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The Mission of the 116th Congress

January, 2019

“I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.”

― John Stewart Mill

[John Stuart Mill, in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington, May 31, 1866.]”

 

Introduction

 

The voters of the 2018 mid-term elections have spoken and have made an important move toward restoring democracy in America. It is now time to focus on an agenda for the new 116 Congress. This Congress will convene on January 3, 2019 perhaps even before noon.

It is one thing for candidates in a campaign mode to make promises in order to get elected; it is quite another thing to now face the reality of actually having to govern. Now that the Democrats will be in control of the House of Representatives, everyone is anxiously awaiting the results of the Mueller investigation. As they say, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

A wrench was thrown into the Muller investigation on November 6, 2018 when interim Attorney General Mathew Whitaker was appointed by Donald Trump to replace fired Attorney General Sessions. Unfortunately, the new interim A.G. possesses a strong ideological tie to Donald Trump.

It terms of legal precedent and the United States Constitution, Whitaker’s beliefs about established law make him something of an odd-ball. His fitness for the job has yet to be determined, although there is the strong suspicion he is not qualified and should not be appointed permanent Attorney General. He is also currently under F.B.I. investigation. This is about his involvement as a member of an advisory board for World Patent Marketing (WPM). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently shut down WPM for fraud and scamming people. Some of these people were disabled veterans who were scammed out of their life savings. Whitaker also made legal threats against litigants wishing to sue WPM. Whitaker’s lack of professionalism and history of this company will likely end his position as the interim United States Attorney General.  We’ll just have to wait to see how all of the interactions between Mueller and Whitaker play out during the weeks ahead. I’m hoping that Whitaker too will be indicted by the Mueller team for obstruction of justice if he makes any move to undermine the future indictment of the President of the United States, or any in his administration or family members.

Now What?

In the meantime, the 116th Congress needs to develop and carry out specific goals and objectives to achieve over the next 2 years and beyond. I am going to suggest in the pages ahead what their platform ought to be. They need to be successful in order to convince the American public that they are capable of real change. They need to convince the American public that voting Republican in 2020 would be as catastrophic as it was in 2016. Aside from differing value judgments this is because Republicans seldom succeed at what they undertake.

Why did Republicans nearly always fail during the last 20 years? What is holding back Republicans more than anything else are the groups within the party known as the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus. Belonging to these groups must be a “sweet job.” They get paid for putting up roadblocks to everything, then sit back and collect their paychecks all for doing nothing.

Conservatives as a group are historically almost always on the wrong side of history. Just consider at a minimum the issue of Integration back in the 1950s and putting up roadblocks to enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935. On August 14, 1935 The Social Security Act established a system of old-age benefits for workers, benefits for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment insurance, and aid for dependent mothers and children, the blind and the physically handicapped.

This was a monumental piece of legislative reform the likes of which the world could only imagine. It was a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress who spearheaded the creation and passage of the Social Security Act of 1935. Republicans could have been part of this landmark historical achievement. Instead, they sat on the sidelines during this whole event in American History.

The following should be the goals and objectives of the 116th Congress:

Goals

Return Democracy to America

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

 

The Nature of Goals

Goals tend to be end states, the thing one wants to aim for, achieve and bring about. Granted, the above goals need to be more specific, and measurable. Otherwise, goals are simply value judgements and lacking concrete steps and specificity to know when one arrives at the final destination. However, life is seldom clear-cut and well-defined. Ambiguity, normlessness and vagueness are all-to-often our reality when setting goals.

Nevertheless goals, however nebulous at times, can still provide a direction and be something to work for and move toward when trying to achieve that “end state.”  Not to burden my reader with the complexities of goal setting, let me give an example: I want to buy a new jaguar car in January, 2019. This goal is specific, has a time line, and is measurable (either you buy it or you don’t). Compare this goal to one that is more diffuse or vague in nature. “I want to save the world.” This goal is terrible. How does one define “save”? There is no time line and measuring it is not defined or specified, and there is total ambiguity; that is, what does that goal really mean in the first place?

In the world of American party politics goal planning can be very unwieldly, especially when parties are constantly re-defining themselves. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the real motivations and values underlying the goal planning process.

Objectives

Objectives lead one to the strategies or methods developed to achieve one’s stated goals. In January, 2019 the 116th Congress will convene to begin the difficult process of governing by undoing certain things that have been implemented by the Trump Administration. In addition, they will need to simultaneously forge ahead with their own agenda for change and their own set of goals, objectives (including methods and strategies). It is a job of great importance and awesome responsibility. And, leadership will be crucial at every step.

The purpose of this Blog is to explain what I think their goals and objectives ought to be. As a progressive with ultra-liberal values [90% of the time] yet sometimes conservative on national defense and military issues [10% of the time] the following are the objectives I think this new Congress should work on, support and achieve.

 

Goal

Return Democracy to America

Objectives

Impeach Trump

As the late Howard Cosell used to say, “Tell it..Like..It is” Well, enough has already been written about Donald Trump. But I do have something to say about his immoral character. Cutting to the chase, he is a psychiatrically and intellectually challenged individual. He is naïve, dishonest and a gifted liar. He is a classic ego-maniac, narcissistic insecure white racist, and a misogynistic degenerate. He is a sociopathic bully, a phony, a con man, a charlatan who lies every time he opens his mouth. Donald Trump of course only does two things wrong in life: everything he says and everything he does.

To say that he suffers from feelings of inadequacy or inferiority is to point out the obvious. More importantly, he is a criminal, a traitor to his country and deserves to be behind bars. Said another way; he is a menace to civilized society. If that wasn’t enough—just consider the following. He is also the most incompetent, unknowledgeable buffoon to ever be elected to public office in the United States. (Now, I’d like to tell you what I really think of him, but civility demands that I not use any expletives and/or rhetorical commentary). From my perspective as an artist (color me blue) he needs to be in an orange jump suit or a white straight jacket.

The late Will Rogers once said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” As we all know, Will Rogers never met Donald Trump. Impeaching Donald Trump is the most important objective for the 116th Congress to address. His removal from Office of the presidency is long overdue.

Eliminate Gerrymandering in the United States

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of voting boundaries to benefit a particular political party. Both gerrymandering and cheating are perpendicular in definition. Although Gerrymandering provides benefits by packing district votes, the method utilizes dishonesty.

In an article by  the AP on June, 25, 2017 a very convincing argument was made that gerrymandering helped the Republican Party in 2016 more than it did the Democrats. It was achieved by political cheating and voter disenfranchisement all in deference to political party. Here is an abbreviated part of this article:

“Analysis: Partisan gerrymandering has benefited Republicans more than Democrats

The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump’s favor.

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it — in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage.

The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.”

Reverse Trump’s Executive Orders

His entire barrage of Executive orders need to be (on day one) reversed and an assessment report undertaken to report all damages done to people and resources. Go to court if necessary to get this objective done.

Create Laws to eliminate all Money from Politics

If this objective is achieved, it will help to finally elevate the status of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate to a status like that of the United States Supreme Court. No more will Americans be able to say, “We have the best politicians money can buy.” Money has tainted politics in America from the very beginning. If politicians ever want to achieve any degree of respectability, they need to eliminate all money in politics.

Eliminate the Electoral College in deference to popular vote only

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The Electoral College is an arcane process for electing a president. The election of 2016 is filled with irony. It is incredibly ironic because the Founding Fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. Why? Because they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power. So, the Electoral College, no matter how originally perceived, has now failed in the 21st Century to prevent a tyrant from becoming President of the United States.

The Electoral College also created the primacy of its own electoral process, over that of the popular vote. It renders popular vote more symbolic than real or significant. In the 2016 election some 3 million voters were disenfranchised by this arcane Electoral College system. The popular vote should have made Hillary Clinton President of the United States.

The time has arrived for a new Constitutional Amendment on electing presidents. If we pay lip service to the idea that every person’s vote count, then we as a nation ought to damn well mean it. The Electoral College flies in the face of any notion of a true democratic process. Real democracy is not static or immutable; real democracy is capable of counting every vote and making every vote count.

Initiate a new Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

It’s been nearly 100 years since women first earned the right to vote. It was called the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a nation we are long overdue for an Equal Rights Amendment.

Make sure 50% of the leadership roles such as Heads of Committees are held by women

Given the opportunity to show the country just how much more capable Democrats are than Republicans it’s time to set in stone a new egalitarian standard for the nation. Women are truly equal with men. What differences there are between men and women such as height, weight, and muscle mass or “perceived privilege” has absolutely no relevance when compared to innate intelligence, thinking ability or leadership qualities.

Reopen the case against Supreme Court associate justice Brett Kavanaugh. This time a real investigation will be conducted

Although I am in favor of liberal judges rather than conservative ones, the real issue here is trust. During the early part of his confirmation hearing Nominee Kavanaugh said some things that convinced me, when he talked about how he analyzes judicial cases, he seemed very reasonable and objective. He was on point.

It must be pointed out that judicial or legal reasoning is not like any other way of thinking. Legal thinking and analysis needs to be fact-driven and respectful of legal precedent. Highly intelligent judges tend to put their biases aside when analyzing data and the law. I would direct you to previous blogs where I discussed various theories of judicial reasoning and analysis, especially with respect to how the United States Constitution is interpreted.

Sometimes judges on the U.S. Supreme Court change political stripes. And it is true that historically more conservative judges leaned to the liberal side once they were on the highest court, much more than the reverse where a former liberal Court of Appeals judge turned conservative once they were elevated to the highest court.

The following is an interesting article written by Jon D. Hanson and Adam Benforado,

For the Boston Review, dated April 9, 2016.

It is titled, “THE DRIFTERS: Why the Supreme Court makes justices more liberal.”

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Boston Review. At the time of original publication, Antonin Scalia was still alive. Scalia died this year.

“When Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor left the bench last year, conservatives were in an anxious mood: though pleased at the prospect of shifting the Supreme Court to the right, they were worried by the record of past Republican appointments. The refrain in conservative commentary, repeated with special intensity during the Harriet Mires affair, was: Not another Souter. Not another Kennedy. Not another O’Connor. And they might have added: Not another Blackmun. Not another Stevens. Not another Warren.

They were right to be concerned. While there have been a number of relatively reliable conservative justices over the years—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Rehnquist being prime examples—and some important right-shifting exceptions—notably Felix Frankfurter, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy—the tendency in recent decades to drift leftward has been strong enough to gain both popular and scholarly attention. Indeed, Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, has suggested that about one quarter of confirmed nominees over the last half century have wound up “evolving from conservative to moderate or liberal.”

 

Richard Nixon, for instance, thought he was getting solid right-wingers when he appointed Harry Blackmun and Lewis Powell, only to find, several years later, Blackmun authoring Roe v. Wade and Powell swing-voting to permit affirmative action in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Coincidentally, in Bakke, Justice John Paul Stevens—then a recent Gerald Ford appointee—wrote a dissent joined by the court’s most conservative members, though a few decades later he would emerge as the most consistently liberal voice on the bench.

Justices O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy—though they remain tied to their conservative mainstays on certain issues, such as federalism—both seem to have embarked on similar leftward journeys, particularly with respect to individual rights and liberties. Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, O’Connor struck a resoundingly conservative chord in her early opinions on women’s and racial-minority rights, only to join with liberal colleagues in cases touching on the same issues over the last 15 years—most strikingly in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe’s central holding, and Grutter v. Bollinger, which vindicated a law-school affirmative-action program. Kennedy, also a Reagan appointee, was initially celebrated by conservatives as “Bork without the beard.” Yet he later provided key votes to knock down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas and overturn the death penalty for juveniles in Roper v. Simmons—prompting Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, to rechristen him “the most dangerous man in America.”

There is no doubt that the presidential nomination process greatly influences the large-scale jurisprudential trends in expected directions. Still, that a Supreme Court appointment is both so important—in President Bush’s words, “one of the most consequential decisions a president makes”—and so scrutinized, casts the many examples of unpredicted drift as a real mystery. Why are presidents, and other backers, so often disappointed by the eventual performance of their nominees? And why do so many Supreme Court justices drift to the left, especially on matters of individual rights?

One fashionable theory is that, in our post-Borkean world, presidents must put forward nominees who can survive the contentious confirmation process—thus, ones who have shorter paper trails and less ideological baggage. This “advice and consent” bottleneck allows through only candidates with unpredictable judicial dispositions.

While this has some validity, presidential buyer’s remorse is as old as the process itself and may develop even when a president nominates a lifelong ally or a well-known public figure. By the time of his nomination, Earl Warren had established himself as a dedicated conservative: he had been the attorney general and three-term Republican governor of California and Thomas Dewey’s running mate in the famously narrow loss to Harry Truman and Alben Barkley. In short, Earl Warren hardly seemed an unknown quantity when Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him as Chief Justice in 1953; and yet it was Earl Warren—the same Earl Warren who as attorney general during World War II backed the internment of Japanese citizens —who as chief justice inaugurated a liberal revolution on the court and became a champion of minority rights.”

To read the full body of the article just go online and use the article’s title as your search term.

Now, back to judge Kavanaugh:

That having been said earlier I still think it is important to know if Judge Kavanaugh has any skeletons hanging in his closet. The testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was very compelling to say the least. In this situation a real investigation needs to be carried out if not by the FBI then perhaps in conjunction with a Congressional investigating committee. Perhaps then either Judge Kavanaugh will be vindicated or he won’t. As Sgt. Joe Friday said in Dragnet long ago, “Just show me the facts, ma’am.”

After the 2020 election install new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court for a total of 15 justices. It’s also important to require a 2/3 vote in the Senate in order to confirm and approve any nominee for the highest court in the land

Rationale

When Roosevelt was reelected in 1936 he had to deal with a Supreme Court that wouldn’t pass his New Deal legislation. He did this by getting passed the 1937 Judicial Procedures Reform Bill. What this bill did was to require all justices on the court to retire at age 70.

The U.S. Constitution says nothing about how many justices can compose the court. The number of justices we have now is simply based on prior arbitrary decisions of the U.S. government. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t necessarily have to be composed of just 9 justices.

Roosevelt’s “packing the court plan” worked and a host of New Deal legislation was subsequently approved by the highest court. One could argue that Roosevelt’s political interference to subvert the highest court in the land isn’t any different than current Republican attempts to pack the court with ultra-conservative tainted judges. They’ve done everything they can to subvert an honest process by having no real investigation done by the FBI, hiding Kavanaugh documents during his time with the Bush administration, and only half-heartedly, if at all, showing respect toward witnesses and victims of sexual battery, lewd licentious behavior, and attempted rape.

Goal   

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Objectives

Create a New Tax Plan for the Country

All individual tax rates should be 10%. All Corporate tax rates should go back to 35%. Since January 1, 2018 corporate tax rates are a flat 21%. We can thank the Trump tax plan for that boondoggle. If one adds corporate tax monies that are hidden overseas a lot of tax money is lost by the American people.

All small businesses’ tax rates should be 10%. However, a corporation or small business could reduce their tax burden conditional upon the number and percent of new hires over the number and percent of new hires in the previous tax year. The greater the number and percent of new hires—the greater the tax relief provided.

In these two types of business entities taxes are conditional on results, not promises. In this way all businesses would be incentivized because of conditionality. I recommend small business owners bear a much smaller tax burden since they employ the vast number of workers in this country. Simultaneously, the minimum hourly wage should become $20 an hour, effective January 1, 2020.

Enact a Brand New Immigration Policy with an Ellis Island Approach to integrating non-citizens into society and help them become American citizens.

Under this plan racial or religious profiling as criteria for admission to the United States is dead. Unlike Ellis Island in New York during the early 1900s and before, the 21st Century will require one Processing Center to be along the Canadian border, another in El Paso, Texas, and a third Processing Center near Los Angeles, California.

Develop a Proven and Effective Ground to Air and Sea to Air Missile Defense Program

There is a great need for the 116th Congress to play a leadership role with respect to a viable effective Missile Defense Program. This issue has been a bi-partisan issue that both Democrats and Republicans have worked toward.

The new Congress needs to stay on top of this issue. Given the importance of protecting the nation during an actual nuclear strike by a foreign power, efforts must proactively be implemented including the once defunct Star Wars Program originally proposed by President Reagan. However, it’s time to come into the 21th Century. Call such a program the new Strategic Missile Defense Program or NSMDP. A broader title might be SHIELD, which could apply to all systems directed at countering incoming missiles.

Create a One-Payer Health Care System for all Americans

Currently, Medicare is a single-payer national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. federal government.

It provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system through the payroll tax. It also provides health insurance to younger people with some disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Medicare is currently funded by a combination of a payroll tax, premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, and general revenue.

Under this objective the Bernie Sanders model should be enacted into law. It will include a viable and enriched health care benefit system and put every citizen under Medicare. In addition, affordable supplemental insurance could augment anyone’s Medicare program especially for long term care and in-home health care services.

A new enriched Medicare program must provide all medical services from Surgery to Psychiatry. In addition, all drugs, especially ground-breaking experimental cancer drugs will be free-of-charge to everyone covered under Medicare or Medicaid. The federal budget for all medical research should also be quadrupled over current governmental allocations. This is America; therefore we ought to have the best healthcare in the world bar none

Now money is realistically always an issue. I recommend a very first time ever federal national sales tax of 5 percent. Why? The GDP in 2020 will be an estimated 22.23 trillion dollars. Using a 2020 time frame a 5% sales tax would annually raise 1.1115 trillion dollars. But as everyone knows, health care costs are estimated to be 17.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

That 17.9 percent would represent about 3.3 trillion dollars in 2020. Said another way, health care in this country is astronomically expensive. However, mandatory spending cuts by the Trump administration had eliminated a net $2,033 billion (B) over the 2018–2027 periods. This included reduced spending of $1,891B for healthcare, mainly due to the proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). Republicans failed to repeal the ACA.

Doing the math 1,891 billion is actually 1.891 trillion dollars. When you add this amount to my sales tax plan, we now have 3.002 trillion dollars which comes close to the 3.3 trillion in healthcare costs. Last year under the Trump administration corporations paid only approximately $400 billion in taxes when corporations still had a tax rate was 35%.  Going back to a 35% tax rate for corporations would close the gap or short-fall. Theoretically, the 3.4 trillion in revenues could be dedicated exclusively to healthcare.

However, obviously my “steal from Peter in order to pay Paul” idea does need a lot of work. Anyone with viable ideas would be welcome to express them in some kind of forum. But this is getting to the heart of what politics is really all about—making hard decisions about scarce resources; it is an ominous responsibility.

Whether one is a Democrat, Republican or Independent, we all need good quality healthcare. Therefore, the 116th Congress has got its work cut out for it. I wish I had better more definitive answers for my readers on the issue of health care and its cost, but I don’t. It is a hard nut to crack. It is doable but will require really tough resource and tax decisions.

Institute a New National Call-in Center for Identifying Hate Groups and White Nationalists

This Call-in Center needs to be directly under the Control of the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. The “eyes and ears” of 300+ million citizens is much better than a simple string of agency generated leads or criminal acts or events after the fact. In particular, people in rural areas of the country will be pivotal to detecting and reporting hate militia groups hiding in the forests or mountain areas of the U.S. landscape.

Pass a New Law for all 50 states to adopt the Gun Law Restrictions of California and/or Massachusetts

As a registered gun owner from California I can say I had to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to buy my guns. I use my guns primarily for target practice and home protection.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with strong gun laws. Guns should not be in the hands of everybody. And safety is job one for me. Massachusetts has the best most restrictive gun laws in the nation; California is second. Guns are never going to disappear as they are protected by the Second Amendment. You should read former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia’s case response to District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008). This was a landmark case that made a lot of sense. The Associated Press reported the following back in 2015 following Scalia’s death:

“Opponents of a ban on the kinds of military-style weapons often used in spree killings – most recently in San Bernardino – often say that denying civilians the right to own such guns would violate their Second Amendment rights, or that it is not possible in any case to define such weapons in law.

So let’s turn to an undisputed conservative – one who opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action and so many other liberal agenda items. Is it possible to define the kinds of weapons that should not be in civilian hands, and does regulating them violate the Second Amendment?

Here is Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court reversed a long-held position and ruled that the Second Amendment did give Americans individual right to own firearms. The court said the District’s ban on handguns in private homes went too far, but that regulation of gun ownership was compatible with the Second Amendment:

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. ‘Miller’ said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ 307 U.S., at 179, 59 S. Ct. 816. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

 

Justice Scalia also wrote:

 

“It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like — may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”

The prefatory clause, to which the justice refers, of course, is the one about “a well-regulated militia.” The AR-15, used in San Bernardino, is an M-16 knockoff. unusual’ and subject to regulation or an outright ban under the Second Amendment.” So rather than saying “assault weapons,” in the future perhaps we should say “the kinds of weapons that Justice Antonin Scalia has defined as ‘dangerous.

The Mission of the New 116th Congress will be to bring suit where necessary when dangerous weapons are involved. This tact of specificity when creating regulatory legislation (with citations referring to District of Columbia vs. Heller) just might bear fruit.

 

 Double or triple the resources of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in order to investigate all civilian shootings by a Police Officer in the United States

Nearly 1,000 people are killed by police every year in the United States. Putting local police or local district attorneys in charge of investigating their own is like putting a fox in charge of the hen house. It makes no sense at all. All investigations of these killings need objectivity and impartiality. The FBI has several thousand agents nationwide. If they need more agents to investigate killings by police officers—then so be it!

 

Goal

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

Objectives

Make a Formal Apology to our Allies

In addition, after Trump is removed by the 116th Congress it needs to make an unprecedented gesture to the world—a heartfelt apology to all our allies around the world for our countries colossal error in judgment for electing a total buffoon to the White House. Both a verbal and written proclamation of regret needs to be promulgated to the entire world, and in a timely manner.

Institute a strong policy of coordination among the Congressional Judiciary Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to surveil all U.S. Congressmen, Senators, and Federal Court Judges for any corruption.

In conjunction with this, a new Cabinet level Czar of Government Ethics needs to be created with powers of investigation, promulgation of facts, and the authorization to censor, terminate employment, or otherwise convene a grand Jury to charge those whose ethics violations rise to the level of criminality.

In addition any current statutes on Moral Turpitude would now include crimes of omission as well as crimes of commission. As an example of moral turpitude involving crimes of omission consider the example of Representative Jim Jordan failing to report sexual abuse of young collegiate wrestlers at Ohio State University during his tenure there as a wrestling coach.

Convince the United Nations to eliminate all countries to the UN that are based on a dictatorship. Work to destroy all dictatorships in the world and their leaders (tyrants)

The United Nations is an institution that needs to defend its own Declaration of Human Rights, a landmark post-World War II proclamation that was passed back in 1948. It was one of the  most prodigious accomplishments of this multi-nation organization. The HR Proclamation laid out what the world needs to stand for. The United Nations stands as a beacon for the world in spite of the fact some countries are unwilling or unable to adopt the explicit Human Rights Declaration that was promulgated to the world.

It is from the pulpit of the U.N. that it needs collectively to stand up for what it believes in. As a world body of nations, it needs to demonstrate real courage. They could make a too long overdue commitment to oust dictatorships from the United Nations, to isolate and topple them from the rest of humanity. That is the goal. One objective that would follow would be to eliminate all dictators and dictatorships altogether from the face of the earth.

Final Thoughts

Having the power to make societal change is an awesome responsibility especially during an era of so many attacks on Democracy and democratic institutions. I can only hope that the gravity of the situation in American, with its utter lack of leadership in Washington D.C. will soon change course. I hope that the new 116th Congress will show real courage, and act quickly, decisively and responsibly.

 

 

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The 2016 Election, the Media, Favorability Ratings, and the Shifting American Electorate

 

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

 

The cornerstone of all science is observation. Lately I’ve made some interesting observations that raise a lot of questions about the 2016 election, the media and the shifting American electorate.

     The Status of the Republican Party

A good question to consider is why more than 50% of Republican voters seem to prefer outsiders rather than professional politicians, for example (Trump, Carson or Fiorina). By comparison, on the Democratic side, Democrats mostly seem to prefer tried and true democratic professional politicians like Clinton, Sanders, or O’Malley. I do not have a guiding theory to explain these peculiar political party differences in preference. Although Democrats too have different preferences among their candidates, they appear nonetheless to be more at ease with their choices than do the Republicans.

This is a fair question to ask—why it is Republicans are so dissatisfied, and why it is the Republican Party is in such disarray due to in-fighting.

With respect to these questions, I do have some ideas that relate to congressional gridlock, and favorability of the candidates as seen by demographically different voters.

Congressional Gridlock and Demographic Preferences

Many Republican voters who now express contempt for professional politicians are the same voters who willingly sent professional Republican politicians to Congress during the 2014 mid-term elections. It was a Republican landslide just a year ago. This may mean that Republican voters since 2014 have no one to blame but themselves for their own dissatisfaction.

And it’s true. Although the Republican Party since the 2014 mid-term elections has controlled both the House and the Senate, virtually nothing has been achieved due to recalcitrant ultra-conservatives and other malcontents who desired to commit mischief with gridlock and threatening to shut down the United States government.

During the last year, and more recently, Republicans wanted to defund Planned Parenthood. The results: their efforts failed. They also wanted to nix the Iran nuclear diplomatic agreement. The results: their efforts failed. They wanted to deep-six Obamacare and they failed (several times I might add). They wanted to shut down the government over the fiscal budget (in 2013). Except for a few days, the result was abject failure again and condemnation and scorn by the American people against the Republicans. All the President had to do was threaten a veto and they caved in like a very bad West Virginia mining accident. With Republicans in the majority, why couldn’t they control and overturn a presidential veto?

In addition, it is clear that Republican ultra conservatives from the Benghazi Committee have been wasting millions of taxpayer dollars money in order to vilify and tarnish the reputation of Hilary Clinton. Please observe the “smokescreen of doubt” that was created from these hearings; also note that no charges of any kind have yet been filed against Hilary Clinton. Polls showed that even Republican voters understand what was really happening in those hearings.

The Media and Republican Presidential Candidates

There is one area where I am in complete agreement with Republican presidential candidates. It is their anger at the media. There are liberal media and there are conservative media, and they are just as biased as any politician. It’s a common belief that the media are able to sift through truth and falsity and always have the public’s interest in mind. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many hide behind the smokescreen of the First Amendment in order to keep hidden their real intentions. Head-hunting and biased questions (and got-you questions) are still the goal of many reporters around the country. When watching them work, as in the debate in Colorado recently, I felt that the public’s interest in learning a candidate’s real view on many important issues was left out. Consequently, the media had their own agenda that night. Our interests were totally ignored.

Gone are the days of superior reporters like Edward R. Murrow, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and the great Walter Cronkite. Today, we’re more likely to get Heckle or Jeckle as “talking heads” news journalists or commentators. There are some exceptions to what I’m saying.

In fairness, today there are some really good people in the media such as Don Lemon, Erin Burnett, Rachel Maddow and one of the very best news reporters, Lester Holt. What I like about these journalists is that, although some opinion creeps into their shows, they nevertheless make a real sincere effort to bring out the facts for the public.

I do have some personal experience with this issue. Back in 1996 I wrote a very positive editorial for the Sacramento Bee on the Chief of Naval Operations who had committed suicide. I had worked directly as a gunnery yeoman for the Admiral when he was just an Ltjg/Lt. onboard the U.S.S. John R. Craig (DD-885) during the Vietnam War.

Subsequent to my editorial, I was contacted by a reporter from The Washington Post. He too was writing a story about the Admiral. However, he lied to me about what he was really up to. When his article came out in the Washington Post a week or two later, it was a lousy chop piece denigrating the reputation of the Admiral. This Admiral was the first ever enlisted man in United States Navy to rise from seaman recruit to top officer in the U.S. Navy with four stars (as Chief of Naval Operations). The hard lesson I learned was never ever trust a reporter.

When the public is looking for facts about a presidential candidate, always remember it is your responsibility to sift out truth from falsity. You can never depend on the media.

Favorability Ratings

Another important significant factor is favorability ratings. This may be the closest thing to looking inside the heart of the voter, where their sense of who is best for the White House is a gut level reaction to that candidate. Are they liked, or not?

     Research by the Pew Research Center indicates the Republican Party may be in deep trouble next year with the electorate.

The Republican Party’s image has grown more negative over the first half of this year. Currently, 32% have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60% have an unfavorable view. Favorable views of the GOP have fallen nine percentage points since January. The Democratic Party continues to have mixed ratings (48% favorable, 47% unfavorable).

The Democratic Party has often held an edge over the GOP in favorability in recent years, but its advantage had narrowed following the Republicans’ midterm victory last fall. Today, the gap is as wide as it has been in more than two years.

Republicans in particular are now more critical of their own party than they were a few months ago. About two-thirds (68%) express a favorable opinion of their party, the lowest share in more than two years. Six months ago, 86% of Republicans viewed the GOP positively.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 14-20, 2015 among 2,002 adults, finds little change in more specific perceptions of the two parties.

As has been the case over the past four years, the Republican Party is viewed as more extreme in its positions than the Democratic Party. Currently, 52% say the GOP is more extreme, compared with 35% who say this better describes the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party continues to hold wide advantages over the Republicans on empathy and honesty. By 53% to 31%, the Democratic Party is viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me.” And the Democrats hold a 16-point lead on governing in an honest and ethical way (45% to 29%).

Neither party has an edge in perceptions about which could better manage the Federal government: 40% say the Republican Party, while an identical percentage prefers the Democrats.

On issues, the Democratic Party holds double-digit advantages as better able to handle the environment (by a margin of 53% to 27%), abortion and contraception policies (50% to 31%), education (46% to 34%) and health care (46% to 36%).  The Republican Party has wide leads for better reflecting people’s views on gun control (48% to 36%) and dealing with the terrorist threat at home (44% to 34%).

In some cases, such as terrorism and foreign policy, the Republicans have lost ground since January. There has been little change in views of the parties on other major issues, including the economy and immigration. Neither party holds a significant advantage on these issues.

The survey finds little change in Barack Obama’s job approval: 48% approve of the way he is handling his job as president while 45% disapprove. Obama’s rating fell into negative territory at the end of last year, but has been mixed since January.

Recent Pew Research Center surveys have found signs of dissatisfaction with the GOP among Republicans. In May, just 41% of Republicans said they approved of the job performance of the leaders of the GOP-led Congress. In 2011, after Republicans had won control of the House, 60% of Republicans approved of the job being done by their party’s leaders in Congress.

     The current survey finds that positive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%. Independents also view the Republican Party less favorably; 29% today, compared with 37% six months ago.

Democrats by contrast continue to express highly positive opinions of their party: 86% view the party favorably, little changed from 84% in January. Independents’ views of the Democratic Party remain at 38%, unchanged since January.

The advantage the Republican Party had on a number of major issues has eroded since earlier this year. The Democratic Party has improved its position on foreign policy, taxes, policies about abortion and contraception, and terrorism since February.

The Democratic Party’s advantage on abortion and contraception has increased 16 points since February; currently 50% say Democrats could do the better job dealing with policies on abortion and contraception, while just 31% say the GOP could. Though these ratings reflect a shift from February (when the parties ran even on this issue), the edge Democrats now hold is similar to its advantage in October 2014.

Five months ago Republicans were seen by more Americans as the party better able to handle foreign policy (48% said Republicans, 35% Democrats); today, the public is equally likely to say Republicans (38%) as Democrats (41%) could better handle foreign policy. And while the GOP maintains a 10-point advantage as the party better able to address the terrorist threat at home (44% vs. 34%), that edge has narrowed since earlier this year.

Over the last two years, the Republican Party has opened a gap over the Democratic Party when it comes to views about which party better reflects American views about gun control. In May 2013, following months of debate about gun policy, the public was divided over which party could better deal with gun control. Today, the GOP holds a 13-point edge on this issue.

Democrats Hold Edge on Health Care, Neither Party Has Advantage on Economy, Immigration

Health care remains an issue that favors the Democratic Party. Currently 46% prefer the Democratic Party on health care, while 36% prefer the GOP. The Democratic Party has maintained an advantage on this issue for much of the last several years.

Democrats also enjoy a 12-point edge on education policy (46% vs. 34%). And on the environment, the public favors Democrats by about two-to-one (53% say the Democratic Party could do the better job, 27% say the GOP).

Americans continue to be divided over which party would do a better job handling the economy. Today, 44% say Democrats could do the better job, while nearly as many (41%) say Republicans could do the better job. Neither party has held a significant edge on this issue over the last year. Last July the Republicans held an eight-point advantage (47% vs. 39%) on the economy.

The parties also run even on the budget deficit and immigration, little changed since October of last year. The public has been split over which party is better able to handle immigration for the last several years.

There remain substantial divides by age and race over which party is better on immigration. The Democratic Party holds the edge on this issue among Americans under fifty, 48% of whom say it could do the better job on immigration, while just 36% say the GOP does. In contrast, the GOP performs better among those over fifty on immigration: 44% say it would do the better job, while 35% say the Democratic Party.

Whites favor the Republican Party over the Democratic Party by a 10-point margin on immigration, while both African-Americans (by 36 points) and Hispanics (by 29 points) are more likely to say the Democratic Party is better able to handle this issue.

Yet there are substantial divides within whites. While white women are roughly evenly split over which party can better address immigration (39% say Democrats, 40% Republicans), white men favor the GOP by a 20-point margin (51% vs. 31%).

And among whites with college degrees, the Democratic Party holds a slim edge (46% to 38%), while those without college degrees and those who have not attended college favor the GOP on immigration: 50% vs. 26%. Among those with some college experience the percentages are 46% vs. 34%.

Overall, Independents are divided over which party could do the better job addressing immigration (38% say each party). As with most issues, partisans overwhelmingly say their own party could do the better job on this issue.

Democratic Party Viewed More Positively Than GOP on Key Traits

The Democratic Party continues to enjoy an advantage on a number of key traits and qualities, and these views are little changed since last fall. By a 22-point margin, more say the Democratic Party is “more concerned with the needs of people like me.” The Democratic Party has held a similar-sized lead on this trait since 2011, and at least a double-digit edge going back to when this question was first asked more than 25 years ago in 1988.

The Democratic Party also leads the Republican Party as the party that governs in a more honest and ethical way (45% vs. 29%). This balance of opinion is also little changed over the last few years.

As it has been since 2013, the public is divided over which party can best manage the federal government: 41% say the Democratic Party, while 40% say the GOP.

And more Americans identify the Republican Party as “more extreme in its positions” (52% say this, while 35% say the Democratic Party). This view is little changed since 2011.

Congressional Evaluations Remain Highly Negative

     Views of Congress continue to hover near record lows: Just 25% of Americans view Congress favorably, while 69% says they have an unfavorable opinion.

Although the GOP now controls both the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats hold similar views of Congress: 29% of Democrats and 28% of Republicans rate it favorably. By comparison, Democratic ratings of Congress were consistently higher than Republicans’ ratings when Democrats controlled both chambers from 2007 to 2010.

Republican ratings of Congress are little changed since last summer, but Democratic ratings – which had grown more negative following the 2014 election – have rebounded somewhat (up seven percentage points since March).

Independents’ opinions of Congress are more negative than those in either party. Just 22% say they have a favorable view of Congress, relatively unchanged in recent months.

Views of Barack Obama

Obama’s job approval rating is little changed over the first half of 2015, with Americans about equally likely to say they approve of his performance (48%) as disapprove (45%).

Currently, about eight-in-ten Republicans (82%) disapprove of Obama’s performance, while views among independents remain mixed (48% disapprove, 44% approve). Obama continues to receive positive ratings from about eight-in-ten Democrats (79% approve, 16% disapprove). Ratings of Obama among partisans and independents are relatively unchanged over the last year.

Obama’s approval ratings continue to differ by generation, with younger generations more likely to view his job performance positively. Currently 55% of Millennials (those now ages 18-34) approve of his job performance, as do half of Generation Xers (those 35 to 50). By comparison, 44% of Baby Boomers (51 to 69 year olds) approve of Obama, along with just 37% of those in the Silent Generation (currently ages 70 to 87).

On five issues included in the survey, Obama gets a positive net rating on one: race relations. About half (48%) approve of his handling of race relations, while 43% disapprove. The public holds mixed views on Obama’s handling of health care policy (46% approve, 50% disapprove), the economy (45% approve, 51% disapprove) and global climate change (41% approve, 39% disapprove).

Obama’s performance on foreign policy remains in negative territory, and is little changed over the past few years: Just 38% now approve of how Obama is handling the nation’s foreign policy, while 52% say they disapprove.

While there has been little change in Obama’s approval ratings on many issues in the last year, his rating on health care policy has improved since December: Today, 46% approve of his handling of health care, up from 39%.

Obama’s rating on health care policy has improved across many political and demographic groups, but the change is particularly pronounced among those under 30: In December, 37% of 18-29 year olds approved of Obama’s handling of health care policy; currently 52% approve.

Obama on Foreign Policy: ‘Not Tough Enough’ for Many Americans

Just over half of Americans (53%) continue to say that Barack Obama’s approach to foreign policy and national security is “not tough enough”; 37% say he handles these matters about right, while just 4% say he is too tough. These attitudes are virtually unchanged since November 2013.

Republicans are far more critical of Obama’s approach to foreign policy than Democrats or independents. Eight-in-ten Republicans (80%) say he is not tough enough, compared with 54% of independents and just 32% of Democrats. Most Democrats (58%), along with about a third of independents (34%) say his approach is about right.

The 2016 Election

Let’s take a look now at the overall picture that is unfolding for the 2016 presidential election.

By the Numbers

In November of 2016 the United States will elect a new President. It is estimated that approximately 207,643,594 voters will show up at the polls and cast their ballots. Approximately 55 million will be Republicans, 72 million will be Democrats, and 42 million will be Independents who’ll split the vote.

Whoever the Democrat’s choice to run for president in 2016, it is evident that person is going to become our next President.

The reasons are fivefold: (1) the Republicans are once again out of favor with the American electorate, (2) most Americans blame Republicans for the gridlock in Washington D.C., (3) most young Millennial voters look askance at, and do not identify with, the values of conservatives in this new progressive modern era, (4) the Democrats outnumber republicans by 17 million potential voters in a general election, and (5) the powerful AFL/CIO has a block of 12 million voters who will vote for the candidate who policies favor the working man and woman. From the longshoreman to the steel worker, including assembly line automotive workers, this powerful voting group has determined many elections since the beginning of the industrial age. Democrats or Republicans who ignore the needs of these voters do so at their own peril.

Traditionally, labor unions feel more at ease with Democrats than Republicans, the latter of which tend to favor big business and Wall Street over labor unions.

 

Final Comments

A big question looms over the Republican electorate: If the Republicans control the House and the Senate, why didn’t they satisfy Republican voters who sent them to Washington in the first place? It appears the Republican Party tends not to be progressive or forward-looking.

It may very well be that dissatisfaction among Republican voters has been simmering for some time, going back to the mid-term elections of 1994 when they were promised a “Contract with America.” It was proposed by the Republican Party. Once again the result of Contract with America was utter failure. They achieved virtually nothing that was proposed or promised.

President Bill Clinton jokingly said at the time, “the Contract with America was really a Contract on America.”

To this author it is really not surprising that extremist, obstreperous and recalcitrant Tea Party members of Congress, as well as other irresponsible right wing demagogic conservatives, drove an irredeemable ideological wedge between most Republican lawmakers (moderate Republicans versus conservative Republicans) This is the mess the Republican Party finds itself in 2015.

Such a quixotic and largely self-serving approach to governing the people has been, and will continue to be, a political disaster.

One will recall that within days after the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, Republicans in Congress wanted to evaluate, not only what went wrong, but the very values of the Republican Party that led to their defeat.

That moment of self-reflection didn’t last long. Within weeks they were picking fights and engaging in congressional bickering, troublemaking with gridlock at every turn. Although some Republican voters approved of the watchdog approach over the Obama administration, most Republicans still expected there was something in it for them, namely legislation that would lower taxes and reduce the national budget and deficit, reduce the size of government and generally get things done. What happened was the Republicans in office forget why they were elected in the first place?

Consequently, most Republican voters today are pissed off at professional politicians in the Republican Party because of prior elected official’s failure to pass legislation helpful to Republican voters. As a result, the silent majority of Republicans may not be so silent anymore.

My original observation is important. Consequently, you’ll notice that on the Republican side, Republican voters are now more interested in outsiders, or those outside of Washington. Specifically, the polls are now showing widespread support for Republican non-professional politicians like Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. It should be pointed out that historically being a non-politician running for President of the United States is not all that unusual.

For example, Dwight David Eisenhower did not hold elected public office prior to becoming President. Neither did Zackery Taylor, John Adams or Ulysses S. Grant. Therefore it would not be unprecedented if an outsider running for president in 2016 became president of the United States. But, as the old expression goes “that was then and this is now.”

I made my prediction a while ago. That is, the Republican Party has as much chance of winning the presidency in 2016—as a snowball in hell. With all the Republican in-fighting, and the fact they were primarily blamed for all of the post-2008 gridlock, it’s clear they will fail to regain the White House in 2016.

While I could spend days articulating why Republican values miss the mark because of a modern and ever changing progressive American electorate, one important factor as to how the country will vote—is the factor of favorability. It will likely predict the election outcome in 2016. And, not surprisingly, demographics differentiate specific favorability ratings of the candidates. And, of course, Democrat Party voters outnumber Republican Party voters. Given that blacks and Hispanics and educated whites, along with younger voters do not favor the Republican Party, it’s time Republican voters once again reassess its values and what it means to be a conservative with non-inclusive values in a diverse culture.

All of this said—one factor may trump (no pun intended) the economy as a presidential issue. That is the issue of foreign policy since the horrific attacks in Paris.

On the surface one might think that the Republican hardliners would have an advantage as terrorism gains traction on the international scene. This is a complex issue given the humanitarian concerns of “collateral damage.”

Republican presidential candidate Senator Lindsay Graham has some good ideas about putting together a regional army to destroy ISIS. But his numbers in surveys are still hovering slightly below 1% of the Republican vote. The other Republican candidates, like everything else they do, are all talk and no action. More bluster than anything else.

Remember, the good citizens of this country don’t elect the president—The Electoral College does.

It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency. There currently are 538 total Electoral College votes (435 House, 100, Senate, and 3 from the District of Columbia). It is important that both political parties work to get out the vote in 2016. State majorities matter except in Maine and Nebraska (congressional district method).

If the Democrat presidential candidate turns out to be Hilary Clinton, she will need to have either retired General Wesley Clark or former Florida Governor Charlie Crist run as her running mate. If she does the ticket will be unbeatable and I predict she will win the presidency in 2016 with 304 Electoral College votes. The Republicans would therefore win only 234 Electoral College votes, and thus lose the 2016 election.

 

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