The Rs and Ds Tie the Republic to a Railroad Track Called Sequester, Then Blame Each Other When the Train Arrives

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I know when I write a post that calls Republicans out on anything, I’m going to hear from many of my Republican pro life friends who are appalled, amazed and angered by what I’ve said.

I know when I write a post that speaks up for human life, freedom of religion or traditional marriage, I’ll get some of the same from the other guys. 

Today is a case in point. 

It turns out that my Republican friends are angry with me because I actually think that their party has something to do with the so-called “sequester” mess that this country is facing. These are the same Republicans who call me a statesman when I go after the President or the Dems for something I don’t like that they do.

Since I have the utmost respect for a couple of the people who are upset with me today, I am going to clarify just a bit.

I think both parties are putting the country at risk to play their little game. I don’t think either party gives a hoot what happens to people like you and me. And I don’t think either party actually believes the stuff they tell us at election time. 

President Obama had a big part in what has happened with the sequester. However, he didn’t make this mess all by his little self. There are some gigantic egos hooked up to little brains on the other side of the fence who have contributed their fair share to this situation.

What they are doing — and they are doing it together — is holding the American people hostage. 

They are also lying to us. That’s why the whole thing is so confusing. It’s impossible for anyone, including, I think, them, to keep track of the lies, sort them out and make sense of the situation. Both sides are lying. Both sides are spinning. Both sides are emailing their stalwarts with their talking points. Both sides. 

Both.

Not one.

Not the other.

Both. Of. Them.

I know it’s only natural for people who’ve staked so much of their trust in the gospel according to their political party to push back when somebody comes along and tells them they’ve been had. But, the truth is, if you’ve believed the propaganda either of our two political parties puts out, you have in fact, been had. 

I write posts like this because I love my country. I believe that we the people have got to stop being such easy marks for political snake oil salesmen who want to use us to obtain power for themselves and do what they please. 

These elected officials work for us. 

Did you know that?

Does anything they do make you feel that they know that?

If the answer is no, then you have already come to a rudimentary understanding of this situation, whether you will admit what you know to yourself or not. It’s not what I’m telling people that upsets them. It’s the fact that they know it’s true and don’t want to face what that truth means. 

What it means, and what they don’t want to face, is that there is no political party on a white horse who is going to save us or our country. This is a Republic, and we the people are going to have to do some of the heavy lifting ourselves. 

You can begin by calling your members of Congress and telling them what you think about the issues that matter to you. I don’t care if you support the sequester or not. I do care that you start thinking for yourselves and acting like free people who have a right to be heard in their own government. 

You can find your Congressperson’s email address and phone number here

The Idiots Did It. We’re Sequestered.

This is the low point in my time in the United States Congress. I can not tell you how ashamed I am.  

Senator Lindsay Graham, talking about the sequester. 

The Republican/Democrat game of chicken went to the next round last night when Congressional stonewalling forced President Obama to make good on his threats and sign the sequester order.

We’re sequestered. The Republican idiots and the Democratic idiots drove us over the cliff. 

What does this mean to you and me? 

I’m going to give you two replies. One will be what I’ve heard is going to happen to Oklahoma (and by derivation, to everyone else.) The second will be a more official summary. 

1. Oklahoma. What I’ve been told is that the sequester will take about .05% out of Oklahoma’s state budget. I’m expressing it in percent because that will make it easier for you to compute the effect on your state. Since so many of these things are based on population, that will be more accurate for you. I’m guessing, but I would imagine that the percentage will be similar in other states, while the numbers will (due to their higher populations) be higher. What that means in Oklahoma is several hundred million dollars which we will have to make up out of our relatively small state budget.

While that may not sound like a lot of money, (by government standards) one of the things that makes it hard to handle is that we are already well into the budget process. Coming as it does as an unplanned-for hit, it will be harder to make it up. Also, a good bit of this will ultimately be off-loaded on parts of the private sector such as the hospitals, who will have to handle the problems it creates in people’s lives out of their budgets. There will also be a hit on the economy, which will result in lower tax revenues, which could result in another round of this further down the line.

Oklahoma has fared relatively well in the recent economic downturn because we are an oil producing state and oil prices have been high. However, our tax revenues will fall if people buy less because of this sequester. 

Our military bases, such as Tinker Air Force Base, are predicting that they will have to furlough people in order to make up their part of the shortfall that they expect from the sequester. I believe other government agencies will be similarly impacted. This, of course, will also affect tax revenues and the overall economy.

I think we will see similar things all across the country, which is why I’m am detailing this here.

2. What the sequester does. 

President Obama was forced to sign the sequestration order as a result of Congress’ failure to act. This means that unless the members of Congress come back from their long weekend off with a new attitude, the sequester will take affect.

The sequester totals around $85 billion which will come out of the budget over the next 10 months. Non defense programs will be cut by 10% and defense programs will be cut by 13%.

Most government programs will be cut. Social security, Children’s health insurance, food stamps and Medicaid will not be cut. Medicare won’t be cut, but payments to providers will shrink by 2%. 

Most other government programs will feel the cut, with furloughs predicted for agencies ranging from the FAA to the Bureau of Prisons. 

It’s a little difficult to predict exactly what will happen since the President and the Republican leadership differ in what they are telling us and I think both of them are spinning things to bolster their case. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn says that agencies have plenty of space in their budgets to handle the cuts. From what I know of government agencies, I think he’s probably right. However, from what I know of government agencies, I doubt that they will do this. 

I expect more gamesmanship, which I expect means that agencies will not “handle” the cuts at all, and you and I will end up paying for all this. 

The worst of the sequester will not hit until April, since, by law, the government furloughs can’t start until employees have been given 30 days’ notice. If this goes on long enough for that to happen, we’ll start feeling it in all sorts of ways, including a sudden, powerful drag on the economy. For more information, go here and here.

In the meantime, as I said earlier, the president was forced to sign the sequester orders and Congress has gone off on a long weekend after a hard week of doing nothing good for the country. I’ve been through legislative fights, and I would guess they need a cooling-off period. The best thing they can do for all of us is go soak their swollen heads.

As for you and me, we have to decide for ourselves if this is how we want our government to work. We keep getting choices between bad and worse at election time. As a consequence, we’ve elected a whole Congress of party hacks who do not care enough about this country to do the nation’s business. 

I have never and I will never tell anyone to change their party. I have always, and I will always tell you that you need to demand that whichever party you are in clean up its act and stop giving us puppet people for elected officials. 

If you want to chat with your Congressional delegation about this, you can find their phone numbers and email addresses here

We elected these people. We can un-elect them. 

Building the Stepford Congress: Chicago Dems and Gun Control

 

Puppet politicians are the order of the day in today’s campaign world.

If an elected official crosses the party line, they may find themselves being attacked by their own party, instead of the other guys.

Just ask former Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Halverson of Chicago. Rep. Halverson is the front runner in a field of 15 (previsously 16) candidates for the Congressional seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Junior.

During her time in office, Rep Halverson racked up a mixed position on gun control. She voted for some gun control measures and against others. She also stated then as she does now that gun control is not the answer to the violent deaths in this country. Her believes that we need to look at the social order itself for our long-term solutions.

This position is clear evidence of independent thinking on Halverson’s part. Sadly, it appears that independent thinking is something that the Democratic Party is will no longer allow it’s elected officials to do.

The response by the national Democratic Party to Rep Halverson’s candidacy has evidently been to load in huge amounts of money against the Congresswoman. The greatest irony is that they appear to be working with the Republican New York mayor and his “super pac” in an effort to defeat Congresswoman Halverson.

I remember years ago when Democrats prided themselves on being the party where people could think for themselves. We had more than a bit of contempt for the threats and bullying we saw the Republicans heap on one another. We didn’t think much of those folks who did what they were told and never had a thought of their own. Sadly, the Democrats have become more and more like the Republicans in this matter until now they are virtually indistinguishable from them.

In both political parties, elected officials either toe the line or pay the price of being attacked by their own party. People they thought were friends become enemies in a single hour. That is politics in today’s America. It’s ugly. It’s cruel. It is totally without personal honor. And it works to silence the voice of the people in elections.

Enter the Stepford Congress and it’s unending failure to act on behalf of the common good. Instead of independent thinking what we have instead are a bunch of legislative “mules” who carry legislation for special interests and do whatever they are told by the left and right wing nuts who control them.

I am not commenting specifically about the gun control issue in this post. I would feel the same if the situation was reversed and the Congresswoman was being attacked by her political party for favoring gun control. The issue at hand is not what an individual political candidate thinks. It is whether or not they are going to be allowed to think for themselves.

I really do not care who the voters in this Congressional district chose to be their voice in Washington. I only hope that whoever they pick he or she is an independent thinker and not someone who will be part of the Stepford Congress.

A Fox News interview with Congresswoman Halverson is below. I’m impressed by how hard she tries to take the high road in all this.

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Organization Day at Oklahoma House of Representatives

Today was Organization Day at the Oklahoma House of Representatives. 

The Democrats and Republicans had lunch with their respective caucuses. Then we went to the House floor to elect a new speaker and speaker pro tempore. I left a bit early because Gimpy decided she’d had all the walking and standing she wanted.

Here are a couple of snapshots I took with my cell phone, just for you.

 

House Floor, from my desk. With my seniority, I can sit anywhere I want. I want to sit on the back row. The reason? The cameras aren’t on me constantly back there, which means I can blow my nose without ending up on tv while I’m doing it and I can leave without having to climb over the other reps to get to the door.

 

Swearing in new speaker, Speaker TW Shannon. He’s the first African American Speaker in state history. I should have brought my real camera instead of a cell phone. It’s a big room, and I sit waaayyyy back there where nobody bothers me unless I want to be bothered.

Reid Says We’re Going Over the Cliff

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid essentially told the Senate that he expects Congress and the President to push the country over the “fiscal cliff.”

I don’t think that Senator Reid was talking to the people of this country, or even the members of the Senate. I believe that the real audience he had in mind for this speech was House Speaker Boehner. This dramatic speech was the Democrats, throwing down with the Republicans. Senator Reid was essentially making a public statement to Boehner, saying, in effect, I see your refusal to negotiate and raise you one massive financial debacle.

These comments of Senator Reid’s are remarkably personal, calling Speaker Boehner a “dictator,” etc.

I doubt if this stand-off is about the “fiscal cliff” or taxes or any other question of policy; at least not now. It has devolved down to which guy is the manliest man.

What does this mean to you and me? It means that the buffalo are fighting in the swamps and we are the frogs who, if things really fall apart, are bound to lose. What is most likely to happen is that, even if these fools push this country over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” they will turn right around and retroactively undo their action with legislation rescinding what they just did.

That, of course, can take weeks, probably until at least half-way through January. What will happen to the markets during those weeks? What will happen to America’s credit rating? For a debtor nation like ours, credit rating is not a small thing.

The question is how far will this who’s-the-manliest-man-around-here claptrap stall and starve our already shaky economy? What will it take to get it going again after they’re all finished with this fight and ready to start on the next one?

The point for me is that these people we’ve elected don’t care nearly so much about this country as they do their partisan loyalties and chest-thumping grandiosity. We have placed our country and our future in their hands. Need I say more?

The NBC News article about Senator Reid’s speech reads in part:

 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R) (D-NV) hugs Speaker of the House John Boehner

NBC News Updated 2:48 p.m. – The Senate’s top Democrat said Thursday that he was pessimistic that Washington could avoid the impending fiscal cliff, accusing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, of running the lower chamber as a “dictatorship.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was unsure there was enough time between now and the end of the year to reach a deal to avoid the combination of spending cuts and tax hikes set to take effect on Jan. 1. Reid said “the only viable escape route” was for the GOP-controlled House to give its approval to a Senate bill that would preserve existing tax rates on income under $250,000.
“Everyone knows that if they had brought up the Senate-passed bill, it would pass overwhelmingly. But the speaker says, no we can’t do that,” Reid said on the Senate floor this morning. “It’s [the House] being operated by a dictatorship of the speaker.”
In response, a spokesman for Boehner said in a statement, “Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more. The House has already passed legislation to avoid the entire fiscal cliff. Senate Democrats have not.”

Reid’s remarks suggest there has been no thaw in the stalemate that has plagued Washington for weeks, as consensus continues to elude Republicans and Democrats on averting the fiscal cliff. Amid the standoff, President Barack Obama called Reid and Boehner (along with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell) late Wednesday from Hawaii. The president traveled back to the White House on Thursday following his brief family vacation. (Read more here.)

Playing Chicken With Our Economic Future …

U.S. President Barack Obama departs Honolulu, Hawaii December 26, 2012, for a return trip to Washington. REUTERS/Larry Downing

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama was flying back to Washington on Thursday and the top Republican in Congress planned to speak with House of Representatives lawmakers as the clock ticked toward a year-end deadline for action to avert the looming “fiscal cliff” tax hikes and spending cuts.

Markets around the world awaited action in Washington to prevent tax hikes on nearly all Americans and the deep automatic government spending cuts due to kick in at the beginning of next month that could push the U.S. economy back into recession.

Such action, however, remained far from certain, with Republicans and Democrats each insisting the other side move first amid continuing partisan gridlock.

Air Force One carrying Obama from Hawaii took off at about 3 a.m. EST for a journey that can take nearly half a day.

The U.S. Senate was scheduled to meet later on Thursday but on matters unrelated to the “fiscal cliff.” The Democrats control the Senate and theRepublicans control the House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday said through a spokesman that the Senate was ready to consider any bills coming from the House but would take no action on its own. (Read more here.)

Biden Holds First Gun Control Meeting

Vice President Joe Biden began meetings on possible gun control legislation today.

The most interesting point, at least for me, is that the vice president indicated that he expects votes on whatever he proposes after the first of the year.

I interpret that to mean that the President has probably decided not to issue executive orders about this, at least for now.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives has announced a push to ban the sale of high capacity magazines. This is not a new idea. Senate Democrats tried to attach such a ban to an unrelated piece of legislation last summer.

What all this means to us is that we have a window of time to think about this and decide what we want our Congress and president to do. From all indications, the Democrats are focusing their efforts on gun-control and ammunition control legislation. Although they mention a more comprehensive approach in their comments, the focus and the first thing they mention is always guns.

I’m going to try to write several posts that I hope will lead Public Catholic readers into a serious conversation of all these issues. It’s our country and we need to be part of the discussion about its future.

The article concerning Vice President Biden’s meeting today says in part:

Wasting no time, Vice President Joe Biden meets on Thursday with “law enforcement leaders” from across the country to launch work on a series of recommendations to battle gun violence in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
The 1 p.m. meeting is to include White House officials, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the White House said.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday tasked Biden with leading an administrationwide effort to craft concrete proposals for tackling what Obama called an “epidemic” of gun violence. The vice president will report back no later than January.
Obama pushed Congress to pass a series of traditional gun control measures quickly. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons,” he said on Wednesday. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases, so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.”
He added, “I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner.”
But he also embraced a broader approach, stressing that “there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”(Read more here.)

What Is the ‘Fiscal Cliff’?

What is this “fiscal cliff” that commenters and pollsters talk about? What difference does it make to you and me?

The following excerpt from a Yahoo Finance article does a good job of answering these questions.

As usual, our elected officials are taking polls to learn what we the people think about their brinksmanship politics. They use the results of these polls to determine how far they can go in endangering the rest of us and keep their jobs. I don’t read much about them putting our country first, just how they can frame their irresponsibility so that the other guy takes the political fall for it.

BOTH parties are at fault here. NEITHER party appears to give a care about this country.

Pollsters are polling us. Politicians who don’t care about governing are using those polls to determine their next move in the one thing they do care about, which is making the opposite political party look bad.

I doubt that many people who are being polled know what the “fiscal cliff” is, or why it matters to them. I don’t want Public Catholic readers to be that uninformed.

The Yahoo Finance article says in part:

The fiscal cliff refers to the potentially disastrous situation the U-S faces at the end of this year. At midnight on December 31st, a number of laws are set to expire. If the President and the Republicans don’t reach an agreement before then, Americans could face broad government spending cuts and tax increases on January 1st. The combined amount would total over 500 billion dollars. Those 500 billion dollars equal about three to four percent of the nation’s entire gross domestic product. This is what’s referred to as the fiscal cliff.
If there isn’t a resolution, here are the specifics of what will happen.
Taxes would go up for almost every taxpayer and many businesses. The Bush-era tax cuts, which tax relief for middle and upper-class tax payers, would be a thing of the past. So would President Obama’s payroll tax cut which added about a thousand dollars a year to the average worker’s income.
Government spending would be slashed. That means less money for most military, domestic and federal programs. $26 billion in emergency unemployment-compensation would be gone. Medicare payments to doctors would be reduced by $11 billion. Federal programs would take the biggest hit. They stand to lose a total of $65 billion.
If the fiscal cliff isn’t avoided, some investors will be hit hard. Those who receive qualified dividends could see the tax rate on those dividends go from 15% to almost 40% in 2013.
Many business owners believe going over the fiscal cliff will cripple the economy, triggering a deep recession. (Read more here.)

Battle for the GOP: Will Republicans Dump Pro-Life Issues?

That didn’t take long.

According to a LifeNews article, Republican political consultants are “calling on the GOP to abandon pro-life issues.”

The article goes on to explain all the reasons why this would be a foolhardy move for the Grand Old Party. I’m not going to go through those arguments. I’m not writing this blog for the people who run either of the political parties.

What I will say is, I told you so.

I’m not prescient. I have no crystal ball. But I work alongside Rs every day. Given the centralized way the Republican Party functions, working with Rs in Oklahoma plugs me into the party thinking from all over these United States of ours. What I mean by that is that local Rs take their positions, get their legislation and even their talking points from think tanks and centralized leaders who also give the same instructions to all other Republican elected officials.

The Democrats did not use this model at all until about 10 years ago. I know. I’m a Democratic elected official. They started moving toward it in the wake of Republican victories early in the 21st Century. The reason? It worked.

Now you have people running for local offices in both parties who have their campaign pieces printed and mailed from centralized party campaign headquarters that may be (in Oklahoma, they always are) thousands of miles away from them and their voters. Many times the candidate not only doesn’t approve the ad, they are downright appalled by it when it airs.

I’ve been spared this, largely because no one in the official end of the Democratic Party likes me enough to “help” me. The party faithful have done their best to defeat me in elections. The chances that the party machine is going to come swooping in to “help” me are slim to none. Think clouds and silver linings.

Both parties are somewhat controlled by centralized committees and think tanks; the Rs almost totally, the Ds becoming more so. Even though the Ds are moving rapidly in this direction, they still don’t have the party control two-step down as well as the Rs. We still write our own speeches, and some of us still get ourselves elected in do-it-yourself campaigns. Most of the Rs were beamed into office and not only don’t think for themselves, they don’t understand politics and the job of legislating well enough to be able to think for themselves, even if they wanted to.

I’ve seen these people get yanked around by party analysts over and again. One of the most ugly was when the money men who run the party showed their true colors on pro life issues. These money men not only aren’t uniformly pro life themselves, a lot of them are openly aligned with groups like Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has drawn its governing boards from among the wealthy in whatever communities it resides since Margaret Sanger began the organization. They interlock their boards with medical associations, chambers of commerce and, more importantly, the most powerful people in the various chamber’s back rooms.

A good percentage of the money men who actually own the Republican Party don’t like the party’s position on social issues. They don’t agree with them. They’ve been willing to put up with campaigns that were run on these issues because what they wanted was to control the power of government. Those issues delivered it to them. It worked. Now, they’re not so sure that it’s continuing to work.

I knew the pressure to dump social issues would start after the election was over. I knew it because I’ve seen this same pressure being applied to Republican office holders even before this election.

All this goes back to something I’ve been saying for a while. Don’t make a false god out of your political party. Don’t bend your knee to the R and the D. Without us, without our votes, both political parties are empty shells. Do not give them your vote or your support in a blind fashion.

Christians are going to have to “chose this day who we will serve.” We’re going to have to make this decision over and over as challenges rise from within our political parties, our circle of friends, our jobs, even our families and for some of us, our churches themselves.

My advice … my request … is that if you are a Republican, you need to contact the RNC and let them have it for even considering dumping pro life issues. Send them an email by going here.

The People Spoke. Case Closed. Done Deal.

The people spoke Tuesday, November 6, 2012. 

Barach Obama was re-elected President of the United States of America. Same-sex marriage won four important votes. Euthanasia got pushed back. Democrats strengthened their hold on the United States Senate. Republicans kept control of the United States House of Representatives.

These were fair elections.

Case closed. Done deal.

If you want a pity-party, we-wuz-robbed, how-DARE-they-vote-wrong post-election wail-athon, you probably should just walk right past Public Catholic, because you won’t find it here.

This is America. We decide things by election in this country. We had a big election Tuesday and decided a lot of things.

What we have to do is look at these events through the lens of the Gospels and, as much as we are graced to do so, through the directings of the Holy Spirit. I am going to go back over certain aspects of this election in fine detail in the weeks and months ahead. But everything I say will be aimed at helping us find a way forward. I am not going to re-hash things from the perspective of re-fighting yesterday’s fight. That’s not my way.

My sole aim with Public Catholic is to use what little I’ve learned in my not-so-young life to help equip Christians for what I’ve known for quite some time is coming. I am an elected official and have been for a long time. That gives me certain insights which I hope will help you develop your skills in dealing with the political side of being a Christian.

However, Christianity is not and never has been a political movement. What we have witnessed these past decades is a sharp turn toward heresy and idolatry on the part of many of our religious leaders. They have been abysmally bad shepherds because they have mis-used their prophetic and moral voice to shape the Body of Christ into a political machine and vote delivery system for one or the other of the two political parties. This has gone on so long and been pushed so hard that there are a number of Christians who actually confuse political party affiliation with following Christ.

These people have edited, twisted and manipulated the Gospels to conform the teachings of Christ to political party platforms. From what I’ve seen, these fallen shepherds will always kiss Caesar’s ring when Caesar demands it. They back up, sit down and go along, even when the political leaders they have sold their birthrights as Christians to demand that they turn their backs on everything … including the one or two issues they claimed were why they backed the politicians in the first place.

Never forget: Our Lord was crucified at the hands of a cowardly politician, a group of corrupt religious leaders out to protect their own power and the crowd that followed them.

The election Tuesday was not the end of Christianity in America. But it may have been the end of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called cheap grace, at least for true Christians. Over seventy percent of Americans call themselves Christian. But many of them are wide-gate, easy-way Christians who consistently choose the world over following Christ.

I created this blog and will be speaking in the future to narrow-gate, hard-way Christians who want to follow Jesus and stand up for Him, no matter what.

You have to decide for yourself which one you are. For now, it’s enough for us to realize, accept and get past one simple fact: The people spoke Tuesday. Case closed. Done deal.

We’ll take one more day for post-election emotional adjusting, then I’m through with it.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7: 13,14


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