Robert A. Teegarden's Blog

November 14, 2012

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Saturday Musings

Filed under: American,Civics,Elections,Government,Obama — by Robert @ 8:32 am
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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Saturday Musings

A house divided cannot stand.  I was reminded of this piece of scripture during the recent election cycle.  All the signs suggest that we are no longer the “united” states of America.  We are the divided states of America.  It reminds me of the folklore about the indian father teaching his son about choice.  He teaches his son that every person has a battle going on inside, one to do the good, one to do evil.  One is hard because it requires one to be brave and often stand alone.  The other is easy because it simply means following the crowd.  But one leads to freedom and the other to slavery.  He explains that one is like the deer and the other is like the wolf.  The young brave asks his father, “Which one wins?”  The father responds, “The one that you feed.”

For me there are three pillars to America: The Constitution, “E Pluribus Unum,” and “In God We Trust.”  These are like the three legs on a milking stool.  When all three are present you cannot fall.  But if one of the legs is missing, you can balance things for a while, but once you tire you fall.  Likewise, with two legs missing, it’s only a matter of time before you collapse to the ground.

The Constitution clearly delineates the three branches of our government (administrative, legislative, and judiciary) and their respective roles and limits.  Those limits have been usurped or ignored. We have an executive making law and enforcing little, a judiciary seeking to rewrite history, and a legislature that fails to represent the people and exercise appropriate authority (such as impeachment).

We have allowed splinter and subversive organizations to dictate to the American people just what “God” means and where and when His name may or may not be proclaimed.  It’s time to buy back that sacred honor and it may require the spilt blood of tyrants and heroes.

Finally, “E Pluribus Unum,” a lowly and simple phrase embossed on the back of every red cent in America, stands for a marvelous worldview: from the many is made one.  In the recent electioneering cycle we all saw both sides to e pluribus unum.  One side said to vote for the “one”—vote for America.  That’s what we all have in common.  Americans don’t have or need hyphenated names.  Honor your roots and heritage, of course, but you are an American now.  That’s what we have in common.  That’s the good we seek.  The other side said “vote for the pluribus”—for the many—vote for the you.  Groups were identified and splintered: Jews and Catholics, men and women, religious and not, southern and northern, old and young, rich and poor, black and white and all shades in between.

One side pushed to help us see the magnificent contribution that each of us makes to the good of the whole.  One side distributed gifts to mark distinctions, separate people and ultimately make slaves—at least of their decisions, if not in fact.

Sandy Aftermath – I wrote earlier about the abominable and absurd actions by union officials in New Jersey turning away volunteered help to assist them in cleanup operations in their state.  Why?  Because they were non-union.  As I noted then, that’s like watching your house burn down and refusing to use your neighbor’s hose because it wasn’t union made.  Like so much of our government, union works have outlived their usefulness and are now toxic to life in America.

Then there’s the case of the volunteers from Tennessee who came to the shores of New Jersey to offer solace, care, food and shelter where they could.  They were turned away.  They were told that there was no place for them to set up. One of those backhoes could have cleared a spot in ten minutes—and people would have been fed.  Was it that these good Samaritans were from a religious organization?   That’s a union with which they’ll eventually have to contend.

Now New York is going to ask the military to help with electrical restoration.  But they’re not union as well.

Louisiana citizens appeal to Secede – That’s right.  The day after the election some citizens from Louisiana got together and started a petition drive to secede from the union—they want to form a government in keeping with the Constitution, obviously not the one they now experience.  They’re not alone.  Texas has tried that—twice… but for different reasons and in different times.  I think we experienced a civil war over this issue once before.  Maybe the south has right reason on their side this time.

In its narcissistic largesse, the Whitehouse (aka: Barry Soetero) added a website to “address” just such movements.  And the Whitehouse defines the rules: there’s a deadline date and there’s a minimum number of signatures necessary.  The clincher is that a signature is not valid without an e-mail address.  And you know what that means with this administration.

Imagine that!  A website where you can address your government on issues of concern.  Wow!

  • What about press conferences that spew out lies, don’t allow non-payola pundits and reporters, or simply don’t allow questions at all?
  • What about all the stone-walling over Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the real reasons why Petraeus was fired, the secret deals with the UN and Iran?

But we have a website now.  Wow!

General Petraeus is fired – You could see this coming a block away, and especially AFTER the election.He’s fired supposedly because of an illicit affair. Imagine that.  General Eisenhower had an affair and he went on to become President of the United States.  J. Edgar Hoover (of FBI fame) practiced a cross-dressing predatory homosexual lifestyle and used his office to mask his secret life, former President Clinton had a calendar of affairs in the White House even as he cried to the American people, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  He continued in office.  And now we have the Petraeus affair.

Is Obama getting rid of Petraeus the way he got rid of Stevens?  Only this firing cannot be masked by a video or spontaneous demonstration.

Eric Holder fails to disclose his Wife’s abortion clinic – “Fails to disclose” is political double-talk for “he lied.” If this is true, I cannot wait to see what the IRS does about it.  But Eric Holder is the Attorney General.  And his family deals in death.  His wife doesn’t just work there, she’s part owner.  The wife of the attorney general is part-owner in a death factory.  They are dealers in death.  Fast and Furious, then, must not have been a far reach for this Attorney General.  Five will get you ten that there will be more fall out from the IRS than justice.


August 22, 2012

California’s Proposition 32—The Common Sense Proposition

Filed under: American,Civics,Elections,Government — by Robert @ 8:52 am
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Voting in America, in California, is the fundamental franchise for all citizens.  Being able to vote in an election is that one privilege that crosses all boundaries, all social-economic and age groups.  Whether you are a female, male, young or old, rich or poor, regardless of your background, occupation or nationality, as long as you are a legal citizen you can vote.  You should vote.

Voting allows the individual citizen the opportunity to have their voice heard.  No other government seeks to hear the voice of the citizen in a like manner.  Vote.  This the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Notice it doesn’t say government of the business, by the union and for the corporation.  People are the heart and soul of government in America. Period.

The California Constitution says the following about voting:


SECTION 1.  All political power is inherent in the people.  Government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and they have the right to alter or reform it when the public good may require.

SEC. 2.  A United States citizen 18 years of age and resident in this State may vote.

SEC. 2.5.  A voter who casts a vote in an election in accordance with the laws of this State shall have that vote counted.

It’s so very simple.   Who votes?  People.  Whose voice is heard in elections? The people’s.  Whose voice is counted in an election?  The people’s.  Notice that the Constitution says nothing about organizations, unions, or groups being able to vote.  Only individual citizens have the right to vote.  It’s their voice that is to be heard and no one else’s.

Unfortunately we’ve allowed groups to influence that process over time.  While they don’t directly vote, these organizations and groups have undue influence in the voting process.   Proposition 32 wants to return the process to normalcy.  Proposition 32 wants to return the franchise of voting to the people, not outside influences.  This only makes simple sense.  If people are the ones doing the voting, then it is only the people whom should be heard.

Proposition 32 simplifies the process:

▪       Proposition 32 bans corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates.  Only bona fide citizens can make those contributions.  It’s their voice that will be heard from the voting booth.

▪       Proposition 32 bans contributions by government contractors to the politicians who control contracts awarded to them.  This is patently common sense.  The way it stands now, businesses that win contracts from politicians for whatever reason are able to give back contributions to those very same politicians.  That’s absurd.  That’s taking government money (your money) and giving it back to the politician through an intermediary (the contractor). That’s hidden graft.

▪       Proposition 32 bans automatic deductions by corporations, unions, and government of employees’ wages to be used for politics.  If an individual citizen which to contribute to a campaign or a candidate, let them do so.  Don’t force it.  Don’t force the taking of one’s salary in exchange for the privilege of working there.  That’s a form of bribery.  Allow citizens to choose their causes and choose their candidates. After all, it’s the citizen who is going to vote and no one else.

Here’s some interesting facts about the current status of the Proposition 32 campaign: d

Those in favor of Proposition 32 (who contributed at least $50,000).

Donor Amount
Thomas M. Siebel $500,000
Charles Munger, Jr. $357,169
Edward Bloomfield, Jr. $300,000
Larry T. Smith $260,000
Jerry Perenchio $250,000
Citizen Power Campaign $225,000
William Oberndorf $150,000
Protect Prop 13 (HJTA) $125,000
Lincoln Club of Orange County $110,000
Frank E. Baxter $100,000
Timothy C. Draper $100,000
William L. Edwards $100,000
B. Wayne Hughes $100,000
Howard F. Ahmanson $50,000
Charles B. Johnson $50,000
Franklin P. Johnson, Jr. $50,000
Nicoletta Holdings Company $50,000
Robert J. Oster $50,000
Richard J. Riordan $50,000

Those against Proposition 32 (who contributed at least $50,000).

Donor Amount
California Teachers Association $8,185,700
California Professional Firefighters $2,100,000
California State Council of Service Employees $2,037,500
AFL-CIO/Working Families $1,300,000
Peace Officers Research Association of California PAC $965,000
California School Employees Association $550,000
SEIU $502,762
California Faculty Association $500,000
Thomas Steyer $500,000
AFSCME $450,000
California Federation of Teachers $300,000
Los Angeles Police Protective League’s Public Safety First PAC $250,000
United State Pipe Trades Council $250,000
International Association of Firefighters $200,000
Professional Engineers in California Government $125,000
California Statewide Law Enforcement Association $100,000
San Bernardino County Safety Employees’ Benefit Association $100,000
John Perez Ballot Measure Committee $100,000
State Building and Construction Trades Council of California $100,000
United Domestic Workers of America $100,000
California State Legislative Board $50,000
United Food & Commercial Workers $50,000

Notice the difference?

Those favoring Proposition (and who contributed more than $50,000)—those favoring giving citizens back their franchise–were people, were citizens.  Four of the 19 were fraternal organizations.

19 of the 21 against the proposition are unions or their PACs.  Get the picture?

So, it’s pretty much a common sense proposition.  Do you want to vote for corporate, and union graft and influence in your government?  Or do you want a government that speaks for the people?  Guess what… you get to choose… at least for now.

August 20, 2012

What Makes Him do the Things He Does?

Filed under: Civics,Elections,Government,Obama — by Robert @ 4:29 pm
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Wyatt Earp: What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?

Doc Holliday: A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.

Wyatt Earp: What does he need?

Doc Holliday: Revenge.

Wyatt Earp: For what?

Doc Holliday: Bein’ born.

July 20, 2012

Time for Impeachment

Filed under: American,Civics,Elections,Government — by Robert @ 3:14 pm
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Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world. (Declaration of Independence)

The US Constitution limits impeachment to “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States” who may be impeached and removed only for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Then President Richard M. Nixon resigned from office with only the threat of impeachment. His crime: lying to the American people about a cover-up that included all the branches of the US intelligence and justice departments.

Now we have a POTUS who has gone way beyond a cover-up, though that offense will be in the bill of particulars or in discovery.

John Adams, the second president of the United States, once stated, “Facts are stubborn things.” Well, the following facts are stubborn things. They’re stubborn because they cannot be denied.

(The italicized portions are from the Declaration of Independence.)


  1. He asked permission of the United Nations in order for us to go to war, a war not authorized by Congress.
  2. He has made efforts (through Secretary Clinton) to subsume the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution to a UN Treaty.
  3. He was the UN Security Council Chair in 2009, while he acted as president.
  4. His administration gave British Trident missile codes to Russia.


  1. He forced British Petroleum to pay $20 billion to a slush fund to compensate Gulf Coast businesses and residents affected by the BP oil spill. There is no Congressional oversight.
  2. Votes for ObamaCare were purchased with the “Cornhusker Kickback”, “Louisiana Purchase” and the Department of the Interior increasing water allocations to California’s San Joaquin and Central Valleys.
  3. He gave taxpayer funds to Solyndra (along with a few others).

High crimes and Misdemeanors

  1. He accepted millions in illegal campaign contributions from foreign credit cards.  The screening process to preclude foreign money was (somehow) turned off.
  2. Domestic donors to his campaign were able to contribute over the legal limit.
  3. He produced a fraudulent birth certificate to disclaim questions about his birth.
  4. He does not meet the Constitutional requirement of being a natural-born citizen.
    1. A candidate for the office of president (and presumptive office holders) must be natural-born citizens: at the time of birth, both parents must be citizens of the United States.

i.      By his own admission (POTUS) his father was native to and a citizen of a foreign country.  He is not eligible for the position.

ii.      Continued willful obfuscation of the facts surrounding his birth and the documents that could prove otherwise is a cover-up far and away great than that of former President Nixon.

  1. He is using a false Social Security Number.
  2. His Draft Registration number is false.
  3. He violated the bankruptcy laws by awarding the United Auto Workers with a share of GM and Chrysler during their bankruptcy proceedings.
  4. He summarily fired the Chief Executive Office of General Motors, a violation of the Constitution.
  5. He lied to American citizens about being able to keep their healthcare coverage if they went with ObamaCare.
  6.  He told the EPA to set carbon emission standards without the direction and/or oversight of Congress.
  7. He instituted the “Brown Shirts Mentality” when he instituted a website that asked Americans to report on other Americans about ObamaCare, using taxpayer money.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

  1. The appointment of “czars” (over 30) is questionable at the very least. It bypasses the Senate and the representative nature of this Constitutional Republic.
  2. He violated contractual law when he cancelled 77 oil field development contracts previously approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
  3. He has used tax payer funds and government offices for political gain. One such example is the use of the DHS to determine the political affiliation of Americans making FOIA requests about his administration, with subsequent DHS refusals and delays.
  4. He conducted a war against Libya without Congressional authorization, a violation of the War Powers Act of 1973.
  5. He lied again to the American people when he said there were no US troops in Libya. His later admission was that they were just “logistical troops.” (Sound familiar: “There are no US troops in Laos.)
  6. His cover-up and use of “Executive Privilege” to shield his administration about his knowledge of and direct involvement with the Fast and Furious gun-running operation.

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

  1. On New Years Eve 2011, he signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act which includes provisions that permit the abduction and military detention without trial of U.S. citizens.

For imposing taxes on us without our consent

  1. His role in the economic looting of America since he took office is unprecedented. Specifically, Obama violated the Constitution’s Takings and Due Process Clauses when he bullied the secured creditors of automaker Chrysler into accepting 30 cents on the dollar while politically connected labor unions and preferential others received better deals.
  2. He authored and urged the passage of what is known as ObamaCare, telling the citizens that it was not a “tax” but a penalty for non-participation.
  3. His use of signing statements shows his desire to rule by executive fiat. This is a direct violation of Article II of the Constitution.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

  1. He has failed to defend US soil in Arizona as Mexican troops bring illegals and drugs into the USA, crossing the border doing so. This is a direct violation of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution.
  2. He has allowed US Attorney General, Eric Holder, to ignore his violation of US immigration laws by the creation of immigration sanctuary cities.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither

  1. He has directed his Attorney General to sue any state which seeks to secure its borders.
  2. He enacted law without Congress by providing amnesty to illegal immigrants by allowing ICE Director John Morton to prohibit ICE officers from enforcing US immigration laws.
  3. He and Secretary of State Clinton misappropriated $23 million in US taxpayer funds to help his homeland of Kenya move to a communist nation where the freedom of speech, private property rights, and other rights are subservient to “social justice”.
  4. He acted in April 2009, at the G20 meeting, to expand the Special Drawing Rights that now gives the IMF more control over the US economy, more authority than the duly-elected representatives of the citizens.
  5. He allowed the FCC to assume authority over the internet, in direct violation of a federal appeals court that DENIED the commission that authority. In December, the FCC voted and passed the first federal regulations on internet traffic.

He has obstructed the administration of justice…

  1. He allowed the DOJ in 2009 to stop enforcing federal drug laws in regards to marijuana.
  2. He allowed the DOJ to refuse to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, a law of the land at the time.
  3. He issued an Executive Order on July 12, 2011, attempting to restrict the Second Amendment rights of US citizens in Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona
  4. When Eric Holder refused to prosecute two New Black Panther Party members for brandishing weapons in front of a voting location in Philadelphia, He did nothing. This is a voter Civil Rights violation.
  5. There is new evidence that he obstructed justice by giving preferential treatment to his uncle, Omar Onyango, found guilty of overstaying his visa since 1989 and having received a DUI during this time; the uncle received a deportation stay from the Obama administration and, despite a court ruling to the contrary, received an “emergency” driver’s license.

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments…

  1. He attempted to bypass Congress and raise the Debt Ceiling by “reinterpreting” the 14th Amendment.
  2. He bypassed the Senate by appointing Richard Cordray to a new unconstitutional agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  3. He bypassed the Senate in order to appoint three people to the National Labor Relations Board.
  4. He allowed Education Secretary Arne Duncan to grant waivers to No Child Left Behind however, this is a law enacted by Congress and neither Obama nor Duncan have the authority to authorize that.
  5. He violated the policy of the Senate when he appointed Donald Berwick as CEO of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  6. Obama allowed the bailouts to grant money without the authority to do so. “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7U.S.Constitution
  7. Obama allowed Operation Castaway to occur, which allowed firearms laws to be broken through coercion of legal gun dealers.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

  1. He allowed his Secretary of Defense to place US troops within the jurisdiction of the United Nations.
  2. He and his Secretary of State have maneuvered to subordinate the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution to a United Nations treaty on arms control.
  3. He allowed Interpol to operate in the US without the proper oversight by Congress, the FBI, our US courts or even local law enforcement.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us…

  1. He interfered with a high profile murder case in Florida by taking sides.
  2. He allows the DHS/TSA to routinely violate the 4th/5th Amendment rights of Americans at airports, train stations, and VIPER checkpoints.
  3. His administration changed a welfare program into a government handout to not citizens by promoting Food Stamp Assistance in alien newspapers.
  4. His Attorney General has failed to address the voting rights of American citizens on the island of Guam, an American territory.
  5. During his tenure the American Olympic committee was allowed to outsource the manufacture of team uniforms to China.
  6. He failed to rein in his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, falsified her statement, given before the entire “international community,” claiming “200 men, women, and children” were deliberately massacred, when in reality it was the Syrian military restoring order in the face of armed terrorists.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends

We, therefore… do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people… solemnly publish and declare… that they are absolved from all allegiance… and that all political connection between them …ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

July 15, 2012

Sowing and Reaping

Filed under: Civics,Elections,Government — by Robert @ 12:06 pm
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You sow a seed, in this case the seed of a tree.  You nurture it, you cultivate the soil around it, you feed and water it; eventually you transplant it.  You watch it grow, you anticipate its shade.  You wait for the harvest, the first fruits of its sap.  This is a new seed, and unknown variety.  This seed has never been tried or tested before.  Investment becomes a gamble. This is a change from the last year’s crop.  There’s great hope in the outcome.

Our new seed is of the species Apple. The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica.  It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits in the world.

All of its life energy is focused on the fruit of this tree.  We might admire the byproducts of our tree; we might admire its stature, its stateliness. We could appreciate the sound of the wind blowing through its branches.  We might even wonder at its various colors through the seasons of the year. This new tree might even bring shelter and comfort to others of God’s creatures out in the field. But we wait for the fruit.  If it bears good fruit, then comes pruning, fertilizing, more nurturing, and growth; if it bears bad fruit, well… more on that later.

There’s a great deal of hope in that first fruit-bearing season.  It’s the first measure of growth and performance. A lot of effort has gone into this moment. Evidence of future fruit abounds. There are flowering buds of tantalizing hues everywhere.  The tree even looks good.  Its colors through the year appeared correct.  It has the right height and the right shape.  The air is dripping with anticipation. Our tree is ripe; it’s time for the harvest. The pickers arrive.

But instead of sweet nectar, the fruit of this tree is sour, almost acrid, both in taste and appearance. Birds won’t nest among its leaves and the crowds of ground critters avoid its branches. A change has occurred, but not for the good.  Some fruit falls from the tree to remain uneaten even by the lowly ant.  Allowed to ripen on the tree, the rest of the fruit eventually falls to the ground, withers and dies.  What does fall is collected elsewhere to be burned.  The very presence of this offspring could contaminate the soil further. This fruit would poison the very ground from which it came.

The results of all that hard labor were for naught. The outcome was blamed on the soil, on the water, and mostly on last year’s crop. But the farmer began to question the very seed itself.  Dutifully he fertilized, weeded and pruned again.  Sometimes first efforts are not always the indicator of future crops.

Good trees produce good crops.  It’s in their nature.  When there is good fruit the farmer is happy, the critters are happy, birds avail themselves of this nourishment. This is success. The life cycle of this tree is complete and it is good.  But it’s good not because of the shade, seasonal colors or aromas; no, it’s good because good fruit can only come from good trees.

So our farmer tries once again. Given agricultural encouragement our tree continues on in the cycles of life. Harvest time arrives once again.  But to the surprise of all who witnessed, this year’s crop didn’t include one complete apple.  You see, the skin of this year’s crop shielded from view the aberration taking place within, almost as if it were hiding the change taking place.  There were half-apples and half-apricots, apple-plums, cherry-apples, apple-peaches and almond-apples and each of those varieties by themselves.  This was not expected, indeed, and while surprising, it was very disappointing.  And though intriguing at first glance, this fruit was inedible as well.  Not only did our tree not bear good fruit, it bore half-fruits and fruits other than what was planted and expected.  The very sap of this tree was kind of like a lie. It was as if this tree could not live up to its very nature. The tree never delivered what was promised.  The change was not what was anticipated and planned, the hope was fruitless, and the results were catastrophic.

The farmer had no recourse. Bad trees produce bad fruit.   He had to remove the trees from his orchard.  Cut down and stacked, the wood was sold for firewood—at least someone might be warmed by its loss.  Those who labored here to find security simply from the heat of its combustion were also disappointed.  The very wood of this tree just failed to ignite.  While the tree consumed great resources from planting to harvest, it proved to be of no value whatsoever.  Thank the Maker that our farmer had the insurance necessary to protect his family from this blight, this failed experiment.

On to next year’s crop.

May 3, 2012

Election Oddities and Quirks

Filed under: Civics,Elections,Government — by Robert @ 11:22 am
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If all elections were for an open seat, one not occupied at the moment, then it makes sense to square-off in the arena of the public: two or more candidates and two or more campaigns. It’s pretty obvious that these are unknown/new candidates for this particular position. This was ok when the Republic was new (about 240 plus years ago) or when the various territories voted for statehood.  But today most elections are NOT for an open seat. Yet we keep exercising these political events as if we were still in those halcyon days of the wild west.  Things have changed.

Most elections today involve an incumbent and challenger/s: someone who is in office versus someone or someone/s challenging to be in that office. There are all kinds of expressions to describe the situation: insider versus outsider, incumbent versus challenger, oldie versus newbie, David versus Goliath, etc..  But it all comes down to someone with a track record and someone who wants to set a track record in that same position.

The roots of the word incumbent are interesting.  The literal roots mean “to occupy obstructively or inconveniently.” Obstructive and inconvenient to whom?  It’s obvious that an incumbent occupies a position obstructive and inconvenient to any challengers.  The incumbent holds sway, is in charge and has the full weight of a given office to establish his or her position and power.  Some might argue, however, that incumbents are obstructive and inconvenient to the very public they were elected to serve; but that’s a topic for another day.

The point is that an incumbent has terrific advantages over any challenger. There’s the obvious name-recognition of the incumbent.  She or he has been around (usually for about three plus years) and folks have ample proof and examples of their character, their position and their methods of doing business.  Incumbents also can control the very timing of an election process. Since they are “the” government, they can dictate the very mandates of the election process.  And then there are the so-called franking privileges of incumbents. This usually applies to the mailing privileges with regard to their constituent publics; they get to mail stuff for free.  But the clever way that “notes from the hill” are written these days, it is oft times difficult to distinguish news notes from campaigning. Today, franking privileges have been extended to include transportation costs and security. If an incumbent uses a government airplane to fly somewhere for incumbent business that’s one thing; but to then use that travel moment to make a political statement, that’s another—the latter is politics and that’s campaigning.  The incumbent should reimburse the government for that trip.  Incumbents have enormous privileges because of their office.  Not so for the challenger.

Maybe we need some new rules of engagement for elections.

What would happen if in cases where there is an incumbent, only the challengers were allowed to campaign?  Incumbents don’t need to; they’ve already stated their case.  What we would have is a campaign of the known (incumbent) versus the unknown (challenger).  We don’t need the incumbent to spend more of our money and waste more time telling us what we already know.  What we do need to know is about the challenger.  The electorate then compares the track record versus the revealed information in the campaign.  If the electorate likes the work that has been done by the incumbent more than the promises, position and character of the campaigner, he or she is re-elected.  If the track record doesn’t stack up against the revealed direction of the challenger, then there is a change.

Some would challenge this by saying that it’s against the First Amendment rights of the incumbent.  But they have had their “voice.” They’ve stated over and over again what they believe, what direction they’re heading and how they’re going to get there—or not.  They have had their Freedom of Speech—we simply don’t need to have it re-packaged, replayed and rehashed.  But we need to hear from the challenger.

It seems this would reduce the electioneering time by 90%, reduce the opportunity for graft and corruption, and put the process on a more even footing.  Imagine an election cycle of 60 days, not two years. Imagine one debate. If there are no shows, there are no shows. Incumbents can be about the business of government for which they were elected originally, not justifying behaviors that are a matter of history. Challengers can focus on a campaign dealing with issues, not money.  After all, it seems that our election and campaigning process should be about not how much money one can raise, but on what one would do with a given amount of money in the first place.

I think Alex de Tocqueville might agree.

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