Happy Term Limits Day!
The bipartisan non-profit lobby, U.S.Term Limits, named February 27 “Term Limits Day” because on that date in 1951 the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. It limits the Executive branch to two terms. An increasingly vocal number of US citizens think it’s high time to impose term limits on the Legislative branch as well. They want to wave goodby to career politicians, and instead send citizen legislators to Washington--like you--who would be less worried about getting re-elected, and more interested in doing what’s right for our country.
Here are some relevant facts:
1) In numerous national polls ~80% registered voters of both parties, plus independents, support term limits on Congress:
Business Insider 2022
2) Both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have youtube clips voicing approval.
3) One of House Speaker McCarthy’s concessions was to allow a vote on the House floor to propose a Constitutional Amendment to term limit Congress. If it passes (which is unlikely) the Senate will kill it. But the career politicians will be forced to vote on it, which will put them on record, enabling constituents to pressure them if they vote against term limits, and enable challengers to use it as a hugely popular campaign issue.
4) The Wisconsin legislature has voted for a convention of states (totally different than a constitutional convention) to propose an amendment to term limit Congress. Per article V of the Constitution, if 34 states do the same, the proposal will become law when ratified by three-fourths of the states--just as if it had been proposed by Congress.
'Ever had co-workers more interested in getting face-time with department leadership than actually fulfilling their job? Members of Congress--both Democrat and Republican--grab the spotlight on issues over which the states have responsibility: police, poverty, education, and social issues. While doing so they ignore their delegated responsibilities, such as defining naturalization, securing our border, effectively regulating healthcare and other interstate commerce, balancing their budget, and deterring corruption in government.
It’s time for us normal people to wrest back control over our federal government. I encourage you to spend a little time today--Term Limits Day--learning more about this issue. You may want to start with the podcast put out by US Term Limits: No Uncertain Terms. And, almost all of the video's on my website touch on term limits.
Career politicians on both sides in Congress have fundraised on abortion for decades--under Roe it was largely cynical--they knew they could not counter Roe. Post Dobbs, it's up to state legislatures; Congress still has limited authority (one area is in the military.) If abortion is a big issue for the reader, then whomever you vote for in the Wisconsin legislature is indeed an important vote. But Congress has little authority vis-à-vis abortion. That is as it should be: New York should not force its values on Alabama; Wyoming should not force its values on New York. (That is why we are a republic.) The posturing of Lindsay Graham and the Republicans, and the posturing of various Democrats saying they want to “codify” Roe into law is all just that: posturing. The Democrats don’t have a chance of actually following through with what they propose, and they know it. The Graham bill, although a compromise, is highly unlikely to pass. Even if it does, each state has a higher authority over Congress, as the Supreme Court has signaled. Therefore Congressional talk about abortion is all political posturing by both political parties. Don’t take their bait.
As to the issue itself, it is a clash of differing worldviews. Each worldview starts with different assumptions, and comes to differing conclusions that are reasonable based upon their initial assumptions. Both sides apply their worldviews to the conclusions of the other and nothing computes: it makes no sense to them. "How/why can they not see it is a human life?--they are simply refusing to admit it." and "Why do they not see this as patriarchal domination over women?--they are simply in favor of misogyny." Instead of genuinely delving into the worldview of the other, most (not all) take the lazy route and turn their opponents into two-dimensional stick figures. It’s a three dimensional issue: any politician not willing to admit both sides are nuanced and genuine is part of the problem. When they parrot simplistic 2-D talking points, it benefits no one (except themselves, since it brings in money and votes.) It is neither serious, loving, nor compassionate. As an Independent I strive to genuinely represent all constituents. I want to understand and be able to clearly express both views on this very important, delicate issue. Besides, adding another 2-D voice on either side would help no one.
Addressing abortion in 3-D, first let’s consider the perspective of my pro-choice friends. I listened to the 12/28/2021 “Honestly” podcast with Bari Weiss titled:” Why You’re Right – And Wrong – About Abortion.” It provided a good example of why many American’s are pro-choice. At one point she talks about a family she knew before Roe v. Wade whose teenage daughter became pregnant. The parents decided it would be best for her to get an abortion. They traveled to Mexico. The parents were told to stay in the waiting room. The girl was taken back and sexually molested! Then she was given an abortion. She was in an extremely vulnerable, dangerous position.
My pro-life friends might think: “Well, they wouldn't have been in that position if the girl hadn’t gotten pregnant in the first place, or if they hadn’t chosen to have an abortion.” My response: you cannot expect everyone to share the same worldview as do you. (Read more in my “spirituality” section under “the state of our union.”) The pro-choice side does not share your worldview of the sanctity of life. What they value is for women--who have lived under a patriarchal culture for centuries--to break off any limitations on their functioning and thriving in society that are rooted in the fact they are women. From their perspective, preventing them from the right to choose to end a pregnancy relegates them to a second-tier status vis-à-vis men.
The question I have to ask as a politician is “How do I want my friends on both sides of this difficult issue to be treated by society as a whole?” As a citizen of Wisconsin, I will abide by what the people of the state, and the legislators they send to Madison, decide.
I think of that young girl going into that back room, initially trusting that she’d be treated as she is by medical professionals in the USA. She had never heard the terms “pro-choice” or “pro-life;” she was just trusting her parents. Then the nightmare begins. Does she cry out? Does she bolt and run back to her parents?--thus forgoing the procedure? She probably feared for her life until they began the abortion, and then she realized it was just another price she had to pay to get it done. The trauma would have been devastating.
I hope my friends on both sides of the abortion debate don’t ever want such violations to occur again.
The pro-life perspective is less nuanced. Just look at photos of the product of abortion. One gets it: these were little human beings with hair, a nose, fingers and toes. Most people on the pro-choice side avoid such photos and consider them “out of bounds,” as they also do women who express regret over their abortion. Just as my pro-life friends need to genuinely empathize with the challenges and complications of an unwanted pregnancy, my pro-choicer friends need to acknowledge the photos, and the expressions of regret, if they are looking at it from a three-dimensional perspective.
If anyone wants to be taken seriously in the abortion debate, they need to address the genuine, sometimes gut-wrenching issues on both sides. And they should meet with their state legislators, advocate for their position, join groups that help women with crises pregnancies (whatever your worldview) and vote for Wisconsin politicians who agree with their political solutions. But Congress is on the sidelines and members should stop fundraising on this issue.
Citizens United vs. FEC 2010
If my reader is not familiar with this Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) 2010 decision, I’ve pasted two summaries of it below. (They appear biased against it, I don’t have time to read their entire statements; if anyone can find a positive review please send it to me.)
Jumping to the many of you who are familiar with Citizens United, here’s my message to you:
In sum: nothing will get done until we first get term limits on Congress. We have them on the Executive Branch; it’s high time to put them on the Legislative Branch as well.
*I’m not going to delve here into the best language vis-à-vis the right to fair speech, but I lean toward publicly-funded elections such that (aside from the limited amount of money that any individual or corporation can currently and legally give to one candidate’s campaign) whatever money an individual or corporation wants to spend over that limit promoting an issue in that race, that same amount of money must be made available to opponents of that issue. My general goal is that we approach the media aspect of an entire issue-based campaign as one long debate, in which each side of the topic is allowed equal time. (This is a different discussion that I’m glad to have with you over coffee or in a group.)
A summary of Citizens United vs. FEC 2010 from the website of the Brennan Center for Justice:
A conservative nonprofit group called Citizens United challenged campaign finance rules after the FEC stopped it from promoting and airing a film criticizing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton too close to the presidential primaries.
A 5–4 majority of the Supreme Court sided with Citizens United, ruling that corporations and other outside groups can spend unlimited money on elections.
What was the rationale for the ruling?
In the court’s opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that limiting “independent political spending” from corporations and other groups violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The justices who voted with the majority assumed that independent spending cannot be corrupt and that the spending would be transparent, but both assumptions have proven to be incorrect.
With its decision, the Supreme Court overturned election spending restrictions that date back more than 100 years. Previously, the court had upheld certain spending restrictions, arguing that the government had a role in preventing corruption. But in Citizens United, a bare majority of the justices held that “independent political spending” did not present a substantive threat of corruption, provided it was not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.
As a result, corporations can now spend unlimited funds on campaign advertising if they are not formally “coordinating” with a candidate or political party.
A summary of Citizens United vs. FEC 2010 from The Center for Public Integrity:
Citizens United vs. FEC 2010 tossed out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.
In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.
The decision did not affect contributions. It is still illegal for companies and labor unions to give money directly to candidates for federal office. The court said that because these funds were not being spent in coordination with a campaign, they “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”
Fossil fuels are a finite source of energy. Even if they were not harmful to our ozone layer, we would have to move on to other forms of energy. As batteries have become more efficient, electric energy has become more commercially viable. Wind, solar and aquatic are great for harnessing energy, but have limitations. The government has a role in accommodating research that is long-term effective, but difficult for private industry to sustain. I am concerned about a bias against small, next-generation nuclear power plants that would be unlimited sources of clean energy. The challenge of dealing with nuclear waste has largely been solved. I’ve not had time to investigate why nuclear is largely ignored, but suspect it is a worldview issue not based on science. I’m open to be disabused of this notion, but until we get comfortable with nuclear energy, it will be a rocky road to scale back from fossil fuels any time soon.
(Folks, I am aware there is a ton more to say--and for me to learn--on this issue. I’m open to learning, and sharing, more.)
This is an issue for the states. I have many thoughts and am tempted to share them, but it’s very important to me to educate the public on what Congress has authority over, and what they do not. They have no legitimate authority over crime issues, so I will desist.
What’s confusing for the public is that career politicians in Congress grab the spotlight of whatever is hot in the news because they are addicted to power and demand constant attention from the press. A great example is the legitimate social uproar over the murder of George Floyd. Police are controlled by city municipalities, counties and states. Congress should spend their time on their delegated responsibilities--which they are not handling well, as everyone knows. Instead, their power creep is such that they over-tax us, and then dole back our own money in ways that give them influence. In this case they dole back to state and city police departments significant amounts of money--but always with strings attached. So when they grabbed the spotlight during the summer of 2020 and passed legislation forbidding choke holds, they couldn’t actually forbid choke holds--they have no authority! Instead they passed a bill threatening to withdraw their largess from any police department that did not pass their own rules forbidding choke holds. It is all reactionary posturing by Congress in areas of our society they have no right to meddle.
The press should not enable Congress by taking them seriously, but it is a lot easier to cover Congress in D.C. than to send out reporters to all fifty states, so they’re fine with it. We, the people, need to educate ourselves and call Congress on their grandstanding.
Federal officials will grab the spotlight when gun rights issues arise, but the press should not accommodate their cynical posturing. This is primarily a state issue. New York should not enforce its values on Wyoming; Wyoming should not enforce its values on New York.
We have fifty separate democracies in this country; each should think outside of the box and come up with their own gun control policy. The scientific method for both hard science as well as social science is to apply one fix to a problem at one time. If it doesn't work, "great!"--that fix has shown not to work, and we're closer to finding the right fix. If all fifty states had the courage to try various fixes (to some extent, they have) we could all learn from them--as long as the media was willing to promulgate the results of various experiments even if they did not fit with their desired narrative.
I don’t have time right now to research this issue, but it would be interesting to see what states have banned--after they came up with a working definition--”assault rifles” and if such bans have had a statistically significant effect on gun violence.
A significant subset of the gun debate is mass shootings, specifically, school and church/places of worship shootings.
Since a male’s brain does not fully develop until ~age 24. I believe states should legislate anyone <24 may only purchase a firearm under the auspices of a parent/invested adult who co-owns and takes legal responsibility for it. That would probably result in some young males not finding anyone to sponsor their purchase; or if so, the adult would keep the weapon locked up except for when taken to a shooting range. Such provisions would have hindered the likelihood of numerous mass shootings by young males.
This second idea is a bit out of the box, but it comes from the perspective that legislation alone will not prevent mass shootings by despondent individuals disenfranchised from society. I would like to see the Federal Government set aside $200m to award each state an average of $4m annually, proportional to population, to every high school that did not have a gun death that school year. (I would include a provision that it expires in five years unless renewed--as should be the case with all federal legislation. Ideally, the states would find the initiative valuable enough to keep it going when the Federal money ended.) The state would apportion the money--ideally adding funds themselves--to all qualifying schools for an end-of-school celebration. Doing the math, that amounts to approximately $8,300k per high school, and if the state matched it the amount would be $16,600. Obviously, the state would juggle the funds per the size of the high school. Does this sound silly? Would students actually look out for fringe, disenfranchised students in each class who might cause them to lose their celebration funds? Would they put up posters, talk it up, perhaps invite unpopular students to come sit with them at lunch, etc.? As a father and former high school teacher…“yes, they would.” And once they enjoyed the end of year celebration, there would be more energy to win it the following year.
Answering this from the context of the House of Representatives, I need to hammer home that career politicians in the House of Representatives have no incentive to “find common ground, and work with the other side of the political aisle.” The reason?--their constituents keep voting them back in.
Why do constituents keep voting in an incumbent who refuses to work with the other side, and gets nothing done? Why do we consistently rate Congress unfavorably, at ~18%, yet re-elect incumbents at 93%?
I’ll tell you why:
Congress has stacked the deck in favor of themselves getting re-elected:
Most Congress members need only play to their base, not appeal to the center, to get re-elected. If they compromised with the other side, their base would be infuriated, and they would risk losing the next election. Their base is--for whatever illogical reason--content to have their representative bash the other side, vote in lock-step with their party, which results in nothing getting done.
This entire dysfunctional dynamic occurs because the #1 goal of members of Congress is to get re-elected, following the playbook spelled out above. It could be turned on its head if we put similar term limits on Congress that we already have on the President. It would cause citizen legislators to come to Congress, who would naturally be incented to “work with the other side” since their goal would be to get things done and get back to their real career, not stay as long as possible in Washington, D.C.!
The federal government doesn't have the power to control our economy. They don’t produce widgets. The only services they provide they charge us for first. They don’t create jobs except by taking our money to pay for those jobs. They don’t create wealth the way a small business does. Yes, the Federal Reserve (“The Fed”) plays an important role to keep our currency solvent and maintain the dollar as the world standard currency. We will be in serious trouble if the world pivots over to the China Yuan (pronounced yoo-aan) or some other nation’s currency. Then our massive debt would come due.
The above notwithstanding, the federal government--Congress and the President--does have power to muck it up. The best thing they could do is bring down the federal debt from $31,000,000,000,000 to a more comfortable $5-6 trillion. The last I checked, our Federal budget was $6.6 trillion, but all but $1,973T is non-discretionary. (That means there’s no decision to be made, it has to be spent.) Of the remaining $1,973T, $345 billion goes each year to interest on their irresponsible, obscene debt. That’s 17.5%--more than 1/6th of their discretionary funds! And this was before interest rates went up. And don’t blame presidents Trump and Biden for that: Congress controls the purse strings. Yes, it would be nice if the executive said “Are you sure you want to give me all this money to help me look good in front of the people?--shouldn’t you be more fiscally responsible?” but you can’t blame them for taking it. Congress is irresponsible for giving the executive so much money through their decades of debt. Don’t blame the executive: they carry out what Congress legislates. And Republicans are as guilty as Democrats.
Quick warning: for all the hand-wringing politicians do about inflation, they cynically know that it has the effect of lessening their huge $31,000,000,000,000 debt. Inflation makes everyone pay for the debt b/c it lessens the value of the debt as it lessens the value of the money in your bank account. It is a cowardly way to deal with the debt, instead of making “tough” decisions of which redundant government programs to disband. (Now, with term limits, we would have citizen legislators in Congress who would have no compunction about slashing redundant bureaucratic programs, and streamlining 2-3 programs into one.)
First: Big Ag and Big Food dominate our food supply. They are pushing processed foods grown on dirt bleached of most nutrients, into which they pump water and chemicals that cause plants to grow depleted of most vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients. This food is processed for us--basically pre-masticated--then pumped with salt, sugar, and preservatives and pedaled onto the unsuspecting, trusting populace who assume this is the best food for them. It is subsidized by Congress, allotted through the Farm Bill. The result? We would have to eat eight oranges to gain the nutrients our grandparents received eating one. (This comes from a podcast called “The Doctors Farmacy” episode 602.)
Career politicians in Congress subsidize this unhealthy dynamic because they receive campaign donations from the companies who receive Farm Bill handouts. They also receive money from soda pop companies to keep soda on the SNAP list. Meanwhile, its causing loyal citizens to become obese, low on energy & joy. They die early from diabetes, heart disease, and perhaps cancer.
Secondly, our healthcare system needs an overhaul. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but from a high level:
This is a great place to consider term limits on Congress. Term limits would bring totally different people to Congress. They would not be career politicians. They would view a term in Congress as actually being a service to their country, and would be eager to get back to their normal lives after it was over. There would be more women, and probably more people of color.
What if Congress announced what their priorities would be for the next term? Current members don’t do so because they don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they hardly get anything done. Gridlock works for them. But if Congress had citizen legislators, it would be a “no brainer” to announce priorities for the next session. Let’s say healthcare was one of them.
All across the USA, healthcare workers would consider whom to nominate, or whether to run themselves. Many new members would come from somewhere within the behemoth healthcare industry. With term limits in place, many new members would approach their 2-year stint in DC with a clear mission: iron out a workable healthcare bill. That would take precedence over party loyalty. And then what would those freshman members of Congress do? They’ve accomplished their goal as best as they could. They have a great job waiting for them back in their district. So, they choose NOT to run for re-election! They, my friends, are citizen legislators, not career politicians.
It’s a great question that needs to be asked more often. I want my campaign to be educational; here we go.
The Constitution lists thirteen powers delegated to Congress in Article One, Section Eight: print money, tax the public, define bankruptcy rules, set up naturalization laws, regulate interstate commerce, set up post offices, create copyright and patent laws, combat piracy, establish federal courts, conduct foreign affairs, maintain military forces, establish state militias, and rule over the federal seat (Washington, D.C.). There are other powers not listed but inherent, such as protecting the border. The Tenth Amendment is: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
In short, our state is the political entity that should exert the most influence over our daily lives, since we control it through the democratic process. The fifty states have “contracted out,” as it were, the above thirteen responsibilities to the federal government in the form of a republic. Since the late 19th century there has been a persistent federal power grab with deleterious effects on society. People feel helpless trying to influence Congress; they shouldn’t have to very often. Their own state is where the action should be; they have much more influence on their municipal boards, mayors, state legislators, and governor. Matters of education, safety, health, social and sexual issues are largely determined by the states. That is as it should be: New York should not force its values on Alabama; Wyoming should not force its values on New York. (That is why we are a republic.) Are you aware that prostitution is legal is one state? That physician-assisted suidice is legal is some states? The federal government sets the basic ground rules--largely through the Bill of Rights and other Amendments--but the fifty states have more leeway than most people realize. Rather than look to Congress to fix their everyday issues, citizens should look to their state, and their municipality. They might not make the national news, but they’ll experience more success.
All social issue conflicts spring from an individual’s worldview. Whether one believes in a major religion, is “spiritual but not religious,” an atheist or agnostic, everyone has a worldview that gives them direction in life regarding the key questions that science cannot prove: a) How did I get here? b) What is the purpose of my life?--if there even is one? c) How should I relate to other people?
One thing I can assure you of: there will always be people who do not share your worldview. The trouble in the USA today is that many people are overtly hostile to those who don’t share their own worldview. They do not tolerate free speech and follow a “live and let live” approach to social life. Some quick comments to such people: a) Don’t be tribal; don’t hate those who adopt different worldviews. b) If you refuse to accept that you cannot win everyone over to your beliefs, you’ll be kicking against the goads, and will cause unnecessary pain to yourself and others. c) How you treat others will determine the trajectory of your own life between peace & joy, or frustration & conflict. d) Call people to THEIR higher good whether they share your worldview or not. e) People make mistakes; people change. You will make mistakes; you will change. f) Choose to be humble. Humility is your friend. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
When considering the state of our union, politics is ultimately not the answer. But I’ll show where I think politics fits in. Using the four basic “annual checkup” issues any individual might use to evaluate his or her personal life, here’s my take on them vis-à-vis society in the United States as a whole. I’ve added a fifth category, “politically.”
Big Ag and Big Food dominate our food supply. They are pushing processed foods grown on dirt bleached of most nutrients, into which they pump water and chemicals that cause plants to grow that are depleted of most vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutrients. This food is processed for us--basically pre-masticated--then pumped with salt, sugar, and preservatives and pedaled on unsuspecting, trusting people in our society who assume this is the best food for them. It is subsidized by Congress, allotted through the Farm Bill. The result? We would have to eat eight oranges to gain the nutrients our grandparents received eating one. (This comes from a podcast called “The Doctors Farmacy” episode 602 “Why Most Of Us Are Nutrient Deficient And What To Do About It” You may listen, or go to Dr. Hyman’s website and read the transcript of that podcast.)
Career politicians in Congress subsidize this unhealthy dynamic because they receive campaign donations from the companies who receive Farm Bill handouts. Meanwhile, our food chain is causing loyal citizens to become obese, low on energy & joy, and to die early from diabeties, heart disease and perhaps cancer.
How much does politics play into this? It is hard for me to know but once in Congress I could say better. The biggest shift needs to be made by an informed society: just as we have eschewed nicotine, we can eschew high fructose corn syrup, soft drinks, and big Ag can recognize the harm they are doing and choose to “turn the aircraft carrier” towards a healthy trajectory. The least Congress could do is take sodas off of the SNAP-approved list, and hold hearings about the health-repercussions of the upcoming Farm Bill.
Our society is sedated through electronic entertainment. Our children hardly read books anymore. Their minds are not developing to become independent thinkers. In my home school district only 62% of whites are proficient in reading at grade level; only 63% are proficient in math. Yet no one makes a whimper of complaint. Only 11% of Black students are reading at grade level, and 10% are proficient in math. (Brown students score slightly higher than blacks.)To their credit, parents of both black and brown students are speaking up, organizing, starting charter schools, etc. But they face uphill battles, and will continue to until the white power brokers in our society stop making excuses for a system that is clearly not effective for any but the children of the power brokers. (And I assure you, as a former high school teacher, the problem is not the teachers. Aside from a few “bad apples” they are hard-working, concerned, loving, capable teachers who want their students to experience success. Many quit or retire early out of disappointment & frustration with the system.)
How much does politics play into this? Congress has been delegate no authority over education; that is “reserved to the states” (10th amendment.) However they have snuck their head under the tent by throwing money at it, then, once school districts have become dependent upon that money, they threatened to withdraw it unless they go along with…(insert crazy fad or trend) the Dept. of Education chooses to push upon them. There is a certain sameness about the poor quality of education in all fifty states. Why is that? If they all had complete independence on how they structured their approach to K-12 education, would we not have many “experiments” going on in fifty laboratories, all learning what works and what does not work? To whatever extent the Dept. of Education is calling the shots through “ No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002” or “Engage Every Student Initiative,” the results seem to be to make each of the states approach K-12 in similar ways…with similarly poor results. Innovation and creativity would be enhanced if this top-down approach were removed.
Pornography: since we’re talking about how to change society for the better, I know readers aren’t expecting this, but I can’t think of a more urgent issue than the unhealthiness of our sexual lives. Sex is a wonderful gift of God--or, if you are an atheist--a gift of nature. People who are in a loving, respectful sexual relationship go out into the world in emotional strength and joy, and they return to a safe harbor of comfort and acceptance. Yet despite our over-sexed public life, polls indicate few enjoy healthy sexual relationships. Now, as a Christian I have a well-defined sexual ethic, but I don’t believe I should force that upon others: in the Bible God never prevented the Israelites from sinning, and Jesus encouraged people not to sin, but never tried to stop them; he showed compassion when they did. Thus, I follow a “live and let live” philosophy as a politician. Yet pornography is a social scourge that is wreaking emotional havoc in the USA; no self-respecting society should put up with it. (I believe many of my readers agree but feel helpless as to how to combat it. Please read on.) First, one example. In various stages of my life I’ve been responsible for minors and have searched their cell phones to help them make wise decisions. I once came upon some porn, one of which showed a woman sitting or kneeling, with what were ~10 men standing around her, with their erect penises all pointing at her head like spokes on a wheel. All that was visible was the woman’s head and face (she may have been fully dressed for all I know), and the engorged genitals of the men. I only saw it for a second and can’t remember what the woman looked like, but the impression I remember was of a bland, hazy look on her face. I am sure she was drugged up. Now folks, that is sick.
I can’t begin to unpack the unhealthy emotional messages that photo contains. If the purpose of pornography is to sexually excite the viewer, that would not even classify as pornography to me. It was disturbing and disgusting. Although not knowing the details, I am certain that woman was not in a good place. Is it any wonder that many sincere Muslims (not sure about Hindu’s) consider the USA ``The Great Satan?” There is a lot more to be said but I’m going to jump to this: don’t get swayed by stories about women who win porn video awards, etc. That’s not the norm. The norm is similar to human trafficking: drug dependency, physical and sexual abuse, caught and not sure how to escape it. No self-respecting society should accept this ongoing degradation of women; if we do we’ll pay an ongoing price that is devastating. We need to wake up and take control back of our society. And don’t tell me it's too difficult! It's only too difficult b/c we have career politicians in Congress who don’t care to take any risks lest they not get re-elected. If we get citizen legislators in Congress (read on to learn how) the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee could reach out to the Supreme Court. They could request a working session to discuss what wording would work, and not work, for legislation that would enable us to outlaw and prosecute pornography created or disseminated in the USA. They would then hold public hearings--boy, would they trend high--and ultimately craft the language. With SCOTUS input, perhaps they would choose to propose an amendment to the Constitution. My point: we, “the people” can take back the reins of our federal government. We can do whatever we want if we’re aligned.
Whether a believer in a major religion, “spiritual but not religious,” atheist or agnostic, everyone has a worldview that gives them direction in life regarding the key questions that science cannot prove: a) How did I get here? b) What is the purpose of my life?--if there is one? c) How should I relate to other people? One thing I can tell you: there will always be people who do not share your worldview. The trouble in the USA today is that many people are overtly hostile to those who don’t share their own worldview, and do not tolerate free speech and follow a “live and let live” approach to social life. Some quick comments to such people: a) Don’t be tribal; don’t hate those who adopt different worldviews. b) If you refuse to accept that you cannot win everyone over to your beliefs, you’ll be kicking against the goads, and will cause unnecessary pain to yourself. c) How you treat others will determine the trajectory of your own life between peace & joy, or frustration & conflict. d) Call people to THEIR higher good whether they share your worldview or not. e) People make mistakes; people change. YOU will make mistakes; YOU will change. f) Choose to be humble. Humility is your friend. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
We have career politicians in Congress rather than citizen legislators. Notice the former moniker does not contain the word legislator: they don’t get anything significant done. Often their focus is on issues over which they have no authority to legislate. They posture, they don’t legislate. They are more interested in getting re-elected and staying in power than they are in taking risks, compromising, and doing the difficult work of building consensus. They have stacked the electoral deck in favor of incumbents. Thus, even though the favorable rating of Congress is at an all time low, incumbents get reelected at a 93% rate. People are disgusted with Congress…but they like their representative! The solution is imposing term limits on Congress. We imposed it on the Executive branch in 1951; it is high time to impose it on the Legislative Branch as well. With term limits in place a totally different citizen would run for Congress with intentions to contribute their wisdom and expertise, then return to their career. With term limits, The seniority system would become obsolete. Party affiliation would take a back seat to getting things done. Lobbyist influence would be diffused since money for re-election would be irrelevant to most members, and less important to others. (Please see the Zoom skit on my website that gives a vision of how healthy Congressional collaboration could be once term limits are in place.)
First of all, approximately 50% of wage earners currently pay federal taxes; the lower 50% does not. So when we talk about “tax cuts for the rich,” they are the only people who can receive tax cuts: you can’t give tax cuts to those who don’t pay taxes.
Now, taxes currently have three basic purposes: 1) raise money for Congress to spend, 2) steer people to give/spend their money in social ways desired by Congress (and the powers that influence Congress), 3) provide ongoing job security for lawyers.
Comments: I have no problem with taxing the wealthy to help those in need (although private non-profits consistently demonstrate more effective results than government programs.) There are better ways to collect taxes than with our current complex (and, arguably, corrupt) tax code. I prefer a simple flat tax with only two deductions: dependents, and donations to charities and non-profit organizations. The percentage would be whatever is required to equal the revenue currently coming into the federal coffers. I am not an expert here and am open to being disabused. But the advantages are many:
I can't blame you if you've asked yourself that question. Let’s tackle it: first, I want you to think of the top two issues that motivate you to vote for either party. Do me a favor: say those two issues out loud. …Louder! :)
Now, regardless of whether you lean towards the Dems or the GOP, your favorite party has controlled both houses of Congress (The House of Representatives, and the Senate) at the same time on three separate occasions since the turn of the 21st century:
Question: when your party has controlled Congress, have they done anything significant in addressing your top two issues?
Yes! Here’s what they’ve accomplished: (fill in the blank mentally…)
I expect your answer is “no” because outside of political gamesmanship, Congress hasn’t gotten anything of substance done. The Democrats--to their credit--did get the Affordable Care Act passed. Many people are pleased with it; some were not especially at first. But I think we’ll all agree it was an incremental step at best. Healthcare still needs a significant and wide-ranging overhaul.
Incumbents will campaign on your top issues. They talk a good game, don’t they? They say just what you want to hear, and raise a lot of money doing it: abortion, healthcare, labor & wages, the federal debt, immigration…but when they controlled both houses of Congress, did you finally get the satisfaction of seeing them make good on their campaign promises?
They will blame the other party for their inaction, but you can’t get away with that when you control both houses. Even when a united Congress doesn’t have a President from their party, they can still pass significant legislation and “dare” him (someday “her”) to veto it. Have they ever done that with one of your top issues?
During every campaign both parties will say “This election is the most important of our lifetime!” They want you to think that the real political struggle is between the two parties. It’s not. It is not. The real struggle is between the career politicians in power--from both parties--and their supporting cast of lobbyists and the companies who hire them, verses us normal people. They are winning; we are getting the shaft. They successfully distract us by whipping up the GOP-Democrat cat fights in a similar way that a Magician creates a distraction with a ball of flame or a loud firecracker right at the moment his assistant is swapping cards or birds or whatever to complete the trick. Don’t take the bait! Don’t follow the distractions both parties are dangling in front of you, making you think “the stakes are too high to vote for an independent” when you know neither party is going to do anything besides play political games with the other.* Democrats: Marc Pocan is a nice guy. Really, he’s genuinely a nice guy from what I can see. But he’s caught up in a dysfunctional system. Being nice isn’t enough. Congress is dysfunctional; fixing the institution is more important than rewarding nice guys.
Folks, the definition of insanity is voting the same way election after election, expecting a different result. You will NEVER see significant progress made on your top issues until we first get career politicians out of there, and start sending citizen legislators to Washington. I am the first citizen to run as an independent in Wisconsin’s 2nd district since 1950. I’ve stepped up to give you a chance--for the first time--to make your vote count for something significant. Every vote for me sends a message to Washington. We who want to impose term limits on Congress are >80% of the voting base. If we all vote for term limits on Congress at once, we can win this election. Don’t throw away your vote on a party whose leaders are career politicians drunk on power. Don’t expect this time to be different. It won’t.
I’ve stepped up. Let’s do this together. Let them know their gravy train at the public trough is over; we’re no longer going to take their bait.