Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Circus They Call the Senate

I've been hearing a faint buzz in national cemeteries all over our nation as the framers of the constitution continue to spin in their graves over the continued unraveling of one of the greatest Documents ever to come from the human mind. If anything, the mess that succeeding generations have made of the US Constitution shows that nothing, no matter how well done, is foolproof, provided you have enough fools in high places.

Originally, the Senate was an ingenious compromise to a big problem. The "larger" states, like Virginia, felt that they, due to their populations, should have greater representation in the legislative body. The "smaller" states, like New York (!), felt that all the states should be represented equally. From this dispute came the idea of a bicameral legislature, composed of two distinct bodies. The House of Representatives would be based on population, and more populous states would have more representation. The Senate, however, would answer the need for states to be treated equally, regardless of population. The Senate would be the place where cooler heads prevailed. Because of that, it would be trusted with things like making treaties, the examination of federal judges, and the approval of executive appointees. The Senate was seen as less "partisan," and not subject to the momentary whims of an often fickle electorate. The six year terms were designed to give them more time for deliberation, and less need for politics.

Most people don't realize that the framers of our Constitution did not intend for senators to be "elected." It was not until the imposition of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 that senators were chosen by the electorate. Before that time, they were chosen by the states, usually by their legislatures. In the erosion of states' rights, that important measure was forgotten and forsaken. Americans had been given the unique opportunity to elect a representative from their own district; the Senate was reserved for important decisions made by, for lack of a better word, "statesmen."

In effect, popular election cheapened the Senate. What we currently have is a "House of Representatives" and a "House of Representatives Express," which has really become more of the same. There is so much duplication between the two that many people wonder why we don't just go to a unicameral legislature. After all, isn't it repetitive to have one chamber pass a bill, and then have to have the other one do exactly the same thing? The previous idea of a popularly elected body of representatives being counterbalanced by an upper chamber of statesman appointed by each state (or vice versa) was a major stroke of genius in the system of checks and balances.

It took nearly one hundred years for the "Upper Chamber" to finally devolve into the joke that it now is. Look at recent results. Minnesota is probably the most pitiful example, where it appears that a second-rate comedian is about to be awarded a six year term after a highly partisan battle and a seemingly highly partisan theft of votes after the fact that makes Louisiana politics look tame. Of course, the Senate has seen this before. In 1941, LBJ found out that a senate seat is not easily taken. He had won a special election, and even begun to celebrate, when suddenly, new "votes" began to come in. He was beaten by a clueless Pappy O'Daniel, then the governor of Texas. O'Daniel had not rigged the election. His enemies had. He was a known tee-totaler and a prohibitionist, and the liquor interests of Texas wanted him out of Austin and comfortably in Washington, so they awarded him a senate seat. LBJ learned his lesson, and seven years later, he stole an election himself. In one precinct in south Texas, all the people came in and voted in alphabetical order, even some of the dead ones. The partisan force behind Franken has refined the issues somewhat, but seems to have discovered entire precincts that weren't counted before, but voted purely Democratic.

Then there's Illinois, where the governor did what any good Illinois party boss would do -- tried to sell the senate seat. His idea was, "I did not work this hard to get this far so I could just sit here and serve the people. I'm ready to cash in!" This never would have been a problem with the original process. Oh, yes, governors can appoint senators, but I seriously doubt there would have been a vacancy to fill. Mr. Obama may turn out to be an excellent president, but he would not have been senate material if the state legislature had been thinking about it. Nor Hillary Clinton, who moved to New York just so she could be a senator. I realize that there have been many senators who became president. Lincoln lost to Douglas in an Illinois senatorial contest that was decided by the state legislature, and then Douglas lost to Lincoln in the next presidential election. If there had been a popular vote, Lincoln probably would have been an obscure Illinois senator in 1860, and Douglas might have been the president. Now that's a big change, and it shows what we may have missed in the last 100 years.

Then, of course, there's the need to fill Hillary's senate seat and, surprise of surprises, they are actually looking for someone from New York to do it! Obviously, since the governor is a Democrat, it will be a Democrat. I'm not sure if there are even any Republicans in New York. Some people tried to tell me Rudy Giuliani is one, but I think they were probably joking. If the Senate is a state matter, decided by a state legislature, then the procedure is to look for a capable, competent, experienced statesman/woman. However, the public, not only in New York, is frothing at the mouth. It's a chance to get another Kennedy!!! Caroline Kennedy, who used to have another last name until this senate seat came up, has already been crowned by the public. After all, she's JFK's daughter, so she must be a good senator. One NY politician even made the asinine comment that "she has the DNA to be a senator."

Spin, forefathers, spin. Now we're talking "royal line" and titles of nobility. Now political leadership is inherited. King George is back. I recently listened to her first "campaign" speech, and I have to say, she's probably a nice person, and good at whatever she has been doing. But she has no vision, no speaking skills, you know, uh, you only, you know, have to listen, you know, for, uh, a minute, to, you know, realize that. But forget that: she has DNA!

The framers of our Constitution, in their wisdom and foresight, knew that Americans would need one big ugly Circus Maximus, so they gave us the House of Representatives. Little did they realize that the American people would demand a two-ring circus, so a hundred years ago they turned the Senate into one, too. And while we're at it, we need to note that no circus is complete without three rings, so we have also added the Executive Branch to the mixture, making the road to the White House a multibillion dollar, tiring, boring, two-year trek of ineffective and unsatisfying primaries that lead to a meaningless convention/coronation. And to boot, most Americans would like to just do away with electoral votes and make it an across the board national popularity contest.

Perhaps the best thing we could do for our nation would be to restore the Senate to the position that the Framers intended. I know we couldn't do it overnight, but we could "grandfather" those who are in the Senate right now, let them continue to run their expensive campaigns. But each time a senator retires or is defeated in an election, we could say "last one," and turn the next one to the state legislatures.

"Oh," you might say, "but popular elections give us the senators the people want." I really have a hard time believing that Al Franken could make a good page, much less a senator. Does Minnesota really deserve Al Franken, or even his worthy opponent? If state legislatures regained what was once a constitutional power, if it were possible to do it today, in the next 24 hours, our Senate would see a sudden, radical improvement. We must face it: popular election does not produce the best leaders. Remember Nixon? Biggest popular win in history, up to that time. Was Hillary really the best New York could do? Then there's Idaho and Alaska; don't forget Florida.

You want to send a clown to Washington? Our forefathers gave us the House for that. We should return the Senate to its original dignity. It would help us all out.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Making the Most of a Blank Check

Clause/North Pole Applies for Bailout Money

Thursday, December 25, 2008
by Staff Writer B.O. Sanity

Augusta, Maine (AIP) - Sources close to the banking committee have reported that there was an eleventh-hour request submitted just before congress adjourned for the long Christmas holiday, and many on Wall Street will be running for cover when the market re-opens for a mini-session on Friday. Clause/North Pole (Nasdaq CNPL) is requesting up to 75 billion dollars of the federal bail-out money that has been set aside for troubled businesses. The call is expected to send CNPL into a tailspin when trading opens, but Clause's chief financial advisor recommends moderation, saying that there are already corrective measures on the way that will see the stock returning to pre-December levels by mid-February.

Clause cited competition from new corporations such as Kwanza and renovation of older ones such as Ramadan (which cuts into the December market much earlier in the month) and has asked for protective measures. Clause cited the dependence of American corporations on their product delivery framework, though detractors have noted that CNPL now delivers up to 70% non-American manufactured goods, most notably from China and Indonesia. Rapid downsizing in native workforce has been the trend since the eighties, when CNPL, then the pre-merger North Pole Industries, a private corporation, offered early retirement to any assembly line manufacturers who were 350 years old or older.

Many current manufacturers who use CNPL as a delivery framework are dissatisfied with several strategies that they say are now "outdated," and feel that production and distribution are suffering from a "good/bad" criterion that hampers overall production. Sony and Nintendo have threatened to withdraw from the CNPL delivery system altogether when the current contract expires in 2011 unless CNPL can redefine "good and bad." Walmart has also entered talks, calling on CNPL to be more environment friendly, and calculate green behavior into the "good" mode.

Clause, CEO of the corporation, issued a statement requesting that they be allowed a time of reorganization. Though global warming and ice melting has not yet affected headquarters, Clause requested up to two billion for contingency expenses in the possibility of a need for relocation and recovery of resources. Heavily criticized as not even being an American corporation due to the out of country location, Clause noted that applicable taxes are assessed from the corporations that contract his delivery service, and assured potential investors that, in the unlikely event of a relocation, CNPL would favor US Territory and would negotiate with American labor organizations.

Rumor has it that Target, Inc, attempted a hostile buy-out of 51% of CNPL's stock last July during Clause's executive retreat at Aruba, but the takeover bid was curtailed when Wachovia refused to advance a line of credit to Target for the 350 million dollar shortfall that would be needed for full purchase. Claus's legal team has since privatized 51% of CNPL's outstanding stock, a move which temporarily saw shares rise by as much as fourteen percent in early August, but which has seen twice the decline since.

Clause reported early this morning, returning from the annual delivery cycle, that the outlook actually is good for a short term gain in the first quarter, but there is still talk on Wall Street of cutbacks, and CNPL's employees, who uniquely receive their seasonal bonuses in late January instead of early December, are grumbling about the delayed bonuses which allegedly will not be given until the February numbers are out this year, and are said to be stock shares in the company instead of traditional cash gifts.

There has also been a rumbling over a potential split of the company, and rumors of marital turbulence between Clause and his wife are being downplayed. Ms. Clause owns 20 percent of CNPL's public shares, and it is common knowledge that she has been in extended discussions with Martha Stewart over a possible merger, which, of course, would offset Walmart business with the less viable Kmart name.

CNPL's request for funds will not go without a price. House Banking Committee Chairman Rep Barney Frank (D-NY), said that there would be some governmental control of the North Pole distribution network, and there would need to be concessions by Clause and company regarding procedures. Frank has expressed concern about traditional gay views and possible conflicts with the "good/bad" list.

Critics have said that one reason for artificial perceived growth in CNPL is the possibility of reduced delivery expenses due to an increase in "bad" children in the equation, and many corporations, such as Disney, Sears, and Time-Warner have expressed concern about loss of product, and want to see representatives from their own corporations on the conduct evaluatory board that determines who is good and bad (http://www.naughtyornice.np/). Frank has recommended a congressional committee be added as well, and says that Clause cannot expect any help unless he is willing to make this concession.

CNPL closed Wednesday at 324.23, down 17.21, and down from their all-time high in 1998 of 768.23.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sinatra Syndrome

For eight years I have heard the left talk about "diversity" and "inclusion." They have spoken of how the Bush Administration and the political Right have excluded some people because of a philosophical difference. With yesterday's announcement of Rick Warren as the one to lead the invocation at the inauguration, I have finally found out the what the Left means when it says "diverse" or "inclusive." It means "I'll have it my way." The Frank Sinatra song was playing in my head as I went to bed last night, and I couldn't shake it.

Mr. Obama has been surprisingly inclusive in his selection of administration. In fact, if I had to mention just one word that has been characteristic of this transition time, it would be "gracious." He has not entered Washington as a conqueror, but as another servant in a long line of succession of public servants. However, I am pleased to see that Mr. Obama knows that he's no one's lap dog. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, with all their partisan bitterness and rudeness, have implied that they have great plans for him, and he is consistently reminding them that, come January 20, he will be their boss.

Late in the evening of November 4, cities across the world looked like the cities that win super bowls. People were dancing in the streets. Why? They were anticipating a grand new age: the dismantling of everything that the Bush administration stood for. On January 21, they thought, the cargo planes would pull all the military out of Iraq. All those filthy rich people would lose all those horrible tax exemptions, and the money would be automatically deposited in the accounts of the deserving poor. Billions of dollars would be released to abort babies of poor innocent women, and the stem cells of those feti would be harvested and all known diseases in the world would be cured. Gay people would be celebrating marriage in court houses and liberal churches in all 50 states, and any of those rustic old churches that did not allow the ceremony would be padlocked or burned to the ground.

In early February, after picking an "inclusive" jury, the war crimes trials were going to begin for Bush, Cheney, Rice, and others, with Colin Powell getting immunity for turning states' evidence. Then they would all be sent to an international court somewhere for life imprisonment.

The only unemployed people, after January 20, would be right wing fundamentalist ministers, conservative talk radio hosts, and Republican lawmakers.

Rick Warren is not a right wing fundamentalist minister. Most Southern Baptists, of which he is one (though his church does not include the word in its name), would consider him "left-leaning." Understand, however, that those "fundamentalist" Southern Baptists are far more tolerant of alternate people and views than the Left. Rick Warren is a fiscal moderate and would probably come closer to the views of mainstream Democrats and moderate Republicans in the area of medical care, government backing of social programs, and funding for research. His church has raised millions of dollars to combat AIDS worldwide. He believes that both the government and the church have a responsibility to help the poor, and is an environmental advocate and supports measures to reduce global warming, something that probably would not be said of most Southern Baptist ministers.

Mr. Warren no longer accepts a salary from his church; in fact, he has even paid back all the salary they have paid him since he started the church in the 80's. Like J.C. Penney of another era, the Warren family are "reverse tithers." They keep 10% of their earnings and give the other 90% to their church and to charitable causes. He has not gotten his money from tearful begging sessions on cable TV, but through the writing of well-researched books that people have actually wanted to buy. He is not a "money grubber" by any means, and desires no national stage or world wide recognition.

Mr. Warren hosted the first tête à tête between the two major candidates, on the stage of his own church, asking them the same questions, endorsing neither, and affirming both. It was not the first time Mr. Obama has appeared at his church, having spoken there before he was a serious candidate for president, on an issue that he and Warren have in common: AIDS eradication. There was no outspoken criticism of Rick Warren from that "fundamentalist right" for these moderate, inclusive views. We must face the truth: whether we like right-wingers or not, they are far more tolerant than their angry counterparts on the left.

If nothing else, Rick Warren is the best possible choice to lead the invocation at the Inauguration. He represents the best of both worlds. He is a man of faith and integrity as well as a man of conscience. Unfortunately for the Left, the man has a genuine, non-political conscience, something that radical leftists lack. He feels that the unborn are an oppressed group, just like the Jews of the Holocaust, and the American slaves of past centuries.

Now Katheryn Kolbert, of the so-called "People for the American Way" has the audacity to say that Mr. Obama should have selected a minister who represents the "mainstream" of America to open the Inauguration. I can think of no other way to say it, except that maybe that was the most ignorant statement I have heard since the election. She said this because Rick Warren recommended that Californians vote for an amendment to undo the damage that judges had done to the concept of marriage in California. Gays and lesbians represent 2% of Americans, and many of their own group feel that gay marriages are unnatural and uncalled for. Yet the clueless Ms. Kolbert thinks her views are "mainstream."

Abortion is and always has been a hot-button issue. When the US Supreme Court hijacked America's wishes in 1973 and by a 5-4 vote decided that it was right to kill babies after all, and that states had no say in the matter, and that taxpayers had to pay for it, regardless of their own conscience, over 70% of Americans were opposed to abortion. Even after 35 years of this murder being imposed on us, over half of Americans are against it. Yet a pro-life pastor is considered outside the "mainstream."

When gays and lesbians began their repugnant crusade to be recognized as a minority group, and invaded the civil rights issues that rightly belonged to racially displaced Americans, their battle cry was "it's not the government's business what goes on in the privacy of our own bedrooms." It would be a very hypocritical cry. Most of us did not want to look in their bedrooms. We had -- and have -- absolutely no interest in their bedrooms. We're tired of seeing them march in streets, tired of having to watch them kiss while in the movie theaters, both on the screen and in the seats in front of us. We're tired of them forcing their way into churches and civic clubs, trespassing and disrupting orderly meetings, violating the constitutional right of freedom to assemble.

The gay and lesbian movement has not been in the bedroom. If it had been, there wouldn't be propositions like the state wide ones that all passed on election night, 2008, while Democrats were making historic gains in races all across the country. If anything shows how out of touch the Liberal Left is, it is that the party closest to their views, which voted in near-record numbers, did not help out their radical agenda.

I fear a disruption of the inauguration by this vocal 2% and less. You see, they lied about diversity. They lied about inclusion. They care about neither; all they care about is the violent imposition of their narrow views on the vast majority of decent Americans. Mr. Obama chose the person he felt most qualified to lead the prayer at his inauguration (since his likely first choice, Billy Graham, at 90 years old, is now too feeble for such events). Mr. Warren is a minister who is faithful to the text that he has studied and practiced most of his life. He is supportive of his friend, the President-elect. His inaugural prayer will be neither the first nor the last prayer he offers for Mr. Obama.

Evan Wolfson, founder of the group Freedom to Marry, said "Rick Warren did a real disservice to gay families in California and across the country by casually supporting our continued exclusion from marriage. I hope in the spirit of the new era that’s dawning, he will open his heart and speak to all Americans about inclusion and our country’s commitment to equality.”

I hope that in the genuine spirit of the new era that's dawning, Mr. Wolfson and others will find the intelligence to live by his own words, and realize that it's absolutely none of his business whom the President-elect chooses to lead the opening prayer at his inauguration.

The far left has shown its true colors. Some have said that Obama was the most liberal senator we have had since his election. That may or may not be true. Hypothetically, if it is true, we need to realize the chilling fact that the most liberal of all 100 senators is still not liberal enough for the radical left.

I am pleased that Mr. Obama has been his own man so far. I'm sure I will not like all the decisions he makes as president, but he has impressed me so far by showing that he will not kowtow to anyone. He's president, and that's what it's about.

And to the leftist radicals -- the Loud-mouthed Left -- I have one message. If you want it "your way," either visit a Burger King or go buy a Sinatra CD.