U.S. Civil Service: Citizens Take a Well-Functioning Civil Service for Granted; GOP’s Plans of Attacking the Civil Service Will Lead to Patronage, Graft–Systematic Corruption

According to the Washington Post, the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has plans to attack the severely damaged civil service (damaged by constant Congressional criticisms and blame). The people of the United States take a well-functioning civil service for granted. Failed civil service organizations exist in other countries; ironically, it is the United States (through the World Bank) that has been leading a movement against such corruption. Now, with the next president, calls of hypocrisy will come and will be deserved.

When we go to the motor vehicles department for a drivers license, we have to wait, but we expect a drivers license at the end of the process without having to pay a bribe. The same is true to have a judge hear our case in court, for applying for and receiving Social Security benefits, for applying to work for the civil service. All of these examples and more operate well with just our tax money.

Now that the GOP, the Republican party will control all three branches of the federal government (in early 2017), their ideas of “reform” now could be set forth on the remainder of the integrity-filled civil service:

  • Making civil service jobs at will.
  • Replacing the Federal Employees Retirement System with a 401(k)-based system (a failure).
  • End of cost-of living increases.
  • Further restrictions on federal employee unions (already weak because they cannot require membership and cannot strike).

All of these ideas are an abomination and an insult to citizens who enter public service to serve their fellow citizens and residents of the United States; such is never contemplated for those in military service. Further, a billionaire, with autocratic tendencies and a person who–

  • does not pay federal taxes,
  • lives off the largess of the majority of people in the United States,
  • does not have to work to have an income stream,
  • combines his business ventures with the Trump Organization with his responsibilities and power of being the U.S. head of state,

will be the person leading the charge against our civil service.

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In this dangerous time, civil service reform, which will require acceptance from all citizens, cannot be forced through by the GOP alone. Especially, at a time where it is apparent that an autocrat has become president. Energy should be spent on the prevention of systematic corruption.

Civil service protection is needed more than ever, with the next president potentially using his government position as a conduit for his business interests (express or implied). Vigilance is required more than ever.

Firing fellow citizens, civil servants (who also suffer from stagnant wages and sky-high cost-of-living expenses in Washington, D.C.), to satisfy rich people, like the 45th president (who doesn’t pay any federal tax on his $billion) is offensive. Huge changes will have to wait; our very democracy is at severe risk of falling apart.

Government pay is low; most civil servants are thankfully people of integrity and do their jobs for their fellow Americans well. [Conduct issues–refusal to work, etc.–are already handled by regulations.]

These constant attacks on the civil service have done severe damage. Perhaps, if the GOP fulfills its wish and is allowed to break the civil service, and we discover that corrupt people take positions with the purpose of self interest alone (you will have to pay bribes to get a passport (or a tax return processed) on time, for example), we will miss our civil service.

The only thing is, by then, it will be too late. The civil service as we know it would be gone forever.

As citizens, it is our duty to protect our form of government. Research the term “systematic corruption” and “civil service bribery“.

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The Futility of “Colorblindness”: GOP Representative Robert Pittenger’s Comments On BBC Program Expressed True Belief of Republicans Against Black People and the Vulnerable Members of U.S. Society

The Republican party (GOP) has an authoritarian backbone: The party worships the rich, like GOP nominee for U.S. President, Donald J. Trump (who received $885 million in real estate-related tax breaks), and disparages the vulnerable (otherwise known as the 99%).

The focus of GOP action is the removal of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s programs to assist the vulnerable (and give all support to the 1% (who provide “campaign contributions”). In addition, the government bailed out the financial industry after the 2008 financial crisis. One result of that is that the Federal Reserve Board has a balance sheet of $4.5 trillion (as of the date of this post).

Representative Paul Ryan delivered his belief in blaming the poor. Given his Irish ancestry, a New York Times columnist, Timothy Egan, reminded Ryan that the English had the same idea toward his ancestors in Ireland.

In North Carolina, there has been another police-involved shooting, which has left a citizen dead. While the officer is black, the situation is the same all previous police-involved shootings where the officer involved claims his life was in danger and the authorities sanction the resultant killing as justified (under Tennessee v. Garner and Graham v. Connor).

With this situation as background, a North Carolina GOP member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Robert Pittenger (under investigation by the FBI and the IRS), had an interview of BBC’s Newsnight program, with the BBC’s James O’Brien. During the interview, Mr. Pittenger saw fit to disparage the protestors as

  • not following the example of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King (who was assassinated) and
  • haters of white people because of their presumed success.

His critique was framed by the GOP’s continued disparagement of the vulnerable members of society, just like Ryan and the rest of the GOP. Mr. Pittenger simply ignored all of the history and ill effects of policies based on “colorblind” white hegemony.

His subsequent explanations do not alter his (or the GOP’s) beliefs that he expressed openly during the BBC interview.

Unsurprisingly, also in the BBC interview, Mr. Pittenger refused to apply the example of Rev. King’s actions (which he applied to protestors) to the present-day campaign of Donald J. Trump who has insulted many groups in his statements.

Futility of “Colorblindness:” Jeb Bush and Unfair, Anti-Black, and Untruthful Insinuations

Virginia Slave Law, 1705
Virginia Slave Law, 1705 (Placard displayed at police accountability meeting in Fairfax, Va., September 14, 2015 (regarding the case of Natasha McKenna (deceased))).

Republicans think that black people will vote for their anti-black platform and beliefs because they state it in an acceptable manner–while including wicked implications and insinuations of black people. Such is “colorblindness” as practiced in the United States today: it (anti-black beliefs) is ok as long as it sounds and looks good.

It will not work.

An example is Jeb Bush’s statement (emphasis, in bold, is the blog author’s):

“Look around this room,” a man told Bush, who spoke to a mostly white crowd. “How many black faces do you see? How are you going to include them and get them to vote for you?” asked the man, who was white.

Bush pointed to his record on school choice and said that if Republicans could double their share of the black vote, they would win the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

Charles Blow, columnist for the New York Times, picked up this insinuation and wrote–

There it is! If you let people talk long enough, the true self will always be revealed. Not only is there a supreme irony in this racial condescension that casts black people, whose free labor helped establish the prosperity of this country and who were systematically excluded from the full benefits of that prosperity for generations, as leeches only desirous of “free stuff,” this line of reasoning also infantilizes black thought and consciousness and presents an I-know-best-what-ails-you paternalism about black progress.

Jeb Bush’s “colorblindness” is tiresome and exhausting to endure.

Futility of “Colorblindness”: Ben Carson Excuses White Hegemony and Chastises, Blames, Critiques Black People; Carson Speaks like Wardell (Ward) Connerly

The great mass of black voters has been deeply turned off by the way the Republicans have been at best indifferent toward them,” he said, “and at worst have displayed a camouflaged hostility that panders to the party base.” –Prof. Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School

The price of white hegemony is borne by other people.
The terrible cost of the white hegemonic image of “harmony” is borne by others. We can bear it no longer.

The majority culture believes in “colorblindness,” but also believes that the majority of the society (whites) are better than everyone else in the society. Open expression of this idea is not socially acceptable, but the institutions of society are empowered to act solely for the benefit or advantage of the majority white population without apology. Questioning of those white hegemonic institutions is met with defensiveness as well as a blaming of the questioner.

Ben Carson, Republican candidate for the U.S. presidential office, embodies this notion; his black skin color a convenient and comforting camouflage for the anti-black, white hegemonic argument. The sentiment appears to be that the GOP line of argument cannot be offensive if a black person says it. Such a position affirms the high value of race in the society of the United States, specifically that only whites are empowered. Nonwhites are empowered only to the extent to disempower nonwhite groups.

Mr. Carson has been playing this role in several news articles. Carson gives apparent support while following that statement with overarching criticism carefully couched to avoid immediate reaction. [Author’s note: Carson is not fooling anyone; this is a well-practiced tactic of Republicans (and that of the power structure). Carson’s tactics are similar to that of Wardell (Ward) Connerly.]

Asking for peace; wanting silence.
Placard: “Don’t say you want peace when you really mean silence.”

I will provide an example, an interview Carson had with Major Garrett of CBS News, Carson stated that the protestors in the aftermath of the shooting and death of Mr. Michael Brown showed that they actually cared and had begun a dialogue. However, that seeming praise was negated by Carson’s criticism (and blame of black people) (emphasis, in bold, the blog author’s):

He also talked about the different images that come to mind when he considers what happened in Ferguson. “It conjures up [a] an image of the people feeling that they have been unjustly treated by the police, and [b] that justifies civil disturbance,” Carson said. “Of course we all see the images of the burning.”

There is another image in Carson’s mind, too. He told Garrett, “It also conjures up an image of the people being unwilling to actually face the facts. I think the community is unwilling to face the fact that Michael Brown was a bad actor.

[Author’s note: Because Mr. Brown was killed before any arrest, charges, or trial, he still maintains a presumption of innocence, something that Carson recklessly ignores in his zeal to condemn. In Carson’s view, the Ferguson protesters were not justified because it was not for police impunity but rather a desire to disturb the peace, and Mr. Brown was at fault for his death. Thus, all of the racial consequences of the white hegemonic institutions are erased while also confirming the devaluation of black lives.]

For the Black Lives Matter movement, he considers them to be bullies:

But Carson, the only black presidential candidate running as either a Democrat or Republican, went on to say that it was “very different than, let’s say, the Black Lives Matter movement, where it’s foisting yourself on people – rather than engaging in dialogue – and bullying people. I never liked the idea of bullying on behalf of anybody.”

[Author’s note: Carson did not explain what he meant by use of the word “bullying.” Carson’s statements are confusing but fit well into a white-hegemonic apology. However, naming and exposing the negatives of white hegemonic rule is disruptive to the white-advantaged status quo. Because of this, such identifiers of the negative consequences of white hegemony are said to be rude, demanding, domineering, etc.]

Carson’s convoluted, muddled, and self-contradictory statement to Mr. Garrett is a form of the “colorblindness” argument, which wants to advance the idea that everybody is equal, but only white people are valued.

I analyze the “colorblind” argument and Carson’s statements in other articles below.

White hegemonic argument Ben Carson’s comment in Ferguson, Mo.
Defend white hegemony (that is, the status quo) and deny black suffering under the same hegemonic system. I think we’ve actually regressed with this administration and its emphasis on race, because it emphasizes race to indicate that things are not progressing well. And that just isn’t true,” Carson said.

He said the country has regressed because “we’re talking about it a lot more — more people complaining that they’re being treated unfairly. I don’t think we need to be emphasizing what’s unjust. I think we need to be emphasizing what opportunities there are.”

He continued: “A lot of people perceive everything through racial eyes. But my point is, we don’t have to do that. What we have to do instead is begin to see people as people.” [???]

[Author’s note: Also, this argument is convoluted with criticism of President Barack Obama. There is also a call for false balance–because there are no statements of harmony, there should not be any statements of injustice, racism, or unfairness. Of course, if there were harmony, such statements would not be made in the first place.]

Request for item that does not threaten white hegemony It is very important that police are taught to be respectful of everyone,” said Carson. “One lady was talking about the fact that she woke up, her son woke up, and said: ‘There are police out there all over the place! There are armored vehicles out there!’ She went outside, a policeman was walking on the sidewalk, and she asked him: ‘What’s going on?’ He said, ‘nothing.’ That’s not respectful. We need to make sure that respect is offered in both directions.”

[Author’s note: I am uncertain of the worth of this statement. Nothing Carson stated appears disrespectful but rather unresponsive. In so doing he “criticized” the hegemonic institution extremely lightly. This example is vague, but his statements about nonwhite people is clear, negative, and condemnatory. (See the next statement, below, as a further example.)]

Blame, chastise, belabor, bully, etc., black people (generously) I heard more than one time how the thing that really inflamed the community was the fact that Michael Brown’s body laid out on the street for four hours,” said Carson. “I think a lot of people understood that he had done bad things, but his body didn’t have to be disrespected. I heard also that people need to learn how to respect authority.”

Mr. Carson should be ashamed; his previous life’s work has already been negated.

3893340-handless-facepalm

Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Indiana): Use of Religion as a Cudgel and Shield for GOP’s Political Policy Preferences

[Update (April 3, 2015): The State of Indiana has revised IC-34-13-9 so that the law would not affect “services, use of public accomodations, goods, employment, or housing on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or United States military service.” (See Indiana Senate Enrolled Act No. 50, 2015 session.)]

It appears that the Republicans (GOP) has the mindset of using religion to cover for unpalatable policy preferences. In the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration statute, IC-34-13-9, effective July 1, 2015, religion is defined broadly (section 5 of the statute) as is the definition of person (section 7 of the statute). With these two broad definitions, this statute could be used as the vehicle to oppose (or support) policy that the GOP opposes or supports. [In contrast, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, P.L. 103-141, is specific (addresses particular Supreme Court decisions).]

These religious freedom bills destroy the meaning of religion in order to use “religion” as a political instrument. Section 5 of the Indiana law is so broad such that any claim of “religion” is enough to trigger the law against a disfavored government policy. Seemingly, the disfavored policies could be those which conflict with GOP tenets (for example, the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare (Indiana uses the federal marketplace.)).

The statute’s weakness is its vagueness. This same vagueness makes it a strong vehicle for “religion-” based policy preferences.

The logical structure appears to be the following:

GOP policy preference is not palatable with the broad society, thus there should be a mechanism to enforce that preference through an alternative means. For example, the vehicle in this case is “religious freedom.” (The logical structure is explained through the chart below.)

GOP logical argument Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Statute, IC-34-13-9
Free exercise of religion is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Religious beliefs are also Constitutionally protected.
Religious beliefs belong to persons. Sec. 7: “As used in this chapter, ‘person’ includes the following: (1) an individual, (2) an organization, religious society, a church, a body of communicants, or a group organized and operated primarily for religious purposes, (3) a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that: (A) may sue and may be sued, (B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by: (i) an individual; or (ii) the individuals; who have control and substantial ownership of the entity, regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.”
Those religious beliefs may have policy preferences deriving from that belief, which should also be protected.
These preferences may include preferences similar to those of the GOP. Sec. 5: “As used in this chapter, ‘exercise of religion’ includes any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”
If so, that religious belief AND its derivative policy preferences should be Constitutionally protected.
Religious Freedom Restoration statutes recognize the tie between religious belief and its derivative policy preferences.
(But the concern is only for government.) Sec. 11: “The chapter is not intended to, and shall not be construed or interpreted to, create a claim or private cause of action against any private employer by any applicant, employee, or former employee.”

The problem with the GOP’s use of religion is that it disrespects religion in order to use it as a policy weapon exclusively in order to force GOP policy preferences on the society. This activity is unfortunate, but policymakers must be aware of the technique, especially when crafting legislation.

Futility of “Colorblindness”: GOP Demand that Black People Concentrate Only on Today and Forget the U.S.’s Continuing Bias Towards Whites Unreasonable

The “race card” is a term that usually is used to note that race is being discussed in a way that questions the “legitimacy” of the U.S.’s practice of White hegemony. Kathleen Parker, in a Washington Post opinion column, uses this worn-out race-card term.

I am not sure why this race-card terminology has such a hold over discourse on race; social imbalance has been and continues to be a problem. Supreme Court Justice John Harlan spoke openly about White supremacy in his dissent in the court case Plessy v. Ferguson.

The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens.

Because of this history, race-card discussions, like discussions of “colorblindness,” are useless, as they are really another example of White hegemony. In this case, using the term to reaffirm the superior position of Whites.

United States (population: 308,745,538) (2010 Census)

Race

Percentage of population

Number

White

72.4%

223,553,265

Black

12.6

38,929,319

Native American

0.7

540,013

Asian

4.8

14,674,252

The Republican party (GOP) has a firm view on Blacks in their party–to be acceptable you have to accept all of the GOP’s tenets. Questioning any GOP position makes that person a target of a media devalue and discard campaign (like Parker’s column).

The seeming logical argument of the GOP that I think spurred Parker’s column–

  • The GOP is “colorblind” and has policies that benefit all people, including Black people (who avoid the GOP for some reason) [regardless of what anti-Black racial injustice happened in the past (or currently) in the United States].
  • The GOP supports Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and U.S. Senator Tim Scott (as well as Dr. Ben Carson) (all three of them follow GOP tenets closely)
  • Thus, Black opposition to the GOP is baffling.
  • Critique of GOP’s Black standard bearers by Blacks who are not members of the GOP is unacceptable because it is in opposition to the supposed norm of “colorblindness” and, thus, such activity is “racist” because criticism of a Black person that holds complete fidelity to GOP beliefs is a denial of their freedom to sustain such fidelity.

With this foundation, it becomes apparent that a Black person who holds a non-GOP view (here, Alabama State Representative Alvin Holmes) is not welcome. His statement to critique the wisdom of Thomas and Scott being faithful to the GOP, therefore, had to be condemned.

This expectation of unquestioning support of the GOP in order to be a member of the GOP is itself disturbing.

U.S. Congress: GOP Stewardship of Their Legislative Responsibilities Disappointing; Must Cease Blaming and Punishing the 99%

U.S. Congress: GOP Stewardship of Their Legislative Responsibilities Disappointing; Must Cease Blaming and Punishing the 99%

Yet again the GOP is playing games to force votes that, if successful, would continue to cut programs and services to the 99% under the guise of performing their duties: exercising the power of the purse under the U.S. Constitution–extending the debt limit (which should not exist these days because cash coming into the Treasury from FICA and FERS are immediately taken and their respective accounts are issued Treasury securities that will be redeemed with cash in the future). The so-called debt limit should be automatically raised now and not used as a dubious bargaining chip to pass unacceptable GOP proposals in any form. (Passing a form of an unacceptable plan, that is, incrementalism, must also be rejected.)

The Congress must accomplish its mission responsibly. I cannot expect the process to be perfect, but I can expect that these legislative responsibilities are carried out fairly and equitably for all those who reside within the United States of America. The vulnerable and suffering are our fellow human beings; help is what is needed not condemnation or punishment. The Affordable Care Act is the law and must be implemented on time.

Because the GOP only wishes to work for the 1% only, no further negotiations, appeasements, or discussions can be had with that party until and unless they are prepared to do the work on behalf of all of the people of the United States. The debt limit should be passed as a separate bill; appropriations bills should be passed for the entire fiscal year, not embarrassing fits and starts.