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Independents

Trump vs Trump

January 26th, 2016 // 12:24 am @

The Maybe

Donald TrumpA lot of people can’t stand the thought of Donald Trump for president. And, in contrast, a lot of people really like the idea. But neither of these groups, alone, is going to make the decision. Those who support Trump will vote for him, and those don’t, won’t.

There is another interesting group that will have a lot of influence in the primaries, and perhaps in the general election. This group (let’s call them Group X) isn’t sure what to do with this election. Perhaps Group X was summed up best by a man in Iowa who said something like this:

A lot of people don’t want to vote for Donald Trump, but they really do want to vote for someone like Donald Trump—someone with pretty much the same views, the same policies, the same disdain for Washington, the same sense of really fixing things, and the same aggressiveness, but without the outrageous, bombastic, offensive and extreme.

Group X could have a huge impact on the election. But if not Donald Trump, then who else could they elect?

What Voters Want

Some pundits immediately suggested that Ted Cruz or Chris Christie might meet their needs. But the Group X voters shook their heads. What the pundits don’t seem to understand is that many voters believe that if Christie, Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Fiorina, or Huckabee win the White House, it will be politics as usual in Washington. And the voters hate this.

Just think: Who will any of these candidates put into the top cabinet positions? Answer: politicians. The same old faces. Meaning that nothing will change.

But Trump: he’ll put in new people. From outside political circles. He’ll do things very differently. And that’s what voters want. This is what the Republican and media pundits don’t seem to grasp. The conservative voters want change. Real change. Not another George Bush I and George Bush II era.

The truth is, members of Group X want Trump, but they want him to be less…scary. To stop attacking war heroes, the disabled, and every minority in the nation and world. They want him to be politically incorrect, but not petty, vindictive and mean-spirited.

Moreover, as a nation we’re now moving into an era of war, whether we realize it or not. It’s a new kind of war, to be sure, with sleeper cells waiting in neighborhoods (like in San Bernandino) and lone extremist shooters (like in Philadelphia, Tennessee, and Fort Hood). But it’s real.

Group X voters want a wartime president, someone who says hard things and fixes heretofore unfixable problems. But they are torn, because they want the same president to do it all nicely. Many of these people have long felt that politics is too contentious and corrupt. They’ve spent years hoping for a new era, one that addresses the uncomfortable mire of American politics.

Now they are faced with just such a major shift, but it is headed in a very different direction. Putin is a wildcard and obvious danger, and China’s threat rests heavy on many Americans. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and other terrorists have many voters very concerned, and now the idea that radicalized terrorist attackers might be living in any neighborhood…it has a lot of people scared.

All this at a time that many Americans suffer a sort of collective PTSD about the Great Recession of 2008-2012. “When will the next major problems hit our economy?” many people wonder. Others ask, “Has the economy really, actually, recovered like Washington claims? Then why doesn’t it feel like it?”

The Trump Card

Many committed Trump supporters have long since moved past this internal struggle. In their minds, it is clear that Washington is a disaster, that both parties are unable to really put things in order, and that Trump is the most decidedly-non-politician in the race.

They don’t necessarily agree with everything he says about the border with Mexico, but they believe he’ll build a real wall and close the border if anyone can. In their view, none of the politicians will even get close.

Likewise, they don’t agree with Trump’s worst rhetoric against Syrian refugees, or other groups, but they’re convinced that he’ll make the nation a lot safer than anyone else who is running.

Apply this same approach to every issue—Russia, China, the economy. Trump supporters believe that if anyone can actually take on Putin, Iran, China, and change the economy, it’s Trump. In their view, everyone else in the presidential race will just dither around, play politics, talk a lot, and nothing will really change. In fact, things will just get worse over the next four years—just like the last eight, sixteen, or even twenty-four years have under Obama, Bush and Clinton.

And, of course, on the other side of the divide there are those who wouldn’t dream of voting for Trump. From their perspective, he’s unpredictable, divisive, and vindictive—unfit to be in the White House.

The challenge for Group X is that they partially agree with both sides. They struggle, because on the one hand they think that only Trump will really change things. Only Trump will actually fix these huge problems. They’ve just watched decades of politicians make promises, and nothing got done, or bad things got done. They know what another politician in the White House will do—and they don’t want that.

But on the other hand, they wonder if Trump will change it too much. Will his extreme rhetoric go too far? Hasn’t it already? Will rounding up illegal aliens in the U.S. go too far?

They like Trump when they think about him facing off with Putin, ISIS, China, North Korea, and Iran. He might be wild and unpredictable, but he’s OUR wild and unpredictable—so watch out! But they cringe when they picture how he might decide to respond to a big race riot in a major U.S. city. Or ten major U.S. cities.

The Real Race

This is the big debate in the 2016 election. For this group of conservatives (in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and a handful of other early voting states) who will probably determine how the primaries turn out, it’s not Trump vs. Cruz, Trump vs. Carson or Bush, Trump vs. Rubio or even Trump vs. Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

It’s Trump vs. Trump. Pure and simple.

Which way will these Group X voters turn? They are being pulled in two powerful directions, and the elections are rapidly approaching.

As the primaries arrive, we will see what they decide. They may pull back, deciding in the end that Trump is just too much of a wildcard, or they may decide that it’s finally time for a major shakeup in Washington, even a bumpy, white-knuckled one. After all, things have been going badly for over twenty-four years, so let’s try something different.

Trump supporters say that concerns about Trump are extreme, that the rhetoric of the campaign will eventually calm to the intelligent decisions of a President Trump—a proven leader and an effective, rational business executive, an inspiring and good father.

The X Group will consider this viewpoint as well. But it is still very unclear how they will vote. We will probably have to wait for the actual caucuses and primaries to see which direction they’ll choose.

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The Media is Wrong About America’s Election “Anger” Problem

January 20th, 2016 // 7:52 am @

The New Myth

internet-politicsSomething significant has occurred during the 2015-2016 election cycle. The mainstream media has effectively portrayed “anger” or “being politically angry” as bad. “Good” citizens, in this context, are those who aren’t upset, frustrated, or angry about…well…anything.

Indeed, the media has created an interesting picture of what politics should be (in their opinion). This is multifaceted, but actually quite simple. With careful camera shots, and a clear agenda in the editing room, the media has portrayed two Americas–both of them far from accurate.

On the one hand, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina have become the faces of American anger. When the media shows clips of these candidates, they are animated, usually upset about something, and speaking in strident tones with extreme words.

Their supporters are portrayed in nearly all of the video images as rowdy, unthinking, and a bit star-struck. The clips are carefully selected to show middle- and lower-class-looking Americans waving flags, wearing campaign t-shirts, and sporting sweats, jeans, un-manicured hair and waistlines that are larger-than-normal (at least on television).

In contrast, Bernie Sanders is portrayed as an apostle of decorum. Like other candidates, he waves his arms, speaks in extreme terms, and jabs his finger repeatedly at the crowd—but this is nearly always aired without actual audio. We often don’t hear what Sanders is saying; instead a reporter or commentator uses moderate tones while these pictures run in the background.

We are left with the soft, soothing and studied commentaries of professional journalists, while Sanders’ visual antics communicate energy, passion, and political strength. The juxtaposition of these cues and messages is subtle, but effective: “Sanders has great passion and momentum, and his ideas are credible and intelligent.”

Behind the Curtain

When we are allowed to actually hear Sanders speak, he is usually sitting in a one-on-one interview, conversational, and politely direct. No finger-jabbing, no waving arms. His hair may be a throwback to an episode of Back to the Future, but he looks confidently and humbly into the camera and speaks like an economics professor. “He is just the messenger. Hear his truth…”

Most clips of his audiences emphasize trim, handsome, young people (many of them students), often with jackets and ties. Indeed, they are exact replicas of Ron Paul crowds from past elections. The older participants mostly look like academics… Once again, the message is clear.

In contrast: When Trump or Cruz are interviewed in person, the cameras invade their personal space and close in on the face. Every “angry” wrinkle is visible. The camera backs off for Sanders and Clinton, showing the whole body—dressed for an episode of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The message is obvious: “This is a genuine man, or woman, of the people.” Clips of their intellectual discourses-of-the-day are played and replayed. As for Trump and Cruz, the sound bites are sensational and extreme.

But watch the full videos, where they are available. In reality, all four of these candidates have moments of extremism and other moments of intellectual depth. The same is true of Christie, Fiorina, Carson, and O’Malley, for that matter. Yet ask most TV viewers, and the word “intellectual” will apply to the Democratic candidates, while the Republican candidates are “extreme.”

A lot of artful and conscientious camerawork reinforces these stereotypes.

To be clear: Sanders’ stump speeches are every bit as “angry” as Trump’s. His rhetoric is patently extreme. “Wall street is ruining it for everyone else. Greed controls our nation. The 1 percent must pay their fair share, including free college for everyone. A much higher minimum wage is absolutely necessary—anyone who disagrees is part of the lies and greed.”

Likewise, Cruz is every bit as intellectual and studied as Hillary.

Anger Management

Perhaps the most interesting thing in all this: The typical ways the mainstream media portrays the Democrats are also applied to Marco Rubio. Not to Huckabee or Rand Paul. Not to Santorum or Kasich. Not to Christie or Carson. Just to Rubio.

The media has so far portrayed him as intellectual, credible, wise—like the Democratic candidates. Also, Rubio doesn’t wear the typical Republican uniform (suits and ties that scream “Mr. Smith Owns Washington.”). He frequently wears a sweater-like casual jacket with a zipper down the front. Very pedestrian. Very academic. Again, the mainstream media frequently portrays him like it does the Democratic candidates.

Fascinating.

[Why is that, do you suppose?]

By the way, the same thing occurred with John McCain during the 2007-2008 primaries. Later, once he was the nominee, the media shifted its approach and portrayed him the same way it had other Republican: extreme, out of touch, slick around the edges, uncaring, silver platter.

Romney didn’t get this stylized media treatment in 2012, and no other Republican is getting it now. Just McCain and Rubio. Interesting…

And, again, the real message of the 2016 election, if you accept the cues and innuendos of the mainstream media, is that:

  1. “Anger is bad!”

and

  1. “The Republicans are all angry.”

Let’s consider this idea seriously. If anger is bad for politics, then we must of course be happy with everything President Obama has done. “No anger. Just smile. It’s all good.”

Steps to Solutions

The problem is that it isn’t all good. In his last State of the Union address, the President painted a rosy picture of a more prosperous and safer American than when he took office. Both are false. The national debt has ballooned from $10 trillion when he entered the White House to $19 trillion today. ISIS is a real threat, along with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, other terrorists, North Korea, Iran (much worse than before), China, Russia…etc. We aren’t a bit safer.

There is much to be concerned about—very concerned. Calling such concern “anger” and equating it with being unintelligent or uninformed is, in fact, totally out of touch. It’s also ignorant. False. And insulting.

The economy is still facing serious problems, and the last seven years have only made things worse. Are many voters “angry?” Yes, in both parties. And with good reason.

A smug, arrogant media isn’t helping. Let’s be honest. The mainstream media are at least as responsible for today’s widespread American “anger” as the White House.

Anger isn’t the ultimate solution, to be sure. But it actually is a reasonable first step. Or, perhaps, the second step, after first recognizing that something has gone wrong. There’s a lot to be angry about, and only people who aren’t paying attention—or actually like the status quo—feel great about the country’s current path.

Determination and Change

Being angry about the bad directions Washington is taking doesn’t mean voters are unintelligent, uninformed, or unsophisticated. It means they care. It means they’re watching, and they expect Washington to do its job—a lot better than it has recently.

It means they’re still part of a democratic republic and they still believe democracy works. They take their citizenship seriously, and they’re gearing up to take action on election night.

The truth is that this is what scares the mainstream media. They label it “angry” because they don’t want to admit that the majority of voters disagree with the elite media and want a lot more government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

If you’re an elitist, freedom scares you. So you call it names, like “angry” or “uninformed.” In truth, it is angry, but it’s actually very well informed. It’s the power of the people focused on an election with an intensity not seen in a lot of years.

The people want real change, like they did in 2010 and 2014. And they’re determined to make it happen. But this time, their intensity is pointed at a presidential election.

The mainstream media knows what’s coming, but they’re going to try to stop it if they can. This approach will make a lot of voters even angrier—and even more determined.

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A Real State of the Union

January 7th, 2016 // 9:09 am @

Where America Is Right Now

Whatever the President says in the State of the Union address early next week, here’s what really needs to be said.

A Real State of the Union:

president-obama-announcementSometimes things just don’t add up. They don’t make sense. There’s no way to reconcile them with…well, reality. They are square pegs in a world of round holes.

I recently came across five such troubling facts and questions in current events, and, to make them even more ridiculous, they’re all coming from basically the same place: The current White House.

So here they are. I’ll give a little commentary on them, but not much. They’re pretty self-explanatory. Or, maybe a better way to say this is that they’re all amazingly ridiculous and commentary won’t help.

1. According to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare (the Affordable Health Care Act) will reduce the number of full-time workers in the U.S. by 2 million over the next ten years.

Seriously?

Yes.

Just think of it: That’s 2 million full-time jobs that are going to be lost simply (and specifically) because of Obamacare.

This begs the question: “Then why do we keep it?”

The next three items come from an unattributed note circulating on social media. I think they’re worth reading:

2. “We are advised to NOT judge all Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of few lunatics.”

The White House couldn’t be more inconsistent on these two issues.

(By the way, I side with not judging any group by the actions a few bad apples.)

3. “Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and reducing the size of our army (too expensive to maintain), but we are not stopping payments or benefits to illegal aliens, or cutting federal aid to foreign countries?”

Cut the foreign aid and massive welfare (across the board, not just to immigrants) and rebuild our security.

4. “Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. But we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What’s interesting is the first group ‘worked for’ their money, but the second didn’t.”

Did government use the money paid for the first group to cover the second?

The last one is just plain jaw dropping:

5. Over the course of many months our President and the White House have repeatedly assured us of two things: (A) ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Islamic terrorists aren’t much of a threat, and (B) the most pressing priority for our national security is to get more nations to sign environmental treaties.

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns…

The Real Concerns

Together these five amazing attitudes give us a pretty good indication of how our current national leadership is thinking.

What about terrorism? What about the struggling economy? What about the massive over-regulation of business? What about the huge amounts of capital and jobs that are fleeing to other nations? What about serious unemployment (hidden because of the way Washington calculates its statistics)? What about China, Iran, and Putin? What about North Korea, and Syria? What about our skyrocketing national debt? What about…

“Don’t worry,” we’re told. “It’s under control.”

Really?

Where?

Certainly not here in the real world. The truth is that these things are far from “under control.”

I’m an optimist, and I still believe that America’s best years are ahead. But we need to make some major changes—and fast.

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Why the Establishment Likes Marco Rubio

November 12th, 2015 // 2:15 pm @

Standings

RepublicanElephantIt’s all about the debates.

Whether you like or dislike Hillary Clinton’s politics, she’s proven very effective in this year’s presidential debate. She knows policies forward and backward, on every topic that comes up in both domestic and foreign policy. She’s confident and sharp. She looks presidential to many on the Left and also to many independents.

So far, she’s been much better at debating than Jeb Bush or John Kasich. Donald Trump may improve, but to date he hasn’t shown any great debating skill either. As he puts it, this country needs a leader who will fix the economy and make the military strong again, not just another debater.

Trump has a lot of support for other reasons, but how he’ll do against Hillary on live TV has the Republican establishment concerned—even though his supporters say he’ll be much better in head-to-head matchups than with 8 or 10 people behind the podiums. Of course, the GOP establishment wouldn’t like Trump even if he were the best debater in history.

Likewise, the establishment doesn’t care much for Ben Carson. He isn’t the traditional debater by any means, but when he speaks, a lot of people stop and listen. It would be very interesting to see him debate Hillary Clinton. Who knows how such an event would go?

Many establishment types worry that in the Internet age (where most voters only see 1 or 2 clips from any debate, replayed over and over) Clinton would easily dominate against Carson, Trump, Rand Paul, Huckabee, and even Bush or Kasich. Whether this is accurate or not remains to be seen, but this is their concern.

That leaves establishment Republicans with four main choices: Christie, Fiorina, Rubio or Cruz. Neither Christie nor Fiorina has shown the ability to garner much support from either the GOP base or establishment. Some pundits also feel that Christie or Fiorina could come off looking too harsh against Hillary—perhaps winning on content but losing on likeability.

The Question

Many of the die-hard Republican establishment are now suggesting that the nomination may well come down to Rubio or Cruz. Both are very effective in the debates, and it is easy to picture either of them winning the general election sound-byte battle.

Rubio is young, energetic, knows the issues in depth and detail, polls well among women, Latinos, and swing-state voters, and is sharp, articulate, and good in a scrum. Many pundits predict he’d be especially effective on stage in a series of debates with Clinton. On paper, he’s just what the establishment is looking for (not quite as experienced at governing as Jeb or Kasich, but much better on the debate stage).

As for Cruz, the establishment hardly considered him a real candidate as recently as July. But after months of Trump and Carson leading the polls, they’re a lot more likely to stomach Cruz as the nominee. He has many of the same positives as Rubio, though he doesn’t poll as well among women, swing-state voters, or moderates. Plus he’s against the GOP establishment, not for it.

All this brings us back to a key question: In reality, aren’t Trump and Carson still ahead in many polls? The answer is yes. But a lot of establishment types are still convinced that neither Trump nor Carson will be the nominee. I disagree with their reasoning, because I think the voters will elect the person they want rather than follow the establishment’s recommendations.

But let’s just play along with the pundits for a minute and ask ourselves: if Trump or Carson isn’t the nominee, who will it most likely be? Five months ago, the overwhelming establishment answer to this question was Bush.

But that’s changed. With the image of multiple one-on-one debates against Hillary in their minds, many in the establishment have decided that Bush just won’t shine—while Rubio will.

A Chance

If you’re not part of the establishment, none of this is particularly relevant to your view of the election. But it’s important to understand what is happening in the race, and why. Right now the specter of 2016 debates in the national spotlight against Hillary is reformatting the way GOP elites see the entire campaign.

That’s why the establishment now likes Rubio.

The truth is, this is all good for the Republican base. There’s a real chance in this election to finally elect a president who will actually reduce the national debt (which is now above $154,453 per tax payer), cut the size of government, and reboot the economy. A cynic will argue that this won’t happen no matter who gets elected, but there are candidates who are committed to this—and just might be able to pull it off.

It’s certainly worth a shot–because otherwise our country is in for a lot more painful decline.

If this election had gone the way the establishment predicted, with Bush sweeping the lead, the chance of real change would already be long gone. As it stands, a solid 60% of the GOP electorate wants a serious, major change in Washington and the White House. When they get down to actually voting, we’ll see how it all shakes out.

But there’s still a chance.

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How to Realistically End Obamacare and Stop the Iran Deal

September 22nd, 2015 // 11:21 am @

by Oliver DeMille

Emotions and Questions

Conscience_and_lawA lot of Americans are deeply frustrated. Many of them are downright angry about the direction our nation is taking. We use our power as citizens to change things—through elections. We send Congressmen and Senators to reverse things we don’t like, but they don’t do much. Why? “Because they can’t,” people tell me. “Because the president will just veto whatever they do. Or the Court will just decree whatever it wants. We’ve got no power. Our votes don’t accomplish anything.”

The Founder’s Way

The American founding fathers knew that situations like this would come up, so they wrote the Constitution in a very specific way. They gave the power of the purse strings to the House of Representatives for two vital reasons:

First, because they knew that the power to fund or defund any government action was the ultimate power in the Constitution. This power affects everything the government does. No budget equals no personnel, no staff, no petty cash, no anything. This is real teeth. And the framers gave it to the House so they would use it!

Second, the framers gave this power only to the House of Representatives. Why? Because Congressmen are elected directly by the voters, and they are elected every two years. Thus if Washington gets off track, the voters can re-constitute the entire House of Representatives every 24 months. The whole thing. And this new House can totally rewrite the budget. All of it .The House can refuse to fund anything, and that thing will go away.

The framers wanted the House to use the purse powers to defund or refuse to renew funding on things the people don’t like—such as Bush’s torture policies or secret big data spying on American citizens, or today’s Obamacare, federal funding of Planned Parenthood, the Iran deal, and other proposals at this level. That’s why the framers set up the Constitution the way they did.

Presidential vetoes, Court decisions, Senatorial refusals to confirm a presidential nomination, and House refusal to funding: these are all routine constitutional tools. And let’s be clear. The power of the purse is the exact level of extreme that the framers made it. The Court can say something’s constitutional and even say this part of government should stay open. The House can decide whether to fund that thing with $3 trillion or with 30 cents.

The framers knew that the president would have the power of the military, the Court would have the power of legal decisions, the Senate the power of treaties—and they wanted the House to have an equal power. This is the people’s power. This is the House’s power. It is pretty much their only real power. If they don’t use it, they have very little power. But if they do use it, they have the most power in Washington.

Indeed, the power of the purse, the House’s ability to simply withhold funding to the government on any new funding proposal, or renewed funding plan, is the “people’s veto” on the president and the Court. Yet today the president uses his veto power all the time, and the Court uses its decision-making power all the time, while the House almost never uses their veto power.

Why? Because when they do, the media convinces the American electorate that “shutting down the government” is somehow not part of the Constitution.

But the truth is the exact opposite. This House veto is absolutely vital.

Check and Balance

“But that’s so drastic,” some people say. “Shutting the government down is out of bounds. It’s extreme!”

Actually, it’s no more drastic or extreme than a presidential veto. Both of these powers were put in the Constitution by the framers for the same reason—the veto power to allow the president to check Congress, and the power over the purse to allow Congress to check the president.

It’s the most basic part of our governmental system. The three branches can check and balance each other. The president by veto, the Court by decision, the Senate by withholding confirmations, and the House by the power of the purse—by withholding funding. The framers did this on purpose. This is the whole point of three separate branches of government operating with checks and balances.

But the only Constitutional teeth the House has against the president is the power of the purse. And if the House never uses its Constitutional teeth against the president, then we’re living under a monarchy, not a democratic republic. The president will just do whatever he decides to do. That’s not freedom.

Our problems in Washington aren’t caused by vetoes and the checks and balances. Our problems are nearly all the result of not following the Constitution with its checks and balances. Just refuse to fund the agenda of any president who tries to use too much power (like sign a treaty with Iran by executive order instead of following the Treaty requirements in the Constitution). For the current Congress: Don’t renew funding of Obama programs until he takes you seriously. Until he stays within the Constitution. Stop funding his agenda, and he’ll stop doing whatever he wants. He’ll be forced to stop the overreach.

Stop blaming the White House, and stop blaming the Court. It’s 100% in the power of the House or the Senate. And the American citizenry needs to know this. If we don’t even know how powerful our votes make us under our Constitution, we’ll just keep getting more and more bad government.

 

Note: Americans need to know this. Please pass it on…

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