A brief sample of comments on Tom Reed’s Jan. 4 tele townhall

What are you doing to make me confident that there is zero fraud in the next election??? Because I don’t feel that way right now. Every illegal vote out there lessens my vote and my say and that’s a problem.

You lost my vote, I’ll vote DemocRAT just to get you out of office. Thanks for not standing up for America

Back the President !!! Thats why i voted for you. Will be Last term if you don’t. Illegal immigrants driving and voting in N.Y. election compromised in your backyard

Your job is on the line !

You lost my vote buddy. To think I put a sign in my front yard for you and then you turn around and betray us all by selling out. The greed is disgusting.

If Tom Reeds answer is not an astounding yes to voter fraud, than I will run against him next election.

Posted in 2020, Campaigning, Constituents | Tagged | 10 Comments

Needed laws and amendments

We have seen what needs to be fixed; this is the time to do it.

Make clear that a president may not pardon him or herself. Perhaps limit the power to pardon a former president to an elected president.

Make sure that a state legislature or individual electors can’t ignore the popular vote.

Make sure that the PO will deliver mailed ballots in time to be counted.

Restore the voting rights act to hinder election cheating.

Discourage the widespread use of interim appointments.

Strengthen protections for whistleblowers.

Disallow diversion of funds from an authorized program to another.

Ensure timely authorization of transition planning.

Strengthen auditing and regulation of campaign funds.

Strengthen enforcement of the “Emolument’s Clause.”

Discourage nepotism.

What else?

Posted in Campaign Finances | 6 Comments

What’s next for Donald J. Trump?

Contributed by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport, NY.

We should consider what will happen with Donald Trump once he leaves the White House. Some former presidents have taken up painting, some build houses for charity. What will Trump do? What will happen to him?

Before leaving office, will he self-pardon?

Will he be involved with the Republican Party and in what capacity?

Will he start campaigning for President in 2024?

Will he flee the United States for a sympathetic country that has no extradition treaty with the US?

Will Cyrus Vance be trying Trump for bank fraud, insurance fraud and tax evasion?

Will Trump be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, federal tax evasion?

Will Letitia James prosecute Trump for tax fraud re the Trump Organization?

Will Trump stand trial for the alleged rape of E. Jean Carroll?

Will he be able to have enough speaking engagements to cover his $420 million dollar debt?

Will he leave office silently and gracefully?

So many possibilities!

Has anyone any thoughts?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

We Got Lucky With Trump

Contributed by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport.

Luck comes in two forms, and we got both!

Trump’s four year rampage through out democracy was certainly bad luck. His unrelenting attacks on the press (FAKE NEWS), his terrible foreign policy (will NATO ever be the same?) (will America ever be trusted again?), his open adulation and support of authoritarians, his racist support of “very good people”, his fascism (exhibited most recently by his unfounded, warrantless attacks on the electoral process) ….all have shaken the very foundations of our Republic.
And yet….

He’s nothing more than a fraud and a grifter, interested only in money. Everything he has done had one ultimate end, to increase his petty pile. He was a politician by accident, running an initial campaign for president that was primarily about putting dollars in his pocket. No one was more surprised that he won in 2016 than he.

He was a terrible candidate, who in 2016 managed by luck and feral cunning to eliminate much better qualified Republican candidates in the primaries and then had the good fortune to compete against a candidate who had 40 years of negative baggage and whom many Americans intensely disliked. Comey’s surprise was the final gift to Trump.

He was a terrible president. Itemizing cases would make this post prohibitively long.

And yet….

In the 2020 election nearly 50 % of Americans threw their vote to this incompetent, fascist, racist, lying sociopath. A more competent politician would have easily won. Trump’s political incompetence was our good fortune. An undeserved and certainly unappreciated gift of good luck.

Now we can all breathe a big sigh of relief. And once the pandemic is over, go back to our pre-Trump lives. Democracy works!

But consider-populists have risen to power throughout the world: Narendra Modi in India, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey. These people win elections but subvert democratic norms: by criminalizing dissent, suppressing or demonizing the media, harassing the opposition, and deploying extra-legal mechanisms whenever possible (Putin’s opponents have a penchant for meeting tragic accidents). Orbán proudly uses the phrase illiberal democracy to describe the populism practiced by these men; Trump has many similarities to them, both rhetorically and policy-wise, but he was incompetent and petty.

For all his incompetence, Trump gave the Republican Party some successes: The Supreme Court is solidly in their corner; they will likely retain control of the Senate; House Republicans won more seats than they were projected to; and they are looking at significant gains in state Houses as well, giving them control over redistricting for the next decade. Even better for their long-term project, they have diversified their own coalition, gaining more women candidates and more support from nonwhite voters.

Which is bad luck for us. Trump prepared the way for the next authoritarian. After abandoning traditional decades long Republican values such as fiscal responsibility and free trade, Republicans have embraced the doctrine of “Unrestrained POWER.” Their next candidate will leverage that knowledge. That candidate is out there, now. And we will certainly see a populist/authoritarian candidate in 2024.

We will need to be prepared. The Democrats need to shed their Keystone Kops strategy, and fast.

Trump’s defeat is not the end of the war, it’s simply a fortunate victory in a small battle in a much larger conflict.

Posted in 2020, Campaigning, Constitution, Education | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Wither the Republican Party

Contributed by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport

I am as surprised and upset as everyone else. And looking deeper, I am become even more upset. On the theory that misery loves company, I offer the following:

Trump has received at least 68 million votes in 2020, or five million more than he did in 2016, meaning that despite his myriad failures, scandals, self dealing, corruption, etc., he received the support of 48% of Americans. Further, the Democrats lost seats in the House and were unable to take control of the Senate.

In a development that seems to have flown under most people’s radar, an abysmal showing by Democrats in state legislative races on Tuesday not only denied them victories in Sun Belt and Rust Belt states that would have positioned them to advance their policy agenda — it also put the party at a disadvantage ahead of the redistricting that will determine the balance of power for the next decade.

Locally, Tom Reed whomped Tracy Mitrano 63.1% to 35.8%. To put this into perspective, Reed in 2012 Reed won with 49.2%, in 2014 with 57.8%, in 2016 with 57.6%, and in 2018 with 54.2%. NY 23 Democrats have actually lost ground over 8 years.

I will leave assigning blame to others. I’m merely pointing out a trend, which would seem to indicate a problem with Democrats’ strategy on a local, state and national level.

Would anyone care to comment?

Best Regards,

Arthur Ahrens

Posted in 2020 | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Starts with “C” (as in Correction?)

This article was written and submitted by Lee Marcus of Arkport (Steuben County).

My father didn’t die in Italy during WWII, but the rest of his unit did (all but one), and it happened in one night—the same night he witnessed the burning of the church with all the Italian villagers locked inside, screaming for help. Two nights later, he suffered another battle almost as horrifying as that one. The Nazis were determined to shed all the Allied blood they could as they withdrew into the Alps, defeated. My father was unable to put these atrocities behind him and only lived to the age of 55, never explaining to his children about that bronze star or any of the rest. He did have some good times in his life, in spite of what was missing—that thing most of us take for granted: peace of mind. My father had seen and heard and felt things no one ever should. Things the human heart cannot reconcile.

My mother lost a brother she adored, her next younger sibling and best friend. A handsome, well-liked Hornell boy, John Long went missing in the South Pacific and was never found. My mother could not talk about this loss. I’m not sure she ever stopped waiting.

I miss both of my parents, but I cannot not wish them back. When I think of the sacrifices they made for their country, of how ferociously they believed in the righteousness of the American cause—well, my heart sinks. I would not, could not wish them here to see what has become of their legacy. I am ashamed. Mortified.

The nation that pitched in every resource, every ounce of purpose and resolve, e pluribus unum, is now a hot mess of discord and division. We have a president and vice president who have signaled that they do not subscribe to the peaceful transfer of power, the very bedrock of the American experiment. Armed vigilantes have been told to stand by, and the country holds its breath as if on the verge of disintegration, threatened not by foreign invaders but by the vigilantes themselves, self-appointed guardians of America’s closet with its renounced and rotting skeletons: white supremacy and patriarchy.

This could go either way. The forces of darkness are jonesing for civil war and a return to the bad old days. The other side is building toward breakthrough: some kind of rainbow dawn involving atonement, reparation, forgiveness, and healing. Then the march onward together to beat back climate change and realize a more perfect union, ameliorating extreme poverty and obscene greed. A future molded of justice and what we used to call brotherly love.

I don’t know what to expect. But I do know that what I saw in my parents and their generation is what I’m looking for now as we head into the election of 2020. In a word, character. It’s old news that elections have consequences; now it’s been drilled home that consequences are a function of character. We ignore character at our peril. You don’t say, you might say.

The importance of character is the very thing that makes character assassination such a handy tool for candidates whose records are too weak to run on. These guys are easy to spot from their advertising. They skip the part about what they’ll do for their constituents, because they don’t want us asking what they’ve done so far in the many years they’ve been in office already. They vandalize the photographs and reputations of their opponents, spewing hot-button epithets: liar! extremist!—also vandalizing democracy in the process. These are little men.

Meanwhile, this time around, we are rich in options. Energetic new candidates high on vision and purpose, and most of all: character. I am leaning in, heart and soul, for two in particular: Tracy Mitrano (for Congress) and Leslie Danks Burke (NY Senate). By now I have come to know them both pretty well, and for me, these women are a source of real hope—the same hope embodied in the poetry of our nation’s founding documents. All men are created equal. Liberty and justice for all. That may sound corny, but right now, we can’t afford any more cynicism. A once-great nation is on its knees and the church is on fire. Help get us out of this. Choose character, up and down the ticket.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Fiscal Responsibility

What the right hand gives, the left hand takes. — Attributed to Martin Luther

Catch 22 — For every regulation that gives something, there is another that takes it back.

Laffer Curve — the idea that in some circumstances tax cuts increase revenue.

New Year’s Resolution — promising to do next year what you failed to do last year.

The Problem Solvers Caucus has published ten principles for fiscal responsibility. Most are vague; here they are:

  1. Support for building a sustainable, fiscally responsible budget to invest in Americans and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
  2. Support for paying down our debt when the nation’s economy is in good shape.
  3. Recognizing that the federal government’s balance sheet can afford targeted spending to mitigate the effects of economic downturns, disasters, and emergencies.
  4. Support sustained assistance to the economy while the COVID-19 pandemic persists and while the unemployment rate remains at record levels.
  5. Support for transparency measures to strengthen awareness of the nation’s finances, including its debt and deficit. The Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution aligns with this assertion.
  6. Support for accountability mechanisms to help Congress demonstrate greater accountability in navigating the decisions necessary to improve the country’s fiscal health. The TRUST Act would support this plank.
  7. Support for responsible, thorough plans to establish budgetary goals to lower the government’s debt in relation to the size of the economy, or GDP.
  8. Support including the Fiscal State of the Nation, the TRUST Act, and/or legislation to establish budgetary goals in a future COVID-19 relief package to address our budget crisis once the economy recovers.
  9. Support curbing brinksmanship related to the debt limit, which risks the full faith and credit of the government due to artificial limits, and tying such reform to meaningful debt targets.
  10. Support paying for legislation and the House rules in place (Pay-As-You-Go) to enforce this principle.

Many would disagree on what it means to “support building a sustainable, fiscally responsible budget to invest in Americans and be good stewards of taxpayer dollars;” it could mean anything. However, the second principle–“paying down our debt when the nation’s economy is in good shape”– is rock solid. Yet Congress failed to do that in 2016/2017, when instead of reducing the deficit, they did the opposite by cutting taxes, particularly for the rich and super rich.

Points five to ten encompass the idea that Congress can encourage itself to do, with resolutions and legislation, what it otherwise wouldn’t do. Point 9 is good, if only wishing made it so.

There are a number of oft cited principles which are not mentioned:

  1. The idea that tax cuts pay for themselves
  2. Trickle down
  3. Statutory balanced budget

All else is moot if these tacitly remain.

Posted in 2020, Economics, Reed's Views | Tagged | 4 Comments

Election to the Senate

Louis C. Wyman (RNew Hampshire) was declared the victor of the US Senate contest in 1974 in New Hampshire by a narrow margin on Election Day (355 votes). A first recount gave the election instead to John A. Durkin (DNew Hampshire) by ten votes, but a second recount swung the result back to Wyman by only two votes. The state of New Hampshire certified Wyman as the winner, but Durkin appealed to the Senate, which had a sixty vote Democratic majority. The Senate refused to seat Wyman while considering the matter. After a long and contentious debate in the Senate, with Republicans filibustering attempts by the Democratic majority to seat Durkin instead, a special election was held, with Durkin winning handily and becoming Senator.Wikipedia

I suppose the 1974-1975 debate over seating a Senator from NH took place in the newly elected Senate . Democrats were in the majority before and after the 1974 election; Mike Mansfield (D-MT) was the Majority Leader during both sessions.

The 1974 precedent–a special election to settle a near tie–seems good to me. The filibuster rule contributed played an important role. Under different circumstances, the precedent might not hold.

  • The lame duck Senate in 2020 will know how the 2020 election went.
  • McConnell is ruthless, but it isn’t clear to me what he might do to cling to power if Republicans don’t have a clear majority in the new Senate.
  • The new Senate will adopt rules and choose a leader. Does the former leader retain the position until a new leader is chosen? Could newly elected Senators be excluded from these votes, or defeated candidates be allowed to vote?
  • In 1974, there was no dispute over election procedures–hanging chads, mail-in ballots, illegal voters.
  • Might there be another lengthy debate over seating; might one party or the other appeal to the courts?
  • If there were a tie in the Senate, the Vice President would cast the deciding vote.

An unprecedented partisan outcome would be bad for democracy.

Posted in 2020, Congress, Political | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Twenty-fifth Amendment

government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. — Lincoln

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. -Twenty-fifth Amendment

The Constitution allows Congress to create a commission on presidential fitness, but is it a good idea? The need for an effective way to remove a president in an emergency is apparent. Current provisions are ineffective.

  • Impeachment proved futile in the case of the Ukraine scandal, and would likely be futile under any circumstances..
  • Even though Trump’s cabinet reportedly contemplated action, today’s cabinets are unlikely to agree to depose their leader in any circumstance.
  • There is no other legal procedure for deposing an unfit president.

Yet a commission on presidential fitness might not provide an effective solution.

  • A commission, however constituted, would be suspected of political bias.
  • Commissioners elected by the people or party in power would be suspect.
  • An appointed commission would replace democracy with meritocracy.
  • Action by the commission would provoke a constitutional crisis. An unfit president would be expected to defy Congress.
  • In the present highly politicized time, the removal of a president for good reason might provoke retaliation for no good reason.

The fundamental problem is that The Constitution assumes some degree of wisdom and good will among elected officials and the people. In the absence of wisdom and good will, constitutional restrictions and long standing norms for acceptable behavior are inadequate. It is a dilemma–if the people won’t protect democracy, American democracy may be a lost cause.

Posted in 2020, Congress, Constitution, Political, President | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Is he trying to kill us?

Is he trying to kill us?

  • We know from Bob Woodward’s book that President Trump knew the danger, but ignored it.
  • Few precautions were taken until the pandemic exploded on the West Coast and in NYS.
  • He stopped cooperating with WHO.
  • We suffered from a lack of hospital supplies and equipment.
  • He encouraged governors to end the shutdown prematurely.
  • He arranged and attended super-spreader events.
  • Encouraged by his indifference, other super-spreader events went on without restrictions.
  • He claimed that all but the old were immune, as if seniors were expendable
  • He disparaged wearing masks.
  • He disagreed with and corrected government experts as if he knew better.
  • He mocked quarantine.
  • He told subordinates not to wear masks.
  • His action and inaction allowed the virus to spread at the capital.
  • He concealed his own illness.
  • He interfered with responsible government agencies.
  • He suggested vaccines would quickly be effective making other measures unnecessary.
  • He may have spread the virus himself including to his own family.
  • He left the hospital prematurely claiming falsely to be no longer contagious.
  • He suggested the treatments he received were or would be available to all.
  • He blamed the disease on others–China, WHO, Gold Star families.

I’m sure there is more evidence, but this is more than enough.

Posted in Health Care, Political, President, Trump | Tagged , , | 2 Comments