Inherent Inequity

INHERENT INEQUITY



Weiner’s Staff:
In the aftermath of his emotionally cheating infidelity, Weiner’s member staff has taken this hard. Jokes aside, I suppose I could start off by writing about Representative Anthony Weiner’s (D-NY) personal debacle going on at the moment, but it is a distraction. Although he is a public servant, when dealing with personal choices in moral behavior of anyone, unless criminal, I prefer to stay clear even though it makes for soupy gossip interests. So, as with the recent gallivanting episodes of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Representative Alcee Hastings’ (D-FL) sexual harassment charges, the antics of Representative Chris Lee’s (R-NY) Craigslist photos, Senator John Ensign’s (R-NV) extramarital romp and the two gay actions of Senator Larry Craig (R-UT) and Representative Mark Foley (R-FL)...it’s off the tablet for my articles. 

Though Republicans currently are having a field day with Rep. Weiner, as you can see from the above aforementioned list, Democrats have been bestowed with field days too, as presented by Republicans. How soon the conservative, Rush Limbaugh conveniently forgets this. Limbaugh stated on his weekly radio show June 7th that, “Weiner is the face of Democrat family values. He is the epitome of the Democrat culture of corruption.” Of course you have to understand, this is coming from a dude who also once proclaimed we must lock-up all drug addicts and throw away the keys, all the while at the same time he too was hung up and secretly addicted to the prescription drug, OxyContin. With Limbaugh’s constant delusion of the facts, I’d suggest to him a reading of the German poet, Friedrich von Schiller’s quip, “With stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain.”       

The thing is, even though Republicans like to stress so, no party holds the lock and key to moral values and ethics. It only goes to show that members of both parties hold no edge to that effect and are simply human in no matter party affiliation, with characteristic inequities and weaknesses that accompany being human. Enough said.

Mouth Usage Other than Eating:
For more pressing issues, I’m going to look at the words of the congressmen that represent me in the state of Pennsylvania. It does appear they add to the fodder of the old adage, “If their mouth is open, they’re lying.” 

Last week, I petitioned both Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA) on why they voted against in doing away with the tax loopholes and industrial subsidies currently enjoyed by the oil and gas industry; in particular at a time when the industry is raking in huge net profits with exorbitant market manipulated gas and oil prices. Republicans contend our country is broke and needs added revenue; this is their justification in attacking social safety net programs that benefit the average American. For some odd reason though, Republicans want to not only leave the wealthiest Americans and corporations alone in helping resolve America’s economic woes, but actually are allowing them to benefit from it. The bill in question is S. 940, the ‘Close Big Oil Loopholes Act.’ Both of them replied with an e-mail form letter stating that dissolving these loopholes and tax breaks would make gas prices at the pump go up even higher.

In their exact words, Toomey states, “In fact, I believe that raising energy taxes would increase them [gas pump prices], which is bad policy.” Though Toomey was careful with his wording, like utilizing the word ‘believe’ to suggest it’s his own belief and not necessarily factual, Kelly flat out lets the bacon over-fry in his very deceptive comment, “While removing tax credits would increase tax revenues from the oil and natural gas industries, it would also decrease exploration, development and production while increasing prices and increasing the nation’s foreign oil dependence. These increased costs would then be passed on to the American consumer.” He then states further, “According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, the proposals would make oil and natural gas more expensive for U.S. consumers and likely increase dependence on foreign sources of oil.” Kelly, then in the e-mail goes on to pretending that he feels sympathy for the consumer in dealing with high gasoline prices.

What is so blatantly wrong in these two political official statements in concerning gas prices, is the impartial group (in which Kelly mentioned) the Congressional Research Service’s (CRS) actual findings. On May 11th of this past month, the CRS handed in their research findings to the senate majority leader, Harry Reid. In it, after carefully evaluating the five major subsidies and tax breaks afforded to the oil and gas industry, the CRS soundly concluded that subsidies and tax breaks have nothing to do with gas prices. Both Toomey and Kelly know of the CRS conclusion, but where one simply ignores the findings because it goes against his so-claimed beliefs, the other actually mentions the CRS, but replaces their actual findings with his own choice of inserted words, totally contradicting what they actually concluded.

Boy-howdy, I tell ya what…Kelly must lie so much that if he ever tells the truth, it was albeit a coincidental accident. Whether through ignoring the truth or totally destroying it in reversing its findings, Toomey and Kelly aren’t out there working on behalf of their constituents; they’re merely promoting their agendas and mandates through deceptive practices.

The granted oil and gas industry tax breaks and subsidies keep four billion dollars away from the federal coffers and still will. Due to the likes of Toomey and Kelly, S. 940 did not receive a big enough of a majority vote to pass legislation. While Toomey and Kelly vote for defunding or worse, totally extracting social safety net programs for the economic advantages, health and educational opportunities for strapped Americans overall, they still insist oil companies need to hang onto that $4 billion even after reporting record breaking net profits.

The newly elected Pennsylvania governor, Thomas Corbett swept the rug right out from under the adultBasic health insurance; a program directed to aiding low-income working class Pennsylvanians who on their own cannot afford medical insurance premiums. This state run health insurance program was funded by the Tobacco Settlement Fund that the tobacco industry must supply to states to be immune from lawsuits. The settlement was court directed to benefit state health and medical programs. Corbett has taken this money away from adultBasic along with the 42,000 citizens who depended on it for their health and has redirected the revenue to a newly low interest corporate loan program he instituted. Why he did this, no one knows but him, for there already are six similar loaning programs in operation around the state.

So, take heed you Tea Party people, these three politicians are the prime example of where your concerns should be directed when it comes to the woes of the average American. Quit misdirecting your anger along party lines...you folks are supposed to be independent enough to have your own eyes, ears, voice and conscience to conclude with. For after all, we wouldn’t won’t it to become necessary, no we’d rather it be by choice that grandma and grandpa move in with us. Not because their Medicare and Social Security has been taken from them, which leads us into the next realm of this article.

Dragon’s Keep:
With the Republican majority in control of congress, the integrity of our country is changing, for what other developed country would cut food aid to hungry mothers and children and decide to let our elderly defend more for themselves by cutting out access to quality health and a stipend monthly paycheck? What country would defund educational opportunities for a poor kid to receive a bright future while insisting on not just continuing but adding billions of dollars more onto the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest? And what country would do all these things during an upheaval period of added stresses to its average citizens due to an economic crisis that was brought on by eight years of Republican control and mandates and yet still insist corporations and the oil industry continue to enjoy tax loopholes and subsidies? I gotta tell ya, this appears as a tad bit immoral. All this is in Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) House passed budget plan, with a privatization Social Security (SS) clause to be added on to it by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) and approved by Representative Joe Heck (R-NV), who defers SS to a pyramid scheme.

Yes, the Republican Party was a main force in initiating the financial crisis with their deregulation legislation, continual job lay-offs due to congressional corporate friendly groundwork, trillions of dollars in lost federal revenue due to the Bush wealthy tax cuts and putting us into two wars, with one as totally unnecessary that forced us into paying for them by borrowing heavily from foreign creditors like China. Now, they want average Americans to pay even more for GOP mistakes by successfully blaming Democrats for all the economic follies and cutting out essential social programs benefiting citizens, while bolstering immunity towards the wealthy and corporate institutions to share in the burden. It just doesn’t make much sense.

Republicans call social programs for the citizenry socialism, but contend corporate welfare as capital progress. It’s hard to figure why anyone bites into this. The likes of conservatives Pat Buchannan and Rep. Jim Jordan consider food stamps as illegal and are doing their darnest in speaking out and legislating against the stamps to make food illegally accessible for poverty stricken folks. The snide conservative, Anne Coulter considers teachers as "parasites" simply because their paychecks originate from tax dollars. I would suppose then she feels our military G.I.s are parasites as well, since they risk their lives to gain a taxpayer dollar paycheck.

Public workers being demeaned, derided and attacked lately by right-wing agendas are either feeling fed-up, demeaned or intimidated, for they are retiring in droves. Teachers, firefighters, police officers, ER medics and prison guards are making a mass exodus. Some, who have worked over thirty years for the first time, feel like they are being treated as the enemy; such as Judy Cinnabond, a New Jersey math teacher, who wanted to prolong her career years, but is weary of the current negative atmosphere concerning public workers.

On the NBC Nightly News broadcast (06/10/2011), Mrs. Cinnabond stated in her interview that she doesn’t want to feel like the enemy due to all the strong criticism. She’s not alone in her sentiment. In her state New Jersey, public worker retirement is up 60% from last year. In Ohio, public workers seeking retirement is up 34%, while in the most noted state for Republican government declared wars on public bargaining rights, Wisconsin’s retirement for public workers is up a walloping 96%.  

Slamming the already weakened labor unions is lending less voice to American workers’ protections, occupations and skills and is eroding working families’ income and healthcare base. Newly elected Republican state legislators and governors, along with the new Republican federal House of Representatives’ ideologues, are on a blatant attack in their efforts toward making unions a defunct entity for workers’ rights and retirement security by stripping the unions of their bargaining capabilities. It is as of late, brazenly unprecedented.

Republicans were even pushing into law an anti-choice bill that would require a rape victim, who sought out abortion care, to painfully recall every detail of her sexual assault to a tax collector for proof that the attack indeed occurred, never mind if the culprit was convicted or not in court.

States’ Republican legislators are in a very partisan mood lately in their strategies to clearly suppress voter turnout for groups that typically vote Democrat. State Republican legislation in Florida and Ohio has cut down the days for early voting and thirteen Republican controlled states have put into legislation photo ID laws where a drivers license, military identification or, in a few instances, a passport are now required. For some this may not seem like much effort to prove your voting validity, but on minorities, the poor, the elderly, the disabled and students, this can present obstacles. Of course these groups have a developed history of voting Democrat. The Pennsylvania congressional state house is to vote on H.B. 934 next week, a bill that will specify in order to obtain a ballot, the potential voter must first present a government approved photo ID. 

This is a waste of time and money as it will cost Pennsylvanian taxpayers $10 million to implement. It’s an act in futility, for the current system, in all the years it has been put into effect, has not had one incident of impersonation or voter fraud. It already requires that a voter prove their ID. After vetoing a similar bill in 2006 being pushed through by Republicans, this is as former governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell once called it, “a solution searching for a problem.”

Republicans really are exhibiting political cheating here by thwarting potential opponent votes, don’t ya think? This has nothing to do with fair play or even attempts in eliminating voter fraud; no it’s about fudging numbers to win elections come hell or high water.

Oh, I don’t know, but it just seems what the right thing to do would be for government officials to actually encourage citizens to exercise their voting rights instead of putting up road blocks to hinder voting rights.
        
In pushing oil industry interests, Republicans are always stressing the need for more drilling just off of American shores and in national wildlife refuges that harbor the last of America’s pristine lands. In constant repetitive fashion they say it will wean America off its dependency for foreign oil. Yet, they voted to totally defund and kill the US High Speed Rail System program launch in 2012. It’s a shame, for 70% of oil consumption in the U.S. is through vehicular transport. If one really wanted to lower our dependency on foreign oil, it seems like the integrated rail system would have been a common sense approach.

I’ve said it many times before in previous articles, yet I will say it but once more here. America produces no more than 4% of the world’s oil, but consumes over 25% of the world’s oil. As long as that ratio’s margin level is so off balanced, no matter how much we pretend, we’ll never become independent of a finite fossil fuel source; we’ll only make the oil companies richer. As Boone Pickens, a long time oilman, says, “We cannot drill our way out of this energy crisis.”

The most recent House Republican stunt is their current attempts to repeal the enacted repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ by attaching an outrageous series of amendments to the bill that funds the U.S. military. Former Congressman Patrick Murphy states, “As an Army officer, I saw firsthand how the policy forces patriots to lie about who they are just so they can defend the freedoms that make America great.” It appears that Republicans want these patriots to continue lying. 

Forward Past:
During times of economic hardships experienced in the country, in the period from 2009 to the present, Republicans from the 110th to the 112th congress’ have not even entertained working in a bipartisan way to aid the country. Instead, in protecting and promoting only their agendas, they have been breaking records in historic filibustering, while in turn the Democrats lead by Senator Harry Reid, the senate majority leader has set a record number of clotures. Anything the Democrats presented to the floor such as the healthcare bill, financial regulation and even job and unemployment bills, Republicans have been no more than obstacles to passing economic legislation that would lessen the sufferings of hurting American families. They even threatened to filibuster at the end of 2010 Obama’s push for unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts unless the president agreed to extend more Bush tax cut handouts to the wealthy and corporate institutions.

For those, including myself here, who are unfamiliar with congressional jargon, filibustering essentially is allowing any senator to stop any progress on any bill he disfavors by having the floor in an unlimited amount of time to speak out against it or, choose any other topic to speak on and on and on about. As long as he continues speaking, he has illimitable access to the house floor. This in effect delays implementation and stalls proceedings in pursuing the bill’s fruition. Today though, the rules have changed. A senator merely has to anonymously phone in his desire to filibuster creating obstruction. Conversely, cloture is the counter process to filibustering, when there are at least sixty senators in agreement and will vote together to end the filibuster ramblings. For some reason, the frequency of filibusters or the threats in using them are measured by the number of chamber cloture votes.

After Obama was elected and Democrats regained tenuous control of congress creating a Republican minority, with the 110th Congress there were 139 filibusters. In comparison, the highest filibustering congress with a Democrat minority under Bush, there were 61 filibusters with the 107th Congress. In the 111th Congress, Reid was able to win 91% of the 136 clotures he had to petition, successfully ending most filibusters. The Republican filibusters in just 2009 alone, were more than the combined decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s when Republicans were filibustering civil and voting rights.

In 2009 there was an exorbitant 112 roll call cloture votes, while 2010 experienced 48 in the senate; a lot more respectable, but still above mean average. To give a better view on perspective, in the past 91 years, there has been over 1,200 senate cloture motions filed. Republicans in just the past four years alone have been responsible for 20% of those filibusters during that time frame.    

Now we all know why the historic level of Republican filibustering has been conducted and it is not for ensuring the better welfare of our country. No, it is because Republicans in inept attempts are trying to make Obama and Democrat congressmen look inept. But in the process, Republicans have voted against job creation, unemployment benefits, sided with corporations over American citizenry and the environment and have railed against fair credit banking, financial regulations and the overall well-being of our health.

Forget about addressing pertinent issues of the day, before any filibustering first took place and before Obama was even sworn into office, the minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), concentrated solely on devising strategies to greatly hinder and slow legislation down to a snail’s pace to make it appear to the public that the senate, made-up of majority Democrats were ineffective in policy making. McConnell would then take advantage of the resulting difficulties the Democrats would have in governing by relying on stalling techniques such as filibustering, spreading misinformation and to constantly say no to any piece of legislation up on the floor for passage. It did not matter whether a bill had Republican amendments throughout its clauses, he still insisted his fellow Republicans vote no. He had them place an allegiance to say no to any big legislation that would originate from Democrats. 

Presently, Road-Block McConnell is threatening the Obama administration to hold raising the debt ceiling hostage unless some of his mandates are met, such as deep cuts in social programs and the repeal of the healthcare act. Of all things to hold up, the raising of the debt ceiling shouldn’t be one. You think economic times are tough now, let congress not raise the debt ceiling, then when this country defaults on its loans financial chaos will erupt. I do understand McConnell’s turmoil in lifting the debt ceiling, for in recent years it’s been so Bushy and a Republican thing to do. Let’s see now, if memory serves any at all, during the eight Republican Bush years, the debt ceiling was raised in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and twice in 2008. McConnell was there each time too and insisted his fellow senate members raise it. Now, he uses it as a political pawn and gives only reasons of why it shouldn’t be raised. 

McConnell has even led record level filibusters of Obama judicial appointees and the unheard of in filibustering candidates for mid-level occupancies. This is keeping court cases opened and government work unfulfilled. Could it conveniently be that it just so happens, currently there is a Democrat sitting in the oval office, which is much to his disliking? But to play political parlor tricks with America’s financial standing is not moving forward…it is caveman politics.

McConnell’s antics have turned the U.S. senate house into a nursery of squabbling and dribbling children. Instead of the diplomatic exchange of ideas, he’s relegated the senate floor into a war zone. He needs to quit hitting on Obama and seriously start work on issues to get Americans out of this economically pinched squeeze-hold first and then the nation’s debt can be appropriately approached. The problem is not the debt limit symptom; it’s the sawing off of the ladder’s bottom rung ridding the step-up of lower income Americans into opportunity. Since Reagan, we’ve maintained debt within tolerable bounds. The budget is a middle-of-the-road problem. Immediate urgency should be directed to the current economy’s effects on American families and struggling workers. This right-wing blockade is damaging not only to Americans, but to America’s standing.  

Although the likes of McConnell relish in laying blame squarely on Obama for the nation’s debt, the debt ceiling realm is the result of former Republican governance. Reagan was the first to put the U.S. into the category as a debtor nation from a creditor nation, when his administration was the first to double the deficit. The first George H.W. Bush increased that debt, Clinton curtailed it and then George W. Bush accelerated it into the stratosphere. W. Bush had the least amount in job creation than any recent presidency. 

This week marked the tenth anniversary of the Bush tax cuts. Compiled by the Wall Street Journal staff in 2009, their cumulative data shows that W. Bush, since presidencies going back to the late thirties, holds the dubious role of creating the least amount of jobs per year during his eight years as president. It was a mere 375,000. Now to remind ya, this was with the wealthy tax cuts, which is the Republican scream still today on how jobs will or should be created.  And that mantra is: if you give the rich and corporate more tax cuts, they will create jobs and not invest it elsewhere like nearly half of them did. Yet in actuality, the Bush years created the least amount of jobs. But yore dang-tootin’ it sure has managed to make the wealthy richer while the rest of us bleeding souls got poorer, for the data also showed he had the worst record for payroll expansion as well, tied with Gerald Ford at 2.3% who only served three years in office.             

McConnell’s take no prisoner approach has greatly hindered this country’s governing and has put a strangle hold on opportunities for the average American to finally get his head above water. McConnell has assured that the senate in a democracy is not the will of the people or majority.  Of my personal opinion, he has some deep seated biased and partisan issues that he may not honestly reveal outwardly, but holds dearly inwardly. It still though, shows through. He’s got to be one sour grape.       

The political philosophy behind filibustering was to ensure the minority would not be bowled over by the majority in power. Today though, with the astonishing amount of times it has been utilized by Republicans, its original intent has been thoroughly abused entrenching legislative policy making into an endless quagmire. Current Republican actions not only slow the senate down, it has at times made it ungovernable. 

It killed Republicans once Obama got Osama. Immediately, a lot of them stepped out attempting to neutralize the thunderous news by giving credit to Bush and his so-called enhanced interrogation. Torture is what it really is and many a Japanese officer was hung by American military tribunals for their commands in ordering water boarding on hapless American prisoners of war during WWII. Obama can now say, holding up one in one hand and a photo of one in the other…Here is my birth certificate and here is bin-Laden. Is there anything else I can get for you dumb asses?

Some Republicans have even mumbled Obama got bin-Laden merely to get re-elected. I got news for them; ever since his election into office, Obama has put much effort and resource in finally ending the bin-Laden chapter in American history. When Obama had to decide on what method to get him, he chose using the elite navy seals six team instead of the utilization of jet or drone bombings. When the operation was about to unfold, Obama received a call when he was walking towards the presidential helicopter, Marine One to take off for Alabama and inspect the tornado damage firsthand. The messenger questioned if Obama was sure he wanted to commence the navy seals into action, as opposed to other safer alternatives. Without hesitation, he said yes, hung up, boarded the aircraft and left for the devastation in Alabama. This gutsy call could very well have ended Obama's political career, he knew that, but still cast the final decisive direction. Was this a political ploy? Hardly, for with the 2012 elections a year and a half away at the time, American politics simply does not work in that long of a time span.
 
I really dislike ripping into folks, but Republicans in their verve today aren’t helping the overall cause with their self serving vendettas and greedy mandates. How strange it is that the more ignorant we become the more we seek out biased advice. We need to take Obama’s lead, ingratiate and change the mode in how we disagree. Hopefully then, instead of just listening to the one that is loudest and angriest, we’ll lean more towards the one who is right.



BJA
In Calling on the Guard,
06/11/2011