John Hickenlooper: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 9th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. John Hickenlooper is on deck today, and I didn’t know much about him at all, so this post is enlightening for me, as well. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. Hickenlooper!

Political⚡Charge

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The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve enlisted the help of a team of terrific volunteers who have helped gather quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope…

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Filosofa’s State of the Union Address

Yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to Donald Trump strongly urging that he either reschedule the State of the Union Address or deliver it in writing, in the wake of the ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday, and which has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers. Pelosi cited critical government agencies in charge of overseeing the event — namely U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security — that have been hobbled by the shutdown.

Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely that Trump will, in fact, deliver a State of the Union address in person on Friday, 29 January.  So, it seemed prudent, just in case I am asked to deliver it in his stead, to go ahead and write my own speech … Text dividersGood evening Ms. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans.

Ms. Pelosi graciously invited me to fill in for Mr. Trump in giving the State of the Union Address tonight, for with the government shutdown in its 39th day, the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security are stretched far too thin to provide adequate security to attend this address to Congress.  It was determined that far fewer people want to bump me off than Mr. Trump, so my safety seems not to be at risk and thus I am here to deliver the speech to Congress and the Nation tonight.  Mr. Trump’s speechwriters worked very hard to provide me with a written speech, however, I seem to have left it back at the hotel, so luckily I have written my own.

This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the American people how the country is doing, and where we are going, what we plan to accomplish in the coming year.  Let me start with how we are doing.

America is more divided today than at any time since the end of the Civil War years.  We have problems, folks – serious problems.  As I mentioned today marks the 39th day of the partial government shutdown that is affecting everyone in one way or another.  You, the people of this once-great nation are losing confidence, and understandably so, in your government.  Investors are losing confidence and it is being reflected in the dropping stock market and also in the job market.  Consumer prices are on the rise.  The food you buy to feed your families costs more than it did a month ago and there is a very real danger that meat and produce may be contaminated, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t sufficient staff to continue food safety inspections. 

Apart from the government shutdown, we have a plethora of other problems that we seem unable or unwilling to address.  Perhaps the most critical one is that of the environment.  Since the rollback of past environmental regulations that were intended to cut back on carbon emissions, it was reported earlier this week that carbon emissions in the U.S. have increased by 3.4%, not decreased as they needed to.  This is a problem, not only for the United States, but for our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, as well as the rest of the globe. 

The other critical problem facing the nation is that we have lost the trust and respect of our allies, which leaves us in an extremely vulnerable position.  We abandoned our allies when we announced our intent to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, when we exited the Iran nuclear agreement, and more recently when we announced that we would pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our allies holding the bag.  In addition, our threats to pull out of NATO, our unwarranted criticism of our allies, high import tariffs, and seeming attentiveness toward our adversaries further have our allies wondering whether they could depend on us in case of an emergency.  This is a dangerous situation.

Here at home, we face other problems.

Last year we saw a number of mass shootings in the United States.  113 people were either killed or injured in school shootings alone, and young people are asking us why we don’t do something, why we don’t pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental problems, of people who are known domestic abusers, why we don’t have stronger gun laws in this country. 

The nation is torn apart by the debate about immigration and a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.  Border states are particularly torn, for such a wall would limit, if not eliminate trade and tourism between our two countries and would almost certainly cause further political and economic unrest. 

Our education system is failing our young people.  They are not receiving the education they need in order to succeed, to become the next generation of leaders, of scientists, of historians or great inventors.  Instead, we are training them only for specific jobs, thereby severely limiting their options.  

We have fallen far behind other Western nations in the development of renewable energy sources, have become far too dependent on fossil fuels which are causing more damage and destruction to the environment every day.

Bigotry in all its forms is at an all time high in our nation today.  Racial tensions are the highest they have been since the 1960s when people died to gain Civil Rights for African-Americans, for all people.  Rights are being taken away from the LGBT community.  Women’s rights are being trampled.  Muslims are discriminated against openly in public.

Our elections are no longer fair, for almost every state has gerrymandered districts, newly imposed voter identification laws that discriminate against the poor and minorities.  Polling places in poor districts are closed, or in some cases the hours dramatically reduced, making it impossible for a working person in one of those neighborhoods to vote.  Foreign entities have interfered in our elections, often skewing results.  Both domestic and foreign lobbyist firms have influenced elections and now have some of the people sitting in this room tonight in their pockets. All of this has led to voter disenfranchisement and apathy.

And healthcare … drug prices are obscenely inflated in the United States, as are insurance costs.  The ACA has been chipped at to the extent that many can no longer afford their health insurance.  People are sick and dying for lack of money. 

I wish I had better news to report, but frankly, ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in a sorry state today.  I cannot speak for Mr. Trump as to any plans for the coming year, but I have given you a rundown, in brief, of the State of the Nation.  And on that note, I thank you for your time this evening.

Trump’s 100 Day Plan – Filosofa’s View

At the end of October, Trump released his plan of action for his first 100 days in office, should he be elected.  I had previously only given it a cursory glance, never expecting his campaign to bear fruit.  However, today I thought it might actually bear a closer look.  What follows are some of his key points and my own analysis of their viability or foolishness. I shall start with the five things he claims to be prepared to do on his very first full day in office, as these are the ones that have the most immediate consequences:

  • Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama. First, he is not the sole judge of what is constitutional or not, especially given that he has never read the full document, and does not have an education in Constitutional law. Second, this seems like more of a vindictive move based on a dislike of President Obama rather than a sound policy move.  Many of these could lead to significant problems, not to mention mass confusion.  Trump needs to re-think this from an adult perspective, now that he has left the playground of the campaign trail.
  • Begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I will address this at greater length in a future post. Certainly an issue for concern.
  • Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities. A sanctuary city is one that adopts local policies designed to not prosecute people solely for being an undocumented individual. This is where my concern ratchets up a few notches, as this has the potential of creating life-threatening problems for thousands of refugees and immigrants.
  • Begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back. Same response as above.  Not all immigrants are criminals, and 99.9% of these people are displaced with nowhere else to go, and possess little beyond the clothes on their backs! This is one of the parts of his previous rhetoric that I take very personally and seriously, as I have many friends and neighbors who stand to be adversely affected, and because he is playing Russian roulette with human lives.  Not acceptable to Filosofa! Endangering lives of refugees and immigrants cannot be a cornerstone of immigration policy.
  • Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting. Again, same response as above.

Next are some of his additional plans for the first 100 days:

  • Propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress. Now, isn’t this rather like asking a person to shoot himself in the foot? One point that Senator (idiot) Mitch McConnell makes is that there are term limits on Congress:  they are called ‘elections’.  Well, that is a valid point, however, not always reliable, else why would the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution call for a limit of two four-year terms for the president? Personally, I am torn on this one, but more about that in a later post.
  • A requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated. A bit of a broad and reckless statement.  I am sure there are many regulations that are outdated and need to be sent to file #13, however … I would urge caution, rather than a willy-nilly housecleaning, only to discover that the baby has been thrown out along with the bathwater!
  • I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205. This one concerns me greatly. Given the complexities, I will be writing a separate post on this topic in a few days, however for the moment, suffice it to say that this would be a brash and foolish action without considering all the potential consequences.  The net result would almost certainly hurt our own economy and the citizens of the U.S. are the ones who would pay a hefty price.
  • I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Same answer as previous point.
  • I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator. Another topic too complex for discussion here, and better left to economics guru Erik Hare, but in short, well over half of the IMF’s (International Money Fund) 189 members engage in some form of currency intervention with the goal of influencing their exchange rate. To single out China seems a dangerous move, and one that I think Trump needs to take under advisement by his economic and foreign policy experts.
  • I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.  This is problematic and dangerous, though I am sure some in the coal-dependent communities will applaud it.  Unfortunately, Trump is not a believer in climate change, calling it a ‘hoax’, and has vowed to reverse all efforts of previous administrations to make strides toward a better environment.  His proposal would not only increase dangerous CO2 emmissions, but would be in violation of the Paris climate accord which Trump does not have the power to cancel or rescind. However, he can legally choose to ignore the plan.  This has the potential for global devastation.  Not something to take lightly.
  • Lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward. When we sacrifice the environment strictly for financial gain, we err.  Enough said.
  • Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure. See previous two points.

It is not my intent to seem an alarmist, or a drama queen, however several of the above stated intentions could easily set off a series of global events leading to, at the very least, added tensions between the U.S. and other nations, and at the worst, a war.

I only included the bullet points that I felt were of immediate consequence and potentially controversial or dangerous.  There are others, many of which are worded so vaguely that one cannot respond.  Some of the other points of his plan would either take years to implement or are not likely to receive the support of Congress. The entire list can be found here.

As noted, I will be discussing some of these topics at greater length in future posts, and I am trying to keep an open mind and view his proposals from all angles. Some, including those regarding lobbyists, I can actually agree with if done with intelligence and the advise of experts in the field.  My overall concern is that Trump tends to operate as Trump wishes and to disregard any advice that does not agree with his own ideas.  Time will tell, but we all need to understand his plan and the ultimate consequences.