This is a process for drilling down into the heart of the earth until a high-pressure water mixture is used to release or loosen gas and oil from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are used under high pressure to accomplish these processes that allow gas and oil to pass through a head well. The vertical or horizontal process through rock layers create pathways for gas and oil to move through extended channels to a head well storage for harvesting. In a 2005 journal article published in Volume 27 of Ore Geology Reviews, Dr. Blundell, D. defines hydro-fracking as a well-simulation technique in which rock is fractured by hydraulically pressurized liquid made of water, sand and chemicals. A new technology in the exploration of gas and oil, very controversial if you ask farmers who are at odds with fracking that runs them off their lands, including their herds, as their farmlands are gradually being dominated by oil and gas wells employing fracking.
Fracking is gradually becoming an issue on the 2016 White House Presidential campaigns because some visionaries and skeptical environmentalists have raised grave concerns regarding the associated risks of fracking for the water table in many states with increased fracking activities. Like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Tom Cruz and Rick Perry, all Republican aspirants for the 2016 White House, each will likely inform you he has a policy statement regarding fracking vis-à-vis his Presidential Campaign; but is probably not ready to give it away. However, no one will be surprised, if each of these 2016 White House aspirants catty-up to fracking as another option to look at in harvesting carbon-based fuel. Candidly, in support of these aspirants, many voters in their constituencies hardly a bad word for fracking because, it has provided some level of financial security for them and their families, especially in the deprived and desperate South Eastern and Gulf Coast States, North and, South Dakotas.
Unfortunately, the environmental, social and financial impacts of fracking as a drilling technology make it a subject of controversy; and, when a probable Presidential front-runner of a major political party is in complete support of the technology, it is important to look closely at the issues raised by scientists as well as skeptics, even if only for information sake. Environmentalists’ complaints about the risks associated with fracking as drilling technology, including: 1) release of hazardous pollutants and emissions of methane and diesel fumes to the environment from the process; 2) fugitive emissions from several stages of natural gas production and methane leakage from shale gas during fracking make the environment unsafe; 3) water used in hydraulic fracturing are diverted from other uses, municipal and industrial purposes; 4) induced seismicity from fracking trigger large quakes that impacts people’s life; 5) disposal of hydraulic fracturing wastewater has been a difficulty; and, 6) noise pollution from the fracturing activities and moving equipment, have been of concern by some residents of the US; and, are well documented by geological scientists researching this new technology in the field.
It is widely believed in some oil-producing Gulf States, and probably enthusiastically supported throughout majority of those state governments, where fracking is the new norm of harvesting oil and gas from the bowels of the earth, that there are no other safer means of dislodging oil and gas that remain imbedded in the rocks for ages and were unavailable for harvesting before the arrival of the technology. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth; the assumption that fracking is safer for dislodging oil and gas from shale, is a mistaken assumption, driven by opportunities for added profits and extra revenue from taxes to State government coffers. Yes, fracking may bring huge supplies of oil and gas to the market; yes, the US has been a global leader in the use of the technology, with companies as Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes leading the way; however, the choice to stretch this technology, including what is referred to as “super fracking” has led to increased tremors and earthquakes in some states where there have been increased activities of oil and gas exploration.
Should the nation have reasons to worry that this activity may lead to other increased pressure on the horizontal and vertical stability of the earth surface? Should our politicians have their say regarding this new technology? Should we question the position of each candidate for the 2016 White House regarding this technology? Majority of the political campaigns may have some talking points regarding this technology and its place in increasing the supply of US petroleum supplies and bi-products; however, it is probably impossible to say each of them have other innovative ideas regarding how to increase carbon-based fuel. A few may even subscribe to the use of the technology just as Jeb Bush, the leading Republican candidate for the 2016 White House race; however, none of them could place an argument for cutting back on the use of the technology because of the identified associated risks and daringness of the technology in exploring for oil and gas.
This technology opens not only doors for increased oil and gas production; however, it comes with associated risks that may bring more problems in the future. Oil producers may see profits and states may see energy security from the expansion of use of the technology; however, can any Presidential aspirant ask pragmatic questions regarding the unsettledness of the earth and earthquakes in many states with increased fracking activities? Leaders, especially Presidential office aspirants, are expected to be visionaries. The conventional view today of fracking is that the technology is bringing unprecedented volume of oil and gas to the market and has increased US exports of gas. While helping cut back on oil and gas prices and making US a new net exporter of carbon-based fuel, the question to ask maybe is: at what trade-offs?  We have had wild swings in oil and gas prices lately; however, no one has been able to explain to the public, why this is so; or, whether the increased use of fracking had helped soften the world market spot prices.
2016 Presidential aspirants have opportunity to recognize the trade-offs here; and lift up concerns for increased use of the technology. There are reported use of the technology in Canada, Mexico, Poland, Russia and other Middle- East State. However, how can we put associated problems of this new technology in focus as we enjoy the extra oil and gas that it has afforded on the market? If the technology is already internationalized, should there be an international conscience and cautiousness of the repercussion of the use of the technology for harvesting oil and gas? Obama’s administration’s displeasure with the Canadian Keystone XL project seems to have miffed Republicans – it has even grown to what some Republicans describe to as a full-blown threat to American Energy Security – however, none of the 2016 presidential aspirants have offered a clue as regard what they would do, except, once we vote a Republican into the White House, the project is a certainty. Have any of the current Republican aspirants considered why the president of the United States vetoes the project in the first place? Could it be as recognition of the level of output from fracking that has emboldened or advised the White House to say no to the project? These are plausible issues that need to be explored by the Presidential aspirants.