Checks and Balances people!

December 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm (Politics) (, , , )

Now, first off….

http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/20091216/cm_huffpost/394085

There.  That’s a link to a little piece on the Huffington Post explaining how Joe Lieberman’s willingness to vote against health care reform illustrates that we need to fix the rules for filibusters.  Why?  Because filibusters give “outsized power” to single individuals to hold up legislation – because Lieberman is saying he might vote against it, making the potential vote 59-41 (assuming party-line votes), he holds all the cards and gets all the attention and say-so on the bill.

Now… let’s take a more careful look at what they say there, because it’s very telling.

“To pass the most important elements of the progressive agenda, the Senate must change its filibuster rules.”

If the Republicans had 59 votes, and were saying that the filibuster rules needed to be changed for the purpose of passing the most important elements of the conservative agenda, the Dem’s would be screaming bloody murder.  They don’t want the filibuster rules changed – that’s the last thing they want… except when they’re in power.  Then change the rules all you want – get those d#$%ed dinosaurs out of the way and let us at the levers of power, because that’s the way things should be!

Because we’re right, they’re wrong, and there’s no possible way that this could ever go wrong.

Those of you who are long-term readers might remember that I had words about this in my previous diatribes about binary thought disorder.  I’m confident that I’m right in saying that the Democrats would scream bloody murder if it was a Republican bullet point that was going to be pushed through for one simple reason.

They did, just a couple years ago.  Again, this isn’t a Democrat thing – the Republicans grumble about needing to change the rules every time they want to do something that the Democrats want to filibuster too.  And then?  Then the Democrats and the lib’s in the media and the blogosphere start screaming as though the world were about to come to an end.

There y’go, folks.  Think about it – the filibuster is meaningless if the rules to break it are adjusted willy-nilly by a simple majority (which they can be).  That very fact has meant that changing the filibuster rules is often referred to as the nuclear option – using it is a court-of-last-resort move, because it lets the proverbial genie out of the bag.  It’s true – the Constitution doesn’t say a thing about filibusters being allowed.  You can change them however you want… but guess what.  It doesn’t just change for you.

Of course, there’s a simple way around that too.  Just change the rules back before you lose power.  Of course, that makes it an even more baldfaced power grab, but is that a bad thing?  After all, it’s really only a symbolic gesture, one that lets you scream at the other guy when he changes the rules back so you don’t have a say in anything.

The filibuster exists for the purpose of making sure that the minority can stop the majority from pushing things through without an overwhelming majority.  That’s the entire reason it exists.  And that’s why, for very well over a hundred years, it has remained an option in the Senate.  There is only one reason to change it – because you want to take more power.  Forget the fact that they’re talking about health care.  That’s not what they’re talking about. 

Changing the rules of the filibuster has nothing to do with health care reform.

It’s just a smokescreen.

Changing the rules of the filibuster is something that you only do for one reason.  Because you’re trying to ram something down the throats of the public, opposition be damned.  If the Democrats go and change the rules for the filibuster, they’ll allow themselves to force a simple majority vote on anything that goes through.  Don’t kid yourself about Point #3 in that little article calling for the change – do you really think that the change wouldn’t, effectively, mean that a simple majority of democrats can vote anything through?  Even the system suggested there simply makes the filibuster a formality to wait through – go ahead and go home while the other guys rant and speechify to keep you from voting.  Then come in a week later, and push for cloture with 51 votes, before you go ahead and pass whatever legislation you want with 51 votes.

Health care would be the first thing pushed through, sure.  But would it be the last?  I don’t think so.  They’d promptly push through every single liberal talking point, one week at a time. 

Gun control restrictions?  There y’go.  It’ll cut down on the bill for our health care reform, after all.

Expanded welfare?  Well, hey, we just put you all on Government health care, why not on the Government payroll too?

Gay marriage?  Well… no, probably not, since The One has come out saying he’s against it.  But, if he’d agree to sign it, why not?

On-demand abortion?  It’ll be harder, but we can probably pull it off.

A special Presidential police force, to make sure those dangerous Right Wing lunatics stay in line?  Well of course!  We’ve taken away their chance to do anything through the system, we’d better make sure they don’t do anything outside the system too.

The list can go on, getting increasingly ridiculous all the way along.  Eventually, they’ll probably lose power… at which point, blast it.  The Republicans take over, and use the same rules to go ahead and change back parts of the system (abortion and gay marriage, probably… maybe gun control.)

Congratulations.  The system has become completely controlled by whichever side scores 51 votes, unless the Constitution specifically says you need more.

Yes, that’s a slippery slope argument.  It probably wouldn’t go that far, that fast.  But it illustrates the way that it could go.  If you think that pushing through those points, 1 week at a time, by virtue of having temporarily claimed a slim majority, is a good idea?  Congratulations.  You’re not a Democrat. 

You’re a fascist.

And I mean that by the real definition of a fascist – somebody who believes that the government should control the people, that the people exist for the service of the state, not the other way around.  You just only believe it when the government agrees with you, and you’d be screaming that every one of your rights is being violated if the Republican flavor of fascist were doing it instead.

So don’t go getting hacked off about the other side wanting a little control even when they’re the minority… because one of these days, you probably will be too, believe it or not.  And when that happens, you’ll bitch all the louder about any attempts to further limit your power.

That’s just how politics seems to work these days.  And that’s why the important question isn’t Republican or Democrat, it isn’t left or right – it’s politician or civil servant.

And those of us on the civil servant side have a smaller number of representatives than any other party you could name.

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An Early Rant

December 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm (Politics) (, , , , , )

Okay.  I tripped over this little post on Snopes today, about people doubting that in 2010 the entire House of Rep’s would actually be up for re-election.  Moreover, they stated that they can’t remember this ever happening before – why isn’t the Media making a bigger deal of this rare, unprecedented event?

Because, as you would know if you’d paid attention in your freakin’ 4th grade social studies (which is the EARLIEST point I remember being taught about it, but that’s probably because of a spotty memory), this happens every two freakin’ years.

That’s right ladies and gents – it says right there in the Constitution that the entire house of representatives goes up for election every two years.  Pelosi?  She’s up in 2010.  Baldwin?  Up in 2010.  If they’re a congressional representative without the word “senator” in front of their name, they go up in 2010.

Similarly, 1/3 of the ones who do have the word ‘senator’ in front of their names go up in 2010. 

Just like they were in 2008, when everybody was swooning over electing the first black President.

Why is it so freaking hard for people to figure out?

Probably because (a) half these people don’t bother to vote except for President (and even then, we have piss-poor turnout rates) and (b) when they do, they just tick their name down next to ‘incumbent’ and ignore it, or worse, next to the party line box… which, due to the rampant gerrymandering on both sides, is often basically the same thing.  Because of this sort of thing, we never hear about those elections except for commercials we’ve taught ourselves to tune out

This is the sort of thing that pisses me off, people.  The idea that there are people in this country – people who say they’ve been voting for the last 30 freakin’ years – who can’t even remember the simple fact that, yes, your congressional rep goes up every 2 years.  These people are voting… and they are demonstrating, at the same time, such a dunderheaded ignorance about the very system they’re proudly (or, sadly, more often reluctantly) taking part in that it’s frightening.

I’m not saying we should have a basic civics test in order to vote (though I wouldn’t be against it, I’ll admit).  Those sort of things are fairly easy to manipulate.  But tell me.  Who did you vote for in the last election?  I can, at least for the national-level elections.  If you want to ask, I even will.

Now, if you can remember who you voted for, can you remember why?  I’ll admit, I’m sometimes part of the problem that I’m railing against here.  When I don’t know much about either candidate, if I’m satisfied with the way things are going, I’ll vote for the incumbent, all other things equal.

But that’s after I’ve looked into most of the races that are for something more important than dog-catcher, run through my head for any names that ring a bell for or against, and then (I’ll admit) considered whether or not the party they’re running under generally agrees with my politics.  I only go “Incumbent” when it’s Republican or Democrat and I’ve got nothing else to go with.  It’s a court of last resort for me.  For a lot of people, it’s just the default – who cares about the race, unless it’s a big one for the President?

Otherwise, how do you explain Congress having approval ratings lower than Bushes and the same party that was in power at the time staying there?  How can we have sub-20% approval ratings, and a 90% retention rate of incumbents?  Think about it, folks.  Two people out of every ten approve of the job that the candidates are doing… and yet they keep 9 out of 10 candidates on the payroll, so to speak.  How does this happen?  Laziness, pure and simple – there’s no other reason.

Personally, I dislike the incumbents we have in there enough that, sometimes, I vote against the incumbent on principle.  On the national level, there is only one incumbent who can be reasonably sure of getting my vote – and I’ll tell you exactly why he’ll get it.  When Senator Feingold comes up for re-election, I’ll be voting for him, as long as I’m still a Wisconsinite.  Why?

When the PATRIOT Act came up for its first votes, it passed with one single dissenting vote – Feingold’s.  Everybody else in the Senate who had the balls to speak up apparently felt that we needed a bill that trampled over civil liberties and ground them into the dirt.  Nobody else seemed to think that this bill could be abused, or at least that if it could be, that we could deal with that later.  Frankly?  Bush didn’t abuse the PATRIOT Act nearly as much as he could have, and consider all the noise we heard about it then.  Obama had been known to campaign on the fact that if he’d been in the Senate at the time, he’d have voted against it too… funny, how that rhetoric went away once he was in the Senate and had voted to extend and expand upon the worst parts of it.

I’ll admit, I’m a little paranoid about my governing officials.  I tend to believe that, if you go ahead and give them a way to punish dissenters and silence opposition, eventually some of them are going to think to go ahead and use it.  Consider, if you will, the fact that the EPA was given the power to basically pass law without having to go through that pesky legislation process, by declaring a substance hazardous to human health.  Now, they’ve done exactly that with CO2 – giving them carte blanche to ‘regulate’ a substance that we’ve just discovered poses an overblown threat at best, thanks to a few hackers hitting the CRU.

I don’t mean for this to turn into a PATRIOT Act rant, or one about ClimateGate.  All I want to do is to spread the word.

Yes, you IDIOTS, the entire House of Representatives DOES come up for re-election every two years, along with 1/3 of the Senate.  So guess what.  Quit bitching about the fact that you don’t like your Congress.  Quit bitching about the fact that they’re not doing any good.  Admit that there’s a freakin’ reason that even the mainstream media had to finally come out and admit that Congress – especially the House, which was then under Democratic control – had lower approval ratings than Dubya, widely perceived as the most unpopular President in decades.

AND VOTE THE BUMS OUT.

You realize, deep down inside, that both sides are corrupt as all Hell.  That the Democrats and the Republicans are both in the pockets of big-money special interest groups.  The Republicans are all getting their funding from big corporations – big banking, big oil, and big insurance.  The Democrats are all getting their funding from… big corporations – big banking, Wall Street fat cats, and groups like ACORN (or, as I like to call them, H&R Block for child sex slavers.)  They’re both taking money out of the same tills.  They’re both beholden to exactly the same special interests.  And as long as the American public keeps proving that the best way to keep in office is to blanket the media with ads, there’s no reason to actually behave like the American public matters – because they don’t.  What matters is your ability to schmooze and collect funds so you can buy more ads and better spin doctors.  And once you get in that office, milk it for all you can, because you’ve got a 9/10 chance of sitting there for practically eternity.

We, the People, have created a monarchy in this country.  It’s time we started switching the King and his Court out every once in a while… the way we were meant to when we became We, the People.

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Proof of God

December 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm (Politics) (, , , , , )

In the news the other day, Pat Buchanan announced that, since there’s no actual proof of climate change, and yet we’re talking about remaking our entire infrastructure and economy based on its presumed existence, we should also transform our country into a theocracy despite there being no known proof of the existence of God.

That’s absolutely ridic – wait a second.  I’m getting an update.

Uhm… I’m sorry, it seems I got that totally mixed up.  The only part of that statement which was accurate was that Pat Buchanan was actually there when the stupid statement that follows was made.  And he didn’t make it (which, honestly… pains me.)

In response to the statement that there’s no known proof that climate change is being caused by mankind, by Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift:

“There’s no known proof of the existence of God either!  How much proof do you need, Pat?”

Let me get this straight.  You’re equating the fact that people believe in God based on pure faith, with no known proof, with the fact that people are insisting we need to completely overhaul the infrastructure of the world and its economy because of anthropogenic climate change?

Do you realize that you’re also stating that AGW is an issue of faith, not of proof?  Because that’s basically what you’re saying.

You see… we aren’t a theocracy.  We don’t allow what is perceived as God’s word to dictate how we run our economy.  If we did, we would ban lobster fishing, and allow people to capture Mexicans and Canadians as slave labor.  We would also make homosexuality punishable by death.  Because that, apparently, is God’s law, and if we disobey we’re in for major punishments.  We would be making those decisions based purely on faith, because we believe that the invisible man in the sky is telling us that we should.

Instead, because we aren’t a theocracy, we make our laws based (at least somewhat) based on things we do have proof of, or believe for reasons beyond the “invisible man in the sky” argument.  Because there’s no reason to believe that homosexuality is actually equivalent to murder, we don’t execute gays.  Because there’s no reason to believe that we have a divine mandate to conquer the world, we don’t legalize taking foreign nationals as slaves.  Because we know that shellfish actually can be eaten safely, we don’t make them illegal to harvest and consume.

Similarly, because we are supposed to be making laws based on common sense and scientific evidence, rather than proof, we don’t make laws mandating that we completely overhaul our economy based on what are, basically, faith-based claims that our current economy is causing the Earth to warm to unsafe levels.

“But hey!”  You might be saying.  “We *do* have scientific evidence!”

And yet… we also have evidence (not scientific, but even better – actual documentation) that the “scientific evidence” was developed using potentially inaccurate numbers, and with a concerted effort to conceal the raw data and silence dissenters.  You don’t believe it?  They’ve got emails from the CRU – the go-to people for climate change information – stating that journals that allowed articles dissenting with the majority view of climate change should be “reviewed” as to whether or not they’re legitimate journals.

We’ve got statements that the researchers would rather dump their raw data than have it made available to people outside their circle.

We’ve got statements that it’s a “travesty” that their models can’t explain the current temperature trends.

We’ve got statements that data needs to be edited in order to get the results they’re publicizing.

Now – I’m in a field that does some public reporting.  And yes, adjustments do sometimes have to be made in order to accurately portray the information.  However, we can explain Every.  Single.  Adjustment.  If we couldn’t, we could lose our jobs, or even end up in prison.  We can’t just arbitrarily say “these numbers look too low – add arbitrary number X to make it fit the trend.”  If we try doing that, we get screamed at from every level of the process, and the media would be having a field day with us.

But this?  Clear evidence and obvious statements that the scientists who’ve been using millions of dollars to fund their research, who are proposing that we make changes that could have billions or even trillions of dollars of economic impact?  We have clear evidence and unambiguous statements that call all of their information into question.

And the mainstream media is being very, very quiet about it.  Why?  Because they’ve drunk the Kool-aid.  After all – there’s no known proof of God, but plenty of people believe in him.  How’s this any difference?

Maybe because we’re actually moving away from the point of considering theocratic dictatorships a legitimate government.  You’d think they’d get with the 21st Century.

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