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)

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Weiner Component #55 – The Republican Party & Women

img_0603

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Weiner Component #46 – The Tea Party & the Government Shut Down

  What is the purpose of having a government?  The quickest answer comes from The American Declaration of Independence: that governments are “instituted” to provide “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” and that they derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed,” which is majority rule.  The Constitution begins with the phase “We the People…” One could say looking at the history of this nation that the purpose of the Government of the United States was/is to serve the people, to provide for their welfare and safety.

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who first came out with the statement that “In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.  For the former therefore to return among the later is not to degrade but to promote them.”

Somehow it seems that the Tea Party members of the Republican Party elected to Congress have missed or never learned these points.  They, a distinct minority even among the Republicans in the House of Representatives, are attempting to enforce their will on the majority.  Largely because of controlling party finances and Election Districts they have been successful within the House of Representatives in enforcing their party line.  They have ignored the voice of the people in the 2012 Election and by using ignoble means have tried to force the Senate and the President to do what they want.  Is this how government is supposed to work in a democracy?

It would seem to these members of the Tea Party that they are right and everyone else is wrong.  Essentially the moderate Republicans have given up on not funding the Government but the reactionary Republicans are stiill insisting upon geting their way and are still successful.  They have largely cherry picked some areas of the government to fund.  They are now in the process of created the Debt Ceiling; that is refusing to raise the debt limit so that the Government can pay its bills.  The Debt Ceiling should be reached by October 16.  If it is the Federal Government will no longer be able to borrow money and will begin to default upon many of its bills..

It is interesting to note that the President and his Administration cannot spend money that has not been appropriated by Congress.  What the Tea Party Republicans in the House are threatening to do is to not pay bills that they have authorized through laws.  The House then is going to refuse to pay its own bills.   Try that as a homeowner and see what happens.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, has stated, with a strong note of frustration in his voice, that the President has refused to negotiate with him.  President Obama has continually said that he is willing to negotiate, after the budget and debt crises’ are dealt with, that he will not do so with a gun held to the head of the American people.

The concept of negotiating issues is one in which both sides hold positions on a specific issue and then eventually come to some sort of compromise.  For example: labor and management will argue salaries; labor wants as big an increase as it can get and management wants to pay as little as possible.  If the demands are realistic they will end somewhere toward the center.  They are dealing with a single issue. 

The Republicans in the House wanted to negotiate continued funding of the government in return for defunding Affordable Health Care and later for delaying registration of new insured for an additional year.  What has Affordable Health Care got to do with funding the government?  What Boehner wanted was not negotiations but leverage to get what the House could not achieve by legitimate means, passing a bill and having it taken up by the Senate and signed by the President.  This is extortion and spite.  It is actually saying, Do it my way or I’ll stop you from functioning.

In terms of the Debt Ceiling the Republican hope to use their leverage to achieve various nefarious goals, such as the Keystone oil pipeline between Canada and the United States.  The Canadians have large mush fields (mud, small stones, and oil) from which the oil can be extracted.  The material is highly toxic and leaks in the pipeline could poison sections of the water table and rivers from which parts of the United States draws its fresh water for both people and agriculture.  The profits from this venture are phenomenal for the people who would own the pipeline.  These individuals not only have the materials in place but they have also begun laying the pipe and they are major contributors to the Republican Party.

The pipeline instead of going south through the entire United States could have gone west, in Canada, to the Pacific Ocean but short stretches of the line in Canada have a history of leaks and the Canadian Government is not allowing a major much pipeline through Canada.

During the Italian Renaissance, when a Cathedral was built the architect stood inside the building when the scaffolding was taken down.  If he had miscalculated in his design he would make no more mistakes, the collapsing building would kill him.  Are the architects of the Keystone oil pipeline willing to do the same thing?  Are they willing to put their lives and fortunes on the line?  I think not.  They are willing to pay fines that would in the end represent a small percentage of the damage they would do and walk away with their profits as happened in the British Petroleum oil spil in the Gulfl.

What we have with the Republicans, particularly the Tea Party Republicans is an inability to deal with reality.  They would like to cut Medicare, Social Security, food stamps to the needy, as well as other government programs which effect the poor and most Americans while maintaining and possibly increasing subsidy programs for the well-to-do.  Presumably they want to decrease both spending and the size of government.  But in refusing to fund the government they are wasting numerous millions of dollars a day plus adversely affecting the economy.  About 800,000 government workers were furloughed.  These people will not have paychecks to pay their rent or mortgages, or the other items by which they need to live.  The people who are dependent upon these government workers will have to do without their needed services.  Instead of being economical, as the Tea Party claims it is, it is extending government debt and hurting both the functioning of the government and the economy.  The damage is needless and stupid.

In addition there is still the sequester that is hurting all government programs by automatically reducing their budgets.

The House Republicans have stated that when the government closure is over they will fully pay all the furloughed workers.  Where is the so-called savings?  What are they

doing?  Do they know?

Enhanced by Zemanta