Monday Reads: Democracy Vanquished

Good Morning!

1f4eac68289b0a3409fa3306c470147aWell, Republicans feel empowered to up the crazy so they are certainly doing it.  Boehner will be challenged by two of the more insane teabillies.  Insane teabilly number one challenging Boehner for speaker is Texas Republican Louis Gohmert.  Florida nutter Ted Yoho has also said he can’t support Boehner.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) on Saturday announced that he would not support Boehner for Speaker.

“This is not a personal attack against Mr. Boehner, however, the people desire and deserve a choice,” Yoho said in a Facebook post. “In November, they resoundingly rejected the status quo.”

“Eventually, the goal is second, third, fourth round, we have enough people that say ‘you know what, it really is time for a change,’ ” Gohmert said Sunday. “’You deceived us when you went to Obama and Pelosi to get your votes for the cromnibus. You said you’d fight amnesty tooth an nail. You didn’t, you funded it.’ ”

Gohmert said, if elected, he would ”fight amnesty tooth and nail. We’ll use the powers of the purse. We’ll have better oversight. We’ll fight to defund ObamaCare.”

“In 2010, Boehner and other leaders said if you put us in the majority, we will have time to read the bills,” Gohmert said. “That hasn’t happened. We saw that with the cromnibus, again.”

“We’ll get back to appropriating and we will go through regular committee process, so every representative from both parties will have a chance to participate in the process and not have a dictator running things,” he added.

“With a growing Republican majority in the House and a historically high number of liberty-voting fiscal conservatives within it, there is an urgent need replace Speaker Boehner with fresh, bold leadership that better represents the views of the whole caucus,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement on Sunday.

“Speaker Boehner has kicked fiscal conservatives off committee positions for voting against his wishes, caved on numerous massive spending bills at the eleventh hour, and abused the legislative process to stomp out opposition by holding surprise votes and giving members little time to actually read the bills before they vote,” Kibbe added.

These are just two of the states that send representative after representative that really wants to destroy the country’s economy, not being satisfied with having their own crazy ass issues in their own crazy ass states.  Every time I think Louisiana hitsea808108a85f54e3d7cd2a136d3a7630 the low in politics, Texas and Florida always step up to take the title of bottom feeders away.

Utah seems out to prove a point these days as a black Republican woman seems to think that everything is just hunky-dory with Steve Scalise chatting up virulently anti-Semitic white supremacists.  It is going to be an awful few years.

Incoming Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) on Sunday said that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) should remain in Republican leadership despite recent reports that he spoke at an event for a white nationalist group in 2002.

“These groups are awful. And the last thing I want to do is give them any sort of publicity or credibility, and I can say, as far as I’m concerned, with Representative Scalise, he has been absolutely wonderful to work with,” Love said on ABC’s “This Week.”

When asked if Scalise should remain as GOP whip, Love indicated that his apology was enough.

“There’s one quality that he has that I think is very important in leadership and that’s humility. And he’s actually shown that in this case. And he’s apologized, and I think that we need to move on and get the work of the American people done,” she said.

As you can see, Love didn’t specify what “people” she and others were going to work for but then we know it’s pretty obviously going to be a few rich white christians who can’t seem to get past the Civil War and modern science and economics.

1aee802fea74274d99f1422520e26f7fHowever, it seems even some folks at Fox News find Scalise’s story and apology to be outrageous. Greta Van Susteran joins Hannity in calling for Scalise’s resignation.

It’s rare for a Fox News employee to openly call out a Republican, but when it happens, it’s epic. And that’s exactly what Greta Van Susteran did on Sunday when she slammed GOP Rep. Steve Scalise.

During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Van Susteran called out Scalise for not having the “moral courage” to resign after it was revealed that the Louisiana congressman had been the keynote speaker at a white supremacist convention in 2002. Scalise agreed to be the guest of honor after KKK Grand Wizard David Duke reached out to him through aides.

In response, Scalise feigned ignorance, claiming that he had no idea to whom he was speaking to at the event even though the convention was widely covered by local media because it was so controversial. Many Republicans, including Steve King and John Boehner, stood by Scalise. So far, he has refused to resign his post as House Majority Whip, and will be the third most powerful Republican in the House when the new Congress convenes this month. And this might make the KKK very happy.

But Van Susteran completely disagreed with the way Scalise and the Republican Party handled the damning revelations and not only skewered Scalise for being a coward, she also blasted the GOP for dropping the ball in their effort to appeal to minority voters ahead of 2016.

What’s amazing to me is that Democrats captured 20 million more votes in the 2014 election and still lost. What kind of democracy causes that?  Why are Republican votes more valuable?9a519249ef3848d9bcd6f9fe0e7f6542

This one was shocking. It does not matter how one cuts it. The United States constitution is severely flawed when more often than not in the last few elections the majority of people voting  for a particular party did not receive their relative representation. Democrats received 20 million more votes in the Senate than Republicans in 2014, yet Republicans won big.

The same occurred in the House of Representatives in 2012.

House Democrats out-earned their Republican counterparts by 1.17 million votes. Read another way, Democrats won 50.59 percent of the two-party vote. Still, they won just 46.21 percent of seats, leaving the Republicans with 234 seats and Democrats with 201.

There is nothing illegal here. There is simply a very designed undemocratic flaw in the US Constitution that must be fixed lest the legislative branch of the American government will continue to be disassociated from the real wants of society.

Fairvote.org reported the following relative to the 2014 Senate race.

As a body designed to represent states rather than citizens, the Senate’s partisan makeup tends to bear a fairly loose relationship to the raw numbers of votes that were cast to elect its members. With the final election results in hand, let’s take a look at how votes cast for Senate candidates translate to seats in the world’s greatest deliberative body.

In all, Americans cast 202.5 million votes to elect the current Senate, spread across three election cycles in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Of these, 49% were cast for Democratic candidates and 46.6% for Republicans. …

In the aggregate, Democratic voters are underrepresented in the Senate and Republican voters are overrepresented compared to their respective strengths in the electorate, although Democrats outperformed their raw vote totals in two of the past four individual elections.

As for the 46 Democratic caucus members in the 114th Congress received a total of 67.8 million votes in winning their seats, while the 54 Republican caucus members received 47.1 million votes.

It’s going to be hard for Democrats to regain the Senate even though far more people vote for Democratic Senators than Republicans.  That’s because Republicans still get two senators from states that have less people than any of the country’sc6babad8a711245aac68f701ef29e705largest cities.

On Tuesday, 33 US senators elected in November will be sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden — including 12 who are new to the chamber. The class includes 22 Republicans and 11 Democrats, a big reason why the GOP has a 54-46 majority in the Senate overall.

But here’s a crazy fact: those 46 Democrats got more votes than the 54 Republicans across the 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections. According to Nathan Nicholson, a researcher at the voting reform advocacy group FairVote, “the 46 Democratic caucus members in the 114th Congress received a total of 67.8 million votes in winning their seats, while the 54 Republican caucus members received 47.1 million votes.”

There is something definitely wrong with the outcomes in governance, given that our ruling class appears to be severely crazy and greedy. For one, they make everyone believe that our money is spent on public welfare when it’s definitely corporate welfare that steals tax dollars. Robert Reich explains their priorities very well.

Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They’re wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.

 Consider the new spending bill Congress and the President agreed to a few weeks ago.

It’s not especially large by historic standards. Under the $1.1 trillion measure, government spending doesn’t rise as a percent of the total economy. In fact, if the economy grows as expected, government spending will actually shrink over the next year.

The problem with the legislation is who gets the goodies and who’s stuck with the tab.

For example, it repeals part of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to stop Wall Street from using other peoples’ money to support its gambling addiction, as the Street did before the near-meltdown of 2008.

Dodd-Frank had barred banks from using commercial deposits that belong to you and me and other people, and which are insured by the government, to make the kind of risky bets that got the Street into trouble and forced taxpayers to bail it out.

But Dodd-Frank put a crimp on Wall Street’s profits. So the Street’s lobbyists have been pushing to roll it back.

The new legislation, incorporating language drafted by lobbyists for Wall Street’s biggest bank, Citigroup, does just this.

It reopens the casino. This increases the likelihood you and I and other taxpayers will once again be left holding the bag.

Wall Street isn’t the only big winner from the new legislation. Health insurance companies get to keep their special tax breaks. Tourist destinations like Las Vegas get their travel promotion subsidies.

In a victory for food companies, the legislation even makes federally subsidized school lunches less healthy by allowing companies that provide them to include fewer whole grains. This boosts their profits because junkier food is less expensive to make.

Major defense contractors also win big. They get tens of billions of dollars for the new warplanes, missiles, and submarines they’ve been lobbying for.

Conservatives like to portray government as a welfare machine doling out benefits to the poor, some of whom are too lazy to work.

In reality, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, only about 12 percent of federal spending goes to individuals and families, most of whom are in dire need.

6af01fad000784c83d09f84034c40072 In a critique of Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty First Century” at Project Syndicate, Joseph Stiglitz explains how are productive capital gets sucked into speculative, financial capital and asset bubbles.  This is something I’ve been writing about for years here.  This section of his critique is particularly compelling.

Piketty also sheds new light on the “reforms” sold by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s as growth enhancers from which all would benefit. Their reforms were followed by slower growth and heightened global instability, and what growth did occur benefited mostly those at the top.

But Piketty’s work raises fundamental issues concerning both economic theory and the future of capitalism. He documents large increases in the wealth/output ratio. In standard theory, such increases would be associated with a fall in the return to capital and an increase in wages. But today the return to capital does not seem to have diminished, though wages have. (In the US, for example, average wages have stagnated over the past four decades.)

The most obvious explanation is that the increase in measured wealth does not correspond to an increase in productive capital – and the data seem consistent with this interpretation. Much of the increase in wealth stemmed from an increase in the value of real estate. Before the 2008 financial crisis, a real-estate bubble was evident in many countries; even now, there may not have been a full “correction.” The rise in value also can represent competition among the rich for “positional” goods – a house on the beach or an apartment on New York City’s Fifth Avenue.

Sometimes an increase in measured financial wealth corresponds to little more than a shift from “unmeasured” wealth to measured wealth – shifts that can actually reflect deterioration in overall economic performance. If monopoly power increases, or firms (like banks) develop better methods of exploiting ordinary consumers, it will show up as higher profits and, when capitalized, as an increase in financial wealth.

But when this happens, of course, societal wellbeing and economic efficiency fall, even as officially measured wealth rises. We simply do not take into account the corresponding diminution of the value of human capital – the wealth of workers.

Moreover, if banks succeed in using their political influence to socialize losses and retain more and more of their ill-gotten gains, the measured wealth in the financial sector increases. We do not measure the corresponding diminution of taxpayers’ wealth. Likewise, if corporations convince the government to overpay for their products (as the major drug companies have succeeded in doing), or are given access to public resources at below-market prices (as mining companies have succeeded in doing), reported financial wealth increases, though the wealth of ordinary citizens does not.

What we have been observing – wage stagnation and rising inequality, even as wealth increases – does not reflect the workings of a normal market economy, but of what I call “ersatz capitalism.” The problem may not be with how markets should or do work, but with our political system, which has failed to ensure that markets are competitive, and has designed rules that sustain distorted markets in which corporations and the rich can (and unfortunately do) exploit everyone else.

Markets, of course, do not exist in a vacuum. There have to be rules of the game, and these are established through political processes. High levels of economic inequality in countries like the US and, increasingly, those that have followed its economic model, lead to political inequality. In such a system, opportunities for economic advancement become unequal as well, reinforcing low levels of social mobility.

There are more warnings each year that we’ve traded our democracy for a plutocracy and that many of the folks that fall for these mistaken memes are the worst hurt by the changes.  I’m never sure what we should do about it, but at least on social media there are many of us who can realize what’s going on and share our observations and discontent.

So this is the situation, we’re being ruled by a minority, extremist party that has managed to gerrymander its way into to controlling Congress and can have over-representation in the Senate by its very design.  Since the Reagan years, they have managed to coalesce into a party of business interests, neoconfederates, and religious extremists. As a result, we have laws and programs that enrich the wealthiest at the cost of the rest of us.  We have institutions where racism and sexism have been allowed to fester and where Supreme Court justices have allowed their ideology to trump the constitution and previous law to further the oppression of minorities–with the exception of the LGBT community, where some strides have been made. Undoubtedly, this has happened because some of the biggest business interests want it, not from any desire to do the right thing by the people.  We’ve used a fake war to extend a police state where we’re all subjected to law enforcement officers that are out of control and institutionally encouraged to be so.

I have to say the challenges are huge.  I’m just hoping that the dog and pony show that will start with this new Congress will scare the shit out of people.  Given, some of this background information however, I doubt there’s much we can do about it short of a major increase in voter participation or a revolution.  The fact that so many really poorly governed states have re-elected their Republicans and continue to suffer shows me that it’s not going to be over anytime soon.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


28 Comments on “Monday Reads: Democracy Vanquished”

  1. Good God, what the fuck is this that the Dems got so many more votes and we still have a GOP heavy Congress? As if I wasn’t depressed enough already, it seems that nothing is going to make things change for the meager. (Cause even with the democrats these days, it isn’t even change for the “better”)

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I’ve thought for a long time that the current system of electing Senators isn’t representative of the will of the people. The House of Representatives is different in that each State is allocated a number of seats according to the latest U.S. Census (That’s why it’s so important for folks to fill out their census). Still, the states often gerrymander their districts in order to divide socio-economic groups that tend to vote along party lines. That diminishes the chances of winning a district for the party out-of-power and explains, in part, why the Dems, particularly Dems in the South, have trouble winning seats in the House.

      • dakinikat says:

        They used to be appointed by state governments originally. Not sure how much better that was but we still have the same result. If people don’t vote, you get reps of crazed minorities.

    • dakinikat says:

      Rural outbacks are overrepresented in the senate. Id argue that some states are too low population to be considered states. Too bad we can’t merge some of the plains states and eliminate that probably.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        There are 39 States where the entire population of the State is less than the population of NY City.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Here is a sampling of Louis Gohmert’s batshittery. From the Blog JoeMyGod

    “PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: Gohmert says “gay massages” put the US military in danger of terrorism. Gohmert says it’s time to bomb Iran. Gohmert says Obama won’t defend American women from rapist immigrants. Gohmert says he feels sorry for stupid atheists. Gohmert calls for sending American troops to Mexico stop illegal immigration. Gohmert says that it’s the duty of every Christian to tell non-Christians that they are going to hell. Gohmert compares LGBT activists to Nazis. Gohmert says that judges who rule in favor of same-sex marriage need lessons in basic human plumbing. Gohmert says that “two males mating” does not advance the human species. Gohmert blames the Colorado movie theater shooting on the bible not being taught in public schools. Gohmert introduces a bill allowing members of Congress to carry guns in the Capitol Building. Gohmert claims that “demonic forces” are behind the Affordable Care Act. Gohmert compares President Obama to Adolf Hitler. Gohmert claims that terrorists are having US-born “anchor babies” so that they can grow up to be terrorists too. Gohmert claims that the Hate Crimes Act protects pedophiles from prosecution.”

    • Pat Johnson says:

      This is the same sh*tpile of garbage that was also sung by Michele Bachmann.

      Which only goes to show that when you rid yourself of one Loony Tune there is always another to take her place.

      It is impossible to read this stuff and wonder why these morons aren’t being treated in an inpatient setting instead of being elected to congress to serve as “lawmakers”.

      You would think it would be necessary for Dems to “make hay” out of these crazies but you would be wrong. They just sit there, navel gazing, while these fools firmly believe themselves to be “POTUS” material.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        There are some Dems who are asking their representatives to vote for Gohmert just so the Country can get a really good look at what GOP/Teabagistan Batshit Crazy looks like. I’m not sure I’m down with that tactic, because I don’t think, in the long run, there is any good that can come from it, but there’s no doubt that putting Louie Gohmert front and center might open the eyes of some naïve Americans.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Excellent post, but depressing. I wish there was something we could do short of revolution. We’re victims of learned helplessness, I guess.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    According to Richard Florida, the cost of living in red states is lower than in the richer blue states, because housing costs are lower. Because of this, he says, income inequality is actually more pronounced in blue states like MA and NY than in red states like TX and FL.

    Is Life Better in America’s Red States?

    Note: I’m not a big fan of Richard Florida. He’s the guy who came up with the “creative class” meme. But I’ll be interested to see what Dakinikat thinks of this.

    • dakinikat says:

      I saw that. It depends on what you call quality of life because roads suck, schools suck, and you have a high chance of crazy blue laws. So, you can own a house but every standard of civilization blows.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    New piece on Steve Scalise at CenLamar.

    Steve Scalise and Why the Cover-Up is Always Worse

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m not buying that. Of course depression involves mind and body (the mind is part of the body, duh). Therefore it can be helped by physical actions such as exercise or just getting out of the house and connecting with people. But the inflammation hypothesis sounds like quackery to me.

      Talking about “blaming” the body instead of the mind is ridiculous. The author has just quoted a doctor who says depression is a whole body illness. The she goes off the deep end with her extrapolations. Depression also does not feel like just having a cold. Clinical depression feel a hell of a lot worse than that. Other symptoms the author discusses are also simplistic and wrong.

      People who are depressed don’t necessarily eat and sleep all the time. It’s actually just as, if not more, likely they will lose their appetites and be unable to sleep. She talks about getting rid of the stigma and then claims being overweight is a risk factor for depression–there’s plenty more victim-blaming in the article too.

      I call bullshit!

      • NW Luna says:

        People with depression are just as apt to have no appetite and insomnia!

        • NW Luna says:

          Researchers have already come up with a simple finger-prick test that reliably measures inflammation markers in a single drop of blood.

          Yeah, but we don’t always know just what those markers mean. And you can’t look at them in isolation.

          • bostonboomer says:

            The author of that article doesn’t understand what correlational research shows. If there is a significant relationship between inflammation and depression, it doesn’t mean inflammation causes depression. It could just as easily be that depression leads to inflammation–or there could be other factors involved.

            And how does inflammation explain the fact that specific psychological disorders like depression run in families? There is plenty of research to show clear genetic relationships.

  6. Fannie says:

    I don’t know how in the hell we are going to manage the politics of wingnuts. I hope we don’t throw up our hands and say fuck it, because that is what they are counting on.

  7. Fannie says:

    Rachel Maddow did a fantastic segment on Steve Scalize, and Lamar’s research. Even had the Nazi art work to go with.

  8. daniel says:

    18 Trillion is a big number ,and “We the People” are allowing
    good men with short sighted goals to pass it on to our children and grand children ,and great-great grand children, and beyond. 100 million dollars per day since 0001 A.D. to 2015 is not even 1 trillion dollars. This site seems to have some energy,maybe we can quit “me,me,me” and try to think about the generations that follow. I am sick of the minority,special interest cry babies, the corparate welfare,the intrusion of the federal government into states rights, the list just does not seem to end . They want to control what you drink and how much, then tax you for the drink.
    We have lost our way, and humanity will have only our record of accomplishments. History is our
    past,present and future , one only needs to look as far back as the republic Roman Empire to understand where this all ends. July 4 ,1776 – R.I.P.?