Tag: Barack Obama

Three Democratic candidates for Governor of Illinois who I won’t vote for in Democratic primary

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am currently serving a two-year term as an election judge in Vermilion County, Illinois, with the last currently-scheduled election of my term being the Spring 2018 primaries. This blog post is purely my opinion about a race that will be on the Democratic primary ballot in an election in which I may be called to serve as a poll worker, and is not, in any way, connected to my election judge duties.


I’m not going to publicly endorse a candidate in the 2018 bicentennial election for Governor of Illinois, although I will be a voter in the 2018 bicentennial Illinois Democratic primary, and there are three candidates who I will not be voting for in the primary, unless, of course, they end up being the only three candidates on the primary ballot.

J.B. Pritzker is probably the only Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial primary in Illinois who could probably outspend Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in the general election, but there’s a very possible chance that Pritzker won’t make it to the general election. One main reason why Pritzker could have trouble winning the Democratic nomination is that, in 2012, Pritzker publicly refused to support then-President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign well into the Republican primary campaign season that year. Even worse, Pritzker outright said that he wasn’t 100% supportive of the Democratic Party, and signaled that he was open to supporting far-right Republicans.

Christopher G. Kennedy is a member of the Kennedy political family, and he’s also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor here in Illinois. However, CGK had the gall to appear at a campaign event in downstate Illinois and proceed to support a major education funding proposal that would give Chicago-area politicians more control over downstate school districts:

Kennedy said he is opposed to funding kindergarten through high school public schools through property taxes.

“We need to get rid of that system. It’s a terrible system,” he said. “Every other state in the United States has figured that out. They pay for their schools at the state level and not through local property taxes and they have much better outcomes.”

Removing local control from K-12 education funding in Illinois would put all non-federal funding of public schools in the hands of a state government dominated by Chicago-area politicians. Needless to say, downstaters are not going to like CGK’s idea to put decisions regarding funding their community’s public schools in the hands of a Chicagoland-dominated state legislature.

Another candidate running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is Daniel Biss, a mathematician-turned-state senator serving the Evanston area in Cook County. Biss’s claim to political fame was supporting Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the unconstitutional state law that was designed to cut state public employee pension benefits in Illinois. While Illinois has a major pension funding crisis, SB1 was such a blatant violation of the Illinois Constitution’s provision prohibiting cutting earned pension benefits, even right-wing Republican state supreme court justices like Rita Garman ruled that SB1 was unconstitutional.

The other two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination that I’m aware of are Ameya Pawar, a Chicago City Council member, and Bob Daiber, a farmer and regional school superintendent from Madison County. I’m not going to tell anyone which of those two I’m going to vote for, but I’ve already made up my mind.

Obama’s legacy: a failed Democratic Party and President Donald Trump

With the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, leaving office in a little over a month, I’ll take this opportunity to talk about Obama’s legacy, which has become a major talking point among Democrats.

First off, I want to mention an op-ed that Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) wrote about her thoughts about Obama’s legacy for the Madison, Wisconsin-based The Cap Times earlier this month. Usually, I strongly agree with someone like Sargent, who is a staunch progressive who realizes that opposing Republicans and their destructive policies is only half the battle for progressives. In fact, Sargent is one of the few elected officials in the entire country that I have a strongly favorable opinion of, and one has to remember that I live in a different state than Sargent does. However, I have a much more negative view of Obama’s legacy than Representative Sargent does.

President Obama did not get a whole lot of domestic policy legislation enacted in his eight years in office, largely because Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress for six of Obama’s eight years in office. When Obama did have political allies in Congress who were in a position to enact legislation, much of it was legislation that was largely or effectively corporate welfare for private-sector businesses (such as the Affordable Care Act and the automobile industry bailout) that, despite being effectively government handouts to large corporations, did benefit many Americans. In fact, I have personally benefited from the Affordable Care Act. Obama’s attempts to work with Republicans typically failed miserably, because the Republican Party of today is completely unwilling to work with anyone who is a Democrat.

While President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize not long after being elected to the White House, Obama was no champion of peace in the White House. Obama’s only major foreign policy success as president was his ordering of SEAL Team 6 to take out Osama bin Laden (which succeeded). The rest of Obama’s foreign policy record was largely underwhelming and, in many ways, a continuation of the post-9/11 George W. Bush foreign policy in the Middle East.

One of President Obama’s biggest failures was his attempt to cut Social Security benefits, which was rejected, largely because progressives strongly opposed it. Another major Obama failure is the Democratic Party: Since Obama was sworn into office, Democrats have lost hundreds of state legislative seats, dozens of state executive offices, and dozens of seats in both houses of Congress. Yet another Obama failure was the FBI under Obama’s leadership: James Comey, who was appointed FBI director by Obama, used his office to influence people to vote for Donald Trump in this year’s presidential election.

In some cases, left-wing victories under President Obama’s leadership came from unexpected places. Many of the major LGBT rights victories, such as key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) being struck down and marriage equality becoming law of the land, were because of rulings by a right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court. The LGBT community used the justice system to win justice.

Now, America is probably a weaker country than it ever has been since the Declaration of Independence was signed, although it’s mostly not President Obama’s fault. However, Obama’s pursuit of free-trade deals and Social Security cuts opened the door for a far-right demagogue by the name of Donald Trump to win the White House. I strongly fear that Trump will, some way or another, undo pretty much all of the positive aspects of Obama’s legacy and destroy this country in so many ways. If the Democrats haven’t gone the way of the Whigs by 2020, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Scott Walker sends out pro-Hillary tweet

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is a Republican. Normally, I don’t have to emphasize that, given that he is infamous for his signing of legislation that gutted labor unions in Wisconsin and crippled his state’s economy, but I am emphasizing that he is a Republican because he recently sent out a Tweet asking people who approve of the job that President Barack Obama is doing to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton:

It’s been slightly over half a day since Walker sent out that tweet, and, as of the publishing of this blog post, he has not yet deleted it.

While Walker claims to be a Donald Trump supporter and has usually acted like one, he seemingly has no problem with sending out a tweet asking people to vote for Hillary Clinton. That is the political equivalent of an own goal, if there ever was one.

Self-driving cars are a threat to the American way of life

President Obama recently pinned an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praising self-driving cars as “an emerging reality with the potential to transform the way we live”.

Personally, I believe that self-driving cars are a grave threat to the American way of life.

Thousands of Americans are employed as taxi drivers, pizza deliverers, and in other similar professions. If self-driving cars were to become the norm, you can kiss thousands of American jobs, many of which are among the few American jobs nowadays that do not require a college degree, goodbye. Their jobs would be effectively replaced by computers manufactured in China or other foreign countries.

Also, who would want to watch a NASCAR race in which actual race car drivers are replaced by computer-driven cars? NASCAR would no longer be an actual sport if computers replaced drivers; instead, it would become effectively as scripted as WWE, but without the soap opera-esque storylines to keep the audience engaged. There’s a lot more entertainment watching real race car drivers compete against each other than computers competing against each other.

Another instance where self-driving vehicles are a threat to the American way of life is the all-American family farm. If tractors, combines, and other motorized farm implements are replaced with computer-driven machines, then it would be a lot easier for large agribusiness corporations like Bayer (which recently acquired Monsanto) to sweep in and take over family farms across the country.

While Obama has cited elderly people and disabled people (although I’m not elderly (I’m 26 years of age), I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I don’t drive) as two groups of people that might benefit from self-driving cars, the sobering reality is that there’s a lot more people who would be negatively impacted than those who would be positively impacted by self-driving vehicles. In fact, many of those who could benefit from self-driving cars don’t have cell phones that would be needed for them to get a ride in a self-driving car, either for cost reasons (most elderly and disabled people are very poor), or the nature of their disability makes it virtually impossible for them to operate a cell phone.

Joe Walsh issues death threat against President Obama and Black Lives Matter activists

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a screengrab of a death threat made by a former elected official against the current President of the United States. The author of this blog post strongly condemns violence and all threats of violence.


Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who represented parts of the Chicago suburbs for one term from 2011 to 2013, took to Twitter to declare a race war and issue a death threat against President Barack Obama and activists of the Black Lives Matter movement. Walsh has since deleted the tweet, but here is a screengrab of it:

It’s worth noting that the death toll last night’s mass shooting in Dallas, Texas is, as of the writing of this blog post, at five.

Walsh has (rightfully, in my opinion) received a lot of criticism online for threatening to kill the president, with lots of people calling for WIND-AM, a Chicago radio station that employs Walsh as a right-wing talk radio host, to fire Walsh, as well as for the Secret Service, which is legally responsible for protecting the president, to detain Walsh:

Joe Walsh, who was voted out of office in 2012 after repeatedly making vile, rude, and bigoted remarks, declared a race war against America and the values America stands for, and he also threatened to kill President Obama and people who are active in the Black Lives Matter movement, a non-violent movement that seeks reforms to law enforcement and criminal justice practices that are discriminatory against black people. WIND-AM should fire Walsh immediately, and all appropriate law enforcement agencies should detain Walsh, and, if it can be proven that Walsh was plotting to kill anyone, he should be arrested and charged with all appropriate crimes. Walsh is a disgrace to my state and my country.

Obama Administration bullying, and even bribing, businesses to stop criticizing TPP

The Obama Administration is doing everything possible to silence businesses and business leaders who oppose free-trade giveaways like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In at least one documented instance (sources here, herehere, and below), the Obama Administration offered serious consideration for a Defense Department contract to a company if the company would quit publicly criticizing the TPP:

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Email courtesy of Fight for the Future

New Balance, which manufacturers some of their sneakers in the United States, was offered serious consideration for a Defense Department contract to manufacture athletic shoes for members of the U.S. Armed Forces if New Balance executives shut up about how TPP would force companies like New Balance to compete with companies that manufacture in countries like Vietnam, whose minimum wage is the equivalent of 65¢/hour. Prior to being offered consideration for the contract, New Balance officials had been critical of TPP, but they backed off of their criticism of the TPP once the Defense Department considered them for a contract. Now, New Balance officials are renewing their fight against the TPP after they alleged that the Pentagon is intentionally delaying the purchase of shoes from New Balance.

If this is even remotely true, then this represents the kind of corrupt, Chicago-style machine politics that has no place anywhere in America.

DNC Superdelegate Jimmy Carter criticizes Hillary’s work as U.S. Secretary of State

Former President Jimmy Carter, who, by virtue of being a former president and a member of the Democratic Party, is a superdelegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, did not endorse a presidential candidate, but he did criticize one of the two Democratic presidential candidates who are currently seeking the party’s nomination on foreign policy:

Former President Carter says Hillary Clinton “took very little action” as secretary of State to bring about peace.

Carter, 89, made the remark about the former secretary of State and 2016 Democratic front-runner in a phone interview with Time magazine Wednesday night after he spoke at the Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Texas.

[…]

“In this occasion, when Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, she took very little action to bring about peace. It was only John Kerry’s coming into office that reinitiated all these very important and crucial issues,” he said.

Carter isn’t the only person to bring Hillary’s foreign policy credentials into question. President Barack Obama, who is also an officially-neutral DNC superdelegate by virtue of being the incumbent president and a Democrat, recently said that he thought that his biggest mistake as president was the 2011 military intervention in Libya by U.S./NATO and other pro-NATO coalition forces. While it removed brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power, the military intervention in Libya left Libya politically unstable and mired in a civil war. Also, let’s not forget that Hillary has publicly hailed her role in the military intervention in Libya as one of her chief accomplishments as U.S. Secretary of State.

If you want a real champion of peace in the White House, support Bernie Sanders for president!

Why I’m demanding a no vote on SCOTUS appointee Merrick Garland

Earlier today, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who currently holds the most powerful federal judgeship below the Supreme Court, the office of Chief Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Cir.), to the Associate Justice seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that became vacant upon the death of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

While Garland would be a significant improvement over Scalia and a left-leaning swing vote on SCOTUS if confirmed, I strongly encourage Democratic U.S. Senators to demand that the Senate do its constitutional duty of conducting a confirmation process on the Garland appointment, but vote against Garland if given the opportunity to do so.

There is one primary reason why I oppose the nomination of Garland to our nation’s highest bench, and that is Garland’s deferral to the executive branch of the federal government, even if it blatantly goes against the constitutional rights of people. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Garland deferred similarly to federal agencies during the presidency of George W. Bush, irking many liberals with a 2003 ruling that denied Guantanamo detainees judicial review (later overturned by the Supreme Court) and with a string of pro-police rulings under Presidents Bill Clinton, Bush and Obama.

The job of a U.S. Supreme Court justice is not to build political consensus or issue rulings based on the current political climate at the time the ruling is issued. The job of a U.S. Supreme Court justice is to interpret the U.S. Constitution and federal laws, with the Constitution being the supreme law of the land. Garland’s complete disregard for the constitutional rights of the accused shows that Garland’s own interpretation of the Constitution is flawed, and that he should not be a SCOTUS justice.

While I strongly oppose Senate Republicans who won’t even schedule a confirmation hearing for Garland, I call for Senate Democrats to demand an opportunity to vote against Garland, in committee and, if he were to make it out of committee, the full Senate.

Joni Ernst sends virtually blank response to constituent’s request not to block SCOTUS appointment

Sometime in the immediate future, President Barack Obama will appoint someone to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

One of the many Republican U.S. Senators who support obstructing anyone that the president appoints to the Supreme Court is Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). Many of Ernst’s constituents in Iowa are not happy at all that Ernst wants the U.S. Senate to neglect its duty to either confirm or reject whoever the president appoints to SCOTUS, and one of them is Maggie White, who is a civil rights attorney from Iowa’s largest city, Des Moines. When White emailed Ernst’s office about Ernst and her fellow Senate Republicans wanting to do absolutely nothing in regards to the president’s SCOTUS pick, White did a very important civic duty by contacting Ernst’s office about the matter. Here’s how Ernst responded to White:

Joni Ernst sent one of her constituents a virtually blank response to a message that one of her constituents sent to her! By “virtually blank response”, I mean that Ernst’s response to Maggie White’s message contained a letterhead, a salutation, and a closing, not a body. The body of the email, which there is none in this particular email, is where Ernst’s response to White’s message would have been.

The U.S. Constitution is clear. The president must appoint a new SCOTUS justice, the Senate must either confirm or reject that appointment. For the Senate to not even conduct a confirmation process amounts to the Senate neglecting its Constitutional duty of advice and consent. It doesn’t take a lawyer to figure that out.

Senate Republicans evade their constitutional duty

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Even though I strongly disagreed with the vast majority of Scalia’s opinions, I offer my condolences to Justice Scalia’s family.

However, Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and presidential candidates Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn’t wait for Scalia to be cremated before showing that they are more than willing to evade their constitutional duty, with McConnell flatly saying that the Senate should wait until a new president is in the White House before confirming a new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This stands in sharp contrast with President Barack Obama, who intends to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing a new associate justice to this country’s highest bench, even if Republicans obstruct his nomination.

By fulfilling one’s constitutional duty, I’m referring to, in this specific instance, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine; in Article II of the Constitution, “he” refers to the president, regardless of the president’s gender)

The President has the power and constitutional duty to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, however, the Senate has the power and constitutional duty to either affirm or reject the president’s appointment. It’s clear to me that one party to the process to appoint Supreme Court justices intends to do his constitutional duty (the President), whereas the other party does not (the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate).

The Senate is not required to approve of the president’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate can, if they wish to, establish a process to determine whether or not to approve or reject the president’s pick, and can opt to vote the president’s pick down, either in committee or in the full Senate. However, for the Senate to not establish any kind of process for accepting or rejecting the president’s pick amounts to completely evading the constitutional duty of the Senate.

From an electoral standpoint, it would be absolutely foolish for Republicans to obstruct the president’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans go through with their threat to obstruct the president’s pick until, at the earliest, a new president is sworn into office, that would, in effect, put control of both the White House and the Supreme Court on the line in the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. That is the poker equivalent of going all in with a likely losing hand. This strategy could very easily backfire on Republicans, and they would not like the nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (I’m a Bernie supporter) would pick. Hillary would likely nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, and Bernie would probably appoint someone who is ideologically similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most progressive of the current Supreme Court justices, if not even more progressive than Ginsburg. If Democrats were to retain control of the White House and regain control of the Senate, stalling on filling the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court could end up resulting in a more progressive justice than someone that Obama will pick being seated on our nation’s highest bench (I’m guessing that Obama will pick someone to his ideological right for Supreme Court). Furthermore, U.S. Senate races where Republicans are thought to be safe or favored, such as Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, would become more competitive for Democrats, and U.S. Senate races that are either competitive or where Democrats are favored, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, would become even more favorable for Democrats.