The Weiner Component Vol, 2 – #2: Images of the 2016 Election

English: Painting, 1856, by Junius Brutus Stea...

English: Painting, 1856, by Junius Brutus Stearns, Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787, signing of U.S. Constitution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

In every Democratic Country, with the exception of the United States, the winner of the Presidential or Prime Minister Election is the one who receives the most popular votes.  All the votes count equally; every citizen has one vote that counts the same as every other vote.  The exception to this is the U.S. where the winner is the one who receives the most Electoral Votes.  It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the Election in the United States.  There are 538 Electoral Votes possible, 435 for the members of the House of Representatives, 100 for the Senators from the 50 states, and 3 for members of territories belonging to the U.S.

 

The system was designed in the late 18th Century when the Constitution came into existence.  It was the first Democratic instrument of modern government.  Its intent was to be Democratic without being overly Democratic.  According to the original document of government, the Constitution, the House of Representatives would be elected directly by the property owning male voters and represent them, two Senators would be elected by each of the State Legislatures and represent their interests.  The President or chief executive would be chosen by an Electoral College made up of the same number of both members of the House and Senate.  The voters would choose the smartest men in their Districts to pick out the best man in the country to be President.  Everyone understood that George Washington would be the first President.  There is no mention of political parties in the Constitution nor was there any thought of them at the time.

 

The first political party was organized by Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers, while the Constitution was being voted into existence by nine of the twelve states.  Rhode Island refused to participate in this activity.  The first political party, the Federalists, represented the Urban Business Class. 

 

The second political party was organized by Thomas Jefferson for the 1800 Presidential Election in order for him to become President.  It was called the Republican Party.  The Federalists satirically christened it the Democratic-Republican Party and shortly thereafter it became the Democratic Party, a name it still bares today. 

 

Jefferson favored the Yeoman (small) farmer.  In fact his rationale for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 was so that there would be land available for the small farmers for the next hundred years.

 

In essence the Democratic Party has always favored the ordinary citizen above the merchant or business class.  During the Great Depression of 1929 the Democratic Party took on a level of responsibility for him where he couldn’t provide for himself.  That is still the major maxim of the Democratic Party. 

 

The Republican Party which officially came into existence in the Election of 1860 over the issue of slavery and has always favored business and the wealthy class.  It is an interesting commentary on the current society that they elected a group who favors the business class over the ordinary individual citizens.  They were able to do this because the form of our government is archaic, allowing a minority of the population to elect the President and allowing the states to gerrymander or shape their Election Districts in such a way that they favor the Republican Party.

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The Constitution has been amended numerous times in the past, clarifying or changing aspects of its original intent.  In fact the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights, was agreed upon even before the Constitution was ratified by the original nine states.  James Madison wrote twelve amendments, of which ten were approved by nine of the states, a 2/3 majority.  The rest of the amendments, currently making a total of 27, were added through 1992.  An equal rights amendment, making women equal legally with males was attempted but never passed by the 2/3s majority.

 

All citizens of the United States, both males and females since 1972, upon reaching the age of 18 now have the right to vote.  It took more than one Amendment to the Constitution to do that.  But the votes are not counted equally and innumerable instances of voter suppression during elections occur today in the United States.

 

By law a census of the population is taken every ten years and the fixed number of seats in the House of Representatives is reapportioned according to changes in the population.  There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives and they are reapportioned every decade.  The next census will occur in 2020. 

 

Regardless of its actual population every state must have at least one representative in the House of Representatives.  Seven states have that number beginning with Montana which has a population of 1,023,579, with the number decreasing to Wyoming which has 584,153 citizens.    Five states have two representatives, three states have three, six states have four representatives, three states have five, two states have six, three have seven representatives, and four have eight representatives.  Four states beginning with Tennessee, which has a population of 6,549,352 have nine representatives in the House of Representatives.  Then single states have ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen representatives.  Two states have fourteen representatives. One state has sixteen.  Two states have 18 and two have 27.  Texas has 36 seats in the House of Representatives and California has 53 seats. 

 

Every state regardless of population has at least three representatives in Congress: one in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, giving them at least 3 Electoral Votes.  California, according to the Census Bureau in July of 2014, had a population of 38,802,500 people and a total of 55 Votes in Congress: 53 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate.  Wyoming, with a population of 584,153, had a total of 3 Congressional votes: one in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate. 

 

There are fifty states making up the bulk of the United States.  Population-wise it takes 29 of the lowest populated states to make up the approximate population of California.  Their populations go from about 5 ½ million down to a little above ½ million.  Yet each of these states have two Senators.  This throws their representation in Congress well out of kilter with the high population states like California, Texas, Florida, and New York.  Combined their representation in Congress is totally out of proportion to the high population states, making their votes count for far more than the other states.  It’s this type of balance that got Donald Trump elected to the presidency even though Hillary Clinton had almost three million more popular votes than he got in the 2016 Presidential Election.

        

In addition within all the states there is a gradual movement from the rural areas to the urban ones where more new jobs develop.  Farming, incidentally, has become and is more and more mechanized requiring less and less people.  This means that the votes in the rural districts tend to count for more than in the cities because their number is always decreasing.  Depending upon the accuracy of the census these numbers are adjusted every decade.  A new census will occur in 2020.

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Another factor that keeps the vote uneven is that in the United States there are 50 plus elections.  Each state conducts its own separate election under its own specific laws.  This can and does lead in interesting and unfair situations.  In Texas, for example, in order to vote an individual needs a special type of official identification.  These can be easily gotten in the cities.  But a percentage of the state live and work in rural areas.  In order for these people to get the ID they have to take a day off from work and go into a nearby city, pay a fee, and get the ID.  But the facilities that issue these IDs do not keep regular hours, nor are they open every day.  The days and hours they function are not advertised.  Texas is a right to work state which limits union operations there.  A goodly percentage of the people working in the rural area cannot afford to take a day off or are they necessarily allowed to do so.  Since these laws were passed, not many years ago, the voting by minorities has dropped several hundred thousand.  When this case was first appealed the Judge declared that this law was a modern version of the poll tax and declared it unconstitutional.  It was then appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court which was completely appointed by Republican presidents.  They upheld the law, declaring it Constitutional.  It can be appealed to the Supreme Court, but they now consist of four liberal and four conservative judges.  The probability is that they will not even take the case.

 

Before this law was passed Texas was becoming a purple state with a possibility of eventually becoming a blue or Democratic state.  By restricting minority voting in the state the Republican dominated legislature was able to turn it back into a red or Republican state.  This type of activity is going on throughout all the states where the Republicans dominate the legislature. There is a constant struggle between the Democrats and Republicans to expand and to restrict the vote.  Eventually the Democrats will win because the basic makeup or demographics of the U.S. population is changing.  The Caucasians or whites are no longer the majority of the population.  They are just one of the large minorities that exist in the country now.  And that number is gradually decreasing.

 

Another device for controlling elections in some of the larger states is by the use of gerrymandering.  Keep in mind that each state controls completely the elections held within its boundaries.  There is a fixed number of voting districts for the House of Representatives, 435.  Every ten years there is a census and the voting districts are reconstituted based upon population changes.  Consequently some states will gain seats in the House of Representatives while others will lose one of more seats.  In any case the state districts are redrawn after each census.  In Republican dominated states there is imaginative gerrymandering.

 

By going over the party registrations within the state each political party can determine which regions are strongly Democratic and which are mainly Republican.  By freely drawing the lines in an erratic fashion a district can be changed from being heavily for one or the other political party.  Both parties have done this.  But the Republicans have used this device far more than the Democrats.   

 

In fact since the 1965 Presidential Election when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson the extreme right section of the Republican Party has vigilantly worked to extend their influence on a state level.  By the Census of 2010 they were able to dominate the House of Representatives.  In 2012, even though one and a quarter million more Democrats voted for members of the House of Representatives the Republicans still had the majority of members there.  In terms of today’s House of Representatives Democratic voting blocs have been broken up by suddenly having their parts connected to three or four Republic areas with the Democrats becoming a minority in each of the new Republican dominated districts.

 

This gerrymandering has also carried over to the 2016 Presidential Election in medium sized states by establishing the Electoral Voting Districts which, in point of fact, are the same as the House of Representative Districts.  Donald J. Trump won the election even though Hillary Clinton had 2.8 million more popular votes. 

 

Trump had 306 Electoral Votes.  Several of his electors refused to vote for him.  Instead they cast their votes for other Republicans.  Clinton had 232 Electoral Votes.  The popular vote for Trump was 62,979,879 votes, 46.1% of the popular vote.  The popular vote for Clinton was 65,844,954 votes, 48.2%.  Clearly Hilary Clinton won the 2016 Presidential Election but Trump won the Electoral Vote.  Who should really be President of the United States?

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What is needed to fairly have rule by the majority are four Amendments to the Constitution, all dealing with one or another aspect of elections.

 

First: the Federal Government has to assume responsibility for the elections in all the states, having them all function with one similar set of rules from the census on.  The states with more than one Election District should be all divided geographically and not based upon the political registration of its inhabitants.  Thus gerrymandering will be permanently ended.

 

Second: we need some form of common registration in all the states and territories that will encourage the adult population to vote in all the elections.  Currently shortly after birth all babies born in the United States receive their Social Security number.  Upon reaching the age of 18 they could also receive their registration forms, pre-stamped, to be filled out and mailed back.

 

Third: the Electoral College has to be done away with.  Presidential Elections should be won by the number of votes cast.  One equal vote for every person voting, having them all count the same.  The winner being the individual getting the majority of votes.

 

Fourth: The 100 Senate seats to be divided up according to population.  Each of the 50 states to have one Senator.  The remaining 50 Senate seats to be divided up by state population.  While this would still give the smaller states an advantage it would half the advantage that currently exists.

 

This can be done as either a single Amendment with four sections or as four separate Amendments.  The probability is that the fourth section, dealing with the number of Senators per state, will not come about in the near future.  The two Senator per state concept is a sacred cow.

 

Whether the Amendment(s) will be passed sometime during the next decade or during the rest of this century is a moot question.  The current system is advantageous to the Republican Party and at this point they control 29 state governments.  It is dubious that these states would vote for one or more Amendments to the Constitution that could hurt their standing as a political party. 

 

However soon to be former President Barack Obama has called for and may lead a grass root rebellion starting with school boards and moving up to state governments in order to take back the Federal Government.  Donald Trump and the Republican dominated Congress may well cooperate with Barack Obama by the legislation they put forth and President Donald Trump signs. 

 

The next census is in 2020 that is two elections from now.  Trump and the Republicans may well discredit themselves with the American people by then.  The bleak seeming future could change fairly quickly, particularly with well over 20 million people losing their medical coverage.

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

Map of number of electoral votes by state after redistricting from the 2000 census. Modified by User:Theshibboleth for the font to be consistent with electoral maps. Edited with Inkscape. Reuploaded by User:King of Hearts to correct spelling (vs. Image:Electorial map.svg). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component Vol 2 #1 Part 2 The Introduction

Deviations from the long term growth trend US ...

Deviations from the long term growth trend US 1954–2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business Cycle

Business Cycle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To avoid the vicissitudes of the business cycle and the inequality of the distribution of the National Income, the Gross Domestic Product, we need a new economic model or we have to make intensive changes in our present system.  If we stay essentially with our present model then the government has through a tax and redistribution system to balance incomes. A realistic minimum standard of living has to be set.  Those earning more than this level will have to be taxed on a realistic graduated level.  Those earning less would receive transfer payments from the government to bring their standard of living up to the minimum level which has to allow for a decent standard of living.  With this system, which more or less exists today in many European nations, we can keep the profit system and have all its so-called advantages.  But would this end the vicissitudes of the Business Cycle?

 

The amount of productivity today per working unit/person is constantly increasing.  One individual working continually provides for more and more people.  In order to keep constantly producing goods and services this productivity must be continually used up so more is always needed.  Consumption now becomes as important as production if the economy is to continually grow.  Therefore the consumer whether or not he/she is employed is needed as much as the producer.  This system can only flourish through government taxes and a redistribution of the National Income.  The producers can earn assorted amounts of surplus income which they can spend, save or invest while the unemployed or underemployed population can receive government transfer payments which will allow them to properly consume the necessary goods and services to both keep production going and have a decent standard of living.

 

Of course if we can create a new economic model which would allow for a fair distribution of goods and services without using the profit system then we would be far better off.  But this would probably require a complete change in our overall thinking and value systems.  We would also have to deal with the issues of what to produce and how to produce it without the motivating force of the profit system. 

   

Is it possible?  We would have to separate production of goods and services from money and find another reason to labor other than individual profit.

 

There is a disparity between the use of money as income, a means of exchange, and storage for labor and profits.  The distribution and expenditure of money determines where we are on the Business Cycle.  This, in turn, can throw the economy into recession or depression and cause a breakdown in the production of goods and services and partial or massive unemployment.  The extent of the distribution of money can cause a partial or full cessation in the distribution of goods and services.  They are two separate entities that are tied together in an unwholesome relationship.  If they were separated the economy would be far better off.  The problem, of course, is how to separate them.

 

Generally speaking, the overall public reaction to all of this is to return to the thinking of the late Nineteenth Century: the “safety” of the profit system. This, I believe, President Donald J. Trump will attempt to do; and this, seems to be today, the basic Republican value for economic growth.

 

     MONEY: ITS HISTORY AND USE:  The two entities which keep any economy functioning are self-interest and money.  Self-interest would affect every working individual from owner, entrepreneur, to physical laborer who wants the greatest return he/she can get from their endeavors.  Money is the grease that operates the economy: it is wages, salaries, profits, rents, interest, and dividends.  The spending of money determines demand, production, and also the phases of the Business Cycle.

 

The entrepreneur, factory or store owner will charge the greatest amount they can legitimately and pay his employees the least amount they can get away with.  Thus prices will be as high as possible while money paid to worker will be as low as it can be.  The producer will maximize production to increase profits; the workers will not be able to purchase all the goods and services produced because of low wages and over-production will eventually result.  This will lead to recession, unemployment, business failures, and depression.  Self-interest, which is the major motivating force of the economy, also tends to eventually cause the economy to malfunction into depression.

 

What is the problem?  It is the process of the distribution of money throughout the economy.  Whenever the distribution breaks down the economy goes into recession and depression.  It ceases to operate for the benefit of its members.

 

The use and distribution of money becomes the problem.  What then is money?

 

To understand what it is and its use(s) we need to have knowledge of how money was used both historically and at present.  Presumably, at first, man begins with barter: goods and services were directly exchanged for goods and services.  At some later point in time these were exchanged for their exact value, generally, in precious metals.  Rather than continue using scales to weigh the metal one group of traders, probably the Phoenicians, began stamping the weight on the metal piece.  This became the initial use of money.  The idea was then picked up by other groups or nations and coins came into being: an exact weight of a precious metal with the country or ruler or some symbol stamped on the metal to guarantee its value.  What happens here is that a good is exchanged for its exact value in the metal: equal value for equal value.  This allowed for free trade throughout the Mediterranean several thousand years ago.

 

Money, as it existed at this time, was labor or a good whose value was exchanged for its equivalent in gold, silver, or cooper coins.  Similar worth was exchanged for similar worth.

 

As time proceeded the coins became more ornate.  Rulers images were stamped on the coins, various designs were used.  Different denominations appeared, allowing coins to be minted in different sizes and weights; and also in different metals.  And thus was value exchanged for value, money for goods and services.

 

Of course, into this economic system occasionally various enterprising individuals and/or governments began a process of “watering” some of the coins minted; that is, mixing base metal with the gold or silver, thereby hoping to get more goods and services for less gold or silver.  This process would be done on a large scale by such individuals as the Roman Emperor, Nero; who tended to need more money than he could collect in taxes.  The result was to cheapen the value of the specie bringing about inflation which also resulted in a lowering of overall wages and other disruptive problems to the economy.

 

However, this economic system worked and continued to work successfully as long as conditions in the society(ies) were stable; that is, there is no rapid infusion of massive amounts of gold or if large amounts of money don’t have to be transferred over distant areas.

 

The discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus brought into Europe, in the Sixteenth Century, massive amounts of gold over a fairly short period of time.  The Americas were systematically looted.  The gold passing through Spain and went on to the Netherlands, which was ruled by the same person as Spain, and then into rapid circulation throughout Europe.  This caused, what has been referred to as, “The Gold Revolution” which decreased significantly and continually the value of gold in its relationship to goods and services, and brought about unbelievable economic hardships to the wage earning working classes of Europe.  Wages remained essentially fixed while the value of the money dropped continually in a never ending cycle of inflation; thus bringing about a tremendous drop in standards of living.  It took about a century for a new reasonable balance between the value of gold in relation to the cost of goods and services to come about.   

 

Another problem which could upset the economies was large scale trade over great distances and/or between different nations. There was great danger from bands of thieves on land or pirates when shipping gold over bodies of water.  A safe way had to be found to ship gold. 

 

During the late Middle Ages different cities, city-states, provinces, and countries became known for producing certain products.  These were desired throughout Europe.  Also some of the Italian city-states, after gaining control of the Mediterranean Sea, gained a monopoly of trade with the East for spices and other products.  (It was the search for a new route to the East that brought about Columbus’ expedition.)  This and other factors brought about a need for the safe transfer of specie over long distances.  In addition the breakdown of Feudalism and the rise of Kings brought about a necessity for the availability of large amounts of money for the payment of armies and other large scale projects.

 

To offset these economic needs there arose in various cities: first in the Germanies and then in the Italian city-states merchant families who eventually traded in money as a commodity.  These became the merchant bankers of the Hanseatic League and the Italian city-states.  They set up branches of their banks in different countries which allowed for immediate transfers of gold; and they became in many cases the new nobility: the merchant princes.  Of the Medici family of Italy two of the women became queens in France and one of the Medici became a pope.  Cosimo, the founder of the family had been a money lender whose symbol of trade was three brass balls.

 

From the Italian Renaissance on (Fourteenth Century) banking was fully developed with the banking families, in many instances, ruling the Italian city-states.  The goods of the East came to Europe by way of the eastern Mediterranean, through the Italian city-states, and on to the general population of the continent.  The fleets of ships plying that sea were controlled by the merchants of the city-states; who also controlled banking and, among other enterprises, made high interest loans to the emerging kings.

 

It was the potential profits from the trade that caused the new nations like Spain, Portugal, England, and France to explore, searching for a new route to the East.  This was the justification for sailing west to get to Asia and thus discovering the Americas.  Prince Henry of Portugal began sending expeditions south, exploring Africa trying to find a river crossing Africa west to east.  Eventually one of the expeditions rounded that continent and was able to bring back to Europe a cargo of spices worth many times the value of the ship and cost of the expedition.  Portugal controlled that trade for about fifty years. 

 

With the new routes and the emergence of pirates in the eastern Mediterranean, Italy lost control of that body of water and the trade and profits moved to the new emerging nations.  Incidentally the Renaissance now became the Northern Renaissance and banking and trade moved to these countries.

 

Money, during this period, remained as it had always been: equal in value to the goods and services for which it was exchanged.  Spain’s looting of the gold from the New World and having it pass directly into the European economy brought about a 90 year period of inflation in the Sixteenth Century but did not change the concept of value for value.  Actually by making gold more plentiful and less expensive it allowed for a more rapid economic growth.

 

With the coming of the wonders of the Industrial Revolution (the development of machines going from wood to metal, transportation: put a steam engine on wheels and you have a train, advances in medicine: ever increasing abilities to fight the assorted diseases, phenomenal population growth, advances in metallurgy, gas and electric engines, etc., etc.) the nations of the planet underwent massive changes: national populations went from the low millions to the high millions approaching and exceeding in one or two cases a billion people.

 

As we moved into the Twentieth Century (in addition to the major wars which wiped out millions) with the tremendous growth of business, of  the needs for ever increasing goods and services there were not enough precious metals to allow for an exchange of goods and services based upon value for value.  For this and other reasons in 1929 we have the Great Depression.

 

Paper money when it was first used consisted of silver and gold certificates which supposedly could be exchanged for actual specie at any time at one’s bank.  (However, if everyone were to do it at the same time there would be a run on the banks and they might well become bankrupt because there was never enough metal to satisfy everyone’s needs.)  In point of fact the Industrial nations eventually got off the direct gold standard by collecting and storing the gold bullion and printing paper money supposedly based upon the value of this stored bullion.  Silver coins would maintain a certain amount of precious metal for a while.  Later in the Twentieth Century virtually all nations will go off the gold standard basing the value of the money on the prestige of the particular country. The remaining silver coins became copper sandwiches.  By the beginning of the Twenty-first Century money is, in all cases, devoid of any precious metal or anything else of real value except the credit of the nation issuing it.

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Since 2008, when the United States went through what is generally called today The Great Recession the country has been recovering from what could have easily been The Greatest Depression in its history.  This economic condition had been building rapidly since the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, when all government restrictions on trade, many of which were developed by the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression, had been done away with by the Reagan administration.  The banking industry in the country had a free hand to do whatever they wanted.  And what they wanted was to increase their profits astronomically.

 

The banking industry convinced a large percentage of homeowners to turn their homes into bank accounts by a process of continually taking equity funds out of their homes.  They did this by constantly refinancing their properties.  In the process of doing this the paper value of the homes continually increased.  Presumably people were spending what they believed was their never ending increases.

 

This became rampart from the Reagan administration on.  By 2007 the oncoming crash was apparent but the banking industry was in denial.  At that point mortgage refinancing was raised to 125% of the appraised value of the home.  In 2008 the crash came and the Housing Industry collapsed.  Many of the banking houses were overextended and also at the point of collapse or bankruptcy. 

 

Since the basic financial structure of the entire economy or nation is based upon the banking structure and their functioning the Bush administration in 2008 lent large amounts to the banks.  This, however, was not enough money and the incoming Obama administration had to make more massive loans to the banking houses in order to save them.  The Obama administration also set conditions about massive remunerations to executives which the Bush people had not done.

All of this was in 2008 and 2009.  The trillions of dollars the Federal Government spent at this time saved the country from going into a more massive depression than that of 1929.  In fact we would still be coming out of it if the government had not jumped in. 

 

What emerged instead has been called The Great Recession.  In 2009 the unemployment rate had risen to 7.6%.  By 2010 it had reached 9.8%.  Thereafter it began to fall, reaching 4.6% by November of 2016.

 

In this process millions of people were underwater in their homes, suddenly owing more on the house than it was worth.  The banks, with aid from the government, largely recovered, with some being taken over by other banking houses.  Even with virtually no regulation some of the banking actions were illegal.  No one went to jail.  Instead the banks paid fines, which taken together were in the billions of dollars. The banks eventually repaid their government loans and executive pay rose to new heights.

 

We are still in a recession, with unemployment at the tail end of December 2016 at 4.5%.  For recovery, on the business model to occur, the range of people not working would have to reach 2.5%.  Is that a future possibility with President Donald Trump?  Probably not.  Since the Republican image of creating jobs has nothing to do with current levels of economic understanding.  They believe that jobs are created by doing away with government regulation.  It would seem that by their way of thinking as pollution increases and so do jobs.

The Weiner Component #173 – A Short History of Political Parties

The Republican Party came into existence with the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860.  It was a combination of different political groups that didn’t agree with the Democratic Party, which was the major political party that existed throughout the entire United States. The other political parties were all reginal.  It should be noted that in this election the Republicans were not on the ballet of any one Southern state.  The election in the Southern States dealt only with the Northern and Southern Democratic Parties.

 

With the exception of the issue of slavery the Republican Party supported business and its growth.  In fact largely so did that of the Democrats with a slight emphasis on agriculture.  This period was the era of business growth in the country.  The Industrial Revolution had begun in Great Britain at the turn of the 19th Century; it spread to Europe by the 1830s; and thereafter moved to the United States where it began slowly speeding-up during the Civil War and then growing even more rapidly in the post war period.

 

Politically the Republicans would stay in power for most of the balance of the 19th Century.  With the death of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, the Vice-President, would become President.  He was a former Southerner and Democrat who had been elected during Lincoln’s second term when the Republicans had run under the National Union Ticket.  During his presidency the Congress was almost totally Radical Republican and did what they wanted even to the point of unsuccessfully impeaching Johnson.

 

Johnson served out his term, 1865-1869, and was followed by the Republican Union General, Ulysses S. Grant who served two terms, from March 4, 1869 – March 4 1877.  In 1876 the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes stole the Presidential Election from the Democrat Samuel J. Tilden.  Tilden won the popular vote but there were two sets of electoral votes from several states and the Republicans were the ones who prevailed.

 

In 1880 the Republican James A. Garfield was elected President.  He served 200 days in that office and was shot by a dissatisfied office seeker.  His Vice- President, Chester A. Arthur, then became President.  In 1884 the Democrat Grover Cleveland won and four years later in 1888 he lost to the Republican, Benjamin Harrison.  In that election Cleveland won the popular vote but Harrison won the Electoral College vote.  But in 1892 the Democrat Grover Cleveland won his second term.  In 1896 the Republican William McKinley was elected to the presidency. 

 

It was during this post-Civil-War period that the United States began turning into an industrial giant.  And it was during this time that the country underwent the rise of a new class, the plutocrats.  These were essentially the “robber barons” who owned most of the new industries that arose.  They had largely bribed their way through the State and Federal legislatures.  It was a time of intense corruption in all levels of government.  Shortly after this period that the people would get the right to directly elect senators through their votes and the Progressive Movement would take off in an attempt to return the country to its people.

 

As we’ve seen the Republicans, more or less, stayed in power during this time.  But the nation was going through intense growing pains.  It didn’t matter which political party was in charge the country was changing on almost a daily basis and it was impossible to keep up with everything that was going on.  These Presidents did their best; but, I suspect, no one totally understood or could have done what was really necessary with the speed of change.  In many respects the corrupt political machines, both Democratic and Republican, that existed then in the cities served the poor in return for their votes.  There were no government or other services.

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In 1900 the Republican William McKinley was elected to a second term.  His new Vice-President, Theodore Roosevelt, was put into that position to get him out of New York.  Jokingly it was stated that “Teddy,” the former governor of New York, “had taken the veil;” he could no longer bother anyone in government.  At that time the most nonfunctional job in Washington was that of Vice-President.  In the musical satire “Of Thee I Sing,” there is a scene with the Vice-President taking a tour of the White House so he could see what it looked like since he’d never been their otherwise.

 

On September 6, 1901, less than a year after he had begun his second term, William McKinley was shot by an anarchist.  Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States.  To the Republican leadership it was “that damn cowboy in the White House.”

 

From the 1890s on until shortly after America’s entrance into World War I the United States went through the Progressive Movement.  It was a time of reform on all levels of society.  Its goals were to eliminate city political machines and their bosses, to bring direct democracy to the people, and to regulate monopolies and corporations through anti-trust laws.  Theodore Roosevelt became known to his admiring public as the Trust-Busting President.

 

The Progressive Movement brought about prohibition, women suffrage, the direct election of senators, and the Federal Reserve Act.  The three presidents who were directly involved with this movement were the Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft and the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. 

 

Roosevelt was President from 1901 to 1908; then he choose Taft to replace him from 1909 to 1912.  In 1912 Roosevelt dissatisfied with Taft decided to run again for the office.  The Republican Party supported Taft.  Roosevelt ran as a third party candidate in the Bull Moose Party.  In this Presidential Contest Roosevelt came in second, Taft was third, and the winner with a little over 40% of the vote was the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson.

 

The Progressive Movement, with these three presidents, ended shortly after the Great War (World War I), with woman suffrage and prohibition, the 18th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution in 1919.

 

At the end of the war the Senate had a Republican majority which refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I.  The Republican, Warren Harding, was elected President in 1920.  He signed a separate peace treaty with Germany.  The following two administrations that of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were also Republican.  The Secretary of the Treasury for all three administrations was Andrew Mellon, the millionaire industrialist and banker.

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In 1776, Adam Smith, a professor at the University of Edinburgh published a book based upon his lectures entitled, “An Enquiry of the Wealth of nations,” that defined the functions of capitalism.  The work and its theories are still the basis of modern capitalism.  The study was a vigorous attack upon an earlier economic system called mercantilism which defines national wealth as gold and the amount of gold a nation possessed as its wealth.  Smith defined national wealth as the amount of goods and services a nation produced in a set amount of time, a fiscal year.  The motivating force that caused the economy to work was, according to Smith, the invisible hand, the profit motive.

 

The Republicans not only accepted this idea they have been utilizing it ever since.  The only problem is that the unregulated profit motive has continually led to economic disaster.

 

From 1920 to 1929, under three Republican presidents, allowing the market system, the profit motive, to freely function, brought about the country’s collapse into the Great Depression.  Hoover and his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, the multi-millionaire industrialist and banker, didn’t know what to do.  For over three years of economic decline they kept talking about “prosperity being around the corner.”  They expected the Market to balance itself and prosperity to return.  It didn’t happen.  Conditions went from bad to worse and continued to stay there.  The industrial world foundered in misery.  Some countries like Italy, Germany, and Japan ended up in dictatorships.

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As in had happened in the 1920s, under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, the Federal Government did away with all banking regulations.  The Free Market would determine which way the economy would go.  The motivating force for the Free Market was Adam Smith’s “invisible hand;” this was the profit motive.  In 2008 the Housing Market crashed and the major banking houses were on the point of bankruptcy after about 30 years of constant growth.

 

In the 1920s the Stock Market became crazier and crazier.  On Black Tuesday, October 23, 1929 the Stock Market, after a decade of intense growth, collapsed. 

 

The collapse continued.  By 1932 the Gross National Product had dropped 15%, unemployment was down 25%, and farm prices were down 80%.  In many cases it cost the farmer more to raise the crop than the amount for which it could be sold.  The Hoover administration and the Secretary of the Treasury’s constant response was that prosperity was just around the corner.  Hoover did make some attempts to deal with the situation but they were totally inadequate.  Neither he nor Andrew Mellon, the Secretary of the Treasury, were capable of dealing with this situation, the country and its people floundered.

 

What happened, happened on a world basis.  All the industrial nations were affected by the Great Depression.  It was far worse outside of the United States.  In some countries unemployment was far lower than 25% and the level of misery was far greater than in the United States.

 

The various governments, including that of the United States, put high tariff walls around themselves in order to protect what jobs still existed.  This, in turn, made many prices far higher than they should have been.  Living standards hit an all-time low, with many people dying of malnutrition.  People wandered over the country looking for work.  We had the age of the hobo.  Many, and that included those in the government, did not understand what was happening.

 

In 1932, four years after the Great Depression began, the former Democratic governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), ran for the Presidency of the United States.  The Republicans ran Hoover for a second term.

 

 During this period many of the veterans of the First World War descended upon Washington, D.C.  They had been promised a bonus in the future for serving in the war.  This was the Bonus March.  They demanded it at that time.  The veterans set up a massive camp at the outskirts of the city.  The Federal Government felt it was in no position to pay the bonus early.  President Hoover ordered the commanding general, Douglas MacArthur, to break up the camp but to not harm any of the veterans.  Two men were killed.  This move absolutely destroyed most Republican support that may have still existed in the country.  Roosevelt was overwhelmingly elected President of the United States. He received 57% of the popular vote and carried all but six of the forty-eight states.

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As President Roosevelt offered the country a New Deal.  The term came from poker.  His program consisted of the 3Rs: Relief, Recovery, & Reform.  Relief for the unemployed and the poor, Recovery of the economy to normal levels, and Reform of the financial system to prevent future depressions. 

 

Money at that time was gold and silver.  The Federal Government would pay for this by collecting all the gold coins in circulation, melting them down into bricks of golds, storing the gold in depositories like Fort Knox, and then issuing paper money.  In 1932 a gold coin that weighed an ounce was a twenty dollar gold piece.  The Federal Government bought all the gold mined in the United States at $16 an ounce.  In 1933, after the gold was collected and replaced with paper money its value was legally increased to $32 an ounce.  The Roosevelt administration doubled the money supply.  This would pay for the New Deal.

 

They issued paper money, called Federal Reserve Notes which were then theoretically backed by the gold bricks stored in the government depositories.  No one ever checked to see that the amount of Federal Reserve Notes (paper money) matched the amount of gold in the underground depositories.  The Federal Government could print and issue money as needed, which it did during the New Deal and later during World War II.  In essence the country went off the gold standard in 1933.

 

FDR changed the function of government.  Up to that point, historically, it had run the nation and the people were responsible for themselves.  From 1933 on the Federal Government officially assumed responsibility for the people where they could no longer care for themselves.  Actually the change had been begun during the Progressive Movement, but it was under FDR made into official government policy. 

 

In addition the Federal Government passed laws to regulate industry.  The basic concept was to have a level paying-field for all participants.  It also encouraged unionization of labor.

 

These, in essence, became the major issues between the Democratic and Republican Parties with the Republicans slowly giving in to the Democrats.  After the death of Roosevelt President Harry S. Truman would continue this policy with his Fair Deal.  The next President Dwight David Eisenhower would be a middle-of-the-road Republican building, among other things, a national highway system.

 

Eisenhower was followed by the Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who would serve as President from January 1961 to November 22, 1963 when he was assassinated.  Kennedy was succeeded by his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson who was elected in his own right in 1964.  These two presidents were responsible for bringing the Federal Government into the Civil Rights Movement, which, in turn, legally enabled Blacks to vote throughout the South and integrated society making all the nation’s citizens equal.  It also turned the South into Republican voting states.

 

Johnson was followed by, Richard M. Nixon, who was also a moderate Republican.  During the middle of his second term he was forced to resign over the Watergate Scandal and was replaced by his Vice-President Gerald Ford.  Ford officially ended the Viet Nam War.  He was replaced by the Democrat, Jimmy Carter.

 

After one term Carter was succeeded in 1981 by the Republican, Ronald Reagan, who would serve for two terms and leave a definite imprint on American politics.  President Reagan implemented sweeping political and economic changes, bringing supply side economics (Reagonomics), lowering taxes in order to spur growth while actually increasing government spending.  He brought about government deregulation of industry and banking and reduced government spending in social programs for the poor and needy.  He massively increased military spending, starting an arms race with the Soviet Union and raised the deficit to over one trillion dollars for the first time.

 

Reagan brought into government the conservative Republican prospective that had first been demonstrated when ultra-conservative Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.  Reagan’s supply side economics was a large tax cut for the wealthy and small tax cuts for everyone else.  The theory being that the rich would invest the new monies into new economic expansion and all sorts of new jobs would be created.  Thus the monies would trickle down to all parts of society.  It never happened. The money was actually invested in old productivity, like the stock market, and produced no new employment.  However to Republicans this was the Conservative Revolution. 

 

Reagan’s military spending brought the National deficit up to over a trillion dollars for the first time.  It also began an arms race with the Soviet Union that would bankrupt them.

 

Reagan was followed by his Vice-President, George H. W. Bush, who had to deal with a Democratic Congress, and ended fighting an unnecessary war against Iraq, Operation Desert Storm, which more than doubled the national deficit.

 

Bush, after one term, was followed by the Democratic President Bill Clinton, who served two terms, from 1993-2001.  Clinton as President reversed or ignored the Reagan economic changes.  During his third year in office, 1994, the House of Representatives acquired for the first time in 40 years a Republican majority.  From 1998 to 2000, the last three years of the Clinton presidency the United States government had a budget surplus and was able to reduce the deficit.

 

Clinton was followed into office by the Republican George W. Bush, who won the electoral vote but not the popular vote.  Like Clinton he served two terms.  He was initially elected in a controversial election, receiving less votes than the Democratic candidate, Al Gore.

 

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City occurred eight months in his first term as President.  George W. Bush’s response to this was to declare War on Terror and send a military force to Afghanistan in 2001 to take control away from the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda.  He was successful in doing this but he was not successful in setting up a Democratic government that could maintain control of the country.  After 15 years in Afghanistan we are still there.  Bush also later decided, for personal reasons, to set up a Democracy in Iraq.  Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, had tried to have his father assassinated.  We are also still in Iraq.  

 

Following Republican policy Bush lowered taxes for the well-to-do and somewhat for the middle class while he massively fought two wars and destabilized the Middle East.  Under Bush the National Debt rose from six trillion dollars to ten trillion dollars.

 

During his presidency he signed into law the Patriot Act, a Partial Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefits for seniors.  In 2008, his last year as President, the Housing Market crashed and Bush and his Treasury Secretary loaned billions to some banking houses to keep them from going bankrupt. 

 

His presidency has been ranked among the worst by historians in the entire history of the United States.

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In the Election of 2008 the Democrats took both the presidency and both Houses of Congress.  In 2008 the country was on the brink of a Depression that would have made the Great Depression of 1929, which lasted for a little over a decade, look like a weekend affair in comparison.  The new President, Barack Obama, through massive government spending was able to turn it into what has been called The Great Recession.  And, as of early December 2016, unemployment fell to the level it had been at prior to 2007, 4 ½%.

 

During his first two years in office President Obama with the cooperation of a Democratic controlled Congress was able to avoid a massive depression.  He also passed the Affordable Health Care Bill.  From 2011 on he had to deal with a Republican dominated House of Representatives and thereafter was able to gradually continue his economic reform through the use of creative Monetary Policy with the Federal Reserve.  The House forced through some legislation which actually exacerbated what then became called The Great Recession.

 

Barack Obama has been President for two terms.  He will end his tenure on January 20, 2017, when Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States.  What the new President-Elect will or will not do is unknown, outside of the fact that he is erratic in his behavior.  His current appointments to his staff and cabinet would indicate that he is moving far to the right.  The appointments indicate also that he is doing the opposite of what he initially proposed, bringing Wall Street and the military into his Cabinet. 

 

As of January 20th the three main parts of the Federal Government will all be Republican dominated, the Presidency and both Houses of Congress.  The Republicans in Congress have been talking about doing away with Obamacare (Affordable Health Care) but if they do that 20 million people would lose their health coverage and numerous millions more would have their young adult children removed from their policies.  In addition those individuals with a prior condition, who the insurance companies were forced to accept, would be dropped from their insurance policies.  The effect of these changes would no doubt cause the Republicans to lose control of both Houses of Congress in 2018. 

 

As I understand the current issue the Republican dominated Congress will do away with Obamacare immediately but the plan will not go into action for three years, not until after the next Congressional Election in 2018.  The Republicans in Congress feel that they can come up with a better replacement over that period of time.

 

Unfortunately the current universal medical plan is an expanded Republican Plan that was developed by a Republican Think-Tank and was first successfully used in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was governor.  The only alternate plan, which would successfully lower costs, would be a single payer plan run by the government covering everybody in the United States.  In fact it could be successfully financed by an increase in income taxes and no premiums being paid by anyone.    This plan would be unacceptable to the Republicans.  The only basic one that they could in principle support would be Affordable Health Care, which was the Republican plan.  They have opposed it for the last seven years.  2019 should be an interesting year. 

 

And also there is what Donald Trump has promised and will do or try to do.  It is interesting to note that the current Republican dominated Congress does not really trust Donald Trump.  They have only partially funded the Federal Government for a second time this year.  It will have to be funded again in four months during Trump’s presidency.  This action can be used to force him to cooperate with them.

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What should emerge from this article is that the political parties were close together around the 19th Century.  The Democrats emphasized the rural or agricultural areas and the Republicans the urban or business cities.  Other than that the two parties tended to, more or less, cooperate.  The Progressive or Reform Movements that came about from the 1880s to 1920 was a function of men from both political parties.

 

From 1921 on, with the assentation of President Warren Harding we have the modern Republican Party.  Presumably because of scandal Harding died in office and was replaced by his Vice-President, Calvin Coolidge, who was then reelected to serve another term.  It was under these two men that modern Republican principles were developed and continued under the next President, Herbert Hoover.  The forms of government regulation that had been brought about by the Progressive Movement were done away with.  The Free Market was allowed to function unhindered.  This brought about the Great Depression of 1929.

 

Four years later, in 1933, the Democrat FDR became President.  He brought about the New Deal, experimenting with all forms of socialism to put the country back on its feet.  He kept was worked and discarded what didn’t.

 

FDR changed the function of government, making it responsible for the welfare of its people.  This was a new concept excepted in the 20th Century by virtually all the industrial nations.  This concept was actually carried on by both political parties in the United States until the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  Will it continue?  There are many who feel strong doubts.  We are at an interesting or frightening point in our history.

 

Trump’s election seems to indicate a return to the policies of the 1920s.  Could we be facing the possibility of a return to the Depression of 1929 or to the Housing Debacle of 2008, to the potential of a far greater depression than that of 1929?  It is a distinct possibility considering Republican control of the Presidency and the Congress.  And, of course, there are Trump’s attitudes and his appointment to important government jobs.  Republicans seem to have a short historic memory!

The Weiner Component #149 – The 2016 Presidential Election: The Democrats & the Election

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are the Democratic candidates for the presidency in 2016.  He is now a Democratic Socialist who has always caucused with the Democratic Party.  Hillary Clinton has always been a liberal Democrat.  Both would like to be President of the United States.

 

Bernie was born on September 8, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York.  He is 71 years old and the junior Senator from Vermont.  Bernie is also the longest serving independent member of Congress in the history of the Institution.  As of 2015 he officially became a member of the Democratic Party and now calls himself a Democratic Socialist. 

 

In 1964, as a student at the University of Chicago, he was a civil rights protestor.  After settling in Vermont he ran as an unsuccessful socialist candidate for governor and U.S. Senator in the 1970s.  He was elected as mayor of Burlington as an independent in 1981 and reelected three times.  He was then elected to the House of Representatives from Vermont’s at large congressional district where he served through 2007 when he was elected to the Senate.  He is still serving in the U.S. Senate.

 

Bernie Sanders rose to prominence in 2010 with his filibuster against Bush’s extension of his tax cuts.  He favors policies similar to those in the Social Democratic parties of Europe, particularly of the Nordic countries.  He is a leading progressive voice on issues such as campaign financial reform, corporate welfare, global warming, income inequality, parental rights, and free universal healthcare.  He has been critical of U.S. foreign policy and was an early and outspoken critic of the Iraqi War.  In addition he is outspoken on civil liberties and civil rights.  He has criticized the racial discrimination of the criminal justice system and advocated for privacy rights against mass surveillance policies as the patriot act.

 

I suspect that Bernie Sanders chose to run for the presidency of the United States in 2016 as an act of protest against the traditional political structure of the U.S.  As a long-time member of Congress he knows that there is little he could do with the current Republican dominated Congress.  After all, they make the laws and the President just carries them out. 

 

Inadvertently Sanders picked a time when a goodly percentage of the population was disgusted with the inaction of Congress over the last five years, since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and later in 2014 when they also gained dominance in the Senate.  The Republican majorities in Congress have either not cared to or not been able to pass any laws needed by the nation.

 

In addition the overall population that was either fourteen years of age to just below eighteen years old in November of 2012 has now come of voting age and they want a candidate to represent them; most of these people believe that Bernie Sanders is that person.  They represent a goodly percentage of the over 350 million people who make up the population of the United States.

 

To Bernie the extent of his success has been euphoric; he apparently believes that a Giant Revolution is in the process of occurring and that he will not only be elected President of the United States but that the Democrats will sweep into Congress with giant majorities in both Houses of Congress.

 

Is this true?  That’s an interesting question.  It could happen in the Senate where 24 Republicans will be running to get reelected, some in swing states.  We could get a lot of politically disgusted people in those states voting for Democrats.  In the House of Representatives through gerrymandering in 2010 the Republicans were able to assign Districts along the line of the voters.  This will not change until 2020 when the next census occurs.  In 2012 over a million and a quarter more votes were cast for Democrats running in the House of Representatives but the Republicans still maintained the majority.  It will probably take at least two million addition Democratic votes for the Democrats to win control of the House of Representatives.

 

Donald Trump has attracted those disgusted with the government who, for whatever reason, could never get themselves to vote for Democratic candidates.  It would seem that most of Trump’s followers are not overly educated.  Many of them like his simplistic view of the world.

 

The election has its own special energy and no one can truly predict where it is going.

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The other major Democratic candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was born in 1947, which makes her currently 71.  She is the wife of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, has served in the Senate from 2,000 to 2007, then unsuccessfully ran for the presidency against Barack Obama in 2008, was his Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, and is at present the leading Democratic Candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election. 

 

She came originally from the Chicago area and graduated from Wellesley College in 1969.  She achieved a doctorate from Yale Law School in 1973, married Bill Clinton in 1975 and moved to Arkansas, where her husband became governor.  While first lady of Arkansas she led a task force that reformed the state’s public school system. 

 

Her husband, President Bill Clinton appointed her to lead the Clinton health plan of 1993 which failed to reach a vote in Congress.  The Republican protagonists came out with a catchy slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no health care bill.

 

She played a major role in advocating the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act.  During most of her adult life Hillary Clinton has been involved in causes for the needy.

 

In 2,000 after the end of her husband’s term as President of the United States, she moving to New York and was elected as the first woman Senator from that state.  Clinton was reelected to the Senate in 2006.  She ran against Barack Obama in 2008 for the presidency.  Instead she became Obama’s Secretary of State for the first four years of his term.  Probably no other candidate in the history of the United States for the presidency has had as much experience as Hillary Clinton.  She has been involved in public service most of her adult life.

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If an individual has watched the debates in this 2016 Presidential Election year that person gets the impression that two separate and distinct elections are going on.  The magnitude of the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats tends to give the impression that we are dealing with two entirely different countries.

 

For the Republicans this country has been abused and taken advantage of by all the other nations on the planet.  We have been militarily inept, not capable of carrying out any military operation.  We have signed unfair treaties with countries like Iran.  Our trade agreements always favor the other nation or nations, taking needed jobs out of the United States.  The U.S. under its current leadership, as a nation, is totally inept.  Only by electing Republican leadership can the country properly function again.

 

Listening to them one get the impression that treaties need to be renegotiated and other countries need to be straightened out in their relations with the United States.  If the United States reneges on past agreements with other nations this could be a direct path to war.  Iran spent two years negotiating a compact with 5 Security Council nations plus Germany.  I can’t see the Republican U.S. President telling them that the terms are now unacceptable and that the treaty now has to be redone on a much harsher basis with the U.S.  To me that’s a recipe for war with Iran.

 

If Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) were to be suddenly cancelled, then no matter what is said a large number of people will suddenly lose their current health coverage.  They and others adversely affected will be extremely unhappy.   The Republicans have continually denounced this program since it came into existence in 2010.  It was initially a Republican plan put into existence by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts.  It was voted into existence by the Democratic majority.  The Republicans have denounced it since its inception, calling it a job-killing bill.  They have never offered any real proof of its so-called negative aspects.  Mainly they seem to object to it because it came into existence under a Black President, Barack Obama. 

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Somehow it seems that the Republicans have forgotten that the prior President was George W. Bush and that he got the country involved in a needless war in Iraq, wastefully spending trillions of dollars while reducing taxes mostly for the wealthy, and massively increasing the National Debt while making the U.S. a laughing stock to other industrial nations.   It was also toward the end of his administration that the economic Real Estate Bubble burst almost bringing about the greatest economic decline in the history of the nation.  It appears, to many Republicans that these events never did really happened.  It was also Bush’s actions that destabilized the Middle East and brought about the current situation there.  Basically a study of our current economic and military problems can be traced back to Republican Administrations which were then left for Democratic Administrations to deal with and, of course, were blamed on the Democrats by their Republican colleagues.

 

On the Democratic side we have a country with a broken or outdated infrastructure where state governors like Rick Snyder of Michigan can appoint inept city managers who then can arbitrarily switch a healthy water supply to a toxic one, poisoning a whole generation of children with lead infested water arbitrarily and even after that fact comes out, continue charging the residents of Flint for using the poisoned water and then when questioned about it by a Congressional committee blame the inexcusable problem upon the EPA.    

 

We have a country where roads are filled with pot holes, bridges, in many instances, were built 100 years ago; where ports cannot handle modern shipping, railroads are today inadequate for properly transporting goods, many airfields are out of date, many school buildings are so old they are unsafe.  Flint’s problem of unsafe water exists in many cities and buildings.  The list goes on and on.  In essence we are living in the 21st Century with an early 20th Century infrastructure.

 

According to Bernie Sanders we have, among many other problems, a broken legal system that incarcerates more people than a dictatorship like Communist China or Russia.  And the bulk of those jailed tend to be Hispanic or Black.  We have serious racial problems which are not really being dealt with.

 

As far as both Democratic candidates are concerned, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander, this country needs a lot of internal repair and the major factor that has kept any of it from happening has been the Republicans in Congress and the state governments who apparently believe that this country can go on forever with little or no  maintenance.  Upgrading the infrastructure will probably take a decade or more and will cost trillions of dollars.   Both feel it’s time we got started, particularly since the country still has an unemployment problems left over from the Great Recession of 2008.

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It would seem that the Republicans have no understanding of the principles of economics.  Most, if not all, Republican members of the House of Representatives believe that all economics is Microeconomics.  That is, if one has raised a family and provided an adequate income then that person has a proper understanding of the discipline.  They have a total knowledge of all they need to know about financing the United States.  The nation takes in so much in taxes and that is its income.  If it spends more than that it has to borrow the money and pay it back at some time in the future.  That is all a person needs to know about finance it order to run the country.  It’s a rather naïve and limited view of National financing.

 

To them money is like gold, it has an intrinsic value.  Actually money today is just paper that is treated by most people as something of great value.  It has not been gold since 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal collected all the gold coins, melted them down into blocks that were then buried in underground depositories, like Fort Knox, and issued paper certificates in their stead known as Federal Reserve Notes.  Gold then was worth $18.00 an ounce, today an ounce of gold is worth slightly over twelve hundred dollars and the Federal Government has sold most of its gold bullion.

 

Money today is just a token that is used in the exchange of goods and services.  It has no intrinsic value.  The Central Government can print and issue as much as it wants.  There are, however, general rules and regulations that govern this process which is done by the Federal Reserve.  Both the 2008 oncoming depression and the banking collapse of the Housing Market were largely resolved by the Federal Reserve through its use of Creative Monetary Policy.  This became necessary because the Republican dominated House of Representatives refused to deal with the problem with Fiscal Policy.  In fact they exacerbated it by shrinking the size of the government and increasing the level of unemployment.

 

The Republican dominated Congress today cannot even accept the existence of the idea.  Their concept of increasing employment is to get rid of the EPA, lower taxes for the rich, and allow increased pollution.  The increased wealth that the rich gain through lower taxes, they say will allow for industrial expansion and the new wealth being spent on new productivity will tinkle down to the middle class and the poor.

 

This is the Republicans basic concept of job creation.  Lowering the costs of production by allowing for more pollution.  We can have industrial centers like China where the air is dangerous to breathe.  This they believe, according to what a number of the candidates have said in the Republican Candidates 2016 Presidential debates, that if they do away with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) restrictions on production, unemployment will automatically disappear and there will be more jobs for everyone. 

 

It’s a nice thought but it does not deal with reality.  During the Reagan years as taxes for the wealthy declined their additional wealth was put into old production, the stock markets and what was then considered other safe areas of the economy.  Very little, if any, trickled down to new production.

 

During Ronald Reagan’s Administration it was called “Supply Side Economics.”  Its chief advocate was David Stockman who became President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985 when he resigned from that position.  Eventually even Stockman admitted that it didn’t work.

 

It should be noted that under Reagan the National Debt not only reached a trillion dollars for the first time in U.S. history, it also rose to over double that amount.

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The Republicans are also convinced that climate change is a hoax that the earth is too large to be affected in any way by anything man does.  It seems that they are never bothered by evidence of what is going on around them as they plod through life.  Donald Trump believes that the Chinese started the rumor of climate change. 

 

To the Republicans the melting of the Southern and Northern ice poles and the decreasing glacier areas would have happened even if man did not live on this planet, it is a normal, natural event.  And this is also true of the rising ocean water levels.  The tons of carbon that automobiles spew out into the atmosphere and other gases added by man to the air do not effect temperature change on the planet, which is naturally getting hotter.  

 

The real problem for the Republicans is that the people who fund their elections are the producers of all this garbage that pollutes, fouling the air and warming the planet.  It is to their advantage that pollution causing oil is used.  The Koch Brothers who deal heavily in oil have had a law passed in Kansas making green energy illegal.  The law is generally ignored but the brothers had enough political influence to get their state to pass it.  They are heavy contributors to the Republican Party.

 

The Republicans mainly have vested interests in maintaining their contributor base—the wealthy producers and political contributors in the country.  They have consequently adjusted their prospective to support the upper economic percentile of the population, making the interests of these people their interests and ignoring the needs of their economic base.  As a result they cannot accept any facts about global warming being true, since that reality would separate them from their major political contributors.

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If Donald Trump is not chosen as the Republican candidate for president he has threatened riots by his followers.  That would seem to mean that if he is short the 1,237 delegate votes but is still leading the other two potential presidential candidates he still expects to be nominated.  Trump has not mentioned being a possible third party candidate if the Republican Nominating Convention in July were to choose another candidate. 

 

In terms of public statements he seems to be moving toward total monomania at this point in the election process.  2016 may be an historic election year!

The Weiner Component #146 Part 1 – The Republican Party & the Future

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon...

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the Reagan Presidential Library (Left to right). Français : De gauche à droite, les présidents américains Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan et Jimmy Carter à la bibliothèque Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (1991) où se trouve une reconstitution du bureau ovale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Fran...

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Français : Gerald Ford, premier portrait officiel du Président américain, (1974). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: US map 1856 shows free and slave stat...

English: US map 1856 shows free and slave states and populations; this is “Reynolds’s Political Map of the United States” (1856) from Library of Congress collectionhttp://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart3b.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embed from Getty Images

Over most of its history the Republican Party has been essentially a Caucasian male Protestant group.   This was the population that originally made up the American colonies and revolted against British in the late 18th Century, setting up the United States initially along the East coast of the American continent.

 

During the late 19th and early 20th Century there were large migrations from Eastern Europe.  Asians, Chinese and Japanese initially could not become citizens of the United States, but their children, who were born in the U.S., were citizens.  Earlier there had been a large initially unwelcome migration of Irish Catholics caused by the Great Potato Famine in Ireland.  In the early 20th Century laws were passed setting quotas for people coming from different countries.  These quota systems are largely with us today.

 

We never seem to reach the quotas allowable for Western or Northern Europe but for Eastern Europe and other areas of the world like the Middle East and Central and South America there are waiting periods, after one gets in line, that in some instances could take a decade or more.

 

Since the last 40 years of the 20th Century the demographics of the United States has been changing.  Because of assorted wars in which the U.S. has been involved in the post-World War II Period in Asia, in the Middle East, and in other areas, large numbers of these peoples have come to the United States from the rest of the world.  These movements, are still continuing.  They have and are continuing to change the demographics in the U.S.  It is no longer a Wasp nation, a white Anglo-Saxon-Protestant nation.  Today there are growing numbers of other ethnic and so-called racial groups.  In fact the original Caucasian Protestant population is now a large minority among other large minorities and the Republicans make up about 19% of that population.  They are a minority among other minorities.

 

Generally in the present the Republican Party is made up of mostly the economic upper 1% of the population.  These are the wealthy who form the executives of most of the large corporations in the U.S. plus others who have intense wealth.  They have largely benefited from Republican leadership in Congress.

 

There is also a large independent-loving blue collar group who, with the evangelicals form the voting base of the party.  There would also be a percentage of white collars members, many of whom see themselves eventually joining the upper 1%.

 

Unfortunately for a good percentage of the blue collar base, particularly the independent, gun-loving ones, outside of freely owning their weapons, they have gotten nothing from the Republican leadership in Congress, particularly since 2011,  when the Republicans assumed leadership in the House of Representatives.  These currently are most of the people who support Donald Trump for President.

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With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 advocating popular sovereignty, in which one of the two newly entering states would supposedly be free and the other a slave state, the Whig Party split into two groups: the Conscience Whigs repudiated slavery and the Cotton Whigs were for slavery.  The first group joined the Free-Soil Party.  They were joined by the American Party and the remnants of the Know-Nothings Party which had become popular for a short period, calling for restrictions on the foreign born.

 

At this time, 1854, the Republican Party also began. It was able to run its first Presidential Election in 1860, attaining 40% of the popular vote and the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.  The majority party, the Democratic Party, had split into two parts, one Northern and one Southern.  The Southern section supported slavery and the Northern part tended to be neutral on this issue.

 

The new Republican Party was a combination of different political groups.  They were mainly the Northern and Northwestern Whig Party, the Conscience Whigs.  The Southern Whig Party, the Cotton Whigs, ran their own candidate in the South.  The Northern Whigs consisted of pro-business supporters who did not agree with the Democrats; abolitionists that strongly opposed slavery; and other small groups like the remnants of the Know Nothing Party.

 

In essence during 1860, there were two separate elections: one in the North and one in the South.  The Northern candidates did not run in the South and the Southern candidates were not on the Northern ballots.

 

The new Republican Party had grown from the ranks of the Free-Soilers, the Anti-Slavery Whigs, and the Anti-Nebraska Democrats.  They were in opposition to the extension of slavery anywhere within the territories of the United States.

 

Since the majority of the population occupied the North and Northwest the new Republican Party won with 40% of the vote.  As we’ve seen none of the political parties were on the ballots in all of the states.  There were no Republican votes cast in any of the Southern states.  The Southern Democrats had no ballots cast in the newer Northwestern states and in many of the other older Northern states.  The other Democrats had no votes cast in the other Southern states.  The election was actually two separate elections.  When the ballots were counted Lincoln had received 40% of the popular vote.  This translated to 180 electoral votes.  The other three candidates together had a total of 123 electoral votes.

 

This was the first Republican National Election.  Henceforth it would be them and the Democrats; the other political parties and the issue of slavery would disappear after the Civil War.  In 1876, with the election of Republican, Rutherford Hayes as President, the Southern states would lose the Northern army of Reconstruction or occupation and would come back into the Union as independent states and the country would move forward as a single unit.  The South reentered the Union as Democratic voting states.  Around the middle of the 20th Century with the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement the South would change its political allegiance to the Republican Party.  Outside of the slavery issue the Republican Party was always the Party of business and of the well-to-do owning classes, which it is still today.  It has always been conservative, against any kind of major change within the society, and conservative in its outlook.

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Up until 1964, when Barry Goldwater lost the election to Lyndon B, Johnson, the Republican Party had both liberal and conservative elements, the two political parties tended to be close to one another.  After that the Republicans tended to move farther and farther to the right.  Even as late as 1977, when Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter became President he was more conservative than a small percentage of the Republicans.  In 1974, when Nelson Rockefeller was appointed Vice President by President Gerald Ford, the Republican Vice President was more liberal than the later President, Jimmy Carter.

 

The two group’s philosophies ran into one another and compromise between the two political parties was relatively simple.  But after the Reagan Presidency the majority of the Republicans had moved much farther to the right and the Democrats to the left.  The first group became more reactionary and the other more radical.  Total philosophical separation had begun to set in.  This would continue and increase bringing the country to where it is now, at polarization.

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In order to understand the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats one needs to draw a horizontal line across a blank sheet of paper.  Mark the center of the line.  On the right side of the line would be the Republicans and on the left, the Democrats.  As one proceeds to the far left the people become more radical, on the right the further you go they become more reactionary.  At either end either end of the line they are extreme. Radical on the left and reactionary on the right.

 

_______Democrats__________|_____Republicans__________

 

No so long ago in our history the two lines overlapped.  Now they are widely separated.   This all began in the 1964 Presidential Election when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson and lost by a large amount.  Goldwater carried six states and Johnson won 44.

 

Goldwater had been the leader of the Conservative Movement.  During the campaign he alienated the liberal section of the Republican Party.  He was an opponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguing that it took rights away from the states.  When Communist China became a member of the United Nations in 1971 he wanted the United States to give-up its membership in that organization.  Goldwater criticized Johnson’s Administration for being soft on Communism and failing in Vietnam.  During his campaign he wanted a tougher blockade against Cuba and increased military action in Northern Vietnam to cut off supplies from China.  He indicated that he might use a nuclear bomb against North Vietnam.  On the domestic front Goldwater called for substantial cuts in social programs and he wanted social security to become optional.  He believed that the Tennessee Valley Authority should be sold to the private sector.  His political slogan was, “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right”

 

It was at this time that Ronald Reagan entered politics with his “A Time for Choosing” speech.  He would run for the governorship of California two year later, largely on a Goldwater type platform and win.

 

These doctrines, those of the far right, were worked through the Republican Party until they dominated it.  Reagan would be elected President in 1980 and serve until 1988.  He would with some modification carry through Goldwater’s philosophy.  Currently all the potential Republican Presidential candidates are reflections of Barry Goldwater.

 

The Republican Party itself as it currently exists reminds me of the old Communist Party.  Everyone follows the Party-Line, there is no individuality.  I get the impression that the far right controls most, if not all, of the political contributions and they are spent only on proper followers of the party-line.

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The Democrats tend to be liberal; the Republicans, conservative.  Since the 1932 Presidential Election the Democrats have assumed a responsibility for those who cannot care for themselves while the Republicans hold to a position of individual responsibility.

 

Since that time many Republican presidents have also had the Democratic concept.  Dwight David Eisenhower (1953 – 1961), the first Republican president since Roosevelt’s election in 1932 considered himself a Moderate Republican.  As President he built a Federal Highway System across the United States, the Interstate Highway System; continued FDR’s New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security.  Nixon (1969- 1974), as the next elected Republican President, experimented with Price and Wage Controls during a period of rapid inflation; was the first chief executive to enforce desegregation in Southern schools; established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act of 1970, and made state run insurance policies available to all with income based premiums and cost sharing.

 

The next Republican President was Ronald Reagan, who served from 1981 to 1989.  He was the first far right Republican to run the United States.  Reagan, as we’ve seen, first entered politics in 1964 supporting Barry Goldwater.  In 1966 he was elected governor of California.  He successfully ran for the presidency in 1980 and served two terms.  Reagan applied Supply Side Economics (Reaganomics), a theory developed in the 1970s and disregarded after the Reagan Administration for not really working.  It held that economic growth is enhanced by investing in capital and lowering barriers on the production of goods and services; if excess goods were produced, it was believed prices would come down so they could be consumed (sold or supplied).  It sounds good but it has never worked.

 

President Reagan encouraged tax reduction to spur economic growth, control of the money supply to curb inflation, economic deregulation and reduction in government spending, which didn’t happen, as his administration raised the deficit to over a trillion dollars for the first time.  He did not believe in government regulation and, among other things, totally deregulated the banking industry.  This would slowly lead to the 2008 banking-caused Real Estate Crash and near depression.  He fought public sector labor by firing all traffic controllers when they went on strike.  He bombed Libya and mined the main harbor of Nicaragua, two countries with whom we were not at war and ended his administration with the illegal Iran-Contra Affair.  He was the first of the far right presidents.

 

The next two Republican Presidents were the Bushes, father and son.  While they were not to the far right they were both well to the right of center.  (For more comments on the Bush Presidencies read The Weiner Component #125 – The Bush Presidencies.)

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Democrats typically support a broad range of social services; many in the area of helping those who cannot, for one reason or another, provide adequately for themselves, making us all our brother’s keepers.  Republican policy is based upon self-reliance, more freedom for individuals, and a limited interference by government.  People are more responsible for themselves and their families.  Among other things they have the freedom to starve.

 

The Republicans also advocate a dominant foreign policy based upon a strong military.  Consequently their conservative far right is pro-religion, anti-bureaucracy, pro-business, pro-military, and pro-personal responsibility.  They see big government as wasteful and an obstacle to getting things done.  Ultimately they are pro-Darwinistic, believing in survival of the fittest.

 

Democrats tend to favor an active societal role for government in society and believe that such involvement can improve the quality of all the people’s lives and achieve greater opportunity and equality for all.  For example the Affordable Health Care Act can eventually gain health benefits for all.  But ultimately to the Republicans it means that it is unfair because they are helping to pay for other people’s medical care.

 

Republicans favor a more limited role for government and believe that reliance on the private sector can improve economic productivity and achieve the more important goals of freedom and self-reliance.  They are still for Supply-Side Economics.  To them environmental regulations and discrimination laws (regulations) impede economic growth.  They oppose laws that limit pollution because they increase the cost of pollution.  Ultimately Republicans lean toward individual freedoms and rights while to Democrats equality and social responsibility are more important.

 

Interestingly if you’ve read the novels of Paul Ryan’s former mentor, Ann Rand, who as a good Catholic he dropped when it was discovered that she was an atheist.  Society is divided into the elite and the mob.  The Republicans, especially the leadership and the well to do, are the elite and the Democrats support the masses or the mob.  This thinking goes back to Friedrich Nietzsche and the mid-19th Century.

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Up until the 2,200 page Federal Government funding bill that was passed at the end of 2015 the Republicans have been dominated by the far right of their political party which saw compromise as having the other side come to their position.  The choice here was to pass an actual political compromise or shut down the government.  It took nearly a year to effect this compromise.  The bill could never have passed without Democratic votes in both Houses of Congress.  In order to not shut down the Federal Government the Republicans had to legitimately compromise with the Democrats.

 

What the country, in disgust, has essentially seen since 2011, when the Republicans took over control of the House of Representatives, was gridlock in Congress.  The Affordable Health Care Act, which was initially passed in 2010 by a Democratic Congress, has been voted out of existence by the House 62 times since 2011.

 

At the end of 2015 there was true compromise, a bill to fund the government and avoid a government shut-down.  However, early in 2016 the House passed a bill, which the Senate has passed the prior year, defunding both Affordable Health Care and Planned Parenthood.  The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, announced that even though the bill would be vetoed by the President, it had passed in the Republican dominated Senate earlier in 2015.  Even though there were not enough votes to pass it over the veto when it was returned to both Houses of Congress, it was still declared a victory for the Republicans because it showed the American public what will happen in 2017 if they elect a Republican President.  He further stated that the House agenda in 2016, all 110 days it would meet, will be to pass bills that the President will veto but will state the Republican position and show the Public what will happen if they elect a Republican President.

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None of the Republican group running for the presidency strikes me as being charismatic or capable of leading the nation.  What will happen is that the Republican House will function for its three day week, be paid over $140 thousand for the three day weeks it works while attempting to embarrass the President by forcing him to issue constant vetoes.  The current one, passed the second week in January 16 will be his tenth veto in seven years.  These bills will largely disgust the Democrats and the country at large by accomplishing very little if anything.  The Republican Congress will pass well beyond gridlock for the year 2016.

 

And I wonder if Ryan and the Republicans will feel that all this will happen if Donald Trump becomes their presidential candidate?

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #137A – John Boehner’s Resignation & the House Republican Party

Planned Parenthood volunteers help bring the f...

Planned Parenthood volunteers help bring the fight for health insurance reform to the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day after a visit to Congress by the Pope, wherein he spoke to a joint session of the legislature, and, among other things, shook hands with the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, John Boehner handed in his resignation as Speaker of the House and as a member of Congress, effective October 31, 2015.  He is currently 65 years old, a good time to retire.

 

Boehner had originally been the Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives and became Speaker of the House in 2011 when the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives.  Over the past five years he has been categorized as one of the worst Speakers in the history of the United States, having no real control over his own party and having to get the support of Democrats in the House in order to pass a good deal of the legislation he espoused.  He is also known for legislation he ignored and never brought up.

 

What has happened over the last decade or so is that The Tea Party has come into existence as a far right arm of the Republican Party.  Many of them have been elected to Congress over the years.  They and the Evangelicals have gotten together and formed the extreme right end of the Republican Party.  Seemingly they control a good percentage of the Republican election funds which they will withhold from any candidate that does not follow the party line, their line of no compromise.  Consequently they have a lot of power in the House of Representatives which they have continually exercised.

 

Speaker Boehner stated, when he was interviewed on television, after he had handed in his resignation, that these far right Republicans know that a large number of their goals are totally unrealistic, that they cannot be achieved, but they insist on them just the same.

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There is an interesting note of irony here.  The original Tea Partiers who operated during the late colonial period of our history were the merchants who ran the General Stores in the colonies of Boston, New York, and several other cities at the time.  Among other items they sold tea, which was the national drink.  The British East India Company brought the tea over and sold it to the colonial merchants.  It was fairly expensive and heavily taxed by the British government.  The colonial merchants did not appreciate the high price of the tea nor the tax so they bought much cheaper smuggled tea.

 

Shortly before the Revolutionary War the British East India Company was at the point of bankruptcy.  Since many members of Parliament owned shares in this company they passed a law lowering both the cost of the tea and the taxes on it.  The official price of this tea, including the taxes placed upon it, was now cheaper than the price of the smuggled tea.  The men who dumped the crates of tea into the harbors of Boston and New York were the merchants who all had a large stock of smuggled tea in their warehouses.  They rubbed red ocher over their bodies and performed the action after dark.

These were the patriots that the modern Tea Partiers have named themselves after.  I sometimes get the feeling that the nomenclature is as apt today as it was in the late 18th Century.

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John Boehner, as Speaker, has operated between their whims and sanity.  He is not a Tea Partier.  He has been forced at times to get Democratic support for some of his bills so he could get them passed.  His job as Speaker has been a very difficult and frustrating one.  How do you lead a group that is essentially marching backwards, sometimes in several different directions at the same time and has no real understanding of government?  They have shut down the government at the cost of many millions of dollars.  They have passed a bill doing away with Affordable Health Care over fifty times that never even once reached the Senate.  Where they have been successful they have passed legislation that has massively increased unemployment during a time of recession, one example would be the sequester law, which is supposed to be an economizing measure, but that is basically choking this nation.

 

The Republicans were threatening to shut the government down again.  The first shut-down was about getting rid of Affordable Health Care; this time it was over the issue of continuing the funding of Planned Parenthood, accusing them of being a national facility for committing abortions.  Even though no federal funds can be used for abortions by any group the Republicans are pushing the fact that since this organization performs abortions it should not be funded.  Planned Parenthood is a women’s and to some extent male medical facility.  Many people who cannot afford medical care receive that there free or for a payment of what they can afford.  Abortions are about 3% of what they do for the poorer women of the United States.  Cancelling this organization by defunding it would strike a heavy blow against the poor and needy of the country.

 

The Republicans present Planned Parenthood as an abortion clinic, period.  It is over this issue that the far right of the Republican Party and the Evangelicals in Congress want to shut down the Federal Government.

 

In fact Carley Fiorina has made an exaggerated and fabricated image of an abortion the cornerstone of her 2016 presidential campaign.  She has sent out robocalls using this message as an appeal and request for funds.  She describes a living born fetus kicking its legs as Planned Parenthood sells its brain for medical research.  The woman, who gave birth to this fetus which was still-born denounced Fiorina for misusing her dead child as an example of a Planned Parenthood action.  Planned Parenthood had nothing to do with the false image that Fiorina supposedly based her statement upon.  It was a blatant fabrication, a lie, and she used the child without getting permission from the mother who has protested over this act.

 

Interestingly the Republicans keep looking to find Planned Parenthood guilty of breaking the law.  There have been four Congressional investigations by a Standing Committee in Congress.  None of them have found any evidence of illegal activity.  As a result of all this Congressional bashing more of the general public have come to support Planned Parenthood.

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With the October 31 resignation of John Boehner this issue of closing down the government of the United States has gone away, at least until December of 2015.  A short term funding bill has gone through the Senate, espoused by the Republican Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and supported by the Democrats and enough Republicans to end a filibuster by Senator Ted Cruz.  Obviously there can be no filibuster in the House of Representatives and the bill was later brought up there by an unpressured Speaker and passed by the Democrats with a small number of Republicans voting for it.  The issue will not come up again until December when the new Speaker of the House of Representatives will have to again deal with this issue of funding the government.  Will the issue of Planned Parenthood come up again?  Will the Republicans find another excuse to close down the government?  After all the Tea Party tends to find the entire National Government repressive.  They seem to want to hurt it.

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By resigning as Speaker John Boehner, in a manner of speaking, has held up his middle finger to the far right in his party.  He will be in power for a short period of time.  The Tea Partiers can no longer pressure him to do anything.  There will be no immediate government shutdown.  Ted Cruz, who is very brave leading other people to take risks will be ineffective here.  The far right Republicans do not have a majority within their own party in the House.  They cannot elect one of their own as the new Speaker.  And the election for a new Speaker will not take place until November 1, the day after John Boehner is no longer Speaker of the House.

 

The way it looks at present is that the next Speaker will be Kevin McCarthy, the current majority leader.  He was first elected to the House in 2008, became majority leader in 2014 when Eric Cantor lost the election to a far right member of the Tea Party.  Politically McCarthy comes from an overwhelming Republican District in Bakersfield, California.  While not a Tea Party member he has signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity promising not to vote against any climate change legislation that would raise taxes on affected companies. McCarthy is pro-life.  He has voted against Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care.  During his eight years in the House there are no real bills he has originated.  Where does he stand in relation to the Tea Party?  If he’s elected we’ll find out in November of this year.

 

A strange thing about Kevin McCarthy is that he occasionally has a problem in a public speech expressing a coherent sentence.  He also mispronounces words adding letters to them and his sentences sometimes become a flow of words that are meaningless to everyone, possibly except for himself.  In addition from what he’s said he feels that the House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, always looks at him contemptibly.  Many members of the far right feel he is too liberal to be their Speaker.

 

Recently [n a moment of exultation Kevin McCarthy, while being interviewed on Fox News, without being asked, proudly stated that Hillary Clinton’s popularity numbers had been very high but after testifying four times before a Standing Committee on Benghazi her popularity dropped considerably.  He implied strongly and happily that these appearances lowered her popularity significantly.  There is also a fifth Benghazi hearing coming up since the prior four have not been able to place any blame on her.  He confirmed what the Democrats had been saying since they started that these hearings are politically motivated.  Of course McCarthy tried to step back from what he said a day or two afterward.

 

In one sense this is very sad because these four hearings are estimated to have cost the American taxpayers about four million dollars.  This is a strange way for a political party that prides itself upon reducing government spending to spend four million dollars to achieve a so-called political point.  If he is elected Speaker of the House of Representatives it should be interesting if not strange.  His tenure may be very short.

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John Boehner is currently a free agent.  No one can bring any pressure upon him.  He has stated that there will be no government shut down.  If he wished to do so he could deal with the problem of immigration that this country has been facing and ignoring for a number of years.  There are other legislative items that need to be dealt with.   He would have the Democratic votes and probably enough Republican votes to pass almost any bill.  If he does this what the Senate will do is an open question, but McConnell might very well go along with him.  McConnell has stated that the Republican majority will show the country that it can govern.

 

For the first time since his election as Speaker of the House of     Representatives John Boehner is a free agent.  No one can now bring pressure or make demands on him.  He has about a month left to serve in this position and then he is retired from the House.  At the age of 65 he can go back to Ohio and actually retire if he so desires since he currently is estimated as having a net worth of about five million dollars and a generous retirement program from Congress, having served in the House since 1991, 24 years.

 

Instead, if he so desires, he can serve one or another large corporation as a lobbyist and earn additional millions of dollars.  Eric Cantor, when he lost the 2014 election to a more reactionary Tea Partier and was no longer Majority Leader of the Republican’s in the House, took a highly lucrative position earning over a million dollars a year.  Boehner can do the same thing.  The problem here is that once he takes the job he has to follow orders and he is lobbying for the interests of a large corporation.  This is not necessarily a good thing; it somehow resembles selling your soul for money.

 

On the other hand John Boehner can offer his services to a low dollar entity like the Catholic Bishops or to a people oriented enterprise like the movement to end violence against women.  There are many such organizations that would love to have his help as a Washington lobbyist.  He could get a great deal of fulfillment working for one or even several of these.

 

Besides keeping the government functioning how does Boehner’s retirement affect the House of Representatives?  First off many House Tea Partiers consider it a victory for themselves because he was never one of them.  He has occasionally played golf with President Obama, who they consider the enemy.  But the new Speaker will not be a Tea Partier; they don’t have enough votes for that.  Will they be able to control the new Speaker?  Will they be able to shut the government down in December of this year?  Presumably the Congressional Tea Partiers in the Senate would also like to get rid of Mitch McConnell, force him to resign from the Senate.  Among some conservatives there is a “Ditch Mitch” campaign.   Will they be able to do any of this?  If they were somehow to succeed in carrying out their nefarious agenda what will happen?  Those are interesting questions.

 

In my estimation if they were to succeed in any of this, particularly in a Presidential Election year they would probably discredit themselves, particularly the House of Representatives, before the voting public and could conceivably, even with gerrymandered voting districts and some suppressions of the vote, end up with a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.  John Boehner may have started a roller-coaster going with ever-increasing speed downhill for the Tea Party.  We will see where it ends.

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

Official portrait of United States House Speaker (R-Ohio). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #126 – The Current American Political System

On Thursday, June 4, 2015, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 Presidential nomination, at a speech at a Texas Southern University, a historic Black college in Huston, accused the GOP (Good Old Party) of dividing Americans over voting rights by attempting to limit the vote among minorities, racial and otherwise, the elderly, and the young, generally college students. Clinton stated that a group of current and former Republican governors have and are “systematically and deliberately” have tried to prevent millions of Americans from voting.

She cited Governor Chris Christie for vetoing a bill in New Jersey to extend early voting. Clinton said that then Governor Jeb Bush had conducted, just prior to the 2,000 Presidential Election, a “deeply flawed purge of eligible voters in Florida by having the names of people who were mistakenly thought to be felons removed from the voting rolls. She accused Scott Walker of Wisconsin of cutting early voting and making it harder for college students to vote. He also passed ID laws which tend to discriminate against minorities who don’t have the required identification.   Rick Perry of Texas, she stated, approved laws that mainly discriminated against minorities.

”It was the first time a presidential candidate had named her potential Republican rivals by name and criticized Governors Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie.

She called for automatic registration for all people reaching the voting age of 18. This is similar to what presently exists in the state of Oregon, where anyone with a driver’s license from age 18 on is now automatically registered to vote and is mailed a ballot at election time. The choice to vote rests totally with the individuals.

The following day, Friday, June 5, a number of Republican governors verbally attacked Clinton for running a divisive campaign and favoring tax control on voting. Whatever that means?

The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, vociferously stated that Clinton didn’t know “the first thing about voting rights in New Jersey” and wanted to have an opportunity “to commit greater acts of voter fraud” around the country. Ohio governor John Kasich stated on Fox News that Clinton was “dividing America.”  Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker denounced her for denouncing him.

Basically the Republican argument is that they are fighting voter fraud.  Even though voter fraud is a small fraction of one percent of the millions of votes cast many Republicans know instinctively, with no other evidence, that that figure is wrong. They argue that what they are doing limits and virtually stops voter fraud.  Sometimes, I get the feeling that voter fraud, in their minds, is any vote cast that is not Republican.  It should also be noted that many Republicans have on occasion admitted publically that they are trying to suppress the vote.

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There are two major political parties in the United States that can successfully field a presidential election, since this means running fifty separate elections in each of the 50 states and separate federal elections for all the territories and the District of Columbia, with the exception of the island of American Samoa where the population consists of residents rather than citizens of the United States. These two major political parties are the Republican and Democratic Parties.  Of these the majority party is the Democratic one.

One of the major ways the Republicans have been successful in winning political elections has been by suppressing the vote of minorities, women, the aged, and college students. This has been done in numerous ways. Their object is to get certain groups, one way or another, not to vote.

Among the various dirty tricks used in suppressing the vote misinformation about voting procedures is not uncommon. In the recall election for the Wisconsin State Senate, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative organization that supported Republicans, sent many Democratic voters a mailing that gave incorrect deadlines for absentee ballots. Voters who relied on the deadline in the mailing sent their ballots in too late to be counted. The organization said that the mistake was a typographical error.

In the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal Republican officials attempted to reduce the number of Democratic voters by paying professional telemarketers in Idaho to make repeated hang-up calls to the telephone numbers used by the Democratic Party’s ride-to-the-polls phone line on election day.

In several states a private Republican group, Voters Outreach of America, which had been authorized in a number of states to register voters, collected and submitted Republican voter registration forms but discarded Democratic ones.  The Democratic voters discovered on Election Day that they were not registered and could not vote.

In the 2006 Virginia Senate Election Democratic voters received phone calls informing them that if they voted it would lead to arrest; there were numerous calls fraudulently claiming to be volunteers of the Democratic candidate falsely telling voters that their location had changed; fliers were issued in the Black communities, paid for by the Republican Party, stating, “Skip This Election.”

In the 2008 Presidential Election a review of states records by the New York Times found that there had been numerous illegal actions leading to voter purges.

In the United States there is partisan election administrations in 33 of the 50 states. The majority of the world’s democracies use independent agencies to monitor elections but not the U.S.  These party affiliations can and do create a conflict of interest.  For example, Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State served as state co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign during the Presidential Election of 2000.

In Georgia wait times of two to ten hours were reported during early voting at many locations.  In Florida this happened at multiple locations on Election Day during the 2012 Presidential Election.  Various factors, including the reduction of early voting days, reduction in the number of polling places, and an extremely long ballot that included numerous constitutional amendments all combine to add to long waiting times.  It is estimated that 201,000 potential Florida voters were unable to spend the hours needed to be able to vote and thus had their votes suppressed.

In the 2010 Maryland gubernatorial election the Republicans placed thousands of Election Day robocalls to Democratic voters telling them that the Democratic candidate had won, although the polls were still open for two more hours. The Republican phone call was worded as though it came from Democratic headquarters.  It told the Voters to relax, that everything was fine.  All they had to do was watch the victory on TV that night.  The phone calls reached 112,000 voters in the African-American areas of the state.

In 2011, the Republican campaign manager was convicted of fraud and other charges because of the calls. In 2012 he was sentenced to 30 days of home detention, a one year suspended jail sentence, and 50 hours of community service over a four year period of probation with no fine or jail time.

A Florida law, that has been repeated in a number of Republican dominated states, both reduced the number of days for early voting and barred voter-registration activities by such group as the League of Women Voters, teachers in high school and others, making it more difficult to register to vote in those states.

These constitutionally granted voting rights have been and are under nationwide attack, particularly in those states where the Republicans hold the governorship and control of the legislature. The laws lead to significant burdens for eligible voters. These measures include cuts to early voting, voter ID laws, and purges of voter rolls. It also includes dirty tricks. Democratic lawyers have filed legal challenges to voting changes, particularly in Ohio and Wisconsin.

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Among the various forms of voter suppression are photo ID laws. Supporters contend that the photo ID, such as state driver’s licenses or student IDs from state universities are nearly universal and that presenting them is a minor inconvenience, when weighed against voter fraud.  Opponents argue that these requirements disproportionally affect minority, handicapped, and elderly voters who do not normally maintain driver licenses. There is also almost no evidence of voter fraud.  Legislation to impose the restrictive IDs has been prepared by the conservative organization ALEC and sent to conservative state legislatures.

In the U.S. felons are disenfranchised.   In fact the United States is the only democracy in the world that regularly bans large numbers of felon from voting after they have served their sentence.  In 2004 5.3 million Americans were denied the right to vote because of previous felony convictions. Thirteen states permanently disenfranchise convicted felons, eighteen states restore voting rights when after completion of prison, parole, and probation time, four states re-enfranchise convicted felons after they have been released from prison and served their parole, thirteen states allow felons who have been released from prison to vote, and two states do not disenfranchise them at all. This form of voter suppression disproportionally affects minorities, particularly Blacks and Hispanics who it seems make up a good percentage of the prison population.

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In former Governor Rick Perry’s state, Texas, the voter suppression laws have wide sweeping effects. The U.S. Justice Department estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 Texans were disenfranchised of their vote by the Texas voter ID law implemented in 2014. While the law accepts seven forms of personal identification it was crafted to make sure that poor African Americans and Hispanics would have a very difficult time producing any of those forms of accepted ID.

The accepted forms of ID are: a concealed handgun license, a U.S. military identification card containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph, a U.S. passport, a Texas driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a Texas Election identification certificate issued by the DPS, and a Texas personal identification card issued by the DPS. In addition college student IDs are not acceptable forms of identification.

Poor people, as a rule, do not have concealed handgun licenses.  My birth certificate was issued at my birth; it does not contain my picture. The majority of young men do not join the military.  Many poor Texans do not have cars or driver licenses.  A passport cost money to acquire.  Of the other possibilities most poor workers, mainly African Americans and Hispanics do not possess those either.

The official state offices that issue these IDs are not located in every town, and those that exist do not operate every day of the week. None of them are open on weekends when people are off work.

Poor Texans living in a rural area need to take a day off work to go to a town or city where the Department of Public Safety offices exist and they have to pick a day when the office will be open.  If they can find or afford transportation it will take them at least three hours to get to a government office that will issue an ID if it is open and then after they finish it will take them at least three more hours to get home.  They will have lost at least a day’s pay.

The Federal Court in Corpus Christi declared the ID law unconstitutional, in 2014 a Federal judge struck down this law finding that the law was “an unconstitutional poll tax” that had “an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans;” but on appeal the more conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this decision.

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Voter disenfranchisement in the 2014 election was apparent; it will certainly be an issue in the 2016 Presidential Election.  Wherever possible various Democratic organizations will be and are bringing law suites to limit or stop this practice; but many of the federal judges were appointed by Republican presidents and are partial to Republican demands.  Such, obviously was the case in Texas.

In a number of 2014 races, like North Carolina, Kansas, Virginia, and Florida, the margin of victory was very close to the margin of disenfranchisement.  With an honest election the results might have been the opposite.

A joint report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Southern Elections Foundation found that four out of five states that had introduced at least one new restrictive voting measure in 2014 “experienced sharp decreases in voter turnout from the 2010 midterm election, likely due, at least in part, to these laws that made it harder to vote in 2014.  33 states have recently introduced bills that would restrict access to voter registration.

Republican officials have admitted that their efforts are aimed at disenfranchising Democratic voters. In the spring of 2012 the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader, Mike Turzai, told a gathering of Republicans that their voter identification law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”  There have been numerous statements by Republicans before and since the above statement was made indicating that the voter identification laws are mainly a way to suppress the vote of Democratic voters.

Republican generally argue that restrictions on registering and voting are about the integrity of elections; but they have never been able to prove that any American election has been stolen by voter fraud, (at least by the Democrats).

There is an interesting note of irony here. The Caucasian or White population in the United States no longer makes up the majority of the population.  It is a large minority among other large minorities.  And every year its number shrinks in comparison to the other large minorities. How long can the Republican successfully play their games? Even with several million voters across the United States deprived of their vote Barak Obama won in 2012.  The same is true for a lot of local, state, and federal elections. The Republicans may feel they’re riding high at present but every year there are less and less of them in the overall population.  It would seem that compared to the rest of the population they are largely sterile.

 

November 4: Barack Obama elected President
November 4: Barack Obama elected President (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Weiner Component #118 – Republicans & Democrats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Weiner Component #108 – What Do the Republicans Stand For?

Breakdown of political party representation in...

Breakdown of political party representation in the United States Senate during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican Light Blue: Independent (caucused with Democrats) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 2014 Midterm Election there was a 37% turnout of voters, the smallest since 1942. People made a statement by not voting. It seems that the statement made was a negative one. The majority of voters were very unhappy with both major political parties. The Republicans denounced virtually everything and the Democrats gutlessly distanced themselves from the President and everything he’s done. The 113th Congress for the 2012 to 2014 period had accomplished less than any other Congress in the entire history of the United States. The people were disgusted with their government.

Even though the election was a denunciation of the current political system in Washington and many of the state governments, the election, with the low vote, favored the Republicans. They achieved a majority in both Houses of Congress. Many of their leaders announced mistakenly or stupidly that this election was a referendum on their policies.

If in their minds they acted as though the election were a referendum on their positions, then what do they stand for?

Numerous members of the Tea Party have been elected since 2010. These people constitute a fair percentage but not the majority of the Republicans in Congress. Their goals seem to be the smaller the government the better. Their basic attitude seems to be anti-scientific; they do not believe in science, at least not in the fact that carbon emissions can effect climate conditions, that people by their poor uses of resources are changing weather conditions.

They also, with the evangelicals, are against abortion. Many of them oppose it in all cases, including rape and incest; some of them even oppose contraception use as a form of abortion. They are ready to force women to have unwanted children but do not see any point in helping raise these unwanted youngsters with financial or any other type of help.

They want to get rid of Obamacare (Affordable Health Care). If they were capable of doing this it would bring immediate hardship to millions of Americans who have benefited significantly from this law. Ironically this law was first designed by a far right think tank, Citizens United and applied by former Republican governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. It uses private enterprise as the base in establishing universal health care for the people of the state. The Democrats chose it to satisfy the Republicans. Obviously it did not.

The majority of advantages from this law apply mostly but not completely to those who didn’t have any health care. The Act was designed to reduce overall health care costs by making services available to those 32 million who did not have any medical coverage. Preventive services are included which lowers health care costs by treating diseases before they become serious. The government pays for people who can’t afford health insurance. Insurance companies that now get a lot more business cannot deny children or adults coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies can no longer drop anyone from coverage once they get sick. Parents can put their children up to age 28 on their health policies. The Act lowers the budget deficit by 143 billion over the next decade. Because of this plan the increase in medical costs are about 4% for the 2014-2015 year rather than the usual 10 or 11% yearly.

If the Republicans were to be successful in canceling Obamacare there would be a lot of people in the country who would suddenly lose their family health care for themselves and their adult children who generally would be in college. This would not help those who would find their policies changed because of a family member with a prior condition. They would be extremely upset if they had to pay more for less coverage. There’s no question but this would seriously affect their votes in the next major election in 2016.

The Republicans are very good at being against things, but very poor at being for anything. What would they offer the people in place of Obamacare? They have mentioned nothing positive. The few things that they tend to be for are lowering the tax rate for the upper 10 or 15% of the population. These people currently pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than the rest of the public. They are also for the Keystone XL Pipeline and protecting our southern border. There is no problem with protecting our northern border.

Their overall desire seems to be to go back historically to France before the Revolution when the rich and nobility paid no taxes; all taxes were paid by the poor. After all John Boehner has numerous times called the rich the “job creators.” Congress, according to the Republicans, doesn’t want to tax the “job creators.” Of course the question could be raised: “Where are the jobs these people are creating?” Boehner likes to make meaningless comments.

The question on immigration is an interesting one. The system is essentially broken in the United States. Families are constantly being broken, parents are deported but their children are citizens because they were born here. Young men and women going to college are not citizens because they were brought here as small children. The entire system is not functioning in a sane manner. Approximately a year and a half ago, five hundred and some days earlier the Senate, working with both Democrats and Republicans, painfully developed an immigration bill and passed it. Even though it had enough support from both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, refused to bring it up before the House. It seems that a minority of the Republicans, the far right opposed the bill. It appears that Boehner felt that he would lose the Speakership if he brought up the bill. Because of John Boehner’s ego needs the immigration bill did not become law and President Obama has taken executive action which the Republicans loudly denounced before going home for Thanksgiving. They have threatened a law suit, shutting down the government by not funding it, and impeachment. In the end they just left Washington, D.C. quickly for the holiday.

It should also be noted that immigration reform is popular with the general public. In essence here the will of the people is being thwarted by a reactionary minority and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

They also go ballistic over protecting our borders, particularly our southern border with Mexico and South America. This, I understand, is included in the immigration bill that the Republicans have refused to take up in the House of Representatives. The immigration policy will not go as far as electrifying the fences, which, I understand, some Republicans would like to do.

Historically the Republicans freed the slaves with the Civil War and have always favored business growth. They still favor business growth by wanting to reduce the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and lowering taxes for corporations.

Also they traditionally want to increase the military and lower all entitlement programs. In essence they support the rich at the expense of the rest of the society. Their attitude does go back to France as it was organized before the late 19th Century Revolu

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

tion.

Can we trust this political party with all their negative imagery to run the United States? If you weren’t among the top 10 or 15% what would you expect to gain from them. Their anti-abortion and contraceptive programs could well rapidly increase the population; but their decrease in entitlements and anti-Obamacare possible legislation could cause a lot of these youngsters to die prematurely.

The Weiner Component #88 – The Democrats & the Republicans

Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey - 3D Icons

Toward the end of May 2014 there was an article in the L. A. Times entitled “Number of American Liberals surges, poll says.” The article dealt with pole changes in the way people consider themselves. It concluded that there was a significant change in the way people think of themselves, with a large number moving to the political left in their consideration of themselves. Is this valid? What does it mean for the country?

Barak Obama was reelected to the presidency on November 6, 2012 by a vote of 322 electoral votes to 206 for Mitt Romney or 65,455,010 popular votes to 60,771,703 for the Republican candidate. He clearly won not only the electoral vote but also the popular one.

In the Senate 33 seats were decided, 1/3 of the Senate was up for election. Democrats had 23 seats up for election, including 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats. Republicans had 10 seats up for election. The Democrats retained majority control of the Senate and picked up two additional seats. Obviously, while the Senate did not have a Democratic super-majority it still had an overwhelming majority.

For the House of Representatives this was the first congressional election using the congressional districts that were apportioned in the 2010 Census by Republican majorities in many state legislatures. Elections were held for the 435 seats in the U.S. Congressional Districts. Elections were also held for the delegates from the District of Columbia and the 5 U.S. territories. Although House Democrats won a plurality of the popular vote (48.3% to 46.9%) House Republicans were still able to retain the majority of elected delegates in the House. They achieved 234 seats against 201 for the Democrats.

The Republicans were able to win because of gerrymandering even though the Democrats across the United States cast over 25,000 more votes for members of their political party. To stop Republican filibustering the Senate Democrats need a 60 vote supermajority which they do not have. The Senate rules on filibustering presidential appointments were changed because the Republicans virtually refused to approve appointments of Democratic judges for Appellate and lower federal courts. There have been no bills dealing with fiscal policy which would create jobs and possibly improve the infrastructure of the country.

Even though they were not the majority the Republicans were able to hamper virtually all legislation that President Obama attempted to get passed and forced him to act by executive order. Then they threatened to sue him for acting as every president before him since George Washington has acted. Interestingly the current Congress holds the record over the entire history of the United States for passing the smallest number of bills. They seem to have an innate ability to both ignore and exacerbate all problems in the nation; and the ability to verbally blame everything, much of which they cause, upon the president.

The 2012 Election was the first one to be impacted by the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision: Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission. The United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions. The case is extremely controversial for increasing the influence of money in elections in contrast to other developed nations that have limits imposed on all election spending. Can money freely spent buy elections? The answer is probably No; but can excessive spending strongly influence elections? The answer is not necessarily negative.

Some of the other issues in the 2014 Midterm Election are being carried over from 2012 and earlier. Immigration reform stands out brightly polarizing sections and cities within the United States. The issue thousands of children, with and without their mothers, coming into the United States and surrendering to the Border Patrol. Are these illegal immigrants or refugees fleeing from disorder and possible destruction? They are overwhelming border facilities and the courts. The Republicans in Congress seem to be refusing to pass legislation that would help expedite and solve this problem. The President has called for legislation; but so far all that has happened is that the Republicans are postulating. They want a solution but they don’t want to spend any money. This issue may be strongly present in November when the midterm election occurs.

Another carry-over issue(s) is rape, pregnancy, and abortion, as well as the overall war on women. The far-right tea-party leaders of the Republican Party and their evangelical cohorts do not seem to be able to trust women to make sexual decisions affecting their own future lives. These people want to legislate how women must behave.

The Republicans in the House are again, for the fifth or sixth time, investigating what happened in Benghazi. They want to beat up President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the members of the State Department. Somehow one item that has been overlooked in all these Republican investigations is the fact that the Benghazi and other attacks against Americans were largely engendered by the release of a You Tube trailer advertising the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims,” which was considered blasphemous throughout the Muslim world. The Republicans felt that the Consulate should have been better guarded; even though they cut the Consulate protection budgets earlier in the year. The current investigation is also being used as a means of soliciting contributions for the November Election.

Attempts were made to restrict voting in states controlled by the Republicans, particularly in district with high minority and youth voting. How successful they were is not known. In Florida some people had to wait in line for eight hours in order to vote in 2012. People had their names arbitrarily removed from the voter roles as having moved or died and could not vote. All sorts of devices were used to limit non-Republican voters. New games will be played in the 2014 election to limit the vote. We will see how successful they are.

Some Primary Elections have been held or are about to be held for the 2014 election. The Republican Minority Leader, Eric Cantor, ran against a Tea Party unknown, David Brat. Before the results came out the question was: By how much would Cantor win? The results, however, shocked Republicans throughout the Party. Brat won on a campaign of Cantor presumably favoring immigration reform because he had presumably discussed this at some point with President Obama. Ultimately to the Tea Party Cantor was too liberal.

What will the results of this be? I suspect it’s moved the Party much farther to the right. Republicans at this point are afraid to even mention the term immigration, except that they are against it. And all of this with the refugee problem or crisis along the southern border of the country. President Obama has asked Congress to allocate 3.6 billion dollars so he can reasonably solve the problem. If the Republican legislators support this they are presumably going against their base? If they refuse to act on this issue they are exacerbating the problem. This is a perfect instance of being caught on the horns of a dilemma; you lose if you do and you lose if you don’t.

Mitch McConnell, the senate minority leader defeated his farther-right Tea Party challenger but he is currently running 4 points behind his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. In fact his approval rating in the state of Kentucky is below that of President Obama. He is still avidly opposing Affordable Health Care, woman’s rights, and immigration reform.

Virtually anything can happen in this election. If the Republicans were to gain control of the Senate and keep control of the House of Representatives virtually nothing would happen over the next two years. If the Democrats could get 60 votes in the Senate and control of the House then the country would go through a period of intense reform and economic growth. The choice, of course, is up to the voters, many of whom don’t know they have a choice.

 

Breakdown of political party representation in...
Breakdown of political party representation in the United States Senate during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican Light Blue: Independent (caucused with Democrats) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)