Saturday, March 27, 2010

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Tonight, I'm excited, and not by the way I've typically been "excited" for most of the past week. My love of technology and my love of politics have met up in the discovery of an application for my Android smartphone: Visible Vote. Now before I lose you iPhone or Blackberry users (or people who don't care about the smarthpone revolution), let me point out that these guys have an iPhone app, a BlackBerry app, a Facebook application, and a Windows/Mac application. (Sorry Linux users, it doesn't appear to work with WINE without some tweaking.)

This application allows you to cast votes just as your Congressmen do, then compare your votes with theirs. The application aggregates the responses of the users who cast votes, and faxes weekly vote tallies to each Congressional office. On top of the other mad letter-writing, phone-line-melting down, and email blitz campaigns we often engage in, this is yet another way to let Congress know exactly how we feel. Plus, after your congressmen cast their vote for the same bill, it lets you know exactly how their votes match up with yours -- in other words, it makes it easy to follow and see exactly how they're doing (if you didn't know already). And in the current highly partisan political climate, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some people weren't surprised to see how well (or poorly) their Congressmen are doing.

On top of all of that, this gives another way to get more people educated, increase political awareness, and involved in the democratic process. I'd encourage all of you to check it out and pass it on, whether or not you're a geek like me!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Insufferable Idiots

I heard the following comment the other day:
"America can tolerate a one-term Obama presidency,
it's the idiots who elected him who worry me,
for they may elect another Democrat who's just as bad"

This post is thus dedicated to (and an illustration of) the idiots who voted for Obama. (These segments are actually more than a year old, but I wanted to archive them in perpetuity in my little corner of cyberspace. I hope you enjoy them!)

Idiot #1: He probably had to change his pants after this. (the pertinent segment is from about 0:38 through 0:45.)

Idiot #2: "I won't have to worry about putting gas in my char. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage." (The fun begins at 0:15.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

America's Constitution Under Assault

Our Constitution hangs by a thread, under the assault of those who have sworn to defend and uphold it. If those who have sworn to defend and uphold the Constitution will not, then who will? More importantly, who can? When our elected officials lay siege to our Constitution, there is little that the average run-of-the-mill American can do to stop them.

The framework established by the Constitution provides a system of checks and balances among the three co-equal branches of government to keep any one branch from becoming too powerful or running amok on our Liberties. But the Constitution defines the structure for these checks and balances within the government itself. In other words, the Constitution provides no legal means (aside from periodic elections) for the citizens of the United States to defend the Constitution by removing from office those who would commit no crime other than disregarding the Constitution. The exception is the 18 states (and District of Columbia) whose laws permit the recall of an elected official, but many of those require the official to have been caught in some misconduct or malfeasance. In general, once a Congressman is elected, they have a blank check for the duration of their term. (With this in-mind, you can kind of understand why some citizens think they must resort to threats of violence when their elected officials don't respond to phone calls, letters, and peaceful protests. But, I digress.)

In addition, the "Coattail Effect" can often lead to a situation wherein a de-facto alliance is developed between the Executive and Legislative branches of government that prevents these two branches from checking or balancing one another. We saw this in 2008: Barack Obama was a very popular Presidential candidate, and many people who now occupy the House and Senate owe their election to Barack Obama. Don't think that Obama is not acutely aware of this fact. And I absolutely believe this has already played a part in at least one legislative vote. When this alliance puts the Constitution in their crosshairs, the only means left to defend the Constitution are the threat of electoral defeat (slow) and the Judicial branch (also slow). When time is of the essence, as it is now, both are inadequate for the defense of the Constitution. Moreover, consider that Federal courts are filled with individuals who have been placed there by the Legislative-Executive alliance.

I submit that when the Constitution is under assault, as it is now, the Constitution does not provide adequate protection for itself. We must step in and defend it, as it has done (and continues to do) for our Liberties. I have some ideas on defending the Constitution, but for the sake of brevity, I will conclude this post for now, and continue the topic soon. If you have any ideas how we can legally defend our Constitution against our elected officials, I'd like to see whatever comments you may have.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Most Divisive Vote in History

On March 21, 2010, the United States House of Representatives has passed what I believe will be remembered as the most divisive vote in our country's history. We all know that I am referring to the vote to pass the Senate's version of Obamacare.

The disastrous effects of the passage of this bill are obvious: and their most disastrous effects will not be related specifically to health care. The real negative effect is that this vote will further divide this nation. With this vote out of the way, everyone is gearing up for the November elections. I can already hear the cries of "Repeal the Bill" from those opposed to this bill (myself included). Meanwhile, I'm sure the 46% of people who were in favor of the bill and those who think it didn't go far enough to strip us of our freedoms, drive up our taxes, or provide handouts for freeloaders will come up with some clever one-liner. The point is that the next election will be bitter and divisive (despite also likely being a decisive victory for the GOP). And, assuming the Republicans re-take the House of Representatives (a very likely outcome), their response to their new majority status will probably reflect the divisive nature of their victory. Immediately taking up a bill to repeal this disaster, only to face a Presidential veto will only widen the partisan and ideological divide.

Let us hope that Republicans can break this chain of events and run campaigns in 2010 that are based on more than just repealing this disaster, but on principles and ideas that can go deeper than this single issue, and unite us as Americans. Otherwise, I think our country is in grave danger, because

United we stand, divided we fall.

Who knows, maybe this is exactly what the progressives want, for we cannot throw off the yoke of tyranny as a people divided.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Never again!

On the eve of the "final vote" for ObamaCare in the House of Representatives, it is clear to many within the blogosphere that regardless of the outcome of this particular vote, November is going to be a bloodbath for Democrats seeking (re-)election and many Republicans are salivating at the prospect of re-gaining the majority on the Hill.

And then what? We can talk about repealing Obamacare (should it pass), and other variations on the theme of undoing the damage that the Obama administration and this Congress have wrought, but I think we should do more than undo the damage. I think we have a responsibility to set up a framework to prevent another such runaway Congress from violating the Constitution and the will of the people who empowered it. In fact, as we contemplate the strategies for electoral victory, I think a key plank in any election platform needs to be labeled "Never again!" in big, bold letters. As I look at this Congress, it's clear to me that most of them are out of control. They do not respect the Constitution, which they've sworn to defend. (The fact that they even contemplated the Slaughter Solution is all the evidence I need to offer.) And, given the overwhelming number of people who vehemently oppose this plan, it's also clear that they do not respect those who have lent them the power they now wield: their constituents.

As Conservatives prepare to take the reigns, I think they would be wise to put in place laws that will make it easier for the People to hold their elected officials accountable (and prevent a Congress from ever getting as out-of-control as this one is). (Note that to me, holding our Congressmen accountable does not mean giving them a blank check until the end of their elected term and summarily throwing them out. We need some laws with some real teeth that can allow us to stop our elected officials when we don't approve of what they're doing. If the system of checks and balances is insufficient to prevent the abuse of our Constitution, then the people need real power to defend the Constitution with more than treats of violence, protests, or casting a vote for "the other guy".) I don't know exactly what that might look like, hence the reason for this post. Together, perhaps we can come up with a set of reasonable laws that will allow the People to defend our Constitution when our elected officials threaten it. Here are some generic ideas I've had:
  • Grant constituents the ability to recall their elected officials at any time (after, say, the first 6 months of the term is served) with the collection of a number of signatures equal to some percentage of the votes cast in the prior election.
  • Grant constituents the ability to cast a vote of "disapproval" of a given Representative after they leave office. This vote may carry certain "side-effects", such as stripping the elected official of their federal pension (which is fully vested after only 5 years in office!).
  • Make it illegal for a Congressman to knowingly draft or vote for legislation or parliamentary tactics that are clearly unconstitutional. Due to Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution, the arrest could not take place until after Congress is no longer in session. It would be my hope that the threat of arrest and prosecution would prevent Congress from running roughshod over the Constitution.
I'm sure there are more (and better) ideas out there, and some of these are admittedly a bit extreme; but I think they have to be extreme to be a deterrent. If you have any other ideas, I'd be interested in hearing them! ...Or maybe you think I'm off my rocker and the threat of not re-electing an elected official is really all we need to hold Congress accountable. (Although, to me, it does not appear to be sufficient to stop Obamacare; but time will tell.)