The Weiner Component #149 Part 1 – The 2016 Political Presidential Campaign

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Candidates from both political parties have completed a number of debates and also some TV Town Halls.  The Republican debates have been considered more dramatic by American viewers, so they have had larger audiences. 

 

It is important to keep in mind that only Republicans are voting for Republican candidates and that their debates and current actions are aimed at being chosen as the Republican candidate at the Nominating Convention in late July and conversely only Democrats are voting for their candidates for the same reason.  The debates are a means for each to demonstrate his/her ability and political position.  The public is getting a view of all the candidates so that they can make up their minds about the candidates of both parties.  Only one will emerge from each party and the voters will have a choice as to whom they want to be President over the next four years.

 

For those who like drama, the Republican debates have been more interesting because their leading candidate, Donald Trump, will say almost anything and often does so.  At least he did so in the earlier debates.  In the first one he verbally attacked one of the female reporters who was asking questions.  Apparently he didn’t like her question.  In the other debates he tended to verbally attack the other Republican candidates.  The Democratic debates dealt with issues concerning the nation only and didn’t get as many million people watching them.

                           

The Democratic Town Halls, having different people in the audience asking questions, had both candidates, each using half the time.  The Republican Town Halls have had only one of the possible candidates taking questions from an audience. 

 

On the Saturday, February 20th the Democrats held a Caucus and the Republicans a Debate in South Carolina.  Of the remaining six potential candidates in the Republican debate, Donald Trump was the winner by about ten points.  He had 32.5% if the Republican vote.  Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were second and third, separated by two tenths of a point, 22.5% and 22.3%.  John Kasich and Jeb Bush were tied for fourth with 7.8% of the vote each and Ben Carson came in last.  Bush suspended his campaign after dropping lower than he had been in his prior debate.  In the Democratic primary Hillary Clinton won 52.7% of the Democratic vote and Bernie Sanders got 47.2%.

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There is an interesting psychological phenomena at work when it comes to choosing the candidates to support in the election.  It seems that there are two kinds of people, one that lives in the right now and one that makes most decisions with an eye toward the future.  The first group is instantly taking satisfaction from immediately solving or seeming to solve a problem.  They will similarly handle all other problems when they come along in the future.  And the second group who deal with everything with an eye to the future. 

 

The first group would be backers of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. These are the protest candidates for the two major political parties, who are the living symbols for the dissatisfied generally silent majorities in both parties, who have been duly voting for their political candidates over the years and getting nothing in return.  To the blue collar, and, I would suspect, in most cases, the gun loving and/or evangelicals, who could never find themselves in a position to vote Democratic, Trump represents their basic attitudes, prejudices, and beliefs.  He will, in their minds, to quote him, “Make America Great Again.” 

 

He also gives them an innate satisfaction when they listen to him because he expresses what they feel and believe.  Presumably he represents smaller government, that is: getting government out of everyone’s lives, and lower taxes.  He is the protest candidate who will lower their taxes, increase the military, beat-up the terrorists, make America feared by every other country on the planet, actually make The U.S. the bully of the world.  His words themselves give these people a sense of satisfaction.

 

In order to solve the illegal immigration problem Trump will also build a high wall separating the United States from Mexico that he says will be paid for by Mexico; deducted from money the United States owes Mexico.  Governments do not lend or give money generally to other countries.  There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Mexico lent or gave money to the U. S. that the American Government has to return.  If there is an imbalance of trade and Mexicans are selling more to American businesses than Mexican businesses are buying from the U.S. then those are arrangements between Mexican individuals and companies and American individuals and companies.  There is no legal way that our government can seize any of those funds to pay for a border wall, unless suddenly extremely high taxes are placed upon all trade between the two countries,

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A good percentage of the blue collar Republicans and Evangelicals have constantly given their vote to the Republican Party but have not, like the wealthy upper percentile, really gotten anything for their continued allegiance to the party.  Trump is their hero.  He will give them, this silent majority to the right, true justice, make the Republican Party mean something to Blue Collar and Evangelical America.

 

Of course all this rests on the proposition that we were great before, forgetting the fact that U.S. foreign policy under George W. Bush was a joke to most of the world.  The United States invaded Iraq because of a lie pushed by Bush and his administration.  The U.S. was then able to bribe some of the smaller nations with massive aid contributions to join into a sort of wartime coalition to look for “weapons of mass destruction,” which never existed.  The Bush White House, while serving as sheriff of the Middle East destabilized the entire region and through its actions indirectly helped establish the growth of the terrorist organizations like ISIS.

 

Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialist who is registered as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats, is the other left extreme of Donald Trump.  Trump is on the far reactionary right while Bernie Sanders is on the far radical left.  They are both appealing to people, who are in the main, are either disgusted with Washington politics that seems to promise everything during elections and deliver nothing during the course of the elected term.  Both candidates are promising the world if elected. 

 

Sanders is promising free education through college and free medical coverage for everyone as a right.  He says he will pay for these by taxing Wall Street for speculative spending.  What is speculative spending?  I suppose it’s any investment, buying or selling stock or property.  That would certainly raise the price of every stock or property bought or sold. 

 

In both the Scandinavian countries and the rest of Europe the population gets free medical care by paying heavier taxes than we do in the United States.  The public shares in the paying of the “free” medical care with increased taxes. 

 

The same can be said for public education which goes from kindergarten through college, if the student is qualified.  In the United States education is a right that everyone has through high school.  While there are public colleges and universities they still have a cost factor for the participant.  In Europe education is free but it has to be earned.  A student moves from level to level by continually proving his/her capability to function on a higher level.  If a student cannot pass the examinations they are shunted to vocational training and an exit from the school system.  This also is paid for by increased taxes shared by all the taxpayers.

 

My feeling is that most people actually agree with Bernie Sanders.  The model he is using is Scandinavian Socialism which also exists in most European and successful Asian countries.  Even Hillary Clinton likes what Bernie is representing.  But is it real in the United States?  Can he do it if he is elected President without massively raising taxes?  Most Americans are complaining that the current tax system is too high.  For that matter is what Donald Trump says he is going to do real? 

 

First off: What is the power of the President?  If elected can he decree free education or universal medical care?  Or, for that matter, a great wall between the United States and Mexico?

 

The answer to all of these changes is NO.  The President is the elected Chief Administrator of the laws passed by Congress and himself.  His major function is to carry out the laws and keep the country functioning.  He can issue Executive Orders; but these are not laws.  His legislative powers are almost nonexistent.  The President can recommend and negotiate with Congress or veto a bill; but that is the full extent of his legislative powers.

 

Bernie Sanders has called for a Populist Revolution.  Donald Trump has not.  Unless the one who gets elected has an overwhelming majority in both Houses of Congress, well over 50% in the House and a super majority of 60 or more Senators he will be extremely frustrated in office, feeling he is totally unable to bring about or, for that matter, even begin his program. 

 

In fact the probability is that regardless of who is elected as President the House of Representatives will, in all probability, have a slight Republican majority because of gerrymandering, having the voting districts set up in the states to benefit one particular political party.  This was done in 2010 by the Republicans and will not be redone until 2020 when the next population census occurs.  In the 2014 Midterm Election for the House of Representatives 1¼ million addition votes were cast for Democratic candidates, over what the Republicans received, but the Republicans still maintained the majority in the House.

 

The Senate will probably end up in 2016 with a slight Democratic majority, since i/3d of the Senate will be up for reelection.   The Senators are elected by all the voters of each state.  Since the Democrats are the majority party the Senate will probably be returned to Democratic control by a slight majority.  And there is a very high probability that Congress will again be gridlocked from 2017 through 2020.  The only candidate who might get some legislation through, and that by constant “horse trading” is Hillary Rodham Clinton.  The next four years are not going to be a fun time!

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It has been my observation that there is one very important point that everyone seems to ignore in every major election.  How many people were fourteen to just short of eighteen during the prior Presidential Election four years earlier?  The number has to be, in this country of over 350 million people, somewhere in the millions.  These youngsters come to the election generally with a certain amount of disgust.  They’ve heard their parents, relatives, and others continually complain about deadlock in Washington, D.C. and gridlock when it comes to passing necessary laws.  And, of course, the loud complaints by the Republicans about the Democrats.  They may have learned about the principles of government in high school; but the country doesn’t seem to be operating that way.  To them someone like Bernie Sanders would be a living symbol of hope.  Watching him at his televised rallies one sees a lot of young faces wanting a positive future.

 

The same can be said for President Barack Obama back in 2008 when he first ran for the presidency.  His slogan was: “It’s time for a change.”  But Barack Obama inherited the beginnings of a major depression from George W. Bush.  He spent his first two years in office avoiding a depression that would have been greater than the Great Depression of 1929 and he helped pass a universal type health law, the Affordable Health Care Law.  Two year later in 2010 the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and Congress would function from 2011 on in a state of gridlock with nothing positive happening.  The young voters and minorities stayed at home on election days because they had not seen the change they wanted.  Changes had occurred that saved the country but they had been largely invisible.  The Republicans stayed in control of the House of Representatives.  The Senate in 2014 was also taken over by the Republicans because people did not vote and there was some Republican suppression of the vote.

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The noted economist, Paul Klugman, called Sander’s view of the changes he wants to bring about “fantasy economics.”  I strongly suspect that Sanders was shocked or amazed at the reception he got for his bid for the presidency.  He was used to being a voice of protest in the Congress for a large number of years.  He no doubt expected to be a Democratic Socialist protest candidate.  With the reception his campaign has and is receiving he talks about a Revolution that he’ll bring about.  By “Revolution” Bernie Sanders means that the majority of the people will verbally rise up and force their legislators to pass the laws he is talking about.

 

If 74 year old Bernie Sanders were to be elected President of the United States he would spend four years in total frustration because no part of his program will happen with a Republican controlled House of Representatives.  Probably very little would happen with a fully controlled Democratic Congress. 

 

Change occurs slowly.  Public colleges were essentially free when I went to one of them in the 1950s.  Since then life has become more expensive and complicated.  I remember my parents in the 1940s taking their children to the doctor when they were sick and paying for the visits and for the prescriptions.  They spent far less providing medical care for themselves and three children than I spend now at Kaiser with full Medicare.  And that does not include what we spend on my wife who also has full Medicare.

 

The House of Representatives will probably remain Republican because of gerrymandering and the Senate may return to Democratic control.  Twenty-four Republican Senators will be standing an election.  Many of them are in swing states which could go either way.  This would be particularly true if the Republicans gain bad publicity by impeding the functioning of the government by not holding  hearings for the vacancy on the Supreme Court or doing some other outlandish things.

 

Essentially for four years Sanders will face Congressional gridlock.  If he survives the four years in which he will be largely helpless to bring about any kind of change then he will be 79 at the end of his term in office.  If anything conditions may well get worse that they are now.  And 79 is longer than most people live, particularly men.

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Looking at the current five remaining Republican candidates, that’s five out of the original twelve or so.  Bush is gone; he has suspended his campaign after spending 70 million dollars.  Mainly that leaves Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.  Of the remaining two, John Kasich may be looking forward to a possible Vice-Presidency and Ben Carson seems to be along for the ride.  I understand he is also selling an autobiography and doing book signings along the way. 

 

Chris Mathews called the Thursday night, February 25, Debate a meeting of “The Three Stodges.”  Trump, Cruz, and Rubio spent most of their time verbally attacking one another.  Usually two of them were talking at the same time and most of what they said was incomprehensible; it’s difficult to understand what’s being said when two people are continually talking loudly at the same time.  They gave an outstanding performance of how a President should not act.

 

Both Rubio and Cruz are Tea Party Republicans.  Strange to say Trump seems to be the most liberal among the three who are now considered serious candidates.  Both Trump and Cruz are considered unacceptable to the Party leadership but the Party has no mechanism to get rid of them, at least not until the Party Convention.  Some Republican Party leaders have said that if Trump becomes President it would be a total disaster and that it could destroy the Republican Party.

 

Both Ohio Governor John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson were also in the Debate but they did not have much to say.  Of the five, Kasich appeared mostly as a President should, but he ranked only at 9 plus percent among the Republican voters of Texas.

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As a sort of footnote it is worth observing what the Republicans in Congress are doing about the public protest of their actions over the last six years.  Many of the Blue Collar Republicans are supporting Donald Trump to demonstrate their betrayal by the Republican Congress.  The Republican leadership objects to him.  The least the Republican led Congress can do is to hold hearing concerning their needs and wants.  But instead they are doing nothing, essentially ignoring the protest and objecting to Trump.  It is business as usual, expecting to get reelected and continue representing the upper 1% of the country. 

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 #125 – The Bush Presidencies

George H. W. Bush

Cover of George H. W. Bush

Barbara Bush stated, when her son Jeb said publically that he was going to run for the Presidency of the United States, that the country didn’t need another Bush president.

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George H.W. Bush (Daddy Bush) joined the Air Force as an 18 year old during World War II and served for the duration of the war. Shortly after he formed his own oil company and then became a Republican Congressman in the House of Representatives.  President Gerald Ford later appointed him as CIA Director on January 30, 1976.  He served in that office until January 20, 1977.  He became President Ronald Reagan’s Vice President on January 20, 1981 and remained in that position for eight years.  Toward the end of his term he ran for President of the United States and was elected.  He would serve one term as President and then be defeated by the Democratic candidate, William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton.

As Vice President, Bush would be involved in the Iran-Contra Affair that flaunted the Constitution of the United States.  Ronald Reagan was convinced that the Contras, a group of terrorists operating in Nicaragua, were really Freedom Fighters trying to free Nicaragua from its elected Socialist government.  Congress refused to fund this enterprise.  Reagan and his assorted Secretaries then decided to get the money needed to fund this operation by illegally selling arms to Iran.  Vice President George H.W. Bush was clearly involved in this enterprise.  He served as a courier for Reagan; the evidence clearly exists.  When Dan Rather, the CBS lead reporter in a televised interview tried to trap him into admitting this fact, President Bush refused to answer the question and Dan Rather was later fired.

As President, Bush sent a roving female ambassador-at-large or a plenipotentiary with very general instructions to Saddam Hussein, in Iraq.  Bush was obviously striking a blow for Women’s Rights.  In the Middle East, particularly at that time, women were considered second-class citizens that would never be entrusted with anything really important.  By sending a female Hussein understood that his forthcoming invasion of Kuwait was of low priority to the United States and he consequently invaded that country.  This resulted in Operation Desert Storm, the liberation of Kuwait by the United States and some of its allies.  Bush was smart enough to end the war at the border of Iraq.

To Hussein, George Bush had given a clear message and he reneged on it.  Impotently he threatened to have President George H.W. Bush assassinated.  Bush’s son, George W. Bush, would react to this threat later on when he went to war with Iraq.

The Kuwait rescue war called Operation Desert Storm would never have happened if President George H.W. Bush, who should have known better, had sent a male diplomat with clear authority to negotiate with Saddam Hussein.  He, Saddam, would have known that any Iraqi invasion would result in the U.S. and other Western Powers getting involved if Iraq invaded Kuwait or any other country.  Bush’s inability to properly handle this situation brought about a totally unnecessary war.

So much for the Presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush, a president we could have done without.

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In the entire history of the United States there were two men who became president with the majority of the population voting for the other candidate

The first was the Election of 1876 where the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes received 4,034,311 popular votes but ended up with 185 electoral votes to Samuel J. Tilden who received 4,288,546 popular votes and 184 electoral votes.  What happened was that 20 electoral votes were contested.  Several states had two sets of electors, one set of Democratic Electors and one set of Republican Electors.  Both groups claimed to have been directly elected by the public. The debate continued on until the night before the new President was to be sworn-in.   A compromise was reached literally hours before the new President was to take office. The Republicans wanted the presidency; the Democrats wanted to formally end Civil War Reconstruction.  Each political party got what they most desired: a Republican became President and the army was withdrawn from the Southern States.

The second instance was the election of George W. Bush in November of 2000.  He had 50,456,002 popular votes to Al Gore’s 50,999,897 popular votes.  The problem there was the State of Florida whose governor was George W. Bush’s baby brother, Jeb Bush.  The person in charge of that election was a staunch Republican.  Either Jeb Bush instigated or knew about a highly flawed voter purge of the voter registry, just prior to the 2000 Election that removed mainly registered Democrats from the voter lists in the state.  These were mostly minorities who would probably vote the Democratic ticket. The faulty purge was touted as removing felons from the list of registered voters.

In addition a number of election ballots came up faulty because of the way they were set up.  One had to punch out the candidate of his or her choice and the instructions were vague.  A goodly number of ballots were incorrectly or partially punched.  These had to be individually examined and the choices determined individually; a long, tedious process, which was terminated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William D. Rehnquist.  The majority of those ballots were never counted giving the electoral votes for the State of Florida to Bush, and giving him 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266.  Thus George Walker Bush became the President of the United States.  Did his baby brother, Jeb help him get elected?  Certainly.

Since this was the second time this had happened, that the will of the majority had been thwarted there should have been a Constitutional Amendment doing away with the Electoral College and having the President named by the direct vote of the people.  After all the concept of the Electoral College was created in post-colonial times when communication was very difficult.  It is no longer needed.  And there also have been times when Electors voted for people for whom they had not been chosen to elect.  We seem to hang on to some tenants of government that are totally obsolete.

Will Rogers, the comic philosopher of the 1920s, among other things, said that the members of Congress are like children with hammers who have been let into a China Shop.   They make messes but don’t do much damage.  About Calvin Coolidge, who was President at the time, he said that it wasn’t that he did nothing, it was that he did it better than anyone else.  In George W. Bush’s case he did something and it was worse than anything else he could have done.  Without realizing what his actions would bring about he destabilized the Middle East and we are still attempting, not too successfully, to deal with this problem today.  Bush, in a manner of speaking, opened up a Pandora’s Box; and its reverberations have created ISIS and other functioning terrorist groups throughout the Middle East.

Through ignorance or naivety Bush destabilized the Balance of Power that existed throughout the Middle East.  He indirectly caused numerous deaths, both of American soldiers and Iraqis, and the mayhem which still exists.  Apparently he thought that the people of Iraq would be thankful to the United States if he got rid of Saddam Hussein. With no glimmer of understanding of the Middle East he invaded Iraq supposedly looking for weapons of mass destruction.

The choosing of Bush as President had done irrevocable damage to the world stage by creating what seems to be an unsolvable problem.  If Al Gore had been President, as he should have been, the U.S. would never have gone into Iraq.  At the time of the U.S. preemptive invasion the United Nations was sending inspectors to that country checking for weapons of mass destruction.  In fact, they asked the U.S. for more time in order to continue their inspections looking for evidence of weapons of mass destruction.  With Al Gore as president sanity would have prevailed.  There would have been no Iraqi war. The stability of the Middle East would have prevailed.  It seems Will Rogers was wrong about elected government officials; they can, at times, do irrevocable harm to their country and the rest of the world.

How will the current Middle East problem be solved?  That’s an interesting question to which nobody seems to have a real answer.  In essence the Republicans who are interested in running for the presidency in 2016 are talking about getting tough in the Middle East, whatever that means.  In essence George Bush junior and his cohorts screwed up a situation by going to war with Iraq with no real comprehension of what they were doing.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, his Vice President, and Donald Rumsfeld, his Secretary of Defense apparently conceived of war with Iraq as a win, win situation.  They thought the people of Iraq would welcome the U.S. with open arms for freeing them from the Dictator, Saddam Hussein.  They visualized that they could set up a democracy similar to that of the U.S.  In essence they visualized how they would behave if they were Iraqis and the U.S. invaded their country; but they aren’t Iraqis and the Iraqis had an entirely different psyche.  What they ended up bringing about was a situation that existed between the two major Islamic sects: the Sunni and the Shia.  What resulted in Iraq was a government we created but couldn’t control, where the Sunni majority actually persecuted the Shia minority.  It was a situation where the tail wagged the dog.  We created a government but couldn’t control it.  In fact it was similar to the situation that had existed in Vietnam.  Somehow this country never learns from its past mistakes.

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George Walker Bush had been born on July 6, 1946. He was 54 years old when he was elected to the presidency.  As a businessman he had not done too well in the oil business.  In fact he might have been known as “Dry Hole Bush,” as he was responsible for drilling many of them.  The Bush family was well to do having made lots of money in oil.  George W. became Texas governor in 1994 and was elected president in 2000. Eight months into his first term, September 11, 2001, a terrorist attack destroyed the Twin Towers in New York City and Bush responded by launching the War on Terror.

It was during this period of the War on Terror that the Afghanistan War against Al-Qaeda, who had destroyed the Twin Towers, began and was followed by the preemptive attack against Iraq, whose leader, Saddam Hussein, had threatened to have Bush’s “Daddy” assassinated that he inaugurated a major tax cut, mostly for the well-to-do.  Bush also inaugurated “enhanced interrogation” of prisoners (torture, usually water boarding), which apparently never really worked.  This type of treatment, with the exception of the last phase of the Spanish American War at the tail end of the 19th Century, had never existed before or since his administration in the history of the United States.

Water boarding is a process of taking the prisoner to the point of drowning.  Some prisoners were water boarded well over a hundred times.

To be fair Bush also inaugurated Medicare prescription benefits for seniors.  He also added funding for the Aids program.  Basically with his wars and everything he spent a lot more money, some wastefully, than the government took in in taxes, massively increasing the National Debt.

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When I look at a certain print hanging in a corner of my living room I think of George W. Bush’s 2004 political campaign when he ran against the Democratic senator, John Kerry.  The print was done by a 19th Century Spanish satiric artist, Francisco Goya.  It depicts a monkey painting a jackass white and is entitled “Neither more nor less.”  That is what happened in the 2004 Presidential Election.  John Kerry, a Vietnam War hero, who is currently Secretary of State, ran against George W. Bush.  Karl Rove, Bush’s senior advisor and deputy chief of staff ran the campaign for Bush.  He painted Kerry as a villain, ignoring his true military record and presented Bush as a military hero, even though Bush had never left Texas as a member of the state’s National Guard and had been AWOL a number of times.  In addition he had tested poorly for the flying school and had only been accepted because his father was in Congress.  It was an interesting version of painting a jackass white and a hero black.

In essence it would seem that George Walker Bush visualized himself as the sheriff who symbolically came to Iraq with his army, got rid of the bad guys, and allowed the so-called good guys to run the country.  He never left the U.S. during his presidency, and passed the problem of his wars on to his successor.  Also he never accepted responsibility for his actions.  He left a mess which can still take decades or longer to clean up.

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Since the beginning of the year of 2015 Jeb Bush has been vigorously campaigning for the presidency of the U.S. and avidly raising money for his super pact.  Since it is illegal for a candidate to be connected in any way with his super pact Bush had not announced that he is formally a candidate.  He didl not formally make up his mind until June 15, 2015, that is a little over six months into his presidential campaign.  From what I understand his goal was to raise 100 million dollars in his super pact before he made his announcement.

Bush is made a mockery of the current election system in this country.  He had been actively campaigning for over six months, with one careless exception, as a potential candidate who had not formally made up his mind.  In essence he has pushed the envelope to the extreme limit on the election laws.  What does this tell us about his integrity if he were to be elected president?

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Jeb (John Ellis) Bush is the second son of George H.W. and Barbara Bush.  He was elected Governor of Florida in 1999 and served two terms, eight years.  He was the first governor to serve two terms in that state.

On December 16, 2014 he announced that he would explore the possibility of running for President in 2016.  Since that time he had been energetically raising money for his presidential campaign of which he did not officially become a candidate until June 15, 2015.  That is six and ½ months after beginning his campaign.

Politically Jeb Bush is a Conservative Republican who envisions some movement to the Left by his party.  In April 2013 he authored an article for Newsweek Magazine in which he urged Conservatives to be a party of “growth and opportunity.”  He warned that America’s entitlement system risked collapse unless there was a correction in public policy.  Bush recommended a six point plan for the Conservative Movement.  This included tax reform, education reform, a welcoming immigration system, regulatory reform, and pro-family policies.  In October of 2013 he called for immigration reform. Obviously a lot of this did not go down with the Tea Party.

As Governor of Florida Bush was a proponent of school vouchers and charter schools, particularly in the areas of failing schools.  He firmly refused to raise taxes for schools. He obviously didn’t want to solve problems by throwing money at them.

In fact JED reduced taxes over his tenure by $19 billion, eliminated civil service protection to over 16,000 state jobs, issued an executive order that removed racial preference in state contracts, supporting over a dozen new protections for gun owners, led the first state in 2005 to pass stand your ground laws, and was opposed to abortion.

He was directly involved in the Terri Schiavo case.  This woman had massive brain damage and was on a feeding tube for over fifteen years.  Her husband and legal guardian wished to remove the tube.  Her parents were opposed to this move.  The governor signed a law, “Terri’s law,” that authorized him to keep Schiavo on life support. The case was appealed in the Federal Courts.  After the law was declared unconstitutional in the Florida Supreme Court the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.  By then Terri Schiavo had died.

Jeb Bush seems to be a progressive conservative Republican.  He has played games with the election laws which has allowed him to raise about 100 million dollars for his super pack.   He gave up control of that entity when he directly announced that he is running for the presidency.

Jeb has been touted as being the smartest of the Bush children.  During his pre-election campaign, which ended in the middle of June 2015, he emerged as a highly opinionated, righteous individual whose spoken word should always be taken as sacrosanct.  He seems to believe that it’s his turn to be President.  Fortunately a good percentage of registered Republicans do not agree with him.  He is not the frontrunner of the party.  In fact the number of possible Republican presidential candidates is overwhelming.  It seems to be open season for Republicans who want to be the next President of the United States.

Currently Jeb Bush’s advisors are the same individuals who advised his brother.  From his speeches and other remarks on foreign affairs he appeared to be not too cognizant of the rest of the world.  His experts are the same people who helped his brother George decide on invading Iraq.  This group could easily get us into another war in the Middle East, this time with Iran.  The U.S. fighting three different wars at the same time (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran) could bring back the draft and lead to oncoming and other disasters.

By his current actions one has to question Bush’s integrity.  Why play games with the election laws?  His actions just prior to the 2000 Election, both purging the registered voter list and the faulty ballots seem to be what got his brother elected to the presidency.  Would he act the same way if he were elected?

On Monday, June 15 2015, months after JEB officially announced to the world, surrounded by avid supporters, that he would run for the Presidency of the United States.  And all this after he had collected approximately $100 million dollars for his super-pact.  He stated that he was running because the country needs a competent President.

To my mind he didn’t mention the Terri Schiavo incident where he got the state to force her family to essentially keep a brain dead woman alive.  And no mention was made of the faulty purge of registered voters shortly before his brother’s election in 2000 under the guise that they were clearing the registration rolls of convicted felons.   Of course in his mind it is possible that all Democrats are potential felons and the real legal voters are or should be all Republican.

Do we need another Bush in the White House?  Is his mother, Barbara Bush, correct in her initial statement?  Do we need another Bush as President?  Haven’t we had enough unnecessary wars so far?  Do we need another Bush as President of the United States

 

 

 

Al Gore

Cover of Al Gore

 

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #122 – Jobs: A Successful United States

n the United States today we have about 5.5% known unemployment plus, at least, if not more than 5 percent hidden unemployment. That is much too much in a country as wealthy as the U.S.  The known unemployed, register and are actively looking for work; the unknown unemployed have given up, feeling ultimate defeat they are no longer looking for jobs.

 

The existence of both these groups is a sad comment upon this country.  For a nation as rich as ours, with all the needs it has for constantly improved infrastructure there is no excuse for this situation.  We are a modern nation that is still living largely in the last century when most of our infrastructure was created.  In a manner of speaking we are like the young man who has just acquired his first automobile and expects it to last forever without any real care or maintenance.

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In late 2008, under a Republican Administration, after thirty some years of at first gradual and then accelerated economic growth in the Housing Market, the Real Estate Bubble burst and the entire economy of the United States was about to crash, beginning with the major banking houses within the country.  The Treasury Department, under a Republican Administration, extended hundreds of billions of dollars in loans to these banks to keep them solvent and functioning.

In Europe and Asia, on a smaller scale, the nations there underwent the same crisis with similar solutions.  Some of the nations of Europe like Greece and Spain, had lived richer than others on this new wealth that the banking houses had created and were far more in the red than others countries.  This was particularly true in the Eurozone.  Some of those nations underwent extreme austerity measures in order to be bailed out by the European Central Bank or the other nations in the Eurozone.  This was done in 2009. They are still in extreme economic troubles.

In the United States we went from at least 12% unemployment in 2009 to 5.5% by 2015. What saved the country from falling into a deep depression, deeper than that of 1929, was the Federal Government bailouts of the banks and the auto industries, plus innovative use of Monetary Policy by the Obama Administration.

Unemployment today, in early 2015, is still a problem in the U.S., particularly for the young and unskilled.  Another problem tends to be rates of pay.  The Federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 per hour before social security, assorted taxes, and unemployment insurance are taken out.  While many states have a higher minimum wage the Republicans in Congress refuse to raise the National minimum wage.  It has existed for several years now while prices have gradually increased.

What’s interesting or odd here is that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is attempting to gain the Republican presidential nomination on a platform of “right to work” laws.  These laws mean that no business can have a closed union shop; no worker has to join a union where ever he works.  The object of these laws is to break the power of the unions across the U.S. and he probably would like to get rid of the minimum wage, as was suggested during the Reagan Administration.

Henry Ford, in his early factories, discovered or realized that if you pay your workers enough they will buy the product they are producing.  The same premise holds true today: if workers earn more they will spend more.  In essence increased spending equals increased production, and consequently more profit for everybody. Growing productivity creates jobs and raises the standards of living within the country.  And conversely the lower the national income distribution the lower the productivity and the higher the unemployment.

No one can buy goods and services with money they don’t have.  Somehow the Republican understanding of the situation throughout the country is backward; their goal, regardless of what they say or believe, is actually to reduce productivity throughout the nation and increase unemployment.  This they have very effectively done since 2011 when they achieved dominance in the House of Representatives.

If we look at their current goal of keeping the minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.  Working at that rate for 40 hours a week allows an individual to earn $290.00 a week, which works out to about $1,160 a month, and $15,080.00 for a 52 week year before assorted government withholdings.  This puts this person living alone slightly above the poverty line, which is $12,300 for one adult, $15,853 for two adults is slightly below the poverty line, $19,055 for two adults and one child is well below the poverty line, and $24,008 for two adults and two children.  If that amount is doubled by both adults working full time at that rate of pay then their condition improves but who will take care of the child or children.  It’s a sad comment upon a society that will not pay a goodly percentage of its workers enough to not live in poverty or to live just above the poverty level when they are fully employed.  We are a nation with a good percentage of employed being working poor.

There is an interesting note of irony here.  The working poor person earning the $7.25 an hour is almost below the legal poverty level.  In most states this person qualifies for food stamps and government medical aid, as well as other programs.  All these aid programs are paid for by tax dollars.  Ultimately, then, the tax payers in the country are subsidizing those businesses or industries that pay the minimum legal wage.  Consequently a good percentage of these companies’ profits are being paid indirectly by the American taxpayer.

In the April 16, 2015 issue of the L.A. Times there was an article dealing with this subject which cited a UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research study.  They reported that 56% of all state and public assistance in the United States now goes to working families.  That adds up to 153 billion a year, including 25 billion in state funding.  Individually California spends 3.7 billion, New York 3.3 billion, and Texas 2 billion on public assistance programs.  These go to, among others, fast food employees, child and home care workers, and part-time college faculty.

To quote the L.A. Times: “Last week the Colorado Fiscal Institute said 600,000 Colorado employees, or a quarter of the state’s working force earned less than $12 an hour. As a result taxpayers ante up about 304 million a year to cover their healthcare costs… It’s clear these big employers are shifting their costs to the taxpayers.”

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George W. Bush’s presidency ended in 2008 and Barak Obama became president in 2009.  Most of his early efforts were aimed at keeping a deep depression from happening.  Unemployment still increased but it was minor compared to what it might have been.

Today are there enough jobs in the society to keep everyone who wants to work fully employed?  There were jobs for everyone up until the end of 2008 before the Real Estate Bubble burst.  At that time the banking houses in the United States were encouraging people to use their homes as bank accounts and constantly withdraw their equity from their homes and spend it.  The society was flowing with money.  Once the Bubble Burst there was an intense shortage of funds and unemployment was well over 12% overnight.

There has been a large percentage of recovery since 2009 but the bulk of the National Income has gone to the upper echelon of society with very little going to the middle class and even less than that going to the bottom of society.  The distribution of the National Income is completely out of kilter.  It is encouraging, with Republican help, a shrinkage of economic prosperity.  If it were not for the creative Monetary Policy the Federal Reserve used this country would now be in the doldrums with everyone, all Republicans and Democrats, currently well off and otherwise, suffering considerably.

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The odd part of all this is that the country could easily be well off with full employment and everybody having at least a decent standard of living.  The key here is expending money in Fiscal Policy which Congress controls.  The Republicans are loath to spend money on things other than the military.  They are very conscious of the National Debt that they have mushroomed since Reagan took office but for which they claim no credit.

Interestingly the Federal Government currently owns well over 50% of its own debt. Legally, it seems, no one, with the exception of the Federal Government, can owe itself money.

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The infrastructure of the United States is still in the 20th Century.  Some of it was installed over a hundred years ago.  Underground pipes and sewers are continually breaking down and being repaired to the level where they are just usable again.  It’s currently a Band-Aid approach; barely maintaining but no really improving anything.

President Obama had a plan in 2011 to drop unemployment that the Republican House of Representatives chose to ignore for two reasons: one, He presented it and two, it cost money, which they are loath to spend on anything except the military and business expansion like the Keystone project.

The prime example of Fiscal Policy is the New Deal that Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated in 1933 when he became President during the Great Depression.  While the Republican, Herbert Hoover was President when the Great Depression broke in 1929, he was incapable of such massive spending Roosevelt began in 1933.

Roosevelt was able to fund the New Deal by doubling the money supply in the nation.  He had government officials collect all the gold coins in circulation and replace them with paper money. The value of the gold was then doubled from $18 an ounce to $36. And suddenly the money supply doubled; there was twice as much money in circulation.

While this did not get the country out of the depression it did significantly improve economic conditions.  In order to end the Great Depression the Roosevelt Administration would have had to, at least, quadruple the money supply beyond that level. That situation occurred during the 1940s when World War II broke out.

The New Deal was a series of domestic programs encompassing Relief, Recovery, and Reform and enacted from 1933 on.  It included laws passed by Congress and executive orders issued by the President.  Programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Core (CCC) made the government the largest employer in the nation.  Others like Social Security, the Fair Labor Standards Act that set maximum hours and minimum wages for most categories of workers and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) are with us today.  Banking reform was reconstituted after the 2008 Banking Debacle.  There were a myriad of other agencies mostly denoted by the letters; all of which created jobs, upgraded whole sections of the nation, and brought about

Did the government have to do this?  Obviously not; but in so doing the Federal Government took on the responsibility of providing for the common man (forgotten man) where he could not then provide for himself.  It was in the mind of Roosevelt and his administration necessary in order to save our free capitalistic society.

This is what the current Republican Congress seems to be incapable of doing. They feel this country cannot afford this luxury today.  I suspect they also feel that the unemployed are really themselves responsible for being in that condition.  Whether there are jobs available or not is immaterial.

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Fiscal Policy is something the Federal Government is going to have to get involved with sooner or later whether they want to or not.  The infrastructure of the United States was built during our period of urbanization and industrial development, from the late 19th Century through the 20th Century.  Our growing needs then were a lot smaller than they are now.  We grew then from a country of 140 plus million to over 350 million people today.  Some of the sewerage pipes in many cities are over 100 years old.  Roads, freeways, and interstate highways have to be maintained and improved.  The electric grid that runs throughout the nation has to be upgraded.  Many schools are antiquated and should be replaced or upgraded.

All of this is mentioning only a small portion of what needs to be done.  We can take a piece-meal approach, fixing things as they break down and wait until a point comes when much of the infrastructure can no longer be repaired or the Congress can begin a process of bringing the infrastructure into the 21st Century, rebuilding for today’s population..

Money is not really the problem for the Federal Government since it owns most of its own debt.  Actually spending money would increase government tax receipts.  In fact it would significantly increase the amount of taxes received on all levels of government, city, state, and federal.

What the Republican Congress is doing by refusing to even consider fiscal policy is exacerbating unemployment, encouraging the growing wealth of the upper ten percent, working to shrink the middle class, and radically increase the lower classes.  They are working to bring back the conditions of the 1880s and 1890s when there were massive divisions between the different classes within society.

Interestingly Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, who has successfully gotten the Republican members of Congress to sign a pledge that they will, under no circumstances, raise taxes, has stated that his favorite period in U.S. history was the last two decades before the 20th Century.  It would seem he has been working very hard to bring us back to that period of inequality.

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More jobs are needed.  The current Congress will do nothing to alleviate the problem; instead they will by their actions increase it.  What will determine our future direction will be decided by the 2016 Presidential Election.  If we reelect a Republican Congress and also vote for a Republican President then conditions will continue as they are now, probably getting far worse.  If, on the other hand, both Houses of Congress are Democratic, then fiscal policy should bring about a radical lowering of unemployment and an overall return of prosperity for all levels of society.

It will be all in the hands of the voting public.  If they all vote their interests then the problem can be solved or, at least, move in the direction of a solution.  If enough people vote their beliefs or prejudices or stay at home and refuse to vote then the country will continue as we are now and probably go downhill economically.

To me the unemployment problem is ridiculous.  It can so easily be solved.  We can have full scale employment and solve our infrastructure problems at the same time.

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #118 – Republicans & Democrats

(I’m averaging about 250 to 350 comments each day. Among these I get numerous requests for information. Most of these are answered in The Weiner Component #114  – Responding to Your Enquires.)

Will Rogers, in a lecture he gave sometime in the 1920s, said something to the effect of “All Congressmen”, and I’m sure he included the President, Calvin Coolidge, in that group, “are like small children carrying hammers in a china shop. You just hope they will not do too much damage.”

In the case of George W. Bush his “hope” did not work. Bush naively and stupidly got the country involved with an invasion of Iraq believing that he and Vice President Dick Chaney could turn the country into a small version of the Democratic United States. The failure of this idea and the cost in human lives, both of American soldiers and Iraqis, and the billions of dollars wasted in this pointless search for “weapons of mass destruction” was inexcusable. What Bush accomplished was to destroy the balance of power in the Middle East and stir up terrorism and civil wars which still exist today.

To the best of my knowledge he has never admitted responsibility for his actions. In a manner of speaking he destroyed the china shop Will Rogers was talking about. The irony of the situation is that the Democratic candidate for the presidency in the 2000 Election got a much higher popular vote than the Republican, Bush, but problems developed with the ballot in Florida where his brother was governor and in addition the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court invalidated the problem making Bush the President Elect.

In the 2008 Election, if John McCain had won the presidency instead of Barak Obama the probability is that this country would have fallen into a depression deeper than that of 1929 and that we would still be fighting in Iraq and have full forces in Afghanistan. Bin Laden would still be alive planning new atrocities for Al-Qaida to carry out. We might even have gone to war with Iran. Affordable Health Care (Obama Care) would never have happened and on an overall basis the country would be going through a period of great misery for a very large percentage of the population. He might have saved the banks that generated the Real Estate Crisis by continuing the bailout that the Bush Administration had begun but he would never have done so for the auto industry.

And if Mitt Romney had been elected President in 2012, as he had so avidly wished, then the United States would probably have continued full scale war in Afghanistan and currently be at war with Iran. Affordable Health Care (Obama Care) would today in early 2015 be in the process of just holding out by being filibustered in the Senate by the Democratic minority. In addition his economic policies would most likely follow the principle of the less government the better. This would lead us in the direction of a recession with an increase in unemployment. The decrease in government regulations that he promised in his 2012 campaign would bring the country back to or below the state that existed before the 2008 Economic Debacle with the Market running the country businesswise and profit wise. Most economic decisions would be made by the marketplace.

In foreign affairs remember that Mitt Romney visited Europe for three days during his 2012 campaign. It initially had to do with an equestrian activity with which his wife was involved; a dancing horse contest. Within the first twenty-four hours Romney publically stated something that turned every British newspaper in the country against him. One London paper called him a twit. Other dailies were equally as unenthusiastic about him. He did not rate quite as low in the other two countries he visited, but in each he generated a negative image of himself. With this level of non-achievement just think of how he would have done as America’s chief diplomat. It would have been an unmitigated disaster.

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Of the two major political parties that exist in the United States today the Democrats constitute the majority or largest political party. They were first organized by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the U.S., whose object was to get himself elected President. He saw himself as representing the small, independent (Yeoman) farmer, as opposed to the Federalist Party which represented the seaboard city business interests. The Federalists ceased to exist after the War of 1812; they supporting the wrong side in the war.

The Republican Party came into existence for the Election of 1860. They sprang from the Whig Party and numerous other small groups including the Abolitionists. The Republicans won the Election of 1860 with about 43% of the vote. The Democrats had split into two parties, a Northern and Southern Democratic Political Party, each running its own string of candidates. Neither had as many votes as the Republicans.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President with under 50% of the vote. In fact he did not even appear on the ballots of any Southern state. When Lincoln ran for a second term it was under the guise of the Union Party, with a Southern Democrat from Tennessee Andrew Johnson, as his Vice-Presidential candidate.

Outside of the issue of slavery the Republicans have always represented the business interests, while the Democrats, following Jefferson, have always held the welfare of the general population as primary. During most of the history of this country the two parties have generally cooperated. In fact up until relatively recently most people in Europe and Asia saw both political parties as two sides of the same entity. During the Cold War Era many, if not most Russians did not understand our criticism of their being a one party state since the United States, in their view, was also a one party state.

The polarization of the two political parties began early in the 21st Century with the emergence of the Tea Party onto the political scene. They and the evangelicals somehow gained control of the finances within the Republican Party and have been able to force their will over all Republican Party members, making them hue to what seems to be the party line, which among other things is limiting free medical decisions for women.

It’s questionable as to whether this will continue or to what extent it will continue in the 2015-2016 Congress. Assorted splits are occurring within the Republican Party. As to cooperation with the Congressional Democrats that is also questionable. We could end up with total gridlock with some compromises occurring on nonpolitical issues.

It is interesting to note that on March 9, 2015 forty-seven Republican senators sent a letter to the religious head in Iran stating that any agreement signed with President Obama will last just through his current term as president; that they will take over the White House in 2016 and the new Republican president will invalidate the agreement. They also stated that they expect to be in control for a long period of time and that they will not sign any future agreement. It seems that the 47 Republican Senators are now undertaking foreign policy agreements; that they are attempting to undercut the President with their own foreign policy. This is something new. It has never happened before in the entire history of the United States. This unprecedented act itself may be illegal. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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As a result of the lowest voter turnout in years in the Midterm Election of 2014 the Republicans have a majority in both Houses of Congress. However to get a bill passed in the Senate they need a super-majority, and sixty votes to avert a filibuster. There are 54 Republican Senators and 44 Democrats and 2 Independents. This means they need the cooperation of a number of Democrats to pass any legislation that the Democrats generally oppose. They also need a 2/3 majority in both Houses of Congress to override any Presidential veto.

It should be interesting, if not tragic, seeing what happens over the next two years.

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Years ago Will Rogers said: “I don’t belong to a political party. I’m a Democrat.” In essence that sums up the Democratic Party, It stands for everyone else who’s not a Republican. They place less emphasis on business and attempt to give the common man an honest deal. With so broad a field of representation the Democrats in Congress seem to have a problem verbalizing many of their objectives or accomplishments.

The Republicans do not have this problem. Actually they seem to come to conclusions before the facts are in and also many times by constant repetition feel their conclusions are true without any factual evidence, repetition of a statement makes it true in their estimation.

As a result of this, and for other reasons, we now have in the United States a fairly large number of people who have grown disgusted with both political parties. They have become Independents. The result is that they don’t give any impute to pre-election ballots, allowing a not true picture to emerge during and after the elections. In addition a large number of these people as well as many Democrats don’t vote in midterm elections, but only in Presidential ones.

Minority groups, particularly Hispanics, have been strongly affected by non-action or negative action being taken upon immigration reform. They stayed away by droves in the 2014 Midterm Election. What they did was to inadvertently reinforce the political party that most opposes them.

Perhaps the major reason for the disinterest and disgust in the United States about politics and political parties is: What do the political parties do?  As we’ve seen it takes a lot of time and effort to understand what is or is not being done by Congress, particularly since the Democrats are relatively quiet about their successes and failures. Most people are too busy to try to concentrate on Congressional actions. This is particularly true with the confusion generated by the different news media, both liberal and conservative. Generally many people consider both political parties equally inept.

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One of the major problems concerned with politics in the U.S. today is the price of running for office and of remaining in office. In addition the Supreme Court has decided that the spending of money in political campaigns is an expression of free speech as stated in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights. Consequentially they have allowed almost unlimited contributions in any kind of political contest. This does not only affect Congress but also state and municipal government elections.

Imagine a contribution of $300 million such as the Koch brothers seemingly are willing to spend in a Presidential Election or $100 million that Sheldon Adelson did spend on the Republican candidate in the 2012 Presidential Election. What influence would that give these individuals over the President and Congress?

Everything involved with political campaigns cost money, much more money than most candidates have or are willing to spend. This includes signs, buttons, radio and television time and productions or personal communications with constituents to mention just some of the costs. We can also add that their staffs and all the commuting they do during an election is quite expensive

All of this gives large donors in particular unlimited access to their candidates and to the candidates, if they are elected, an affinity to want to satisfy their large contributor’s needs and desires. All this, of course, are not bribes but putting useful measures up as laws, or so we are told.

For example the Koch brothers have been pushing in Kansas, laws that limit or forbad the use of natural sources like light or wind to produce green energy. They earn much of their money from the use of oil. Sheldon Adelson, who owns casinos in Las Vegas, wants laws that forbid the use of the internet for gambling.

Whether you agree or disagree with these men’s actions the question remains: How do candidates remain honest? When does a contribution become a bribe?

If we look at the Pharmaceutical Industry, specific medicines cost more in the United States than in any other nations. It is less expensive to have your prescriptions filled in Canada or Mexico, or for that matter in any European country, than it is at your local pharmacy. And this includes the price of shipping it to you. How can this be? You get the exact same medicines, manufactured by the same company in all cases. The answer, of course, is that Congressional laws fix the price in the United States but all other countries have contracts with the drug companies lowering the cost of these same pharmaceuticals.

It’s interesting to note that these companies are one of the major contributors to political parties, particularly to the Republican Party. Most medicines, particularly new ones fresh out on the medical market have high prices that are fixed by law and their price cannot be legally reduced in the United States.

The Republicans tend to loudly disbelieve in climate change; in fact it is illegal to mention that term on any official document in the state of Florida. Companies run by the Koch brothers make multi-millions each year selling and transporting oil and oil products. They are adamantly against the concept of climate change and their millions strongly fund the Republican Party. It is convenient if you are a practicing Republican to not believe in climate change.

There are innumerable other examples of this type of behavior. Isn’t it time that simple principles of funding were established for all elections. In both state and federal elections, radio and television stations can by law be required to grant a certain amount of free time as a public service. Legally limits can be set for all different kinds of elections. Government services can be set up for a fixed amount of written material and TV commercials keeping an even amount for each candidate so that the playing field is the same for all candidates depending upon what office they are after. Limits can also be set as to how much can be spent on each type of election. Even though this would take a Constitutional amendment contributions can again be limited. It is time to take all elections out of the hands of the millionaires and the billionaires. It is time for fairness for all Americans in elections.

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

English: Seal of the President of the United States Español: Escudo del Presidente de los Estados Unidos Македонски: Печат на Претседателот на Соединетите Американски Држави. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Weiner Component #117A – The United States & the Eurozone: Growing Interdependence: Working For the Common Good

English: A map of the 12 districts of the Unit...

English: A map of the 12 districts of the United States Federal Reserve system. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Countries using the Euro de jure Countries and...

Countries using the Euro de jure Countries and territories using the Euro de facto Countries in the EU not using the Euro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toward the end of the year 2008, while George W. Bush was still President of the United States, the Real Estate Bubble exploded in the U.S. causing phenomenal economic misery throughout that nation and, on a slightly lesser level, throughout the Industrial World.  Many of the major European banks and many European citizens had purchased and held onto Hedge Fund Real-Estate bonds that now became worthless or nearly worthless. In essence the entire civilized world took a downward economic fall. This included for both banks and many individuals, particularly in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and Italy. In fact the three major banking houses in Iceland all went bankrupt. Some nations fared better than others but all were hit to some extent.

The real estate hedge fund sales, dividing up mortgages into microscopic parts, selling them through numerous hedge funds, and continually driving up real estate values,   had been going on for over thirty years. The process had existed through the entire careers of many bankers and investors. It had been a traditional safe hedge or investment which paid reasonable dividends. Suddenly all this ended with trillions of dollars’ worth of bonds being virtually worthless.

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The Federal Reserve tends to supervise the United States and the European Central Bank controls the Eurozone. They can add or subtract money from within their domains. Unfortunately this process can work toward solving economic problems but within a relatively slow period of time.

Economics tends to be a loose science that seemingly becomes better understood as time and situations happen.  Economic recovery is a gradual process and the FED or ECB does not have total control of the tools of recovery.  In the case of the United States the legislators, whether they understand it or not, control fiscal policy and by some of the laws they pass can hinder or aid recovery . In the case of the ECB there are 19 separate nations, with separate histories, languages, and a sense of nationalism, that have agreed to cooperate together with a single currency, for the mutual benefit of all of them.

Some of these 19 nations are currently in a dire economic condition with high unemployment and heavy debts exceeding their GDP and undergoing extreme austerity as they attempt to pay off their killing loans to those members who have supported the bailouts of their economies. Greece, for example currently is the worst off of all the nations in the Eurozone. She has 25% unemployment, has been bailed out at least twice by the ECB and is needing another loan in order to not go bankrupt.

In addition the agencies within each country that control the currency flow, and can increase or decrease it by their actions, are the banks within each nation.  These operate separately and for profit. Under both the Federal Reserve and the ECB the interest they can charge is largely controlled. They, however, until the end of 2008, were the instruments that filled the void where the societies needed freer flowing cash. They did this for three decades and finally continued forcing the process in such a way as to bring about the recessions of 2009 throughout most industrial nations.

In the United States the Federal Reserve, despite the actions of the Republican led House of Representatives whose policies tended from 2011 on to shrink the size of the Federal and State Governments creating even more unemployment, was able by creative Monetary Policy to work toward improving economic conditions within the country

The Federal Reserve largely solved this problem for the United States by both adding money at the rate of 40 billion dollars a month to their economy and by buying up 45 billion dollars a month’s worth of mortgage paper. Without ever announcing what they were doing the Fed forgave the mortgage holders their property debts. This, in turn, added much of this money to the cash flow as it was spent on new productivity rather than retiring debt.

The European Central Bank is currently facing a similar problem; they are currently facing the beginnings of deflation. Their GDP is actually decreasing while their population is increasing. The ECB’s immediate solution for all 19 nations in the Eurozone is to add 60 billion euros to the overall economies every month until September 2016. This is a giant economic stimulus plan that will hopefully boost the sagging economies and fend off deflation bringing about recovery.

Will this help countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy who are currently following intense austerity programs in order to pay back their debts to other Eurozone countries?  This is an interesting question?  These nations have been directly aided by the ECB.  At different levels they are undergoing stringent living in order to pay off individual and government debt.  Will the people in these states continually be willing to undergo a lower standard of living than the rest of the Eurozone?

Greece, which is probably in the worst shape of all of these countries, has voted No in its last election. Their new government, with the support of the bulk of their population, is currently attempting to negotiate an easing off or forgiveness of some or all of the debt.  Will they succeed?

If the negotiations break down and nothing is resolved then Greece will be forced to leave the Eurozone and probably, sooner or later, declare bankruptcy and the ECB will collect nothing. If the ECB attempts to force payments from Greece, who currently needs a further bailout of a billion or more euros and attempts to make the repayment even more stringent than its current state, then the Greeks will be forced to withdraw from the Eurozone. If a compromise is reached then, at least, part of the debt will have to be forgiven.

If that happens then the other countries that are in extreme debt to the Eurozone will also want and expect their debts to be modified.  Spain, for example, has an extreme left party that will be running in the next election on a platform of ending stringent living in Spain.

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There are certain factors we should keep in mind.  Up to the 2008 Crash virtually all the banking houses were encouraging all the people and governments to borrow money. Times were good and could only get better was the popular belief. Not all the nations within the Eurozone took this up; some were much more conservative in their borrowing and spending habits than others. Five or six within the Eurozone did take it up and carried the borrowing as far as they could. There was a similar situation within the United States and in some of the other industrial nations.

It should also be remembered that money is no longer gold coins. That ended in the 1930s. Today money is paper which is used as a means of exchange and has nothing behind it except the word of the government that prints it. Also that the amount in circulation is determined by the particular government or the ECB or in the case of the United States by the Federal Reserve.

The amount is arbitrary and can be increased or decreased at any time. The Federal Reserve forgave many of its debtors and the country now seems to be rapidly moving toward recovery. The ECB needs to rethink its position. Many of its members still have the fixation that money is gold or that those who had been living freely through 2008 must pay their debts. It is time for these people to mentally enter the 21st Century and ask themselves what is best for all of its members. After all, Europe is probably one of the major industrial centers of the world and cash or money serves only as a means of exchange. Punishing the people of a country for careless living which was encouraged by the financial institutions does not solve major economic problems. It can, if fact, exacerbate them so that everyone will economically suffer.

In the United States a goodly percentage of the homeowners in 2008 ended up owing more on their properties than they were worth. The Federal Reserve forgave many of them what they owed. It never admitted that it did this. If it had there might have been a hue and cry against this action.   If that had happened the U.S. would probably still be in a deep recession or another Great Depression.

This is a strange issue. Given a choice, what would the American people have chosen? Allowing a large number of people undeservedly to be forgiven their debts and see the country head in the direction of a return to prosperity or fair and equal treatment of everyone and a major depression.

This is actually the problem the Eurozone is facing now. Currently the Greek government is negotiating to either reduce or be forgiven its debts. Germany and France want it to pay its debts.  After all, they have to be punished for overspending prior to 2009.

Is the issue economic justice or a solid return to prosperity for all the nations in the Eurozone? Which is more important to see immediate justice or deal with what is best for all the nations within the Eurozone? An interesting question!

Fortunately the Federal Reserve in the United States was able to act surreptitiously. The European Central Bank does not have that option. The only realistic action it can take is to partially forgive the loan in the present and eventually drop it completely. If it does this, combined with the stimulus the Eurozone will once again reach a high level of prosperity. If the ECB demands the full return of what is currently owed in order to negotiate a further stimulus, that is, equal fairness for every country; then these nineteen countries face a hard economic future.

On Friday, February 20, 2015 at a negotiating meeting of Eurozone finance ministers a compromise was reached giving Greece four more months on its bailout. One result of this temporary compromise sent the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 to new highs. The Euro resounded to $114 and Germany’s DAX index closed at a record high.

Depending upon the actions of ECB in June the situation could be back to where it was a week before the temporary compromise. By then it should be obvious to everyone involved that rigid enforcement of the original agreement would have strong adverse effects upon all the nations involved. What will happen will depend upon the ability of all these people to define the best common goal for all of the Eurozone.

English: The European Central Bank. Notice a s...
English: The European Central Bank. Notice a sculpture of the euro sign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #111 – Dick Cheney & Torture

George W. Bush

Cover of George W. Bush

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States.

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 9, 2014 the Senate Intelligence Committee released a 500 page summary of a 6,000 page investigation done over a six year period of enhanced interrogation or torture used by the CIA to elicit information from prisoners during the Administration of George W. Bush. This process began directly after the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City by suicide squads of Al-Qaeda terrorists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001.

It was important to Senator Diane Feinstein, the chairperson of this committee, to get this information out before the December 2014 Congressional session ended. The following year the Republicans will have a majority in the Senate and Republicans will chair all committees. She felt that the report would never see the light next year, that the Republicans would in all probability suppress it. And apparently she felt that the American people should know what was done during the Bush years.

When I was a young lad during the days and years of World War II in the early 1940s I remember hearing about how the Nazis and Japs used torture on their prisoners to get information from them. At that time the U.S. Military trained their men, if they were taken prisoner, to give only their name, rank, and serial number, but the Japs and the Nazis did all sorts of pain inflicting things to them to find out what they wanted to know. Years later I learned that the Japanese taught their people the same thing about the Americans. I imagine a certain amount of force was intermittently used by both sides. Did it work? That’s another question.

As I understood the issue from childhood on, the United States always represented the good side of every issue. We were always honest and fair with everyone. We never engaged in any type of skullduggery. Somehow I grew up believing this.

John Brennan, the Director of the CIA, for the first time in the history of the agency, in an unprecedented news conference from CIA headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, admitted that some officers had engaged in “abhorrent” conduct in their questioning of terrorism suspects. After he finished his presentation he took questions from a group of reporters.

In general terms he seemed to largely agree with the Intelligence Committee’s summary, stating that some of the information gotten from the “enhanced interrogation” did help in the fight against the terror groups. He spoke very generally, giving no specifics about how it helped. What he did not mention was that private contractors were hired to enforce this torture.

Listening to him one felt that he didn’t want to totally invalidate anything the agency did. Torture was something that had emerged from the fears engendered after 9/11 and which the agency gave up with the ascension of Barak Obama to the Presidency in 2009.

No one accepted or was given the responsibility for beginning the process of torture. Interestingly the CIA had no direct knowledge of “enhanced interrogation,” consequently private contractors were hired, at what turned out to be a cost of 81 million dollars, to apply this operation. These people, while they had no experience with any methods of interrogation, did have some background in psychology. They were given total freedom to invent their system of torture. The impression from the summary was that they followed what they believed the Japanese did in World War II.

How effective were they? That’s another interesting question. It would seem that if one is undergoing intense pain or discomfort then one would do whatever is required to lessen this misery. If one was being questioned he would say whatever he believed the interrogator wanted him to say. Truth would not be important here; lessening the pain would be primary. Outside of the beliefs of the interrogator how valid would any of this information be? I would imagine that John Brennan was saving face in his statement about the sometime value of enhanced interrogation.

Interestingly Senator John McCain was a naval aviator who was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 during the Vietnam War. He was a prisoner of war until 1973 and went through episodes of torture. He has stated more than once that torture as a means of gaining valid information is of no real value.

Claims have been made, such as some of this information helped to locate Osama bin Laden who was killed by Navy Seals on May 2, 2011. I would wonder how torture which ended in 2008 elicited information that allowed Navy Seals to raid bin Laden’s compound in May of 2011, two and a half years after torture as a means of gathering information from prisoners ended.

President George W. Bush’s comment about “enhanced interrogation” was that he didn’t want to know about it because he might accidentally mention it in a public speech. In essence what you don’t know you can deny as Bush did and go through your presidency innocent of any negative implications.

Dick Cheney when interviewed about this investigation on Fox News stated that even though he had never looked at the 6,000 page study or its 520 page summery he knew it was flawed. To him enhanced interrogation (torture) was a sure way of receiving accurate information. He said that given a choice he would do it again, “I’d do it again in a minute”. He stated on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, December 14, 2014, that “enhanced interrogation” was not torture.

When asked by Chuck Todd if “involuntary rectal feeding” detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committees report as being done to numerous individuals met the legal definition of torture, Cheney stated that “What was done here apparently certainly was not one of the techniques that was approved. I believe it was done for medical reasons.” Cheney has no problem believing what he wants to believe regardless of any evidence that exists.

Cheney’s definition of torture is “an American citizen on a cell phone making a last call to his four daughters shortly before he is burned to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York on 9/11.”

Anything short of that according to our former Vice President is not torture. He refuses to call the enhanced interrogation, authorized for and used by the CIA, torture. “We were very careful to stop short of torture”. Apparently water boarding, having an individual physically feel he was drowning or forcing someone to stand in an awkward and highly uncomfortable position for 14 hours, or any other device used in the interrogation was not torture according to Dick Cheney’s definition.

Watching or reading a transcript of the Cheney interview on “Meet the Press” leaves one wondering what sort of individual the ex-Vice President is. He came out with regal statements many of which made no sense. There were no examples of anything given, just pronouncements of what he considers absolute truth, regardless of any evidence.

Dick Cheney seemed to work from a base of absolute knowledge that didn’t necessarily relate to the real world or to be based upon any factual knowledge. In essence he knows what he knows and anything or anyone who disagrees with him is flawed or just plain wrong. My impression of this is that he is amoral, there is no right or wrong behavior, just what works.

This is the man who was second in command of this nation, followed by a leader, George W. Bush, who didn’t want to know much of what was happening around him. With men like these running the country it amazing that we’re still here. There must be many aspects of this nation that function despite the level of the leadership. Apparently Will Rogers, the cowboy philosopher of the 1920s and early 1930s, was right in his comments about the government. During the Calvin Coolidge Administration he stated during his one man lecture tours that Congress and the President were like a bunch of children in a China shop with hammers. You just hoped they didn’t do too much damage. It would seem that the same can be said about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. You hoped they didn’t do too much damage in the eight years they ran the government.

This seems to be particularly true since Bush told the American Public that his Higher Father (God) told or inspired him to go to war with Iraq and destroy their weapons of mass destruction (which didn’t exist) and the fact that Dick Cheney considers that the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11/02 was torture for everyone who died in the tragedy but that none of the enhanced interrogation done to our Muslim prisoners was torture. He considers all the evidence, none of which he has examined, flawed and inaccurate.

We should be thankful that our government seems to work despite the people who occasionally run it and the nonsense often passed by Congress.

I remember, over the years, hearing the term: The American way. I always understood that term to mean the right way, the honest way, the most honorable and fair way. This is what I was taught this country stands for. For what is best for everyone. Bush and Cheney attempted to change that, to bring us to a level of dishonor. Hopefully this was a phase that is now gone and will never return in the future.

The Weiner Component #83 – The Middle East & Ieaq

Nouri al-Maliki meets with George W. Bush.

 

Just before mid-June 2014 the Iraqi Shite Government had almost reached the point of total collapse.  Many of the soldiers holding the major city of Mosul threw down their weapons and their uniforms and deserted or fled.  The Sunni rebel forces were 70 miles north of Bagdad.  The Malaki Government seemed to be falling apart.

President Obama is examining the situation and has stated that all options are on the table but that he will not send troops back into the country. Senator John McCain is demanding that we send troops, which were withdrawn 2 1/2 year ago, and he does not want them to leave this time until we have won the war. Among other things he seems to have forgotten that it was President George W. Bush who signed a treaty with Iraq arranging for the withdrawal and he has not mentioned who we have to defeat in order to win the war.

(As a footnote: it seems the Republicans are willing to spend billions of dollars refighting Bush’s Iraq War but not one nickel on creating jobs in the United States or in rebuilding the U.S. infrastructure.)

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has essentially set up a Shite government, basically refusing to share power with the Sunnis. His “so called” democratic government, which was inadvertently set up under U.S. supervision, is a variation of the old Sunni dictatorship that Saddam Hussein ruled under. Maliki has and continues to rejected all U.S. attempts to reform his government and make it a real democracy.

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Prior to World War I the entire Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire, which eventually became Turkey. They were a decaying medieval monarchy on the losing side. Shortly after the end of World War I (1918) the kingdom was divided up by the European allies as mandates, an anachronism for the colonies these states would rule. The boundaries were set arbitrarily for their convenience by the European victors with no real consideration being given to the people within these colonial nations. Neither ethnicity nor religious differences were considerations.

Shortly after World War II, most of these colonial countries, gained their independence either peaceably or through revolts and became sovereign nations. Generally they were now ruled either by absolute kings or military dictators. The boundaries were still those that the Europeans had imposed some thirty years earlier and they continue to exist today.

Iraq became a British mandate (possession). It includes most of Mesopotamia, bounded on the north by Turkey, on the east by Iran, on the south by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and on the west by Jordan and Syria. It has extensive oil deposits.

The kingdom of Iraq was established in 1923, becoming independent in October 1932 under King Faisal I. Actually it became a semi-independent state in alliance with Great Britain and, interestingly, was admitted into the League of Nations. Between 1950 and 1952 Iraq signed oil agreements with foreign oil companies and received 50% of the oil profits.   In 1953 Faisal II became the playboy king of the country.  In 1958 Iraq became a republic and the monarch was killed. In 1979 Saddam Hussein became Iraq’s president, succeeding and earlier dictator. On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, an oil rich principality.

Prior to the Kuwait invasion President George H.W. Bush sent a plenipotentiary, a roving ambassador, to Iraq to meet with its president. Bush and his advisors had very little knowledge of Iraq and its culture or were overly arrogant. Bush sent a woman (presumably striking a blow for equal rights) and gave her general instructions but no real authority.

To Saddam Hussein the fact that a woman had been sent was both an insult and an indication that the mission was of little consequence to the United States. Apparently, obliquely he asked her what the U.S. response would be to an invasion of Kuwait. She equivocated giving Saddam the impression that there would be no real U.S. reaction. After she left the country Iraq invaded Kuwait. The U.N., under the leadership of the United States, engaged in operation Desert Storm. Bush was wise enough not to invade Iraq after the Iraqis had been pushed out of Kuwait.

Unfortunately his son did not inherit that same wisdom. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld must have wanted a positive victory for the American People after 9/11. They felt the United States should have a great moral and political triumph. With virtually no knowledge of the Middle East, its people, culture and values they decided that an invasion of Iraq would be a win, win situation; that if we served as an international sheriff and invaded Iraq and got rid of its evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, both the Iraqis and the Americans would cheer the greatness of the U.S. Government, their administration.   Unfortunately they were wrong, it ended up being a lose, lose situation.

On March 20, 2003 the U.S. and Great Britain invaded Iraq. The Iraqis were never too pleased with having the United States occupy their country and wanted us to leave, eventually passing numerous resolutions in their Parliament to that effect and finally refusing to allow American forces to be exempt from their law and only under American law. On 2008 a “Status of Forces Agreement” was signed by Bush and Maliki. U.S. combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 and all U.S. forces would be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2011. Also any soldiers committing felonies or other heinous crimes would be subject to Iraqi law.

Bush left it to President Obama to enforce this agreement, which he obviously did to all sort of derogatory comments from Senator John McCain and other Republicans blaming him for the withdrawal.

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The Kurdish people, who make up about 32 to 37% of the population are located in the northeast along the Turkish border. The other half of their population is in Turkey north of Iraq. The W.W.I Europeans had split them into two roughly equal parts. On March 18, 1988 Iraq is believed to have used chemical weapons, poison gas, on the Kurds in a dispute with them. The Kurds have consistently wanted to form their own nation

Of the remaining population in Iraq there are two major Muslim groups. The Shi’a that makes up 60 to 65% of that population and the Sunni which consists of 32 to 37%. Both these groups came into existence in 632 A.D. when the religious founder, Mohamed, died. They spit over the question of political and religious succession. By and large the Shia live in the south of the country and the Sunni are in the north. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim while Nouri al-Maliki is a Shite.

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ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has emerged as one of the major groups fighting the Assad regime in Syria. They want to set up a Sunni caliphate in both Syria and Iraq.

The group is one of the most violent if not the most violent of all the jihadists. It is considered one of the world’s most deadly and active terrorist organizations which frequently and indiscriminately attacks large public gatherings for maximum casualties. They are credited with kidnappings, disappearances, and torture of opponents. Their soldiers keep their faces covered at all times. Al Qaeda has expelled ISIS for being too violent.

To Western nations there is the fear that Syria could become the next Afghanistan, serving as a training ground for jihadists to operate all over the world.

The group has also cultivated support among ordinary Syrians by providing aid to needy people in the form of free medical services, bags of food for the needy and below market fuel. Their gifts are always branded with the group’s black flag.

On April 27, 2014 Iraq military helicopters attacked and destroyed an ISIS convoy of eight vehicles inside Syria. June 5, 2014 ISIS militants stormed the city of Samarra in Iraq before being ousted by Iraqi airstrikes. On June 6 ISIS carried out multiple attacks upon the mostly Sunni city of Mosul in Northern Iraq. June 9 Mosul fell to ISIS control giving them, among other things, the central bank that contained about $429 million. Shortly afterward the ISIS leadership declared that they would pay each man in their army $200 a month.

On June 11, 2014 ISIS seized the essentially Sunni city of Tikit. The victors began seeking out and killing police, soldiers, and civilians who they perceived as being associated with the Shite government. June 15 they captured the city of Tal Afar. ISIS claimed that 1,700 Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered had been executed. They released many images of mass executions on the internet.

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What should the United States position toward Iraq be? It looks like a lose, lose situation. The Republican Hawks are demanding that President Obama act, do something. John McCain wants to send troops in to help the legitimate Iraqi government. Lindsey Graham wants to get rid of Nouri al-Maliki. Others are demanding immediate action.  Shite Iran has offered to cooperate with the United States in a joint operation.

Shortly before and after the U.S. occupation of Iraq its Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki arrested important Sunni political leaders. A return of the U.S. troops, whose exit President George W. Bush negotiated, would place the U.S. in a subordinate position in deciding policy and place us in the middle of a civil war. What should be the policy of the United States? It’s an interesting and scary question.

Meanwhile ISIS has been successful in taking mostly Sunni dominated areas in Iraq. Will it be as successful in conquering mostly Shite held areas?

President Obama has sent in an additional military group to guard the American Embassy in Iraq. He has also sent in 300 elite forces to act as advisors to the Maliki Government. What does the future hold?

As of Wednesday, June 25, 2014 Maliki, denounced anyone who wants him to step down as going against their constitution. He has categorically refused to step down and allow an interim government to be set up regardless of the level of ISIS’ military successes. This even though an election is coming up and a new government will be formed in July of 2014.

President Obama has stated that Maliki’s retirement is necessary if the Shite Government is to become truly democratic and be able to stop and possibly defeat ISIS. Maliki, on the other hand, has stated that the losses to Iraq are the fault of the United States because they did not deliver all the airplanes that Iraq purchased from the U.S.

Former Sunni soldiers, from generals down who fought against Al Qaeda, when the United States was in Iraq have been decommissioned or expelled from Iraq’s military. I suspect, if they were called, that they would not fight in a Shite dominated state where they are second class citizens. Also if ISIS becomes a benevolent ruler they may split Iraq into two countries, particularly in regions where they are Sunni majorities. We are, after all looking at a civil war. It is important to remember that the Shite Government under Saddam Hussein was not friendly to the United States and that an ISIS run state will hold the same attitude.

What should President Obama do? What would you do if you were in his position?

 

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The Weiner Component #82 – The Non-Intellectual Far Right Republicans

President George Bush introduces the Joint Res...

President George Bush introduces the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, October 2, 2002. The resolution was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law two weeks later. White House photo by Paul Morse. Image obtained from http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/images/20021002-7_d-iraq10022002-th-1-515h.html. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelle Bachmann and several other non-intellectual far right Republicans recently stated that the attack upon the American Embassy at Benghazi two years ago was God’s punishment on the United States for not properly acting in international affairs. I wonder if this will be the finding of the new Republican sponsored committee that is going to again investigate the attack upon Benghazi for the fourth time.

I understand that anyone can speak to God; it’s called praying. But I didn’t know that God was a “Tea Party” type Republican; and that he would verbally respond to special members of the Republican far-right; or that He would directly punish this nation by arbitrarily allowing ambassadors to be killed.

It is also interesting to see when God directly responds not only does he talk to Bachmann and other members of the far right he also talks to other Republicans like George Bush Jr. According to what ex-President Bush told us in a public speech his “Higher Father” told him to attack Iraq in order to take out the “weapons of mass destruction” that President Saddam Hussein was hiding in that country.

George W. Bush actually was the second United States president to whom God had spoken. The first was William McKinley, who in December 10, 1898, as a result of the Spanish American War which the U.S. won.  In the Peace Treaty with Spain the United States paid them twenty million dollars for the entire Philippine Islands. The only area we had directly conquered was Manila but we wanted to colonize all the islands so we paid for them. It took an additional number of years of fighting to pacify the Philippines; and that was for a relatively short period of time. The Philippines gained full independence directly after World War II.

Why are the Republicans investigating the attack and murder of four Americans for the fourth time two years after the incident at Benghazi? Can it be because there’s a midterm election coming up in November of 2014 and they need an issue on which to go after the Democrats? Their attempt to go after them and get rid of Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) seems to have died as an issue, particularly with over 8 million citizens enrolling. Also could this be an attempt to discredit Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time and may well be running for president in 2016. Or could it be an attempt to raise money for the oncoming elections. Could it be a combinations of these causes?

Benghazi has been investigated front wise, side wise, and diagonally. There has been no new information. Is this a political game they’re playing because they have nothing else and feel they have to go after the Democrats?

This whole issue strikes me as innocuous. We have a number of issues in the recent past that should have been investigated but were ignored. Could it be that the political party in power was the one who committed these illegal acts?

The Iran Contra Scandal toward the end of the Reagan Administration could have sent the ex-president and his entire cabinet, including his vice president, George W. H. Bush, to jail for blatantly breaking the law by illegally selling arms to terrorists in Iran in order to raise money for American-backed terrorists trying to take over Nicaragua, a country that the President did not like, but with which we were not at war.

Still under President Reagan we also mined Nicaragua’s major harbor and bombed Libya, another country we were not happy with but also not at war with.
The first George Bush got the U.S. involved in a war with Iraq in order to rescue Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion. The second George Bush got the country into two wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan over the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City. In addition while fighting these he lowered income taxes for the people of the United States and vastly raised the national debt.

After the Real Estate Debacle toward the end of 2008, the last year George W, Bush was in office the country faced a depression greater than that of 1929. President Barak Obama was able to avoid it despite the continued efforts of the Republicans to bring it about. From 2011 on, when they gained control of the House of Representatives.  The

Republicans have continually worked to shrink the economy and bring about a major depression. This was avoided by the Federal Reserve and their creative policies, which countered the actions of the Republicans in Congress.

This country has major problems. We still have 6 plus percent unemployment; there is an immigration problem with the illegals present in the United States. The infrastructure throughout the nation is old, outdated, and faulty. A good percentage of the bridges are over fifty years old; some may not be far from collapsing; one has already drop

George W. Bush

Cover of George W. Bush

ped cars into the river. The power grid is inadequate in terms of any emergency.

What is the Republican House of Representatives spending its time doing? Investigating Benghazi for the fourth or fifth time. Trying to blame President Obama and Hillary Clinton for an act by a crazy terrorist group.

It should be noted that it was the Republicans in both the House and Senate, in order to save money that had earlier reduced the budget for guard duty at all the embassies. Would this action have made difference? That’s unknown. We may be lucky there was only one such incident at an embassy on foreign soil.

They make lots of crazy sense. The country is bleeding and the Republicans are playing political games, trying to collect money and earn points for their side. Do they care about the nation or are they interested in just gaining political control of it?

Why do we have these idiot and irresponsible statements from these idiot people? The country needs sane and purposeful legislation.

 

The Weiner Component #65 – Dysfunctional Government

A dysfunctional family is one that is perennially in chaos.  Nothing ever gets done; no issue is ever solved; nothing is ever accomplished.  A dysfunctional government works or doesn’t work on the same basis.  Its lawmakers are incapable of accomplishing anything, at least anything that the nation really needs.

Is that the situation that exists in Washington, D.C.?  The answer to that question is obviously, yes.  But is the answer that simple?  Are both political parties equally responsible or is the true villain just one of the particular political parties?

Toward the end of the last year of the reign of George W. Bush as President of the United States the economy collapsed.  Because of the activities of the major banks the country was facing a catastrophe greater than that of 1929.  Bush and his Secretary of the Treasury, Paulson, did an emergency bank bailout of the big Financial Institutions whose greed and irresponsibility had caused the situation.

In 2008 Barak Obama was elected President on a platform of: “It’s Time for a Change.”  Through the use of both Fiscal and Monetary policy he was able to avert a major breakdown of the economy.  In addition he bailed out the auto industry.  The country had a recession with major unemployment but it never reached a real depression.  The Obama Administration also passed a universal Affordable Health Care Bill, which, had been initially suggested by the Horizon Institute, a Conservative Republican Think Tank and earlier put into operation in the State of Massachusetts by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

In the 2010 Midterm Election the Republicans under Tea Party leadership became the majority party in the House of Representatives.  Apparently there hadn’t been enough “change” during President Obama’s first two years in office!

The Republican caucus in both Houses of Congress had earlier decided the Obama would be a one term president.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader in the Senate had announced this publically.  They would support nothing that President Obama proposed.  In fact, they would oppose everything he would favor.  Government functionality would cease.  From 2011 on the House of Representatives would not pass any bill that supported any program that Obama or the Democrats favored and that they would oppose any bill that had been passed during his first two years in office.

The House repealed Affordable Health Care (Obama Care) over forty times.  The repeals went nowhere because the Senate had a Democratic majority and the majority leader would not take up the bill which was already law.

In 2011 President Obama came out with a plan to put America back to work by both extending and modernizing the infrastructure of the United States.  This would probably have reduced unemployment to about 3 1/2 percent, increased the GDP significantly, and substantially increased the tax base of both the Federal Government and the states.  The Republican majority and the Speaker of the House of Representatives completely ignored these plans.  The House of Representatives from 2011 on has done absolutely nothing in any way to create jobs for the unemployed.  By their actions they have sought to reduce government employment and have actually added to the unemployment problem.

In 2012 the House of Representatives met in formal session 125 days, in 2013 it was 121 days, and in 2014 it will be for 120 days.  Some Republican legislator made a comment about what will they do in all that time.  The members of Congress receive 174 thousand dollars a year, plus an office and a fully paid staff.  The get an allowance for an office in their home districts.  I would love to work 120 days out of 365 for that pay and do as much as the House Republican legislators!

In 2013, late at night, the Republicans changed the rules in the House of Representatives so that only bills favored by the majority party could be brought up for a debate or vote on the floor of the House.  If a bill favored by the Democrats and a small number of Republicans came up, the Speaker of the House did not have to call for a vote on that bill, even if the majority favored it.  The only bills that needed to be brought up were those favored by the majority of the Republicans in the House.

In the Senate the Republican minority can filibuster both bills and Presidential appointments of judgeships and appointments of assorted department heads.  The position of the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms was only recently filled after being vacant for six to eight years.  The NRA wanted this job left vacant.  The post was filled after Harry Reed, the majority leader, threatened to change the rules and end filibustering most Presidential appointments.

In mid-November, over the issue of three judgeships, in which the Republicans refused to allow a vote to be taken because they did not want Obama to fill three vacancies in the second highest court in the U.S., the Senate by a simple majority changed the rules and disallowed filibustering in most presidential appointments.

In 2012 the closest the Republicans came to a compromise was the Sequester, which automatically dropped government spending across the board on all levels except Congressional salaries that automatically rose every year.  These, cut down military spending and innumerable entitlement programs for the poor: meals on wheels and infant nutrition to name only two.  In 2013 they shut down the government, refused to raise the debt ceiling, and cost the country about 24 billion dollars and around 250,000 jobs.  If they had had their way and gotten everything they wanted the country would currently be in a deep depression with unemployment up well over 25 percent.  Their version of running the government is not only to not spend money but also to massively reduce the size of the Federal Government.

Even though the public cast 1.4 million more votes for the House Democrats in 2012, by gerrymandering in the census year, 2010, the Republicans still got a majority in the House.  The country will need an overwhelming majority in 2014 to beat them.

 

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

There is a note of irony that helps explain this dysfunction.  Since the Republicans have determined to oppose everything that President Obama supports they have gone against some policies that initially were their own.  The reason for this, as we have seen, was to make Obama a one term president.  When they failed in 2012 they still adhered to these policies.

 

Affordable Health Care will help keep a number of people alive who would otherwise have died earlier because they could not afford to see a doctor until it was an emergency.  Many children will now get prenatal care.  The insurance companies, even with more restrictions on what they can do, will get a tremendous increase in business.  Yet the Republicans continue to denounce this law using mostly general platitudes.  They offer nothing except the argument that it’s no good, that it will harm the society and kill jobs.

We are probably the only industrial nation in the world today that doesn’t have universal medical care for its citizens.  Our original system of medical care is faulty, inefficient, and overly expensive.  The Republicans offer no alternative except that Obama Care is no good.  Really spiteful reasoning!

We can again ask ourselves: Why is Congress dysfunctional?  The answer is because of Congressional Republican acts or lack of any action since 2011 when they gained control of the House of Representatives.  The 2014 Midterm Election will determine what direction this country takes.  If the Republicans retain the majority in the House we can look forward to two more years of economic disaster.  The American People will have to choose in 2014.  Hopefully the majority will understand their choices.  Unfortunately we have to wait another year before there’s any hope of a functioning government.

 

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