Sunday, August 25, 2013

Treason 3

Benedict Arnold

Treason: The betrayal of one's own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies. 

Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. If a subversive act has any tendency to weaken the power of the United States to attack or resist its enemies, aid and comfort has been given.

The Treason Clause applies only to disloyal acts committed during times of war. Acts of dis-loyalty during peacetime are not considered treasonous under the Constitution.

- Legal Dictionary

Imagine a political party that keeps government from helping people, because that might lead people to support government. Imagine a political party that hurts parts of the country because those parts tend to not vote the way they want. Imagine a political party that would hurt the public, the economy and the country so they could say in the next election, "Hey look at how the country is hurting, vote for us instead." That could never happen here, could it?
- Dave Johnson, Campaign for America's Future, July 27th 2013

   Could it?

   Why yes, it could.

   Despite House Speaker Boehner’s proclamation that jobs remain the House’s number one priority, they have voted down President Obama’s Job Bill, and not offered a single one of their own.
   Instead they’ve used limited and precious Congressional time and money voting on abortion oriented bills, names for post offices, and at least 40 times to revoke The Affordable Healthcare Act, what is often referred to as Obamacare (perhaps the Democrats should have countered the Republicans slang machine by utilizing the term “Americacare” instead. Yet the President embraced the former).
   Boehner knows a bill to repeal Obamacare will not pass through the Democratically controlled Senate, and even if it did, how likely is it that the President would repeal his own policy.
   I say almost exactly 0 chance. 0. Nada, No way. Eeemmm Uuummm.

   So what the Republicans spend their time... or I should say our time doing is appeasing what they perceive to be their base, their political support, for the sole purpose of keeping themselves in power at the expense 90% of the nation’s people.
   Let’s explore a moment Mr. Johnson’s quote above.
   “Imagine a political party that keeps government from helping people...”
   Imagine a political party that rewards multi-national corporations which ship, or outsource jobs out of their own country to other countries where labor costs and taxes may be more advantageous for those companies, but deleterious for the citizens of said country who voted that party into power in order to look after their interests (when given a chance to stop the outsourcing of American jobs overseas, Speaker Boehner and his Republican colleagues balked. In September of 2010, Republicans in Congress killed a bill that would have eliminated tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs). 
   Whose interests are that party actually shepherding, their own citizens who they were sworn to protect and nurture, or those of the multinational corporations?
   Imagine a political party that continuously votes to defund public education for the children of its own citizens, arguably the most precious and valued resource that country possesses. Imagine a political party that insists on shifting funds intended for public education to private schools that also happen to teach their own religious ideology as science to the determent of the children they have sworn to nurture.
   Look at this, this, this, and this.     
   Imagine a political party that ignores the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community (98% vs 2%), and empirical, verifiable evidence that the planet’s climate is systematically warming, providing the greatest threat the country and the world has yet faced, no matter what the cause of that warming may be, in order to keep industries like oil, natural gas and coal, running while continuing to pollute the atmosphere, with the short term goal of maximizing profits. Imagine a political party that champions these industries at the expense of newer, renewable, clean energy sources.
   Imagine a political party that insists on repealing, or defund their countries healthcare policy that provides low cost health insurance for the majority of that countries citizens, saving or improving the lives of millions of those citizens, while lowering the entire healthcare costs for the nation, entirely for political reasons.
   Imagine a political party that refuses to provide funds to improve their countries own infrastructure, it’s roads, highways, bridges, electrical grid, railroads, aviation systems, dams, and
other public use systems... in order to adhere to that parties idealogy that spending and the national debt are more important.
   Imagine a political party that continously votes to undermine their own country’s social safety net, programs designed to help it’s poor, disabled, and elderly, who would instead funnel the money used to implement these programs to business and banking interests. And imagine that same political party maintaining the facade that it champions Christian values while ignoring true Christian values in practical applications, such as programs designed to help the poor, disabled, and elderly.
   Imagine a political party that when last in power ruined it’s own economy.
   Imagine a political party that when last in power began two wars that were unnecessary, in that they could have been avoided, that were not relevant to the problem at hand (a domestic attack), costing the lives of thousands of it’s own citizens, and hundreds of thousands of lives of foreign nationals, and the displacement of millions of others.  
   Imagine a political party that continuously and systematically lies and misinforms their own constituents, at the expense of these constituents own best interests.
   Imagine a President who has to resort to what is tantamount to bribing the leaders of the opposition political party to do their job and promote programs to put that countries citizens to work, and that party still refuses to do anything to advance the country’s interests, including the interests of that party’s own constituents.

Facts and Observations

   Not a single Democrat voted for John Kline's anti-education bill, H.R. 5. It passed Friday, 221-207, a dozen Republicans crossing the aisle and voting with Team Pelosi. The bill, which Kline and the rest of the GOP zombies call the Student Success Act, was supposed to rewrite No Child Left Behind. If anything, they've managed to make a terrible law even worse. -Down with Tyranny

   In the rest of the United States, public education is just as underfunded as it is in Detroit. As a result, in 2008, the US' high school graduation rate was lower than the rates of the UK, Switzerland, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Italy and a host of other developed nations.
   And, according to multiple reports released in December of last year, fourth and eighth-grade students in the U.S. lag behind students in many East Asian and European nations when it comes to math and science. And those same reports revealed that European and Asian nations spend far more money and spend it more wisely on education than we do here.
    But Speaker Boehner and his Republican colleagues must be content with these stats, because they have done next to nothing to boost funding for public education in America.
   And Republican inaction in Congress doesn't stop at refusing to address public education, gun violence, infrastructure and jobs in America. Since John Boehner has been Speaker of the House, Republicans have voted nearly 40 times to repeal Obamacare, they've refused to address climate change, they've refused to reel in the big banks on Wall Street, and they've refused to address the home foreclosure crisis.
   Each year, the American Society of Civil Engineers releases a "report card" for America's infrastructure. And, in its 2013 report card, the ASCE gave a D to America's roads and highways, a D to America's transit system, a D to America's aviation system, a D+ to America's energy infrastructure, and a C+ to America's bridges.
   But, despite America's crumbling infrastructure, Speaker Boehner and the rest of Republicans in Washington have repeatedly refused to provide the funding needed to bring America's infrastructure out of the 1800's and into the 21st century.
   Nationwide, there were nearly 8,600 homicides by firearms in 2011, which accounted for more than two-thirds of all homicides in 2011. And, as we know, mass shootings like the ones in Aurora and Newtown have become the norm.
   But again, Speaker Boehner and Republican lawmakers in Washington have failed to pass any comprehensive legislation to address the gun violence epidemic in America, or the inequality and poverty that are driving it. -Thomm Hartman

The War on Women

   Republicans have been busy defunding Planned Parenthood and other forms of publicly funded family planning like Title X. They don’t want to offer birth control pills via healthcare reform. They are against sex education and promote abstinence only instead. Republicans pass these policies off as “pro-life” because they claim they hate abortion, and yet, their policies lead to more abortions.
   In 2010, publicly funded family planning averted 760,000 abortions, according to a Guttmacher Institute report “Contraceptive Needs and Services 2010″ released in July of 2013.
   They write, “In 2010, publicly funded contraceptive services helped women prevent 2.2 million unintended pregnancies; 1.1 million of these would have resulted in unplanned births and 760,000 in abortions.”
   So, to be clear, Republican policies will lead to 66% increase in unintended pregnancies, unplanned births and abortions — and even more among teens. -Sarah Jones


   There is no single federal budget bill, but a series of bills for combinations of different agencies. In 2013, House Appropriations Committee has been approving budgets that present some of the most draconian cuts seen in a generation. This week saw the panel pass a budget bill cutting the Environmental Protection Agency by 34 percent, including cuts to clean water programs by 60 percent. It gave the White House a quarter of what it sought for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and cut National Park funds by 10 percent and cuts national arts and humanities funding in half. -Steven Rosenfeld

   Why are these spending cuts necessary? The Republicans claim it’s because of the huge national deficit, which they also claim is the country’s biggest problem (while also claiming that job creation is their Number1 priority).


   The federal budget deficit is shrinking. That might not surprise you if you know about the sequester and other budget gymnastics that have gone on in Washington.
   But, what’s perhaps more surprising is that the deficit is shrinking far faster than anyone in Washington anticipated it would.  That bit of information, together with a slew of other recent economic reports about the state of the housing market and consumer confidence paint a brighter picture of the economy than we’ve gotten used to seeing. -The Takeaway

   The Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday that the federal budget deficit is declining this year compared to fiscal 2012.
   For the first seven months of 2013, the deficit was $489 billion. That is $231 billion less than the budget shortfall for the comparable period last year.
   The decrease is almost entirely due to revenue increases. Revenues rose $200 billion and spending decreased only $11 billion. -Erik Wasson

On and on

   In recent weeks, officials in states like New York and California have boasted about lower premiums for residents thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But on Friday, Indiana, where Republican officials dominate, announced the law would force a premium increase of 72%. How it that possible? As Sarah Kliff, Jonathan Cohn, and others explained over the weekend, GOP policymakers in the state arrived at the figure by cooking the books and jumping to conclusions based on incomplete information...
   Fourth, congressional Republicans have repeatedly denied the Obama administration funds needed for implementation. Fifth, GOP leaders have shamelessly discouraged private-sector partnerships with Washington on public-awareness campaigns, in the hopes that public ignorance might help undermine the efficacy of the system. Sixth, many Republicans at the state level are refusing to allow Medicaid expansion, no matter how much damage it does to their state. And seventh, these same GOP officials in the states are refusing to create exchanges, making it that much more difficult for federal officials to meet deadlines and fully implement the law on time.
   When I talk about efforts to "sabotage" Obamacare, this is what I'm talking about..-Steve Benen

   The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace of procedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all. In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists.
   And the worst is not behind us. -Jonathan Chait

   Over the past three months, [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to an HHS official and an industry person familiar with the secretary’s activities. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk openly about private discussions.
   An HHS spokesperson said Sebelius was within the bounds of her authority in asking for help.
But Republicans charged that Sebelius’s outreach was improper because it pressured private companies and other groups to support the Affordable Care Act. The latest controversy has emerged as the law faces a string of challenges from GOP lawmakers in Washington and skepticism from many state officials across the country.
“To solicit funds from health-care executives to help pay for the implementation of the President’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is absurd,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement. “I will be seeking more information from the Administration about these actions to help better understand whether there are conflicts of interest and if it violated federal law.” -Sarah Kliff

   Consider the implicit argument there. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and the Obama administration is legally bound to implement it. Having denied the necessary funding to do so, Republicans now want to hinder the administration’s ability to transfer other funding, to ensure that Obamacare becomes the disaster Republicans have promised. -Ezra Klien

    When a law is enacted, representatives who opposed it have some choices (which are not mutually exclusive). They can try to repeal it, which is perfectly acceptable—unless it becomes an effort at grandstanding so overdone that it detracts from other basic responsibilities of governing. They can try to amend it to make it work better—not just perfectly acceptable but desirable, if the goal is to improve a cumbersome law to work better for the betterment of the society and its people. They can strive to make sure that the law does the most for Americans it is intended to serve, including their own constituents, while doing the least damage to the society and the economy. Or they can step aside and leave the burden of implementation to those who supported the law and got it enacted in the first place.
   But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation -- which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil -- is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate -- even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists -- takes one's breath away. -Norm Ornstein

   Does all of the above constitute treasonous acts committed by Republicans in Congress? Certainly more so than the examples of Obama’s treason cited in the first two parts of this post.
   One prerequisite for treason according to the Constitution is that the country be at war. That prerequisite is met. I believe the actions, or should I say the non-actions of the Republicans in Congress, are tantamount to a  betrayal of allegiance to the United States, or rather  the majority of the people of the United States. It’s citizens. Instead their allegiance lies with powerful business interests and the ultra wealthy, at the expense of the citizens of the United States.
   The same applies for those powerful business interests themselves, and a percentage of the ultra wealthy who profit from them.
   Perhaps larceny, embezzlement, tax avoidance, and malicious mischief are better, more appropriate terms that can be applied to the crimes committed by Congress.
   But in my mind it will always be treason.

  "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

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