Category Archives: Political Pieces

A Note on John McCain

by Mark Kodama

The passing of Sen. John McCain does not mark the end of an era but the passing of the baton. A lot has been said about the great void he has left.  But it is clear to me that this country – and this is one of the hallmarks of a great country and democracy – has many great leaders and will produce many more.

Speaker after speaker at this great man’s funeral affirmed for us the eternal values of this country.  Warrior, statesman and patriot, the great Republican Sen. John McCain not only loved America but lived its values which were tested under conditions that few of us would ever want to undergo.

Sen. McCain’s heroism as a POW in Hanoi, and courage as a senator and presidential candidate is well documented.  We know that he was beaten and tortured for five years after being shot down as a pilot. He turned down an opportunity for early release offered to him because his father was an admiral.

Although he had a reputation as a conservative, Sen. McCain was never afraid to cross party lines to vote for campaign finance reform, champion immigration reform and vote down repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  He also championed normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam.

Speaker after speaker recounted his infamous temper, as well as his sense of humor, and most of all, his authenticity and sincere love of American values. Former President Barack Obama spoke of his “largeness of spirit” and his belief that “some principals transcend politics, some values transcend party.”

Former President Obama recounted how Sen. McCain believed in “honest argument, and hearing other views.” and his belief that “all men were created equal endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.”

He also believed in America’s role in the world as a proponents of rule of law and human rights and dignity of every human being and that ours is “a country where anything is possible.”

Former President George W. Bush said of Sen. McCain: “He was honest no matter whom it offended – presidents were not spared.

“He loved freedom with a passion of a man who knew its absence.  He respected the dignity inherent in every life.

“Above all, John detested the abuse of power, and could not abide bigots or swaggering despots.”

Sen. McCain’s daughter Meghan recounted what a great father her father really was. That John McCain was really about love.

Sen. Joe Lieberman recounted how three dissidents in Myanmar said they would never have survived their torture and captivity but for the hope the great Sen. John McCain was working for their freedom.

John McCain believed in “freedom, human rights, opportunity, democracy and equal justice under law.”

Sen. Lieberman said Sen. McCain’s last great gift to America was to help us “nurture these values and take them forward” so America can be the “better country that it could be.”

What are your thoughts about John McCain? If you like this article, be sure to like or share with your friends. 

A Xi Dynasty?

It’s official. The proposal to remove a check on the CCP’s chairman, Xi Jinping, was passed with an overwhelming majority. There were just two members that opposed the removal of the amendment, and three that abstained. Ever since the proposal made global headlines, all across the spectrum of democratic political news networks there was a sense of unease and foreboding. Many people, including political analysts and political historians, have sat with bated breath awaiting the death knell of the democratic progress of China.

Since Xi Jinping took office, China has seen economic growth, heightened political & social presence in the international playing field and a crackdown on domestic corruption. In addition to rooting out corruption within the country, he has also publicized his dedication to relieving poverty levels throughout the country.

In the face of Xi Jinping’s growing China, Chinese nationalism has been the fertile ground that has garnered support for his administration. Notions of a great and strong China are at the forefront of this decision. It’s even arguable that the decision to go through with the proposal is reasonable. The chairman is a strong leader. Under his leadership, the average Chinese person has seen standard economic stability. But that’s just one narrative, out of many. As most people know, China is home to about a billion people. Of those billion people, around 90 % of them are Han Chinese, the ethnic majority. The minorities, on the other hand, have alternating narratives.

From the perspective of the average Chinese office worker, Xi Jinping is a ‘good leader.’ (arguably better than Trump in some respects). These same workers travel to Beijing to find good jobs where there are few in their home towns. Some of these people are from provinces hours away from Beijing. They live and work in Beijing, and are able to see their families only when they have free time. Some of these people are contract workers, who are given apartments (some of which are shared), benefits and good pay. However, the pay is not enough to afford good housing in the city.

Many of them complain about not being able to afford housing, because it’s extremely expensive.

Interestingly enough, they don’t seem to blame the government for their problems with affordable housing. Their mindset is to work enough until they can afford it, because purchasing a house is important to many Chinese families.

I first heard about the proposal a few weeks ago, before it hit major news sources. My co-workers told me about the ‘piece of advice’ Xi Jinping gave lawmakers. I expressed my dubiousness about the proposal, and how historically, this sort of undermining of power checks never ends well. I also asked them how they felt, but most nervously chuckled. Others remained silent with unreadable expressions. One woman spoke up with a meek shrug, ‘we can’t talk about it.’

I read fear in their eyes and body language. Unease. It was clear they didn’t feel comfortable talking about it. Perhaps it’s because I’m a foreigner, or it’s because they prefer not to talk about politics at work. Or maybe it’s the Chinese propensity to censor oneself. What’s for sure, is that they didn’t like the sound of the ‘advice’ and they hoped lawmakers would not remove the term limit.

So, the question here is this: What do citizens do when lawmakers proceed with fundamental decisions without consulting public opinion?

This question hits closer to home than ever, due to Trump’s support of the removal of such a fundamental check on executive power. Autocracy is no joke, and if the President of the United States, a democratic nation, publicly states his support for such a measure, then he should resign. The Office of the President should be occupied by a person who is a staunch proponent and defender of democracy. It is important to understand that the removal of the constitutional amendment started with just a public statement by Xi Jinping.

It’s highly important that governments remember that they continue to survive only through the mutual cooperation of intersecting networks of people, corporations, and businesses. Constitutional checks on power should be respected, because one man can destroy decades of progress. There are countless historical examples of this. So I have to say, I am disappointed to see the slow, but impending break-down of democratic processes in China. On that same note, I am even more disappointed that the United States President supports it.



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