The Weiner Component #162 = Part 3a: Thoughts on Donald Trump Since the Convention

On Thursday, July 28, the Democratic Nominating Convention ended and the two major candidates for the 2016 Presidential Election had been chosen.  The next day the Presidential Campaign was officially on.


In certain respects Donald Trump is a unique candidate.  There has never been another one like him.  Basically he is a bastion of ignorance with no idea of the responsibilities involved in being President of the United States.  His experience has been landlord, presumably setting racial boundaries to whom he rented, builder of hotels, casinos, and other types of structures where he has never fully paid his contractors, and TV performer, where his favorite statement, which he proudly copyrighted, was “You’re fired!.”  His business record, which is well documented, is pathetic, rich in bankruptcies, lawsuits, and nonpayment of bills.  He seems to see the presidency as an extension of himself and his nefarious methods.  If he were to extend those principles as President he would destroy the creditability of the United States.


Vladimir Putin, the current President of Russia, seems to want to gradually stretch Russia’s boundaries to where they were during the era of The Soviet Union.  Trump’s attitude toward foreign policy would legitimize Putin’s intrusions into Ukraine and other possible areas.


There have been numerous bizarre incidents with Trump, some of which make no sense at all.  First off, during the Republican Convention, Trump began laying the groundwork for his dealing with both enemy and allied nations.  He did this by making blanket statements to the press, stating that our allies in NATO were not paying their fair share and that when he were President he would see that their contributions of money was generously increased.  Actually I got the impression that he would charge our allies for the use of the American military to the point of making a profit.  This would enable him to increase military expenditures without having the U.S. pay for the increase. (Shades of Napoleon Bonaparte, having your so-called allies pay for your use of the military.)


Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, would love to see Trump as President of the U.S.  Trump has indicated that as President he would legitimize Russia’s take-over of parts of the Ukraine.  Putin has called Trump a genius and Trump has verbally admired Putin.  Russians hacked the Democratic National Committees emails and had them published just as the Democratic Convention began.  Was this an accident by Russian hackers or was it a plot to discredit the DNC?  Take your choice.


In addition Trump has numerously stated that (1) he will renegotiate all foreign trade deals, (2) charge a 35% tariff on all goods produced by American companies that are manufacturing goods overseas, (3) renegotiate the United Nations anti-atomic development treaty with Iran in which the United States was one of the many participants.  (4) He has also objected to paying back Iran the 40 million dollars that the U.S. government owed Iran.  (5) Trump has promised to bring coal mining on a large scale back to West Virginia.


If we think back thirty or thirty-five years ago, it was then argued that U.S. companies, usually in base industries, were moving overseas and it was vehemently stated by many people that these companies should keep these jobs in the United States.  If we go back even earlier it was argued that many companies in the North or Northwest were moving to Puerto Rico or the Southern United States where there was no tradition of unions.  Of course, eventually they would become unionized.  The problem then or the solution for the companies was that the result of moving these industries considerably cut the cost of production of goods and kept these companies competitive.  This would be true at first in the Southern States and Puerto Rico and later when the moved companies had become unionized and labor costs had risen; they would move overseas.  The cost then in keeping one of these companies at first in the North or Northwest and later in the Southern U.S. and Puerto Rico was in the thousands of dollars per worker in terms of the cost of the productivity of the worker.  If most of these companies were to stay competitive they had to reduce their costs.


There were and still are, of course, vulture capitalists, financial businesses like Bane Capital that will take over profitable companies and transfer the factories overseas to make them far more profitable.  Mitt Romney, while he was running for the presidency in 2012, invested millions with the former company he had chaired.  They bought control of an American factory, brought workers over from China to learn how to handle the machinery, then packed everything up and moved the factory to China, leaving all the former employees unemployed.  Their profits, even with transportation included, increased well over four times what it had been.


Trump wants to renegotiate all the foreign trade treaties that the United States has signed with other nations.  Attempting to renegotiate all the trade treaties signed over the last twenty-five years would probably terminate most if not all of them and generate Tariff Wars such as existed in the 1930s during the era of the Great Depression.  The result would be to limit trade between nations and raise the prices of a high percentage of the goods and services sold, making most people a lot poorer.


A 35% tariff on goods produced by American companies overseas would be unconstitutional.  We have ‘due process” in the Constitution, which means everybody is to be treated equally.  Trump could not pick on specific companies to punish.  Besides, most major companies are today international.  Virtually every automobile produced contains parts that were made both in the U.S. and parts that were manufactured overseas.  What specific percentage makes it an American produced automobile?  This is true of innumerable products.


In terms of the Iranian U.N Treaty there was Iran on one side and part of the Security Council of the United Nation plus Germany on the other side.  The United States is a permanent member of the Security Council.  For that matter so is Great Britain, France, China, and Russia.  Some smaller states rotated onto the negotiating group.  The treaty evolved over a two year period.  Iran has strictly adhered to her agreement in the treaty.  Upon what grounds could Trump reopen the negotiations?  The United States would be outvoted by the other nations that approved the treaty.


The 40 million dollars that the United States repaid Iran was a negotiation that had been going on well before the Iran U.N. Treaty.  While the United States was still friendly with Iran during the time of the Shay in the late 1980s the U.S. agreed to sell arms to the Iranian government.  Iran paid for those arms in advance.  After the revolution, the people in the American embassy there were seized and imprisoned for over a year.  The U.S. stopped the arms deal for which it had already been paid.  The 40 million dollars was the money that Iran had paid in advance and for which they received nothing.  The United States Government has been holding that money since the late 1980s.  This, of course, does not count the other funds in American banks that were then frozen and which have continued to be used by the American banks since then.  The same thing is true of Cuba and the Castro Revolution in the early 1960s.


Trump has also promised to bring back coal mining to West Virginia.  The promise is pure nonsense.  The old coal mines, where the miners went underground and dug in tunnels bring up the coal, are long gone.  So are mines run by such companies as Massey Energy, which used to have a large number of mines in West Virginia.  Instead what coal mining that exists today is done in open pit mining by steam shovels taking out a half ton of coal at a swoop.   One man driving a caterpillar does the work of a large number of teams in one day.  How could Trump bring back the past?


In addition coal is probably one of the dirtiest and most polluting sources of energy available today.  The coal can contain numerous minerals that go up with the smoke.  One of the most dangerous of these is sulfur which can mix with water vapor to create a mild form of sulfuric acid that people breathe.  There are many cleaner forms of energy available.  In terms of health it would be cheaper and healthier to pay the ex-miners a monthly stipend that go back to the extensive use of coal.


What emerges with Trump is that he seems to want to be president but he has spent his life being mostly concerned with Donald Trump and has missed what is going on in the rest of the world.  He is largely ignorant or just plain naïve.  I hesitate to use the word, stupid.  In addition Khizr Khan was probably correct when he said that Donald Trump had probably never read the Constitution.  And if he had read it in Jr. High it was so long ago that he didn’t remember it.  Many of his statements would indicate an ignorance of the contents of the document.


Trump has called the oncoming election rigged.  As far as he is concerned in any area where he doesn’t, according to the polls, have a majority, the election in unfairly rigged toward Hillary Clinton.  Because of all this Trump has also called upon many of his followers to volunteer to be poll watchers during the actual election.  His language has moved beyond the Republican Party’s call for specific identification requirements.  It has revived unfounded claims that the polls are rigged.  His warnings have been given in urgent and racially suggestive language.  He has implied that the only honest outcome would be his victory.


In addition Trump has suggest that Second Amendment People, gun owners, might take matters in their own hands since the election of Hillary Clinton would result in having their weapons taken away from them.


In Pennsylvania, which has had no Republican presidential candidate since 1988 and Trump is presently well behind Clinton in polls, Trump has stated that he could lose the race there.  He wants Republicans to sign up as poll watchers particularly in areas with heavy Black populations.  There is concern about voter intimidation.  Trump’s comment is that he wants to stop people from voting fifteen times or more.  There has been no evidence of voter fraud.


A Trump backer tweeted: “We gonna be watch’n for shenanigans…& haul ya away.”  Above the tweet was a photograph of a pickup truck with a cage in the truck bed.


A Pew Research Center survey demonstrated the 51% of Trump’s supporters have little or no confidence in the accuracy of the vote count nationally.  They automatically know it will be false if Trump loses.


An advisor to Trump has stated that “We are now living in a fake reality of constructed data and phony polls.”  How does he know all this?  The answer would be simply by instinct.  His reasoning, and also Trump’s, for that matter, would be: ‘It must be so because it is so.’


Trump’s campaign recently started a website urging people to sign up as election watchers.  All campaigns generally do this, but the people who do this are required to go through an extensive training program about what crosses the line and becomes intimidation.  Trump’s election watchers are not required to do this.


I would like to make a comment about Donald Trump which may or may not be wholly true.  Trump basically is an empty vessel that knows himself and how he functions.  He has never been interested in anyone or anything else.  He sees the world and everyone in it in terms of how he would respond.  In his mind he has defined Hillary Clinton’s values and beliefs as if they were his own.  Consequently everything she has done, does, or, for that matter, will do, is how he would behave if he were she.  To him there is only one value system that is real, his own.  Everything he accuses her of doing or believing is a projection of how he would or does behave.  And his negative behavior toward the world in general is well documented by his bankruptcies and over 2,500 lawsuits in which he has been involved.  In fact he is currently being sued about Trump University.  The are three lawsuits coming up, two class action and one by the state of New York.  The man is dishonest from his core and imagines the rest of the world has the same perspective of everything.


Lately the man has stated that he has misspoken on several subjects.  Outside of the illegal aliens living in the United States, who he was going to round up, all 11 million of them, and kick them out of the U.S.  This was a feat that it was estimated would cost four billion dollars over a five to ten year period and would also cut our GDP about ten billion dollars.  It seems he misspoke when he called Hispanics all rapists and thieves.  He was sorry he said that until Wednesday night, August 31st when he stopped being sorry and stated that he would kick them all out the day he assumed office.


He was also sorry he said other things.  But he hasn’t told us what the other things are.  This will allow him to flip-flop on anything he’s stated.  I thought that he was sorry he mentioned the multi-trillion dollar wall between the U.S. and Mexico but he also changed his mind again about that.


Even Glen Beck, who was dropped from Fox News for being too far on the right,

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

has verbally stated that Trump is a danger to the United States.                  *******************************

The November 2016 Election should make for an interesting if not colorful and dramatic Presidential Election!



The Weiner Component #162 – The Presidential Election Conventions: Part 1: The Republican Convention

The candidates for the 2016 Presidential Elections have been chosen.  The National Party Conventions are over; the balloons have all been dropped and the candidates are officially named.


The Republicans met in the second week of July 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio; the Democrats convened in the third week of that month in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Not surprisingly the Republicans chose Donald J. Trump and the Democrats picked Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Donald Trump and the Republicans tended at their Convention to present a dark picture of the United States being taken advantage of by both its allies and its enemies.  The Convention lacked major politicians like the two living former presidents, the Bushes, both father and son, or other political figures.  Minor TV reality performers and some actors made presentations to the Convention.  Trump seemed to be stage-managing on all four nights.  The House Speaker, Paul Ryan, and the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, both gave conditional support to Donald Trump, stating essentially that given the choice, Trump was better than Hillary Clinton, who the Convention strongly verbally attacked from the first day on.  In fact one of the main themes at the Convention was denouncing Hillary Clinton and voicing a need to put her into jail or even executing her.


As the last speaker, on the first night, Trump had his wife, Melania, make a presentation.  She, in her speech, plagiarized statements that Michelle Obama had made in 2008.  It seemed that two professional speech writers had written a speech for Melania but she was uncomfortable with it and decided to write her own with the help of a friend who had helped Trump write one of his books.  The woman researched prior speeches for her and Melania produced her own presentation which no one saw beforehand.  She gave the speech and the plagiarism was almost immediately discovered and discussed on all the TV networks that covered the Convention.  In fact they played Melania saying that part of her speech on half the screen and Michelle Obama initially saying those words on the other half of the screen.


Melania did not reappear until the fourth night at the Convention.  The woman, who had helped her offered to resign.  Trump told her to forget it.  He initially denied that there had been any plagiarism.  It also helped to set a grim note to the overall Convention.


Still the four days which were supposed to set Trump up as the greatest individual possible as the next president but instead the Convention set up a grim tone about America as a country that had lost its prominence in the world, currently being taken advantage of by both its friends and enemies and run by a failed president.  It was a dark and dismal version, low on facts and rich in generalities.  Trump would be the savior of the United States.  He and he alone could save the country from where it presently was.


He strongly made the point that if Hillary Clinton were elected she would continue the “failed” policies of Barack Obama.


I found it interesting that the presidency of George W. Bush was never mentioned.  It was as though he never existed.  Presumably the country went from the time of William Jefferson Clinton to that of Barack Obama and nothing that had happened in those 16 years was positive, had helped the people in the United States in any way.


In 2009, when Barack Obama became President of the United States, he inherited from former President George W. Bush an economic calamity later called the Great Recession.  It was the complete collapse of the Housing Industry in the United States, which was at the point of taking down virtually all the major banking houses in the U.S. and Europe.  Had it occurred the industrial nations would have faced a depression greater than the 1929 Great Depression.  It would have totally destroyed banking in the United States and slowed the flow of money to a trickle.  Unemployment would have gone well over 50% of the work force.  And the probability is that we would still be there today.  In fact Trump’s hotel business would, among many other businesses, have probably gone under.


The Obama Administration saved the banks by lending them billions of dollars.  It also saved the American automobile industry by similar lending policies that kept them from going bankrupt.  And with the Federal Reserve the Obama Administration largely solved the housing crisis by purchasing and then discarding the millions of mortgage loan pieces which the banks had sold as hedge funds.


During his first two years in office President Obama had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress and was able to get the necessary legislation passed to do this.  In addition they brought Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) into existence.  After 2011 the Republicans by gerrymandering gained control of the House of Representatives and Obama was no longer able to get any legislation passed.  In fact under Ted Cruz’s leadership the House of Representatives closed down the government by refusing to pass the appropriate funding bills necessary to keep it functioning.  All this in attempts to force Obama to sign bills that they wanted, like doing away with Affordable Health Care or defunding Planned Parenthood.  They were successful in getting some things through, like Sequestration which attempted to bring across the board spending cuts.


One of the Republican goals was to reduce government spending by shrinking the Federal Government.  In a manner of speaking they were “penny wise and dollar stupid.”  By reducing the size of government during a period of Great Recession they helped worsen the unemployment situation in the country.  In addition to decreasing the number of Federal jobs they also cut the amounts of monies they sent to the states, thus causing the states to also cut their payrolls.  Not a clever thing to do during a period of depression.


During the Republican Convention President Barack Obama was charged with not passing the necessary laws to keep the country healthy.  The Republicans blamed him for what they themselves had not done.


In 2008, even before Obama took the oath of office, the Republican legislators from both Houses of Congress met in a two House caucus and all took an oath to make Barack Obama a one term president by not supporting any measure or program he put forth; and that is what they did.  The Republicans placed their political aims over what was necessary for the people of the United States.  They all ignored their oath of office for the next four years and beyond.


The Republicans met in their National Convention between Monday and Thursday, July 18 and 21 at the Quicken loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  While Donald J. Trump was the clear winner of the state primary elections and caucuses there was some doubt among many Republicans whether he should be their candidate for the presidency.  The movement, however, failed and Donald Trump became the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.


A number of prominent Republicans announced that they would not be attending the Convention.  Among these were the former Republican presidents and many prominent Republican Congressmen, including John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and Marco Rubio, who had run against him as presumptive Presidential Candidates.  Six major companies withdrew their financial support of the Convention.


The Platform Committee tended to move to the far right.  They came down on LGBT, taking a strict traditional view of social issues and ignoring Supreme Court decisions.  The Committee supported marriage between a man and a woman only, proposing a Constitutional amendment to bring this about.  They opposed abortion in every case.  They called for the appointment of only conservative judges who respected family values.  They wanted federal lands turned over to states so they could be privatized.  In foreign policy they were national security hawks, wanting increased military spending, a more isolationist approach, and called for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.


On Monday, July 18th the Convention began with a voice vote to accept the platform with a loud protest from the anti-Trump opponents who wanted a roll call vote.  Donald J. Trump was nominated and won the presidential nomination on the first ballot with 69.8% of the delegates.  The Vice Presidential ballot was held immediately afterwards, choosing Indiana Governor Mike Pence.  Pence won by acclamation.


Trump had earlier vowed to bring showbiz pizazz to the 2016 Convention.  He stated that the 2012 one was boring.  Many of his speakers were minor or has-been figures: Don King, former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin and Tom Brady, a New England Patriots quarterback and other equally unknown or dimly remembered individuals.  Many prominent Republicans refused to attend the Convention.  Ted Cruz addressed the Convention but did not endorse Trump.  Marco Rubio finally released his 173 delegates to Trump and spoke via a short recorded video.


Some of Trump’s adult children spoke on different days telling how wonderful their father was.  Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke on Tuesday giving Trump a limited almost negative endorsement; saying he was better than Clinton.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader of the Senate, did the same thing.  Both would later object to Trump’s criticism of the Gold Star Muslim Khan family.  Gold Star families are those who have lost a parent or child in the current wars in which the U.S. is currently involved.


On Wednesday the main speaker was Mike Pence accepting the Vice Presidential candidacy.  But Ted Cruz stole the spotlight by giving a rousing Republican speech which ended with him asking the Republicans to vote their consciences.  He did not endorse Trump.


Also on that night Chris Christy, the governor of New Jersey, gave a speech that was a mock trial of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, in which the entire Convention served as the jury and he was judge and prosecutor.  Naturally they voted her guilty on every count.


I found this approach interesting because Christie may well have brought about the Bridgegate Case in his own state where traffic on the George Washington Bridge was purposely slowed to a crawl and Christie was either directly or indirectly involved.  That case is still slowly winding its way through the New Jersey courts and Chris Christie could conceivably be criminally charged before it’s over.


The highpoint of the Convention was Donald Trump’s final speech where he formally accepted the Republican position of candidate for the presidency of the United States.  Trump’s older daughter, Ivanka, introduced her father.  Trump spoke for 75 minutes; one of the longest acceptance speeches ever given at a nominating convention.  He emphasized the crisis the country was facing by attacks on the police and terrorist assaults in our cities, stating that he was the “law and order” candidate.  He promised to limit U.S. participation in global crises and to renegotiate international trade deals.  He continually attacked President Obama and Hillary Clinton, stating that the world had become less safe during their time in office.


Going back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “forgotten man,” a term that Trump used, he offered, in addition, to support both Bernie Sanders’ supporters and those who were “down and out” by being their voice in Washington, D.C.


The speech had tones of the technique Hitler used in Germany in the 1930s.  It assumed powers for the leader that are not present in the Constitution.  Donald Trump presented an image of current gloom, saying that he was the agent of positive change while Clinton would continue, what he called, Obama’s failed presidency.


With the dropping of the red, white, and blue balloons the Republican Convention ended and Trump went on to campaign for the presidency.


As a sort of addendum or footnote on Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, it should be noted that in her introduction of her father while she spoke of him bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and other commendable things he will achieve as president she was wearing (or modeling) a dress which her company produced overseas in an Asian country like Vietnam where labor costs are very low compared to the United States.  I suppose one could argue that those jobs wouldn’t have to be brought back to America because they never existed there.  Therefore they could stay overseas.  Her company sells many millions of dollars’ worth of clothing every year.


It would seem that Donald Trump believes in projecting all his personal negative features onto his opponents.  He has had well over 2,500 lawsuits and out of court settlements so far in his lifetime, going from not paying taxes to New Jersey for his Taj Mahal Casino, where the state settled for seventeen cents on the dollar, after Chris Christie became governor, to not paying overtime to his employees, to not paying his bills or fully paying off his construction contracts, to innumerable other negative treatment of people, both employees and nonemployees.  The probability is that if he wasn’t rich and had a large number of lawyers working for him he could well be in jail instead of running for the presidency.  While he call Clinton “Crooked Hillary” she could easily call him “Disreputable Donald” or, since he seems to be a pathological liar, she could easily dub him as “Lying Donald.”

The Weiner Component #158 Part 2 – The Presumptive Republican Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election: Donald J. Trump

Trump International Hotel and Tower

Trump International Hotel and Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in...

Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential candidate is in the opinion of many Republicans totally bad news.  He doesn’t act like a potential president and they fear his candidacy will do irrevocable damage to the Republican Party in the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election and possibly even beyond that into future state and national elections in the future.


From examining his history as a businessman and entrepreneur with Trump University and beyond to his specific business practices we get a strong image of him as a flimflam man totally without principles, willing to take advantage of anyone and everyone for his own benefit.  It doesn’t matter if the individual is well-to-do or barely surviving; Trump doesn’t differentiate, he will cheat anyone.


In Part 2 of this article we continue the process and view him as a candidate for the presidency of the United States.


Trump, in his presidential run, constantly boasts about bringing jobs back to America.  “Non matter who you are, we’re going to protect your job . . . because, let me tell you, our jobs are being stripped from our country like we’re babies.”


But the lawsuits against him tell a different story.  In 2007 dishwasher Guy Dorcinvil filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s Mar-A-Lag Club resort in Palm Beach, Florida, alleging the club failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime he had worked over three years and that the company failed to keep proper time records for employees.  Mar-A-Lago LLC agreed to pay Dorcinvil $7,500 to settle the case in 2008.  The terms of the settlement included a standard statement that the company did not admit fault and forbad Dorcinvil or his lawyers from talking about the case.  The question here is: What about the others who worked at the Mar-A-Lago Club or other similar Trump facilities and, for one reason or another, did not sue him?


Real Estate broker Rana Williams, who had sold hundreds of millions of dollars in Manhattan property for Trump International Reality over more than 20 years with the company, sued in 2013 alleging Trump shorted her$735,212 in commissions she had brokered from 2009 to 2012.  Trump and Williams settled their case in 2015.  The terms of the deal were confidential, as in the case in dozens of other settlements between Companies and assorted plaintiffs.  This was one of many instances where commissions would not be paid to members of Trump’s staff.


In all we know that Trump has been involved in well over 3,500 lawsuits so far during his business career.  We don’t know the number in which he sued or was the plaintiff.  What I find fascinating is the fact that even some of Trump’s attorneys, on occasion, sued him over claims of unpaid bills.  He certainly didn’t discriminate over who he cheated.


There are today still a large number of lawsuits, a multitude of judgments, liens and other filings from a wide array of Trump employees and businesses who are still waiting to be paid for their work.  Trump has made a habit of stiffing not only his employees but also small businesses and suppliers over the years and then simply financially exhausting them in court or wailing until they go bankrupt and cease to exist as companies.


Trump uses and abuses people, especially many of those who work for him.  People will, in turn, object to this abuse and there are lawsuits and among his many assorted enterprises, labor disputes and strikes.


In Las Vegas there is a Trump International Hotel whose workers: housekeepers, cooks, waiter, etc. are picketing the structure in 2016.  They was to belong to a union.  Most such facilities in Las Vegas are unionized.  The difference between Trump’s hotel and a unionized one is that Trump pays $9,11 an hour while a union facility like Mandalay Bay pays $13.81 an hour.  Union workers have medical coverage and retirement benefits.  Trump’s hotel has no benefits, not even a lunch or dinner hour; his employees have to clock out for the half hour they eat their lunches or dinners and then clock in again.


Trump employs 520 service workers at the Trump Tower; they have voted to unionize.  The Hotel Company challenged the vote before the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the union coerced workers, Trump lost.  The company is appealing the decision.  If they lose again the company is legally obligated to negotiate a contract.  But if the employers are hostel they have legal routes that can keep the union from negotiating with them for years.


In White Plains, New York, Trump Tower workers: doormen, porters, maintenance, and concierge workers are on strike.  As of the end of May 2016 they haven’t had a contract in six months.  Their overtime is currently being contracted out to non-union labor.  Toward the end of May the National Labor Relations Board filed charges against Trump Tower claiming that management has been filming union workers on picket lines.


At the Trump Hotel in Toronto, Canada, about 100 women, mostly middle-aged mothers from the Philippines, recently won union certification at the Trump luxury hotel and will soon negotiate their first contract.  The bargaining unit will include representatives of all the workers at the hotel whose jobs have not been contracted our: doormen, bellmen, the front desk, housekeeping and maintenance engineers.


In 2003, when the Tower was built, the city council sought and obtained a signed agreement that the Trump Hotel would automatically allow union certification if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit signed union cards.  The later management claimed that they had nothing to do with this agreement and were not bound to honor it.  After a hectic period of denial the hotel has been forced to honor the agreement.  Negotiations will begin in June and July of 2016.


This pattern is apparently the standard behavior within all Trump facilities.  Trump tends to exploit and discard people freely.  He treats them as second class citizens and inferiors.  Everyone exists to be freely used by him.  Isn’t that what his successful television series was about, denigrating people and presumably firing them?  Where can he better practice that than with people who are employed by him?


There currently seems to be a plot among many conservative media figures and others among the Republican Party to dump Trump at the GOP convention.  Many Republican leaders are not attending the convention.  What will happen with a growing Dump Trump Movement?  Trump is lashing back, saying he is campaigning against both Democrats and Republicans.  It should be interesting!


In May if2016, according to the polls, Trump had a 55% dislike ratio among the general public.  By the middle of June he had raised the level to 70%.  He is currently the least liked person in the entire history of the United States running for the presidency.  The man is an uncontrollable verbal canon; he doesn’t seem to have any self-control.  Besides being disliked by many in the Party the fear is that he will bring sown may other Republicans in a general election, some who have been in Congress for years, while running of the same ticket many people could lose the election by being associated with Trump.  The entire House of Representatives, which currently has a Republican majority, will be running for reelection in November of 2016.  On third of the Senate, mostly Republicans, will be running for reelection also in 2016.  They also have a slight Republican majority.  Conceivably the Republicans can lose both Houses of Congress and the presidency with Donald J. Trump heading their election ticket.


Can they dump him?  Presumably the answer rests with the Rules Committee and what they decide the week before the Convention meets.  Do they have the guts to dump him?  If they don’t dump Trump and he brings down the Party in Washington, D,C, will it be their fault?


Another factor about Donald Trump is the fact that in his presidential campaign, beginning with the debates among the prospective Republican candidates, when he stated he was really rich and self-funding his campaign so he wouldn’t be beholden to anyone, he charged as many expenses as possible to his varied enterprises.  These he could pay back if he became the prospective candidate.  He owes himself about 1/2 million dollars for the use of the Trump jet.  When possible he has stayed at Trump facilities and for each stat he owes an extensive bill.


Basically Trump is shifting large amounts of money back to himself in his process of running for the presidency.  According to documents which he had to submit to the Federal Election Commission, Trump, whose campaign presently had $1.3 in cash paid at least $1.1 million to his businesses and family members in May for expenses associated with election events and travel costs.  He has and is currently soliciting contributions and according to his early definition becoming beholden to wealthy contributors.


The presumptive Republi9can candidate is required by law to account for his spending to prevent his companies from making illegal donations to his campaign.  In 2015 he spent about $2.7 million to at least seven companies Mr. Trump owns or to people who work for him, repaying them for services provided to his campaign.


In May of 2016, Trump’s use of the Mar-a-Lago Club, his Florida resort was paid $423,000.  The campaign paid 350,000 to Tag Air for his private airplanes, $125,000 to Trump Restaurants, and more than $70,000 to Trump Tower, his Manhattan skyscraper that houses his campaign headquarters.  In addition his family profited from the campaign.  His son Eric’s Virginia wine business took in $1,300.


Also Trump, who has said he will not take a salary if he is elected president, in May paid himself $3,085.  One can easily say that as a prospective candidate for the Republican Party he will make a profit whether he wins or loses the campaign.  He is probably the first candidate in the history of the United States who will have done this.


Interestingly while he was in Scotland recently opening his golf club there a British newspaper man asked him if he would allow Muslims from Great Britain to come to the United States.  He had recently stated and restated numerous times that he wanted the U.S. temporarily closed to all Muslims because too many of them secretly belonged to ISIS.  Trump quickly stated that he had no problem with that.  The next day one of his aids clarified the issue by explaining that Trump only wanted to temporarily stop Muslims from terrorist countries like Syria, Iraq, and Iran from coming to the United States.  This was a very quick change in attitude.  Could Trump’s other hard-core statements like building a wall between the United States and Mexico and having Mexico pay for it or bringing the manufacturing jobs back to the United States be as flippant as his original Muslim statement?


As far as the general public is concerned the questions are: Do they really believe Donald Trump?  Is this the man they want to represent the United States for the next four years?  Can he carry out his so-called promises or has he just told the public what they wanted to hear?


Of course another issue is: if he were elected President could he carry out his promises?  Congress makes the laws.  The President carries them out.  I doubt that even a Republican elected House of Representatives and Senate would give him what he wants.  And the ultimate question for the general public is: Do they want to go back to economic nationalism which existed from the period of the Great Depression to the outbreak of World War II.


From looking at what has come out about his life Trump is certainly not an honorable man.  He is instead a cheat and a liar.  In fact Donald Trump is a sad example of what a human being is supposed to be.  He uses the Courts, which are supposed to protect people, as a weapon against his fellow creatures. Is this the man we want as President of the United States?  Is this the man who will continue to make America great?


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.


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?


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 #137B – Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, & the Current State of the Republican Party in the 2016 Presidential Election

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is important to keep in mind that the current Republican Presidential Debates and the Democratic one that will occur beginning Tuesday, October 13, 2015 are only for choosing the major party candidates for the oncoming 58th Quadrennial U.S. Presidential Election of November 8, 2016, about 13 months from now.  The last reform movement for choosing Presidential Candidates put the responsibility largely upon the people of the country by holding elections by political party in all 50 states.  These are done at different times prior to the Presidential Election.


Interestingly in the one held in Vermont in October of 2015 the three leading Republican candidates, each with 12% of the vote, were Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Bernie Sanders, who is an Independent Senator from that state who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate.  All the other Republican candidates got single digit results.  Sanders will also be running in the Democratic Primary.


Mainly what has occurred up to this point in the Primary election is that in campaigning for the 2016 Presidential Campaign two figures have arisen, one in each major party, that according to some political commentators, are two sides of one coin representing voter protest.  On the Republican side it’s Donald Trump and on the Democratic side it’s Bernie Sanders.  Both have appealed to large numbers of the populace that are essentially disgusted with their political parties and the general verbiage thrown at them for their votes.


Candidates, particularly Presidential Candidates, make all sorts of promises and then fail to deliver what they presumably stand for.  Of course what is promised is what the candidates would like to do.  What actually happens after the election is that in order to bring their promises to fruition the candidate needs the full cooperation of the two Houses of Congress and even sometimes the cooperation of the Supreme Court.  This generally does not occur.


To the leaders of the Republican Party Donald Trump, currently aged 69, is the emergence of the Frankenstein Monster, set loose from the forces of chaos, over whom they have no control.  Since he is “really rich”, a billionaire, and financing his own campaign, they have no leverage over him.  To many of the Republican leaders he is a former Democrat and not a true Republican who does not hue strictly to the party line.


Trump states what he believes or says what he believes his audience wants to hear.  Always telling them how brilliant he is, what a great deal-maker he is, and verbally attacking other Republicans running for the presidency.  Jed Bush, who was a second runner to him, has been a constant target.  Since she started coming up at the polls, 61 year old Carly Fiorina, has gotten some negative comments from Trump about her looks and of how she ruined Hewlett Packard of which she was CEO for a while.  During the second debate he reversed his opinion about her looks.


Trump implies that he has never made a bad deal in his life.  He has gone through bankruptcy four times.  With my limited exposure to the business world I know of one specific deal where Trump lost probably millions for his investors and possibly for himself.


His slogan, which he wears written on the front of his hat, states that he will “Make America Great Again.”   He is implying, of course, that America is currently second rate.


Trump is, to quote him, “not politically correct;” that is, he will say almost anything.  His statements are general, criticizing everything that the current administration does or is doing, without any specifics on how he would perform as president except that it will be better and make America great again.


What I found enlightening when I looked up Republican candidates for the 2016 Presidential Campaign on the internet was that Donald Trump was not on the list.  It seems that many Republicans are still not taking him seriously as a potential candidate.  It’s an interesting phenomena, he’s leading in the Republican poles but is still considered undesirable by the party.


On the Democratic side there is Bernie Sanders, a 74 year old Democratic Socialist, who has run as an Independent from Vermont, first in the House of Representatives from 1991 – 2007 and then in the Senate from 2007 on.


Bernie Sanders has caucused with the Democrats, been a voice of protest against the seemingly incapability of reform both when he was in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate.   In 2015 he decided to make his protest against the inequities of our political system public by running for the presidency in 2016.


Senator Sanders has raised several million dollars by taking only small contributions and refusing larger ones.  He represents the common man against the influence of the upper percent of the population and the large corporations.  In essence he is the voice of the common American protesting vociferously against the highly inequitable distribution of income in the United States.  He is the voice of every lost cause that is generally opposed by the plutocrats and the lobbyists.


Surprisingly, especially to Sanders himself and a goodly percentage of the Democratic Party, the number of people who have come out to hear him and support him has been phenomenal and continues to grow.  He is currently a serious candidate for the Presidency of the United States.


Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are the two dynamic candidates.  Both are symbols of how the American people feel about the inaction of the Federal Government to really solve any of the major problems facing the country.  They represent the two major political parties within the country.  The people are tired of Congressional inaction, a government shutdown, of nothing happening.  They are fed-up with seven years of warfare between Congress and the President.  They want a functioning Government that is positively leading this nation.


The reality of the situation is something else.  Trump talks about what he will do as president.  Listening to bits and pieces of his speeches over TV one get the impression that he thinks he can run the country the same way he runs his company as its CEO.  No even Louis 14th of France, the most absolute of the absolute kings could do what Donald Trump says he will do as president.  One gets the impression that he’s never read the Constitution of the U.S. which gives the power to make laws to Congress and makes the President the Chief Administrator of the country.  Either he is totally impressed with himself or he is totally ignorant of our form of government or both.  Even if he were to be elected President and had a totally Republican Congress he would not be able to do even a small percentage of what he claims he’s going to do to “Make America Great Again.”  There is no way Congress, even a Congress with a majority of Republicans in both Houses would support him.


Bernie Sanders has stated the legitimate inequalities that exist within the United States.  He would like to see greater fairness for all American citizens but he too would face large scale frustration from Congress.  If he were to be elected as the Democratic President in 2016 the probability is that the House of Representatives would remain with a Republican majority and he would not be able to get any of his desired legislation through.  Even if he were to get a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress the Republicans in the Senate would filibuster every law he would support.  If by some miracle both Houses of Congress became Democratic, and there was a supper-majority of 60 Democratic senators they would only support a very small percentage of his program.  It would take a multitude of years or longer for the United States to become a Democratic Socialistic Nation.


Bernie Sanders is registered as an Independent but styles himself as a Democratic Socialist.  In fact he is the longest serving Independent in Congressional history.  He caucuses with the Democratic Party but favors the social democratic policies of European countries, particularly the Nordic ones: free college education for everyone qualified to go, free medical care for everyone paid for by taxes, basically true equality for all citizens.


Bernie Sanders is a leading progressive voice on such issues as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, and campaign finance reform.  He is also known for supporting civil rights and civil liberties.


Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, as stated earlier, are two sides of the same coin; and that coin is protest against an essentially non-functioning central government, which seems more non-functioning all the time.  They seem to symbolize the feelings and frustrations of a large percentage of the voters.


A little under seven years ago, when Barak Obama was elected to the presidency of the United States, Mitch McConnell, the then minority leader of the Republicans in the Senate, stated publically that the goal of the Republican Party was to make Barak Obama a one term President.  For his first term, 2009 through 2012, the Republicans opposed everything he supported, and this included bills that the Republicans had originated.


When Barak Obama first took office in 2009 he inherited the Real Estate Crash that had begun during Bush’s last year as President.  It was a major depression that could have gone deeper than the Great Depression of 1929.  Obama, with no legislative help from the Republicans in Congress, was able to turn that into a recession and largely but not completely slowly work the nation out of that major problem.


There still, up to today, has been no fiscal policy applied to the problem.  In fact, most acts by the legislature, particularly after 2011 when the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, has actually exacerbated the problem, increasing unemployment.


Using his executive powers and those of the Federal Reserve President Obama has kept the nation from major economic disaster.  Today, in 2015, unemployment nationally is below 5% and moving toward additional recovery.  But the poverty rate in the nation has increased and is much too high and inequality of incomes is at its highest point in decades.


What have the Republicans done, since they have managed to gain control of the House of Representatives in 2011 and the Senate in 2014, to help resolve the economic dilemma?  The answer is essentially nothing.  At one point they shut the Federal Government down and were threatening to do it again over the issue of getting rid of Planned Parenthood.  To avoid that potential disaster John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, resigned effective October 31, 2015.  On Thursday, October 7 the Republican in the House were supposed to choose Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Whip as the new Speaker.  At high noon on Thursday McCarthy withdrew his name from consideration as the new Speaker.


He did not have the votes for that position.  The 40 Tea Party candidates on the far, far right of the Republican Party would not support him.  As of Sunday, October 11th there is no one to replace Speaker Boehner, who has stated that he will stay on beyond October 31 until a new Speaker is chosen.  That may not be until the end of 2016.  The Republicans in the House of Representatives have reached a stage beyond gridlock!


On Sunday, October 11, 2015 the House Republican majority has reached a point where they will presumably have no Speaker at the end of this month.  Technically they will not be able to even meet as a body.  What is their reaction to this?  It has been suggested by one or more of them that they take a two week break.  It would seem that they are totally separate from the people who elected them and owe nothing to their constituents.  The behavior is unbelievable.


The House of Representatives which meets for an average of 200 days a year has voted over fifty times to do away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) which was based upon a Republican plan developed and applied in the state of Massachusetts by its then Republican Governor, Mitt Romney.


Seemingly the plan was, if all else failed, to shut down the United States Government by refusing to fund it if funding Planned Parenthood remained in the finance bill.  Current Speaker Boehner killed this motion by his resignation as Speaker of the House and a bill was put through the Senate by the Republican Majority Leader funding the Government through December of this year which was passed in both Houses of Congress with Democratic votes.


At this point the Republicans in the House, who have a majority, cannot bring its 40 Tea Party extremists to go along with the rest of them in appointing a Speaker or in getting almost any legislation passed.  They are beyond gridlock and this term does not end until the end of 2016.


To a large percentage of nationally registered Democrats, Independents, and even Republicans the central government is not functioning because very little or no legislation is being passed dealing with everyday problems or anything else for that matter.  At this point the Congress is seemingly non-functional.


Interestingly to the Tea Party and many other Republicans the Federal Government is not working because the Congressional Democrats and the President refuse to go along with the Republicans and their solutions to the national problems.  Their version of compromise is to have the other side give in to them completely.


Trump has the support of a percentage of these people and Sanders has the support of a like number of registered Democrats and Independents.

Both of these groups are miles apart and could not even begin to consider the beginnings of a compromise.  What we have is a totally frustrated and angry electorate whose frustrations are based upon their powerlessness.  What will happen?


The Presidential Election of 2016 is more than a year away.  It will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.  Who will be the candidates?  Trump seemingly would like to be president.  Sanders, who is amazed at how far he’s come so far, would probably be even more amazed if he were the candidate.


What is happening now is that the potential candidates are jockeying for position.  There are currently around fourteen Republican potential candidates, who each want to be chosen as the Presidential Candidate and about five people running for the Democratic position.  Trump, who is not acceptable to many Republicans, is currently leading the group on the right and Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing the same for the Democratic groups on the left.  In November of 2016 the voters of the United States will decide in each of the 50 states who the next President of the United States will be.  The probability is that the Democratic candidate will win since they are the majority party, the Senate will in all likelihood return to a Democratic majority, and the House will probably retain its Republican majority.  What will happen over the next four years?  Probably, very little no matter who gets elected.


What does that mean to the general electorate?  I do not want to consider that problem but the probability is nothing or very little.  What could happen in the Election of 2020?  The possibility there is the emergence of one or more third parties.  This is what happened in 1860 with the initial emergence of the Republican Party over the issue of slavery.  Here Lincoln was elected with 40% of the popular vote after the Democratic Party had split into two political parties, one northern and one southern.








The Weiner Component #128 – The 2016 Presidential Election

If one looks at the Constitution of the United States of America one discovers that it consists of seven articles and twenty-seven amendments.  Of these the first three articles set up the organization and functioning of the Federal Government.   Article 1 deals with the legislative bodies, Article 2 with the presidency, and Article 3 with the Supreme Court.

In the first Article the two legislative bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives, are defined, organized, and their powers enumerated.   Article 2 sets up the presidency and describes the general powers of the President, and Article 3 essentially states that there shall be a Supreme Court.

According to the Constitution, Congress alone has the power to make the laws.  The President is the chief administrator; he carries out the laws that exist and that the current Congress has brought or brings into being.  The President can issue executive orders, which if they are not in contradiction of existing laws, will exist during his term in office.  But his acts can be curtailed by specific acts of Congress or, for that matter, by decisions of the Supreme Court.  He is mainly the chief administrator of the United States. He runs the country.

During Presidential Elections one gets the impression that most candidates and the general public are totally unaware of what the basic document of the United States contains.  In the current pre-election campaign for the Presidency in 2016 the overly large number of Republican candidates state what they will do if elected.  These individuals sound like they are running to be kings and explain how the country will function if one of them is elected.  What new laws they will decree.  The ignorance is pathetic.

Barak Obama was elected in 2008 on a platform of change.  When he assumed office in 2009 he inherited, from the former President, George W. Bush, a potential economic collapse that would have been greater than the Great Depression of 1929.  By using the resources of the Federal Government, he and his administration were able, over his first two years in office, to turn the economic situation around and totally avoid disaster. Even with the full use of the government for this he was able, with a Democratic Congress, to bring about Affordable Health Care (Obamacare).  In the 2010 Midterm Election a goodly number of the people who had voted for him in 2008 were disgusted with his lack of “change” and stayed at home and didn’t vote.  That combined with Voter Suppression in Republican dominated states gave control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans and the chances for change in the U.S. dropped to zero.

The probability of a Republican being elected in 2016 and both Houses of Congress maintaining their Republican majority is slim.   But even if it were to happen the possibility of a Republican president agreeing completely with a Republican Congress is even slimmer.  In fact the two Republican Houses of Congress agreeing is even slimmer than that, seeing that the current Republican House of Representatives is much farther to the right in their positions than the Republican dominated Senate.

What is needed at this time is a realistic look at elections and an understanding of the importance of voter continuing participation.  Elections are important.  Their results helps determine the direction in which the country proceeds.  Being not bothered to vote or a protest non-vote is actually a vote for the minority party, the Republicans.


There are currently a plethora of Republican candidates vying for the Presidency in 2016.  In fact the leadership of the National Republican Party seems bankrupt of power since they don’t seem to have any control over the choice of one or a few possible candidates.

For the Republicans there are currently fifteen announced candidates and seven additional potentially pending candidates.  This makes a total of twenty-one people who are vying for the presidency from the Republican Party.

The stated candidates are:

Jeb Bush officially as of June 15, 2015

  1. Ben Carson as of May 4, 2015
  2. Ted Cruz as of March 23, 2015
  3. Carly Fiorina as of May 4, 2015
  4. Lindsey Graham as of June 1, 2015
  5. Mike Huckabee as of May 5, 2015
  6. George Pataki as of May 28, 2015
  7. Rand Paul as of April 7, 2015
  8. Rick Perry as of June 4, 2015
  9. Marco Rubio as of April 13, 2015
  10. Rick Santorum as of May 27, 2015
  11. Donald Trump as of June 16, 2015
  12. Bobby Jingle as of June 24, 2015
  13. Chris Christie as of June 30, 2015
  14. Scott Walker as of July 13, 2015

Also announced are Mark Everson & Jack Fellure

Other potential candidates are:

  1. John Kasich
  2. Bob Ehrlich
  3. Jim Gilmore
  4. Peter T. King

That makes a total of 21 potential presidential candidates

The next question is: How will they debate one another?   If they were all present in a single debate, the answers to each question would last for more than an hour and many TV viewers would forget at least half the answers before the question was answered. Fox News, the formal propaganda agency for the Republican Party, had a formula to just allow a certain number of the candidates leading in the national polls to debate but that’s been rejected by several state parties.  Whatever happens here will be colorful and interesting.

If you’re interested in any of the multitude of Republican candidates, look them up on the internet or, if you’re patient wait to see who’s left when we get to November of 2015. I suspect many of these individuals don’t and won’t have the organization, funding, or ability to mount 50 plus campaigns and will gradually fade away.


For the Democrats there are also a host of candidates but only two or three of them seem to have the organization to hold elections in each of the 50 states and each of the Federal Territories held by the United States.  They are, in the order of national poll preference, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Lincoln Chafee.


Of the Democratic candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the best known.  She is the wife of former President Bill Clinton, a former well-functioning U.S. Senator, and President Barak Obama’s first Secretary of State.  No one running for the Presidency for the first time has been as experienced as she.  Hillary Clinton is running on a liberal platform.  For her to bring about her agenda she will need a majority in both the House and Senate.

Bernie Sanders is 74 years old.  Politically, he is a Democratic Socialist, who caucuses with the Democratic Party.  He has served in the Senate since January 2007.  Sanders favors policy proposals similar to those of social democratic governments in Europe, particularly Scandinavia, such things as free medical care for all and free college education for all.  His basic premise is that the U.S. is the richest country that has ever existed but the bulk of this wealth is going to the one percent who are not even paying their fair share of taxes.  He is currently the voice of many frustrated Americans who feel there is an extreme need for change in the United States but don’t see any of this occurring.  Sanders is running for the presidency as a Democrat.  Like Hillary, if he is elected he will need a Democratic Congress to bring about any change or he will spend four frustrated years as President not being able to do much.

Lincoln Chafee’s father, John Chafee, was the Republican Senator from Rhode Island where he died in 1999.  His son, Lincoln, was appointed by the governor of the state to finish his term.  Lincoln Chafee had entered politics in 1985 as a delegate to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention.  The following year he was he became a member of the Warwick City Council, where he served until he was elected mayor of Warwick in 1992.  He served in that office until his father’s death in 1999 when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to finish his father’s term.  In 2000 he won a full term to the U.S. Senate, defeating his Democratic rival.

Lincoln Chafee was a liberal Republican whose beliefs stood to the left of some conservative Democrats.  He opposed eliminating the estate tax, voted to increase the top federal income tax rate, was against allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, supported an increased minimum wage, and was the only Republican to vote against the invasion of Iraq.  He is pro-choice, supports same-sex marriage, affirmative action, gun control, and opposes the death penalty.

In 2007 Chafee left the Republican Party and became an Independent.  He supported Barak Obama in 2008.  In 2010 he became governor of Rhode Island.  Chafee was a co-chair of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.  In May of 2013 he announced that he was switching to the Democratic Party.  He formally announced his campaign for the presidency on June 3, 2015.

What are his chances of becoming the Democratic candidate?  An interesting question. He doesn’t seem as nationally well known as either Clinton or Sanders.  And both of them have wide recognition and positive reputations with Hillary, probably leading.

With the senseless murder of the nine church members in the leading Black church in South Carolina Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken on the terms of leading a Crusade across the country which the majority of the American population seems to want.  Of course, if she is elected, her success will depend upon the makeup of the two Houses of Congress.  The Democrats need not only a majority in both Houses of Congress but also a filibuster-less Senate, that is a 60 vote majority in that House. Then if the Democrats can work lock-step a Crusade to change America positively can be carried out.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont



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

English: First page of Constitution of the United States Česky: První strana originálu Ústavy Spojených států amerických Español: La página primera de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos de América (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The 1.1Trillion Dollar Spending Bill

On Thursday, 12/11/14 the House of Representatives passed, what was essentially but not completely a 1,603 page bipartisan 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill that will allows the Federal Government to continue to function until September 30, 2015, the end of the fiscal year. The bill adheres to strict caps negotiated earlier between the White House and the deficit-conscious Republicans. It is also salted through with GOP proposals which are actually Christmas giveaways to individuals and companies and have nothing to do with the spending budget. The bill should have been passed months earlier but it was convenient for the GOP to keep it hanging as a potential form of blackmail against President Barak Obama until the last possible moment when it had to be passed or its absence would cause a government shutdown.

When Ronald Reagan was governor of California he had a line-item veto over all bills passed by the State Legislature. He could veto any section or group of sections that he thought was or were inappropriate and sign the document for the rest of the bill to become law.  But as President of the United States he could either sign a bill, veto it, or do nothing for ten days and allow it to become law. Reagan was not too happy with this limitation but he had to accept it. It would require an amendment to the Constitution to change this practice.

Not only does every bill have to be passed by both the House and Senate but both versions have to be identical. If a word or punctuation is different, then the two versions are not the same. Actually what happens is that the bill goes to a Committee of Congressmen dealing with that particular subject, they discuss the bill, usually modify it, and then send it to the legislative to which they belong with their recommendations. If it is passed then that version goes to the other legislative body, where it follows the same procedure. In practically all cases the two versions are at least slightly different. At that point the bill goes to a Conference Committee made up of members of the two Houses where a final version is then hammered out. This goes back to both Houses of Congress and it then has to be voted upon and repasses by the two Houses. If the bill passes it then goes to the President. After he signs it the bill becomes law. This process generally takes a number of days.

The 1.1 Trillion Dollar Spending Bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday, December 11. The Congress was slated to end its session on Friday, December 12th. This meant that the bill had to be accepted exactly as it was if the government was not to shut down the following week when it ran out of money. In fact a short a short extension was also passed in case a few more days were needed to pass the bill.

Keep in mind that according to the Constitution only the House of Representatives can initiate a money bill since initially they were the only group directly elected by the People. The Founders felt that taxes should be authorized by the direct representatives of the People so that the People are, in a sense, taxing themselves.

Also note that there are no rules about what a bill is supposed to contain. It can deal with one subject or any number of subjects. This finance bill dealt with innumerable subjects, many of which had nothing to do with financing the government.

Because of the catastrophe caused by a government shutdown President Obama urged the Senate to pass the bill even though it had numerous amendments that were harmful to individuals or groups within the country.

One of these amendments cancelled a section of the Dodd Frank Act that had been passed in 2010 as a reform measure after the 2008 Bank-Real Estate Collapse to avoid such occurrences in the future and to keep banks from exploiting their depositors and the taxpayers. Presumably the lobbyists for Citibank wrote the measure and it was secretly inserted the night before the bill came up for a vote in the House of Representatives. The insertion rolls back regulations that limit banks from using federal deposit insurance to cover high-risk financial investments. There had been no notice given or debate on this Amendment. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, strongly opposed this insertion as did Senator Elizabeth Warren who called upon the Democratic majority in the Senate to oppose the entire bill if this Amendment was left in.

Another interesting Amendment was trading land with an Indian tribe. A sacred mountain containing a burial ground was to be traded for another piece of land. The sacred mountain was wanted by a company for a copper mine.

Another last minute Amendment dealt with campaign finance, it was extended for individuals. It went from $32,400 to $324,000. Republicans got a 60 million dollar cut at the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) reducing their workforce to the level they had been at in 1989.

Not all Republicans in the House supported the bill. Many of the Tea Party wanted to defund President Obama’s immigration executive order. This issue was left out of the House bill.

In both the House and Senate the bill required the votes of both Democrats and Republicans to pass. In the House 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voted for the bill. 139 Democrats and 67 Republicans were against the spending bill. In the Senate there were 31 Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 1 Independent who voted for the bill and 21 Democrats, 18 Republicans, and 1 Independent who were against it. In both Houses of Congress it required the votes of both major political parties in order to pass.

Interestingly the far right and the far left both opposed this bill, both for different reasons. On the far right, Ted Cruz wanted a section added that would limit or eradicate President Obama’s executive order dealing with illegal immigrants whose children had been born in the United States. And on the far left, the Congressmen wanted to remove many of the giveaways that had nothing to do with the spending bill. Cruz, in a procedural vote extended the Senatorial Session into the weekend. He did not get his Amendment to the bill passed. Harry Reed, the majority leader in the Senate, used the additional time to get a large number of Obama appointees approved beginning with the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who had been opposed by the NRA because he had suggested earlier that guns were a disease since they killed a large number of people. By the end of the session, Tuesday, December 15th, the Senate had approved a total of 69 controversial presidential appointments.

The Senate passed the Spending Bill on Saturday and President Obama quietly signed it on Tuesday. Congress adjourned around midnight of Tuesday, December 16th and the new Congress, which will have Republican majorities in both Houses, will meet in January of next year, after the holidays.

It is interesting to note that all that is required for the government to keep functioning is a one sentence bill that states that the Federal Government shall be properly funded for the fiscal year. The 1,603 page bill detailing all the expenditures over the fiscal year is ridiculous. In this bill every item that is to be funded has to be mentioned in detail. For example: Vice President, Joe Biden’s and other top officials in the government’s salaries are frozen. There is no automatic raise for them that was put into law several years earlier but the members of Congress will get their cost of living raise, raising the pay to over $140,000 each.

What happened originally was that several years ago Congress voted itself a raise. The press got hold of the news and published it. People were indignant over Congress giving itself an increase in salary when everyone else was hurting financially. There was a protest and the increase was rescinded. Thereafter Congress passed a law making pay increases for Congress and government officials automatic. From then on there was no protest or even public knowledge that this was occurring. In 2014 Congress has voted through its 1603 page bill not to freeze its own salary but to do so to the Vice President and other high government officials in the Administration. How petty can they get?

Further the bill once again bans funding for abortions. It doesn’t provide any new funding for the health-care law and maintains the current levels for Medicare. The Department of Homeland Security is cut by 336 million dollars in funding. There is an additional 85.2 billion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan, a 2 billion dollar cut from 2013 due to ongoing troop reductions. The bill includes 10.8 billion dollars for Customs and Border Protection. 6.55 billion dollars are set aside for disaster funding. There is 224 million less for embassy security, maintenance and construction than was spent in 2013. The Democrats successfully blocked attempts to limit the EPA, but its budget was somewhat cut. The bill bans the Obama Administration from transferring detainees from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to facilities within the United States. There are several issues regarding weapon control. The bill prohibits any funding that requires that federal contractors disclose campaign contributions. There is a boost for Head start and preschool programs. The bill contains 2.8 billion dollars for detention programs operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill bars funding to enforce new light bulb standards for lower wattage usage. Military and civilian government employees pay is increased by one percent. They agreed to restore a cut in the cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of disabled working-aged veterans. The bill bars postal officials from ending Saturday mail deliveries. It provides 157 million dollars for the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention programs. There is 5.3 billion dollars for weather reporting. 5.6 billion dollars is provided for school lunches for about 32.1 million eligible schoolchildren.

This is just the flavor of what the bill contains; there is, of course, much more in 1,603 pages.

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #28 – Interpreting the Constitution: The Election of the President

Map of number of electoral votes by state afte...

In June of 1776, a year after the American Revolution started, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted the following month on July 4th.  The Declaration defined the rights of man and demonstrated how the King of England had ignored these rights and forced the colonists to revolt.  The document was a democratic statement, designating that all people were equal and all people were given the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

 The war ended in November 1782 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.  The new nation consisted of thirteen independent states loosely bound together under the Articles of Confederation in 1781.

 In 1786 the legislature of the government of Massachusetts in Boston, which was located along the highly populated coastal region of the state, passed a law taxing the inland farmers in order to raise money for the state’s expenses.  These farmers, who were largely under represented in the government, revolted and refused to pay the tax, arguing that if the Southern planters, who had been dependent upon English merchants before the Revolution could during and after the war refuse to pay their debts to these English merchants then why couldn’t they do the same thing and refuse to pay the taxes.  This was called Shay’s Rebellion, named after a Revolutionary War veteran, Daniel Shay. 

 George Washington called out a force of the National Guard and the revolt dissipated by the time the troops reached the area.  The fear of this possibility in the future brought about among property owners, who were the voters, a desire for a stronger central government.  In May of 1787 the Philadelphia Convention met.   Fifty-five delegates came representing twelve states.  They were conservative and moderately wealthy.  They wanted to create a strong government that would be able to protect their interests.

 In essence they believed in “life, liberty, and the protection of property.”  In order to do this they needed a government that was seemingly democratic without really being democratic.  They wrote, over the summer, a constitution that emphasized “life, liberty, and protection of property.

 This document was democratic in form, drawing its authority from the People in the country and establishing a government based upon direct representation in the House of Representatives where those elected would serve for a two-year period, a Senate that was elected by the legislatures of the individual states for a period of six years, and a President who was indirectly elected by the people for a period of four years.  The powers of the President were vague, while the powers of Congress were specifically enumerated.  The only individuals directly elected by the People were the members of The House of Representatives; everyone else was indirectly elected. 

 Some of the states had a Bill of Rights in their own Constitutions and they wanted one added to the National Constitution.  This was promised and shortly after ratification James Madison wrote twelve measures of which ten were passed by three quarters of the states.  These became the Bill of Rights.

 There was no mention of political parties in the document.  Nor had most of the founders envisioned them; but Alexander Hamilton initially created the Federalist Party and was its first head; and through it the electors from the twelve states choose George Washington as the first President of the United States.

.Before the first election could be held a census of the population had to be taken.  The number of Representatives in each state for the House of Representatives had to be determined by population.  Each state was then divided into representative districts.  From these there were elections for each member of the House and also elections for electors who would choose the President.  It was a known that George Washington would be the first President.  Each state, regardless of population, would have their legislature choose two Senators, who would represent the interests of the particular state.  The President, with advice and consent from the Senate, would choose the members of the Supreme Court.

 The voting franchise or who could vote was/is determined by both federal and state law.  The initial voters were male property owners, which limited the number of people who had the franchise.  From 1812 on the property qualification was done away with; all white males qualified for the franchise.  It should be stated that from this time on virtually anyone could get property since the government sold its land for almost nothing.  By 1828, with the election of Andrew Jackson, most white males in the United States had the vote.   The Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 gave the vote to all males.  The Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 specifically gave the vote to non-white males.  In 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the vote.

 We have come a long way from the original intent of the founding fathers with our Constitution.  First, there are two basic interpretations of the reason for our government: (1) Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and (2) Life, Liberty and the Protection of Property.  The first position represents the Democratic Party and the second one denotes the Republican Party.  The struggle between the two has existed throughout the history of the nation.  Do we need one or some of both positions?

 The other purpose has to do with elections, particularly the election of the President of the United States.  Should he continue to be chosen by the Electoral College or should it be directly by the majority of votes by the people of the United States? 

 In 1913 the Seventeenth Amendment changed the Constitution by bringing about the direct election of Senators by the people of the country.  There had been numerous abuses in the State Legislations dealing with the election of Senators.  This Amendment corrected that by having the people vote directly for the Senators.

 The President of the United States is still elected by the Electoral College.  The people vote for electors and the electors vote for the President.  There have been two instances where the men elected received the majority of electoral votes but did not get the majority of the popular vote.

 One was in 1876 where Samuel J. Tilden received the majority of the popular vote but was defeated by Rutherford B. Hayes who got the majority of votes from the Electoral College; Tilden got 184 electoral votes while Hayes received 185.  The other instance was in 2000 where Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush gained the majority of the electoral votes; Gore had 50,999,857 popular votes and 271 electoral votes, Bush received 50,456,002 votes and 274 electoral votes.  In both cases the majority of the voters wills were thwarted.

 Would a reversal of these electoral decisions have made a significant difference?   Both of the winners were Republicans.  Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction if he was elected.  It’s from this time that “Jim Crow” began in the South.  It reached its peak in 1896 with the case of Plessey vs. Ferguson that established that “separate but equal was constitutional.”  This decision was not changed until 1954 in the case of Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education where the Supreme Court reversed itself and declared that “separate but equal” was inherently unequal.

 If Tilden had become President would it have made a difference?  The answer is yes.  The integration of the former slave population would have been different.  How much more positive that difference would have been is not known; but the probability is that it would have been better for the entire country.

 In 2000 if Al Gore had been able to assume the presidency it is highly unlikely that the U.S. would have gotten involved in two wars after the 9/11/2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City.  The Iraq Wa,r after “weapons of mass destruction” that did not exist, would never have happened; and thousands of Americans who died in that war would still be alive today.  Al Gore would never have had George W. Bush’s bellicose attitude and both economic and military conditions would be far less severe.  The National Debt would be considerably lower. 

 In the 2012 Presidential Election the Republican Party in a number of states, particularly those where they had a majority in state legislatures and governors, tried, with a measure of success, to limit democratic votes.  Isn’t it time for another Constitutional Amendment allowing the people to vote directly for the President of the United States?  Or do we have to wait for another massive mishap before we consider this proposition?  


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