Farfetched Ideas and Wondering Mind

A Suggested Deal Between Israel and Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labeled Iran as an “existential threat to Israel” and declared that any nuclear capability in Iran is unacceptable. I suspect that Iran’s leaders see Israel’s nuclear arsenal as an “existential threat” to their nation.

So, I wonder, what about this deal: Israel gives up all of its nuclear weapons, dismantles its capability to build more, and agrees to submit to on-site international monitoring; in return, Iran abandons its uranium enrichment programs, dismantles any capacity it now has to do anything nuclear other than civilian power production, and submits to on-site international monitoring?

Can the Tone of Political Advertising be Changed?

During the recent midterm election campaigns Americans were saturated with political advertising through every conceivable medium: radio, television, mail, telephone, door hangers and knockers. By my unscientific estimate, 99% of these assaults proclaimed the incompetence of an opponent, the dysfunction of Washington, and/or ridiculed President Barack Obama.

I wonder what would happen if candidates ran on a platform that highlighted their own experience, and explained how they would enhance government competence rather than pledging to destroy it?

The increasingly toxic “I will castrate government” mode of campaigning has become the staple of political campaigns and is supported in large part by secret corporate sponsors through contributions of “dark” money. While it might stimulate the radical base of both parties, it alienates a vast majority of voters. It is no wonder that so many people stayed away from the polls.

I can only imagine the reactions of corporate leaders if an applicant for an executive position in their company said this in an interview, “I will gut this business and do combat with the professionals who have led it in the past. I will not propose anything substantive, and I will not lead or innovate. But I will be tough and ruthless in slicing and dicing this corporation.”

What does Senator McConnell Mean by “Regular Order”?

Soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to restore “regular order” to the work of the United States Senate. If he means adhering to an open process through which a bill is introduced, expeditiously sent to a committee for markup and then to the floor for debate and an up or down vote, that  is a good thing.

But, I think he means something else: continuing the old order of rules, procedures and customs that cement in place existing power structures, and holding fast to the principle that seniority and adherence to a rigid ideology trumps competence. The ideology will change from Democrat to Republican, but I predict the process will continue to be ineffectual. It is time for a new generation of leaders in both parties and in both houses.

 Who is Poking Whom in the Eye?

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN, is a man I have long respected despite differences in our political philosophies. I first met him when he was governor of Tennessee and worked on education issues with my boss, Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt. He seemed to me to be an honest politician who followed a Republican path while seeking common ground with his Democratic colleagues.

But, come on Lamar: To suggest that President Obama is out of bounds to use executive action to implement policies favored by a majority of Americans is disingenuous. Alexander stated that Obama should not act because “You don’t make a deal with someone by poking them in the eye.”

My golly, Senator! Your party has been poking the president in both eyes since 2009. Republicans have been slugging Obama in the gut and slicing away at his back for six years by blocking legislation that had majority support, delaying and often scuttling confirmation of his appointments, and putting up roadblocks to implementation of an agenda that he ran and won on in two elections. And, after obstructing him at every turn, you accused him of not fulfilling his promises to the American people.

Obama said it well last August: “There has been a cynical genius to what some of these folks have done in Washington. What they realized is, if we don’t get anything done, then people are going to get cynical about government and its possibilities of doing good for everyone. And–––since they don’t believe in government–––that is a pretty good thing (for them). And, the more cynical the people get the less they vote. And if turnout is low and people don’t vote that pretty much benefits those who benefit from the status quo.”

A prescient statement? Turnout in the 2014 midterm was 36%— nearly two-thirds of the eligible voters stayed home.




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