Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Unsinkable Molly Ivins....

Another cat bell, Another windmill. No one can say Democrats don't have ideas or that the Ideas are not practical. Only the problem is that without a way to hold congress critters accountable, they won't install any other way to hold them accountable.

I do like the idea of supporting democracy, however, and think we should try it—especially here in the U.S. of A. To this end, a couple of dandy ideas are now circulating, and I think they’re worth your support and excitement. For ages, all good reformers have wanted to get rid of the Electoral College and have direct popular election of presidents, instead. The disastrous election in 2000 finally culminated in Bush v. Gore, a Supreme Court decision so bad even the court disowned it at the time.

Every nightmare scenario about just how screwed up things could get with the Electoral College all came true. What a giant mess: a textbook case of why the Electoral College is toxic piffle. But the desire to Do Something about the mess in 2000 burned itself out. The Republicans who took over Congress are just not natural reformers.

Trouble is, the system has just about “ruint” presidential elections, which now turn on a handful of swing states, while everyone else is ignored. While millions of dollars, hours of political ads and hordes of politicians descend every four years on the swing states, you can barely tell there’s an election going on in the rest of the country. Should you live safely tucked into a solidly red or blue state, your vote is unsought, uncounted and unnecessary—we know how your state’s votes will be cast whether you vote or not.

The Campaign for a National Popular Vote has a dandy new approach. Instead of trying to amend the Constitution through a long, difficult process that can and will be stalled by small states, the campaign proposes a simpler, elegant solution. According to the Constitution, each state legislature can instruct its own electors to cast their votes however the state decides, usually as winner-take-all for whichever candidate carries the state. But there is no reason a state legislature cannot instruct its electors to vote for whoever wins the popular vote.

Democracy! What a concept! The states can do this one by one, subscribing to an interstate compact that would take effect when enough states join to elect the actual winner—a majority of the 538 electoral votes.


The possibilities for unintended consequences here is boggling, to say nothing of evil intended consequences. A covert Republican campaign to get Dem States to pass such lege would guarantee a Republican switch but not necessarily one to the Dem side. Even a Maine type proportional voting scheme, could have similar consequences. The Florida lege even threatened to go the other way before the Supremes beat them to it, and there is nothing too keep them from doing it again for partisan gain.

In any case I wrote this to Molly's article....

What with computers and technology beyond the horse drawn wagon, why not try for a more direct democracy? While I might agree that having everyone vote on every issue might have some bad results (though an improvement on the present), a biannual bid that actually made EVERY vote count might actually work.

What if everyone voted for a favorite person to actually represent them? That person would usually come from where their supporters were, but not necessarily, but would have personal contact with nearly every voter who supported them.

So what if they get only say 10k votes, they could formally form a coalition of like minded fellows till they reached some magic number (say 1 million) and that coalition would put one of their number as the official representative in congress. The rest would essentially be the office staff, and thus still have a day to day impact. Those coalitions with the most votes would get the best chairmanships etc., evening out those with big excess votes with those barely over the line.

The result would be total representation all the time for each and every voter. Gerrymandering would be impossible, and no longer would nearly half of all actual voters, (much less the rest) go unrepresented.

Of course such a plan is as like my plan to staff the entire government bureaucracy with drafted conscripts, forced to do 4-6 years of patriotic service for their country, and then back to the real world, not setting up some lifetime program of empire building or cozy relationships, just go in, do your job for patriotism, and get out. Short a Wiser Washington, Jefferson, Franklin et. al. the chances of a real, thought out system are all but nil.

Even such reform as banning voting district pseudopodia, or width to length maximum ratios, is out of reach if there is no accountability.

And as the Majority of states get an extra edge of Three Electoral Votes when their population only justifies one, they would still over rule, unless the state voted against the actual vote count of that state. Say an Ohio that had a plurality of votes for the Democrat, putting all their votes for the Republican. Then two or three swing states could pull it off, but the partisan acrimony from which ever side got the short end would be deafening. Also a New York and California for instance could throw the vote Republican , but not Democrat as they would (presumably) have a Dem winner in any case.

Myself, I would be happy just to have an honest vote count. Without that, nothing good is possible.

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One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

from an old tale.

The Golden Rule
“That which is hateful to you do not do to another ... the rest (of the Torah) is all commentary, now go study.”

- Rabbi Hillel



The self made man just isn't admitting how or where he came by all those parts

---FreeDem---- Aug 2005


If a man tells you that the Government cannot accomplish anything of value, then voting for him would be like hiring an Amish Auto Mechanic.
If they don't believe in the concept, they are more than likely to do a very poor job of it.

---Bob Danforth Sept. 2009


Republicans never meant to cut government waste, fraud and graft, from the get-go their plan was to organize, monopolize and privatize waste, fraud and graft.

They see the civil service as meddling “middleman,” who interfered with the free flow of cash from taxpayers into corporate coffers. Their intent was to eliminate the “middleman” as an obstruction to corruption.

---Unknown rabblerowser Feb 2007


No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

Edward R. Murrow

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot

Mark Twain


You see, we often get noncreative leaders, people most interested in preserving their own positions. They flock around centers of power. Such centers attract people who can be corrupted. That is a more descriptive observation than to say simply that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

If you are corruptible and your imagination is confined to worries about loss of power, you exist in a self-destructive system. Eventually, as all life does, you must encounter something you did not anticipate, and if you have not strengthened your creative resources, you will have no new ways for adapting to change. Adapt or die, that's the first rule of survival.

The limited vision of noncreative people is not difficult to understand. Creativity frightens the unimaginative. They don't know what's happening. Things new and unexpected arise from creativity. This threatens "things as they are." And (terrible thought) it undermines illusions of omnipotence.


Herbert 1984 (the year not the book)


"News is what powerful people want to keep hidden; everything else is just publicity."

....Bill Moyer


Just as having only a hammer makes every problem either look like a nail, or as something irrelevant, our very technological skills have had us look there for explanations and ignore reality it cannot deal with. With our powerful hammer, we seek only nails, and dump the rest as dross. Not all questions involve hammers, not all answers are nails.
-- Freedem---Nov., 2006

My issue with Atheists is not that they have no God, there are many religions that have no God, but that they have no religion.
-- Freedem---Nov., 2006

__Note: by this I mean that there are many things religions do besides the discredited "science" and self serving promises (give me your money and God will hold and pay the note), many like charity or fellowship, even social accountability can be very good things not requiring a God.


Many have been very disappointed that their "God-critter" was not to be found as a technology swimming about in the shallower pools of knowledge. So in the obsession basic to our culture, we search ever deeper and more difficult pools, and always the "God-critter" seems to wink at us from the pool just beyond.

In the process we have found technologies beyond the wildest dreams of our most sophisticated ancestors. The great joke is that the "critter" never existed except as the pools themselves.

----Freedem --- Oct 2006

Indeed I do think that many folk, believe all kinds of stuff from the actually true, to the utterly illogical, with no personal discernment one from the others. But that would hardly make any of them a scholar to rely on, any more that one should get their theology studies from a door to door salesman, offering "get out of hell free" cards, on special because the creator of galaxies in greater numbers than beach sand, nonetheless has an ego so weak He cannot exist without shamelessly excessive psychophancy from a major portion of the inhabitants of this particular dust speck.

----Freedem ---June-2007

More to come