Remember…To Impeach Her, You Gotta Elect Her

Hillary Clinton Begins Presidential Campaign In Iowa

We’re going to take a pause on my “Top Ten Underrated Hard Rock Songs” to slip a final tidbit in regarding a pretty big deal that’s happening next week.

There’s been something that has been bugging me of late. The tumultuous 2016 General Election campaign has brought seemingly the worst out of people rather than their better angels. But one of the things that has been particularly annoying is the moves by the Republican Party – recognizing the fact that Donald Trump won’t get into the White House without an invitation or a paid ticket (as Bill Maher, who contributed the title of this essay a few months ago, has said, “It’s too late to get away, Republicans. You’ve handcuffed yourself to the dead hooker, now drag it to the finish line!”) – to already subjugate the prospective Presidency of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

First it was Arizona Senator John McCain – himself locked into a death duel for his seat in the Senate – who said that, should Clinton be elected, that the Senate would block any nomination she made for the Supreme Court of the United States. Then the reptilian Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, echoed the sentiments of McCain. Finishing it off, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, the head of the House Oversight Committee, said his group had enough subjects to investigate Clinton “for the next two years.” (Imagine then the richness of the irony of Chaffetz potentially facing a similar investigation as Clinton for his use of a private server.)

It wasn’t always like this. Prior to the ascension of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency, the two sides – Democrats and Republicans – would often work together with the interests of the citizenry of the United States at the forefront instead of the political party they were affiliated with. It is well known that Reagan and then-Speaker of the House, Democrat Tip O’Neill, would often bash heads as opposition leaders, but they would also find a common ground and work things out for the betterment of the country.

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There was even that type of shared partnership in the 1990s during the Presidency of Bill Clinton. His opposite number, then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (and really…is there a better vermin name for a politician than Newt?), did at one time have the ability to negotiate with Clinton and work for improving the welfare of the people. Then came the incident that would separate the two leading parties in the United States into warring camps instead of able leadership.

The 1998 impeachment of Clinton – the charges were perjury (lying under oath about not having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky) and obstruction of justice (same situation) – only came about after the Republicans took charge following the 1998 midterm elections. Forgetting that the House of Representatives could bring charges but the Senate would try the President, the case led to the acquittal in the Democrat-led Senate, not even coming close to the two-thirds that were necessary for conviction.

From that point on, the fragmentation of the political structure in the United States – and the damage that it continues to do – has only gotten worse. The Gore/Bush 2000 election only exacerbated the situation (with the election eventually ended by decision of the Supreme Court), then the Second Gulf War and invasion of Iraq after 9/11 further separated everyone. The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency brought out a racial attitude from the GOP that was unprecedented (OK, maybe it was around from 1965, but it really came out strong after Obama’s election – twice). That attitude lead to the nomination in 2016 of a xenophobic, fascist, racist and misogynous misanthrope that allowed the id of the GOP to be displayed publicly to be nominated for President by the party.

Now we stand on the precipice of the final act of this Presidential season, where we will likely see Hillary Clinton become the first woman (and the first spouse of a former President) to be elected. The shape of the Congress is still under question, with many saying that the Senate is a lost cause for the GOP, but that the House will remain in the hands of the Republicans by a slim margin. This is important in that it will be a direct reflection of what we can expect for the next couple of years at the minimum.

In Washington D. C., it is who is in control of the Congress that is the most important thing. If the opposing party of the President is in control of both sides of Capitol Hill, then nothing gets done. If the sitting President’s party oversees both sides, then there’s too much of a rubber stamp for the President and no check on his (or, we will be able to say soon, her) actions. In a perfect world, there would be one side of Congress in one party’s hands and the other in the President’s party (House or Senate, it doesn’t matter). Normally this would force them to work together but, as we have seen since probably the late 1990s, that hasn’t been true.

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There is one problem, however. I’ve noticed that people are already tossing around the “impeachment” word when it comes to Clinton and that is outrageous. First off, the woman hasn’t even taken the goddamn office yet…normally you should impeach someone for the actions of their Presidency (both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached for actions during their tenures, not before they became President – same would have been true for Nixon IF he hadn’t resigned). To try to charge someone for their PREVIOUS actions before they are President is unprecedented and shouldn’t be an acceptable action.

Impeaching the President of the United States is saved for severe crimes and treasonous acts, not storing e-mails on a goddamn computer (or a blowjob, in her husband’s case). If you can SHOW where Clinton, through an e-mail, had a motherfucking effect on a foreign policy act or that said e-mail landed in the hands of a foreign power and they used it for ill intent, then you must be better than Congress, who has investigated her a minimum of 10 fucking times and for more than 30 years (to the tune of roughly $500,000,000) and hasn’t charged her with a goddamn thing.

Here’s a suggestion that will send the alt-right into a frothing, ravenous frenzy. President Obama, as he begins to see the sun set on his days in the White House, has the right to issue pardons to certain U. S. citizens, forgiving their actions and/or crimes they may or may not have committed. How about Obama save one of those Presidential pardons for Hillary, stating firmly that Clinton, prior to her inauguration on January 20, 2017, is absolved of any “actions” she may have done in the past. With a stroke of his pen, Obama could save the country a bunch of money and a bunch of bullshit.

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The GOP would go off the rails, looking for ways to circumvent Obama’s pardon, but they would be unable to do so. Without the specter of Chaffetz’s investigations (or someone else who might threaten impeachment) hanging like The Sword of Damocles, the fucking government might have to work together and get things done. And if it hasn’t been evident, the Democrats may have introduced obstruction, but the Republicans have perfected it.

I can get it if you don’t agree with Clinton’s political stance or her party’s ideas. I can even understand it if you’ve got legitimate problems with some actions she might have done in the past. What I cannot understand is why someone would want to continue to dwell on these issues (hello, GOP?) and even go to the lengths of putting the country through such a divisive and partisan exercise as potentially impeaching a President-ELECT who hasn’t even had a week in office. I also can’t stand it when people can’t rub two of their brain cells together to form a cohesive thought and simply run with whatever bullshit is fed to them by the alt-right, which has the potential to be the single most destructive faction in the United States’ history.

After Tuesday night, we’ll have a new President chosen (and we should, if Cheeto Jesus can be tossed in a straightjacket long enough to roll him to the asylum). Why don’t we try something unique…starting a Presidency by working together rather than tearing each other apart? It seems to work well for every other sane country in the world, why not us?

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Why I Currently Don’t Support Bernie Sanders

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When it comes to my political stance, I am an independent with liberal leanings. This makes sense as, when there is that proverbial blue moon (or, as some might put it, Hell freezes over), there are some conservative candidates who are the better choice for office and I have voted for said candidate. As I’ve stated another time, I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, Bush I in 1988 and Bush II in 2004, feeling that every time I did they were the better candidate for the office. On a number of state ballots I have also pulled the lever with an “R” by the name. Those tendencies lately, though, are becoming fewer and farther between.

That doesn’t mean that my vote is automatically going to the Democrats. I’m not pleased with the leading choice there, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, due to a wealth of baggage that she would bring into the office of the Presidency with her. Hell, she’d probably be the first President elected who, on the day after her inauguration, would face the potential of impeachment (remember, this Congress isn’t going to change out of the GOP hands due to the House gerrymandering that has basically set up Republican strongholds in states; before you say it, yes, the Dems have the same thing in the cities, but not nearly to the same extent).

Thus, the only other logical choice for the Democrats is Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator who is proud of the fact that he is a “Democratic Socialist,” and whom immediately sends conservatives fleeing to the hills instead of a political science textbook. A Democratic Socialist, according to my research, is someone who believes in the policies of democracy but believes that the fruits of said democracy should be shared among all people and not concentrated in the hands of a few (if I am wrong here, please let me know in the comments…hopefully I can learn as well as you). The genial Sanders, who may remind you of a kindly Uncle or a Grandfather, is a firebrand who is giving Clinton all she wants and more, hence his leads in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

About a week ago, I was taken to task by a friend over something I wrote. In that article, I looked at the Democrats and only mentioned Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden as viable candidates (and Biden is looking less and less likely as time goes by). “What about Bernie?” my friend asked. Over the course of the discussion, I detailed out my reasoning for not being able to support Sanders at this time…but that still has the potential to change.

Sanders is doing a great job in drawing in potential voters to hear him speak at his rallies. In Greensboro, NC, on Sunday, Sanders drew in a crowd of approximately 9000 people at the Greensboro Coliseum. It was at this rally (unfortunately I couldn’t attend as I had to watch my son…political rallies, contrary to popular belief, are not a great place for kids) that some of Sanders’ issues came to light.

One of those in attendance, a black woman from Charlotte, noted that there was little diversity to those that supported Sanders. “It’s a very white crowd,” she said in the local paper. “Right now, at this point in the campaign, maybe that’s not a surprise.” There is one of the areas that I’ve noticed with many a Sanders rally is that it isn’t the most diverse cast when it comes to support and Sanders isn’t alone with this problem. I’ve seen the same for many of the Republican candidates on the stump (Donald Trump, I’m looking at you). I have problems with any candidate who cannot at the minimum give me the impression that they have a wide base of support across all people…white, black, brown, green with purple polka dots, you name it.

The audience in attendance for the Sanders rally in North Carolina (later, Sanders would become probably the first Socialist to ever set foot at Liberty University in Virginia) was also very young. I don’t have a problem with the youth of today being politically active, I actually enjoy it more when those 18-25 are involved in their future because it inspires me to examine what is drawing them out to support a candidate. But with many of these younger voters, it isn’t about any particular policy decision that the candidate supports, it’s about the factor that they feel like the candidate was personally involved with them. All one has to do is look at how social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, have changed campaigns; do you really think Rand Paul would have an App for your cellphone that puts you in the picture with him if it weren’t for trying to capture the “youth vote?” (This has been used for other more hilarious reasons, too.)

When the youth get involved and their candidate goes down in flames, they normally don’t move onto another candidate to support, though. They get disgusted, disillusioned and disinterested in any further processes if their candidate isn’t the winner and refuse to continue to drive for their philosophies. With all the talk about Republicans supporting their eventual nominee for President, why hasn’t anyone looked at how many of those supporting Sanders would be up for supporting another Democratic nominee?

Sanders is a great speaker, especially when it comes to deriding the current state of government. Sanders doesn’t take it to the point of “America is doomed,” “America has lost its way,” or “America is in the shitter,” like Republicans do, but he does come pretty close. The thing that Sanders does well is emphasize the problems with issues such as college student debt, income inequality, the budget, the decay of infrastructure and treatment of veterans, all things that are key domestic issues that we face.

Part of pointing out the problems, however, is that you also have to present solutions. That is where Sanders comes up a bit short. Either the solution that he suggests has no earthly intention of ever being put into use (Sanders has talked about upping the tax rates for the uber-rich to 90%, raising the minimum wage (he called $15 an hour “reasonable” but suggests $10.10) and breaking up the largest banks into smaller subsets a la AT&T’s Bell system in the 1980s, among other things) or he doesn’t bring up a solution at all. Sanders is quite deficient in foreign policy, something that is critical in our global world and, at least to this independent, is important as I believe we should have a strong military, just not a wasteful one.

If Sanders were to become President, he would definitely have to curtail his “Socialist” agenda in favor of a more “Democratic” solution (otherwise he wouldn’t get anything done as President), which would alienate many of his supporters. How many of Rand Paul’s supporters ditched him as soon as he showed any inkling that he was moving towards a Republican philosophy on anything over the Libertarian route of thinking? Sanders, I fear, would fall into that same trap in that his vociferous supporters would immediately hold his feet to the coals for anything less than the entire reformation of financial distribution in the United States.

There’s plenty that Bernie Sanders talks about on the campaign trail that is dead on correct. You can also hear the passion that Sanders has, whether he is giving a speech at a large rally such as Greensboro or when he is a guest on Bill Maher’s “Real Time.” Unfortunately, there is also no chance that the solutions he proposes would stand a chance of being put into action by a Congress that can’t decide if water is wet. I’d like to consider Sanders for my vote but, at this time, he’s an option that I cannot embrace.

How the Democrats Can Become Relevant Again

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the Republican Party could become relevant again with a few tweaks to their mentality. At that time, I made the statement that the same could be said for the Democratic Party. “But why,” you might ask, “the Democrats have had the White House for the past eight years, they’re controlling everything.” In reality, the Democrats are in control of nothing and need to retool their inner workings if they are to be relevant in the coming years.

As I did with the GOP, I actually sat down and looked at those candidates that are vying for the 2016 Democratic nomination for President. It’s a pretty sorry lot if you look at the choices:  the frontrunner in this year’s race was SUPPOSED to win in 2008, but she (yes, that’s right, a female “Leader of the Pack”) failed to engage on a “personal level” with voters who looked past her towards a young, dashing black man and chose him…oh, by the way, she also has more baggage in her campaign bus than the Allure of the Seas has when it sets sail; the second place choice for the Democrats is a self-admitted “democratic socialist” (which sounds about as possible to me as a person who is “socially liberal, fiscally conservative”) who is saying all the right things regarding changing things in the United States but provides hardly any insight as to what those changes would be if he were elected President; the third place contestant comes off his past two jobs in Maryland and Baltimore, where there has recently been more than enough turmoil in the streets between the citizenry and those in law enforcement potentially caused by his policies, and a few more never-weres who aren’t even registering on the radar. Hell, even the sitting Vice President of the United States, someone who should have the inside track to the nomination after a two-term President leaves office, is reluctant to join this field.

Democrats don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to recent times in the office of the Presidency. While many like to bash Jimmy Carter as “the worst President of all-time,” he actually did something that no other President has done:  kept us out of a war. That one plus (OK, let’s give him two…an attempt to bring peace to the Middle East with an agreement between Israel’s Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat), however, was heavily pounded by an economy that tanked in the late 1970s, skyrocketing gas prices, the taking of the U. S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian students hell-bent on a religious takeover of the country and a general “malaise” (Carter’s words, which he bore as an albatross for his entire presidency) that fell over the United States.

Carter was such a disappointment as the President of the United States that the GOP took over for three consecutive terms in the office, something that hadn’t happened (one party controlling the White House) since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President during World War II (add in Harry Truman and the Democrats controlled the White House for 20 years during that time). It would take a transformative figure to break the Republican logjam and, when he did break through, it set the spike in the center of the two parties and, to a further extent, the nation as a whole.

Bill Clinton was young, he was telegenic, he did things with his campaign that no other politician had done before (going on a late-night talk show and playing “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone while wearing shades? Groundbreaking, some would say…an embarrassment, others would claim). These attributes – along with his experience as Governor of Arkansas – ushered Clinton into the White House beside Hillary Clinton (who is the Democratic frontrunner in 2016, the Democratic answer to Jeb Bush on the Republican side), who was to have a sizeable impact on the policies of the Clinton Administration.

Clinton would go on to win two terms because, at least in the first term, he got things done. The economy, aided by the surge in computer technology in Silicon Valley, boomed throughout the 1990s as it seemed everyone had all the things desired by the people. There were some on the Republican side – a rising breed called “neocons” – who didn’t see Clinton’s success as a good thing and set about destroying it in its tracks before another Democratic run could get started.

The last four years of the Clinton Presidency was dogged by accusations against not only the President but also the First Lady (give the GOP credit there, they knew that Hillary had her eyes on the White House as the leader of the Free World even back then). An illicit relationship between Clinton and one of his interns led to only the second impeachment of a President in U. S. history, one that was easily squelched but has since damaged the relationship between the two parties. The spike set back in 1996 was firmly driven in and, add in the Gore/Bush election of 2000 and the animosity raised by that, one would wonder how we get anything done anymore (and many would say we don’t).

There are several ways that the Democrats can woo back independents and maybe even some Reagan Republicans to ensure that the party stays viable. All they have to do is change some of their tenets and a more centrist party will be the result.

First off, Democrats, government and spending isn’t the answer to everything that goes on in Washington, D. C. An article in the Washington Post points out the difficulties in one of the pet projects for the Democrats, subsidized housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development points out that 2.6% of those in housing subsidized by the U. S. taxpayer have exceeded the income limits to be eligible for such housing but haven’t moved out. In one case, a New York family of four makes nearly $500,000 but pays slightly more than $1500 for the three bedroom apartment subsidized by the government. Worse yet, a single person with assets of $1.6 million was still in a $300 one bedroom apartment in Oxford, NE, paid for with help from the government.

Now, 2.6% isn’t much when compared to the 1.1 million families that are in this situation, but the inaction by the government is problematic. Instead of having a plan in place to move people from these situations – like other social programs, meant to be temporary not permanent – the government says they won’t do anything because a policy isn’t in place.

It is time that the Democrats actually look at things on an individual basis – education, drug policy, law enforcement, and the military (at the minimum) – and determine why the money being spent isn’t doing more for the cause. In the case of education, it is obvious that spending more on the situation isn’t helping, so why aren’t we looking at successful nations (such as Japan) and implementing some of their programs. Every student isn’t a “priceless jewel” in the making; sometimes a student just isn’t cut out for accelerated learning programs and a college education. Sometimes that same student will achieve far more by going into other fields than picking up a piece of paper that says they are great at philosophy.

Tightening up the spending in many areas – rather than pitching cash on things that require no changes – is a great first step, Democrats.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump gets a lot of grief over this, but the Democrats are more than likely the ones to be bitching about every little breach of “political correctness” that occurs. While sometimes necessary, there are times when Democrats will whine about a term used in a joke, which should be a bastion of verbal discussion that is far removed from political correctness. Comedian/political commentator Bill Maher spoke about this last year when, after comparing the situation then to the 1990s, said the following:

“In 2014, political correctness is making a comeback, and now with the Internet, it’s easier than ever.  In the 90s, you had to at least get off your ass to be in a fake group with hurt feelings. You needed signs, you needed petitions. You had to feed Al Sharpton. Back then, getting worked up over nothing was a lot of work.”

“But now, it seems like all the Internet exists to do is point at the latest person who said the wrong thing, so the rest of us can feel morally superior.  And that’s not what the Internet is for.  That’s what college is for. Now social media is all about ‘gotcha.’  A homophobic businessman, or a sexist cartoonist, or a college president who fat-shamed his dog by naming it Waddles…You can’t purge everybody who doesn’t evolve exactly on the timetable you did.

Things haven’t changed much over the last year. What Maher and many are saying is that the Democrats should grow a pair and quit worrying about every perceived slight that seemingly happens.

Finally, the Democrats cannot be complacent in the belief that the ‘melting pot’ that is the United States will continually be counted on to support their causes. In the Hispanic community, it is estimated that 55% are Catholic; as such, some of the Democratic policies in place may not be in line with some Latinos’ mindset. Hard work is rewarded in the Hispanic, Asian and Indian cultures rather than accepting a great deal of assistance from the government and these blocs are growing vastly in the U. S., perhaps viewing the Republican side as a more viable one.

If the Democrats do these things, then they will be set for the next 50 years, at the minimum, with a viable hand in the political landscape. If they continue to neglect things, especially spending (yes, it is time to cut some of the social programs that are available, along with Social Security and the military), then it will be difficult for the U. S. electorate to hand them the checkbook for the country. Without that change alone, Democrats may win elections from simple numbers but won’t be in position to enact any budgetary guidelines because they can’t handle how to spend the money.