Independence Day – TJeff and the Gang

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United States

of America

Independence Day

If you you liked “Hamilton”, you will be thrilled with “TJeff & the Gang”

The Declaration of Independence is the usual name of a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. A committee of five had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence. The term “Declaration of Independence” is not used in the document itself.

Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The national birthday, Independence Day, is celebrated on July 4, although Adams wanted July 2.

After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially published as the printed Dunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public. The source copy used for this printing has been lost, and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. Jefferson’s original draft, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson’s notes of changes made by Congress, are preserved at the Library of Congress. The best known version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19, and signed primarily on August 2.

The sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, references to the text of the Declaration were few for the next four score years. Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his rhetoric (as in the Gettysburg Address of 1863), and his policies. Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

It provided inspiration to numerous national declarations of independence throughout the world. Historian David Armitage, after examining the influence of the American “Declaration” on over 100 other declarations of independence, says:

The American Revolution was the first outbreak of the contagion of sovereignty that has swept the world in the centuries since 1776. Its influence spread first to the Low Countries and then to the Caribbean, Spanish America, the Balkans, West Africa, and Central Europe in the decades up to 1848…. Declarations of independence were among the primary symptoms of this contagion of sovereignty.

Thirteen Colonies
United States
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
History
Established May 10, 1775
Disbanded March 1, 1781
Preceded by First Continental Congress
Succeeded by 1st Confederation Congress
Seats Variable; ~60
Meeting place
1775–1777: Pennsylvania State House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1775–1781: Variable
Footnotes
Though there were about 50 members of the Congress at a given time, it was the states that had votes, so there were effectively only 13 seats.


Independence Day

– Let Freedom Ring

College of Confusion – WIF Electoral Government

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 Facts About the

Electoral College

The 1973 children’s educational program Schoolhouse Rock! featured cartoons and catchy songs explaining the fundamentals of math, grammar, and the functions of the United States government. The song for the cartoon about the US Electoral College contains the lyric, “Everyone who graduates becomes the president.”

Thus far, most presidential candidates who have won the Electoral College vote have won the presidency. However, that process has not been as simple as a Schoolhouse Rock! song lyric. In this list, we will explore why the Electoral College was founded, how it works, and why to whom it’s a benefit remains a subject of continual, contentious debate.

9. The Electoral College was based on an idea by Plato

The Founding Fathers of the United States promoted the ideals of the Enlightenment as the basis of their new country’s government. The Enlightenment was a 17th and 18th century European intellectual movement celebrating humans’ ability to use reason to understand and improve the world in which they lived. Though the Enlightenment was an ideological movement specific to the 17th and 18th centuries, many of its ideologies came from the ancient Greeks.

The form of government most of  the Founding Fathers favored, democracy, was a system adopted by the Greeks. (The word “democracy” comes from the Greek words “demos,” meaning “people,” and “kratos,” meaning “power or rule.”) However, practicing democracy wasn’t the only Greek idea that influenced the Founding Fathers. The Greek philosopher whose theories about government influenced the founding of America’s Electoral College, for example, was no democrat.

The Greek philosopher Plato argued in his 375 BC work The Republic that a society functions best under the rule of what he called a philosopher-king. He wrote that, “There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.” In other words, people who are naturally wise are best able to understand the implications of their actions. Therefore, they are best qualified to rule a nation and impose their will over others who are less wise than they are.

Plato’s concept of the philosopher-king is inherently elitist. According to him, only a philosopher, someone who is educated, may be wise. Actually, there are many forms of intelligence and whether or not someone has access to a formal education depends on many sociocultural and socioeconomic factors that are outside of an individual’s control, such as gender, race, and class. In fact, the contemporary form of government that arguably functions most similarly to Plato’s ideal republic is an oligarchy: a form of government where a few people control all of a country’s bureaucracies and social institutions, and they usually consolidate their power by maintaining a rigid class system.

The Founding Fathers didn’t want to form an oligarchy, but they were influenced by Plato’s idea that some individuals are better equipped to make judicious decisions than others. Enshrining the Electoral College in the Constitution was their attempt to ensure that, should a difficult decision need to be made to preserve the smooth functioning of the American electoral process, the people who made it were undoubtedly qualified to handle the responsibility. The difficulty, of course, is that determining what makes a person qualified is a highly subjective process.

8. The Electoral College was established to safeguard an uninformed – not uneducated – electorate

For the Founding Fathers, one potential benefit of the Electoral College was that it could provide the same function that the Internet provides in contemporary society: it could consolidate relevant information. Unlike the Internet, however, the Electoral College wouldn’t be egalitarian. In the 1800s, there was no fast, reliable form of media that could deliver news to a widespread population. Therefore, inhabitants of rural areas were much more physically and socially isolated than inhabitants of cities.

By the 1800s, one in four Americans were literate. The rest of the population was at a significant disadvantage, as those Americans who were illiterate couldn’t read or evaluate the information newspapers printed about candidates. The Electoral College was an educated body of electors whose position allowed them to easily consolidate valid information about any relevant political candidates and cast votes after evaluating that information.

7. The Founding Fathers weren’t united in their opinion of establishing an Electoral College

None of the Founding Fathers strongly favored a direct democracy, such as the one practiced by the ancient Greeks in the city of Athens. In a direct democracy, citizens vote directly on policies, instead of entrusting elected representatives to advocate for their interests. In a representative democracy, the kind of democracy favored by the Founding Fathers, representatives make policies and enforce laws that (hopefully) represent the interests of the citizens who voted them into office. The Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College as a body of educated electors who would recommend promising presidential candidates to the US House of Representatives, one of the two houses of Congress, America’s lawmaking body. The US House of Representatives would settle any presidential election the populace contested.

Alexander Hamilton, who penned Federalist Paper Number Sixty-Eight, the document relating to the Electoral College, believed the body would ensure only the best presidential candidates competed for the office. George Washington and James Madison both warned that the factionalism promoted by political parties would weaken America’s democracy. The Founding Fathers believed the Electoral College would promote presidential candidates of whom most members of the US House of Representatives would approve. Congress’ unity would prevent political parties from forming because, in most contested elections, Congress would choose the president. In fact, George Mason, a Virginian delegate to the 1787 First Constitutional Conventionpredicted Congress would choose the president “nineteen times out of twenty.”

The Founding Fathers did not accurately predict the future of the Electoral College, because they did not accurately predict the future of American political parties. By 1796, the American populace had begun to interpret allegiance to a political party as one way Americans could attest to the legitimacy of their representatives’ decisions. In the disputed presidential election of 1876, Congress elected the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, even though the Democratic candidate, Samuel Tilden, won the popular vote. That was the last presidential election in which Congress was involved.

6. The Electors are chosen by the country’s two primary political parties

The US Founding Fathers supported the establishment of an Electoral College, but they couldn’t have imagined how the contemporary version would function. As previously mentioned, they didn’t predict political parties’ rise to prominence. As one would expect in an ideal democracy, electors are chosen by the voting populace… sort of.

Since 1800, electors have been chosen by political parties. The political parties may choose anyone who isn’t currently holding a public office, provided that person’s appointment doesn’t violate the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, passed in 1868. When an American who is voting in a presidential election chooses a presidential and vice presidential candidate from a particular political party, that voter is also choosing the electors from their state who have been chosen to vote for those candidates, though whether or not the electors are listed on the voting ballot varies by state. (The 12th Amendment, passed in 1804, ensured that the president and the vice president would be from the same political party.)

However, states have varying regulations regarding whether or not an elector is required to vote with a political party and whether or not an elector is required to cast his or her vote in accordance with the popular vote in the state the elector represents, regardless of his or her political party loyalty. The relationship between state population and electoral representation has been a concern since America’s founding; that’s why two houses of Congress were established. In the Senate, each state’s voters elect two senators. In the House of Representatives, the number of representatives who represent individual districts in a particular state is determined based on the state’s population.

The functioning of the Electoral College is also determined by how a state’s population might affect its representation. An electoral vote from a sparsely populated state, such as Montana, is worth more than an electoral vote from a comparatively populous state, such as New York.  Thus, it is possible for a presidential and vice presidential candidate to lose the popular vote while winning the Electoral College vote (and therefore the presidency). This has happened four times in the country’s history, in the presidential elections of 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016.

5. The US isn’t the only country that has an Electoral College as part of its electoral process

The United States isn’t the only country where heads of state are chosen by an indirect voting process. According to the CIA World Factbook, other areas with Electoral Colleges include Burma, Estonia, India, Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu, and Vatican City.

However, none of the Electoral Colleges in these areas make a final decision to elect a head of state. That is the responsibility of the area’s legislative body. The practice of allowing an Electoral College to actually elect a head of state is unique to the United States. In other areas, the legislative bodies have more authority than the Electoral Colleges, just as the Founding Fathers incorrectly believed would be the case for their country.

4. The US is the only country with an Electoral College where replacing that body is seriously debated

Among the countries with Electoral Colleges, only presidential candidates in America seriously argue that the Electoral College should be replaced. Of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, three argued that it should be abolished (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg), two suggested that it should be reformed (Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard), and two openly supported it (Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg).

However, the question of whether or not the US Electoral College should be reformed or abolished is a deeply partisan issue, with each of America’s two political parties, Republicans and Democrats, favoring whichever course of action would most benefit each party. According to a March 2020 Pew Research Center poll, 58% of Americans favor replacing the Electoral College with a system wherein the presidential candidate who wins the majority of the popular vote wins the presidency.

3. None of the Electoral College’s decisions have served as precedents for future decisions

Since states’ policies related to their electors vary greatly, none of the electors’ decisions in previous elections serve as precedents for current votes. To the extent that there is uniformity in electors’ conduct, that uniformity has been imposed by the US Supreme Court.

For example, the Supreme Court has ruled that, since the Constitution doesn’t grant agency to states’ electors, “faithless electors,” electors who wish to vote against the interests of the parties that selected them, may be required to sign contracts ensuring their party loyalty. They may be fined or replaced if they act against their political party’s interests. Electors are only expected to vote in accordance with their state’s popular vote if their state requires they do so.

2. The Electoral College was founded to promote equality – but only among some of the population

In the 1776 Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “all men are created equal.” However, one of the reasons the relationship between a state’s population and its representation in the Electoral College concerned the US Founding Fathers was because not every man was considered a citizen. The most populous states were the states with large slave populations, but slaves were not considered citizens who were eligible to vote.

Section I, Article II of the Constitution, sometimes called the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787, states:

“Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other Persons.”

This compromise was intended to appease constitutional delegates from southern states, who wanted each slave to count as one person, and constitutional delegates from northern states, who didn’t want slaves counted as part of a state’s population. Of course, this “compromise” exploited the slaves. Their presence increased the voting constituencies in their states without expanding the state’s electorate, as they were not granted civil liberties or voting rights until after the 14th Amendment passed in 1868.

1. The US Constitution doesn’t contain the phrase “Electoral College”

One reason the role the Electoral College plays in presidential elections changes over time is because the Founding Fathers didn’t provide detailed guidance for future generations. The Constitution doesn’t include the phrase “Electoral College,” though a body of electors is briefly described in Article II, Section I.

In Federalist Paper Number Sixty-Eight, Hamilton describes a system wherein, in contested presidential elections, Congress, not the Electoral College, selects the president. Currently, the Electoral College selects the president in contested elections. Electors’ authority has changed over time. However, there is no precedent for how it may change in the future, if it changes at all.


College of Confusion

WIF Electoral Government

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 178

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 178

…All in all the evening could not have gone better… the script was followed, the prime rib delicious, and the campaign drumbeat remains uplifting and rosy…

Splendid Evening by Abrishami Hessam

Barbara Z. is a faithful campaign foot soldier.

“How did you remember my name?” asks the middle-aged woman who has met Roy in person just once.

“It is plain ol’ polite to recognize the folks you work with, that’s what my Mamma told me.”

“I look forward to our rally in Milwaukee,” she courts a hug from him.

“You must excuse us Barb. The senior Senator from Wisconsin is calling us over to the head table.” Francine is responsible for forward progress, when Roy is stuck in neutral.

All in all the evening could not have gone better. The script was followed, the prime rib delicious, and the campaign drumbeat remains uplifting and rosy; a good time had by all, unless you are a closet Freelove supporter.

But despite his overwhelming support and the resulting successes lavished on his crusade, Roy is seriously procrastinating over the selection of his 2nd. To be sure his feet are dragging on the issue, the only issue that he has not expressed with clarity. The Freelove camp is hinting toward the unconstitutionality of this delay in the mandated selection process. They are drooling at the chance to grill an additional target, less angelic than the sainted ex-astronaut.

“You know Francine,” he muses on the way to a Milwaukee rally, “I wonder if I could possibly get elected without a VP, with Braden unavailable and you, well you are you.”

“I am me, but you better get a grip Roy! Thomas Jefferson and his boys made sure that the highest constitutional office has a line of succession; bing, bang, boom and we are down to the President pro tempore and you would not approve of that particular Senator!”

“Good point… speaking of lists, have you seen the latest one given me by the Republican Committee. Most of them are party regulars and most of them are not my biggest fans. All but one wanted to be president, not the second fiddle. Not fans of attending funerals for 3rd World leaders or speaking to the National Farmer Organization’s annual convention, I guess?”

“They would rather have you impeached first.”

THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 178

page 169

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 176

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 176

…And they shall turn their Plowshares into Space Colonies…

Space Colony2

Roy Crippen shares his view of the future.

Doomsday Clock

Sometimes it is a curse to have a clear view of the future, knowing precisely where the planet is heading, if it chooses to remain isolated from the rest of the galaxy. “How shortsighted,” he would say. Earth has already squandered most of its non-renewable resources that it started with when modern man took over management some 8000 years ago. 8 x 1000 is a long time, but it is in the last 150 that 99.9% of it has been stripped away.

To impart these gloomy predictions, without looking like a doomsday-ist, he must convince the naysayers that the quest for space and the benefits from its demands is worth it. Everyday things like plastics/polymers, adhesives, and batteries have all had their biggest advancement because of the stress of space.

When his opponent speaks to people who don’t care that space-induced innovations keep their digital devices stay charged for 12 hours or that Gorilla Glue will mend just about anything they break, Vice President Sylvia Freelove will pounce on space expenditures and label them wasteful, when that money could be spent clothing and feeding the poor.

“Reaching for the stars do require a financial commitment,” he goes on to say that early autumn Chicago evening, “but please consider the alternatives:

  • Global overcrowding and hunger—some countries are running out of suitable ground.
  • Dwindling lumber & copper/iron resources—deforestation is at an all-time high & recycling can only provide enough metal.
  • Fossil fuels reserves are hovering on empty—how do we heat our homes or meet the needs of a mobile society.
  • Hopelessness is the dominant worldview—left with a barren planet that has been hollowed out by mining, drilling, and plundering.”

His presentation has such detail that even the graphs have charts and it is evident that unless Jesus Christ returns soon, the situation is bordering on dire.


THE RETURN TRIP

Dire Wolf Forest Spirit Original by Erin C Potter

Episode 176


page 167

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 141

…My God, any morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office…

In his role of back-seat-driver, Roy Crippen can only sit back and be a worrisome observer of situations he has minimal control over.

Take the United States’ inaction as it applies to the mounting evidence that the United Korean Peninsula is engaged in active sabotage against the World Coalition. That they can enlist the help of the ever-dangerous, sprawling Talibanistan, is even more infuriating to him and he discusses these and other issues with his new Press Secretary Francine Bouchette, “If I were president, I would have put an end to that nonsense a long time ago. We have allowed them to swallow South Korea whole and why, because we were afraid that they would use their nuclear weapons on some defenseless nation.”

“On the subject of president,” Francine ignores his long held worldviews and moves on to the now of things, “it seems there is a growing faction of Republicans who are touting you as the party’s nominee for 2032.”

“You are sounding like my Political Advisor, instead of Press Secretary.”

“Advisor, mouthpiece….what’s the difference? One of the reasons you hired me is because you did not have the time or interest in keeping track of the extraneous details.”

“And dealing with the media hoard… which you have lifted off my plate. I owe you my debt of gratitude for that, among other things, if you know what I mean?”

“Let us keep the “other things” out of this. Once this nation gets past this Space Colony malaise and things return to normal, it is going to need a Republican leader with a clear vision, not (current President) Sanchez’ V P Sylvia Freelove!”

“Are you telling me that Freelove is the Democratic frontrunner for ’32? My God, Image result for toilet flushing gifany morals this country has left will be flushed down the toilet if she gets in office.

“So if you do not want traditional marriage banned or the damned ACLU to become Attorneys General, you better start thinking about listening to the conversation.”

“I don’t have the money to make a run at the presidency? It takes big bucks to get to the White House.”

“If the world wants to restore the America of our great-grandfathers, the dollar$ will take care of itself.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Scrooge McDuck

Episode 141


page 133

TJeff and the Philly Gang – Independence Day

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United States of America

Independence Day

If you you liked “Hamilton”, you will be thrilled with “TJeff & the Gang”

The Declaration of Independence is the usual name of a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies,then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. Instead they formed a new nation—the United States of America. John Adams was a leader in pushing for independence, which was unanimously approved on July 2. A committee of five had already drafted the formal declaration, to be ready when Congress voted on independence. The term “Declaration of Independence” is not used in the document itself.

Adams persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress would edit to produce the final version. The Declaration was ultimately a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The national birthday, Independence Day, is celebrated on July 4, although Adams wanted July 2.

After ratifying the text on July 4, Congress issued the Declaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially published as the printed Dunlap broadside that was widely distributed and read to the public. The source copy used for this printing has been lost, and may have been a copy in Thomas Jefferson’s hand. Jefferson’s original draft, complete with changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson’s notes of changes made by Congress, are preserved at the Library of Congress. The best known version of the Declaration, a signed copy that is popularly regarded as the official document, is displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This engrossed copy was ordered by Congress on July 19, and signed primarily on August 2.

The sources and interpretation of the Declaration have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, references to the text of the Declaration were few for the next four score years. Abraham Lincoln made it the centerpiece of his rhetoric (as in the Gettysburg Address of 1863), and his policies. Since then, it has become a well-known statement on human rights, particularly its second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

It provided inspiration to numerous national declarations of independence throughout the world. Historian David Armitage, after examining the influence of the American “Declaration” on over 100 other declarations of independence, says:

The American Revolution was the first outbreak of the contagion of sovereignty that has swept the world in the centuries since 1776. Its influence spread first to the Low Countries and then to the Caribbean, Spanish America, the Balkans, West Africa, and Central Europe in the decades up to 1848…. Declarations of independence were among the primary symptoms of this contagion of sovereignty.

Thirteen Colonies
United States
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
History
Established May 10, 1775
Disbanded March 1, 1781
Preceded by First Continental Congress
Succeeded by 1st Confederation Congress
Seats Variable; ~60
Meeting place
1775–1777: Pennsylvania State House,Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1775–1781: Variable
Footnotes
Though there were about 50 members of the Congress at a given time, it was the states that had votes, so there were effectively only 13 seats.


TJeff and the Philly Gang

– Let Freedom Ring

Bipartisanship , It Does Exist – WIF Politics

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Bipartisan Votes –

The US Government

Isn’t So Divided

For the past few years the media has wanted to portray the American government as divided into Democrats and Republicans, a supposedly black and white dichotomy. The two parties supposedly can never be expected to cooperate, even though many will insist that the parties are functionally the same. This has predated the election of President Donald J. Trump, but his election has certainly supercharged how the conflict is framed.

Don’t you believe it. Many momentous bills have overwhelmingly passed the two chambers of Congress and have been signed by the president while barely attracting a blip of attention. Partisans on both sides of the party lines want to portray the situation with more conflict than there really is even while the majority of both parties cooperate away from the public eye.

10. Patient Right to Know Act

For years, pharmaceutical companies kept doctors and pharmacies from telling patients about more affordable medications through gag orders. The bill to stop these gag orders passed through the Senate with 98-2 votes on September 17, 2018. It was signed by President Trump on October 11.

As anyone with much experience dealing with contemporary healthcare costs knows, these are not trifling expenses. It’s estimated that doctors offering more affordable alternatives will save the public more than $135 million annually. Everyone is entitled to their opinions regarding how much regulation is necessary or productive, but this is a strong indication that there are bipartisan ways to deal with runaway healthcare expenses if we take the time to look for them.

9. VA Choice and Quality Employment Act

The Veterans Affairs office is one of the most heavily criticized services in the US government. With more than $180 billion in the annual budget, it’s one of the larger annual expenses. Yet few will argue that it’s not worth it, considering the sacrifices made by its ostensible beneficiaries. So it was that in 2017, an emergency allotment of six billion in funds was voted into law. The focus of the funding was to provide government-funded medical services to veterans.

A big part of the reason the effort didn’t become a larger news story was that it was signed on August 12, which meant that it was completely overshadowed in the public consciousness by the murder of Heather Hayer during the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Few bills would be able to compete with that in the news cycle.

8. Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act

The National Council on Aging reports that an estimated one in 10 people over the age of 60 has been a victim of elder abuse, and every year another five million suffer from it while roughly only one in every 14 actionable cases is reported. On October 18, 2017, this law was signed with the intention of greatly expanding the enforcement of laws that protect elders. The law required every state to designate an Elder Justice Coordinator that would serve the Bureau of Consumer Protection. It also requires the Department of Justice to make information regarding the investigations public.

Additionally, in what seems directly inspired by a plot in the critically-acclaimed AMC program Better Call Saul, there are increases for penalties regarding interstate fraud. Furthermore, interstate adult protective groups are allowed to operate. In total, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that enforcing this law will cost $21 million, which — if it has a significant impact on rates of elder abuse — seems like a real bargain.

7. Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act

As said earlier, the Department of Veterans Affairs is a very controversial organization. One of the controversies associated with it is that many veterans who should receive coverage or compensation are denied their services erroneously due to incompetent or corrupt decisions by staff members. On June 13, 2017, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass this law, which would increase fines and pension deductions for problem employees, and also stop them from receiving pay during the appeals process.

The inclusion of additional protections for whistleblowers was in large part inspired by the Wait List Scandal of 2014. It came to light that many veterans weren’t receiving medication and other benefits for as many as four months at a time, but that the delays weren’t being recorded or reported. Still, considering that there were a reported 49,000 vacancies in the Veterans Affairs offices at the time the bill was signed, a reluctance to fire employees for any reason is fairly understandable.

6. Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act

Between the heated controversy over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline over Sioux land and what the famous American/Mexican border wall would mean in terms of dividing tribes such as the Tohono O’odham, Native American rights have been more prominent in the news in recent years. But there has been fairly recent good news for those tribes as well. On January 8, 2018, this bill was signed into law, even if it took most of the summer and all of Autumn of 2017 for it to make its way through Congress.

The law allocated 32,000 acres of federal land to three tribes in Oregon. Those were the Umpqua, Coos, and the Siuslaw. The US government does not have the best record when it comes to honoring land grants to tribes, but local leaders expressed that they were pleased with the arrangement.

5. Jobs for Our Heroes Act

As reported by Military Times in July 2018, more than 50% of US veterans have difficulty finding work after the end of their enlistments. There’s apparently not much that the US government feels they can do to change the minds of most employers, but there is one career field where it seems the government feels it can significantly expand employment opportunities for veterans. This bill, which was signed into law on January 8, 2018, has been intended to find veterans work as commercial drivers.

There are two primary ways the bill works to expedite this process. For one, it makes training with heavy machinery during enlistment valid as meeting the requirements for operating heavy civilian vehicles. It also makes health certification provided by VA medical professionals valid for health checks related to civilian driving jobs. Such is the sort of legal red tape that leaves it no wonder that some veterans have trouble finding employment in civilian life.

4. Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act

For those unfamiliar with the term, an excise tax is a tax on a specific good or service. In the case of this law, which was signed on May 10, 2019, it would allow taxes collected on the sales of firearms to be used to buy the land for, and to maintain, shooting ranges, covering up to 90% of the expenses. As one of the bills sponsors, Rob Bishop from Utah, put it, gun ranges are becoming more necessary for proper gun safety training, “As this nation becomes more urbanized.”

Sounds like a bill that would have needed to be concocted by a Republican, right? Actually, no — one of the original sponsors of this bill was Representative Ron Kind. He’s a Democrat from Wisconsin’s Third District. Party lines are much less clearly delineated than it often seems.

3. Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act

For those who don’t know, Medicaid is a program where government on the state or federal level provides assistance to low income families in paying their medical bills. Recently, there seems considerable bipartisan interest in expanding it. For example, in the 2018 Midterm election three of the four states with ballot initiatives to increase funding for it passed it, even though the states in question (Idaho, Nebraska, Utah) generally vote conservative and thus would not usually support increasing funding for social programs.

So it was that on April 18, 2019 this bill to bolster Medicaid services was signed. The law increased penalties for companies that mis-classify their medications to receive more government reimbursement, specifically whether the drugs are “innovator” or “non-innovator.” It also provided more protections against medical bankruptcy for spouses, and parents with children who are suffering from conditions that require intensive treatment.

2. Water Infrastructure Improvement Act

Between calamities such as massive flooding in the Midwest in the spring of 2019 and ongoing lead-tainted water in communities nationwide such as Flint, Michigan, dealing with water has recently become a growing problem for the United States. Against this background, despite its un-glamorous nature, six cosponsors evenly divided between the parties attached themselves to this bill in December 2018. It was signed into law on January 14, 2019, a brisk process for any piece of legislation.

This act delegates to local municipalities plans for how to deal with storm water and wastewater. It establishes offices for an ombudsman to expedite the process for municipalities to meet full Environmental Protection Agency standards. There is also, under Section 5, an emphasis on the EPA being required to promote the implementation of natural (i.e. “green”) infrastructure process.

1. Natural Resources Management Act

Sometimes when an act is signed into law, it’s not so much a single bill as a bundle of them. When this act was signed into law on March 12, 2019, it was roughly 120 bills that ranged in focus from public land conservation to water management. Considering recent rumblings in the media that there would be drilling and mining in national park areas, it makes sense that the government would be inclined to demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection.

The most striking single aspect of the act was the setting aside of 1.3 million acres of land for federal protection, including from damage by dam construction. Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley alone had an extra 40,000 acres added, which in the former case makes a lot of sense considering the damage that national park suffered during the 2019 government shutdown. Hopefully we can look forward to more bipartisan environmental initiatives in the near future.


Bipartisanship , It Does Exist

WIF Politics

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #98

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #98

…Reports from ships in the vicinity tell us the storm moved straight west to Haiti, where it seems to have lost its punch…

“Is there anything we can do for those people?” asks President William McKinley of his acting Secretary of Agriculture, referring to the tropical system that had just roared over a newly ceded island of the West Indies, now under the jurisdiction of the United States.

“Not really, Mr. President,” replies Herbert Love, “but only because they have not rebuilt from last year’s hurricane. The good news is that, because of Baily Kelly and his discovery, there will not be the scores of deaths from anemia. Health conditions have improved exponentially.”

caribbean

“Puerto Rico has been long-suffering, Herb; Spanish tyranny, civil war, global war poverty, hurricanes, sickness… miseries of Biblical proportions. It is no wonder that New York is filling up with immigrants, refugees and the like. I believe I would swim all there to escape that island.”

“It’s like they are row of dominoes, standing on end. If they started with 100, 75 have already toppled,” Love relates.

          “You know how I enjoy dominoes. I guess I will have to prop up the 76th.” That is McKinley’s way of telling Herb do what he can do to help them. This is how policy is formulated, as simple as a seemingly casual conversation. “By the way, where is that storm headed? Is Florida in the path?”

Sec. of Ag-001       If the Department of Agriculture were an umbrella, the Weather Bureau is an agency under it and one of great interest to a farm owner such as Herb Love. “Reports from ships in the vicinity tell us the storm moved straight west to Haiti, where it seems to have lost its punch. The lowest barometric readings are drifting into the Gulf of Mexico, where it looks that it has stalled and likely to break up.”

“I hope so.” He moves for a peek at his presidential calendar. “By this time next year, September 6th, I want Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Bahamas to return to want they were meant to be: tropical paradises.” He speaks of 1901. “I think I will pay the islands a visit after the Pan-American Exposition. I have not used the Presidential Yacht since my first year in office. We’ll need a long vacation by then, with the election and all.”

Planning so far in advance is common among heads of state. Whether or not made plans change is a matter of fate.


Alpha Omega M.D

#1 Song of 1900

Episode #98


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #80

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #80

…It is not every day you get a wire from the President of the United States of America…

After successfully navigating through the murky waters of the Spanish-American War, a one hundred day semi-global skirmish that establishes his country as an imperialistic power, President William McKinley has set his sights on reelection. The war has produced, as they usually do, heroes and the Republican Party chooses the most celebrated hero, Teddy Roosevelt as his Vice-presidential partner, rather than incumbent Garret Hobart. Roosevelt had previously ridden his San Juan Hill popularity to the New York governor’s mansion. Sound reputation and national prosperity virtually assures them victory in November.

But this is August and some smaller issues need to be dealt with. It is Herbert Love who may add yet another title to his already crowded business card; because of a telegram he receives.

It reads:

Mayor Herbert Love

Quincy City Hall

Quincy, Florida, U.S.A.

 

President William McKinley

Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Love;

My staff and I have been admiring reports of your diverse approach to your agricultural enterprises. This is the sort of expertise a president looks for when he selects his Secretary of Agriculture.

As you likely know, James Wilson has been and will be my secretary of this department, but he has succumbed to dreadful plague while he was in San Francisco. And considering the boll weevil crisis we face, among other issues, such as the total pasteurization of the nation’s milk supply, I feel we need a steady stream of quality leadership for our nation’s farming families.

We feel that you are that man and hope you will be stirred to serve your country and offer  this position in my administration. Your title would be Under-secretary of Agriculture, the first such, but with all the amenities that Mr. Wilson enjoys. Of course I would want you stay on for my second term, God willing.

Please call me at the attached secure telephone line, at your earliest convenience.

  Your President,

 William McKinley

It is not every day you get a wire from the President of the United States of America.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #80


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