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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,659

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

You Don't Actually Need to Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. Biden

You Don’t Actually Need to Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. Biden

President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, on Wednesday night, will be scrutinized to assess his commitment to working with Republicans. There is nothing wrong with reaching across the aisle to seek common ground.

But insisting on bipartisanship — given the major policy divide between the parties on economic recovery, tax reform, climate change and health care — usually guarantees gridlock (which promotes voter cynicism) or actions that are watered down and ineffective (which are condemned by everyone, right and left).

There is nothing wrong with being partisan. Over a century ago, Representative Jacob Fassett, a New York Republican, counseled, “We were all elected by partisans because we were partisans, and as such represented party purposes as expressed by party platforms,” adding that a politician should “have opinions and convictions” and not “be a political chocolate éclair.”

In the decades after World War II, bipartisan policymaking became the norm because the ideological divisions within both parties — for example, there were numerous liberal Republicans who, since Reconstruction, supported civil rights — compelled cross-party alliances. Most issues did not break down ideologically by party. In fact, for much of the 20th century, supporters of political reform, environmentalism and civil rights could be found as easily in the Republican as in the Democratic Party.

A sizable cohort of moderate to liberal Republicans like Jacob Javits, Clifford Case and Mark Hatfield provided the votes to pass progressive legislation. Similarly, during periods of conservative activism, Republicans could reach across the aisle to find conservative Democrats (like “boll weevils”) to help pass their priorities.

But those circumstances no longer exist, and as a result, bipartisanship has become the Sasquatch of American politics: rarely seen but fervently sought. The opportunities for finding cross-party support for significant legislation, except in response to a national calamity, like the Troubled Asset Relief Program for the financial crisis, have evaporated. The parties have fundamentally changed — there are now very few liberal Republicans or conservative Democrats — and that transformation has hollowed out the middle ground of American politics. Continuing to demand bipartisanship as the validator of sound policy is not only fanciful but also self-defeating.


Why the body count hasn't slowed down America's gun industry

Why the body count hasn't slowed down America's gun industry


The number of guns sold has increased dramatically in recent years. A record 39,695,315 guns were sold to civilians in 2020. By comparison, there were 15 million guns sold in 2011 and 9 million in 1999.

Remarkably, this spike has occurred as the number of people interested in owning guns has declined. In 1977, more than 50% of all households in the United States owned a gun. By 2018, just 34% of American households reported having a gun in the home. Gun manufacturers have made up for this decline by selling a larger number of more deadly firearms to a smaller number of people.


Teddy Bears versus AK-47s

Nearly every product — from toasters to lawnmowers to teddy bears — must comply with standards set by the government to ensure the item is safe for public use. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates household goods and recreational products. The Food and Drug Administration regulates food and prescription drugs. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates motor vehicles. But there is one category of products that is not regulated for consumer safety by any government agency: guns and ammunition.

The Second Amendment has been in place since 1788, but the consumer protection exemption for guns came much later, in 1972. A law passed that year explicitly forbids the CPSC from evaluating the safety of guns. As a result, there "is not a single federally mandated safety standard or child-proofing requirement for firearms made in the United States."

The exemption was spearheaded by the late Congressman John Dingell (D-MI). At the time, Dingell was both the ranking member of the Commerce Committee, which was considering the legislation, and a board member of the NRA. The exemption means that the CPSC can regulate toy guns but not actual guns. The agency can mandate a recall of a doll, due to safety concerns, but not a semi-automatic rifle.

Currently, firearm safety is regulated by the firearm industry, through a group called the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI). The industry has established some useful regulations, including maximum pressure standards so that guns do not explode during use. But SAAMI operates much differently than a government agency. Specifically, "it does not solicit feedback from the public."


The regulation of guns as a consumer product could save lives without imperiling Second Amendment rights. Similarly, the application of consumer safety standards to cars, another dangerous product, has not restricted the ability of people to drive. But it has saved countless drives by ensuring that cars are designed to be as safe as possible for drivers, passengers, and the public.


Will trump End Up In Prison?

Will trump End Up In Prison?

The Biden administration on Thursday laid it right out in the open.

When Trump 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort was passing secret polling information about swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to Konstantin Kilimnik, as is laid out in the Mueller Report, it was part of a very specific and successful effort on the part of Russian Intelligence to help put Trump in office.

This was the data they would have used to have troll accounts and ads target individuals in those states via social media, particularly Facebook, to both suppress the vote for Clinton and encourage voters to show up for Trump and other down-ticket Republicans.

This is not the first time a Republican candidate for president has committed treason to get into the White House. In fact, it's been the norm since 1968, and therefore it's time to seriously discuss a 60-year problem we've had with treasonous and illegitimate Republican presidents.

America must stop giving criminal Republican presidents a pass. Every GOP president since Dwight Eisenhower used treason or deception to come to office (or inherited office from one who did), and it needs to end. It's a truly astonishing and horrifying story.


One can only wonder how much better off America would be if six Republican presidents hadn't stolen or inherited a stolen White House and used it to put right-wing cranks on the Supreme Court and other federal benches.


America has ignored GOP crimes to seize and hold the White House long enough. It's time, at long last, to put this one in prison.

'Constantly rubbing dirt in our face': GOP senators complain Biden keeps passing bills without them

'Constantly rubbing dirt in our face': GOP senators complain Biden keeps passing bills without them

A handful of the Senate's more moderate Republicans thought they would be at the center of legislative negotiations with President Joe Biden, but instead find themselves on the sidelines as Democrats push ahead with a sweeping agenda.

Members of the so-called G-10 say they're eager to negotiate deals with the White House, after steering COVID-19 relief under former president Donald Trump, but they're instead largely irrelevant and unable to shake the GOP reputation as obstructionists, reported Politico.


Staffers complain that the White House is "constantly rubbing dirt in the face of Republicans" by inviting them to White House meetings as Senate Democrats push through legislation with their narrow majority through reconciliation.

"If you get an invitation to the White House, you go to the White House," said another G-10 staffer. "But regardless, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. When you go to the White House meeting you risk being used in a feigned attempt at bipartisanship. If you don't go then it's, 'Oh, Republicans won't even meet with me.' It all pivots on whether it's a genuine offer from the White House or just part of their messaging strategy."

The senators -- including Susan Collins (R-ME), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) -- may not like the situation, but they grudgingly concede that Biden's White House has firmly grabbed control of the narrative.

"Everything they support is defined as either COVID relief or infrastructure, and everything they oppose is like … Jim Crow voter suppression and evil," said a G-10 aide, "and you constantly just feel like you're in this gaslighting chamber of insanity. But it's working."

Leaked video reveals a GOP plan to intimidate Black and brown voters in Houston

Leaked video reveals a GOP plan to intimidate Black and brown voters in Houston
Republicans propose "Election Integrity Brigade" specifically targeting Black and brown neighborhoods in Houston


Today's Jim Crow Republicans have mated white supremacy and neofascism, in search of creating something like Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin's "managed democracy." The result is a horrible mixture of right-wing racial authoritarianism and anti-democratic fervor. In their attempt to create a new type of American apartheid, the Republicans and their agents are willing to use all means available, legal, quasi-legal or illegal.

As revealed Thursday by Common Cause Texas, the Republican Party in Harris County — which contains Houston and is the third most-populous county in the nation — is planning to organize what is described as an "Election Integrity Brigade" of thousands of pro-GOP election workers and poll watchers. This group of Republican operatives will be sent into predominantly Black and brown communities to engage in de facto acts of voter intimidation and harassment under the pretext of stopping "voter fraud.

This "Election Integrity Brigade" will be a permanent group, not just a list of volunteers called out during election season. As explained by the Republican official who conducted the briefing obtained by Common Cause Texas, the goal is to also recruit poll watchers and other volunteers through "military partnerships." Such a plan is especially troubling given Donald Trump's coup attempt and his followers' attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the prominent role played by retired or active members of the military and law enforcement.

In an evident nod to racist fears and bigotry, Harris County Republican leaders explains that these poll watchers must have "courage" and "confidence" to do such work in Houston's Black and Latino communities.


I offer a thought experiment. What if Black and brown people who support the Democratic Party started going into majority-white suburban neighborhoods where many people vote Republican, and acted as poll watchers who were trying to stop voter fraud? Given that there is much more reason to monitor Republicans for efforts to undermine, steal or nullify elections, there might actually be a legitimate need for such vigilance in white neighborhoods.

But how would white people react to that idea? Moreover, what if the Democrats were to take power across the country on the state and local level and then impose the same kinds of limitations, in an obvious attempt to interfere with conservative white people's right to vote? What do you suppose would happen then? At the barest minimum, many of the same voices now trying to minimize the danger represented by the Jim Crow Republicans' attack on voting rights would howl in outrage.

Trump's Big Lie and Hitler's: Is this how America's slide into totalitarianism begins?

Trump's Big Lie and Hitler's: Is this how America's slide into totalitarianism begins?
Hitler undermined democracy by lying about World War I; Trumpists want to do it by lying about the 2020 election

It is a question I often hear people ask during conversations about the rise of Adolf Hitler: If I had been alive in Germany when the Nazis took power, would I have had the courage to side against them?

Thanks to the 2020 presidential election, there is now a convenient way to answer that query. Hitler rose to power because he told a Big Lie. Millions of people believed that Big Lie because they held more sinister beliefs; millions more likely didn't believe it, but weren't willing to denounce it as an outright lie at the time.

The same dynamic is true regarding Donald Trump's claim that Joe Biden stole the election from him. It is a Big Lie being embraced to advance a racist, anti-democratic agenda. Anyone who doesn't stand up to that Big Lie today would have likely been complicit in Hitler's Big Lie last century. Anyone who actually believes Trump's Big Lie ... do I need to finish that sentence?

A lot of prominent Republicans who are trying to worm their way around this issue by not quite saying they believe the Big Lie, but rather that it is somehow validated by the fact that many other people agree with it. Shortly before Trump egged on his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas argued that America should rely on a white nationalist precedent to resolve the election (presumably in Trump's favor) because "recent polling shows that 39 percent of Americans believe the election that just occurred, quote, was rigged. You may not agree with that assessment. But it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country."

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made a similar argument one month later. In a dissent about a case regarding the use of mail-in ballots in the swing state of Pennsylvania, Thomas wrote that "an election free from strong evidence of systemic fraud is not alone sufficient for election confidence," but that people on the losing side of an election need "the assurance that fraud will not go undetected." Never mind that there is literally no evidence that mail-in voting being particularly susceptible to fraud. Thomas' argument was essentially the same as Cruz's: Even if there isn't evidence of fraud, if one side claims the other side might have stolen an election, that's enough to justify making it harder for the other side to vote.

Let's call these things what they are: Attempts by Republican officials to exploit Trump's Big Lie to create permanent Republican rule, but without quite saying that they agree with the Big Lie itself. But even if such prominent Republicans don't flat-out say that the Big Lie is true, refusing to denounce it emboldens more people to believe it — and emboldens policymakers to change society based around it.


John Boehner doesn't deserve a rehabilitation tour: Mayor of GOP's "Crazytown" sparked rise of Trum

John Boehner doesn't deserve a rehabilitation tour: Mayor of GOP's "Crazytown" sparked rise of Trump
The former speaker wants to remake himself into a respected elder statesman, but he helped turn the GOP radical

John Boehner is clearly worried about his legacy. The former Republican speaker of the House is on a mission to rehabilitate his image and position himself as a noble, principled conservative who is at odds with the current slate of bug-eyed Donald Trump enthusiasts and lying Dr. Seuss trolls. He's recently published "On the House: A Washington Memoir" and is on the media circuit, both heavily promoting the book and this cockamamie notion that Trump and other trollish Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas or Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida represent some big departure from a more dignified conservatism that Boehner claims to represent.

"I don't even think I could get elected in today's Republican Party anyway. I don't think Ronald Reagan could either," Boehner writes in excerpts quoted by the Washington Post. He also claims that "I'm not sure I belonged to the Republican Party [Trump] created

This is —and it cannot be stated firmly enough — a stinking pile of horse-generated plant fertilizer.

Ronald Reagan was a proto-Trump figure, a B-list Hollywood celebrity who got elected riding a wave of white grievance by making barely coded racist overtures. That is why people like Boehner loved Reagan so much, and why they remade the Republican Party into the perfect vehicle for Trump, a sociopathic narcissist whose racism and sexism was even less coded than the brand that Reagan was peddling.

Boehner has been grabbing headlines lately by dunking, in often incredibly entertaining ways, on Trump and Cruz, who Boehner instructed to "go f*ck yourself" in the audio recording of the book. But as fun as all this is, no one should be fooled. Boehner is one of the main architects of the version of the GOP he dubs "Crazytown" in his book, a Republican party that is oriented around bigotry and trolling — and completely uninterested in anything resembling good governance.

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