WHITHER THE ELECTION?

October 30, 2010

The election is upon us. Tuesday, about 50% to 55% of those eligible to vote, plus some dead citizens, some non-citizens and others totally ineligible to vote, will head to the polls and cast their votes to be tallied with the votes of those (dead and alive, and otherwise eligible and ineligible) who already have cast votes in the early voting periods, and those who voted by absentee ballot.

The probable outcome: The Republicans will not do as well as they expect, and the Democrats will not do as poorly as they fear.

There are several reasons for this. One is that the news media have beat it into our heads that the Republicans are going to accomplish a sweep this election, so many Republicans who might have voted will not show up at the polls. Conversely, the Democrats will have instilled enough fear in their ranks that they can expect a more vigorous turnout than predicted.

Another reason is that the Democratic Party in particular is quite adept at voter fraud—it will do whatever possible to prevent absentee votes or to conveniently “lose” absentee ballots, on the assumption that the majority will be military personnel who tend to vote Republican; and we have heard numerous reports of people voting straight Republican tickets, only to have the voting machine record the vote for Democrats, a phenomenon explained away by elections commissioners (always Democrats) as “machine malfunctions that of course have been corrected,” who always follow that by claiming that the Republicans are guilty of “voter suppression” (and to be sure, that probably is true).

But the main reason is this: Americans are divided into three main political categories: Liberal (Democratic Party) and Conservative (Republican Party) compete in elections for the votes of a third group: independent Americans, meaning those the pollsters cannot ascribe to one of the other two groups. It is a fluid group generally comprising those who are honestly open-minded about which candidate for whom they’ll vote, those who have become disillusioned with the candidate or party for whom they last voted, those who don’t like either of the two major parties, and those who simply are ignorant of the candidates or issues attending a particular election, but who insist on voting anyway.

There are many more Democrats than Republicans, so elections are decided by the independents. Only if a large number of them vote Republican can Republicans win. In this particular election, a lot of independents who in 2008 voted for Obama are disillusioned with him; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will vote Republican. Some will, of course, and others just will not vote at all. But the bottom line is that if a significant number of those independents who voted Democratic in 2008 do so again in 2010, the Democrats will not fare as poorly as the media has predicted, especially if even a few Republicans are complacent and fail to vote.

My prediction is that Republicans will gain 60 seats in the House of Representatives to win control, but only 8 Senate seats, not enough to win control of that body.

That will be a good outcome. With Republicans controlling the House, but Democrats controlling the Senate, and a Democratic president who will wield a veto over legislation, the Congress will be able to do little for the next two years. When the Congress is deadlocked, Americans are safer, if only for a little while.

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THINKING ABOUT DOGS

October 20, 2010

If one crosses a Chihuahua with a Labrador Retriever, will the result be a Chihuabrador? Will it want to swim into the U.S. across the Canadian or Mexican border? What about crossing a Chihuahua with a Poodle; will it be a Poohuahua? A Chihuadle? Will a cross between an Old English Sheepdog and a Pekingese result in a bale of fur and no dog? Well, you get the idea.

Aren’t dogs great!


WHAT IS IN THE CONSTITUTION?

October 19, 2010

This morning in a forum with her Democrat opponent, Republican (and TEA Party-backed) U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, after telling her opponent that she could see no reason why Creationism could not be taught in public schools, questioned his assertion that it violated the Constitutional requirement for separation of church and state, asking him, “Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state.” (First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”).

Ignoring the fact that the First Amendment could be interpreted as not prohibiting the teaching of competing theories, even if one is religious in nature, her question indicated her ignorance of the Constitution, a blunder from which she will not recover.

I wonder how many incumbents in Congress–and presidents–could accurately answer questions about the Constitution. Their actions in Congress lead one to think either that they do not understand it, or that they choose deliberately to ignore its provisions. We know that Congressmen and Senators do not read the bills they vote into law. Of course, if they don’t understand–or choose to ignore–the Constitution, it doesn’t  make any difference whether they read the bills or not.

In my post “Prescription for (Real) Hope and Change” (Oct. 18), I offered amendments that will put government back in the hands of the states and the people. Perhaps I should have included as an amendment a proposal that appeared in Congress a couple of years ago that would require all bills to cite their constitutional authority. In the event, maybe some in Congress would find that their bills had no constitutional basis. Whether they would care is doubtful.


DAMN IMMIGRANTS!

October 18, 2010

They come into our country and take jobs from Americans. They speak a foreign language.  Sure, they work hard, but after work, they congregate in bars and drink alcoholic beverages with funny names and get pissed. They call the game of soccer football, and don’t know anything at all about football. If an American addresses one of them, the response is likely to be, “Sorry?” They collectively call Americans “Yanks,” severely offending the sensibilities of all Southerners. How can we continue to let them into the country and tolerate their foreign ways?

Employers hire them for jobs that Americans don’t qualify for. What can we do about them? Is there no way to stop them? We can’t wall-off the Atlantic Coast. Damn Brits!


PRESCRIPTION FOR (REAL) HOPE AND CHANGE

October 18, 2010

From continuation of the war in Afghanistan, to passage of a healthcare bill that is the first step toward socialized medicine; and from passage of a wasteful stimulus bill that does nothing to increase jobs but does everything to increase the national debt, to an unparalleled expansion of the national government and a corresponding limitation of the power of the states and of the people, the Congress and the Obama administration have run amok and pissed off the American people. At this writing, Republicans seemed poised to regain a majority in the House of Representatives, and possibly (but not likely) to regain a majority in the Senate. As of 2010, we can do nothing about Barack Obama.

But will Republican control of Congress (and, looking to 2012, a Republican in the White House) do anything to stop the rampant expansion of federal power and the loss of Americans’ liberties? Judging from the actions of Congress and the president during the previous administration, an unqualified “no” is the answer to that question.

Stopping the erosion of freedom and liberty will come only from more fundamental change. Here is my prescription for a healthy America:

  1. Amend the Constitution to limit federal spending to a set percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) except in pre-defined emergencies. [This is necessary if the government is to operate within a realistic budget.]
  2. Amend the Constitution to provide for, upon the concurrence of three-fourths of the state legislatures, a veto by the states of Congressional spending in excess of the set percentage of GDP. [This is a necessary check on Congress’s ability to suspend its rules and ignore the Constitution.]
  3. Amend the Constitution to prohibit unfunded federal mandates to the states. [This is necessary for the states to operate within their budgets and not be blindsided by Congressional whim.]
  4. Amend the Constitution to mandate a presidential line-item veto of Congressional bills. [This is just common sense; the party in power in the Congress typically protects items in danger of a veto by loading into a bill other items that a president dare not veto.]
  5. Amend the Constitution to require that Congress shall pass no law that does not apply equally to the Congress and the people. [e.g., Congress has its own wonderful health care plan of which most Americans could only dream.]
  6. Repeal the 17th amendment to the Constitution. [The 17th amendment provided for Senators to be elected by popular vote rather than by state legislatures. The intended effect was to dilute state influence over the Congress. Let’s give some power back to the states so they can exert more influence over Congressional excess. For those who argue that the people should elect Senators, consider that they elect U.S. Representatives and they elect the members of the state legislatures who would in turn elect the Senators]
  7. Amend the Constitution to change the presidential term of office from four years to six years; and to prohibit presidents from serving more than one six-year term during a lifetime.
  8. Amend the Constitution to change the term of office of U.S. representatives from two years to four years; and to prohibit representatives from serving more than one four-year term during a lifetime.
  9. Amend the Constitution to prohibit U.S. senators from serving more than one six-year term during a lifetime.
  10. Amend the Constitution to restrict Congress from meeting more than six months in every two years. [This provides plenty of time for Congress to address its truly necessary business, and it will force the leaders to set efficient agendas and not to entertain unnecessary and frivolous proposals. It will have the added benefit of giving Congressmen and Senators time to pursue their real livelihoods, and in so doing, more fully understand the effects of laws they pass, and more fully engage with the people.]

Two points: First, there are inevitable arguments against passing the term-limit amendments. Restricting service to one term during a lifetime is drastic—it will destroy continuity in the Congress and White House. Yes, it will. It will prevent career elected officials from catering to lobbyists in order to achieve financial gain, and it will mean that elected officials no longer will be beholding to powerful interests with money for reelection. I listened last week to an NPR interview with U.S. Representative Mike Castle, who was defeated in Delaware’s Republican Congressional Primary by Christine O’Donnell. At the end of the interview, Castle was asked what his plans were for the future. His reply was that he “really had no idea.” That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with Congress—those elected anticipate, accurately, that once elected, their incumbency will propel them to a career in the office. Many career Congressmen have no other vocation, and expect to earn a living from Congressional pay and from dubious other remuneration from relationships with lobbyists. Another argument is that the power of the federal government will be curtailed if such amendments pass. Well, that’s the point, isn’t it?

The second point is that it is not likely that two-thirds of both houses of Congress will propose such a set of amendments. Certainly, any set of proposed amendments must come from a convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures; or a Constitutional Convention demanded by the people. Ten years ago I would have considered such action either by the states or by the people to be no more than wishful thinking. Now I think that it is not outside the realm of possibility if government continues to ignore the Constitution and the wishes of the people.

Finally, a more light-hearted proposal: Let’s pass an amendment to the Constitution that fines Congressmen and Senators $1,000 for every law passed; and pays them $2,000 for every law repealed. Who knows; the federal code may eventually become readable!


WELCOME TO ERIGO ABYSSUS!

October 18, 2010

Welcome to erigo abyssus, eclectic commentary by someone who is amused and dismayed by culture and politics.