Blog Archives

Ever wonder how some people get elected to Congress?

I know I do. The fact that there are Republicans who appear to be uneducated, anti-intellectual and just plain outrageous makes me have a very poor impression of the people who vote for them.

Here are 4 samples of what I’m referring to:

Science and Space Committee? Intelligence Committee? How do these mini-brains get put on committees they don’t seem to have any intellectual connection with?

If statements like these keep them from being re-elected to the House, then I’ll have a much better vision of the voting public. I don’t count on it, however.

 

When Romney questions Obama’s achievements, remember what the Congress did to most of his proposals.

 

No Congress has ever done to a President what the Republicans in the Senate and the House have. Given the House’s Republican majority and the Senate’s need for 60% of votes to avoid filibuster, the President has been a victim of politicians who put their party ahead of the needs of Americans.

Take a look:

 

And if you listen to Romney accuse Obama for not making enough happen, wonder why he is not aware of the stance taken by his fellow Republicans in elected office.

 

Republican Quote for the Day – and how does Ryan’s budget plan fare with former Republican heroes?

“Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.”

- Former Reagan budget director David Stockman

This means it may be hard for some front-office Republicans to get behind the Romney-Ryan budget onslaught.

Statement from United Wisconsin…

 

Who knows Ryan better? This from United Wisconsin:

Wisconsin is once again at the epicenter of the battle between big-money special interests and hard-working families. Today’s announcement that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has been tapped for Mitt Romney’s running mate will bring more big money and heated rhetoric to our already deeply divided state.

“As Governor Scott Walker has spent the last year and a half working to destroy our progressive Wisconsin tradition, Rep. Paul Ryan has stood by his side and defended his actions. After Scott Walker introduced his anti-working family budget repair bill, Paul Ryan told the media that he supports Walker’s union-busting laws and claimed that the peaceful protests that broke out in response to the bill were ‘riots,’ a claim later debunked by Politifact.

“In Congress, Ryan has proposed a budget that would end Medicare as we know it while handing out millions in tax giveaways to wealthy special interests at the expense of working families. Ryan has consistently opposed policies to improve health care, public education, and economic opportunity for working people. These are not Wisconsin values, but they are Paul Ryan’s values.

With Paul Ryan taking a more visible place on the national stage, all eyes will once again be on Wisconsin, but the eyes of Wisconsinites – and the progressive movement we have built – will be focused directly on Paul Ryan. We will hold Ryan accountable for his statements and actions on the campaign trail, ensuring he does not take Scott Walker’s failed policies to the White House.”

We’ll keep our eyes on Wisconsin. Of course, many of us wish we could have rid ourselves of Scott Walker when we had a chance.

 

Bob Schieffer sums up Congress pretty well…

 

Bob said this on CBS last Sunday:

There will be three more unemployment reports before the election. Congress has gone on vacation for the next five weeks, leaving work on their desks involving jobs, taxes and the budget deficit.

Congress managed to get through last year without passing one single piece of significant legislation. It would be hard to do worse than that, but this crowd may actually manage to do it.

And there’s also a couple of fairly important items that have to be resolved one of these days: whether to let the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year, and whether or not to block a draconian $110 billion across-the-board cut in defense and domestic spending.

No word on what if anything they plan to do about those items. Truth is, no one expects them to do anything until after the election. The way it stands right now, if the U.S. Capitol caught on fire, this Congress could find a way to make it a partisan issue and do everything but call the fire department.

They went on vacation? I expect we’re paying for these yoyos to spin out at the end of the string.

Look at it this way:

 

 

Poll shows Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the rich is a winning political position…

The proposal Obama has made to raise taxes on households making at least $250,000 a year was the subject of a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

The survey found that 44% thought the tax increase would help the economy, 22% thought it would be harmful, and 24% didn’t think it would make a difference. An identical percentage, 44%, said a tax hike on better-off Americans would make the tax system fairer, while 21% said it would make the system less fair.

There is a deep partisan divide over the proposal.  Democrats, by a large margin, said the tax hike would boost the economy and make the tax system fairer. Republicans thought the opposite, though by smaller margins.

Since this has to be decided before Jan. 1st when all the Bush tax cuts disappear by law, it will be interesting when it gets Congressional attention. Odds are it won’t be until after the November election and will depend on who gets elected President.

800,000 Kids Caught In Immigration Limbo rescued by Obama – and he shuts down a right wing heckler:

We can be proud of the Prez!

While the DREAM Act is currently stalled because of a contentious and uncooperative Republican majority in Congress, Obama has announced a new decision from the Department of Homeland Security that will provide relief to an estimated 800,000 kids living in risk of deportation. Watch:

Quote of the Day: Obama on fixing the Economy

If we take the steps that I laid out to make sure that we’re not seeing teacher layoffs and we’re not seeing police officer layoffs, and we’re providing small businesses with additional financing and tax breaks for when they hire or if they’re giving raises to their employees; if we refinance housing — or allow homeowners to refinance so they’ve got an extra $3,000 in their pocket so that they can spend money and contribute to further economic growth; if we’re making sure that we’re rebuilding, work that has to be done anyway, deferred maintenance on roads and bridges that could put construction workers back to work — all those things will strengthen the economy, and independent economists estimate it would create an additional million jobs.  

Now, you can’t give me a good reason as to why Congress would not act on these items other than politics — because these are traditionally ideas that Democrats and Republicans have supported.  So let me be as clear as I can be.  The economy needs to be strengthened.

- President Obama

(Read more HERE)

Of Course as long as we have Mitch McConnell and John Boehner publicly vowing to have NO cooperation with the President, the odds of the Republicans helping to save the economy are toilet-bowl low.

Quote of the Day – Criticizing his own Party

Alan Simpson regarded the current Republicans in Congress unwillingness to compromise on proposed tax increases as their greatest failure.

“If you want to be a purist, go somewhere on a mountaintop and praise the east or something. But if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise. And you learn to compromise on the issue without compromising yourself. Show me a guy who won’t compromise and I’ll show you a guy with rock for brains.”

- Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.)

It’s certainly time to remember that before the teabaggers got in and before Mitch McConnell said publicly he would not support ANYTHING that Obama wanted, compromise is what kept the system running. And now it is, at best, stalled out.

“For heaven’s sake, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he’ll defeat you. He can’t murder you. He can’t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.”

I never really cared for Alan Simpson before…but this gives me a whole new understanding. And to stick a finger in Grover Norquist’s eye… Bravo!

Attorneys General in 11 States call on Congress to reverse Citizens United decision.

Yesterday, 11 state attorneys general sent a letter to Congress requesting a constitutional amendment which would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.

This section of the letter gives the historic background that SCOTUS eliminated:

The case overturned elements of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the “McCain-Feingold Act” or “BCRA”) pertaining to the corporate financing of electioneering communications in the run-up to primary and general elections. The Supreme Court ruled that these restrictions on corporate political spending violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections, thereby allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections.
In effect, the Citizens United decision overturned a century of jurisprudence, dating back to the Tillman Act of 1907, which supported Congressional authority to restrict corporate political spending on federal elections. With respect to the BCRA, the decision directly overrules key provisions of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003), which upheld the BCRA provisions that prevented direct expenditures by corporate entities on electioneering communications. Importantly, Citizens United kept intact other critical rulings in McConnell regarding disclosure requirements. However, by its decision the Court gave corporations the same rights under the First Amendment as individuals, and thereby severely limited Congress’s power to regulate corporate political spending and invalidated bipartisan, democratically-enacted restrictions on corporate behavior.

Hopefully this brings a start to an action which will eventually eliminate the Super Pacs and bring our elections back to the majority voters.

Hopefully, this won’t become a political volley between Republicans and Democrats.

Hopefully.

The most powerful number in the nation…

A quote from the Mashed Potato Bulletin… and one I can’t help but agree with:

I tell the students in my class at the City College of New York that “five” is the most powerful number in the nation. For as we have seen, five votes on the Supreme Court can pick a president—voters notwithstanding—and five votes could redefine our understanding of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution—precedents notwithstanding.

So… as the President comes forward to hope that the Health Care law remain unjudiciated by the SCOTUS, we have to sit on our seat edges to see if they want to be the third legislative house.

What can we do when the Court defies the Constitution they are supposed to preserve by interpretation?

Today the Supreme Court gets back to the Health Care Bill’s Constitutionality…

C-Span 3 has them scheduled to be on the air at 1:00 PM… I don’t know if that’s live or a replay, but it will cover the next stage of their discussions.Today is the second day of hearings (tomorrow is the third and last), with the justices moving from the technicalities of the first day to exploring the legal issues at the heart of whether the law is constitutional or not.

Most of the commentators I’ve heard in the last two days think the 22 Republican challengers (3 state governors, the rest Republican Attorneys General) will not get the law declared unconstitutional. If that is the case, any move to change or eliminate it goes back to Congress.

From 1992 to the near present, it was the Republicans who were pushing mor the Individual Mandate that everyone be required to have Health Insurance. It was only when Obama pushed it in his ACA bill that they came put against it. This is why it seems political more than nationally useful.

Anyway, I’ll be listening to the Court… so more later.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Eve of Destruction

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

Education destroys Santorum’s world…

-and -

 

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

…and unchangeable opposition is destroying the Congress

-and -

 

Ted Rall from UClick:

…and the Right wants to destroy social benefits

-and -

 

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

… and, while we’re at it, let’s destroy America’s sex life…

-and -

 

Lee Judge in the Kansas City Star:

 

Of course, we’ve already destroyed the influence of average citizens on our government.

 

The next time some Repub partyer argues about President Obama’s record…

… go to KEEPING HIS WORD and be supplied with a list of his accomplishments, the answers to his promises that have been kept, and all the information you need to wipe the lying bastards off the great right-wing ass.

Great information source that the White House has (finally) put up to counter the world’s least truthful party.

http://www.keepinghisword.com/

The House of Representatives represents who?

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

- Mark Twain

One of the options you have when you’re retired like me is to spend time watching the members of Congress debate on C-Span. Indeed, watching them deal with legislation on Budget, Education, Health and other human services is an example of people speaking to each other but not listening to one word the other person says. You get what I mean?

Right now they are debating on “Rules for Changing the Federal Budget Process Bill.” No, they aren’t changing the budget. They are changing the RULES to change the budget as law.

Republicans are saying things like “tax cuts cause higher revenues.” Democrats are saying that “Inflation increases the amount of money needed to carry out necessary programs” like Social Security or Medicare.

At least one (Democrat, I guess) has quoted Grover Norquist‘s favorite statement that he doesn’t want to eliminate government… he just wants to shrink it…until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub. (btw, was Grover Norquist ever elected by anyone, anywhere to serve in Congress as they decide on things like this?)

In the long run, if you are a.) a Democrat proposing legislation or b.) presenting a proposal by President Obama… even if legislation being proposed was sought previously by Republicans… you can assume that the large majority of Republicans will make sure nothing passes. That has been the situation since the 2010 election that brought in all the Tea Party folks.

Do not expect anything to happen this season that will actually solve our very serious problems. Ain’t gonna happen.

Always keep the truth in mind…

So the SuperCommittee isn’t getting anywhere. So what will the government do about our financial problems.

And what about jobs?

Do Republicans care if 42 million folks work again?
Let’s see what they spend their time on in Congress (thanks to the Daily Kos):


Here’s a budget busting idea for Congress:

President Barack Obama speaks to a joint sessi...

Found this info on the amount of time Congressfolk actually work in Politicus.USA:

House Republicans are scheduled to work even less in 2012. The House GOP has given themselves a schedule for next year that will have them in session for just 108 days. They will only be in session for six days in January, eight days in April, and three days in August. The House will be in session for exactly 13 days between September 10 and the 2012 election. With an average salary of $174,000,each member of the House will earn $1,611.11 for each day that they are in session.

If America really wanted to reduce the budget deficit, they could start by paying the members of Congress only for the days that they are actually in session.

I don’t suppose you wonder why there is not a jobs bill… I know I don’t.

Congress is back in session… don’t expect anything new.

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

- Mark Twain

So now there is a reason to find the day’s comedy on C-Span and C-Span2 once more. Unfortunately, this is no longer comedy, but the essence of our national tragedy.

Tragedies have tragic figures, of course, who fall into the inescapable fissure of their own inabilities. The tragic figures here are not Democrats, not Republicans, not the President,

Mitch McConnell LEADS the Ranks of the Inverted

not Mitch McConnell, not John Boehner, and for heaven’s same not the Tea Party.

We are the Tragic Figures: Americans. Americans who no longer vote because they have  been alienated by one party or the other with the marketing assistance of Corporations and that 1% of the population that controls 80% of the money. Americans who hear politicians say “Put America First” and “Put Americans Back To Work” – yet cancel each other out on their own votes in Congress. Americans who are bought off without even knowing it… have been since Reagan… and who attack their own state of well being while they think they are standing strong.

The major point of tragedies is that they prove their point, but don’t end well. The Tragic Figure dies, or has eyes pulled out, or loses everything necessary to maintain life.

In a recent  Truthout article called “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult”, Mike Lofgren shows the strategy that Republicans use to carry us further into unending misery:

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way:

“Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.”

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that “they are all crooks,” and that “government is no good,” further leading them to think, “a plague on both your houses” and “the parties are like two kids in a school yard.”

…and, of course, the resulting action is that65% of Americans at a minimum no longer vote.

And that’s the real tragedy.

So last week was Tea Party Week… maybe this will scare the rest of America enough to stop criticizing Obama and join ranks…

Take a look:

Let’s make this week Democratic Week…

A quote to sum up our elected representatives….

Senator Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

“I’m embarrassed by all of us. I’ve never seen a worse Congress in my whole political life.’’

- Sen. Olympia Snowe

(thanks to Debbie Does Nothing.)

Snowe, who served as Maine’s congresswoman from 1979 to 1995 and has been a senator ever since, is being targeted by the Tea Party for voting in favor of the debt ceiling deal despite the fact that it did not include a balanced budget amendment.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Dancing on the (Debt) Ceiling

Going to focus today on some great cartoons summing up the fruitless “debates” that this polarized Congress go through as the GOP tries to end Obama‘s Presidency…

Mr. Fish in Truthdig:

… and when we’re done, we’ll decide how to spend what we have left…

- and -

John Deering in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:


Waiting to see who wins as we all go over the falls…

- and -

Dan Wasserman in the Boston Globe:

Notice how well they listen to each other…

- and -

Dick Locher of Tribune Media Services:

… if we would all get with it….

- and -

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald:

…and it l0oks like they are getting it.

Why don’t we go after a 21st Century government?

Second round of the French presidential electi...

Is this the Old Way?

I was watching Walter Mosely on Book Notes this afternoon as he promoted a new book about American politics. One of the things he said has stuck in my head: we have an 18th century government in a 21st century environment. What he was referring to was the fact that we still elect representatives to “represent” what we believe in Congress and to vote on items for us, whether we, in the end, agree with them or not. And, since they are easily corrupted by corporations and lobbyists putting money in their campaigns to get the job of “representing” us, we often do not agree with what they are voting for… for us.

Yet we are in an era that is pervaded by technology, where Facebook keeps thousands of us at a time, no matter where we are, communicating together. What if we all put a particular amount of time (Mosely suggested 90 minutes, but I don’t believe that much is possible on a daily basis… more likely 30 minutes) into being on-line and voting on those things ourselves? All of a sudden there is no need for Congress… the only way big corporations could influence us is by making their products and services cheaper or higher in quality (it would be realyl hard to pay off 220 million voters who are representing themselves.)

Certainly, there would have to be technical administration services created to hold the wiring together. nd we would have to have volunteer committees to control things like the military and the treasury and other important needs. But think about a real Democracy here… 1 on 1 in operation, but a huge scale overall. I know there will be so many arguments on why it can’t be done… but didn’t the imperial governments of the 18th Century think the great American experience, freeing itself from Great Britain, was certainly going to fail?

All I am saying is think about it… and remember that right now, right this very second, you and I are in a potential debate on the subject and that debate could be expanded and millions could take part. Then all we need to do is have a vote…

Quote of the Day – What has Obama done about Climate Change…

Al Gore doesn’t think he’s done very much at all.

This from a piece called Climate of Denial in Rolling Stone:

President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has not defended the science against the ongoing withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community … to bring the reality of the science before the public.”

There is one other quote from later in this superb article (which shows one of the many reasons that Gore is our leading advocate of finding a solution to Climate Change) that sums up the poor support Obama has given to this life-affecting problem:

“… President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates — including one Republican — felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that “drill, baby, drill” is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.

So what can we do about the abandonment of Climate Change focus by the administration? Gore lays out five distinct things we can all do at the end of his essay. Since it runs over a page, I’ll just link to it HERE. It is worth your while to go in and read it.

Of course the most obvious of the five solutions is to put pressure on the President, or Representatives and our Senators, and everyone else involved at the Cabinet level. If we don’t push for the decisions that will, hopefully, start turning around the changes in our climate, then they won’t be made. As Gore says:

“Why do you think President Obama and Congress changed their game on “don’t ask, don’t tell?” It happened because enough Americans delivered exactly that tough message to candidates who wanted their votes.”

Can you imagine what a great President Al Gore would have made instead of…oh, what was the name of that jackass that left us in debt and at war? A Republican, wasn’t he?

Quote of the Day – White House weighs in on Weiner…

Jay Carney

Asked what the White House thinks of the Weiner situation and whether or not it supports the Democratic leadership that wants the Congressman‘s resignation, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the following:

“We think it’s a distraction from the important business that this president needs to conduct and Congress need to conduct. Beyond that, I don’t have any comment.”

Carney also said that Weiner’s activity was inappropriate. On the news tonight (an NBC leap into the front line), President Obama said Weiner should resign.

What’s your opinion… are congressional legislators ethical?

According to a poll reported on by The Hill:

58 percent of voters think most members of Congress are “unethical,” while only 25 percent consider the majority to be principled. Seventeen percent are unsure.

Furthermore, those polled didn’t seem to trust one party over another… and 68% believe that ethical standards have declined among politicians in recent decades while only 7% thought they had improved.

The poll was taken three days after Weiner announced his responsibility for sending suggestive photographs of himself to women he didn’t know.

69% of those polled said they somewhat or strongly disapproved of the job Congress is doing,  25% said they somewhat approved and just 3% said they strongly approved. 33% said men in office are less ethical than women.

The figures are based on a national survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted by Pulse Opinion Research.

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