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)

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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   This was the population that originally made up the American colonies and revolted against British in the late 18th Century, setting up the United States initially along the East coast of the American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 #116 – The U.S. & the Federal Reserve

In 1935, Cret designed the Seal of the Board o...

English: Janet Yellen being sworn in by Fed Ch...

English: Janet Yellen being sworn in by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Friday January 9, 1915, the Federal Reserve had turned over $98.7 billion to the Treasury for the year 2014. In 2013 it was $79.6 billion and in 2012 it was $88.4 billion. All of this was the interest on the National Debt bonds, much of which the Federal Reserve had purchased since 2009.

In 2008, the last year of the Bush Administration, the country faced the explosion of the Real Estate Bubble that had been gradually building over the prior thirty years. The big banks had been going crazy with denial in 2007 with their abuses when the oncoming failure became obvious. In essence every dollar in circulation suddenly dropped in value to about a dime. The Obama Administration did two major things in 2009 and 2010. They were able to avoid through rapid action an economic crash potentially larger than the Great Depression of 1929 and they passed Affordable Health Care (Obamacare). In 2010 the country elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and thereafter nothing was done by the House to alleviate conditions caused by the Real Estate Bust. In fact Congress passed laws to exacerbate the negative conditions.

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It should be noted that the Federal Government has two major tools to deal with downturns in the economy. One, used by the Federal Reserve, is Monetary Policy and the other, used by Congress and the President, is Fiscal Policy. This is Macroeconomics.

Fiscal Policy has to do with Congress passing bills that add money to the economy. Keep in mind that all currency has nothing behind it other than the word of the National Government. All money is now a means of exchanging something of value for something else of value, goods and services for goods and services.

In 2011 or 2012 President Obama proposed a bill that would create jobs by updating the infrastructure of the United States. The electric grid across the U.S. is well over fifty years old, much of it predating World War II, and parts of it are in constant danger of breaking down. It has not dealt with the changes in demography or increases in population that have occurred over that period. The country has come close to power outages because of cold weather conditions or for other reasons. Many of the bridges throughout the nation are also well over fifty years old. A number have collapsed; many are still waiting to be refurbished.  Also many schools, some of which were built over one hundred years ago, also need refurbishing or replacement throughout the country. Many of the sewers in cities are well over one hundred years old; a few have collapsed in parts.

All of these and many other projects will have to be done at some point in the future. Maintenance is required to keep all aspects of society properly functioning. From 2011 on the House of Representatives with its Republican majority has tended to squeeze the society, downsizing government and adding to unemployment, in fact at one point it closed down the Federal Government by refusing to fund it. The present is an ideal time to do a lot of these fiscal projects as interest rates are at just barely above 0.

Monetary Policy is a tool of the Federal Reserve. It can be used to increase or decrease the amount of money in circulation. Ordinarily the Fed adjusts the money flow in the economy by increasing or decreasing the amount of money it borrows through the sale of bonds. What happens is decided by the rate or non-rate of inflation. The Fed is always cashing out and selling bonds. There are short term, medium term, and long term bonds, lasting from a few months to a number of years. The rate of sale is determined by the level in interest paid on these bonds. The higher the interest the greater the sale and the lower the interest the less the sale. These interest rates are determined by the level of inflation in the country. The higher the inflation the higher the interest. Here money is taken out of the national cash flow so that there is less available to be spent, thus gradually forcing down the rate of inflation. If the opposite is true then the Fed will sell less bonds than it cashes out and continually add currency to the national cash flow.

With no help from Congress during a period of recession or depression the Fed under the chairmanship of Ben Bernanke had to be quite innovative to pull the nation out of the Real Estate Debacle. This was done by the Fed buying $85 billion worth of bonds each month for well over two years: $45 billion in mortgage paper and $40 billion in government bonds. The effect of these two actions was to add well over a trillion dollars to the national cash flow per year; and also to essentially resolve the big banks activity in splitting up individual mortgages into well over one hundred parts. By my estimate it would have taken well over twenty years to straighten out the housing mess if the Fed had left it alone. The Fed did it in a relatively short time by buying most of the pieces. We again have new construction and older houses are being resold.

What is interesting to note here is that 40 billion was utilized on traditional monetary policy while 45 billion dollars was used to purchase mortgage paper from the assorted hedge funds which each owned fractional pieces of mortgages in each of their funds that had been very sloppily catalogued. For the Fed to collect or foreclose on any of these properties it would have to set up a table of all the homes on which it held mortgages within the 50 states and gradually build up its portfolio to the point where it owned over fifty percent of each particular mortgage. The cost of setting up this information bank would have been prohibitive even for the Federal government. The probability is that the Fed did nothing with this paper and a percentage of the population ended up living in their homes for nothing, in essence the government forgave these loans.

Of course the people living in these houses still had to pay property tax. If they did not the municipality would eventually foreclose on the property and sell it for back taxes. These people would suddenly have a lot of disposable income, which many of them spent freely, and they could not claim any home interest payments on their income taxes. This, in turn, added billions of dollars circulating in the National Cash Flow throughout the country.

The practice of adding money to the economy was ended in October of 2014. Janet Yellen, the new Fed chair left the ending of the policy tentative. It could be started up again if the need arose.

Interest rates had also been dropped to a fraction of one percent, practically giving the banks free money from all the savers and checking accounts which they could lend out at a decent rate of interest. Currently the Fed is considering when to raise interest rates. Meanwhile most of the larger banks have announced large profits for 2014.

What is interesting here is that the Federal Reserve used part of the National Debt as a means of positively controlling the amount within and the flow of national currency. They actually increased over time the flow of money by trillions of dollars and, in this way, diminished the effects of the Real Estate Debacle caused recession.

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What Bernanke did was to use part of the National Debt as a means of getting the country out of a serious recession. Since Congress would not act he used the Debt itself as the tool by which a large percentage of recovery was gradually brought about.

The National Debt is divided into two parts: public debt which the government owns and private debt which is held by private countries and by individuals. For example the two largest holders of U.S. debt are China which as of November 2014 held 1.25 trillion and Japan had 1.24 trillion.

All foreign holdings at that time were 6.11 trillion dollars. It should be noted that the National Debt currently is 18 plus trillion dollars. Who owns the balance? Private individuals and companies within the United States and elsewhere would hold at least another trillion dollars. The balance would then be held by the U.S. government and its agencies. For example Social Security has well over 2 1/2 trillion in government debt. All this means that the Federal Government holds well over 50 percent of its own debt and pays the interest on that debt to the U.S. Treasury.

It should be noted that Treasury securities are seen as one of the world’s safest investments. This has been the situation in the world and will, in all probability, remain so.

The 114 Congress, which recently met for the first time and has a Republican majority in both Houses, shows no indication that it is even slightly interested in fiscal policy. While unemployment is down to 5 plus percent for the first time in the nation since the 2008 Debacle it still could be a lot lower with fiscal policy.

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Another factor of importance here is population; it is always gradually increasing. According to the Census Bureau’s Population Clock: there is one birth every 8 seconds, one death every 12 seconds, and one international migration every 33 seconds. The result of all this is a net gain of one person every 16 seconds.

That is an increase in the population of the United States of 3.75 people per minute, 225 per hour, 5,400 persons per day, and 1,965,600 people per year, if we count each month as 30 days and do not allow for each leap year. The current overall number of people in the country is in excess of 350 million people.

Most of these new settlers will reside along either of the coastal areas. In order for standards of living to not decrease with this additional population the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has to increase one or two points yearly. If it stays at exactly the same point or decreases slightly then the overall standard of living has dropped for the bulk of Americans.

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What will happen with this new Congress should be interesting and economically uninspiring. From now until July 2016 when the Republicans hold their Presidential Convention there will be a lot of jockeying for the lead position in the Republican Party. The major issues like immigration, fiscal policy, job creation, plus whatever else comes up will be largely ignored. They will try forms of blackmail with the President in order to achieve some of their goals. This will be done by attaching riders that he will not approve of to necessary bills. That means that President Obama will probably have to veto the necessary legislation causing all sorts of economic and other problems. The question there is who will take the blame for causing all these disasters?

The Republicans will certainly not be creating any new jobs. Janet Yellen, the current chair of the Federal Reserve may have to restart the program of buying bonds for economic recovery to continue since the Republicans will be doing their dandiest to constrict the economy and inadvertently increase unemployment. What will probably occur between the present and the next presidential election is two years that the future historians will in all likelihood essentially ignore.

Description: Newspaper clipping USA, Woodrow W...

Description: Newspaper clipping USA, Woodrow Wilson signs creation of the Federal Reserve. Source: Date: 24 December 1913 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #62 – Just Us (Justice in America)

 

The concept and practice of Justice in America is an interesting one.  It means different things to different groups within the society.  To the middle class Caucasian it is an expression of equal protection under the law of the land.  To the upper echelon of large corporations it means fines for illegal business activities and no jail time for the perpetrators.  To the lower classes it engenders a certain amount of hassle by the authorities, like “Stop and Search” in New York.  To the top few percent of our society it generally means forgiveness for most illegal activities caused by “illness.”

To Blacks, however, the concept of justice means “Just Us.”  They, the black minority, consider themselves more the victims of the system than its beneficiaries.  The statement denotes that the practice of justice falls much heavier on the Black population than on any other group within the society; that most of the criminals serving time within the prisons are Black in a society with a much larger white majority, many of whom have the same bad habits as the Black incarcerated minority.  It is an indication of an unfair or prejudiced society where the Black minority has essentially second class status.

Recently there was an incident between a Black Woman who was driving her family of five children about six miles above the posted speed limit.  The police officer had her pull over, get out of her vehicle, walked her to the back of her car, and asked her to hold out her arms and lean against the automobile.  She refused, presumably feeling that she was about to be handcuffed and arrested; and according to her testimony refused fearing for the safety of her five children.  She got back into the car while the officer kept ordering her out of the car.  He went ballistic and used his stick to break the front passenger window and had drawn his revolver.  As her car sped away another officer, who had arrived on the scene, fired three bullets at the vehicle, presumably aimed at the tires.  Remember this is an unarmed Black woman with five young children in an automobile.  A few miles down the road in town she stopped the car.  The police ordered her and her children to lie face down on the sidewalk next to the vehicle and arrested this Black lady.

Over my lifetime, more than once, I have been stopped by an officer of the law for speeding.  I have never been asked to get out of my car.  I have only been asked for my driver’s license and proof of insurance.  The policeman has always been courteous as he wrote out a speeding ticket.  But then I was never a threat to him for I have been a middle-aged to elderly Caucasian.

There was an incident not too long ago where a Black woman, who had been in some sort of auto accident, went to a nearby house to ask for help.  She needed to use the telephone.  The white woman, who at the time was alone in the house, shot her, presumably in fear of an assault.

There is always the case of Trevon Martin, who was stalked by George Zimmerman, in the housing tract where he was staying, after returning from a 7/11 retail outlet and then shot.  Would Zimmerman have been found not guilty by the jury that tried him if he were black and the person he shot was white?  I think not.

A short while ago a Congressman of Florida’s 19th District, Trey Radel, a member of the Tea Party, was arrested for the use of narcotics.  He purchased $250 worth of cocaine from an undercover law enforcement officer.  After being convicted of drug abuse Radel publically apologized to his two year old son, his wife, his parents, to his fellow members in the House of Representatives, to his constituents, to the State of Florida, and to the country at large.  He stated that he was taking a leave of absence, with pay, from Congress to deal with his illness.  His fellow Republicans in the House approved and supported his decision.  They did not ask him to resign because he had broken the law.  However the chairman of the State Republican Party called for the U.S. Representative to step down.  About a month later he did resign; but, as far as I understand, he is recovering in a sanitarium not in jail and has not lost any of his civil rights.

If he had been Black and had been caught doing this would he have been forgiven in any way for his illegal act and allowed to go into a medical facility.  How many Blacks are currently serving a prison term for possession of a small amount of drugs or are out in society but they have lost their civil rights for this same act?  One can easily understand why Blacks call the system: Just Us.

Incidentally this is also the man who voted along with his party members in the House of Representatives to have all food stamp recipients tested for narcotics use.  And would have those who otherwise qualified, that came up positive, disqualified from being able to receive food stamps for themselves and their families.

On Saturday, December 21, 2013, the Los Angeles Times published an article in is LATEXTRA section entitled, “Defying racial stereotype.”  The article explained that “a national survey finds that Black fathers are at least as involved with their kids as other men in similar living situations.”  I found the article atrocious and myself angry.  It seemed obvious that fathers are fathers.  Some are irresponsible and abusive to their families; others are the opposite, caring and thoughtful. What ethnicity has to do with this issue is nonsense.  A percentage of irresponsible parents would exist in every ethnic group.  In fact since there are more Caucasians in the society their group would have the largest number of non-caring fathers.  The racial stereotype is trite.  The fact that the LA Times felt a need to publish such an article made me angry.  At what level of maturity do they consider the majority of the public?

The Constitution of the United States originally had a 3/5th clause that had slaves counted for purposed of representation and taxes as being 3/5th of a white man.  This compromise was insisted upon by the Southern States.  The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which was added in 1865, legally freed the slaves and ended this compromise.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s presumable ended segregation.  But emotionally have the Blacks been freed?  Are they the equal of everyone else in the society?  Does justice in the United States still mean to Blacks “Just Us?”  Are the prisons in the nation largely crowded by Blacks who have committed victimless crimes against themselves?  Do police, who want to up their arrest records, find it easier to arrest Blacks than Whites, even though the same percentage of both groups equally commit the victimless crimes?

While the Three-Fifths Compromise disappeared with the Civil War its major idea of Blacks being 3/5 of a white person psychologically persists today lessening the rights of Blacks before the law.  They are fully justified in designating “justice” as “Just Us.”

What is an interesting note or irony here is that the Caucasians are no longer the majority within the country.  The demographics have changed.  We are now a nation made up of multi-minorities with our citizenry coming from all over the world, not just Western and Eastern Europe.

The Tea Party, among the Republicans, seems to be making a last stand of protest for the former white majority.  They are currently controlling the entire Republican Party and the House of Representatives.  With the current demographics how long can this last?  We have a Midterm Election coming up in 2014.

 

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The Weiner Component #49 – The Tea Party: Hypocrisy, Intolerance, & Extortion

English: Sarah Palin at the Americans for Pros...

On Wednesday, October 1, 2013, Darrel Issa, the California Tea Party Republican, who chairs the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, was addressing the Executive Park Ranger, who heads all the National Parks in the nation, at a committee meeting. He asked him why the Parks had been closed during the Government Shutdown. Several Democrats on the Committee responded negatively to Issa’s comments. One held up a hand mirror and said something to the effect of: “If you want to see who shut down the Parks look at me.” Issa’s statement at the end of the questioning was that the head of the National Park Service should resign over his handling of the government shutdowns of the public national parks.

It’s an interesting behavior pattern. Blaming someone else for what you helped bring about. It shows Issa to be as sensitive as a boulder rolling down a mountainside. Is it gall, hypocrisy, or just insensitivity to the rest of the world? Does Darrel Issa feel that his view of the world is the right one and that everyone who holds a contrary view is wrong and should change their prospective to match his? Is he the perfect representative of the Tea Party?

Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Sara Palin, and other prominent Tea Party Republicans were in shock, several days earlier when they usurped a veteran’s meeting at the new World War II Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C., to protest both the fact that it was closed during the Government Shut Down and that the Obama Administration had done this. The fact that Cruz and the Republican House of Representatives led the charge for the Government Shut Down was beside the point. It’s amazing how these people can set up a negative situation and then blame the Government for what they themselves have done. It’s like, with a straight face, claiming that white is really black and black is really white. They are arrogant with no sense of shame for their own inappropriate behavior.

The Tea Party’s actions are reminiscent of the functioning of the old Communist Party. The member or adherents of that group were so sure they were right in their beliefs and that everyone else was wrong that anything they did to advance their cause was acceptable, even to robbery, murder, or even blatantly sacrificing the lives of any number of people. Their cause was the ultimate cause; the next step in the inevitable flow of history, to them the destiny of mankind. It justified any behavior that enhanced its cause.

The old Communist Party of the late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries are gone now and so are their doctrines, all casualties of historic change. Russia (the old Soviet Union). China (The People’s Republic), and Vietnam like the United States, Great Britton, Germany, and France are all combinations of both Socialism and Capitalism.

This historic change will also happen to The Tea Party, they will, like the Know Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850 eventually become casualties of history. But before they disappear they can cause all sorts of havoc to the current generation. Up until the end of the possible government default they, a small minority of elected government legislators, had achieved control of the Republican Party moving it to the far reactionary right. They have done this by essentially controlling the money contributions that the politicians need to stay in office and by threatening their fellow Republicans with having more extreme candidates run against them in the primaries when they came up for reelection. This mode has been successful, first in shutting down the government by not passing an acceptable budget, and then up until the day of the default when the Speaker of the House brought up a Senate Bill that would extend the debt ceiling and reopen the government, created great negative problems for the Government. While the Tea Party members voted against this measure both the Democrats and moderate Republicans passed the bill and almost immediately it became law.

Various far right groups like the Heritage Foundation threatened primary runoffs against any Republicans who supported this bill. This means so far that there should be runoffs in the primaries against the majority of Republican Senators who are running for office in 2014 and the House of Representative members who supported the bill.

The 2014 Midterm Election will be very interesting and important. Particularly since the question of the Debt Ceiling will come up again in February of 2014. Hopefully by then the country will have a new budget to finance the running of the Government. Ted Cruz, among others, has threatened a Government Default. Many of the current Tea Partiers are very angry over losing the current battle over this twenty-four billion dollar fiasco. Will the far right and the Tea Party have the clout to bring about another twenty-four billion dollar crisis?

To date Tea Party control of the Republican Party has lasted three years. The Heritage Foundation and other far right organizations will have to spend billions of dollars to get their way in the primary races. They will again have to spend that much money in the actual elections against Democratic candidates. Will their contributors be that generous, particularly since the banks and other corporate contributors lost a lot of money in the first Government Shut Down and the near-default by the Federal Government.

Meanwhile the public is going to be subjected to all sorts of rhetoric about what the Tea Party will and will not do. They will be regaled with hypocrisy and intolerance.

Refusing to deal with the budget and bringing the country to the edge of default over the Debt Ceiling cost the government of the United States twenty-four billion dollars and about 250,000 jobs. This does not count other losses in industry and consumption, which could bring the lost amount to over a trillion dollars. I haven’t heard anyone in the Tea Party taking responsibility for these actions. In fact the Tea Party members in the House of Representatives all voted against raising the debt limit and funding the government. Do they even understand what they are doing? Are these the actions of a group claiming to want to reduce Government spending and increase employment? They seem to want to bend the government to their will by any means. They would destroy the state if they can’t get their way and their means of enforcing their will is blatant extortion. They feel they are that right and everyone else is that wrong. They are very much like the old Communist Party.

English: US Representative Michele Bachmann (R...

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The Weiner Component #45 – The Tea Party

The Tea Party pretends to be a populist party ...

The Tea Party pretends to be a populist party but that is misleading, for it was created with a few thousand “true believers” financed by the rich and powerful within the Republican party, This is exactly what happened in Germany in the 30s; Fascism. (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

   

The Tea Party Element of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 1, 2012, was able to shut down parts of the United States Government by refusing to pass a bill to continue funding the government.  They would only pass the bill, which they received from the Senate, if Affordable Health Care (Obama Care) were de-funded.   Neither the Senate nor the President would go along with this, calling it a form of blackmail.  The Affordable Health Care law was due to go into large-scale operation on the next day.  The bill had passed both houses in Congress and been signed by the President in 2010.  The law, on October 2, 2013 received an enormous response from people in the country who had not been able to afford medical insurance prior to that time. 

We should note that no bill had been passed funding the government for the fiscal year of 2014.  Many months’ earlier two different bills had been passed in both the House and Senate.  These two bills were different and had to be reconciled into one bill and then again passed by both Houses.  There had been eighteen requests from the Senate to meet in Conference Committee for this purpose.  Speaker Boehner had ignored all of these requests.  Consequently there was no new budget to fund the government after September 30th.  Was this a plan by the House of Representative Republicans to bring about a crisis so they could certainly kill legislation they did not like through the use of blackmail?

It seemed that the Tea Party Group would have its way or it would shut down the government, which it did.  This group, when they left the House shortly after midnight on October 2, seemed to be in a state of ecstasy, with extremely wide grins and happy body language.  Michele Bachmann looked like a young bride the morning after the first night with her husband.  I understand a number of them also reeked of alcohol.  Many of the Tea Party members had boasted for as long as six months prior to being elected that they would shut the government down.  And they now had accomplished their purpose.  Somehow I get the impression that the Tea Party’s main objective was not to do away with Affordable Health Care but to punish the government and indirectly a large percentage of the American Public.  It seems that they see the government as the enemy and want to somehow defeat it. 

One of the more dramatic effects of this government shut down was to freeze payments to wives and parents whose husbands or children were killed fighting in Afghanistan.  We are currently at war.  These people, and there are well over a dozen of them, are supposed to receive large cash payments for travel and funerals for their loved ones.  No payments have been made to any of them since the government shut down.

Interestingly, while all this was happening I remembered the original late Eighteen Century Boston Tea Party, which is usually studied in Elementary School.  The version in the youngster’s textbooks is not exactly accurate.  It’s presented as a great patriotic act, which it was not.

The British East India Company, which was owned in part by many members of the British Government, was in dire financial trouble.  Britain passed a law that would allow them to sell their tea in the American Colonies, even with taxes charged, at a deep discount. 

The American Colonists earlier had avoided paying any taxes on imports by smuggling tea and numerous other products into the colonies.  In fact smuggling was a way of life in the American Colonies.  But with the deep discount the British tea, even with a tax, would be far less expensive than the smuggled tea.  As far as the British were concerned they were getting the British East India Company out of financial difficulties and doing the colonies a favor, charging much less for tea there than in Great Britain.

Before the tea could be landed from the three ships that brought it to the colonies a group of men who coated their skin with red ocher to make them look like Indians attacked the three ships and dumped the cargos of tea into Boston harbor.  These men, it turned out, were the merchants who sold the smuggled tea in the colony.  They were mainly protecting their own financial interests.

The British were flabbergasted; they closed down the harbor of Boston, and insisted that the people of the city pay for the tea, $25,000.  The harbor would remain closed to all shipping until the tea was paid for.  At this point it became a patriotic issue not to pay for the tea, which a number of merchants were willing but afraid to do for fear that they might be attacked by the Sons of Liberty.

These were the great patriots that the modern day Tea Party has modeled itself after.  And interestingly have created a similar stalemate in the United States; this time largely closing down the government and furloughing hundreds of thousands of government employees with no salaries, plus stopping numerous necessary programs for the poor, aged, children and military personnel.  In essence almost all of the government agencies are functioning with skeleton crews.  This seems to be the great achievement of the modern day Tea Party.

By looking at their actions one get the impression that to them the Federal Government is the villain and they want to weaken it, to beat it up.  Unfortunately we are stuck with this situation until the next midterm election that will not come until November of 2014.  The House of Representatives has done nothing for the last two plus years except to exacerbate the 2008 Recession.  Luckily the Federal Reserve has been very innovative and creative in applying Monetary Policy and has slowly been able to move the country in the direction of recovery.  The current situation, if it lasts, could push us back into recession or worse.  The Tea Party, which has seemingly taken over the Republican Party, is doing a good job of beating up the United States.

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The issue becomes more devastating when one considers that the Tea Party members of the House of Representatives form about 20 to 25 percent of the Republicans there.  They have seized control of the party and rule it firmly.  The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was reelected as Speaker in 2012 by a Republican majority of three votes.  If two Republicans in the House were to change their votes he could be dropped like a hot potato from his position.  Boehner, it seems, has become a mindless extension of the Tea Party.

The irony of the situation is what’s really needed is a budget for the fiscal year of 2014.  A bill to this effect that should have been passed months earlier in both Houses of Congress and signed by the President and would have solved the problem without any crises; but the House of Representatives refused to participate in the process.  Thus it has brought about a National crisis.  The irony of this situation is that if a bill were to be passed ending this issue it would only affect the country until the end of December when there would be a new budget crisis over funding the government for the new year.  Another crisis!  Another opportunity for blackmail!

In addition to this it is estimated that on October 16th the Debt Ceiling will be reached and Congress will have to raise it or default on its debts.  This action will not only affect the credit of the United States it could bring about a deep recession or depression, far deeper than that of 1929, and also affect other nations pushing them into recession.   All of this being brought about by a minority of Tea Party Republicans among the Republicans in the House of Representatives!  We are in a strange state of being!

Someone on TV has stated that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are no longer chosen by the people.  Instead they choose their constituents who, in turn, elect them.  The midterm Election of 2010, when the Republicans won a majority in the House and in a number of state legislatures and governorships, was a census year in which the states set new boundaries for the election of members of the House, depending upon the census count.  By fancy gerrymandering the Republicans reset the election boundaries to give themselves the greatest advantage in any election.  They maintained the majority of representatives in the House even though the House Democrats received 1.4 million more votes than the Republicans in the 2012 Election.  The number of people in each of the Districts varied tremendously.  Some votes count more than others.  Presumably this guarantees that the Republicans will maintain control of the House of Representatives.  And also this makes the primary elections in these districts more important than the actual elections.  The more liberal elements among the Republicans in the House are constantly threatened that if they do not hue to the party line, vote the way the Tea Party wants, they will have more conservative Republicans run against them in the primaries for their next election. 

In addition the ultimate irony of all of this is that there is nothing behind the U.S. dollar but the word of the government.  In fact this is true of all currencies now.  American money is valued and accepted throughout this planet.  All the government has to do is issue more currency to quickly solve this problem.  But the Tea Party, whose minds are still in the 18th Century, is in a position to not let this happen.  In their ignorance or spite they could bring about a world depression!  They have the power but not the intelligence to run the government.

In the 2012 Election, despite their gerrymandering, some Republicans lost their seats in the House to Democrats.  If this happens again the Democrats could regain control of the House of Representatives.  Obviously it would take more than a 1.4 million majority voting for members of the House.

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The Weiner Component #24 – One Vote Per Person

English: Original cartoon of "The Gerry-M...

The basic concept of a Democracy is one vote per person, with every vote counting equally.  According to the Constitution, “We The People,” and not the states, created this nation.  Yet in the 2012 Election the states by the electoral vote determined the President and the states through gerrymandering determined the representation in the House of Representatives.  The Republicans got the majority of representatives even though the Democrats received one million one hundred thousand more Congressional votes.  Somehow the intent of the Constitution seems to have been subverted.

The government is the servant of the people carrying out the majority will with protections for the minorities.  This is how this country is supposed to function.  If it does not then the system has been corrupted and must be cleansed.  In the 2012 Election the majority will was compromised and to a certain extent thwarted.

Even though the Democratic Party received over a million more votes in the House Election the Republicans got the majority of Representatives there.  How was this possible?

In England during the 18th and 19th Centuries, as the voting franchise was gradually extended to all males, there were, with the Enclosure Movement and the Industrial Revolution, a mass movement of people from the rural areas to the urban centers.  No adjustments were made to balance the votes and what developed were “rotten boroughs;” areas where the number of voters necessary to elect a member of the House of Commons was well under one hundred voters, in some cases under twenty, while in the urban factory towns it could be in the multi-thousands.  And anyone could run in any district in the country.  There was also open voting; the secret ballot did not exist until 1872.  The “rotten boroughs” were not done away with until the middle of the 19th Century.

In the United States the system that developed was called  “Gerrymandering.”  The term Gerrymander was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette on March 26, 1812.  It came from the name of the then-Governor, Elbridge Gerry who had signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic Party.  One of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander.  The term was a combination of the governor’s last name and the word salamander.  In 1812 the Massachusetts Senate remained firmly in Democratic hands while the House and Governorship went to the Federalist Party.

Besides achieving desired electoral result for a particular party, gerrymandering has been used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group.

In the 2012 Election a number of states elected Republican majorities on all levels of their government.  In the United States there is a census every ten years for the purpose of redistricting the voting districts on both the state and Federal level.  The political party in power usually draws the new districting map.  By carefully drawing the lines they can break up ethnic or racial groups, set up districts with definite party majorities, or emphasis any group they want.  There are no rules in drawing the shape of these districts and they can take any shape possible, hence gerrymandering.  In addition many of these states made voting much more difficult, if not almost impossible, in districts that favored the opposition party.

In 2012 the district lines drawn up allowed the Republican controlled states to win control of the House of Representatives with far less than fifty percent of the votes cast for members of the House.  It took a lot of maneuvering and strange shaped voting districts to do this.

Isn’t it time for the Federal Government or the courts to set up a system that creates these districts on a non-partisan basis with simple shapes strictly according to the population?  If the government cannot do this then it may take a Constitutional Amendment to achieve this goal.

A Democracy is supposed to be a government representing the will of the majority.

Our goal should be to make this in the best way possible.  The British eventually got rid of their “rotten boroughs.”  Are we ever going to get rid of gerrymandering?

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