The Weiner Component V.2 #16 – The Great Presidential Cover-up(s)

In 1968 former Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon ran for the presidency of the United States on the Republican ticket.  It was the second time he attempted to attain that position.  In 1960 he had run against John Fitzgerald Kennedy and lost by less than one percent of the vote.

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced that he would not run for another term as President.  After a tumultuous Convention the Democrats had chosen Hubert Humphrey and the Southern states of America also ran a third party candidate, George Wallace, whose platform tended to be against integration of the public schools and civil rights for Blacks.  Nixon’s platform, among other things, was that he would end the Viet Nam War and the United States would withdraw with honor from Viet Nam.  Nixon also campaigned as the law and order candidate.  Martin Luther King Jr, and Robert Kennedy while campaigning for the presidency, had been assassinated.  It was a highly dramatic time in the history of the nation, with the anti-Viet Nam War Movement having reached a high point.

 

Nixon carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, and a popular vote of 31,783,783; Humphrey had 13 states plus Washington, D.C., 191 electoral votes, and 31,271,839 popular votes; and Wallace had 5 states, 46 electoral votes, and 9,901,118 popular votes.  This was the first election after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that had led to the mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country.  It was about this time that the South would switch its voter majority to the Republican Party.

 

Nixon’s presidency, for the next four years would be rather dramatic.  He actually increased the pressure of the Viet Nam War, enlarging it beyond its borders in order to get the U.S. out of the war with honor.  Protest grew in this country.  Protest movements exploded, particularly at universities.  By 1972, when it became time for reelection Nixon, even though he had the support of the majority of the American people, became frantic to get reelected.

 

The Republican Party secretly supported, with funds, the most radical of the Democratic candidates, George McGovern, helping him to get nominated as the Democratic candidate.  And a small group of five men, both directly or indirectly, connected with the Republican Reelection Committee broke into Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., bugging two of the telephones and searching for assorted information as to what the Democrats were doing or planning.  They broke in more than once and were finally caught and arrested for burglary.

 

Watergate occurred shortly before the Presidential Election of 1972.  Nixon won the election by an overwhelming majority.  He received 520 electoral votes, carried 49 states with a popular vote of 47,168,710.  McGovern received 17 electoral votes, carried 1 state and Washington, D.C. with a popular vote of 29,173,222.  It was an embarrassing defeat for the candidate and the Democratic Party.

 

Even with the election over and the new Presidential term beginning the Watergate investigation continued.  In addition over the next two years an eighty-five page indictment was developed against Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, the former governor of Maryland.  He was involved with bribery and extortion, as Vice President, governor, and even going back to before he became governor of Maryland.

 

Because of the turmoil of Watergate the country was undergoing at that time Agnew was offered a deal by government law enforcement.  He could plead “no contest” and resign from the Vice Presidency and he would not be prosecuted.  Agnew took the deal, left Washington, and, from what I remember, settled in Palm Springs, California.  Nixon, while the investigation was going on appointed a new Vice President, Senator Gerald Ford, who would become President after Nixon resigned.

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

In January of 1972 G. Gordon Liddy, the Finance Council for the Committee for the Reelection of President Richard Nixon and former aide to John Ehrlichman, presented a campaign intelligence plan to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP) which consisted  of Acting Chairman Jeb Stuart Magruder, Attorney General John Mitchell, and Presidential Council John Dean that involved extensive illegal activities against the Democratic Party.

 

Mitchell viewed the plan as unrealistic.  Two months later he was alleged to have approved a reduced version of the plan.  This included burgling the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C.  The burglars were to photograph campaign documents and install listening devices in telephones.  G.Gordon Liddy was in charge of the operation, but has insisted, after being arrested, that he was duped by Dean and two of his subordinates. These were former CIA officers E. Howard Hunt and James McCord.

 

The first burglary was on May 28.  Two phones were wiretapped, that of the executive director and that of the DNC secretary.  Apparently the listening devices had problems and a second burglary was planned.

 

Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972 a security guard at Watergate noticed tape covering the locks on some of the doors in the complex leading from the underground garage to several offices.  This allowed the doors to close but remain unlocked.  He removed the tape.  When he returned an hour later the locks had been re-taped.   He called the police.  Five men were arrested inside the DNC headquarters.

 

On September 15, a grand jury indicted them, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy for conspiracy burglary and violation of federal wiretapping laws.  The five burglars were tried by a jury and were convicted on January 30, 1973,

 

On the morning of June 18, 1972, G. Gordon Liddy called Jeb Magruder in Los Angeles and informed him the “the four men arrested with McCord were Cuban Freedom Fighters, whom Howard Hunt had recruited.”  The White House immediately began a cover up of the crime and any evidence that might damage the President and his reelection.  The Presidential Election would be the first Tuesday in November.

 

(Somehow the burglary and arrests sounds like a scene from the Silent Era series of films on the keystone cops, totally ridiculous.)

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

Shortly after the arrest the FBI would discover the name of E. Howard Hunt in the address books of two of the burglars.  Dean was later ordered by top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman to “deep six” the contents of Hunt’s White House safe.  The evidence from Hunt’s safe was destroyed by Dean and the FBI’s Acting Director, L. Patrick Gray.  On June 19, 1972, the press reported that one of the Watergate burglars was a Republican Party Security aide.  On August 1, a $25,000 cashier’s check earmarked for the Nixon re-election campaign was found in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars.  The FBI investigation would reveal that the burglary team received thousands of dollars in the months leading up to their arrests.  In essence multi-thousands of dollars in certified checks which the burglars had received could be traced back to the CRP, connecting the oncoming Presidential Election with the five burglars.  All five Watergate burglars were directly or indirectly tied to the 1972 CRP.  This in turn caused the Judge who tried their case to suspect a conspiracy involving higher-echelon government officials.  On September 29, 1972, the press reported that John Mitchell, while serving as Attorney General, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance intelligence gathering against the Democrats.  On October 10, the FBI reported the Watergate burglary was part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage on behalf of the Nixon re-election committee.  Still, Nixon’s campaign was never seriously jeopardized.  On November 7, the President was overwhelming re-elected.

 

Watergate lingered between the press and the White House, with more and more information gradually coming out.  In fact it haunted Nixon’s second term as president.  A special council outside the government for the Watergate investigation was appointed.  Archibald Cox headed it.  The Senate held public hearings on Watergate which were publically broadcast on national television.  It came out that Nixon was recording all conversations in the oval office.  Both Cox and the Senate attempted to subpoena these recordings.  Nixon refused and ordered Cox to drop his subpoena.  Cox refused.  Nixon ordered the Attorney General to fire Cox.  The Attorney General refused.  Nixon fired the Attorney General and ordered the assistant to the Attorney General to fire Cox.  He also refused.  Nixon also fired him and appointed a third Attorney General, Robert Bork, who did fire Cox.

 

The public was incensed.  In a speech on October 20, 1973, Nixon stated, “I am not a crook.” Then the new Attorney General, Robert Bork, appointed a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, to continue the investigation.

 

The question had become: When did the President learn of the Watergate break-in?  On March 1, 1974 seven of the President’s close aides were indicted by a Grand Jury.  They also secretly named the President as an unindicted co-conspirator.

 

The Nixon administration released an edited version of the tapes.  Expletives, which Nixon freely used and confidential information were removed from the tapes.  The tapes implied that Nixon knew about the burglary from the beginning and that the initial burglars had been paid to keep silent.  Later another tape appeared that proved Nixon was aware of Watergate from the beginning.

 

In July 27, 1974, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27 to 11 voted to recommend a Bill of Impeachment against the President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon.  On August 8, 1974, Nixon was told of the Bill of Impeachment by the House and that there were no more than 15 votes in the Senate that would support him.  On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency; the day a bill of impeachment was to be passed in the House of Representatives.

 

The Cover up had failed.  The process had taken a little under two years.  The Vice President, Gerald Ford became the new President.

He would serve out the balance of the presidential term.  Nixon was still liable to criminal prosecution by both state and federal laws.  On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford issued a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes Nixon may have or did commit as President.

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

Today, early in May of 2017, President Donald J. Trump and his administration face a similar problem.  Is or has it undergone a cover-up for collusion with Vladimir Putin and Russia over the Presidential Election of 2016 or are Trump and his staff amateurs that don’t really know what’s going on as they attempt ineptly to run the United States?

 

According to James Clapper, the former head of the National Intelligence Agency there is “overwhelming” evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  The FBI began its counterintelligence investigation in July of 2016, well before the November Presidential Election.

 

What I find interesting here is why the FBI Director, James Comey, disregarded policy about an ongoing investigation and publically commented about the Clinton emails shortly before the November Presidential Election but followed FBI procedure and kept quiet about the Trump investigation.  He spoke about the Trump investigation in early May of 2017, well after the election.

 

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired James Comey, the Director of the FBI.  Did that act of Trump using his favorite phrase, (which, I understand, was his favorite term when he was hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice.”  Presumably he copyrighted the phrase).  Does this end the FBI investigation of Trump and Russia?  It would seem that he is actually encouraging both the investigation and the appointment of an independent prosecutor.

 

Trump and his team have continually denied that they have had any improper contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign.  Representative Adam Schiff, the highest Democrat on the Intelligence Committee has verbally pointed to a number of people who are or have been part of Trump’s team that have had contact with Russians.  There is Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the committee investigation.  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who Trump fired eighteen days after discovering he had had contacts with the Russian Ambassador prior to the election.  Trump’s  former campaign manager, Paul Manafort; campaign aides J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, as well as longtime Trump confidant Roger stone.

 

Representative Schiff stated that it was possible that all of their contacts had nothing to do with the election.  “But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere.

 

An election was also held early in May in France and the same techniques were used by the Russians to try to subvert that election to the far-right candidate who Putin preferred.  Unlike Trump, she lost the election.  The French are apparently far more sophisticated than the Americans.

 

On May 7, 2017, the former temporary Attorney General, Sally Yates, and the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, James Clapper, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  President Trump did not emerge in any positive fashion from what was said about him.

 

Donald Trump has been President of the United States for a little over 100 days.  Much of what he has done in that office or what he has stated or tweeted has not shown him in a positive light.  It is still early in his tenure in office.  Remember it took about two years for the evidence against Nixon to come together after his illegal acts.  There is a distinct possibility that it may take as long for the same thing to happen to Trump.

 

Investigation are ongoing now.  While Jeff Sessions has recused himself as the chief law enforcement officer in the nation it is still his assistant who is heading up this investigation.  Pressure is currently building for an independent investigator outside of Trump’s circle.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sees no reason for an independent investigator.  The New York Times is suggesting that there are a lot more of Trump’s people involved with Russia.  What will happen is anyone’s guess.  The probability is that Trump may not survive four years as President of the United States.

The Weiner Component #169 – Part 2: The Presidencies & Political Parties in the United States

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the ...

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the beginning of the 107th United States Congress, January 3, 2001. Democratic Party – 50 Republican Party – 50 Tie broken by the Vice President of the United States (Al Gore to 2001-01-20, Dick Cheney thereafter) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

If you draw a horizontal line across a sheet of paper and put a mark in the center then the right side proceeding to the end of the line tends to be conservative getting more reactionary as you move farther toward the right end and the left side tends to be liberal, getting more radical as it moves to the left end.  Today the left side represents the Democratic Party and the right side is the Republican Party.

 

This model of right and left was initially created by the way the Chamber of Deputies placed themselves in the hall during the period of the French Revolution in late 18th Century.   The difference then was that the legislative body was divided into three groups, the right were the reactionaries who wanted to bring back the king and his form of government; the left were the radicals who wanted to get rid of the king and brought about the “Reign of Terror.”  They wanted a representative government, essentially led by a dictator.  The majority of the Chamber was called the Mountain.  It was the center which contained the majority of delegates.  They were the moderates.  France would eventually become a Representative Democracy.

 

Today in the United States legislature there is no center.  We have a right, the Republicans and a left side, the Democrats.  And between the two major groups, in the center, there is an empty space, which, in turn, makes it difficult for any type of compromise to be reached or even for any real communication to occur.  As far as the far right is concerned compromise is giving in to their position.

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

In 1797, when the Constitution was written, there were no thoughts of political parties.  By 1789, when it took effect, Alexander Hamilton, the First Secretary of the Treasury, had organized the Federalist Party, which basically supported the tidewater mercantilist groups rather than inland yeoman farmers.  Thomas Jefferson, who supported the latter group at the very tail end of the 18th Century organized the Republican Party as a solution to the Federalists and ran as its first candidate for the presidency in the year 1800.  The Federalists, as an insult, rechristened it as the Democratic-Republican Party.  This first name has stuck through the years and is still used today.  The Presidential campaign in the year 1800 was a very raucous one with Jefferson being denounced, among other things, as an atheist.

 

Jefferson won the election and the Federalists were never again able to win a Presidential Election.  They ceased to exist as a political party after the War of 1812.  In that war with England they had refused to support the government against Great Britain.

 

President Thomas Jefferson, following his philosophy of leading a country of small yeoman farmers, in 1803 bought the Louisiana Territory from France for $11,250,000, adding 828,000 square miles to the new United States and doubling its size.  He calculated that he had added enough land to allow it to freely grow with small farms for at least one hundred years.

 

The Federalist position had been favoring a strong central government, close ties with Great Britain, a centralized banking system and close links between the government and men of wealth.

 

What followed after the War of 1812 was the Era of Good Feelings which ended in 1824 when John Quincy Adams was appointed to the Presidency by the House of Representatives after an election in which none of the four regional candidates achieved enough of a majority to win the election.

 

In 1828 the Democratic-Republican Party split into Jacksonian Democrats and the Whig Party.  The Jacksonian Democratic Party became the modern Democratic Party.  They supported the primacy of the President over the other branches of government.  The Whig Party advocated the primacy of Congress over the executive branch.  In the 1850s the Whig Party declined.  Its leaders had died out and it split over the issue of slavery.  The Democratic Party also split into two section, Northern and Southern, anti-slave and pro-slave.

 

In the Election of 1860 the remnants of the Whig Party and remnants of other third parties like the Abolitionists and other dissatisfied groups coalesced into the new Republican Party while the Democrats split into two separate political parties, one Northern and Western and one Southern.  The Northern Democrats ran Stephen A. Douglas while the Southern Democrats put forth John C. Breckenridge.

 

Douglas and Breckenridge had over 50% of the vote together but neither one had as much as Lincoln.  Lincoln won the election with under 50% of the popular vote.  No one Southern State had his name on their ballot.  It was as though two totally separate elections had occurred.  In point of fact one can easily say that the Civil War actually began with this election.

 

At the end of the Civil War Radical Republicans dominated both Houses of Congress.  The President of the United States was a former Southern Democrat, Andrew Johnson.  He had been a senator from Tennessee who remained in Washington and refused to join in the Secession from the Union.  Johnson ran with Lincoln during his second term as the Vice-presidential candidate under the slogan of the National Unity Ticket.

 

Lincoln was assassinated early during his second term and Andrew Johnson became president from 1864 to 1867.  The Radical Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress; consequently they were able to do whatever they wanted.  Johnson was unsuccessfully impeached toward the end of his term.  In 1868, the Republican, former General Ulysses S. Grant, became the 18th President of the United States.

 

In the election of 1876 the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ran against the Democrat, Samuel J. Tilden.  The Republicans desperately wanted to retain the presidency.  Tilden had the greater number of popular votes.  Several states ended up electing two sets of electors, both Democratic and Republican.  The crisis was not resolved until the night before the new President was to take office.  A back-door deal was made by which the Republicans got the presidency and the Southern States had the Northern armies of occupation removed and became independent states again, ending all the remnants of the Civil War.  The United States reemerged as a two party nation.  At this time the Blacks systematically lost their rights as freedmen, although they kept that title.

 

The Republican Party adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs: national banks, railroad expansion, and high tariffs.  They were the businessman’s political party.  Their anti-slave policy and the Civil War had brought the Black population, the freedmen, into their party and kept them dominant in Congress until this time.  The Southern States returned to the Democratic Party which maintained its traditional values.  The Republicans also attracted shop owners, skilled craftsmen, clerks, and professionals who were attracted to the party’s modernization policies.  These political coalitions lasted almost to the end of the 19th Century.

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

The Civil War expedited economic change in America.  From its end through the 1920s there was a rush of new immigration into the United States, mainly from Eastern Europe and Ireland.  The Industrial Revolution in all forms of rapid economic growth took hold of the country at this time generating a rapid settlement of the entire continental United States.  The late 19th Century was the period of the Gilded Age, rapid industrial growth, the confluence of money into the hands of a few brought about the rise of the “robber barons,” monopoly and oligopoly; phenomenal affluence for a small number and sweat-shops and twelve to fifteen hour shifts for large groups of children, women, and men in factories.  The country went from a rural nation to an urban one during this period.

 

Small towns became cities virtually overnight with almost no understanding or regulations about supplying clean water to large populations and housing or sewerage or food regulation laws.  The government performed no social services.  Political machines developed by both political parties in the urban areas.  Epidemics became common, particularly in warmer weather.  Death tolls, particularly in slum areas were inordinately high, especially among infants and young children.

 

Among this environment, within the urban areas, individual states, and the Federal Government the Progressive Movement developed and grew.  It would continue until the United States got involved in the Great War (World War I).  Both major political parties would at different times lead this movement, which, to a large extent, would be fed by magazine articles and books demonstrating the horrific conditions that existed in the factories, slums, and cities.

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

All the presidents from Lincoln’s death until Teddy Roosevelt’s accession were decent men but weak presidents.  They and Cabinet members were continually hounded by jobseekers and political machine operators looking to collect on campaign promises.

 

The major issues of this period were the protective tariff, currency reform, and civil service reform.  President James A. Garfield was shot by a dissatisfied job seeker.  Even with this civil service reform came slowly over the course of the late 19th Century.

 

Tariff and currency reform lasted throughout this period and led to the Progressive Movement.  Business interests supported protective tariffs and tight or hard money (gold).  They lobbied and spent freely to achieve these goals, which the Republicans tended to support.  The Democrats largely backed a loose money policy, using both gold and silver.

 

From 1876 through 1900, Congress was known for being rowdy and inefficient and the Presidents as more or less capable of doing their jobs but not much more.  The two major political parties tended to be similar in their outlook with the exception that the Republicans favored business and the Democrats vied slightly toward farmers.  And the government was considered highly corrupt.

 

With one exception, and that was Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate, who was twice elected to a four year term in 1884 and in 1892, all the other presidents had been Republicans.  All of them, from both political parties had served in the Civil War.

 

In addition, among the farmers, at this time, the Granger Movement gradually developed and it in turn become part of the Populist Movement, which pushed for Agrarian Reform in the United States.  The Populist Movement and urban conditions and corruption throughout the country gave birth to the Progressive Reform Movement which existed on the both the state levels and on the national level.

 

The early Progressive Movement rose on a grass root level.  It was supported by the farmers who wanted a loose money policy.  This would allow them to pay back their debts with less expensive currency.  The businessmen and bankers preferred a tight money policy.  They wanted the debts paid back with more expensive money than they had initially spent or loaned out.  Into this mix came magazine and book writers, the muckrakers, who tended to expose the corruption that existed on all levels of society.  Also at this time the giant industrial cities came into existence with no initial rules or regulations on how they had to be governed or function, in areas like hygiene, sanitation, and city government and social services to the newly arrived immigrants.

 

All this gradually ended with the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency after the assassination of William McKinley by an anarchist in 1901.  Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, would be the first of the Progressive Presidents.  He would be followed by William Howard Taft, another Republican.  The third Progressive President would be Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat.  This period would end with the First World War

 

During this period corruption was exposed in numerous aspects of the nation and a certain amount of regulation was promulgated throughout the various levels of the society: local, state, and national.  The Senate up to 1913 had been appointed by the different state legislatures and had become, usually by bribery, largely an extension of large corporations like Standard Oil’s attorneys.  It thereafter, through the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, was directly elected by the people within the individual states.  Oregon introduced in 1902 the initiative and the referendum process, which, in turn, was copied by numerous other states.  The recall election was also introduced whereby an elected official could be unelected from his office.  In addition Women Suffrage (the vote) came about at this period.  The tide of reforms ended with the World War.

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

At the end of the war Woodrow Wilson went to Europe to develop the Treaty of Versailles.  He brought the treaty to Washington where it was rejected by the Republicans in the Senate.  There was a struggle to pass the Treaty, and, during that time, President Wilson suffered a heart attack from which he never totally recovered.

 

The Treaty could have been modified to satisfy the Republicans but Wilson refused to compromise.  The United States never signed it.  Instead they eventually signed a separate treaty with Germany.  The major item in the Treaty was the establishment of a League of Nations, which the United States never joined.

 

At the end of his term the invalid, Woodrow Wilson, was replaced by the Republican, Warren Harding, who died in office after a number of corruption scandals emerged.  He was replaced by his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, who later ran on his own and won.  He, in turn, was replaced by Herbert Hoover.  These three Republican presidents fully believed Adam Smith’s theory that the market-place would make all the proper economic decisions for how the country should be run.

 

The motivating force according to Adam Smith was the “invisible hand,” the profit motive.  This brought the country in 1929 to the Great Depression.  Neither Hoover nor his staff knew how to really deal with this situation.  The United States and numerous other industrial nations went through periods of unbelievable misery with the governments trying to function in periods of massive unemployment and chaos.

 

In 1933, four years later, the new President, the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, working on almost an experimental basis saved capitalism and the country by adopting socialistic principles.  He called his policy “The New Deal,” a term taken from poker.  The Federal Government assumed responsibility for those who could not care for the mselves.  They created jobs and projects like Hoover Dam, which was originally called Boulder Dam, throughout the United States and he brought about social security.  It was a time of rapid experimentation, anything that worked and solved problems was utilized.

 

But even with all this many of the aspects of the Great Depression remained.  The country was better off but many still suffered.  What ended the last remnants of the Great Depression was World War II.  The spending required to fight and win the war and the army the U. S. raised ended the last remnants of the massive economic turndown.  In point of fact, the country entered the war in December of 1941 with the majority of the population being in the lower class and ended the war in 1945 with the majority of the population belonging to the middle class.  The economy had changed considerably.

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

During the Second World War both political parties concentrated on fighting the war.  Roosevelt died during the last year of the fighting and was replaced by his Vice President, the Democrat: Harry S. Truman.

 

Truman in 1945, after the war ended, sponsored, what he called, the Fair Deal, as a continuation of the prewar New Deal.  The Republicans derided Truman and his program as a poor man’s version Roosevelt’s politics.  In 1948 they ran Thomas E. Dewey against him.  They also passed the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which limited presidential tenure to two terms in office.  While the Amendment did not affect Truman; it would come into being with the next president; still it gave him a strong hint.  Franklin D. Roosevelt had died in office during his fourth term in office.

 

In 1948 the Republicans were positive that they would win the election.  At that time, before television, victory celebrations were held on radio.  On the night of the election there was a victory celebration for Dewey.  The Chicago Tribune headline the next morning was “Dewey Wins.”  But when the votes were counted Harry S. Truman had won and was still President of the United States.  All the polls had predicted Dewey as the winner; they all ate crow that year.

 

For the next four years there were a lot of frustrated Republicans in both Houses of Congress; but Congress still worked.  The fear after the war was that with the massive return of the military to civilian life the country would go into a deep recession with massive unemployment as it did directly after World War I.  But with intense rationing, the continual sale of war bonds, and unlimited employment during the war there was lots of money available.  All the automobile factories had been producing only for the war effort for the last four years; they now converted to civilian production, everyone wanted a new car.  A new industry, television came into being.  Other positive things happened.  There was no recession.  The returning veterans found jobs, started their own small business, returned to school: finishing high school and colleges.  The country smoothly went back to peacetime.  In fact, veterans received a government allowance if they went back to school.

 

Unfortunately, even with the new Organization, The United Nations, to which all the allied nations now belonged, peace did not come.  On June 25, 1950 until July 27, 1953 the United States and other United Nation countries were involved in the Korean War, which ended at the 38th Parallel, where it had begun.  This was the line splitting Korea into two parts: Communist in the North and non-communist in the South.  It would seem that almost every succeeding president from Truman on would have their own specific war.

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

Truman was followed in the presidency in 1953 by Dwight David Eisenhower, the general who had led the war in Europe.  Eisenhower, initially had never voted in a presidential election.  He did not know which political party he belonged to.  Finally he decided he was a Republican and ran as their presidential candidate.

 

Eisenhower ended the Korean War by threatening to use atomic weapons.  It ended in a draw, which still continues to this day.

 

As a replacement for Truman the Democrats came up with Adlia Stevenson, the governor of Illinois.  Stevenson ran against Eisenhower twice and lost both times.  Eisenhower considered himself a middle-of-the-road Republican, that is, a moderate or liberal Republican.  The two parties functioned well together during his eight years in office.

 

In 1960 Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice President, ran against the Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who was a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.  Kennedy won that election by less than one per cent of the vote.  The two parties were able to function together and more or less pass all the necessary legislation.  /there were problems with his civil rights reform attempts.  In Viet Nam There was action, but not a major crisis.  It was during Kennedy’s presidency that the Bay of Pigs debacle occurred and later the Cuban Missile Crisis came about.  The Soviet Union had installed atomic missiles in Cuba.  Kennedy, short of war, got Russia to remove them.  His frustration came about in being limited in passing civil rights legislation.

 

Kennedy, while getting ready to run for a second term in 1963, was in a motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas, when he was shot by an assassin.  His Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson became the next President of the United States.  President Johnson was reelected in 1964.  He ran against the arch-conservative Barry Goldwater and overwhelmingly defeated him.  Johnson attempted to force the war in Viet Nam toward an American victory by massively increasing U.S. forces there.  He was not successful.  In the United States he declared War on Poverty.  Again he was not successful.  As an essentially defeated man Johnson announced that he would not run for the presidency in 1968.

 

Where Johnson was eminently successful was in pushing through Congress both his and John F. Kennedy’s plan for civil rights reform in the nation.  Segregation was essentially legally ended throughout the South and in other parts of the country.  The statement that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence was expanded to include Blacks and Women.  It was a major achievement.

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

In the 1968 Election the Republican Richard M. Nixon ran against the Democratic Vice President, Hubert Humphrey.  A third party candidate, former Alabama Governor, George Wallace, ran representing the American Independent Party, which supported separation of the races in public education.  Nixon won with 43.4% of the vote; Humphrey got 42.7%, and Wallace received 13.5%.

 

The election year was tumultuous, being marked by the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.  The Democratic Convention had open warfare between Viet Nam protestors and the Chicago police.  Nixon won the popular vote by .07 percentage points and the Electoral College vote by 301 to 191 for Humphrey.

 

Besides economic problems Nixon faced a massive protest throughout his presidency over the Viet Nam War.  He presumably had a secret plan to end the war.  This came down to a return of American prisoners of war and withdrawing with honor.  That was making a defeat in war not look like a defeat.

 

Negotiations were begun.  The initial problem was the shape of the Negotiating Table.  There were people from North Viet Nam, from South Viet Nam, and from the United States, and there was also the National Liberation Front, who were from South Viet Nam but favored the North.  The issue was resolved by using a round table with two smaller ones nearby.

 

Nixon’s strategy was to bring increasing pressure on Communist North Viet Nam by increasing the war so they would be willing to compromise.  He expanded the war to Cambodia and bombing along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Supplies were being brought into North Viet Nam into the South over this route.  There was both warfare and peace negotiations that would be going on during Nixon’s term as President.

 

In 1972 Nixon ran for a second term as the Republican candidate.  The Democratic candidate was the highly liberal senator from South Dakota, George McGovern.  The Republicans were so sure he could not win that they contributed money secretly to his campaign wanting to make sure he was the Democratic candidate.

 

McGovern ran on an Anti-War Campaign against the incumbent, Richard Nixon.  McGovern was perceived by many voters as a left-wing extremist.  Nixon won in a landslide, gaining 60.7% of the popular vote.  He received 18 million more votes than McGovern, carrying 49 states.

 

Unfortunately, during the election, because of some paranoid tendencies of Nixon, a group of his employees called the plumbers  burgled Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. several times in order to find out what the Democrats were doing and planning.  The final time they did this they were caught and arrested.

 

The question became: What did Nixon know?  And when did he know it?  It took two years for this to unravel.  And then the answer was that he knew about the burglary from the very beginning.  Nixon resigned from the presidency two years after being elected for a second term.  He resigned the day before a Bill of Impeachment was to be voted upon in the House of Representatives.

 

Interestingly his vice president, Spiro Agnew, had resigned earlier.  The government had an 80 page inditement against him for extortion, going back to when he was governor of Maryland.  Because of the Watergate controversy the Justice Department allowed him to plead, no contest, and resign from the vice-presidency.

 

The irony was that Nixon chose a new Vice-President, Senator Gerald Ford, who assumed the Presidency in 1974.  President Ford later issued a Proclamation on September 8, 1974 pardoning Richard Nixon from any crimes he may have committed.

 

President Gerald Ford ended the Viet Nam War.  This was the first war that the United States lost.  Today Viet Nam trades with the United States and is a relatively inexpensive tourist attraction.  It cost a lot less to visit Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) than to go to a city in Hawaii.

 

In 1978 Republican President Gerald Ford ran against the Democratic contender, James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.  Jimmy Carter won by a margin of 57 Electoral votes.  He had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress during both congressional terms.  On his second day in office President Carter pardoned all evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He created the Departments of Energy and Education.  He brought about the Camp David Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

The country suffered from Stagflation at this time, a combination of both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter could not bring himself to allow the Draconian program that would solve this problem.  The next President, Ronald Reagan would do this and bring about a large homeless problem throughout the United States which still exists today.

 

President Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaties, giving the canal to Panama.  It was during his term in office that the Iranian Revolution occurred and the American Embassy personnel were held as captives by the new government of Iran.  They were returned to the U.S. shortly after the next president took office.  Carter was defeated in the 1980 Election by Ronald Reagan.

 

Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency on January 20, 1981 and served two terms through January 20, 1989.  He was a Republican and a conservative, bringing about changes that the conservatives had wanted for years.  He was also the oldest man elected to the presidency.

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

Forgetting the post-Civil-War Period when the Radical Republicans, wanting to punish the South and controlled Congress from 1865 to 1878 when Rutherford Hayes stole the presidency from the Democrat, Samuel Tilden.  At that time the Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress and could and did pass any law they put forth without the President’s signature.

 

Outside of this relatively short period in the nation’s history the two major political parties essentially got along and, more or less, cooperated with one another in passing the necessary laws for the nation.  The point has been made in an earlier blog that Democratic President Jimmy Carter was more conservative that Gerald Ford’s Republican Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller.  On the political line mentioned at the beginning of this blog Rockefeller would be placed left of center and Carter would go right of center.

 

This was true of many Congressmen.  There have historically been many conservative Democrats and moderate or liberal Republicans.  There was no separate void between them in terms of political positions.  There was always a slight difference in basic philosophy but there was always open communication and the possibility of compromise.

 

This has been a fact of United States history.  There was generally cooperation between both political parties.  The Conference Committee, which met after a bill was passed in slightly different versions in the two Houses of Congress, has been able to continually come up with a compromise bill for both Houses of Congress to successfully vote upon.

 

This system has existed until Barack Obama became President of the United States.  What has occurred from that time on has essentially been the development of the Tea Party, an extreme right arm of the Republican Party that is largely uneducated in the function of government and modern economics.  In the House of Representatives they are the Freedom Coalition.  In point of fact their aim seems to be to do away with the Federal Government

[b1]

The Weiner Component #150 – The Press & the Media

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

English: Woodrow Wilson.

English: Woodrow Wilson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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 #20 – Taxation, Money & The Distribution of Incomes

taxes

 

 

 

Taxation, Money, & the Distributions of Incomes

 

 

 

The general concept of taxation is that (A) the government needs a certain amount of money to function and (B) everyone within the nation by being a member of that society deserves a certain minimum standard of living to function comfortably.  Taxation, then, is a system that allows the country to exist and serves as a means of redistributing part of the National Income to all the people within the society in order to allow for a level of economic fairness for everybody.

 

The government of every nation also controls the money supply within its borders.  In a manner of speaking, the National Government owns the printing press and can issue as much currency as it wishes.  There is nothing behind any national currency today other than the word of the government of that nation.

 

Countries are limited as to the amount of currency they produce because an endless amount would lead to rabid inflation.  The amount of money available would exceed the level of goods and services that could be produced.  Therefore the prices of all goods and services would be continually bid upward making the currency decrease in value to a point where eventually it would be valueless.

 

National Governments are restricted as to the amount of currency they can release.  Too little in circulation causes a waste of human resources such as we currently have in the United States and Europe.  This kind of economic behavior brings about massive unemployment and very slows, if any, economic growth.  Too much money in circulation causes prices to hit the clouds and brings eventual depression.  Each government must steer a course between these two extremes to maintain a healthy economy and continued economic growth.

 

There are various types of taxation that all the government agencies use to collect money.  Some examples would be usage taxes, such as licenses for driving and for your automobile or for your property, like your house and land.  There are excise taxes that are placed upon such items as gasoline or tobacco.  These are internal taxes placed upon the value of the product; the amount is included in the cost of the item by being added on to the original commodity.  In addition there are tariffs placed on goods brought into the country that are supposed to keep them competitive with similar goods produced within the nation; these are also included in the price of the product.

 

But the two essential taxes or tax concepts are the flat or fixed tax rate and the graduated income tax.  The flat or fixed tax is one in which all income, regardless of its level, is taxed at the same rate.  Consequently if one earned $15,000 a year the Federal Government would tax him at, say, 15% of that amount, $225.  If one earned $100,000 it would be $15,000, for a million a year it would be $150,000.  Each would be paying the same percentage of their income.

 

This, it has been argued is a reasonable way to tax because everyone pays the same percentage.  But is it really reasonable?  The less one earns the smaller his income; the less he has to survive.  The person earning $15,000, if he/she is supporting a family, is living well below the poverty level, probably not being able to afford adequate food or heat in the winter, or, for that matter, even adequate housing.  How is it fair for them to pay the same tax rate as someone earning many thousands of dollars or a million or more?  The concept is advantageous to the wealthy but anathema to the poor.

 

Yet this is the principle under which the state sales taxes work.  Everyone pays a goodly sales tax on such items as toilet paper, tissues, and all non-edible items like clothing, shoes, and napkins.  The states and cities tend to use this method as a major means of raising revenue.  It has been suggested that the Federal Government could have a national sales tax as an additional way to raise money.

 

The progressive or graduated income tax is a personal income tax imposed upon income by the federal, most state, and some local governments.  The amount of the tax is determined by applying a tax rate that increases as income increases.  Beyond a certain minimum amount the percentage paid in taxes grows as income goes up.

 

It has been argued at different times over the years that the flat tax is a fairer form of taxation.  But many economists and others see this tax as a regressive one, where the tax rate or burden increases as an individual’s ability to pay it decreases.

 

Toward the mid 1930s during the Great Depression and again in the early 1940s, while World War II was occurring, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wanted taxes to be raised significantly among high-income earners.  He stated, in both instances, that a person needed only so much money in order to live comfortably; that earning much beyond that amount was ridiculous.  During the 1930s he felt $100,000 was a princely sum; he raised that amount in the 1940s.  In both instances in Congress the Democrats and Republicans refused to go along with him.  He would have raised the tax rate upon amounts over $100,000 to 95% or more initially.

 

In 1932 the top rate was 63 percent.  By 1936 it reached 79 percent, with an inheritance tax, estate tax, gift tax, dividend tax and a progressive corporate tax being added.  During World War II the bottom tax rate went from 4 to 19 percent and the top income tax rate climbed to 88% by 1943.  In 1945 it had risen to 91%.  It remained there until 1964 when it dropped to 77%.  By 1965 the top rate was 70%.  The Economic Recovery Tax Act o f 1981, otherwise known as the Reagan’s supply-side tax cuts, lowered the top rate from 70% to 50%.  By 1990 the top income tax rate was reduced to 31%.  In 1993 the top Income tax rate was increased to 39.6% and the corporate rate to 35%.

 

By 2012 there were six steps in which Income taxes were paid according to amounts earned.  Using the Married Filing Jointly category: the tax rate went from 10% to 35%.  On an income of $17,000 10% is paid.  From $17,001 to $69,000 the percentage rises to 15%.  $69,001 to $139.350 it goes up to 25%; $135,351 to $212,300 requires a 28% payment; $212,301 to $379,150 requires a 33% level, and $379,151 up is 35%.  The increase, in all cases, is only paid on the amount above the prior level of income.  For single people or married filing separately the amounts were at about half of the above.

 

For 2013 on the 10%rate is joined with the 15% one, the 25% rate becomes 28%, 28% is increased to the 31% rate, the 33% rate becomes 36%, and the 35% rate is increased to 39.6%.  It should be noted that there is no income tax on the first $10,000 everyone earns.  That would be ten dollars an hour, which would place that person solidly below the poverty line.  It is also well below the poverty line.

 

Of course there are all sorts of deductibles.  One deducts for oneself, one’s mate, for each of ones children, for charitable and religious contributions, for medical expenses and for a myriad of other things.  In 1974, when President Gerald Ford appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President, Rockefeller released his income tax return for the preceding year and I discovered that we both paid approximately the same amount of income tax in 1973.  There was no way that both of us had earned the same amount of money in that year.  I was amazed at the thought of what his write-offs must have been.

 

If we go back to President Roosevelt’s comments on how high the graduated income tax should, in his opinion, be and tie that to what has happened in the 2012 Election on all levels of government then we come up with some very interesting considerations.  On State, Congressional, and the Presidential Election well over two billion dollars was spent.  In fact that much was spent just on the Presidential Election.  The total bill, which to my understanding, was never even calculated, must have been well over five billion dollars.  All that money was contributed, either directly or indirectly, to the campaigns.  Most of it went to the Republican campaigns.  For example twelve million was spent to get Michelle Bachmann reelected to her Congressional seat in the House of Representatives.

 

Why do individuals or corporations contribute this level of money to the political campaigns and do so in many cases secretly.  Is it because they believe in what the political party stands for or is it because they expect to get a return on their investment?  A Las Vegas billionaire, who is currently under investigation by the Justice Department, had invested hundreds of millions in the Republican Presidential Campaign.  The Koch brothers have spent far more, apparently mostly funding secret or semi-secret pacts that support “far right” causes.  Many of the contributors are making donations in the millions of dollars.

 

Where is all this money coming from?  Apparently, the income tax system as it is currently set up allows them to pay minuscule amounts of their incomes in taxes and leaves them with multimillions if not billions to buy influence in the government.  There has to be something wrong with a system that does this.  We have people living out on the streets today, going hungry on one side of the scale and, on the other, opulence beyond that of the wealthiest rulers of the past.  The economic system has to be completely out of kilter to allow for this vast difference in standards of living.  We not only need tax reform; we need tax reform that brings about a fairer distribution of the national wealth and does away with poverty in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta