We the People: Presidential hopefuls in the spotlight

The Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, a champion against workers’ rights, spoke about a decade-old bone-headed gaffe he made when signing a letter addressed to a Jewish leader that he ended with “Molotov” instead on “Mazel Tov.” He joked about it after a menorah-lighting ceremony at the governor’s mansion in Madison.

A “Molotov”cocktail, a homemade incendiary weapon named after Stalin’s foreign minister, is made from an empty bottle filled with gasoline and stuffed with a rag while “Mazel Tov” is a Hebrew phrase meaning good luck. “It’s quite possible that was done by an intern … who never actually sent the letter,” Walker said. Stephen Colbert featured it on “The Colbert Report” because Walker is considered a strong candidate for president.

The Republicans who will again control the House of Representatives and the Senate may also try some comic relief to find a platform of policies that can work so that their election successes might actually accomplish something.

Pundits and policy makers are dusting off the Sean Hannity “penny plan.” Republicans contend that if one penny (one percent) of every budget dollar spent was cut, then the $17 trillion federal debt would be eliminated in 10 years. It will take leadership and courage to accomplish that goal.

Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is pushing this old dog with Republican presidential hopefuls Rubio and Cruz lending support. The idea that federal spending must be reduced is beyond any reasonable argument but such a simplistic plan will not work because defense spending, Medicaid/Medicare and Social Security spending make up approximately 70 percent of the federal budget.

No Democrat or Republican has the courage to tell older Americans that they will not get a cost of living increase and that their Social Security checks will be reduced to fix problems caused by past fiscal irresponsibility. Will Republicans remain comfortable talking the talk without walking the walk?

Hillary Clinton recognized, “Our ability to secure global leadership depends on a strong foundation at home … rising debt and a crumbling infrastructure pose very real long term threats to national security. Is she the person that could put the right words into real action?

There are other threats in the world. In North Korea, the insane strongman of Pyongyang launched a cyber-attack on the U.S. because he is upset that the plot of a Sony Pictures comedy is based on a slapstick plot to assassinate him.

In Pakistan, a murderous attack on schoolchildren was carried out by inhumanly callous terrorists. The Taliban suicide terrorists murdered 126 people and the majority of victims were students aged seven to 16. The horrific attack, carried out by soulless fanatics bent on the overthrow of that government, left the floors of classrooms flooded with the blood of innocent children.

How any rational person could justify such carnage reminds us that there are conditions and situations in the world when inhumanity must be dealt with by inhumane action. The prime minister vowed the country would not be cowed by the violence and that the military would continue an aggressive operation against militants in Waziristan near Afghanistan.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack and said that six suicide bombers carried out the murders to avenge killings of Taliban by Pakistan’s army. This attack indicates that the crackdown must be having its intended effect. We must be prepared and be strong to take action against terrorism, too.

The U.S. announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years of embargo and isolation. President Obama said that he would end the rigid policy of isolation of Cuba that proved to be ineffective.

Cuban Americans have criticized the plan. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who represents many Cuban Americans, said, “The president’s decision to reward the Castro regime and begin the path toward the normalization of relations with Cuba is inexplicable.”

However, the announcement already has garnered strong praise from Latin American leaders and hopeful predictions that profitable trade with the island once described as the “Pearl of the Antilles” will be restored.

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