Letter to the GOP Candidates by Pete Rearden

Pete Reardon photo by Steve Watkins
Pete Reardon photo by Steve Watkins

GOP candidates,

Well now, it seems that your little clown car is filling up rather quickly isn’t it? From Lil’ Jebbie towards the center to the Don on the far right to Graham Cracker out in the right field parking lot, you guys are all promising a vibrant and booming economy, job growth, and lower taxes. I, a pragmatic independent voter would like to ask some questions about this and a few other matters which I am curious about.

First question: since WWII the United States has suffered through 42 quarters of negative GDP growth. Of these 42 quarters, 31 of them have been during Republican administrations. How, exactly, is that not a sign that your economic policies aren’t weaker than those of the Democrats? It would seem to me that having almost 3 times as many quarters of negative GDP growth as your opponents is a sign that your economic policies don’t work. Granted, I am not possessed of an advanced degree in economics, so I may be missing something in the nuances, but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. In the past 70 or so years your pudding hasn’t tasted that great.

Let me ask you about taxes now. It has often been said that the tree of liberty must occasionally be nurtured with the blood of patriots. Since this is quite obviously a metaphorical statement, could that blood not also, metaphorically speaking come from the wallets of patriotic individuals and patriotic corporations? It would seem to me that when the nation isn’t being invaded, that those taxes could realistically be considered the blood of patriots needed to nurture the tree of liberty.

Moving right along, let’s discuss social issues shall we? For a group of individuals who claim to be all about liberty, freedom, and personal accountability, you sure don’t act like it when it comes to a number of social issues. Take marriage equality. Other than the fact that you wouldn’t be able to treat a class of American citizens like second class people, there are no down sides to it. It is a personal choice two people make. No one is going to force religions which don’t accept gay marriage to perform same sex weddings, and in fact, your strong stand against marriage equality violates the religious freedoms of many religious sects in the United States.

Women’s reproductive rights are another matter you take strong moral issue with. Why? If you are so big on freedom and liberty, why oppress the freedom of women to determine the course of their lives? I’ve known women who have had abortions. It has never been a choice they made flippantly, and in many ways is the height of accountability. They will have to remain accountable to themselves for the rest of their lives.

If you are so dead set against abortion, then why not make safe, effective methods of birth control available to women, along with evidence based sex education? Those have been proven, beyond the shadow of a doubt, to reduce abortion numbers far more effectively than restricting access to abortions. Seriously. Do you guys live in the real world, or in some fantasy?

Before you trot out Jesus, God, and the Bible, answer me this: where in the Bible does it unambiguously say that God opposes abortion? I’ve read the whole book a couple of times through, especially the more salacious bits, of which there are many. Nowhere in the book do I find a specific and unilateral injunction against abortion. Quite the opposite in fact. In the Bible forcing a woman to miscarry (aka an abortion,) is a civil matter involving a weregild. Since I am sure you aren’t familiar with the concept of a weregild, it is a monetary remuneration for the lost life. It wasn’t an offense which called for death. It wasn’t called an abomination. It required no ritual ablutions or ritual exile to cleanse the guilty party. It was a monetary transaction. I bet you didn’t know this, but according to the Bible you love to thump so much, between the ages of birth and one month, there wasn’t even a fine for killing a child. They were to be considered ‘as water.’ Between the ages of one month and five years the weregild was reinstated: three shekels for a girl, and five shekels for a boy. The Bible is unambiguous about that.

Speaking of God and the Bible, I note that many of you are quite willing to invoke his name and his will. It is only the savage who claims to know the mind and the will of God implicitly. What we can glean of the mind of God, through the Bible is that he is a champion of the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden, and those rejected by society at large. Did Christ hang out with the wealthy, the powerful, the elite, rabbis, and the like? Nowhere in any bible I’ve read. He associated with tax collectors (traitors to their people and their faith,) whores, fishermen, lepers, beggars, Samaritans (blasphemers,) and criminals. In fact, Jesus was forced to his death by a group of devoutly pious individuals who wanted only to protect their religious freedoms. Wouldn’t it be more honest of you to identify with the Pharisees, Saducees, and the Sanhedrin? I for one would be more willing to vote for you if you were that honest with yourselves and me.

These are all the questions and comments I have for you right now. Rest assured, as your campaigns progress I will have more uncomfortable questions to ask, but ‪#‎JebBush‬ ‪#‎ScottWalker‬ ‪#‎DonaldTrump‬ ‪#‎MarcoRubio‬ ‪#‎TedCruz‬ ‪#‎LindseyGraham‬ ‪#‎CarlyFiorino‬ ‪#‎BenCarson‬ ‪#‎RandPaul‬ ‪#‎MikeHuckabee‬ ‪#‎RickSantorum‬ ‪#‎GeorgePataki‬ ‪#‎RickPerry‬ ‪#‎ChrisChristie‬ ‪#‎BobbyJindal‬ ‪#‎JohnKasich‬, if any of you have the courage to reply with concise and articulate answers to these questions I will be more than happy to read your answers with an open mind.

One last thing, and this is directed specifically at Jeb, Don, and Scott; why do you feel it is morally acceptable to use the hard work of musicians for your own self aggrandizement without first asking their permission, or offering remuneration? That is called theft, and I believe your Bible has some pretty unilateral injunctions against stealing.

A concerned voter,

Pete Rearden is a photographer, photojournalist, and opinionated commenter on America.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author and should not be attributed to Cognitive Relevance (CR).


Is This About Race? Black Leaders Call for Lynch to Be Appointed


Why are Republicans in the US Senate holding up the appointment of nominee for Attorney General, Loretta Lynch?  If confirmed, she will become the first African American woman to hold the position of Attorney General and first to hold a cabinet level position in the Obama Administration.

What makes Lynch’s confirmation interesting is that she’s had a stellar career.  Yet her confirmation has been held up longer than any Attorney General in 30 years.   A glaring and stark comparison to her appointment, is that of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter who was nominated on December 5, 2014 and approved unanimously February 1, 2015.

Observers question, is this is about race?  Lynch was nominated by President Barack Obama on November 8, 2014 and confirmed out of committee, 12-8 on February 26, 2015.   Yet, she waits for the full Senate body to confirm her appointment.

The confirmation has gone from a “process of confirmation to a trial by ordeal that has moved from ridiculous to absurd,” Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said yesterday on an hour long press call about Lynch in which he was joined by Congressional members, the head of a civil rights legal defense group and sorority president.

It is difficult to argue the absurdity of the confirmation considering that Carter who is White was nominated after Lynch and confirmed as she waits for appointment.  Adding to the drama is that nothing in the confirmation hearing questioned or challenged her qualifications or her character.

“The CBC is disturbed that this confirmation has taken four months…..the votes are there today to have her confirmed.  If she was put forward for confirmation today, she would be confirmed by tonight,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC) said.

So, is this about race or something else?  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says her confirmation vote will occur after the Senate votes on a human trafficking bill.  While Senators Jeff Sessions (AL), John Cornyn (TX) and Ted Cruz (TX) have said the President’s action on immigration and Lynch’s defense of his actions are why they oppose her appointment.  Either way, her confirmation hearing has now come and gone.  While Secretary Carter has been nominated and confirmed during a shorter timeframe.

“Rather than focus on race, we should ask, what are women and African Americans perceiving when they watch this?  For those who watched a woman who is an African American woman control the room during her confirmation hearing, also saw her move even the opposition party with her story.  When women all over the country see a woman, move toward getting this job and then see it held up despite her qualifications, what does that say to women?”  Sherilynn Ifel, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund stated.

Loretta Elizabeth Lynch, born in Greensboro North Carolina is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  She has been confirmed for the position twice by the Senate, holding the position now twice, first from 1999-2001 and now since 2010.   With leaders around the country calling for the Senate to vote up or down for her appointment, despite her stellar record, there is speculation two Senators from Lynch’s home state may vote against her confirmation.  One saying before the process began, he would not vote for her.

When the vote happens, some on the call said, it could be one of the closest ever for Attorney General.  Some analysts speculate, that Vice President Joe Biden may provide the deciding vote.

Potential Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton weighed in this week on Twitter, “Congressional trifecta against women today, 1)Blocking a great nominee, 1st African American woman AG, for longer than any other AG in 30 years 2) Playing politics with trafficking victims 3) Threatening women’s health and rights.”

Dr. Paulette C. Walker, National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., for which Lynch is a member said, “Call upon the Senate to confirm.  The Senate needs to do what it is elected to do and confirm Loretta Lynch.  She has committed her life to make the lives of all Americans better.”

If this is about race or even opposition to the President, the Senate’s disparity in confirming the two nominees, may show that control of the Senate is harder than it was in the minority.  The Republican Senate appears more fractured than what we see on the surface.

Is McConnell holding up the nomination because he is having the same issues Congressman John Boehner experienced with Tea Party members in the House of Representatives?  Either way, holding up the nomination of Lynch, a qualified candidate, may further distance and hurt GOP relations not only with important voting communities of African Americans or Hispanics around immigration.  It may also distance itself with women.

Atiba  Atiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow @atibamadyun or like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

That is Patriotism!


By Atiba Madyun

You’ve heard by now, that Rudy Giuliani who led NYC through 9/11, said that President Barack Obama is unpatriotic and doesn’t believe in America.  This led me to wonder, how do you define the President of the United States as unpatriotic?

How is a President, who led the nation out of its worst recession since the Great Depression, from double digit unemployment to 5.7%, unpatriotic?  How do you call the President unpatriotic, when he made the decision that led to our troops killing the mastermind of 9/11?

Mr. Giuliani’s comments were given on the heels of President Obama’s speech at the White House Summit on Countering Extremism.  In his speech, he referred to ISIL and other terrorists as “violent extremists” instead of linking terrorism directly to Islam.

As an American, raised in a Muslim family, I appreciated the President distinctly differentiating between violent extremists and Islam even when, some inside the White House wanted the President to link Islam with extremism. Instead, the President said to the nation and the World that, “We are not at war with Islam.  We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Imagine what the world would be like if a man like Giuliani was President, perverting the issue for political reasons?  It would divide us as a nation and separate us from other good Muslims in the world.  That would be irresponsible and unpatriotic.

Mr. Giuliani, the President is the leader of all Americans.  He has a responsibility to protect Americans here and abroad.  Had he done what you wanted him to, it would have added fuel to the fire and helped ISIL recruit even more people.

I am glad the President didn’t cave to hysteria and Islamaphobia.  Instead, he called on the entire world and religious community, in particular Muslim clerics to work together to combat “violent extremism.”

It scares me to think of a world where Giuliani or someone like him was President.  There is a reason you failed to secure the GOP nomination.  A President’s tone in this day and age has to be patriotic and resonate with the American majority.

Last month, when President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address, I was appalled when members of my party, the GOP failed to stand and applaud when the President said that the “State of the Union is strong.”  This was unpatriotic Mr. Giuliani, but we didn’t hear you call out the party!

Lines are drawn by Democrats and Republicans, as if we were at war with one another.  This week, the GOP is threatening to shut down the government over the President’s executive actions on immigration. Patriotism should always rise above partisan divide.  That’s why we came together when our nation was attacked on 9/11.

This nation is 150 years removed from slavery, an institution that nearly tore our nation apart.  It took the life of one of our most beloved Presidents.  Today, a majority of Americans are coming together around issues that we used to be far apart on.  Mr. Giuliani, it should be unpatriotic to be against raising the minimum wage.  It should be unpatriotic to close pathways to prosperity for many, so that a few can succeed.

I see things every day that show the President’s love for this nation.  It can be seen in his manner and decisions to make America a better place for his children and all children.   Is that not patriotic?

Our nation is on a better course than it was six years ago.  At times, I have questioned the President’s leadership and policies.  But, I have never questioned his patriotism.  As an American, it is my patriotic duty to voice concern, just as it is my duty to vote and give whoever is the President, an opportunity to lead and succeed.  Today, six years into his Presidency, with no more campaigns to run, he is free to lead his way and I like what I see!

In light of violent extremism, Mr. Giuliani, I wholeheartedly appreciate the President’s decision to take out this enemy.  To do this successfully, he will need to build a large coalition.  I believe him when he says, we will defeat them.  So we should give the President a chance and if he is wrong, then come back and criticize that, but not his patriotism.

His record as Commander in Chief has earned him that privilege.  The President is doing his patriotic duty, by seeking ways to destroy an enemy like ISIL, without putting more young men and women in harm’s way, as we did in the last decade.  Isn’t that patriotic and commendable?

Our President has ushered in affordable healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans.  He seeks policies that provide greater mobility for the middle class.  Why?  Because he knows that this will strengthen the economic stability of our nation.  Leveling the playing field, so that every American has an opportunity to prosper in the world’s richest nation is good for our national security and it is patriotic!

Mr. Giuliani, we are grateful for the leadership you displayed on September 11, 2001.  We would be more grateful if you did one more patriotic thing.  Get out of the way.  Let our nation, fulfill its destiny and the course our nation’s founders set us on, to become a more perfect union for, WE THE PEOPLE. That is patriotism!

Atiba Atiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP).

Tea and Sympathy

Ted-Cruz-Wrecking-Ball Thousands of  federal employees returned to work this morning as the 2013 #GovernmentShutdown ended.  With the damage left by The Tea Party, a small faction of the Republican Party being assessed.

Perhaps they intended to create waves and ripples of destruction.  Or perhaps, they were just immature and didn’t realize their actions would take $24 billion dollars from our sluggish economy.   Perhaps, they believed seventeen days of bickering over a continuing resolution and raising the debt ceiling would strengthen our economy.

What I realize is that the resolution passed by Congress only provides, a short term solution.  There still is no resolution of the bigger problem, we don’t have a budget.  So the continuing resolution creates more uncertainty as we creep closer to another potential shutdown in 90 days.

The President in his statement today summed up the shutdown and damage from it with this, “we don’t know how much damage this has caused….we do know it has caused unnecessary damage to our economy.”

And though we don’t know how much, we do know this. Everyday working Americans and the poor were hurt by the shutdown.  We know our economy didn’t create jobs during the shutdown.  We know consumer and business confidence was impacted.  And we know that in the days to come it translates to slower future job growth and less money for consumers during the Christmas season.

That is why it is WE the People’s turn to focus on ways to create broad based prosperity.  It is our turn to rewrite history, by never forgetting the past seventeen days.  By collectively pointing the finger at ourselves.  By looking in the mirror and figuring out how to send responsible elected officials to Washington, that unite, not divide.

In the aftermath of this, it is our turn to remember that government is not the problem.  Not this government, that seeks to play a vital role in taking care of our elderly and our poor?  Not this government that protects our food supply, guards our waterways, expands our technologies, secures our national parks and protects us after a natural disaster.  This government is not the problem!

The Tea Party, that extremist faction of the Republican Party that is spewing hate, waving Confederate flags and trying to return  America back to the ideological age of slavery and segregation, is the problem.  They are a dying breed that is unpatriotic and un-American.  Who instead of passing a budget, immigration reform, gun control legislation, a jobs and farm bill, use tactics to manufacture a crisis that weakens our economy, instead of strengthening it. This government is not the problem, irresponsible governance is the problem.

If we want a resolution that solves the problem, we must take hold.  We must have hope.  We must move FORWARD.  That is why it is time for us to go Back to the FUTURE.

WE, the People must move out of the way those who wish to obstruct us from progress.

WE, the People must take responsibility in removing those who seek to destroy opportunities for upward mobility in wealth and education.

WE, the People must replace them with elected officials who wish to construct the bridges of opportunity that open the gateways for prosperity.

WE,the People must send to Washington, men and women who promote the founding fathers fundamental principle of “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

So let us not forget in 2014, what irresponsible stewards of our American democracy on Capitol Hill sought to do in 2013.  If we do that.  If we vote our conscious in 2014, we will find a responsible resolution to the problems that cause the dysfunction in Washington.