We Get the Government We Collectively Deserve – “Tough Love” Edition

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The results of the 2017 election with the defeat of Clinton by Trump have left many heads spinning in what can be said to be the greatest election surprise since “Brexit“.

 

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The first two weeks into the new era of Trump make two things abundantly clear:

  1. Just as in the transition from the primary contest to the general election, there is no new “presidential” version of Trump. Uncensored opinions and Twitter statements are not going away.
  2. Everyone who thought there were no real differences between Clinton and Trump or that Trump was just “bluffing” with his extreme campaign statements are being proven wrong on a tweet by tweet/day by day basis.

 

Here are some of the highlights to date:

  1. New Press Secretary Sean Spicer is sent out on his first meeting with the general media and inexplicably flat out lies about Trump’s inauguration crowd size being the largest ever despite clear proof to the contrary. All the media is disparaged as being biased and unreliable for pointing out the FACT that Obama’s 2009 inauguration size had a much larger crowd.
  2. Former Campaign Manager Kelly Ann Conway defends Spicer’s false statements as being “alternative facts”.
  3. The CIA is accused by Trump of acting like Nazi’s and the retiring head of the CIA is insulted/accused of leaking information.
  4. Despite the vast majority of both Democrats and Republicans along with the election commission and observers agreeing that there was no widespread voter fraud, Trump insists that millions of illegal votes was the reason he lost the popular vote to Clinton and has stated he plans to launch an investigation.
  5. Bypasses Congress with issuing an executive order freezing the refugee program which results in chaos and mass protests as many innocent people are wrongly denied entry, treated as criminals, and/or and left in limbo.
  6. Nominates a hard right judge for SCOTUS.
  7. Has a frosty exchange with an old US ally, the PM of Australia, and ends the call short.
  8. Speculation about military engagement with Iran after Trump tweets they are put “on notice” after their ballistic missile test.
  9. Officially withdraws the US from TPP.
  10. Calls out CNN as “fake news”.
  11. Started the process for repealing the ACA- no specific replacement named yet.

Quite a ride so far for it being only the SECOND week into his term.

It’s also true that his teflon status with his base supporters remains intact, as he apparently can do no wrong to date that is seen as a negative. It makes sense, as he is following through on his campaign promises, love them or hate them.

Progressives are protesting and are left wondering along with establishment Dems and Reps how it is we wound up with such a surprise election result.

So how did we get here?

I’m a firm believer in the adage “We get the government we deserve”.  The actions of everybody taken as a whole reflects the type of government we wind up with. This wasn’t a random raffle – there was a vote which came out with these results. It took a culmination of things from all sides to get here- electing someone with ZERO political experience who has made outrageous statements, disputes proven facts, pushes their own reality, and shows little if any discretion in talking to the media, government officials,  and our historical global allies.

It’s easy to point the finger at others, but there is plenty of “fault” to go around. So here comes the hard facts and questions that people/groups need to look inward to answer if they don’t like the results:

A) Non-Voters:

According to compiled voting stats, 40% of the eligible voting population decided they had better things to do than to go cast a vote. Considering this was the most polarizing election in modern history with distinct ideologies and an aging SCOTUS up for grabs that can shape events for a generation, it’s amazing that so many decided to let others choose their fate for them. Maybe I shouldn’t say “amazing”,….it’s more like incredibly stupid.

There are some people who have somehow rationalized that they are “above” politics and decided they won’t “sully” themselves with all this corruption and fault filled candidates. What those folks fail to grasp is they will be subject to the winner REGARDLESS of whether they cast a vote or not- so it’s in their best interest to make a choice, even if it’s the lesser of four bad choices….I say FOUR because Jill Stein and Gary Johnson were far from being perfect as well.

If order for our government to function properly, we need people willing to vote and make their voices heard in electing effective leaders. Not voting makes it a no brainer than you will be ignored by whoever is elected as politicians are trained to only cater to the groups that will vote them out if displeased. They have no need to worry about the concerns of those who don’t vote.

The lower the voter turnout, the more likely it is we get more radical politicians favoring interest groups and corporations over the majority.

What’s more shocking, is that those who stand to benefit the most from voting, the young and lower income groups, have among the lowest turnout rates.

I would like to interview all the folks protesting today to see which ones didn’t vote. Those that didn’t vote should hang their heads in shame and just go home. They had a chance to make a real difference by voting but threw it away. Those who don’t vote have NO RIGHT to complain.

B) Conservatives:

Republicans choose an outsider to be their front running leader- someone with no past political experience. In other words, this can be viewed as a rejection of all the establishment politicians that represent you. If you aren’t pleased with your current leadership, why do you keep voting them back into office year after year after year? Here’s a perfect example- Marco Rubio had the worst attendance record of all Senators – he was failing to to do his job and was called out on this by Trump and other Rep candidates. Rubio’s answer was that he stopped attending because he decided that being a Senator wasn’t going to solve the problems of America, a questionable statement at best.  So his plan was to not run for reelection and just compete for the Rep President nomination. But when he lost, the RNC asked him to run for Senate again, and he won. Think about that – a Senator with the poorest attendance record clearly not doing his job is reelected by his constituents! So if Florida continues to be neglected by this man, Florida voters have no one to blame but themselves.

Then there are the conservatives who inexplicably vote against their own interests- like those who have received life saving treatment and surgery under the ACA, but voted for Trump anyway.

Why not start holding your elected officials accountable for serving YOUR needs? Voting for an outsider is a clear indication you believe the system is failing you, but keeping most of the same people in office means you don’t care that it’s failing and that is the definition of insanity – doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.

What’s also disturbing is the continued silence or mental gymnastic excuses of most Congress republicans when they should be calling out when Trump crosses the line. If you don’t call it out as wrong, expect Trump style politics to become the norm.

C) Progressives:

I never realized the full extent of “progressives” being messed up and corrupted until I saw the Bernie vs Hillary primary race. What should have been a fair contest between two people with progressive ideas was marred by outright collaboration and “game fixing” by the DNC in support of Clinton. The leaked emails show CNN contributors like Donna Brazile was giving Clinton the questions she would be asked at townhall meetings in advance – a clear ethical violation. The DNC lead Debbie Wasserman Schultz was found to be engaging in behavior/actions biased in favor of Clinton winning the Dem nomination over Sanders and had to give up the post in disgrace- and guess who replaced her…..Donna Brazile!!

Oh, and what became of cheater cheater Debbie Wasserman Schultz? She was rewarded with being made the Clinton campaign chair and was also reelected- way to go Dems with being just as bad as Reps with continuing to reward/reelect bad candidates.

Progressive newspapers and online sites became hit machines attacking Sanders when the level of his popularity made him a threat to Clinton’s chances of winning. Accusations of Sanders “lying” about being involved for civil rights in the 60’s were soon dismissed after pictures of him being arrested during that time showed up, but they soon looked for other areas to attack in a one sided “Let’s take Sanders out of contention” way. To be fair, some progressive media that supported Sanders was lopsided biased against Clinton as well. So much for the case that the progressive media isn’t biased, akin to conservative media they like to attack.

It doesn’t end there – once HRC won the eventual nomination, many Sanders “progressives” bitter about the primary campaign decided that a Trump win would be better than Clinton as a lesson to Dems to play fair next time. This is so ignorant of the realities of life and common sense I don’t know what else to say. How can letting SCOTUS go hard right for a generation and having all progressive achievements rolled backwards or just eliminated be worth “dissing” Clinton and/or the establishment? Some of these folks are under the delusion that Trump is guaranteed to lose big in two years, but even if that were the case, based on Trumps speed of his agenda, the progressive damage could be irreversible by that time for at least a generation. Childish arguments that had people condemn Sanders and Warren for supporting Clinton is just that, childish and clearly losing sight of the bigger picture at stake. The Republicans won this because they showed more maturity and made the decision to vote for Trump, warts and all, to move the overall conservative agenda as opposed to letting Clinton win.

Also, so called progressive sites like TYT (The Young Turks) and Secular Talk decided it would be a “good idea” to keep bashing Clinton during the general election. What is the point of this? Common sense would say you try to get her elected, and then hold her feet to the fire to make good on her campaign promises or face being primaried  from the left. Fox News and other right biased media should thank them for the nice assist.

Lastly, the “deification” of Obama needs to stop and progressives need to realize where improvements can be made as to WHY so many House and Senate seats were lost during his eight years in office. He campaigned as a progressive, but acted more like a moderate centrist once elected. There are a lot of protests over Trump’s attempts at banning Muslims, but what about Obama’s continued indiscriminate bombing over Muslim countries that are also killing many innocents as collateral damage? Why isn’t our media showing us all the dead folks overseas “accidentally” killed by our continued bombing?

Why were Obama and Clinton so gung ho about TPP when the US is getting decimated by outsourcing to these cheap labor countries? The fact that Trump ran on ending the TPP and bringing jobs back to America against Dems should be considered a huge embarrassment for any true progressive Dem.  Dems nominated a candidate that gave sweetheart speeches to Goldman Sachs and was afraid to release them? Her extent of push back against the excesses/shenanigans of Wall Street when she was a Senator was just to say “Cut it out“? This is what qualifies for and is accepted as progressive??

Remember folks – under Obama’s watch, NO major bankers were criminally held accountable for the 2008/2009 crash that led to the Great Recession and the expiring “Bush Tax Cuts” were made permanent.

In my opinion, Dems are likely to lose again unless they clean up their own backyard, such as getting rid of the folks who “grandstand” as being progressive, but act differently when it counts.

Here’s a clear example- NJ Senator Corey Booker received lots of press as a progressive leader when he testified against Jeff Sessions being appointed attorney general. The Republicans had the majority numbers to prevail, so Booker’s actions were more for show than for effect. However, when he had a chance to make a true progressive difference in support of fellow Senator Bernie Sander’s bill to allow the US to accept prescription drugs from Canada to add competition to lower costs, he voted AGAINST it, showing his true colors.

 

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For those who are happy with the election results, here’s some tough love facts/questions for you:

Do you realize that Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp” and disparaged Clinton’s and the Dems connection with Wall Street and Goldman Sachs, but has now appointed SEVERAL Goldman Sachs alumni  and other “swamp insiders” to top office positions? What are your thoughts about “The Wall” he promised Mexico would pay for, and is now looking at taxing exports from Mexico, which means WE would be paying for the wall in higher food prices?

Doesn’t it concern you that he is so sensitive about the election results that he’s making continued outright lies, and he has no shame spinning everything to suit him despite what the facts actually say?

A lot of conservatives despised Obama’s use of executive orders as an overreach, but now have no problems with Trump doing the same. What about all the arguments about respecting the constitution and balance of powers?

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker of the House John Boehner Forced to Resign by Tea Party Wing- Why it’s a Big Deal

The GOP establishment has continually written off the power/influence of the Tea Party faction, but much like Trump’s “imminent demise”, it turns out to be more wishful thinking than reality.

When Eric Cantor, former Republican House Majority leader and once a Tea Party favorite, got challenged in his own primary and lost, that was a clear wake up call that Tea Party fervor was still in high gear. Now Speaker of the House John Boehner, publicly embarrassed time and time again for failing to establish a majority GOP House consensus on critical votes such as continued government funding, has elected to basically throw in the towel and step down rather than face ongoing resistance, rebellion, and rejection from the more conservative Tea Party House members.

This is how the news was received by conservative voters when Marco Rubio alerted the audience at the Value Voters Summit:

What’s amazing is that on an absolute scale, both Boehner and Cantor would be considered highly conservative – but they have been branded as weak RINOs by the far right Tea Party wing.

Boehner in particular has been excoriated by the Tea Party for failing to stop Obama’s and the Democrats initiatives such as the ACA (“Obamacare”).

When Boehner and Cantor basked in the 2010 victory that awarded House majority back to the Republicans, it’s likely they never dreamed that they would both be kicked out by their own party within five years.

The true irony is the establishment GOP sowed the seeds to their own demise right after the 2008 elections when the public was angry over the prospect of  a wrecked economy, continued government overspending and the prospect of bailing out Wall Street as well as Chrysler and GM. The GOP used the anger that put them into a minority and redirected it towards the government in general, and the Democrats in particular.

Their efforts to brand the entirety of big government as “evil” was a big success and many Dems got the boot in 2010. The problem is the new crop of politicians that were elected was based on this government hatred and were not willing to just fall in line to the status quo as Boehner and the GOP establishment had hoped. The GOP establishment didn’t think this through to realize that bringing in folks that hate the government will also target them as well as being part of the problem.

A good number of newly elected Republicans came in with a no compromise attitude and were put off by Boehner’s negotiating with the Dems instead of demanding their unconditional surrender. They were elected with the promise of taking immediate direct action against the Dems agenda such as Boehner’s and McConnell’s continuous chanting of the repeal and replacement of the ACA as a call to arms to energize and get out the Rep voters. Those newly elected were now primed for direct combat based on the promises made by their leaders.

This conflict has resulted in the US Debt Ceiling Crisis of 2011, where it appeared the GOP was willing to let the US Goverment go into default on its debt unless the Dems conceded to their budget cut demands. That brinkmanship led to S&P downgrading the country’s credit rating. Then there was the Government shutdown of 2013,  when the GOP tried to force the Dems to defund Obamacare as a condition for keeping the government running.

To sum up, much to the chagrin of Boehner and the rest of the GOP establishment, they are reaping what they sowed. The obvious lesson here is don’t make promises to your constituents for immediate action that you know you can’t deliver on. With Obama’s relection in 2012, the ACA is essentially protected by his veto power until he leaves office in 2017.

And here lies the problem that is the big deal. Boehner’s “sin” was attempting to operate within the rules of law and votes as mandated by the Constitution. The founding fathers created the structure of our government with the assumption that all parties would make an attempt to work together and establish points of compromise for the greater good of the country. However, compromise is seen as a dirty word in the Tea Party lexicon.

With Boehner’s departure, you can be sure the Tea Party’s next target will be Senate Majority Leader McConnell. They are trying to put pressure on him to get rid of the 60 vote threshold to move bills forward to a vote, which is ironic since the Reps enjoyed blocking Dems using the 60 vote rule when they were in the minority. Neither Rep or Dem Senate leaders want to remove the 60 vote rule for fear of what would happen if they fall into the minority.

The Tea Party has shown they are willing to take the country hostage and threaten US debt defaults and government shutdowns to get their way rather than win by conventional means like obtaining the required voting majorities in Congress to pass a bill and override a presidential veto.

The fact is no party can or should ever submit to folding under such ransom tactics as it would set the precedent for it to be repeated and majority elections would mean nothing when minority factions can bully their way into power.

Boehner leaving means the GOP is now that much closer to having an apocalyptic showdown with the Dems that will result in a prolonged government shutdown or even a US debt default, either of which would be very bad news for the economy and those that directly depend on the government, such as SS recipients and veterans.

It seems inevitable that the Tea Party will strive to see how much power they truly have and wind up overplaying their hand at the expense of both their party and country.

We now enter the next phase of the Tea Party Revolution going into political and economic uncharted waters…

 

 

 

 

Government Shut Down and Debt Ceiling Limit 101

There’s a lot of misconceptions and finger pointing over the government shut down and debt ceiling limit- so here’s my attempt at adding some non biased clarity:

The reason why this “crisis” is allowed to happen is due to the strange process of how the government manages its budget- they have a separate process for taking on debt obligations and another one for actually paying for them.

If you think about it, it really makes no sense to do it this way. It’s like you going out to buy a house and car, sign up for the mortgage and car payments, only to then later decide if you’re going to pay the recurring bills or not. Yeah, some people actually operate this way, but it’s typically associated with fraud and criminal activities. Law abiding people honor their commitments and pay their bills.

So when the debt ceiling needs to be raised, it’s associated with prior approved spending that requires the ceiling to be raised. The key to remember here is the ceiling isn’t raised to allow the government to approve new spending, but to pay the bills of the spending that was ALREADY APPROVED. This is where many people get confused, they think raising the ceiling encourages more spending, but what it actually does is just pay for past spending obligations, not new ones.

Once upon a time the two processes were tied together, requiring the debt ceiling to be raised at the same time new spending was approved, so you couldn’t have one without the other. This was known as the Gephardt Rule, named after its proponent and creator congressman Dick Gephardt.

The rule combining the two steps was waived by Republicans after they took the House and Senate back in 1994. I don’t fault Republicans for doing this, as this was a political maneuver that either side would likely do when they don’t have the Presidency. It becomes a nice weapon to use against the opposing party President about over spending. We can be fairly certain that if the Republicans controlled the Senate, House, and Presidency like the Dems had, they would have kept using the Gephardt rule to their advantage.

Of course using this “funding” weapon can lead to government shutdowns. This is nothing new and we’ve have several of them over the years between the two parties.

The big difference now is no party in recent history has ever threatened to not raise the debt ceiling and allow the country to default on its debts. The first time this occurred was in 2011 with the arrival of the Tea Party Republicans. The ensuing debt limit standoff between the President and the House resulted in the lowering of our national credit rating for the first time in history, which sent the markets in a spin.

Typically in the past neither party was thought to ever be willing to force a default by not raising the ceiling, but used the opportunity for the vote to humiliate the President of the opposing party as being an out of control spender.  There would be some grand standing and speeches, but the ceiling was raised without needing a countdown clock to Armageddon.  This time things are different with the advent of the Tea Party elected politicians being willing to raise the bar to making the threat of an actual default a negotiation tool.