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Entries in Politics (40)

Wednesday
Apr272011

So...Can we move on now?

Well, I suppose you can say one thing for Donald Trump, he gets what he wants. The White House, after asking the Hawaii State Department of Health to make an exception to Hawaii law, has posted a copy of President Obama's long form birth certificate. The question is, will this finally make the birthers go away?

President Obama's Long Form Birth Certificate | The White House:

 After all, if President Obama truly is the player in a Manchurian Candidate style conspiracy, couldn't this long form birth certificate be a fake as well? What exactly does the release of this photocopy of his "birth certificate" prove? I mean, it's a type-written form with some signatures, which could very easily be faked, right?

I wonder if the Donald knew that this release was coming, might explain why he's changed his tack and started attacking the President's educational record, because apparently graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard doesn't count for anything anymore.

So, do you think this will satisfy the Donald and the rest of the Birther crowd?

Wednesday
Apr202011

End the Electoral College?

Opinion: Bring U.S. closer to a real democracy - Thomas C. Goldstein and Amy Howe - POLITICO.com:

Yet election rules now make it possible that the loser will win the presidency, because almost every state awards all its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote there. And given how electors are allocated, a candidate can collect a majority of electors, without a majority of the votes nationally.

 While I applaud Mr. Goldstein's good intentions, as well as the noble intentions of those who support this bill, I honestly don't really see how this is anything but the elimination of the electoral college. I would agree that electoral reform is needed, but I don't agree that we should put an end to the electoral college.

So, what should we do instead to help guarantee that the popular vote and the electoral vote are less likely to be different? Well, in my humble opinion, it's pretty simple and wouldn't require much of a change. We eliminate the "first past the post" awarding of all of a state's electoral votes and instead apportion them by congressional district with the two votes provided for the senate going to the winner of the state's popular vote.

Here's how it would work in Iowa (my home state and the recent loser of an electoral vote after the 2010 census).

Iowa has 4 congressional districts, thus a winner would be determined in each of those districts, more directly apportioning the actual results of the votes in those regions. The two remaining electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate that wins the states overall popular vote. A candidate could theoretically win all of the states electoral votes, but the odds are that the votes would be attributed far more evenly, thus making the overall electoral vote more directly proportional to the popular vote.

Obviously this would be far more complex in the big states like NY, CA, TX, etc... But the system is essentially already in place and would go much farther toward insuring that every vote truly does count.

What do you think, should we move to a system where the popular vote is the only vote that matters?

Thursday
Dec232010

Vander Plaats continues call for resignation of Justices

The possibility of a push within the legislature next year to try to impeach the four remaining justices who were not up for retention on the 2010 ballot surfaced last week when several GOP lawmakers indicated they were spearheading an effort.

Vander Plaats calls for remaining Iowa justices to resign:

The Iowa Constitution has the following to say about state offices who are subject to impeachment:

 

The Governor, Judges of the Supreme
and District Courts, and other state officers, shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor or malfeasance in office; but judgment in such cases shall extend only to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of
honor, trust, or profit, under this state; but the party convicted or acquitted shall nevertheless be liable to indictment, trial, and punishment, according to law. All other civil officers shall be tried for misdemeanors and malfeasance in
office, in such manner as the General Assembly may provide. 
Now, I know I'm not a lawyer, but last time I checked, issuing a ruling in a case, however unpopular it may be, is not tantamount to committing "misdemeanor or malfeasance". Try to imagine with me the sheer outrage that would come from the right if a liberal were trying to have a SC judge impeached because he ruled Iowa's gun control laws to be unconstitutional, or that it was illegal for anyone to pray in public.
The movement to remove Justices Ternus, Streit and Baker was predicated on fear and half-truth, but more importantly, Vandetr Plaats' claim that the people of Iowa have lost "complete confidence in them" is utter hyperbole. The vote to remove the three judges up for retention was not a landslide. It wasn't exactly 50/50, but it wasn't 90/10 either. His equating of a close decision in a midterm election (even one that saw 50+% turnout in Iowa) to a vote of no confidence is simply irresponsible.
As one Iowan who voted to retain all three of these justices I can certainly say that Mr. Vander Plaats does not speak for me and as an Iowan, I am ashamed that so many of my fellow citizens allowed themselves to be swayed by the tactics of fear employed by Vander Plaats and his ilk.

 

Friday
Dec102010

The Tea Partys War on Education

How the Tea Party Will Destroy School Reform - The Daily Beast:

Uwe Romeike teaches two of his children, Josua and Lydia, at their home in Morristown, Tennessee on March 13, 2009. (Wade Payne / AP Photo)

Across all these issues, “We can’t have government officials coming in and supervising the decisions that fit parents make,” said William Estrada, director of federal relations at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

Education reform has been pushed to the background on Capitol Hill as of late what with taxes and equality taking top billing for the lame duck session, not to mention a recession going on. That being said, the Tea Party, and many of it's members who were put into office in the midterms, have not forgotten about it and are ready to wage their own private war on the public education system starting in January.

The above quote raises two questions to me. First, who decides the parents are "fit"? If Mr. Estrada doesn't want the government supervising the decisions parents make, how will anyone determine whether or not the decisions they make are in the best interest of the child? I'm not against homeschooling, not in the slightest, but you cannot say that you want the government to leave "fit parents" alone, without determining who gets to make the decision as to whether or not they are, indeed, "fit parents".

Second, where are these government officials they speak of? Is there some sort of homeschooling police that I am unaware of? Granted, I am not overly familiar with homeschooling, having never done it, but I don't see how setting specific curriculum guidelines is tantamount to direct government supervision of a homeschooler. I think we should all be able to agree that there are certain minimum requirements all students, be it public, parochial, private or homeschool, should have to meet in order to qualify for a high school diploma, and no, I don't see that as some kind of Big Brother system where the govt. is telling you what you can and can't teach.

I'm not against homeschooling, not at all, I am against the idea that a parent has the right to decide whether or not their child has achieved a level of education that is equivalent to other children. Parents, fit or not, are not objective when it comes to their children and that is what we need, objectivity. 

I for one sincerely hope that the Tea Party does not succeed in eliminated the DOE and creating a system where parents get to determine what their kids curriculum needs to be. While I don't think that NCLB should be extended (it's a ridiculous, ineffective top-down reform that does little more than create paperwork for teachers and funnels money away from schools that really need it), I certainly don't think that we as a nation should put the future of our collective society on the partisan chopping block.

 

Thursday
Dec022010

Tell me Mr. Ryan, what exactly is "limited" government?

Rep. Paul Ryan, Columnist David Brooks Debate 'Limited' Government:

During the rejoinders, Ryan responded by saying that our nation has gone from assuming our rights were derived from God to assuming our rights come from government. "And so, I do believe that the idea of the role of government has changed," he said.

I would contend that "limited government" is an oxymoron. The government is supposed to derive it's powers from the consent of the governed, therefore intrinsically limiting it to what the citizens want it to be.

Putting some sort of arbitrary limit on the powers of government is, in my opinion, antithetical to the nature of our democratic system. The government should not be allowed to create it's own power, but that is not the same as summarily limiting what the government has the power to do. Those decisions are made by the citizens through our representatives in Congress.

Now, whether or not Congress (i.e. Politicians) is bastardizing their role in the governmental process is an entirely different discussion. But I think that for the purposes of this venue, Brooks is right and Ryan is a little too caught up in the semantic argument about the role of government as opposed to it's overall function.