The Voice Of The People

It is not too strange today to think that our very own elected officials fail time and time again to do the work that the public in which they are sworn to do considering all the bills that would make a difference in the lives of so many people never made it outside the halls of Congress. Too often state and Federal legislatures have ignored or withheld passage of bills that the majority of citizens support. It is not only their own constituents either that support passage of a particular piece of legislation. But, all across the country we have seen mass public support for a specific bill only to have our elected officials refuse to acknowledge that support.

In Florida for instance, when the medical marijuana bill was introduced where over 60% of Floridians supported legalization of medical marijuana the state legislature turned their backs on the public and voted it down. That is after they already knew that over 60% of the public approved legalizing medical marijuana. Just think of the tax revenue, like Colorado. Needless to say the state legislature of Florida continues to be ignoring the majority of the public’s concerns.

Just this past November Senator Warren introduced legislation to offset the misdirected way the cost of living increase to Social Security is calculated with her Save the Benefits Act. This bill specifies that each eligible Social Security beneficiary will receive over $550 in a one time payment plan to cover the cost of living increase if that increase was calculated fairly. As of December 30th right before this new year over 75% of Americans support passage of this Save the Benefits Act. Of that 75% over 96% of seniors support and actually need that increase to cover their day to day expenses.

It has been for quite some time now that the audacity of Republicans in congress is more evident today for their overwhelming reluctance and even a down right refusal to allow the Save the Benefits Act to pass. It is just like their refusal to acknowledge Global Warming and Climate Change when there is more than enough scientific evidence to support that our fossil fuel industries are it’s prime cause. It should come to everyone’s attention that when there is an overwhelming support for any piece of legislation whether it is for Social Security, medical marijuana or climate change and the legislature refuses to pass legislation in favor of that support proves once again that our democratic process has been compromised.

These are serious issues that need an urgency to resolve. The longer our elected officials continue to ignore the rule of democracy and resort to a self perpetuated cause where money flows to power that power is then corrupt. What we have today is not a represented government of the people and for the people but a government bought and paid for by the all powerful few. A self serving bureaucracy drowning out the voice of the people.

Then again, perhaps the American public have only themselves to blame for the inefficiency of government. Even though there is mass support for a piece of legislation but that support won’t turn into realization unless it is followed through with action to ensure it’s passage. When indifference and apathy out weigh resourcefulness and resolve as we have seen even when there is an actual consensus that a bill has merit it is no wonder then that legislators continue to ignore the voting public.

Politics and Voting

Recently I began pondering the matter of politics which brought me to the subject of voting, particularly in Federal Elections. I puzzled over whether voting should be considered a “right” or a “privilege,” and came to no definitive conclusion. Can’t it be both?

I believe voting (in politics) is a flawed, imperfect system, though a necessary component of any democracy. It’s not always conducted fairly, aboveboard with honorable intentions. There is often corruption, and dishonest and deceptive means devised to favor one politician or another, or perhaps some odd-ball proposition or proposal.

There have been a number of changes over the years, but there are two major ones with which I’m familiar, and that I consider to be most important. These achievements were a long time coming, but finally happened in the form of amendments: 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, gave Blacks (men only) the right to vote, and the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, gave women the right to vote.

Even though the 15th Amendment looked great on paper, it didn’t work out so well. Southern Democrats, resentful, bitter, and hostile, because of losing the Civil War and their slave labor, deliberately enacted a poll tax and other measures that denied African-Americans their voting rights after all.

Poll Tax was a fee to be paid when registering to vote, and it occurred mostly in former Confederate States. The practice did not officially end until 1964 with the 24th Amendment to the Constitution.

Another voter registration procedure was a ‘literacy test’ which was much more complex than just being able to write your name, and read a simple sentence or two. It was just more insults directed at African-Americans. It was a hateful, vindictive way of showing Blacks that Southerners were still in charge. Since the majority of Blacks were poor and illiterate, they couldn’t pay the poll tax, nor could they pass the literacy test. In reality then, the 15th Amendment did little or nothing to ensure their voting rights.

The ‘Radical Republicans’ from the end of the Civil War through the period of Reconstruction (mid 1870s), worked doggedly to gain civil rights for Blacks. They succeeded in securing some rights for the “freedmen,” but were constantly faced with opposition.

Republicans even passed the “Civil Rights Act of 1875” which was intended to eliminate discrimination against Black citizens. It stated that they should be treated as equals under the law, and could sue in the Federal Courts if such laws were violated.

Unfortunately, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, like the “Right to Vote” Amendment of 1870, did not achieve its goals. Democrats had gained even more political power and control, and made certain that the Civil Rights legislation could not be enforced. They imposed rules and regulations that made filing lawsuits practically impossible. And of course there was an ongoing need for the lawsuits; discrimination was rampant. But Blacks were very poor, worked hard for little money, and lawsuits required both time and money which they could not afford. With the many restrictions placed on every aspect of Black lives, any progress made had now been lost, along with the new voting rights.

In the early 1800s more people (white males) began to vote, but property ownership was a prerequisite. A few states did allow non-property owners to vote, though in most instances poor people (including whites) were ineligible because of the requirements. It was 1856 before all white males in every state were allowed to vote, regardless of property ownership.

From information obtained, I found that about six percent of white males voted at the time of George Washington’s presidency. A much larger number began voting after the War of 1812, and even a greater increase in the late 1820s. Often, those who voted were not only property owners, but wealthy as well. That, of course, would likely indicate that they had the interest of their community at heart, which would present a favorable requisite.

Women began struggling for their voting rights in the early 1800s, but did not achieve that milestone until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which was ratified in 1920. For years women lectured, lobbied, petitioned, and marched in protest. A few were more drastic in their tactics, even resorting to hunger strikes. And they were treated badly by their male opponents, sometimes physically abused, and even jailed.

As a citizen of the United States, I’m grateful for the freedom I have that allows me to vote. But not all U.S. citizens are allowed to do so; that applies to residents of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam. (I believe that’s meant for federal elections only). Citizens who are felons cannot vote, nor can non-citizen immigrants. I’m sure efforts have been under way for many years, and continue in that effort to try and eliminate those restrictions. I’m sure, too, that there’s a push for online voting, but can there ever be sufficient security measures for such a prodigious task? Sounds impossible to me, but somehow, someway, it probably will happen.

Spotlight, Media

we live in an age of lightning fast communications where events covered by the major news outlets are instantly broadcast all over the world. But, as fast as the news is being made behind those anchor desks are power brokers who wield immense control on what is actually broadcast to the public. We must remember that for a long time now there have been those who seek to gain more power and control over a populace do so by deceptively orchestrating various contingencies to induce a desired effect through reactions based on their calculated posturing of certain elements that will produce those desired effects.

In today’s Presidential politics the desired effect has already been put in place. In doing so is corrupting our whole democratic process. To understand how corrupt our political system has become is to realize the powers behind the media are the same ones who control the long established power structures of both political parties. In other words our elections especially this years Presidential one is rigged right from the start. It couldn’t be any more explicit than what is already occurring within the Democratic party today.

Your vote matters not if the politics of exclusion continue to have their way. The way the news is presented today whether on TV, newspapers, or over the Internet much of which is hyped up to generate more viewers and readers has continued the trend that money rules. Lost in the mass accumulation of wealth are always the unsuspecting public who are beguiled into believing what they see on TV, read, or hear is the gospel truth. Public opinion is swayed toward a predetermined objective. Objectives that coronate a candidate into power there by entrenching the status-quo by the power elite. Never before has it been so blatant and so obvious to the trained eye.

Now, when you have an anti establishment candidate like Senator Sanders come along and generate the kind of ground swell of public support that he has, and what does the media and the Democratic establishment do? They have been and still will do everything possible to discredit, underreport, and distort elements of his message. Practically every major news outlet is preprogramed to do just that.

In the United States where we have two major political parties with their ideologies in sharp contrast to each other it is nearly impossible for any political candidate to close that division. And, today’s media continues to have a helping hand in keeping a nation divided. The trend of our two party system has also had a very negative effect on our country for years. The division between Democrats and Republicans has been growing wider for decades now. And, with that widening has had off chutes that have splintered into factions pitting one group against another. We have become a nation so divided it just maybe impossible to unify what has become a very fractured country.

For a nation that has openly welcomed so many different ethnic groups and religions it is striking that now much of the ideologies and rhetoric of one political party has become so intolerant and closed minded. Questions need to be asked as to why has this one party become so agitated and in direct confrontation toward others who don’t conform to their particular way of thinking? Could it be that our sociological shift during the last 50 years has eroded much of the basis of tolerance we had toward our neighbor. One has to wonder considering back in the 50’s and 60’s there were no bugler bars on home windows and doors. There were no home security systems in place. This was a time where next door neighbors didn’t or need to lock their doors. Fear and intimidation are all to common place today. There again the power players behind the media have orchestrated much of the sociological shift that we are seeing today.

Today, the future of millions of Americans continues to be clouded. The storm clouds of uncertainty are hovering overhead. It is amazing though for one who has seen through the years the status-quo of 50 years ago has been eroding to a much lower level today. It was 50 years ago that the United States had a unity of purpose and the status-quo was at a much higher level. It was then expectations of a better standard of living were mostly met while today those expectations are no where near as lofty.

Now, here comes a Political Presidential candidate who is trying to convey a unity of purpose not seen since those days of a half century ago. And again, what does the media and the establishment do? They are using every possible trick in the book to keep the status-quo from changing. One has to wonder, yet again, considering the status-quo of today what are they afraid of if the status-quo changes for the better for millions of Americans?

Why Candidates Must Include an Infrastructure Asset Management Program in Their Government Platform

The aging infrastructure of the US is a major prevailing issue for several years now. The American Society of Civil Engineers had issued in their 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure the overall rating of D+ for the country’s infrastructure systems.

The country’s populace cannot continue living using structurally unsound bridges, decaying water systems, clogging storm sewers and disintegrating roads and highways. Government authorities must do something. Whether a particular candidate is keen on accepting or rejecting refugees, the fact remains that the people in the US deserve excellent working public utilities and facilities.

Every candidate speaks of development and progress of America but they should be able to emphasize their commitment and political will to pursue infrastructure renewal. It is important that their commitment to improve the nation’s infrastructure is based on an asset management plan.

Politicians are prone to following their personal influencers or lobbyists or bowing to pressure of returning a political favor. However, this is avoided when they commit strongly to carry out a comprehensive plan.

The maintenance of a lot of infrastructure system in the US is neglected for decades. Authorities must consider a systematic way of doing repair, maintenance and renewals. For example, the unfortunate water poisoning incident in Flint Michigan could have been avoided or at least minimized if the leaders have adopted an asset management program.

It has been a fact that a boom on infrastructure development stimulates economic growth. Imagine the many people who will be getting jobs in the repair and rebuild of roads, bridges, water system, drainage system, transport system, parks and recreation facilities and other public utilities.

The basic question about all these is how and where should the government get finance to start a comprehensive infrastructure asset development plan for the country. Is it worth investing billions or trillions of money for infrastructure repair and renewal? These are questions US presidential aspirants must answer well.

The reality is, the longer for the government to start undertaking repairs, maintenance or renewals of public assets, the more expensive it would be. Let’s pray that no structural failure nor major calamity would arise because the financial constraints will surely sky-rocket.

The best presidential candidate could be the one who can explain well that creating and implementing a sound infrastructure asset management program would take care of the financial, engineering and human resource aspects of repair, maintenance and renewal of the country’s aging infrastructure.

The Fix Just May Be In

The take away form the New Hampshire primary leaves one questioning the legitimacy of the Democratic process. Both parties have engineered a process within the system to virtually hand the parties Presidential nomination to one predesignated candidate over another. It seems that from the onset of this years Democratic primary season the Democratic party supported by the media have gone to extreme lengths to engineer the positioning of one Presidential candidate over another. This well orchestrated posturing that has been concocted by certain power brokers within the Democratic party, the media, and influential financiers as far back as 2008 continues to mount a calculated gamble to place the Clinton campaign as the candidate of choice for the American public.

There are suspicious undertones that have arisen just from the last two primaries. It is a little known fact that there in both parties groups of individuals know as super delegates who by virtue of just being another elected official can influence the out come of who is going to be the Presidential candidate for each party. In the case of the Democratic Party every Democratic member of Congress, House and Senate, is a Super delegate. Today, there are 240. Every Democratic governor is a Super delegate which there are 20. Now here is the real kicker certain “distinguished party leaders,” 20 in all are given Super delegate status. Meanwhile 432 people who the Democratic Party designate are additional super delegates. They are mayors, chairs and vice-chairs of the state party, and other dignitaries who are given a vote by the Democratic party. They are free to choose whoever they want at the national convention, regardless of how the votes went in the primaries. What makes this so convincing that the fix may already be in is that in 2008 each super delegate had about as much clout as 10,000 voters. Guess what? This year it will be about the same where each super delegate will carry as much weight as the same 10,000 number of voters.

After the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968 party leaders knew they needed to change the nomination process thus, came about the state-by-state primary/caucus system that we still have today. But, by the 1980s, the party elites knew to encourage more candidates that fit their mold in 1984 the Super delegate system was implemented. Democrats thought that by giving more power to party leaders, it would prevent “unelectable” candidates in their view from being elected. Candidates who they feel weren’t either electable or just not ones that would tow the party line. In either case today, the one candidate in the Democratic party, Senator Sanders even though he has become beloved by the populace, the powers that be have through their super delegate status have put the fix in for Clinton.

What we have today is that the cards are already stacked against any candidate who doesn’t fit the mold of the good old boy network of the established status-quo. It is well known that Senator Sanders who all his political life has gone against the grain. The established comradery in either party since 1984 has continued to influence the media, who then influences voters to vote for their chosen candidate. Compounding the corrosion by the democratic party today and the media is the fact that so much money is required to make a credible campaign especially a Presidential one.

A little know facet about Bernie Sanders is the fact through-out his entire campaign he is the only Presidential candidate in the last 40 years that is actually paying his interns who work for him. You would think that the money players in this years Presidential campaign like Trump or Clinton would also been paying those interns who work for them considering all the money they are receiving and or already have. But, think again. It is this kind of underreporting, even distortion of facts and the blatant refusal by the media to acknowledge the real deal of a candidate who has stuck to his guns all his political life.

Now, when you have a bias media and super delegates all ready lined up endorsing Clinton in this year’s Presidential campaign while a political tsunami is forming practically guarantees that the fix is in. But, what is happening all across the country is wave after wave of mass public support for a political outsider that will upset the apple cart of political expediency of the established status-quo. The status-quo which has been the norm for a very long time. There is of course the real prospect that this tsunami of public support will turn into votes necessary to overturn that stacked deck much to the chagrin of the established party heads and those super delegates. Delegates all ready in position to try to stop this groundswell of support for a political candidate who doesn’t fit their mold.

Someone just recently said that if we as a country are satisfied with the status-quo and with the party faithful vote for Clinton. If we want an arms race again vote for Trump. But, if we want real political and economic reform that benefits all the people Senator Sanders is that choice. Regardless of all the hype by the media, the in your pocket super delegates and the rich and powerful power brokers Democracy and real reform can be achieved by the voices of the public standing together and exercising their Constitutional right to vote. Our future depends on all of us.

A New Game in Town

There is not a person in today’s world that does not know when a new “game” hits the market – it seems that the most popular can only be described as violent, full of gore, and a majority of those who purchase these games find them exhilarating and challenging.

To those interested parties, I would like to alert you to a brand new game that has been on the market but seems to have gotten hidden on the back shelves and behind the register – mostly because it has surpassed the definition of violent but mesmerizing – addictive and mind numbing. The scenario of this game goes like this – you are in a “war room” in a country’s government building. Maps fill all the blank spots on the walls, there are computers humming and voices murmuring. Bright flashes show up regularly on these maps and jubilation hits a new decimal in triumph. You are the operator of one of the computers and your job is to strike terror to a village, town, country – whatever you choose and your fingers tremble as you search for just the right location. So many before you have already destroyed and created chaos that it is a bit challenging to find your “target.” You are successful and you begin the “attack.” To your credit there are bodies, buildings, homes, marketplaces, schools and hospitals that lie in rubble, bricks and wood tangled and smoldering. You have scored Level One so now you can advance and this time your target will be also in the sights of a few of your friends – because this Level is for several players at the same time. Bingo – all of you score and there isn’t a living thing flying, crawling, or swimming anywhere for quite a distance. Now on to Level Three – but this time your town or city becomes the target for your “friends.” You see places you went to as a young person and your family home or business, your school, your gym, etc. are on this map ready for the game to begin.

Your friends are truly enjoying themselves and so are you until at the end of the game and the smoke clears, your town is a heap of “nothing” and your friends are high-fiving it expecting you to join them in their celebration. The disturbing part is that there are bodies lying around that you recognize, and the “fun” doesn’t seem right. You get up and call it quits and “lets turn it off and start all over again” – but the bodies don’t get up and the buildings don’t rise. You look out the window and realize that there is nothing out there – your car is in bits and your “pad” and its contents are strewn across three streets. Something inside of you begins to twist and turn and for whatever it’s worth, your lunch doesn’t seem to want to stay down.

Quite a blueprint for a new game – and now you would like to know the name of this game so you can purchase it or you can hope that you can get all the copies and bury them in the city dump. Well, welcome to the game of War in Today’s World.

It was fun when it was across the sea or clear across the universe, but it is repugnant when it is in your back yard. Isn’t that what is happening in today’s war mentality – we have been truly blessed not to know the horrors of war in the U.S. but we don’t feel an iota of sadness for other lands that we pick on a map and cause devastation. Bodies killed don’t get up for the next game, and war is permanent. The destruction may be rebuilt in time but the reality lives in you for as long as you live.

Maybe when military groups stop playing “video” games with the lives and places others call home – the video store of mayhem and those individuals beating the war drums will be placed in a dark closet hoping that the generations to come don’t find them and pull them out and “play”. Life doesn’t make for a game, but when you don’t see the disaster – it just doesn’t seem real – but it is to millions. War does not deserve a place in the lives of civilized people – that a war can cure an economy that is failing – and if it does – then the claws of Satan are written all over the instructions. Hasn’t man reached a higher “level” of behavior or is that just wishful thinking on the part of those who consider “war” anything but civilized.