America Needs More Congressmen..

Banner- Looney Bin I am feeling better today so I thought I would tackle a “Crayon Marks” post about one of your favorite topics, Congress.. 🙂 

America needs more congressmen. Hundreds and hundreds more congressmen.  I love my friends over at The Week for regularly looking over the sides of our nationalist boxes for new solutions and this is one of them a few weeks ago.  Gerrymandering has skewed the representation of our country so that it is no longer about who gets the majority of votes and that takes power away from the people. It seems without the court skewing the vote will never get solved so we need to look at other solutions.

The first thing you must realize is that everything that happens inside the Beltway Loony Bin is about posturing. It’s primarily about getting and holding power for as long as possible and getting re-elected. So, how do you reduce the power struggles?  Right now we have one representative for every 700,000 people. That’s not mandated by the constitution or anything so we can change it. What would happen if we reduced that to 50,000? Crazy you might say but hear me out.

That would result in about 6,000 representatives in DC. Of course, we couldn’t put all of them in a room at the same time so many would have to telecommute. But they go home at least three days a week now anyway so that is not much of a change. That alone will keep the posturing to a minimum. Secondly, it would also be nearly impossible to draw up all those crazy maps that they make for who has the privilege of voting for them. With only 50,000 citizens keeping an eye on a representative it would allow us to see just what they are really doing for us and not for those other folks.

Let’s go one step further and make a “virtual” House of Representatives instead of a brick and mortar one. Amazon has shown that there is vast efficiency in that process and that is exactly what our government needs, efficiency.  I know I haven’t worked out all the details yet, my brain is still a little fuzzy, but this idea could have some interesting consequences.

What do you think??

I Need A Smart TV…

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I need a smart TV, no I am not talking about one that connects to the Internet and has streaming features for Netflix and Amazon, I have that but not the bandwidth needed to use them from my snail’s pace Internet from AT&T. I am talking about a smart TV with facial recognition. I need one that whenever it sees the face of our soon-to-be president the screen blocks out the image and mutes the volume.  Another feature is whenever the words “Oval Office” or  the”T” word is spoken the same muting happens. I kind of figure that is about the only way I will be able to watch any form of TV newscasts without losing my mind. Even the PBS Newshour is almost beyond my tolerance lately and his time in office hasn’t even started!

I have already promised here that I will restrain from talking about executive branch stuff as soon as this new guy takes over the Oval Office which is just a few days off. But I do plan on keeping track of all those yahoos in Congress and try my best to prevent them from destroying our country.  I figure with the concept of balance of power they, if they do their jobs and that is a BIG if, they can reign in a stampeding executive branch. How do I keep track of one branch of government without being exposed to the other?  A SMART TV… and if I can’t get that maybe the “Off” button is the next best thing?

Perhaps They Never Will..

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I have to put out a quick post here following Pope Francis’ speech before our congress. To me it was very inspiring but obviously there were those there that simply refused to listen to anything he said. Instead they sat stoically on their hands while those around them frequently stood and applauded.

This reminded me of the last words in the final verse of one of my favorite songs which is entitled “Vincent” by Don McClean. It goes like this…

They would not listen,

They are not listening still

Perhaps they never will

I just cannot believe that the current GOP leadership really represent all those who claim allegiance to that party.  Are all those millions who make up the GOP base so close minded that they will not even consider listening to anything that might threaten their current views?  I certain hope not.  The Bible calls that “hardened hearts”.  Perhaps its time to look elsewhere for your leaders?

Pope Francis has an unsettling message for corporate America

On Sept. 24, Francis will be the first pontiff ever to speak before a joint session of Congress. He’ll speak in English rather than his native Spanish. And he’ll most likely say a lot of things objectionable to the Republicans who hold majorities in both branches of Congress, and to many champions of American-style capitalism.

Source: Pope Francis has an unsettling message for corporate America – Yahoo Finance

Catholic or not (I am not) should listen in on what this man says.  He is a man as close to the teachings of Jesus Christ as I have ever seen in my lifetime.  You might just be inspired by his words….

The 550 States of America…

2015-09-12_09-39-57I think one of my favorite hobbies is playing around with reformatting the States that make up the U.S. with the goal of obtaining more equal representation.  It just seems that the present setup is so much out of skew with our times.  When 10% of the country’s population can control the other 90% simply due to having an vastly over proportionate number of representatives in our national congress things need to change.

  • I’ve made posts in the past explaining how the low population States became States mainly because of 200+ year old transportation methods or simply because of regional differences.
  • I have also had posts about given the fact that the Senate makeup is near to the bedrock of our constitution it is very unlikely to be able to change that.
  • So, here is another idea to get away from giving some of our citizens ten times the power of the rest of us.

Here goes….

Lets start with the State of Wyoming as the template. I seem to pick on them  a lot but since they are the smallest State by population per square mile it seems appropriate. I know some of you will tell me that Wyoming has 6 people/square mile and Alaska has only 1.3 so they are the smallest.  But, as I have said before Alaska is not really a State in my mind, they are more like a holding tank for our oil while Wyoming is in the center of the country.  Anyway I am using Wyoming as the standard for this post.

Wyoming has a population of about 580,000 people.  If we can’t force them to incorporate with their surrounding States then let’s join them.  Lets make a State by definition having no more than 600,000 people. Each of those 0.6 million citizens would have two Senators and one Congressperson as Wyoming presently does and is mandated by our current constitution.

My home State of Indiana would be split into 10 different States.  Just for fun I will try to name them. Of course there would be the States of North Indianapolis and South Indianapolis. Joining them would the States of Ft. Wayne, Gary, South Bend, Evansville and Marion, along with a couple of others yet to be determined.

The biggie would be California which would be broken down into 79 separate States.  I won’t even attempt to name all those.  As a total the United States would be 550 strong.  The tiny island of Manhattan would have to be broken up into three States. I’ll leave it up to them to figure out how to do that.

The overall result would mean 1100 Senators and 550 House representatives.  Having more Senators than Congressmen might just prove to be a good thing.  At least they would not have to be in a constant mode of re-election since they hold office for six years instead of two.  Maybe money would not be so prominent in national politics.

I don’t see anything in our constitution that says a State can’t split into more than one so it would not require a constitutional amendment to happen.  Having 550 States can’t be any worse than the 50 we now have.  Maybe we could even add a anti-gerrymandering provision to the new State makeup? Who know, as Martha Stewart used to say,  “it might be a good thing”.

But then again that would mean even more of those yahoos in DC to constantly be bickering with each other….

The War Slush Fund….

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Take Action: Urge your member of Congress to close the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations account and to require all funds spent by the Pentagon to be part of its regular budget. Since 2011, almost the whole federal government has been operating under tight spending limits. Pentagon contractors (weapons manufacturers) were concerned about how these limits might affect their profits. Then their trade association leaders reminded them that the OCO account provides them a “cushion.” The Pentagon can use the OCO account to get around budget caps — and military contractors are pushing for even more money in this account. According to the Constitution, Congress controls military spending. Tell your member of Congress to take control of this slush fund, and require that the Pentagon be accountable for all of its spending through its regular budget.

The above notice came to me recently from my friends over at FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation) which is a Quaker organization promoting peacemakers instead of our never-ending rushes to war. It seems that the outrageous military budgets are still not enough for some so they created a slush fund to tide them over from any budget cuts.  We seem to always have more than enough money to spend more than the rest of the world combined on our war machine but never enough to try to promote peace.

The GOP Healthcare Plan??

2015-02-08_09-07-37Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Orrin Hatch of Utah along with GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan have put together a replacement for ObamaCare. And while neither their supporters nor detractors are likely to admit it, the plan bears a striking resemblance to, well, ObamaCare.

Health-care markets present a particular set of problems, with a limited range of possible solutions. So all realistic proposals for reform are going to have some basic structural similarities. The differences arise in what policymakers prioritize within those bounds.

That’s what really divides the left from the right on this issue. And that’s the reason Republicans seem perpetually doomed to keep offering replacements for ObamaCare that are basically suckier versions of ObamaCare.

SOURCE:  Why the GOP is forever doomed to try replacing ObamaCare with suckier versions of ObamaCare.

It’s nice to finally hear that after fifty some attempts to take healthcare away from millions, three Republican Senators have finally come up with a GOP alternative to Obamacare. But, guess what it is pretty much he same thing and I am not surprised given that Obamacare is nothing like we progressives would like to see. All the world, except us it seems, know that is a single-payer system is the only way to get our outrageously expensive healthcare system under control. But until we can wrench control of the congress away from the Republicans that simply will never happen.

But maybe we should salute those three guys for at least putting in an effort. I bet it took them and their staffs at least a couple of days to clip and paste their plan from all the GOP rhetoric and that was probably as much work as they did in the past year.  At least I see that they left the “preexisting conditions’ thing the same as Obamacare at least until your current employer lays you off and you lose your health insurance then it will go back to no insurance for you. Wasn’t that nice of them?

That moves on to the next topic as brought up by the editorial cartoon above. It seems that all these unregulated health supplement business are advertising things that are not in the products they sell.  These are billion dollar businesses supplying us with pills that consist of rice and wheat flour along with a minute amount of houseplants and calling them by whatever name they choose.  The GOP, who are big backers of Laissez-faire aren’t concerned about any of this. They say it is up to each of us to discover bogus things and that it is simply not the government’s business to get between businesses and their customers. Of course those progressives among us think that it very much is the government’s business to protect us from fraud and abuse.

Too bad we can’t label those in congress as “Bogus” “Misleading” and “Harmful”. In my mind those folks do more damage than anything else to our country. Let’s demand the truth in labeling both for the so-called health supplements and the people’s representatives.

Houses passes bill easing rules regulating Wall Street

Republican proponents insisted the new legislation would reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and spur creation of new jobs.

SOURCE:  Houses passes bill easing rules regulating Wall Street – Yahoo News.

RegulationsI think every one of those GOPers in this new congress need to have the words above tattooed on their foreheads. Ok more realistically written on a Post-It note and stuck on the foreheads. I’m sure that mantra is going to be their reason for every bill they pass in the coming two years as it has been for the last couple of decades. But as usual there is a big difference between rationalization and reality.

It’s funny that when they are in power Wall Street almost always does worse than when the Dems are there. When Mr. Bush came into office the stock market was at 11,000 when he left eight years later it was at 8,000 mainly due to GOP decisions made while he was in office. Then came Mr. Obama and the stock market went from 8,000 to almost double that in six years. I don’t know when the 1%ers who control more wealth than the rest of us combined are going to realize that the GOP are just not that good for them.

The “Regulatory burdens” that this new GOP majority want to eliminate are what was put in place to reign in the worst capitalistic greed. It doesn’t seem to concern these yahoos that the lack of regulatory burdens is what caused the near complete collapse of our entire economy just six short years ago.  To me, and I hope many of you, regulatory burdens are the necessary rules for living in a people centered democracy but yes I do realize that we have become much less people centered in this new century. I pray that we can turn that around.

Eliminating taxes and therefore government is the goal of much of Republican’s action. They seem to do a good job of listening to their rich donors but not so much in listening to those who elected them.  I know I have spent a lot of words here hitting on the GOP majority now in congress but that doesn’t mean that I think the other party did much better. All those yahoos need to learn some basic lessons about representing us. A democracy is about all the people not just about those who finance the political campaigns. They are there to do the people’s business not to blindly follow whatever their leadership or even more so the monied interests tells them to do. It is a shame that one of the first things they wanted to do as the new majority was to give more power to those who almost put us down. But maybe even more shameful was the second thing and that was to start whittling down Social Security. Shame on all of them for that mentality… and shame on us for not taking them to task for not doing the people’s business….

An LOL Moment… :)

2015-01-08_07-27-57In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, the newly elected majority leader suggested that the growing signs of an economic recovery — 5 percent GDP growth, 320,000 additional jobs in November, all-time highs in the markets on Wall Street and plunging gas prices, to name a few — just might have something to do with the election of a Republican Congress….

“That Mitch McConnell is one funny guy,” said Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee. “He likes to remind people all the time that he’s not a scientist. Now we know he’s not a mathematician or an economist either.” SOURCE: Mitch McConnell: It’s Funny How The Economy Improved When The GOP Took Over Congress.

Oh the politicians.  You gotta love them. I think on occasion they even believe what comes out of their mouths but the quote above is not one of them.  I searched for a photo of Mitch smiling and this is the closest I could come. He is a quintessential politician who has been in office for decades and nothing seems to be able to move him out. Politicians helping the economy?  I just pray that they don’t do too much damage. They tried to push back the rules on Wall Street that help prevent another melt-down. Thankfully that didn’t work. But they did start the dismantling process for Social Security on the very first day in power. More to come on that I’m sure…

Writing My Material….

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An important part of my daily read is the Will Rogers Facebook page as shown above. It, along with the half-dozen books about him on my bookshelf give me a lifetime of material for this blog at RJsCorner.

Will inspires me for his wit, wisdom, and humor. But maybe even more so for his endurance as he put out thousands of  “posts” of his day.

Will inspires me with his method of delivery.  One of his most famous quotes is “All I know is what I read in the newspaper” and then he would proceed to put his spin on the story. The vast majority of my posts start out as a quote from what I read around the Internet. I then expand on it with my own interpretation.

Will inspires me with his calm patience. I get attacked on occasion for what I say.  I, like him, try to keep the attitude of “I never met a man I didn’t like” and deal with those upset yahoos with calmness and a sense of humor. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Will inspired me with his writing style. Kind of laid back and nothing too formal. My header above has one of my favorite quotes from him.  I try to do the best I can and don’t take life too serious. Even that gets me in trouble once in a while as people just take what I say here too serious when I mean it to be tongue-in-cheek.

Will inspires me….

 

 

Mine Too…..

“Most people and actors appearing on the stage have some writer to write their material. . . . Congress is good enough for me. They have been writing my material for years.” – Will Rogers, 8 June 1924

 

We Have The Best Congress Ever…..

Congress“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, that don’t hurt anybody. It’s when they do something is when they become dangerous.” – Will Rogers, 22 November 1929

Maybe I am looking at the politics thing all wrong Will? As you say if our congress is doing nothing maybe that is a good thing. Maybe when they do things is when they get in trouble?  I know this is one of  your more popular quotes, but I kind of think you get it wrong in at least a couple of areas.

  • When one small portion of the population lords it over all the rest of us we have to depend on our government to give us the muscle we need to correct the situation.
  • When our citizens are dying unnecessarily because of lack of adequate healthcare someone has to come in and do the Christian thing and help our brothers out.
  • When someone comes along and threatens the very foundation of our democracy by trying to squelch the vote some with some power needs to stamp that out.

I am primarily a “power to the people” type person.  I believe that government should stay out of my way as much as possible and let me make my own mistakes and successes. But when the problem is much bigger than I am I need help and that is where government “should” come in. The problem with this idea is to elect people who know the difference.

You didn’t have a lot of confidence in the people in government in your days and I guess I don’t either. Especially the last dozen years or so when the clowns and wing-nuts took over. I’m just not sure that it is the “legislative body” as you say is the problem but instead it is the yahoos who we elect to fill those seats. Currently all the seats seem to be filled with people who are more concerned about themselves and their particular political leanings. There just doesn’t seem to be anyone looking out for good of the country anymore. There are just too many wing-nuts who are clinging to the most extreme views of the world today.

Like you Will, I try to be an optimist.  I think it is possible to push the current ones out and put in more centrist minded folks to take care of our basic needs. It might take a while but I still think it can happen. But one of the necessary prerequisites is that people turn off their favorite cable news channel and look at what is going on with their own eyes and brains.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know.

Gone Fishing….

fishin“If all politicians fished instead of speaking publicly we would be at peace with the world.” – Will Rogers, 20 October 1933

Maybe that is the solution for our current gridlock in Washington.  Just shut it down and go fishing. But remember to turn off the money spigot before they leave.   There is a lot of hot air in that area of Virginia that needs to be blown out to sea.

In my younger bachelor days I had a fifteen foot bass boat that I took around the country. I really wasn’t much of a fisherman but I guess I caught my share. It was more about being out there on the lake than anything else.  Being that close to nature and its corresponding serenity was what it was all about. Everything else just tended to melt away during those hours.

If those yahoos in Washington need anything it is to wash away all the bitterness and spite that has enveloped that city. They need to chill out and discover that “it” is not always about them and their re-election campaigns. They need to understand that the billions of bucks that they hand out daily is not theirs but belongs to those who elected them.  They were sent there to do the people’s business to accomplish the greater good and to provide for the general welfare of the whole country. In other words they need to learn how to be the statesmen that their predecessors were.

Another saying that was popular from Will is that the best thing congress could do for the people is to take a two-week vacation. But, given the circumstance I’m sure two-weeks is not enough. Hell, I’m not even sure two years is long enough.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

Gaming The System At Both Ends….

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Roulette tableTaxation is about all there is to Government. You know, people don’t want their taxes lowered near as much as the politicians try to make you believe. People want just taxes more than they want lower taxes.  —  November 2, 1924   — Will Rogers

It seems that much that drives my radical-right friends is the adamant conviction to prevent someone from getting something they haven’t worked for. This belief drives much of their feeling of social conservatism. They would rather deny ten people adequate food than to give it to someone who is gaming the system.  People gaming welfare seem to be their number one enemy to be destroyed at almost any costs.

I myself am a fiscal conservative so in a different way I too want to prevent someone from gaming the system to obtain any degree of  underserved wealth. In that regard I am not that different from the radical right.  But, the major difference is that I have compassion for those suffering for something they have almost no control over. I am willing to accept that when I help some in need there will be a minute few who will game the system. Innate greed seems to assure that possibility.

I want to come down just as hard of those who game the Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare systems as my radical right friends.  Where we differ almost completely  is at the other end of the game. That is those who game tax laws to keep from paying their fair share of taxes. My radical-right friends seem to almost celebrate those who can get out of paying taxes by whatever means possible. Since almost half of those in our present congress are millionaires they themselves are probably taking advantages of numerous tax loopholes.

During the recent budget talks the Democrats want to go after the tax loopholes that many in the upper 1% use to keep their tax rates lower than those who clean their houses. The Republicans in congress seem to be as much against that idea as they are for going hard at those on the other end of the wealth spectrum.  They say closing loopholes is raising taxes and they will not have anything to do with that.  To me, and I believe most sensible people, see closing loopholes as a way to get the super-rich to pay  their fair share. It is not raising taxes but simply getting them to a level they should have been all along.

It will be interesting to see if any thing resembling agreement on this issue will come from the congress. I am for keeping people from gaming the system at both ends. They should be spending as much of their political capital at the top end of the wealth ladder as we do at the bottom end.

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

Congress’ Approval Rating….

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crazyI see that the latest poll shows approval ratings for congress is about 18%. In my mind that is about where it belongs. Those yahoos just don’t know how to play together. They are more dysfunctional than most marriages today!

So 82% of us don’t approve of how they are doing their jobs.  After thinking about it the most alarming thing about this latest statistic is that

18%  think congress is doing a great job!!!

I don’t think I have ever come across any of those 18%ers. Just who are these guys? I don’t know them but I think they are in need for some serious therapy.