Give Us Back Our Elections …

One of my pet peeves is the 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (FEC), in which the Court ruled that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political communications by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.  In a nutshell, it opened the door to unlimited donations by wealthy corporations, such lobbying groups as the NRA, and others to basically buy our politicians.  This is why we have a Congress that is unwilling to enact gun regulations, despite the fact that some 80% of the people in this country are in favour of such things as enhanced background checks and a ban on assault weapons.  This is why our very lives are placed at risk by the rolling back of environmental regulations that are so crucial to preserving life on earth.  And this is why there is an ever-widening income gap between the billionaires and the rest of us who live payday to payday.  And this is why ours is no longer a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, but rather of, by, and for only the wealthy and powerful people.

I have featured Robert Reich on this blog a few times before.  He is an economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. He was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.  He, better than most, understand the inner workings of our government.  Sans partisanship, he explains why we simply must overturn Citizens United, must get the big money out of politics, and return our elections to We the People.  Please take three minutes to watch …

Filosofa’s Mini Rants

Because I cannot afford a new computer at the moment, I shan’t write about today’s impeachment proceedings except to say that should Jim Jordan and I ever run into each other in person, his head is likely to look like a rotten turnip once I am done bashing it!  Since it is not prudent for me to write about the proceedings today, I figured a few snarky snippets or mini rants might alleviate some of the pressure in my head.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell posted the following on Twitter last evening …

“Critical legislation is currently frozen in place. Casualties of Democrats’ apparent inability to make headway on anything besides fighting with the White House.”

Seriously, Mitchie???  How many bills have been passed by the House that are sitting somewhere in your office because you refuse to even bring them to the Senate floor for a vote???  This was the most hypocritical statement I have ever heard!  The House is doing its job at the moment, investigating the criminal activities of the person sitting in the Oval Office.  You’ll get your chance to try, and hopefully convict him soon.  Meanwhile, why not earn your fat paycheck by passing some of the legislation that has been sent to you by the House?McConnellYou could start with … For The People Act to secure America’s elections, expand voting rights, and get money out of politics.  It was passed by the House and sent to the Senate 250 days ago!  The election is in less than 12 months, and your fat patootie is still sitting on the bill to ensure the integrity of the election.  Do Your JOB, Mitchell!


Gonna need a new computer after all if I keep beating the lettering off the keys …


U.S. representative Devin Nunes from California is an idiot.  There has never been any doubt.  I’m seriously considering reprising my Idiot of the Week feature for people like Jim Jordan, Mitch McConnell, and Devin Nunes! The man once co-sponsored an act to discourage frivolous lawsuits, but yet he himself seems to be ‘sue-crazy’.  In just the past two years, he has sued …

  • A stone fruit farmer in Dinuba, and two other people, for conspiring to damage his 2018 reelection by asking that Nunes not be allowed to call himself a “farmer” on the ballot.
  • The research firm Fusion GPS and a Democratic group called Campaign for Accountability for attempting to interfere with his “investigation” (quote marks are mine) into ties between President Trump and Russia when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
  • Twitter and a couple of parody accounts, including @DevinCow, who has called Nunes “a treasonous cowpoke.” He is asking for $250 million to assuage his hurt feelings.
  • McClatchy, parent company of Nunes’ hometown paper, the Fresno Bee, for writing that he had a financial interest in a winery sued by an employee who was asked to work on a charity cruise where men behaved very, very badly.
  • And, most recently, Esquire magazine and the journalist Ryan Lizza, who Nunes claims have defamed him to the tune of $75 million in writing about the Nunes family dairy farm, which is not in California, but in Iowa.

nunesSheesh … is he trying to compete with Donald Trump for the Guinness World Record of most lawsuits?

I could actually write an entire post about Nunes, but he’s not worth that much of my time or energy, so I will confine myself to his latest antics.  Now, Nunes is a conspiracy theorist … almost as much of one as Alex Jones!  Back in 2018, he came up with some long-winded theory that the FBI was conspiring against Trump.  As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes participated in yesterday’s impeachment hearings … the ones I’m not writing about tonight.

Nunes began with an opening statement which included a misleading claim that Democrats on the committee had tried to “obtain nude pictures of Trump from Russian pranksters who pretended to be Ukrainian officials.”  Then he went on to allege that the Ukraine whistleblower who reported Trump’s call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was “acknowledged to have a bias against President Trump” and falsely claimed that the whistleblower’s “attorney touted a ‘coup’ against the president.”

Nunes also falsely claimed that Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was to express “concerns about foreign corruption,” even though Trump did not mention “corruption” once on the call. Nunes also falsely claimed that the “officials’ alarm at the president’s actions was typically based on second-hand, third-hand and even fourth-hand rumors and innuendo,” even though multiple witnesses testified about first-hand interactions with Trump and with others.

Here’s another one whose head should be made to look like a rotten turnip!


Oh, and now that you’ve gone and mentioned Trump …


The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, arrived at the White House today for a visit with Donald.  Don and Recep have a close relationship, there are ties that bind them.  Back in 2015, after Trump threw his hat in the ring, he did an interview with then-Breitbart host Steve Bannon.  When asked about how he would deal with Turkey if he were to become president …

“I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one. … And I’ve gotten to know Turkey very well. They’re amazing people. They’re incredible people. They have a strong leader.”

Yep, straight from the horse’s mouth … a “little conflict of interest”.  But wait, it gets even better.  Two of Erdoğan’s sons-in-law play a role here.  One is Turkey’s Minister of Finance, and deals directly with Trump and Trump’s own son-in-law, Jared Kushner (you remember, the one who lied on his security clearance forms and was, therefore, not given the highest level security clearance?).  The other son-in-law is actually a Trump business partner and advisor.

After a phone conversation between Trump and Erdoğan last month, Trump pulled our troops out of Syria, leaving Erdoğan to invade the Kurdish-held lands and devastate our allies, the Kurds.  And yet, Trump praised Erdoğan …

“We’ve been friends for a long time, almost from day-one. We understand each others’ country. We understand where we are coming from. They’re highly respected in their country and in the region.”

Understands???  Trump understands NOTHING!  Another dictator that Trump praises and claims a kinship with, while he feeds our allies to the sharks.


Well, I thought this little rant might help me calm down, get rid of some of the angst residing within my head, but it has only made it worse.  Perhaps a little snack …

Disenfranchising Young Voters …

The percentage of college students who cast votes in 2018 was more than double that of 2014, the last mid-term election prior to 2018.  Why?  Two major reasons:  school shootings and the environment.  The February 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was a turning point for young people around the nation.  They were tired of seeing their friends die needlessly because of reckless, largely unregulated gun laws, or rather lack of laws.  A few activists from Parkland took the lead and motivated many more.

And then came a young girl in Sweden, Greta Thunberg, and she gained a voice that would be heard ‘round the world, and what she said with that voice was that we, the adults around the globe, have done a lousy job taking care of our planet, and that we have jeopardized hers and other young people’s futures and … she wasn’t going to take it lying down!  And her voice carried, touching the hearts and minds of young people in every nation, including the U.S.

Because of these two things, young people today are far more invested in the political process, far more aware of what is being done, who will do things to improve the situation, and they are, most importantly, voting in numbers never seen before among their age group.  My hat is off to all those who are using their voice and their vote to do what we oldsters should have been doing for decades now.  But …

Not everybody is pleased by this new wave of political enthusiasm among the youth of the country. Young people, concerned about the proliferation of guns and the destruction of the environment, are typically more likely to vote for a democratic candidate, which has thrown the Republican Party into a tailspin and led them to find new ways to disenfranchise the young voters.

The Texas Legislature has outlawed polling places that do not stay open for the entire 12-day early-voting period.  Many college campuses set up temporary early-voting sites for the convenience of the students.  However, they have neither the funding nor the need to keep those sites open for the entire 12 days, and therefore will not be allowed to have them this year.  Many students who live in campus housing do not have their own transportation and may well find it difficult to get to the polls in order to vote.  In Texas, this will affect nine of the eleven campuses of Austin Community College, as well as six campus polling places at colleges in Fort Worth, two in Brownsville, on the Mexico border, and other polling places at schools statewide.

It isn’t only Texas … Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths.  In New Hampshire, a Republican-backed law took effect this fall requiring newly registered voters who drive to establish “domicile” in the state by securing New Hampshire driver’s licenses and auto registrations, which can cost hundreds of dollars annually.  Six in 10 New Hampshire college students come from outside the state, a rate among the nation’s highest. As early as 2011, the state’s Republican House speaker at the time, William O’Brien, promised to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students, calling them “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.”  Say WHAT???

Florida’s State Legislature reinstated a 2014 law that the Courts struck down at the time, outlawing early voting sites at state universities, with an additional caveat that all early voting sites must offer “sufficient non-permitted parking” – something that is in short supply at most universities.

North Carolina Republicans enacted a voter ID law last year that recognized student identification cards as valid — but its requirements proved so cumbersome that major state universities were unable to comply. A later revision relaxed the rules, but much confusion remains, and fewer than half the state’s 180-plus accredited schools have sought to certify their IDs for voting.

Wisconsin Republicans also have imposed tough restrictions on using student IDs for voting purposes. The state requires poll workers to check signatures only on student IDs, although some schools issuing modern IDs that serve as debit cards and dorm room keys have removed signatures, which they consider a security risk.  The law also requires that IDs used for voting expire within two years, while most college ID cards have four-year expiration dates. And even students with acceptable IDs must show proof of enrollment before being allowed to vote.

Tennessee does not recognize student ID cards as valid for voting, and legislators have removed out-of-state driver’s licenses from the list of valid identifications.  Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout among the states and the District of Columbia. Only Texas’ turnout is worse.

In almost all of these cases, the excuse given for the tougher restrictions is that they are trying to cut down on voter fraud, but that argument lacks teeth, since widescale voter fraud has been proven to be virtually non-existent.  It is simple common sense that making voting convenient improves turnout.  When polling places are closed, hours restricted, photo IDs required, turnout will suffer.  What a message we are sending to our youth when we make it so hard for them to vote that many will throw their hands up in frustration and become lifelong non-voters!

One final thought.  The states where the barriers are rising fastest are in political battlegrounds and places like Texas where one-party control is eroding.  My thought is that if the Republicans have, as they claim to, the best ideas, the best platforms … then why do they need to cheat in order to win?

The young people in this country today are our hope for the future, for a future with clean air, potable water, arable land for growing food, and fewer guns in the hands of the wrong people.  If we discourage them today, what is the message we are sending?  Think about it.

Steve King — Riding Off Into The Sunset?

Well, it looks like U.S. Representative Steve King from Iowa may have finally crossed one line too many.  Maybe.  King is an unapologetic bigot in every sense of the word, and yet his district has re-elected him every two years since 2002!  Says something about the people in Iowa, doesn’t it?  A recap of some of his most egregious offenses …

  • He has a long history of white-nationalist affiliations. The Washington Post described King as the “Congressman most openly affiliated with white nationalism”. His racist comments resulted in him being stripped of all his committee assignments earlier this year.
  • In an interview with the New York Times, King questioned why “white nationalist,” among other terms, are deemed racist language.
  • On the House floor in July 2006, King suggested building a border wall along the country’s southern border and said the top of the fence could be electrified. “We do that with livestock all the time.”
  • In March 2008, King said terrorists would celebrate a Barack Obama presidency and that al Qaeda “would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror.”
  • While talking about “Dreamers” in a July 2013 interview for Newsmax TV, King claimed that for every young immigrant who becomes a school valedictorian there are “100 out there that, they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

steve-king-2  steve-king-3

This is but a sampling of his atrocious views … in fact, I awarded him my coveted Idiot of the Week award in March 2017 … check it out to read about more of his idiocy!  In short, he is against anyone who is not white, straight, Christian and preferably male.  But his latest seems to be, perhaps, the straw that broke the camel’s back, even in ultra-conservative Iowa.

King has long been a foe of women’s rights, particularly the right to choose to have an abortion.  On Wednesday, he was giving a speech at the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, when he attempted to justify his reason for refusing to support abortions even in cases of incest or rape …

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?  Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can’t certify that I’m not a part of a product of that.  I’ve got 174 people who say they don’t want exceptions for rape and incest because they understand it is not the baby’s fault, to abort the baby, because of the sin of the father, and maybe sometimes the sin of the mother too. And so I refused to do that.”

Even the republicans were riled over that one … well, some of them anyway.  House Republican leaders broke from their August recess to publicly chastise him.  Liz Cheney, the party’s third highest-ranking member, tweeted that King’s comments were “appalling and bizarre … it’s time for him to go.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the minority whip, both said Mr. King’s comments underscored why he had been removed from his committees.  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has said she will no longer support Mr. King. Even #MoscowMitch McConnell has said that King should resign!

King faces a republican contender in the primary, State Senator Randy Feenstra, and a number of republicans have said they will support any republican who is not Steve King!  If campaign donations are an early indicator, Feenstra stands a good chance, with $260,000 in donations as compared to King’s significantly lower $62,000.  And, even if King survives the primary race, he will face democrat J.D. Scholten who almost beat him in 2018, losing by only about 10,000 votes.  Perhaps the people of Iowa are tired of King’s perversion, his hateful rhetoric, his bigotry?  Let us hope so.

Open Letter To House Democrats

18 June 2019

Dear Representative ____________________________,

Today I read an article in the New York Times that said many democratic members of Congress believe impeachment is not what their constituents want.  I beg to differ.  In May, polls showed that 60% of democrats favoured impeachment, and a bit later, in early June, polls showed that 76% favour impeachment.  I am certainly among those who do.  If you claim your constituents overwhelmingly do not favour impeachment, and if 76% of democrats do favour it, then I’m unclear as to who you think your constituents are.

I understand that even if impeached by the House of Representatives, there is no possibility that the Senate will vote to try, convict, and remove Trump from office.  I further understand that he is likely to become even more unstable than he already is if the impeachment process is begun.  And, I also understand that at this juncture, you likely do not have the support of enough republicans in the House to gain a 2/3 vote for impeachment.  However …

If you begin the impeachment process, you will be able to pursue your inquiries and investigations that now seem dead in the water because of Trump’s obfuscation and cover-ups.  If you do your job properly, there can be no doubt that you will be able to build a case for impeachment, for Special Counsel Robert Mueller already did most of that work for you.  Starting with the obstruction of justice incidences that Mueller laid out, if you follow those leads, verify and confirm what you must, then I believe that you will be able to convince enough of your republican compadres that impeachment is the only recourse.

There are a few things I would like you to consider.  The first is that if Donald Trump is not held accountable for his crimes … and make no mistake, he has committed crimes against the citizens of this nation by both his actions and his inactions … then future presidents will feel they have carte blanche to act in a similar manner without reprisal.  This is an untenable situation and undermines the very foundation of our government.

Another thing to consider is next years’ election.  If Trump is successfully impeached in the House, even though not convicted in the Senate, his reputation will nonetheless be tarnished, hopefully to the point that he will not stand a chance of winning the election.  However, if he is not held accountable for his actions, his base will applaud, he will gloat, and quite possibly his base will actually expand.  Another untenable situation.

Along those same lines, you all worked hard last year to gain a democratic majority in the House.  It is my opinion that you will be putting that majority at risk by your inaction, for whether you believe it or not, the majority of democrats do want to see Trump held accountable, and the mechanism for doing that is impeachment.  If you fail to impeach, if you do not even try, I think you will lose many democratic voters who are disappointed and disgusted.  I, for one, feel very unrepresented at the moment, and I think you will find that I am far from being alone in this.

If you still believe that impeachment is not popular among your constituents, then get out there and talk to them.  Hold town hall meetings in your districts, talk to people, ask them what they think.  And I’m not saying talk only to the doctors and lawyers, the wealthy 1% of your constituents, but come down to our level, talk to people like me, my neighbors.  Talk to the average Joes in your district.  If you fail to do this, you may not be sitting in your office in the Capitol two years from now, and we may no longer have a participatory government.  Think about it.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, citizen, taxpayer, voter

Seeing Is NOT Believing …

The Associated Press (AP) has begun a weekly feature titled Not Real News: A look at what didn’t happen this week.  The purpose is to cull the fake news that has become widespread in this day of political corruption, video-doctoring, misinformation and more.  I find it a sad, frustrating statement of today’s world that we need such a column, but am glad that someone is stepping up to the plate to try to call out the liars and cheats.

The first story in this week’s roundup is about a doctored video with the intent of discrediting 2020 presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.  From the AP piece …

CLAIM: Video shows Joe Biden making a “shocking admission.” Biden’s speech also appears to be impaired in the video.

THE FACTS: Democratic presidential candidate Biden did not make any sort of admission. Rather, in the video, he was referencing comments made about him by President Donald Trump. The source footage was slowed down and two clips from it were cut and spliced together to produce this altered video. A social media user who uses the handle @CarpeDonktum posted the altered video to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Reddit on Wednesday and Thursday, calling it a “shocking admission” and saying it forced him to question Biden’s mental health. @CarpeDonktum, whose Twitter bio says he creates “doctored” videos in support of Trump, told The Associated Press that he had slowed down the video and cut the two clips together. On Reddit, he labeled the video as “doctored” because he said users on Reddit may not be familiar with his parody style videos. “All I do is make parody and funny videos,” he said. “No ill intent behind it.” The manipulated footage taken from ABC News video of Biden at Iowa Wesleyan University was uploaded following President Donald Trump’s remarks this week that Biden was getting slow and referring to him as “Sleepy Joe.” @CarpeDonktum inserted a person walking in front of the camera to hide a cut he made in the video, where he removed part of it and spliced the remaining footage together, so Biden appears to say, “Joe Biden shouldn’t be president. I think I’m either low IQ or slow or I don’t know what I am. Slow Joe Biden.” The editing of the video makes it appear to depict an uninterrupted quote. The deletion of that middle section and the omission of other, earlier parts of the original ABC footage removed context that’s critical to understanding what’s being seen — namely, that Biden was describing what Trump, as well as North Korea’s official news agency, have said about him. The Associated Press reported in May that North Korea’s official news agency had called Biden a “fool of low IQ.” ″He embraces dictators like Kim Jong Un who is a damn murderer and a thug,” Biden says in the original ABC News clip. “The one thing they agree on, Joe Biden shouldn’t be president.” He goes on to reference some of Trump and Kim’s characterization of him as “slow” or having a “low IQ.”

Carpe Donktum’s claim that there was “No ill intent …” is wrong.  Of course there was ‘ill intent’, and even though the discerning viewer, upon seeing this would at the very least question its authenticity, there are many out there who would accept it at face value.  How many people voted for Donald Trump for the sole reason that they didn’t like Hillary Clinton?  A good percentage, based on what I’ve heard and read.  Why didn’t they like Hillary Clinton, who was well-qualified and had an excellent platform?  Because they saw her as unbending, as cold.  Because they were told, falsely, that she was responsible for the loss of life in Benghazi.  Because they believed Trump and the false news who said she had secret emails that had shared information with foreign powers that breached our national security.  Because James Comey said the FBI was considering re-opening an old investigation.  Because … because … because of what they had seen or heard about her, not from her, but about her, most of which was manufactured by the GOP and the Trump campaign with the assistance of Russian trolls.

Most everyone reading this post is smart enough, savvy enough to check sources, double check the veracity of what they see and hear, especially on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, both of whom allowed Russian trolls to disseminate false information on their sites in both 2016 and 2018.  The illicit dirty pool has already begun for next year’s elections, though they are still 17 months away.  And a large number of people are ignorant enough, or lazy enough to believe everything they see and hear on these platforms.

The upcoming election is in grave danger of being the most unfair, dishonest election in the history of this nation, thanks to a corrupt GOP, a corrupt president, and technology that enables such things as doctored video.  Add to that, the largely republican gerrymandered district maps that dilute the votes of the poor and minorities, states that are trying to pass laws making it harder for young and old people to vote, and it is a recipe for disaster.

What can we do about it?  I wish I had an answer for that question.  Personally, I think that Carpe Donktum’s identity should be discovered and he or she should be tried in a court of law for attempting to rig an election, but I’m sure that’s not going to happen.  We must start holding social media sites accountable for ensuring their integrity by rooting out the faux news and blocking them.  If that’s an assault on free speech, then so be it.  I want an honest election … I want everyone to know the truth, not what the GOP and Donald Trump would like them to believe.

GOP Supporting ‘Rule of Law’ Have Sponsored Ad To Push US Senate To Secure US Elections

If you think that we are not in the midst of a Constitutional crisis, if you believe that somehow it will all work out fine … you need to read this post by Gronda. We are on a dark path headed to … the destruction of fair elections, the demolition of law and order, and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution. Thank you, Gronda, for your hard work and for so much valuable information.

Gronda Morin

“This ad from Republicans for the Rule of Law calls on Congress to act, as the president clearly won’t, on the urgent matter of protecting our elections from foreign interference. It will air Monday on cable news networks. If you agree, do forward it to your member of Congress.”

Image result for images of helsinki trump russia summit

It’s a sad state of affairs when the experts who surround the President Donald J. Trump can’t discuss Russia having successfully launched a full throttle cyber and propaganda attack in 2016 on our US elections system, and that Russia plans a repeat performance during the 2020 US elections cycle; and to review plans about what’s being done by the US government regarding this issue, without fear of ‘poking the bear’s’ wrath. With this background, it’s hard to justify the US House’s avoidance of it doing it’s…

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Note To Democrats: It Wasn’t Just Issues That Helped Dems Win In 2018/ Try Black Voter Turnout

I admit that I am still on the fence about whether or not the House of Representatives ought to begin impeachment proceedings. That said, more and more I am leaning toward it, for every day I see more and more damage to this nation being done by the person in the Oval Office. I listen to both sides of the issue, and both sides make a compelling case. Today, I share with you Gronda’s post that makes a compelling case in favour of at the very least opening an impeachment inquiry. What are your thoughts? Many thanks, Gronda, for this enlightening post and for permission to share it.

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos rallies for impeaching trump

Dear Democrats, as per the historian Jon Meacham, “If I were in Congress, I’d want to hold Trump impeachment hearings;” and “If you raise the bar for an impeachment inquiry to impossibly high standards, you then lower the bar for what the country will have to tolerate with future lawless presidents.”

According to a new CNN poll,”Democrats are increasingly in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump, with 76 percent saying they support the move.” Ignoring the will of the party’s base of voters is in itself, a risky political calculation.

Our Black brothers and sisters have become an important/ crucial voting bloc for Democratic Party candidates. They also represent a bloc of voters who don’t get why the US House Democrats have failed to at least commence an impeachment inquiry which doesn’t have to result in an actual impeachment vote against President Trump, based on his numerous felonious acts…

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The Myth About Congress …

The United States Congress.  A diverse body of people from every state in the nation who take an oath to uphold the Constitution, to represent the people in their state/district, right?  Maybe on paper, but the reality is that these days I think most of us have the feeling that we are misunderstood and misrepresented not only in the executive, but also the legislative branches of our government. CongressI speak from my own experience with the ‘representative’ for my district, Warren Davidson.  His values and priorities are so far away from my own that I wonder how he ever got elected.  He annoys me on a daily basis, and I let him have it back, tit-for-tat … not that he likely ever reads my tweets or emails, but I try.  Now, I do realize that within any district, not everyone will have the same views, however an elected official is supposed to represent ALL the people, and in truth, far too many represent only the people who have a lot more money in the bank than anybody reading this blog.

Our friend Scottie posted something interesting yesterday and threw out a bit of a challenge for me to follow up on it, take it a step further.  Never one to turn down a challenge, I took the bait.  The question:  How demographically representative is Congress of the nation as a whole?  Turns out, not very.  This is the chart Scottie posted that piqued my interest:Scottie-chart

The 116th U.S. Congress took office in January, with Democrats taking control of the House while Republicans maintain an edge in the Senate.  The current Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse ever.  The number of women in Congress is at an all-time high.  The share of immigrants in Congress has ticked up but remains well below historical highs.  Seems a step in the right direction, but …

Before I get into the demographics comparison, I found this cool interactive that will take you only about 20 seconds to see how well, based on five simple criteria, you are represented in Congress today.  Check it out and see where you stand.  My own result was that there are 0 people in Congress like me.  Hey, I’m unique!!! I’m also unrepresented in Congress. So, how did you fare?

Let’s start with women.  There are currently 131 women in Congress, an all-time high.  131 out of a total of 535 is 24.5%.  So, 24.5% of Congress are women, but 50.8% of the population are women.  See the problem here?  Granted, one does not have to be a woman to understand women’s issues, but it helps, especially today when more and more male-dominated state legislatures are passing laws stripping women of the right to make their own reproductive health decisions. Men-women-dem-rep Interestingly, among democrats in Congress, there is a significantly higher number of women, but among republicans, only 10% are women.  Think about that one. women-blacks

Next let’s look at African-Americans.  There are 58 African-Americans in Congress, comprising 10.8% of the total.  Comparatively, African-Americans make up 13.4% of the population.  The disparity here is, perhaps, not as wide as the gender gap, and is much less than it once was, but is still there.  Again, note the difference between democrat and republican.women-blacks

What about age?  The average age at the beginning of the 116th Congress was 57.6 years for Representatives and 62.9 years for Senators.  How does that compare to the population as a whole?  13% of the population are between 55-64, and 16% are over 65.  Seems rather like younger people are under-represented, wouldn’t you say?  On the upside, however, the average age of incoming members of Congress this year was 47, so we are seeing some younger blood … perhaps it’s time for some of those crotchety old men (Mitchell McConnell) to retire?

One of the big dividers is religion.  While there is a disparately higher number of most every religious group, it is interesting to note that not one single member of Congress is ‘unaffiliated’, while nearly a quarter of the nation’s population are unaffiliated with any organized religion.  I fall into that category, as do many readers of this blog … we are not even a blip on the radar of Congress.  To me, this is a problem, for in the past two years, many of the barriers between church and state have been breached and we seem to be on our way toward a theocracy of sorts, which would leave nearly a fourth of the population out in the cold.  More than 99% of republicans identify as Christian, compared to 78% of democrats.religion

While there are many more categories we could look at, I will wrap it up with one very important one, a group of people who are frequently misunderstood and subjected to discrimination, even state-sanctioned discrimination, the LGBTQ community.  This category is the most misunderstood of any, and they are the most likely to face discrimination.  Of late, even our own government, thanks to Mike Pence and the evangelicals who have a hold over Don Trump, are passing laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people.  There are a total of 10 LGBTQ people in Congress today, as compared to an estimated 4.5% of the total population.  A disclaimer is in order, however, for the number of LGBTQ people is likely underestimated, since many choose not to make public their gender orientation.  The fact that there are more men than women in Congress is disturbing, as is the fact that minorities are under-represented.  But LGBTQ is one group whose problems and issues are unique, and frankly if you aren’t a member of that group, you don’t understand.  Period.  You may empathize, but you cannot possibly understand.   And if you and I cannot understand, what makes anybody think our illustrious members of Congress understand?  They don’t.LGBTQ

One other area in which Congress has little, if any, connection to the real world of the U.S. is wealth, as you saw in Scottie’s chart.  It is a pertinent topic, but one that I must save for another day, as I have already spent some six hours doing research, double-checking facts, creating charts, and writing this post.  Suffice it to say that the members of Congress are far ‘above the madding crowd’ when it comes to wealth, and I think this may be one of the most relevant reasons that they cannot possibly relate to “We the People” in any meaningful way.  I hope to do a separate post within the next week assessing the wealth of various members of Congress, how they came to be millionaires, and how that may be influencing their decisions.

I note, overall, a disturbing trend regarding democrat vs republican.  Democrats have nearly 5 times as many women in Congress as republicans.  Republicans have a measly 2 … count ’em … two African-Americans, compared to more than 50 of the Democratic Party.  Republicans have zero diversity in religion, and there is not a single LGBTQ republican in Congress.  People tell me that I shouldn’t judge all republicans on the basis of what some do, but … as far as Congress goes, they seem to be a fairly narrow-minded group of old, white, Christian, straight males.  Think about it.

I end where I started … thank you, Scottie, for throwing me this challenge.  I think it is a worthwhile topic, and I learned quite a bit tonight, including why I sometimes feel that I am left behind by those men & women we think are looking out for our best interests.

By Hook or By Crook …

There are a couple of ways to win an election.  One can work hard, put together a sincere platform that addresses the concerns of the people, talk to the people, make sure your name and platform are well advertised and hope for the best.  Or … you can spread lies and ‘disinformation’, pick and choose your audience, take money from special interest groups to bombard the airwaves and social media with your ads, and if all else fails, make sure those who wouldn’t vote for you don’t get to vote.  It is my opinion that if you have a viable platform and reasonable ideas for improving the welfare of the nation and its people, your best bet is the first method.  However, if you have no real platform for your plan is to profit from the office you seek, if you care not a whit about the ‘average Joe’, then you will likely choose the second path.

Throughout history, there have been crooked politicians in both parties, and that will likely never change.  However, in this, the 21st century, corruption runs rampant mostly in the Republican Party.  It is republicans who are in the pockets of the NRA.  It is republicans who deny climate change and instead support the fossil fuel industries, for that is where they get their large donations.  It is republicans who aim to cut social safety net programs and who fight against subsidized health care in any form or fashion. And it is mainly republicans who have redistricted their states in order to minimize the effect of the minority vote.  It was the republican candidate running for president in 2016 who encouraged the tapping into private information of his opponent and making it public.

There is an all-important election coming up in just over 17 months, and the republicans are already hard at work.  Not, mind you, developing strong ideologies and working on plans to help the poor and working classes be successful in their lives.  Not working on a plan to improve our failing education system.  Not working on plans to develop renewable energy sources or clean up the environment.  But rather, among other things, they are working on ways to keep ‘the other side’, the democrats, away from the polls.

Texas is one state that has a two-week ‘early voting’ period, and in the past, mobile polling stations have been used in areas where residents might not otherwise be able to access a polling place.  Elderly, poor, and college students are among those for whom access is often difficult, so these mobile polling stations would set up shop in places like assisted living communities, food banks, college campuses, and even office buildings.  However, this week, a bill has been passed by both chambers of the state legislature that would ban the mobile polling stations.  Initially, the bill would have exempted nursing homes and retirement homes from the ban, but the state senate blocked the exemption.  The bill is now on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s desk awaiting his signature.

The ‘justification’ for this bill … “Supporters of the bill say it keeps authorities from giving some people an easier way to vote, while excluding others from that opportunity.” Is that not the biggest crock of you-know-what???  The true reason can be none other than to keep the elderly, disabled, poor, and college-students from voting.  Those groups tend to be more likely to vote for a democrat, for their interests are more closely tied to humanitarian causes than republicans.  I call foul on this one.

I now turn from Texas to Florida …

In 2018, after years of the Republican-dominated state legislature’s resistance to the idea, Floridians included a referendum measure, Amendment 4, in the statewide midterm ballot that would automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons once their sentence has been served (except those convicted of murder and sexual offenses).  The people of Florida overwhelmingly approved the measure with a 65% majority.  In fact, Amendment 4 received more “yes” votes (5.1 million) than any single candidate in the state last November.

However, the state legislature has now passed a bill that is only awaiting Governor DeSantis’ signature, that would place an additional requirement on those returning to society … they must fully pay any and all restitution and court fees before being allowed to vote.  Think about this one … they’ve been in prison, so they have no job and it will be difficult for them to get one, but in order to restore their rights as a citizen, they must come up with sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.  First, it was likely their poverty that led them to whatever crime they committed, and now they are even poorer with no means to even rent an apartment or buy food, but they are expected to pay fees that they may not have even known existed.  Again, just like the Texas law, this law would disproportionately affect the poor and minorities.

Those are just two of the current attempts to disenfranchise the people who are most likely to vote for a democrat.  Restrictive voter ID laws, gerrymandering, closing or reducing the hours of polling places in poor and minority neighborhoods are happening all around the country.  I can only conclude that the Republican Party has no viable platform on which to run honest campaigns, thus they must resort to all manners of trickery.  GOP once stood for Grand Ol’ Party.  No longer is there anything ‘grand’ about them.