Corruption is as old as politics itself. However, in the U.S. during the last six years, corruption has been on a steroid called Citizens United. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that money (campaign donations) were an expression of free speech, just as burning the flag might be. However, they were WRONG. Unrestricted donations are nothing more than legalized bribery.
Our Constitution begins with the phrase, “We the People.” Not we the corporations. Not we the unions. Not we the moneyed special interest groups. Now, We the People must stand up and fight for the restoration of our democracy.
I suspect that most people who went into politics, did it with a sense of doing good things for our country. Even those narcissists believe they are there to do some good. However, the enormous financial requirements for getting elected bends their thinking like a black hole bends light. Calling politician corrupt–and many are–is not the answer. We must change the game that encourages corruption.
The members of Congress will never pass a law to override Citizens United. Even if they did, the Supreme Court might strike it down. So, We the People must go to the top, the U.S. Constitution with a new amendment:
The Democracy Restoration Amendment
No organization, regardless of type, may donate money, assets or services to a specific political candidate’s campaign for public office.
Organizations may publicly advocate for themselves and their causes. However, in doing so, they may not endorse or reject, any candidate or party, directly or indirectly. No words, symbols, sounds, images or other means or methods may be used to imply such an endorsement or rejection.
Only individual citizens may donate to a political candidate’s campaign. It is illegal for one individual to transfer funds to another individual for the specific purpose of donating to a political campaign. No individual may donate more than the equivalent of five percent of the average resident’s income to a political candidate’s campaign.
No non-citizen or non-American entity may donate money, assets or services to a political party or candidate’s campaign for public office.
If this amendment makes sense to you, support it. Write to your members of Congress. Promote it to others through social media and in person. Let this be our patriotic act and gift to the future of America. Help us take back our country!
For the first time in my lifetime, we are faced with two candidates who are despised by a majority of American voters. What I going to say next might surprise you: We Deserve This! We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We hate it. But we earned it through our lack of vigilance and critical thinking.
The signs were there, but the American public decided it was too inconvenient to believe it or do something about the problems leading to this current disaster. Many ask, what were the signs?
There were at least two: Citizens United and a news media in decay.
Citizens United v. FEC
This 2010 Supreme Court decision allowed SuperPACs, a legalized bribery highway for public corruption. Whether financial, military or political, power seeks one thing: more power. Citizens United opened the floodgates for moneyed special interests, helping consolidate the power of corruption. Broadly supported bills to help the public welfare have been repeatedly thwarted by the tidal wave of campaign contributions, mostly from industry groups, such as the Trial Lawyers Association, the NRA, Wall Street, the coal and oil industries, and many others. Campaign contributions persistently drowned out the voice of the people.
Regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum, we all sense this disconnection from our government and are desperate for a solution. Unfortunately, some feel that solution is Donald Trump, a bombastic second-generation millionaire, who has never worked in government. Desperation often leads to bad choices. But this year, none of the choices are good.
The Declining News Media
The second sign is the deplorable state of the news media. There was a time when the news was considered a sacred trust. News reporters, editors and producers thoughtfully selected which issues to report based on relevance and importance. Remember newsmen such as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite? Younger citizens can’t because they’ve never been exposed to that kind of integrity. At the time, the news divisions of TV networks, while not perfect, were fairly independent. There were only three networks. Brian Williams and Geraldo Rivera will never measure up Murrow and Cronkite.
Today, these networks are part of huge media conglomerates. Ratings mean advertising revenue, essential for growing corporate profits. Profits override thoughtful coverage every time. So the media spends more time discussing the Kasdashians and Pokemon Go than serious issues. Donald Trump, an outrageous buffoon who appeals to people’s worst instincts, delivers ratings. To survive as a great nation, we must turn off the reality TV pabulum and demand better.
The American public has a short attention span. Our intellects have been starved by a steady diet of simplistic sound bites. However, in an advanced and powerful democracy such as ours, a more diligent citizenship is required.
The next four years will be a disaster. If Hillary Clinton wins, she will be dogged by scandal after scandal, whether real, imagined or something in between. And a Republican Congress will not let anyone forget it. If Donald Trump wins, the White House will be a reality TV circus. With such disgust for the two major party candidates, why haven’t the news outlets looked at third-party candidates? Third-party candidates don’t deliver ratings!
At a time when we face unprecedented corruption in Washington, unprecedented chaos in the Middle East and racial tensions at home, where is the adult supervision?
We are the adults. But we’ve failed our duty of care. Time to turn off the reality TV, delete the Pokemon Go, start studying the issues and the platforms of the third-party candidates.
(I’ll get back to you about Citizens United next time around.)
Ted Cruz has formally announced his candidacy for President of the Unites States at Liberty University. And all the red-meat evangelicals are about to have an orgasm, metaphorically. In the coming months, more Republicans will take turns trying to convince the right-wing base that they each are the True Conservative Messiah. But let’s be honest. It’s all about how hard they bash Obama.
It’s a given that I’m not fan of the Chicago-style of politics that Barack Obama brought to Washington. He created a level of polarization rarely seen in Washington. And that’s saying something. Obama has boldly told more lies than I can count. Not that he invented presidential lying. Here’s just a few favorites:
- Reagan: “I didn’t trade arms for hostages.”
- Bush 41: “Read my lips: No new taxes.”
- Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
- Bush 43: “Saddam has WMDs.”
- Obama: “If you like your heath insurance, you can keep it.”
Would a President Cruz lie to us? Probably. It seems almost a requirement of the job. But he also brings something else, a smarmy batshit-crazy aura. Denying climate change. Wanting to shutdown the government. And remember Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham on the floor of the Senate?
But I’m sure stranger things have happened on the Floor of the Senate, but do we really need that stuff in the White House? Where is the adult supervision? Have both parties locked up all the adults somewhere?
In the upcoming election, I will probably not take sides, not out of objectivity or “fairness,” just out of not trusting any of the candidates.
I haven’t been posting lately, primarily because I’ve had to focus on supporting my family. With two kids in college, it has taken all my efforts. Given the state of politics, I’ve had to resist posting on my Centrist beliefs.
However, recent events have changed that, because the politics have become very personal, as you’ll see below.
A retired gentleman I know was raving how wonderful Obamacare was. When I disagreed, he responded with a certain amount of condescension in his voice saying I “just simply didn’t understand.”
Well, here is what I do understand:
Number 1: The President made healthcare reform his signature legislation. It was his holy grail. He repeatedly said “If you like your insurance coverage, you can keep it.” If he mistakenly said it once or twice, you could give him a pass and say he misspoke. However, he repeated this sentiment repeatedly in speech after speech. That makes him a liar. The only other explanation is that he and his team are so incompetent, they had no idea what they were doing. I let you choose.
Number 2: Like many Americans who thought their insurance was quite good, I received the policy cancellation notice. Apparently, my post-menopausal wife needs birth control. So Mr. President, you better get a fire extinguisher fast. Your pants are igniting.
Number 3: My wife who works for a small medical practice will be losing her job. The Affordable Care Act is not small practice friendly. There are fines and fees for not complying with Obamacare. This has led to the development of Medical-mafia groups who are trying to put the squeeze on the small providers, sort of like a protection racket. Obamacare is deadly to small practices.
Number 4: Of all the people who are Pro-Obamacare, almost none of them are actually affected by the law. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other members of government have their separate government insurance, and thus aren’t subject to it. Rich liberals (and conservatives) are immune to it because either they maintain high quality insurance already, or pay fee for services. Retirees are already on Medicare, so they also are unaffected. Yes, there are the poor who benefit, but they already have Medicaid. That leaves the working middle class who have been driven closer to the poverty line.
So the next time someone tells me I “just don’t understand Obamacare,” I’m going shove a 2×4 up their ass, and tell them “they just don’t understand lumber.”
Sorry, I’ve been away. It took the debacle of the healthcare.gov website to bring back to my keyboard. Let’s see, what did we start with?
- Two major political parties whose highest priority is destroying one another
- A President who wanted to “go big” to create a “Legacy”
- A myriad of special interest groups who gain advantage in shifting the escalating costs to one another
Okay, what did we get?
- A government-run healthcare insurance “exchange” site that doesn’t function very well. (This is causing the healthy, but impatient, people, who they need to sign up, to just walk away.)
- A government-run healthcare insurance “exchange” site that is a hacker’s wet dream. (With all the hacking going on in the world, an insecure government website is the last thing we need.)
Already, I’m hearing of many people tell me that their insurance rates are going up. Many people are losing their insurance because it is not “up to government standards.” What happened to the President’s promise to allow people to “keep their insurance, if they like it?”
The Government can be very effective at times, but it is never efficient. With the infinite purse of deficit spending, it has never had the motivation or practice at being efficient. Even the computer code at healthcare.gov is wasteful.
Please don’t think I’m letting the Republicans off the hook. They claimed they were blocked out when the Affordable Care Act was designed. And, that it true. However, with the dogged determination of the Republican’s to destroy the Democrats, why would Obama, Pelosi and Reid let them in the door? How can cooperation occur in this environment?
To be sure, there are some good ideas in Obamacare. Those ideas should have been put forth as individual bills. They would have been smaller and easier to get through Congress. But a series of smaller bills doesn’t give a President a “Legacy.” It just is more efficient, more less dramatic, (What ever happened to “No Drama” Obama?)
To look at the bigger picture, let’s take a step back.
The election of Barack Obama was a reaction to the extremism and hubris of the Bush-era Republicans. (Remember, the Republican claim of a “permanent majority?” Oops.)
In turn, the super-charging of the Tea Party was a reaction to Obama’s massive stimulus package, which was a prime example of über-pork. (Remember what I said about government being effective but not efficient.)
This is an overly dramatic and nonproductive cycle. Why put forth legislation that you know the other side will undo once they have the chance?
What have we reaped from all this?
- A Government Shut-Down
- Nearly defaulting on our behemoth National Debt
- A government website that is a disaster, and insecure
What has the Government done about all this? What they always do: blame each other, fix nothing, and kick the can down the road again.
The two-party system is failing us. I hate to repeat myself, but why are we reelecting these people?
Time for a Centrist Third Party.
Today is Internet Blackout Day. What is that?
Surprisingly many people and Internet sites, such as Google, Wikipedia and WordPress, are protesting two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House. These bills are designed to combat the illegal distribution of counterfeit goods via rogue websites, particularly foreign websites that steal and sell American innovations and products.
According to IP Subcommittee Chairman Goodlatte, “Intellectual property is one of America’s chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, yet American inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs have been forced to stand by and watch as their works are stolen by foreign infringers beyond the reach of current U.S. laws.” Representative Goodlatte is quite correct. How do I know? I know because I have been a victim of Internet piracy. Intellectual property pirates have stolen my work and taken money out of my pocket.
Unfortunately, a segment of the population has developed which proclaims piracy as a civil right. They claim “information should be free” as if information were an animal in cruel captivity. Of course, people who proclaim this rarely produce anything of value themselves. If they did, they might think otherwise.
Perhaps it started with Napster. People like getting something for nothing. It is an extension of the entitlement culture we live in. Unfortunately, “free” has a cost too. And it is the creative innovators, the most productive members of society, who pay the price of this parasitic attitude.
Information piracy is not a swashbuckling romantic quest. It is stealing!
Maybe there are aspects of these bills that need to be tweaked. Fair enough. So, write your senators and representatives to either support the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, or something similar to protect intellectual property.
In the recent Republican debate, there was much discussion about Rick Perry’s decision to order the vaccination of teenage girls against the HPV virus. Debate of the role of government in our lives is fair, and even vital, to our democratic way of life. I believe people of good conscience could come down of either side of this issue. Also fair was a discussion of the campaign donations Perry received from Merck, the maker of the Gardasil vaccine.
However, what was not up for debate is the benefit of vaccinating teenage girls against a cancer-causing virus. However, Michelle Bachmann couldn’t resist getting a lick in by saying a mother told her the vaccine caused her daughter’s mental retardation. Disseminating unsubstantiated charges where the health of children is involved, just to get in a dig at her political opponent, is morally reprehensible.
As the parent of an autistic child, I know the desire to find “the cause” can be quite strong, and conclusions are easily jumped to. Vaccines are a frequent scapegoat. But to use a mother’s desire for answers as a political tool makes Ms. Bachmann’s behavior doubly reprehensible. She should be nowhere near the White House. And come to think about it, probably nowhere near Congress either.
Public officials campaigning for office attract a great amount of attention by design. With that publicity comes a moral and ethical responsibility to disseminate truth. I know that seems counter to our experience, but we need to demand better of our public officials.
Hey you pharmaceutical companies! Can you vaccinate us against political deception?