NOTES ON THINGS POLITICAL

Thoughts 🤔 by @JJManring

NOTE: This on-going piece will be a repository for what’s on my mind concerning things political. The entries will be dated, the time noted. Newer entries will be closest to the top of the piece. Feel free to revisit every few days or so, hopefully you, the reader, will find something of interest.

— Monday, 12 December 2016 (Money In Politics: A Lesson In How Our Political System Works): I’ve been railing against money in politics for quite a while now. I’ve written about it, made memes publicizing the evils of its influence on our political system; most citizens seem to recognize the problem of money in politics — but then came Election 2016.

In order for the influence of money to be removed from our politics, three things must happen: 1) The voters need to elect a US House of Representatives and US Senate who will pass laws removing money from the political equation. 2) We must have a President in office who will sign such legislation (or have such a strong majority in Congress that a veto would be overridden). 3) We need a Supreme Court who will not rule that such laws removing money from politics are unconstitutional, as in “freedom of speech.” There are elections every two years where Congress and the White House (every fourth year) can be set straight, but Supreme Court appointments are for life (or until the justice retires). This is where 3rd Party Voters and Non-Voters have screwed US 🇺🇸 but good. If Trump in inaugurated and he successfully puts judges palatable to Republicans on the Supreme Court, it will be near impossible (absent an actual amendment to the Constitution) to get money out of politics for the next generation or so. I appreciate the zeal of the left for wanting change and wanting it now, but failure to put Hillary in the White House just may haunt us for a long time to come.

— Sunday, 4 December 2016 (The “Millions of Illegal Voters” Trump/Republican Talking Point): Donald Trump vociferously objected (aka tweeted) in 2012 about the injustice of an Obama Electoral College victory over Mitt Romney (Trump — wrongly, of course — thought Romney had won the popular vote).

Now that Trump finds himself with an Electoral College “victory,” coupled with a Popular Vote trouncing, his ego will not let the current “injustice” stand. Since Trump lost the Popular Vote by millions, there must have been millions of illegal votes cast for Hillary. This “logic” is unmistakable.

But what was a Trump claim (with absolutely zero evidence to back it up), has now become a GOP talking point.

The sad thing is, most Trump voters believe everything that exits Trump’s mouth, and there is little doubt the GOP will use this bit of unsubstantiated propaganda to fundraise for Election 2018 as well as implement further voter suppression laws. Both of these should be of paramount concern to right-thinking voters as our democracy begins to look more and more like a Banana Republic.

— Sunday, 4 December 2016 (3rd Party Voters & Non-Voters): The horrifying ramifications of the Trump “victory” in Election 2016 (should that “victory” stand after the recounts, “audits”) cannot be overstated. The GOP Agenda is all but certain to move forward, but it’s the continuing onslaught against voting rights (addressed above), coupled with a potential packing of the Supreme Court that is most disconcerting. And — sorry to state this again — 3rd Party voters and/or non-voters surely take the majority of the blame. There were other factors involved (Jim Comey, current GOP voter suppression, etc.),

but until center and left-of-center voters realize the GOP Agenda is the true enemy, we will continue to give Republicans all the rope they need to hang US 🇺🇸. Further voter suppression is coming and a Supreme Court that will rubber stamp those GOP “laws” will only make it harder and harder to elect a government that is of, by and for all of the citizens of these United States.

— Thursday, 24 November 2016 (IF Our Election Was Hacked): Trump Voters, if (a big IF, I understand, but again if) it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that your candidate won only because of hacking by another country, would you still support the election results. Please think before responding. If another country hacked our election system and altered the outcome, that country would almost certainly hang onto evidence of their manipulation and they could use that evidence to pressure the candidate of their choice to either do their bidding, or allowing them to do something without worrying about a response from their puppet “president”.

Again, this is a big IF, but it’s an “If” that requires consideration at the very least.

The above concern is not new to me. I had similar thoughts when Trump refused to release his tax returns:

— Wednesday, 23 November 2016 (Our Mainstream Media): Whether they’ve figured it out yet, or not, the press — in screwing themselves — has screwed us all. Allow me to elaborate: One role assigned to the press by the Founding Fathers was to keep an eye on government to prevent governmental overreach. The following excerpt nicely defines the media’s watchdog mandate:

Please note one conclusion drawn, the media “focuses more on presidents than county clerks, more on political campaigns than government process…” Campaigning for Election 2016 is over, now the governing begins, but the observation that the “government process” is not a focus of the media is troubling — especially considering what a Trump government might try to get away with (let alone what Trump and his minions have already perpetrated). The “focuses more on presidents,” statement might seem heartening, but it is exactly this area where the mainstream media has screwed themselves and the rest of us in the process.

Right-wing America believes virtually everything Fox News broadcasts, no matter how outlandish or contrary to verifiable facts.

Consider what Roger Ailes, former president of Fox News, has to say about what constitutes “the truth”:

Couple this blind faith in Fox with Trump lambasting the media at every opportunity, and the “reasonable” media has (by broadcast almost every word Trump spoke during the campaign) aided the right in shutting-off a huge segment of the population from believing any counterbalancing reporting they, the “reasonable” media, might attempt.

But then consider the damage to their left-wing viewers the “reasonable” media did by broadcasting anything and everything anti-Hillary. By allowing themselves to be conduits for GOP anti-Clinton propaganda for the last quarter century, have they not alienated another huge segment of the population?

The above two memes are parodies of the media, but sadly they come way too close to being accurate representations on how the media championed Trump while tearing down Hillary. But let’s get back on track regarding what the media has done to themselves during Election 2016.

Freedom of the press is written into the Constitution by means of the First Amendment. But freedom of the press, the wariness of the Founding Fathers to regulate the press in any way, does not mean the press will automatically act in a responsible manner.

The point of this entry is that our ratings-driven media has so poisoned the well with their reporting (or lack thereof) during Campaign and Election 2016 that they have all but destroyed their ability to be believable stewards of accurate reporting mandated by their their watchdog role in keeping our country well informed and thus politically savvy.

I’ll finish with my political cartoon on the mainstream media. It’s actually sad how close my parody has come to becoming a mainstream media truth.

— Saturday, 19 November 2016 (Election Integrity): During the last month of Election 2016, when it appeared to everyone who’s anyone that Hillary was going to win, Trump was telling all his faithful followers that the election was rigged, that the outcome would be tainted, that he would only accept the result if he won. Now that Trump has won the election it’s Hillary supporters who’ve taken-up the election was rigged mantra. (If there was skullduggery involved in Election 2016, if there was foreign government hacking involved — and it can be proven without a scintilla of doubt — then the election results should be overturned. But absent concrete evidence the current result will have to stand, lest — in my opinion — the country literally burn.)

But one thing is certain, one lesson we as a nation should learn from Election 2016, we have an ELECTION INTEGRITY PROBLEM in this country. When voters feel (rightly or wrongly) that an election can be altered in favor of one candidate or the other, then no matter who wins, the votersfor the losing candidate will not accept the outcome and thus not respect the governing of the “tainted election” winner. I would suggest that a non-partisan National Election Oversight Committee (that has real power, real teeth) be formulated. This Committee should have an even number of members, and each decision reached should be unanimous. States’ Rights people (aka Republicans) will undoubtedly disagree, but I would suggest that any election that has national consequences — U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and President of the United States — be under the jurisdiction of this Committee. I would suggest that the apparatus needed to hold a nationally consequential election (voting machines, etc. See NOTE below) be standardized and include a paper backup so that recounts and/or audits can be successfully conducted. (Assurances that elections with State consequences are acceptable to both winners and losers should come eventually, but to begin with National Elections should be dealt with — swiftly.) Unless the results of an election are accepted by the voters then our experiment in democracy will almost certainly die an agonizing death in the petri dish.

NOTE (20 July 2017): Upon further reflection on the voting process I feel that there should be no machines involved at all. Rather paper ballots should be used. Paper ballots cannot be sidelined by power outages. Paper ballots cannot be rendered out of order by software glitches. Paper ballots cannot be hacked by a foreign power (or by a 400 lb. guy from his mother’s basement). Paper ballots leave a paper trail that can be hand counted and would contribute greatly to the legitimacy of our elections, assuring that each and every vote counts. Paper ballots can be recounted and/or audited in the case of a close vote tally, to reassure the electorate that our elections are fair and that our democracy is indeed democratic.

— Friday, 18 November 2016 (Voter Suppression): Since it is clear that Hillary received the majority of the popular vote of President in Election 2016, and more Democratic votes for members of the US House of Representatives were cast than for Republicans, it was oils seem the only reason the Republicans are in control of two of the three branches is because of the Electoral College and Gerrymandering. But there are other factors that exacerbated these outcomes.

How many of the Ineligible to Vote in the above chart (other than those who had not reached 18 years of age by Election Day) were ineligible due to convictions for crimes that they’d already served prison sentences for? How many were ineligible due to state Voter ID laws, etc? How many potential Democratic voters are there in this category? We need to find this information out, and do everything possible to get those we can registered and to the polls in 2018.

Disenfranchisement — preventing otherwise eligible voters from voting — whether through limited polling places in areas that tend to vote Democratic, actual intimidation, misinformation, etc., is a YUGE part of the Republucan playbook. It’s sad that a major party in the world’s preeminent democracy put so much effort into preventing people from practicing democracy. All who are eligible to vote should be afforded the opportunity to do so, and they should be able to do so without standing in a line for hours waiting.

— Thursday, 17 November 2016 (Tax Fairness): No one likes to pay taxes. No one wakes up on January 1st and rubs his hands together, salivating over writing a check to Uncle Sam dated April 15th. But I also know that taxes are a necessary part of creating and living in a civilized society. (Running water, indoor plumbing, city sewage, paved roads, plowed paved roads in the winter, viable bridges, an interstate highway system, police, fire fighters, military protection, an educated populace, healthcare, a social safety net, etc., are all elements that make up a society worth living in.)

Between Federal, State and Property taxes, I paid 23%+ of my income in taxes in 2015. Taxes were the largest expenditure in my budget, and even though I could think of myriad ways to spend those tax dollars on myself, I’m willing to pay taxes to support my country, state, and city. But why are so many so vehemently opposed To paying their fair share of taxes? Could it be because our tax code is so Byzantine, so full of lobbyist-injected loopholes — paid for by the 1% — that there is no fairness in the paying of taxes and the average citizen feels like a schmuck when he pays them? We desperately need TAX FAIRNESS, we desperately need to make sure every segment of our country (billionaires, millionaires, corporations, small businesses, black-market/under-the-table enterprises, and individuals) has a stake in paying down our National Debt and investing in our collective future. Only by removing the “schmuck factor” do we have a chance at affording the civilized society our next generations deserve.

— Tuesday, 15 November 2016: Why do the 99% keep shooting themselves in the foot? In 2010, a mere two years into the Obama Presidency, voters failed to show up at the polls. The Republicans took control of both Houses of Congress, and gerrymandering (based on the 2010 Census) allowed Republicans to fix Congressional Districts in such a way that even when Democrats received the greater number of votes in US House of Representatives races, Republicans still controlled the House. This gerrymandered majority for Republicans was almost assured for 10 years, till 2020. In 2016, again voters failed to show at the polls, but this time the ramifications of that decision to stay home may haunt US 🇺🇸 for a couple of generations. Should the Republicans chose The Nuclear Option in the Senate and do away with the minority filibuster, President Trump will be able to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who might be there for 50 years. Imagine, non-voters, 50 years of extreme right-wing decisions on freedom of choice, on labor rights, on Voter ID, et al. IMPORTANT: Elections 2018 and 2020 will be our next (and perhaps last) chances to set things right, especially when it comes to gerrymandering. Please think about this, non-voters, then make plans to show up Election Days 2018 and 2020.