The Weiner Component Vol.2 #17 Republicans & Affordable Health Care

Official photographic portrait of US President...

English: Nations with Universal health care sy...

English: Nations with Universal health care systems. Nations with some type of universal health care system. Nations attempting to obtain universal health care. Health care coverage provided by the United States war funding. Nations with no universal health care. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The existence of Universal Health Care exists in most of the industrial nations as a right for every citizen.   In the United States this concept came into being in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.  Traditionally, in the U.S. up until that time health care was provided by many employers or it was for people who could afford to pay the required premiums.  The idea of Universal Health Care as a right of all citizens began in the United States in 1945 with President Harry S Truman.  It remained an idea because no legislation was passed by Congress.  Under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 Medicare was passed for senior citizens and the disabled.  Former President Harry S Truman received the first card, numbered 1.

 

For younger people, those under 65 years of age, medical coverage had to be purchased.  Millions didn’t have any coverage.  Either their jobs didn’t provide it or they couldn’t afford the required premiums.  In medical emergencies these people had to go to E.R. in hospitals or attempt to ignore their illness.  The hospitals had to provide services even if they could not collect fees for them.

 

It should be noted that even with Medicare medical services are not completely paid for.  Even today many seniors have limited financial resources.  They may have to choose between medicine, food, and/or rent.  Medications also tend to be very expensive.

 

President Bill Clinton had a committee headed by his wife, Hillary, attempt to develop a Universal Health Care Bill during his presidency.  It was finally totally defeated with the slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no Health Care Bill.  The concept was defeated during his first four years in office.

 

Under President George W. Bush a prescription payment was added to Medicare.  This did not do away with payments for medication but it reduced them considerably with the Federal Government picking up the balance.

 

It should be noted that one of the main groups of contributors to Congressional Elections, particularly Republican elections, is the pharmaceutical industry.  In turn Congress has protected their rights to charge outlandish prices for medications.  Most medications produced by these companies cost far less outside the boundaries of the U.S.  Ironically it is the taxpayers who now pick up most of the cost for medication so that politicians can more easily get contributions.

 

During the second year of the Obama administration, 2010, with the Democrats having control of both houses of Congress, the Affordable Health Care Bill was passed.  As a put-down the Republicans dubbed the bill Obamacare.  President Obama stated that he liked the title and it has been largely called that since.

 

Ironically, in order to make the bill palatable to the Republicans the Democrats built Affordable Health Care from a Republican plan, utilizing private enterprise, the insurance companies, to build a universal health plan.  Obamacare was modeled after a plan that had been developed and used by the state of Massachusetts under the Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

 

Not one Republican voted for Affordable Health Care.  They had all in caucus agreed to not support anything President Obama favored.  They were determined to make him a one term President.  The Bill was passed by the Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.  Not one Republican voted for the Bill in either House of Congress.  In fact from 2011 on, when the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, they voted over sixty times over the next six years to repeal the Bill.  Up until 2014 the Democrats had a majority in the Senate.  In 2015 the Senate barely achieved a Republican majority.  At that time President Obama vetoed the anti-Obamacare Bill.

 

With the election of the Republican Donald J. Trump as President of the United States and with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress their goal seemed within reach.  But poles ascertained that repeal of that Bill had only 17% approval among the general public.  The majority of Americans want to keep it in existence.  Affordable Health Care had become even more popular than it had been during the time when Barack Obama had been President of the United States. The number of people signing up for it in 2017 increased considerably.

 

Suddenly the Congressional Republicans had a tiger by the tail.  When the Republican legislators went home on their numerous breaks to their districts they faced unhappy constituents who were vociferous in their protest against doing away with Obamacare.  This was particularly true when the Non Partisan Congressional Office that reported upon this bill stated that 14 million people would lose their health insurance coverage if the initial Republican “repeal and replace” health bill became law.

 

After failing to get their “repeal and replace” bill through the House of Representatives the Republicans members were careful to take their two week Easter break.  When they returned there was presumably a new “repeal and replace” bill which was rushed through the House and passed before it had been evaluated by the Non Partisan Budget Office that vets all bills as to their effects.  Since the bill would be massive in size the probability was that most of the Republicans who voted for it had not read it.

 

The new bill is called The American Health Care Act.  From what I understand it makes Health Insurance available to everyone if they can afford the premiums.  Whereas Affordable Health Care attempted to make Health Insurance a right for every citizen the American Health Care Act makes it a privilege for those who can afford it.  The Federal Government will give each state a fixed amount of money which the states can use in helping their citizens pay healthcare premiums.

 

The overall amount which the Federal Government will save is estimated to be around eight billion dollars.  This will allow the Congress to pass what it calls, tax reform.  Congress and President Donald Trump intend to reduce income taxes for the upper 1% and for corporations around eight billion dollars.  The principle here strikes me as reverse Robin Hood, that is, take from the poor and give to the rich.  If this goes through Donald Trump will reduce his taxes considerably.

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Fortunately the House of Representatives passing a bill is just that, passing a bill.  The bill then goes to the Senate and the Senate has to pass the bill.  First the bill actually goes to a Senatorial Committee where hearings on it will be held and it will be marked-up, changed or rewritten into a Senate version.  A number of Republican Senators have already stated that they have their own ideas about a Senate version of a Health Care Bill.

 

Once the Senate Committee has come out with their version of the bill it then goes to the full Senate where Senators can still amend the bill before voting upon it.  After amendments are added, and each one must be voted upon separately, the bill is again voted upon by the full Senate.  At best it will have three more Republican votes than Democratic votes.  The count in the Senate is now 52 Republicans to 46 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus and vote with the Democrats.

 

It is very possible that the Republicans will not be able to get a majority vote and the bill will die in the Senate.  But even if it passes it will be different from the House bill.  Consequently the two bills will go to a Conference Committee made up of members of both Houses of Congress.  They, in turn, will have to come up with a Compromise Bill that is acceptable to both Houses of Congress.  If that were to occur then the new Compromise Bill would have to go to both Houses and be voted upon and passed in both Houses without any changes or it would have to go back to a new Conference Committee.

 

The chances of much of this happening is very small.  The probability is that the bill will not even reach the Conference Committee.  And even if it does it could easily die there.

 

What this bill will achieve is to upset the 14 million people who would lose their current medical coverage if the bill were to pass.  There is a Midterm Election coming up on the first Tuesday in November of 2018.  I am sure the Democrats in each District and State will be happy to remind their constituents of how their Republican representatives voted in 2017 on health care.  It would probably also be worth notifying them that the Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.  The probability is that the Senate will once again gain a Democratic majority and the House of Representatives could also achieve one.

 

President Donald Trump will likely be tweeting half the night if one or both Houses of Congress had a Democratic majority.  He has essentially been able to get nothing done with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.  He will probably get less than nothing done with one or both Houses of Congress in Democratic hands.

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As a point of interest, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is or was a follower of Ann Rand, at least until he found out she was an atheist, is largely responsible for the original new health bill and after the Easter Congressional break for the so-called new version of that bill that the House of Representatives passed.  He says that it is “a bogus attack from the left” to claim that the health care bill was rushed.  I suppose the “left” is the Democratic Party, as the bill was passed strictly along party lines.  No Democrat voted for it.

 

Ryan did not wait for the Non Partisan Congressional Office to study and give the over-all effects of the bill.  Rushing the bill through the House meant, not giving the constituents a chance to complain.

 

It is also interesting to note that Ann Rand basic philosophy, which she applied to her novels dealt with the Hegelian method, thesis vs. antithesis which she turned into individuals acting against each other in her two major novels: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  Her form, in both novels dealt with the super individual functioning or struggling against the uncaring group.  In essence it would be the super human vs. the uncaring masses.  I suppose to Ryan it means him against the masses.

 

This philosophy was developed in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century.  Its prime example would be Germany’s concept of the Master Race.  I would guess that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives mentally includes himself among that group.  This is the man that pushed through the current House Health Bill which will, if passed, take medical insurance away from 14 million people and also increase the wealth of the well to do by decreasing their taxes.

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #7 – Part 4 – The Fed & the Inflationary Spiral

English: Former President Jimmy Carter and his...

English: Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, wave from the top of the aircraft steps as they depart Andrews Air Force Base at the conclusion of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: President Ronald Reagan, the 40th pre...

English: President Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States of America, delivers his inaugural address from the specially built platform in front of the Capitol during Inauguration Day ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Chairperson of the Federal Reserve heads this bank. Currently Janet Yellen is the chairwoman. She has held this position since 2014 when she was appointed by President Barack Obama. Prior to that Ben Bernanke was chairman from 2006 to 2014. He was appointed by George W. Bush and completed his term under President Obama. Alan Greenspan was the prior Chairman. His term was the second longest in the history of the Federal Reserve going from 1987 to 2006, 19 years. He was preceded by Paul Volcker, who served from August 1979 to August 1987. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and left toward the end of the Reagan administration. Paul Volcker served as Chairman for two terms, from August 6, 1979 to August 11, 1987.

 

These are the most recent people to serve as chairpersons on the Federal Reserve. If we go back to the Presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, January 20, 1961 to November 22, 1963, the Fed Chairman was William M. Martin who had been appointed by Harry S Truman and served from April 2, 1951 to February 1, 1970.

 

The problem, when Kennedy became President, was that the country was in a recession cycle. By using fiscal policy President Kennedy was able to turn that economic phase into a recovery phase of the business cycle. At this time unemployment was slowly increasing and consumption was slowly decreasing. The economy needed an impetus. What the President proposed and Congress passed was a tax decrease. The result was that people had more money which they spent and the amount of Federal taxes collected actually increased. This move fairly quickly took the nation from recession to recovery.

 

Since that time, over fifty years ago, almost every Republican President has tried to follow that fiscal policy. In no case has it worked as announced. Instead from the time of President Ronald Reagan on it has allowed the National Debt to mushroom into the trillions of dollars. And during the last year of President George W. Bush’s presidency this tax reduction process led to the bursting of the Housing Bubble or the Great Recession in 2008. In the process of avoiding a Second Great Depression President Barack Obama was forced into excessive spending. It was the President and the Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, who enabled the country to squeak through the 2008 and 2009 Housing Crash or bubble bursting.

 

Currently President Donald J. Trump is proposing a massive tax cut for business and the wealthy. It has been suggested that this could bankrupt the U.S. Government. Whether his decrease in taxes and proposed increase in spending for the military comes about, if it does, then to what extent it will do so is still up for debate. Trump and some members of his Cabinet are claiming they can significantly lower taxes and increase production without adding to the National Debt. It should be an interesting experiment.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had been President Kennedy’s Vice-President and succeeded him at his death in 1963, when he was reelected to office in 1965 massively accelerated the war in Viet Nam. He would have America, the strongest nation in existence, force North Viet Nam to accede to the wishes of the United States. And, at the same time, he would not lower the standard of living of any American. The country could both afford to fight a major war and care for its population as though it were still at peace; we would have both guns and butter. His only requirement was a small addition by everyone to their income taxes. This led to the beginnings of an inflationary spiral that would reach fifteen percent by the end of the 1970s. The inflation spiral would be broken by the Fed by taking drastic action in the very early 1980s.

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Paul Volcker was appointed was appointed Federal Reserve Chairman on August 6, 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. He began a process to end the inflationary spiral by making the borrowing of money so expensive that it would cause the percent of interest to rise to where it would cost too much to borrow. This, in turn, would cause the price of interest to drop toward zero.

 

If the inflation rate rises too high, like to 12 or 15 percent or more the way to reduce it is by raising the prime rate, the interest level the Fed charges banks, to a very high level. This forces the banks to raise their interest level to 20 percent or more. Money becomes too expensive to borrow.

 

Unfortunately many businesses have dormant periods during the year when they have to borrow money in order to meet their expenses. If the interest rate on loans is too high they cannot afford to borrow any money and consequently they go bankrupt. This causes an almost instant recession, with massive layoffs throughout the country. But it will end an inflationary spiral.

 

Early in this process President Jimmy Carter received innumerable complains from people around the country about what was happening to them and their businesses. He asked Volcker to back off and Volcker did so. The high inflation continued throughout President Carter’s term in office.

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Paul Volcker served two four year terms as Chairman of the Fed. He retired from that position on August 11, 1987, when Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. Reagan succeeded Carter in 1981 and remained in office for two terms, until 1988. He allowed Volcker to break the back of the inflationary spiral.

 

Under Reagan the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve Board led by Volcker were credited with curbing the rate of inflation and the expectations that inflation would continue. The United States rate of inflation peaked at 14.8 in March of 1980 and fell below 3 percent by 1989. The Fed Board raised the federal funds rate that had averaged 11.2 percent in 1979, to a peak of 20 percent in June of 1981. The prime rate also rose to 21.5 percent in 1981. All of this lead to the 1980-1982 recession, in which the unemployment rate rose to over 10 percent.

 

All of this elicited strong political attacks and wide spread protests. There were high interest rates on construction, farming, and the industrial sectors. U.S. Monetary Policy eased in 1982, leading to a resumption of economic growth.

 

Perhaps the most unfortunate part of this necessary readjustment of the economic base of the United States was the fact that President Ronald Reagan made a presentation on television one weekend in 1981 in which he held up the business section of the Sunday Times and stated that there were twenty full pages of job offers in the Times. If a person lost their job then they should go to where there was jobs available. President Reagan did nothing else. He could or should have set up some federal agency that could offer reliable job information. But he did not do so.

 

What followed was that sections of cities became deserted as people filled their cars with their belongings and followed rumors going from place to place looking for work. Mostly there were no jobs. Temporary agencies did a land-office business that year. I remember reading about an instance where a man with a wife and small child, having stopped for a red light, opened the passenger door, and pushed his wife and child out of the vehicle. When the light changed he drove on.

 

Cars moved from city to city that year, following rumors. While there had been some homeless before 1981 they became very visible from that year on; there were so many of them. The problem is still with us.

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What followed from 1981 on was the Fed’s tight money and the expansive fiscal program of the Reagan Administration: large tax cuts, and a major increase in military spending. While the middle class got some tax relief the tax cuts were essentially for the upper echelon of society who had their taxes reduced substantially. While the inflation rate stayed low, which it still is today, President Reagan’s spending produced large Federal budget deficits.

 

This combination of growing deficits and other economic imbalances led to the growing Federal debt and a substantial rise in Federal costs. Under Reagan’s spending the debt would reach over one trillion dollars for the first time.

 

Presumably Paul Volcker was fired or replaced in August 1987 after serving two four year terms in office because the Reagan Administration didn’t believe he was an adequate deregulator. Volcker was replaced on August 11, 1987, by Alan Greenspan.

The Weiner Component #169 – Part 3: The Modern Presidents & the Congress

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon...

The first of the potentially extreme Conservative Candidates to run for the Presidency was Barry Goldwater.  He ran and was massively defeated in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson.  He received 22% of the vote, Johnson got well over 70%.  The extreme Conservatives (reactionaries) were not able to successfully mass their forces and win an election until 1980 with Ronald Reagan.  Both Eisenhower and Nixon tended to be more moderate Republicans.

 

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 and died on June 5, 2004.  He served as President of the United States from January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989.  This made him seventy years old when he first assumed the presidency and seventy-eight when he retired from that position, after serving two terms.  Up until that point he was the oldest President of the United States.

 

For his first four year term the Senate had a Republican majority and the House of Representatives had more Democrats than Republicans, meaning that the Speaker of the House was a Democrat.  This continued through the first two years of his second term.  During his last two years in office both Houses of Congress had a Democratic majority. 

 

In order to get legislation he wanted Reagan had to be able to compromise with the Democrats; “Take half a loaf.”  Occasionally he would go off on a tantrum and state that unless such-and-such a bill was passed he would not sign any other bills; but mostly he was able to compromise with Democrats.  Once in a while he would get his way.

 

Reagan has been called the Teflon President.  He came across as a nice guy with good intensions, being both an excellent speaker and a likeable person.  His years in the movies from the late 1930s on and the fact that he always played one of the good guys seemed to carry over. 

 

In 1964 Reagan gave a paid speech for Barry Goldwater called: “A Time for Choosing,” that threw him into politics.  He was elected the conservative Governor of California from 1967 through 1975.  Later he unsuccessfully entered the race as a potential Republican Presidential candidate in 1968 and 1976.  He lost both times and was not chosen as the Republican candidate.  In 1980 he did become the Republican choice and won against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter.

 

As the new president in 1981, Reagan instituted new and sweeping changes.  He espoused supply side economic policies which was described as “Reagonomics.”  This advocated tax reduction for the well-to-do, presumably in order to bring about rapid economic growth.  The argument being that if the rich had more surplus income they would then invest that money into new economic growth.  This new money would then trickle down to the ordinary citizens who would hold these new jobs and the government would then collect more taxes by reducing taxes.

 

There was only one problem with this system: it didn’t work.  Reagan himself had been one of the rich individuals benefiting from the new law.  His money had never been invested in new growth and this was true for the entire group that received this benefit; they tended to invest their surplus funds into old investments like the stock market.

 

He also advocated economic deregulation which brought about an increase in pollution and, in addition, he advocated a decrease in government spending; that would be entitlement programs to help the poor since he massively increased military expenditures.

 

Reagan felt that during administrations like that of Jimmy Carter the Soviets had militarily gotten ahead of the U.S. in military preparedness.  He firmly believed that America had to catch up and get ahead of Russia in its military ability.  Consequently we had to seriously upgrade our armaments.  The program was called “Star Wars.”   Apparently Reagan liked movies; some of the weapons he envisioned came out of films; they didn’t exist in real life.  He felt they could be developed as needed.

 

Reagan’s military concepts weren’t true; we were far ahead of the Soviet Union.  The U.S. National Debt went up for the first time to well over a trillion dollars during his watch.  In a sense it was a brilliant strategic move because if we upgraded, even though it was partly on a comic book level, the military was going to utilize weapons that didn’t exist but were going to be created as needed.  Following this happening the Soviet Union to just maintain it world position also had to upgrade its military. 

 

Every country, every economy is limited to the amount of productivity that its citizenry is capable of producing.  It may be a gigantic amount, almost beyond concept, but it is still a finite amount.  Consequently choices have to be made as to what it will produce.  The Soviet Union by trying to keep up with the United States militarily massively deprived its people of what they needed in order to successfully survive and the result was that the Communist State fell economically apart and Russia ceased being a communist dictatorship. 

 

Communism, where it existed, now became a National Movement rather than an international one.  Each of the existing communistic states like China and Cuba now became mixes of socialism and capitalism.  Reagan can claim credit for this; but it was an accident based upon his fears rather than a strategic move.

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Early in his first administration Reagan allowed Paul Volker, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, to institute the Draconian measures needed to break the inflationary spiral that had been gradually generated from the time of the Vietnam War.  These measures caused a lot of unemployment and misery throughout the United States.  Interest rates had reached over 12 1/2 percent. To break the cycle of inflation Volker raised them far beyond that.

 

With massive unemployment occurring Reagan went on national television with a copy of the Sunday Employment Section of the New York Times and stated to the American public that he held twenty pages of employment ads.  If anyone had lost their job then they should go to where there was employment.  After the announcement he returned to the Oval Office and forgot about the problem. 

 

From that day on people in old jalopies left home with their families and followed rumors of where there was supposedly employment.  Most of the rumors for employment in other parts of the U.S. were just that, rumors.  By 1982 the FED would reduce interest rates; the GDP would rise to 3.4%; the inflationary spiral was broken but the homeless problem would persist to the present day.

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In 1984 Reagan won a landslide victory for his second term.  His foreign policy was at times strange: He described the Soviet Union as the
Evil Empire.
  In late 1983 Reagan approved having the CIA mine Nicaragua’s main harbor.  This was the harbor of a Socialist country with whom we were at peace.  The object was to keep out civilian cargo vessels and cut off imported weapons, fuel, and other supplies.  The premise being that this would seriously hurt the Sandinista or socialist government of Daniel Ortega.  This, in turn would give a serious boost to the CIA backed rebels or “Freedom Fighters,” as Reagan called them and create and uprising.  The CIA used firecracker mines dropped by small speedboats.  They were noisy but did little damage.  This act created an international uproar which forced Congress to take action.

 

In 1986 the U.S. bombed Libya in retaliation for a 1986 Berlin discotheque terrorist bombing.  There were 40 reported Libyan casualties and one U.S. plane was shot down.  The dead included a baby girl.

 

Reagan illegally authorized the Iran-Contra Affair.  Toward the end of his second term Reagan requested that Congress authorize funds for his “Freedom Fighters” in Nicaragua.  The Democratic Congress would not authorize any money.  Reagan’s people, with his approval, began a secret operation by which arms would be illegally sold to Iran through other countries and the profit would be used for the Nicaraguan rebels.  The operation was right out of the movies, probably a James Bond movie, and the man coordinating everything was Colonel Oliver North, who probably saw himself as the super-patriot.  North avoided prison because he testified before Congress and all of his testimony was exempt from prosecution.

 

It was all totally illegal and Reagan could have been impeached and he and his staff prosecuted and sent to prison.  In his speech when he admitted it to the nation he couldn’t believe that he had acted illegally.  But since his term was almost over and as he had acted, it was believed, for the good of the United States nothing was done.

 

President Reagan initially transitioned the Cold War from détente to rollback by escalating an arms race with the USSR.  He engaged in talks with Mikhail Gorbachev that culminated in the INF Treaty which shrank both countries nuclear arsenals.   He challenged Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall.  This was done five months after he left office and on December 26, 1991, nearly three years after he left office, the Soviet Union collapsed.  It can be argued that President Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War.

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Reagan was followed by his Vice President, George H.W. Bush as the 41st President of the United States from January 20, 1989 to January 20, 1993.  He served one four year term as President.  Both Houses of Congress were controlled by the Democratic Party, consequently there wasn’t much cooperation between them and the Republican President.

 

President George H. W. Bush had a lot of experience working in the government: he had been a member in the House of Representatives from 1967 to 1971, United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 1971 to 1973, Chair of the Republican National Committee from 1973 to 1974, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China from 1974 to 1975, Director of Central Intelligence from 1965 to 1977, and 43d Vice-President of the United States from 1981 to 1989.

 

In domestic policy Bush wanted to lower the National Debt which had grown to well over a trillion dollars under President Reagan.  He felt that this should be done by lowering government spending.  Congress, on the other hand felt it should be done by raising taxes.  Mostly the Democratic Congress won out.  Bush had promised not to raise taxes when he ran for the presidency but he later signed a bill that raised them.  This lowered his popularity significantly among Republicans.

 

President George H.W. Bush spearheaded, along with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which eliminated the majority of tariffs on products traded among the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  The treaty encourages trade among these countries.

 

In foreign policy the U.S. invaded Panama and placed the popular elected president in charge of the country.  He had won the election but the old government under Manuel Noriega had invalidated it and remained in power.  After an American soldier was killed the U.S. invaded and arrested Noriega.

 

In Iraq the situation was different.  President Bush sent a plenipotentiary or special unassigned diplomat to deal with Saddam Hussein the ruler of Iraq.  The diplomat was a woman, which in the eyes of an Arab ruler meant that the mission was unimportant and also her authority to commit the U.S. to anything was highly limited.  Apparently the two verbally spared for a while. 

 

What Saddam Hussein needed to know was what would the U.S. do if Iraq invaded oil-rich Kuwait?  It would seem that diplomatic meetings never deal directly with the question that needs to be answered.  Saddam Hussein assumed from the meeting that the U.S. would do nothing to stop the invasion. 

 

I suspect that George H.W. Bush assumed he was establishing the concept of equal rights for women.  With his experience he should have known better.  The result of the Kuwait invasion was the Gulf War, which Bush had the sense to end without unseating Hussein.  Saddam Hussein would later attempt to have Bush assassinated for betraying him.  George W. Bush, his son, would later get even with Hussein and turn the Middle East into a cage-less zoo, which it still is.

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In 1992, Bush was succeeded in the presidency by Bill Clinton, a Democrat, who held that office for two terms, until January 20. 2001.  Previously Clinton had been Governor of Arkansas.

 

Bill Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history.  During his first two years in office he had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and he signed into law The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which had been initiated by Republcan President George H.W. Bush.

 

From 1992 until early 1994 the Republicans were able to stop legislation from passing in the Senate by use of the filibuster.  Clinton’s Health Care proposal was never voted upon and other legislation was also stopped in this fashion.

 

In 1994 both Houses of Congress achieved a Republican majority.  Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House and Strom Thurman Majority Leader in the Senate.  The Senate had 47 Democrats and 53 Republicans.  The House had 230 Republicans and 204 Democrats.

 

President Clinton was seen by the Speaker and other Republicans as the enemy.  The Republicans shut down the government twice: from November 14 – 19, 1995 and from December 16 – January 6, 1996, for a total of 28 days.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, would resign his speakership and also resign from the House over ethics violation charges.  The potential vote against him was overwhelming by both Republicans and Democrats.

 

The final attack against Clinton ended in Impeachment Charges by the House of Representatives.  An independent council, Ken Starr, was appointed to investigate Clinton’s involvement in an earlier land deal, called “Whitewater.”  Nothing negative or impeachable was found about Clinton’s involvement.  What was discovered was that he was having an illicit relationship with a White House intern.  When questioned by a Grand Jury he gave misleading information.

 

Presumably he lied to the Grand Jury.  The first article of impeachment was approved by a House vote of 228 to 206.  Five Republicans refused to vote for it and five Democrats supported the impeachment.  He was accused of lying to the Grand Jury about the nature of his relationship with the intern.  The second article of impeachment, obstruction of justice passed by a narrower margin: 221 to 212.

 

The trial was held in the Senate, which also had a Republican majority.  The question, of course, was: Are these “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”?  Bill Clinton was found, Not Guilty.

 

The irony attached to this was that Newt Gingrich had earlier resigned both his Speakership and position in the House of Representatives.  He had been replaced by the Louisiana Republican, Robert L. Livingston as the new Speaker.  Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler Magazine offered one million dollars for each unflattering sexual story about Republican members of Congress. 

 

Apparently one million dollars is serious money.  Livingston was a true family man.  He so believed in it that he had two families, one legal and one not so legal.  His second extra-legal wife gave Flynt her story and received the one million dollars.  Robert L. Livingston resigned both his Speakership and his position in the House.  Other Republicans in Congress got very nervous as Flynt’s offer still remained.

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For his last two years in office Clinton had a budget surplus and reduced the National Debt.  He signed a welfare reform act and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that provided health coverage for millions of children.  Clinton left office with the highest public approval rating of any U.S. President since World War II.

 

The man who replaced Bill Clinton as the 43d President of the United States was George W. Bush, the second man elected president who did not receive the majority popular vote by the American people.

 

George Walker Bush was elected president in 2001 after a close and controversial election.  Eight months into his presidency, on September 11, 2001, The Twin Towers in New York City were destroyed in two terrorist suicide attacks.  Bush launched the War on Terror, an international military campaign which included the war in Afghanistan (2001) and the War in Iraq (2003).

 

In addition he promoted policies on health care, education, and social security reform.  While going to war he signed into law broad tax cuts, the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind law, social security reform, the Partial Birth Abortion Act, and Medicare prescription drug coverage benefits for seniors.  During his presidency there were national debates on immigration, social security, electronic surveillance, and torture or enhanced interrogation. 

 

George W. Bush was reelected to office in 2004 in another close election.  During his second term he received criticism for his handling, from both sides of the aisle, of the Iraq War and the Katrina Hurricane. 

 

Presumably the preemptive Iraq War was launched because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  No “weapons of mass destruction” were ever found in Iraq.  In point of fact, Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, had tried to have George H.W. Bush, the president’s father assassinated over Iraq’s Gulf War.  Bush Jr’s attack on Iraq was a punishment for that. A rather expensive punishment!

 

In the case of Hurricane Katrina which devastated much of the Gulf Coast and put much of New Orleans underwater, the man who headed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Michael D. Brown, was a Federal appointment.  He had been rewarded for his participation in the presidential election with that job and was incapable of properly carrying it out.  Bush responded to mounting criticism by accepting full responsibility.  But that was beside the point.

 

In 2006 the Democratic Party regained control of both Houses of Congress.  In December 2007 the United States entered the worst economic downturn since World War II, the so-called Great Recession.  Its causes had been rapidly generated from the Reagan administration on.  The Bush administration obtained Congressional passage of numerous economic programs intended to preserve the country’s financial system.  In 2008 Bush initially bailed out the major banks who through their hunger for profits and the lack of regulation had brought the nation to the brink of financial collapse and themselves to the point of bankruptcy.

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It was at this point that Barack Obama assumed the presidency with the nation facing a disaster far greater than the 1929 Great Depression.  President Obama had been elected on a platform of “Time for a Change.”  Instead he had to make a potentially Great Depression into a Great Recession and allow the country to recover from the state of disaster that the Republicans had created, of which American was in the midst.

 

In his first two years in office he signed the American Recovery and investment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010.  He also signed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  In foreign policy he ended U.S. involvement in the Iraq War and increased troop levels in Afghanistan. In January of 2011 President Obama ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden 

 

Up until 2010 the Democrats had control of both Houses of Congress.  In that year the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives.  The Democratic Party lost 63 seats in that House of Congress, giving the Republicans 243 representatives to 193 for the Democrats.  The Republicans had earlier in caucus taken an oath to make Obama a one term president by impeding everything he wanted to do.  For the first two years of his presidency they would delay and make extensive use of the filibuster in the Senate.  After they achieved their majority they would oppose everything he had or would try to do in the House of Representatives.

 

From 2011 on the House of Representatives has not only hampered Presidential actions but have also forced through laws by attaching amendments to necessary legislation that have actually worsened economic conditions brought about by the Great Recession or Housing Debacle of 2008.  They did this by, among other things, increasing unemployment.  Through the Federal Reserve’s use of creative Monetary Policy the President and the Chairman of that organization have brought about a good percentage of recovery.  Had they had Congress’ full cooperation, fiscal policy could have been applied and recovery would have been completely achieved.  Instead the country is still at about 5% unemployment.

 

President Obama was reelected to a second term in 2012.  He has, unsuccessfully in terms of Congress, promoted policies related to gun control, particularly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, among other reforms.  On foreign policy troops were sent back into Iraq to help counter the effects of ISIS and the situation in Afghanistan continues.  In 2015 the Paris Agreement on climate change was signed by the United States and by 192 other countries.  The U.S. was part of a United Nations agreement with Iran not to develop an atomic bomb and relations with Cuba were normalized.  All this, despite the actions of Congress, have given President Obama a highly favorable rating among American presidents and the general public.

                   **********************************

On November 8, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States beginning January 20. 2017.  While the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton had 395,595 more popular votes than Trump, 60,467,245 to 60,071,650.  Trump had 290 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 232. 

 

Trump has largely but not completely acted presidential since the election.  He still tweeted stupidly about the spontaneous protests that have occurred across many cities in the United States against him.  He is thin-skinned and over reactive.  But this is not the real crux of his present problems.  On November 28 the first of his Trump University class action suits begins.  Even though it’s a civil suit if Trump loses and is found guilty of fraud, which he is accused of, he could conceivably be impeached.  The judge in the case, who Trump has accused of being prejudiced because of his Hispanic heritage, has recommended that Trump settle the case out of court.  But there are over 7,000 claimants who say they were cheated by Trump’s false claims about Trump University, some of whom paid as much as $35,000 for tuition.  Trump may not be able to afford the cost of settlement.  In addition there are two other class action suits coming up in addition to a $40 million suit from New York State for fraud.  The current case was filed in 2010.  Trump could be impeached during his first year in office for what he did before being elected president.  It should be interesting, if not colorful.

 

 

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

 

The Weiner Component #163 – Part 2: The 2017 Presidency

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

The Presidential Campaign will continue until Tuesday, November 8th of 2016, with both sides continually verbally attacking the other.  Trump has reorganized his staff three times, hiring among others someone who has made a career of attacking and trying to discredit the Clintons. He is supposed to excel in dirty tricks.  Hillary Clinton will continue with her basic premise that Trump is unfit to be President and move on from there.  In fact on Wednesday, September 7, at a back to back veteran’s Town Hall with Clinton, Trump defined the secret briefing as being anti Obama in the body language of the men who gave it, something which the intelligence community said never happened.  In terms of money raised for campaigning Clinton seems to be able to raise well over ten times the amount Trump does.

 

(In fact, Trumps entire Washington Bureau Organization quit when Trump refused to send them the promised checks for their work. This seems to be a pattern of Trump’s, stiffing his employees by not paying them.}

 

There are to be four debates scheduled, three will be between the Presidential candidates and one between the Vice-Presidential choices.  Of these one will be moderated by a NBC moderator, one by a Fox News employee, one by ABC News and CNN with joint a moderator from each network, and the Vice Presidential one by CBS News.  They will begin on September 26th and end on October 19th.  They should be interesting or at least colorful.

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When all this is done and the votes finally counted at the end of November 8th the next President of the United States will be officially elected to that office and will take the helm in January of 2017 of guiding the country for the next four years.

 

If we ask, which candidate will it be?  There is a high probability that it will be Hillary Rodham Clinton.  It is also probably that the Senate will return to a Democratic majority after the election but that the House of Representatives will remain in the hands of the Republicans.  This is the exact situation that President Obama faced from his third year in office until his sixth year there.  In 2014, a non-Presidential Election year, the Republicans also achieved a slight majority in the Senate.

 

From 2011 on there was a Democratic President, a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and until 2014, a Democratic majority in the Senate.  The result, since 2011, has been total gridlock with the House most of the time unsuccessfully trying to force its will upon the President and the Senate; and in many cases adding something that they wanted like defunding Planned Parenthood to a necessary bill which was then vetoed.

 

For the duration of his first term in office the Congressional Republicans in both Houses of Congress were determined to make Barack Obama a one term President.  They opposed everything he supported.  The Affordable Health Care Bill, which was modeled upon one developed by the Republican Think Tank, Citizen’s United, for Mitt Romney when he was governor OF Massachusetts and applied to that state.  It espouses Republican values by allowing private enterprise to control the plan.  Yet it was passed in Congress on a strict Party basis.  Democrats voted for it and all Republicans all opposed it.  The House, after the Republican majority was reached there spent over fifty days bringing its demise up and voting to end it even though these numerous identical Bills were never brought up in the Senate.  The vote has always been strictly upon Party lines.

 

For his first four years in office President Barack Obama seemed to feel that he could get some cooperation from the Republicans in Congress.  It never happened.  For his second term he knew better but he nor the rest of the Democratic Party ever really took them on.  While neither the President nor the Democrats in Congress never really exposed the Republican actions or non-actions the Republican’s never stopped blaming the President and the Democrats for what they, the Republicans, did not do.

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The odds are that Hillary Clinton on November 8th will be elected 45th President of the United States, and the Senate will regain its Democratic majority.  But there is a high probability that the Republicans in the House of Representatives, while losing some of their majority members, will still have control of that body.

 

There are 435 voting members in the House.  Currently 247 are Republicans and 188 are Democrats.  The Democrats would have to win 30 seats in the House to just gain control of that body.  They will probably gain some seats but not the 30 needed.  Consequently the probable state of affairs during the Clinton Presidency could very well be continued gridlock.

 

With this situation there is the question of how will Hillary Clinton be able to bring part or all of her agenda about.

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One of the major group of incidents that have frustrated President Obama during his presidency has been the random terrorist massacres that have occurred throughout the United States.  Generally Congress will observe a moment of silence but essentially the Republicans will pass no laws to control the purchase of firearms.  The National Rifle Association, which contributes heavily to Congressional elections and supports gun owners throughout the U.S. and is controlled by the gun, magazine, and ammunition producing companies, holds the position that any step in weapon control is the first step in taking guns away from American citizens. Essentially what the reformers want is to have thorough background checks upon everyone buying a firearm and to stop the sale to people with mental problems or to those who have criminal records.

 

The random gun shootings in the United States are at least 22 times higher than in any other industrial nation.  The last terrorist attack was on the night of June 12, 2016, when Omar Mateen, an American born, not too well mentally balanced 29 year old Moslem, who worked as a security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  After a three hour siege he was shot and killed by the Orlando Police Department swat team.  Mateen had purchased the semi-automatic firearms legally the prior week.

 

This issue was dealt with at least twice at the Democratic Convention: once by adults who had lost a parent or child to random shooting and once by people whose parent or child had been specifically or otherwise targeted.

 

The Senate had blocked four gun measures the following Monday, two from each party.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader said that Democrats were taking advantage of the Orlando Massacre, using it as a political talking point.  He called the Republican proposals, “real solutions.”  Harry Reid, the minority leader, called the Republican measures, “political stunts.”  Hillary Clinton had one word for the Senate after the gun vote, “Enough.”  She later tweeted, “It’s time to demand more than thoughts and prayers from our elected officials.”

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At the Democratic Convention, the Platform writing committee consisted of fifteen members: Clinton appointed six of them, Sanders five, and Wasserman Schultz four.  The Platform was described by NBC News as the most progressive in party history.

 

They want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and index it to inflation.  They also desire to include 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.  On health care, the Democrats want a public option for the Affordable Care Act and legislation to allow Americans aged 55 and over to buy into Medicare.  They also want Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and to double their support for community health centers that provide primary health-care services, particularly in rural areas.

 

The Democrats express support for Wall Street reform.  They want a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to keep banks from gambling with depositor’s money and a breakup of “too big to fail” financial institutions.  Also there should be an expansion of Social Security and the abolition of the death penalty.  There is support for criminal justice reform, and an end to private prisons; and reforms to boost police accountability to communities.

 

On taxation the platform pledges “tax relief for middle class families” and improvement on K-12 education.  On workers’ rights the platform endorses expanding and defending the right of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively.  The platform maintains the long standing support of Israel.  On abortion it states, “We believe, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion – regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured.”  It also defends Planned Parenthood.  It urges the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and supports passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.  “After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution.”

 

There are other considerations in the Democratic Platform but these are ones that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander strongly support.

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The next question that arises is: How will President Hillary Clinton bring many or most of these positions to fruition?  Will she end up like President Barack Obama, having to fight the House of Representatives, in many cases unsuccessfully, for every change the country needed?  President Obama was mostly successful working through the Federal Reserve and by using executive orders.  He got very little from Congress except having the House close down the government.

 

The Republicans in the House of Representatives seem to have no understanding of fiscal policy and many of them seem to want to limit the powers of the Federal Reserve, particularly in terms of monetary policy.  One gets the impression that many Republicans in the House do not really understand the principles of economics as they apply to the Central Government.  Basic ignorance does not bring about solutions to problems.  In fact they worsen those situations.  Witness the Great Recession of 2008.  A Republican President in 2009 would have turned it into a Greater Depression than that of 1929.

 

The actions taken by the Republican dominated House of Representatives from 2011 tended to worsen economic conditions by cutting government spending and increasing unemployment.  It was President Obama and the Federal Reserve, under Chairman Ben Bernanke, using creative monetary policy that largely solved the problem of unemployment, which should have been solved completely by Congress using fiscal policy.

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In 2017 President Clinton will have her hands full.  Will she be able to work with Republicans to bring about full employment and an era of increased prosperity for the majority of the American people?

The Weiner Component @162 Part 2: The 2016 Presidential Election Convention: The Democratic Convention

The 2016 Democratic National Convention was held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from July 25 through July 28, 2016, Monday through Thursday.  They choose Hillary Rodham Clinton as their presidential candidate.  Bernie Sanders had a large following but Clinton gained more primary and caucus delegates.  She had 59.6% of the votes to 39.16% for Sanders.  He did have a strong influence, however, in writing the party platform.  Hillary Clinton was the first woman to be nominated by a major political party.  She choose Tim Kaine, the Junior Senator from Virginia, as her Vice Presidential candidate.

 

While Clinton’s position moved the party platform to the left of where it had been in 2012, Sanders influence pushed it further left making it the most progressive in Democratic history.  It contains specific planks, among others, on Wall Street reform, stronger financial regulations for banks, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and strict background checks on the purchase of guns.  In the social area there is criminal justice reform, an end to private prisons, expansion of social security, and the abolition of the death penalty.

 

The last state to give its roll call vote for the Democratic candidate was Vermont, which gave 4 votes for Hillary Clinton and 22 for Bernie Sanders.  By then Clinton had far exceeded the number of votes needed to become the Democratic candidate.  At this point Bernie Sanders rose and moved that the Convention vote by voice vote to acclaim Hillary Clinton as their candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election.  The motion was seconded and the Convention did so.

**************************

The Convention was not without controversy.  Either officially or unofficially Russian hackers released damaging emails that demonstrated, among other things, partiality for Hillary Clinton on the part of the National Democratic Committee.  They were supposed to maintain a neutral position.  Apparently Russia was taking a hand in the election in favor of Trump.  As a result of these emails the chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position as chairperson of the NDC.

 

Another factor was that many Bernie Sanders people protested Clinton’s appointment as presidential candidate.  A poll determined that 80 plus percent of them would vote for Hillary Clinton but many of those that wouldn’t were very loud about their feelings.

 

Beyond the disparities the Democratic Convention was very positive.  It was a celebration of both America and Hillary Clinton.  “We’re going to empower all Americans to live better lives,” she said.  “My primary mission as President will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States from my first day in office to my last, especially in places that for too long have been left out, left behind.”

 

There was a strong argument for gun control in the form of strict background checks from a mother from Orlando, Florida whose son was shot.  Another appeal from a daughter whose mother was murdered in Newtown, Connecticut.  Former House Representative Gabby Gifford, who was shot in the head by a crazed man, appealed for this type of change.  Others stated that five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas in July.  They all made excellent points.  This position is supported even by the majority of members the National Rifle Association.

 

General John Allen, joined by dozens of veterans made a dramatic presentation for Hillary Clinton as the new Commander and Chief of the military.

 

In fact we even had the beginnings of a movement of Republicans for Hillary which grows as we get closer and closer to Election Day.

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Hillary Clinton has gone up well above Trump in the polls since the Conventions.  One of the reasons for this is that the Democratic Convention brought a level of unity among the Democrats.  This did not happen during the Republican Convention.

 

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City, who was a Republican and is now an Independent, gave a speech offering a scathingly indictment of Donald Trump as a “dangerous demigod” and “reckless” choice for president.

 

Blomberg stated that he had been both a Democrat and a Republican and was now an Independent.  He cast Trump as a failed businessman and risk to the country.  “Through his career, Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, angry shareholders and contractors who feel cheated and his frustrated customers who feel ripped off.”  He commented:  “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he runs his businesses.  God help us.”

 

He took Trump to task for blasting trade deals while using overseas manufacturing to produce products bearing his name.  He accused Trump of gaming the U.S., the Visa system, and using illegal immigrants while vowing to deport them if elected president.  “Truth be told the richest thing is his hypocrisy,” he said.

 

Another speaker, who came right after Michelle Obama, was Elizabeth Warren.  She stated, among other things, that “Corporations are not people.”  She hammered Trump saying “Trump’s entire campaign is one more late night infomercial.”  “Other than about building a stupid wall                                                            … did you have any ideas?”  “Trump is a man who cares only for himself, every minute of the day.”  “What kind of man cheats students, cheats investors, cheats workers?  I’ll tell you what kind of man, a man who will never be president of the United States.”

 

She also stated that Republican lawmakers – namely the ones who have obstructed Democrats in Congress, Warren stated, “The American people are coming for you.”

 

The list of speakers was very impressive.  On the first night Michelle Obama spoke very effectively, followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren; Senator Cory Booker preceded the First Lady.  The final speaker of the night was Senator Bernie Sanders who strongly supported Hillary Clinton.

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On the first night the theme was “United Together.”  For the second night it was “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families.”  Former President Jimmy Carter gave a video address.  Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House Democrats spoke; so did Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood.  Both former Attorney General Eric Holder and Senator Barbara Boxer made presentations.

 

The Keynote speaker for that night was former President Bill Clinton.  He related his wife’s biography to an enthusiastic audience both in the Convention and on TV.  She has had decades of work for children, women, and the needy.  He talked of her persistence in solving problems placed before her, of her role as a mother to their daughter, Chelsea, of her as a mother figure to the nation.  “She’ll never give up on you,” he stated.

 

Toward the end of his presentation Bill Clinton spoke of two Hilarys, the one he was talking about and the one the Republicans seemed always to speak about.  The Republican one, he said, was not real, she had been created or disparaged by the Republicans over the years.

 

Since 1993, when Bill Clinton became President and put Hillary in charge of a task force to come up with a Universal Health Care Plan the Republicans began a hate Hillary campaign both against her and the mission she was undertaking, Universal Health Care for all Americans.                                                               This hate Hillary campaign has persisted up to the present day, 23 years.  They have never given her credit for anything but early on dubbed her “Lady Macbeth from Little Rock.”

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Vice President Joe Biden gave an impassioned speech in which he urged voters to turn their backs upon Trump.  “This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in.  The threats are too great and the times to uncertain to elect Donald Trump as President.”  And then later, “No nominee in the history of this nation has known less or been less prepared to deal with National Security … who has no plan to keep us safe… Donald Trump is a man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain … a man who confuses bluster with strength.”  Later “He has no clue about what makes America great.  In fact, he doesn’t have a clue, period.”

 

The Reverend Jesse Jackson and Jill Biden spoke.  Former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg denounced Trump as a business failure and cheat.

 

On the third night the theme was “Work Together.  On that night United States Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia accepted the Vice Presidential nomination.  He began by sharing his life story with the American people.  Then he stated that a number of Americans did not find Hillary Clinton trustworthy.  He then cited her record of advocating for families and children, her foreign policy achievements, her fight in Congress to secure funding for New York City after the 9/11/01 attack on the Twin Towers, and her foreign policy achievements as Secretary of State.  “With Hillary, it’s not just words, it’s accomplishments.”

 

Then he plowed into Donald Trump.  “You know who I don’t trust.  It’s Donald Trump.  The guy promises a lot.  He has a habit of saying the same two words right after he makes his biggest promises.  ‘Believe me.’  His creditors, his contractors, his laid-off employees, his ripped off students did just that, and they all got hurt.  Folks, you cannot believe one word that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.”

 

The final speaker on the third day was President Barack Obama.  He strongly supported Hillary Clinton as a candidate who was fully prepared to take on the presidency, particularly against the pessimism of Donald Trump.  “America is already great.  America is already strong.  And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend upon Donald Trump.”

 

He touted Hillary Clinton as being better prepared for the presidency than he and her husband Bill Clinton had been.  In addition he said, “No matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never quits.”  In a manner of speaking Barack Obama was passing the baton on to a candidate who would carry on the Democratic tradition, both his and hers.

 

The theme for the fourth night was “Stronger Together.”  Both U.S Representative Tammy Duckworth, a Purple Heart veteran in Afghanistan, and Nancy Pelosi, the minority Speaker of the House of Representatives, spoke.

 

Outside of Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech the most dramatic speaker was the Muslim, Khizi Khan, who had his wife silently seated by his side.  The Khans had lost their son, Humayun S. M. Khan, an army captain, who, in 2004, had been killed in Iraq while saving the lives of both his men and a group of civilians.  He was killed by a car bomb while inspecting a guard post.  He spotted a taxi speeding toward the military compound.  Khan yelled for people to hit the ground as he ran toward the taxi.  The driver detonated the bomb before it hit the post or a nearby mess hall, where a large number of soldiers were eating breakfast.  He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

 

Khizi Khan denigrated Trump for his attitude and his ignorance.  Mr. Khan accused Donald Trump of never having sacrificed anything.  He stated that “Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America.  If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been born in America.”  At one point he held up a small booklet which was a copy of the United States Constitution and accused Trump of never having read the document.  He then offered to lend Trump his copy.  It was a verbal attack by a Muslim citizen of the U.S. against the man who would close the nation to all Muslim immigration.

 

Against Khan’s accusation of never having sacrificed anything Trump response was that he had sacrificed by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Equating profit making enterprise with sacrifice was a strange use of language or understanding.

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The major speaker on Thursday, the fourth night, was Hillary Clinton, accepting the position as Democratic candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election.  Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother who was the final speaker at the Democratic Convention.

 

Hillary formally accepted the nomination.  She has been one of the best known women in the world since the early 90s.  From 1993, when her husband became President of the United States, there has been a hate Hillary campaign by the Republicans.  On the one hand she has in some respects, like her emails have been careless but on the other, she has probably worked harder than any other Secretary of State visiting and dealing with 113 countries while also sitting in the President’s Cabinet and being involved in the decision making process on major policy operations.  She was involved in the decision to get Osama bin Laden, the originator of the destruction of the Twin Tower on 9/11/01.  In fact she was involved in many of President Obama’s major decisions.

 

Hillary stated in her acceptance speech, “I get that some people just don’t know what to make of me.  So let me tell you.”  She then detailed the years she had spent in public service and her goals for a presidency.  She depicted Trump as unstable and unqualified for the office.

 

She accepted the nomination “with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise.”  In her nearly 60 minute address she said, “America is once again at a moment of reckoning.  Powerful forces are threatening to pull her apart.  Bonds of trust and respect are fraying.  And just as with our founders there are no guarantees….We have to decide whether we’re going to work together, so we can all rise together.”

 

“We’re going to empower all Americans to live better lives,” Hillary Clinton said.  “My primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States, from my first day in office to my last day, especially in places that for too long have been left out and left behind.”

 

She presented a “stark” choice for voters on National Security at this time of international turbulence.  She ridiculed Trump’s statement that he alone can solve America’s problems.  “Americans don’t say, ‘I alone can fix it.’  They say ‘we’ll fix it together.”

 

Of Trump she said, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons.”

 

Bernie Sanders was praised by Clinton.  “You’ve put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong.  And to all of your supporters here or around the country, I want you to know I’ve heard you.  Your cause is our cause.”

 

Clinton’s historic role in breaking the gender barrier, a persistent theme of her campaign, drew some of the greatest applause.  “When there are no ceiling, the sky’s the limit.  So let’s keep going until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves.”

 

After Hillary had spoken the last moment of the Convention occurred and many thousands of red, white, and blue balloons dropped from the ceiling signifying the end of the Convention.  And America had its Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

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Of the two conventions the Republican one was thin with guests supporting it and dark with its outlook of America.  One of the TV Duck Dynasty minor luminaries appeared wearing an American flag bandana wrapped around his hair giving a short patriotic presentation.  Neither of the two living Republican former Presidents, George H.W. and his son George W. Bush appeared nor have commented publically about Donald Trump.  With the exception of Mitch McConnell, the current Senate majority leader and Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who both gave very lukewarm approval of Trump, saying he was preferable to Hillary Clinton, very few Republican members of Congress appeared.  It was a thin roster of so-called dignitaries.  The high point seemed to be the Trump children lauding the greatness of their father and Trump at the end giving a Hitler type speech where only he could save a disintegrating United States.

 

In the Democratic Convention there were so many political and Hollywood celebrities supporting Hillary Clinton that the Convention organizers had trouble getting them all to function during prime time.  There were the President and the First Lady, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Vice President Nominee Tim Kaine, Joe and Jill Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, to name a small number who appeared.  From Hollywood: Lena Dunham, Elizabeth Banks, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Simon sang.  It was a glorious meeting of people.

 

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #161 – Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Candidate for the Presidency in 2016

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until this point we have examined Donald J. Trump, the potential Republican Candidate.  It was hard, if not impossible, to find anything positive about him.  In fact the probability is that if he weren’t extremely wealthy, with a string of highly paid lawyers, he’d be in jail for his semi-legal and illegal actions.  Interestingly, everything he has accused Hillary Clinton of doing he has done or is doing.

 

It is now time to look at the perspective Democratic Candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.  It is difficult to find anyone more hated by the Republicans, especially those in Congress, than Hillary Clinton.  This apparently goes back to when her husband, Bill Clinton was President of the United States.  When he first attained that position in 1993, Bill Clinton announced that the country was getting a bonus, his wife, Hillary, who would head up a task force to develop a plan for Universal Health Care for everyone in the United States.

 

The Republicans fought the plan presented by the Task Force like they were fighting a rapidly spreading disease.  There were all sort of dire predictions about what it would do to our society in a negative fashion if free universal health care came into existence.  Finally one of them came up with a simple slogan that defeated it: “There has to be a better way.”  Of course the better way was no plan at all.  It was successfully defeated by the Republicans and essentially forgotten by the general public.

 

1993 seemed to be the year the antagonism against Hillary Clinton began.  She was initially denounced that year and the antagonism has grown and continued through to the present, 2016, for 23 years.

 

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician.  She was the 67th United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.  From 2001 to 2009 she served as a U.S. Senator from New York.  She is the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and was First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1993 to 2001.  In 2008 she attempted to run for the presidency and lost in the primary elections to Barack Obama.  Since 2015 she has been the leading Democratic candidate for the Presidency.   In 2016 she is the presumptive Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States having achieved more than the required number of state delegates and caucus votes needed to become the Democratic candidate.  She will be nominated officially as the Democratic candidate in late July of 2016 at the National Democratic Convention.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in 1947 in the Chicago area.  She was raised as a Methodist.  Her parents were Republicans.  In 1964, as a teenager she volunteered to work for the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, in his bid for the presidency.  She graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political science.  As a college student she supported Eugene McCarthy and Martin Luther King.  She had changed political parties and become more liberal.

 

Hillary Rodham got her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1973.  She worked as a congressional legal aid for a short time, then moved to Arkansas to marry Bill Clinton in 1973.  She co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families in 1977 and became the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978.  As First Lady of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1993, she led a task force that reformed the Arkansas public school system, mandating teacher testing and state standards for curriculum and classroom size.  She also became a full partner at Rose Law Firm in 1979.  In addition Hillary was on the board of directors of several large corporations, like Wal-Mart.

 

After her husband was elected to the Presidency of the United States, as First Lady, she led the Clinton health care plan in 1993, which never reached Congress.  She played a leading role in advocating the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the adoptions and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.  After Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton is regarded as the most empowered wife in American history.  Among the causes she has supported women’s rights has been one of her major ones.  She has stated in speeches around the world that women’s rights are human rights.

 

Hillary was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in 1996 regarding the Whitewater controversy.  Actually the Clintons had lost their late 1970s investment in the Whitewater Development Corporation.  First Lady Clinton was the subject of several investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Council, by committees of the U.S. Congress, and the press.  No charges were ever brought against her.

 

William Jefferson Clinton, shortly before he became president, said that in electing him the country would “get two for the price of one,” referring to the principle role his wife would play.  In August of that year, 1992, there was an article in the “American Spectator,” a conservative Republican publication, referring to “The Lady Macbeth of Little Rock.”  Hillary Clinton’s past ideological and ethical record came under attack at that time.  This seems to be the beginning of the long hate affair the Republicans have had with her.  At least twenty articles in major publications at that time compared her with Lady Macbeth.

 

It seems that since William Jefferson Clinton first ran for the Presidency of the United States leaders in the Republican Party have been out to get him.  And when that proved impossible they went after his wife.  The antagonism has lingered on since that point and Republican vehemence has increased over the years and is now focused upon the presumptive candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton.

 

In point of fact there were many investigation of Hillary Clinton over many of the things she did both before and after Bill Clinton became Governor as well as during his presidency and beyond.  In no case were charges ever brought against her.  It was a case of the Republicans continually fishing for something, anything under which they could possibly indite her.  In the end there was never any evidence that she had acted illegally.  It would seem that to the many Republicans involved in these investigations that had they been in the Clintons’ place they would have been totally dishonest.  They could not imagine Hillary not being like them, basically dishonest.

 

In addition her marriage to the president was subject to extreme stress during the Lewinsky scandal and the attempted impeachment of the president.  Initially she stated that the charges were the result of a “right-wing conspiracy.”  She characterized the Lewinsky charges as the latest in a long, organized, collaborative series of charges by Bill Clinton’s political enemies.  After the evidence of President Clinton’s encounter became incontrovertible, she issued a public statement confirming her commitment to their marriage.  But she was privately reported to be furious with him.

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While her husband was still President of the United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in 1998, announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate.  Hillary Clinton was urged to run for his seat.  The Clintons bought a home in Chappaqua, New York in 1999.  She became the first, First Lady to run for the Senate.

 

After eight years in office her husband left the presidency.  They moved to New York and Hillary Clinton was elected to the United States Senate.  After the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack upon the Twin Towers she voted for and supported military intervention in Afghanistan.  Also assuming that President George W. Bush was telling the truth she voted for and initially supported the Iraq Resolution.  Subsequently she objected to the Bush Administration’s conduct in the Iraq War and to most of Bush’s domestic policies.

 

She served on five Senate committees: Committee on Budget (2001-2002), Committee on Armed Services (2003-2009), Committee on Environment and Public Works (2001-2009), Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001-2009), and Special Committee on Aging.  She was also a member of the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe (2001-2009).

 

Following the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City Clinton helped obtain funding for the recovery efforts.  She was instrumental in obtaining $2.1 billion in funding.  She strongly supported U.S. military action in Afghanistan.  Her position was that it was a chance to combat terrorism and improve the lives of Afghan women who suffered under the Taliban government.  She worked stringently at her job as Senator.

 

In 2007 Hillary Clinton was reelected for a second term.  At this time she opposed Bush’s Iraq surge which passed along party lines.  She supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the financial crisis of 2007-2008, supporting a bailout of $700 billion for the financial institutions.

 

In 2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton was also involved in her own Presidential Campaign.  On January 20, 2007   she announced on her website the formation of a presidential exploratory committee for the Election of 2008.  No woman had ever before been nominated for that position.  She came close but in the primary elections lost to Barack Obama, who became the presumptive nominee.

 

President-elect Obama offered Hillary Clinton the position of being his Secretary of State.  She was initially reluctant to accept the position but changed her mind.  On December 1, President-elect Obama formally announced that Hillary Clinton would be his nominee for Secretary of State.  Clinton stated that she did not want to leave the Senate, but that the new position represented a “difficult and exciting adventure.”  On January 21, 2009 she was confirmed in the full Senate by a vote of 94-2.  She became the first former First Lady to serve in the President’s Cabinet.

 

As First Lady she had visited 79 countries; as Secretary of State she visited well over 100.  Initially she contacted a number of world leaders and indicated that the United States would change direction.  She announced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Developmental Review.  This established specific objectives for the State Department’s diplomatic missions abroad.  It was modeled after a similar process in the Defense Department that she was familiar with from her time in the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The plan also sought to institutionalize goals of empowering women throughout the world.

 

Clinton and Obama developed a good working relationship without any power struggles.  She was a team player and a defender of the administration.  Both Obama and Clinton approached foreign policy on a similar basis; the President trusted her actions and she totally supported him.

 

Secretary Clinton was among the group that argued for the raid into Pakistan to get bin Laden.  In a speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council she advocated for gay rights and legal protections of gays.  She also stated that the 21st Century would be “America’s Pacific century.”  This was part of the Obama’s administration pivot to Asia.

 

For the four years she served as Secretary of State Clinton was a very busy lady.  She viewed “smart power” as the strategy for asserting U.S. leadership and values.  By combining military hard power with diplomacy and U.S. soft power capacities in global economics, development aid, technology, creativity, and human rights advocacy the United States could lead other nations in maintaining peace and stability.

 

She greatly extended the State Department’s use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to get the message out and to help empower people.  In the Mideast turmoil, Clinton saw an opportunity to advance one of the central themes of the tenure, the empowerment and welfare of women and girls worldwide.  She viewed women’s rights as critical for U.S. security interests because it was a link between the level of violence against women and the gender inequality within the state, and instability to international security within that particular country.

 

Clinton visited 112 countries during her tenure, making her the most widely traveled Secretary of State in the history of the nation.  Time Magazine wrote: “Clinton’s endurance is legendary.”

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On September 11, 2012, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked resulting in the death of the ambassador and three other American officials.  The news of this incident originally was splotchy and several reports were issued before accurate information was released.  Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, took responsibility for what happened.  The Republicans, particularly in the House of Representatives, blamed her for not anticipating the incident.  They have held approximately four separate hearing on the Benghazi attack, all focused upon the Secretary of State, all essentially fishing expeditions looking to find her guilty of something.  After the initial hearing the others have turned up nothing new.  The results of the last hearing, in which Hillary Clinton testified for eight consecutive hours, presented its non-results in June of 2016.  Nothing new came out even though its Republican chairman indicated in his report that it was an important investigation.  No doubt it was important to the Republicans because Hillary Clinton was campaigning in the Presidential Primaries at the time.

 

At the conclusion of the first Congressional investigation of Benghazi, on November of 2014, the House Intelligence Committee concluded in their report that there had been no wrongdoing in the administration’s response to the attack.  That did not stop at least three other House investigations of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.

 

What I find fascinating is the fact that atrocities have occurred under many different Secretaries of State.  We even have one case where the country was misled under the leadership of President George W. Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, over a needless war in Iraq where thousands of Americans have host their lives and billions of dollars were wasted.  There is also President Ronald Reagan’s illegal actions toward the end of his second term in the Iran-Contra Affair.  None of these have been investigated by any Standing Committee of Congress but millions have been spent trying to blame the Benghazi attack upon Hillary Clinton by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

 

What I find even more fascinating is the fact that prior to the attack the penny-pinching Republican dominated House of Representatives reduced funding for protection of embassies.  For some reason that fact has never been mentioned in any of the hearings.

 

What we have here is a prime example of “Get Hillary”; a prime example of using government funds to politically embarrass or possibly indite Hillary Clinton.  The Republican whip in the House, Kevin McCarthy, a close relative of Charley McCarthy, credited the Hearings as lowering Clinton’s pole ratings, meaning they were political moves.

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A controversy arose from March 2015, when it was revealed by the State Department’s inspector general that Clinton had used personal email accounts on a non-governmental maintained server, instead of email accounts maintained by the Federal government servers, when conducting official business during her tenure as Secretary of State.  Some officials, members of Congress, and other political opponents, contended that the use of private messaging, a private server, and the deletion of nearly 32,000 emails that she deemed private violated State Department protocols and procedures, and Federal laws and regulations governing recordkeeping requirements.

 

According to Clinton nothing she sent out dealt with the categories of confidential or secret.  But nearly 2,100 emails were retroactively marked classified, 65 were later marked secret and more than 20 contained top secret information. James Comey, the FBI Director, had the FBI both investigate Clinton’s emails and reported to a standing committee in Congress.   He commented upon the number she sent that were confidential and stated that while she made a mistake there were no grounds upon which to indite her.  The Republican’s in the Committee were very unhappy; some seemed to be at the point of tears.  The Committee will hear from the Attorney General next.

The problem I have with this investigation is that the two prior Secretaries of State, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell both used private email servers as well as the official government server.  Why weren’t they also investigated?  Is it because they’re both Republicans and also not running for office?  Sometimes I wonder about the current Republican Investigating Standing Committees.  Do they do anything that isn’t for show?

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Much has been said about the Clinton Foundation as a nefarious entity that the Clinton’s own for their own uses.  The Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that was established by former President Bill Clinton in 2001 with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global independence.”  Currently it employs and houses at least 2,000 people at different areas of the world in order to do this.  Through 2016 the Foundation had raised two billion U.S. dollars from U.S. Corporations, foreign governments and corporations, political donors, and other groups and individuals.  The Foundation has received praise from philanthropic experts, has had support from both Democrats and Republicans, the Obama administration and the George W. Bush administration.

 

When Hillary Clinton left the State Department she, for the first time in thirty years, became a private citizen.  She and her daughter joined her husband in the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013.  They backed causes on early childhood development and a $600 million initiative to encourage the enrollment of girls in secondary schools worldwide led by former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.  She also worked on a College Project with Bill and Melinda Gates to study data on the progress of women and girls around the world.  The Clinton’s Foundation has accepted donations from many sources and used the money for numerous causes that have helped enhance the position of women and others worldwide.

 

It should also be mentions that the Clinton, both Bill and Hillary, are paid substantially by assorted organizations to make oral presentations.  They have earned quite a bit of money in this fashion.

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On April 12, 2015, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the presidency of the United States.  She had a campaign organized, which included a large donor base, experienced operators, functioning political action committees, and infrastructure that could operate in all fifty states.

 

Her focus included raising middle class incomes, establishing universal preschool, initially making college more affordable and later advocating free education to youths from any family earning under $125,000 a year, and improving Affordable Health Care.

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It would seem that the 2016 choice for president is an extremely liberal Hillary Rodham Clinton or an erratic, blustering, essentially dishonest businessman who never kept his word in business, Donald J. Trump.  Trump has made impossible promises that could not even be fulfilled with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in both Houses of Congress.  Among other things, like a multibillion dollar wall between Mexico and the United States, Trump is promising economic nationalism in a world where most large corporation are multinational.  He would take the country back to the 1930s.  That period ended in World War II.

 

There is a cottage industry in the United States, books and articles demeaning Hillary Clinton.  The Republican Hate Clinton Stance has today grown into an industry.  It’s rather sad and too much, I suspect, to fight with endless lawsuits.

 

The question remains: Who would you better trust to be the next president of the United States?  Would it be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

The Weiner Component #150 – The Press & the Media

The overall purpose of journalism and the media is to provide us with the information to make the best possible decisions about our lives, communities, society, government, and the world in general.  The press and television or the media tends to give us general information and direct images of people and events.  To a large extent they do interviews with assorted noted individuals.  Currently we are going through a primary season that will determine who the leading candidates will be in the oncoming Presidential Election on the first Tuesday of November, 2016.

 

Are we being honestly informed about the world around us?  Is this what the assorted journalists and the media are doing?  Are they gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting largely unbiased information?  When assorted people are interviewed are we getting honest images of them?

 

This process is very important in a Democratic Society where people’s decisions are based upon the news and information they have.  In the oncoming 2016 Presidential Election will the general population be honestly informed or will they be propagandized?  Where does the press and media stand?

 

In the world today we are constantly surrounded with bits and pieces of information denoting what is both in the country and in the world around us.  At times such as elections we have to sort through some of this information and come to certain realizations before we can make rational decisions.  This is particularly true if we are functioning in a Democracy and have to choose the best candidate in a Presidential Election.

 

The question then arises if we are dealing with a Presidential Election, as we do every four years in the United States, is: Are we getting proper relevant information about the prospective candidates to make informed decisions concerning the elections.

 

The agencies through which we gain this information are the newspapers, radio, television, ads and news, the press, the media, and the internet.  The newspapers, depending upon their bias, generally give factual information and opinion, favoring one or the other candidate.  While some tend to be a little to the right or to the left, in their opinion sections, they are more or less neutral in their factual information.  Virtually anything can be published on the internet.  Here the reader has to decide the value of what he/she is reading.  In terms of the media or television, the question arises: Are these interviewers truly doing their job?  Are they honestly presenting interviews or are they being used by the people they are supposedly interviewing?

 

I would say that it is a combination of the two which essentially means that they are both being used by the candidate to present whatever he or she want the audience to understand and by the interviewer to present as good an image as he or she can.  An obvious example of the former was the Vice Presidential debate in 2008 between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.  Palin clearly stated at the beginning that she would respond to questions by talking about what she felt like saying, that she would not be answering any questions asked.  And that’s what she did.

 

Today if a politician doesn’t want to answer the question asked for whatever reason he tends to talk but what he says has no relationship to the question.  The news broadcaster generally goes to another question.  If he attempts to ask the question over again with a follow-up question the same thing will happen again and, this time, the interviewer will definitely go on to another question.  This can happen a number of times during an interview.

 

What about blatant lying or prefabricating during an interview?  Donald Trump seems to do this all the time.  He is never challenged.  Carly Fiorina had a story about fetus parts being sold by Planned Parenthood.  When she was challenged on this her response was something to the effect of, Prove it didn’t happen.  Presumably the interviewer was put on the spot and the issue went away.  In any case she was not about to respond to the question.

 

Trump’s obvious prefabrications have never even been directly challenged.  But then if Trump is challenged he will verbally attack the reporter as he did with Megyn Kelly during the first presidential debate, when she asked him about his treatment of women.  Trump is also very careful in choosing his interviewers.  He skipped one debate at Fox News because Megyn Kelly was one of the interviewers.

 

Are the TV interviewers doing their jobs?  An interesting question in terms of news casting today.

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There is a history behind what is going on in the present.  Generally the same games have historically gone on but the role of the interviewer, for various reasons has changed.  If we go back to the time before Richard Nixon became President of the U.S. in 1969 or earlier then we are in a period when questions were specifically answered or skipped.  Specific information was given to the press generally when it was asked for.  There were a group of commentators who evaluated the information the various candidates enunciated.  The entire process of news gathering was more direct and more specific.

 

With the Nixon Presidency in 1969 conditions began to radically change.  Nixon’s axe man, Vice President Spiro Agnew, began in a mildly oblique way to threaten the electronic news media, suggesting that when their Federal Communication Commission license became due for renewal the request might be rejected as the station, be it radio or television, might no longer qualify as doing a public service. To individual reporters who might come out with a somewhat negative view of the President at some time it was suggested that they might no longer be welcome at White House briefings.  Gradually this pressure began to spread beyond the White House press meeting throughout the entire Republican Party.  At that time there was a new price that had to be paid if one was a reporter; there were new limits to reporting.  The press and media was beginning to be controlled by the administrations.

 

When Nixon ran for reelection in 1972 members of his staff sanctioned the Watergate Hotel break-ins at Democratic Headquarters.  They also helped fund George McGovern as the Democratic candidate for the office of President, working on the assumption that if overly liberal McGovern became the Democratic candidate Nixon would have an overwhelming Republican victory.

 

Nixon’s Reelection Committee was correct in their assumption but in order to be sure they had a group called “the plumbers” break into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel several times to go through the Democratic documents there.  On their third visit they were caught and arrested.  At some point early on in the process Nixon became aware of the break-ins.  Meanwhile Nixon was reelected by an overwhelming majority.  For the next two years as the information gradually emerged the question became: “What did the President know?  And when did he know it?”  Basically the issue was: Was Nixon involved in the Break-in?  And did he participate in the cover-up?  The answer that came out two years into his second term was YES and he was involved in the cover up.  Nixon would resign from the presidency the day before he was to be impeached.

 

Meanwhile, while this was going on, the Justice Department was investigating the Vice-President, Spiro Agnew.  He was charged with an eighty-nine page indictment charging him with extortion, tax fraud, bribery, and conspiracy.  He had accepted bribes of over $100,000 as Governor of Maryland and as a government official before that, as well as vice president.  Because of the ongoing investigation over Watergate Agnew was allowed to plead “no contest” to a single charge that he had failed to report $25,000 of income, pay a fine, resign as Vice President, and leave Washington, D.C.  As a note or irony ten years later in a civil suit by the State of Maryland Agnew had to pay out nearly $270,000, stemming from the bribery charge.

 

Nixon appointed Senator Gerald Ford as his new Vice President.  President Ford would end America’s involvement into the Viet Nam War and pardon former President Nixon for any crimes he had or may have committed

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It is important to remember that when Richard Nixon became President in 1969 one of his major goals was to get the United States out of Viet Nam “with honor.”  Former President Lyndon B. Johnson had vigorously increased the extent of the war to force the Vietnamese to capitulate to America.  He did not succeed.  Richard Nixon had promised to end the war if elected.  He would do this by upgrading the war effort to the point where the U.S. could have an honorable settlement.

 

The Viet Nam War had been reported practically battle by battle.  Cameramen went along with the military daily and filmed practically every battle.  This, then, was shown that night on national television in the U.S. as the nightly news.  The effect of this was to engender a massive protest movement throughout the country.  The population did not enjoy watching American soldiers or Vietnamese nightly being machine-gunned or blown to bits.

 

To demonstrate that we were winning the U.S. military came up with the concept of the daily “body count,” the number of American’s killed that day versus the number of Vietnamese militants who died.  Their number was always far greater than our number of dead.  In fact if one totaled the count it would seem that soon there would be no Vietnamese left to fight the war.

 

It was President Gerald Ford who ended this war in 1975 and we did not leave “with honor.”  Interestingly today there is a Hanoi Hilton and Vietnam is an inexpensive vacation country that welcomes American citizens.  The press would never again be allowed to report a military operation in the same way it did in Viet Nam.

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In 1976 the Republican, Gerald Ford, ran against the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, for the office of President and lost.  Jimmy Carter became President of the United States in 1976.  He would serve one term.  His relations with the press and media eased up but a note of caution remained in their reporting.

 

During Carter’s tenure there would be a revolution in Iran and the autocratic Shah, a longtime ally of the United States, would be replaced by the religious far right leader, Ayatollah Khomeini.  Presumably a group of students raided the U.S. Council and made the American Embassy employees prisoners.  The U.S. military mounted a helicopter mission to rescue them which failed.  52 hostages were held from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.  They were released just hours after Ronald Reagan became president.

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With the assent of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States the press and media underwent a new metamorphosis.  Reagan, our 40th President and his staff managed the media largely for eight years to their advantage.

 

He was called the Teflon President.  As a former actor he never stopped acting. He has been called the most ideal, congenial President in modern history, continually telling his audience, the American Public, what they wanted to hear, always in positive terms.  Even, at the end of his presidency when he was telling the public on a television broadcast about his guilt in the Iran-Contra Affair, a breach of law that could have gotten him impeached and sent to prison, he was able to do it in such a way that it didn’t seem to be his fault.

 

While the media was warry of him they also fell under his influence and allowed him to manage the news.  Even though he was to the right of the majority of the American people he was able to get massive tax cuts for the wealthy.  An average member of the middle class might from 1981 on save $200 on their income taxes while someone in the upper echelon might save $20,000 or more in income taxes.  While he did this he was able to significantly cut social programs to the needy.  Reagan actually espoused welfare for the rich.

 

He was the first President to raise the National Debt over a trillion dollars and then with his massive military spending and tax cuts, more than doubled that amount.

 

Through his overspending he did end the Cold War.  He and his administration were convinced that militarily the Soviet Union was far ahead of the United States and that we had to catch-up to them.  In doing this he inadvertently bankrupted them as they tried to keep up with us.  This brought about the end of the Cold War.

 

It was after his administration that reality set in with the press and many of them, after the fact, reevaluated him on an extremely negative basis.  But that was after the fact.  Some of his staff went to prison for the Iran-Contra affair but Reagan, in whose name it was brought about, was essentially untouched by it.

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Reagan was followed by his Vice President, George H. W. Bush, as the 41st President for one term with a Democratic Congress.  He was guilty in bringing about a war with Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, by inept diplomacy, which also cost numerous lives on both sides but also raised the National Debt additional trillions of dollars.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq would unsuccessfully attempt to have Bush assassinated.  His son would later punish him.

 

With Bill Clinton there was much drama involving some of his proclivities.  The press was not threatened, instead they were treated to various colorful stories about the man and to his attempted impeachment.

 

George W. Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush became the 43d President.  His presidency is marked by the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.  It was then that the War on Terror earnestly began in the United States and was used by the Bush Administration to get a myriad of laws passed.  “9/11” became a key term and was freely used from then on by the administration to get their way on many issues.  The press was largely patriotic and went along with most of what the government wanted.

 

The second Bush was followed by Barack Obama.  Currently there are no threats to the press.  But with the oncoming 2016 Election and the belligerence among the Republican candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz we are coming into another era of risk to the press and media.

 

The very nature of live reporting seems to have changed.  Candidates, with a very straight face, blatantly lie or prefabricate in front of the camera or in speeches at rallies.  But they are never challenged on this.  It’s as though the press or media are afraid of the people they are interviewing.  Donald Trump is particularly noted for this.  If he doesn’t like the question he will verbally and vindictively challenge the reporter.  Ted Cruz tends to pick his interviewers as well as reinterpret the questions asked.  Reporting has become a heady occupation.  Somehow the original purpose of the reporter seems lost or confused.  The public seems left to make their decisions on an emotional basis.

 

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #146 Part 2 – The Republican Party & the Future

English: Woodrow Wilson.

English: Woodrow Wilson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4 U.S. Presidents. Former President Jimmy Cart...

4 U.S. Presidents. Former President Jimmy Carter (right), walks with, from left, George H.W. Bush (far left), George W. Bush (second from left) and Bill Clinton (center) during the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, November 18, 2004 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Franklinas Delanas Ruzveltas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the effects of the American Civil War was the industrial concentration of large groups of people needed to manufacture the goods required by the military confrontation.  This slowly began the movement which would become, through the rest of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, known as the Rise of the Cities. This Industrial Revolution would increase after the War, people would leave the rural areas and numerous immigrants would come to the ever-growing cities and the United States would become mainly an urban nation.

 

From 1877 on, when the Southern occupation or Reconstruction by a Northern army of occupation ended as a result of a deal made during the disputed Presidential Election of 1876 in which the Republicans got the presidency and Reconstruction ended, with the South becoming freely again a part of the Union.  The Senate barely remained Republican and the House had a Democratic majority.

 

A Republican, James A. Garfield was elected in 1881.  He was assassinated four months into his term and was replaced by his Vice President, Chester A. Arthur, who served out the four years.  The Senate had an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and the House had a Republican majority.

 

There were an equal number of Republican and Democratic presidents after until you get to the reform presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, who are both Republicans.  They are followed by the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, and World War I.  He will be succeeded by three Republican Presidents: Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.  At that point we have the Great Depression of 1929 which lasts until World War II.  The Congress will generally follow the lead of the reigning president.

 

The next President in 1933, by a landslide, was the Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Both the House and Senate maintained a Democratic majority during his terms in office.  He is reputed to have brought unemployment down from 25% to 2%.

 

After his death, during his fourth term, his Vice President, Harry S. Truman, served the rest of his fourth term and an additional one of his own through 1953.  During his last two years in office the Congress had a Republican majority.

 

Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, during his eight years in office, intermittently had both Democratic and Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.  Democratic Presidents, Kennedy and Johnson had Democratic majorities in Congress.  The same is true of Republicans, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford.  From January 1977 to 1981 President Jimmy Carter had Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress.  Ronald Reagan had Democratic majorities in the House and mostly the same in the Senate.  George H.W. Bush had to work with Democratic majorities during his four years in office while Bill Clinton had them only during his first two years in office.  George W. Bush had both during different times and Barack Obama had a Democratic majority only during his first two years, then a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, and a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress during his last two years in office.

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In the post-Civil War period, as earlier, recessions and depressions came, at the best, every few years or at the worst, almost successively, with occasional major downturns like the Bankers’ Panic of 1907 at the New York Stock Exchange.

 

On December 23, 1913 Congress passed and President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act bringing financial regulation into existence in the United States.  Prior to this time Adam Smith’s “invisible hand,” which he defined as the motivating force behind the Market System, determined which way the Stock Market would run.  The “invisible hand,” self-interest, individual greed, had historically caused continual large fluctuations in the Stock and other Markets.

 

The mission of the Federal Reserve was through Monetary (money) Policy to maximize employment, keep prices stable, and moderate long term interest rates.  This purpose was extended with bank regulation during FDR’s New Deal.  In the 1980s the Reagan administration canceled the bank regulation.  This, in turn, led to the Real Estate Bubble two decades later.  And because of the banking-caused Real Estate Debacle of 2008 the Federal Reserve’s purpose was again expanded to supervising and regulating banks, maintaining stability of the financial structure, and providing financial services to depository institutions, the United States Government, and foreign official institutions.

 

Of course the banks objected to the 2009 reforms and in the 2014 Federal Government’s Finance Bill, Citibank was able to slip in a section into this 1,600 page law limiting this power.  This was done the night before the bill had to be voted upon.  Naturally the banks object to any regulation that limits them.  I would also suppose that their executives would equally object if any of them were sent to jail for illegal activities instead of having the bank just paying fines as they have been doing since 2009.

 

In the 2012 Presidential Election the Republican Candidate, Mitt Romney, publically stated, more than once, that after he was elected he would do away with the Dodd-Frank Banking Reform Bill that was passed in 2009.  His statements called for a return to the good-old-days before the 2008 Real Estate Crash when the banks and bankers were making inordinate amounts of money and getting phenomenal compensation packages.

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If we look at the economic patterns that occurred during the last hundred and some years what emerges is the fact that the major economic downturns were preceded by Republican Presidents.  The three presidents during the last three major downturns were: Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and George W. Bush.

 

While they were not individually responsible for the depressions it was both the Republican policies and the general ignorance of how the economy works that brought the economic collapses into being.  In 1907, there was no central bank, money, in the shape of gold coins, moved freely according to the needs of the nation.  The Panic of 2007, also known as the Banker’s Panic, more or less, began in October of that year when the New York Stock Market dropped about 50%.  There had been an assault upon the Stock Market that blew up the economy and there was no Central Bank at that time to infuse currency into the National Cash Flow.  A few years later in 1913 this depression brought about the establishment of the Federal Reserve.

 

For 1929s depression, and all the minor recessions up to that time, there was a bland reliance upon the forces of the Marketplace to continually determine what had supposedly been long term prosperity.  In essence the Market forces, the “invisible hand,” self-interest, was the determinate.  After years of pushing stock prices upward the Stock Market was severely overpriced.  This could not go on forever and it collapsed in 1929 dropping to a fraction of what it had been earlier, and in the process bringing the entire economy down.

 

In 1933 the new Democratic President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, doubled the money supply by collecting all the gold coins, melting them down into gold blocks, burying them in depositories like Fort Knox, legally doubling their value, and issuing paper money presumably backed by gold.  It was a fiction that lasted until 1969 when, then President Richard M. Nixon took away the last bit of gold supposedly behind the dollar.

 

This action by Roosevelt, doubling the money supply easily paid for the New Deal but it wasn’t enough to offset the 1929 Depression.  It would have taken four to eight times the money then in circulation to end the economic situation.  Unfortunately the problem wasn’t understood properly at that time and it took a major war from 1939 to 1945 to offset and end the Great Depression.

 

The explosion of the 2008 Real Estate Bubble toward the end of that year also occurred during a Republican presidency.  Here the next President, Barack Obama, applied all the money needed; and what could have been a Greater Depression than that of 1929 became a major recession that should have been resolved in a year or two with applications of both Monetary and Fiscal Policy.  But the Republicans, following their historic philosophy which had caused most of the economic downturns, exacerbated the situation by refusing to pass any Fiscal Policy laws.  Virtually every economic move they made tended to worsen economic conditions.  It took the efforts of the President and the Federal Reserve to keep a depression from happening.

 

If the Republicans had been solely in charge, not only the United States but the entire world would currently be in a Great Depression that would  make 1929 look like a weekend holiday.

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Much has been learned and understood as to how National Economies work from the latter half of the 20th Century on.  Economic changes like recessions and depressions can be lightened or even avoided.  The National Economies are not like wild animals that inevitably rear their heads and bring about indiscriminately varied levels of misery to their populations.  In 2009 a multi-gigantic depression was avoided by actions of the Central Government.  Economic catastrophe or lack of prosperity can be avoided and controlled.  It was in 2009 by President Obama and his administration.

 

Yet none of these practices are or have been accepted by the members of the Republican Party.  They still follow Adam Smith’s late 18th Century work, An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations, which in itself was, in part, a reaction against the 16th Century economic practice known as Mercantilism.  Smith defined the Free Market controlling entity as the “invisible hand,” self-interest.    What Smith did not foresee was that the Free Market led to Monopoly and Oligopoly, which led to societal economic decision-making by the few who were still motivated by self-interest.

 

This is the Free Market in which Ronald Reagan and the Republicans believe.  This is what the Reagan and his administration utilized for their newly discovered Supply Side Economics.  Lower taxes, particularly for the upper echelon of society (the rich), and they will automatically invest that new income in new industry, creating new jobs, and new productivity which will supply new goods and jobs for everyone.  And everyone will live happily ever after.  A nice fairy tale!  It never happened.

 

What did happen was that a very large percentage of the people who benefited from the tax cut gave these new savings to financial experts who invested them in old productivity, stocks and bonds.  New startup companies, when they came into existence and had proved their durability, tended to be financed by the large banking houses.

 

The theory was nonsense.  It never worked.  But the 2016 Republican candidates for the presidency are all still adhering to it.  They want to cut taxes for the very rich which currently stops being graduated after their income reaches $400,000, with the percentage the Federal Government receives staying fixed no matter how many millions or billions it goes into.

 

Why is it important for the Republicans to be Supply Siders?  Because these people are their main financial contributors.  They are the ones who pay for their political campaigns.  And the Republicans are very good at combining need (endless contributions) with political philosophy.

 

This is also true with most pharmaceutical companies.  Their products can be purchased at lower prices outside of the United States.  Congress has passed laws fixing their prices in this country and not allowing any government agency to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry.  They are large contributors to political campaigns, particularly Republican political campaigns and Republican Congressmen are utilizing the principle of self-interest.

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Of the two major political parties in the United States the Republicans are the minority party; there are far less of them than there are Democrats.  But they are far more vociferous than the Democrats, never ceasing their loud complaining about the other party.  While the Democrats seem to keep a more or less polite silence.  The Democrats are blamed for everything wrong with the country, particularly those items caused by Republican actions.  The Republicans never take responsibility for any adverse action; they are either ignored or blamed on the Democrats.  Their theories of economics are self-serving and absurd.  And ultimately in percentage of the population they are actually shrinking in number as time moves forward and they become slowly an ever-decreasing minority.

 

They, the Republicans, have been successful politically in the last six years mainly through voter apathy and disgust.  They have done far better in Midterm Elections than in Presidential ones when a good percentage of the citizenry in disgust or disappointment for what has not happened during the last two years don’t bother to vote.  This has been added to by various forms of voter suppression in states the Republicans control.  In essence they have greater political victories when more people stay home on election days.

 

In addition to this in order to gain the support of the evangelicals the Republicans have incorporated the concept of the holiness of life from conception onward into their philosophy.  Statements have been made about passing an amendment to the Constitution giving the fetus full Constitutional rights from conception on.  This will never happen but it gives them a certain credence with the far right evangelicals.

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In the 1973, the Supreme Court found, by a 7 to 2 decision, in the Roe v. Wade case that abortions were legal; that women had a right to make their own decisions about their own bodies.  The evangelicals (religious right) have resisted this decision from the beginning.  At some point the Republicans latched onto this cause and made it their own, gaining the support of this group.

 

To many Republicans today, women are not capable of dealing with their own bodies.  They state and believe there should be no abortions allowed, not even in cases of rape, incest, or where the pregnancy endangers the woman’s life.  It would seem that they have and are trying to endanger women’s lives, both psychologically and physiologically.  In their view women are not capable of making certain decisions concerning their own lives.  It must be done by elderly white men who make up the bulk of the Republican Party.  This is, without question, War on Women,

 

In addition to this the Republicans are an extension of the National Rifle Association.  They tend to be against any laws regulating weapons, ammunition, and magazine size in any way.  No atrocity will deter them from this belief.  A goodly percentage of their blue collar membership, more or less, holds this belief.  To many members of the NRA the fact that this hasn’t happened is proof that it will happen if they allow any changes to occur to the gun laws.

 

It seems, if we consider the group in Oregon which has recently taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, that having weapons, like thousand dollar plus assault rifles, will keep the Government respectful.  Of course the fact that the Federal Government doesn’t want another blood bath is beside the point.  They have been there since January 2, 2016 and the few that have not been arrested and are still remaining there have stated that they will stay until the Federal Government gives the land to the original owners, the local ranchers.  It must be nice to just sit around indefinitely and wait for the Federal Government to give the land to the local ranchers.  Of course following their argument the land really belongs to the local Indians who have inhabited the area for at least the last two thousand years and claim it as their own.

 

It would seem that the Republican battle cry for a large number of its members is God and Guns, or is it Guns and God?  It’s often hard to tell which should come first.  I suppose it depends upon which Republican you ask.

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The American society has needs which have to be handled by necessary legislation.  These societal needs have been avoided by the Republican dominated legislature and in many cases by Republican dominated state law making bodies.  Congress has attempted to deal with these problems by ignoring them, especially since 2011 when the Republicans, by gerrymandering the states where they had a majority in the legislatures, gained control of the House of Representatives.

 

If anything what the House of Representatives has done is to shorten its meeting days until 2016 when they were reduced to 110 days for the year, to a three day week with holidays.  This allows the new Speaker, Paul Ryan, to spend four days a week home with his family: wife and two children, in Wisconsin and three days in Washington, D.C., as Speaker of the House.  A good job, if you can get it!

 

The Republican dominated Senate will meet a bit more often for the year.  Both Houses of Congress are ignoring the needs of the people within the nation and expect to maintain their majorities in both Houses of Congress after the 2016 Presidential Election and get a Republican elected to the presidency.  And they believe they can do this by antagonizing most of the other minorities and the one remaining majority, the women of the United States.

 

Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that after having passed a law doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) which the President vetoed, they will continue to pass laws embarrassing the President by forcing him to veto them.  They do not have enough votes to override his vetoes.  And in that way they, the Republicans, will show the public what they will get in the way of new laws in 2017 if they elect Republicans in both Congress and the Presidency.  I would imagine that if Donald J. Trump were to become the next President of the United States then all bets are off!

 

So much for Republicans!  They are, after all, the minority party which tends to win elections when only a minority vote in Midterm Elections.  2016 is a Presidential Election.  The majority of the population will be voting in that election.  The probability is that the Republicans, at best, will retain the House of Representatives; and that is because in 2011 they gerrymandered the Districts within the states they controlled.  In this way they choose their own voters instead of having the voters choose them.  Remember in the 2014 Midterm Election well over a million more votes were cast throughout the United States for Democrats in the House, but the Republicans still retained control of that body.

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It should also be noted that large, and, in some cases almost unlimited, contributions give immediate access to legislators and Congress by those making them.  These contributors to elections can and have influenced legislation or the direction the government is going.  The Republicans have integrated into their psyches the desires or needs of most of these individuals or corporations. For example, the Koch brothers of Wichita, Kansas, who are involved with oil, have had their state pass legislation against green energy.  Citibank has written financial regulation which has been inserted into Congressional Bills and become laws.

 

The Republicans are after all the party of business and of the individual.  They believe in everyone having as much freedom as possible.  Their solution to adding jobs is to increase pollution and other unsafe conditions.  No one forces anyone to take a job.  Everyone has choices, even the choice to starve or live in the street.

 

Finally it should be noted that even with voter suppression the Democrats are the majority party.  States like Texas have been able to limit rural voters by two or three hundred thousand by making it very difficult and expensive for these people living in rural areas, mostly, if not all, Democrats, to get proper identification and/or register to vote.  This was proven in the last Midterm Election of 2014.  But even so, the probability is that the Democrats will gain back the Senate and keep the presidency.  The probability is that the House is the one body the Republicans may still be able to control.  If my prediction is correct we will have total gridlock in the Congress for an additional four years.  It’s a depressing thought!

The Weiner Component #105 – The Midterm Election of 2014

A political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abra...

A political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865. The caption reads (Johnson to the former rail-splitter): Take it quietly Uncle Abe and I will draw it closer than ever!! (Lincoln to the former tailor): A few more stitches Andy and the good old Union will be mended! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: U.S. President Barack Obama meets wit...

Now that the Election is over we can examine the results.

Less people voted in this election than did in the 2012 Midterm Election. In fact only 37% of those who could vote voted; 63% stayed at home. The pattern seems to be large scale voting during presidential elections and highly limited voting on midterm ones. That gives Republicans the advantage during non-presidential elections and the Democrats have it in Presidential Election years. It makes for a crazy pattern with Congressional gridlock.

In 2015 the Republicans will have a majority in both Houses of Congress. More states will have Republican control of the legislature and governorship. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 36 of the 100 seats in the Senate were up for election. The Republicans won 246 seats, a gain of 13 from the previous House. In the Senate the Republicans added 7 seats, giving them the majority in that body.

Elections were held for governors in 36 of the 50 states. The Republicans won 24 and now control 36 state governorships. The election left the Democrats with the smallest number of state legislatures since the Great Depression in 1929.

The President has met with the new majority and minority leaders in both Houses: Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid for the Senate and John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi for the House. President Obama stated that they will be able to get necessary work done. He may be overly optimistic.

House Speaker John Boehner stated in a press interview that if the President plays with matches he can get burnt, implying that if Obama issues executive orders the Republicans will react negatively.

The cooperation should be interesting since the goals of both parties are miles apart.

The Democrats are concerned about income inequality and tax reform. They want to raise taxes on the upper ten percent and increase entitlement programs, like social security and Medicare. They want immigration reform, particularly for non-citizens whose children were born in this country and are United States citizens. They are also deeply concerned about global warming and want actions taken to slow it down. They are also against the Keystone XL Pipeline which would cross the U.S. from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico carrying oil-rich mud and other toxins, arguing that spills could easily occur poisoning local water- tables. They would also like to have background checks on all people purchasing weapons.

The Republicans, on the other hand, very much want the Keystone Pipeline installed. They want to limit the power of the Environmental Protection Agency and allow for more petroleum production. They do not believe in global warming. The new chairman of the Senate committee that deals with that subject has stated that changes in climate are determined by God and that man has nothing to do with it. Pollution presumably occurs by itself. The Republican idea of tax reform is to lower taxes for the upper twenty percent and spend less on entitlement programs and more on the military. They would also like to limit weapon laws more than they already are.

If you put these two groups in a room and had them try to reach a compromise on any of the above issues, on what could they reach a compromise? For those Republicans on the far-right, many of them have stated that their definition of compromise is to have the other side accept their position. What we are looking forward to from January 2015 through December 2016 is far more gridlock that we have seem in the prior congressional session. Virtually nothing will be done in terms of new needed laws. The one exception might be a declaration of war against ISIS.

What many Republicans seem to want to do is hold investigatory sessions on all Democratic actions with which they disagree. With the Republicans now in charge of both Houses of Congress we could conceivably spend the two years of the next Congressional session in committee investigations instead of passing any laws.

Once President Obama begins taking executive action in immigration and some of these other areas where the Democrats want action the Republican agenda will be to impeach the President. In fact the threat is now in the air. It has already been made. But there is not enough time left in the current session to carry this out. If it does come about in the next session the Republicans do not have the 2/3 majority vote in the Senate to successfully bring it about.

There have been two cases of presidential impeachment in the history of the United States, both failed. There could have been a third but in the case of Richard Nixon, he resigned from his office one day before he could be impeached. The first such case concerned Andrew Johnson who became president upon the death of Abraham Lincoln. The second was William Jefferson Clinton.

Andrew Johnson had been a Democratic Congressman from Tennessee who refused to support the Southern cause during the Civil War. When Lincoln ran for a second term Johnson was chosen as his Vice Presidential candidate. They ran at that point under the guise of the Union Party. With Lincoln’s assassination Johnson became the 17th President of the United States. The Radical Republicans who controlled the Congress attempted to use him to get extreme legislation passed. President Johnson attempted to follow in Lincoln’s footsteps with a more moderate policy. In 1867 the Republicans passed the Tenure of Office Act over the President’s veto which required that he get the advice and consent or approval of the Senate before he could fire anyone on his cabinet. Johnson replaced his Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, and the House of Representatives voted Articles of Impeachment accusing him of “High Crimes & Misdemeanors.” The case was presented to the Senate on March 2, 1868. The trial ended with acquittal. Seven Radical Republicans could not being themselves to vote guilty. One vote less than the needed 2/3 majority was cast.

William Jefferson Clinton (Bill Clinton) was a Democratic President who had a Republic Congress for the last six years of his presidency. He was impeached on February 12, 1999. Clinton was charged with one count of perjury and one charge of obstruction of justice. Guilt of “high crimes and misdemeanors” required a 2/3 vote by the Senate, 67 Senators had to find him guilty. Fifty Senators voted guilty on the obstruction of justice charge and forty-five voted so on the perjury charge. No Democrats voted guilty. President Clinton was acquitted; the 2/3 majority was not reached. In fact, not all Republican Senators agreed on the charge of guilty.

In both cases Republican Congresses had attempted to impeach a Democratic president that would not do their will. In both cases the Congress was attempting to take over primacy in the government of the United States. And in both cases the principle of checks and balances remained in force.

In the case of the Republican president, Richard Nixon, the situation was different. He was clearly guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Nixon was fully engaged in the Watergate scandal and resigned from the presidency the day before the House of Representatives was to bring up a bill of impeachment. Had Nixon been impeached he would have been found guilty.

The two impeachment trials were political in nature. If Barak Obama were to be impeached it would be for the same reason and the results would be the same. The Republicans would have to have a 2/3 majority in the Senate for it to be otherwise. They do not nearly have that number and the vote for innocence or guilt would run along party lines with the Republicans voting one way and the Democrats the other. Everything here would be along party lines.

The next two years should be interesting. Hopefully something will get done. But that is doubtful. There is no way real compromise will be achieved. Some deals will probably be made but the Republican hostility or frustration level should reach the clouds. Of course the Republicans can always shut down the government again by not voting the necessary funds for it to operate.

The probability is very high that the Republicans will so alienate the American people that the Democrats will sweep into the Presidency and Congress in 2016.

 

The Weiner Component #85 – Health Care & the American Public

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a jo...

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress regarding health care reform (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 health care r...

Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 health care reform bill in St. Paul, Minnesota The Tea Party people held a rally calling for the health care reform bill currently being considered in congress to be stopped. Republican U.S. representative Michele Bachmann was the guest speaker. The crowd was filled with signs and stickers for Bachmann and other Republican candidates. Signs read: Abort healthcare Abort Obama Save Our Country Republicans Weed Out Your Progressives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most industrial nations in the world today have some form of universal health care sponsored by their government and paid for by taxes. One of the few exceptions is the United States where it is and has been strongly opposed by the Republicans in Congress and in some state legislatures.

Today, in most nations, virtually everyone needs some form of health care. Those who are employed by reasonably sized companies and up generally have some form of medical insurance. The members of Congress and the state governments have some of the best plans available. The employed middle and upper classes are generally nicely covered. The poor and those working for low wages do not generally have medical coverage. Therefore those throughout the United States with no health insurance would be most of the bottom 20% of the population, around 18 to 20 million people.

Today everyone needs at least yearly checkups by the medical profession. There are too many people walking around with coughs and with what they consider minor problems. These people cannot afford medical treatment until their malady reaches a critical stage and they are forced to go to emergency care at a local hospital. Many of these emergencies could have been avoided with proper medical treatment. A number of these emergencies will end up with unnecessary deaths; treatment was too late.

How do we know this? Twenty percent of the people living in the poverty group will die ten years sooner than those living in middle or upper class groups.

I have a malady which is not uncommon and come to many in the older population. Without constant monitoring and treatment I would have died several years ago. With treatment I will live for another ten to twenty years.

William Jefferson Clinton was elected to the presidency of the United States in 1992. He served as 42 President from January 20, 1993 to January 20, 2001. His wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton led a group of Congressmen in the development of a National Health Care Reform Bill. Even though the Democrats were the majority party in both Houses of Congress for the first two years of the Clinton Administration the Republican Party was able to defeat the bill. Their slogan, which was eminently successful, was: “There has to be a better way.” The “Better Way” was no health reform. We seem to be in a similar position today except that the bill was passed into law four years ago and is more or less in operation today with the Republicans still demanding its extraction.

The Republicans are claiming that they will have a better and more comprehensible bill. But they have presented nothing so far. The irony of the situation is that the basic medical plan was developed by a far-right Republican think tank and first put into operation in Massachusetts by its then Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

The system is run by private business with the government setting the rules and supplying much of the money. Unlike what exists in other countries this system is largely run by private enterprise. Why, then, are the Republicans so against it? Could it be because it was inaugurated by a black president

The major problem which is being faced in a number of Republican run states is that, because of a Supreme Court decision, the governor of each state can accept or reject total medical coverage for all his citizens within his borders. The Federal Government will pay the total cost of this plan for the first three years. This is money that these states have already paid in taxes that they will be getting back. A number of Republican governors have refused to accept this expansion of Medicare for their poor citizens who have no medical coverage.

Why are they doing this? Are they standing on principle? These governors and their Republican legislators have very comprehensive coverage for themselves. Yet they are refusing it to the poor within their respective states. Rick Perry, the governor of Texas is doing this as well as a number of others. An argument can be made as to how this refusal will be hurting not only the people who will still have no medical coverage but also the economics of the respective states.

I understand that many if not most of these men are religious, good white, fundamentalist Christians. They believe in Judgment Day and the world to come. If they’re right, then they’ll have to explain why they breached the Holy Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill,” and take the punishment for that action.

 

 

Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey - 3D Icons