Sheldon and Donald

Sheldon and Donald

In many ways Sheldon Cooper may have prepared us for Donald Trump, given us stamina to make it through the daily displays of Donald’s character eccentricities. Just think about Sheldon’s many quirks. He is set in his ways and is making obsessive compulsive disorder more mainstream. He is convinced of his own superiority to everyone around him, and arrogant with it. He is certain that he is a genius, the new Einstein, although he often makes simple mistakes in his research which prove to be fatal blows to his achieving the Nobel Prize he covets. He is very jealous when someone is more successful than him. He uses his “idiosyncratic” (spoiled) behavior to exert absolute authority over his little world. He manipulates everyone with his stubbornness and inflexibility. Sound familiar?

We can’t discuss this comparison of Sheldon and Donald without remembering some of Sheldon’s most overbearing behaviors, humorous in drama, but possibly not so much if Sheldon were a real person.

Sheldon’s First Time at the Cheese Cake Factory

 

Sheldon’s Spot

 

The Roommate Agreement

 

The Relationship Agreement

 

Sheldon as a Mobile VR Presence Device

However, Sheldon has some vulnerabilities that make him occasionally human and endearing. Sheldon’s friends also do not take his terrorism too seriously. They defuse it with sarcasm, humor, and affection. Sheldon’s friends make up a second family for him. Because he went away to college at such a young age and his social skills were therefore neglected, Sheldon’s friends almost reparent him and it is not an easy task. Penny is especially good, as a non-genius, at forging a close and somewhat sweet relationship with Sheldon who can be robotic, imperious, and lacking in a social IQ to match his intellectual IQ.

Maybe that’s what Donald missed, why he never achieved an adult balance to tone down his authoritarian streak with empathy and compassion. He never found a group of friends who felt unintimidated by his egotism, narcissism, and his absolute belief in his own genius. He never had people who affectionately modified his selfish and misguided self-sufficiency, who mocked him and teased him and grounded him. Trump’s seemingly ebullient extroversion allows him to live in his own isolated space where he can only be reached by people who constantly admire him and say yes to all his “brilliant” ideas. It is doubtful that Donald could be reparented at this late date.

Lots of experiences have unintended consequences, so let’s not ruin our enjoyment of this very popular diversion because of the ways in which Sheldon’s oddball personal traits might be helping Donald seem more socially acceptable. Sheldon of course is not real, he only seems real because The Big Bang has such great writers and really creative dialogue. It is entirely possible that these TV nerds have much improved the currency value of actual nerds. Sadly, though, there is a lot more humor to be had from Sheldon’s peculiarities than we will ever see from Donald’s. We may enjoy watching Big Bang reruns for decades. I have a feeling though, that Donald’s reruns may be very unpopular and will have to eventually be remixed. Of course he is already trying to rewrite it all but I doubt his writing skills equal the skills of The Big Bang crew. I doubt it can ever be rewritten to seem like Presidential behavior.

Thanks to the fans who recorded these bits of The Big Bang Theory. You will see their names when you watch the videos.

Dana Balter versus Citizens United

Dana v Katko

It turns out that I was wrong about Dana Balter when I called out to find a billionaire Democrat to assist in financing her campaign.

https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/appeal-the-democrats-new-york-24th/

Dana Balter does not want to be beholden to any special interests. She wants to be beholden to we the people. She is a principled candidate and would like a grassroots funded campaign.

Democrats, for the most part, feel that the Supremes made a bad call when they decided on behalf of Citizen’s United over the Federal Election Commission. The original beef was about whether a film slanted against Hillary Clinton could be aired during a Presidential campaign and yet the way the case was framed it ended up as a decision that granted “personhood” to corporations. The court decided that this was a first amendment case and in their decision they extended first amendment rights to nonprofits, corporations, and unions.

“In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, however, the majority argued that the First Amendment purposefully keeps the government from interfering in the “marketplace of ideas” and “rationing” speech, and it is not up to the legislatures or the courts to create a sense of “fairness” by restricting speech.” Wikipedia

By extension “money is speech” is a concept that resulted from this court decision in 2010. Since then feelings about this equivalency have polarized American politics. Many, mostly Democrats, were aghast at a law that equated votes and money, giving public organizations essentially more than one vote, because of the ways powerful groups with access to beaucoup dollars could influence public opinion through spending. The main objection is that this removes elections even further from the sphere of we the people. It makes our Democracy even less representative than it already is (because of the Electoral College and things like Superdelegates). But Conservatives, currently beloved by a number of billionaires and courted by corporations because of their stand on issues like fossil fuels and environmentalism, rejoiced when the court’s ruling went “their” way. Since then the money we see in local elections has risen precipitously.

Can David win once again over Goliath? Can Dana Balter use small donations to triumph against John Katko who shows no compunctions about accepting and using dollars from big donors and Conservative PACs? We already know that Katko has a campaign war chest in the low 7 figures and Dana’s is in the low 6 figures. Dana not only has the money obstacle to climb over; she has the matter of incumbency to deal with. To beat an incumbent takes even more momentum and support than to compete against another “newbie”.

Dana-Balter-At-Rally

But we could use some politicians with principles in Washington, we could use some new energy and we could use someone who sees their loyalty as belonging to we the people rather than the party that places her on the ballot. If you want to watch a fighter with a very laid-back style and fine intellectual skills take on someone like Rep. Jim Jordan vote for vote with civility then you need to support Dana Balter, and not just with your words. You need to prove that politicians can indeed win without contributions from special interests with their quid pro quo strings attached. You need to send Dana’s campaign some of your hard-earned dollars. You need to vote for her in November. She, in turn, will truly represent the needs and rights of all of her constituents and of the towns, cities, and villages of New York District 24.

 

 

Appeal to Democrats – New York 24th

 

Meet-Dana-Balter-100

Democrats, we need some star action here in Syracuse, New York. If you don’t have some big name people arrive soon to lavish some support on Dana Balter you will lose this seat in the House of Representatives. Some funding is also desperately needed. Aren’t there any billionaire Democrats in New York?

Dana Balter  wants to replace John Katko as the Representative holding the  New York 24thDistrict seat in the House of Representatives and many of us would like that very much. Dana Balter certainly has the intelligence for the job. There is also evidence, in terms of her take on the issues and her close relationship with her brother who has some hereditary challenges, that she exhibits the compassion for others that seems to be missing in the 115thCongress and, to some degree, in her opponent John Katko, who seems to be a more “tough love” kind of person.

Katko can see that there are people in his district who disapprove of some of the policies coming out of Washington, but he refuses to give them a face-to-face listen. He seems fearful of dissent and unwilling to entertain any views other than those he has arrived at through his own experiences. He has essentially disenfranchised a fairly large share of his constituency. But John Katko is the incumbent and incumbents have an enormous edge against new political candidates.

Clearly, Conservatives in Washington want John Katko to retain his seat in the 116thCongress when it convenes after the election.

That’s why Mike Pence and his wife came to Syracuse in June.

pence-indiana-77e1ee006c0aac04

Mike Pence visits Syracuse today to raise money, tout Trump tax overhaul

By Mark Weiner, , mweiner@syracuse.com. Syracuse.com

“Vice President Mike Pence plans to spend four hours in the Syracuse area today, promoting the Republican tax overhaul and raising money for Rep. John Katko’s reelection campaign.

Mike Pence will be the featured speaker at a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser for Katko at noon at the Embassy Suites hotel next to Destiny USA in Syracuse. The White House said the event will be closed to the public, and no press will be allowed inside the banquet facility.”

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/mike_pence_visits_syracuse_today_to_raise_money_tout_trump_tax_overhaul.html

Then Ivanka made her way to Syracuse, not exactly a fashion-forward destination, to announce her father’s new job’s training initiative and to bring three deserving Syracuse student to Washington to sign the bill. I don’t want to be cynical because Syracuse needs these kinds of programs, but the timing also could not hurt in John Katko’s campaign as the incumbent for the 24thDistrict seat.

Ivanka Trump tells execs at White House: Syracuse tech students an inspiration

donald-trump-ivanka-trump-alex-acosta-wilbur-ross-ade3c95c7c33e9d3

President Donald Trump signs an executive order on job training as three Syracuse high school graduates, from left, William DeJesus, Robert Felder and Lilly La, watch in the East Room of the White House. Ivanka Trump, fourth from left, invited the students to the ceremony on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Washington.  (Andrew Harnik | AP Photo)

By Mark Weiner, , mweiner@syracuse.com. Syracuse.com

“Last week in Syracuse, New York, I met several recent high school graduates who join us today,” Ivanka Trump told the executives. “Through the Pathways to Technology Program they each graduated with more than 20 college credits and experienced interning in fields such as science, manufacturing and electrical engineering.”

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/07/ivanka_trump_tells_execs_at_white_house_syracuse_tech_students_an_inspiration.html

Dems please note the large election fund gap between John Katko and your candidate, Dana Balter. If you want to win this seat you need to find some more dollars for Ms. Balter.

John Katko has $1.2M edge over Dana Balter in NY-24 campaign for Congress

katko-balter-mashupjpg-1c5a8face218d9cc

By Mark Weiner, , mweiner@syracuse.com. Syracuse.com

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. John Katko begins his reelection bid against Democrat Dana Balter with a $1.2 million advantage over his opponent in available campaign funds, federal records show.

Katko, R-Camillus, had $1.3 million in cash in his campaign account, while Balter had $101,112 as of June 6, according to reports the campaigns filed with the Federal Election Commission in Washington.

Balter had to burn through some of that cash as she battled to win a Democratic primary campaign on Tuesday against Juanita Perez Williams in the 24th Congressional District.

That leaves Katko with a lopsided advantage that will allow him to outspend Balter on campaign advertising.

https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/06/john_katko_has_12m_edge_over_dana_balter_in_ny-24_campaign_for_congress.html

 

Please do not let John Katko represent us again, at least without putting up a fierce though fair fight.

 

 

Trump, Putin and Us

trump-putin-usa big The Forward

Trump, Putin and Us

What a week! We can now see the connections between Trump, the GOP, the NRA, and religious fundamentalists and Putin in Russia that have been building for decades. And yet we still find a Trump/GOP base in America that cannot be swayed.

https://www.salon.com/2018/07/21/how-low-can-trump-go/

“As the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in tighter and tighter on Trump’s inner circle and Trump himself, tending to his base is the key to Trump staying in office. A recent Washington Post poll showed that close to 50 percent of Republicans believe that Trump won the popular vote in 2016. He didn’t; Hillary Clinton received nearly 3 million more votes than Trump. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans believe Trump’s lie that millions of illegal immigrants voted in 2016, and nearly 75 percent believe that voter fraud occurs “somewhat or very often.” It doesn’t; numerous studies have found voter fraud to be close to nonexistent.

But it’s this statistic that’s most shocking in the Post poll of Republicans. “52 percent said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed this,” according to the Post.”

In case you didn’t read that quote, it said, in a Washington Post survey 52% of Republicans polled would support postponing the 2020 election.

We also learned of the close connection between Maria Butina, a Russian operative, and the NRA. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/opinion/republican-party-national-rifle-association-trump-russia.html

And we learned that Russians attended the National Prayer Breakfast, a Conservative fundamentalist religious function. https://www.salon.com/2018/07/21/putins-close-ties-to-national-prayer-breakfast-revealed_partner/

If America and Russia become besties, and if Trump is able to postpone the 2020 election, what can we expect America to be like. Hard to tell. This morning in the New York Times there was an article by a man who knew Sakharov, a Russian physicist and dissident who spent long periods imprisoned and in a Russian gulag. He warns us that life without freedom is a double life. You steal private moments of freedom at your risk and in public you comply to whatever the government asks. Within the article is a reprint of Sakharov’s essay, distributed in Russia as a secret document passed from hand to hand.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/opinion/andrei-sakharov-essay-soviet-union.html

“Sakharov’s decency made him a moral compass orienting not just the East, but also the West. He insisted that international relations should be contingent on a country’s domestic behavior — and that such a seemingly idealistic stance was ultimately pragmatic. “A country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respect the rights of its neighbors,” he often explained…

Mr. Trump has taken America’s human-rights-free foreign policy to absurd new heights. His assertion that North Koreans support Kim Jong-un with “great fervor” undermined America’s moral standing, sabotaged North Korean dissidents and legitimized an evil dictator. His shocking refusal to confront President Vladimir Putin of Russia over his country’s blatant interference in the 2016 United States presidential election highlights his unwillingness to protect Americans’ democratic rights, let alone Russians’ human rights.”

Trumps base big Getty images

Trump’s Base

But I don’t think this is what is on the minds of Trump’s base. Their interests are perhaps more varied and more parochial. Some are passionate about killing Roe v Wade. Some are simply nostalgic for what they consider better times for the middle class in America and they insist on having that back. Some are concerned that America will no longer be a white and Christian nation, and they will allow children to be placed in cages if that will make their wishes reality. Some are protecting an almost frontier vision of America, with absolute rights guaranteed by local law enforcement and by the federal government, think Duck Dynasty and the passionate defense of guns in America.

But what Trump supporters will get in the end probably will be quite different from what they are asking. They may get an end to Roe v Wade but they will also lose good health coverage, especially for those with preexisting conditions, which will be practically everyone. They may be able to stop all immigration and thereby end illegal immigration and they may no longer see their benefits spent on “those people” but they may also lose their own benefits. Medicare and Social Security use money from the budget that Trump and the GOP would like to earmark for other things, or steal. Without Medicare and Social Security seniors will die and they will die earlier and in greater numbers than is natural. If Trump and the GOP see seniors as burdens because they are no longer able to labor physically and perhaps, even mentally, then a man with so little compassion would be happy to let go of unproductive members of American society with barely a twitch of emotion. Poor people have already been written off. Trump says there are no more poor people in America.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/donald-trumps-poverty-problem/563960/

I think we can easily predict the demise of the social safety net. No poor, then no food stamps, no welfare, no Medicaid. We the people are the ones that will be cut out of America’s budget.

Who will do the work the immigrants have been doing, America’s dishes, weeding, planting and picking. Who will clean America’s public restrooms and serve as teacher’s aides in our schools? Who will complete American renos and put in American floors? Trump’s base could very well find itself doing all of these jobs or living in a nation where the niceties are no longer observed and filth and hunger and disease are what we inherit. We will have a government that keeps passing the dollars up the chain and we will be paid lower wages and have fewer ways out of the poverty that doesn’t exist.

We are the people who did not know how to turn a nickel into a million dollars, or who did not have a daddy who gave us a million dollar stake. We are the people who never learned to be ruthless in business but only ruthless to each other.

Who will our friends be? Well, Putin, and President Xi and Kim Jong Un and Duterte and Erdogan. We will have a whole new cohort of meanness and no one to appeal to for aid and assistant. Perhaps we will start picking off American drug dealers and drug users like Duterte.

Armed Guard in Kansas big The New Yorker

The Rich, the 1%

What will the wealthy be doing? I saw an article about that this week also. They will be looking for guards they can trust to protect them in their walled estates. Sound familiar. It should, it is feudalism without knights, only paranoia.

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/doomsday-luxury-bunkers/index.html

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/30/doomsday-prep-for-the-super-rich

In a world that promises to be crowded with 9 billion people, how expendable will most of us be? Trump’s little cult is helping him and others separate the wealthy from the poor in whole other dimensions besides our bank accounts and our possessions. Trump’s base may be dooming themselves and us to obsolescence. Unless we show genius or the willingness to perform menial tasks, how will we be necessary to people who do not value the rights of ordinary people. Why should they share the wealth with us? I doubt that they intend to.

Whenever you get into this realm of extrapolating the future from the present you lose any real basis in fact and you lose your credibility. The future could unfold in many different ways. However I do not see a role for Donald Trump in the future of America. Now that we have him in the oval office though there does not seem to be a way to rid ourselves of him that is consistent with our morality. And that is a dilemma because we are dealing with someone without morality, only some kind of code of personal loyalty. We know he is a bad President, possibly a traitorous President but we have given power to the Conservative literal interpretation of our Constitution and we therefore have no way, within the rules of our system, to unseat him. We are waiting for absolute proof  which we may never have. This is a man who knows how to cover his tracks and see his troops indicted for his own deniability.

Our squeamishness may land us in Trump/Putin land. We can practice when Putin comes to oversee our election in November. I bet he will be here for Trump’s military parade. Donald will be so proud, except for the lack of the tanks. How will it feel? Like a betrayal of every little thing we treasured about the USA.

This is, as always, a view from the cheap seats.

Photo credits: Photo one – Google Image Search – The Forward, Photo two – Google Image Search – Daily Kos, Photo three – The New Yorker

 

 

 

Our Constitution has no Teeth

Upper portion of U.S. Constitution on wooden desk

It is entirely possible that our Constitution is no longer up to the task of keeping American governance on the track our forefathers set it on. There do not seem to be any teeth in our documents. As I listened to our “ersatz” President stand next to Putin in Russia and say to our competitor, a man who manipulates and controls everyone and everything in his own country, a man who we were just told tried to interfere in an American election, that he, Trump, is sorry that we have treated this absolute dictator so badly.

As these events unfolded I had to listen to commentators use adjectives that were not nearly powerful enough to describe the calumny that had just occurred – and as these events unfolded I had to admit that I was astounded that Trump is allowed to fly back to Washington, that he could blithely take his seat in the oval office as if he just made a great speech full of wisdom, a speech that proves he deserves to share a seat in the place where FDR once sat (or any other of the best Presidents we have put in that seat.) Even I who have no faith in this man, was shocked by the content of Trump’s address.

I have been a staunch fan of our founding documents since my first American History class. The Declaration of Independence was drawn up by brave men on a new continent, far from their homes, who made a new home in America and decided to go it alone without England. England was an overbearing parent, stealing the fruits of American labors in taxes and fees and tariffs. They brazenly asserted their ownership over the colonies by forcing families to give rooms to British soldiers in their own homes. The King of England did not expect our American forefathers to have the boldness to declare their independence, fight a war to back up their declaration, and then to win the right to make their own nation

When the American Constitution was revealed and read in Europe it was so powerful and such a great blueprint for governing that it spelled the end of the most powerful monarchies. I was deeply impressed by what our forefathers had done and the architecture of our democracy. I realize that we are admonished these days to call our government a republic. I realize that it is actually a republic because it is based on a constitution. But at the heart of our Constitution is a plan for a democracy, with checks and balances to forestall power grabs by people whose egos can lead them astray.

Until recently our Constitution has been respected enough by both politicians and citizens that any loopholes that were apparent were either passed by, or others curtailed their use by those without scruples. Our checks and balances seemed up to anything the very flawed human animal could dish up. That our Constitution made it through the Civil War intact is a plain miracle. Hatreds ran so high, opinions were so divided, that only the killing fields would stop the fever. That the entire controversy happened to be over whether it was legal or not to make some humans slaves, to make them less than other people, is something modern minds have difficulty grappling with. And humanitarian values won, although bitterness has remained all these years later. Our Constitution, our documents, held up,

Lately, though, I despair that there are American people who have decided to use the flaws and loopholes that always existed in our documents to hold onto power, to block the system of checks and balances that keeps our democratic practices on a somewhat even keel. America is obviously still bifurcated, and bitterness still abides in many American hearts. America has new challenges to deal with also, given that the chaos around the world is making old hostilities seem far less frightening than some of the terrorism that is arising from rapid political and cultural change around the globe.

Chaos causes migrations which threaten to change lives on a planet that once had far fewer boundaries and was far less crowded (although mass migrations have never been easily accommodated). And our country is being ravished by people who have decided to use what they consider their superior intellect to exploit the vagaries and loopholes in our documents. This time I think our Constitution might not be up to the task. Our republic/democracy, our grand experiment in equality, in the rights of man, may be dismantled by money of all things. And power and hubris.

It is difficult to believe that the bar for the rules that protect our government has been placed so high that those very protections are neutralized, cannot be used against anyone and especially against a President. When did we write the laws that put our President above the law? When did impeachment become a safeguard we can never use except frivolously? When were the rules for calling treason made so narrow that someone could commit treason and the definitions in the law would not allow us to name it.

If we keep letting our President slide when he tramples American mores our Constitution will be destroyed in the process and so will our republic/democracy. What will we be left with? I have seen many options in dystopian literature, but I still cannot imagine how we might be governed. We are far more likely to lose freedoms than to gain them. Since our lives go along pretty smoothly right now day to day comments like this are seen as the overreactions of someone drowning in negativity. If that turns out to be true I will be happy to be wrong.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Washington Monthly

The Supreme Court Horror Flick

horror flick 2 Freepik big

The day’s events have made many of us disconsolate and distraught all the way back to when Trump won the 2016 election, but for some reason the retirement of Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court tipped the scales towards grief, and a resignation to the reality of these destructive events. Until that point it seemed as if the damage could be easily undone if political attitudes shifted to the center, left, or even further left. Having a court that leans hard right for decades means that right wing extremists will continue to have a decisive edge far into the future. It means that we the people have a lot to lose.

Roe V Wade

Everyone talks as if losing Roe v Wade, losing the right for women to control their own bodies is the only thing we stand to lose. And it is a big loss. Many have no memory of pre-Roe truths in women’s lives. Younger people have always had contraception. Abortion has always been an option. Without control of their own reproductive rights women’s lives will either cycle backwards into more archaic patterns or women may choose to rebel and practice sexual abstinence, at least in situations where pregnancy might result. This would all be life-changing for women and for men too.

Health Care

However Roe v Wade is not the only staple of modern American life that could be curtailed or overturned. Health care is being pared away by this administration. They are joyful at the prospect of ending coverage for people with preexisting conditions and replacing lifetime caps for coverage. They can make these changes without the court, but there will be no Supreme Court to rein them in. As state after state offers health care plans that are just grabs for consumer dollars, plans that offer no protection in the event that the insured actually gets sick, cases that go to the Supremes will uphold the insurance companies right to giant profits over the needs of ailing people every time.

Immigration

There will still be Federal district courts and there are still liberals on those courts. They have been very helpful in stopping the most inhumane practices of an administration intent on racial cleansing through closing America off to asylum seekers. We are told that every one of these people seeking refugee status is telling a “fake” story and that they do not deserve our compassion. These people may actually be gang members coming to kill you in your beds, coming to rape your daughters. Fearmongering.

But, taking children away from parents is just a bridge too far. None of us signed on for this. The entire world, except for a few interested dictators, is aghast. Not saving data that would allow these children to be reunited with their parents is unimaginable. We knew mass deportation would feel Nazi-esque, but we were Trumped. He owns the levers of governance. This feels like we may be worse than that Hitler crew because we swore we would never, ever repeat those atrocities and yet we are well on our way. With a Supreme Court that is partisan and loyal to the President rather than the Constitution we could well uphold even worse behavior.

Economics

Some people, Trump’s people don’t seem concerned about these things. They seem to be happy with the idea of “white” America. However, mostly they seem to think that Trump is some kind of economic genius. They love the tax cuts. Why? They believe in the tariffs. Most economists are very worried about a trade war and think the tariffs will work against American business and trade. Trump and the GOP believe that there should be few to no regulations on businesses and corporations so they are throwing out decades of rules that helped end the worst practices of Capitalism. Unfettered Capitalism can be as brutal as it wishes. Trumpers love to see Trump dishing out restraints against China. But studies prove that endeavors that include only “yes” men (and this includes a one-sided Supreme Court) usually fail. Dissent is essential to the health of a business and, even more so, of a government.

Pollution and Climate Change

Donald Trump just made asbestos legal again. Since when did American laws respond to the whims of one, possibly nutty, man. He says that if we had used asbestos in building the World Trade Center those buildings would still be standing. And what he doesn’t say, because he doesn’t care, is that the workers would all be dead or dying of mesothelioma. He loves coal but people’s lungs don’t. He has a picture in his head of times when smoke was pouring into American skies and industry was booming along. All that matters to Trump and his people is money. There is a lot more to a society that functions well for all than just money. If people lose all their safety, their health, and their rights what will be left to make life worthwhile? The whole world of trade will just be one big company store. If the Supreme Court cannot rule against the administration when concerns are placed before it, or when the Court refuses to take cases so it will not have to buck the system, then there is no democracy, there is only the illusion of democracy.

Mueller Investigation

Perhaps we place too much hope in the possibility that Mr. Mueller will eventually reveal how corrupt our President truly is, perhaps even proving that he has dabbled in treason in order to “win”. But our concerns that the Supreme Court could take the sting out of this investigation in any number of ways adds to the difficulty of getting to the bottom of Russian meddling in American politics, of whether that meddling affected the outcome of the election, and whether or not Donald Trump played a role in the Russian behaviors in 2016. We are not really convinced by assurances that this will not happen from the current nominee

Foreign Affairs

For the most part I don’t think the Supreme Court rules on our role on the foreign stage. I don’t think they can insist that we stay in NATO or on the committees in the UN that we have recently resigned from (having to do with human rights) because that is a duty of Congress. But once again the dissent that exists in Congress is powerless right now to place restraints on a leader intent on running roughshod over our friends and allies and cozying up to authoritarians. It was demoralizing and embarrassing to watch our President’s behavior in Europe and in the UK this week. (He liked it better when they called it England – smack your head.)

As I prepare to watch America’s future unfold with this party and this President in control and swollen with the power of it all, I believe I will have to do it the way I watch a horror flick. I will have to place my hands over my eyes and peak out through my fingers every so often.

Reasons Not to Reelect John Katko

John Katko big syracuse.com

They say all elections are local and this time, since we are talking about the midterms in 2018, and since my Senators are not up for reelection, this truly is a local election. Since I live in the 24thdistrict in NYS, my representative, John Katko, is up for reelection.

However, since the Citizen’s United decision, allowing businesses to pour money into elections that were once considered strictly local matters, local elections have come to be dominated by partisan national concerns and by wealthy Conservatives who control GOP politics these days. Because of the atrocious amounts of money being spent by Conservatives to decide who should fill a seat in the House of Representatives, and since Republicans pockets are deep, Democrats must raise huge amounts of money to stay in the race.

The GOP likes having a majority, but that majority is never large enough for their tastes. In the 115thCongress there are 193 Democrats, 236 Republicans and 6 vacant seats in the House of Representatives. The Republicans can pass anything they want to pass through the House right now and have been very productive. As long as you are happy with Conservative ideology it seems quite satisfying.

Laws that will negatively affect Americans are being passed everyday but they are designed to detonate after Trump’s reelection in 2020.This is not the way our contentious, lively government usually operates. Usually we hear more voices on any given issues and decisions have to be hashed out in compromises. Blending of ideas may actually produce best governance. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to have a say in the House and they need to retain the seats they hold right now. Elections have consequences. We have always known this but it has come to have the deeper meaning offered by hard experience since the 2016 election.

So election ads have already begun in my district and people are being told things about John Katko that are patently untrue. They are being told that Mr. Katko gave up a great job as a law and order gang-buster, a job he loved, in order to go to Washington to represent the community that he loves, the 24thDistrict of the State of New York. He acts like representing his district in Congress is a personal sacrifice that he has undertaken on our behalf. This does not sound like the proper spirit in which to approach public service. However Katko has impressive bona fides and the essence of this part of the ad is probably true.

 

The same ad assures us that John Katko is bipartisan, the most bipartisan of all the representatives. He crosses the aisle to vote more than anyone else. It could be true that he crosses the aisle more than others, but he would only have to do that about two times to beat out all the other representatives. John Katko, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, voted with Republicans and Trump 89.3%. That hardly qualifies as bipartisanship. How many people do you think will look this up? Well, I’m guessing, not any people who watch Fox News. But here is the link:

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/john-katko/

I found this summary on the site politicsthatwork.com but it may not be quite accurate. It says Katko supports public health but he voted to have Trump’s very bad health plan replace the Affordable Care Act.

Summary of voting record: Representative Katko opposes taxing businesses, consumer protection, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, foreign and humanitarian aid, labor rights and wages, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy, domestic surveillance and supports big business, funding education, public health, taxing the middle class, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, higher spending.

There is a very readable graphic to back up this summary at this link:

http://politicsthatwork.com/voting-record/John-Katko-412649

John Katko is no hero to me. The way he sets about cleaning up gangs is to put them away in jail for a long, long time. He represents the inner city of Syracuse (along with suburban and rural communities). The inner city of Syracuse is consistently on the lists of the poorest cities in America. Locking up people who do the frightening things that gang members are reported to do makes Katko’s constituency feel safer. But it has not solved the problems of gangs in our little city. Don’t you think there is a correlation between being very poor and ganging up? Well I do.

Katko brings money home for our farmers, which is good, but he does not bring home money to create and run programs that would change the dynamics of our inner city. He does not seem to worry that the poorest people have the worst schools and the fewest opportunities. He thinks like Donald Trump. If people are bad, lock them up.

Many of his constituents would fail to see value in money spent to keep children out of gangs. Many would fail to see value in offering to help these kids get to college. And that is directly due to current Conservative messaging which many of Katko’s constituents listen to all day every day. On Fox News it is drummed into people’s heads that college messes up people and society. A college education is not a good thing. Manual training is the way to go. I have no problem with manual training, but I think a liberal college education changes people’s world view forever and in very positive ways. Conservatives think just the opposite.

Clearly it will not be possible to change Katko’s mind set. He is who he is. He is a Conservative and he is an extreme Conservative. He may have voted against the farm bill because it would cut SNAP money for his poorest peeps, but I believe he was allowed to vote against the party on this one issue because they had enough votes without him, and because it would be a huge negative against him in his reelection campaign.

Remember I live in Katko’s district. I have met the folks from the Democratic side of the aisle who would like to meet with Katko. They are good people with valid concerns. He does not do Town Halls unless they are limited to attendees who sign up in advance and unless they are scripted. He does not speak with the resisters who haunt the pavement outside his downtown Syracuse and his Auburn office carrying signs to make their point because it is almost the only way to communicate with him.

John Katko works only for the people who voted for him. He does not have to compromise with the rest of us who are not Conservatives because Conservatives control all parts of our national government and they all delight in denigrating everything Democrats/Liberals/Progressives have to say.

I have sent letters to John Katko and he always answers them on nice official stationery and he is very professional. But it is clear that he places no value on the things I say or feels any need to listen to my point of view. His message is always a variation on “I understand, but…”. I never remember a time in American politics when voting for the party that didn’t win meant that you were totally beside the point, but we are in that time now. Political discussions are difficult and it is easy to win a debate when the other side is not allowed to speak, but, in such a system, if there are policy failures it will be very clear who erred.

Mr. Katko votes constantly. His attendance is good. He loves to vote I guess and it is his job, but if I just read about what is in a bill or House Resolution on Countable.com, I can predict how he will vote and I am always right. The Republicans used to complain about the Democratic “nanny state”, but these Conservatives want to control every little thing and overturn every little regulation. They want to get rid of our National Parks and that is pretty serious, but many of the laws or HR’s that have passed deal with minutiae, which could, however, when combined, create massive changes in our democracy.

I hope everyone will seriously consider voting against this partisan guy, John Katko. He is obviously a ‘nice’ person, civil and with good manners, but he is an inflexible person and arrogant. He has a “daddy complex”. He thinks he rules by ‘divine right’ because he is a Christian man. He believes he knows what is best for all of us and that as long as the people who voted for him are happy then he is certain that he has done his job. Although, that is not even close to his job.

One more bonus link:

https://votesmart.org/candidate/evaluations/152546/john-katko#.W0Z90i2ZP-Y