Saturday, October 31, 2015


Image result for CNBC debate moderators photos
CNBC debate moderators Quintanilla, Quick, and Harwood
    Now that the dust has settled following the most recent Republican debate, and the political commentators and pundits have had their say about who won and who lost, I feel the need to make a few observations of my own, not only about the debate but about the commentators themselves.
    CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla and his two colleagues Becky Quick and John Harwood have been widely criticized about their handling of the debate. I agree that they lost control at times, that when challenged by some of the candidates they did not always seem to have their facts at their fingertips, and that some of their questions were less likely to evoke a good debate on the issues.
    Most of the blame for the debacle, however, should be directed not at the moderators but at the candidates, who evaded the questions, impugned the motives of the questioners, and played to the audience by attacking the network, the “liberal” media, and the moderators themselves. They complained that they were asked “gotcha” questions that had nothing to do with the issues, and contrasted them to what they described as the non-threatening kinds of questions asked of the Democratic candidates in their first debate. Anyone who watched that debate knows that charge is utterly false. Anderson Cooper and his CNN colleagues minced no words at all, and the responses and the interchange were substantive, though one candidate wasted time by complaining about not getting equal time.

Friday, October 30, 2015


The Associated Press
The New Speaker of the House Congressman Paul Ryan
     Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was elected Speaker of the House on Thursday morning, October 30, by a comfortable majority. He surely must have been gratified by the enthusiastic reception he received as he entered the packed chamber.
     As he was escorted down the aisle toward the podium, he was greeted warmly by Democrats and Republicans alike, exchanging handshakes and hugs equally with members on both sides. After a very gracious introduction by Minority Leader  Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Ryan delivered a very positive and encouraging acceptance speech, inducing much bipartisan applause. What a refreshing change to hear such a clear statement of how he intends to lead the House of Representatives out of the gridlock that has stymied and stalemated the Congress from passing much-needed legislation dealing with so many important issues.
     No one should be so naive as to think he won't encounter some roadblocks along the way, including some from the extreme right wing of his own Party. But Paul Ryan is a different personality from his immediate predecessor, John Boehner, and he is well liked and highly respected. So let's hope he will be able to fulfill his good intentions.
     If you haven't yet heard his speech, I highly recommend that you click here and take the time to listen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Image result for joe biden and hillary clinton photos
The Bidens and the Clintons
   On his television show Hardball a few days ago, Chris Matthews was commenting on what he considered to be Joe Biden’s slightly veiled digs at Hillary Clinton during the speech in which the Vice President announced his decision not to enter the current presidential race. Matthews commented to the effect that Biden’s remarks reflected his intense dislike of  Secretary Clinton and everything she stands for (“he hates the Clintons”).
    I often agree with the outspoken political talk show host, but occasionally he evokes a visceral reaction in me that makes me feel like punching the TV screen. This was one of those times, because my annoyance had been building up over his continued misrepresentation of Hillary Clinton’s response to this question from moderator Anderson Cooper at the first Democratic debate: “You've all made a few people upset over your political careers. Which enemy are you most proud of?”
    When it was her turn, Hillary replied, “Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians (applause). . . . probably the Republicans” (huge applause). “The Republicans,” it seemed to me at the time, were mentioned  almost as an after-thought, and it was obviously intended to be humorous. I thought it was a clever remark that everyone could well understand, given the vicious criticism she has received from the Republican presidential candidates and her anticipated grueling by the Republican-controlled House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Congressman Jim Jordan (Rep., Ohio) was one of the rudest 

Despite all of their flimflam and frillery,
they brought out their heavy artillery.
For their partisan plan
was to “do all we can”
to discredit and pillory Hillary!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


joe biden 2016 announcement barack obama white house sot_00002505.jpg
A dramatic moment in the Rose Garden
    Joe Biden’s announcement not to run for President, though a disappointment to those who were hoping that he would, is good for the Democratic Party, good for President Obama and his legacy, probably good for current Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, and good for Vice President Biden himself.
    It is good for the Democratic Party because it avoided an unnecessary and potentially unpleasant clash between two friends and former colleagues, Clinton and Biden, whose positions on most issues are similar and whose  candidacies could only have divided their mainstream constituency. That could have paved the way for a third candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a Democratic Socialist, whose loyalty to the Democratic Party is somewhat problematic, and whose chances of winning the national election are questionable.
    It is good for President Obama because it assures him of the continued availability and involvement of his trusted friend and colleague for the remainder of his term in office. There is much left to be accomplished and the Vice President has been and now can continue to be an important ally and spokesperson for the Obama legacy. Were he to have entered the presidential race, his time would of necessity have been largely preoccupied with the rigors of campaigning, made even more demanding by the lateness of his declaration.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Donald Trump and Jeb Bush go at it!
    At the last Republican debate Jeb Bush’s declaration that his brother, President George W. Bush, had kept America safe drew enthusiastic cheers and applause from the predominantly Republican audience.
    I was amazed by the audacity of the comment, given the fact that the 9/11 attacks had occurred on his brother’s watch.  Donald Trump was right in pointing that out recently. What took him so long?
    I can understand why none of the other candidates called Jeb to account that night: they didn’t want to remind people of that fact. It’s not good for the Grand Old Party!               
    Trump’s remark has triggered a firestorm of criticism. “I’m not blaming (President Bush) for the attacks,” Trump said in his own defense. “I’m just pointing out that it happened on his watch!”’ He has a point!
    What Jeb should have said, however, was, “My brother brought the country together after 9/11 and we didn’t have another attack during the rest of his term in office.” That would have been an acceptable statement. For Jeb Bush to ignore 9/11 was disingenuous.
    But there is more to be said about this issue. No President should boast about “keeping us safe.” Just be grateful that since 9/11 there has been no similar, nor as devastating, attacks. There have been plenty of attempts, some successful (the Boston Marathon bombing, for example). Despite the best efforts of the CIA, the F.B.I. the Secret Service, the State and local Police Departments, corporate and private security personnel, and the general public, there is always a possibility of another successful

Monday, October 19, 2015


Think about it, , , ,

What a much better world this would be,
Vladimir, if you just would  agree
to stop causing a fuss,
and start working with us,
as a partner not an enemy.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Here is yet another offering for the Trump Limerick Anthology:

Mr. Trump boasts oft of his biz:
“ No other’s .as great as mine is!
I can build a hotel
or a wall very well.
As your President I’ll be a whiz!”


Try your hand at a limerick and post it as a comment .

Friday, October 16, 2015


Image result for joe biden photos
Vice President Joe Biden - Should he or shouldn't he?
    The concern of every Democrat should be to retain the White House in 2016. That is the primary premise upon which Vice President Joe Biden should be basing his decision to enter or not to enter the presidential race.
    We respected his needing to weigh the emotional impact of his son Beau’s death on himself and his family against the total commitment required to mount and conduct an all-out campaign to become the President of the United States. But it soon became evident that his decision had as much to do with his assessment of the possibility of winning. The probability of his entering the race seemed more likely, when Bernie  Sanders’ popularity was soaring and Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers were showing the eroding effect of her Republican opponents’ attacks regarding her use of a private e-mail server, and the main line media’s preoccupation with the subject.
    We can assume that Mr. Biden was asking himself not just whether he was emotionally ready to run, but whether he was the logical person to replace the former  Secretary of State as the establishment’s Democratic front runner for President. Secretary Clinton’s strong performance in the first debate and the subsequent surge in her poll numbers, along with the decline in his own ratings, must be giving the Vice President second thoughts.
    Joe Biden has always wanted to be president. He has already lost two presidential bids. This is his last chance.  Realistically, it is now or never again, given his age. But does he want to risk becoming a three-time loser? No wonder he has taken so long to make up his mind! It’s a terribly difficult decision.
    As another more centrist candidate, Mr. Biden is well aware that his entering the race would draw more support from Hillary Clinton than from Bernie Sanders, a far left extremist who calls himself a Democratic Socialist. I suspect that he shares the conventional wisdom that Hillary would fare better in the general election than Bernie. If, therefore, his entering the race would result in Bernie’s winning a plurality in the primary, that would defeat his purpose entirely and jeopardize the primary premise for his entering, viz., assuring a Democratic victory in the general election. 
    Based on this analysis, here is what I wish Mr. Biden would do. I think it would be a huge boost to the Democratic cause if he were to make the following announcement immediately:


    Here;s another one for the Trump Limerick Anthology:

The Donald’s quite proud of his hair.
Is it real or a wig? If you care,
then inspect it intently,

or pat it quite gently.
If you tug it, however, beware!


The Donald
    It's fun to write limericks about interesting characters. Donald Trump is a limerick writer's dream. I am hereby inviting anyone who enjoys this light verse form to share your talents with our Minding What Matters viewers by contributing to my anthology of limericks devoted to The Donald. Please post them as comments to this article or on my Facebook page.
    Here's one to prime your poetic pump:

There’s a boastful campaigner named Trump,
who is doing quite well on the stump.
All his insults and gaffs
only get him more laughs.
Will he wind up a champ or a chump?

Thursday, October 15, 2015



    Democrats have every reason to be happy about Tuesday night’s first debate and proud of the candidates who are seeking to be the presidential nominee of their party.
    The event attracted a far larger television audience than expected, and the reactions of viewers indicate they were not the least bit disappointed by what they were watching. The tone was tough but civil, as differences of opinion were expressed, often strongly. The content was wide-ranging, substantive, and never dull, thanks largely to the probing questions of moderator Anderson Cooper and his two colleagues. They did not let anyone avoid their questions!
    The pace was lively, the time passed swiftly, and at the end those present and those watching on television had been given a good look at the candidates and an initial opportunity to compare and contrast them. With at least five more debates to come, voters will have a chance to modify or confirm their impressions.
    It will be interesting to see how this debate impacts the polling. The overwhelming consensus of the media analysts was that Hillary Clinton "won” the debate, but that Bernie Sanders had also done well, and that Martin O’Malley had helped himself to some degree by his performance. Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb did not fare so well. In my view Hillary was the most informed, the best prepared, and by far the most “presidential” of the group. Martin O’Malley would be my second choice in that last regard.
    The Sanders campaign had prepared their constituents for the debate, and Bernie mentioned more than once the huge number of his supporters who had gathered across the nation to watch the debate. Given the demographics of his constituency, I would suspect that they had been geared up to tweet their favorable responses to their champion’s performance and to encourage support from their contacts. That probably accounts for his impressively high number of comments on social media, along with the resulting $2,000,000 in new donations. He has certainly taken a page out of Barack Obama’s book on how to build a support base! He is a formidable contender.
    Bernie also did well with the focus group I watched after the debate. They resonated, as have many others who have warmed to his message, with his intense attack on the unfair distribution of wealth in America. It was interesting, however, that when asked whether they could see him as President, hardly any hands went up.

Monday, October 12, 2015


On the eve of the first Democratic presidential debate and after reflecting on the two Republican debates that have been held so far, I should like to offer the following Ten Commandments for those who engage in political discourse, and I shall be watching to see how well the candidates observe them:

 1. Be truthful -    Thou shalt tell no untruths or half-truths.

2. Be honest -       Thou shalt not pretend, but shalt share thine own ideas with conviction.

3. Be humble -     Thou shalt not boast, but thou mayest reference thine own record.

4. Be factual -      Thou shalt be accurate and forthcoming with facts and figures.

5. Be fair -           Thou shalt not misrepresent thy opponent’s point of view.or record.

6. Be clear -         Thy shalt not leave thy hearers wondering what thou didst mean.

7. Be concise -     Thou shalt not be verbose but shalt speak directly to the question.

8. Be relevant -    Thou shalt address issues that impact thy hearers' lives and welfare..

9. Be direct -        Thou shalt not be devious, but thou shalt answer the question asked.

10. Be friendly -   Thou shalt avoid personal attacks, and thou shalt remember to smile.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


   “Authenticity concerns the truthfulness of origins, attributes, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions,” states the Wikipedia article on the topic. But I have some problems with the word, the way it is being used in the political arena. I’m tired of hearing political pundits and commentators acting as if they are the judges of an individual’s authenticity. When you think about it, calling someone authentic is really a meaningless comment.    
Polonius advising his son Laertes
    First of all, it merely reveals what the person who uses the term thinks of the one to whom it is applied, and too often it is being applied to the wrong persons for the wrong reasons.
In the second place, how is authenticity being defined, and on what basis does one attribute it to someone else? It is someone’s subjective opinion, not an objectively provable quality. One can suspect but not presume to know with absolute certainly, another person’s hidden motives.
    So what does it mean to be authentic? Is it being what Polonius urged his son Laertes to be: “This above all: to thine own self be true. . .” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3). If so, to which “self” must I be true, for I am a complexity of  ‘‘selves.” I know am not always true to my best self, so does that mean I am not an authentic person? We all wear masks at times. I once wrestled with that dilemma in a poem entitled The Real Me, which includes these lines:

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Image result for 2nd amendment gun advocates photos    The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:  "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
    The Second Amendment needs to be repealed or drastically amended, because it is being used to justify a purpose for which it was never intended. There is no moral justification whatsoever for using it to argue for the right of private citizens to own assault weapons. That interpretation can be directly traced to the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess and carry firearms (District of Columbia v. Heller).
    In another landmark decision (McDonald v. the City of  Chicago, 2010) the Court ruled that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the Second Amendment to State and local governments, just as it applies to the Federal government. The Second Amendment, nevertheless, continues to be at the center of the ongoing discussion regarding gun rights and gun controls.           
    The misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, however, is not the elephant in the gun room. On the contrary, that amendment is a “given” in the on-going debate over gun-control legislation. It is far from being an unmentionable reality.
    No, the elephant in the gun room is, in my view, that hidden beast within the human species that takes pleasure in killing other living creatures. It is ever ready to raise its ugly head. Human beings

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pope Francis
Image for the news result
Kim Davis
    The Vatican has reported that Pope Francis's brief private meeting with County Clerk Kim Davis was not an endorsement of her views, though the Pope commended her for her “bravery” in refusing to conduct same sex marriages in Rowan County, Kentucky.

    While he was demonstrating once again his compassion for a woman who was willing to go to prison for her religious convictions, his visit with her might have sent a mixed message. Homosexual persons might well be wondering where was the Pope’s compassion for those who because of their sexual orientation have long been denied their civil right to marry the person they love and to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage.
     Pope Francis has to walk a fine line between his compassionate concern for people and his need to uphold the teachings of his church on the sanctity of marriage. He is not ready to abandon his belief that the sacrament of marriage is between a man and a woman.
    More and more people, however, have come to recognize that marriage is a civil right, granted by the State, a right that clergypersons and certain officials are granted the authority to perform.  As a County Clerk sworn to uphold the laws of the State, Ms. Davis’ refusal to perform her duty to marry same sex couples was in the minds of many an act not of civil but of uncivil disobedience.
    Despite the controversy resulting from this recently revealed meeting, my high regard for Pope Francis has not been diminished in the slightest, and I still feel his visit to the United States was a resounding success.
    Viva il Papa!