Category Archives: 2014 election

Andrea Mitchell and Hillary Clinton

Andrea Mitchell is getting on my last nerve lately. Right wing media tags her as partial to Hillary Clinton, but it sure doesn’t seem that way. Andrea Mitchell has questioned Hillary again and again about her use of that private server to get her emails while she was Secretary of State. She has interviewed her several times, seeming to intimate that there is a terrible secret reason for her choice of that private server.

Ms. Mitchell, whose own career in the news business rose steadily since she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967 with a BA in English Lit., is either at the peak of her career or slightly past the peak. On this issue she probes long after it seems that there is nothing much left to probe.

Hillary has apologized. She cannot go back and undo her choice. All Ms. Mitchell’s interrogation seems to suggest that she is with the right wing on this issue and believes there is some sinister connection to the events in Benghazi. Or perhaps she is trying to make the point that Hillary’s poor choice (boo boo, lack of tech savvy, accident – see how the weight of events changes with the adjective) makes Hillary unfit to be President and that she needs to be hounded out of the race so that the Democratic Party can be competitive in the 2016 election.

While it seems as if, for Andrea Mitchell, Hillary has already failed her screening the Presidency yet Andrea Mitchell does not seem to feel that the GOP slip which gave away the political nature of the Benghazi special investigation should lead to the demise of this committee. Why not? Why are we powerless to deal with these transparent and distasteful election ploys? Andrea Mitchell clubs Hillary with polls that show her as untrustworthy and unlikeable, but it is hard to tell if people are just susceptible to what they hear on the news.

I am here in the cheap seats and I am not hearing a groundswell or drum beat for Hillary Clinton to be President out here in the boonies of NYS, far from Manhattan, but not a lot of people here are news junkies like I am. They watch the evening news, they read what Facebook sends their way (usually articles that feed their beliefs) and they like some drama with their news (FOX News). It is still difficult to tell which came first, their stand on the issues or what they hear on the news. They do not agree that this is not their parent’s Republican Party and that boggles my mind.

My ‘spidey’ sense, which can detect sedition, is not tingling in relation to this email story, but I’m still listening. I am unable to discern how choosing an ill-considered server could be an act of sedition, but I have no trouble labeling a recurring desire to shut down the Federal government at great cost to taxpayers as sedition. Although these Republican disrupters may think they are patriots rebelling on behalf of Constitutional government, I see them as puppets of the Koch brothers trying to dismantle government.

If Andrea Mitchell is acting as Hillary’s friend I would not want to be her enemy. If she keeps pounding away at Hillary with this email hammer it is very possible that Hillary will eventually have to withdraw from the election. Ms. Mitchell seems to believe that Democrats cannot win in 2016 with Hillary, but what if we can’t win in 2016 without her?

Morality in America: Secular or Religious?

America wants to be and believes that it is a moral nation, at least as moral as flawed humans know how to make it, but we are in the midst of a tug of war to decide if our morality will be secular or religious. It is unclear why we are even having this argument. The Constitution and our forefathers clearly come down on the side of religious freedom for American citizens and they have left enough written documentation to convince most of us that the founders of our nation felt that the best way to insure religious freedom is to separate government and religion. This would seem to negate the formation of a Theocracy.

However, some in present-day politics are trying to walk back our traditional understanding of what our founders intended while claiming that they can channel the actual intentions of those who wrote our founding documents. They argue that America harbored only sects of Christianity in Colonial times and that, if our forefathers had been faced with Muslims, or Buddhists, or other global religions that have found a home in modern day America, then they might have written about religion and government in a different way, or they might have made America a Christian nation. But wishing it, or even positing it as a logical conclusion, does not make it so. I would like to think that our founders were far-sighted and wise, but think the 3/5 rule which turned some people into objects, and think about the blatant elitism of our forefathers, which suggest that they were products of their times, perhaps overseers rather than seers.

Examining the differences between secular morality and what advocates mean when they long for religious morality might help inform of us of which way we would like to go. The right wing Conservatives, with a preponderance of Evangelical Christians offer us some insight into religious morality. We get an impression of an Old Testament sensibility, a return to the rules as laid down in Leviticus. We have the Ten Commandments, of course, but when we turn them into very literal rules for our nation they would change America a great deal. I won’t go through them one by one.

The Commandment we are most caught up in right now is Thou shalt not commit murder. Here is the Pro Life argument in a nutshell. How will we ever get around the moral argument about whether or not the killing of an unborn baby, whether it is a mere blob of cells, a possibility of life, or whether it has taken fetal form and resembles a child is murder or whether that Christian concept is not the business of our government. We know women have aborted unwanted children since the beginnings of time and at great risk. Sometimes the timing of a pregnancy is so wrong or the circumstances of the pregnancy are so repugnant that a woman is almost obsessed with stopping the pregnancy. Sometimes a woman knows or senses her own life will be in danger if she gives birth to a child or even shows anyone that she is pregnant. Since pregnancy falls within the female realm, the decision about aborting a pregnancy should fall within the female realm and the process should be as safe as possible and should definitely not involve rooting the fetal cells out with a stick or a coat hanger. If the GOP truly wants to end abortion then they need to set up humane systems to help women through to term and to find parents for the children that are the result of unwanted pregnancies. Until these systems are in place I don’t see how women will agree to ending legal abortion.

Besides adopting a literal interpretation of the Ten Commandments, we have those who suggest that we need to heed things that are often incidentally described in the Bible as the Christian traditions that pertained at the times when the Bible was written, although quite a few centuries passed before we had both the new and the old testaments. So we have those who admonish women to be submissive and to allow their husbands to control the lives of the family. I’m not sure, given what we now understand about the way this can lead to domestic abuse of wives or children or both why we would ever want to take power away from women ever again, or why women would freely give up their position as equals.

Those on the religious right argue that having women once again assume a submissive role in relation to their husband would restore the nuclear family, end crime, end immorality and end sexual and gender “deviation”, in other words, would put LGBT people back into the closet or put them in danger of being punished for their “immoral” behavior. And then, they (these new patriarchs) argue we could end all this political correctness crap and, in fact, life would be good. Society’s rules would be simple and clear, and right and wrong would be spelled out according to God and Jesus [or to someone’s interpretation of acceptable Christian protocols for living a Godly life].

The Bible does not talk about evolution, so we would just bury centuries of scientific inquiry? Science, in fact, comes up with so many conclusions that appear to be at odds with the Bible that we can expect that abandoning scientific pursuits will bring us all closer to the heaven. Will we punish those who have curiosity built into their psyches? Well we will certainly have to pass laws against such investigations of our world and decide how we will punish those who persist. Can you see how this could all get out of hand very fast? Do you want an America that lives out the dream of the Puritans? Do we want to measure our government’s laws by any particular religion? Will we have a democratic government if it is “God” (as interpreted by man) calling the shots?

Clearly sticking with secular morality grants us the freedom to maintain a democracy. But what rules apply to secular morality? That is what makes it all so difficult to enjoy freedom because a citizen must frequently judge what will offer maximum freedom to the most people, while doing the least harm. This is an enormous task. We often get the balance wrong. Here we rely on the dialectic to set things right. When things go too far in one direction forces drag events back towards the center.

So take the case of campaign finance, which most of us agree is totally out of whack with the very foundation of democratic government. Once our Supremes agreed that corporations were people we gave our elections back to the very elite who argued for ascendancy at our nation’s founding. We gave our elections to the wealthy this time, not the landowners, although I’m sure they all own land (perhaps not in America, though). President Obama’s election proves that small donors have some power, but the right wing is trying hard to negate that. Republicans have more milestones on their agenda to turn our governance over to the wealthy. Now individuals can give as much as they wish. Republicans manufactured an IRS scandal and raised such a ruckus that no one can reevaluate the use of 501 C-4’s again. Even the ploy to pass a flat tax needs to be examined very carefully because it is most likely a political IED. In fact Republicans would like to simplify our government right to death.

We are trying to make sure that secular morality, that old golden rule of ‘Do Unto Others as You Would Have Others Do Unto You’ is still a guiding force in our nation. We are trying to practice a new American Exceptionalism that relies on diplomacy and a ‘live and let live’ spirit (whenever possible) rather than the old idea of exceptionalism that says we must loom over everyone and threaten to beat them into submission because fear is the only emotion people really understand.

The American experiment to respect each other and to share power is still an exceptionally idealistic one and, in that sense, our exceptionalism still lives and, if we were allowed to cooperate with other world governments to help lift people around the globe and turn the planet into a safe, stable, and healthy world the morality of that would far outshine any Puritanical rule of lockstep religious practices and prejudices that could ever come out of the atavistic longings of the right wing of the Republican Party in America.

By Nancy Brisson

The Twenty-Five Year Depression – Yikes!

People have been posting doomsday articles on my Facebook page… so delightful. Not. With the world so twitchy and insecure, with change on the world menu wherever we look, it is not at all hard to believe that some catastrophic event could turn us into the newest extinct critters at any moment.

Our natural disasters seem epic in scale ever since Katrina destroyed an old, established and well-loved city and half of the Gulf Coast; ever since the horrific scenes we witnessed in Haiti. The tsunami near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in Japan was destructive on a scope we have not experienced in our lifetimes, the storms that have hit in the South Pacific (Australia and the Philippines) caused get damage, and just last week two plates crunched together and almost wiped out an enormous swath of Nepal, killing people in numbers we equate only with nuclear disaster. The tsunami that preceded the Japanese tsunami and temporarily erased Sri Lanka and neighboring nations also killed many people, both natives and tourists. The forces unleashed seem enormous and that makes us worry that something more damaging and all-encompassing will happen at any moment.

In 2008, when the housing bubble burst, we felt a shudder of fear run through America, and indeed, much of the world. We knew that with the exodus of our factories the American economy was already having difficulties with full employment. Our unemployment rates were too high, especially among the poor and the middle class. Austerity loomed and only the polarization of our Federal government, which made bipartisan agreement on anything quite unlikely, probably protected us from strict belt-tightening measures. We are pleased that there has been a modicum of recovery, but we are nervous about how many Americans lives have still not found an acceptable degree of individual prosperity or opportunity. We are all aware that a few people around the world have cornered most of the world’s wealth and that they intend to protect it and, basically, hoard it.

So amidst the omens and worries of our new existence come these guys who I am sure have plenty of money. They tell us how nervous they are that they will lose all they have. They tell us that the dollar is no longer a secure currency and they predict that within 6 months we could find ourselves in a 25 year long depression. They write articles about what currencies are safe havens for your wealth. What are those of us with no wealth to think? We have mortgages and credit card bills and car payments. Our money already seems practically useless.

One of these prognosticators is Mr. Rickards who works for the government as an expert in asymmetrical warfare, whatever that is. He has written a book with the subtle title The Death of Money. Of course, we are instantly alerted to the possibility that the word ‘charlatan’ may have relevance here. But a little wedge of our brain keeps whispering that he may know what he is talking about. This stuff is still classified as “conspiracy theory” and “doomsday” nonsense by most. In fact, Rickards project is called The Prophecy Project, not a title that appeals to sane folks who usually don’t pay attention to data from the supernatural realm.

So I give you here the links. Read what these “experts” have to say and make your own decision. It is highly unlikely that we can do any kinds of survivalist crap that will keep us going through a quarter of a century. If money is useless, I doubt that most of us can convert our money to safe haven currencies. I doubt we will be able to hang on to our housing or find a way to produce the energy necessary to maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. In other words, most of us are screwed. It is difficult to understand why these guys would bother to post to hoi polloi on Facebook. Perhaps they are hoping to foment panic so that their predictions will come to pass and increase their wealth and their reputation before we all subside into anarchy. No sense losing sleep over this is what I say. And then I hope I am right.

http://economyandmarkets.com/breaking-news/greatest-stock-market-collapse-great-depression/

http://totalwealthresearch.com/rickards/five-signs-world-on-the-cusp-all-out-war/?from=oo

http://moneymorning.com/2011/07/26/safe-haven-currencies-want-flee-us-dollar-here-four-places-hide/

http://www.wealthdaily.com/resources/surviving-the-coming-economic-collapse

http://jimrickardsprophecy.com/bs/white-lando.php?ad=search

By Nancy Brisson

 

Out to Pasture

 
 
On Meet the Press this past Sunday, October 20, 2013, Round Table guests talked about the need for Obama to find a way to isolate the 40 or so “renegades” in Congress, to corral them and negate their influence, and the fact that he has not been able to do this is what has made him look weak. Does Obama have any allies who could help him do this? Is this even possible? This seems like a highly desirable outcome if it could succeed. Then the Democrats and the more moderate Conservatives could get some things done for America and the American people.

If the Republicans, through effective obstructionism are able to prevent Democrats from trying any of their solutions for empowering the middle class, stimulating the economy, improving infrastructure, and lowering our carbon footprint to levels that may effectively halt global warming, then we will have wasted eight years and we will not ever know if those policies would have succeeded. Better to let us try our solutions out; then if they fail I guess that Republicans can have their way with us, but they haven’t given the American people that chance.

These experts at the Round Table felt that the Immigration Bill might be the legislation that would give Obama the opening, if he had a good game plan, to cut the most extreme right wingers, the tea partiers if you will, from the herd. If that highly desirable goal could be achieved then we might not have to pin all our hopes on the 2014 election (although the Democrats should still put their energy into winning whatever seats they can) and we would have a valuable new Immigration Law in the bargain. Almost every economist tells us that passing the Immigration Bill would have a very positive effect on our economy.

My little heart goes pitter-pat with hope as these political analysts raise the possibility that Obama could find a strategy to defuse the Tea Party and send them into far pastures from which their bellowing cannot be heard. President Obama, could this really happen? I guess we can’t arrest them for sedition because they sort of backed down (not really). We don’t have a great “cattle dog” who could herd those tea partiers up to the back forty. Who would that cattle dog be? My brain has nothing. Perhaps some of those really smart people out there can come up with a clever idea.

If not then we must elect Democrats in 2014. This does not mean we need to send all of our Representatives out into the cold. We can’t just throw the bums out. We tried that before. We need to be smart about this. We need to study the electorate and get a Democrat elected wherever we possibly can.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

Basically A Rant

 

The correct strategies for America are not always the most selfish ones. It’s not all about us all the time. Sometimes we must look at the big picture because everything is interconnected. Some string that is pulled somewhere else can unravel or re-knit our future.

And, then there is the truth that, at this point in time, the Republicans will not allow Obama to pass any new laws that improve the economy, the infrastructure, or jobs. If we don’t elect Democrats in 2014 we have almost 3 long years to concentrate on foreign affairs. If we truly do not want to get involved in any more wars, I would trust Obama much more than I would trust the Republicans to admonish a dictator without getting us involved in a foreign war. The only way the war in Syria can escalate and suck in the world is if a powerful force like Russia joins in. If Putin is serious about helping get rid of the chemical weapons in Syria, then he probably is not interested in starting World War III. If we stay civil and Russia stays civil then perhaps we can pull this off. Americans do not appear to be too fond of civility right now, sad to say. Instead all the little voices fall in line echoing the charge that Obama is a weak President. I repeat; if Obama can end the use of chemical weapons in Syria without starting a new war, then he is anything but weak.

If there is anything this President does that is weak it is to give Republicans another opening to tout his weakness and force him to bargain when these Republicans know all along that they will say “no” to him again and again and again. This does not make Obama seem weak to me. It makes him seem like a President who respects the Constitution and who tries to give Republicans every opportunity to cut out the partisan politics and do their jobs as outlined in that very Constitution that describes how our government is supposed to work. Nowhere in the Constitution I read does it say that people outside the government should be promised a stronger allegiance than is given to a fair consideration of the laws that build a stronger America.

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers should be like the rest of us. They are citizens with one vote each. But they have found ways to pull the strings of large numbers of Americans turning them into disenchanted citizens and puppet voters who repeat, like mantras, arguments drummed into them by skillful pundits. These pundits know the fears some Americans hold in their hearts and minds and they stoke the fires lit under these fears, bank the coals, and then stoke them again. They have fostered a bunch of conspiracy junkies and they will ruin America if we let them. These pundits have been primed to serve the interests of Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, the Tea Party and whatever other shadowy figures are in the Conservative Cabal.

So we have plenty of time to take the big view, the long view, while we wait for America to wake up and throw off the strings of the mind controllers who have taken over the GOP.

What would we like to see happen in the Middle East? Perhaps we would like to see strong, healthy Middle Eastern countries where government and religion are separate. Perhaps people in the Middle East will chose peaceful coexistence and tolerance over hate and aggression; these nations’ peoples will find a balance that will allow the citizens to live stable and productive lives in which there is no dictator holding on to all of the nations’ wealth. What can we do to encourage this? Wouldn’t such an outcome have a profoundly positive effect on us and the world? Playing a bit of referee doesn’t seem too much to ask from the rest of the world community. After all we have plenty of time right now to keep an eye on the violations of war behavior which result in the horrors of genocide. If we allow these practices we will never achieve that real peace, tolerance, and prosperity we wish for the Middle East and the world.

If you want Obama to accomplish our goals for our domestic future then you had better raise your voice and tell Republicans to stop obstructionism in Congress, to stop encouraging red states to pass laws that challenge the current laws in America, and to stop brainwashing and scaring gullible Americans. We need to elect Democrats in 2014.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

 

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

Republicans Winning at State Level

The Republicans may have been doing nothing in Washington, DC but they have been very busy in the states. I don’t know about you but it makes me very nervous that 2/3 of our states have Republican governors and over half have a Republican majority in both houses of their Congress. For a party that is trying to restore Federalism in which the Federal government takes a minor role and most domestic power goes to the states I would say that the GOP is on point to implement this facet of their “plan” should they win control in Washington. This is one more reason in a growing list of reasons why we should not let this happen. If you like the Federal-State mix we have now, if you like Medicare and Social Security, if you feel the Federal government should use some of our tax dollars to make sure  children don’t starve in America  and that our disabled are cared for and our poorest citizens are not abandoned, then I say “be afraid,  be very afraid. Republicans do not wish the middle class well and as for the poor and society’s other dependents, they seem only to desire to cut them loose.
1.        Alabama                 Robert Bently                          2015                        Both houses Republican

2.        Alaska                     Sean Parnell                            2014                        Both houses Rep.

3.        Arizona                    Jan Brewer                              2015                        Both houses Rep.

4.        Florida                     Rick Scott                                 2015                        Both houses Rep.

5.        Georgia                   Nathan Deal                            2015                        Both houses Rep.

6.        Idaho                       Butch Otter                             2015                        Both houses Rep.

7.        Indiana                    Mike Pence                             2017                        Both houses Rep.

8.        Iowa                        Terry Branstaad                      2015                        Houses are split

9.        Kansas                     Sam Brownback                      2015                        Both Houses are Republican

10.     Louisiana                 Bobby Jindal                            2016                        Split

11.     Maine                      Paul LePage                            2015                        Both houses Democratic

12.     Michigan                 Rick Snyder                             2015                        Both houses Republican

13.     Mississippi              Phil Bryant                              2016                        Both houses Rep.

14.     Nebraska                 Dave Heineman                      2015                        Non partisan

15.     Nevada                    Brian Sandoval                        2015                        Both Houses Democratic

16.     New Jersey             Chris Christie                           2014                        Both houses Democratic

17.     New Mexico            Susana Martinez                     2015                        Both houses Democratic

18.     North Carolina        Pat McCrory                            2017                        Both houses Republican

19.     North Dakota          Jack Dalrymple                        2016                        Both houses Republican

20.     Ohio                        John Kasich                             2015                        Both houses Rep.

21.     Oklahoma               Mary Fallin                              2015                        Both houses Rep.

22.     Pennsylvania           Tom Corbell                            2015                        Both houses Rep.

23.     South Carolina        Nikki Haley                              2015                        Both houses Rep.

24.     South Dakota          Dennis Daugaard                    2015                        Both houses Rep.

25.     Tennessee               Bill Haslam                             2015                        Both houses Rep.

26.     Texas                       Rick Perry                                2015                        Both houses Rep.

27.     Utah                        Gary Herbert                           2017                        Both houses Rep.

28.     Virginia                   Bob McDonnell                       2017                        Both houses Rep.

29.     Wisconsin               Scott Walker                           2015                        Both houses Rep.

30.     Wyoming                Matt Mead                              2015                        Both houses Republican

Here it is in map form (you know the red states are Republican):
 
 
 
 

 

·         27 Republican controlled legislatures

·         17 Democratically controlled legislatures

·         5 Split Legislatures

·         1 Officially non-partisan legislature (Nebraska)
 
 
It takes 270 electors to win the Presidency in the electoral college. By my count the current state of the states gives Republicans 311 electoral votes. While it is possible that the popular vote in a given state might not reflect  the configuration of the state’s government, it also seems very possible that those in power are a reflection of the sentiments of the voters in that state. Here’s the map:
 
 
  

 

 

This is the view from the cheap seats

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

Off to the Races

 
 
The pundits and commentators who eat, sleep, and breathe politics are off to the races – the 2016 Presidential races that is. They can’t help themselves. The Republicans (who have no viable candidates) are just too juicy to resist. The Democrats have to wait for Hillary so they are no fun for these guys at all. (Until last night at least, when several seasoned newsmen decided that Hillary has informally put herself into the race.) But the GOP has these media “President-makers” salivating (why, I have to ask).

I know that the Presidential election is as close to a sport as politics gets. Handicapping potential candidates, filling in those racing sheets with pros and cons; it is almost as good as picking the brackets for the NCAA Tournament.

But, you need to cut it out boys! And I say boys because male commentators seem to be much more likely to engage in this type of behavior and to do it way too early. Hold your horses! Don’t jump the gun! The odds are way too long! I won’t go on.

We still have a very important (much more important than usual) 2014 election. Handicap that. What seats are open? Who’s running? Who’s likely to win? Keep track of it for us. Do the counts, please. You are the experts after all.

No wonder most voters don’t vote in midterm elections; you news folks skip right over the midterms. You don’t generate any excitement about them. Turn the midterms into a horse race. We need people to get out and vote in 2014 before the elections in 2016. I have made a bet, I guess with myself, that if we get a majority of Dems in both the House and the Senate for Obama’s last two years he can bust through that lame duck crap and still get some of the people’s business done. He can get back the two years he had at the beginning of his Presidency, the ones with the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress that got scrapped by the “great recession”. It seems fair that Obama get those two years back. It seems unfair that the people get only 4 years of work out of an 8 year Presidential term. Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer – I’m talking to you – and anyone else who is off to the races.

I know that Republicans have a meeting just about every minute and that these meetings are like flashing a bunny in front of a dog in front of a horse. You are like little news puppets. The GOP is playing you. They keep your attention on 2016 so they can have their way with 2014. Get a grip guys and if there are any girls who are guilty, you get a grip too. Focus – 2014, then 2016, please, please, please!

 

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

Change Senate Filibuster Rules Now

The two old “dogs” in the Senate, Harry Reid, Majority Leader and Democrat; Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader and Republican are going head to head this weekend on Sunday, Politics Day on TV.  They are deep in a battle about the filibuster and its overuse in the Senate. Today if there are not 60 votes in favor of a bill, there will be an automatic filibuster which will kill the bill. Every bill must meet the same test, from the least important decisions to the largest. Harry Reid wants to change this filibuster rule which has grown more restrictive with time and which is being used to hold up judicial appointments and cabinet appointments among other things.


Here’s Greg Sargent talking in this morning’s Washington Post in an article titled: The Morning Plum: Why the battle over the filibuster reform matters:


“All signs are that Harry Reid is serious about his threat to exercise the nuclear option and change the Senate rules — ending the filibuster on executive nominations — by simple majority. While Republicans could still cave and acquiesce to Reid’s demand for action on a slate of nominations — allowing Dems to avoid taking the ultimate step, which they would plainly prefer — it is increasingly likely Reid will have no choice but to hit the nuke button.

If so, an epic political battle will unfold over whether the move was justified — one focused on public opinion, and even more so, on elite opinion.”



“In fairness to Republicans, it is not easy to prove in a granular, numerical way that GOP obstructionism of nominations in particular is unprecedented, because there are many ways to cut and evaluate the numbers. But the broad strokes of this debate are overwhelmingly clear. It is plainly true that Republicans have effectively turned the Senate into a 60-vote, super-majority body for even routine business, in a way we haven’t seen before. It is plainly true that Republicans are obstructing Obama nominations (such as Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) for the explicit purpose of preventing the agencies themselves from functioning, rather than just out of objections to the nominees themselves.

I’ll have more for you on this case later, but for now, the point is that these things matter. What’s at stake is the functioning of our democracy, and whether all of this should simply be accepted as a new normal. It shouldn’t.”



“This debate is important. And I hope folks will make a serious effort to get to the bottom of it.”



“* WHY THE FILIBUSTER SHOWDOWN IS LOOMING: The Post’s Paul Kane makes an important point: The showdown is in part the result of the fact that Senate leadership on both sides is under increasing pressure from new arrivals to the Senate, with conservatives demanding more confrontation and obstruction, and liberals insisting on more reform.

On the Democratic side, the potential exercise of the nuke option is clearly the result of a new influx of energetic progressives who are genuinely focused on reforming the Upper Chamber and are impatient with Senate business as usual.



* GET READY FOR EPIC BATTLE OVER FILIBUSTER: The Dem-allied Americans United for Change is out with a new web video detailing the scope of GOP obstruction of Obama nominees and legislation alike, and its consequences, labeling the Republicans the “Grand Obstruction Party.” As noted above, this is likely to be a battle over elite opinion as much as anything else, and outside groups are gearing up.”

Me – The U.S. Constitution calls for a majority. A majority is 51 votes. Making it necessary to have a super-majority in order for a bill to pass is of fairly recent origin. It is time for this rule to go away because it is being used to obstruct the party in control of the Executive Branch and the party in control of the Senate. It is being used by that party, you know which one, the one that lost the last election, to obstruct the agenda of the current administration, to hold America in place until the GOP can rig future elections through voter laws and more gerrymandering (actually gerrymandering on steroids, drawn on a house-to-house basis) and their control over state governments to really put their agenda in place, an agenda that will hurt all Americans except the wealthiest. That filibuster rule should never have become the norm and this is the time to change most Senate votes back to votes that can be won by a simple majority.



Robert Reich, who you may think is as much of a lefty wingnut as many Republicans are righty wingnuts, wrote this intriguing little piece in The Huffington Post this week. At any other time in history I would think that his contentions are fear-mongering and extreme, but at this particular crossroads in history his thinking rings true to me. (See my blog about The Gray Men).


An Impertinent Question


Permit me an impertinent question (or three).

Suppose a small group of extremely wealthy people sought to systematically destroy the U.S. government by (1) finding and bankrolling new candidates pledged to shrinking and dismembering it; (2) intimidating or bribing many current senators and representatives to block all proposed legislation, prevent the appointment of presidential nominees, eliminate funds to implement and enforce laws, and threaten to default on the nation’s debt; (3) taking over state governments in order to redistrict, gerrymander, require voter IDs, purge voter rolls, and otherwise suppress the votes of the majority in federal elections; (4) running a vast PR campaign designed to convince the American public of certain big lies, such as climate change is a hoax, and (5) buying up the media so the public cannot know the truth.

Would you call this treason?

If not, what would you call it?

And what would you do about it?

Me – Sadly, I have felt for some time that there is an organized strategy coming out of Republican groups to change the face of America with the goal of drastically diminishing the power of the federal government, ending the social safety web, giving us a “Darwinist America” with a sink-or-swim principle that will turn life into a quagmire for most of us, instituting a flat tax and giving corporations, banks and financial markets free rein, without regulation. America will truly live out the “survival of the fittest” battle that rules most of the natural world without big brains. America will then become a business profiting some, rather than an ideal which attempts to bring out the best our big brains have to offer. 
As Americans we can see that simply adding layers of complex government programs without ever examining their effectiveness or tweaking their efficiency is leading to a federal government and budget that is a bit unwieldy, but streamlining laws and programs is not the same thing as just abandoning them. We could be making a dent in closing loopholes that allow for abuse in federal social safety net programs, but with the insistence on super majorities in both the Senate and the House we are unable to accomplish anything. We are in a massive tug of war for the future of America and the Republicans are toeing the line until they can tug the future in their direction, but they are also creating conditions on their side of the line that will give them an advantage when it is time for that next tug.


We need to encourage our Senators to change the current filibuster rules in the Senate right now because, you may think that you have your hands on the Republican rope and that you will win if you stay on that side, but you are not rich enough to be a Republican, and Republicans will change America in ways that will astound you and hurt you if we don’t wake up now and make some changes to end GOP obstructionism. We need to elect Democrats in 2014.


Hater Week – Zombies v the American People

 

It is always interesting to watch the GOP in the Obama years as they zombie-up and do nothing except grumble, criticize, and complain; accuse, indict, and convict. We the people have elected a President who, according to the GOP, can do nothing right. Not only is the President wrong but so are the American people. They are so glad that Congress is basically their bitch and that they can correct the mistaken policies that the President and the American people wish to pursue. They are secretly congratulating themselves that they have been able to hold our feet to the cleansing fires of austerity and have been able to keep employment low so that they could continue to blame the Democrats for high unemployment and bad fiscal policy, even while making it impossible for Democrats to have any say in setting fiscal policy since just after the original stimulus plan. OK, through a less than pretty strategy we did get the tax increase at the top, but through a technicality we remained saddled with Grover Norquist.

This week the Republicans have been making my head whip around like that poor possessed woman in The Exorcist. First we have had to listen to them insisting that the Boston bomber should be treated like an enemy combatant even though he is an American citizen. What? When an American joined terrorists in the Middle East and was killed in a drone strike, Republicans were appalled that this traitor was not treated as an American citizen and given a fair trial. Now we have another American, however much we might want to disavow him as a citizen, and this time they are irate that he is not being treated as an enemy combatant. Whiplash! It looks like the only strategy these two complaints have in mind is to indict Obama. Why is our Congress fighting our President when America has so many real enemies? Good question.

These guys are playing a long game of their own. They plan to hold America in place, to not let it move one inch to the left, until they can take office in 2016 and pursue the agenda that they mistakenly believe is the road back to a “morally straight” America, which, if we are totally honest, has never existed. We are human beings; we are flawed; we do the best we can. The GOP will then create the Fundamentalist Heaven on Earth that they swear we will all be grateful for and they will distort America in whatever ways they must to bring the corporations back and keep them here by busting the unions. And we will drill happily ever after until the Rapture.

The second thing that happened this week was this stuff with the air traffic controllers and the Sequester. The Senate came together and unanimously passed a bill to keep control towers open on the eve of their Spring break. Wow! That was the fastest move I have seen this Congress make in the last five years! What, no filibuster? I didn’t see that kind of hustle when toddlers lost their Head Start programs.

I don’t know that I have ever been more aware of how little power citizens have in our government than I have in recent years. We can write our Congressional representatives, we can write editorials, we can march in demonstrations and carry signs, but these behaviors have had almost no effect on Republicans who have their districts zipped up and squared away through gerrymandering and tradition. If they are able to change the election laws in the other ways they would like they will make it even more difficult to unseat Republicans. Yes, I know this is the way American politics works and that all of these things fall under the category of strategy, but there must be lines that are drawn that make some things off limits; some things too manipulative and underhanded to be legal. Where are the lines? They are disappearing. Obama’s new digital grassroots campaign strategies have actually given me the greatest hope that the average citizen can still participate in government but soon these techniques will be co-opted by both the GOP and by the marketplace and their effectiveness will be neutralized.

There seems to be only one way out of this untenable situation, out from under the party that is usurping the rights of American citizens and changing the landscape of our democracy perhaps forever. Elect Democrats in 2014!