Republican ElephantDid President Obama govern by fiat?  Was his announcement of his new amnesty policy that he declared effective immediately and without congressional a constitutionally-permitted action of the part of the President of the United States?  It is a peculiar precedent that no past president on record has done.  But why are Speaker Boehner and Senator Lee of Utah not taking it to the Supreme Court—the Chief Justice John Robberts was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush and would most-likely hear the case.

Technically, the answer is yes.  He used executive power without congressional approval therefore he performed the action of governing by fiat.  Executive power is however, a legitimate power all U.S. presidents possess. It has to be used sparingly, but it can be used.  The real question here is, Did he cross the line?

The President of the United States cannot use executive power to legislate or repeal laws enacted by Congress and either signed into law by the president or passed with a two-thirds majority or more such that vetoes can be overridden.  Executive orders are not permanent changes and this one expires on 01-20-2017 at 12:01 AM when the presidency changes hands.  But even temporary measures cannot override the law book, as it were.

Examples of legitimate executive orders include economic sanctions against a hostile nation as we have done on several occasions on Middle East nations as well as Cuba.  Also, if General Motors does not promptly recall a faulty ignition switch, the president can take executive action to mandate the recall to ensure the safety of the vehicles we drive.  But executive orders cannot alter the verbatim of an existing law in such a way that it drastically changes the meaning.  This is the gray area members in all three branches of government in Washington should investigate.

The first tell-tale sign is that President Obama has been asked to do this on several occasions during the first six years of his presidency.  He has repeatedly said as the leader of one of three branches of government (executive), that he did not have the authority to do so.  He has quoted the concept of checks and balances and even said to the media on one occasion I am PRESIDENT Barrack Obama, I am not EMPORER Obama.  Second, he is done campaigning.  He is a two-term president and according to the Twenty-Third Amendment, he cannot run for re-election regardless how the people feel about him during the Decision-16 events.  A popular quip used to describe such circumstances, if you have nothing, go ahead and risk everything; because you have nothing to lose.  Without a majority in either house of Congress and without cooperation from the opposition party, Barrack Hussein Obama is simply marking time for two years; even Democrats have to be concerned about a viable candidate in 2016; especially if Hilary decides not to run.

The timing was very bad and he did it after Senate Majority Leader Elect Mitch McConnell R-KY) agreed to work with him, ultimately shoving McConnell under the bus, making the opposition even stronger than Republican who got elected claiming the majority intended.  It raises the question if Obama did it for the benefit of the Latinos who would be separated from their families; to free America of its quasi-obligation to deport five million people which is a tall order logistically, or was it a lame duck president’s last hurrah?  Without this fiat, decree, executive order, or whatever you want to call it, it is unlikely five million Latinos would be deported anyway; just rounding them all up would take more years than Obama has left to be president.  He also did not grant them working papers.  This means some will go back to Mexico and other Central American countries because they cannot afford food.  Obama is worried about criminals and said criminals will be deported.  Putting them to work is the best way to prevent them from resorting to crime and lawlessness.  Sure, some were drug dealers and other types of outlaws before they crossed the borders, but most of them just want to earn an honest paycheck.

My conclusion is he stretched the Constitution as far as it could be stretched, the word fiat may be appropriate to describe his action, but no, he did not commit and unconstitutional act.  What he did do was set a very high precedent for future presidents of both powers and make us Americans who believe in the American Dream to think about our fundamental freedoms and what needs to be done to protect them in the future.  There is no American Dream if the United States of America cannot guarantee us the freedom to dream.

 

Republican ElephantThis Sunday (11-09-2014), the CBS program Face the Nation aired interviews with both current President Barrack Obama and former President George W. Bush.  Obama discussed the final leg of his presidency working with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and George W., aka Bush-43, discussed his book on his father, Bush-41, who we now prototype as George H, W. Bush (we just called him George Bush before his son got elected president in 2000).

One thing that struck a chord with me after listening to both interviews is the possibility, as America moves further into the twenty-first century is the prospect of the two-party system becoming a three party system.  The two interviews were very different with respect to details, but both men spoke about the difficulty of working with the opposition.  With face-to-face conversation going the way of high-button shoes and electronic devices and social media taking over, there is little to no accountability with respect to anything said about anyone; let alone in the political arena.  The analogy I use in many blog articles applies in Washington more and more today; Washington has become a broken clock and those empowered to repair it have permanently place the big hand on the twelve and the little hand on the five and have hung a sign below the clock face reading IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE.  Both affiliated and unaffiliated voters want the clock working again, not humored or insulted by those we elected to uphold the Constitution and ensure America keeps on ticking! 

The broken clock and the loss of faith voters have in both parties is the perfect breeding ground for the establishment of a third party.  I am not referring to the temporary coalitions that allowed John Anderson to run in 1980 and H. Ross Perot to run in 1992, I am talking about a new party brand with a full ballot of candidates on election days to come.  Neither Anderson nor Perot had congressional candidates on Row C, as it were.  The last man to get elected President without the backing of any major party was Millard Fillmore; a benevolent soul, but ineffective as nobody in Congress could coattail with him and still maintain their loyalty and commitments to their respective parties.  What is coming is far bigger than Anderson, Perot, or even Fillmore.  We will see a ballot with rows A, B, and C, all with unique names in all columns, not just the first column.  An alternative to the two-party system for registered voters.

This may seem like a breath of fresh air based on the rhetoric alone, but I fear at the end of the day, many Americans sold on the concept are going to exclaim careful what you wish for.  The two-party system was established to ensure majority rule, and not plurality rule; a term that doesn’t even exist in either the Federalist Papers or the Constitution.  But with three in the race, the dividing line is moved from 50% to 33 1/3% paving the way for a victories for both candidates and bills with only 34%.  We push the worry button when our President’s approval rating hits that 40% figure; imagine what we can expect if the starting line is moved to 34.  The legislative machine in Washington now turning at a snail’s pace may turn at the speed of light, but less than half of Americans will be satisfied with what it will produce; not to mention, it could produce items that are destructive to American Democracy harder to check and balance if it can pass with only 34%.

What kind of party would this new party be?  It could only start one way; a hybrid party liberal on some things and conservative on others.  There is no other way it could get started.  Regardless whether a nation has one, two, or more parties, an issue (or a bill) can only have two sides, aye or nay.  If Party-1 is aye and Party-2 is nay, Party-3 has to be aye or nay, putting them in solidarity with one or the other.  They cannot begin as a shadow of either the Republican or Democrat party because the justification for their existence is to be an alternative for Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters disgusted with the whole damn system!  But they could morph into a shadow of one or the other the longer they exist in America.

What is the best way average Americans can survive a three-party system?  The best thing America can to either prevent it or keep the gears of democracy turning properly is to create a generation of High Information Voters.  Talk show pundit Rush Limbaugh, a true spokesperson for the conservative agenda in America, loves to talk about how Low Information Voters are ruining America and that getting to young people just about to turn eighteen and re-educate older voters and have the presidency and other important offices decided by High Information Voters.  How social media and technology can be a good thing once we learn to use it properly.  The seed of criticism stems from the fact that he does own his own broadcast network, therefore, can’t fire himself, and there is only minimal checking on the correctness of the information he provides and his sources and referrals.  The difference in a three-party America with Low Information Voters and with High Information Voters is astronomical.

Applying the laws of logic to the truth tables needed to explain political phenomena in this century, we cannot change the fact that even with three parties, there are still only two possibilities, true of false in exact sciences and mathematics; aye or nay in social and inexact sciences like politics.  Ultimately, this means at least two of three have to be on the same side with respect to any issue and the third party could very well be the bridge that makes American Democracy once again, the government of the people, by the people, for the people.  But with Low Information Voters, formal logic collapses and a warped three-way logic, or better worded, pseudo-logic will evolve.

Until the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Championship Series, or the Stanley Cup Championship Series with only two team remaining in competition, sports leagues from the majors right on down to that small town community little league, have a lot more than two teams.  As fans, we don’t (or shouldn’t) pick our sports teams the same way we decide which political party to affiliate with, if either [any].  We can become fans of New York teams just because we grew up in the tri-state area, or become Yankee fans because they are the most storied franchise in the history of the world (the two factors combined has a lot to do with why I chose the Mets), or become a Giants fan because of Willie Mays, a Braves fan because of Hank Aaron, or a Red Sox fan because of Carl Yastrzemski.  If we are loyal fans, we stick with our favorite team win or lose.  We stand behind a uniform, a city, a tradition.  Sports is art imitating life.  It is a way to show our competitive spirit, but for fans like me who were never professional athletes, sports is a retreat from reality and or sets of problems, a way to relax and put our troubles aside for three hours or so.  Therefore, formal logic is not required when deciding what sports teams for which we choose to be fans and prefer.  Politics, on the other hand, is not a spectator sport.  Democracy is the serious business of America.  A three-party system in an arena composed with mostly Low Information Voters will result in people picking one of the three parties and being loyal to that party just because they are one’s personal home team, and you play to win the game! 

The same three-party arena with High Information Voters gives it a fighting chance.  The one drawback to the two-party system is it forces us to accept the platform of the candidate and party we choose in-total.  Not only myself, but a majority of voters, and for that matter, the candidate  may agree with 85% of the Republican platform and disagree with 15%; yet as voters in a representative democracy voting for people, not bills, we the voters are not empowered to line item veto, as it were, the party platform on election day.  This Johnny Come Lately party could potentially address that 15% discrepancy and either sway [Republican] voters to their side or cajole the chief engineer of the Republican platform as well as the candidate to adjust and make our party candidate more palatable.  Pluralities could be converted to majorities as elected officials on all three sides apply the Platonian dialectic method (thesis + antithesis = synthesis) until equilibrium is reached just as our Founding Fathers intended government to work.

With Hilary Clinton, the most flawed person either party could conjure, testing deeper and deeper waters and most-likely will be the Democrat party nominee, the Republicans lacking a superstar that cannot only ensure victory over Mrs. Clinton, but could sell Republican ideals lost at the marketplace for the last six years; and grass-roots G.O.P. Republicans standing in the conservative limelight, yet still intimidated by the cast of characters in the Tea Party, I am making an early prediction two years into the future that the Tea Party will break away from the G.O.P. and establish themselves as a party of their own and not only a three-person race for the presidency, but congressional Tea Party candidates as well, will compose the 2016 election.  The best way for America to work and play in that arena is to become High Information Voters.

American-Flag1

 

It’s the VETERAN, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom or religion.

It’s the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It’s the VETERAN, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It’s the VETERAN, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It’s the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It’s the VETERAN, not the politician,
who has given us the right to vote.

It’s the VETERAN,
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,

ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD,
AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE ON THEM.

November 11, 2014.  Salute a VETERAN today.

American-Flag1I did not call the governor’s race in Connecticut right—incumbent Dannel Malloy gets second term—close as they come, 50% to 49%.  Republicans get majority in Senate—53-47 and it may grow as some states have runoffs.  Did not get the 60-senator filibuster-proof senate and without 67 senators, cannot override Obama’s vetoes.

At first, I thought it was a wave election.  I thought the majorities in each house would flip-flop based on the anti-incumbent sentiment.  But although both majorities are small, Republicans have majority in both houses; just not enough in either to break gridlock and override vetoes.  Barring the runoffs result in enlarging the majority, Washington will most-likely be stuck in neutral for the next two years.  The election was a referendum on Obama’s policies over the last six years and the majority spoke out against Obama policy.

At the federal level, it is time to look ahead to 2016; a presidential election where there will be no incumbent.  Democrats will be focusing on Hilary and Republicans will be looking at their now two-faction party; the grass roots Republicans and the Tea Party.  If a tea-bagger is not the nominee, I fear a three-man race with a Tea Party Third Party candidate.  The far right voting for that candidate will effectively be voting for Hilary as the Republican vote will be split in half allowing Hilary to get elected president with as little as 34% of the vote.  The Republicans will need a superstar to get back The White House in 2016.  Meanwhile, the legislative and executive branches must find a way to effectively govern.

Republican ElephantThis coming Tuesday (11-04-2014) is Election Day.  It is an even numbered year, but no presidential election.  Without presidential candidates, we have a tendency to lower the importance of the reduced magnitude election.  Truth be told, if you take a college course, either in a degree program or as a returning student, and you fail to pass the mid-term exam, chances are an A on the final will get you a C+ at the most in the course.

We have three branches of government in this country, and two out of three are operated by elected officials.  The executive branch at the federal level is on hold this time around, but there is a lot going on in the legislative branch.  Since the legislature is the law-making branch, it is guaranteed to have a major impact on policy-making for the next two years.  If you opt out of voting, you are failing a lot more than a college course, you are failing this great nation; and since we are a republic or representative democracy, you are failing yourself.

For my fellow Republican conservatives, the elephant is knocking.  What I mean by that is opportunity is knocking in the form of the red, white, and blue elephant that symbolizes the Grand Old Party.  I disagree with Rand Paul of Kentucky when he said the Republican brand name sucks.  The perceived value of the brand has taken a hit, but we are still the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan and we can turn Mr. Paul’s quasi-prophesy one-hundred-eighty degrees around if we look back to the roots of the great party.

The first thing to realize is liberals are people that can never be truly happy or satisfied.  The very definition of the word liberal prohibits it.  If there is one-hundred percent satisfaction, the liberal machine, as it were, is out of business.  Liberals require something to change.  Either they find a way to muddy the waters and sell a bill of goods that blissfulness is nothing but adversity in disguise, or if they accept us, by definition, they are no longer liberal.  There is a place for liberals and liberal thinking; in dictatorial nations where tyranny and oppression is the status quo and there is a desire to sow the seeds for freedom and democracy.  The liberalness of our Founding Fathers to break us away from King George III and establish a [free] country allowed for the formation of The Greatest Country in the World.  A truly concerned American citizen’s number one priority should be preserving freedom and democracy, not looking for ways to radically change it.  Conservatism (now the accepted conservativism) is the glue that holds freedom and American Democracy together.  Understand, it will never be perfect, but if we do the right thing, it will always be the best there is.

The passing of the twenty-third amendment after the presidency of Harry S. Truman prohibits Barrack Obama from running for a third term no matter what.  If he moves mountains in his last two years in the Oval Office, he still is required to pass the torch.  Therefore, whichever party gets in to either or both houses of congress, the Obama legacy will not be reshaped and the Oval Office will not be a dynamo for the affirmation of legislative activity.  If the same cast of characters or similar characters get elected, Democrats will be turning their attention to Hilary Clinton and Republicans will be turning their attention to anyone in the party who can defeat Hilary; and anything that is not considered to be a dire emergency will be tabled until a new president is sworn in on 01-20-2017.  When it comes to balancing the budget or at least quelling the growth of a $17 trillion deficit, we can’t wait until 2017.  My fear is that the Republican party is not taking seriously the opportunity in front of them.  I would predict either the Republicans take the Senate, thus controlling both houses of congress, or that the two houses will flip-flop in favor of a Republican Senate and a Democrat House.  Either way, the respective majorities will be razor-thin.  If the G.O.P. really wants to capitalize and make headway in the domestic and foreign issues lying ahead of us, they really need a stampede of elephants infiltrating Washington on 01-03-2105.  Get at least sixty Republican senators for a Republican-controlled filibuster-proof senate.  Have a substantial majority in the House so Republican congressmen don’t have to rely on the lack of leadership of John Boehner.  And since a Republican majority would make Mr. Obama’s veto stamp far more active than his fountain pen, have a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress to override those vetoes.  The time has come, opportunity knocks in the form of the elephant’s paw, and it is in the hands of America’s registered voters.  Get out and vote and make it happen!

Home state predictions (Connecticut)

Dan Debicella (R ) has a good chance at to take the 4th Congressional District.  It includes mostly the wealthy Fairfield County but my home town of Oxford is the one Naugatuck Valley town in the 4th district.  I do not see Republicans taking any of the other four districts, especially since all but the 5th are running incumbent Democrats.  Chris Murphy (D) resigned his post in the 5th district to get elected to the Senate two years ago, but District 5 is historically blue.

Tom Foley (R ) will eke out a small victory in the gubernatorial race in Connecticut.  He is scrutinized for running the Bibb Corporation in Alabama into bankruptcy, giving workers a 10¢  raise at another company while making $40 million for himself, and not paying any income tax last year.  He should win anyway because we cannot afford Dannel Malloy;s (D-Incumbent) taxes.

Mr. Foley in the best case scenario will have a slim majority in one of the two houses in Connecticut’s general assembly.

FlagBaseballFor someone who saw the likes of Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Catfish Hunter, and Doc Gooden before cocaine got the best of him, with the leagues over-expanded and the talent pool diluted, there is little room for heroes in sports like baseball today.  I saw miracle of ’69 in Flushing Meadow, game 6 in 1986 where the Mets were reborn after Mookie hit a grounder to first that went through Buckner’s legs, and what may say was the greatest World Series game in history, game 6 in 1975 at Fenway Park where Carlton Fisk’s home run allowed the Red Sox to live another day.  I haven’t decided yet, but game 7 in 2014 may top game 6 in 1975.

I was rooting for the Kansas City Royals as they had the properties of many Mets teams of the past where they just found a way to beat the odds.  They were undefeated in the postseason prior to game 1 of the World Series, defeating the Tigers in the play-in game, the Los Angeles Angels with the best record in baseball in four straight, and likewise to the Baltimore Orioles in the LCS.  As much as I wanted to see KC pull it off, it was San Francisco Giants ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner who stole the show for me and made this a World Series to remember.

Madison Bumgarner started games 1, and 5, two complete game victories; a rarity in itself in the age where the name of the game is to get 8 good innings out of your starters and then turn it over to the closer.  World Series baseball, especially game 7, when there is no tomorrow no matter what, is usually managed old-school, with the entire pitching staff, starters, middle-relievers, and the closer—all hands on deck.  The Giants chose to bring back Mr. Bumgarner on 2 days rest, unheard of in the game today, and he was spectacular.  In the bottom of the 9th at the venerable old ball park near I-29 with the waterfall in the outfield, he struck out the first 2 Royals.  Next batter triples putting the tying run 90 feet away but down to the last out and the game ends on a foul out to 3rd baseman Carlos Sandoval.  An old-fashioned 3-2 win after back-to-back slugfests shows us all that a baseball game can still be won the old-fashioned way; and that we can still have heroes in the sport if we allow it.

It is too early to tell if Mr. Bumgarner just had his 15 minutes of fame; but if he is as good as what we saw in the 2014 Fall Classic, when his walk year comes and if he declares free agency, whomever acquires his services will have to make him the highest paid pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball.  As true fans, we have to hope money and fame don’t get the best of him.  But for now, although I didn’t root for the San Francisco Giants, I tip my hat to Madison Bumgarner, who made me a young at heart fan all over again.

FlagBaseballRegardless what “boys of summer” you choose to root for during the months when the thermometer registers in the eighties regularly, when sun block and barbecue are the smells of the days, when the sun sets later allowing children to play longer; once the September morns shift to thoughts of pumpkin-carving, then frost on the pumpkin and the half-year trek is completed and what we used to call the pennant races decided, you cannot help rooting for the boys from K.C. and their remarkable run.  It is something special to see them make the playoffs for the first time in twenty-nine years—I was a senior at the University of Connecticut watching game 7 of that series on a portable Motorola black and white TV with rabbit ears in a dormitory called John Phillip Sousa House room B-204 that evening.  A year later, my bad boys, the 1986 Mets would win the World Series and the Royals achievements this year restore hope and faith that the Mets will win again before my arteries are too crusty to be aware of it.  It also brings a ray of hope that more television viewers will choose the World Series over regular season NFL football and that networks like FOX can air World Series games earlier in the day for the benefit of schoolchildren so that they can become fans of what we once called the national pastime.

The Kansas City Royals have not lost a single postseason game in 2014.  First of all, they did not finish in first place in their division, the American League Central.  They were one of two Wild Card teams, the two teams with the best win-loss record of non first place teams who have to square off in a single-game play-in for the privilege of being bracketed with the best team in the league.  They won the play in game, swept the Los Angeles Angels, the team that had the best record in all of baseball, three straight in a best of five.  Then they swept the Baltimore Orioles four straight in the best of seven League Championship Series.  The Royals, a quintessential underdog—reminds me of a more innocent time when the 1969 Miracle Mets overcame 5,000 to one odds and made a believer, of Mister Earl Weaver.

I would like to label the 2014 KC Royals an old-fashioned underdog.  But they are actually a modern-day underdog.  When the World Series began in 1903 until 1968, which for elder statesmen like me does not seem like forty-six years ago, there were no playoffs, only the World Series.  Teams were grouped altogether in their respective leagues, and the first place team in each league played the World Series in the warmth of early October under the falling orange leaves, not in the chill of late October where bare, leafless trees dot the landscape.  Even from 1969 to 1993, teams were grouped into only two divisions (not three) and the East and West champions played a best of five series becoming best of seven in 1985, for the privilege of playing in the Fall Classic.  As remarkable a run the boys from K.C. had, in the past, under the original two systems, they would have cleaned out their lockers at Kaufman Stadium, headed to their permanent homes, and that pentagonal electronic board in centerfield with the crown atop would have displayed the message WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR for the benefit of the fans in attendance of the final home game on the 2014 regular season schedule.

When I first became a fan of the game in 1968 at age six, the term Pennant Race referred to the regular season; 162 games in 180 days to determine the best in the business of two rival leagues who never butted heads until the World Series except for an exhibition game in July often referred to as the mid-summer classic.  And the term Fall Classic was an exclusive term for the best of 7 game World Series.  Back in the days, you proved you were the best team in your league out of 162 games and then to be World Champions, you simply had to win four more and had seven chances.  Today, the Fall Classic is October baseball (and in some seasons could spill into early November) in its entirety.  Younger generations of fans no longer refer to the regular season as the pennant race, simply, the season.  The pennant race does not start until the postseason begins.  The play-in games and League Division Championship Series have become the plot, the League Championship Series the climax, and the World Series, the denouement.

Long before social media and smart phones, the only portable devices I had growing up in the late sixties and seventies was something called a transistor radio.  Mine was a Realtone silver and black with a big-round dial you fine-tuned with a side-wheel to the desired station and you could listen to it through holes in the case or plug in a white cord to a small hole and stick the other end in your ear.  The Magnavox version in turquoise blue was also popular.  I would fall asleep listening to Tom Seaver, Tommie Agee, and Ed Kranepool playing a late night game in San Francisco with Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, and the great Willie Mays with old-time play-by-play transmitted on an analog device.  Better static-free quality is available on a smart phone or I-Pod with radio capability, but the desire to listen in the spring and summer when it is just one of 162 just isn’t felt by this generation.

As expensive as regular season tickets may be, a middle-class family has a better chance of taking a child or family to a regular-season game than a postseason game.  A modern child would have a better chance of getting into it if the regular season were once again the pennant race.  And become more of a fan, and in particular, a fan of the game as well as a fan of their favorite team, if it were first place or nothing.  But alas, that is a relic of my past, just like a dinner date with face-to-face conversation with the other party, not getting a word or two in-between while checking in with personal devices.

Baseball has a chance to surpass football in the month of October for two reasons; the scrutiny of the spousal abuse scandals among its players which may ultimately cost its commissioner his job and the proposed changes in the rules, such as eliminating kickoffs and just placing the ball first and ten on the twenty and eliminating the PAT (point after touchdown)—a team scoring a touchdown could either go for a two-point conversion or simply tell the referee “take seven!”  Unfortunately, all sports is on the decline, America is on the decline, and its young citizens have different priorities in life.

Can the 2014 Kansas City Royals send a message to this generation that hope always springs eternal albeit they were made by a modern playoff system?  As old-school as I am about the game of baseball, they would appear to be the best hope we have.

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