House of Representatives
Lately a memory has been haunting me a little bit. It was a television image that I noticed during the frantic, wall to wall TV coverage of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. While firefighters were scrambling through the dust and smoke of New York City, the anchor tossed to a reporter on the Beltway in Washington D.C.. The freeway was packed with federal employees. Some had provisions strapped to the top of their Range Rovers while other were furiously peddling their mountain bikes, as back packs full of canned goods swayed from their perspiration stained torsos, towards Maryland. All were abandoning the city. Lesson: These folks will cut and run.
None of them were even remotely interested in talking with reporters. Think about that for a second. The Washington elite, the people we entrust to fight for our interests, no matter how we define those interests; leaving their posts and fleeing the capitol...and refusing an opportunity to talk with the press! Read more
Now that the government shutdown is a reality, I want to take this opportunity to register my disgust at how this played out. I try and take a reasonable approach to the issue of who is responsible for government problems, and have a rather evenhanded focus, but in this, I am rather upset at the Republicans in the House of Representatives. Read more
The Far Right Republican Tea Party has overplayed its hand. The House of Representatives, its stronghold on the federal level, is consistently unpopular, having a 10-19% approval rating this year according to the Gallop poll. And now the Tea Party is threatening to shut down the government, and put thousands of employees on furlough, to try to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. How do they think this latest ploy will shake out for them?
Regarding the 2014 mid-term elections, can anyone say “landslide.” Any Democrat with a pulse will be able to make a serious bid on an incumbent Republican-held office this next cycle. Embarrassingly out-of-touch the GOP has become, and American voters are likely to show them the door at the next opportunity.
Here is the problem with the Far Right: they think their positions are popular because they listen to the people in their districts that show up to town hall meetings and send emails. The constituents who are taking the time to complain are the radicalized Far Right who listen to Fox News and other Right Wing media. Read more
Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
With the talks already ongoing to try and avert a government shutdown in the face of another debt ceiling crisis, I have decided to look at the broader question of whether it is genuinely possible to have an actual dialogue, on any subject, given the current political atmosphere. The first item in this conversation is to determine what dialogue actually is. Despite many different definitions that come to mind, and a lot of searching, I have happened upon a quote that seems to make the most sense. In the book On Heaven and Earth then Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, in his introduction has this to say on the idea of dialogue:
"Dialogue is born of a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say. It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion and their proposals. Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a preemptive condemnation. To dialogue, one must know how to lower the defenses, to open the door to one's home and to offer warmth. Read more
Admittedly, I’ve slowed down on my consumption of news since I was hired to direct a nonprofit in January. At first, I tried to keep up with current affairs, pretending I had as much energy for it as I did when I was underemployed. But my patience and energy are waning. I feel a growing disgust with the new sequester drama, and it wearies me to watch it. If I don’t do my job, I get sanctioned or dismissed. When Congress doesn’t do its job, it gets a nice paycheck and ample vacation time. That is bullshit! I stopped watching.
A diversion! I needed a diversion from the real House of Representatives, and so I feverishly picked off the episodes of the fictitious one on Netflix’s superb series “House of Cards.” Give me Francis Underwood’s felonious antics over Rep. Boehner’s embarrassing fumbles any day. The writers of this series prove that sometimes real life doesn’t hold a candle to fantasy. Read more
With President Barack Obama currently in the process of filling vacancies in his cabinet—already one current United States Senator has gotten the nod—and with the retirement of Senators Rockefeller, Harkin, and Chambliss, there has been a good amount of chatter about the ramifications of opening up a U.S. Senate seat. While every state is a unique case, we started wondering what the actual numerical advantage is when it comes to incumbency.
The answer is 7 or 10, or 9 or 16, depending on the situation. While this is a little less prophetic than the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life (42 for all the non-Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans out there), there is an interesting pattern that has developed over the past six years or so. Read more
Though it took going past the deadline into the New Year, the United States Congress managed to settle on a deal that raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans who make over $400 thousand a year for individuals and $450 thousand for couples and yet continues the Bush tax cuts for everyone else.
There was dissatisfaction from both sides of the aisle, as some Democrats were angry about President Obama raising the threshold for raising taxes, from $250 thousand a year to the $450 thousand, and some Republicans were angry because of the lack of spending cuts in the bill. The last step for final passage of the bill in the house, saw the Republican leadership split, with House Speaker John Boehner (OH) voting for the bill and Eric Cantor (VA) voting against.
The bill passed the U.S. House 257-167 and now awaits Obama’s signature which he has assured us he will sign. Read more
Election Night was a nail-biter, at least for me. It was not clear most of the night just where the polls would take us. One thing I am sure of; No one, no matter which party affiliation, wanted to see a long drawn-out recount debacle as we did with Florida in the 2000 presidential election.
These last four years has also been frustrating for much of the nation, with a congress divided with the opposing party determined to see that President Barack Obama does not win a second term. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” made it clear that nothing was going get accomplished. Read more
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention made a passing mention concerning the poor and the sick in this country.
“…That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need.” Romney said at one point in his speech.
Though the audience had given the man cheerful and sometimes thunderous applause throughout most of his speech, there was little reaction at all to that one statement. I think that reaction, or the lack of a reaction, is very telling of Republicans in general, at least the ones who were in that audience. Read more
Saturday’s announcement by Gov. Mitt Romney that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is his new running mate wasn’t a complete surprise; it was well known he was on the short list for weeks. To casual observers, this is a good choice for Romney, as Ryan and he are said to get along well and share similar positions on important issues. Ryan is a first rate Tea Bagger, and will certainly bring out the Far Right to vote. Nevertheless, the selection of Ryan could prove to be a big mistake, as he has demonstrated poor judgment in his voting in the US House of Representatives many times. Coupled with Romney’s blunders, the GOP has created a weak presidential ticket. Read more
Extremism: The holding of extreme political or religious views or the taking of extreme actions on the basis of those views. (Encarta Dictionary)
There are various types of extremist, in every country on the globe. Every society has their kooks, you might say. As far as I’m concerned, anyone or any group has a right to believe however they wish to believe when it comes to religion or politics, as long as they don’t try forcing those beliefs on me or the rest of the populace.
The problem with some extremist though, just having their own differences with the rest of society is not enough, they must also work to see that the rest of us either believe the way they do or at least are forced to accept laws and edicts they would have us to follow. Read more
Michelle Bachmann again has shown us that she is an oxymoron to the intelligence committee she belongs to in the House of Representatives. She and a handful of other Republican House members have been on an adventure into trying to pin the title of “Islamic Extremist Spy” on a Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin. In fact, she’s accusing the woman of even influencing State Dept. policy as a reason she’s working for Hillary in the first place. Read more
The following document was written by Benjamin Franklin in 1754, and is said to have been influenced by the structure of the Iroquois Confederacy, of which Franklin was well aware. This is essentially the first draft of the Articles of Confederation and closely reflects Franklin’s contribution to the Constitution of the United States.
The Albany Plan of Union
It is proposed that humble application be made for an act of Parliament of Great Britain, by virtue of which one general government may be formed in America, including all the said colonies, within and under which government each colony may retain its present constitution, except in the particulars wherein a change may be directed by the said act, as hereafter follows. Read more
Since Republicans were given back the reins to the U.S. House of Representatives along with governor seats and state houses back in 2010, they’ve used those seats to push a certain agenda, which include anti-abortion legislation, bills and state constitutional amendments to block same-sex marriage and Voter ID laws and even voter purges, such as the voter purge efforts being pushed by Florida Governor Rick Scott. Read more