[The following thoughts were first posted to Quora on 18 November 2016]

One of America’s greatest strengths is that our system of politics and government works. Though we still refer to ourselves as a young country, our system of government now has outlasted most that were in place when America was formed.

This strength means that no one person can undo us. In the current situation, Donald Trump will find himself faced with some interesting challenges as he works to navigate the straits of American politics, Right and Left.

I believe it is this strength, the stability of our foundation, that partly explains why so many of us don’t bother to vote: no matter the outcome of any election, the direct results on our daily lives are comparatively small and remote.

As disappointing as it is, that so many of our fellow citizens bought the blatant “pig in a poke” offer made by Donald Trump, yet we shall survive.

Thirty-five years ago, a guy rose to the presidency by advocating a 180º turn in America’s direction “forward.” The most-recent election looked like the one to put a final “nail” in that reactionary “coffin,” and get America finally moving forward once again. Now, as it turns out, we have to wait a bit longer. The old folks have forgotten how great America once looked to become, and the young people do not believe that we ever moved so assertively Forward. Roosevelt; Roosevelt; Kennedy; Johnson; Obama.

Our Exceptional Nation Shall Move Forward Again!

Regards,
(($; -)}™
Gozo!

@GozoTweets
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20 November 2013

Listening to The Morning Briefing on SiriusXM POTUS Radio this morning, we heard Tim Farley interview Representative Cory Gardner about healthcare. Congressman Gardner represents Colorado’s Fourth District.

Among several points related to limitations of the Affordable Care Act, Congressman Gardner said that the states could do a better job when it comes to managing their citizens’ healthcare insurance. Congressman Gardner said, for example, that it would be beneficial if insurance policies would be sold across state lines.

Mr. Farley followed up the Congressman’s comment about inter-state insurance with the kind of incisive question for which Tim Farley and The Morning Briefing have become known. Here, Mr. Farley asked about challenges that might derive from differences between the states, where each state has its own set of  insurance laws.

The Congressman’s answer caught our interest.
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According to Congressman Gardner, the states could work together to overcome such limitations. His idea is that the states could form agreements or alliances among themselves. This way, different insurance regulations at the level of the individual states would not cause problems among the allied states.

The advantage of this, per Congressman Gardner’s view, would be that, in using such cooperative arrangements, the states could work together to solve insurance challenges, without being forced to suffer from national intervention with our healthcare insurance.

That’s an interesting idea. One wonders that the Founding Fathers didn’t think of it.
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The Idea Highlights a Key Difference between the GOP and the Democrats. Of course, where the Democrats come from, such an organization of alliances to provide for the common good among the several states already exists.

It’s the Federal Government.

Regards,
(($; -)}
Gozo!

@GozoTweets

19 November 2013

In a Recent Austin American-Statesman editorial, Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak says I’m lying about why he wants to restrict the rights of our fellow Americans to vote:

“Increased Turnout Trumps Democrats’ ‘Suppression’ Argument”*

Okay then: fair enough. In my defense, I call Mr. Mackowiak out. In my opinion of Republican malfeasance, I am telling the truth.

It is Matt Mackowiak who is lying.

Please bear with me on this one. The defensive case to make can seem a bit convoluted:

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The Republican Party wishes to impose photo I.D. laws for the sole purpose of preventing more people of Democratic American values from voting in elections throughout the country.

Given (1) how hard it is for someone else to vote using someone else’s voter registration, and (2) how easy voter fraud is to detect, and (3) given how the preponderance of the evidence supports that such fraud does not practically exist, and (4) given that even voting registrars—even some Republican registrars—insist that voter fraud is no problem and (5) that photo-I.D. laws only serve to  reduce voter turnout—

The only real reason for Republicans to promulgate costly and inconvenient Voter I.D. laws is because, to paraphrase Mr. Mackowiak, “Republicans want fewer legal votes, not more. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying.”

By the abandoned virtue of his presumptive projection, Matt Mackowiak naturally must be included in the  “lying” group.
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This “presumption of guilt” on Mr. Mackowiak’s part does not just run counter to our Constitution. It also creates challenges for those who would defend against the accusations—when it is so often those first accusers who are guilty.

Take the current Obamacare controversy.

In the lead up to the bill that became the ACA, those on the Right kept saying, “Obamacare is a government takeover of healthcare! You will lose your current insurance! You will lose your doctor!”

These accusations forced the President to come out and say, “No, it’s not. No, you won’t.”

In my personal case, President Obama’s assertions have proved true. Over the course of the past year, I’ve received several notices from my insurer, describing the few, key changes that Obamacare has made to our “grandfathered” insurance plan. So what I have, as a direct result of Obamacare, is a policy that has increased about the same as, in past years or less this year than in some years, while the benefits have increased dramatically.
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It’s harder to defend against and to describe untruths succinctly than it is to make originating accusations in the first place. Republicans accused Obamacare of things that are mostly untrue.This led President Obama to respond in kind. The result is now commonly taken for a lie. But the President’s words have borne out exactly as promised, for me and for millions of other self-employed, formerly under-insured Americans.

Republicans such as Matt Mackowiak accuse me of lying about their voter-suppression issues. It’s harder to defend against and to explain how wrong these Republican activists are about voter fraud than it is to make the preemptive accusations in the first place. And it’s harder to convey the case that the only benefit served by photo-I.D. laws is to suppress Democratic voters. But this, here, has been my short version of that case.

Mr. Mackowiak is a liar: the only true reason for the epidemic of photo I.D.  laws is because Republicans want fewer [Democratic] votes. Not more.

Regards,
(($; -)}
Gozo!
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*Matt Mackowiak, Austin American-Statesman, 7:00 p.m., 11/17/2013

@GozoTweets
12 November 2013

As “Fiscal Conservatives,” we take issue with how the “Conservative” side of American politics looks at deficit spending and debt. Here’s why:

Every year, our family takes in a certain amount of money as “income.” A portion of that income, we use to make “capital improvements” and “investments.”

A portion of funds employed for capital investments constitutes down-payments for new real estate properties, for which we take out mortgages.

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If One Were to Look at selective parts of our family balance sheet, one might see:

Deficit Spending (We have added 80% of “spending” in relation to the 20% down-payment)

Increasing Debt (We have added that 80% of “debt” to the balance sheet. This debt addition may be offset by total reduction of principal on all mortgages.)

Over more than three decades of such “deficit spending,” our debt-to-equity ratio is less than 50%.

Any political “Conservative” might say that we are “spending” ourselves to ruin, and that we risk leaving a mountain of debt to our children and grandchildren.

Our children don’t mind.

Regards,
(($; -)}
Gozo!

[NOTE: The above post on “deficit spending” was prompted by our reading of Why The Most Important Budget Event Of The Year Has Had No Impact, which was posted earlier today by Stan Collender, at “StanCollender’s Capital Gains and Games.
@GozoTweets

16 February 2013

More than a week ago on Slate, Brian Palmer posed the following questions:

Why Doesn’t the Postal Service Make Money? What do UPS and FedEx know that the USPS doesn’t?”*

These frequently heard questions seem deliberately determined to undermine a fine, government program that has served America since its founding, by making an odd, apples-to-oranges comparison.

I can send a letter from where I sit, here in Bee Cave, Texas (78738), all the way to Barrow, Alaska (99723) or  Mililani, Hawaii (96789) for 46¢, and it will arrive in a day or two.

When was the last time that UPS and FedEx delivered a letter for 46¢? When was the first time either private company did this? Even back in their founding days (1971 for FedEx; 1907 for UPS, which started as a parcel service in Seattle).

Why doesn’t the Postal Service make money, indeed?
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Forget about Congress’s requirement that the USPS fully fund all its pension obligations up front. Forget the requirement that the USPS visit every mail box receiving even a single piece of cut-rate “bulk” mail six or five days a week:

When’s the last time you mailed a letter using FedEx or UPS, and got change back from your dollar?

What’s missing here? Other than an ideological determination to undermine the constitutional mandate that the United States government provide postal service?

Regards,
(($; -)}
Gozo!
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*Why Doesn’t the Postal Service Make Money?
by Brian Palmer, Slate (02/07/2013 at 2:29 PM CT)

@GozoTweets

04 February 2013

Writing in The Washington Post under the title, “What the Court Got Wrong About Recess Appointments,Sally Katzen talks about how a recent decision by “the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dramatically limited the president’s ability to fill vacancies in government….I believe last month’s decision…will make it even more difficult for our leaders to carry out their constitutional obligations….”

Continues Ms. Katzen:

“The D.C. Circuit concluded that the Framers did not intend for the Constitution’s recess appointments clause to be used—as presidents have for more than a century—to fill existing vacancies in the long breaks that occur during a session, as opposed to breaks between sessions.

“The fundamental principle underlying the recess appointments clause is that the president must be able to fulfill his constitutional duty to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ even when the Senate is unable to advise and consent to his appointments. In the early years of the republic, when…[senators] returned home at the end of each session, the recess appointments clause ensured that the president could keep the government running during the six to nine months before the next session.

“In modern times…the sessions have been extended to accommodate the long breaks within them. But now, even when the senators are present, they are often unable to discharge their responsibilities because of a legislative invention unforeseen by the Founders: the use of [the filibuster] employed by a minority to prevent or delay a vote by the majority.

“The filibuster did not exist in 1789. It was…rarely [used] to block confirmation of executive-branch personnel. Today, however, the filibuster is applied to virtually all Senate business, including the confirmation of executive-branch nominees.

“As a result, critical executive-branch positions remain vacant while qualified nominees wait months—or years—for an up-or-down vote. Meanwhile, ‘acting’ officials are left…to manage and implement essential national functions without the democratic legitimacy of a presidential nomination. This is exactly what the recess appointments clause was meant to prevent. As a 1905 Senate Judiciary Committee Report stated: The clause’s ‘sole purpose was to render it certain that at all times there should be, whether the Senate was in session or not, an officer for every office, entitled to discharge the duties thereof.’

“The increase in intrasession recess appointments fairly tracks the increased use of the filibuster, which makes it surprising that the D.C. Circuit did not…define the situation for what it is: a conflict between the legislature and the president. The use (or abuse) of a procedural device created by the legislature has been met by the expanded use of a constitutional power by the president. This conflict should be resolved by the political branches. At the very least, the courts should not enter the fray to pass on one piece of the dispute without regard to the other pieces of the mosaic.”*

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The Power Struggle between the Legislative and Executive branches of government—the Filibuster vs the Recess Appointments—allows room for some thoughts about different ways that we Americans look at things. In a comment responding to Ms. Katzen’s essay, one reader of The Washington Post, someone identifying himself as “RomeoHotel” wrote:

“…Before I even knew what my politics would be…I noticed this difference between…‘liberals’ and…‘conservatives’: The liberals put their faith in leaders; the conservatives put their faith in systems. That is, conservatives were far more likely to feel that a good system could make up for a bad leader while liberals felt that a good leader could make up for a bad system….”

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Mr. RomeoHotel’s Comment presents an interesting observation.

Some binary distinctions such as this one (Left/Right; Conservative/Liberal; Democratic/Republican) seem to fuel our partisan divide. Otherwise—other than such political distinctions—we Americans get along with each other fairly well. In our daily interactions, we generally experience not a great deal of conflict or confrontation. Religious differences hardly divide us. School rivalries, reflected in sporting events and academic competitions, provide opportunities for acting out enthusiasm more than representing substantive differences.  And unlike much of the rest of the world, we tend not to fight even about major sporting events.‡

Only in the political arena do we act out a partisan, ideological divide with a no-holds-barred vigor.

Given the severity of the ideological divide, that has driven government nearly to a halt, and led key political leaders to work more for partisan obstruction than for our united advancement, the more we can learn about the nature of the divide and the causes of our differences, the better.

Any observations that lead toward recognizing these distinctions, to help us communicate across the divide, serve our common purposes. Mr. RomeoHotel’s observation thus merits wider distribution, additional thought, and more study.

Regards,
(($; -)}
Gozo!
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*The Washington Post: What the Courts Got Wrong About Recess Appointments
By Sally Katzen, CNN

WP Opinions: Comment by RomeoHotel

‡Compare yesterday’s Super Bowl to the football/soccer match in Egypt that left 74 dead, 1,00 others injured, 21 defendants condemned to death, and at least 27 more people dead in riots following the verdicts:

CNN: Clashes erupt after Egypt court sentences 21 to death in football riot
By Amir Ahmed and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

CBS News: Egypt: Deadly clashes follow soccer riot verdict

The New York Times: Egyptian Soccer Riot Kills More Than 70
By David D. Kirkpatrick

@GozoTweets

 20 January 2013

 __________

In the President’s imminent inauguration, will Chief Justice Roberts unilaterally amend the Constitution to suit his purposes once again?
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Regards,
(($; -)}
Gozo!

@GozoTweets