The Election is Over, Time to Move On

I started a podcast that will be about a variety of topics and will not be published on any regular basis. It’s just what ever strikes me and whenever I want. I hope you listen and I would appreciate any feedback you may have.

Whether you agree or disagree, that’s fine with me. If you have a topic that you think deserves some thought, then let me know. I have interest in sports, news, politics, weather and many others. Please, give me feedback at [email protected]

 

“Kicking the Can” Podcast

The Election is Over- Time to Move On

 

Political Websites

 

politics-101-logoBack in late March, I challenged myself to read political writings from different points of view on a daily basis. I did that for a few reasons such as being informed on the policies of this country and the stories and backgrounds of the candidates.

Each day, except Sunday, I would attempt to choose 5-8 different websites to read. I did keep that up and will do so until Election Day. After that my reading will be a bit more sporadic. I thought I would share those sites with you for your reading or for saving for a later time.

It was interesting, to say the least. If you know any other you would like for me to add to this list, let me know.

Here they are:

Harvard Political Review Washington Post LA Times
NY Times Washington Times The American Conservative
The American Prospect The American Spectator The Atlantic
Boston Review Dissent Magazine The Economist
Foreign Policy Politico Chronicles
Yale Daily News Columbia Daily Mother Jones
The Nation National Review The New American
The New Republic Roll Call U.S.News and World Report
The Weekly Standard Huffington Post Legislative Gazette
The Hill Right Wing Watch Political Wire
WND The Skeptical Optimist The Blaze
The Salon Daily Caller Breitbart
Drudge Report Wonkette Daily Kos
Liberal Oasis The New Yorker World Policy Institute
 Daily Beast  American Thinker
 From Other Countries
 The Telegraph  BBC  Countries List
 Pravda  Irish Times  The Baltic Times
 Cyprus News  Budapest Business Journal
 UNITED KINGDOM

  1. Bristol Evening Post (Bristol)
  2. Cambridge Evening News (Cambridge)
  3. Coventry Evening Telegraph (Coventry)
  4. Daily Record (Glasgow)
  5. The Daily Telegraph (London)
  6. Derbyshire Evening Telegraph (Derby)
  7. Evening Argus (Brighton)
  8. Evening Standard (London)
  9. Evening Telegraph
  10. Evening Times (Glasgow)
  11. Express & Star (Wolverhampton)
  12. Financial Times (London)
  13. Financial Times (U.S. mirror site) (London)
  14. Grimsby Evening Telegraph (Birmingham)
  15. Guardian, The (London)
  16. The Herald (Glasgow)
  17. Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield)
  18. Hull Daily Mail (Hull)
  19. icBirmingham (Grimsby)
  20. icNewcastle (Newcastle)
  21. Independent, The (London)
  22. Jersey Evening Post, The (Channel Islands)
  23. The Journal (Newcastle)
  24. London Evening Standard (London)
  25. The Mirror (London)
  26. The News (Portsmouth)
  27. Norfolk Now (Norfolk)
  28. Northampton Chronicle & Echo (Northampton)
  29. The Nottingham Evening Post (Nottingham)
  30. Observer, The (London)
  31. Oldham Evening Chronicle, The
  32. Sentinel Online, The
  33. South Wales Argus (Newport)
  34. South Wales Evening Post
  35. South West News
  36. The Sun (London)
  37. Sunday Mall (Glasgow)
  38. Sunderland Echo (Sunderland)
  39. Telegraph, The (London)
  40. This is Local London (London)
  41. The Times and Sunday Times (London)
  42. The Sunday Times (London)
  43. West Sussex Observer (Chichester)
  44. Western Mail, The (Cardiff)
  45. Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds)

 

The Twenty-fifth Amendment (Amendment XXV) to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities. It supersedes the ambiguous wording of Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution, which does not expressly state whether the Vice President becomes the President or Acting President if the President dies, resigns, is removed from office or is otherwise unable to discharge the powers of the presidency. The Twenty-fifth Amendment was adopted on February 10, 1967.

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment in the National Archives

Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution states:
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
That clause was unclear regarding Presidential succession and inability; it did not state who had the power to declare a President incapacitated. Also, it did not provide a mechanism for filling a Vice Presidential vacancy prior to the next Presidential election. The vagueness of this clause caused difficulties many times before the Twenty-fifth Amendment’s adoption:
In 1841, President William Henry Harrison became the first U.S. President to die in office. Representative John Williams had previously suggested that the Vice President should become Acting President upon the death of the President. John Tyler asserted that he had succeeded to the presidency, as opposed to only obtaining its powers and duties. He also declined to acknowledge documents referring to him as “Acting President”. Although he felt his vice presidential oath negated the need for the presidential oath, Tyler was persuaded that being formally sworn-in would clear up any doubts about his right to the office. Having done so, he then moved into the White House and assumed full presidential powers. Tyler’s claim was not formally challenged, and both houses of Congress adopted a resolution confirming that Tyler was the tenth President of the United States, without any qualifiers. The precedent of full succession was thus established. This became known as the “Tyler Precedent”.
There had been occasions when a President was incapacitated. For example, following Woodrow Wilson’s stroke no one officially assumed the Presidential powers and duties, in part because the First Lady, Edith Wilson, together with the White House Physician, Cary T. Grayson, covered up President Wilson’s condition.
The office of Vice President had been vacant sixteen times due to the death or resignation of the Vice President or his succession to the presidency. For example, there was no Vice President for nearly four years after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
All of these incidents made it evident that clearer guidelines were needed. There were two proposals for providing those guidelines.

Keating–Kefauver proposal

In 1963, Senator Kenneth Keating of New York proposed a Constitutional amendment which would have enabled Congress to enact legislation providing for how to determine when a President is disabled, rather than, as the Twenty-fifth Amendment does, having the Constitution so provide. This proposal was based upon a recommendation of the American Bar Association in 1960.
The text of the proposal read:
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the said office shall devolve on the Vice President. In case of the inability of the President to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the said powers and duties shall devolve on the Vice President, until the inability be removed. The Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then be President, or, in case of inability, act as President, and such officer shall be or act as President accordingly, until a President shall be elected or, in case of inability, until the inability shall be earlier removed. The commencement and termination of any inability shall be determined by such method as Congress shall by law provide.
Senators raised concerns that the Congress could either abuse such authority or neglect to enact any such legislation after the adoption of this proposal. Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver (the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments), a long-time advocate for addressing the disability question, spearheaded the effort until he died of a heart attack on August 10, 1963.

Kennedy assassination

With President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the need for a clear way to determine presidential succession, especially with the new reality of the Cold War and its frightening technologies, forced Congress into action. The new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, had once suffered a heart attack, and the next two people in line for the presidency were Speaker of the House John McCormack, who was 71 years old, and Senate President pro tempore Carl Hayden, who was 86 years old. Senator Birch Bayh succeeded Kefauver as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments and set about advocating for a detailed amendment dealing with presidential succession.

Bayh–Celler proposal

On January 6, 1965, Senator Birch Bayh proposed in the Senate and Representative Emanuel Celler (Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) proposed in the House of Representatives what became the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Their proposal specified the process by which a President could be declared disabled, thereby making the Vice President an Acting President, and how the President could regain the powers of his office. Also, their proposal provided a way to fill a vacancy in the office of Vice President before the next presidential election. This was as opposed to the Keating–Kefauver proposal, which did not provide for filling a vacancy in the office of Vice President prior to the next presidential election or itself provide a process for determining presidential disability. In 1964, the American Bar Association endorsed the type of proposal which Bayh and Celler advocated.
On February 19, the Senate passed the amendment, but the House passed a different version of the amendment on April 13. On July 6, after a conference committee ironed out differences between the versions, the final version of the amendment was passed by both Houses of the Congress and presented to the states for ratification.

 

(the above from wikipedia)

 

Sad that the Middle Class is bearing the brunt of this economy.

 

The Middle Class – Its Rise & Decline

After World War II, American became the world’s first truly middle class nation. In the 30 years following the war, the real income of all American families, including the poor and near poor, doubled. The nation, by every economic measure, was becoming more equal. All that has changed.

For the past 30 years, the trend toward economic inequality has rolled back the post-World War II progress which had moved the nation toward a more equitable distribution of income and wealth. In the past ten years, the inflation-adjusted income of the median household fell 4.8 percent, the worst drop in at least half a century. And for many there is no income – more than 70 percent of Americans know someone who has lost a job. College graduates can’t find jobs. Americans are losing purchasing power and their net worth is falling. The value of their homes is shrinking. Their retirement security has eroded. Medical and educational costs are rising faster than the cost of living index. In 2009, 16.7 percent of the American population – 50.7 million people – was without health insurance, the highest since this record has been kept. One in four homes is now under water and over 4.2 million home loans are in or near foreclosure. Last year, there was an 11.6 percent increase in families consolidating and moving in together.

In contrast, the wealthiest ten percent of countrymen hold over 60 percent of total family assets. America’s richest one percent now hold more wealth than America’s entire bottom 90 percent. The last 20 years have witnessed the most colossal amassing of huge fortunes in U.S. history. The nation now boasts more than 400 of billionaires.

Washington Rigged the Economy

Since 1946, the effective federal tax for the richest Americans has fallen by 60 percent. Those benefiting the most from our economy in income and wealth are simply not paying in, in proportion to what they are taking out. Nevertheless, the top priority of Republicans in Washington has been tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporate and financial entities. Their Herculean efforts to restore the Bush income tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and to repeal an estate tax affecting only the wealthiest two percent underscore the intensity of the ongoing class warfare and linkage between political polarization and economic inequality.

We seem to have degenerated into a form of social Darwinism. The prevailing national economic strategy of Washington has been to make business more profitable and less accountable and to reward the owners, investors and other wealthier Americans, at the expense of the great majority of workers and U.S. households. Workers have fewer countervailing protections. Their representation in Washington has been sold out. Organized labor’s economic clout to win higher wages and benefits is withering away. Businesses and wealthy individuals contribute billions to influence elections, outspending labor unions many times over.

The soaring compensation of senior corporate executives, the increasing number of American millionaires and billionaires, the material excesses of our public and private elites – taken together – have very few precedents in American history. It is reminiscent of the last stages of other great empires. Many of the nation’s elites, including its elected leaders, are unwilling to broach the subjects of inequality and class warfare – the very real struggle for a piece of the American pie. They appear to be asleep to – or purposely ignoring – these realities.

The absence of effective social and economic countervailing forces to address the ominous rise in inequality is increasingly a cause for alarm. Washington can no longer ignore the challenge to spread more equitably the benefits of economic growth – now enjoyed by those at the top – without undermining the economy that supports it. But where is the national debate? How do we hammer out new policies to alleviate the growing economic imbalances in our republic and thereby stem the social unrest that threatens the public landscape? The need is grave and immediate that we re-establish the economic opportunity and prospects for upward mobility that have for 200 years sustained the American dream and served as the bedrock for a stable democratic nation.

It is easy to write off Trump as a narcissist, as a bully or a fool, but it is harder to write off his poll numbers. A surprising number of Americans have resonated with his message, and no matter how many more balk at the idea of him taking office, they shouldn’t ignore the reasons why so many in the nation consider voting for him. Right now Trump is being talked about more than ever,  a positive for him. In Trump’s mind, there is no difference between fame and infamy. And why should there be to someone who can rewrite their own history, revising their faults and failures into successes?

There is a crux of the political whirlpool surrounding Trump. There is no real depth or sincerity to what he says, and yet many people support him regardless. Five times in his life he has changed political parties, and the fickleness he shows in regards to his politics is possibly overshadowed by the “tell it like it is” attitude. For instance, on June 16, speaking on the “The O’Reilly Factor,” he insisted that the only way to beat ISIS would be if the US had boots on the ground. Minutes later, he contradicted himself, suggesting there was another way.

So what do his supporters see in him? Part of his appeal is similar to Bernie Sanders’, in that potential voters view Trump as untainted by outside wealth. He has enough money to run his campaign without selling what’s left of his soul to corporate giants and they feel that makes him trustworthy.

Trump is also appealing because he is unfettered by the usual restraints on a politician. In mudslinging races, small gaffes can tarnish a candidate’s reputation if they’re too clean, but the sort of comments that could derail a campaign fall out of Trump’s mouth nearly every time he opens it. While this has alienated many voters, it has also solidified him as a politician who “isn’t afraid to tell the truth” or who “says what we’re all thinking.”

Finally, people like the fact that he is so crass and unpresidential—how could any candidate with that much obnoxious bravado possibly be scripted? In a lot of ways, Trump’s surprising popularity is a rebellion against the politically correct walk on verbal egg shells the race for office has become.

In the end, the people who will vote for Trump are the byproduct of a stark political landscape, one where people feel their voices cannot stand up to special interests’ money, and where every politician has to act like an inviolable saint when more than likely they are not.

For the record, I will NOT be voting for Donald Trump for the many of the reasons listed above.

The Intended Purpose of C-Span has Gone Awry- Transparency Lacking

 

The public had envisioned a system where its representatives could finally simultaneously speak to their colleagues and constituents. The representatives could look into the camera and say to their constituents and the American people what their position was and that they were willing to defend that position. Many thought the system overall would and should have benefited from this transparency, but they were wrong.

No one could have fathomed the unintended consequences that would follow C-SPAN’s entrance into politics. As soon as those cameras started rolling, many of our representatives saw it as an opportunity to further their political ambitions. If controversial bills came to the floor, rather than work out a compromise with the opposing side, they took the opportunity to preach from their bully pulpits. They could snarl, huff and puff at the camera, showing their audience how dogged they can be because their constituents and, more importantly, their donors like to support candidates that they deem unwavering. What these politicians forget is that for the flag of democracy to fly, both sides have to be willing to waver on their positions.

Unfortunately, C-SPAN and the like have given these political divas extra air time to express their grievances, and oh have they come up with grievances.  They have now found ways to play the role of the establishment’s anti-establishment — such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with his hour-long trashing of the U.S. Senate. Cruz has successfully honed that charade into a formidable campaign for president with a clearly crafted public persona: Ted Cruz, the establishment’s anti-establishment.

This strategy has unfortunately worked in favor of unbending representatives as they have been re-elected multiple times based on quick clips shown to their constituents and donors. They can snip a clip of a staunch speech they gave to their colleagues back at the Capitol. The clip will, of course, show them speaking into the microphone passionately about why their position is blindingly the right one and the opposition is wrong.

 

C-SPAN was supposed to break the  wall of American politics and make our politicians more accessible to their constituents. Instead, what we have is a reality TV stunt with overpaid actors looking to land their next big gig. While playing the American audience for fools, they are gaming the system and benefiting from it. The only ones who benefit from access such as the ones C-SPAN and the like provide are the multi-billion-dollar funded Super PACs that have the resources to sift through those clips and find a scene damaging enough to end a politician’s career. These Super PACs do not represent you or me; they represent one percent of the one percent, and they are the ones benefiting from this so called transparency.

 

Liberals and Socialists

 

 

Philosophers of liberalism and socialism actually have very different visions for the world. They don’t disagree at all on the idea that spreading the wealth around is good for everybody. In fact, this idea finds one of its greatest expressions in the work of the philosopher of welfare liberalism, John Rawls. He proposed two principles of justice, one of which—the “Difference Principle”—claims that inequalities are permissible if and only if they benefit the worst-off person. Since many inequalities arising from the free market violate this principle, some wealth must be redistributed.

The difference between liberals and socialists, rather, is founded on their different answers to this question: Can the principles by which I vote differ from the principles by which I live?

Liberals say yes, they can. Rawls, for example, said that you must be guided by  principles of distributive justice, such as the Difference Principle, only when you think about the basic structure of society. Roughly, those times are when you self-consciously think of yourself as a citizen: when you vote, when you debate political ideals, when you think about those ideals in your time alone. Otherwise, you don’t need to heed principles of distributive justice.

So a liberal allows you to accept a salary that is four, ten, 100 times greater than that of the least well-off person in your society, so long as, when you step into the voting booth, you don a new hat and act so that all inequalities are arranged to benefit the least well-off.

 

 

Clearly America is not a socialist nation. That possibility is a long way away; and, the liberal might argue, there it will always remain. Inescapable human frailties make it impossible. Concern for others will not motivate enough people to work all the arduous though necessary jobs. Nor might the socialist ideal be desirable: the price of communal ties is individual liberty, and it might be better for each of us that we not have a close, and therefore demanding, relationship with each person who is to provide us with some good.

But the socialist can point to other nations, such as Sweden or Denmark, in which, supposedly, a true egalitarian ethos has taken hold, nations which have not only generous social welfare provisions, but also citizens who are shocked by accepting privileges for themselves which others do not have. And to address the desirability of such polities, we can point experience of the people who live in them. They tend to be happier.

 

Do Political Candidates Just Flat-Out Lie?

 

 

Truth. Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.

When an election is here, the truth becomes elusive.

There are some places you can look at that checks the facts but more on that later. When a political campaign is in full swing, candidates begin stretching their thoughts which in turn stretches the facts and distorts things. Numbers seem to grow or shrink depending on if it makes the person look good.

Don’t you just love political mailers? We, the voters, get way too many things in the mail about their views or even a chance to write negative things about their opponents. It is a fact that you can believe what you want in the political year as psychologists have research that shows people tend to have a strong connection to accepting anything near what they believe without question. In other words, if it is close to their views, they accept it as fact and the line is not blurred. It confirms their position.

 

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~Richard Armour

 

Where can you find unbiased political information? Here are some sites that check the facts. They vet the information.

 

  • FactCheck.org – This is from the University of Pennsylvania and they use former journalists to research and offer analysis on the things being said and written by candidates. Recent articles included a look at Republican claims that the new healthcare law is a job-killer, as well as an analysis of President Obama’s accuracy in the State of the Union address. The site addresses individual claims, searching for original source material and relying on statistics from reputable entities, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • PolitiFacts.org – they have a truth-o-meter and rate claims made and track whether campaign promises are fulfilled. This site has 35 editors and reporters devoting time to the cause. It was founded by the Tampa Bay Times.
  • The Fact Checker – this offers analysis of political claims and is the brainchild of The Washington Post and Glenn Kessler.
  • VoteSmart.org – This site offers checking in six area which include financing, voting records and position on issues among other things. They don’t look into promises or statements.

 

Some things you can do to understand the process is to ask questions. When you go to a website look at it and read who is actually producing it. This will help you decide if they lean in one direction or the other. Sometimes claims of nonpartisan-ism is not valid. Another thing is to follow the money involved and evaluate who is funding this endeavor. Then analyze the site. Is it leaning too far one way or another and what sort of balance to they bring to the political process.

 

Doing your own due diligence will help you make a more informed decision when you step into a polling place.

 

This is Why President’s Make News Announcements During the Holidays

 

Have you looked at the news today for any reaction to the resignation of the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagle? There is not much there and that was by design.

No press releases, no statements on Facebook or twitter from anyone in Iowa’s current Congressional delegation or newly-elected delegation.

Does that strike anyone else as odd? I would have thought the defense secretary resigning after less than two years on the job, probably under pressure from the president, possibly over disagreement with the administration’s approach to Iraq and Syria, would be big news. Just look around Hagle’s home state of Iowa and there is virtually nothing in the news. Representative Dave Loebsack sits on the House Armed Services Committee. Senator-elect Joni Ernst has claimed to have a strong interest in our country’s Middle East policy, since her “boots were on that ground” now controlled by ISIS. Senator Chuck Grassley served with Hagel for years and will have a vote on confirming his successor at the Pentagon. Newly-elected Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) both criticized the Obama administration’s policy in Iraq during this year’s campaign.

This is why presidents bury big news during holiday weeks, when elected representatives and their staffers are out of the office.