Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reagan: Worst President Than Bush 43?



In a piece by the Conservative site, Human Events, "Top 10 Reagan Achievements," the "achievements" are made up of  four items having to do with "ending the Cold War" (probably an immense surprise to Gorbachev and Sarkarov), two items on Reaganomics, one on firing 11,000 aircraft controllers to start the Conservative breakup of the unions, two items on spreading Conservative "values," and...well, as he often said, appropriate of nothing, you get the idea - there's nothing there but an empty suit.

So let's get real.  The first piece we found, "Reasons Ronald Reagan Failed As US President," at Listmyfive.com, starts us off with five reasons...



"Introduction:

The advertising campaign has begun full force to move Ronald Reagan into the category of legendary presidents. There are several freeways named for the president and a handful of congressional representatives put forth his image for a new coin.

But is all this hoopla justified? President Reagan's policy decisions remain a low point in America's history. It's time to label Reagan's presidency for what it really represented. He may have been the "Great Communicator," but his foreign and domestic policies were failures. The United States has yet to recover from some of the more serious policy decisions.

1. Iran-Contra Scandal or Contra-Gate

This 1986 scandal involved President Ronald Reagan and his senior advisors. The group presented arms to Iran, an action outlawed as part of an embargo. The guns were given as part of a deal to release American hostages held in Iran and to raise money to fund a counter action in Nicaragua.

Fact: Reagan admitted his administration's role in the Iran-Contra Scandal and appointed a commission to place specific blame. By the time the lengthy hearings finished, the American public was bored and daytime TV fans were upset that the hearings pre-empted their daytime television programs of soaps and game shows.
Fact: Reagan admitted he was wrong giving arms to rebels and selling guns to hostile forces. He violated U.S. treaty law and avoided congressional involvement in the failed foreign policy.

2.  New Gilded Age

The original Gilded Age was corrupt and gave the rich goods and services, while the poor went hungry. The gold gild described by author Mark Twain was the apparent wealth of society, while the core of society was dark and corrupt. Reagan's Gilded Age gave the same appearance of wealth, but the realty didn't match Reagan and his supporters vision of greatness.

Fact: Wages for the middle class went down under Reagan's terms in office.
Fact: Homeownership fell during both terms.
Fact: The number of people in the upper class rose, while the number joining the poverty class of poverty.
Fact: Real income fell during the Reagan Administration.

3.  Increasing Poverty

The trickle-down economic policy of the Reagan White House failed to lift people out of poverty or create new jobs. In fact, cutting the tax rates for corporations and the rich led to reductions in spending for education and health care programs to help the poor.

Fact: By the end of Reagan's second term, more than 1.2 million people were homeless and living on the streets, including many children and Vietnam War veterans.
Fact: Reagan closed state-operated mental hospitals as California governor, putting many mentally-ill onto the streets, and his policies continued to promote leaving the needy without housing or medical care during his presidential term as part of the federal government.



4.  Funding For Big Business & Defense Contractors

Reagan entered office with a mandate to cut spending, but the only spending cut under his Administration was to assist people. Military spending increased under his two terms. He promoted military equipment to create a "Star Wars" defense system, but despite high levels of funding, the system was never operational.

Fact: Reagan cut federal assistance to states and localities by more than 60%. This cut municipal improvements, including utility upgrades for water and sewers and assistance to repair public schools.
Fact: Many fire departments and public hospitals in rural areas were forced to shut down, forcing local residents to rely on volunteer fire departments with aging equipment and travel for miles to receive medical care.

5.  Reagan's Gifts to Big Business, Lenders and Developers

Although Reagan's apologists claim the former president never was about big business and that instead he support small business, the de facto of Reagan's policies did indeed favor big business. Many of the major breaks to oil and gas companies came under the Reagan years in office."

Over at Americanpolitics.com, we see some Ronnie myths exploded with "The Real Reagan Legacy":

"Jimmy Carter wrecked the economy, and Reagan's bold tax cuts saved it.

This is utterly absurd. Economic growth indices -- GDP, jobs, revenues -- were all positive when Carter left office. All plunged after Reagan policies took effect.

Reagan didn't cure inflation, the main economic problem during the Carter years. Carter's Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker tried when he raised interest rates. That's the opposite of what Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has done to keep inflation low.

Carter's policies and people fought inflation, but maintained real growth. On the other hand, Reagan's policies helped cause the worst recession since the Great Depression: two bleak years with nearly double-digit unemployment! Reaganomics failed in less than a year, and it took an entire second year for the economy to recover from the failure.

Carter didn't cause the inflation problem, but his tough policies and smart personnel solved it. Unfortunately for Carter, it took too long for the good results to kick in. Not only didn't Reagan help whip inflation, he actually opposed the Volcker policies!



Another major myth: Reagan cut taxes on all Americans, and that led to a great expansion.

Here's the truth: the total federal tax burden increased during the Reagan years, and most Americans paid more in taxes after Reagan than before. The "Reagan Recovery" was unremarkable. It looks great only contrasted against the dismal Reagan Recession -- but it had nothing to do with Supply Side voodoo.

With a red ink explosion -- $300 BILLION deficits looming as far as the eye could see -- GOP Senators, notably including Bob Dole, led the way on tax hikes. The economy enjoyed its recovery only after total tax increases larger than the total tax cuts were implemented. Most importantly, average annual GDP growth during the Reagan 80s was lower than during the Clinton 90s or the JFK-LBJ 60s!

Enough about the economy. Here's the biggest myth of them all: Ronald Reagan won the "Cold War".

In reality, Reagan did nothing to bring down the Soviet Union.



By 1980, the Soviet Union was trying to cut its own defense spending. Reagan made it harder for them to do so. In fact, Reagan increased the possibility of a nuclear war because he was -- frankly, and sadly -- senile. He thought we could actually recall submarine-launched nuclear missiles (talk about a Reagan myth), and bullied the Soviets to highest alert several times.

Critically, Reagan never even tried to bring down the Soviet Union.

Wasteful overspending on defense didn't end the Soviet Union. In fact, it played into the hands of authoritarian "Communist" hard-liners in the Kremlin. Reagan thought the Soviet Union was more powerful than we were. He was trying to close what he called "the window of vulnerability."

This was sheer idiocy.

No general in our military would trade our armed forces for theirs. If it were to happen, none of the Soviet military command would turn down that deal. We had better systems, better troops, and better morale.

Here's the truth: we'd already won the Cold War before Reagan took office. All Reagan needed to do was continue the tried-and-true containment policies Harry S. Truman began and all subsequent presidents employed. The Soviet Union was Collapsing from within. The CIA actually told this to Reagan as he took office.

Here's an example: the Soviet Union military couldn't deal with a weak state on its own border, the poor, undermanned Afghanistan. Most of the Soviets' military might had to make sure its "allies" in the Warsaw Pact and subjects along the South Asian front didn't revolt. Even Richard Nixon told Reagan he could balance the budget with big defense cuts.

Reagan ignored this, and wrecked our budget.

We didn't have to increase weapons spending, but Reagan didn't care. He ran away from summits with the dying old-guard Soviets, and the new-style "glasnost" leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev baffled the witless Reagan and his closed-minded extremist advisors.

Maggie Thatcher finally cajoled the Gipper into meeting Gorby, and Gorby cleaned Reagan's clock. Reagan's hard-right "handlers" nearly had to drag Reagan out of the room before he signed away our entire nuclear deterrent. Reagan -- and the planet -- was lucky Gorbachev sought genuine and stable peace. Had Yuri Andropov's health held, Reagan's "jokes" and gaffes might have caused World War III.

Eventually Reagan even gave Gorbachev his seal of approval. Visiting Moscow before the August Coup, Reagan said the Soviet Union was no longer the "Evil Empire." He predicted his friend Gorbachev would lead the Soviet Union for many years to come.

As usual, Reagan was wrong. A few months later, disgruntled military officers kidnapped Gorbachev, throwing him out of power forever. Reagan remained disengaged: nothing he did caused the coup, and nothing he did made the Soviet military support Boris Yeltsin over their superiors.

We're all fortunate things happened as they did -- but once again, Reagan did nothing to make this fluke more likely.

All this is vintage Reagan. Reagan took credit for others' hard word and hard choices, and blamed them for his failures. Reagan even blamed Jimmy Carter for Reagan's foolish, fatal, and reckless decision to leave 243 Marines stationed in Beirut, helpless and unguarded.

Reagan hired over 100 crooks to run our government, and broke several laws himself. His policies were almost uniformly self-defeating, wrong-headed, immoral and unfair."



The last paragraph leads us to "Ronald Reagan: Worst President Ever?," an essay by Robert Parry about the failures of the Reagan Administration at Commondreams.org.  

"While conceding that some of Reagan's economic plans did not work out as intended, his defenders - including many mainstream journalists - still argue that Reagan should be hailed as a great President because he "won the Cold War," a short-hand phrase that they like to attach to his historical biography.

However, a strong case can be made that the Cold War was won well before Reagan arrived in the White House. Indeed, in the 1970s, it was a common perception in the U.S. intelligence community that the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was winding down, in large part because the Soviet economic model had failed in the technological race with the West.

That was the view of many Kremlinologists in the CIA's analytical division. Also, I was told by a senior CIA's operations official that some of the CIA's best spies inside the Soviet hierarchy supported the view that the Soviet Union was headed toward collapse, not surging toward world supremacy, as Reagan and his foreign policy team insisted in the early 1980s.

The CIA analysis was the basis for the d├ętente that was launched by Nixon and Ford, essentially seeking a negotiated solution to the most dangerous remaining aspects of the Cold War.

The Afghan Debacle



Though the Afghan covert operation originated with Cold Warriors in the Carter administration, especially national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the war was dramatically ramped up under Reagan, who traded U.S. acquiescence toward Pakistan's nuclear bomb for its help in shipping sophisticated weapons to the Afghan jihadists (including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden).

While Reagan's acolytes cite the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan as decisive in "winning the Cold War," the counter-argument is that Moscow was already in disarray - and while failure in Afghanistan may have sped the Soviet Union's final collapse - it also created twin dangers for the future of the world: the rise of al-Qaeda terrorism and the nuclear bomb in the hands of Pakistan's unstable Islamic Republic.

Trade-offs elsewhere in the world also damaged long-term U.S. interests. In Latin America, for instance, Reagan's brutal strategy of arming right-wing militaries to crush peasant, student and labor uprisings left the region with a legacy of anti-Americanism that is now resurfacing in the emergence of populist leftist governments.

In Nicaragua, for instance, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega (whom Reagan once denounced as a "dictator in designer glasses") is now back in power. In El Salvador, the leftist FMLN won the latest elections. Indeed, across the region, hostility to Washington is now the rule, creating openings for China, Iran, Cuba and other American rivals.

Wall Street Greed

Before Reagan, corporate CEOs earned less than 50 times the salary of an average worker. By the end of the Reagan-Bush-I administrations in 1993, the average CEO salary was more than 100 times that of a typical worker. (At the end of the Bush-II administration, that CEO-salary figure was more than 250 times that of an average worker.)

Many other trends set during the Reagan era continued to corrode the U.S. political process in the years after Reagan left office. After 9/11, for instance, the neocons reemerged as a dominant force, reprising their "perception management" tactics, depicting the "war on terror" - like the last days of the Cold War - as a terrifying conflict between good and evil.

Still, the disasters - set in motion by Ronald Reagan - continued to roll in. Bush's Reagan-esque tax cuts for the rich blew another huge hole in the federal budget and the Reagan-esque anti-regulatory fervor led to a massive financial meltdown that threw the nation into economic chaos.

And last, but not least in a litany of failures and crimes that beg for more additions, an essay called "The Massive (But Under-Reported) Reagan Administration Corruption," delineating the crimes and criminals under Ronnie's watch:



"Conservatives and Republicans are such paragons of virtue and truth that they tried to pin Ronald Reagam's "most corrupt administration in American history" medal on Bill Clinton!
Despite the fact that the President and first lady, and many members of the Clinton administration were deluged with charges of criminal behavior on the street and in the media, their accusers fell flat on their faces when they had to prove their trumped up charges in court, where it's evidence and proof that matter – not claims that a good lawyer can show to be devoid of serious credibility. –
Contrast that to the great numbers of the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan who were not just charged, butwere found guilty, in court! How can it be that most Americansdon't remember the Reagan administration for its corruption? It couldn't possible be because the so-called "Liberal media" rarely, if ever, shines its powerful spotlights on that part of U.S. history? My spotlight is nowhere as strong as theirs, but if enough of us help to spread the word, mayhe we can make up for that deficiency.
The contenders for the title of "the most corrupt administration in American history" are all Republican administrations. It may be hard to order them exactly, but the contenders for the first, second, third & fourth "most corrupt administrations in American history" are the Republican administrations of Grant, Harding, Nixon and Reagan.

Ronald Reagan's Criminal Administration:

"By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. In terms of number of officials involved, the record of his administration was the worst ever."
from p. 184,Sleep-Walking Through History: America in the Reagan Years, by Haynes Johnson, (1991, Doubleday), as are the examples below:

James Watt, Reagan's Secretary of the Interior was indicted on 41 felony counts for using connections at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help his private clients seek federal funds for housing projects in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Watt conceded that he had received $500,000 from clients who were granted very favorable housing contracts after he had intervened on their behalf. In testifying before a House committee Watt said: "That's what they offered and it sounded like a lot of money to me, and we settled on it." Watt was eventually sentenced to five years in prison and 500 hours of community service.
Although not convicted, Edwin Meese III, resigned as Reagan's Attorney General after having been the subject of investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Counsel on two occasions (Wedtech and Iran-Contra), during the 3 short years he was in office.

E. Bob Wallach, close friend and law classmate of Attorney General Edwin Meese, was sentenced to six years in prison and fined $250,000 in connection with the Wedtech influence-peddling scandal.
Lyn Nofziger – Convicted on charges of illegal lobbying of White House in Wedtech scandal.

Michael Deaver received three years' probation and was fined one hundred thousand dollars after being convicted for lying to a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury about his lobbying activities after leaving the White House.

The Iran-Contra scandal. In June, 1984, at a National Security Council meeting, CIA Director Casey urged President Reagan to seek third-party aid for the Nicaraguan contras. Secretary of State Schultz warned that it would be an "impeachable offense" if the U.S. government acted as conduit for such secret funding. But that didn't stop them. That same day, Oliver North was seeking third-party aid for the contras. But Reagan, the "teflon President" avoided serious charges or impeachment.

Casper Weinberger was Secretary of Defense during Iran-Contra. In June 1992 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of concealing from congressional investigators and prosecutors thousands of pages of his handwritten notes. The personal memoirs taken during high level meetings, detailed events in 1985 and 1986 involving the Iran-Contra affair. Weinberger claimed he was being unfairly prosecuted because he would not provide information incriminating Ronald Reagan. Weinberger was scheduled to go on trial January 5, 1993, where the contents of his notes would have come to light and may have implicated other, unindicted conspirators. While Weinberger was never directly linked to the covert operations phase of the Iran-Contra affair, he is believed to have been involved in the cover-up of the ensuing scandal. According to Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, Weinberger's notes contain evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to congress and the American public. Some of the notes are believed to have evidence against then Vice-President George Bush who pardoned Weinberger to keep him from going to trial.

Raymond Donovan, Secretary of Labor indicted for defrauding the New York City Transit Authority of $7.4. million.
{ Republicans will point out that Donovan was acquitted. And that really matters in Donovan's case, because he was a Republican. But it didn't matter for Clinton or any of his cabinet, most all of whom were acquitted, because they were Democrats!}

Elliott Abrams was appointed by President Reagan in 1985 to head the State Department's Latin American Bureau. He was closely linked with ex-White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver North's covert movement to aid the Contras. Working for North, Abrams coordinated inter-agency support for the contras and helped solicit illegal funding from foreign powers as well as domestic contributors. Abrams agreed to cooperate with Iran-Contra investigators and pled guilty to two charges reduced to misdemeanors. He was sentenced in 1991 to two years probation and 100 hours of community service but was pardoned by President George Bush.

Robert C. McFarlane was appointed Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor in October 1983 and become well-known as a champion of the MX missile program in his role as White House liaison to congress. In 1984, Mc Farlane initiated the review of U.S. policy towards Iran that led directly to the arms for hostages deal. He also supervised early National Security Council efforts to support the Contras. Shortly after the Iran-Contra scandal was revealed in early 1987, McFarlane took an overdose of the tranquilizer Valium in an attempt to end his life. In his own words: "What really drove me to despair was a sense of having failed the country." McFarlane pled guilty to four misdemeanors and was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service. He was also fined $20,000. He received a blanket pardon from President George Bush.

Oliver North – Convicted of falsifying and destroying documents, accepting an illegal gratuity, and aiding and abetting the obstruction of Congress. Conviction overturned on appeal due to legal technicalities.

John Poindexter, Reagan's national security advisor, – guilty of five criminal counts involving conspiracy to mislead Congress, obstructing congressional inquiries, lying to lawmakers, used "high national security" to mask deceit and wrong-doing..."

Check out the rest at http://www.liberalslikechrist.org/about/Reagan.html.

And finally, we see "Ronald Reagan Is No Hero," an essay that tells us more in simpler language, which the Great Communicator might admire:

"During Reagan's reign the United States experienced the beginning of the end of what could have been a great nation. Under Reagan, elements within the government engaged in massive criminal activity that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the entrenchment of a vicious and evil criminal organization that is now firmly in power of not only the United States but much of the world.

Reagan's crimes are many and started well before he was President when he and Bush paid the Iranian's to not release the hostages in order to prevent the re-election of Jimmy Carter in 1980, not mention his reign of stupidity as Governor of California. The hostages were released as promised as Reagan was sworn into office. Reagan then secretly sold chemical & biological weapons to Iraq and told CIA buddy Saddam Hussein to step up bombing of Iran while still selling weapons to Iran in a war that claimed an estimated one million victims. The criminal activities in the Mid East stretched around the world to Central America in the spectacle that came to be known as Iran-Contra.

In Afghanistan, Reagan was busy funding Osama bin Laden and a terrorist army to displace the Russians. Once the mighty 'Muhjadeen' had completed their task they were partially abandoned and became the Taliban and Al Qaeda. With no real replacement intended for the Russian backed government, the radical Muslims quickly took power. Only later did the army without a war become the enemy so desperately needed by the US defense industry.

In Central America, Reagan-Bush ran a massive criminal operation that imported hundreds of tons of cocaine into the US and shipped arms illegally to the terrorist Contras that Reagan affectionately called "Freedom Fighters". Coca paste was brought in from South America by plane to an airstrip near Puntarenas, Costa Rica owned by Reagan/Bush supporter Julio Calleja and processed on the ranch of CIA operative John Hull. From there the high-grade coke was shipped by plane to the Mina, Arkansas Airport under the protection of Bill Clinton and to various Air Force bases..

Under direct US control, Reagan's 'Freedom Fighters' raped, tortured and murdered tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Nicaragua in an effort to bring down Nicaragua's first democratically elected government. The US had previously ruled Nicaragua through the brutal Somoza family dictatorship, once the dictatorship was overthrown by a popular revolution the US was quick to start an illegal campaign of terror against the government and civilians. The campaign of terror claimed 50,000 lives and crippled the entire nation.

Nicaragua took its case to the World Court. The court found that the U.S. actions constituted "an unlawful use of force .... [that] cannot be justified either by collective self-defence ... nor by any right of the United States to take counter-measures involving the use of force." The court ordered the United States to pay reparations, estimated at between $12 billion and $17 billion, to Nicaragua. Two weeks after the verdict was issued, the U.S. Congress voted to give the Contras $100 million to continue their war of terror against the people of Nicaragua. The US has never recognized the World Court's ruling or paid any of the compensation owed to Nicaragua.
"'The ripple effects of that criminal murderous intervention in my country will go on for 50 years or more.' Fr. D'Escoto, Priest and former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister.
Reagan's blood-fest wasn't limited to Nicaragua, his puppet military dictators abducted, tortured, murdered and mutilated close to 200,000 civilians in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in the name of 'democracy' and fighting communism. Nor was the slaughter done only through the US controlled dictators. In operations that are still highly classified, US AC-130 gunships, crewed by US personnel, flew at night over mountainous areas with potential rebels and killed anything that gave off body-heat. The AC-130 is a highly sophisticated computerized killing machine that "incorporate side-firing weapons integrated with sophisticated sensor, navigation and fire control systems to provide surgical firepower or area saturation during extended loiter periods, at night and in adverse weather. The sensor suite consists of a television sensor, infrared sensor and radar." - US Air Force
"In 1999 the United Nations determined that the wholesale slaughter of Guatemalans, constituted 'genocide.' It was a genocide ordered and managed byThe White House under Reagan."

For more, showing Ronnie's true light as:

Liar
Thief
Mass murderer
Supporter of abortion
War criminal
Traitor of the American people
Destroyer of freedom
Destroyer of the environment
Corporate whore
Supporter of Satanists and child murderers



See: http://jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/reagan.htm...For more information click the links in this article and visit:
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Nader/MegacorpWorldReagan_RNR.html
http://www.geocities.com/iran_contra_christic_institute/
Oliver North: Drug Trafficking Hero!
The Franklin Scandal Tried in Civil Court
America: What Went Wrong?

Read "The Franklin Coverup", by John W. DeCamp, ISBN 0-9632158-0-9

And finally, in what has become the longest post since the inception of this site, another look at the article at liberalslikechrist.org:

"The views of some of his peers and associates:

Jim Cannon (an aide to Howard Baker) reported that Reagan's underlings reported " stories about how inattentive and inept the President was.... They said he wouldn't come to work – all he wanted to do was to watch movies and television at the residence." (Landslide: The Unmaking of the President: 1984-88))

Lee Hamilton (Representative from Indiana) in an interview with Haynes Johnson, told him:
"Reagan's only contribution [to the subject of the MX missile] throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he'd watched a movie the night before, and he gave us the plot from WarGames, the movie. That was his only contribution." ( Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years)

Columnist Richard Cohen said, "This President is treated by both the press and foreign leaders as if he were a child.... It is major news when he honors a political or economic discussion with a germane remark and not an anecdote about his Hollywood days."

President Mitterand of France asked Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau about Reagan:"What planet is he living on?"

Mark Hertsgaard, wrote that "During Mr. Reagan's trip to Europe...members of the traveling press corps watched him doze off so many times – during speeches by French President Francois Mitterrand and Italian President Alessandro Pertini, as well as during a one-on-one audience with the Pope – that they privately christened the trip 'The Big Sleep.'" (On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency

David Nyhan, Boston Globe columnist wrote
"He demonstrated for all to see how far you can go in this life with a smile, a shoeshine and the nerve to put your own spin on the facts."

Reagan's good friend, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, "Poor dear, there's nothing between his ears."

Columnist David Broder "The task of watering the arid desert between Reagan's ears is a challenging one for his aides."

Patti Davis (formerly Patricia Ann Reagan) talking about her father, "He has the ability to make statements that are so far outside the parameters of logic that they leave you speechless." (The Way I See It.)



Larry Speakes (Reagan's former press secretary) describing what it was like preparing the President for a press conference: "...like reinventing the wheel." (Speaking Out: The Reagan Presidency from Inside the White House)

Mark Green, "This loathing for government, this eagerness to prove that any program to aid the disadvantaged is nothing but a boondoggle and a money gobbler, leads him to contrive statistics and stories with unmatched vigor."(Reagan's Reign of Error)
former president Jimmy Carter, March 6, 1984 "President Reagan doesn't always check the facts before he makes statements, and the press accepts this as kind of amusing."

James David Barber, presidential scholar, "Ronald Reagan is the first modern President whose contempt for the facts is treated as a charming idiosyncrasy." (On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency, Mark Hertsgaard)

Simon Hoggart :"His errors glide past unchallenged. At one point...he alleged that almost half the population gets a free meal from the government each day. No one told him he was crazy. The general message of the American press is that, yes, while it is perfectly true that the emperor has no clothes, nudity is actually very acceptable this year." in The Observer (London), 1986.
We often wonder which of our Presidents were worse, Reagan or Bush 43; the wonderment should be that both presidencies occurred in the same century, and that the People actually elected each of these dunderheads twice.


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"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Murphy's Law book two: More reasons why things go wrong! by Arthur Bloch.


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reagan: Demented, Vicious - Or Both?


From the story, "CBS almost reported Reagan was mentally unfit in 1986," at http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/20/cbs-reported-reagan-mentally-unfit-1986/:

"Reagan didn't seem to know who I was. He gave me a distant look with those milky eyes and shook my hand weakly. Oh, my, he's gonzo, I thought. I have to go out on the lawn tonight and tell my countrymen that the president of the United States is a doddering space cadet."

When was Ronald Reagan diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease?  A quote from an article by Christopher Lane, PhD, in Psychology Today, titled "When Did Reagan's First Signs of Alzheimer's Appear?."

More:

"Other observers and commentators have noted how often Reagan confused films he'd made with political reality, including telling witnesses about concentration camps he'd helped to liberate in World War II, when the humbler truth was rather that he had made a movie or two about the topic.

"Then there's the incident at a photoshoot at the president's beloved ranch in Santa Barbara, also in 1984, when a reporter called out a question about arms control and received this response from the leader of the free world:
R.R: "Well, we uh, well... I guess, uh, well, we uh ..."
Nancy Reagan: (sotto voce): "We're doing the best we can."
R.R.: (with a big smile): "We're doing the best we can!"
"These and many other troubling moments stand in marked contrast to the president many would prefer to remember for declaring ebulliently..., 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'

"While Alzheimer's is a feared and debilitating disease, even as we celebrate recent developments in its early detection it's critical to ask whether the president of the United States was mentally impaired toward the end of his term in office. The implications of that inquiry extend far beyond a family feud. They spotlight the many other, far-less attractive policy decisions, both at home and abroad, that Reagan authorized and initiated."



And in another post at CBS News by Peter Maer, "When Did Ronald Reagan Have Alzheimer's?  The Debate Goes On," the debate is apparently over and the decision is in:

"When did the Alzheimer's disease start? The debate has provoked the latest Reagan family feud. In his new book 'My Father at 100,' Ron Reagan contends his father showed signs of Alzheimer's Disease three years into his first term. He said he noticed it in the president's performance in the Oct.7, 1984, campaign debate with Democratic challenger Walter Mondale.

"He writes, 'My heart sank as he floundered his way through his responses, fumbling with his notes, uncharacteristically lost for words. He looked tired and bewildered.'

"Knowing what we know now, about the nature of Alzheimer's disease, we know that, decades before symptoms begin arriving, changes are happening in the brain," Ron Reagan adds."

Even a Conservative sheeplet, self-described as born in the sixties said in a blog post while trying to cover up the truth about the enfeebled President, even though Alzheimer's is classified as a mental disorder - meaning that a President of the United States was incapacitated at the time, and that George H.W. Bush should have been sworn into office:

"...(O)ne of the most vivid political memories of my youth (at the age of 17) was watching in utter embarrassment as my hero was unable to come close to completing his closing statement in one of the two national televised debates in 1984. I can remember being mortified as Reagan started to describe driving down the California coast and then seemingly got lost only to be embarrassingly pulled over to the side of the road by the moderator Edwin Newman, who sheepishly had to take the keys out of the old man’s hands."



Back to the CBS article:

"Over the years, White House reporters often wondered about Reagan's alertness, especially toward the end of his second term. At times, he paused and appeared to look into the distance as he formulated answers to questions or responded to situations. Journalists were unsure whether it was part of his hearing impairment or something else. When asked a question that he could not or would not answer, Reagan would sometimes say, 'they [his staff] haven't told me what I'm doing yet.'

"At a photo-op, reporters asked about the perceived the lack of progress on arms control talks with the Soviet Union. As the president pondered the query, Nancy Reagan whispered, 'Doing the best we can.' Taking the cue, Ronald Reagan repeated, 'We're doing the best we can.'

"Reagan also once mistook his housing secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. for a city mayor. 'Hello Mr. Mayor,' he said to the only cabinet secretary to serve through both Reagan terms.

"Several years after Reagan left office, I asked a former White House staffer who frequently saw the president if he (Reagan) always recognized him. The man said, 'He knew my face and he knew my name but not always at the same time.'

"Physicians diagnosed Reagan with Alzheimer's approximately five years after he left office but the date of the onset will likely be pondered by political historians and medical experts for years to come."



In a New York Times article by Lawrence K. Altman, M.D. , "Reagan Memoir Raises the Difficulty of Confirming Alzheimer's," Altman quotes Ronnie Reagan as saying, "...that the amyloid plaque characteristic of Alzheimer’s can start forming years before it leads to dementia. The former president’s diagnosis was made in 1993, four years after he left office.

“'Given what we know about the disease,' his son told me, 'I don’t know how you could say that the disease wasn’t likely present in him during the presidency.'  The article continues:

"Still, the issue is important for anyone — including candidates for office — because of the difficulty of distinguishing the initial symptoms of Alzheimer’s from, say, simple forgetfulness.

"The disease occurs most frequently after 70, but it can strike younger people. Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist, diagnosed the first case in a 51-year-old woman. It is now recognized as one of a number of types of dementia. And diagnosing it with certainty requires a brain biopsy, rarely done while a patient is still alive.

"Mr. Reagan’s mental state was an issue even before he became the oldest man elected president, at 69, in 1980. Adversaries were fond of attributing his penchant for contradictory statements, forgetting names and general absent-mindedness to Alzheimer’s.

"I reported on Mr. Reagan’s health, and he told me that his mother, Nelle, had died of senility — and that if he were to develop it in office he would resign."

And again from the Times article, and the President's son:

"The disease’s course undulated as it progressed. Speech impairment, or aphasia, was an early cognitive deficit. 'It became very difficult for him to string sentences together and eventually just words together,' the son said.

"Soon after the diagnosis, Mr. Reagan was told to give up horseback riding, one of his favorite hobbies. A strong swimmer in his youth — credited with 77 rescues as a lifeguard in Illinois — he now had to wear water wings while a nurse and security agent propped him up in the shallow end of a pool at home. He picked up magnolia leaves that fell from an overhanging tree or that a security agent tossed his way.

"As the fog of Alzheimer’s thickened, the father no longer recognized the son."



While apologists have scurried to make sure the public is unaware that the President, the leader of the Free World, was mentally impaired, we see that he was observed as faltering by one of his doctors:

"On Sept. 13, 1992, Mr. Reagan made a campaign speech for President George Bush in Yorba Linda, Calif. In suit and tie on that sweltering day, but speaking more slowly than in the past, Mr. Reagan drew thunderous cheers from the shirt-sleeved crowd.

"Dr. Lawrence C. Mohr, one of the White House doctors in Mr. Reagan's second term, was seeing him for the first time in six months, and afterward, the doctor and the former President talked. As usual, Mr. Reagan asked about Dr. Mohr's family. But Mr. Reagan 'was distant,' he said, and seemed 'preoccupied, which was unusual, because Ronald Reagan is a person who was engaged when he would talk to you.'

"At the end of the conversation, the doctor continued, ''Mr. Reagan asked me, 'What am I supposed to do next?' There was a blank look on his face.'' Dr. Mohr said he guided Mr. Reagan away and wondered 'what had caused the change and what was going to happen.'

"Now, looking back, Dr. Mohr r
egards that change as the first sure warning of Mr. Reagan's Alzheimer's."

For the rest of Reagan's deterioration after he left office, read "REAGAN'S TWILIGHT -- A special report.; A President Fades Into a World Apart," also a New York Times piece, at http://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/05/us/reagan-s-twilight-a-special-report-a-president-fades-into-a-world-apart.html.



Had Conservatism been criminalized before 1980, or had the President's medical condition been made available to Americans, we never would have had to endure the criminal attacks by the Reagan Administration on the people's democracy in America...

NEXT: How Reagan Really Failed As President, showing how the Sheeplet's hero was America's shame, elected twice by an uninformed, fooled, and foolish electorate.



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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the
more places you'll go.”

Dr. Seuss


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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How To Repeal Citizens United



For most Americans the recent Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court Fab Five has resulted in apathy, but others are meeting the Conservative challenge to "personhood" over corporate power.  "Opponents of 'Corporate Personhood' Eye U.S. Constitution," an article in Inter Press Service News Agency by Matthew Charles Cardinale tells us how:

"There is a growing national movement to establish a 28th amendment to the constitution of the United States to address the issue of unlimited corporate spending in elections, although the groups working on the issue diverge on what exactly the amendment should say.

One national coalition called Move to Amend (MTA) is led by David Cobb. A Green Party candidate for president in 2006, Cobb has been touring the country calling for a constitutional amendment to “clearly establish that money is not speech, a corporation is not a person, all corporations are subject to regulation, all campaign contributions will be disclosed, and (that) allows for no loopholes,” according to the MTA website.

But passing a constitutional amendment is a daunting task, requiring the support of two-thirds of the U.S. House and Senate, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.

Cobb believes that it will take about 10 years to build a grassroots movement to successfully lobby for the enactment of the amendment, but that it can be accomplished eventually.



“It’s a lot of work, but so was the Civil Rights Movement, so was women’s suffrage,” Cobb told IPS.

“A small group of ruling elites has hijacked every one of the institutions in this country – the media and both political parties. There’s a corporatised culture and we have to change the power structure. The only way we see is to build a mass, multiracial movement,” he said.

“Move to Amend is a coalition coming together specifically to work together for (abolishing) corporate personhood. We’ve got 258,000 people who are participating with us specifically on this project. There’s lots of work going on now, and it’s coalescing.”

The effort to amend the U.S. constitution has in part been a reaction to the controversial ruling of the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, which found that the first amendment to the U.S. constitution, on freedom of speech, prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions.

In the ruling, corporations were essentially viewed as having the same rights as people, thus coining the term corporate personhood.



Data from the 2012 national elections have begun to reveal an unprecedented amount of spending in the elections, about six billion dollars, much of which is untraceable due to a new phenomenon called SuperPACs, political action committees that have literally no limit to how much they can spend, as well as shadow corporations, which are created for the sole purpose of funneling money into elections.

One of the main organising strategies by MTA and other groups to support an eventual constitutional amendment is to get local councils and commissions at the city and county levels to adopt resolutions in support of such an amendment.

According to the MTA website, there are at least 183 municipal government resolutions, 19 local ordinances, and three state-level resolutions in Hawaii, Montana, and Vermont that have passed to ban corporate personhood.



In addition, there are 79 local resolutions and 10 state resolutions that have also passed, but that MTA considers partial resolutions because they do not completely address the issue of corporate constitutional rights.

MTA is itself a coalition of hundreds of organisations, and MTA has dozens of affiliates in cities throughout the U.S.

Other organisations that are working on this issue nationally include United for the People, which is also a coalition and which also has affiliates; in addition to Free Speech for the People, People for the American Way, and Public Citizen.

There has been some disagreement, though, among members of congress and various advocacy groups as to what the exact language of the constitutional amendment should be.

At least six different members of congress introduced legislation in 2011 to amend the constitution to in one way or another address the issue of unlimited corporate spending in U.S. elections.

Meanwhile, different organisations are supporting different versions of the bill. For example, Free Speech for the People is supporting the Edwards proposal and the McGovern proposal. People for the American Way is supporting the Udall proposal. And Public Citizen is supporting the Deutch proposal, which is the counterpart in the House to the Sanders proposal in the Senate.

"Move to Amend presents on its website what it believes to be the strongest version of the proposed amendment, adding, 'It is our belief that we need to operate on the assumption that once an Amendment comes out of Congress we won’t get another shot. So we MUST get it right!'”



The MTA Version:

"Proposed MTA Amendment

Section 1 of the MTA version states, “The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.”

Section 2 of the MTA version states, “Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure. Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed. The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

Finally, Section 3 states, “Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.”



The Conservative War Against The Poor And Middle Class is backed by the Supreme Court Conservative capos and must be fought against in Congress, as well as by Constitutional challenges in court (though with the Court presently stacked the way it is, this may not be a great strategy - yet), and citizen activism in the streets.  When the People are attacked by their own institutions, it is time to understand that crime can enter the political arena; it is time to realize that Conservatism must be made illegal for our democratic institutions to work the way our Founding Fathers intended.


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"He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors."

Rudyard Kipling


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Monday, January 28, 2013

Deficits Don't Really Matter To Conservatives



What if someone told you repeatedly that something mattered deeply to them - but it didn't?  And if Conservatives try to spin the old yarn that deficits matter, think again, as Jon Perr at Crooksandliars.com proves otherwise in his article, "Reagan Proved Deficits Don't Matter," and Kevin Drum writes in his article at Motherjones.com, "Republicans Care About Taxes and Spending, Not Deficits."

First, from Crooksandliars.com:

"Then came George W. Bush, who promised in his 2001 message to Congress:
"'At the end of those 10 years, we will have paid down all the debt that is available to retire. That is more debt repaid more quickly than has ever been repaid by any nation at any time in history.'
"Instead, President Bush produced red ink as far as the eye can see. After inheriting a federal budget in the black and CBO forecast of a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years, President George W. Bush quickly set about dismantling the progress made under Bill Clinton. Even with two unfunded wars and the similarly unpaid Medicare prescription drug benefit, Bush's $1.4 trillion tax cut in 2001, followed by a $550 billion second round in 2003, accounted for half of the yawning budget deficits he produced. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, if made permanent those Bush tax cuts if made permanent, would add more to the national debt over the next decade than the impact of Iraq, Afghanistan, the recession, the stimulus and TARP - combined.



"During his presidency, Republicans in Congress voted seven times to raise the debt ceiling, the last to$11.3 trillion. By the time George W. Bush ambled out of the White House, he left his successor a $1.2 trillion budget deficit for 2009.

"David Leonhardt explained in 2009, adding, 'The economic growth under George W. Bush did not generate nearly enough tax revenue to pay for his agenda, which included tax cuts, the Iraq war, and Medicare prescription drug coverage.' That fall, former Reagan Treasury official Bruce Bartlett offered just that kind of honesty to the born again deficit virgins of his Republican Party. Noting that the FY2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion was solely due to lower tax revenues and not increased spending, Bartlett concluded:
"'I think there are grounds on which to criticize the Obama administration's anti-recession actions. But spending too much is not one of them. Indeed, based on this analysis, it is pretty obvious that spending - real spending on things like public works - has been grossly inadequate. The idea that Reagan-style tax cuts would have done anything is just nuts.'
"Which is exactly right. Thanks to the steep recession, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and others have documented time and again, the overall federal tax burden as a percentage of GDP is now below 15%, 'levels that low have not been seen since 1950.' And as Jonathan Cohn and Paul Krugman each explained, it is not a mythical Obama 'spending binge' but the drastic loss of revenue combined with automatic increases in mandated safety net outlays that is producing the current budget gaps.



"Nevertheless, only now - with Democrat Barack Obama in the Oval Office - Republicans like John Boehnerwarn Americans that 'unsustainable debt and deficits threaten the prosperity of our children.' But despite their fear-mongering, the GOP would make the situation much, much worse. December's two year tax cut compromise will add $800 billion to the deficits this year and next. And by making the Bush tax cuts permanent and lowering the top rate to 25%, the Ryan budget just passed by the House would drain over $4 trillion from the U.S. Treasury.

"Back in June, Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse lamented the double-standard at work in the Republicans' posturing on the national debt:
"'I understand the point about the debt and the deficit and the spending,' said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). 'But to me, that doesn't have an enormous amount of credibility, because when President Clinton left office, he left an annual surplus... At the end of [George W. Bush's] term, we had $9 trillion in debt.'
"'We would have none of this if it hadn't been for the Republican debt orgy that they went through,' Whitehouse said.
"Apparently, Sheldon Whitehouse and his Democratic allies don't understand how this game works. As Cheney said, 'Reagan proved deficits don't matter.'

"Unless, of course, a Democrat is in the White House."



And in the companion piece we find that it's taxing and spending that Conservatives care about, NOT  deficits:

"Tim Geithner says, correctly, that we're actually pretty close to fixing our long-term deficit problems. He then suggests that since there's only a little more to be done, 'it should be relatively easy to reach an agreement.' Paul Krugman is not amused:

"'To say what should be obvious: Republicans don’t care about the deficit. They care about exploiting the deficit to pursue their goal of dismantling the social insurance system. They want a fiscal crisis; they need it; they’re enjoying it. I mean, how is “starve the beast” supposed to work? Precisely by creating a fiscal crisis, giving you an excuse to slash Social Security and Medicare.' 
"'The idea that they’re going to cheerfully accept a deal that will take the current deficit off the table as a scare story without doing major damage to the key social insurance programs, and then have a philosophical discussion about how we might change those programs over the longer term, is pure fantasy. That would amount to an admission of defeat on their part.' 
"'Now, maybe we will get that admission of defeat. But that’s what it will be — not a Grand Bargain between the parties, acting together in the nation’s interest.'



"Yep. Republicans haven't cared about the deficit for decades. They got a bit worried about it when Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut didn't pay for itself the way he promised, and this prompted them to reluctantly pass Reagan's 1982 tax increase. But they very quickly sent that 1982 bill down the memory hole, pretending to this day that Saint Ronnie never increased taxes. Since then, they've cared about deficits only when Democrats were in office.
"If I were a Republican, I'd latch onto deficits as an anti-spending tactic too. It works pretty well.

"That said, it's still worth keeping the truth in mind. What frustrates me isn't so much that Republicans do this—that's just politics—but that the press so routinely lets them get away with it. I understand the constraints they work under, but still. The difference between actual Republican priorities and claimed Republican priorities is so obvious that it hardly counts as editorializing to point it out."



While we waited for the Supreme Court Five to anoint George W. Bush, the "Judicial Coup de Etat" noted by Reverend Jesse Jackson, Richard Cheney idly noted that the surplus built up by President Clinton should either be reimbursed back to the taxpayers or that taxes be reduced until the surplus was to be used up.  That the surplus be applied to the deficit never crossed Cheney's mind because the underlying basis to Conservatism is retain profits and increase income by reducing taxes on the rich - nothing else.

And when we couple this evidence of the Conservatives lying to us, it's worth remembering Reagan idly musing to reporters that it would be nice if corporations weren't taxed.



It's easy to see now for even the most undereducated of voters to understand that all the bleating of the Conservatives about deficits was just that: mindless noise.  All of the other symbols of the GOP, "States' rights," "right to life," "personal responsibility," ad infinitum, are just smoke - nothing more, nothing less -  and the true agenda of Conservatives is antithetical to the basic premise of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution:  control of the country by the richest among us.  The noise is just camouflage to hide the true Conservative agenda from the voters.  The greediest among us, the Conservative leadership, cares nothing for issues beyond taxing and spending by others, not them.


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"A quotation at the right moment is like bread in a famine."

The Talmud


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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eliminate Conservative Gerrymandering: Three Strategies



Today's post, the third in a series covering the attempt by the American Conservative cartel to undermine the nation's vote, covers the highlights from John Nichols' essay at the Nation, "Three Strategies to Block the Gerrymandering of the Electoral College," strategies to undermine the Conservatives' attempt to bastardize the Electoral College:

"After so many assaults on voting rights and the electoral process itself have been advanced, it is easy to imagine that Priebus, Karl Rove and their team could get away even with so audacious an initiative as the rigging of presidential elections.

Priebus is counting on precisely that cynicism, as well as the neglect of the story by major media, to enable the plan to have Republican legislatures and governors in key swing states—Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin—arrange for the distribution of electoral votes not to winners of the popular vote statewide but to the winners of individual congressional districts. Because of the gerrymandering of congressional district lines, the scheme would in 2012 have shifted the circumstance so that, in Pennsylvania for instance, the losing candidate, Republican Mitt Romney, would have won the overwhelming majority of the state’s electoral votes.

Under at least one scenario entertained by Priebus and his minions, Romney’s 5 million–vote loss of the popular vote nationally still would not have prevented him from assuming the presidency.

Impossible? Hardly. Because of gerrymandering and the concentration of Democratic votes in urban areas and college towns, a 1.4-million vote majority for Democrats in congressional races nationwide in 2012 was converted into Republican control of the US House and gridlocked government.

So can Priebus be stopped? It’s possible. But democracy advocates need to move fast, and smart.

What to do?

 


1. “NAME AND SHAME” THOSE WHO WOULD RIG ELECTIONS


Because election rules are often arcane, those who write them have an advantage. If they move quickly and quietly, they can “fix” the system to their advantage.

Priebus made a mistake several weeks ago when he spoke openly about the Electoral College scheme,announcing: “I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue [Democratic in presidential politics] that are fully controlled red [in the statehouse] ought to be considering.”

When The Nation began writing several weeks ago about the Priebus plan, and specific efforts in swing states, the stories went viral. Social media matters in this struggle. So, too, does the attention coming from television and radio hosts such as MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Thom Hartmann.

The attention “names and shames” Republicans who are implementing the Priebus plan in states such as Virginia. But it also puts pressure on Republicans who are considering doing so. Significantly, when Florida legislative leaders were asked by The Miami Herald about the proposal, the biggest swing state’s most powerful Republicans scrambled to distance themselves from the anti-democratic initiative. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford said, “To me, that’s like saying in a football game, ‘We should have only three quarters, because we were winning after three quarters and the beat us in the fourth. I don’t think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better.”



2. ENGAGE IN THE DEBATE AND OFFER A POPULAR-VOTE ALTERNATIVE

Priebus and his allies will claim that assigning electoral votes via gerrymandered congressional districts gives more Americans a voice in the process—even though that “voice” could allow a minority to claim a state and the presidency.

The right response is to highlight the anti-democratic character of the Electoral College and to push for a national popular vote. This will require a constitutional amendment. That takes work. But the process is in play. States across the country have endorsed plans to respect the popular vote that are advanced byFairVote: The Center for Voting and Democracy.

“The very fact that a scenario [in which a rigged Electoral College allows a popular-vote loser to become president] is even legally possible should give us all pause,” argues FairVote’s Rob Richie. “Election of the president should be a fair process where all American voters should have an equal ability to hold their president accountable. It’s time for the nation to embrace one-person, one-vote elections and the ‘fair fight’ represented by a national popular vote. Let’s forever dismiss the potential of such electoral hooliganism and finally do what the overwhelming majorities of Americans have consistently preferred: make every vote equal with a national popular vote for president.”



3. MAKE GERRYMANDERING AN ISSUE


The assignment of electoral votes based on congressional district lines is not unheard of. Two smaller states—Nebraska and Maine—have done it for years. But this approach with gerrymandering schemes that draw district lines to favor one party has the potential to dismantle democracy at the national level.

It is time for state attorneys general who have track records of supporting democracy initiatives, such as New York’s Eric Schneiderman, and state elections officials, such as Minnesota’s Mark Ritchie, to start looking at legal strategies to challenging the Priebus plan in particular and gerrymandering as it influences national elections. This really is an assault on the one-person, one-vote premise of the American experiment. And retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, among others, is advocating for a renewed push on behalf of fair elections.

“[It] goes back to the fundamental equal protection principle that government has the duty to be impartial. When it’s engaged in districting it should be impartial,” Stevens explained in a recent interview. “Nowadays, the political parties acknowledge that they are deliberately trying to gerrymander the districts in a way that will help the majority.”

This, argues Stevens, is “outrageously unconstitutional in my judgment. The government cannot gerrymander for the purpose of helping the majority party; the government should be redistricting for the purpose of creating appropriate legislative districts. And the government ought to start with the notion that districts should be compact and contiguous as statutes used to require.”



Stevens says the courts, which often intervene on voting rights cases involving minority representation, and in cases where states with divided government cannot settle on new district lines, should engage with the purpose of countering gerrymandering.

“If the Court followed neutral principles in whatever rules they adopted, the rules would apply equally to the Republicans and Democrats,” says the retired Justice, a key player on voting and democracy issues during his thirty-five-year tenure on the High Court. “I think that line of cases would generate a body of law such as the one-person, one-vote cases that would be administered in a neutral way. This is one of my major disappointments in my entire career: that I was so totally unsuccessful in persuading the Court on something so obviously correct. Indeed, I think that the Court’s failure to act in this area is one of the things that has contributed to the much greater partisanship in legislative bodies…”

Justice Stevens is right. That partisanship has moved from gerrymandering the state lines and US House lines to gerrymandering the presidential vote. The moment is ripe for a constitutional intervention.


We've emphasized the last "solution," the intervention by the judiciary;  and if one or more of the SCOTUS Five retires or is otherwise incapacitated, the first order of business should be intervening in the Conservative scheme to take away our votes.  And when the People are finally allowed to vote without Conservative interference, their ability to see the historical criminality of the Conservative cabal will be enhanced, and we come closer to the day when Conservatism is criminalized and democracy can once more forge ahead.


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"I like someone who is a little crazy but coming from a good place. I think scars are sexy because it means you made a mistake that led to a mess."

Angelina Jolie



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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eliminate Conservative Gerrymandering - HOW!





From Huffington Post article, "What The 2012 Election Would Look Like Under The Republicans' Vote-Rigging Plan.":

Republicans have a new strategy for 2016: Change the rules of presidential elections in order to swing the electoral college in the GOP's favor.

On Wednesday, Virginia's Republican-controlled legislature became one of the first to advance a bill that would allocate electoral votes by congressional district. Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed pushing through similar proposals in other states with Republican legislative majorities.

The strategy would have states alter the way they translate individual votes into electors -- thereby giving Republican candidates an advantage. Had the 2012 election been apportioned in every state according to these new Republicans plans, Romney would have led Obama by at least 11 electoral votes. Here's how:

In the 2012 election, President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 126 electoral votes.



Within the 26 states that Obama took, Romney won a plurality of votes in 99 congressional districts.



Obama, on the other hand, won only 32 congressional districts in red states.



Each state has two more electoral votes than congressional districts. The most common Republican proposal -- under consideration in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan -- follows the same rules already in effect in Maine and Nebraska, which allocate the two additional votes to the winner of the statewide popular vote.

This is what the 2012 electoral map would have looked liked had each state apportioned its electors using these rules.



The legislation introduced in Virginia, however, goes even further and proposes to allocate the two remaining votes not to the candidate who wins the state-wide popular vote, but to the candidate who wins the majority of congressional districts. This would give Republicans an even bigger advantage in that state."

We move from yesterday's post, "Eliminate Conservative Gerrymandering - NOW!," to today's post, "Eliminate Conservative Gerrymandering - HOW!," a continuation of the info gleaned from the essay from the Daily Kos essay, "Republicans STOLE the House! Here's What YOU Can DO to Fight Back!":

"All in all, these three states could send anywhere from 7 to 13 more Democrats to Congress and give us a vastly improved chance at breaking Republicans' hold over the state legislatures in all three states.




This is the Michigan congressional map (apologies to any Upper Peninsula folks) passed by the Republican controlled state legislature and signed by governor Rick Snyder (R), who recently signed Right to Work for less legislation into law. As should be immediately apparent, southeastern Michigan is a contorted mess. It also very efficiently packs Democrats into just 4 districts, leaving us 5 total while Republicans and Mitt Romney won 9 of the state's 14 districts in a state where Barack Obama won by nearly 10%.

What might a non-gerrymandered map of the state look like and how many seats could we expect to gain? Here is one plausible map I've drawn using Dave's Redistricting App that is similar to what a citizens commission might draw:




Had this map been in use for the 2012 elections, we might have won three more districts, the 7th, 8th, and 11th. Were it to be in place for this cycle's 2014 midterms, we would have a great shot at picking up the 11th where nutjob Kerry Bentivolio (R)'s district shifts nearly 7% to the left. After that, Mike Rogers (R)'s 8th district becomes a prime pick up opportunity without a gerrymander to crack Lansing, representing a 6% shift leftward. State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) would make an excellent candidate if she decided not to run for Governor or Attorney General instead.

That's two probable pick ups right out of the gate, but the benefits don't end there. The 4th district, represented by Republican Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R) becomes 4.5% more Democratic with the unification of the tri-cities area. Camp is well entrenched, but with a strong campaign and the continuing unpopularity of congressional Republicans, this one could be competitive. Additionally Fred Upton (R)'s 6th district becomes nearly 2% more Democratic and after his surprisingly weak showing (for a long-time incumbent) last year, he could potentially be vulnerable. If a commission indeed drew Battle Creek into the district as I have, former 1 term Rep. and ex-state senate minority leader Mark Schauer (D) would make an excellent candidate. Furthermore, the 1st district, where tea partier Dan Benishek (R)barely eked out a victory over former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D), remains just as competitive. On the negative side, Paulista Justin Amash (R), who won by just single digits sees his 3rd district become 2% more Republican. Finally, 5th district freshman Dan Kildee (D)and Dean of the House John Dingell, Jr. (D) both see their districts weakened, but not enough to be vulnerable.

This doesn't even begin to cover the state legislature, where the Republican gerrymander in the state House of Representatives saved the party's bacon and where their state Senate gerrymander makes it impossible for us to ever win that chamber. This last point is what makes non-partisan redistricting have no drawback in Michigan. We will never be able to gerrymander the state ourselves so there's literally no reason not to prevent Republicans from doing so. As my area of expertise is federal politics, rather than at the state level, I can't say with any clarity how many seats we might gain, but if the map ended up looking anything like this it would be several. With Rick Snyder's sinking popularity and non-gerrymandered legislative maps, we might even be able to win the trifecta for the first time since the 1982 elections.


"The Role for Activism


"So how could this much improved map come to pass? Per Ballotpedia constitutional amendment initiatives require 10% of the number of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election or 322,609 valid signatures (meaning we'd need to collect a decent amount higher as some will be thrown out). Petition gatherers must be registered voters in the state and we have a 180 day window to collect them all. This shouldn't be terribly difficult to achieve in a state that cast 2,564,569 ballots for Barack Obama, or nearly 8 times the required signatures. Primarily, clearing this hurdle will involve mobilizing volunteers or, if we could raise enough money, paid signature gatherers. Democrats successfully put measures on the ballot last year, such as an effort that attempted to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution (though it lost 57% to 43%) as well as a successful referendum that blocked the state's odious Emergency Manager law Republicans had passed to circumvent locally elected governments.

The hardest part of the process here will be collecting enough valid signatures. Once on the ballot we just need a few million dollars to run a campaign familiarizing people with the amendment and I guarantee it will pass the 50%+1 threshold with flying colors. Conveniently, Democrats are already planning on putting another amendment on the ballot, one to preempt the state's recently passed Right to Work for less law. It would be a great feat of efficiency if the labor movement would get involved here too as there are hundreds of thousands of union members in the state alone who could easily help us clear the signature hurdle.

So how can you help? One step would logically be for lawyers familiar with constitutional law and the initiative process in the state to formulate legal initiative language that will be constitutional (again I am not a lawyer). Then, as we did in the Wisconsin recalls in 2011-2012 and the Michigan and Ohio labor initiative campaigns from 2011 and 2012, we needorganization. That means any of you who are politically active in Michigan should call your contacts, whether they be fellow activists, elected officials, union representatives, etc. and start formulating a plan to organize a signature drive. Once the signature petition process has been organized, we will need fundraising. The bang for the buck here is likely much better than any congressional race as just a few million can help us elect multiple new Democrats. Ideally, with a readership as large as Daily Kos has, front pagers like Markos will get involved here too as Daily Kos has been responsible for a good chunk of the money raised and volunteer hours spent during the Wisconsin recalls in particular. Were I living in Michigan, I would certainly volunteer, but my means of activism are limited to donations and the soap box, which is why I need you, fellow Kossacks, to get involved!"

For plans for Ohio, Florida, Arkansas, and Nebraska go to http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/22/1179286/-Republicans-STOLE-the-House-Here-s-What-YOU-Can-DO-to-Fight-Back.

And finally, from Dailykos:


"Conclusion


So if you've made it this far thank you very much for reading and please, please get involved and help make this strategy a reality. While in an ideal world we would have fair districts nationwide with mixed-member proportional representation on top so that line drawing doesn't affect the partisan control of congress (and no senate or electoral college too), we don't live in an ideal world. I'll support independent redistricting in Illinois and Maryland when we get it in Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, but when Republicans have institutionalized an unfair advantage in the House of Representatives, I adamantly believe that pursuing independent redistricting in these key states is the best way to counter what is essentially electoral theft. So please, spread the word and get involved!"

Independent redistricting is the first step towards criminalizing Conservatism, to be followed by further 1.) organization, 2.) fundraising, and 3.) activism to ensure that the world does not crumble under the weight of the most far-reaching, ponderous, and vicious criminal conspiracy in our history - probably in the history of the world.


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"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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