Home » Congress, Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch
Category Archives: Congress, Legislative Branch, Judicial Branch
John “B.B.” Boehner: Bad Boss
On Wednesday July 30th, 2014, with a vote of 225-201, the House of Representatives voted to give John Boehner, the United States Speaker of the House, the authority to sue the President of the United States.
That’s right. Our dysfunctional 113th Congress came together for a vote along party lines to sue our President–every Democrat voted against the resolution to sue and all but five (5) Republicans voted in favor of the suit!
At the helm of this dysfunction is the 64-year old, stiff, stoic, and seriously egotistical John “B.B” Boehner. Sworn in as our nation’s 61st Speaker of the House, it is the job of “B.B.” to preside over the House of Representatives—one of two houses that comprises Congress. The members of the House of Representatives are determined by each state’s population which means more populous states have greater voices and votes in the legislative (law-making) processes of the House of Representatives.
“B.B.” has 435 people under his watch. Based on the productivity of this current Congress, it appears as if they all have pretty much been watching each other because they have clearly not been working.
So why the law suit?
By constitutional decree, “B.B.” is second in line to the presidency, and that may have a lot to do with his treatment of President Obama since becoming the Speaker on January 3rd, 2011. I have a feeling that somewhere deep in his orange-stained encapsulated mind he believes that he can do a better job. But, the historical record shows the only thing “B.B.” is capable of doing well is saying, “No.” This Congress has been the least effective Congress in the history of America—even more ineffective than the 80th ‘Do Nothing’ Congress that served with President Harry Truman!
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the real reason “B.B.” has moved forward with this expensive and frivolous law suit is because of the Republican’s accusation of President Obama’s “executive overreach—exceeding his constitutional powers and unlawfully going around Congress.” The Wall Street Journal contributed Boehner’s decision was reinforced by alterations that were made to the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obama Care.
Clearly the framers of the Constitution knew how to keep one another in check because they implicitly imbedded and explicitly granted really important duties, responsibilities, and privileges to the different branches of government. Because the Republicans of this Congress have been so staunch in their resolve to see President Obama fail, and since the Republicans were not successful in preventing President Obama from reelection, they just flat-out became uncooperative, leaving President Obama without a choice but to use the Executive Order and executive privilege to run this country and to make decisions that Congress, that appeared to be defunct at times, refused to help him with. But, President Obama still appealed to them and he still operated within the confines of the Constitution and under the oath he took to defend the Constitution when he was sworn in as president.
Under the partial congressional leadership of Boehner, our nation has suffered sequestration, been faced with issues with our nation’s credit standing, and most importantly Americans have suffered by the non-passage of legislation to provide jobs, support our veterans, and improve the overall quality of life in health, education, and wages.
Bad Boss Boehner and his followers have no respect for the position of the president, show no remorse for the further suffering they have inflicted on the American people, and don’t care about the international implications their actions dictate about how others around the world treat President Obama and respect our system of democracy. In true bad fashion, they have strong-armed the political process like a bunch of sophisticated crooks.
The history that President Obama has made by breaking and removing the glass ceiling of political exclusion for Americans in this country can never be undone. That’s good!
But, the fact that America really wants to become a better nation, but unfortunately-stagnated, small-minded people wish to prevent our progress, is disturbing and bad.
Of all of the putrid and disturbing things for the Speaker of the House to do, using his position to “speak” ideas of anarchy and dysfunction deeper into our government is really low and bad.
When this Congress’s history is recorded, it will not be for a record of all of the good and progressive ways in which it elevated America. Instead, it will be a record of them getting paid for bad, litigious, and intentionally unproductive ways to discredit the office of the president, maintain the status quo of political party chaos, and prevent the upward mobility of Americans and this nation.
America, we have roughly 95 days until mid-term elections are held on Election Day, November 4th, 2014.
YOU have the power to rid our government of Bad Bosses like John “B. B.” Boehner and bad-boss practices. You must simply care about what is happeing in our government, read everyday to stay informed–ThePoliDay Report is a great place, and most importantly you must VOTE!
Celebrating Legislation: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Turns 50 TODAY!
It is always the strangest thing in the world to me when we celebrate milestone events in this country that are nuanced with a particular group of Americans in mind–especially when that group is African Americans. It is especially peculiar to think of celebrating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the premier pieces of legislation that defined the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. But, today we commemorate it–Happy 50th Anniversary!
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a long and hard battle fought by African Americans to get Congress to pass a strong meaningful piece of legislation that would secure our ability to be treated fairly according to the law, and especially in places of public accommodation. Congress was not super sold on passing this bill as America was ultra polarized and the racial tensions of America were about to reach their boiling points during the decade of the 60s. Prior to Johnson’s passing of the bill, it had been introduced by former president John F. Kennedy. Congress had made attempts to kill this bill and the likes of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Georgia Congressman John Lewis, and organizer A. Phillip Randolph had organized and participated in the August 28th, 1963 March on Washington to underscore the need for African Americans’ fair and equal treatment under the law.
Although revised and arguably watered down by most analyses, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it so hotels that were once suddenly “vacant” when African Americans solicited them could no longer prevent our stays. Those very same Woolworth counters that refused groups like the Greensboro Four (4) of 1960, only four years earlier, now had to open their counters for African American patronage and dine-in participation and not just take out. With the passage of this bill African Americans were not ever going to move the backs of any buses unless we wanted to. And, certainly after this bill was passed, discriminatory practices still prevailed because bad habits and even worse beliefs and practices were not abandoned overnight, but at least they were easier to fight and criminalize due to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2nd.
Take a listen:
On Friday, July 4th, 2014, we will celebrate 238 years of American independence from the control of the British crown and King James. Long before American Independence was a conceivable idea in the mind of European immigrants looking for solace from their nations’ persecution, African Americans were here and even before Columbus–we were merchants, mariners, explorers, and of course, we were the labor that created this “land of the free” and “home of the brave.”
No matter how strange it is to have to even celebrate 50 years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 victory, especially in a country nearly two and a half centuries old and one that would have never seen the light of victory without its “native sons”, we celebrate this legislation nonetheless.
Happy Birthday Civil Rights Act of 1964!
Florida’s Civil War on Black Boys
In less than one year’s time, the jurors in the infamous state of Florida have released rabid, white males into the civilized world to maim other people and/ or to walk away with vindication of ridding our world of what they perceive as enemy combatants.
On July 13th, 2013 the self-admitted killer of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty in Martin’s death. On February 15th, 2014 another self-confessed killer, Michael Dunn, was a little less fortunate than his Black-boy-murdering fraternity brother, Zimmerman, as he was charged with 3 counts of 2nd Degree attempted murder and 1 charge for shooting into the vehicle four young Black males occupied. Of the four teenagers in the vehicle, three walked away and one, Jordan Davis, became another of the fatalities of Florida’s civil war on Black boys. As a result of Dunn’s actions, he faces at least 75 years in jail. On the more serious charge of murder, however, Judge Russell Healey declared a mistrial as Florida Jurors could not reach an agreement.
The war rages on.
In accordance with the law, these vicious beasts were afforded their Constitutional rights; and, despite the perpetrators’ lawlessness, we still remain a nation of laws. The killers were offered speedy trials by juries of their peers (6th and 7th Amendments). When the killers were arrested, they were issued writs of habeas corpus, explanations for why they were being held in jail. We even granted them Miranda Rights (5th Amendment) so as to not incriminate themselves for crimes, but these killers eagerly confessed!
Michael Dunn, George Zimmerman, and others like them are vampires out for blood that wish to make us all feel afraid because they are insecure, racist bigots. We are not afraid of our humanity, but they are. These killers are restless deviants that patrol rainy nights as self-appointed neighborhood watchmen or noise pollution patrols in gas station parking lots. These killers and the jurors are in a civil war against young, teen, Black boys because Blacks boys don’t deserve to live in their eyes.
In Florida and the nation over, mothers train their boys to be quiet and to not exist in certain spaces. Fathers feel guilty for not
being in a position to help their boys because they know that despite their ages and experiences, criminality only sees their Blackness–what has happened to their sons, can, will, and has probably already happened to them. Black boys like Jordan Davis have no protection in Florida. And, in Florida’s civil war, no national guard has been ordered to guide these boys through life. No suspension of the writ of habeas corpus has been issued to pick up any suspecting, white male that could be a potential killer or worse, a juror that doesn’t believe crimes occur to Black boys, but are committed by them–even when they are dead. There is no Emancipation Proclamation promising Black boys protection for standing with their nation and leading us to victory by being upstanding teenaged citizens. Black boys wear red markers on their bodies and bullets travel where they are aimed when the trigger man is an angry, white male with a license to carry a gun. The luke-warm and not guilty verdicts issued by registered Florida voters serving jury duty are equally as lethal as the gun-wielding, angry, white-male killer–they also see red.
Justice is not blind.
There will be no Gettysburg Address to declare Florida consecrated land because there is no righteous indignation in shooting unarmed teenage boys before they are even old enough to become voters and enter into Florida’s jury pool. The only ground we stand is one that drags our nation further into a bloody civil war–Black boys are the enemy. Florida is just like South Carolina in 1861–it is defiant and eager to uphold states rights (10th Amendment) more than it values being a part of this nation. Fundamentally, Florida has already seceded. According to ThinkProgress.org, at least 26 children or teens have died as a result of this war-inducing, powder-keg law.
Stand Your Ground has to go! The Dream Defenders are leading the way.
If we have learned anything from the Civil War, it should be that in addition to the institution of slavery which is why the war began, the Civil War is our greatest stain. Black bodies, dead or alive, have always been the sacred prize in a land of cannibals and vampires. Nearly one million Americans were killed during the Civil War. America’s East coast became a hallowed cemetery between 1861-1865–that’s shameful! Not only did our soldiers die, but we also lost our president to assassination, Abraham Lincoln, by another gun-toting, racist, angry, white male.
When will we begin to hold angry, white men accountable for murder, cowardice and malicious behavior?
When will we declare a cease-fire on Stand Your Ground?
Happy 19th Birthday Jordan Davis!!
Lessons: Youth, Seahawks, and Championships
When’s the last time you ever heard someone proud to be “old at heart” or refer to the night as “mature” or “old”? Maybe never and I doubt that you ever will.
While there is a special proclivity for the wisdom and experience age brings, youth brings a fresher set of limbs, naïveté, and a dreamy hunger that allows for doubtful feats to become attainable realities. The Seattle Seahawks are a young team with an invincible drive that drove them all the way to Super Bowl victory. Whitney Houston once sang, “Tell me no, and I’ll show you I can.”
Often times young people ignore the word ‘no’. It isn’t because they mean to defy; it’s more of not wanting to betray a mind that tells them anything is possible and that they can. Because they believe they can, they often do.
According to Fox News and the National Football League’ statisticians, the average age of the Seahawks franchise is 25.4 years old. Their game winning Quarterback, Russell Wilson is the third youngest QB to win a Super Bowl Championship. The lesson is if you want victory, youth helps.
Our nation is only 50 years off of the heels of the 1963 March on Washington. Galvanizing such an enormous number of people, approximately 250,000, happened with the help of all demographics, including the youth. A very young, hopeful and determined future Congressman named John Lewis mesmerized the crowd. At 23, he seized a moment to address the nation about racist policies thwarting the youth and preventing America’s victory. Regarding the proposed Civil Rights bill that would eventually become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in his original non-censored speech he said,
“This bill will not protect young children and old women from police dogs and fire hoses, for engaging in peaceful demonstrations”
He’s been a champion ever since. Youth groups such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee(SNCC), of which John Lewis was the chairman, gave young people a sense of responsibility. SNCC’s job was to help distribute information about the March on Washington, but it was also their job to be present. Even today, young people are not complacent having peripheral views of the changing world. History supports that our world has advanced only because of the spirit and the work of the youth.
There is something special about a nation that can produce Asean Johnson, the third-grade, 9 year-old, Chicago activist that spoke against school closures.
The Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom (L.O.B.), its defensive line of players, and the rest of the franchise came to New Jersey’s Met Life stadium with a duty and a mission–to win a championship and take a place in the NFL record books. From the very first exchange of the game, every Seahawk player was in his proper place, every eye was on the gridiron, and every mind was focused on fulfilling the mission. From Wilson to Chancellor to Sherman to Lynch to Harvin, these young men taught America that youth matters.
And so they won. Big.
As a nation we have to learn to respect the power of our youth. We often expect that young people should do only as they are told, never of what they are capable–and, as a nation we lose big, too. Youth plays a major role in elevating nations and orchestrating movements that older, more seasoned people have grown too weary, and sometimes too disenchanted, to continue.
In an ESPN interview Monday morning following the “Big Game” Russell Wilson commended his coach, Pete Carroll, and the entire Seahawks organization for taking a chance on him and his teammates. Not by any measure of our expectations of Super Bowl champions does a team with a roster of 21 non-drafted players, a fourth-round draft pick Quarterback like Wilson, a fifth-round draft pick corner back like Sherman, and a seventh-round draft pick Superbowl MVP like Malcolm Smith, win the Superbowl. In each of their stories is the narrative that they were given a chance. Our nation of young people have to be given more chances to apply what they have learned and more chances to play in the other “Big Game” called life.
In a post game interview, Richard Sherman was asked where Super Bowl XLVIII (48) ranked in terms of other great Super Bowl victories and his response was, “It doesn’t matter what order you put us in just put us in the conversation.”
The biggest lesson learned from the Seahawks organization? Young people matter and they win Super Bowls, too!
Kwanzaa: Nia / Purpose
It’s Day 5 of Kwanzaa! Today’s principle is the Swahili word for purpose, Nia.
“Love you with a sense of purpose.”
When I was growing up, my momma (ma) and aunt (auntie) exposed my sisters / sister-cousins/ brother-cousin, and I to the best music. One group in heavy rotation in our household was the Jamaican reggae band, Third World. In 1990, they released an album called Sense of Purpose and featured a song by the same name. I thought this song was just perfect: the beat was nice, the vocals and harmonies were great, and the vibe of the song made me feel happy whenever I heard it. I could sing and dance along to the song, but then there were the lyrics. I knew “Sense of Purpose” was a love song (he repeatedly told the object of his affection that he loved her), and I also could tell it was a kind of requited love that had grown from some kind of adversity (he talked about backstabbers and gossip-mongers, too!). But what reeled me in was the fact that he was declaring that his loving this woman came with some obligation. That song said to love someone with a “Sense of Purpose” was to love through our actions, too. I thought it was amazing!
About a year prior, one of my favorite songwriters of all times, Babyface, released a song from his Tender Lover album called, “Soon as I Get Home.” This love song was also about action. He promised to buy clothes, cook food, etc. It was certainly unlike any song I had ever heard any man sing to any woman, ever! And, after following Babyface’s career, listening to his catalog of music as well as the songs he had and has written for others, it is clear he has pursued the purpose of his life by bringing so much joy to others through song; his feelings have not been mere thoughts trapped within the confines of his mind. He has written the best songs and shared them with us all.
Purpose. It requires deliberate action. It does not mean that one has to have the architect’s plan, but it does mean we must have the baby’s effort—each of us has the right to take the first step in fulfilling our purpose. Purpose is giving voice to silence or adding color to a blank canvas. It is providing moisture to an arid space or crowded pandemonium to a lonely calm.
The pioneers in our communities have loved us better than unconditionally—they have loved us with an insatiable sense of purpose, and created “love songs” in the process.
John Mercer Langston, born in 1829, was a very accomplished Black man from Louisa County, Virginia. Through education he defined his purpose and helped thousands of others find theirs as well. Throughout the course of his life he received a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree, in theology, from Oberlin College. Eventually he wound up practicing law in Ohio after initially being denied admission to law schools in New York and Ohio. John Mercer Langston’s purpose led him to become the first African American to serve in the Virginia State Assembly, and a closer look at his life shows that his purpose on this Earth was always to serve. He recruited African Americans to serve in the Union Army. He served as an inspector for the Freedman’s Bureau, participated in suffrage efforts, and served as the President of the National Equal Rights League. In addition, he served as the founding dean of the Howard University Law School, drafted the Civil Rights Bill of 1875, served as a United States Minister to Haiti, a diplomat to the Dominican Republic, became a United States Congressman, and sat on the Board of Trustees at St. Paul’s University. Most importantly to me is that he served as the very First President of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, better known to the world as Virginia State University, my alma mater. All throughout his adult life he worked to serve and elevate others; and, the rewards were and continue to be great. Thousands of students have graduated from Virginia State University. Scores of students have clerked for and served as judges in our courts as a result of the law degrees they obtained from Howard University’s Law School. Each of the current members of the Congressional Black Caucus owes his and her seats to John Mercer Langston and his colleagues. His purpose-driven life was rooted in the service to others and is the kind of love song many of us will sing forever.
I am certain John Mercer Langston did not accomplish all of his goals; there were moments in which he lamented on one accomplishment a little too long or he may have felt that he had done everything he possibly could until he accomplished his next feat or produced something better. He did not always have a plan on how to navigate the racist and prejudicial world in which he navigated, but he journeyed through. In every effort, Mr. Langston continued to grow and believe in his purpose, for he never stopped until he was able to leave the legacy that I have been able to share in this post. Indeed, John Mercer Langston loved us all with a “Sense of Purpose.”
Political Lingo: Repealed!
Obamacare, really known as the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 and constitutionally upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012. The Republicans have made numerous attempts to repeal (to remove or reverse a law) this legislation to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. These are the same elected officials that claim our government is squandering money and whining about making our government smaller. They claim to be fiscally conservative, but only when it comes to fighting for special interests.
The important things you need to know about Obamacare are explained to you in a video created by, of course, The White House!
Lastly, did you know that the Eighteenth (18) Amendment was ratified in 1919 and repealed in 1933 by the Twenty First (21) Amendment?
Alcohol became a horrible evil in America during the Progressive Era, a period of social activism and political reform. Women claimed their lives and families were being destroyed due to the drunkenness that caused their husbands to be physically abusive and financially irresponsible. Organizations like the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement were major leaders in lobbying for a Prohibition Law. John D. Rockefeller pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Prohibition as well.
In 1919 the Eighteenth Amendment was passed to ban the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcoholic beverages in the United States and it territories. It did NOT, however, prohibit the purchase or consumption of alcohol. Since businesses couldn’t sell it, people started making it. All hail to the bootleggers and moonshine lived to shine even brighter during this time!
By 1933, industries had enough of the [pseudo]sober life, wanted to get in on some of the booze profits, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the sale of beer and wine because of their low alcohol content. States convened and the Twenty First Amendment was ratified.
I’m sure the alcohol and beverage industries were raising their glasses to drink to that!
Political Lingo: Gerrymander
“(You Gotta) Fight! For your right! (To Party!)!” The Beastie Boys
Those were the words the Beastie Boys sang in 1986 and it was a song that I loved to do my best impression of beat-boxing to. Fast forward to 2013 and it isn’t the right to party that most people are going to have to fight for. It will be the right to VOTE.
During President Obama’s second run for office in 2012, there was a huge voter suppression effort brought on by members of the Tea Party and other constituencies (a group with a common goal / outlook) seeking to ensure that President Obama would be a one-term president. Voter suppression is the act of implementing any obstacles to make it harder for citizens to exercise their right to vote. Some of the obstacles include things like requiring voters to show identification, providing them with misleading information when they show up to polling stations (the places people go to vote), and allowing very long lines to form hoping to deter to voters. Voter suppression is obviously illegal. Attorney General Eric Holder compared requiring people to show identification prior to voting, to a poll tax or a sum of money paid that allows a person to vote. We know that poll taxes were rendered illegal by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because voting is FREE, but determined groups will always find a way to “fight for their right” to do whatever they feel they should have a right to do.
There is a political and perfectly legal means of determining the outcomes of elections, however. It’s called gerrymandering. The term originated in the Boston Gazette in 1812 along with this political cartoon to poke fun at the intentions of its namesake Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry to support his political party, The Democrat-Republicans. Gerrymandering is the act of changing or altering electoral boundaries in order to provide an unfair political advantage in an election. For example, in some districts, there may be a majority group of younger or older voters. Or, there may be a majority group of voters of a particular racial or economic group. In the event that candidates want to manipulate the outcome of the election, the boundary lines for these districts will be redrawn so that the groups that vote in favor of the candidate or political party are all placed in the same district. When these groups go to the polls to vote, the candidate is pretty certain to gain a victory because he / she has manipulated the demographic, or characteristics, of the voters.
Gerrymandering almost turns politicians into puppet masters. It may appear that they are able to control the voter, but the only control they truly have is over the unregistered voter. The more people who are registered and the more people who vote, the harder it is to control district lines. You have to fight! For your right! To VOTE!
Political Lingo: The Filibuster…UPDATED!
It seems lately, every person has something to say about the state of our government. We have not been happy about the shut down, the Affordable Healthcare website has had obvious computer glitches, and tongues are wagging that perhaps Obamacare’s implementation needs to be delayed. Either way, we’ve all voiced our feelings in support of or against Obamcare, we just haven’t spoken about them for a continuous 21 hours!
Say what? On September 24th, 2013 Texas Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, spoke out against Obamacare for a whopping 21 hours! He used his speaking time to obstruct the legislative process and share all of his concerns, dislikes and to deliver a rallying cry to defund and repeal Obamacare. This was a filibuster. Although the Senate may not have been voting on anything at the moment, his actions were those characteristic of a filibuster.
Filibustering is a process deliberately used to sabotage the proceedings of Congress and it derived from a Dutch term meaning “pirate.”
In government, they are used to block votes and to ultimately persuade congressional colleagues’ views on issues. On the flip side, they help to bring attention to the issue of debate. Since 1842, this unlimited debate has been used in our government.
The next time our Congressional members have something to say about particular legislation, let’s just hope they can just get to the point.
UPDATE: Today, November 21, 2013, a major development in our Congress happened in regards to the filibuster! According to www. whitehouse.gov, there is a new filibuster change that has gone into effect that says every person that is nominated to a judicial position, with the exception of the Supreme Court Justices, “can be CONFIRMED with a simple up-or-down vote rather than the 60-vote supermajority that had been required for more than 200 years (www.whitehouse.gov).” Instead of all of the blocks that President has experienced for all of his nominations due to the old filibuster rule, it looks like more of his selections will finally beging to walk through the doors of government rather than being whisked away by the Congressional sink hole which was the old use of the filibuster.
Finally, did you know there has been 86 filibusters of all of our other presidents combined and for President Obama, a 2-term president that has only served approximately 5 of his years, there have been 82 filibusters!!?? We know his choices have not been blocked due to scandal or qualifications…in the words of President Obama to Congress today, “Enough is enough.” I agree!
Head on over to www.whitehouse.gov to read more about the importance of this filibuster-rule change.