Obstruct, Obstruct, Obstruct…

If we progressives learn anything from the most recent elections it is that obstruction pays off in the end. Democrats should take that lesson to heart during the Trump years. Here is a memorable quote about that followed by my take on the issue:

So what should Democrats do? Take a page from the GOP playbook and obstruct everything.

2016-12-11_08-50-08.pngOne of the most galling things about the complete Republican takeover of American government that we witnessed last month is the way it rewarded the party’s destructive behavior during the Obama years. Not only did voters never punish Republican leaders for pouring sand into the gas tank of representative democracy, they granted them victories in nearly every contested House and Senate race, proving incontrovertibly that voters simply do not care about or understand the ways that Republican leadership subverted longstanding norms of parliamentary procedure….

If Republicans are intent on gutting Medicare, do not under any circumstances compromise to make such a fiasco slightly more palatable. This is the only way for the Democrats to recapture power at a scale significant enough to fundamentally transform the American political system. And when this moment finally presents itself, in 2022 or 2024 or 2028, Democrats must have an extraordinarily radical agenda ready to roll: A massive amnesty. Compulsory voting. The end of plurality-rule elections. A new Voting Rights Act. Sweeping criminal justice reform. Medicare for all. Higher education whose cost is truly nominal. A basic income for all Americans. A Marshall Plan for climate change.

The Democrats must do whatever it takes to recapture power, even if it means adopting tactics that only yesterday they were calling threats to democracy. and to devise a message of social democracy that appeals not just to their coalition.  They must use their time in the minority to slow down and obstruct Trump, to turn the American people against the Republican Party…

Source: It’s time for Democrats to fight dirty

Logical thought seems to have nothing to do with our political systems now if it ever actually did. I am a person driven by logic. In that vain I continue to try to understand how by obstructing everything the Republicans managed to take almost total control of our government processes?  There is no logic to it?

But I am also a pragmatist and what recent events tell me is that opposition to everything pays off in the end with a large chunk of the voting population, or at least enough to totally skew the electoral college.

I hear that Mr. Ryan is chomping at the bit to start his privatization of Medicare and elimination of Medicaid as soon as possible after he totally wipes out Obamacare.  He has publicly stated that he thinks congress can get through all three social programs in the first year of their total control.   I wonder how many of the 81% of the Evangelical which were predominately senior citizens will be enthusiastic about giving up their Medicare for a small voucher on the open market and especially deep cuts to their Social Security?

I kind of believe that they will join the rest of us in backing the Democrats with the help of at least a few Republicans who put principles above party to shut down this  idea by Mr. Ryan and the Rad-Cons and maybe Mr. Trump.  But we really don’t know where Mr. Trump stands on this or any other issue as they never bothered to ask him before they voted him into office.

GOD SAVE OUR COUNTRY

If Only…

It is nice to read an article that finally admits that we can never unite under a common political cause. Our fundamental beliefs prevent that from happening:

When they disagree, it’s often because they have incompatible values.

Most Democrats believe it’s inhumane for society not to guarantee a certain minimum standard of things like food, shelter, and health care; most Republicans don’t.

Most Democrats believe women ought to control their own reproductive lives; most Republicans don’t.

Most Democrats believe the wealthy ought to shoulder more of the burden of funding the things government does; most Republicans don’t.

These aren’t just fleeting preferences — they spring from fundamental ideas about how the world works and how it ought to work.

And yes, we do live in a polarized age. But that’s in large part because both parties have become more internally consistent about what they believe. There are problematic consequences for the government’s ability to perform basic functions (even those that ought to be removed from ideology), but the differences are substantive and substantial….

What I’d like to hear is a presidential candidate answer the unity question by saying,

“I wish I could unify the country, but I can’t. All I can do is do the best job possible, even if I know that no matter what happens a healthy portion of the population is still going to hate me.  But I’ll try to do right by them too.”

That would at least be honest, even if the candidate would be pilloried for not buying into the myth of a unity that is always supposed to be awaiting us if only we can put aside our differences.

Source: No president can unify our hopelessly divided country

Given the still adamant Trump supporters even after so much ugliness about him has come out  I have to agree that values differ greatly among us in the U.S.  Some concentrate on one part of our constitution as being sacrosanct, and some another. Some want to throw the entire document and all of government along with it out the window.  As the article above says Democrats  believe that everyone should be their brother’s keeper. When our fellow citizens fall on harsh times we should be there for them as a society. (Kind of sounds like the words of Jesus if you ask me but I won’t go any further with that thought here. ) Democrats believe that government has the duty to do the people’s business especially when individual citizens can’t do it themselves.

Since it has been a long time since I claimed the Republican mantel I can only guess by their actions what my Republican friends believe . Republicans put the pre-born into a much higher category than those who have left the womb.  They will fight to insure that every life conceived is brought to birth but then don’t seem to care much about it after that.  They believe that government is to do the least possible and let the capitalist systems take care of the rest. They ferociously cling to their guns as their main protection against their conceived evils of the world.

With this great disparity  of values I agree there can never be  a president to unify the country.  All we can hope for is that whichever party holds the power they do the best within their mindset and we  count on checks and balances to reign them in when they exceed their bounds.  Maybe there is something that can bridge this gap between us but right now I seriously doubt that it can happen anytime in the near future.

Budget Minded Republicans……

Banner -Off The Top

budgetI know the current version of the Republican party is supposed to be all about fiscal austerity but I have trouble actually seeing them live out that concept. When it comes to the safety net and so-called “entitlement” issues they scream about needing to cut back or at least for total accountability. But when it comes to the bloated military expenses, homeland security and tax breaks for the rich they appear to throw that concept out the window. Of course that means that their austerity programs, if they are implemented as they suggest, will end up being done on the backs of the poor as almost everything else is “off the table”.

We spend more than the other 96% of the world combines on our supposed security. Our military budgets eat up so much of our prosperity as to force future looking programs off the stove.  Education, our R&D forces, and our colleges suffer as a result of our insistence that to be safe we must spend so much on our war machine. In fact we throw so much money into the military that they don’t even bother to try to determine if it is going to the best place. For that matter they really don’t even try to categorize where it is even spent.  But that doesn’t seem to phase the Republican senators and congressmen in Washington. They continue to demand more and more of our precious resource for this bloated machine.

For that reason I have little confidence that my budgeted minded friends are really serious about budgets but are really more concerned in reducing or even eliminating the very function of government or at least making sure that 47% don’t get things they supposedly haven’t earned.  If they were really serious about our current deficits they would be looking at  our war machine first not last.  When you throw trillions of dollars into a black hole you dictate that much of it will be spent unwisely or even fraudulently.  They demand total accountability for agencies supporting our safety net and nothing for our industrial/ military complex. How strange is that???

Republicans and Innate Goodness….

Source: https://rjscorner.net/2012/02/27/where-are-you-john-sherman-when-we-need-you/

PrintIt seems literally impossible for another Republican to take charge of these types of matters (controlling fraud and abuse). Most of those folks are just too beholding to big business to ever try to reign them in. So, currently that leaves the Democratic party to take up the mantel. I don’t see that as much of a possibility either. Where all this “too big to fail” will end I just don’t know.

I don’t find myself quoting myself very often but when I re-read this post from almost a year ago about how Republicans have been the party of big business in Will Rogers day and are even more so today it got me to thinking.  Republicans seem to believe in the innate goodness of our corporations. I don’t know how else you can explain their deregulation fever of the last three decades.

When Ronald Reagan came into office the first thing he did besides firing everyone who belonged to the Air Traffic Controllers Union was to finish up removing almost all regulations from the savings and loan industry. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

The deregulation of S&Ls in 1980 gave them many of the capabilities of banks, without the same regulations as banks. Savings and loan associations could choose to be under either a state or a federal charter. Immediately after deregulation of the federally chartered thrifts, state-chartered thrifts rushed to become federally chartered, because of the advantages associated with a federal charter. In response, states such as California and Texas changed their regulations to be similar to federal regulations.

Of course we also know that within ten years the S&L industry almost disintegrated with fraud and abuse and it cost us taxpayers billions to bail them out. But that would not be the last time our friends in government showed their belief in the innate goodness of business. Soon after we recovered from the S&L fiasco they went about  you guessed it, de-regulating the entire banking sector. Again within a short period of time the banks “too big to fail” cost us about a trillion dollars to clean up their abuse of the mortgage business. After these two meltdowns the Democrats put back a few of the necessary regulation via Dodd/Frank bill  but the Republicans fought it tooth and nail. That I just don’t understand. Why do that seem to be totally ignore history, even recent history?

How can these guys in Washington continue to put their total faith in the innate goodness of an unbridled business sector. Profits are approaching all time highs while wages have remained stagnant for the last three decades! Given that fact, how else can you explain how they never seem to see a regulation that they don’t want to eliminate. It seems like they would eventually learn that capitalism depends on brisk and stringent regulations to contain the innate greed, not goodness,  that is built into the system.

Before my conservative friends attack me here I want to declare that I believe capitalism is the best system in the world but it only works when it is adequately regulated.  To my friends that think I am too critical at times I am really questioning the idea of almost total de-regulation mantra of Republicans. Do they really believe that regulations have no place in our business world? I would really like to know? Their two failed attempts at de-regulating our financial sector seem to say something. Or is that just me?

Some Advice From A Liberal Friend…

 

I sympathize with my conservative friends. 2012 was just not a very good year for you in the political realm. So, in the spirit of cooperation I want to give you a very serious (well sort of serious) New Years Resolution.

Quit Being The Party Of The Rich

RichThat one thing alone probably cost you the presidency and several other of your recent political defeats. Let’s face it Paul Ryan’s drastic budget cuts to the nation’s safety net in order to give millionaires bigger tax breaks was the death knell of your hopes for the White House.  Mr. Romney’s 47% remark certainly didn’t help any either. You have got to realize that as the disparity between the rich and the poor widens as it surely will you are in a no-win situation.

I know distancing yourselves from your rich donors will be difficult to do. After all you have depended on them for at least a century now. Let’s just look at a few of the quotes that my hero Will Rogers said about that about some eighty years ago:

“Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them.”

“The whole trouble with the Republicans is their fear of an increase in income tax. They speak of it almost like a national calamity. I really believe if it come to a vote whether to go to war with England, France, and Germany combined, or raise the rate on incomes of over $100,000, they would vote war.”

I know you guys have a long history with siding with the rich but you are going to have to change your ways if you hope to win another presidency anytime in the near future.  For you unfortunately it doesn’t cost anything to vote. There are a lot more poor folks than rich so surely you can understand that you are fighting a battle of diminishing returns. It is just too hard to win an election when your base is primarily made up of 1% of the electorate.

Now that us poor folks realize that our votes do count you guys are in trouble if you don’t change. We will be going to the polls like you couldn’t imagine in future elections and regrettably you found out this time that all your money won’t buy our votes.

So, if you hope to survive you just have to quit being almost exclusively the party of the rich. You are going to have to show that you care for the rest of us. I know in your heart that you do care, at least on some level, so try to nurture those feelings.  You might be surprised just how far that will carry you.

I adamantly believe in a split government. That is no party should have control of both houses of congress and the White House at the same time. When that happens greed and power are too easily manifested.  So, I am hoping that you can get your act together and continue to fight another day. But you just gotta get over being the party of the rich. In the spirit of my hero Will Rogers this post is partly in jest but it is also partly serious. I will leave it up to you to figure out which is which.

The Pro-Scrooge Christmas Story….

Source:  Conservatives urge GOP leaders to be bold, prepare to go over cliff – The Hill’s On The Money.

Scrooge“I think Obama is very mindful of his legacy and is horrified of going over the cliff,” said Andy Roth of the Club for Growth. “Going over the cliff might be a signal that needs to be sent to the president, that he needs to play ball.”

He argued that President Clinton was forced to become a less liberal president after Speaker Newt Gingrich shut down the government in 1995. “Clinton would not play ball with Newt until Newt shut the government down,” Roth said.

We all know the story “The Christmas Carol” about Scrooge who was a greedy money-mindful person who after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past and Christmas to come turned around his life and started treating people, not his money, with love.

Well the story being given out by the “Scrooge-based foundations” of today want to give you the pro-Scrooge story about how he wins today. They say when Scrooge tried to shut down our government in Christmas past he caused Bob Marley to turn from his loving ways to be money-hungry like himself.  They are saying that in Christmas present when Scrooge causes Tiny Tim’s family to have to live on even less that will enhance the image of Scrooge as Bob Cratchit will get the blame.  They say this story will turn out great if only Scrooge sticks to his guns and makes sure his rich friends continue to be pampered.

canstockphoto8047905The real story the Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in Britain around 1840. This was a time of great disparity between the rich and the poor. The book was credited for being partially responsible for social change in that country.

The Pro-Scrooge story above is from the Club For Growth which is a super-pac founded in 1999 to insure that the wealthy stay wealthy.  I am here to tell you “the Club..” is no Charles Dickens!!

I’m sure they can convince their donors, who this story is mainly directed to, that their fairy tale is in reality a true one but I don’t think we lovers of the original story will buy into their wishful thinking.  We just don’t want the Scrooges of today to be the winners in our version of the Christmas Carol.

Let’s all pray that Bob Marley can get his message through to the current day Scrooges this Christmas Eve so that all the Tiny Tim’s in the country will get the surgery (healthcare) they need. Let’s pray that Bob Cratchit gets the raise he needs from Scrooge in order to not have to work sixteen hours a day to earn enough to support his family.

Let’s pray that the Scrooges of this world don’t end up the winners in this current version of the Christmas Carol.

Merry Christmas everyone, especially to all you Scrooges out there. I hope you have some wonderful dreams in the coming days. 🙂

Those Words….

Source: Sojourner Mail November 16, 2012

The day after the election, Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler said, “I think this was an evangelical disaster.”  Not really. But it was a disaster for the religious right, which had again tied its faith to the partisan political agenda of the Republican Party — which did lose the election. But Nov. 6 was an even deeper disaster for the religious right’s leaders, because they will no longer be able to control or easily co-opt the meaning of the term “evangelical.” 

During this election, much of the media continued to use the word as a political term — as a key constituency of the Republican conservative base. But what the media really means when they use term “evangelical” is “conservative white evangelical.” All other kinds of evangelicals are just never counted. Just as the 2012 electoral results finally revealed the demographic transformation of America — which has been occurring for quite some time — it also dramatically demonstrated how the meaning of the word “evangelical” is being transformed. 

It is sad how some words can drastically change their meaning over time. One word like that is the word “gay”. I looked it up in the dictionary just now and the first definition relates to homosexuality. “Bright and pleasant; promoting the feeling of cheer” is much further down the list. Please don’t get me wrong here I am not lamenting homosexuality, everyone has a right to be who they are. What I am mourning is the transference of the word gay. I think of myself as a gay person but would never use that description now.

Another word in this category is “liberal”. The Republicans have defamed that word for so long that it is not used much anymore.  I now have to describe myself as “progressive” at least in the social sphere area. That is a good descriptive word in itself but I am still consider myself, at least in my heart, a “bleeding heart liberal”.

As cited above the word “evangelical” has come to mean a religious person who holds radically conservative political views. The word also has a Christian meaning but that is again being lost due to the overwhelming political connotation. As Jim Wallis says above maybe it is not too late to take back this word and put it back totally in the spiritual realm. It would be nice to take this word back from the politics of today. It would be nice to win one once in a while. But I kind of think the word has probably been tainted too much now.

For those who follow my RedLetterLiving blog you know that I have the same feeling about the word “Christian”. To me being a Christian means that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. You live your life as he taught you. You do your part to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. Today being a Christian most often means that you cite a litany of “beliefs” about Jesus (and often time country) instead of trying to “be” what he taught. Someday I hope we can rejuvenate that word also.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel…. Finally…..

Here we are twelve days away from the election! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that each election, especially when a president is on the ballot, gets uglier and uglier. There just seems to be so much hate in our country now and that is truly scares me at times.

Twelve days and we will finally be finished with all these negative ads costing billions of dollars telling us why we should be against someone but little about why we should vote for the other guy on the ballot. I just saw some yard signs like the picture here in several yards in my neighborhood.  The Republican party’s mascot is the elephant and of course we all know that an elephant never forgets (all of us believe in all those clichés don’t we).  As I am getting older in years I definitely am forgetting things but I don’t forget who caused so much of our current problems. Read more

Rice – Just Too Moderate….

source: Rice: World is ‘chaotic and dangerous’ with a weak USA – USATODAY.com.

Although Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, praised the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, she offered the delegates no political red meat. Unlike virtually every other speaker of the night, she did not mention President Obama or his office….

However, she was regarded by most observers as too moderate. She’s called herself “mildly pro-choice” — anathema to many in the Republican Party’s conservative base who still suspect the sincerity of Romney’s stated opposition to abortion.

Rice also is out of step with many Republicans on immigration; she has called the failure of President George W. Bush’s plan for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants one of her biggest regrets.

I know I am a little late with this post given the current political landscape and the fact that the GOP convention seems like eons ago but I wanted to mention something about a Republican that I somewhat admire.

Given all the ranting and bashing (they call it red meat) that is standard operating procedure for the GOP convention I wonder why they put Condi Rice as a prime time speaker. Of course the answer to that is that she was on during the “minorities outreach night”.  The GOP desperately need more women and people of color in their party. Without them they will surely like the Whig party of the past fade into history.

Condi certainly did not live up to the form of all other speakers. When she mentioned education and immigration I imagine there were some winches from the crowd. She seemed to be on the other side of the fence from almost everyone on the floor of the convention.  The thing I remember most about her was her extreme work ethic (she typically spent 15 hours days in the White House working for her president. When she was later promoted to Secretary of State she did an admiral but not outstanding job.

I wonder if the GOP will ever return to making moderates like her the heroes of their party. They certainly should but I kind of doubt it. There current practices of exclusion seem to deny that possibility.

But what do I know…

My Word….

It used to be that a man’s word was the primary definition of his character. If you didn’t keep your word how could you be trusted with anything else? A man’s word was his word. But it seems that somehow this idea has been lost in America or at least in the Republican party.

When the super-committee, one of whose members is the current GOP vice-presidential candidate, was formed everyone in congress gave their word that if they could not reach a compromise on how to reign in the deficit then all of discretionary spending budgets would take a 10% hit. Every member of congress put his word on the line by passing this compromise resolution.

Now it seems that almost all Republicans and even some Democrats want to renege  on that promise and go back on their word. They say that our military can’t possibly take a 10% cut without threatening our security. Of course if you have read much of anything on the blog you know I think that is hogwash. We, five percent of the world’s population, currently spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined. If we only quit being the policemen of the world and left part of that task to the people of the affected region then we could reduce our military budgets by many more times that the ten percent promise.

So here we are with a building full of the people’s representatives who can not be trusted. What should we do about this situation? In my mind we should remove all those who can’t be trusted to keep their word. If you agree then watch in the coming months how your representatives in congress address this issue. If they go against their word then toss them out. We can only bring back integrity to our political institutions when we can trust our representatives and yes they should answer to us and not their political leadership. They speak for us while they are in Washington.

But what do I know…..