Opinions/Editorials

Our Childish Politicians Need Kindergarten Lessons

Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is Nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc.  Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.

commongroundWe could use a hearty dose of Robert Fulghum wisdom about now.

Our political discourse is at a fever pitch.  Our allegedly esteemed elected leaders are carrying on like unruly children, shouting and pouting, and becoming increasingly strident with their political opponents.

If they wish to carry on like children, they need to learn some kindergarten wisdom.

"All I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten," wrote Fulghum in his famous 1988 essay, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten."

"Share everything," he writes.

Bustos Helps Pass Wage and Bad Robocalls Acts

CheriApril2019On Thursday, July, 18, 2019, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos helped pass the Raise the Wage Act.  This legislation would raise the Federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025[.  It would] give more than 33 million hardworking Americans a raise.  Additionally, this bill would lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, including 600,000 children.

The last Federal minimum wage increase was ten years ago--the longest stretch without an increase in U. S. history.  Further, one in nine American workers are paid wages that leave them living in poverty, even while working full-time and year-round.

This legislation will not only help workers but will also boost the economy.  By putting money back in the pockets of workers and their families, spending in households with minimum wage workers increased, on average, at least $700 per quarter, according to economic research.

"All across our region, I hear from hardworking men and women who haven't gotten a raise in years, because, too often, Washington works for the wealthy few, instead of the hardworking men and women who power this Country," Congresswoman Bustos said.  "I'm proud of Gov. Pritzker's leadership raising the minimum wage in our State..., by giving 33 million Americans a much-needed raise.  This legislation would make sure this important progress isn't limited to Illinois.  In Congress, I'll continue to stay laser-focused on growing Illinoisans' paychecks and creating good-paying jobs that can support a family."

Trump Correct to Consider Changes To Refugee Policy

Editor's note:  Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

immigrationLibertyDuring a recent meeting with the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and about 20 other representatives from agencies involved in immigration, the Trump administration floated the idea of zero refugees in 2020.

Advocates immediately pushed back against the proposal, but the White House insisted that ever-fewer admissions is consistent with National security, and also in line with the downward resettlement trend.  In 2017, 53,716 refugees were admitted, and 22,491 in 2018, according to Refugee Processing Center data, with 21,260 refugees admitted through June 30 of this year.

The President determines and approves the refugee cap and announces it prior to the new fiscal year's start, October 1.  That means more than two months for intense partisan wrangling, a period that would be better used now to discuss how refugee resettlement became the most abused Federal program in Washington, D. C. (that's saying something) and how immediately it needs to be overhauled.

Choice and Common Sense, Key to Solving Pension Crisis

Editors' note:  Tony McCombie is Republican State Representative for Illinois' 71st District, which includes portions of Rock Island, Henry, Carroll, and Whiteside Counties.

McCombieJacketPension reform has been a hot topic in Illinois for years now.  [It is] a massive fiscal challenge that spends roughly 25% of our General Fund and one we have yet to adequately meet.  Here's a quick timeline of events to catch us up to speed.

In 2010, the Illinois General Assembly took the first step toward pension reform by creating a "Tier Two."

All new hires from January 1, 2011, forward pay more into the pension system over the course of their career, with a slightly less-generous benefit in retirement, than the "Tier One" employees, who are those who started working prior to 2011. Tier Two

  • removed the compounding cost-of-living increases
  • caps benefits in two ways, compared to Tier One
  • raises the minimum retirement age to 62 (or age 67 for State employees to receive the maximum benefit) compared to Tier One, where employees can retire as early as 55.

From Russia With Love...Sort Of

Editor's note:  This essay was written by Blair Bess.  He is a Los Angeles-based television writer, producer, and columnist.  He edits the online blog Soaggragated.com, and can be reached at BBess.soaggragated@gmail.com.

FlatteryAmericans who lived through the Cold War were taught that the Soviet Union was not our friend. They possessed weapons that could obliterate us with "the push of a button," as President Trump would say.  They were the scourge of Democracy who ensnared Eastern Europe in an Iron Curtain.  They brought the United States to the brink of nuclear war during 1962's Cuban Missile Crisis.  They were, in the words of former President Ronald Reagan, "the Evil Empire."

So, why is it that in the past year, Russia--the Soviet Union's successor nation--has suddenly become our new best friend?  How is it that a former KGB spymaster named Vladimir Putin has become a role model for the President of the United States?

Why is it inconceivable that a brutal dictatorship--which, in fact, is what the Government of Russia is--could be responsible for an attack on our democratic system of government?

No Such Thing as a Trump Republican

Column by Michael Reagan

TrumpUnderwear"You can't be a Trump Republican and a Ronald Reagan Republican."

That's the tweet I sent to Jeb Bush the other day, when virtually the entire planet was united in bashing Donald Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the USA.

I also tweeted another obvious truth, "If the Republican Party doesn't dump Donald Trump, the American people will."

Trump's outrageous "Muslims, Keep Out" plan--apparently his policy answer to last week's terrorist attack in San Bernadino, CA,--is an embarrassment to our Country and what it stands for.

It's also a serious threat to the Republican Party....It's being used by Hillary, Democrat hacks in Congress, and the Big Liberal Media to smear the GOP as the party of bigots and idiots.

Completely shutting down Muslim immigration is the latest--and probably the worst--idea in a series of awful ideas that Trump throws out, whenever he feels he's not getting enough media attention.

He launched his political career by promising he'd "solve" the immigration problem, by rounding up 11 million Hispanics and other illegals and tossing them out of the Country.

Now he's attacking 1.2 billion Muslims.  Who will be his next target?  Three billion Asians?

The Real Refugee Problem--And How to Solve It

babyLast week Europe saw one of its worst crises in decades.  Tens of thousands of migrants entered the European Union via Hungary, demanding passage to their hoped-for final destination, Germany.

While the media focuses on the human tragedy of so many people uprooted and traveling in dangerous circumstances, there is very little attention given to the events that led them to leave their countries.  Certainly we all feel for the displaced people, especially the children, but let's not forget that this is a man-made crisis, and it is a Government-made crisis.

The reason so many are fleeing places like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq is that U. S. and European interventionist foreign policy has left these countries destabilized, with no hopes of economic recovery.  This mass migration from the Middle East and beyond is a direct result of the neocon foreign policy of regime change, invasion, and pushing "democracy" at the barrel of a gun.

Governor Jindal's Stand Against Religious Freedom

FreeSpeechI'm a free speech extremist. I believe the Government has absolutely no business regulating or censoring speech. Of course, commercially popular speech doesn't need protection. It's only unpopular--racist, sexist and vulgar--speech that requires it. So, as a free speech extremist, ironically, I often find myself on the same side as those I believe to be abhorrent, disgusting human beings.

Like the Westboro Baptist Church, for example. When their charismatic leader, Fred Phelps, was alive (may his gentle soul rest in peace) he referred to me personally as "a filthy whore," after I lumped him in with things which make Christianity look bad (him and the Inquisition, just to name a few.) His cult of Protestant fanatics is odious and gross. Their practice of picketing soldiers' funerals, victims of violence, and gay pride events is opportunistic, ghoulish, and grotesque. They're publicity hounds who put themselves in the public eye, in hopes of furthering their cause of 19th century vintage bigotry. The best thing I can say about them is they're cynical. The worst thing I can say is they're Christian.

Affluence Apartheid in America

classwarAnd now for a few choice words concerning my recent demotion to the status of second-class citizen. The amazing thing is how quickly my metamorphosis into Cockroachlandia occurred. One minute, I'm walking around like an ordinary human; the next minute, I'm an insect, an unwanted stiff, a bum, a vagabond, a jamoke. About as popular as feet in a punchbowl.

It seems America is splitting into two different categories:  first class and...wherever I am. Which is as far from prosperous as Kathmandu is to Kansas. Tiffany's and the Dollar Store. A 3-star Michelin restaurant on the banks of the Seine and a Fresno Jack in the Box.

And, on the off-chance I might contract amnesia about my proper position in the big picture, a conspiracy of swells has assumed responsibility to remind me of my new station. And [they] found a primitive, but effective, tool to keep my in my place. [I am t]alking about the ubiquitous, red velvet rope used to separate the VIP's from the hoi polloi. The universal symbol for exclusion.

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