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2013 Elections and Beyond

On Tuesday night, Chris Christie won a second term as New Jersey Governor by about 20 points over his Democratic challenger, just as most pundits predicted.  Many attribute this blow-out victory to the fact that he is perceived as a moderate Republican who can get things done.  The fact of the matter is that Christie has vetoed an increase in the minimum wage (which the people of New Jersey overruled by referendum, with over 60% of the vote), he is anti-choice, anti-equality, anti-teacher, and comes across as a thin-skinned blow-hard.

To give credit where credit is due, Christie stepped up to bat when Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast in 2012.  He joined forces with President Obama, putting politics aside (at least on the surface) in order to help a state that was devastated by one of the worst storms in recent history.  Nobody on either side of the aisle has forgotten the pictures of Christie putting his arm around President Obama.  Coincidentally, this took place around the time when the Democratic party basically pulled out of the New Jersey Governors race.  Perhaps there was a gentlemen’s agreement between the President and Christie: “You stay out of my race and I’ll stay out of yours.” 

These circumstances allowed Christie to win a big victory, but does it really help for 2016?  Because the Democrats ran a weak campaign against him, Christie was not vetted properly.  A new book tells the story of how Mitt Romney didn’t pick Christie as a running mate because “Christie’s past is littered with landmines.”  Did it make more sense for the Dems to stay out of this race so that they can vet him in front of the nation when he runs for president?  Even a strong Democrat with support from the national party most likely would have come up short against Christie.  Not because Jersey is trending red (the opposite is actually true), but because the people of New Jersey genuinely seem to believe that Christie deserved a second term.

Or did they?

Crooksandliars.com ran an article stating the following:

“With 99 percent of the voting precincts counted, 2,073,642 voters cast ballots for governor, according to the Associated Press. That's a shade less than 38 percent of the state's registered voters.

The voter totals will go up because they don't include provisional ballots yet to be counted, as well as those who may have voted for other offices but not governor. The record low for a governor's race is 47 percent, set four years ago.

The special U.S. Senate election held three weeks ago set the record for lowest turnout of any Jersey state level-contest: 24.5 percent.”

 

So, Christie won with over 60% of the vote, but that still doesn’t represent the majority of New Jersey voters.  2013 is a way-off-year-election.  It isn’t a presidential year, it isn’t even a mid-term year.  These types of oddly-timed election cycles tend to favor Republicans.  But this year, Christie was the only bright spot for the GOP, considering that they suffered a historic loss in Virginia where Terry McAuliffe ousted Ken Cuccinelli by a squeaker.  This race was expected to be a blowout for the Clinton-Democrat Terry McAuliffe, but due to a voter purge by the GOP, he barely squeaked out a 2.5 point victory.  The LT, Gov race was not nearly as close.  Democrat Ralph Northam defeated tea party darling E.W. Jackson by about 11 points. In a third match-up for Attorney General,  both candidates won 49.89%, with the Democrat Mark Herring edging out Mark Obenshain by just 32 votes with 95% reporting.  This race is headed for a recount, where the Democrats have a shot at a clean-sweep in Virginia.

But was Christie really a bright spot?  Yes, he won big, but he is perceived as a moderate who belittles Washington and is willing to work across the aisle.  Bi-partisanship is everything the GOP stands against.  What does it say about the 2014 (and 2016) chances for the right wing extremists that still make up 95% of the GOP?  

Christie stood alone in a crowd on Tuesday.  Sure, he had supporters, but deep down he knows that his base is not there and a national election will expose him for his true principles.  The true lefties will not support him.  The Tea Party doesn’t trust him due to the pictures of him hugging Barack Obama.  He is currently losing to Hillary Clinton by anywhere from 4-8 points in his own state, and we now know that Romney didn’t pick him because “his past is littered with landmines.”  When those things come out, along with his hard right-wing agenda, his approval will drop.  His right-wing agenda will cancel out his “moderate appeal” to centrists and moderate Democrats, however, the Tea Party voters hate Obama more than they love to hate homosexuals.  As a result, the right-wing base is most likely gone forever from Chris Christie’s side.  They say elections are won in the middle, but that only works when you bring one side or the other along as well. 

Hear our full thoughts on Civil Discourse, right here: 

http://civildiscourse.podomatic.com/entry/2013-11-10T09_55_13-08_00

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The Rise of a Capitalistic Monarchy

The United States is known as the “World’s Oldest Democracy.”  But is it really? 

As citizens of this country, we vote for various individuals to represent us in our government.  However, we have to ask ourselves who is really in charge.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided that anyone can spend as much money as they see fit on elections.  This is a very controversial decision that has sparked a lot of outcry from the public.  The problem is that most people can’t afford to donate more than a maximum of $100.00 to elect politicians.  This vastly tilts the scale in favor of the wealthy who can and will spend millions of dollars on campaigns.  Although this money is spent on both parties, it is the Republicans who bring in the lion’s share of the donations.  President Obama’s campaign brought in more money that Mitt Romney’s, but the various Political Action Committees (PACs) and Super PACS spent more on Republicans than on Democrats in 2012. 

In the Wisconsin Recall election against Scott Walker, estimates have reached as high as $120,000,000.00 being spent on the election.  Most estimates also show that Walker outspent Barrett by anywhere from 5 to 1, all the way up to 8 to 1.  The fact that these donations can be kept secret makes it very difficult to accurately estimate the true cost, and nearly impossible to track where they came from. 

As a society, we need to be asking ourselves why the wealthy and the corporations are spending so much money on these politicians.  The Koch brothers alone claim to have spent $400,000,000.00 in 2012.  Who, in your life, can afford that?

The answer is that since the rise of Reaganomics in the early 1980’s, we have not seen the money “trickle down” the way that Reagan promised; instead we have seen it flood to the top.

What’s worse is that in order to get your hands on this money, you almost have to inherit it, just to have the funding to be competitive against such wealth.  This is creating the rise of a capitalistic-monarchy in our country.

Just as the kingdoms of Europe were of “royal blood”, so has our economic system caused the decline in the status-fluidity of the United States.  Conservatives love to talk about the free-market, the American Dream, and that anyone can make it in this country.  In reality, this is no longer the case.  

Take the Koch brothers for instance.  Charles and David love to tell people that they used their skills and the free market to create a collective worth of nearly $70,000,000,000.00.  The truth is that it was their father who was able to create that wealth, and he didn’t do it in the era of Ronald Reagan.  Instead, Koch built his fortune in the 1920’s through the 1940’s.  Yes, it was under the New Deal that Koch was able to create his empire (which was located in Soviet Russia).

Koch left his company, now known as Koch Industries, to his sons.  They have grown the empire into an oil conglomerate that has reached outside the petroleum industry and continues to swallow other companies.

This is the other side of the capitalistic-monarchy coin-- not only do these companies tend to be owned and operated through generations of family and friends, but they swallow up smaller companies and any competition that they can acquire.  Similar to the way that kings used to conquer other countries by overtaking their armies, today corporations overtake each other by conquering each other’s markets, forcing smaller companies to sell out.

Many large corporations are actually a collection of what used to be much smaller companies.  The Republicans call these capitalistic-monarchs “job creators.”  In actuality, they are only “job controllers.”  As these monarchs expand their corporate kingdoms, jobs are actually lost.  When “ABC” corporation buys the smaller competition,  they may keep some of the staff, but others are let go.  Most of the time they don’t need the accounting department, the middle managers, or the purchasing department, since much of this is done on the corporate level.  Furthermore, the job market now has less competition for wages, allowing these corporations to pay as they see fit.

It is these corporate-monarchs who are buying off our politicians and supporting candidates such as John Raese, who famously said, “I made my money the old-fashioned way.  I inherited it.”  Hear the clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS4A5aR8hPA

Our founders left Europe to start a new land where we all have the opportunity to achieve success.  It is time that we put a stop to the capitalistic-monarchy that is stealing our jobs, our government, and our livelihood.  In order for this to happen, we need to educate each other.  European countries have a strong labor movement because their middle class realizes that they are middle class and they vote accordingly.  In America, too many people believe that they are just “temporarily not millionaires, but one day they will get there.”  It is good to aspire, to hope, and to dream; however, we need to realize that we have to vote for our own best interest in order to achieve such an economic stature.  It was FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society that created an age of prosperity.  Reaganomics has failed us on many levels, but the worst thing it did was give us false hope.

 

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An Open Letter to John Boehner

This is an actual letter that has been sent to Speaker John Boehner's office, concerning the extremely light schedule that he and the Republican leadership have aranged for the remainder of the year.  Should anyone share my thoughts, I ask you to please send this letter to the Speaker, as well as your personal representative.  You can find their contact info here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

 

Speaker Boehner:

I would like to thank you for listening to the American people by allowing a congressional vote on a bill that reopened the government, and assured the world that the US would not default on our debts at this time.

It has been brought to my attention that congressional members will earn the remaining 1/6th of their 2013 paychecks (roughly $29,000.00 per member or $12,615,000.00 for the total House of Representatives) by working only 19 days over the remaining two months of the year.

Furthermore, it has been brought to the attention of the tax-paying citizens of the United States that the House Leadership has taken up consideration to decrease the number of working days even further, because “there is not much legislation left.”

I feel that our country still has much work to do, especially at the congressional level.  I have assembled a short list of items that you may consider legislating in the current session:

1. Unemployment in the United States is currently at 7.2%; real unemployment is at 14%.  Perhaps Congress could pursue a stimulus in the form of a jobs bill that would help decrease these numbers.

2. In June of this year, the Supreme Court knocked down portions of The Voting Rights Act.  Their ruling gave the United States Congress the ability to rewrite the legislation.  We have seen numerous states take advantage of this “donut-hole” in time, by passing extremely restrictive “Voter ID” laws.   Perhaps you could present legislation guaranteeing the right of every American to cast a vote for his/her public representative during this “slow legislative time.”

3. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that “Money is Speech and Corporations are People.”  This ruling has allowed corporations and wealthy donors to spend ungodly amounts of money to buy politicians and pass laws that favor them over the rest of us.  Not to mention the constant threat of a primary challenge, should the current politician “step out of line” in the eyes of the wealthy donor.  How about a move to Amend the Constitution the read that “Corporations are not people, and Money is not Speech,” as well as to allow public funding of elections?  This would level the playing field for everyday workers to run for political office, just as the founders of our country intended.

4. Fast food workers and other low-wage jobs are paying far too little to live off of, yet corporate CEOs are making millions.  These same CEO’s and corporations are using tax-payer funds to subsidize their businesses.  The top 10 fast food companies alone are costing the tax payers $7,000,000,000.00 per year.  Each Walmart store is estimated to cost tax-payers nearly $1,000,000.00.  How about raising the minimum wage, or even creating a living wage?  We can then raise taxes on corporations once they hit a certain threshold in profits.  Maybe you could tax everything over $10,000,000.00 at 91% (just like FDR).  This would encourage large corporations to raise wages and invest in their own companies, instead of stashing the money in a bank where it is essentially out of circulation.

5. Even after Obamacare takes full effect, about 20 million people will be without health insurance. Perhaps you could vote on legislation to fix parts of the law and our healthcare system.  How about a bi-partisan bill to cover every American, affordably?  A public option would do the trick while leaving private, for-profit health insurance companies in tact.  It would even add some “Free Market” competition.

6. We are still at war in Afghanistan:  How about a bill to remove the troops immediately?

7. The Post Office has tight constraints that cost it $5,000,000,000.00 per year.  They are required to fund the health/retirement benefits for all employees for the next 75 years, and they only have 10 years to raise the funds. How about repealing the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act so that the Post Office can operate the same way as every other organization in the Free World?

8. Our roads and bridges are crumbling:  how about an infrastructure bill?  The President already wrote and proposed it.  I am sure he would send it right over.

9. The Sequester is still in effect and it is only going to get worse in 2014.  It is slowing economic growth and killing jobs.  How about a bill to repeal it?  Nothing in Congress is “forever”.  You could undo that damage tomorrow and be remembered as the Speaker who stopped such a horrible decision from taking full effect.

10. Workers and unions are still under attack by corporations and big Government Governors who are crushing them with Right to Work bills.  How about repealing Taft-Hartley?  This would immediately undo all of these Right to Work laws, allowing every American the right to unionize and bargain for a living wage.  Exactly as Dwight Eisenhower promoted while he was in office.

11.  Dodd-Frank is a great start to protect the American people from out-of-control banking.  However, banks are still far too large and widely unregulated.  How about reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act?

12. Puppy mills, factory farms, and slaughter houses mistreat animals every day.  Most Americans are outraged at the mere thought of how these creatures are treated.  You would gain wide support if you exposed these industries and then introduced humane restrictions.

13. Global warming is destroying the planet.  Coal, oil, and natural gas  pollution are all increasing the temperature of our planet.  How about enforcing some new regulations on these industries, passing a bill for clean energy, and outlawing fracking?  You could also stop any and all oil subsidies which would help make clean energy more competitive.

14. A majority of Americans now believe that marijuana should be legalized.  Why not present legislation to legalize marijuana and tax it at a very high rate?  For example, if it costs $4 for a pack of 20 joints, put a $26.00 tax on each pack.  People pay more than $30.00 for a good bottle of alcohol, they will certainly pay it for choice cannabis.

15. We have more prisoners per capita and in real numbers, more than any other nation in the world.  Perhaps you could address this as well.  Maybe start with making private prisons illegal.  No one should ever profit from someone else’s freedom being revoked.

16.  Our schools are overcrowded, understaffed, and underfunded.  How about changing that?

17.  College is unaffordable, leaving young adults racked with debt and unable to find a job.  College debt has now outgrown credit card debt.  Congress could put forth a bill to fund college tuition for every American.  What if the cure for our energy crisis is in the mind of a student who can’t unlock it because he/she can’t afford to go to school?  It is in everyone’s best interest to have an educated populous.

18. Raise the FICA tax so that everyone pays the same percentage. Right now, someone who makes $1,000,000,000.00 per year pays the same as someone who makes $113,700.00.  Your party is widely in favor of a flat tax.  Why not start with FICA?

19. Gay marriage is gaining support among voters, every day.  The congress can pass legislation that guarantees every consenting-couple, the right to marry the person they love.

It sounds to me that we might actually need to call a special session just to take care of these surface items.  I am quite certain that many of the members of your caucus will protest that spending is already out of control, and we can’t afford these projects.  However, many people believe that it was WWII that helped pull us out of the Great Depression.  The war did help (among other things), but it wasn’t the war itself.  It was the Government’s spending on that war.  In 1945 our debt-to-GDP was 126%, or about $260 billion.  By 1960, our debt was down to about 60% of GDP, or about $270 billion.  Obviously, this is because we grew our way out of the Depression.  All of these items will spur economic growth, therefore helping us grow our way out of these hard economic times.

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Mary Burke: No Promise Strategy?

Many Progressives are less than enthused about Mike Tate’s early endorsement of Mary Burke, as many of them believe that we need to let the primary process run its course.

Many of these same people are holding out for a more progressive candidate to enter the race.  One name most often mentioned is, Kathleen Vinehout.  

Vinehout has been hinting at a run for the state’s highest office and is expected to make an announcement early in 2014.

In the meantime, former Trek executive, Mary Burke, is pushing her campaign across the state.

Most recently, during an interview, she expressed that she would make no promises during her campaign.  At first glance, this sounds as though she is making a “wishy-washy” start.  Upon further examination, is it possible that this is all part of her strategy to make a wider appeal to voters?

In 2010, Scott Walker ran on a platform of creating 250,000 jobs.  After his implementation of Act 10, along with other failed policies, Wisconsin’s economy has been sinking like a stone.  Ranking 45th in job creation, we are a long way away from that magic number of 250,000.  Walker has recently started backing away from that promise, as Wisconsin voters take notice and poll numbers reflect.

Is Burke’s “no promise” strategy actually a dig at Scott Walker?  Is she quietly getting into the psyche of Wisconsin voters in a way that they turn on Walker and pull a lever marked “D” in 2014?  

Elections depend on a lot of circumstances.  2006 and 2008 were both referendums on George W. Bush.  2010 was a republican wave, brought to us by “astroturf protests” against big government and healthcare reform (all of which was gladly funded by right-wing billionaires).  2012 was supposed to be a referendum on Barack Obama, and maybe it was, but it backfired on the GOP as he was re-elected, expanded his majority in the Senate, and gained seats in the House.

The point is that elections are not just won by a strong candidate (ie. Feingold v. Johnson), but by a “feeling” or “desire” in the electorate at that time.

Most elections are won in the center.  Roughly 40% of us always vote Democrat, and 40% always vote Republican.  The remaining 20% (more specifically, just over half of that 20%) are swayed by things like the overall “feel of the nation.”  This is where Mary Burke is finding her niche.  She is a successful businesswoman who is rather middle-of-the-road politically, and she is taking aim at those who feel let down by Walker’s failed promises.  Perhaps offering a “refreshing” campaign to lower-information voters.

Many progressives may not want to accept Burke, but we have to ask them to accept her (should she be the nominee) and cast a vote for her.  They can continue to protest and push her to the left, but we have to stop the leak in Madison by ousting Scott Walker.  Remember, FDR, JFK, and even RFK were middle-of-the-road (some may even call them center-right) before the public pushed them to the left.

As a result of gerrymandering, it will be very difficult for us to take back the State Assembly.  With that said, a true progressive wouldn’t be able to get much of anything through our bicameral legislature; but a Mary Burke may be able to stop Scott Walker, plug the leak, and derail his Presidential ambitions.  Not to mention, a win in 2014 would put her in good position to win in 2018, where she would preside over the next set of redistricting in 2021.

If we are unhappy with what Walker did to Wisconsin, but we allow him to make it to Washington....YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET.

You can hear our full thoughts here:

http://civildiscourse.podomatic.com

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The Role of Police at Protests in a Democratic Society

David Couper, former chief of the Madison, Wisconsin, police department had some insightful things to say about protests at the Capitol in his book, Arrested Development.  I was especially impressed by his philosophy that the police, among their other duties, were there to ASSIST the people in exercising their rights of protest.

Couper, Arrested Development, pp. 193-5

 

"Large Protest Regarding Public Policy at the StateCapitolBuilding"

 

The second major example of the department's new and evolving crowd-control methods occurred years later in April, 1985, when a large, organized protest was held on the grounds of the Capitol protesting public investments in South Africa.  In the years since the Mifflin block party, we had handled hundreds of protests, demonstrations and large crowds such as the annual Halloween celebration downtown that at its height had more than 100,000 revelers in attendance without noteworthy incidents.

 

This protest was against also the apartheid policies of South Africa.  While the Madison police normally don’t have jurisdiction over state property, we were called in to assist the Capitol police.  Governor Tony Earl had called Mayor Joel Skornicka for aid, who then called me.  By the time I arrived on the scene to make an assessment, many of the demonstrators, who now filled the Capitol grounds, had begun constructing wooden shanties; symbols of the segregated townships outside the larger cities in South Africa.

 

I saw that a large number of the demonstrators were not from Madison but had come from other cities in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.  The initial attitude of the demonstrators wasn't friendly toward the presence of police.  They were not the usual protest people we had worked with over the years.  At first, neither of us knew what to expect from the other.

 

I needed to talk to the governor before we got involved in this emotionally charged situation.  I told him that it would be preferable if we kept things low-key and didn't make any immediate demands on the protesters.  I asked that my department be the lead agency in handling the situation.  The governor agreed.

 

I wanted to avoid a confrontation for as long as possible, but even as I spoke, protesters had entered the Capitol building and staged a sit-in in the central rotunda.  The Capitol chief and I had agreed that his officers would handle the inside of the building and we would handle the outside.  At the end of the day, the Capitol police would follow their standard practice of locking down the building.  When that happened the demonstrators would be asked to leave. And some did.  Those remaining were carefully escorted outside and the doors locked behind them.  This happened without incident or arrests.

 

While we had used our soft strategy effectively during numerous demonstrations and sit-ins during the past decade, this crowd was by far one of the largest and most diverse we'd ever dealt with.  I saw this as another opportunity for us to put into practice and highlight what we had learned about handling crowds and how police in a democracy operate.

 

I presented our plan to the governor.  We would assign uniformed police officers, without hats, batons, or any riot control gear, to enter the crowd and dialogue with the protesters.  But this time we went beyond merely talking with them and calming them down -- we instructed these officers in some of the alternatives to divestment and how divesting might severely impact everyone in South Africa, blacks and whites.  We encouraged protesters to form discussion groups in the crowd.  Those assembled came to see the police as not trying to prevent protest but rather to facilitate it; they soon realized that the police who present (sic) were informed, smart, and willing to engage in political discussions.

 

This protest was an occupation and, literally, a massive sit-in and campout on the Capitol grounds.  This meant that a large number of the protesters were doing more sitting than protesting.  The point of contention, I knew, would be when some legislators got tired of all this and ordered us to expel the protesters from state property.  If that happened, the businesses and government buildings on the Capitol Square and downtown area would be vulnerable to damage and vandalism.  It was a waiting game on both sides.

 

We briefed our officers on these issues and reasserted to the protesters that our role was to facilitate the protest, not prevent it.  We also let them know that we, too, were against racism and any system of discrimination.  The presence of our diverse workforce in terms of gender and race also spoke a clear message that day.  The protesters knew we were here to stay and not in any hurry to end things.

 

Our strategy was always to keep us from becoming the issue, and to keep talking.  The protest went on for six days.  As time went on, we started negotiations with the leaders concerning dismantling the scores of illegal shanties that had been constructed on the lawn of the Capitol building.  The presence of the shanties was, of course, an issue of enormous contention, as people are not generally allowed to build structures on the grounds of a state capitol and many members of the community believed the police needed to do something about it.  We often heard, "Look at this mess, who's going to clean it up?"

 

Everyone expected that if we moved to dismantle the shanties, it would create the issue that could ignite the crowd.  It never happened.  We were able to negotiate a smooth withdrawal and permitted a few symbolic shanties to remain standing for a few more days.  It was a win-win ending.  A positive ending brought about by police willing to be patient and withhold action.

 

I believe the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators went home feeling that they had made a powerful. and well-heard protest against apartheid, petitioned their government for redress, been heard by that government, and witnessed a democratic police in action; police who served as facilitators and protectors, who acknowledged their right to assemble and protest the actions of their government.

 

Now, you may ask how you get police officers to enter a potentially hostile crowd without protective gear.  One of the strategies we used was having a reserve force in readiness.  A few blocks away, out of the view of the public and media, was a team of police officers kept in reserve with helmets, batons, and tear gas.  They were on standby in case any person, including police officers, in the crowd was in danger of harm.  That was how I could justify asking officers to enter such a large crowd.  Again, speaking softly and carrying a big stick works effectively for police when the stick is out of sight.  The difference here was our big stick wasn't our first or only strategy.  It was only one of our strategies -- and only one of last resort.

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Debts and Shutdowns

What I don't understand is why people are okay with raising the debt ceiling. 

 

As default looms, I am sure we have all heard someone make the above statement.

 

The budget and the Debt Ceiling are two separate issues. The Democrats put forth a budget of about $1.4 trillion and the GOP came back with a budget of around $900 billion. (keep in mind, this is only for a short term CR that will expire in December, when we would go through this whole thing all over again) The Democratic controlled Senate, passed the GOP budget, which negates any talk of the Democrats refusing to compromise. 

 

The Debt Ceiling is entirely different. It has nothing to do with increasing spending. The debt ceiling allows us to pay our bills that we have already incurred. In generic terms, it would be as if you took out a mortgage on your home for $200,000.00. You and your spouse live there and make payments for five years and then one day your spouse says, "We can't afford this mortgage anymore, so I won't let you make anymore payments." You don't move, sell, or rent. You simply stop paying on a loan that you already have taken out.  Once you default, your interest rates go up, your credit score drops, and you eventually could lose your home.  That is what the debt ceiling is about. It was put into law before WWI because we had never taken on a project that could cost as much as a World War. Congress allowed President Wilson "X" amount of dollars, which they would have to increase if needed. 

 

Many believe the President can prevent the default unilaterally.  There is a constitutional argument if the President can truly do it on his own. He could advise the Treasury Department to mint a $1 Trillion coin, but even that is subject to what would most likely go to the Supreme Court. The other thing is that Obamacare (remember when this whole thing was about Obamacare?) is fully funded no matter what. Proving that this debacle is only political posturing on the part of the republicans. They needed to stop the ACA from going through because they knew people would benefit from it and it would favor the Democrats.  Possibly propelling them to victory all the way through 2016 and beyond. The poles are showing that they were right. Obamacare has increased 7 points in about a week's time. (the same amount of time that the insurance exchanges have been open) The GOP also made all of these “socialist, marxist, fascist” arguments against Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; even civil rights to some extent. They were wrong on everyone of these issues. They can't afford to lose again. But they asked for this fight and now they got it.

 

Furthermore, the whole issue of our debt is nothing more than GOP talking points. In 1945, our GDP was only about $225 billion (today it is around $17 trillion). After WWII our debt was 125% of GDP, or about $260 billion. FDR, Truman, and Ike knew that we needed to increase spending in order to boost our economy. We invested in infrastructure like nobody's business, creating jobs all across the country. Republicans will claim that WWII brought us out of the depression, which is partially true. However, it wasn't "war" that brought us out, it was the government spending on that war. We tend to measure our debt in percentage of GDP. In 1945 it was 125%. By 1960 our debt shrank to 60%. It was cut in half. The interesting thing is when you look at real dollars it stayed at about $260 billion. This is because we grew our economy. It went from $225 billion up to around $500 billion. So we didn't decrease our debt; we grew our economy. Just like we should be doing now.  We can’t, nor has any country ever, cut our way to prosperity.  Government spending equals private sector growth. Don't forget, it was Reagan who was the first president to take our debt over $1 trillion. And GW Bush who came in office to a budget surplus and turned it into record deficits. It is called the “2 Santa Claus Theory”. Jude Wannisky came up with it after LBJ destroyed Goldwater in 1964. They saw the Democrats providing the New Deal and the Great Society, which was winning elections.  So the Republicans decided on a new strategy. When in power, the GOP would spend like drunken sailors (Reagan and Bush) and as soon as they lost to the Democrats, they would scream about the debt (Clinton and Obama). It is playing out just as they planned, but the outcome is backfiring.

 

http://civildiscourse.podomatic.com/entry/2013-10-06T12_41_45-07_00

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Citizens United Against the GOP?

It is getting increasingly difficult for the Republicans to lay claim that they are the “fiscally responsible party” or “the responsible businessmen.”

 

In the 1920 election, Warren Harding (R) ran on the platform of “Less government in business, and more business in government.”  He won that election, followed by Calvin Coolidge (who was Harding’s VP) in 1924, and Herbert Hoover in 1928.  The Roaring 20’s saw great prosperity for the wealthiest Americans.  It was this unfettered Capitalism that lead to the Great Crash/Republican Great Depression.  

 

Hoover lost re-election in 1932 to FDR.  It was FDR who lead us out of the Republican Depression.  If you ask a conservative, they will undoubtedly tell you that it was WWII that brought us out and that FDR failed when we relapsed into a mini-depression in 1936.

 

Here are a couple of facts:

The Republicans were able to gain public support to cut spending.  FDR went along with them and cut back, which caused the economy to slow again in 1936.  There were 3 basic things that lead to our recovery:

 

  1. The rise of labor unions allowed working people to make a livable wage.
  2. FDR raised taxes on the wealthy.  The top tax rate was 91%!
  3. FDR INCREASED Government spending.

 

Conservatives claim it was WWII that did the trick.  There is some truth to this, but that answer alone is too generic.  The question is how did a war get us out of a depression?  Because the Government spent money!  It was the most expensive project the country had seen.  Government spending creates jobs.  War was just a byproduct. (not to minimize the effects of the second World War, but we are speaking about economics alone)

 

The last time the GOP held power in both houses of congress and the White House was 1933 (effectively 1932).  This caused the Republican Depression.  They then held both houses and the White House under George W. Bush.  This lead to the Republican Recession.

 

Now, the GOP has shutdown the Government in an effort to essentially nullify their loss in the 2012 election.

 

When will corporations and the wealthy realize that it is the Democrats that create a working economy.  The GOP run the government like a kid who found their dad’s gun.  It is so exciting, yet so dangerous and their ignorance can cause it to fire accidentally.

 

No doubt, the Koch brothers are bank rolling the Tea Party and people like Ted Cruz.  But what about the rest of Corporate America?  As government contracts dry up, stocks shrink, and the economy turns downward; you have to believe that the GOP donors are going to start knocking on the door of people like John Boehner to tell him to fix this mess.  

 

But what if Boehner bows to the Tea Party and stands firm?  These corporate donors are only interested in 1 thing:  Their bottom line.  That will be jeopardized with the antics of the Tea Party and the Republican caucus.  They have already shutdown the government and now they are threatening to default on our financial obligations.  The GOP screams that the Democrats create uncertainty with all of “their big government regulations,” but it is these types of antics that are causing true uncertainty.

 

Will the donors stand up and decide to fund the Democrats in 2014, only because at least the Dems can govern like adults?  Or perhaps, they will run moderate Republicans in these districts which could be the rebirth of the Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower.

 

Time will tell, but the Republicans should start thinking about the fact that their beloved “Citizens United” decision, might not be as loyal to them as they thought...

 

Here our full discussion at:

 

http://civildiscourse.podomatic.com/entry/2013-10-06T12_41_45-07_00

 

Or subscribe to our podcast on iTunes!

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Why the GOP REALLY Wants to Stop Obamacare

Just 10 days before a government shutdown, the GOP in the House of Representatives has voted to fund the government, but only if Obamacare is defunded.  The GOP is well aware that this bill will not be passed by the Democratic controlled Senate, or will it be signed by President Obama.  They have let it leak that their hope is to see the CR pass both houses and acquire a veto by President Obama.  This would allow the GOP to point the finger at the President if/when the government were to shutdown.  We saw this play out the last time the Tea Party nearly shutdown the government.  

In 2011, the GOP came dangerously close to shutting down the government.  As a result, the US’ credit rating was dropped from AAA to AA+.  When the story broke, it was noted that the GOP’s threat to force the government into default, was the reason for the downgrade.  However, at the 2012 Republican convention, Paul Ryan gave a speech where he framed it as though it was President Obama’s fault for the downgrade.

This is all Malarky, in the words of Joe Biden.  Although it is possible that the Tea Party is ignorant enough to believe this could happen, there is a more simple possibility.  They have now voted over 40 times to repeal Obamacare, yet the law still stands.  Those votes are getting stale and they needed to give something new to the base.  They took this vote, knowing that it will never survive the Senate, therefore, never reaching President Obama.  Instead, the Senate will either strip out the defunding of Obamacare and pass a straight bill, or simply not bring it to the floor for a vote at all. (most likely the former) They will then send the bill back to the House where a straight bill will pass and be signed by the President.  Now the government stays open, and the Tea Party has a new story to take home to their base.

This might backfire though.  The health care exchanges open on October 1st.  They take effect on January 1st.  That is 10 months before the next election.  Over that 10 month period, more and more Americans are going to find that they now have access to quality healthcare at an affordable cost.  People are going to be able to go to the doctor, and realize that they actually have more say over who their doctor is now, than they did before.  Pre-existing conditions are now a thing of the past, and your out of pocket costs are going down.

But that is not all....

People are also going to realize that they no longer have to work jobs they hate just so that they don’t lose their insurance.  There are people out there who have talent and ideas for new businesses, but they can’t afford insurance, so they stay where they are.  Now, people will be able to leave their current job, open a small business, and get quality insurance at an affordable cost through the exchanges set up by Obamacare.  This will loosen the grip of corporate America on the middle class, as well as help the economy as new businesses open.  Not to mention that when someone quits their normal job to start up their own business, they also free up their previous position for someone else to get hired.

 The  Republicans are not afraid of Obamacare ending our freedoms, killing jobs, or raising costs.  They are terrified that the law is going to be a huge success and the American people will see them for who they really are...Condescending, dishonest, political frauds who are only interested in destroying President Obama, the Democratic Party, and keeping the rich as rich as possible.

 

 For a more in depth look at this topic, check out our podcast, “Civil Discourse.”

 

http://civildiscourse.podomatic.com/entry/2013-09-21T13_31_08-07_00

 

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The Definition of Shame

Census figures released in September 2012 reveal the largest number of persons counted as poor in the 53 years of poverty measurements. One out of five children and one out of seven adults are living in poverty. That is 46.2 million people living in poverty 15 percent for all Americans and 21.9 percent for children. Seems like the wrong time to reduce food assistance to me.

Meet the Republicans Who Voted to Slash

$40 Billion from the Food Stamps Program

http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/09/20/meet-republicans-who-voted-slash-40-billion-food-stamps-program

And yes votes from Wisconsin are:

  • Sean P. Duffy (R-Wis.)
  • Thomas Petri (R-Wis.)
  • Reid Ribble (R-Wis.)
  • Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
  • James F. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)
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What Does Labor Day Mean? (Cartoon)

laborday.jpg

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