When Henry Lavanda Marsh, Jr. was growing up in Wadesboro it wasn't all that easy for a black kid to get an education in North Carolina. Desegregation was considered an ultra-liberal dream, and "separate but equal" was a useful euphemism. Everybody knew that only the "separate" part was a reality. Euphemism has been the tool of choice in race relations ever since the Civil War era amendments made it a legal workaround against equality.
There was no high school in that part of North Carolina that would allow black children in. So Henry left home to find a school in another part of the state. As a young adult he met Lucy Phillips. They got married and started a family. The oldest of their four children was just six when Lucy died. Henry was working as a waiter and had to break the family up. There just wasn't enough to live on.
The second oldest was Henry III. He went to live with an aunt and uncle in a rural area. There was just a one room schoolhouse and one teacher for 78 black kids of all ages, but at least it was a school. That's where young Henry went to get an early education. He was 11 when his father was able to get the family together again.
The value of education was drilled into them. Henry the father went back to college, working a full time job, studying, going to class, and raising his kids.
Henry III took that lesson to heart. He followed in his father's footsteps to the extent of graduating college. Then he went on to get a law degree, then served his country in the army.
He became an early advocate for civil rights.
In the early 1950's, conservatism got a big setback when the euphemism of "separate but equal" was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Racists in Virgina organized under the banner of "massive resistance." They would fight back with any legal means at their disposal. School desegregation was held up. Only when the issue was forced in court and federal law enforcement was invoked would they go along, and then only as far as they were forced.
Henry Marsh was still in college when he testified before a hostile audience of state legislators in Virginia against massive resistance by white racists. Public advocacy of any sort by black people was a dangerous thing in states that had composed the Old Confederacy. Henry Marsh was making a name for himself.
He was elected to the city council in Richmond. Eventually he became mayor, then went on to the state legislature.
In the early days, voting rights were attacked in the massive resistance movement. Politicians were frank, at first, in attacking "the black vote." But, as Strom Thurmond campaigned for President as a segregationist Dixiecrat, it eventually became a campaign against "the block vote."
The block vote was resisted by telling black voters they had to pass complex literacy tests, reciting the Bill of Rights by memory, or guessing the number of jellybeans in a bottle. The "block vote" was the term of choice through the 1970s, in some parts of the Old South. It later became known as the "Urban Vote."
The "Urban Vote" is a newer theme, still used by conservatives as the new, socially acceptable, term for people that many kind of don't like. In several states, photo ID laws that discriminate against those who do not drive automobiles, restrictive voting hours, and other impediments are used to hold back "the urban vote."
The electoral college itself, originally set up to keep slavery in place, is often justified as a counter-weight to "the urban vote." As voting patterns have changed, the electoral college does not carry the conservative weight it once did. In fact, some speculate that the system may soon reflect an advantage to Democrats.
Rather than move toward the popular vote, conservatives are pushing to move the system even further from democracy. There are moves to distribute electoral votes by congressional district. With what is called the "urban vote" more concentrated in fewer districts, this would enable conservatives to win the Presidency, even if voters cast ballots overwhelmingly for Democrats. Barack Obama, who won decisively last November, would have lost to Mitt Romney if the decision had been made by Congressional district.
But even this is not enough. Conservatives want this change to voting for President by Congressional district to apply only to states that tend to go to Democrats. One state that is the center of this effort is Virginia. State Senator Marsh has been in the center of the battle in favor of equal votes for all and against that type of Presidential gerrymander.
Throughout these battles, Henry Marsh III has served in the state senate, quietly pushing for voting rights, education, and economic development. Racial equality has been a constant theme.
On January 21 of this year, Henry Marsh, now 78, journeyed to Washington, DC, to see the second inaugural of President Barack Obama. It was a reminder of how far the country has come from the days of Jim Crow and massive resistance.
While he was gone, conservatives used his absence to sneak through a bill to reorganize the state Senate to re-gerrymander seats to get more conservatives elected. They also pushed forward with a law to cast Virginia's votes for president by Congressional district. With Marsh spending the day in Washington, Republicans had the one vote majority in the state senate to do it.
As the sponsor of the surprise move explained it:
"It comes down for me, as a rural legislator, to a fairness issue. I’m making sure the people of my district are represented."
It was was a reminder that massive resistance to equal voting is still alive, under a new name.
Conservative Republicans yesterday expressed their outrage at the death of Hillary Clinton's colleague and friend, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three others. At separate times, they accused her of indifference, neglect, and of generating false information about the death of her friend.
"Had I been president at the time ... I would have relieved you of your post. I think it was inexcusable," said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has proposed cutting the Department of State Budget, including security measures, by 71%. Rand Paul is hoping to be in the position of firing more future security administrators, having said he is interested in running for President in 2016.
He was especially disturbed that Clinton had not reviewed memos recommending increased security at the American Embassy in Libya. The American Embassy in question is located in Tripoli. The attack happened in Benghazi, 400 miles away from the requested security.
Secretary Clinton may also have delegated details of security arrangements at 400 other embassies and consulates, as well as thousands of diplomatic installations, to various military specialists, rather than making personal security decisions on each one.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who voted on November 17, 2011 to cut back security and intelligence at US Embassies around the world, was critical of the lack of accurate information. "We were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact."
The heated exchange between Senator Johnson and Secretary Clinton provoked headlines. Clinton repeated previous testimony by intelligence leaders that information revealed to the public was consistent with what was known at the time. She said she was less concerned with the motivations of the attackers than the fact that they were able to conduct a lethal attack at all. "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator."
Earlier in the day, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who had voted on Sept 25, 2010 to cut back funding for embassy security, attacked Clinton for not being better prepared for possible violence at US embassies.
Later, after the Senate hearing, Representative Jeff Duncan, who had voted for a total elimination of $296 million from embassy security in the last two years accused Secretary Clinton of what he called "national security malpractice." He said she personally had let the consulate in Benghazi "become a death trap." Representative Duncan had also voted to de-fund other embassy security accounts.
A year before the attack, Secretary Clinton had warned Congress that proposed cuts in security by Republicans would be "detrimental to America’s national security." Republicans rejected those warnings as unjustifiable.
Others joined in the attacks on Secretary Clinton, accusing her of ignoring security shortfalls that were clearly evident.
It is obvious she should have known. After all, her critics did.
Every once in a while in the years following the incident, some odd news story would appear about her. After the divorce, she had a couple of unfortunate relationships involving domestic violence. Her stories were suspect, and it's hard not to think she was the violent one. One boyfriend ended up protected by court order.
A series of vehicular accidents was interspersed with several strange reports to police. She was attacked by a group of men organized by her ex-husband. She narrowly escaped kidnapping by a bushy-haired man. She was attacked in her home by masked men. She saw five intruders with guns attempting to steal her truck. She saw them hide rifles on her property. Eventually she told a neighbor she was seeing small animals the neighbor couldn't see. The neighbor, fearing for her safety, called police.
I was thinking of that unfortunate woman as I read about the latest political news from Virginia.
The election last November left the state Senate equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. Each has 20 seats. When one of the Democrats took the day off to travel a few miles up I-95 to Washington DC for the inaugural, Republicans suddenly used the absence in an unusual way. They brought in a bill to redo the 2010 redistricting, which had already been gerrymandered in favor of the GOP in Congressional districts. Republicans extended gerrymandering to state offices to get more seats in the legislature.
In Virginia, it already took almost three times as many Democratic votes to get a Congressional representative elected as it took Republican votes. Republicans and Democrats running for Congress in 2012 almost split the popular vote. Republicans got a hair more than Democrats. But Republicans did not get half the seats in Congress from Virginia. Out of 11 seats, Democrats ended up with just three.
The latest sneaky, unannounced move to redo the 2010 redistricting while one Democrat, a veteran civil rights leader, was watching The President get sworn in, will replicate that pattern on a state level. That's if Republicans in the house chamber of Virginia and the Republican governor agree.
Republicans have known for a while that their party is shrinking. There has been some noise about appealing to more voters. But the hard core conservative base is having none of it.
So Republicans have been trying a new strategy, one that didn't work so well for them in 2012, but may in the short term future. They are employing a variety of tactics to make it harder for voters in urban areas, minority areas, on college campuses, to vote.
Requiring non-drivers to produce photo IDs was only the start. Making it progressively harder to get those photos came next. State workers were ordered not to offer information to those looking to get IDs. One, in Ohio, was fired for protesting the order for silence.
Offices responsible for examining the additional documentation and issuing photo IDs to non-drivers were closed down, consolidated into areas far distant from those who would need to follow the new rules. Hours were curtailed, forcing loss of work days for those wanting to re-register, but who ride buses.
In Ohio, the Attorney General filed suit, lost, then filed appeals. His argument was that, when polling officials gave wrong directions to legitimate voters on everything from which boxes to check on questionnaires to which booth to use for voting, the voters should have their votes rejected.
Then hours and days for voting were reduced. In Pennsylvania, there was actually a move to reduce hours only in Democratic areas. The extreme amount of time voters in urban areas were required to wait in line has become a 2012 legend. This legend is actual factual.
Now there is something really new.
National Republican officials have endorsed the idea of taking the electoral college a few more steps away from majority rule. The national system now allows a candidate with fewer votes to be elected President. That happened in 2000. Al Gore got the votes. George Bush became President.
Republicans are ever creative. Now a move is underway to divide electoral votes in some states, rather than the current winner-take-all system: But Republicans are pushing this only in those states that tend to go Democratic. Republican states will stay winner-take-all.
Some say the tactic of blocking voters from the ballot box, making it harder to vote, making some voters essentially register more than once, is merely a partisan tool: to be favored or not depending only on whether you are a Republican or Democrat. But that view regards voting rights only as the right of politicians to their totals. Anyone who sees voting as a right for voters themselves will oppose abridgement of that right as a matter of principle.
Republicans are in a box. The Republican Congress is now ranked in one credible poll as lower than cockroaches and head lice. No kidding. They actually asked whether respondents approve of cockroaches, whether they like head lice, in the same poll in which they asked about the Republican Congress.
Republicans find it unpalatable to expand their appeal to those who now regard them with skepticism. They have lost all confidence in themselves and their arguments. So they seek to rig what they perceive to be a game.
It is a loser's strategy. And it reminds me of that sad woman in decline.
For her, it all began on ice.
The stories accelerated with time into a sad spiral downward. The descent was public. The humiliation had to be multiplied with each sad layer.
But nothing equaled the public notoriety Tonya Harding experienced as a result of the physical attack on her main figure skating competitor. Harding's then husband had joined with her bodyguard to hire a thug to track down and break the leg of Nancy Kerrigan. He stalked her from Massachusetts to Michigan and finally caught up with her in Detroit. His attack with a tire iron was caught on video. He only bruised her, but the wound was severe enough to force Kerrigan to withdraw from a competition that Harding then won.
Tonya Harding's husband was caught and testified against her. She eventually pleaded guilty to covering up the incident.
We remember Tonya Harding,those of us who do, mainly for that video. A strange man sneaks up on Nancy Kerrigan, clobbers her leg with a tire iron, and runs away.
Like poor Tonya, Republicans see themselves as perpetual losers. And so they follow her example.
Appeal to minorities? Find paths of opportunity for young people? For the middle class? For those on the arduous journey out of poverty? For the working poor?
Republicans, instead, look to the tire iron.
So I often go to various sites and blogs on the interwebs. Redstate just happens to be one site I go to from time to time. I always like to see what's echoing in the chamber. Well, yesterday, I noticed this diary post by the Erick Erickson of Red State.
What I found interesting about it is that Erick, who rose to 'net fame fanning the fires of Right-Wing Crazy, pleads to his readers to not be crazy. Now I was surprised by that post but I was even more surprised by the comments section.
It seems like Mr. Erickson's sentiments weren't well received by the attitudes he helped to foment.
|by John Myste|
In Response to Burr Deming's Effect of Anti-Gun Safety Rhetoric
Myste, in 1774 England banned importation of muzzle loaders to the American colonies. In 1775 they attempted to confiscate privately owned guns. We all know what happened in 1776.
- F&B, January 21, 2013
You do know, do you not, that Obama is not trying to ban muzzle loaders? You do know, do you not, that the Obama favors the Second Amendment? You do know, do you not, that the American Revolution was not about gun control? Except for those three facts, however, your point was pretty good.
Civilization in a form that we would clearly recognize as such has been around for roughly 8-10,000 years.
Holy crap! That’s a long time.
“It has been about 250 years since the American Revolution. We haven't changed that much.”
I was just telling my slave that same thing yesterday. After that, I whipped him for dropping the scoop in the well again and then I blew out the candle and told my wife she would get just as good if she burns that coon again.
Revolutions and Civil Wars happen around the world continuously.
It’s because of gun control.
I do not believe the eventual need to defend our constitution is beyond the realm of possibilities.
You should get your muzzle loaders and other assault weapons now, while supplies last. They will work well against heat-seeking missiles and drones.
The intent appears to be that the Federal government will not attempt to control what types of weapons citizens may own.
Where did you get that idea? Did you make it up or do you just sense that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have wanted the people, whom they felt superior to in most respects, to own nuclear weapons?
There is no indication that the Founders would have limited any weapons that we have today.
What were Thomas Jefferson’s exact words about nuclear weapons?
As usual, the Constitution was meant to limit the power of the Federal government, not to limit the power of the People.
What the Constitution was “meant” to do, depends on which Founder you talk to. Madison did not even want a Bill of Rights. Alas, you do not get to choose the Founders’ intention, Blessed be His Holy Name.
John Myste frequently participates in discussions across the internet. His contributions here are always appreciated.
THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
And for more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
People tend to look at New York as one big city. Sometimes the image includes some brief glimpse of suburbs. In reality, upper New York State covers a lot of rural territory, miles of farm country. I was born about halfway between Syracuse and Rochester. I never saw New York City until I was in my late teens. That visit was part of a college activity.
One thing I noticed was how people in New York City crossed the street. It was a different game than almost any other place I had lived. In later brief stays I noticed the same thing.
In busier parts of the city, there is a constant contest between pedestrians and drivers. It is a little like a game of chicken. Motorists are motivated. Those in a hurry get impatient at waiting for lines of those on foot to get clear of an intersection. They often try inching through the sea of those walking. If they can make it through, they can shave precious minutes off a commute. They just don't want to hit anyone.
Pedestrians have an incentive as well. They know that if one car gets through, those inching behind will feel safe in following, if it can be done before the tide of humanity-in-a-hurry closes in. And then there will be the next car, then the next and the next. But if those walking in the crosswalk can make it through without getting blocked by that first driver, they can get to work on time.
And so it goes. Drivers try to get through quickly without hitting someone and pedestrians try to get through quickly without getting hit.
If things go right, one side loses, the other wins. If things go wrong, everyone loses. Pedestrians lose life, the drivers lose liberty, and both lose happiness.
I got interested in who wins and who loses if things go right.
Pedestrians have more to lose, right? But they usually, not always, but usually, win.
Pedestrians win by looking the other way. Most don't do that immediately. They gauge the situation through surreptitious glances and judging the movements of others on foot. But they make sure all the driver sees is someone determined not to see any danger. Not seeing any danger, once they know the driver is looking, reduces their danger, the danger they are determined not to see.
Every once in a while I did see someone on foot lose. Maybe these were out-of-towners. Maybe they came from upstate, like me. Maybe they were simply unskilled in this type of anonymous negotiation. Their common weakness was that they paid attention. And they could be seen to pay attention. The nervous looks let drivers know they could win by pushing on ahead.
If pedestrians could see what was happening, they would jump out of the way, and a driver could break through. If they were obviously committed, looking the other way, what was a driver to do, except wait?
In all but the last year of President Obama's first term, Republicans did what no Congress ever did before. They threatened the American economy, holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to their demands. The administration, like out-of-town visitors to the big city, worried aloud about the consequences. They offered concessions and promises of more concessions before negotiations started.
And Congress pushed ahead.
Things began to change last year. Obama began pushing back. Republicans demanded a postponement of sorts. They constructed a fiscal cliff that included dramatic tax increases and cuts to programs. The cuts attacked the elderly, little kids, the disabled, and the Department of Defense. Republicans hated the increase in taxes, at least those that would hit the very rich. And they hated the cuts in military spending.
Defense spending has gotten a little insane. The US spends more on military armaments than the rest of the world combined. We are prepared to fight a war against every country in the world simultaneously, including countries that have always been our friends and always will be. That's kind of crazy.
But Republicans are largely funded by military contractors who build weapons systems to conduct an arms race with the USSR, a country that has not existed for over twenty years.
Republicans kind of liked attacks on the elderly, little kids, and the disabled. They didn't much mind tax increases on the working poor and the middle class. But military reductions and tax increases on the wealthiest Americans were intolerable.
So the plan was to create consequences that would be intolerable for everyone. Then Republicans could hold the economy hostage after winning the Presidency and the Senate. If they were negotiating with President Romney, all would be well.
The plan got a little screwed up by an unexpected election loss. President Obama won big. Democrats increased their Senate majority. Republicans lost house seats. Even though Republicans kept a majority of seats, they lost a majority of votes. They won by gerrymander. Democratic candidates got about a million votes more than Republicans did.
So President Obama won the fiscal cliff negotiations. That left the "debt ceiling" which was actually a vote on whether to pay our bills.
That's when the President got bolder.
He declared that Republicans holding the economy hostage to put into place policies Americans had rejected was not going to happen. There would be no negotiations.
Now Republicans look to be retreating on paying our bills. They have gotten the worst of all worlds. They are, in front of God and Country, attacking the middle class, the poor, the disabled, the elderly, and little kids. So they look evil. And even worse, they are losing. So they look like evil losers.
Improbably, the new plan is to pay our bills only for three months. Then Republicans will approach the same intersection. Again. Using the same tactics. Again. Attacking the same targets. Again. The President continues to insist that he will not negotiate on paying bills already incurred. If the Republican House damages the economy, it will not be as a result of negotiation. They will make that decision on their own.
The President is winning. He is winning the way New York City pedestrians have been winning since automobiles were invented.
He is looking the other way.
Introduction, Traditional Service,
9:00 AM, January 20, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Florissant, MO
We have faith in a heaven,
and we pray for an earth, full of God's Glory.
We pray for vision to unite us and light our way.
We pray for hope
that will make that vision real for us.
We share that hope with all the world,
with every child of God.
Our faith is faith in action.
Our faith is with the One
who comes in the name of the Lord.
We pray to that Lord,
the God of power and might.
We are community.
We come together in search for a new direction.
We come together in search for transformation.
We come together in search for a miracle.
Found on Line:
The 10th movement from AMASS by Jocelyn Hagen
The Singers - Minnesota Choral Artists
Directed by Matthew Culloton
First Lutheran Church
Columbia Heights, MN
February 12, 2011
|Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,||Holy, Holy, Holy,|
|Dominus Deus Sabaoth.||Lord God of Hosts.|
|Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.||Full are heaven and earth of thy glory.|
|Hosanna in excelsis.||Hosanna in the highest.|
Max's Dad commits vivisection on newer extremist trends in contemporary conservatism, including attacking the President's children. You get a quick sense of where he's heading at the first sentence: "Can these paranoid freaks shoot themselves any more without dying?"
A few months after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, future President Ronald Reagan gave a speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in which he characterized supporters of the Kennedy administration as making certain public statements: "peace at any price" and "better Red than dead" and, (this last Mr. Reagan swore he'd heard in a statement from an unnamed public figure) "he’d rather 'live on his knees than die on his feet.'". I was pretty young, but I do believe I would have heard of such positions taken by Kennedy, anyone in his administration, President Johnson, or any of their more prominent supporters. T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, proudly revisits portions of the Reagan speech.
I do confess some interest in Mr. Paine's reaction to another Reagan statement, 30 years later. After, presumably, growing in wisdom while serving in office, President Reagan joined with President's Ford and Carter, together sending this to every member of Congress:
While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.
We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.
The Heathen Republican features a Fox News personality who essentially argues that American revolutionary forces must match the armaments of US military forces. The analogy is that colonists would have lost had they faced the British with only crossbows.
I dunno. It seems to me that such brave revolutionary talk provides pretty thin cover for a cold blooded ideology. The argument accepts that the killing of dozens of little kids at a time is undesirable. It is an unfortunate, but necessary, collateral cost of the actual objective. That actual objective is the killing of multiple members of the of US Marines, infantry, and other military personnel in the coming armed insurrection. Heathen is featuring a prominent conservative who regards as oppressive the inadequate protection by the government of his future right to carry out such killings.
That strikes me as unrealistic.
The apparent position by conservatives is that it is unreasonably oppressive to require a shooter to reload after firing the first 10 shots at little kids. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite quotes a televised question posed by Martin Bashir that illustrates why that number is important.
Rumproast reports on the NRA attack on the President's daughters for not rejecting Secret Service protection, and the an under reported near deadly shooting during a road rage incident by the son of ... well you've got to read it. Sounds like some of these folks ought to either give up firearms or stop consuming bath salts.
Ryan at Secular Ethics looks at arguments for three different approaches to taxation and finds there is little room for argument about any of them beyond a restating of subjective standards of fairness.
There is a segment of Serious People, somewhat insulated from the rest of us, for whom federal deficits are not a problem: rather they are THE problem. S.W. Anderson at Oh!pinion suggests that timing is the real priority. Starving the patient back to health is not always practical.
Conservative James Wigderson says the closing of a long time dairy plant illustrates the danger of state anti-trust laws. The Governor's office says anti-trust actions have nothing to do with the closing, and the attorney for the company says the move was caused entirely by market forces. What those forces were, what the anti-trust actions were, and just how each set connects to the newly empty buildings, is left frustratingly unclear. One available insight is unintended, with apologies to James. If you want to know why voter frustration tends toward a pox on all houses, ambiguous reporting obscures responsibility. Who do you blame when you can't tell who to blame?
At Dreg Studios, Brandt Hardin has apparently been stopped and fined for failing to buckle up. This week, he rants that, while such laws may save lives, the only motivation for seat belt laws is state revenues. Okay, Brandt, there is no safety consideration. It's all a scam. Now buckle up and be safe from being penalized by court, fines, delays, and ... you know ... death.
Mad Mike's America reports on the Obama administration's reply to a petition to build a Death Star using the Empire's Star Wars model as a design prototype. Michael John Scott carries the Empire's reaction.
In Response to Burr Deming's Fiscal Train Wreck of 1973 Law
The budget process is initiated with a budget proposal from the president. The president's budget needs to take the opinions of the House into consideration if the president expects congress to seriously consider his budget proposal. Obama's unfounded arrogance apparently leads him to believe that he can completely disregard Congress' budgetary desires and ram his own desires down everyone's throat. He was mistaken.
F&B, January 16, 2013
What do you think the President is asking for when he submits his own budget proposal? The President has departments within the Executive branch that submit to him their own budget proposals, funding goals and plans for the coming year. The President takes this information, consolidates it into an overarching budget proposal and submits it to the Legislature where the Legislature uses it to determine the country's budget.
The President's budget proposal is, just that, a proposal. Not the set in stone budget for the country. The Legislative Branch has the power of the purse.
As far as the vote in the Senate that you refer to:
That was pure political theater. The House had already rejected the President's budget proposal, so what was being voted on in the Senate was not the actual budget proposal from the President but one from a Republican Senator.
And honestly, in lieu a budget, the Legislature produces the continuing resolutions to pay for things. Where do you think the President gets his credit card? The legislature gives it to him.
Now the Republicans, after letting the government spend money, want to play political games when the bills are due.
Trey is a frequent valued participant in comment discussions. We appreciate his further contribution today.
From CBS News:
President Obama has finally decided to outfit his official presidential vehicles with license plates that read "Taxation Without Representation," in a sign of solidarity with Washington, D.C. residents looking for representation in Congress.
The presidential fleet will bear the signs beginning inauguration weekend, the White House confirmed today.
From Washington City Paper:
The summons to Capitol Hill didn’t bode well. It was May 2011, and Mayor Vince Gray and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown had been called to testify on the city’s fiscal stability before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on the District of Columbia. The short hearing advisory offered few clues to the panel’s aims, outside of one ominous paragraph.
Unless you've seen it, or heard about it, or read about it already, you'll have a hard time guessing where the above images were published.
The poor oppressed 6 figure income folks are faced with increases in their tax burdens that range from zero, the weary looking retired couple with an annual income of $180,000, to 21,608 for the overburdened family with an income just shy of two-thirds of a million dollars.
Actually, my favorite is the beleaguered single mom with a quarter million dollar annual income. See how sad and worn she looks? The life of a waitress can be hard, especially if you pull in that amount in tips. A lot of tables there.
It seems kind of unfair, actually, the sort of constructing of a straw man and then knocking him down. You misrepresent an opposition argument, then have fun demolishing it. To anyone who is familiar with the pros and cons of the debate, that sort of thing will seem puerile, even juvenile.
It isn't an unknown tactic in the blogging world.
But these images are so over the top, it would be reasonable to consider them satire.
The damage done to the Romney campaign by his 47% quote, as I see it, was that it put new muscle into a previously discredited image of out of touch, snobby, superior feeling, rich folk. It was a Daddy Warbucks sort of image: the little figure with the top hat that Monopoly game players moved around the board.
The stereotype had, over the years, come to be recognized as a wild exaggeration. Nobody actually thought of working people as less virtuous and hard working than rich folk. Those who are wealthy may have their faults, as Jesus said, but they don't actually look down their noses at those less fortunate.
Then suddenly, they actually did.
Still, the poor, suffering rich as portrayed in that drawing, tired and overachieved, painfully scrounging for an extra 1 or 2 or 3 percent of tax revenue is taking ridicule a little far.
I didn't believe it at first. The images were based on a complaining article in the Wall Street Journal. After my surprise, it came to me that the images were drawn as a protest to the Rupert Murdoch publication. After all, this was the same Wall Street Journal that once published a piece bemoaning the fact that those living near the poverty line paid nearly no taxes. "Lucky Duckies" was the name the WSJ gave to those who labor for low pay.
Even based on an article inside the Journal, it is a little unfair. A legitimate debate is possible about whether those earning ten or fifteen times the average combined wage for a typical family ought to pay a higher percentage in taxes. No need to even imply a false image that no rational person would advance.
"I was sad," writes TBogg at FireDogLake, "because I had no shoes until I met a married couple with four kids living on a mere $650,000 a year with only $180,000 in investment income."
I don't blame you if you don't believe me. I didn't believe it until I checked. Click on the images. Unless it occurs to them to become embarrassed, the representation of poor downtrodden taxpayers will still be seen next to the third sentence of the article in the Wall Street Journal itself.
It is their drawing, published by their paper. By the way, that third sentence reads thusly:
While the top 1% of taxpayers will bear the biggest burden, many other families, affluent and poor, will pay more as well.
Yes, Virginia, that is actually how many of the top one percent, those who are instructed by the editorial policies of the premier financial newspaper, see the world. Those who ride buses to work are "Lucky Duckies." Those with six figure incomes range between affluent and ... you know.
Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? That was the title of a talk to a scientific symposium by Philip Merilees in 1972. The talk was on Chaos Theory and the entire concept of small events producing unpredictable large effects became known as the Butterfly Effect.
It seems reasonable to think that the increasingly unhinged rhetoric coming from the rightmost fringe of the Republican Party over gun safety will have an effect on public opinion. But evidence is elusive. It's a little like measuring the effect of that mythical butterfly in South America when the butterfly is surrounded by a hurricane, a tsunami, and a rain of frogs from the sky. The overwhelming public sentiment for a series of strong gun safety checks, combined with the deepening disdain the public is developing for Republican institutions makes it difficult to measure what additional effect the occasional public pronunciation may have.
Gun violence in minority neighborhoods, with frequent collateral killings of children playing on sidewalks or sleeping in their homes, has long provided a sort of background rumbling in news media. Individual death, even of a child, doesn't produce lasting headlines. The loss of a black kid has been just another day's work for many reporters.
But a classroom of kids taken all at once is a nightmare. And it has placed an emphasis what violence has come since. Yesterday a shooter here in St. Louis killed an administrator in a business school before killing himself. Six weeks ago, it would have produced a day or shocked wonderment.
It is easy to imagine a hot-blooded murder. Lovers quarrel. Employees are fired. Students fight. A gun offers an impulsive destructiveness that might otherwise pass.
But the killing of a classroom of little kids can only be thought possible in a mathematical sense. Somewhere, somehow, someone will develop the motivation to walk into a school with a military grade weapon and a deadly intent. Our neighborhoods are filled with a variety of people. Some small bit of that variety is bound to be unstable, prone to a sociopath's deadliness. And the technology of death amplifies the effect.
Imagination strains against image. The mental picture of the last moments in the lives of those small children staggers the emotion of normal people.
It is easy to imagine a callousness toward the occasional stranger. You don't have to be without feeling to see how someone can become cold, inured to yet another domestic case, or a workplace incident, or even a tragic child. A car accident, a fall, a case of gunfire, we can find some bridge to the one who shrugs and goes back to morning coffee and the sports section.
But an unfeeling apathy toward the small occupants of those little desks. An entire classroom of children barely out of infancy, each suddenly looking into the abyss. That takes a special sort of coldness.
We have little evidence of the effect on public opinion. Intuition can be wrong. But it is hard to see how some statements would not provoke most people: Representatives of gun manufacturers expressing outrage, not so much at the massacre of the littlest victims, but at steps keep such things from happening again.
That anyone would become angry at the thought that a schoolhouse shooter would have to reload after only half a dozen bullets has to strike more than a few citizens as wildly extreme. A conservative radio host taking a turn as a television guest must impress the average viewer as dangerous as he screams into the face of a mild mannered interviewer. A CEO in Tennessee promises to begin shooting if gun safety measures are taken by the government, then apologizes with the assurance that such a killing spree is not necessary. At least not yet.
The silence of many public conservatives is more understandable. The cynical thought is hard to avoid. It appears that a cold calculation is at work: That the bitter reaction to what happened in that classroom will fade in the dewy morning light, that public attention will eventually be captured by the next bright shiny object. That gun money contributions will pay for the next series of campaign ads.
But the rhetoric from the fringes, the loud public fury at even the mildest measures of public safety, has to be unnerving. Polls can't show it. There are limits to the velocity that speedometers can display. You can't measure what is off the charts.
The effect has to be there.
Or maybe not.
We can't know until the next election.
It wasn't supposed to work that way. Not in 1973. Not ever. Not the way President Nixon said it was going to happen. And it was an important moment when Train vs the City of New York went before the US Supreme Court.
The House of Representatives was supposed to write any law dealing with fiscal appropriations. That's why the House Ways and Means Committee was so powerful. That's why everyone in Washington bowed twice a day in the direction of Ways and Means chairman Wilbur Mills. At least they did until he got inebriated one evening and was stopped by police. Officers watched in amazement as a woman later identified as Argentine stripper Fannie Foxe jumped out of Mills' car and leaped into the Tidal Basin. Those were the days.
The House was supposed to start the fiscal ball rolling. Then the Senate was supposed to pass the bill. If the President signed it, it became law. If the President vetoed it, it could still become law. It was hard, but it was possible. The House and the Senate would have to pass the bill that the President had vetoed by a two-thirds majority. Each.
In 1973, that's just what happened. The House of Representatives passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Clean water was the issue. Even water that looked clean and sparkling as it came out of the tap had been shown to be an epidemic waiting to happen. So both Houses of Congress passed a bill to help localities clean things up.
President Nixon didn't much care for this particular environmental legislation. He vetoed it. But both Houses voted by a two-thirds majority to override. It became law.
New York City was supposed to get some of that funding, and they needed it. New Yorkers drink lots of water. That's because there are lots of New Yorkers. There is substantial water in New York, but it was notoriously unsafe.
But Nixon was still upset by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. He said something like "FWPCA YOU", which has more consonants than what he really said, and decided that Congress could appropriate whatever money they wanted, and could put it into funding for whatever bills they wanted. He simply wouldn't spend it.
He directed the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Russell Train, to sit on the money. Not literally sit, but the effect was the same. Train, being an obedient civil servant said "Okay, whatever," and impounded the funds.
New York City residents got a bit ticked. Also thirsty. So the city sued. In the meantime, President Nixon got caught covering up burglaries and such. Much later, tapes showed he actually planned crimes. He resigned in 1974, but lawsuits sometimes live beyond their litigants. This one did.
The Supremes issued their decision in 1975. No, no, no, said they. New York gets clean water funding. AND don't ever do that again. President Nixon didn't much care by then. He was just relieved that Congressman turned House Minority Leader turned Vice President turned President Ford issued a pardon. Nixon wouldn't have to go to jail. Who the devil cared about municipal sewers in New York when he had just gotten a get-out-of-jail card?
So the highest court in the land told President Ford, welcome to the White House, and don't ever do that again. So Gerald Ford said "Okay, whatever."
And that's where the law stands now.
The President of the United States is breaking the law if he does not spend money that funds a project that has gone through that process.
On the other hand, the President is breaking the law if he spends money that goes beyond the limits of what is called the debt ceiling.
So, when Republicans decide that elections don't count, and they will hold the country's economy hostage to get their way, it presents an interesting quantum mechanical puzzle. The President, by law, must spend money that, by law, he must not spend.
Welcome to the wonderful world of tail-wags-the-dog Republican governmental procedure.