Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thinking Through the Popular Vote Machine - Damned if they didn't, Damned if they did.

Well it's beginning to sound like proregressives are starting to get rattled. They actually seem worried that We The People might begin considering repealing the 17th Amendment. If We do... well then, IMHO, our work will be nearly complete. But realistically that is a ways off yet, and as Brian J. Noggle noted not too long ago, it won't be easy,
"... this is going to be a hard sell to the American public which has come to believe that the key to an open government is more and more transparency and direct accountability of officials, where more and more citizen votes means better and better government. "
Leaving aside the issue of Federalism (which I do think is the larger and more important concern), I'll take a whack at the flip-side of the political machine's favorite 'reform', the Popular Vote. The "Popular Vote" argument is that anything but direct democracy takes away peoples right to express themselves, and the proregressive's are quick to jump onto that bandwagon.
"“For nearly one hundred years, we the people have picked our Senators. But Ken Buck proposed a radically different idea. Buck said he wanted to rewrite the Constitution to let state legislators pick our Senators instead of voters. That’s right. Ken Buck actually proposed ending our right to vote for our own Senators. Rewriting the constitution? Ending our right to vote? Ken Buck's just too extreme for Colorado.""
I've a question for the promoters of the "Popular Vote": Why do they want you to have so little influence?
They say that everyone should have a right to cast their vote for their U.S. Senator. Well, why just one (legal) vote? Just one single solitary vote amongst millions? How much of a voice does a face in a crowd have? Why do they want those of you who have concerns about your state, to have so little influence over the election of your United States Senator?

What do I mean?

Well, thanks to the 17th Amendment (which, btw, DID rewrite the Constitution), a Senator no longer needs to worry about a handful of state representatives - yours - they no longer need to worry about those people who intimately know the real interests of your state, holding them accountable for their votes in D.C. No, now they only have to worry about using a political machine to mouth attention getting sound bytes to millions of voters at a distance, knowing full well that if they can convince enough wealthy contributors to fund plastering their (too often) meaningless drivel around the state, they won't ever have to engage in anything more substantial than having to smile on a tractor, or in a diner, or even blatantly mislead you (yes Mr. Blunt, we will remember) - so they can collect your vote and then cast those votes their machines wealthy contributors will appreciate.

On the other hand, with the old way, the system which our Founding Father's set up, before the 17th Amendment, a Senatorial candidate had to work hard to convince a relative handful of people - Missouri has 34 Senators and 163 Representatives - that they could, and would, do what those knowledgeable people considered to be in you and your state's best interests.

And two of those legislators were answerable to you,. That means that once upon a time you had an opportunity, through your State Senator, to be one of only several tens of thousands (80,000 in my district) and one of only ten or twenty thousand people your State Representative had to answer to (19,000 in mine) – in comparison to being only 1 out of millions, that is a significant difference - and both of your legislators votes, and their influence among their fellow legislators, would be of significant concern to anyone who wanted to be your United States Senator.

In other words, if you were concerned about an issue affecting your state, you could easily make your State Rep & Sen uncomfortably aware of your position. Most state capitols are only a couple hours or less drive away, it's not too difficult to set up an appointment to see your State Senator or Representative, or even just to drop in on them when in session, as I have done. When out of session they probably live in a neighborhood near by, my outgoing Rep lives 2 subdivisions away, and the one who will take his term limited place lives just around the corner from me and my State Senator lives just a few miles away; setting up a meeting with one or both of them, or even just picking up the phone and calling, is not that tough.

If for some reason your legislators tried dodging you, with the help of a few others across your area - people concerned and informed about an issue - you and your fellows could quickly make yourselves known to them.
Vocal local voters are a big concern to State politicians - not so much to those in D.C.

The point is, any reasonable citizen can easily make their views known to their state legislators, and through simple phone calling and emailing efforts at little or no cost, you could have a very significant voice in the election of your United States Senator.

But... as it stands now... you are stuck with being just one anonymous vote amongst millions in an argument of soundbytes.

Did these ‘popular vote’ enthusiasts ever think of that? If so, knowingly relegating your voice to relative insignificance... don't they have some explaining to do?

If they didn't think of that... if they're that uninformed (might I suggest beginning with Federalist #'s 51, 62 and 63, to start with) about a topic they actively – and ignorantly - promote - that makes them the fools that sound byte politics were designed to move the masses with.

Like I said.

They're Damned if they didn't think of it... and they should most assuredly be Damned if they did.
(Originally posted at "24th State")

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Stupid Talk About Death Panels and Do-Goodery

My Sister-in-Law was all atwitter last week about the 'stupid' people in her state who voted for Michelle Bachmann, who she says is just stupid too. One of the things, in her humble opinion, that made Bachmann unquestionably stupid, was her saying things like there were going to be death panels in the healthcontrol bill.
Well... Paul Krugman stepped in it a bit this week with his comment,

"some years down the pike, we're going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes"
Which would seem to be 'stupid' enough, but I think his explanation for it on his blog (very appropriately named "Conscience of a liberal") is, if anything, even more illuminating and damning at the same time.

"Death Panels and Sales Taxes
I said something deliberately provocative on This Week, so I think I’d better clarify what I meant (which I did on the show, but it can’t hurt to say it again.)
So, what I said is that the eventual resolution of the deficit problem both will and should rely on “death panels and sales taxes”. What I meant is that
(a) health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they’re willing to pay for — not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we’re willing to spend for extreme care
(b) we’ll need more revenue — several percent of GDP — which might most plausibly come from a value-added tax
And if we do those two things, we’re most of the way toward a sustainable budget.
By the way, I’ve said this before.
Now, you may declare that this is politically impossible. But medical costs must be controlled somehow, or nothing works. And is a modest VAT really so much more implausible than ending the mortgage interest deduction?
So that’s my plan. And I believe that some day — maybe in the first Chelsea Clinton administration — it will actually happen."
Krugman notes he's said things like this before (which I guess makes it all better), and others, myself included, have noted what Newsbusters notes, that many others have said the same thing before... though not on the campaign trail for some reason... such as,

"This budget balancing approach was similarly advocated by former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich in 2007:

We're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too we're going to let you die."
What the do-gooders like my Sister-in-law, and several of my old friends, don't want to consider or be slowed down by in their rush to do good unto you and me, are those very things which the bean counters and bureaucrats will be in charge of handling in the end, after those do-gooders have rushed off onto their next enthusiasm. And those bean counters and bureaucrats, having been given the power to do so by the do-gooders, will be left to simply take it upon themselves to make those decisions (life or death ones) based less upon considerations of Right and Wrong or the Rights of those involved ("and really, 'right'? 'wrong'? Rights?! How old fashioned!"), than on satisfying their own pressing political expediencies of "... medical costs must be controlled somehow, or nothing works...".

Simply put, your concerns for your life and those of your loved ones, are going to be given minimal concern, in order to ensure that those things which are of concern to the bean counters and bureaucrats are kept in order so that they can 'make the trains run on time'.

Perhaps it's stupid of me, but that doesn't ease my mind one bit, but it does neatly sum up the conscience of a leftist: do whatever it is that makes you feel kind, good and swell, and either ignore the possible consequences or hunker down and say 'it's for the common good', and let the bureaucracy clean up after you.

On behalf of the stupid people, I'd like to ask the smart people if that seems a particularly smart or even sensitive thing to do?


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010 - Thank You

Well I'm one aggravated pack rat (aka 'slob') today. I had an idea for a post for Veteran's Day which required pictures of my Grand Father's, Dad & other relatives... and I knew just which pictures I wanted... but what with my unique D&T filing system (Dropped and Thrown) I couldn't find them at all. I suppose if I find them later, I can add them in then. Arghhh.
My Dad's Dad, Floyd Harvey, served in WWI, which was what Veteran's Day began as: Armistice Day, marking the end of the 'War to end all wars'... but as that swell idea failed to take hold, it was later transformed into Veterans Day.

My Mom's Dad, Leo Kuter, worked WWII from Hollywood as an Art Director at Warner Bros., he helped make a bunch of morale boosting movies with John Wayne, Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, etc, helped keep their spirits up and the homefires burning. I've got some of his memento's... like the phone book for the U.S.S. Hornet, which they did some of the filming on for one of the Errol Flynn movies, I think.
The one picture I did find was of him, Ginger Rogers and his cousin Gen. Laurence Kuter, who had a fair amount to do with the formation of the U. S. Army Air Corps and it's bomber strategy, and later the Air Force and NORAD.

My Dad was an officer in the U.S. Army Airborne, and as a paratroop instructor had the odd position of training his younger brother, Jerry, to fight in Korea.
... Ryan, a few years later

Ryan on his Uncle David's ship...
 And though technically my son Ryan, now in the Air Force won't qualify as a Veteran until he's out... still... Father's privilege, I'll include him too.

My Father In-Law helped keep our nuclear missiles at the ready as a Sgt. in the Air Force. My Brother In-Law who served in the Navy during Desert Storm.

But it goes wider than family, my best friend David was in the Air Force, and had a hand in investigating what went wrong when planes went down, which he continues as a civilian, in helping to design planes so that they stay in the air.

His Dad, who just passed away, flew B-17's in Europe during WWII... under my Grand Father's cousin, come to think of it.

Our good friend Sam who was one heck of a Sgt ('Gunney' is the only name I can ever remember, but that was an early grade) in the Marines, recently retired.

How many others, friends... friends of friends... they are us, how can we not remember them?

Now if I can just find the rest of the pictures and the thread of the idea I originally had for them.... I think it was partly... how in the heck can we possibly forget our Veterans? They are, and were, a part of our lives, part of our community, what may be more important is that they remembered us. Remembered those of us they knew, and those they'd never know, and put their lives on the line to defend all.

Remember them, and honor them, they are a part of your life and had a hand in making your life possible, a life with Liberty and Freedom to make any life you're capable of living, possible.

So thanks to these, and all Veterans, for helping to give me the liberty to misplace my valuables, and the luxury of that being the most aggravating thing I've got to deal with today. It may not be much, but I'm doing what I can to preserve and defend what you, for a time, wrote a blank check on your lives for.

Thank you Veterans. Thank you, and God bless you.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

From Thomas Jefferson to you: Get Out And VOTE!!!

Two hundred and nine years ago, after a bitter campaign against his once, and future friend, John Adams, an election that would cause our faint hearted pundits of political correctness to faint dead away, Thomas Jefferson gave his first Inaugural Address. In that address there are several points that would be well worth it for us to remember as we go to the polls in this election.

(You are going to the polls today, right? If you are not sure of your answer, let me give you a tip: Get Out And Vote! Get Your Friends and Family Out To Vote!)

From Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address

4 Mar. 1801

...During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question...."
We've had despicable funnymen such as Bill Maher describing Americans as dogs, capable of recognizing little more than inflection, fear and dominance, and at other times yearning for a strongman to just make things happen.

Let such fools
"stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. " and believe like Jefferson, that "I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth.", and for those such as Reid, Pelosi, Frank and Obama, who wish to place themselves on high and dictate to us how we should behave, regulate what we can sprinkle on our food and how we should be allowed to behave, repeat to yourselves , and to your wouldbe Regulatory Overlords,

"Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."
And history has answered that question, answered it in the French Revolution, in Nazi Germany, the USSR, Maoist China, North Korea and Cuba. The answer is that where there is no sanctity of property or rule of law, there are only the decrees of men seeking to do good unto their fellows - and the only progress that will be found there will be that of the growth of political prisons and rivers of blood.
Jefferson continues, counselling our forefathers to restore both honor and sanity:
"...Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe: too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter--with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens--a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities....
That last has got to bear repeating again and again, especially today,
Still one thing more, fellow-citizens--a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
That IS the sum of good government, and if those we've elected to it have forgotten it, days like this November 2nd I think were made for them... and for you - IOW Get Out And Vote!!!
Our third President continues with some sage advice for our present President and Congress:
"...About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations..."
[Leftists steel your hearts and prepare to endure the spewing of such strident extremism as might set your Tea Pot to boil!]
"...Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people--a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well-disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety..."
And finally, this, a reminder to the voters, and those voted for alike - reality and expectations rarely meet and part friends:

"...I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this the greatest of all, I have learnt to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it. ...
Quit pining for perfection, work with what you've got, and then work to improve it, rinse, repeat. And always...
Get Out And Vote!!!