Tag Archives: U.S. Government

Washington Watch: BookTV Afterwords- Carlos Lozada Interviewing David Frum: Trumpocracy & The State of Western Democracy

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Maybe Trumpocracy is another way of talking about the new highly rated Washington reality TV show known as The White House, with Donald Trump. I say highly rated and not highly successful, because it’s not successful at least as far as far as how the American people think of it. Anytime 3-5 voters don’t like the politician that is supposed to represent them whatever the office is, that politician is not doing well. 3-5 Americans don’t like the job that President Trump is doing, don’t like him personally, and don’t trust him. He’s in Richard Nixon territory as far as how unpopular he is with the American people. But his new show and perhaps Amateur Night at The White House, would be a better name for President Trump’s latest reality TV show, is highly rated.

You can’t just look at Donald Trump by only looking at one aspect of him. You have to look at the narcissistic selfish gigantic sized personality. You have to look at his governing style, which he doesn’t seem to have at least from the outside looking in. You have to look at his policies. You have to look at his supporters which at this point are only little more than a third of the electorate, but were enough to at least get him the Republican nomination for President. And then you have to look to his appeasement of those voters. The salesmanship to be kind, the con game would be more accurate in how he appeals to blue-collar fundamentalist Christian voters especially in the Republican Party, but ins some cases in the upper Midwest the Democratic Party as well.

In 2016 we saw the John Birch Society/George Wallace/Ann Coulter/Pat Buchanan right-wing populist ethno-Tribalist-Nationalist presidential candidate, but with a personality, as well as great sense of humor and even likable at times in Donald Trump. And yes, Donald Trump is a very funny man ( even intentionally ) and even likable when he’s in small spaces and groups. This is a political faction in America that has been around since World War I at least in America that views conspiracy theories as real news like Vice President Lyndon Johnson ordering the assassination of President John Kennedy. And real news as fake and establishment news. Who don’t trust institutions especially non-partisan institutions like the CIA and FBI, simply because they can’t be controlled by partisans. And operate independently even from the President.

I view Donald Trump as wannabe dictator who picked the last country in the world to try to become a dictator in the United States of America. Sort of like a village idiot who tries to rob a bank with just a leaky water gun at 12 noon on a Monday and wonders what went wrong and how come people were just laughing at him instead of giving him their money.

President Trump knows he can’t shut down the private media because we have a guaranteed free press and his administration simply wouldn’t allow for him to even try that. So he calls them fake news at least when they report negative facts about him. Which is most of the time. He says his entire intelligence community is wrong when they say that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. He accuses people that he personally appointed as being disloyal and part of the establishment when they don’t shut down the Russia investigation and even expand it when new facts and evidence come to light about the Trump Campaign’s involvement with Russia during the 2016 election. Because he’s smart enough to know he can’t control these investigations and what Congress does by himself. So he instead attempts to make them look corrupt. He’s a wannabe dictator in the wrong country and doesn’t like accountability and limited power.

In some ways Donald Trump is the worst nightmare and horror movie coming to real life and part of that is because he’s now the President of the United States. Literally the most powerful and most important country in the world, the greatest country in the world as far as how powerful and influential in the world. But part of why we’re so strong, powerful, and great, is because of our checks and balances, our accountability. Which was designed in case someone like Donald Trump ever became President. The reason why we’ve been able to avoid nationalist populist authoritarians from coming to power in America and why countries like Russia, Poland, Venezuela, haven’t, is because of our checks and balances. And is something that Donald Trump is learning the hard way.

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Book TV: Afterwords- U.S. Senator Tom Daschle Interviewing Ira Shapiro: Broken

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Source: Book TV– Ira Shapiro

Source: Book TV: Afterwords- U.S. Senator Tom Daschle Interviewing Ira Shapiro: Broken

Warning! This post is for all of you not just political junkies, but Congressional junkie. Which are people with a special type of mental disorder that is worst than simply just being a political junkie. But for people who watch at least one hour of C-SPAN a day and at least one Congressional hearing or part of a hearing each week. You’ll get no news about what rehab the latest hot celebrity is going to and for what for. Or what shoes that person wore when they stopped for coffee in Malibu.

In all seriousness or as serious as I’ll be for this post, the U.S. Senate is broken and needs to be reformed. So does the U.S. House of Representatives by the way ( the lower chamber of Congress ) and I’ll get into a little bit of that with this post as well. But this is really about the Senate ( the upper chamber of Congress ) because it’s so important as an institution because like the court system and the U.S. Justice Department, they’re the only institutions that can hold the President and Executive accountable regardless of which party is in the White House or what the makeup in Congress is both in the House and Senate. And when the Senate doesn’t operate properly because of either hyper-partisanship or one party in the Senate is simply too divided to act, the country suffers and has to live with the gridlock.

Why is Congress both the House and Senate broken? Part of that has to do with the addiction to absolute power that both the Democratic Party and Republican Party has. This consumption to not just control the White House and Congress, but to have such large majorities in both chambers that they wouldn’t have to work with the minority party, especially the minority leadership on anything. I don’t believe it’s so much the leadership’s in both parties that are driving the hyper-partisanship but the hyper-partisan fringe bases that literally see any type of compromise with the other party as treason and an offense that deserves a primary for that member of Congress or the leader, who decided to work with the other party even on need to pass legislation and when the margins in Congress are close.

Another part has to do with gerrymandering both from the Republican Party, but the Democratic Party as well. Not just in Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, where the Republican Party has successfully if not unconstitutionally gerrymandered all of the House districts in those states. But the Democratic Party has done this as well in California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. It’s just that the Republican Party currently controls 34-50 statehouses with a solid majority of individual legislatures all over the country and has been more successful at this what I would I call at least an unconstitutional hyper-partisan policy.

Another contributor to this hyper-partisanship in America has to do with dark money. Where outside groups can give a Senator or Representative, financial contributions to their political campaigns without anyone else knowing about that. Not even their constituents would know where the members of Congress are getting their political money. As well as third-party hyper-partisan groups in both parties who run adds in a state or district  in an attempt to push the incumbent or candidate to vote a certain way when their issue is addressed in Congress. Or run ads to make a particular incumbent  or candidate look bad and to support their opponent without actually naming the candidate. And these groups don’t have to reveal how they’re funding their political operations and neither do members of Congress.

So what would I do about it? Well like any good responsible doctor ( and I’m not ) before they recommend a prescriptions for their patients physical issues, they first look to see what the problems are and then look to see what can be done about those issues. What I’m doing here is a political diagnosis of Congress, especially the Senate which traditionally has operated and been run through bipartisanship. Where the Minority Leader was almost as important and powerful as the Leader of the Senate.

There are several things that can be done to fix Congress. And trying to make the Senate look like House where the minority party is simply just there to vote against the majority party, like in the House for the most part, which seems to be the goals of current Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, or to try to make the House look like the Senate where you basically need a super majority to pass the most basic pieces of legislation except for reconciliation, wouldn’t work.

The House needs to continue to be the House, otherwise Congressional gridlock will just get even worst. But the House should be more like the Senate at least in this sense. Allow for the minority party under the leadership of the Minority Leader, to offer relevant amendments and alternatives to all legislation in the House. Both in committee and on the floor. The majority party would still not have to work with the minority party, but at least the minority would be able to debate, offer amendments and alternatives, and get votes on those proposals.

Reform if not eliminate the Senate filibuster. Right now even amendments to bills can be filibustered and blocked in the Senate. If you keep the filibuster, only limit it to the final passage of bills after debate and voting on amendments have been completed.

Allow the minority party under the leadership of the Minority Leader, to offer amendments to all bills that come to committee and make it to the floor for debate and consideration. Eliminate the filibuster, but replace it with a tabling motion that could only be made by the Leader and Minority Leader, that could only be offered at the end of debate on legislation. Which would take 60 votes to overrule the tabling motion. Which means the Senate along with the judiciary and the U.S. Justice Department, will continue to serve as checks on executive power regardless of which party is in power and if they have complete power with Control over Congress as well. But the Senate and House as well, would be able to get back to debating and legislating. Offering other ideas and alternatives as well.

Amendments and alternatives to bills, could no longer be filibustered or even tabled with this new set of Senate rules. But either floor manager ( the Chairman or Ranking Member of the committee ) could mark amendments that don’t have bipartisan co-sponsors as controversial. Amendments that are simply design to weaken or defeat bills. And the member with the controversial amendment could appeal to the chair and their amendment would then need 60 votes to pass, instead of 51. But they would still get their amendment voted on.

Eliminate gerrymandering of all U.S. House districts, as well as all state legislative districts in the country. Which will vote out the hyper-partisans on the Far-Right and Far-Left in America. Those people would be replaced by center-right Republicans and Center-Left Democrats. And these Representative’s would then have political incentive to work with members of the other party and even vote with them from time to time.

Pass a Federal complete disclosure act of all political contributions to all Federal campaigns. For all Federal incumbents and candidates, but all third-party groups would also have to disclose under Federal law how they’re paying for their political operations. Where they’re getting their money and have no loopholes in this disclosure act. American voters would then be able to see where their members of Congress, as well as their President, is getting their political money. When they see a third-party political ad on TV, they’ll see where that group is getting their money.

Don’t see commonsense bipartisan proposals and plans ever passing in Congress and don’t expect an approach to how Congress operates like this anytime soon. Not until the U.S. Supreme Court outlaws gerrymandering at least. Unless Americans voters make this an import issue and you start seeing rallies around the country calling for the end of hyper-partisanship in Congress. But if you want to fix Congress, especially the Senate, but the House as well, this would be an approach that could accomplish that.

CBS News: Face The Nation- Flashback: U.S. Senator Frank Cannon- Governor Nelson Rockefeller & Conflicts of Interest- In 1974

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Source: CBS News

Source: CBS News: Face The Nation- U.S. Senator Frank Cannon: Governor Nelson Rockefeller & Conflicts of Interest- In 1974

President Richard Nixon resigns the presidency in August of 1974 because of Watergate and his involvement in covering up that scandal coming to light because of his tapes. The House Judiciary Committee votes to impeach President Nixon that month as well with House Democrats clearly having the votes to impeach President Nixon by the full house. The Senate Republican Leadership led by Minority Leader Hugh Scott, with other GOP Senators like Senator Barry Goldwater, goes to the White House to meet President Nixon and tell him that he’ll be impeached by the House and then convicted in the Senate. There were Senate GOP whip counts back then with only 20 votes or so in the Senate to vote for President Nixon’s acquittal. So this is a little background for why Governor Nelson Rockefeller from New York, was up for appointment by President Gerald Ford to be Vice President in the first place.

After the Congressional elections of 1974 where House Democrats add to the majority and pick up around 40 seats and Senate Democrats add 6 seats to their majority, President Gerald Ford appoints Governor Rockefeller to replace him as Vice President. If you’re familiar with this era or lived though it you know that Gerry Ford was President Nixon’s last Vice President and was appointed to that office in the fall of 1973. But Nelson Rockefeller wasn’t your ordinary Governor. He’s part of the Rockefeller family dynasty and was worth what would probably be in today’s dollars in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He had a lot of business interests and at least potential conflicts of interest. When a new Vice President is needed and appointed before a presidential election, that person has to be confirmed by the entire Congress, not just the Senate. Which means the House gets to vote on the Vice Presidential nominee as well.

So that is what this Face The Nation interview was about in 1974 and while they were interviewing Senator Howard Cannon who was Chairman of the Rules Committee with his committee having jurisdiction over the Vice Presidency and vice presidential appointment. And what the reporters on Face The Nation including a very young, beautiful, and adorable, Connie Chung from CBS News ( I must say ) interviewing Senator Cannon about Governor Rockefeller and his potential conflicts of interest because Rockefeller was such a wealthy man and had money and investments all over the country. They were asking Senator Cannon what he believed his committee would do as far as looking into those potential conflicts.

Crash Course: John Green- Progressive Presidents: U.S. History

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Source: Crash Course

Source: Crash Course: John Green- Progressive Presidents: U.S. History

Once again talking about Progressives and progressivism and once again I feel the need to define progressivism and separate it from Liberals and liberalism and Socialists and socialism, regardless of whatever socialist faction you’re talking about.

Progressives are people who believe in progress through government action. That is basic, simplest, and best definition of it. Progressives are the least ideological of all the political factions and the most practical. You have Progressives on the Center-left like Teddy Roosevelt and Progressives on the Center-Right like Newt Gingrich. Unlike lets say Socialists way over on the Left ( to be kind ) who believe that government should try to do practically everything for everybody. Even if they believe private enterprise and capitalism should still exist and aren’t Marxists. Like Senator Bernie Sanders today.

Or people like Libertarians who believe that government should do practically nothing and only the most mainstream of Libertarians today believe that government should even be policing the streets, protecting the borders, defending the country, and even managing the currency. But Libertarians like former Representative Ron Paul, believe that government should at least be doing these things.

You have Progressives who believe in a strong but limited public social safety net, workers rights, equal rights for all Americans, but who are also strong anti-Communists and are against authoritarianism of all forms including socialist dictatorships. And believe in a strong national defense and social security. Even limiting deficit spending especially when the economy is strong like President Lyndon Johnson. So, Progressives aren’t the people you see today who want tax hikes on everyone and all sorts of new government programs for the people, while slashing the defense budget and trying to censor everyone they disagree with and labeling all of those people as bigots.

The Progressive President’s in American history at least in the 20th Century and in the 21st Century so far, are President Theodore Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, President Franklin Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, President Lyndon Johnson, and President Barack Obama. You could even argue that President Dwight Eisenhower and President Richard Nixon, were Progressives but coming from the Right, especially when it came to economic and foreign policy.

President Theodore Roosevelt, gave us the regulatory state to protect workers and consumer from predators, but not to run private business thorough government.

President Woodrow Wilson, gave us the progressive income tax and the Federal Reserve. As well as defeat authoritarianism in Europe during World War I.

President Franklin Roosevelt, gave us the New Deal which is the creation of the American safety net, as well as defeat Nazi Germany during World War II.

President Harry Truman, put the finishing touches ( so to speak ) on Germany and Japan during World War II. As long as create the national security state which went a long way in defeating Communist Russia during the Cold War. He also fought for but was unsuccessful in passing his Fair Deal agenda in Congress which would’ve been an expansion of the New Deal.

President Lyndon Johnson, gave us the Great Society which was an expansion of the New Deal with more public assistance to try to combat poverty in America. He also gave us the civil rights laws of the 1960s that gave African-Americans and really all Americans, the right under statue not to be discriminated against based on race, ethnicity, gender, or religion. As well as the right to vote for all American including African-Americans.

President Barack Obama, gave us the Affordable Care Act, which means all Americans are eligible for health insurance and that people who are too wealthy for Medicaid, but can’t afford private health insurance, are eligible for subsidies to help them pay for health insurance. As well as an expansion of the regulatory state with how Wall Street does business in response to the economic crash of 2008.

Progressives aren’t interested in creating a national government so big that state and local government’s become practically irrelevant because so much power is centralized with the national government and government becomes so big that people no longer have to make personal and economic decisions for themselves. And even be able to speak or think for themselves. Progressives aren’t Communists but instead are anti-Communists. They just want everybody to be able to succeed in society and believe that government has a limited role in seeing that everyone can be successful. Which is what these Progressive President’s believed in.

Keith Hughes: The Square Deal For Dummies- Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Era Reforms

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Source: IZ Quotes

I wouldn’t say Teddy Roosevelt was the first or last Progressive Republican, but its hard to find any Republicans who are Progressives today. Senator Susan Collins, might be the closest, but she’s a Center-Right Republican who is more of a Conservative in the classic sense or a Moderate-Conservative. But she’s a Republican because she believes in a strong national defense, economic freedom, property rights, low taxes, but also believes in civil liberties and commonsense regulations that Conservatives at least at one point believed in all those things. Traditional Conservative Republican values.

TR wasn’t a Socialist obviously even though he believed in both a public safety net, as well as a regulatory state, and that the rich shouldn’t control most of the power in the country. He was a strong believer in economic freedom and individualism, but that power should be for everybody and that everyone should have the ability to live in freedom. And not have a small minority at the top with most of the wealth in the country, while everyone else struggles just to survive.

Teddy wasn’t a Liberal, or a Conservative. He had liberal leanings on things like civil rights, regulatory state and safety net, but probably wasn’t as a big believer in free speech and the Right to Privacy, as Liberals (and I mean real Liberals) are. Teddy had conservative leanings at the least in the sense that he believed in America and was a true Patriot and believe America had to be defended with a strong defense, but would go much further into the economy with government when it came to the safety and regulatory state.

Teddy wasn’t a centrist either. He had strong center-left progressive leanings and real hard-core principles and wasn’t even someone who combined bits and pieces into one new ideology. But was someone who believed in progress even a limited government to help create that progress. Not to run the country or even private enterprise, but to see that everyone had a real shot at making it in America. And that there was an insurance system for people who fell through the cracks and needed temporary relief. As well as a regulatory state to protect consumers and workers from predators.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal with the introduction of the regulatory state in America, is exactly what made TR a Progressive. He wasn’t saying that capitalism and individual freedom, were failing and needed to be replaced with communism. But that capitalism needed a referee and that the U.S. Government would be that referee at the national level. And that capitalism wasn’t working for enough Americans. Not enough Americans were able to benefit from capitalism and live with individual freedom. Too much power at the top in society and not enough for everyone else. That is what Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal represents to me.

 

The Millennial Federalist: Federalist Coalition- An Awakening of Federalism

Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus

If you want to know why the United States is a Federal Republic and you’re now an adult, well you missed that opportunity in high school during your social studies class. Perhaps you were too busy texting your classmate who sat right next to you to bother to take and learn social studies. If you’re currently in high school or about to enter high school, I’ll explain why we have a Federal Republic and very limited government. At least compared with the social democracies, theocratic and military dictatorships around the world.

If you think Uncle Sam is too greedy and paternalistic and takes too much of your money and personal decision-making away from you, join the club. You might have to join a waiting list and have a better chance of winning multiple state lotteries on the same day than being able to join this club anytime soon, because it has somewhere around 200 hundred-million members, not including the Socialists who complain everyday about not being taxed enough and going crazy about all the personal and economic decisions that they have to make every day, As well as the Christian-Theocrats and Christian-Nationalists in America who complain that America is too decentralized and because of that states and localities get to make decisions everyday that violates their religious and moral values.

But if you think Uncle Sam is too greedy and too fat, I’ll introduce to King George from the United Kingdom of Britain. Who was so fat because of all the money he took from the American Colonies that he would make Paris Hilton look like a foodaholic today. To be completely serious for a moment and perhaps even multiple moments, the reason why America is a Federal Republic, is because the men who would become our Founding Fathers Englishmen who escaped mainland Britain to come to what would become America later on, were tired of London telling them what to do and taking most of their money from them. Two-hundred and forty-one years later Britain is till a unitarian government where most of the governmental power in a country of almost sixty-five million people resides in London.

Our Founding Fathers (our Founding Liberals actually) wanted to break away from that unitarianism form of government. And create a country where the power would be decentralized. Where yes, their would be a Federal Government primarily responsible for national security, foreign policy, interstate law enforcement, interstate commerce, interstate transportation. But where the states could take care of the issues and make policies that affect their people in their states. Where localities could do the same thing. Where you wouldn’t have Washington with some Federal Superintendent of Education, telling Milwaukee, Boston, and other cities how to educate their kids. How to police their streets, how to regulate their local business’s , and other examples.

In a huge vast country of three-hundred and twenty-million people (get your brain wrapped around that number for a moment) a Federal Republic and federalism are the only way you could be able to keep a country this huge and diverse, with all of our racial, ethnic, cultural, and political diversity, together. Otherwise California, Florida, Texas, New York, perhaps all the states in New England together, would break away from Washington and form their own independent countries. Because Uncle Sam can’t mind his own damn business and is too greedy and paternalistic telling states and localities in many cases thousands of miles away, six-thousand or so in the case of Hawaii. We have a Federal Republic and are not a unitarian social democracy, or a religious theocracy, in order to keep the country together. And come together when its in our national interest.