Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Our family would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2014.  

Haven't posted on this blog much during December due to family visiting plus my bronchitis which is finally over.  Been finishing up shopping and getting packages in the mail for my granddaughters in the Denver area.  Over the weekend my youngest daughter, Heather, was here from Denver -- we spent time baking Christmas cookies and celebrating an early Christmas.  She has been helping me bake Christmas cookies from the time she was little.  We always baked Santa cookies on Christmas Eve and the three kids would decorate them.   Still using the same cream cheese sugar cookie recipe I discovered when we lived in Yucaipa, CA, back in the 80's.  

In California we would cut down our own tree as the tree farm was located right next to an orange grove.  Now I have the same type of tree we used to cut down but it is artificial as cut trees here are not a kind I like.    With my youngest daughter here the tree was finished -- this year it is a nostalgic tree with unbreakable ornaments after finding the boxes of unbreakable ornaments from when the kids were little until now and thought it would be neat to have tree with ornaments from down through the years including my OU ornaments -- bought one today to add to the collection.  

Our Christmas Tree (Heather's picture)

Christmas Village on German Buffet

Have a wonderful holiday season!  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

President Obama and Family at Robben Island, South Africa, 2013

This past June, the Obama Family visited the prison that housed former South African President Nelson Mandela as apartheid reigned in South Africa.  The 1986 Apartheid Act was opposed by President Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney,  Strom Thurmond,  Jesse Helms and others.  President Reagan went so far as to veto the bill.  Guess many of us should not be shocked today at what we are seeing out of the Republican Party when you realize that in 1986,  Reagan opposed the end of Apartheid.

President Obama's Remarks on Death of Nelson Mandela, 5 December 2013
Background on the Reagan and Republican Opposition to the Apartheid Act:
1985:  Democrats in the Senate initially tried to pass the Anti-Apartheid Act in September 1985 -- could not overcome a Republican filibuster. Reagan viewed the act as an intrusion on his authority to conduct foreign policy and issued his own set of sanctions. 
1986:  Bill was re-introduced in 1986 and brought up for a vote despite Republican efforts to block it in order to give President Reagan's sanctions time to work. Passed unexpectedly in the House in June 1986 after Republicans agreed to a voice vote in the hopes that the bill would die later on in the process.  President Reagan publicly opposed the bill.  Viewed too extreme to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate.  In August 1986, Senate passed a version of the Anti-Apartheid Act with weaker sanctions by a margin of 84- 14.  
Democratic leaders in the House agreed to accept the weaker Senate version of the bill in order for it to have sufficient bipartisan support to avert a possible veto which didn't work.
Reagan vetoed the compromised bill on September 26, calling it "economic warfare" and alleging that it would mostly hurt the impoverished black majority and lead to more civil strife.  He again offered to impose sanctions via executive order, while also working with Senate Republicans on concessions to avoid them overriding his veto. Reagan's veto was attacked harshly by anti-Apartheid leaders like Desmond Tutu who said Reagan would be "judged harshly by history".  In the week leading up to the subsequent vote, President Reagan enlisted South African foreign minister Pik Botha to call Republicans on the fence, though this was seen to backfire.
Reagan's veto was overridden by Congress (by the Senate 78 to 21, the House by 313 to 83) on October 2. This override marked the first time in the twentieth century that a president had a foreign policy veto overridden. Apartheid opponents in America and South Africa applauded the vote, while critics argued that it would be either ineffectual or lead to more violence. 
President Reagan made the following statement after the override:
"Today's Senate vote should not be viewed as the final chapter in America's efforts, along with our allies, to address the plight of the people of South Africa. Instead, it underscores that America—and that means all of us—opposes apartheid, a malevolent and archaic system totally alien to our ideals. The debate, which culminated in today's vote, was not whether or not to oppose apartheid but, instead, how best to oppose it and how best to bring freedom to that troubled country. 
I deeply regret that Congress has seen fit to override my veto of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. Punitive sanctions, I believe, are not the best course of action; they hurt the very people they are intended to help. My hope is that these punitive sanctions do not lead to more violence and more repression. Our administration will, nevertheless, implement the law. It must be recognized, however, that this will not solve the serious problems that plague that country. The United States must also move forward with positive measures to encourage peaceful change and advance the cause of democracy in South Africa. 
Now is the time for South Africa's Government to act with courage and good sense to avert a crisis. Moderate black leaders who are committed to democracy and oppose revolutionary violence are ready to work for peaceful change. They should not be kept waiting. It would be tragic to lose this opportunity to create a truly free society which respects the rights of the majority, the minority, and the individual. There is still time for orderly change and peaceful reform. South Africans of good will, black and white, should seize the moment."
The override was seen as a major defeat for Reagan, coming at the hands of his fellow Republicans in Congress. It was subsequently revealed that there was significant debate within the White House between Reagan's political advisors advocating more compromise and those like Pat Buchanan and Donald Regan who supported Reagan's hard line against sanctions.
After 2 years of sanctions under President Reagan, the sanctions were seen as having little effect in hurting South Africa or moving them away from apartheid. In 1989, the General Accounting Office said in a report that the sanctions against South Africa had been only partially enforced by the Reagan administration.  In 1989, the newly elected President George H.W. Bush committed to "full enforcement" of the Anti-Apartheid Act, a departure from the Reagan administration`s policy.
When I was reading this from Wikipedia and following the sources, it was like I was reading it for the first time and then I remembered during this time our family made two moves in less than 10 months with two young children being in three different schools and a toddler at home.  Moving from the west coast to New England and nine months later to Ohio didn't leave a lot of time to know what was  going on in the world especially since we lived in Groton, MA, after moving from NH with NO cable and poor reception.  We could get the news out of NH where one guy reported everything or out of CT. We had one Boston station we could get a night yet we kept hearing how progressive Massachusetts was -- not where we lived.

Tomorrow President and Mrs. Obama accompanied by former President and Mrs. Bush will be attending the funeral of a man who never gave up and who will be remembered for the ages -- Nelson Mandela who with others ended apartheid in South Africa and started a movement heard round the world.

God speed President Mandela and thank you for opening the eyes of the world.