THE BATTLE TO DESTROY SOCIAL SECURITY – FDR’S SUCCESS STILL RANKLES THE REPUBLICANS

As the recent mind numbing memories of fiscal collapse diminish and the public readies itself for the next round of infighting over another potential shutdown and debt ceiling crisis, Social Security is high on the hit list for the Republican penchant to privatize.  They won’t achieve a dismantling of the system – yet – but what they will try to do is leverage small bits and pieces to chink away at what has been one of the most successful programs in U.S. history.

Social security was established in 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression.  Since that time, ending Social Security has been a “raison d’etre” for various cobbled-together factions in the Republican Party.   Their continued failure to engineer its demise certainly weighs heavily on their minds as each year rolls around and Social Security is still in place and operating as it should.

The following video highlights the efforts by the Koch Brothers and their supported Think Tanks – and I use the word “think” loosely – to implant into the minds of the public that Social Security is a failure and is bankrupt.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Social Security fund has somewhere between a $2.6 trillion and $2.9 trillion balance, depending on the source consulted.

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STUTZMAN WANTS RESPECT FOR THE “TEAPUBLICANS” BUT REFUSES TO RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION

Stutzman, Indiana’s Third District House Representative, has forgotten his Constitutional underpinnings – or he has chosen to simply ignore them.  As he whines about the TeaPublicans needing some measure of “respect”, he thoroughly trounces the Constitution which he so passionately supports – or so he says.

The Congress – not the president – is responsible for establishing revenue sources and for appropriating and designating funds for the budget.  The president sends a tentative budget to the House.  The House sifts through it, makes changes, and then sends it to the Senate.  The Senate marks it up as well, and the disagreements go to a conference committee where differences are resolved.  When done, it is sent to the President for his approval or rejection.

John Dean, former Nixon cohort in crime, has over the years come to pretty much despise Republicans.  He writes as an analyst for Verdict, which is a component of Justia, and he writes some very good pieces.  Given my dislike of anything Nixon and pretty much all things Republican nowadays, I almost ignored reading an excellent piece he wrote for Justia about the use of extortion by the Republicans to get their way when they cannot do so legitimately.

According to Dean’s premises,  the Republicans’ strategy is

(1) patently unconstitutional and unconscionable;
(2) in violation of the Congressional Oath of Office; and
(3) unethical and unseemly.

The United States Constitution establishes a government which was intended to function 24/7, 365 days a year.  No where in the Constitution can be found a provision for shutting down the government because some individuals are unhappy.  Laws are passed, and they take effect.  Provisions are in place to change that through the legitimate process established in the Constitution – not by some irresponsible process found in the minds of TeaPublicans.

Stutzman took an Oath to uphold the Constitution and its laws and to faithfully discharge his duties, yet he conspired with other Republicans to violate that Oath by refusing to fund the government and to ignore his obligation to discharge his duties.  Stutzman mouths the virtue of respect yet refuses to actually follow his own words.

Stutzman is a Cruz clone, and, in voting to shut down the government, he has decided that his own idea of Constitutional interpretation is superior to the actual words and intent of the Founders.  His foot-in-mouth moment that has now become a “shot heard ’round the world” demonstrates his idea of respect:  he wants respect for himself but won’t give it for the very government created by the Constitution, which he swore to uphold.

 

 

 

Our Constitution calls for an ongoing and perpetual government unless modified under the amendment process set forth in Article V of the Constitution or by revolution.  Refusal to fund the government, which under law shuts it down, because a small recalcitrant group of Republican Party office holders are unwilling to fulfill their basic responsibilities for maintaining a functioning government, is a form of unconstitutional insurrection. – See more at: http://verdict.justia.com/2013/10/04/the-legality-of-government-by-extortion-as-we-say-or-we-shut-it-down#sthash.YBZALjvc.dpuf
The Republicans’ strategy for imposing their Party’s minority will on the majority by refusing to fund a law, or to keep the entire government functioning is (1) patently unconstitutional and unconscionable; (2) in violation of the Congressional Oath of Office; (3) unethical and unseemly; and yet, (4) there is no legal action that anyone in the other branches can pursue to end this shameful conduct. – See more at: http://verdict.justia.com/2013/10/04/the-legality-of-government-by-extortion-as-we-say-or-we-shut-it-down#sthash.YBZALjvc.dpuf

RAINING ON SHINE’S PARADE

Last week had to be a little traumatic for poor Steve Shine and the Republicans.  After all, he and his buddies felt so threatened by our Democratic convention that they sprang for $10,000 worth of air time to try to remind someone – not sure who – how awful the years of Democratic leadership had been.

The weak effort was cobbled together from news paper headlines, a few head shots, and funeral music.  Of course, we had a good laugh at the hypocrisy of the entire situation – especially since the FSSA is still riddled with issues, Charlie White was convicted and removed from office, the Duke Energy scandal popped up, the Republicans “lost” a half billion dollars which had apparently decided to take a hiatus into cyberspace, and the Republicans couldn’t even figure out how to “figure out” what the counties had coming back to them.

But, the commercial wasn’t the only form of sour grapes spit out by the Republicans.  A truck with a large sign paraded through the streets to remind everyone that this was “Republican Country.”   The really sad thing is that Shine and his followers are so shallow that they just had to figure out some way to demonize this convention.  Never mind that this convention was extremely good for Fort Wayne and brought in around $500,000 to our economy and led to greater exposure of northeastern Indiana, which often gets left sitting on the sidelines.  Democrat,  Republican, or independent, this is our City.  Our visitors were very impressed with all the attractions and the amenities we have.

I suspect some of the sour grapes and childish activity was triggered by the impotency of Steve Shine and the Republicans to accomplish what was a major feat – bringing a state party convention to Fort Wayne for the first time in its history.  After all, does anyone remember when the Republican convention was here.  Anyone??

MARLIN WHO?

Our Third District Representative is pretty much a non-starter when it comes to helping our district and its residents.  Since he took office in 2010, Stutzman has spent a great deal of time raising money to ensure his hold on a lengthy political career as a Washington insider – one of those hated creatures of the night hanging out in the halls of Congress.  Mere weeks after his election, he brought a corporate lobbyist on as his Chief of Staff.

And, in no area are his lackluster efforts more apparent than in the area of helping our veteran population.  First, a little history.  In 2004, then Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, announced that the inpatient beds at the local VA hospital would be closed.  That one announcement triggered a firestorm of opposition and a struggle lasting for years to rally support to save the inpatient beds.  Our small group, Veterans for Better Health Care, participated in dozens of parades, wrote letters to the editor, handed out thousands of flyers, attended town hall meetings, and argued our case to anyone who would listen every chance we got.

I was fortunate enough to be further included in two studies done by Booz Allen Hamilton, a Washington-based research company, addressing the future of the VA hospital, both as to outpatient care and inpatient care.  The final recommendations included a spacious new 220,000 square-foot Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).  The inpatient issue was still somewhat up in the air, but at least we had been told our new CBOC would add a much-needed component to the care our veterans deserved.

Then, abruptly, in April 2011 we were told we had understood “incorrectly” and that, instead of a 220,000 square-foot, we would now get a 27,000 square-foot mental health and addictions clinic.  When pushed on the issue, Representative Stutzman simply rolled over, put on a happy face, and called the decision a great advancement for the care of veterans in our area.  While I agree we need a mental health and addictions facility for our veterans, Stutzman made no effort to find out what happened to the original plans.

He simply accepted the new decision and twisted the situation to match his inability to make a difference.  At the Republican Lincoln Day dinner in April 2011, Stutzman said “he was pushing for a new, 27,000 square foot expansion for a mental health annex.”  Pushing?  Pushing for something that we had already been told would be shoved down our throats?  He should have been outraged that the fight that had gone on for years had been totally disregarded sending us back to square one and that the promised 220,000 square-foot clinic had been sliced by almost 90%.

But, Stutzman has taken the path of least resistance not only as to veterans’ issues but also in other issues affecting our Third District.  With this approach, he is establishing his “modus operandi” of hovering under the radar, poking his head though when absolutely necessary – leading to the question of  “Marlin Who?”

ROMNEY TAKES THE BRUNT OF THE “BLUNT” BIRTH CONTROL BLUNDER

A couple of days ago, the Senate narrowly defeated the Blunt amendment, which would have repealed President Obama’s controversial requirement that insurance companies provide birth control coverage for women employees.   By a vote of 51-48, the almost all-male Senate decided maybe, just maybe, women should be able to have control over their reproductive decisions and that the medication should be paid for by insurance companies regardless of where the female employees work.

When asked his opinion about the Blunt amendment, Romney wiffled and waffled and stated that he did not support the amendment.  Apparently his “team” did a double-take and told him “no, Mitt, you didn’t really mean what you said about not supporting the amendment.”  They lovingly corrected his misunderstanding of the reporter’s question, and quickly attempted to snuff out the uproar over his inability to field a simple question.

Romney’s team opined that the way in which the reporter asked the question was confusing.  And, this is a man who has amassed a fortune of a quarter of a billion dollars?  And he doesn’t understand a simple question?  Let me be “blunt.”  If Romney can’t understand a fairly simple question about providing birth control coverage, how does he expect to understand our complicated economic, social, and financial issues?

COUNTY COUNCIL – COUNTY COMMISSIONERS – WADING THROUGH THE DIFFERNCES!

Year after year voters go to the polls and often fail to understand their own local government, so I decided to write a little on it and continue to learn for my own benefit.  Last year city offices were filled, and, this year, it is the county’s turn.  The county has two basic bodies, and each is obligated to look after the affairs of the county, which often includes issues impacting Fort Wayne residents as well as county residents.

COUNTY COUNCIL

The Allen County Council is composed of seven members – currently all Republican.  Four members are elected from specific districts and three are elected “at-large” to serve the entire county.  The county council has a number of duties; however, all are tied to fiscal issues – none is tied to social wedge issues.

County Council is responsible for establishing an annual budget for county government and is also responsible for appropriating funds for the operation of county government.  The following is a list of actual duties:

  • Exclusive power to fix the tax rate for county purposes and for all other purposes where the rate not fixed by law is required to be uniform, and impose the tax levy.
  • Exclusive power of making appropriations to be paid out of the county treasury.
  • Adoption of the annual budget after receiving estimates submitted by the various county agencies through the county auditor, subject to the modification by the State Board of Tax Commissioners.
  • Incurring county indebtedness within the constitutional limitations.
  • Appropriation of additional funds arising after the budget is adopted.
  • Re-appropriation of surplus funds which might be surrendered by one department of county government.
  • Fixing of salaries of officers, deputies, assistants and employees whose salaries are payable from any county fund, with certain exceptions as provided by the statutes granting this authority.
  • Levying taxes to provide funds for erecting new jails and repairing, remodeling, and enlarging of old jails.

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

The body of county commissioners exercises both executive and legislative powers: a powerful combination that leaves little check and balance on their decisions (and one that was feared by our Founders, yet here it is tucked away under the guise of the County Commissioners’ office).  The group is much smaller than the county council and sports only three commissioners as compared to the seven members on county council.  Again, all Commissioners are Republican. Anyone sensing a trend here?  All ten county officials are Republican as well as the occupants of the other county offices of Treasurer, Auditor, Clerk, and Assessor.

The following is a run-down on the duties of the commissioners as found on the Allen County government website.

As the executive branch, the Board of Commissioners may approve policies that affect nearly 1,350 full-time county employees and another 400 part-time employees.

As the legislative branch, the Commissioners pass ordinances that primarily affect unincorporated (not within a city or town) areas of the county.

It is the only body in all of county government that can receive bids for projects and services and sign contracts.

  • Receive bids for projects and services and sign contracts.
  • Authorize all claims on county budgets.
  • Decision-making authority over planning and zoning in the county.
  • Supervise construction and maintenance of over 1,400 miles of county roads and 1,300 bridge structures.
  • Issue bonds or approve lease-purchase agreements to borrow money for the county.
  • Serve as the Drainage Board, which oversees the legal drainage system in the county.
  • Operates and maintains all County facilities, including the historic Allen County Courthouse.

The commissioners include Nelson Peters, Linda Bloom, and Therese Brown.  If the names sound eerily familiar, they should.  All three have run time after time for various offices, playing musical chairs – with their commissioners’ seats simply being the latest in a long string of government work.

Here are the commissioners and their links.

Linda Bloom: http://www.allencounty.us/linda-k-bloom

Nelson Peters: http://www.allencounty.us/nelson-peters

Therese Brown: http://www.allencounty.us/therese-brown

All three commissioners have literally played “musical offices” for years.  When an office is term limited, the soon-to-be ousted official simply gets in line for another office, gets elected, and then runs out the terms on that office.  Then on to another lucrative office and possibly two more terms of uninterrupted official bliss attendant with all those nice goodies that go along with the offices.

Which brings me to the issue that sort of started this journey to shine some light on the county offices – a survey floating around that is based on “wedge” issues: issues that cannot be governed by the local county offices.  The county council must worry about a county budget, and, while the county commissioners have a more diverse variety of chores, they also do not deal with wedge issues for the most part.

Yet, the anti-choicers have popped out of the woodwork again to demand that their “litmus” test of social conservatism on gay marriage, abortion, and any other item deemed morally threatening to society be opposed by any candidate who runs for office.  The fact that the office holders cannot impact many of the wedge issues weighing so heavily on the anti-choicers’ minds fades into the background haze as they shake their clenched fists and gear up to make sure that those ten little Indians continue to fall in line.

THE ABSOLUTE UNABSOLUTENESS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Republicans have, once again, framed an issue to suit their own misguided – and downright false – interpretation of our Constitution.  The original body of our U.S. Constitution contains scant mention of religion.  One prohibition is the requirement of a “religious Oath” for the purposes of holding office at the federal level – keep in mind the Constitution was a guideline for the relationship between federal authority and state authority.

The new nation had to wait until 1791 to enjoy the efforts of the first Congress in attaching a Bill of Rights to the three-year-old Constitution.  The Bill of Rights added ten amendments that dealt primarily with “rights” that the Founders felt essential to the survival of a free nation.  The First Amendment addressed the issue of religion in two different and juxtaposed areas: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

In just one short sentence, the Founders created the potential for some of this country’s biggest social and legal battles.  Yet, the first amendment references the prohibition against establishing a religion first – before providing the free exercise of religion.  The fact that both of these appear before any other right – including freedom of speech and the right to bear arms – demonstrates the paramount importance that the Founders placed on the role of religion – or lack thereof – in the new Nation.

Republicans would have everyone believe – incorrectly – that religious freedom is absolute and that government cannot interfere with what they might consider a realm of religious freedom.  But the reality is that, while beliefs are inviolate, when  religion turns those beliefs into actions, those actions can be regulated by law.

States consistently make laws that interfere with the “free exercise of religion.”  Members of certain denominations cannot handle poisonous snakes even though it is seen as a display of faith and trust in God.  Native Americans are not free to use peyote in their ceremonies without consequences.

Parents whose child dies due to withholding life-saving medication based on a belief that prayer will heal may be held criminally responsible for that child’s death. Thus, to say that religious freedom trumps is false – no right in the Bill of Rights is absolute.  Laws exist on many levels that govern religious freedom, yet Republicans would have the public shudder in fear that our “collective” religious freedom is on the verge of collapse because those who work for religious institutions must provide birth control.

If anything is absolute at all, it is the unabsoluteness of freedom of religion, regardless of the gnashing of Republican teeth and the desire to substitute a Bayer Aspirin for that little round packet of protection.

REPUBLICANS DEAL ANOTHER BLOW TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The Indiana Republicans just can’t get enough of trouncing on our public school system and the parents who stand by it.  Once again, just to reinforce their love of anything non-public, Republicans gussied up the now-legal package of enticements to draw students away from Indiana’s public schools.

A beneficial tax deduction – one not available on an equal basis to the parents of public school students – was included in last year’s legislation.  Come April 17th, parents of home-schooled students and private school students will be the beneficiaries of a tax deduction of $1,000.  But, if your children attend our public schools, don’t look under the Christmas tree – or for a tax-line deduction – for an extra gift to help with all the hundreds of dollars in expenses attendant to public school enrollment.

The presents are all going to the private schools and the charter schools while throwing in a bone to home-schoolers.  The Republican war on our public school system is inexcusable, and, make no mistake, it is a war.  Daniels and Bennett have made no bones – or apologies for that matter – about their desire to weaken our public schools.  While they continue to pooh-pooh that assertion, folks, actions speak louder than words.

CHARLIE WHITE GIVEN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND QUALITY HOME TIME

Dismissing the argument that Charlie White should be allowed to slither out from under his felony convictions, a Hamilton County judge ordered White to serve one year on home detention providing White with an excellent opportunity to re-assess how he so bungled his voter registration that he now finds himself in this position.  The judge also sentenced White to perform 30 hours of community service work and assessed a $1,000 fine.

White’s defense to his fraudulent voter registration was that his personal life was too “complicated” at the time of his registration.  Imagine if we allowed voters to base incorrect voter registration on a complicated personal life.  Talk about opening wide the flood gates!  Of course, perhaps Daniels and his Republican cronies will put forth a change in the law that reads something like this:

“It is a defense to an incorrect voter registration address that a potential voter was experiencing such personal complications in his or her life that a correct address could not be determined for the purposes of voter registration.”

After all, Daniels and the Republican-controlled General Assembly, soon after the beginning of  White’s troubles, attempted to retroactively modify the manner in which a vacated office was to be filled in order to avoid losing hold on the office of Secretary of State.  That failed amid the outcry of pure political motivation by the Republicans.

So now, White has ample time to re-learn Voter Registration 101 – that is if he is allowed to vote again.

TRUMP MISREMEMBERS DRAFT DODGING

Looks like the Donald is getting some of his own medicine.  In an earlier interview, Trump stated he “got lucky” and didn’t get drafted because his number was high.  Trump was born on June 14, 1946.  So, let’s, just for fun, look at how he avoided the draft from 1964 at the age of 18 through 1972 when he turned 26, and the draft was on its way out.

The classifications given to Trump over the eight-year period of time were:

  • 2-S  – 1964  – received July 1964 (student deferment)
  • 2-S – 1965  –  received December 1965 (student deferment)
  • 1-A – 1966  – received November 1966 (unrestricted military service)
  • 2-S – 1966  – received December 1966 (student deferment)
  • 2-S -1968  –  received January 1968 (student deferment)
  • 1-A – 1968 – received July 1968 (unrestricted military service)
  • 1-Y – 1968 – received October 1968 (Registrant available for military service, but qualified only in case of war or national emergency. Usually given to registrants with medical conditions that were limiting but not disabling (examples: high blood pressure, mild muscular or skeletal injuries or disorders, skin disorders, severe allergies, etc.). Class was discontinued in December, 1971 and its members were reclassified as 4-F.
  • 4-F – 1972 – received February 1972

According to Selective Service records, Trump received three deferments while he attended college.  He graduated in 1968, which ended his college deferment.  At the end of his second college deferment, he was re-classified to a 1-A, which surely sent him into a panic as he anxiously watched the mailbox each day for that letter with the salutation – “Greetings” and ended with instructions to report for duty.

Trump actually had the lack of foresight to say he was “sitting at college” watching the draft numbers being drawn.  Excuse me, Mr. Trump, but the lottery didn’t begin officially until 1969 with the first drawing in 1970 and you graduated in 1968.

After graduating from college, he apparently went to work for his father’s business and somehow finagled a 1-Y deferment.  The 1-Y provided that the registrant was eligible but for some health reason, the registrant was unable to serve.  In the next few weeks expect to become privy to Trump’s medical records so we can see just what horrendous medical condition plagued Trump so badly that he was prevented from reporting for duty.

The draft lottery to which Trump refers was in place in 1970, 1971, and 1972.   During all three years of the draft lottery, Trump hid under the blanket of his 1-Y classification.  In 1972, Trump turned 26 and was still in possession of his 4-F classification.  His lottery number for 1972 was 95 – a  number that put him in the first 25% of young men who were subject to being drafted.  In all likelihood, had he not had his 4-F classification, he would have been drafted based on his number of 95.

Trump is now getting a dose of his own medicine, and he will soon find out how uncharitable the right is to candidates who dodged the draft.  For Trump, the games have just begun.

Donald Trump – draft status record – credit to Smoking Gun