The End of Democracy in America

I know it seems like a ridiculous idea. The world’s greatest democracy founded on July 4, 1776 coming to an end. Every nation in the world striving to have a democracy tries to emulate the United States of America.  It is happening before our eyes.  Millions of our own citizens no longer believe fair and honest elections are possible.

The US Constitution

To ensure that there are unfair elections the GOP, the Republican Party, are passing laws to deny citizens the right to vote.  But of course many Republicans believe they are doing the right thing to protect the democracy.  

States with Republican legislatures have passed waves of new laws making it harder for constituents to vote in response to the 2020 election, experts say.

Republican lawmakers in state legislatures across the country are capitalizing on Trump’s repeated claims of voter fraud to pass these measures. Nineteen states have passed 33 news laws this year that make it harder to vote, according to an updated analysis released Monday by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice.

The report, which covers legislative activity through September 27, finds that:

  • Four states bundled together an array of new voting restrictions into single omnibus bills: Texas, Florida, Georgia and Iowa.
  • Four states — Arkansas, Montana, Texas and Arizona — passed multiple laws to restrict voting.
  • Many state laws hit on common themes. Seven, for instance, imposed tougher identification requirements to cast ballots. Seven states also shortened the window to apply for a mail-in ballots.

Some states are discouraging voter participation by imposing arbitrary requirements and harsh penalties on voters and poll workers who violate these rules. In Georgia, lawmakers have made it a crime to provide food and water to voters standing in line at the polls — lines that are notoriously long in Georgia, especially for communities of color. In Texas, people have been arrested and given outrageous sentences for what amount at most to innocent mistakes made during the voting process.

 Large majorities of Republicans continue to believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and elected Republicans around the country are acting on this conspiracy theory — attempting to lock Democrats out of power by seizing partisan control of America’s electoral systems. Democrats observe all this and gird for battle, with many wondering if the 2024 elections will be held on the level.

I can see only two possibilities. 1) A military civil war that will result in the loss of lives.  Those with the guns winning and resulting into a police state. 2) The splitting of the nation into multiple countries.  The liberal west coast as one nation.  The Midwest and the South another country and the Northeast a third country.

Historians will note that no government lasts forever.

Goodbye to 2021

The good, the bad and the ugly

First the good

The U.S. $1.9 trillion COVID-19-relief package that helped families—and states and cities—weather the financial hardship caused by the pandemic

A relatively smooth rollout of the major COVID-19 vaccines that offered protection to more than 200 million people and provided at least a brief return to normalcy

A U.S. $1 trillion infrastructure law that won Republican party support and made substantial progress on an issue that had vexed presidents of both parties

The bad

The resurgence, first in summer and then in late fall, of the coronavirus pandemic

Failure to win Senate backing of his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better economic plan all thanks to one man, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III

Retention of the filibuster in the United States Senate

Vladimir Putin massing Russian troops on its Ukraine border

The pointless meeting of countries called COP26, United Nations Climate Change Conference, that accomplished nothing

The ugly

Invasion of the U.S. Capital

The U.S. chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan that ceded the country to the Taliban, cost the lives of U.S. troops, and left many Afghan allies to fend for themselves

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that inflation for the past 12 months has risen by 6.8 percent

The supply chain that ensures we can buy the things we want and need has been disrupted by the pandemic. There are too many cargo ships waiting to be unloaded and there is a shortage of manpower to make things and to drive the trucks that deliver goods around the country. In Houston, the public transportation system is offering new bus drivers bonuses of $4,000. For mechanics, it’s $8,000.

2022 does not appear to be any better than 2021 with the threats of war, a pandemic that is more ominous, and a democracy that is being threatened by its own people.  

Where’s California invitation to Biden’s democracy summit?

President Biden, did California’s invitation to your Summit for Democracy get lost by the postal service?

Or did you just forget to put us on your list?

Either way, you snubbed California. The Golden State isn’t just way more democratic than many countries you included, like increasingly authoritarian Poland, India, and the Philippines. California also has more people all but a handful of countries at the summit.

More pointedly, where’s your gratitude, dude? California is considerably more democratic than the United States as a whole. And you wouldn’t be governing the country now, much less holding a democracy summit, without the votes of Californians.

But, maddeningly, instead of asking California to send a delegation, you missed an opportunity to address criticism that the American government shouldn’t be holding such a summit when its own democracy is backsliding.

Perhaps you didn’t invite us because you feared that we’d make you look bad. People might point out that the United States, over 245 years, hasn’t managed to hold a single national election. Instead, all elections in this country are at the state or local levels, even for the nation’s highest office, which is why you don’t even have to win the most votes to be elected president. Congress, as a supposedly representative institution, is a joke, with a gerrymandered House and a Senate that gives two seats each to California and Delaware. And virtually all hard questions in the United States are decided by nine unelected and unaccountable lawyers with life tenure.

And while you tolerate voter suppression in many states, California is busy making it easier for people to vote. Californians also allows its citizens to make the laws and amend the constitution themselves through direct democratic tools that do not exist at the national level. At the local level, California communities are adopting other democratic advances — including ranked choice voting systems and participatory budgeting. 

Meanwhile, we’ve noticed, Mr. President, that you are dumping all the trickiest democratic issues — from voting rights to migrants’ rights — on your Californian vice president, while  allowing your staff to undermine her at every turn.

All that said, we know California isn’t perfect. We only look that way compared to your government.

If you’d invited us, we might have had to answer for our many failings. We have centralized so much fiscal power in state government that our local governments are little more than beggars. We’ve also invested a dangerous amount of authority in our governor, who has extended his own pandemic-era power to rule by decree into March 2022.

And for a place that takes so much pride in its diversity, we are terrible at representation. Indeed, Californians are the least-represented people in America. Because of our failure to expand the state legislature over the past century to keep up with population, our legislative districts are twice as populous as any in America — every state senator represents one million Californians, and every assembly member half-a-million.

Our local governments are similarly small and unrepresentative. If we had been invited to your democracy summit, we would have had to leave Los Angeles at home. It’s embarrassing to explain why the city of Los Angeles has just 15 council members for its 4 million people and L.A. County has just five supervisors for 10.3 million.

Given all these failings, it sure would be helpful if we could join a meeting with some of the world’s most democratic countries. Learning more about summit invitees like Taiwan, which has built a successful democracy in the shadow of an autocratic state, and Switzerland, which does direct democracy better than California, could help us raise our game.

President Biden, we know it’s too late for you to invite a California delegation for this year’s online summit. So, why not invite California to next year’s in-person follow-up right now?

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star

And Society Said “Who Cares?”

It is impossible to fathom what is in the minds of members of the Senate and House that continue to block legislation that would decrease the use of firearms that kill innocent people. The Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, the leading Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, blocked a request on Thursday to proceed on gun control legislation in the Senate after the Michigan school shooting this week.

Grassley blocked expanding background checks condemning it as “hostile towards lawful gun owners and lawful firearm transactions”. He argued that “so-called universal background checks will not prevent crime and will turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.”

Think about that.  Universal background checks would “turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.”  How about background checks to prevent criminals and mentally challenged people from obtaining firearms?

Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old accused of killing four fellow students at a Michigan high school was identified by teachers as a troubled teenager.  His father bought the gun he used just a few days before the killing.  Would James Crumbley pass a background check?  Perhaps, but every effort to keep weapons out of the hands of would be killers is worth the price of investigating someone’s background.

This shooting is reminiscent of the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 children

And society said “Who cares?”

People like Chuck Grassley are a danger to American society.  

Auto Shows are Fun to Visit

I visited the Los Angeles Auto show the other day.  It’s always fun to see what is new.  The big push was on all electric vehicles that are referred to as EVs.

The most significant  thing for me was the number of companies offering cars that I never new existed. Lucid Motors, Fisker, Bremach, Cobera, EdisonFuture, Electra Meccanica, Imperium Motor Co., Mullen, Sondors, VinFast.  Is there any chance that any of these companies will survive?  Fisker has a very large display as you enter the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Henrick Fisker claims to have raised $1.6 billion in a public offering last year, he said, and there were 19,000 reservation holders waiting for his cars.  His display includes his first offering called Ocean, an EV SUV.    

Fisker Ocean

These vehicles are great in a city where there are charging stations but there is a big downside to having an EV if you plan to travel.  First there is finding a charging station. Second is the time to charge the cars.  “Coming to Yosemite with your Tesla or other electric vehicle? Stop in at Tenaya Lodge for a charge! … Things you can do while you charge your car: Dine in one of our five restaurants.” That is on Highway 41 outside the park.

There are two charging stations in Yosemite Valley.  Today the one by the Ahwahnee Hotel is closed.  Using I5 going from Los Angeles to Oregon you will need a map to locate charging station locations and a lot of patience.

Despite these two glaring issues Nissan is introducing a new EV SUV that is beautifully designed.  In my view the vehicle was the outstanding car.

Nissan 2022 Ariya CUV

But there is a problem. A shortage of computer chips has slowed the manufacturing of all vehicles. 

So while going to the auto show is fun. Dealers have little or no 2021 and 2022 cars in stock.

Weekly Jobless Claims Plunge to 199,000

Jobless claims reached the lowest level in more than 50 years. This is the lowest level for initial claims since November 15, 1969 when it was 197,000. The 71,000 slide marks the eighth straight week of declines, a reflection of a tight labor market that has companies scrambling to retain and expand their workforces.

Unemployment is still higher than it was before the pandemic, resignations are soaring, and employers are struggling to keep their workers. Workers are demanding higher pay and walking away from jobs that don’t provide a living wage or are just plain boring and don’t offer an opportunity for more satisfying work.

Inflation may be up but the economy is growing. Most businesses are seeing higher profits.

Thanks Joe, You Had Your Turn!

President Joe Biden is in serious trouble despite the fact that his infrastructure bill has been passed.  His social infrastructure bill of $3 Trillion has been striped down to a mere $1.75 Trillion and is looking to be stripped to an even smaller size. Inflation reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) just reported that inflation rose 6.2% in the past year. Add to that the supply chain issues that are causing shortages in the things we want, the sloppy withdrawal from Afghanistan, the unconquered COVID-19 pandemic, the likely control of Congress passing to the Republicans next November and you have the formula for a one term president.

The infrastructure bill that will be signed on Monday November 15 will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years, including money for roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways. The package includes a $65 billion investment in improving the nation’s broadband infrastructure, and invests tens of billions of dollars in improving the electric grid and water systems. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text. The public is not impressed.

In a new WaPo-ABC poll In a new WaPo-ABC poll

  • 63% of respondents said Biden has accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing” so far in his presidency. A full 45% said he’s done “little or nothing” — that’s worse than the numbers for then-Presidents DONALD TRUMP, BARACK OBAMA or BILL CLINTON at comparable points in their presidencies.
  • Just 31% said he’s kept most of his major campaign promises — also a worse figure than Trump, Obama or Clinton received.
  • 70% rated the economy as “not so good” or “poor.”

    While the 2024 presidential election is three years away likely candidates are laying their plans now. The winner will not be President Joe Biden nor past president Donald Trump. We want a unifier but politics will be getting in the way.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Every election results in one winner and losers.  The winner won the most votes.  That is the American democracy.  With two major political parties the winner will likely be a Republican or a Democrat.  The first national election was 1789.  The election system has made America the example for the rest of the world.

In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe by a margin of 50.9 percent to 48.4 percent as of midday Friday. In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Jack Ciattarelli by a nearly identical margin, 50.8 percent to 48.5 percent.

In Virginia, McAuliffe conceded defeat the morning after the election. In New Jersey, Ciattarelli refused to concede.

This is the new GOP response when their candidate loses an election. If we win no matter how close it was a fair election. If our candidate lost there was cheating and fraud.

This is all taken from the Donald Trump playbook.

If this becomes the standard then we can kiss the American democracy goodbye.