Sunday, June 5, 2011

Those Pesky Headwinds and Their Blowing Spin

It's Hard Out There for a Windy Presidential Candidate


Last fall, it was the car driven into the ditch by Republicans that President Obama blamed for the lousy pace of the recovery.  He has finally picked a new metaphor to show just how much he personally distances himself from the ongoing crisis: "headwinds".

At a speech Friday to workers in a Jeep plant, Obama said: "We're facing some tough headwinds. Lately, it's high gas prices, the earthquake in Japan and unease about the European fiscal situation. That will happen from time to time."

(Yeah, every once in awhile those breezy conditions pop up and just blow away all those jobs -- poof!).

And from his weekly radio address Saturday:  "Even though our economy has created more than two million private sector jobs over the past 15 months and continues to grow, we're facing some tough headwinds. Lately, it's high gas prices, the earthquake in Japan and unease about the European fiscal situation."

(Uh-huh. Wall Street and tax-dodging corporations are all a-tremble that a big quake will strike Lower Manhattan.  And oh, that market unease.  If only the global plutocracy could just get confident, everything would be A-OK!.  The cost of filling up their Hummers and armed Mercedes has left them reeling and unable to hire even a part-time janitor to scrub out their gold plated toilets).

Of course, the obedient little stenographers of the mainstream media are marching right in lockstep with Leader.  Here is what Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg wrote in The New York Times Saturday:

"The campaign is shaping up as a test of whether the much-vaunted organizing abilities of Mr. Obama and his team can offset the headwinds he faces. In battleground states, volunteers are fanning out by the thousands to reach out to neighbors who helped Mr. Obama in his first presidential campaign and persuade them to re-up."

Of course, the press is making Friday's dismal jobs report all about how it will effect the 2012 presidential race -  not about how it is affecting the actual people who don't have jobs. At least it's a switch from the totally made-up Debt Ceiling Showdown bringing us to financial Zero Hour. It can't be all that bad: after all, good buddies Obama and John Boehner have a golf date next weekend.

But getting back to that Times article.  It was nothing more than a thinly disguised piece of White House boosterism.  Zeleny and Rutenberg uncritically reported that "several thousand times a week, still-committed volunteers knock on the doors of potential new recruits and neighbors involved four years ago to see if they will join in."  These two supposedly seasoned reporters were in Chicago for a campaign pep rally and obviously are swallowing the Messina gospel hook, line and sinker.  They did not provide locations or names or photos to prove claims that thousands of Obamabots are annoying their neighbors in "battleground" states a year and a half before Election Day.

But back to what Obama is not doing about jobs -- his campaign has a thrilling answer. Again, according to the Times article:  

"While Mr. Obama will not fully engage in campaign activity until next year, aides said, he is embarking on weekly economic-focused trips throughout the summer. Doing so will allow him to use his bully pulpit to show that he is focused on addressing joblessness, the issue that more than any other could shape his electoral prospects and that Republicans are using to assert that his policies have failed."

Nothing like using the bully pulpit in a new factory every week, speaking in that g-droppin' folksy campaign rhetoric, surrounded by the 250 blue collar workers of America who still have $10 an hour jobs, to show how much he is addressing unemployment.  It's like the family sittin around the table.  You lose a job, what do you do?  You tighten your belts, you don't go on vacation, you don't go out to eat as much.  But what you don't do is you don't stop savin for college to win the future.  The guy doesn't even need a teleprompter for this kind of soarin oratory.

That's it.  Just campaign talk, buying time till he gets that second term.  We really should be hoping that either Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman get the nomination, because among the three of these men, there is little difference.  All three, for example, have espoused the same kind of health care "reform" we really got.  All three are traditional, conservative Republicans and none is really admitting it.  Obama must pretend to be somewhat progressive, while the other two are forced to pander to the right wing Tea Party.  All three are pro-corporate, status quo kind of guys. Choice we can believe in.

41 comments:

4Runner said...

Agree with you 100%. Looks like we'll have to brace for lots more headwinds from the Head Bag O'Wind.

Anne Lavoie said...

Maybe Huntsman will turn out to be the Republican Obama. You know, campaign as one person and govern as another. And being rich, he might turn out to be another FDR or TR. After all, he only needs the votes, not the money. He doesn't have to pander to the rich like Obama does. As VTL on this site recently, it might just take a rich person to do what's right for our country. Anyway, we can only hope!

Anonymous said...

There is definitely a surreal quality about politics in the good old US of A these days.
How long does a President have in office, before he feels compelled to start revving up the campaign mode again? A year, eighteen months?
Meanwhile, those of us who have to deal with 'real' time, all the time, need more than a weather forecast!
Mac Gordon

Jay - Ottawa said...

Yeah, when I read that opening story in today's Times I kept hunting for a Comments button, but there was none. All the more reason to suppose the story was a potted plant for TLOTE. Expect lots more.

For November 2012 I have every hope that the team at the New Progressive Alliance will put up Third Party candidates amounting to a breath of fresh air compared to the likes Mitt, Huntsman and TLOTE. It may take years before the NPA makes real headway against the old regime, but that's the better road, even if it takes a bit longer to get to where we should be going.

Anonymous said...

Should a Republican win in 2012, I hope you all will promise to drop a note to this blog around November of 2013 letting us know what you think of life in the United States with Obama defeated.

Ned

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

With you on that one that one Jay! Yeah NPA!

And Mac Gordon, I left a message for you on the previous posting and I deeply apologize, I think I called you MacGregor (I can’t go back to check because my comment is already in blog outer space awaiting the moderation stage) - My only excuse is it is 5AM Australia time and I haven't completely ingested my first cup of coffee yet. If I called you by the wrong name, it was not meant to be insulting or dismissive; Mea Culpa for my carelessness.

The mainstream media is lost. Let's hope Jill Abramson will make some needed changes at the Times. She really has the potential to change the face of democracy in our country if she hires good investigative journalists to really dig below the surface of important stories.

Mac Gordon said...

Thank you, VLT for your instructions on how to leave a name without an URL.
And, you didn't call me MacGregor, even if you had, I've been called a lot worse, in a long and chequered 'career'!
As an expat Brit, I have much experience with different time zones, and their undoubted impact. So, I do understand.

Mac Gordon

VLT said...

Ned,

I've said it before and I will say it again, TLOTE (Obama)is giving us crumbs and we deserve a full meal. Until we work together and demand change from our elected officials, nothing will happen that benefits the Middle Class. The majority of our politicians will not offer a better deal out of the goodness of their hearts.

The Obama camp has counted on us to be more afraid of the Republicans than we are of them. That is why they have given us NOTHING.

Obama = slow death Republican = quick death. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

We need to stand up and be counted. We also need to organise and hit the streets, before that, too, is something that is taken away from us.

Janet Camp said...

"The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind" - Bob Dylan

What I'm saying is that the answer is not a third party. This is a two-party system, like it or not. If we want to change that, we need to do it from the ground up, not just stick someone (Nader?) on the ticket from time to time and hope against hope that he/she might miraculously win.

Of course (are you listening Kate Madison?) I will vote for Obama, but I will be pinching my nose so hard it will be bruised for a month.

The reason these people are knocking on doors already is not to get out the vote, but to RECRUIT more door knockers. I posted about this a few days ago as I have been through the "recruiting" process on a very personal level--it's revolting and much like being recruited for any other cult (Amway, fill-in-the-blank religion, or the alt-med "treatment" of the week). They even tell you point blank that they aren't real happy about "the pace of change", but beg you to sing on anyway, because "the alternative is too awful to consider".

I reluctantly agree, but I am NOT phone banking again and I am NOT giving money, and I am NOT knocking on doors. What I WILL do is work my butt off for these recall elections here in Wisconsin because that may just set a precedent, if successful, that can be repeated in other states, and maybe that will be the beginning of a real turning point in this, "our long national nightmare" (Gerald Ford). See? I can quote bi-partisan!

Anonymous said...

Third Party, anyone? It must be more than just about being disappointed regarding Pres Obama's "Yes, We Can" politics; perhaps feeling more like this: fool me once shame on you (Pres Obama), fool me twice (2012), shame on us (voters).

Karen Garcia said...

Janet,
From your description of the Obama recruitment drive, it sounds like we have a choice between voting Fascist-Light or Militia-Nihilistic. If the Republicans win, we will die a bit faster but at least it will be quick. The Obama method sounds like a slow, painful way to go.
I think our best bet is to vote for local reps and Senators who are willing to go against the current Duopoly, aka the two party system. Also, get involved in protest movements, strikes, whatever it takes -- and keep shining a harsh light on all their chicanery to try to keep it from getting worse than it already is. Voting has become pretty meaningless.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Ned,

Sounds like you're getting along passably well under The Lesser of Two Evils and trust the present acceptable course will be maintained after 2012, if the President is re-elected.

Millions are not doing so well now and have good reason to hold TLOTE (tee-LOT-ee) responsible for these hard times. They have been grievously hurt on the essentials of life by this Administration. Should these millions of Americans (and those of us who witness their plight), like servile animals, lick the hand that abuses them? Isn't that an act described as The Stockholm Syndrome?

Under TLOTE and Congressional Democrats: the WARS drag on, with continued loss of life and treasure; millions of Americans have been evicted from their HOMES, finding it necessary, at best, to bunk up with relatives who are also inconvenienced; trillions in SAVINGS by regular people have been disappeared by Wall Streeters whom TLOTE still clutches to his breast, especially as he rakes in more of their dirty money for 2012; millions of workers have lost their JOBS at the same time the Administration and the Congress do nothing for workers or the crumbling infrastructure; there is no daylight in TAX POLICY between Republicans and TLOTE and his Democrats; in back room deals TLOTE torpedoed single payer and the public option in order to expand and enrich private health insurance corporations that undermine good HEALTHCARE for all at reasonable rates; the ENVIRONMENT and the looming problem of global warming continue to be placed on the back burner as TLOTE's people grant new licenses for deep water drilling in the Gulf and as TLOTE just opened the Powder River Basin to Big Coal, so much coal there headed for China that, when burned, it will double the present level of carbon in the atmosphere; GUANTANAMO still festers; the First and Fourth Amendments of the BILL OF RIGHTS continue to be eroded.

Yes, if Palin or her moral equivalent wins in 2012, "alternative" science will be taught in more schools; more libraries and arts centers will close, those that are still left by 2012; the Court will taken on more judges groomed to corporate and evangelical views, the only real change being that the divide will be 6-3 or 7-2 instead of 5-4, which boils down to the same damn thing as now for women, immigrants, minorities, the poor and the dwindling middle class.

Have I misstated the facts in the list above? Have I properly contrasted the essential from the not so essential? Have I properly laid the blame for so many losses in the major category on TLOTE's spineless and two-faced "leadership"? And you want me to cast my vote, and encourage others to vote, for TLOTE who betrayed just about every promise he made when last up for election?

Just how much "lesser" is TLOTE the lesser of two evils? I see essential equivalence between TLOTE & Co and the Tweedle-Dee Right. So I'm actively working for a Third Party, the New Progressive Alliance. It may not take the prize in 2012, but it will eventually -- if enough voters can cast off the chains of dead-end, two-party blackmail.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Great Comment, Jay! You certainly speak for me as well as yourself with that comment.

Karen, you wrote, "Voting has become pretty meaningless." Yet I maintain, it is our vote the politicians are after. It is the one thing of value that we possess that they want. The one thing they can't take from us without our consent. It is our only weapon left.

With all that is at stake for our children and our grandchildren; why are we surrendering so early in the fight?

Anne Lavoie said...

Our vote can indeed be taken away from us by electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail. Many articles have been written about the vulnerability of this system to corruption.

Is it absolutely impossible that Obama's election was engineered by those who developed and control those machines, and those who really pull the political levers? Is is unreasonable to suggest that men who are bent on POWER would stoop to such measures? If history is a guide, I say the answer is no.

It astonished everyone that someone so seemingly enlightened and progressive would get elected, but if truth be told, Obama has spent much of his energy in politics not in passing legislation (check out his record as Senator), but in working the backrooms and making powerful connections. I'd say he is more a student of political power than he is of the Constitution.

And whose interests has he CONSISTENTLY served since then? Not the Peoples'. The fact that he has turned out to be so completely different than who he campaigned as should make us all highly suspicious. More so the fact that he hasn't even tried! That has been an unusual development not seen in Presidential history, to my limited knowledge.

Janet Camp said...

@Karen

I agree, and I think that's pretty much what I said--only I emphasized the local recall elections in addition to the things you list. We can certainly start working toward a viable third party at the same time.

I do think voting matters, in the mean time--if only to keep the wolves at bay. The problem with voting is that the election-financing system is corrupt to the core--that is why I'm supporting Progressives United, which is having some success already if you are following them. Campaign finance reform would make voting more meaningful in many ways, not the least of which would be to bring a broader array of candidates into the mix.

Kat said...

Let us now stop raising the specter of Nader. There were many reasons to vote for Nader. Do we remember the greatest "achievements of the Clinton presidency? Welfare "reform". Telecommunications act, NAFTA. Nothin' like that bipartisanship!
Yes, W, Cheney and Rummy were a disaster. However, at this stage in the game it is not clear to me that a Democratic administration would have kept us out of enduring wars.

Anonymous said...

I've started three differest notes in response to your comments. No matter. I can't change your minds. To try to keep it simple...Jay, I'm aware of all the half measures and failures and am mighty distressed at all of them. Am I ready to give the country to the Republicans - appallingly called a quick death - no way! But I'm so much more distressed that you (all) understand the threat from the right but are willing to let them prevail no matter the cost to the country. I believe your view of the courts is very wrong and hard right courts may be our greatest long-term danger. Janet, thank you for the work you are doing in Wisconsin. It's been a valuable lesson to see what happens when one party controls the legislature and executive. Maybe you all will reflect on that come November 2012.

Ned

Anonymous said...

Jay,

Would you please let me know what it is that I said that leads you to believe that I am doing "passably well" at this time?

I appreciate everyone's comments (and passion) that go into Karen's thought-provoking blog. But I hope we can disagree and argue points without assigning unknown or unsubstantiated positions when we disagree. Aren't we discussing political and social positions - not net worth?

Ned

Jay - Ottawa said...

Ned,

You inspire me, first with the Nader Card and now with the Hurt Card. I was not referring to your net worth but to your threshold level for TLOTE's flood of perfidy, despite reasons making it clear he has equalled and often surpassed Republicans on all the essentials.

On TLOTE's watch millions of Americans have been dispossessed of their homes, lost their savings and their jobs and even their leverage to fight back. Curiously, the world of big money and big corps has not been touched; in fact they've prospered. There is a real danger that those of us who have not been badly hurt so far will be hurt eventually with the likes of this White House and this Congress if they are given four more years. I don't find that awareness in your comments.

I'm also saying that a minimal sense of justice or empathy with the millions who have been hurt should enter "the politics" of our discussion over whom to support and whom to be rid of in 2012. By accident, we are lucky bystanders. Nevertheless, we must dump TLOTE in 2012 out of solidarity with the millions grievously wronged by him. What has taken place in Term One is sure to spread in Term Two -- if we give him that second term.

On peripheral issues that don't affect the jugular, TLOTE is OK and probably qualifies as a "liberal," as defined by Chris Hedges. TLOTE is smart, handsome, eloquent and refined -- but dangerous to everybody who isn't extremely rich. I'm talkin' class war, Ned, here and in my previous comment. Voters who can't grasp that TLOTE is the soft front man for big money and the corporations will be duped into backing him again by their default voting.

It can be argued that the Court, at least, will be spared absolute takeover by the Right if TLOTE is in place to nominate more middle right judges between 2013 and 2017. Look at it this way. Would you rely on a fair Congress and strong President to safeguard the whole country's interests, or on a sometimes sympathetic Court? Go ahead and vote for TLOTE by way of protecting what's left of the Court. The Court's power is both broad yet restricted. Nevertheless, there is a variety of workarounds when the Court drifts out of touch with the rest of the land. From here on, I'm not investing in a rearguard defense of the Court through the linkage of presidential appointments. The real hope for reform is in the presidency and the legislature. That's where real power is exercised continuously. I beg you, Ned, to check out the New Progressive Alliance.

Holding one's nose while voting for TLOTE in 2012 amounts to empty symbolism. Ballots don't carry footnotes. Kinda like Pilate washing his hands before the crowd: Barabbas still walked, and the innocent guy still bled to death real slow.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Ned,

I have to defend Jay here. I am sure that what he said was not in any way meant as a personal attack. If you have read his comments (past and present) you will see that he is a very kind and caring man. If you believe that assumptions have been made about you, please respond and address the particular assumption or offending sentence (agree, disagree, say it is irrelevant) but don't let one sentence define the comment. Politics and religion are very emotional and visceral because they reflect the deep belief system that people have. From time to time our attempts to communicate these beliefs will ruffle feathers. This is why in my mother’s generation they used to be topics to avoid in polite conversation.

Most of the people who comment here - all of late - are deeply concerned about the state of our country. But we WILL disagree. That is what makes Progressives better than Conservatives; we think for ourselves and don’t necessarily toe the party line. While some of us are pretty set in what we believe, others are undecided. We are all making our opinions and beliefs known here and refining them in the process. The purpose of the conversation is not to try to convince another person as much as it is to get all the arguments out there. In the end, our vote is our final say – and for each of us here it is a very personal decision and the responsibility of it weighs very heavily on us.

We have a good back and forth going here and you have been a welcome addition to the conversation. Please keep commenting.

Valerie

Janet Camp said...

@Kat

Nader was just an example of the futility of third party candidates at this time. I like much about Nader and the first time around, wanted to vote for him, but didn't for the reasons I stated in my post--I knew he could not win and as long as we labor under a two-party system, I will hold my nose and vote within that system rather than toss it away on something currently untenable.

Thanks for the nod, Ned :-) I think what we are trying to do in Wisconsin has more potential to change the system than drafting a third party candidate at this point. And let me put in one more plug for Russ Feingold and Progressives United, who if successful, could bring about significant progress by overturning Citizens United. So, yes, Karen, et al, I think I am doing substantive things to hold Obama accountable as well as try to lay the groundwork for broader change than he has (so far) been able to accomplish.

It's not a major issue to most, but I think the USDA has accomplished a great deal with the new Food Plate. They bucked the powers that be and put veg/fruit on half the plate. They killed off the lousy, industry/lobby supported pyramid and have made recommendations along with the plate that are actually in line with sensible medical and nutritional advice. I'm pretty sure Mrs. Obama had a lot to do with this and it definitely is in line with her work on childhood obesity. It's not perfect, but it's a huge step for them to have got this done in the current political climate. They have managed to get accurate info out there without setting off wailing from the food industry/lobbyists.

Karen Garcia said...

Ned,
Rest assured I read all the comments and definitely didn't interpret Jay's as an ad hominem. I just recently started moderating comments, only because a few jerks were posting nastiness. I am with Valerie - I am real pleased about the vibrant discussions here and it is absolutely not necessary or even desirable that we all agree with each other.

VLT said...

Anne - Glad you are back by the way!

Vanity Fair had an amazing article on the issue of dicey voting machines shortly after the election. It is a must read for anyone who missed it. Nevertheless, I have to believe that my vote counts for something or Obama and others wouldn't be working so hard to get it. The Republicans may be able to tamper with the machines to a small extent but if a candidate gets enough support, my belief is the evil ones can't outright mess with the result. However, as a safety precaution, I started voting with a paper ballot after the second Bush election.

I hope this will be an issue that is brought to light again before the next election. The more daylight that is shone on this issue, the less chance those who want to do evil will be able to hide what they are doing.

We all need to demand a paper trail.

VLT said...

Anne - Glad you are back by the way!

Vanity Fair had an amazing article on the issue of dicey voting machines shortly after the election. It is a must read for anyone who missed it. Nevertheless, I have to believe that my vote counts for something or Obama and others wouldn't be working so hard to get it. The Republicans may be able to tamper with the machines to a small extent but if a candidate gets enough support, my belief is the evil ones can't outright mess with the result. However, as a safety precaution, I started voting with a paper ballot after the second Bush election.

I hope this will be an issue that is brought to light before the next election. The more daylight that is shone on this issue, the less chance those who want to do evil will be able to hide what they are doing. We all need to demand a paper trail.

Anonymous said...

@Jay,

There's lots to discuss, but can I follow up on your comments about the courts? Lower courts are restricted, but I wonder what might be a "workaround" with regard to SCOTUS. Is it impeachment? I'd love to be able to rely on a rational congress and president. But even if we can get back to that kind of governance, if I had to make a choice, the court would be my fail safe defender of our democratic values. Presidents, legislators, voter preferences come and go - but an appointment to the bench, as you know, is a lifetime.

Ned

Janet Camp said...

@VLT
Where do you vote? We get a paper ballot here in Milwaukee, but it is fed into a machine for tallying. I often wonder how well it all works. The thing is, I didn't know one could choose the method of voting--is this the case where you vote?

Belief isn't enough. I've had questions (unanswered) about the validity of these new machines (manufactured by major rep. donors) for years, but no one seems to follow through on investigations. I've read a few articles questioning their use, but then it goes away--after all, everyone knows that REAL news, such as Weinergate, must take precedence over dull stuff like voting machine doings.

For the record, I'm very disappointed in Rep. Weiner for lying and for doing such creepy stuff, but I don't care one way or another if he resigns and I hate, hate, hate the press calling a picture of someone's underwear (bulge or no bulge) "lewd". Tacky, tasteless, silly, possibly suggestive, infanatile, etc., but lewd simply reinforces the image of Americans as prudish and parochial.

VLT said...

Well, since living overseas I have been voting absentee but before that we had the option of filling out a paper ballot in WA State - maybe that has changed. It has been awhile. I remember watching my ballot being fed into a machine and as I understood it, the paper wasn't destroyed until after the election. I consider that a paper trail.

I certainly hope voting machines will continue to be an issue that is addressed by all of us. If our votes can be stolen from us our democracy really is dead.

Yes, I am always angry about these titillating stories that distract us from the really important issues. What an idiot to think he could get away with it - and of course moralists like my mother will use it as an excuse to keep voting Republican because the latest scandal was about a Democrat. Don't these politicians know by now that EVERYTHING they do is scrutinized by the other party? What hubris to think they are untouchables.

VLT said...

I think "belief" might have been the wrong word - I am "assuming" that at this point there isn't too much tampering with the machines that leave a paper trail. Knowing how hackers are able to break into incredibly complex computer systems, it DOES make one stop and pause to think about the "tamper proof" voting machines.

After Bush won a second time - after lying us into a war - and I read the Vanity Fair article, I became very despondent about the state of our democracy. If our votes can be stolen from us through computers or machinery, then the only power we have is to take to the streets. While I am all for taking to the streets anyway, I would like to hope that the reason politicians are still working so hard to win our votes is that there is some power to be had in the voting process. I suppose a really cynical person could propose it is all a show - Matrix without aliens - but the thought of our country already being in the throes of an oligarchial dictatorship is too depressing for words.

It is good that you and Anne have brought this up. I haven’t thought about it in a while and there are lots of questions to be asked - and we need to be diligent about demanding answers. I think there have been so many assaults on our democracy that what hasn’t been a giant red flag waving in our face has tended to be shelved. But we can’t afford to be asleep at the wheel, especially at this critical juncture in our country’s history.

Anonymous said...

@Janet,

I've gotten a few email requests for the WI fight and I can't do them all. What's my best bet?

Ned

Anonymous said...

@Janet and VLT

I'm not happy about the machines but the much bigger fight right now is voter picture IDs. That is going to disenfranchise many elderly and poor. Several legislatures are in the process of making voter ID required. As you know, we can't get traction on the machines, but voter ID does have some national attention right now.

Ned

Jay - Ottawa said...

Ned,
(PART I)
Only now did I see your question about workarounds to the Court.

I am not a lawyer (laughter all around), and it’s been decades since I took a number of courses in political science. Since this is a bygone post, I’ll presume to take even more space [pace, Karen] than usual. So, be generous, grant me some slack as I allude to the possibilities of pushing back against the Court. Real lawyers could put a fine point on it. Where's Ralph when I need him?

My point originally was that a congress, a president and the people need not be reduced to futility by an adverse decision of the Court, especially if it is wildly out of synch with the times or its own legal tradition. Given the possibilities for energetic (progressive) reform, my hopes lie with the first two branches.

First, the low road around the Court. As enforcer of the laws, the executive can drag its feet. Hence, the quote from somewhere in our history by a president saying something to the effect: “The Chief Justice has issued his decision, now let him enforce it.” Additionally, the executive branch can always stay one step ahead of the court by “doing first” and “doing long” while objectors jump through all the legal hoops to work the case through a series of courts to the top. Years....

Congressional measures to push back are more principled and enduring. At the beginning of the American experiment, the Congress was meant to be the most powerful, most responsive branch of government. (Since then, for better or worse, presidents have been in the ascendancy, in recent times especially because of presidential finger on the damned bomb.) Our presidents rule like kings, except for the dynasty part. Remember LBJ before events and challengers sent him back to Texas? Congress still retains the power of the purse. It can stop a war by refusing to fund it, which was what finally forced Nixon to quit Vietnam. Happily, such a movement is again gaining momentum in Congress over Iraq and Afghanistan. Money....

Congress can also tinker with a law to get around the Court’s objections, assuming the Court decided on a technicality. Best of all, Congress has the right to “except” the Court from having any appellate jurisdiction on a subject. That takes fancy legal work by the Congressional staff, but it remains an available option, seldom used. The Court only has jurisdiction over what Congress allows the Court to review.
(Go to PART II)

Jay - Ottawa said...

(Part II)
Lastly, there is the amendment route, cumbersome, time limited and requiring a virtual national consensus before a proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution. The ERA Amendment was the last near miss by that route. Ignorance, distortion and the same old hobbled press killed ERA.

Currently, we have a president and congress who do not act in the interests of all the people. They allow, permit, encourage the Court to do some of the dirty work for them. All three branches serve the elites now. What's to be "saved." Careful what you wish for....

But, God willing, some day with a legislative and executive determined to set things right, nine old men or even a slanted mix of nine young judges (such as we now endure) would not be able to obstruct the will of the majority. The Court’s power is largely negative, as a blocker, and confined to a narrow range of issues. True initiative and vast powers rest with the executive and legislative branches on the state and national levels, which do have means to circumvent a backward Court. FDR’s repeated challenges to the Court early in the New Deal, according to some historians, eventually made the nine old men sit up and be a little less obstructionist.

And to get to that happy day, we first need opinion shapers who don’t settle for compromise as their opening move. We need an electorate that sees the wisdom of never, ever voting for the lesser of two evils. Because if that’s all they’ll ever settle for, you can be damned sure that’s all they’ll ever get. Our own history as a nation shows that parties die and are replaced, that third parties have risen to dominance, that fundamental reforms have been achieved. No court is ever going to take us to that promised land. I prefer the founders' order of precedence: Congress, President, Court.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time for the response, Jay. There is some to which I agree: Congress has most power and much that I challenge - you say: Let the Court enforce? Can't - not their job; you say: Court mostly a blocker of power? Not Roe, not Citizens United, not Ledbetter, not Miranda - you say: a constitutional amendment as a work-around. That's one arduous work-around. And I would offer the Failure of ERA as an example of the difficulty. Yes, congress can rewrite legislation to meet the Court's approval but I sure disagree about the power of the presidency. Presidential power has grown in recent years, but I think the Senate has shown considerable power. Neither of which, diminish the power of the court. I understand that you will disagree with me on that, and probably much of what I have written. It's a very interesting topic to me but you're right - we've taken too much advantage of Karen.

Thanks again for your response.

Ned

Anonymous said...

Jay,

Just looked up the last amendment to the Constition. Ratified in 1992 - FIRST OFFERED in 1789. It only took 203 years!

Kat said...

@Janet
I'm sorry but the food plate is, well, fairly inconsequential in the scheme of things in my opinion.
And... I am very disappointed that of all the issues that Michelle could have chosen to address she went with childhood obesity. If only those poor fatties got the right education about food and exercise they could be just like a nice upper middle class, organic produce buying, locavore family.
And when she started talking about lost worker productivity due to obesity (something about sick days and all)-- well I just lost it.
Ever read any fitness/nutrition article at the NYT and peruse the comments? The classism that liberals are usually loathe to show really comes through loud and clear.
She could have gone with childhood hunger or childhood poverty. Or vaccinations. Or heck, even literacy.

Kat said...

Forgot to add--
perhaps she could have talked about the rise in childhood asthma rates? This one doesn't seem to get people worked up the same way-- it is not all about personal responsibility and well, it might be a little uncomfortable to go after those that are responsible for poor air quality.

VLT said...

Sorry, Ned - I've been out of the country for a while but are you talking about showing a picture I.D. before being issued a ballot? I think I have had to do that all along in Washington. I believe the purpose behind this practice is to prevent voter fraud.

It would be interesting to know how many seniors vote absentee. As I recall, it was becoming the trend in WA, where it is an option, that more and more Washington citizens were voting absentee. I think my mom does it in Texas too. Personally, I think it would be great if we could all take our time and study the literature before voting - and leave a paper trail to boot.

Thought you all might be interested as citizens of the world: In Australia, voting is compulsory. It is done on a Saturday so that everyone can get to the polls and there is a fine issued if a person doesn't vote. It is considered a civic duty and I haven't heard anyone complain about it. A person can leave the ballot blank or write in Mickey Mouse but he or she must turn up and submit a ballot. The reasoning behind compulsory voting (according to my husband who knows his history) goes back to the days when certain groups were being prevented from voting. Another interesting fact I found on the Internet; compulsory voting in all countries which have it, tends to favour liberal rather than conservative candidates. – Oh yeah, one more Internet fact - in the U.S, voter turnout in the last election was 64% - in Australia it averages 95% (I assume the missing 5% are infirm or live in such isolated places they can’t get to a polling place.)

Just a couple of fun facts! Hope the trivial nature of them doesn't offend Ezra.

Anonymous said...

VLT,

I can't offer hard numbers and charts and stuff, but a photo ID law reduces turnout - particularly of the poor and aged. Coincidentally, those people are more likely to vote Democratic. Bills are being pushed by Republican owned legislatures. While these laws are passed "in order to prevent voter fraud", instances of voter fraud are extremely low. Emphasis on extremely. Texas, who just passed such a law, had one (ONE) conviction over maybe ten years! Picture an old woman who no longer drives and has let her license lapse. Now she can't drive, her town has no public transportation, her kids have moved to California AND now she has to get somewhere to get a state issued ID? Chances are that woman is not going to vote. It's bad law that is "preventing" a crime that is very, very rare but is very good at disenfranchising a lot of voters.

However, I love the info about Australia complusion. Wow! Can you imagine the screams from the right?

Ned

Anonymous said...

truthaboutfraud.org/case_studies_by_state/T,

Above is a website about the policy Brennan Center for Justice.

Ned

P.S. Washington has voter ID. It's the photo voter ID that is discriminatory.

VLT said...

Kat - Tend to agree with you on the obesity issue and Michelle Obama. I think she was assigned it as her cause because it wasn't too controversial. But it has been her excuse to get back in bed with WalMart which I find completely offensive. Also, the whole think is pretty ironic considering that her husband's administration is turning a blind eye to the potential dangers of genetically modified crops (corn in particular) and the continued monopolization of world seed that Monsanto has pursued totally unchecked by our government. Michelle, doesn't impress me any more than her husband. The only thing she gets points for, in my book, is not being too skinny.

Kat said...

Valerie--
The Monsanto thing is very depressing, but not particularly unexpected from this administration. having an organic garden on the White House lawn means nothing when they're willing to say FU to the rest of the world.