Social Darwinism and Overweening Egos

There are things the current incarnation of the GOP believes. They believe that social programs have been bad for the people at the bottom of the heap, robbing them of incentive to claw their way up the ladder. A lingering reptilian part of our brain is trying to whisper to us that this is a reasonable idea to explain why some people need government assistance for most of their lives. But the part of our brain that contains actual knowledge of history and intelligence to reach back and see if this is true tells us that this line of argument is wrong. This is Social Darwinism. Trump didn’t think John McCain was a hero because he got captured. Well the Social Darwinists (which apparently includes all of the GOP and their base) don’t think the less fortunate among us are worthy of any assistance because they are losers. They do not want to spend their millions and billions on losers. Let them survive or die. The fittest among them will survive. A few may even achieve greatness.

If you do some reading about the days before governments tried to “even the playing field” or at least put a livable bottom on our societies you will find that life without supports was very rough and hard scrabble indeed for those who were poor. But leaving poor people on their own without offering opportunities to legally improve their lives had consequences for everyone. Bandits roamed freely making travel difficult. Hygiene suffered when there were no funds to pay for infrastructure and when hygiene goes out the window, germs come in. So we know that plagues and diseases usually took root in poorer districts first and worked their way up. People who had to support families but had no skills turned to every type of crime and scam to make their meager way in the world. No country became great without some way to lift up those who were without honest resources.

The GOP points to the 1890’s, the midpoint of the era of the Robber Barons, when fortunes were made and regulation was pretty much nonexistent. They want to create this wild-west economy again. Throw out all regulations, disregard the end-of-the-world nuts who say that without regulation the world’s climate zones will change in ways that we may not be able to adapt to, and we may face the same extinction many animals face today. Nonsense the GOP says. The world’s climate changes all the time and nothing humans do can affect that it any way. So they are willing to bet on this even though all of the evidence stands against them and even though they are betting the futures of many folks who don’t agree with them. But they say, if we reset to a time when people were left to their own devices without government interference we might see the same burst of innovative energy that we saw at the beginning of the Industrial Age. To many of us this seems like an enormous gamble to take and they plan to take us all along for the ride.

They interpret the meaning of our forefathers when they said that all men are created equal differently from those of us who think that means that we are all equally human and that a government that is of the people and by the people and for the people is not a government for only rich people. Some of us believe that in order to keep our democracy great we must try to give everyone in our society an opportunity to succeed and at least a minimum standard of living to maintain health and order in our society. Offering social programs is not a totally altruistic endeavor. It is a survival mechanism besides offering spiritual rewards to all.

The GOP however does not assume that the forefathers were saying that all humans deserve to be equal regardless of their talents or the accidents of their birth (fortunate or unfortunate). They say this phrase means that although we may start out as equals it is how we make use of our opportunities that causes us to thrive or fail. The logic that they offer us is pretty self-serving. They feel that everyone can fight and struggle his/her way to the top given enough grit. No grit, no gold.

So under the cover of the “orange one” they are “deconstructing” Washington, enacting their brand of Federalism which sticks strictly to the Constitutions which says that any rights not given to the Federal government belong to the states. The Federal role is only to deal with foreign powers, to fund, maintain and employ the military, and to make a Federal budget. They have no worries comparing America with a population of 3 million to America with a population of 324 million. They have no worries that our forefathers decided not to go with a strict interpretation of the states’ rights versus federal rights. In fact, in 1890 the population in America was 5 times less than it is today but the GOP believes that the math does not matter. We are a republic, which means that our democracy is a constitutional democracy and we have wandered too far from what our forefathers intended.

Two of the strongest proponents of this view are Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz and, right now, they are the overweening egos of which I speak. Both of these men are well-educated and quite comfortably well-off. Both are ambitious and, I assume, sincerely want to fix America. But one is enamored of a thinker from the 1930’s and the other is the son of a man we took in as a political refugee, a man who has preached fire and brimstone and hate and racism all across the American South (like father, like son). We can see the Paul Ryan/Ted Cruz ideology in their stand on health care in America. Both are of the Social Darwinist wing of the Party. They want to put health care back on the free market and those who can afford it will buy it and those who can’t will get no health care at all. See if that doesn’t make “them” strive to move up the ladder of opportunity (which had just been pulled up into the attic, for the most part unreachable by any of the lowly).

Ted Cruz said recently that he does not back the American Health Care Act because it is just Obamacare Lite. He is holding out for Ryan Care, the free market. We the wealthy don’t wanna’ pay for any more health care handouts. Buy or die. And, he now is offering a way to get this done, right quickly. Here’s the title of the article that tells what Ted Cruz is up to now,

Senator Cruz Found an Overlooked 1974 Rule That Could Be a Real Game-changer for Repealing Obamacare


Of course he did, after all he prides himself on being a whiz (or a genius) at Constitutional Law.

“Among the disappointed is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who now says he’s found a decades-old rule that he hopes will allow Republicans to pass a more thorough, far-reaching health care reform bill.

However, Cruz’s strategy — which would leverage the power Vice President Mike Pence has as president of the Senate — “might blow up the Senate too,” Bloomberg Politics notes.”

“These special rules hinge on what is known as “reconciliation,” a process which allows legislation that affects the budget but has a limited scope to be passed with only a simple Senate majority, leaving such bills immune to filibuster.

Traditionally, it has fallen to the parliamentarian — who advises the Senate “on the interpretation of its rules and procedures” — to determine what should and should not be considered a reconciliation bill.”

“Under the Budget Act of 1974, which is what governs reconciliation, it is the presiding officer, the vice president of the United States, who rules on what’s permissible on reconciliation and what is not.

That’s a conversation I’ve been having with a number of my colleagues.”

“Still, it remains to be seen whether or not Cruz’s colleagues will be eager to employ the senator’s “radical” interpretation of the rule. Being similar to 2013’s filibuster reform, it runs the risk of “fundamentally altering the way Congress works.”

In terms of fellow Republicans eager to see a more thorough replacement of Obamacare, however, Cruz certainly has plenty of allies.”


So while those who disagree with Social Darwinism fight to keep the ACA we are up against a new “nuclear” option, as if a Party that controls all branches of our government has any need to employ nukes. It is difficult not to feel that we are helpless to turn back the tide of backwardness now that it has been given sway over the business of our nation. I, for one, already believe that the GOP way is not good for our nation and I am sorry that we seem to have to go “there” to find out and that we may never find our way back. The tides of political thought in the world seem to have turned against government of the people, by the people and for the people.


I Blame Donald Trump

Donald Trump has changed the 2016 primaries in so
many ways. He has been like a deus ex
who popped up in an enormous list of GOP characters with little to
differentiate one from the next. He did not fit the mold but he was no more
acceptable to me than any other Republican.
I didn’t think I could be shocked after six years of
disrupters in Congress making ignorant suggestions to women that would set the
culture back 50 years if heeded. I was afraid when the Supreme Court did not
uphold the most essential section of the voting rights act, the requirement
that certain states get clearance before changing their voting laws, but still
I did not foresee how quickly the states would “celebrate” their “freedom” by
repressing votes. Watching states break the law in respect to Roe v Wade by
imposing bogus rules to close clinic after clinic seemed quite shocking enough,
especially when courts backed them up. I had expected the courts to say “whoa
Nellie” (because that’s the way these guys talk – remember the one who
recommended that women practice birth control by putting an aspirin between
their knees and keeping their knees closed around it). The courts did nothing. That’s
when I realized how many Conservative judges had been appointed to courts in
many of our states.
I could go on but my point is actually that Donald
Trump managed to drive my “no they didn’t” reaction up several more notches.
His remarks about Mexicans, about the “wall”, about China, deporting
undocumented immigrants, Megan Fox, about women in general, about Muslims –
well, you were there – you heard it. Then there was his apparent comfort with a
physicality that we usually avoid in American politics. We usually use our
words. His behavior made the shock waves of the Republican heresies over the past six
years pale by comparison.
As we know the other Republican candidates did not
seem any happier with Donald’s injection of himself into an already crowded
race. He had been a Democrat. Conservatives who had been making a big point
about GOP purity tests had to move over and include this famous person who had
certainly not been tested for purity. And he was winning, pulling large crowds,
taking up all the space on a 24/7 media that usually could be captured only
temporarily by a particularly audacious act. Ted Cruz had attempted frequent
newsworthy nonsense, but Donald did it practically nonstop.
However, Trump has also served as sort of a buffer
between the Democratic primary race and the rest of the Republican slate,
getting picked off one by one before our incredulous eyes. We expected to worry
about Scott Walker and Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, but instead every eye and ear was
on Donald. For the most part, Hillary and Bernie were left alone to run their
own race.
Trump’s presence in the race has also allowed Ted
Cruz to take up the second position on the GOP side. He expects an open
convention and he expects the coveted Republican nomination to eventually fall
to him. I have watched Ted Cruz throughout the Obama administration and he made
me very worried right from the first time I set eyes on him. In fact I wrote an
article called Ted Cruz: Sinister or Cartoonish about my initial observations.
I have predicted to myself that somehow he would “worm” his way into the White
House and I have tried to speak out against this whenever possible. He is
closer to the White House than he has ever been. He is intelligent, if
inflexible, and he is strategic. He believes he is a genius. As geniuses go I can think of several I would prefer over him.
If Donald had not inserted himself into the primary
would Cruz have made it this far? I don’t know, of course, no one does. But if
I end up with Ted Cruz as my President in 2017, I will blame Donald. Who will I
blame if we end up with Donald Trump in the White House? I will blame the
Democrats. Hillary, there is a lot resting on your shoulders because if you win
the nomination we are counting on you to beat the chosen one of these two guys
and Donald has sort of fogged up everyone’s view. Ted Cruz is advancing almost
under the radar, a stealth campaign. 
By Nancy Brisson

The Primaries Come to the Boonies

This is truly an unusual primary. Usually New York
State conducts its primaries quietly in solitary splendor. In general, the
Empire State does not play a deciding role in selecting a general election
candidate for either party, even though we have a lot of delegates. The New
York primary is so late that the early states have already settled the issue.
So it is really quite bizarre to have the candidates
I have been writing about traipsing around even the most out-of-the-way places
in NY, such as my city (Syracuse), Utica, Rome, Dexter – Dexter!
It started two weeks ago with Hillary. She met her
public in a large roofed shed usually used by crafters at the Farmer’s Market
on summer weekends. I thought I would have to stand in a long line for hours,
and I did stand in a longish line for about half an hour, before I walked
through the metal detector and slid my shoulder bag over to the secret service
so they could pat it down.
I did see Hillary. She looks nice in orange (SU was
in the Final Four) and, when I left, when the concrete floor got too hard to
stand on any longer, I still liked her and wanted to vote for her. I took a few
pictures. One is of Adam (no last name) who was in line by me for a while. He
is in the teacher’s union and had on his AFT tee shirt.

The second person is called Jovan (John to us), an
eighty-four year old man who came to America from Macedonia and still has a
thick accent. (He worked in Bldg. 7 at GE, my Dad was in Bldg. 5.) His children
have done very well, one graduating from an Ivy League school, one a doctor
trained at Johns Hopkins. He wants nothing to do with socialism even if it does
have the word Democratic in front of it. Jovan has boundless confidence. He
wended his way to the very front of the rally.

My third picture is of Hillary and was taken by the
tall man in front of me – the one I had to sway back and forth to see beyond,
taken with my camera. We yipped and cheered and raised our arms in the air and
even did a slightly disorganized wave. No signs were handed out but I don’t
know if the concerns were for security or cost. I bought three Hillary buttons
on my way out.

Since then John Kasich came to town, Bernie Sanders
has been here, then Ted Cruz, then Donald Trump, then Bill Clinton. I don’t
think we have ever, in my lifetime been romanced by so many politicians in any
election season. I did not go to any other rallies – I watched them on TV as if
they were happening somewhere else. There are only so many concrete floors I
will stand on in any two week period. But my spidey sense felt them buzzing
around and I wish I could have hovered comfortably overhead, or been the
proverbial “fly on the wall”. (I have no idea where all these bugs came from.)
It was interesting to see that Ted Cruz held his
Syracuse rally in a northern suburb, Cicero, where a group of locals publish a
newspaper called “The Patriot”, full of some well-known right wing conspiracy
theories from which I culled the phrase “Luciferian Church of the United
Nations”, because Agenda 21 and the UN plan for world domination.
Dexter – Donald Trump went to Dexter – a small rural
town west of Watertown, NY on Ontario Lake, a town full of campers, hunters, fishermen, aging hippies, and
farmers, and these days, very few factories. Fort Drum is nearby though, so
perhaps he attracted a lot of soldiers and their families. That would have to
be fact-checked. I’m sure Dexter is still in shock having rarely been singled
out by such a famous (infamous) personality. It’s been a helluva* two weeks in
the North Country (*also, until recently the name of a local cheese company).
It’s sort of fun feeling like the hot center of America for a while. We can use the
excitement. Primary day is Tuesday, April 19th and then the
entire circus will move on. Most candidates have left already. I think Donald
Trump will be the last one out.
By Nancy Brisson

WIll We Duke It Out in the Streets?

 (reprinted from The Post Standard)
When I listen to Ted Cruz lately, sounding like an arbiter of
fairness and good grace it is too much for my civility. I watched Ted Cruz in
the Senate and all along he has been the ringleader of the disrupters in
Congress, stalking back and forth from the Senate to the House, sticking his
big nose into Boehner’s business, enforcing “purity” to a Tea Party and
Evangelical agenda. He has pandered to angry white middle class Americans for
the entirety of Obama’s two terms in office. He has poured hate, criticism, and
vituperation on Obama without ceasing. He accuses Obama of doing the things
that he, Ted Cruz, is doing and no one seems to call him out on that. He does
not represent many Americans but he swears he will represent us all. Clearly he
will only represent the Americans he agrees with, those who feel the same way
about issues as he does.
You may say that if Ted Cruz is elected that this will be the
will of the majority of the American people but you will be wrong. The
Republican Party has prepared the way for just such an extreme right winger to
win with their gerrymandering, their voter suppression, their Citizen’s United,
their packed Supreme Court. Ted Cruz bemoans a Supreme Court packed with
liberals; while I bemoan a Supreme Court packed with the current iteration of
conservative. We are losing sight of how dangerous Ted Cruz is to America
because we are presented with the even more pressing danger of a Donald Trump
presidency. Ted Cruz does not, in any way, represent me. I will experience a
Ted Cruz presidency as four to eight years of an America that is moving
backwards. I will expect to find myself “dangling over the pit of hell” because
of some of my liberal opinions along with many other Americans.

                                                (also reprinted from The Post Standard)

As for the divide we saw at the Trump rally at the University
of Illinois in Chicago, which was surprisingly nonviolent, Trump did not create
this divide. We have watched conservatives widen a split in America that was
already there and which was exacerbated by a tough economy and by the losses of
the middle class. America is divided. We are split into a white America that
fears it is losing its ascendency and a minority America which might be
starting to feel ready to rise. I’m not sure why everyone feels that it must be
us against them. Aren’t we all Americans? Don’t we all want America to thrive? 
Conservative talk has pried away at the split in America, making it wider,
driving a wedge of hate and fear into the breach. It is a reflection of the
fear and racism felt at the heart of the Republican Party which has been
growing increasingly less diverse and whiter. It is a party that is still
reflecting the values of the old South, nursing the wounds of the Civil War,
the pride of the beaten Confederacy, and the authority of a supposed superiority
of the old slave owners. Backward, backward, backward into a swamp of hate and
remorse. Mix in righteous religious anger at the audacity of women legalizing
forbidden behaviors and undermining male dominance and you have the toxic brew
the Republican Party has been encouraging since Obama took office.
When we see all the white people who the Republican Party have
turned into “pod” people, mindlessly repeating Republican talking points, the
bible according to FOX News, enjoying themselves at a Trump rally where they
can exercise their hate and dismay without the pesky interference of other
points of view, it either frightens us or delights us depending on where we
stand, which side of the divide. But what we really see is that the divide is
real, however it was created, no matter how much it was hyped up by
Conservatives. Up until Chicago the opposition, the liberals, the young people,
the Black Lives Matter movement was carefully kept out of Donald Trump’s
rallies. But in Chicago they organized because they had advanced notice. It is
an urban area bursting with diversity and not a small Evangelical college. And
there it was, staring us in the face, actually rather politely, the chasm yawning
all around us between what is apparently two Americas. 
If Donald Trump becomes our President and if he encourages
conflict, eggs on his supporters as he has in his rallies will America see our
differences boil to the surface? Perhaps papering over our animosities,
constantly trying to shove them back into the crevasse is just making them
stronger. Maybe we are determined to duke out our differences in the streets. I
do not really think this will make us feel any better, or bring us any closer,
or heal the divide. After people beat each other up there is guilt and regret
and depression and wound licking not building alliances that cure and build up
our nation. 
We are screwed if we pick Donald Trump as our president and we are
screwed if we pick Ted Cruz. Both are too mean, too narrow-minded, too
authoritarian, too self-absorbed to stitch the two Americas back together into
one people dedicated to making Democracy work. Neither of these men will ever
be able to encourage an America that truly presents a united front to the world,
an America that lives out, as well as flawed humans can, our ideals, as opposed
to our fears.  
By Nancy Brisson

After the 2016 Iowa Primary

election cycle started so early that it was almost a surprise when we finally
arrived at the first primary of the 2016 election in Iowa. In my opinion the
caucuses were a hot mess this year. Did Ted Cruz really announce to the people
of Iowa that Ben Carson had withdrawn from the race, a statement that was
patently untrue but might have netted him some of Carson’s ballots? Apparently
he did, although he apologized after the caucus was over. You gotta love his
Why did
Hillary say she had won when the Democratic caucuses were not finalized? Why
did her staff have her do that? Did some contests in the Democratic caucuses
end in tie votes that were actually decided by a coin toss? That seems to be a
true statement but there is more to this story, however it’s quite technical in
a way you probably don’t want to know about. If you do want an explanation it
can be googled.
Sanders is thinking about asking for a recount. Since the way the Democrats
vote by just collecting in groups of like-minded people and then counting is
sort of akin to a flash mob how would you ask for a recount?
I have
decided to think of round one in the Democratic primaries as a toss-up, a tie.
People are obviously excited by Bernie Sanders’ “revolutionary” middle class
agenda. In fact we have given up fighting about Socialism, and we are now
fighting about who is more Progressive. Given the number of Republicans in
Congress and taking into account the analyses which suggest that those numbers
are unlikely to change very much because of things like gerrymandering and
voter suppression, it seems improbable to expect a far left agenda to make much
headway even if Bernie Sanders does win the Presidency.
I feel that
this is the time to elect a woman to the Presidency and we have a woman who is
well-prepared to occupy the oval office. Everyone is saying that Bernie Sanders
is FDR, but what if Hillary Clinton is FDR and Bernie is Eleanor Roosevelt. After
all, FDR was a reluctant Progressive. The real activist was Eleanor Roosevelt. I
want a ticket on the Democratic side that has Hillary for President and Bernie
for VP. I can’t picture Bernie Sanders being simply a rubber stamp Vice
President. He can hopefully prod Hillary to govern a bit more to the left.
By Nancy Brisson

Should Conservative Talk Radio Hosts Moderate the Next GOP Debate?

Friday, 10/30/2015 the RNC cancelled the next debate
with the mainstream media – this time, NBC – relative of CNBC, moderators of
the previous debate. The candidates were very unhappy with the way the debate
was run contending that they were not taken seriously. The questions, they
said, were ‘gotcha’ questions, meant to demean the candidates by suggesting
that they were jokes. 
While I do not like the policies these extreme
Republicans espouse I do think that these debates are meant to help voters hear
what each candidate intends to do if they win the way to the White House.
Asking someone if they are a cartoon figure is a question that should have no
place in a serious debate.
Ted Cruz, who the media claims won the debate by
calling attention to the tone of the moderators, said in an interview following
the debate that he thinks the next debate should be moderated by Glenn Beck,
Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin. I find this quite interesting. Whenever I hear
guests on news shows mention that Talk Radio might play a role in the voices of
the Tea Party and the partisan divide in Congress the media backs off from this
topic and waves a hand to indicate ‘erase that’, move on. Of course, not all
Talk Radio is right wing so perhaps the term is just inaccurate. At any rate it
would be difficult to have these particular moderators because they have no TV network
giving them access to such an expensive undertaking.
And so, although we don’t talk about it much, we all know
that Conservative Talk Radio has been stoking white fear, anger, and hate for
decades now. Although these hosts moved from radio to TV they did not get to stay on
TV for long. Telling white people that they are the true patriots, that America
was intended to be a white, Christian nation, that liberal Democrats are
actually socialists, or communists who are turning the Federal government into
a 1984- style dictatorship
controlling every aspect of human behavior has not helped the American dialogue
one bit. 
These Talk Radio guys had some right on their side.
It seems true that Washington, in its supposed zeal to keep Americans safe was
starting to hem people in with some pretty invasive regulations. But these guys
blew the dangers of mind control way out of proportion. It would be quite easy
to back off on some of the more invasive of the constraints and intrusions like
those of the NSA (which actually grew out of the Patriot Acts of the Republican
Presidency of George W. Bush).
However, once white people were injected with the
fear of obsolescence, the specter of a brown-skinned majority holding sway over
the white folks who had perhaps mistreated folks who were not white, many
Americas decided that they were not looking forward to changing places and
moving to an ‘inferior’ position. These fears may be well-founded or not, but
such a cultural flip may not be avoidable and may not entail the retribution
people fear. It would take decades of extreme repression and some rabbit-like
reproductive moves on the part of white people to keep this change in check,
but people used to exploitation and then freedom would not easily allow
themselves to suffer a new round of repression. Maybe making nice would be a
better approach and since we all have the same DNA would represent a useful
leap in cultural evolution.
Anyway, here we are with all these decades of
propaganda catching up with the nation and on display every time the giant
panel of GOP candidates takes the stage. Did Talk Radio create the Republican
base that these Republicans must now answer to or did Tea Party politicians
prime the harangues of Talk Radio to create this base which now holds their
feet to the fire. Did they create their own Frankenstein monster which they now
fear or are they quite happy with their monstrous creation? While income
inequality and the lack of rights that help women and the middle class at work
seem like much more germane issues for all but the richest Americans we are
instead caught up in all these false cultural straw men that cannot be solved
in any ways that fit the American Democratic ideals.
Still, it might be informative to watch a Republican
debate moderated by the Talk Radio trio who have gotten very wealthy by
peddling their fear and hate. In many rather monstrous ways they personify the
American Dream because Americans have never minded scamming their way to the
By Nancy Brisson

Ted Cruz and Scott Walker

It probably will not surprise you to learn that I
would not favor any Republican for the Presidency right now. Rand Paul shows
poorly in these days when the right wing is so extreme. He doesn’t really fit
anywhere and he cannot find his footing. He does not seem to have the
confidence, or is it just the chutzpa,
to be Presidential. Chris Christie is just a bully. Teddy Roosevelt spoke
bluntly but he was not mean with it. Chris Christie does not have the patience
to be the leader of our nation. Mike Huckabee is too much of an evangelical to
get elected. Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal are too politically
clueless to get elected. Jed Bush I could probably listen to if I absolutely
had to without constantly shaking my fists at the heavens.
The potential candidate I feared most until now was
Ted Cruz. Now I can add Scott Walker to that list. I have not seen any reason
to believe that Ted Cruz has any policies in his repertoire that a Democrat
would find palatable. He is morally stern and unbending. He seems to always be
sneering at us peons. He mistakes compassion for communism. He is an educated
man who supports ignorance and dogma. He is a son of a refugee who feels
superior to immigrants who may have come to America for almost the exact same
reasons Ted Cruz’s father did.

I cannot imagine what laws America will pass should
he reign (and it will feel like we have a monarch). He seems to have a passion
for Federalism which does not bode well for a strong central government.
Because Republicans know that Democrats fear him it is highly likely that they
could elect him from spite, although they will not enjoy his policies any more
than the rest of us will.
However, now that Scott Walker has arrived on the
scene I have another opportunity to worry. I don’t think he has been around
long enough to be elected President but Republicans do love the havoc he has
raised in Wisconsin. They are thrilled to let us see “the new world order”, a
truly privatized society with all aspects of our lives controlled by business
and corporations. Republicans will enjoy electing whichever of these two men
upsets us most and it remains to be seen what tactics will be brought into play
to convince the undecided or sway the discontented.
I hated when right wing talkers used Hitler
references when talking about Obama but I cannot look at Scott Walker without
thinking of Hitler. There is just something about the way he looks and acts. Scott
Walker, however, does not seem like someone who makes policy; he actually seems
as if he enjoys enforcing policy. He also seems able to make people fear him
more than they love him.

I don’t know which man would make me more nervous
were he to be elected our President in 2016. I know, with all my heart and soul
and mind that I don’t wish for either one of them. Usually they say “don’t wish
for what you want because you might get it; in this case I am worried that the
universe might be perverse enough to change that to “don’t wish for what you
don’t want because you might get it.”
By Nancy Brisson

Ted Cruz, Neo-Federalism and the Road Runner


This week while we were all in New Jersey busy with “Bridgegate”,
Senator Ted Cruz published a little essay in the Harvard Law Review which anyone can download and read. It isn’t
easy to read unless you are schooled in legalese, as Harvard trained lawyers
tend to be, but try to muddle through it anyway.

The essay reminds us how wonderful it is to have a
large number of district courts and, very nearly, the Supreme Court under John
Roberts in your back pocket. Clearly Republicans have reaped huge benefits from
the Supreme Court in the form of the Citizen’s United decision and even what
the courts did with the Affordable Care Act by allowing states to opt out.
Having a court that is not only stuffed with Conservatives, although they can’t
quite run amuck, but is also stuffed with Catholics, makes this the ideal time
to challenge women’s health and reproductive rights, and we also have seen the
outcomes of gutting the voting rights act. Fun times, eh?

In this particular essay Cruz presents a legal case
to the courts which would change federal power with relation to non-binding
treaties. Not only does he get to parade his bona fides, but he gets to fight
another battle in the Republican war against a strong Federal government. If
the courts allow Ted Cruz’s reasoning to be persuasive then President Obama
will find his rights to enter into treaties curtailed, and, ostensibly the
country will be able to “get down” with the original intent of the 10th
Amendment, which is among the sketchiest of all the amendments to our
Constitution. In the name of Federalism, so beloved by our forefathers, so true
to the “pure” sense of our Constitution, Republicans march forward (or is it
backward) in their war to wrest power from the Federal government and endow
that power to the States (from whence it was stolen, they say).

If we do this thing – if we take power in these ways
away from our Central government (our Executive and Legislative branches), it
will change America in some really stunning ways. Laws regarding education,
religion, immigration, health care, social services, marriage and many other
area of human life will vary greatly from state to state and the Federal
government will have no power over this. States cannot charge import/export
fees against each other as per the Constitution, so I’m guessing our national “purists”
will leave trade between states alone, although how companies that operate in
several states at once will be able to comply with laws which vary greatly depending
on which facility and which state you are in sounds like an organizational

So whether he is arguing against an old migratory
bird law or the more current case of Bond v. the United States (which argues
that a woman in a US state violated a national/international treaty when she
bought what she thought were harmful chemicals and doused various household
surfaces with these chemicals so that her partner would touch them) violates
the 10th Amendment, he is not really interested in the outcome of
these cases, but only as this relates to limiting the treaty powers of the
Federal government. The Bond case only seems frivolous, because behind it, and
depending on what decision the court makes, rest serious limitations on the
President’s rights to make treaties that are binding on the states.

The Republicans may seem divided and contentious but
they are winning the war to downsize government, to give power back to the
states, and to shrink both the Presidency and the Congress. Our government is
smaller in every way than it was when Obama took office and the real battles
are being fought in the states. I have written about what has been happening in
the states several times and the New York
spent at least two days this week with this issue in the top left
corner of the front page.

Although we can all agree that our bureaucracy has
become bloated and over-burdened with so many regulations that these very
regulations have become almost unenforceable, it seems as if it would be more
in our interests to trim the regulations and streamline the bureaucracy that to
turn our country into 50 individual states each protecting its own turf and
preening like a peacock in full display.

Perhaps since the courts have already moved so far
to the right there is little that we can do to counteract the Republican
advantage in this tug of war except to try to pay attention and hold the line
whenever possible (like now). But we are so distracted by a traffic jam and a
seemingly (and probably) criminally vengeful politician (and it is a very important
story, but is it worthy of a whole week of broadcast mania), that we can barely
mourn the failure to pass the Unemployment Insurance Extension, and isn’t that
just one more blow against the size and scope of Federal government and one
more win for the neo-Federalists.

Agenda 21 my eye – this paper may bring Agenda 21 to
the minds of some, but only as another “overreach” of the Federal government. I
am not buying the Federalist argument of the Right. It may have been perfectly
appropriate in the 18th century, but it will not do for the 21st.
If the Federal government decides to attack burgeoning bureaucracy and simplify
all of it, I’m there, but these Federalist advocates are really just peacefully
“seceding from the Union.”

(I always think of Ted Cruz as Wiley Coyote, but
that’s not who he is. He is the Road Runner. Meep Meep)

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at

By Nancy Brisson


Ted Cruz/Cartoonish or Sinister?

Why would I find someone scary who sounds
like Elmer Fudd and looks the tiniest bit like Woody Woodpecker, but I do? (OK,
maybe it’s not Elmer Fudd he sounds like, but his speech has a certain nasal,
whiny quality that sounds like someone. Who is that?) I’m talking about Ted
Cruz. Here is a man with degrees from Princeton and Harvard who is trying to
speak to his constituents like he is “everyman”. They’re buying it, it seems
because he is not speaking like the lawyer, Senator, and arrogant man that he
is. He is speaking to them as if he is just plain folks. Do any of us really
believe that he would ever need to use the Affordable Care Act for his health
insurance? His constituents are letting him whip up their emotions about a
topic for which the pump has already been primed by years of Republican
rhetoric against the ACA. The real work has already been done. Apparently, in
spite of his bona fides, he knows how to talk “middle class speak” and pretend
that he is one with his constituents who may not all be as well educated and
economically comfortable as they appear. These folks are angry because they
were defeated in two elections, their pride is hurt, and they have just enough
power in the House of Representatives to keep them hopeful. This recipe of a
wounded citizenry and a smarmy demagogue is a recipe for disaster.

When commentators ask what the Republican
base wants and what they see in Ted Cruz, the newest answer is “purity”. They
want their politicians to be “pure”. Yikes! What does that mean and where have
we heard this before? Oh, I know where we heard it. It was in German just
before Hitler stomped all over Europe. I don’t want to go “there” because ”there”
is what got me writing in the first place. That was back when Republicans
(Glenn Beck in particular) were comparing Obama to Hitler because of his
ability to attract multitudes to his speeches. But what else would one think of
when one (very strange) man wants things “his way or the highway” for our
entire nation? I will only make this frightening connection once. I will hope,
however, that every American keeps an eye on the man (the Canadian man) and
that if the characterization I have hinted at fits, then I hope that everyone
will give this man a wide berth, and never, ever let him govern America.

When anyone asks Sheldon Cooper (The Big
Bang Theory) if he’s crazy he says, “I’m not, my mother had me tested.” Did Ted
Cruz’s mom have him tested? If you don’t agree that he looks something like
Woody Woodpecker then perhaps you can see a resemblance to Napoleon.


This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at


Worse and Worse in Washington

OMGosh! As if Washington were not dysfunctional enough and
already loaded with plenty of haters, now we have this unpleasant and
self-righteous new Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. Let’s allow Texas to secede
from the union. Maybe we do need to split into two nations since we already are
two different nations. I thought I could not get any more depressed about the
directions some people insist on for America’s future, but after watching Mr.
Ted Cruz I am more depressed. I don’t have a clue about what to do to get this Congress
to move and stop obstructing everything. I thought an election that resulted in
a win would stop the madness, but I was wrong. How many years will this impasse
last? The GOP plans to keep change at bay until they get re-elected and can put
their plans into effect whether they have to manipulate the next election or
not. They do not seem to mind the idea of winning by trickery or by bending the
rules. Perhaps Democrats should do the same in 2014, but I hope they don’t
because these kinds of moves will dismantle America as we know it.

Should we march on Washington and insist that Congress
either work across parties or disband? I am so disgusted with our Representatives and Senators. I would never have
foreseen that the Democracy I have always been so proud of could be subverted
and co-opted or that any group of Americans would actually want to do this. It
is frightening to watch people who want what they want so badly that they will
betray the rules by which their government is supposed to operate. I am so
tired of the nasty rhetoric. Our children are not only tuning into antagonism
that is programmed into gaming media and television shows; they are seeing it every
day on the news.

The only comfort I see is that Senator Cruz seems to be
antagonizing both Republicans and Democrats which behavior will hopefully defuse
any power he might think he has. I hope his rudeness will lead to his ostracism
and that he will languish in a back water of the Senate. Perhaps the other
Senators will find Mr. Cruz “arriviste” and overbearing and negative responses
to his behavior will help to reconcile the two parties and we will see some
bipartisan progress. I don’t think the objections we will have to Ted Cruz will
have much to do with the fact that he was elected as a Tea Party rep. Our
hostility may be because he seems to be “a giant knob”. How could the same
Harvard that produced Obama, turn out this guy? I wish the entire GOP would “mellow
out” because with recent weather events, the proximity of space rocks, mass
shootings and Washington dysfunction it is starting to feel like we are at the
nexus of a “perfect storm”, a present that is the exact opposite of where we
would like to be.
This is the view from the cheap seats.