We Have Met the Enemy and He is We

PatD
Are the powerful, the greedy and the power hungry who promote things that destroy our air, our water, our food and our rights oblivious to the results and effect on themselves if their promotions succeed? And aren’t we too to some extent complicit and compliantly looking the other way?

Where has our collective survival instinct gone?

Pogo-We-have-met-800wiWhere is our concern for our children and their children? When someone is drowning, don’t we still jump without hesitation into the surging water to save them? Throw our self between the oncoming truck and the helpless tyke on the trike? Share our last crumb with the starving doggy? Why then are we and they hiding our heads even deeper into the polluted sand when it comes to an ultimate disintegration of life as we once knew it?

It is a puzzlement.

“Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.” — Walt Kelly

PatD is a Trail Mix Contributor

Impeach Obama?

Nash 2.5

Will the GOP-controlled House of Representatives Impeach Barak Obama?

AP: “Some on the right said executive action on immigration could even be grounds for impeachment.”

“Impeachment would be a consideration, yes sir.” — Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)

At this point, no one knows, but it’s a good time to review the procedure, as described in the Constitution, and modified by subsequent legislation and by custom.

Note: “impeachment” by the House of Representatives is just an indictment. “Conviction” by the Senate is needed to remove the President from office.

impeachment_ticketLegal Procedure for Impeachment of the President of the United States.

(1) House prepares “articles of impeachment” (a list of offenses) and votes.  Simple majority needed to impeach.

(2) Several House members are appointed as “managers” (prosecutors) who present the case for impeachment to the Senate.

(3) The Trial in the Senate consists of presentation of evidence, cross examinations, etc.   The procedure is presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Roberts).

(4) 2/3 majority of Senate is needed to convict.

Two Presidents have been Impeached:  Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998).  Neither was convicted.

What do Trailmixers think?

  • Will the GOP-controlled House Impeach?
  • If so, will the Senate Convict?  (The GOP would need Democratic votes to get a 2/3 majority.)

– Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor. Read More by this author.
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Secret Service or Cell Service?

You read it here first. A new Homeland Security report on September’s White House intruder found exactly what a Trail Mix contributor wrote about here just after the incident.

According to The New York Times the federal report “said that Omar Gonzalez, the man charged in the incident, could have been stopped by a Secret Service officer who was stationed on the North Lawn with an attack dog. But the officer did not realize that an intruder had made it over the fence because he was sitting in his van talking on his personal cellphone.”

On the day after the intrusion we published a letter sent months earlier by Trail Mix friend and former DEA agent Michael Grimes to the head of the White House Security Detail:

At any given time, and within my view from any location around the White House, I see at least one, if not more, uniform officers with their heads down playing with an electronic device. I have seen as many as three officers, standing together, and every one of them had their heads down and not paying a bit of attention. I have walked to within just a few feet of these officers and not one will look up. This is not only disgraceful, it is downright dangerous.

Michael E. Grimes is a retired DEA agent, the owner of Criminal Investigation Techniques, which provides training, risk assessment and consulting services to law enforcement agencies.

Webb on a Matter of ‘Distinction’

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza examines Hillary Clinton’s “inevitability” and profiles possible challengers Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb. Here are a few excerpts on my fav:

webb-jim001Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who served one term, from 2007 to 2013, and then retired, has the potential to win the beer-track vote. … Webb is a moderate on foreign policy, but he is a Vietnam veteran from a long line of military men. After the war, Webb became a writer. His most famous book, “Fields of Fire,” published in 1978, is a novel based on his own experiences and has been credibly compared to Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” for its realistic portrayal of war. Webb has always moved restlessly between the military and politics and the life of a writer. In the late seventies and early eighties, he worked as a counsel on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and later as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy. He has also travelled around the world as a journalist for Parade. …

In his senatorial race, Webb did well not only in northern Virginia, which is filled with Washington commuters and college-educated liberals, but also with rural, working-class white voters in Appalachia. In 2008, those voters were generally more loyal to Clinton than to Obama, but Webb believes that he could attract a national coalition of both groups of voters in the Presidential primaries. He laid out a view of Wall Street that differs sharply from Clinton’s. …Senator-Jim-Webb-001

“Because of the way that the financial sector dominates both parties, the distinctions that can be made on truly troubling issues are very minor,” Webb said.

“If you don’t have stock, and a lot of people in this country don’t have stock, you’re not doing very well,” Webb said. ….

As President, he says, he would be aggressive about taxing income from investments: “Fairness says if you’re a hedge-fund manager or making deals where you’re making hundreds of millions of dollars and you’re paying capital-gains tax on that, rather than ordinary income tax, something’s wrong, and people know something’s wrong.” …

“There is a big tendency among a lot of Democratic leaders to feed some raw meat to the public on smaller issues that excite them, like the minimum wage, but don’t really address the larger problem,” Webb said. “A lot of the Democratic leaders who don’t want to scare away their financial supporters will say we’re going to raise the minimum wage, we’re going do these little things, when in reality we need to say we’re going to fundamentally change the tax code so that you will believe our system is fair.”

Read More Webb on other issues, plus profiles of MD Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“We Must Leave This Terrifying Place Tomorrow

and go searching for sunshine.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Blue Bronc
This last election was partly a confidence vote on our professor and his tenure, graded on a pass fail, was not on the pass side. We need a leader who is out front, engaging the world, charming all, and willing to take on the dragons that confront our way of life.

Depending on your age you will have memories of certain strong presidents along with memories of other leaders. My mother has fond memories of FDR and JFK. Mine are JFK and LBJ, that is until the Vietnam war became a war. For all their flaws, these were power presidents.

The next batch of presidents will be what Gen X, Gen Y or Millennials have as American leaders. The flaws are immense and debilitating.

Nixon, Ford, Carter (nice guy with the power of a mouse fart), Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. None of them had initials like FDR or TR. A couple had immense power, but it was used in ways that did not make life better for Americans.

fdrchairWhat I want my leader, my president to be is an FDR who takes on the corporate powers; an FDR to make the social network of America strong and helpful; a JFK to spark youth and desire to achieve; an LBJ to put the Congress back into running America instead of making it a weak clumping of neo-tribal units.

Where do I find these leaders? Those all achieved their levels in spite of and because of, backroom deals, power hungry backers and the vagaries of elections. That means in this modern, and very open world, another leader can emerge from the morass that is the current swamp of politics.

– Blue Bronc is a Trail Mix Contributor

No More Soggy Fries

Time for fresh meat. The old Democratic Party collapsed yesterday. Crony capitalists posing as populists. Paying lip service to the working class and small business. Let the Republicans own that charade. How else do you explain voters in red states like Arkansas raising the minimum wage while electing Republicans who oppose it? Because Democrats are so beholden to big business they won’t even speak to that sentiment. If this repudiation of the Democratic hierarchy is to prevent more of the same bring on some new thinkers and candidates who actually give a damn about average folk.

Obama Wimps Out

I find it stunning that President Obama yielded to advisers who kept him out of this Midterm Election. How could he not fight back as FDR once did, saying of his foes in 1936, “They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.”

Instead, we get Vice President Joe Biden talking about compromise with Republicans when, as the prognosticators are saying, the GOP wins control of the entire Congress on Tuesday.

Obama could have turned this around by getting out there to defend himself and play offense. But he chose to wimp out. He is still popular enough among a base of Democratic voters who are probably staying home because he never asked them to do anything. That’s not leadership. That’s just plain cowardly.

I’ve tried over and over again to overcome my initial unease about this man’s fitness for office. But watching his handling of this Midterm I’m giving up the effort. He wasn’t ready for the job in 2008 and, to my surprise, he didn’t learn on the job.

Why can’t Democrats talk like this anymore?


“For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.” — FDR, 1936

Still Hoping For Change

Retired Des Moines Register Opinion pages editor Richard Doak, is not just making sense, but damn good sense:

I have voted proudly in every state and national election for more than 50 years. Voting fulfilled a civic duty and came with a sense of wonder at democracy in action. Election Day was always a good day to be an American.

Not so much anymore. I can’t remember a year when voting was so unsatisfying. Casting an early ballot in 2014 felt like a chore. There was no pride or enthusiasm. There was something close to indifference.

That might partly be due to a case of viewer PTSD from being carpet-bombed by attack ads, but the malaise goes deeper than that.

It comes from the realization that nothing much will change no matter which candidates win on Tuesday.

Say it again, nothing will change.

Oh, Republicans talk a good game of cutting spending and reducing the size of government, but they won’t. The last time they were in power they did the opposite.

They talk of replacing Obamacare, but they won’t, because they haven’t the foggiest idea how. Besides, the big health care corporations have a stake in Obamacare, and Republicans aren’t in the habit of crossing the corporations.

Democrats talk the talk of helping the middle class, but when they get a chance they only nibble around the edges.

Take college affordability, for instance. Democrats loudly proclaim they want to reduce the interest rates on student loans. Big deal. What middle-class kids really need is affordable tuition so they don’t have to borrow in the first place.

But making college more affordable would require replacing tuition revenue with tax revenue, mostly from the affluent. Democrats, for all their populist rhetoric, aren’t about to irritate the affluent by taxing them to pay tuition for middle-class kids.

Both parties are in thrall to the affluent and other powers that be, including corporations, CEOs, Wall Street financiers, free-market ideologues, business and trade associations. There is no handy label for this conglomeration of power. Call it the business lobby. Better, call it the plutocracy. Government is tightly in its grip.

Which is why nothing is going to change. At the moment, the rich and powerful seem to like things pretty much the way they are, so the nation will continue to have a do-nothing Congress and a feckless president.

It’s hard to pinpoint when America stopped being a popular democracy and became a plutocracy. It happened gradually, insidiously over several decades. Private power has penetrated every facet of government from a Congress that has been bought outright, to a Supreme Court that believes corporations are people, to a bureaucracy that is increasingly run not by public employees but by private contractors.

We have ended up with a government of, by and for commercial interests. No wonder that inequality of wealth has become the defining feature of life in the United States. That’s what the people with the power arranged to happen.

Under the circumstances, it doesn’t matter much which party is nominally in control of the government. Republicans happily do the bidding of the plutocrats they call job creators. Democrats are paralyzed by the fear of being labeled anti-business and try not to offend the powerful. Either way, the result is about the same.

When the lords of banking came within an eyelash of causing another Great Depression, Republicans rushed to their defense and opposed any efforts to rein in their excesses. Democrats demanded reform but were too timid to pass anything except watered-down regulation that really didn’t change much.

Nothing ever changes.

Then there is President Obama. He promised change, but didn’t deliver. Perhaps that is because in his major decisions Obama has been remarkably solicitous of the rich and powerful.

Obama’s Affordable Care Act, far from being a socialist takeover of health care, operates mostly through private sector health care companies. It strengthens the private sector by subsidizing the purchase of insurance. It locked in this country’s expensive reliance on the private sector to deliver health care and guaranteed health care executives would keep getting rich.

Obama also locked in something else — most of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Those cuts were set to expire automatically, but Obama rescued most of them and made them permanent. That act left the government chronically short of revenue, and it guaranteed Obama’s presidency would be a lot like that of George W. Bush’s.

Obama has essentially been Bush-lite, which was probably bound to happen no matter who was president. Nothing much ever changes with the plutocracy in charge.

The pattern has been the same in state governments, with states falling all over each other trying to be the most generous in giving benefits to corporations and the wealthy.

There’s no indication that will change no matter who wins election on Tuesday.

A century ago, the United States was in a similar situation. The robber barons of industry and banking ran the government for their own benefit, presiding over an era of vast inequality. America appeared doomed to a future of the fabulously wealthy few ruling over the beaten-down many.

Then the public rose up and reasserted democratic rule. People voted for income and inheritance taxes to lessen the concentration of wealth and power. They enacted reforms such as primary elections and direct election of senators to take control of politics away from the party bosses. They enacted consumer protections and broke up monopolies. They built free public high schools so that working class kids could be educated beyond eighth grade.

The Progressive Era reforms and the later New Deal eventually created an unprecedented era of shared prosperity with a growing and thriving middle class, but today we’re back to robber baron levels of inequality and a stagnating middle class.

What’s depressingly different this time is that the public seems to have no inclination to rise up and reassert control. There is no mass movement to take the country back from the plutocrats and their politicians. There are no leaders capable of rallying the country to action, as Theodore Roosevelt did a century ago.

So the ballot offers no opportunity for real change. Voting becomes a rote act of civic duty exercised with little hope that the future will be any better than the present.

That’s the melancholy way it is for this voter in 2014.

Richard Doak is the retired editor of The Des Moines Register’s opinion pages.

Christie Misses the Memo

Jace
My wife and I work in a local school district. In the past few years no issue has received more attention than that of ‘bullying’.

Whether in the classroom, in the hallways, or on the school bus, our district like so many others across the nation has adopted a zero tolerance approach to bullying. All members of the staff from administrators and teachers to custodians and school bus drivers receive training in recognizing and intervening in suspected cases of bullying. We have even adopted a method for students to report bullying anonymously via a tip line.

One of the most revealing things about this program is the support it receives from the public. It cuts across party lines, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic distinctions. People support it because in general people detest bullying. Not just in our small community but across the nation.

So it is somewhat surprising to hear politicos and pundits who should know better attempt to down play the outbursts and bravado of a high profile governor and possible presidential candidate as some type of straight-talking, hard-hitting pragmatism that will be very appealing to voters. It is nothing of the kind.

Christie-1-485x323Make no mistake about it, Chris Christie is a bully! A classic school yard bully who just happens to hold elected office and wear nice suits.  He exhibits all the given traits of a bully. Perceived superiority as a result of his size and his office, a sense of entitlement, and a willingness to intimidate those whom he deems as unworthy or who dare to disagree with him, especially teachers, nurses, or people who are down and out through no fault of their own. Like all bullies he is capable of finding the smallest kid on the play ground to harass, and he invariably resorts to personal attacks on his targets.

Like all good bullies, Christie acts the way he does in order to compensate for some perceived inadequacies or short comings — usually related to his policies or his governing style, or his honesty, perhaps even his weight, all of which have come under increasing scrutiny as of late and managed to remove a good deal of the luster from this once rising star.

Being a bully does not automatically disqualify one from the presidency. What should disqualify Christie is the fact that he is so tone deaf to an issue on which Americans have made themselves very clear.

Chris Christie missed the memo on bullying in society. How many more memos has he missed.

The presidency may well be ‘a bully pulpit.’ It is not however meant to be a pulpit for bullies.

– Jace is a Trail Mix Contributor

The Vital Vote

PatD
Vote! Whatever the flavor. Just do it, America.  Exercise that most precious right or lose it. Get off the couch, off that fence and make a decision. What are you waiting for?

Depending on messianic candidates mesmerizing the electorate to show-up every four years is a poor way to run a government. That’s  democracy lite. We need muscle, we need the beef and heft of a working congress.  And that takes an effort every two years on our part.   What , short of crises, can motivate us?  Any ideas? Contests? Raffles?  

How about something like the New York rally this Sunday by the non-partisan organization Why Tuesday? — “using the occasion to kick off its campaign, called LET’S FIX IT, to raise awareness about low voter turnout in the USA. Why Tuesday? is also offering a prize of $64,000 — in cash — to the person who comes closest to predicting the national voter turnout for the 2014 midterm election.”   How about plain ole patriotism? Or for the fun of it ROCK THE VOTE!

– PatD is a Trail Mix Contributor