Signing a petition at a rally for health care reform in Denver.

Initiativereferendum, and recall enable voters, by petition, to propose or repeal legislation, or to remove an elected official from office. Eighteen states permit the recall of state officials; NYS does not. The recall of California Governor Gray Davis in 2003 was a recent instance of recall.

It is unlikely that US Senators and Representatives can be recalled under state law.

  • In 1967 US Senator Frank Church was the subject of an unsuccessful recall effort. Courts ruled that a federal official is not subject to state recall laws.
  • In 2009 Joseph Cao, U.S. representative for Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district, was found ineligible for recall.

The United States Constitution does not provide for  recall of United States officers such as Senators, Representatives, or the President or Vice President. No member of Congress has ever been recalled.

The Constitution does provide two methods for removing a President.

  • Impeachment
  • Twenty-fifth Amendment

Neither of these is very practical nor has been successfully used; either would be controversial, most likely. Recall, if it were possible, might allow the removal of a President without partisan wrangling–a vote of the people would avoid the appearance of partisan unfairness.

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Divided countries

koreaIn the aftermath of WWII, several countries were divided: Austria, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

Austria was reunited by international agreement in 1955, probably because the Soviet Union preferred a neutral, united Austria to the possibility that the American, British, and French zones would unite with West Germany.

China remains divided; the Chinese government, while insisting on one China, has chosen to bide its time to avoid a potentially disastrous conflict.

Germany was reunited after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, large parts of what once was Germany are now incorporated into other countries.

Japan lost Sakhalin Island to Russia and no longer claims it. Japan does claim the South Kuril Islands also claimed by Russia. The status of Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands is too complex to discuss here.

Korea remains divided, but like China, both Korean states support unification.

Vietnam was reunited as a result of North Vietnamese success in war, the only case of reunification by war.

So why is Korea still divided? The Korean War, which can be seen as a failed attempt at unification, is a likely answer. Fear and resentment due to the war, the vastly different economies, and the influence of rival powers, have likely made unification unlikely in the foreseeable future.

One can imagine what North Korea might hope to win from prospective negotiations:

  • A fair and equal peace treaty with the United States and other countries.
  • Recognition of their status as a nuclear power.
  • Relief from economic sanctions.
  • End to US involvement in military exercises.
  • End to US arms sales to South Korea.

The United States and South Korea might hope for some reduction in fear of North Korean militarism. What form this might take, what North Korea might agree to give to achieve its goals, is harder to imagine.







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Tom Reed at Gerry

Reed’s photos of these meetings don’t often show constituent’s signs.


U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said President Donald Trump’s decision to coordinate a U.S. led airstrike against chemical weapon facilities in Syria was a “reasonable action” meant to send a message to dictator Bashar Assad.–Eric Tichy, The Post-Journal

The use of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical weapons like we saw in the horrific videos, is not going to be tolerated in the world,” Reed said.

“This was to send a message that this type of weapon was not going to be tolerated,”  Reed said.

Reed said he expects to see a “tremendous amount of activity” to take place in committee (while the House is expected to do little or nothing).

“We’re very interested, at this point in time, to getting feedback,” Reed said. “This is where the legislation is created; this is where the legislation is drafted before it goes to the floor of the House.”

Reed said one of his priorities regarding the farm bill is looking at food stamp reform.

“What I believe we should do is take the approach that I have long held that giving fish to an individual for a day feeds them for that day, and that is good,” Reed said. “However, if you could not only give them fish but teach them how to fish you will arm them for a lifetime being able to take care of themselves.” (Can one fish for milk and toilet paper, one wonders?)

Reed — in the only time he raised his voice Saturday — came to the defense of the woman (who complained that SNAP recipients live high on the hog), and pointed out that her tax dollars were being used to buy “shrimp and lobster.”

“I’m confident this (investigation of DJT’s potential crimes) will wrap up sooner rather than later,” Reed said. “We need to get to a conclusion. … Sunshine will have its day.”

Sunshine may come, but what is exposed to sunshine may stink.

Posted in Congress, Political, Reed's Views | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

The “NY-23 Five” Candidates’ Petitions are in! What’s next?

pencil-survey_Full1According to an article from the Salamanca Press, more than 14,000 democrats signed the nominating petitions for the “NY-23 Five” Democratic Congressional Candidates. The article listed the number of signatures reported by the Candidates’ campaigns, mostly given in round numbers as: Mitrano with 5,300, Golden with 2,800, Andrei and Della Pia with 2,100 each, and Sundquist with 2,021.  Each candidate needed to have 1,250 legal signatures to have their names on the June 26 Democratic Primary Ballot.

Those figures are not final. Anyone can challenge the petitions. If that happens the challenger would have to review the petitions and look for reasons to invalidate signatures or petition pages. Voters signatures can be disqualified for various reasons including, but not limited to: the person is not a registered democratic voter in the NY-23rd, the address they provided was incorrect, the signature was placed on the petition outside of the allowed collection date, or the person signed more than one petition.  A whole petition page (or even the whole petition) can be disqualified if legally required information was left out. The Board of Elections has until May 4 to certify or deny the petitions.

The next phase of campaigning will begin soon. Expect more knocks on doors, phone calls, mailings, yard signs, social media contacts, news releases and seeing candidates at local events. Contact your County Democratic Party, Grassroots groups and candidates campaigns to get involved.

Note: The NY-23 Five Candidates will be at the Earth Day (Sunday, April 22) event, “A Candidate’s Forum on the Environment” at The Park Church, 208 West Gray Street, Elmira (3 to 5 PM).



Posted in 2018 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments


bomb“A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!–President Donald Trump

The claim of Mission Accomplished was likely premature and in any case an unfortunate choice of words.

Bombing campaigns are often ineffective. Here are some examples:

Battle of Britain

German bombs did much damage, but also strengthened British resolve.


British and American bombs did much damage, but didn’t end the war. Russian success in the East and the Normandy landings did that.

Pearl Harbor

The attack did damage, but didn’t affect the outcome of the war. The attack did strengthen American resolve.

North Vietnam

US bombing of North Vietnam at most delayed reunification.


Bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail at most delayed reunification.


Attacks on Libya during the Reagan Administration did little if anything to affect Gaddafi’s government.


The Taliban continues to control much of Afghanistan in spite of dramatic bombing.


If the first American missile attack was to deter the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government, it failed.

Doubtless one could think of more examples and counter examples. However, if bombing is said to have been effective, there likely were other important factors. Regardless, bombs kill indiscriminately, and thus reflect poorly on those responsible.




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octopus.jpgWe put tariffs on the table as part of the president’s initiative of putting an American first and American interest on equal footing when it comes to American trade policy going forward with our trading partners.  And as those tariffs have gone out, they’ve obviously caused great concern to many folks who are used to well-established status quo type of trade policies. I am glad to be able to highlight today that this new tool in our tool box is leading to some positive results.–Rep. Tom Reed reported in The Post-Journal by Katrina Fuller

You have tariffs potentially being deployed on products that are going to be imported to America. Those tariffs translate to potentially pressures on consumers, on people, when they purchase those items at the marketplace. The bottom line is, long-term, this is going to make us stronger as a country in regards to having the ability to make it here and sell it around the world. The more we can get our trade balance closer to even and not run these trade deficits long-term, I think that bodes well for the American worker longer-term.–Rep. Tom Reed reported in The Post-Journal by Katrina Fuller

Will tariffs or the threat of tariffs on imported goods be beneficial in the long-term as Tom Reed believes? Probably not.

The first quote suggests that the threat of tariffs on imported goods is causing trading partners to bend to America’s benefit in some cases. Perhaps this is true, but what about less favorable reaction? Tom neglects to mention that. Are “some favorable results” enough to confirm that an “America First” policy is a good idea?

The second quote asserts that tariffs may benefit American producers and workers. Again, this might be true, but any benefits would come at the expense of the American consumer. Tom brushes deceptively over that.

In his 1901 novel, The Octopus, Frank Norris tells the story of an enterprising wheat farmer. Growing wheat has become unprofitable due to excessive railroad tariffs–charges for transporting goods to market. The farmer sees that the railroad tariff for another crop, maybe it was soy, is much lower. Seeing an opportunity he plants soy.

At harvest time, the farmer checks the railroad’s tariffs again to confirm his expected profit. To his dismay, he sees that the tariff for soy has been radically increased turning his profit for that season into a loss.  The railroad’s motto is “All the traffic will bear.”

Today’s farmers face a similar dilemma. It isn’t only that foreign tariffs on their produce may cause markets to collapse and prices to fall, but also that they can’t know when they plan for the year what business conditions might be in the fall.

When we think about Tom Reed’s rosy prediction that in the long term tariffs on imported good or the threat of that will benefit all, we might ask these questions:

  1. How will growers and manufacturers make accurate business plans when markets are disrupted by governmental meddling?
  2. How is it possible for restrictive trade policy to benefit all? Where will the promised profits for agriculture and manufacturing, higher wages for workers, and benefits for consumers come from?
  3. Economists teach that free markets make the economy efficient. Republicans have long advocated free trade. Why should we believe differently now.

I was in Japan briefly in the 1970s on business. At that time American car companies complained that they couldn’t sell cars in Japan because of Japan’s tariffs. That wasn’t a vital problem though–American cars were not well suited to Japan’s roads, and they were of relatively low quality. Shortly afterwards, Japanese cars became very popular in America.

To make Tom Reed’s “make it here, sell it there” policy effective, we don’t need tariffs or threats, we need to make things here that people there want to buy.

Posted in Congress, Political, Reed's Views, Treaties | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Can we recognize foreign propaganda?


We have met the enemy and he is us.–Pogo (Walt Kelly)

Can we recognize foreign propaganda? Often not, because the ideas are our own.

In the 1956 movie, Forbidden Planet, Dr. Edward Morbius has discovered and mastered powerful machinery that magnifies his thoughts. The catch is that his malign, unconscious thoughts are magnified as well has his benign, conscious thoughts threatening even his beloved daughter. (“Forbidden Planet” reminds one of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”)

Sometimes we may learn of a source of propaganda, when uncovered by the FBI or censored by facebook. Most often, we will only recognize it by its content, if at all.

I have no doubt that Donald Trump dislikes courts and judges which rule against him–he has made that clear. Likewise, I have no doubt that foreign propagandist have seized on this idea and promoted it in an attempt to undermine respect for our courts and our laws.

Distaste for Planned Parenthood is nothing new. It may be rooted in our fear of impotency. Yet I have no doubt that recent attempts to demonize that organization are based on something more–a desire, likely of foreign origin, to divide us into warring camps.

The idea that Donald Trump and his associates are being unfairly persecuted by corrupt officials can also be traced to Trump’s own words. Yet again, this highly divisive idea is likely being promoted by foreign actors.

How can we recognize foreign propaganda? One can wonder, if something seems wrong or unlikely, can it be true? One might ask if the latest idea is our own idea. or was it planted in our mind by someone else?

Posted in Political, Trump | Tagged | 11 Comments