Here we go America

Not even two full weeks into the new year, and Congress is already going for the throat.  Figuratively and maybe even literally on down the road.

From Reuters:

Republicans on Wednesday passed a bill in the House of Representatives that touched on nearly every step U.S. agencies take in creating and applying new rules, continuing their blitz to radically reform “abusive” federal regulation of areas from the environment to the workplace.

In a 238-183 vote, the House passed the “Regulatory Accountability Act,” which combined eight bills aimed at changing how the vast government bureaucracy runs. Only five Democrats voted for it.

The legislation would give President-elect Donald Trump tools “to wipe out abusive regulation,” said Bob Goodlatte, the Judiciary Committee chairman who is among the many House leaders calling for lighter regulation and saying the costs to comply with federal rules are too high.

Republicans say there is little accountability for regulations that apply to almost every aspect of American life because they are created by appointed officials and not elected representatives. Federal agencies operate either independently or under the president’s authority.

The crux of their argument, based on that last paragraph above is that there is no accountability for regulations because they’re not created by elected representatives.  If we don’t have enough with the incoming Ego-In-Chief already, now Congressional Republicans feel that things are not kosher unless they write it.  This is the same dysfunctional Congress that probably couldn’t pass legislation to get themselves out of a burning building.  There’s one major flaw in their thinking however.

The Constitution is filled with checks and balances along with separation of powers.  The power to legislate is delegated to Congress, and they’ve been quite adamant about that power with the numerous lawsuits filed against President Obama over his two terms.  That same Constitution also delegates the power to enforce laws to the Executive Branch, the very same branch filled with those appointed officials who are currently responsible for writing out those regulations.

You see, Republicans gripe about regulations to the point where most people don’t have a clue as to what a regulation is.  All we hear is how they cost businesses so much and they’re overburdensome.  We never hear Republicans actually explain how regulations come about and what their purposes are.  For those who don’t already know, here’s a quick rundown.  My apologies to those who already know this.

Legislation begins in Congress as bills.  The bills get voted on by both houses of Congress.  If they pass both houses, those bills then go to the president to either be signed or vetoed.  If the president signs the bill, then it becomes law.  The laws that are passed and signed are then codified and placed into the U.S. Code.  According to the definition at Wikipedia, “The Code of Laws of the United States of America[1] (variously abbreviated to Code of Laws of the United States, United States Code, U.S. Code, or U.S.C.) is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States.”  The U.S. Code currently consists of 52 titles, and each title is broken down by subject matter.

Now, once that statute is published, the agency(s) responsible for enforcing that law have to come up with a set of rules to enforce the law that Congress passed and the president signed.  Take a wild guess at what those rules are called?  They’re called regulations.  Those regulations, once approved, end up in the Code of Federal Regulations which is often abbreviated as CFR.  The CFR is contained in 50 titles, and just like the U.S. Code, those titles are broken down by subject matter.

I don’t know of a single person who has read the entire U.S. Code or CFR, so there may indeed be unnecessary entries in both compilations.  That said, I don’t think a Congress that has sued the outgoing president for overreach has a leg to stand on when trying to claim they should have more say in regulations.  If you’re that concerned about the costs of regulations, then pay more attention to the legislation that you write.  Instead of allowing ALEC or other outside groups or lobbyists write legislation, go back to doing your own job that you get paid $174,000 a year to do.  It’s not like Congress has passed much legislation in recent years anyway, so there’s not a whole lot of writing to be done.

I don’t see any good intentions behind this.  If Republicans want to deregulate everything, then write legislation to rescind the laws in place and get your president to sign it.  If there’s no law on the books, then the agency(s) don’t need regulations to enforce them.  It’s a win-win situation for Republicans.  I seriously doubt they’ll go that route because that would actually shine the light on what the ultimate goal appears to be, which is to make things easier for their financial backers to make more money.  That’s always the prevailing argument about how businesses are hampered by regulations, so it would make sense that the goal is to get businesses to making more money.

Quit lying to people and just be honest about what your intentions are.  We’ve already seen that many in the voting public don’t give a rat’s ass about what politicians do.  A party has campaigned for years on ending the ACA, and people who voted them into office are now acting surprised that they’re ending the ACA.  Words don’t describe the abject despair I feel when I read story after story about this.  Part of me wants to call people stupid, but I honestly think people are more swayed by personality than what the people are actually saying.  Trump proved that by winning this election after all he’s said.

This year is only beginning, and it’s Year One of our four year journey through Trumpland.  I hope things such as this doesn’t put us back to having flammable rivers and air you can slice with a knife.  I still refuse to be the crier of doom, but the blocks appear to be falling into place for some of the more frightening predictions to have a chance of coming to pass.  God help us all.

Method or message 

My family received this mailer to remind us of the runoff election for county commissioner chairwoman* that takes place on Tuesday.  Two things quickly came to mind.

First, why do politicians have to resort to stoking fear to gin up support?  If you want me to vote for you, then I have to be comfortable with your policies and decision-making skills. Governing from fear is not effective in the long run and usually leads to mistakes that harm more than they help.

Next, where are there liberal Democrats in the South?  This is Georgia, and my Democratic Party representative, Rep. David Scott, supported the incumbent Republican Senate candidate Johnny Isakson over the Democratic Party nominee Jim Barksdale in the election that just took place.  How liberal is that?

If you’re always afraid of every little thing that crosses your path, how do you intend on governing a fast growing county?  I know this is local politics , but it’s the same tactic that plays out on the national level.

I don’t live in fear, and I don’t want decision makers who do.  I want people who have the ability to see a situation and be able to find multiple ways to solve the problem without causing more damage than doing good.  America wouldn’t be what it is if we let fear dictate our choices.

I guess I could say that she tried to reach out to me as I didn’t receive anything from her competition.  Then again, maybe the Democrat running already knows that I hate getting political junk mail and is really more in tune with my feelings.

*The race is for chairwoman as it’s two women running for the position.

Searching for that silver lining

As the incoming Trump administration is still coming together, I’m trying to search for signs of how things will go.  I’ve heard both sides argue how Trump is going to do what he said he was going to do, and I’ve also heard the doom and gloom predictions of what’s coming down the pipeline.  Personally, I like to see who the president picks to make up their cabinet and advisors before I try to predict what’s going to happen.  I did that with both Bush and Obama, so I will extend the same courtesy to Trump as well.

Given his picks so far, the one thing I can come away with is that we’re going to be in for a long, long 4 years.  Trump rode populist anger against “elites” yet his picks are all pretty much elites and/or billionaire donors of some kind.  I don’t see any earthshaking “drain the swamp” picks as much as I see standard right-wing ideological picks that any Republican ideologue would choose.  From the pick of Steve Bannon as a White House advisor to Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, this country is going to swing so hard to the right that NASCAR may have to switch to running races in the opposite direction to avoid having to make left turns.

There’s also the issue of ethics that the administration will have to come to terms with.  Many of his picks have deep and varied investments that would likely face scrutiny during confirmation hearings.  As for Trump himself, he’s already stated “As far as the, you know, potential conflict of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”  Trump’s businesses make their fortune from the marketability of his name.  Add the title “President” before that name, and the marketing potential shoots through the roof.  What person or company in any country would refuse to engage with any Trump related business now?  I don’t think anyone, the Founders included, ever contemplated such a complex issue to ever reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

To further complicate things, America will also have to deal with whether outside influence tilted the balance of this election.  I read a story today from Philly.com about Russian influence in American politics this year.  It’s quite interesting, and I included a link if you want to check it out.  A Google search for Russian troll factory returns numerous articles about how Russia used social media to spread propaganda, including fake news stories.  America probably got taken for a ride this year in more ways than one, and only time will tell whether that’s true or not.

Maybe that’s the silver lining in this election.  We’re going to hit rock bottom so hard on ethics that people will realize that the government is not a business and being an expert in business does not make one an expert in running a government.  Maybe Trump will indeed make America great again by ensuring people become civic engaged and we find some ethical people who actually care about running the country.  I’ve already been working on my playlist for the next four years.  I’m starting off with Zoom by The Commodores because a brother can still have a dream nowadays:

I’m searching for that silver lining
Horizons that I’ve never seen
Oh I’d like to take just a moment and dream my dream
Dream my dream

Election night thoughts

It’s finally here.  Thank God.  While I can only hope that the ignorance, bigotry, hatred, and other negative things that propagated during this election could be wiped out in one single night, I know that’s not the case.  For some reason, America is angry.  I honestly wish I knew why.

We’re still the top economy in the world.  We’re still the sole super power in the world.  We’re still the world’s reserve currency.  The only thing that has changed is our demographic makeup.  Since we’re a country of immigrants, that’s always going to be the case.  There will always be a new wave of immigrants.

My political preferences are generally centered, regardless to whether I lean right or left on something, I don’t venture too far from what used to be the center.  Now, I don’t know what the hell to think of my personal politics.  I guess I’ll have to recalibrate myself in the morning once I see the results of this election.

Speaking of results, can someone please help me with a question that’s been bothering me.  I’ve seen Trump get plenty of pop from the “drain the swamp” statement.  People are believing that DC is so corrupt that we need to send someone there to clean things up.  That’s all fine and good when you hear that, but if people seriously believe that, then why do they send the same damn people to Congress every election?

For example, Johnny Isakson has been projected to win his third term in the Senate for the state of Georgia.  He’s already completing year number twelve, and Georgians (who voted for swamp draining Trump) are sending the same twelve-year Senator back for another six years?  WTF people?  Seriously?  To top things off, Isakson has been in DC for four decades now.  If you think DC is corrupt, then maybe it’s because of the voters doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  The people of Georgia who vote this way shouldn’t open their mouths about DC being corrupt.  In fact, I think all of Georgia’s Congressional delegation is pretty safe on returning back to office.

There’s some serious mental disconnect between the thoughts and actions of many Americans, and we’re going to end up screwing up a damn good country because of our spastic tendencies.  I wish there was an enema big enough to wash out all the fecal matter in this country so we could start fresh, but I don’t think it’s possible to make one.  Regardless of who wins, America loses.  We’re going to be a polarized angry population with a government to match it.  I hope everyone stocked up on alcohol or their favorite vice because the next four years are going to make the last eight seem like a cakewalk.

Bravo America.  We’re going to get exactly what we’re asking for.

Two more days

Just as I figured, there was nothing new in the recently found emails.  Director Comey is likely on his way out after this.  I honestly don’t know how he can salvage his career after this fiasco.  He can thank Rep. Chaffetz for speeding up his retirement.
Without knowing what was in those emails, there was no reason to notify Congress.  He should have known that Republicans wouldn’t be able to remain silent on anything remotely involving Hillary Clinton.  It will be interesting to see what’s said about Comey now.  He’s gone from hero to zero and back or vice versa depending on people’s ideology.  He should have just asked my opinion, and I would have said to remain silent until after November 8th.

 

Once again, another Clinton “scandal” dissolves into a pile of nothingness.  If/When she wins this election, get ready for 4 years of this crap.  We already know what’s coming.  She won’t be able to take a dump in the Oval Office bathroom without it becoming a scandal.