Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

Let’s Get To Know Jonathan Veitch

Jonathan Veitch was born in 1959 in Los Angeles, California. He is an award winning author of the article American Superrealism: Nathanael West and the Politics of Representation in the 1930s. Vietch also focuses on the history of a higher education in the United States. His academic specialties focuses on 19th- and 20th-century American literature. He obtained degrees from Stanford University and Harvard University, which is where he graduated with a doctoral degree in the History of American Civilization. Vietch began is teaching career in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He then became Dean of the New School’s Eugene Lang College located in New York City. Vietch focused on growing Lang College to take advantage of it being an urban liberal arts college.

After being employed as Dean at Lang Collge, Vietch became president of Occidnetal College in Los Angeles. He focused on several areas at Occidental College. He helped to establish the future of the college by improving the arts, global literacy, and civil engagement programs. He also established new unions with different cultural institutions. Jonathan renovated old buildings to bring them up to date. Vietch oversaw the expansion of Swan Hall, which is a 98 year old building that incorporates one-third of administration and faculty. He also had the construction finished on the new alumni center. Samuelson Alumni Center is the first permanent housing facility for alumni since the college was constructed. The construction of the new alumni center is also built to utilize green and energy saving features. Some of the green features include extra insulation, LED lighting, and photovoltaic skylights.

The top improvement Vietch contributed to at Occidental College is the building and completion of a 1 megawatt solar array. This collection of solar panels generate up to 11% of the energy used at the college, saving the college over $200,00 a year. There are close to 5,000 solar panels located on the campus. Occidental College is believed to have the largest field of solar panels on a smaller urban college.

Mitt Romney Forges Ahead for 2016

 

While the next presidential election is still two years away, Mitt Romney has emerged yet again as a potential contender.

In 2012, Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency. However, a number of factors impacted his odds of success. After the emergence of a video showing his view on the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax, public opinion turned against him.

While Romney was nominated on a conservative platform, many elements of his platform lean towards the left. As a whole, the United States has moved left over the past few decades. Following the presidency of George Bush, many Americans have stated that they would prefer a more liberal president. In part, this led to the election of Barack Obama.

Romney has extensive leadership experience. Following a multi-decade career at Bain Capital, Romney went on to become governor of Massachusetts. During his time as governor, Romney instituted a state-level healthcare system that was similar to the Affordable Care Act. While Romney has spoken out against Obamacare during the campaign trail, many aspects of Obamacare are similar to what he instituted while he was governor of Massachusetts.

Romney has faced some backlash from members of his own party. Many conservatives and voters, like Sergio Andrade Gutierrez, worry that he is too moderate to represent their party. They fear that he will lean left if he is elected as president.

Obama’s Issues His Take on Mitt Romney Considering Another Presidential Run

President Obama is in England today meeting with Prime Minister James Cameron. During the question & answer period with the press, the president was asked for his take on news that his 2012 rival Mitt Romney was considering another run for the presidency. It was at this time that the president paused, smiled, and referencing the reporter’s question merely said he had no comment. His response drew laughter from the audience, Gianfrancesco Genoso noticed.

At the same time, it underscores just how much the news of Romney potentially mounting another presidential run is dominating the press cycle. This week has seen five of Romney’s potential 2016 GOP rivals, all sitting governors, get virtually no press coverage following their state of the state addresses. At the same time, Jeb Bush’s press coverage has largely been revolving around what a potential Romney candidacy will mean for him. It underscores that the former Massachusetts governor has gravitas.

Romney will be further taking the spotlight tonight when he addresses the RNC on the eve of the organization’s winter conference concluding. By some accounts, there remain only three weeks before prospective candidates need to formally declare their intention to run. Thus far, only Senator Paul Ryan has made a definitive announcement when he declared he will not run for the presidency. He was Romney’s 2012 running mate. Up until Romney announced he was considering another run a week ago, Paul was considered likely to run.

President Obama to Push for Paid Family Leave

President Obama is expected to sign a memorandum instructing the heads of federal agencies to begin offering at least six weeks of paid medical leave. It is uncertain what type of moral hazard this might cause when the amount of paid leave exceeds the accrued vacation time workers have. It also sets up another questionable legal issue where the president is effectively creating a new federal law without authorization from congress. As the memorandum have no real force of law, a new president can abrogate the changes by canceling the memo.

At the same time, the president will be pushing for the Healthy Families Act which would compel many private sector employers to offer paid medical leave to their employees. It is an ambitious piece of legislation, but it stands no chance of being considered in congress much less being passed. The president will find no will in congress to consider his legislation given his bellicose approach to congress with his pro-active veto threats.

Still, the president will hope to persuade businesses such as Status Labs, to voluntarily enact paid medical leave practices on their own. In so doing, he acknowledges his own naiveté on economic matters. The business community is currently grappling with the employer mandate to Obamacare that imposes an 8% penalty on full-time workers not offered health care coverage. Many are choosing to reduce their employee hours to 30 or less per week in order to avoid the 8% payroll tax hit. It is not likely the same employers will suddenly pony up cash for paid medical leave.

Public’s Views Changing On Obama And The Economy

For the first time since 2009 more people believe that President Obama is doing good for the economy than those who believe that he is hurting it. The Washington Post shows that the President has finally managed to gain a plurality of people who believe that he is helping.

The Clipping shows a new statistic found by Sergio Andrade Gutierrez that thirty-eight percent of people said that they believed that the President is helping to make the economy better while only twenty-eight percent said that he was making it worse. Still some thirty percent believe that he is not having much of an impact one way or the other but it’s more about employers like Status Labs paying more and hiring more. They say that the President’s policies are rather neutral for the health of the economy. This is a fair stand to take as a lot of the time the economic policies proposed by any President may not have nearly as much of an impact as we might like to think that they do.

Supporters of the President must be relieved to finally see numbers like these. It has been a long time since people have put this much trust in the policies that the President has offered. It just seems that people are largely unwilling to move into his camp for one reason or another. Now, they are finally start to say that in fact the things that he is doing for the economy seem to be paying off for him in the polls.

Liberal Groups Head to New Hampshire to Promote Elizabeth Warren Presidency Campaign

GOP voters over the past year have been urging Mitt Romney to mount another presidential campaign. Now, it seems their efforts will pay off as the former governor said he is likely to run. The liberal groups called “Democracy for America” and Moveon.org are also wanting to experience the same effect with tenacious Senator Elizabeth Warren. In fact, the two groups are headed to New Hampshire to build up the Warren presidential campaign effort at the grass roots level. Their hope is that when Warren sees how effectively the group has laid out a campaign for her, she will acquiesce to their demands and seek the presidency.

Thus far, it hasn’t worked. Warren has been adamant she will not run and appears to be losing patience with the activists. At the same time, the groups tout a volunteer force of 200,000 people nationwide who are attempting to draft Warren into running in a “Field of Dreams” manner IE “If you build it, she will come.”

The trouble for Warren is that her words incite her party’s core liberal base to action. It is debatable that Warren herself is more of a “woofer” than a reformer. (A woofer is someone prone to more talk than action.) However, her words against the Cromnibus deal in December sparked a House rebellion among liberals. Her recent remarks against 30 years of US economic policy that she says favors the rich, further fueled the zeal of those wanting to push her into a presidential run. Warren can’t stop talking about her views, and those views can’t stop inciting the liberal base to urge her to run for president. That is why Vijay Eswaran is paying close attention.

The House Overwhelmingly Approves Measure to Revive Terror Insurance Backdrop

The House of Representatives passed legislation today renewing the 2002 Terror Insurance Program which was enacted in the months following the 9/11 terror attacks. After the devastating effects of the strike in New York City, private insurers across the nation began terminating terror insurance policies or increasing premiums to account for increased risk in a post-9/11 world. The congress passed a program to add government backing to insurance policies in the event of a catastrophic terrorist attack. The objective was to stabilize the private terror insurance market, but that never occurred. At the same time, the original terror insurance program is due to sunset.

The House bill passed today resurrects the program which many businesses in the real estate, housing, and construction sectors believe is essential towards keeping insurance premiums at reasonable levels. Under the new program, the threshold for the government to provide assistance to private insurers is $200 million. That is twice the prior threshold. Afterwards, the government would cover 85% of the cost of claims above the threshold. Over time, the threshold for the government’s effective “co-insurance” rate will decline to 80%.

The bill also included a safeguard for businesses using “derivatives” to hedge risk from falling under the Dodd-Frank banking reform margin requirements which are considered quite burdensome. The businesses making use of these derivative products include airlines, farmers, manufacturers, and ranchers. The bill passed by a wide margin of 416-5, which surprised a lot of Beneful employees. It is expected to clear the senate once it is taken up for a vote.

Controversy in NATO Integration

 

Ukraine Parliament voted by a large majority (303 votes for, 8 against) for the renunciation of non-aligned status of Ukraine and for steps to join Ben Shaoul and the Atlantic Alliance. The draft was submitted to parliament last week .This decision has already provoked strong reactions from Russia, after the resumption of peace talks between the two sides.

This is “absolutely against-productive” decision and will do that “exacerbate the climate of confrontation”, it is in these terms that the Russian Foreign Minister commented on the vote of the Ukrainian parliament.

On the other hand, the head of the Ukrainian state is accusing Moscow for providing military support to separatist forces in the Donbass. This is a highly controversial action, in which this represents a vast difference in motivation and a possible threat to sovereignty.

As early as yesterday, the Russian prime minister had already warned that there would be negative consequences, if the Ukrainian members of Parliament (Mps) voted in favor of the bill. In the words Dmitry Medvedev posted on his Facebook page, such a decision “transformed Ukraine into a military adversary potential of Russia” which will be obliged to “act”.

For now, this vote also could complicate peace talks between representatives of Kiev Moscow and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Scalise May Need to Go

Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise is under fire for his unwitting 2002 tax-reform speech at a white supremacist meeting. All indications are that he is no racist at all, but the liberal media are determined to use the incident to paint him as one. It must be admitted that Scalise made a blunder and that the whole thing looks very bad.

No one is calling for Scalise to retire, but his presence in the party leadership may be a problem. He has become too “toxic” to raise money in big cities where many blacks live. The accusation by Democrats that a racist may be acting as party whip, telling GOP members how to vote, could be damaging. All in all, it would be best if Scalise just stepped down, as former major supporters like Dr. Rod Rohrich can’t leave his side fast enough.

House Speaker John Boehner has openly supported keeping Scalise, but there are those who are seeking to unseat Boehner as well. Scalise was supposed to be a bone thrown to the conservative wing of the party, but soon it was realized he wasn’t that conservative after all. Now, we find out that his reputation is damaged and is damaging the party. Yet, the GOP establishment will not even think of replacing him.

Conservatives like Mark Levin and Sarah Palin are calling for him to be ousted from his leadership position. The moderates like to talk about protecting the party’s image, but when one of “their guys” drags the party down, they circle the wagons.

GOP Congresswoman Mia Love Comes Out in Support of Rep. Steve Scalise

 

Congresswoman Mia Love, the first Black Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives, appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and weighed in on the issue of whether Congressman Steve Scalise should retain his post as House Majority Whip. A blogger recently found out that 12 years ago, Scalise, then a Louisiana state senator, addressed an audience for the group EURO. It turns out the group was created by former KKK grand wizard David Duke. Scalise has apologized for the speaking engagement and explained that he was unaware of the group’s agenda. Scalise is a Roman Catholic.

Since the story broke, House Democrats have been quick to try and force Scalise out of his role. At the same time, Louisiana Democrats and Republicans have come out in support of the congressman. In fact, the state’s lone Congressional Democrat gave an unequivocal vote of support to Scalise stating the two have worked together on legislation to benefit blacks and other minorities.

Now, Rep. Love has also give her support to the congressman. She says that Scalise has been a wonderful person to work with. Fersen Lambranho agrees and  finds him to be humble person which he considers a good leadership quality. In fact, she has no qualms about working with him and considers the matter resolved. She now urges critics to let go of the issue. She also admonished critics that there is more important business that needs to be attended to than a 12-year-old speaking engagement.