Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Washington Post: John Wagner: 'Death Penalty Repeal Approved by Maryland Senate'

Source:The Washington Post- Governor Martin O'Malley (Democrat, Maryland)

"The Maryland Senate voted to repeal the death penalty Wednesday after four days of emotional debate, moving the state closer to becoming the sixth in as many years to abolish executions.

The 27 to 20 vote was widely seen as a key step in ending capital punishment in Maryland, which has not executed a death-row prisoner since 2005. The legislation now goes before the House of Delegates, where a vote could come as early as next week.

The House is expected to approve the measure, handing Gov. Martin O'Malley a long-sought legislative victory at a time when he is weighing a run for national office in 2016.

“It’s time to end this ineffective and expensive practice and put our efforts behind crime fighting strategies that work,” O’Malley (D) said in a statement.

Shari Silberstein, executive ­director of Equal Justice USA, a group that is working to end the death penalty, said that Maryland’s action is part of a national trend and that she envisions another half-dozen states adopting the policy in the next several years.

If I was a Maryland State Senator I probably would've voted against this being in favor of a limited use of the death penalty. But its easy to see why Marylanders would be against this with the death row inmates who've been found to be innocent... 

The Hill: Russell Berman: 'House GOP to Consider bill On Job-Training Programs'

Source:The Hill Newspaper.

"House Republicans will move off their relentless focus on spending cuts
next week to consider a bill aimed at improving and streamlining
federal worker training programs.

Republican leaders said Tuesday they would bring to the floor the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, which would reauthorize a Clinton-era workforce investment law while consolidating dozens of job-training programs.

{mosads}The bill would mark the first House vote on legislation highlighted as part of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s “Making Life Work” agenda, a set of proposals unveiled in a speech last month designed to broaden the GOP’s fiscal focus and target measures to issues that more directly affect voters’ lives.

Policymakers in both parties have pointed to improved job training as a priority during the sluggish economic recovery, in which employers have complained that long-term unemployment and technological advancements have resulted in job openings that go unfilled because applicants don’t have the requisite skills.

“That is a bill that I think both sides can come together on,” Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday, “and to provide assistance for those who don’t have the right kind of training or skills so they can access the unfilled jobs that are out there in many of the industry sectors.”

In the months following the November election, Cantor and other Republican leaders have spoken of the need for the GOP to avoid being seen simply as the party of austerity by finding other appealing policy ideas that conservatives can rally around.

The ongoing budget wars have made that difficult, and party leaders found themselves once again holding a press conference in front of a banner touting spending cuts.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged, however, that like President Obama, the House GOP wanted to tackle other issues.

Obama has called for restructuring job-training programs, a push that has given the Republican legislation the imprimatur of bipartisanship.

Yet House Democrats and advocate groups are pushing separate legislation, and say the Republican bill goes too far in eliminating federal programs.

The opposition could make for a challenging vote next week for House GOP leaders, who did not bring the legislation to the floor in the last Congress.

They have struggled to unite their narrower majority in support of the Republican legislation so far this year.

“This is all related to public relations,” said Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, which will mark up the SKILLS Act on Wednesday.

“It’s not related to getting people back to work. It’s not related to getting people the training they need, and it’s not related to making sure that those people who need the most help get back into the economy and get taken care of. This is just part of the public relations campaign of Mr. Cantor’s speech.”

Miller predicted there would be “very little, if any” Democratic support.

“This just hasn’t been a bipartisan process at all,” he said. “They may get it off the floor, but it’s unacceptable in the Senate. So it’s unfortunate.”

The author of the Republican bill, Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.), dismissed Miller’s criticism, and argued that her proposal was closer to the reform that Obama had envisioned.

“The unfortunate thing is we’re doing what the president asked,” she said. “The president said, get rid of this maze of programs. Come up with a one-stop program. The Democrats’ bill adds two programs and does nothing to consolidate, so it’s about as far away from what the president said he wanted as could possibly be.

“So if they want to continue down that road, then that’s fine,” Foxx said of the Democrats, “but we’re doing what the American people want and what the president wants. That’s bipartisanship.”

A GOP leadership aide said “a significant portion of our members” support the SKILLS Act, but stopped short of guaranteeing its passage on the floor.

“We will have the votes on the committee to pass it, and I think we will have the votes in the conference,” Foxx said.

Rachel Gragg, federal policy director for the National Skills Coalition, praised the Democratic legislation and said the GOP bill went about streamlining training programs in the wrong way by combining them all into a single block grant.

“It’s almost like consolidating for consolidation’s sake,” she said.

Gragg also voiced concern that because the $6 billion authorization in the Republican bill is treated as a ceiling, it would leave the program vulnerable to future cuts, perhaps as soon as when the Republicans unveil their budget for fiscal 2014.

The Democratic bill, by contrast, “at a minimum maintains current funding and in some cases increases funding,” Gragg said." 

From The Hill

This is exactly the direction that the House GOP should be moving in whether this bill is good or not. But these are the things that they should be talking about instead of their whole message being about how do we just the size of the Federal Government, but also talk about how to make the Federal Government work better, so Americans who need public assistance, don't have to stay on it as long and can move to the workforce with a good job instead.

President John F. Kennedy: Cuban Missile Crisis Speech: 10/22/1962

Source:David Von Pein- President John F. Kennedy's 1962 speech on the Cuba Missile Crisis.
“This high-quality version of President Kennedy’s 10/22/62 Cuban Missile Crisis speech is somewhat rare, because it is complete and unedited. Usually only small bits and pieces of the speech are presented on television and in documentaries. But this is the entire 18-minute address from start to finish.”

What President Kennedy wanted to show during this crisis was that his National Security Council was on top of the situation from the beginning. And the question which was a huge question, was what to do about it to prevent missiles from being launched at the United States.

President Kennedy, obviously did not want to go to war with another superpower and risk destroying the world in the process. Which might have happened had the United States gone to war with the Soviet Union.

Trying to invade the Communist Republic of Cuba with Russian ships in the area was not going to happen without some war. Which meant that the Kennedy Administration, was going to need a negotiated settlement with Russia.

Russia, was literally able to stick their own nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba, just ninety miles from Miami, Florida. With enough power to eliminate the East Coast of the United States. So President Kennedy and his National Security Council knew they had to get those weapons out of Cuba. They also knew that going to war with a country the size and that was as powerful militarily as the Soviet Union, probably wasn’t an option at all. So they were going to have to work this out diplomatically to get the weapons out of Cuba, America was going to have to give Russia something they wanted as well.

What prevented World War III during the Cuba Missile Crisis was Russia agreeing to pull their weapons out of Cuba, in return for America pulling their weapons out of Turkey.

America, didn’t pass new economic sanctions on Russia hoping that Russia would eventually take the weapons out of Cuba. As well as hoping they would never use them, or give them to Cuba. And America didn’t go to war with Russia and try to settle it that way.

Both countries had something that the other wanted and wanted something that the other had. And both were smart and sane enough to settle the crisis diplomatically. 

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