Some in Congress Can’t Read?

On September 8th, Bloomberg News reported that two representatives, Mark Meadows and Walter Jones who indicated they mistakenly had their names added to a congressional brief that was sent to the Supreme Court in the hope that they will support restrictions of the practice of Gerrymandering.

The reason that they don’t want to be a part of the brief is that Republicans would be the last people to support such an effort.

Gerrymandering is the modification of district lines to allow for a representative to tailor their district boundaries in order to capture more GOP voters, thus bolstering the efforts of the party to maintain an advantage in the 2018 elections.

The practice was a tactic of democrats in the late 80’s in order to take over and maintain Democratic majority.  Now the democrats think that Gerrymandering should be stopped so that the Republicans can’t gain an advantage.

The truth is that their are two sides to the issue and the strategy will probably always be part of the divisive environment that is the people’s congress.

The bigger problem is not the support or lack of for legislation or legislative briefs.  The major problem is that a majority of the Senators and Representatives don’t read the full text of anything.

Healthcare and the Muslim ban are perfect examples.  Congress had supporters and detractors who would make statements that were general in nature and more reflective of what the media would report or what the leadership wanted everyone to know.  The fact is most of them did not read the legislation.  When they didn’t pass, many had no idea why.  This includes Democrats and Republicans.  During the healthcare debate, I heard a representative give an interview on cable news where he admitted that he didn’t read the bill and voted only the way his party wanted him to.  His explanation was that his staff is required to read the information and advise him.

How confident should you feel about the legislation they support and the insistence that they are looking out for their constituents.

Honestly, there is a significant number of Senators and Representatives who do know the entire content of the legislation they support, or don’t (you can easily tell who does in your state).  For the rest who don’t, I hope it is just laziness and not a problem with their ability to read.

 

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Government Control and Military Surplus

On Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the repeal of a bill passed by the Obama Administration to regulate the transfer of some specific types of military surplus to local law enforcement agencies, schools, parks etc.

The original program was established by the Clinton administration to allow local law enforcement and government agencies to obtain several articles of surplus equipment from the federal government.

The list of items include a variety of things from clothing, safety gear, aircraft, land vehicles, tactical gear even military weaponry.  There is even musical instruments and big screen televisions.

It makes sense that the local agencies that qualify for the surplus transfer can find value in obtaining things like clothing, aircraft, construction equipment, communication equipment etc.  Equipment such as tractors, snow cats and benign vehicles of all types can enhance a departments resources, especially the smaller departments that just don’t have the financial resources to afford some of these items on their own.  As an example, major beneficiaries of acquiring such gear could enhance their search and rescue efforts.

The controversy as it stands now is the part of the transfers that include military weaponry, high powered military rifles, hand guns, armored assault vehicles, grenade launchers and even bayonets are the main concern. These were items that were to be reviewed and restricted by the Obama administration.  Many law enforcement agencies around the country are returning many of these items because the philosophies and principles of these departments do not include the use of purpose built military weapons and military tactical equipment.  The idea is that most, including law enforcement groups in places like Chicago, LA and Seattle are not interested in establishing a military presence within their communities.

Earlier this week the Trump administration lifted all of the restrictions imposed by Obama because according to Attorney General Sessions, this type of equipment can improve security, safety and combat the rampant lawlessness in our country.

Sarcastically, I have a conspiracy theory that puts all of these components including unrealistic immigration restrictions, foreign policy and border security together to create an autocratic and military society.  Manipulating and eliminating the free press is a perfect way to get the message out to the citizens that these policies would protect.

Although this theory has not been independently evaluated,  I am sure that most people will see the logic.

By building the wall we will divert drug trafficking from land to the open ocean.  Since the government is cutting funding to the Coast Guard, the new plan is really to apprehend  these bad hombres after they successfully navigate the waters off our sovereign shores without detection and land on American Soil.

By allowing local law enforcement  to arm themselves to the hilt, we can establish check points at all city, county and State lines.  There, we can capture anyone who appears to meet an arbitrary nefarious profile.  The best part is that we could stop, search, check for citizenship, confirm the identity, religious allegiance and social media activity of everyone including law abiding citizens and their passengers who are just passing through.

These check points will be manned by heavily armed officers dressed in military uniforms adorned with appropriate technology.  These tactics will ensure that undocumented border jumpers, drug traffickers and minorities (only the bad ones) would be caught and taken down.  Should you try to escape the check points you will be brought to justice by a very large caliber bullet, a grenade or be run down by an armed assault vehicle.

The benefit to our country is that these tactics will reinforce the President’s promise that he will not tolerate any “lawlessness” in our country.

Although these practices will require minor changes to our constitution, it makes perfect sense.  In order to ensure these methods work, our country will need to make a seamless transition to a government run by the government for the government which will require the dismantling of our pesky congress. We will need to expand the president’s role to include a governance more reflective of a dictatorship rather than a democracy.  Putin and Russia can be the perfect model to build from.

Problem solved, we will all be thrilled that our government will take these steps to make our country great again.

Ok, I made all of this up.  Actually, I am truly concerned that some parts of these ridiculous concepts could really happen and even be supported by some Americans.

We do not live in a disastrous and lawless society riddled with economic and monumental security shortcomings brought on by previous leadership.  America is already great.  Maybe we need to rethink who we allow to represent us.

 

RAISE Legislation and Reality

Today, senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue gave a press conference joined by President Trump to announce their legal immigration legislation called the RAISE act which would reform the process and requirements for foreign workers to live and work in the US.  The reduction in immigration opportunities may not be so good for the country.

The bill will require certain qualifications such as  demonstrating needed skills that ensure the ability to support themselves and their families while being precluded from being able to receive welfare benefits.  These are just a couple of many provisions.

It seems that the concept is designed to prevent skilled or less skilled immigrants from coming to the US. and taking jobs that should otherwise be filled with American workers.  We can’t forget that we are talking about immigrants from all over the world,  not just from places like Mexico.

It appears to me that the intention of the bill has some merit, however, I also believe that there some inherent disadvantages to the US. given that the bill that would narrow the ability of foreigners to immigrate to the US, obtain employment, support their families, integrate into our diverse cultures and generally fill the need for more workers.

The notion that foreigners who are allowed to migrate to the United States take the jobs that belong to displaced American workers may be somewhat misrepresented.  This school of thought has been around for generations.  The truth is that the United States has a monumental shortage of workers to fill skilled and less skilled living wage jobs.  That is just a fact.

We already have some of the strictest prequalification rules in the world for becoming a citizen.  From sponsorship to swearing in, candidates need to show that they are worthy by living up to similar qualifications included in the RAISE bill.  In some, if not all cases, citizenship candidates are required to demonstrate a knowledge and acceptance of American ideals and cultures.  Just as importantly, they are required to have a comprehensive knowledge of our constitution.  Interestingly, only 35% of Americans have any meaningful knowledge of our constitution.

I am of the belief it is important that we look at a larger picture with regard to the debate and arguments that focus on employment in America.  Regardless of partisan beliefs, there are so many variables that make up our workforce or lack of, that we need address these current issues before we consider sweeping changes that will effect American jobs and foreign integration.

President Trump can still fulfil his campaign promises with regard to immigration.  He needs to study and learn to navigate the complex factors that make up our immigration successes and failures.  If he can knock one issue at a time off the list, we could end up with a comprehensive plan that addresses all of the issues related to immigration including topics such as border and national security, refugees, important skilled worker access etc.

The worst thing that America could do is dismiss issues that are just as important as those that we see on the news every day.  We have a lot of very serious problems domestically that will continue to need serious attention and resources.

Us vs. Them on Healthcare

As most of you know, the latest effort of the Republican to repeal and replace Obama Care failed.

It is worthwhile pointing out the undeniable fact that the two parties are acting like they are soccer teams playing for a victory.  Majority leader Mitch McConnel gave a speech after the vote expressing his disappointment in those who didn’t vote for the bill.  He said that the Republican party worked very hard to create a bill and get it passed in the Senate.

Following his speech, Chuck Schumer gave a smug speech expressing the Democrats relief that the bill failed and expressed the desire of the Democratic Senate to work together with the GOP to come up with a plan that works for everyone.  He said that the democrats always wanted bipartisan involvement.   We can’t forget that when the democrats owned the congress, they treated the division between the two parties the same as the republicans are now.  The one good thing he said was that Patty Murray of Washington State would be an effective orchestrator on the democratic side.

The truth is that a majority of Americans couldn’t care less about the childish us vs. them approach in both houses.

I would say that it is more accurate that the American people just want a plan that improves the ACA or any other effective plan.  Americans need a federal health plan that addresses Insurance rates, deductibles; prescription costs; coverage for existing conditions and some who want to ensure that those who can’t afford insurance will be covered through Medicaid and continue coverage through Medicare.

The government can’t afford an effective plan by reducing taxes for the wealthy and removing the mandate for coverage for those who would fall into a low risk group.

There is a lot of debate regarding the low risk group.  Besides allowing insurance companies to make money by reducing the overall cost of claims,  the logic is that anyone no matter how healthy is just a Dir.’s appointment away from a serious illness.

I do believe that we need strong welfare reform.  My sense is that there is so much fraud that it is costing the government a fortune to pay for this group who are enrolled in welfare and Medicaid.  I think the most common cases of fraud are when one of the people in a household are not reporting to the state when there is another person in the household who is working and making money on top of what the welfare benefits are.  If you want to see what I am talking about, just walk in to a local DSHS office and do some people watching or observe how people are paying in the grocery line.

I do think that those who need the help should receive it.  If the government were to cut back on Medicaid and Medicare, we would have a national crisis where people who can’t afford healthcare on their own, are denied important healthcare services.

Another point is that people without coverage will depend on Emergency rooms to receive health care.  Emergency rooms are designed to stabilize a persons condition, not to provide full medical care.  Since emergency rooms can’t turn away anyone seeking help and are aware that most patients will not be able to pay their bills, it is very important to hospitals that this group has coverage.

Oh, how did the Republican Senate work real hard when most of the members who voted yes didn’t know the details and didn’t want the bill to become law.  Most only voted for it to force it back to the house for debate and discussion.

I really hope that both democrats and GOP lawmakers come up with an equitable plan.

Notify the FBI?

I am sure it has been reported a million times, yet to me it’s worthwhile pointing out the obvious.

Say you believe the claims that Trump Jr. was led to believe that the Russian Attorney was going to provide him with damaging information about Hillary and her campaign. Say you believe that nothing of the sort was actually provided.

Trump Jr. maintains that the Attorney really wanted to speak about the Magnitski act.  If this is true, he, Kushner and Manafort had a discussion with an agent of an adversarial Country on the subject of US imposed sanctions.

Not only is this conversation inappropriate, Trump Jr. and his father were still private citizens and not authorized to speak to any foreign government as official representatives of the United States.  This part of the meeting by itself would have been subject to the reporting rules prescribed by the FBI.

Trump’s lies and Kushner’s failure to report the meeting would lead any reasonable person to interpret their actions or lack of as the makings of a cover up.

I’m just saying.