What is the Debt Ceiling and Why You Should Care About It.

That’s the title of this ABC News report. I don’t know a lot about this topic, so I sought out some information. Here’s what I learned:

The debt ceiling is a cap on the amount of money the U.S. government can borrow to pay its debts.

Every year, Congress passes a budget that includes government spending on infrastructure, programs such as Social Security and salaries for federal workers. Congress also taxes people to pay for all that spending. But for years, the government has been spending more than it takes in from taxes and other revenue, increasing the federal deficit.

The government needs to borrow money to continue paying out what Congress has already OK’d. The debt ceiling puts a limit on how much money the U.S. government can borrow to pay its bills.

That seems fairly clear, but I’m confused about on the following point:

Continue reading “What is the Debt Ceiling and Why You Should Care About It.”

Advice for Those Frustrated by Congressional Dysfunction

“I don’t care which party you vote for, but please stop voting for people who have no desire or intention to govern.” That’s a tweet I saw today, and wholeheartedly agree with. I assume the tweet primarily refers to the GOP members of Congress who oppose Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House. I would actually broaden this out to any politicians that enabled this group, as well as politicians preferred nothing to making any compromise or those who preferred nothing, rather than giving any political victory to the other side.

These politicians are the problem and primary source of the dysfunction. Here’s a message to those who have a low opinion of Congress because of gridlock:

Continue reading “Advice for Those Frustrated by Congressional Dysfunction”

Should the Department of Justice Prosecute Trump?

I sense a lot of frustration with regard to what seems to be a lack of activity by the Department of Justice (DOJ), with regard to prosecuting Trump of crimes. A lot of people feel like Trump has committed several crimes, and while I’m not a lawyer, that’s my sense as well. (And if he didn’t, he’s done many things that deserve serious consequences–to deter this sort of behavior in the future.)

But assuming the DOJ has enough evidence to prosecute Trump and they feel confident they can win the case (It would be a disaster if they failed to convict Trump.), I may belong to a minority of anti-Trumpers who has unease about prosecuting Trump.

Yes, I understand and largely agree with those who argue that not prosecuting Trump (if the evidence is there) would be worst than failing to prosecute him.

But prosecuting Trump will set a precedence that I’m very uneasy about. To see why, think of the current GOP. I have no doubt they would prosecute Democratic presidents when they leave office (and I wouldn’t put it past them to prosecute past presidents like Obama)–for purely political reasons. And that would likely lead to Democrats doing something similar.

This would be an awful situation, one with no clear remedy.

Here, I should mention the congressional GOP–and my utter contempt I feel for them. The Founders created the mechanism to deal with someone like Trump–namely, impeachment and removal. Indeed, one could argue Trump was precisely the type of president Congress had in mind when it came to impeachment. I believe the majority of Republican members of Congress know/knew Trump deserved to be impeached (Same with many of the people working in the Trump administration.)

But they failed to use this mechanism. Twice!

And that’s why we’re in this position. The GOP seem to be waiting for the DOJ to do their dirty work–in spite of the problems this will likely cause for future presidency. It’s another example of the egregious way they put their party ahead of the country.

Are Congressional Republicans Violating Their Oath of Office?

The January 6 Committee has revealed information that bolsters the case that Trump and several of his associates corruptly and comprehensively attempted to overturn the 2020 election–in spite of being told this was illegal and wrong. My sense is that the upcoming hearings will make this case even stronger. Whether Trump and some of his associates will see jail time has been receiving a lot of attention.

But something, maybe a bigger matter, has received much less attention in my view—namely, did congressional Republicans violate—and are they continuing to violate– their oath of office? To put this more specifically and concretely, are they failing to “defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic,” and in some cases are they undermining and subverting the Constitution, either tacitly or actively? (Would it be fair to designate those who are undermining and subverting the Constitution as the “enemies” in the oath?)

Raising these questions makes me wonder if I’m being irrational, blinded by biases, but let me lay out my thoughts to see if others agree or not.

Is Conservatism a Legitimate Political Ideology? Was it Ever?

“Conservatism* is a sham!” That was the original title of this thread. While it’s actually both sexier and more succinct, I opted against it because it doesn’t accurately reflect my position, although it’s not that far off. The Trump presidency has shed a lot of of light, or maybe brought to the surface, the real impetus behind the people who claim to be conservatives, and thus revealed the true nature of conservatism. Well, partly.

I need to make two important distinctions before I proceed–separating two different types of conservatives–namely, ones that don’t really have any real convictions in a legitimate (more on this later) political ideology, and ones that do. The reason that my initial title is both (mostly) true, but too misleading for me is that 99% of conservatives fall into the former category, while the rest fall into the latter. In other words, I believe there is such a thing as a legitimate conservative ideology, but so few people actually believe this that it’s fair to say conservatism is largely a sham.

Now it’s time to explain what I mean by a legitimate political ideology. First, I want specify that I’m talking about legitimacy within a liberal democracy. The rule of law; a constitutional government, separating powers in a way that creates checks and balances; free and fair elections; a free press; freedom of religion; due process–a legitimate political ideology would take these as a given. What also legitimizes a political ideology are the presence of legitimate goals–goals that relate to making the lives of both individuals and the overall society better. By “better” I’m thinking of things like protecting civil liberties, while also ensuring the security of the overall society; I’m thinking of a healthy economy, where one can earn a living, afford quality housing, education, health care. I could probably name other things, but hopefully you get the idea.

In the rest of this thread, I want to address two questions: 1) How is conservatism illegitimate? 2) And what does a legitimate conservatism look like?

(*In this thread, “conservatism” and “conservatives” refers to the American forms of both.)

Musings on Bad Faith in Politics

“Hypocrisy” and “cynicism” are two adjectives used to describe actions of Republicans, particularly when they supported Trump. I tend to think those two words are inadequate. I like bad faith better, but the meaning seems a little vague to me. In this thread, I want to flesh out the meaning and think about term, versus alternatives, when discussing the modern day GOP and their leader.

Voter Fraud Vs. Voter Suppression

Voting and the integrity of our election are truly a critical part of our democracy, and the Democrats and Republicans have two competing narratives with regard to this topic. Democrats believe that Republicans want to suppress votes, particularly for people of color, as a primary way to gain or hold political power. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that voter fraud is a serious problem that poses a real threat to the integrity of our elections. Who’s right? That’s what I want to answer in this thread. Primarily, I want to collect evidence for both narratives. Now, I have already been reading about this topic, and let me say upfront that the evidence for voter fraud being a serious problem seems scant, while the evidence for voter suppression, in my view, seems far more compelling. Before I begin, I should acknowledge if one or both narratives proves true, they are legitimately serious problems–problems that would demand some corrective action.