Monday, November 17, 2014

Upcoming events at the Weimar Institute

Friday, November 14, 2014

Just a few

Just a bit of interesting reading for the weekend.

Granite Bay firm in Bloomberg. 

House Committee Chairman Helps Company Linked to His Son

Matt Taibbi is back with Rolling Stone an blowing the whistle on....
Rolling Stone
The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare

By comparison Nixon looks pretty good.

Public Trust in Government: 1958-2014

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

America is Not a Two-Party State… It Is a Single-Party State

I suggest early retirement followed by a twelve step program.

Help, We're in a Living Hell and Don't Know How to Get Out

Is it really any wonder why there is voter apathy in this country?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Time to vote

I guess this is a day where all good bloggers should urge people to get out and vote.  A noble topic and one that I have written about many times in the past, however media types have been pushing the point for years and voter participation keeps going down.  Once again California is projecting low turnouts.  Maybe it is time for new ideas so I have come up with a few suggestions.  

Instead of the sticker saying I voted they should give each voter a digital license to a copyrighted logo and merchandise the process.  You could use the logo on coffee mugs,  t-shirts, blogs, social media even temporary tattoos.  The logo should have the month and year incorporated so that we all know when the point of last voter participation was.  From then on we can shun the political opinion of anyone that cannot validate their participation.  Essentially they had their chance to express an opinion at the ballot box when it mattered and should not bore the rest of us with it until they do.  

Another approach would be a series of ballot initiatives.  The first initiative would be that ballot initiatives can be put on any available ballot.   Once that is done we can use initiatives to get people involved.  Youth voter participation has always been a problem so we can try an initiative that would raise the drinking age to twenty five.  I am sure that it would bring them out in droves.  In almost all demographics a one dollar per cup tax on prepared coffee proposal should increase turnout but to make sure that it gets shutdown we should try for two dollars a cup.  Being a coffeeholic I don’t want to get too extreme and actually get something like that passed.  An initiative to tax television viewing would certainly get more participation than something dull like jobs or healthcare. 

The creation of Ballot Bars might help.  One could vote and get a free beer or glass of wine instead of a sticker.  In some states maybe even a puff off of the old pipe.  Let’s face it when you look at our track record on election picks it is arguable that this might be going on informally already.  It is hard to believe that sober individuals  actually elected this sorry group in congress.  

Another possible solution is that we should just wait.  The US Congress already has approval ratings suggesting that only their friends and family feel they are doing a passable job.  When the inevitable happens and they lose those supporters as well maybe just maybe we will get some real voter participation.  

Oh yeah, time to get my blogger ticket punched.  Get out and vote.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Scared Stupid

California is about 69% vote by mail with a few counties being 100% vote by mail.   Our ballots arrived last week so the only thing keeping us from voting is sitting down to fill out the forms.  Those that earn their living by promoting innuendo, half truths, lies and damn lies are very much aware of the election calendar.  This means that October is when average folks are forced to lay tarps across the living room floor to keep the slime from dripping out of their televisions and on to the carpets.  Seriously it isn't my district but after watching Bera and Ose go at it on TV I can't see why anyone would vote for either of them.  My negative view is not based on the points made by either candidate but the intellectual insult perpetrated by both campaigns.  

Being an Independent that rarely donates cash to political campaigns I receive far less stinky stuff in the mailbox but my more generous and partisan friends have kept me up to speed.  On the left the Boogie Persons of choice has been either the Koch's or the Tea Party.  On the right the Boogie Persons are President Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.  One can only assume that they think the electorate can be scared into stupidity.  My advice is to keep you money in pocket unless you are donating to a specific candidate that you really think should be in office.  Trust me, none Boogie people mentioned are going to sneak in and eat your children while you sleep.  It is just politics as usual.  Besides we made it through eight years of Bush proving that one person cannot wreck the country in the next two year no matter how had they appear to try. 

Things are far worse with social media like Facebook where about 80% of anything I see would not stand up to a ten second fact check.  Just because we are alarmed about something we read on doesn't mean that we should hit the share button without checking it out.  Well unless of course we intend to turn the internet into a giant organic garden by spreading manure around for fertilizer.  Unfortunately that is what most of our Facebook friends do and they do it often enough to make me wonder if I should start watering my laptop and get ready for harvest.

Now for you compulsive fact checkers out there don't think that you will earn your friends respect by pointing out that their post is factually incorrect.  It just serves to make them mad. Science has found out that when one challenges a persons belief system with facts a believer just digs in deeper.  You may think  that you should get an award but more than likely you will be chastised or unfriended for your effort.  Better to just watch and see which ones are not bright enough to hire, lend money to or believe any other thing that they post in the future. Lets face it if our friends don't know that politicians and pundits are lying to them we should probably take all of their council with a bit of sodium chloride. 

Much of the negativity in political ads is there just to disgust voters to the point where they don't bother to vote.  This is a favorite tactic of partisan hacks because it actually helps when only the most loyal and brainwashed participate in the process.  Don't fall for it.  Negative campaigning should make us all the more aware of how flawed our current system is.  It should motivate us to turn out and take our disgust out on those that use these tactics. 

There is one bright spot about election year Octobers.  It means that the first Tuesday in November is just around the corner and you will have two more years before they try to make you Scared Stupid again.  Boo!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Open Letter to my friends in Oregon on Measure 90

In California we have enjoyed a top two open primary system since 2010.  We have had a couple of election cycles to kick the tires and while there was plenty of consternation about a new system nothing earth shaking has come to pass.  The effects while subtle build the potential for long lasting and positive effect.

The old partisan system rested as much power as possible in as few hands as possible while giving an illusion of real democracy.  In reality very few people controlled the money and the access to resources needed to run.  Partisan power brokers could tell potential upstart candidates that if they ran they would never get financing or support from traditional sources ever.   Someone that ran as an outsider had to have enough money of their own to at least kick off the campaign and see if they could attract nontraditional cash.  To upset a system controlled by a very few one had to be part of an even smaller group, the very rich.  Toss-up districts were almost non-existent and upset races even more rare.  Since the outcomes were predictable the monetary flow was also predicable.  It was what one might see as great for the business of politics.  It was however a nightmare for governance.

During the 2012 primary here in the First Assembly district we had two Republicans and one Democrat to choose from.  As an Independent I had my choice from all three as did anyone else without regard to their party of registration.  I didn’t make my choice based on ideology but on a combination of electability and things that I read from good source about one candidate that caused me some concern.  I tend strongly toward the conservative but being more interested in problem solving not much of an ideologue.  After the election I found that my friends that strongly lean to the left made the same decision and for the exact same reasons.   As a district we found a candidate that we felt would represent most of the districts constituents.   That is Top Two’s strength: the system has a bias toward consensus as opposed to partisanship.

A battle between someone that is sure to win and someone that is sure to lose isn’t an election, it is a rigged system and that is what our old partisan Primary system was.  Between gerrymandering and the partisan primary for most of our districts it was almost a waste of money to go through the election exercise.  It is no wonder that California has had a declining turnout for a very long time.  Those that say recent low turnouts were due to the top two are conveniently ignoring that it is just another step in a long trend of declining turnout going back much further than our new choice of primary systems.

Minor parties are doing as well as they ever have.  The Top Two Primary only restricts them from losing two elections instead of just one.  They have as much winning as anyone.  The candidate that wins just has to prove that they will represent more voters than just one other and they move on to November.   It is a very simple test.

One should not worry that Measure 90 will make Oregon more like California.  Measure 90 passing should make Oregon more like Oregon because more of Oregon’s citizens can participate in the process.  Based on how things went where I live, I can with confidence recommend that my friends in Oregon vote yes on Measure 90.