Time to Fix a Broken Congress

Time to Fix a Broken Congress

Regardless of which party you support (in my case, it’s neither), it should be transparently clear that Congress as a governing body is hopelessly, incurably broken. What we have, instead, with too few exceptions, are self-serving ideologues fighting for political control while working a three-day week and selling out to lobbyists to keep themselves in power.  It’s time to throw the bums out.  But only the American electorate can do that – if we Americans wake up to our responsibility. The architect of our current government dysfunction is Newt Gingrich. (What else would you expect from someone named after a lizard?)  The Tea Party Republicans (aka the radical Freedom Caucus) just caused the cancer of big-money-supported partisan wars to metastasize.  But assigning blame for the mess we’re in to Republicans is beside the point – most congressional Democrats are just as culpable and dysfunctional now as Republicans.  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2017/05/is_there_any_future_in_being_a_moderate_republican.html The Democrats suffered through eight years of nasty hypocritical attacks and legislative inertia by the Republicans against President Obama. Now that Republicans are in power, most Democrats are similarly obsessed by attacking President Trump instead of putting better solutions in front of the public. To be sure, Trump’s policies should be attacked. For starters, he has abandoned his campaign commitments to the working class Americans who provided him his victory. Forget the “Buy America, Hire America” rhetoric.  With the active support of congressional Republicans, he’s reneging on his promises to foster job growth, bring manufacturing back to the United States from abroad, increase wages, protect retirees against predatory investment schemes, protect workers from greed-driven occupational harm, and ensure that all Americans,...
The Republican Health (sic) Care Act Crashed – Now What?

The Republican Health (sic) Care Act Crashed – Now What?

Trump’s most bizarre spin on the train wreck of the Republican’s Health Care Act was to blame its failure on the Democrats “We had no Democratic support. They weren’t going to give us a single vote.” There’s a reason why both Democrats and moderate Republicans opposed the Republican health care act re-negotiated with the ultra-right wing extremists in the so-called “Freedom Caucus.”  It was a terribly cruel, cynical attack on everyday Americans that would have stripped out outpatient services, emergency care, maternity benefits, mental health and drug treatment (for example targeted at America’s opioid epidemic), rehabilitation, laboratory services, and preventative medicine. What the Freedom Caucus insists on getting isn’t health care; it’s wealth care – their wealth. The president added that the “best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let ObamaCare explode. It’s exploding right now… Almost all states have big problems.” And this is the President who repeatedly has said, “”If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. I mean, it’s no good. So I’m very liberal when it comes to health care. I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better.” Here’s a radical idea: we know there are flaws in ObamaCare – along with many positives. So now it’s time for moderate Republicans and Democrats to do what Trump actually proposed after the train wreck of the AHCA:  “Democrats will come to us and say, ‘Look, let’s get together and get a great health care bill or plan that’s really great for the people of our country.’” But...
The Crisis

The Crisis

Thomas Paine wrote this first volume of The Crisis in the winter of 1776 when the American Revolution, begun so bravely at Lexington and Concord the previous year, seemed lost. The remains of Washington’s army, humbled by the British and driven out of New York, were now starving and freezing to death at Valley Forge. As a nation, we face another crisis of tyranny today, in the form the sustained assault by Donald Trump on American Democracy – an assault manufactured by Stephen Bannon and Stephen Mitchell and abetted by a timorous, self-serving Congress. For starters, The American Constitution begins “We the people of the  United States,  in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility …”.   It does not begin “I the President, in order to satisfy my need for self-glorification and person gain….” What’s at stake? Again, begin with the First Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Add to that Article III of the Constitution providing for an independent judiciary as an essential check and balance against both the tyranny of the majority and the usurpation of power by the Executive Branch. Then you could also throw in the spirit, and at times the specific intent of the 13th, 14th, 19th, and 24th Amendments. Someone responded to one of my earlier posts by saying “Donald...

The Victory of Fear and Hate Over Hope and Faith

  Trump’s supporters love to chant “Time to Drain the Swamp!”   They have, now, and what do we find rotting at the bottom? A festering mass of hate and fear. The catalyst was our fear and hatred of an utterly broken  political system. Bernie Sanders’ solutions may have been unworkable, but he was 100% right about how big money has corrupted American democracy. This election cost $7,000,000,000. Think how else that much money might have been invested for the good of this country. Hatred is the lie we tell ourselves repeatedly to hide from our own guilt. WE elected the thieves and political fanatics who cripple Congress — with the support of the mega rich and their lobbyists. But there is deeper hatred behind Trump’s victory:  hatred against black, brown, yellow, and red-skinned people, hatred of “foreigners,” hatred of assertive women who seek to rise above subservience, hatred of those with “sinful” sexual preferences and religious beliefs.  It’s a big list. At the root of hatred is fear: fear that America has lost its preeminent place in the world, fear that the American dream has died for us and our children, fear that we have lost the power to shape our own future, fear that “democracy” no longer works and can’t be trusted. And unrestrained fear turns us into mindless creatures trapped in a cycle of panicked fight or helpless flight.  We lose our minds. How could we: Elect a president who eagerly welcomed the support of a Russian dictator bent on conquering Europe and restoring Soviet tyranny? Elect a president who detests, mocks, and seeks to harm anyone...

America’s New (un)Civil War – Part II

The furor over Donald Trump’s increasingly pitiful, dangerous insistence that the election is being “stolen” from him by the evil forces of tyranny abetted by a corrupted media, should be an early warning call.  The spirit of violent rebellion is rising again against the injustice and corruption of a government that has stopped listening to, serving, and respecting its people. Rebellion is deeply woven into the fabric of America’s existence. We are, as the ancient Romans would have understood, Janus-faced: one part of our instinctive, permanent character is loyalty, the other rebellion. But our survival as a democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” depends on our ability to manage that inner conflict without ripping ourselves apart as a nation. It’s a daunting challenge. We were born in an act of rebellion against the legally-constituted government of Great Britain. But it was also a civil war between “Loyalists” (or Tories) against “Rebels” (or Patriots). It divided families and, pitted brothers against brothers and friends against friends. Eighty-two years later, the tensions that divide us erupted again in a frightful, tragic civil war. In my family on my mother’s side, it was called “The War Between the States,” or, more bitterly, “The War of Northern Aggression.” The Thomas family emigrated to America from Scotland in 1651 and settled in Virginia. My great grandfather, Lovick Thomas II, lived in Decatur, Georgia. He served as Colonel of the 42nd Georgia Infantry. I’ve read the diary kept by his wife, Jane Peeples Thomas and the letters they exchanged during the war. What emerges, roughly 150 years later, is a...