The Weiner Component #149 Part 3 – The 2016 Presidential Election: The Republican Dilemma, Donald Trump

According to Harry Reid, the current minority leader in the Senate, the Republicans have created their own Frankenstein Monster with Donald Trump and don’t know how to get rid of him.  Currently they are spending many millions in negative ads attacking him and they don’t seem to be making many dents in his popularity.

 

To the leaders of the Republican Party in Washington and most, if not all, of the 50 states Donald Trump is totally unacceptable as their standard bearer in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Tom DeLay the former speaker of the House of Representatives, when questioned by Chris Mathews, could not conceive of any circumstances that would make Donald Trump acceptable as the leader of the Republican Party.  To many Republicans he is not even a real conservative and he wants to take over the Republican Party. To all these anti-Trump Republicans he seems to be getting worse all the time.

 

Originally Donald Trump was considered a joke when he entered the 2016 Presidential Race.  After he won a couple of primaries they considered him a phenomena that would soon wear out and be rejected by the public.  After Super Tuesday on March 1st, the elite Republicans were in shock; by then Trump was leading all the Republican candidates with 325 delegates and people were jumping aboard his “band wagon.”   After the March 15th Super Tuesday he had won four out of five primaries and was well on his way to the late July Party Nominating Convention.  There seems to be a distinct possibility that Trump could achieve the 1,237 delegates needed to become the Republican candidate if he wins that number of delegates on the first ballot for the 2016 Presidential Election.

 

According to the Republican Rules he can be nominated as the 2016 Presidential candidate only if he has 1,237 delegates supporting him during the first ballot.  After that vote all the delegates he has won are no longer bound to him.  They can vote any way they see fit.  The choice of a candidate actually falls to the Nominating Convention and they will continue voting until someone achieves the 1,237 votes.

 

Statistically, in order to win the nomination Donald Trump needs 51% of all the nominating Conventions coming after March 1, 2016, Super Tuesday.  51% will give him all the delegate votes for each of the states involved.  If he can get that majority he will have 1,237 delegates or more voting for him.  If he doesn’t achieve the nomination on the first vote then, there is no chance he will be chosen. 

 

Historically in a few prior conventions the delegates’ vote has been cast up to a hundred or more times before a candidate was chosen.  Usually in these conventions a “dark horse” is chosen, a compromise candidate that everyone can reluctantly agree upon.  It would seem the both Mitt Romney and John Kasich are hoping to become the “dark horse;” that is the final compromise candidate chosen.

 

After Trump won seven states on the first Super Tuesday Romney, in a dignified afternoon speech made in a statesman-like-fashion, stated that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both unfit to become President of the United States. He appeared as an elder statesman speaking for his Party.   In a later interview Romney said that he didn’t want the position of President of the United States; but he modified that statement slightly the next day and indicated obliquely that he had a staff ready to jump in.  He apparently is waiting to be asked or told that he is the only man fit for the job so he can reluctantly sacrifice himself for his country. 

 

Of course Donald Trump later ridiculed him as a failed has been.  I am reminded of Conan Doyle’s character in his Sherlock Homes stories; “The game is afoot, Watson;” and so it is, within the Republican Party, Trump v. the Republican leaders or elite.

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Entering the Republican race since Super Tuesday, March 1st for the first time has been conservative “dark money” groups that are going after two GOP hopefuls, primarily Donald Trump and to a lesser degree, Ted Cruz.  These are non-profit groups whose donors can remain anonymous.  Originally these groups targeted Democrats with negative advertising.  As of March 2nd they targeted Trump, denouncing him as a fraud.  In one ad a trio of individuals are making statements which in effect say, “America, don’t make the same mistake we did with Donald Trump.”  They then each separately say that they were scammed by the Trump University real estate course out of thousands of dollars. 

 

Trump commented upon these ads the next day, after winning two out of four states on Super Saturday, saying that nobody has ever been hit by so many negative ads by his own political party. Ted Cruz won the other two states.  Neither had 51% of the vote so the delegates in each state were split between the four delegates running at that time.

 

As of March 13th Donald Trump has 460 delegates, Ted Cruz had 359, Marco Rubio had 153, and John Kasich had 54.  On Tuesday, March 15th a number of states held primaries and a total of fifty percent of the states will then have held their primary elections.  The candidates are a long way from the required 1,237 delegates needed on the first vote in order to be nominated as the Republican candidate.

 

On negative advertising against Trump, the American Future Fund, had initially spent 1½ million dollars on ads attacking mostly Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  As of March 5th, it’s estimated that they have spent 5 million dollars.  It was suspected that they might have been supporting Marco Rubio; but he was then a distant third and did not have enough support to become the Republican candidate.  It is also possible that they want to throw the choice of a candidate to the full July Convention.

 

The use of the term “dark money” which the newspapers have adopted is reminiscent of the Star War movies from which it comes.  The implication being that “dark” is evil because it stays hidden.  Consequently implying that these “dark funds,” unknown funds, are evil funds, which they may very well be. 

 

There is an interesting note or irony here.  The American Future Fund is a tax free organization that is supposed to support the education of the American public.  They are tax free because they provide a public service.  The people who contribute to the group, and whose names are secret, can and do deduct their contributions from their income taxes.  But only the IRS knows who they are, if they pay attention to the tax deductions.

 

Incidentally Senator John McCain also verbally attacked Trump in a news interview saying that he is uniformed and dangerous.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, endorsed John Kasich and will appear with him at a rally.

 

Romney stated at the University of Utah that, “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished.  His domestic policies would lead to recession.  His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe.  He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”

 

One argument that has come out is that by throwing the choice of the candidate to the convention a weak choice can be made, who will take orders from the elite leaders of the GOP.  Is this true?  I have no idea.  But I do know that none of the three major potential candidates stand out in any way as dynamic leaders; they are poor material.  Trump exaggerates everything and is a blatant prefabricator who doesn’t seem to really understand our form of government or how it really works.  He was for torturing prisoners before he discovered it was illegal and was against it.  As Commander and Chief of the Military he seems to think he can give orders, tell people what to do, and they’ll automatically carry them out, as long as they are legal orders.  He seems to think he’ll straighten out the world in a short period of time and get rid of the terrorists overnight, especially of ISIS.

 

Ted Cruz doesn’t seem quite honest with some of the tricks he and his staff have pulled.  And Marko Rubio, who withdrew after March 15th seemed sly; a man who has been working to become President since he was elected to the Senate and ignoring the job he was sent to do.

 

And what I find fascinating is the fact that the entire GOP is ignoring the fact that made Trump, a billionaire, popular with the poorest and largest groups within the Republican Party.  They see Trump as a threat that could seriously hurt the Party but they are oblivious to the reason for Trump’s popularity.  And the probability is that they will get their way with the Convention, Trump will not be nominated on the first vote and consequently will stand no chance of winning the nomination.

 

On Super Tuesday, March 1st, Trump won seven out of eleven states but he did not get all the delegates in each of the states he won.  He needs 1,237 delegates to win.  He then had just under four hundred.  In his victory speech he sounded as though he was ready to take command of the Republican Party.  I imagine that upset a goodly number of Republicans.

 

On Super Saturday, March 5th, Trump split his victory with Cruz.  Both won two states.  At that point Trump had 388 delegates and Cruz had 305 delegates. 

 

What I find particularly interesting is that Trump said publically earlier that he would support any candidate chosen by the Republican Party at the Nominating Convention on July 18th to the 25th.  I suspect that meant that if he was treated fairly but if he feels he was not treated fairly what will he do?

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It seems that Donald Trump has a problem with people protesting at his rallies, and noisily interrupting him.  In the past he has ordered them vigorously removed by security and some of his white-supremacy followers have exercised their right to aggressively push and abusively denounce these people to their faces particularly if they are Black.  This has turned off or cooled off some of his supporters.  By Monday, March 7th he seems to be getting more protestors at his rallies.  Will he continue to be aggressive or will he be more tolerant?

 

Generally speaking Donald Trump seems to be aggressive and vindictive toward anyone who crosses him in any way.  A good percentage of the leadership of the Republican Party does not, under any circumstances, want him to be their candidate for the presidency in 2016.  Many, if not most of them do not even consider him a true Republican or even a conservative.  Directly after Super Tuesday, March 1st, Republican non-profit packs began spending upward of 5 million dollars in attack ads and commercials to demonize him.  He even complained about it.  After the nominating votes and caucuses on Tuesday, March 8th Trump stated that 48 million has been spent by fellow Republicans on attack ads.

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On March 15th the second Super Tuesday occurred, five states held their primary elections on the same day: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. 

 

On the Republican side Trump won four of the five states.  Governor John Kasich won Ohio; his home state, Trump won the other four.  With the exception of Florida which was a winner take all race Trump did not get all the delegates in the other three states he won.  He increased his number of delegates to 655, still a good way from 1,237 needed.  In order to win on the first ballot it is estimated that Donald Trump will have to win 60% of all future primaries and caucuses. Can he do that?

 

Another effect of the Second Super Tuesday is that Marco Rubio lost the election in his home state, Florida.  This has caused him to drop out of the race, leaving only three potential candidates: Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. 

 

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton won all five states bringing her total to 1,565 delegates.  She needs 2,383 to win the nomination and become the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States.  This number does not include the super delegates that are appointed by the Political Party and that make up about 20% of the over-all delegates.  They do not owe allegiance to any candidate for their first vote.

 

Hillary Clinton won large majorities in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio and got all the Democratic delegates in those states.  In Illinois and Missouri she had slight majorities and there the delegates will be split with Bernie Sanders.  But with a total of 1,565 delegates she is close to being the Democratic candidate.

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Shortly after the Republican Party Presidential Debates began Trump and the other presidential candidates swore publically to support whoever ended up being chosen in July.  He was initially reluctant to agree but finally did.

 

The impression I got at the time was that Trump would stick to his word if they, the Republicans, played fair with him.  He is currently the leading candidate and the Party leadership is trying to torpedo him.  It seems that they want to throw the final choice to the leadership at the Nominating Convention in July.  They want a “dark horse” candidate.  The leadership objects to both top candidates, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  They find both of them unacceptable.

 

Donald Trump has a tendency to get even with anyone who attacks him in any way.  He denounced Mitt Romney as a “has been,” after Romney made a derogatory speech about him.  Will he run as a third party candidate if the Republicans drop him?  The probability is that he will have the most delegates of any of the remaining three potential presidential candidates but he will not have the required 1,237 required to be nominated on the first ballot. 

 

If for no other reason than just spite would he run as a third party candidate or might he think or believe that he could take enough voters with him to win.  It’s an interesting question!

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In the 1912 Nominating Republican Convention the then President, William Howard Taft, refused to allow the convention to nominate Theodore Roosevelt instead of himself.  Roosevelt, who had chosen and backed Taft in 1908, was dissatisfied with the way he had run the country for the last four years and wanted the presidency for a third term in order to straighten it out.

 

When he couldn’t get the nomination he broke with the Republican Party and organized his own third party to run him for the presidency.  This was the Bull Moose Party.  Roosevelt, at an earlier time, had stated that he felt as strong as a Bull Moose and the name had stuck.

 

While all the popular votes gotten by both Roosevelt and Taft exceeded fifty percent of the vote neither was high enough to beat the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.  He won the election with less than 50 percent of the vote.

 

The question with Trump is whether he is really rich enough to stage a third party candidacy.  He tends to exaggerate most things.  Does he really have ten billion dollars or more?  If he does, is he willing to spend around a billion dollars on his third party candidacy? 

 

If he’s exaggerating the size of his fortune then he probably could not afford to run as a third party candidate.  We’ll have to wait and see.

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A Third Party candidacy means 50 separate state plus territory elections throughout the United States which have to be separately organized within each individual state and territory.  He will need an organization in each state and territory to register, get the required signatures, and pay whatever fees are required.  And this is just to get his name on all the ballots.  Then the organization will have to get him elected in every one of the states.  Normally this is done by the Party organization.  But Trump will have to have one in each state and territory.  It can be a very expensive process.  Can Trump really afford it in order to get even?  And if he does it he is practically guaranteeing that the Democratic candidate, who will probably be Hillary Clinton, will win the election.  But Donald Trump will have gotten even with the Republican leadership for not treating him fairly.

 

Somehow all this bogs the mind and shows how broken or dysfunctional the Republicans have become.  I recently read an autobiography of Barry Goldwater, who can be considered as the father or originator of the modern Republican Party.  In his last chapter, which he calls “The Future”, writing in the mid to late 1980s, he warns against what is happening now in the Republican Party.  If Goldwater were alive today he would call his party dysfunctional and out of sync with the needs of the United States.  He might even question if it is truly conservative.

The Weiner Component #139B – Paul Ryan as the New Speaker of the House of Representatives

With the retirement of John Boehner, brought about by the Tea Party or otherwise, Paul Ryan will be the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.  At his election on October 29, 2015 he received a majority of Republican votes to become Speaker.

 

The 44 year old Ryan has been in Congress since 1999.  He is from Wisconsin’s First District and became Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee in early January of 2015.  Prior to that he was Chairman of the House Budget Committee, from January 3, 2011 to January 3, 2015.

 

From what I understand he was not anxious to have this position since it has traditionally been a dead-ended one.  Historically no one has gone on from it to become President of the United States.  It would seem that since Ryan ran in 2012 as Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential candidate he has been looking toward eventually running for the presidency.

 

Next to the Speaker the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee is the most powerful position in the House as that Committee both makes the committee choices and writes the agenda for all the meetings of the House of Representatives.

 

Ryan did not originally want the Speakership because up until this point it has been an almost impossible job.  The Republicans in the House of Representatives, all 247 of them, meet as a single caucus generally before the entire House meets to conduct actual business.  But in addition to this the Republicans also meet in three smaller specific caucuses.  On the ultra-right are 30 Tea Party members, the Freedom Caucus, who have generally voted on all issues exactly the same.  Then there is the far-right Republican Caucus and finally the extreme-right caucus.

 

Up until Wednesday, October 28, 2015 the Speaker of the House could never depend on the Freedom Caucus and some of the other members of the overall Republican Caucus to put through necessary legislation.  On some occasions he even had to negotiate with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Minority Leader, in order to get necessary legislation passed.  This situation had existed since the 2011 Congressional session when he was first elected Speaker.

 

This behavior of dealing with Democrats to a large number of Republican members on the far right, like the Freedom Caucus, has been a betrayal of Republican principles.  In addition the former Speaker, John Boehner, once played a game of golf with President Barak Obama.  This was an unforgivable sin to the members of the Freedom Caucus.

 

In order to not shut down the Federal Government former Speaker Boehner in late September resigned, effective the end of October, and got a bill passed with Democratic help that funded the Government through December.  Apparently he felt he had to do this in order to not shut down the Federal Government by having the Republicans refuse to fund it over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood.

 

On Wednesday, October 28, 2015 former Speaker Boehner, after negotiating with the leaders of the Senate and the President, got another bill through the House raising the Debt Limit for the next two years.  Without this new bill the Federal Government would not have been able to spend money after November 3, 2015.

 

Ryan’s major upcoming task will be to pass legislation through the House of Representatives that would allow the Federal Government to pay its bills after the middle of December.  I would assume that this bill is one of the conditions of Paul Ryan accepting the Speakership.  However a large number of Republicans are dedicated to the idea of doing away with the subsidy to Planned Parenthood.  They might still insist on this in December.

 

President Obama has stated that if this is done he will veto the bill and there are not enough Republicans in either House to override his veto.  He has also stated that he will veto any future short term solution to this problem.  Even with promises from his caucus of all the Republicans this bill will apparently be the new Speaker’s big test.  If he needs Democratic help to get the bill passed Paul Ryan will continue his speakership on the same level as John Boehner suffered through.

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With Boehner’s resignation and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Whip not being able to get the votes needed, Paul Ryan seemed to be the only member of the House of Representatives who might be able to secure a large enough majority of Republican support to get elected.  He apparently didn’t really want the job but was probably later convinced that no one else could get enough votes to be elected Speaker.  And with no Speaker the House of Representatives couldn’t meet.

 

In the end Ryan set conditions under which he would accept the position.  It would seem that the Freedom Caucus and others also had conditions.  All these were negotiated leading to, among other things, rule changes in running the House of Representatives.  One apparent rule was that nothing would be brought to the floor of the House that did not have a majority of Republican support.  Another was that Ryan would spend his weekends with his family instead of raising money for the Republican Party.  There was also a rule, propagated by the Freedom Caucus, allowing an individual lawmaker to force a vote ousting the speaker at any time.  Obviously there were other changes that we will learn about later on.

 

When he announced his candidacy for the Speaker’s job Ryan said he wanted endorsements from all three Republican Caucuses.  This should guarantee he will emerge as the unity candidate of the House Republicans.  He doesn’t want to risk being in the middle of the intraparty unrest under which former Speaker Boehner lived in since 2011.  The Tea Party, Freedom Caucus, fell short of a formal endorsement since that would have required 80% agreement.  The group was not able to achieve this level, but Ryan accepted their majority vote as a show of Republican unity.

 

What will happen?  That’s a good question.

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It is important to remember that Paul Ryan, when he ran with Mitt Romney as his Vice Presidential candidate, was considered by many to be the most conservative Vice Presidential candidate to run for that office since the turn of the 20th Century.

 

Originally he was a follower of Ayn Rand, who in her few books, particularly in “Atlas Shrugged,” advocated extreme individualism with the masses being an unfeeling horde.  He grew up with these beliefs, to the point of making his staff read her books.  This persisted from his teen years, when he discovered her writing, until April 2012 when he was criticized by the Georgetown University faculty.  At that time, being a good Catholic he rejected her philosophy as being “atheistic.”  He called the reports of his advocating Rand’s perspective an “urban legend,” (Whatever that means.) and stated that he was strongly influenced by his Roman Catholic faith and by the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

 

There are numerous other instances where Paul Ryan suddenly totally changed his position.  It seems that his attitudes were flexible, changing with the needs of the time.  It would appear that in August 2012, soon after Romney choose him as his VP, that the Tea Party wanted a nominee other than Romney.  It had gotten one of its ideological heroes in second place.

 

Ryan voted for the two Bush tax cuts in 2001 and in 2003.  He supported the 2003 bill that created the Medicare Part D, prescription drug benefit and the $700 billion bank bailout.  He was one of the 32 Republicans in the House to vote for the auto industry bailout.  In the past conservative commentators have criticized Ryan for deficit causing policies during the George W. Bush administration.

 

Paul Ryan existence became public knowledge over his financial plans or Ryan budgets.  His proposals outlined negative changes to entitlement spending that, among other things, would replace Medicare with a voucher program for those under the age of 55.  This 2008 bill never made it out of committee.  In 2009 he introduced a bill that in addition to his earlier one would impose a five year freeze on all discretionary spending.  It would also allow taxpayers, if they so choose, to opt out of the Federal Income Tax system and pay a flat 10% income tax on adjusted gross incomes up to $100,000 for couples and $50,000 for singles.  Any earnings above this amount would be taxed at 25%.  The bill was rejected in the Democratic controlled House by a vote of 293 to 137, with 18 Republicans in opposition.

 

In 2010 he released a modified version of his earlier bills.  He has released spending bills just about every year.  All of them cut entitlement spending and will supposedly balance the Federal Budget in about a decade.  In 2015 the same pattern is followed with even deeper entitlement cuts.  The overall evaluation is that his budget proposals would increase middle-class taxes while cutting taxes for the upper percentile of the population.  In terms of balancing the budget in ten years they are all wishful thinking.

 

It is worth noting that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has been highly critical of Ryan’s budget proposals, stating that they would shift income to the wealthy while increasing poverty and inequality.

 

Ryan in 2004 and 2005 got the Bush administration to propose privatization of Social Security.  He’s a supporter of private school vouchers.  In 2011 Ryan supported using the federal debt ceiling as leverage to reduce Federal spending.

 

Paul Ryan has described himself as being “as pro-life as a person gets.”  He has co-sponsored 18 bills in the Congress that restrict abortions.  He believes that all abortions should be illegal, including those resulting from rape or incest, and he only makes an exception in cases where the woman’s life is at risk.

 

Ryan has recommended that Medicaid be converted into block grants with the Federal Government’s share of the cost being cut by $800 billion over the next ten years.  Medicaid is administered by the individual states under a strong level of Federal control.  The problem with a blanket block grant is that there is no control over how the state will use the money.  Block grants in the past have often been used for other purposes than for what they were issued.

 

In his 1998 campaign for the House of Representatives Ryan expressed his willingness to allow states to criminally prosecute women who have abortions.  He would let each state decide on the extent of the penalties.

 

In 2009 he cosponsored the Sanctity of Life Act, which would provide that fertilized eggs ”shall have all the legal and Constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood” and would have given Congress, …the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.”

 

Ryan has voted against continued federal aid for Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning programs.  The partial funding of these programs were originally signed into law by the Republican President, Richard M. Nixon.  Ryan supported legislation that would impose criminal penalties for doctors who perform partial birth abortions.  He opposed the government paying for over the counter emergency contraceptive pills.  He also opposed same sex marriage and had supported a constitutional amendment that would ban it.

 

Paul Ryan has supported the rights of gun owners and opposed stricter gun control measures.  He voted against a bill for stronger background checks and is for purchases at gun shows.

 

Originally Ryan supported legislation that would have allowed some illegal immigrants to apply for temporary guest worker status.  This included a bill that would provide a pathway to permanent residence status.  More recently Ryan has adopted a firm anti-amnesty enforcement stance on illegal immigration.  He voted against the Dream Act which was a bill that would provide conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children if they mainly attend college or serve in the military.

 

Ryan does not believe in climate change; he accuses climatologists of using “statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.”  He has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) classification of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.  Ryan also supports a ten year $40 billion tax break for the petroleum industry and has proposed cutting funding for renewable energy research and subsidies.

 

He has made recommendations to enact cuts to welfare, child care, Pell grants, and several other federal assistance programs like food stamps and housing aid.  His argument being that these program serve as an incentive for the poor not having to work.

 

In 2001 and 2004 he voted to end the embargo in Cuba.  Later Ryan reversed his position and since 2007 he has voted for maintaining the embargo.  He called Obama’s 2009 “reset” of relations with Russia as “appeasement.

 

He voted for sequestration in 2013, across the board cuts in almost all government programs, because President Obama and the Democrats would voluntarily refuse to cut discretionary (nonmilitary) programs.  This is a ten year program that automatically make significant cuts every year unless Congress passes specific legislation to stop some of it.

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This is the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, the man who has replaced former Speaker John Boehner.  He was overwhelmingly elected to his new position.  He received 238 out of 247 Republican votes.   Nine Republicans, apparently from the Freedom Caucus, did not vote for him; they apparently felt he was not conservative enough.  Ryan needed 218 votes to be elected.  If he can maintain that majority he will not need Democratic help to get legislation through.

 

The question arises as to how he will lead.  He’s been a bit of a chameleon in the past, sometimes changing his position to adhere to the party line.   If he continues in this mode there will be another Federal Government Shutdown before the 2016 Presidential Election.  But if he acts more moderately will he retain the overall support of all his fellow Republicans in the House?  Which position will he adhere to?

 

In December he still has to fund the Federal Government.  At the beginning of January the remaining sequestration cuts automatically go into effect unless Congress passes a bill(s) and the President signs it/them.  The military aspect of the problem has been solved with the current bill that squeaked through Congress at the end of September that raised the Debt Limit for two years and also funded the military.

 

Paul Ryan, the 54th House Speaker, in his acceptance speech, stated that: “Let’s be frank.  The House is broken.  We are not solving problems.  We are adding to them.  And I am not interested in laying blame.  We are not settling scores.  We are wiping the slate clean.”

 

“If there were ever a time for us to step up, this would be that time.  The cynics will scoff and say it’s not possible.  But you better believe we are going to try.  We will not duck the tough issues.”

 

Will any other needed legislation come into being?  Since the midterm Election of 2014, when the Republicans gained a slight majority in the Senate (54 Republicans to 44 Democrats and 2 Independents) the Republican dominated Congress has accomplished almost nothing.

The new debt ceiling bill was passed by Boehner with heavy Democratic support, thus “cleaning the barn” in Boehner’s words.  If Ryan has to also use the Democrats he will alienate a lot of Republican House members.  It should be interesting and possibly depressing to find out what will happen!

 

 

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 #107 – The Issue of Hospitalization and Care for the Homeless or Near Homeless

Los Angeles is the second largest city in the ...

Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A homeless man in New York with the A...

English: A homeless man in New York with the American flag in the background. Français : Un homme sans domicile fixe à New York. Un drapeau des États-Unis est visible en arrière plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Security, Affordable Health Care, and assorted other health plans all have lapses in them dealing with certain medical problems. These lapses can cause severe problems for the individuals involved and for their families, if they have one.

In most families today both parents work, their children go to school; their house is empty for a good part of the day. If they are forced to have an elderly parent or parents living with them that person(s) stays at the home all day generally by themselves. This is particularly true if they can no longer drive and are no longer ambulatory.

Many elderly adults will eventually lose some control over their bodies, they may have to revert to diapers. If they can still walk, they can occasionally fall and seriously hurt themselves. This is particularly crucial in a two story house.

If they are left alone and fall this constitutes elder abuse. They need someone with them all day and even those times at night when they get up to use the restroom. For most families this is impossible to provide.

If an elderly individually goes into the hospital and has this tendency to occasionally fall once the hospital has done everything medically that it can do for this person then what happens? The hospital cannot keep this individual indefinitely, it will fill up eventually and have no room for patients who it can help. If the person is living with his children they cannot take proper care of him or her. Most of the nursing homes do not want to take in patients who will occasionally fall. They don’t have the manpower to watch them all the time and they could be liable if the individual falls and is seriously hurt.

If the individual is homeless he or she was picked up in the street. Are they to be released back there? Some of the hospitals in the city of Los Angeles were doing that, releasing these patients back to a homeless section of the city, leaving them out in the streets. This was presumably stopped when the city of Los Angeles sued the hospitals over this action. I’m not quite sure what they are doing now. Possibly releasing them outside the city limits. Seemingly there is a major homeless population in most major cities within the United States.

Another factor to consider is that a fair percentage of the homeless people, those living out on the street, have mental problems and are not really capable of holding a job. In 1967 in California then Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. It went into effect in 1969 and shut down the mental health system in the state and quickly became a national model, saving the states large amounts of money. In effect they released the harmless mentally disabled presumably back to their families but actually to join the homeless in the various cities around the nation. It would seem we are too poor a country to care for our mentally disabled.

What I find fascinating is that the United States today is the richest country in the history of the world but we cannot afford to take care of a goodly percentage of our helpless population. We are against Euthanasia but we are perfectly capable of allowing people to freeze to death while being homeless in the winter. We seem to have a superfluous percentage of our population that is non-productive and requires care for which the society does not want to pay or even acknowledge exists.

Is there a solution for this problem? Apparently not, according to the Republicans. To be Biblical:” As a man sows, let him reap.” Seemingly everyone is responsible for themselves. If they end up not able to take care of themselves and then undergo all sorts of suffering, then that’s their problem. A strange attitude for a group that professes to be Christian!

Of all the modern industrial nations the United States seemingly is one of the few that refuses to accept responsibility for all of its citizens. There is no real excuse for this type of behavior. We can easily afford a level of care for all the people in the country. There should be no homeless, particularly no homeless children who make up at least twenty-five percent of this population.

Why do we, as a nation, refuse to accept this basic responsibility? Is it individual greed? Is it a policy of letting the other people pay? Whatever it is this policy flouts the term hypocrisy over all our so-called decent values.

The point has been made in other articles that the distribution of the national income is blatantly unfair. Despite Republican protest that the upper twenty percent’s taxes being too high, these people do not pay their fair share of taxes. A person like Mitt Romney pays a lower percent of his income in taxes than the average middle or lower class individual or family. This is true for all the wealthy in the United States. They pay less in taxes, percentage wise, than everyone else.

Isn’t it time the principles of fairness were applied equally to everyone in this country? If that were done we could easily solve the problems stated in this blog.

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey - 3D Icons

 

The Weiner Component #84 – The Republicans & the American Infastructure

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

The purpose of Congress in the United States is to serve the people, not to play politics. The Republicans in Congress are not carrying out their proper function. The American people deserve better. Either the Republican Congressmen have no knowledge of Macroeconomics or they are plain vicious, caring only for themselves and the welfare of heir party.

John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has come out with statements to the effect that Harry Reed and the Senate Democrats have not picked up any of the job creation bills that the House of Representatives have passed. The question here is what job creation bills? The only ones that come to mind are the fifty bills they passed to do away with Affordable Health Care. They claim that this law is a job busting one. How, they never say.

The fact is that eight million plus people, many who have never before been able to afford medical insurance, now have health coverage. If anything, Obamacare has created more jobs in the medical field. Just the paper work involved would require many more clerks

I am reminded of one of President Roosevelt’s 1936 campaign speeches where he stated sarcastically the Republican position at that time. The Republicans wanted to be elected so they could administer the New Deal. They said, in effect, that they would do it better and there would be more of it. Boehner wants to get rid of Obamacare so they can pass a bill creating Boehner Care that would be better and include more medical coverage for everyone. Of course there are no details of what this bill would contain. Probably they would be as efficient in passing it as they are in solving the illegal immigrant problem or a minimum wage bill.

In 1929 it was Republican Administrations that brought the Great Depression into being. In 2008 it was also Republicans who had brought the Real Estate Bubble into existence. Now they are going to solve this problem by bringing back conditions that brought this situation about.

How do we know this? In the 2012 Presidential Election Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, promulgated this plan. It was the Republican Platform. They acted as though there had never been an economic crash in 2008 during the Bush Republican Administration.

Everything the House of Representatives has done since it gained a Republican majority in 2011 has been aimed at exacerbating the conditions brought about by the Real Estate Disaster. They have not passed one jobs bill since that time. There has been no fiscal policy. Instead the House has shrunken government services, particularly to the poor, starting a chain reaction which forced state governments to do away with multitudes of state jobs. The Republicans have been hypocrites, saying one thing and doing the opposite. Paul Ryan has stated, in effect, that he would not feed a hungry person because the dependence would take his dignity away from him. Really!

What we need are programs to get rid of hungry, homeless people by providing jobs for them. Up to this point when we thought of the infrastructure of this country we believed how upgrading it would decrease unemployment in the United States and help bring prosperity to all its people. Isn’t it time to consider the actual needs of the nation? Going into the 21st Century with a 20th Century Infrastructure is just plain dumb. Most of our infrastructure was built well over fifty years ago and is outdated or inadequate.

Also, whether because of man’s abuses or for reason of natural changing conditions the weather patterns have and are changing and bringing phenomenal strain upon these structures. In the winter of 2013—2014 there were some radical changes in weather conditions within some areas of the United States. These changes or others like them, whether caused by natural climate changes or by pollution, could become normal in the future.

Temperatures dropped to 16 below zero in Chicago, during early January and set record lows across the eastern U.S. A fifth of all power generating capacity in a grid serving 50 million people went suddenly offline, as coal piles froze. Sensitive electrical equipment went haywire and utility operators had serious problems finding enough natural gas to keep power plants operating. The wholesale price of electricity jumped to more than forty-times its normal rate. The retail price became insane. One customer received a bill for $1,250 for January that was eventually reduced to $750. Another one with a $654 bill got no relief.

The problem with the cost of the electricity was the result of an antiquated grid and the pacific vortex, the cold air mass that settled over the nation. It exposed a growing fragility in the U.S. electricity grid. We need a modernization of the system or we are open to facing all sorts of emergencies in the near future.

The infrastructure is the basic facilities, services, and instillations needed for the proper functioning of the nation, such as communications and transportation systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and other needed public entities.

In April tornados hit sections of the central United States. Billions of dollars in property was damaged and destroyed. People were killed. The basic problem here is that the warning system is only fifteen minutes before the storm strikes. We have the knowledge and technology to do far better than that. Cities susceptible to these storms all need tornado warning systems and storm shelters. Since damage seems to be higher in mobile home parks these all need storm shelters. The cost of installing all this would not be that great and the savings in human lives would most likely be considerable.

Both urban and rural highways need constant maintenance. While constant construction does go on in some areas this does not occur. Also many highways are old, built decades ago, containing numerous pot holes and insufficient lanes. The population using them has increased considerably and improvements, if any, have been minimal. It’s time for a revamping of our nation’s roads and highways. We need a modern transportation system to supply the needs of today’s citizenry and to allow for rapid and easy movement of goods and people.

Public schools, both primary and secondary, in many cases were built during the first half of the 20th Century. They need to be refurbished or in some cases rebuilt so they can function as modern educational institutions. State colleges and universities also, in many cases, are dated structures. They need to be enlarged and modernized in order to serve the needs of today’s students.

Municipal, state, and federal buildings, proper and adequately built aqueducts to carry clean water to all the urban and rural areas of the country are needed. Most bridges in the country are over fifty years old. Some are in danger of collapsing; a section of one did a few years ago dropping several automobiles into the river. Luckily no one died.

At the rate we’re going most industrial nations will bypass the United States in their infrastructures.  Do we go forward with modernization or patch after each disaster?

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #70 – Intentions of the Framers of the Constitution

English: First page of Constitution of the Uni...

One of the major objects, if not the major object, of the framers of the Constitution was to create a government of the majority with protections for the minorities.  A true Democracy is supposed to express the will of the majority.  The major reason for education in our society was to create a population capable of reasoning and therefore able to elect the best people capable of representing them.

Today instead the object of government as applied by the far right and the evangelicals is to create a government where they, the minority, rule and set the standards for the majority.  Through the use of seemingly endless amounts of money in advertising, gerrymandering, and outright prefabrication they have been able sway elections to give themselves the power to impede necessary reforms and cause untold misery in the nation.

The Republican Party has been vociferously attacking Affordable Health Care (Obama Care) since they were able to gain control of the House of Representatives in 2011.  With the upcoming Midterm Election in November of 2014 the leadership of the Party has promised to make that a major issue, destroying Obama Care.

In a March Special Election in Florida, in an overwhelmingly Republican District, the Republican candidate just barely won the election.  Interestingly he treated his victory as one in which he totally trashed the Democratic candidate and the overall bulk of the population in his District voted to get rid of Obama Care.  The reasoning by the candidate and the party seems to be fallacious.  Presumably the new basis of the November Election in 2014 will be to elect Republicans so they can do away with Obama Care.

This seems to be in the opinion of many of that group a way to regain control of Congress.  The concept is fascinating since the entire concept of Obama Care was originally developed by the Heritage Foundation, a Republican Think Tank, and initially set up in Massachusetts under Republican Governor Mitt Romney.  It would seem that the reason for attacking Obama Care is to gain political power In Washington, D.C.

Interestingly, if we take the different parts of Obama Care and discuss them with the general public we find that they like the parts.  For example, keeping a child on their parents medical plan until he or she is 26 if the youngster is going to college, insurance companies not being able to reject people because of a prior condition, overall lower insurance rates for most people, no maximum limit in terms of what the insurance company has to spend on any condition, etc., etc.  But then if you ask them what they think about Obama Care the answer is that they don’t like it.

What seems to have happened is that the Republican prefabrications, like death panels and other nonsensical statements, which the Republicans have repeated over and over again, have, more or less, taken hold.  A good percentage of the people do not associate Affordable Health Care with the benefits it’s so far provided.  It can also be stated that the Democrats have not provided enough positive information to the public compared to the Republicans who have given redundantly endless negative statements.

In addition to using Obama Care as a means of gaining political power the wealthy Republicans like the billionaire Libertarian Koch Brothers have begun, through groups they fund, utilizing television and other forms of advertising as early as March for the oncoming November Election.  The probability is that billions will be spent on the Midterm Election.  And most of this money will be spent by the Republicans attempting to buy power by trying to gain control of the Senate and keeping control of the House of Representatives.  This is also true for state elections.

Will they gain control?  An interesting question!  We’ll have to wait and see.  Can the American voter be bought by propaganda and go against his/her own economic interests?

If the Republicans are successful the country will have total gridlock for 2015 and 2016.  They will not have a supermajority in the Senate and the Democrats will do what they, the Republicans, have done from 2009 on, filibuster the bills they are against and the President will veto the bills he is against.  They might try to impeach him as they did President Clinton; but, I suspect, they will have a problem doing so.  Of course they might be able to push through some strange laws, that the President would consider unconstitutional and break, as they did in 1868 with President Andrew Johnson.  But that did not effectively work then even with supermajorities in both Houses of Congress.

If the Republicans were to gain control of Congress in 2015 they would have to find positive reasons for running the country and they would also have to be able to work with the President.  At this point none of this seems possible.  All they have done since 2011 has been to impede all programs for which Obama could claim credit.  They haven’t been for anything except lowering taxes for corporations and the upper 1%.  The Republicans have done an outstanding job of keeping the country in a recession, attacking woman’s rights, and limiting benefits in entitlement programs for the poor and needy.  Paul Ryan, for example, has defined sloth as a racial thing.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

 

 

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The Weiner Component #55 – The Republican Party & Women

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The major problem in this nation since the Real Estate Debacle of 2008 has been creating enough jobs for all the people in this country who want to be properly employed, to bring the unemployment level from about 7 point something% to 2 ½ to 3-½%.  Instead the Republican Party has had another agenda; they have gone after women, their health choices and their medical facilities.  The excuse being that as good Christians they want to end abortions in the United States.

Shortly before the Elections of 2012 Todd Akin, a Republican who had served in the House of Representatives from 2001 as the candidate from Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, while being interviewed during a radio broadcast spoke about “legitimate rape,” implying that there were two kinds of rape, one being legitimate and the other obviously being illegitimate.  He also stated that women who were “legitimately” raped could not conceive, that their bodies automatically shut down.  Consequently any woman who conceived from rape was “illegitimately” assaulted and that is why she conceived.  This was a medical conclusion not shared by the medical profession or any other scientists in the world.  This stupid statement may have been the major cause of his loosing his election and bemoaning the fact that he could no longer afford to make his mortgage payments.

Richard Mourdock came out with an even worse comment prior to the Senatorial Election of 2012 that he also lost.  He stated that God wants raped women to have and raise the child conceived in an act of abject violence.  One would wonder how God communicated this piece of information to Mourdock.

Interestingly Mourdock was State Treasurer of the State of Indiana from 2007 to 2012.  During his second term in this position he misplaced $526 million in wrong bank accounts.  Local government agencies that depended upon this money were forced   to cut services and lay off personnel due to lack of funds.  The balance was eventually located but auditors spent quite a bit of time afterwards looking into state finances to see if additional monies were mishandled.

In the Texas legislature in 2014 Jodie Laubenberg explained to Texas and the world at large that the police had rape kits that cleaned women out and made it impossible for them to have conceived after an incident of rape.  On the basis of that startling fact it was all right to close down existing abortion clinics in the state and limit the number of health facilities available to poor women.  The rape kit is used incidentally to take samples proving that the act of mayhem had occurred; it consists of a package of envelopes for holding the trace evidence.

From where do these people get their scientific knowledge?  Yet these are people in state and Federal legislatures.  These are also some of the people responsible in creating the laws by which this country functions.

Jodie Laubenberg is also responsible for the bill SB5, passed in the Second Special Session of the Texas legislature, which limited abortions to the first twenty weeks after conception and closed most of the few remaining women’s centers in the state that provided free or inexpensive medical care to poor women and also, when necessary, performed abortions.  She is a strong advocate of all birth conceptions being carried to full term even in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother being a major issue.

She has served in the Texas House since 2003 and with two Republican colleagues introduced the bill into the first special session.  This bill was introduced into the special session because it would require a simple majority there rather than the 2/3 vote needed in regular session.  Wendy Davis, a Democratic legislator, filibustered the bill for almost twelve hours and the session ended before it could be passed.  Governor Rick Perry called another special session and the bill was passed there.

Ms. Laubenberg is a strong advocate for all pregnancies to be carried to term but in 2007 she proposed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would require expectant mothers to wait three months before receiving prenatal care under the state’s Children Health Insurance Program.  Her comment as to why she did it was: “But they’re not born yet.”  In 2007 Laubenberg voted against a bill that would expand children’s health care that received over 88% support from a Republican dominated legislature.  Yet even with these laws Texas has nearly one million children without health care insurance.  Most of these fetuses upon birth will enter a life of abject misery for themselves and their parent(s).

While these are only three cases of Republicans who have loudly verbalized their positions they exemplify where the party stands both on the state and Federal levels.  Virtually all the states where the governors are Republican and the legislatures have a Republican majority have passed similar laws, generally in a secretive fashion, even attaching the abortion section to totally unrelated bills at the last minute so they cannot even be debated.  It is interesting to note that all these laws are similar.  Are they copying one another or is a central conservative group supplying the legislation?   I would suspect the later is true.

In any event, what about the problem of increasing employment in these or other states?  What have these legislators done?  They have actually exacerbated the problem by shrinking state employment and lessened the number of government jobs and then boasted about their accomplishments.  Are they not only insensitive to women and their health needs but also economically ignorant of the effects of their actions?  It would seem that a percentage of the people elected to the state and Federal legislatures are not only anti-government but are working to limit or destroy the welfare of a goodly percentage of the American people.

In the Federal sequester, where the cuts in spending are visible, they have been adjusted so that no one directly sees the shrinkage of government services; the totally invisible programs like nutrition for infants and children of the poor, or “meals on wheels” or any other program which would help “Romney’s 47 percent” have all been invisible, not publicly seen.  All this non-visibility will disappear when the Federal fiscal year ends.  In addition, in the House of Representatives does not act to change the law the sequester will be going into its second year.  There will be deeper cuts as more furloughs are added to much of government employment.

In point of fact the Republicans are not making war on all women but just upon the group Mitt Romney calls the part within the bottom 47 percent, the poor women of this country, who cannot afford proper medical care and who need the female medical centers that also give abortions when necessary.  These are organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Any middle class or richer woman can afford to go where these facilities exist, either in states where the Democratic Party controls either the governorship or the legislature or out of the country where these medical procedures are performed.  For example Jodie Laubenberg could easily afford to do either of these but the poorer woman in Texas living on a minimum wage or a salary slightly above that is stuck where she is living, just barely surviving.  Why have Todd “legitimate rape” Akin or Richard “God wants you to have the baby conceived during rape” Mourdock and most of the rest of the Republican Party hold to this position?  Do they consider themselves moral parents of these women and are punishing them for engaging in sexual behavior or do they think that since these women as a group do not vote that they can push them around freely?

It would seem that the Republican Party is on the one hand trying to create a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, and on the other hand attempting, for what they consider moral reasons, to severely limit the rights and health of women, treating them as second-class citizens.

We might also ask all these legislators: Where are the jobs they were supposed to create?

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The Weiner Component #52 – Values: The Puritan Tradition vs. Reality

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice in the 2012 Presidential Election and a current member of the House of Representatives, stated that by reducing the amount the Federal Government spends on food stamps by billions we were really doing the poor a favor.  This would make them more self-reliant, more anxious to go out and find some sort of job in order to support their families. Of course there have to be jobs out there to find.  If the country is going through some sort of recession as it has since 2008 and there are no jobs to find then the poor have to become more creative in finding work and surviving.  This to Ryan is doing women with infants who need proper protein in order for their brains to properly develop or under-employed people or those who cannot find work, or veterans, who for one reason or another, have not been able to get back into the economy a favor.  Is this an American value?  Is it real?

Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a...

Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a campaign event in Londonderry, New Hampshire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul Ryan’s value system, whether he knows it or not, came from our Puritan Heritage which permeated throughout the United States during most of our history.  The basic tenant of Puritan belief came from John Calvin’s Doctrine of Predestination.

In the 16th Century the Protestant Revolutions occurred in Germany, England, and Switzerland. Before that the only official religion in Europe was the Catholic Church.  Protestantism was a protest against the abuses of the Church.

John Calvin (1509 – 1584), a French theologian and pastor, who set up a theocracy in Geneva from 1541 to 1549, promulgated, among other things, this Doctrine of Predestination.  The theory states that God is absolute, and that He knows everything: past, present, and future.  Consequently, He knows when everyone will be born and He knows every thought and act they will commit during their entire lifetimes.  Finally, He knows, even before they are born, whether they will ascend to Heaven when they die or whether they will go to Hell.  From the moment of their birth He knows if they are saints or sinners.

This is the Doctrine of Predestination.  Everyone’s final resting place has been predestined from the time before they were born.  The theory had been put forward by St. Augustine in his writings but the Catholic Church had never chosen to develop the theory.

In the 17th Century the Puritans, following in Calvin’s footsteps, set up a theocracy of the Elect in the Massachusetts Colony in what was then the New World.  In their minds it brought the sovereignty of God to earth and allowed God’s elect, those who would eventually go to heaven, to run the colony.  Today Reformed Congregational and Presbyterian Churches stem from Calvinism and Puritanism.

Their values gradually became inculcated into the American psyche and the belief that God rewarded the elect or chosen became meshed with success in our society.  It followed from this reasoning that successful people were closer to heaven than the rest of society and the belief that God rewarded those who he knew would go to heaven by rendering them successful on earth.  Somewhere along the line this success became tied to earning money.  The rich were successful; they were the chosen ones to lead the society.

That would make Mitt Romney, a man who engaged in Venture (Vulture Capitalism, a term first used by Rick Perry, the governor of Texas) one of God’s elect, even though this man’s company took over companies, raided their retirement fund, sold off the pieces of the establishment for millions, and left the former employees without jobs.

Generally this belief is true today.  While the religious aspect is presumably gone the basic concept is part of the American psyche.  Success in our society can be measured in dollars and cents.  This may be one of our primary social values.  But is it real?  Aren’t there also other values that are more important?

Unfortunately this belief has permeated throughout all levels of our society and has equally affected all levels of our society.  Those who are not wealthy expect to make it at some time during their earthly existence.  Many laws such as the tax codes have been passed mainly for the benefit of the wealthy.  There has never been loud objection to these laws because most people expect to have a turn at being rich sometime in their lives.  It’s nice to believe the unbelievable!

Looking around throughout the United States one sees other values that are far more important because they affect far larger groups of people.  We tend to be a nation generally of families, parents and children, one generation trying successfully to raise another.  We also tend to be a nation divided largely into three economic classes.  There are the wealthy who can easily afford everything.  Then those that can generally afford it, the middle class, who will more easily raise the next generation.  Finally those that barely survive or don’t really survive economically and find life in this country a constant and often depressing enterprise, the lower class.  There is also a fourth group, the homeless, generally called the underclass, which also include a number of children and veterans.  The goal of all these groups is to successfully raise the next generation.  This goal is not only dependent upon the youngsters themselves but also upon their parent(s) economic base.  The middle class can, with the exception of college tuition, afford it; the lower and underclass cannot.

There should be a national priority allowing everyone in the society to be able to succeed.  In a nation with a GDP of about 17 trillion dollars we can, with government help, easily afford to do this.  The distribution of the National Income and the taxation system of the country favors the upper few percent at the expense of all the rest of the population.  We are out of kilter; our priorities are wrong.  The system opposes what it should be supporting.  It is time to come to terms with what we truly consider important.

From a religious aspect we should consider that the primary gift of God is the gift or life.  The proper living of that life is a demonstration of appreciation to God for his gift.  To me this is a much more important value than wealth.  Of course people need a reasonable standard of living to go along with this concept.  A country with a GDP of about 17 trillion dollars can, with proper organization, easily afford to provide a decent standard of living for its entire population.

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The Weiner Component #27 – Subsidies & Taxes: Is There a Difference?

End crop subsidies

In order for any government to function it must have some source of revenue that allows it to pay its expenses.  In addition, for a nation to grow, both during periods of peace and war, it must have a means of encouraging the development of new or fledgling industries.  A major method of doing this is through subsidies, which reduce taxes in specific areas of economic growth.  These are tax subsidies that are supposed to be used only when they are needed.  Once the fledgling industry can compete on a world-trading basis or can supply the needs of its-own country these subsidies are no longer needed and should be done away with.  Unfortunately that is not always the case.

During the early days of the United States the source of government income was mostly tariffs, a small tax on all goods being imported.  As the country grew so did its need for money to fund its operation and other things within the nation were taxed.  Eventually, with wars, beginning with the Civil War, individual gross income was taxed.  The Supreme Court eventually declared this income tax unconstitutional.  Early in 20th Century the Constitution was amended, Article XVI, legalizing the income tax.  It has existed ever since as one the main sources of revenue for the Federal Government and also for most of the state governments.

This tax, from its beginning was supposed to be a graduated tax; the amount people paid was to be based upon their ability to pay, the more one earned the greater the percent the individual paid.  Thus the amounts paid were based upon the individual or household’s ability to pay.

During the later part of the 20th Century taxable income, the income tax, was divided into two major categories, regular income and capital gain or active and passive income.  Active income was money directly earned by some form of employment; passive income was an increase in value of something, stock, property, art or anything increasing in value over a passage of time.  The object of this was to encourage the sale of the property or stock or whatever the item was, since it could only be taxed when it was exchanged for money.

Also with capital gain the increase in value had to be significant if it were to be sold, otherwise the profit would be eaten up by the amount of the tax.  Consequently capital gain was considered a reasonable extension of the income tax laws.  However over the years many accountants have been able to extend it to cover a goodly percentage of the upper echelon’s income and subsequently have considerably reduced the percentage of their earnings paid in taxes.  Someone like Mitt Romney pays fourteen percent or less of his million plus income while the ordinary citizen earning far less than one hundred thousand dollars a year will pay twenty to twenty-five percent of their income in these taxes.  There is now a move to reduce the capital gains tax and/or increase the tax base of anyone earning a million dollars or more a year.

On the other hand the Federal Government is and has been giving subsidies to many people and companies investing in green forms of power, saving or producing devices like those that make electricity or hot water from light.  These devices are usually installed on the roofs of homes or they can be money invested in electricity producing windmills that generate electricity or similar resource creating devices.  The individual’s benefit derived from this type of investment is not to decrease his overall taxable income by the amount spent on the device but a direct deduction from the money owed to the government.  If you owe fifteen thousand dollars in income taxes that year and the power-saving device cost ten thousand dollars to buy and install, then the tax owed is reduced to five thousand dollars.  If the cost of the device is greater than your taxes then you can carry the difference over to the next year.  It is a means of economically encouraging households “to go green” and inexpensively increase the amount of available resources for the country

In the case of businesses or corporations this encouragement is carried out by “subsidies.”  Subsidies according to Webster’s dictionary are “grants of money by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise advantageous to the public.”    Usually these grants are supposed to function as long as it is advantageous for the country to fund that entity.  This usually means allowing a fledgling company to grow large enough to become competitive with similar concerns from other nations or to allow forms of exploration that the concern cannot itself afford, such as drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.  The oil subsidies, for example, were begun in the early 1940’s to allow for rapid exploration during World War II.  With some modifications and additions they are still going on today.  If the government were to stop or limit these subsidies in no way is it taxing these companies which today are making profits in the billions of dollars.

For practical reasons over the years many corporations were given innumerable subsidies, generally for very good reasons.  These subsidies are, in most cases, no longer practical, as currently most of these corporations are multi-profitable.  In point of fact many, like the oil interests, tend to use some of their subsidy money to hire lobbyists and for contributions to both political parties.  While this is not legally bribery, it comes awfully close to being both coercion and bribery.

The current argument in Washington between the Democratic and Republican Parties defines these subsidies as being taxes.  If they were cancelled, John Boehner has argued, it would be raising taxes on “the job creators.”

As we’ve seen the large corporations that get these subsidies use the money mainly to fund lobbyists and to make financial contributions to both parties in both Houses of Congress.  What they are mining is the American taxpayer who indirectly ends up paying their bills.  Isn’t it time we stopped subsidizing companies that are making many billions of dollars in profits.  Subsidies are not taxes and should not be treated as such.  Let’s have a more reasonable system of taxation!

 

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