Another Write-wing Conspirator

Commentary, observations, musing, and ranting from the middle of the road (or just to the right of center. Usually.) featuring The Curmudgeon

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

    If you see a posting you like and wish to share it with others, by all means feel free to do so. I'd prefer that you send the link to your friends, but you're also welcome to reproduce anything here—as long as you retain my identity on the document. If you have a web site of your own and wish to post a link to this blog (or to a specific post), again, feel free to do so.

    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

    Comments, of course, are always welcome. You may agree or disagree with me. Doesn’t matter. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore you — but, feel free to let your feelings be known, anyway. And if you don't want to comment directly here, my e-mail address is: jimseeber@gmail.com .

    Oh, and…yes, I can spell. That "Write-wing" is only a play on words. So, there. Again.

    Welcome, once again. Strap in and hang on.

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    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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Archive for the ‘vote’ Category

The Presidential Worm

Posted by The Curmudgeon on April 5, 2011

The early bird has struck.

In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for re-election; if there’s a surprise involved at all, it’s the method of making this announcement.

Never one to shy away from cameras or microphones, Obama selected as his vehicle a peculiar web announcement in which he doesn’t even speak (the only real surprise), and his only appearance is a brief video clip taken during his inauguration. The announcement itself was decidedly low-key, lacking the pump-’em-up energy that marked his 2008 campaign; rather, it seemed more of a slow warm-up signal to his organizers to start oiling-up the apparatus for another run.

Though it’s unlikely that Obama opted for this approach in response to voters’ laments of being weary of the near-daily doses of Obama saturation, voter fatigue was repeatedly cited in the weeks preceding the ’08 election and should be considered a potential issue this time around. Indeed, one might speculate that the strategy was specifically intended to make Obama a candidate without having him look like a campaigning politician—a seemingly pointless effort given that most of the country is convinced that he never actually stopped campaigning after the 2008 race, but probably necessary since he’s now officially set himself on an absurdly long campaign trail. (And you thought Christmas shopping was the only thing that keeps coming earlier.)

Oh, and it sets the stage for his campaign machine to start raising the staggering heaps of cash his campaign is expected to consume, with estimates of an eventual $1 billion war chest being freely tossed-about.

The upshot of all this? Republicans need to take note: The early bird tends to get the election worm—and there’s no clear GOP favorite yet on the horizon.

.

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Posted in democrat, election, obama, politics, Republican, speech, speeches, vote | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Democrats’ Reactions to Elections: In Denial, Defiant, or Delusional?

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 9, 2010

Is it that they “just don’t get it” or that they’re that obsessed?

In the aftermath of the drubbing Democrats received in the midterm election, their leaders’ reactions evoked expressions from an incredulous electorate ranging from disbelief to disgust—with a large helping thrown-in of the same fury voters just expressed overwhelmingly with their ballots.

“He just doesn’t get it” seems the most common retort to Barack Obama’s assessment that voters had somehow managed to misunderstand his intentions. Widespread response to (soon-to-be former) Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s defense of her role in ramming through the very policies and legislative efforts that ultimately resulted in the Democrats’ being ousted from scores of posts across the nation has alternated between guffaws and a lot of swearing (though we’ve noted that would-be Queen Nancy has suddenly acquired a taste for bipartisanship—now that her party has been emphatically relegated to the back seat).

“Shove it down our throats now, and we’ll shove it up your (picture of an ass—the equine variety) in 2010” was a common warning during the epic arm-twisting that was Obama’s push for his brand of health care. Democrats ignored the warning. Some even ridiculed it (recall Pelosi’s snarky dismissal as “Astroturf” the grassroots uprising that was born). They laughed.

They’re not laughing anymore.

The prospect of forty-years’ dominance of government by Democrats confidently predicted by strategist James Carville after the 2008 election has been obliterated. The seemingly invincible Obama juggernaut is staggering, stunned by a thunderous right cross that few other than the most optimistic Republican pundits forecast. Even now, wary Democrats (particularly in the Senate—where twenty of their members are up for re-election in 2012) are very carefully charting their courses for the anticipated onslaught of what they see as hordes of Republican visigoths intent on dismantling as much of the preceding two years of Democratic rule as they possibly can. And Obama himself is damaged—perhaps beyond repair—with his aura of invincibility shattered and his once-powerful coterie of congressional supporters joining the voters in jumping ship.

Even fellow Democrats have joined the chorus of criticism, with failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink appearing to encapsulate the problem. She paints a picture of an Obama regime that completely disregards what it’s told, intent on its own agenda. In particular, she pointed out the badly-handled Gulf cleanup effort wherein the administration turned a deaf ear to state and local officials. Sink was also especially critical of the White House for refusing to acknowledge public resistance to the health care “reform” with which Obama seems uniquely obsessed.

And against this backdrop the Democrats’ standard bearer can muster no better response than to say that we all misunderstood him. One might infer that he’s saying it’s all our fault for being too stupid to appreciate the genius behind his concepts—much as Bill Press said. (Way to win ’em over, Bill.)

Right.

To the contrary…we got the message—loud and clear. We repeatedly replied—loud and clear.

Obama and his minions heard us—loud and clear.

And they summarily dismissed us.

They’re not tone-deaf, at all. They simply don’t give a damn what we think or what we want. They know what’s good for us—and they’re hell-bent on forcing it upon us.

Obama maintains that he merely has to re-package his message. That’s all. (Is he telling us that—or still trying to convince himself?)

Ri-iiiiight.

Obama’s real problem is that he seems to have believed as Gospel the flowery praise heaped upon him by the mainstream media. It should not be forgotten that he got elected more on charisma and voter discontent than on substance. He has never demonstrated political brinkmanship; he’s never had to, owing to the huge numerical advantage he had in Congress—which he wielded as artfully as a cudgel.

And now he’s going to stick with a proven loser, no longer in a position to twist arms with impunity, pinning his hopes yet again on ideas that voters just overwhelmingly rejected.

Let the 2012 election season begin.

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Posted in ballot, election, mainstream media, obama, ObamaCare, Pelosi, politics, tea party, vote | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Prodigal President Soundly Spanked

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 3, 2010

The voters took away his car keys; so…now what?

Shortly after his inauguration, Barack Obama fired-off a few terse comments at Republicans:  “Elections have consequences”…”That’s why we have elections”…and (my personal favorite) “I won.”

Having thus spake, he made clear far in advance that he now knows what to expect in the wake of yesterday’s election debacle.

As Joe Biden might put it: This is a big f– – – – – g deal.

Not as big as Republicans (and sensible voters everywhere) had hoped for—but still big.  Very big.

The message sent to the Obama regime (sent—but not likely to be well-received) was clear: We ain’t happy—and you’re to blame.  It was a repudiation of Obama’s agenda, with scores of Democrat whipping-boys bearing the brunt of the voters’ wrath.  The numbers clearly show voter disapproval of ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.  Had the Democrats been pushing weak candidates, the message might’ve been less concise; however, many longtime incumbent Democrats were sent packing—and those who backed Obama’s unpopular policies fared the worst.  Obama himself suddenly seems about as embraceable as plutonium, and survival-minded Democrats appear to have been prescient in distancing themselves from him during the weeks preceding the election.  Indeed, Obama’s intense campaigning seems to have been ineffective (if not harmful) in most key races; those nine trips he took to Ohio attempting to bolster relatively popular Governor Ted Strickland, for example, became instead an embarrassment as John Kasich won a close contest that many see as a bellwether.

That’s gotta hurt.

Nor could this be seen as merely a reactionary “throw the incumbents out” election, as incumbent Republicans in fact enjoyed widespread success.  Moreover, Republicans fared well in contests for open seats both in Congress and in a record number of gubernatorial contests.  Those two indicators pretty well establish this as more of a “throw the Democrats out” election.

Where does this leave us?

Well, the Republicans captured solid control of the House of Representatives, and the Democrats’ hold on the Senate is now tenuous.  The Democrats’ majority is a slim one, and there’s much doubt as to how many of their “majority” will toe the party line; in particular, their most high-profile victor of this election — Joe Manchin of West Virginia — is seen by many as more of a Republican than many Republicans are, having already denounced both ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.  Moreover, Democrats in both houses who survived the massacre are now faced with re-assessing their own stands on key issues—making Congressional support of Obama’s agenda somewhat less than reliable.  (With twenty Senate Democrats and only ten Republicans up for re-election in 2012, the message delivered via this 2010 election will reverberate for a long time; having had a glimpse of what may be in store for them in two years, who’s likely to drink the Obama Kool-Aid with such a likely fate awaiting?)

The Tea Party contingent played a role (much to the consternation of the Democrat leadership), but it was a mixed message.  Some Tea Party-backed candidates (most notably Senator-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky) ran well, but losses by their highly-publicized candidates in Delaware (Michelle O’Donnell) and Nevada (Sharron Angle) in races that many felt should have been easy pick-ups by Republicans helped Democrats retain Senate control.  (Still, it’s pleasant to visualize soon-to-be former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi choking on Astroturf.)  It’s clear that Republicans need to take seriously their input, and make adjustments to party stances accordingly.  The newly-elected Tea Partiers are likely to exert pressure to control spending and taxes—and the Republican leadership would be well-advised to listen.

The runaway spending has to stop.  Period.  If no other message came across from this election, that one has to.

The Democrats’ ever-expanding dream of an ever-expanding government must also be reined-in.  The people are beyond simply being wary of government intrusion into business, finance, medicine, and (especially) into our everyday private lives.

In short: Less government is better government.

True to form, Democrats are already murmuring about the coming gerrymandering (you know: the gerrymandering that they had planned to control—but that control was largely lost with the ascension of all those Republican governors) of district lines, proving once again that they can get in that first punch ahead of Republicans with disturbing consistency.  (One can only hope that Republicans will eventually learn.  “Get there firstest with the mostest,” counseled Nathan Bedford Forrest—a lesson Democrats long ago embraced.)  With the imminent re-apportioning of congressional seats and the inevitable re-drawing of district lines, GOP governors will be able to influence the political landscape for years to come.

And what of our favorite flagellant—the manchild-in-chief?  Will he take this to heart and mend his ways?

Don’t count on it.  It’s far more likely that he’ll “double down” (in the current parlance) and merely adjust the means by which he tries to force-feed us his agenda.  For now, anyway.  It’s doubtful that his prodigious ego will allow him to do otherwise.  If Republicans have learned nothing else since the 2008 election, they should’ve at least concluded that the only way to do business with Obama is from a position of strength.  They’ll have to ram their agenda down his throat—just as he has force-fed us all since his ascendancy to the White House.  He’ll never play ball unless there’s a gun placed to his head.

With this election, Republicans acquired such a gun.

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Posted in ballot, budget, cap-and-trade, debt, deficit, economy, election, federal bail-out, health care costs, health care reform, illegal aliens, manchild, obama, ObamaCare, opinion, Pelosi, politics, Reid, stimulus, vote | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Who Would REALLY Benefit from Voter “Amnesia”?

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 1, 2010

There’s much that Obama would have us forget, too.

Hip-deep in his perpetual campaigning, Barack Obama derisively pointed out to voters last week that Republicans were pinning their hopes on the electorate’s suddenly developing “amnesia”—then reiterated once again his oft-repeated claim that responsibility for everything currently going awry anywhere in the known universe should be laid at the GOP’s feet.

As usual, there was a modicum of validity to the manchild-in-chief’s assertion; after all, has there ever been a political candidate who didn’t wish the voters would forget about something?

Obama should keep in mind, however, that there’s also much that he would like to erase from the voters’ collective memory. Though not actually running for re-election himself, the imminent midterm election is very much a referendum on his record—and the outcome is crucial to his future plans. To a candidate who won the preceding election owing largely to voter vacuity, the continued cluelessness of the electorate is of inestimable value.

Our manchild-in-chief would much prefer, for example, that we not remember the intense pressure brought to bear by his regime to ram through his unpopular ObamaCare travesty far enough in advance of this election that we wouldn’t remember the promised transparency that turned to occlusion. We’re likewise expected to forget the behind-the-scenes deal-brokering and outright bribery that made his showcase legislation possible, notably the “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase.” It’s supposed to fade from memory that the prohibition on using federal funds for abortions was inexplicably left out of the grand health care reform legislation, a claimed oversight that Obama promised to correct via executive order (the order was in fact issued—but it now seems to have less in the way of teeth than was claimed at the time signed it).

Though Obama has stubbornly clung to his habitual hammering of his predecessor for the nation’s economic woes and rising employment, the simple fact is that his own profligate spending (you remember: the spending that he insisted was necessary to hold unemployment under eight percent) has buried us under a mountain of debt from which we may never recover—and unemployment has now crept perilously close to ten percent.

He would dearly love for us to forget all about the problem of illegal immigration and his own scandalous refusal to secure the nation’s borders. (How very curious…we haven’t heard a word about “comprehensive immigration reform” for a few weeks—have we?) He’d like us all to forget that his response to the chaotic border situation was to sic his Justice Department on the state of Arizona for daring to do what he refused to do. He wants us to forget all about the efforts to secure amnesty for some twelve million future Democrats illegal immigrants.

It’s supposed to slip our minds that our first “post-racial” chief executive has in fact fanned the flames of racism. We’re supposed to no longer recall the specter of New Black Panther Party goons convicted of intimidating voters in Philadelphia—only to be sent on their merry way by Obama’s Justice Departmant, which inexcusably declined to pursue the case. We’re supposed to conveniently forget Obama’s own rash (and obviously incorrect) berating of the Cambridge Police Department and Sgt. James Crowley—who, as it turns out, hadn’t acted so “stupidly” as Obama had claimed. We’re supposed to not notice when he manages to find that “Negro dialect” that Harry Reid said he lacked—when he’s busy whipping-up support among a black crowd by creating an “us-versus-them” atmosphere.

We’re supposed to forget about the steady procession of tax cheats, avowed communists and socialists, and far left-wing whack-jobs he’s welcomed to his regime. We’re supposed to forget the blatant power grabs and attempts to exert direct government control over banking, manufacturing, communications, and the media (it’s telling when Helen Thomas — hardly a conservative icon — criticizes the administration for doing so).

He would like for many of us to forget how badly he needs to emerge from the midterm election with Democrats controlling Congress — though he’s quick to remind those who voted for him in 2008 that it’s essential for them to keep the faith, as he needs that power base “to continue with my agenda”…whatever his agenda may comprise. (His obsession with secrecy and hidden deals leaves us constantly guessing.)

We’re expected to forget all about the vacations, travel, and high living that his regime is enjoying at taxpayer expense while much of the nation struggles just to make ends meet. We’re not supposed to remember the unprecedented arrogance shown by himself and his henchmen. We’re expected to forget the tax that isn’t a tax, then is, then isn’t—depending, it seems, entirely on what our narcissistic dear leader is trying to pull at any given time. He wants us to forget the political thuggery that Democrats have freely exercised from the moment they grasped the reins of government.

Let’s hope enough of us have better memories than he gives us credit for.

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Posted in ballot, border security, budget, corruption, debt, deficit, economy, election, federal bail-out, health care reform, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, manchild, media corruption, national security, obama, ObamaCare, politics, Reid, stimulus, tax, unemployment, vote, waste | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Memo to Conservative Commentators: Shut Up—Before You Ruin Everything

Posted by The Curmudgeon on October 26, 2010

No chickens have yet hatched; now, stop counting.

Recent months have proved very encouraging for Republicans, tea-partiers, conservatives in general, and everyone else who regards the Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate with a level of disdain ordinarily reserved for toenail fungus. Poll results for the Obama regime have been in virtual free-fall, Pelosi is widely viewed as the long-lost twin sister of the Wicked Witch of the West, and opinions are split as to whether Reid should be medicated and escorted to a padded cell or merely voted out to pasture. Indeed, congressional Democrats in general are scurrying for cover with a vigor more commonly observed in cockroaches caught out in the open when the lights are turned on, distancing themselves from their standard-bearer and onetime champion as they frantically seek to preserve careers seemingly doomed by their association with their dear leader.

Not surprisingly, conservative pundits are having a field day, trumpeting daily poll results and confidently predicting a resounding defeat for Democrats in the upcoming mid-term election. They’ve been positively giddy, smugly delighting in the Democrats’ apparent distress, speculating on whether control of one or both houses of Congress will change hands, and even boldly formulating their post-election agenda. Indeed, the GOP euphoria has soared to such a level that prominent commentators seem nearly at a loss for ideas on what to do next.

I have a suggestion for them: Shut the hell up. Now—before you screw everything up.

The grandstanding, chest-beating, and overconfidence are having an undesired effect: They’re now serving to energize the Democrats’ base.

Republican operatives should take particular note of the more subtle indications emerging from those polls. As predicted here months ago, the shake-up in the power structure that seems imminent is not the result of voters falling madly in love with the GOP. Don’t forget that they voted Republicans out not so long ago. As is often the case, this is less a matter of people voting for a party’s agenda and more a matter of voting against another party’s agenda. It’s not that everyone suddenly embraced the philosophy of the Republicans; rather, they’re now at least as disgusted with Democrats—and apparently even more so (for the moment, anyway; voters, however, are notoriously fickle).

If Republicans learned nothing else from political developments of the past several years, at least two clear messages should have sunk in: First, that the strategy they adopted back when they last had control of the government (and lost it) is a proven loser, and second, that the framing of the message is sometimes as important as the message itself. Pundits, power brokers, and voters alike have expressed outright revulsion over the arrogance shown by Democrats—and especially by Obama; for Republicans to now bombard everyone with essentially the same appearance borders on plain stupidity.

Yes, the Democrats have shown a remarkable talent for shooting themselves in the foot. Yes, Obama’s silver tongue seems to have turned to clay (thanks, Jim Croce, for that line). Yes, predictions of the disastrous effects of the Democrats’ actions now appear to have been correct. Yes, the poll numbers have been encouraging.

However…

The single most important variable at the moment is the question of how many people will actually get off their butts and vote this time around. Indications there have been favorable for the much-motivated Republicans, with apathy and complacency among Democrats and uncommitted independents boding well—but, if Republicans aren’t careful at this point, they’ll succeed only in talking their way right out of what seems an almost-certain victory. Would-be Republican voters may note this viewing of the election outcome as a foregone conclusion and not bother to vote, thinking it’s already in the bag. It should also be noted that the grandiose claims of Republican leaders have been seized upon by Democrats, and they’re using that ammunition to whip-up support. (For those who hadn’t noticed…many key Congressional and gubernatorial races have suddenly tightened within the past few days.)

Stop obsessing over polls; the only one that counts is the last one. The rest should be viewed as nothing more than indicators of where support should be bolstered.

Remember that no chickens have yet hatched; you guys haven’t actually won anything. Not yet. Stop acting like the boss—at least, until you actually become the boss.
 

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Posted in economy, election, obama, Pelosi, politics, Reid, vote | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Yearning for Simplicity

Posted by The Curmudgeon on April 27, 2010

…starting with income taxes and voter registration

For those of us who undergo that annual transmogrification from rational human beings to raging, babbling idiots when presented with a tax return to complete, it came as some ironic comfort to learn that even IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman doesn’t tread in the shadow of the tax code. “I find the tax code complex,” said Shulman, “so I use a (tax return) preparer.”

It was, at least, a bit more entertaining than the revelation that (then) Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner had “carelessly” failed to pay some $34,000 in income taxes. (I’ll set aside for a separate rant the dubious logic of having an alleged tax cheat who’s that “careless” about both money and compliance with tax laws placed in charge of the U.S. Treasury.)

These are but two examples one could cite in calling for a “flat tax” to replace the monument to esoterica that is the United States Tax Code.

Actually offering-up such a suggestion, however, invites a familiar litany of responses including rolling of the eyes, exaggerated sighs, dismissive waves of the hand, and condescending insistences that “It won’t work” (with the addition of “you imbecile” unspoken—but generally understood).

What it doesn’t seem to ever evoke is an explanation. Though quick to dismiss the notion, none of these supposed experts ever gets around to telling us why it wouldn’t work—which leads many of us to suspect that it actually could.

There might have to be some adjustments, of course. Claims that such a tax scheme would unfairly burden the poor seem unfounded, but might warrant excluding income below a designated minimum threshold. And there may have to be some allowance for extraordinary circumstances — such as a catastrophic illness or devastating loss from natural disaster, for example — but, that’s it. Just have everyone pay the same percentage of their income and be done with it. (Opinions vary, but 15% seems to be the most commonly suggested—though some speculate as low as 8%. Whether to keep the personal exemption is another question, and there are those who also advocate allowing exemptions for dependents.)

Though there’s again no shortage of really smart people who claim that it wouldn’t work, there are also a lot of really smart people who insist that it would. Given how well the present system has worked out (hold your laughter, please), it might be time to consider it.

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at voter registration; in fact, it could be made to dovetail nicely with a tax code revision.

Consider the following:

First, require that a tax return be filed by everyone eighteen years of age or older (whether they had any income or not) and by everyone — regardless of age — who has income of any sort. If the new scheme is to continue allowing exemptions, then everyone would get to claim one exemption for themselves — just as under the current scheme — and one exemption may also be taken for each dependent child. Require also that both names and Social Security numbers for filers and dependents alike (yes; even infants) be affixed to each return. (Those under eighteen who are claimed as dependents would see their tax withholdings refunded. It’s only fair; many are high school kids with part-time jobs, anyway—and it’s simply wrong to demand taxes from those who are not yet old enough to vote.) There may also be room in this proposal for allowing the dependent exemption to continue until a later age (twenty-two, perhaps?) for full-time students. All other income withholding continues in its current format (e.g., Social Security, disability, etc), and tax is assessed only on net income.

Since Social Security numbers are required for tax returns, there’d be greater accountability both for tax revenue and to ensure that those who file returns are eligible for employment in the U.S—an added bonus that just might help curtail illegal immigration. Funds withheld and deposited to Social Security accounts that are not accounted for by corresponding tax returns would trigger an alert to IRS—and to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

That’s it. No deductions. No exceptions.

Upon IRS receipt of the tax returns, filers who are also eligible to vote would automatically be registered to do so, and would be issued voter eligibility certificates that must be presented when voting. And since everyone would be required to file a tax return, other manners of voter registration — notorious for being rife with fraud — could be done away with altogether. Voter registration would expire after one year; it would then be automatically reinstated with the filing of the succeeding year’s tax return, and a new eligibility certificate issued—obviating the need to maintain voter rolls.

You pay taxes according to a code that doesn’t require a Rosetta Stone to decipher, you file a tax return, you vote; it’s just that simple. No more ACORN-like voter registration scandals, no more non-citizens voting, and those long-buried corpses that miraculously spring back to life every few years (just long enough to cast ballots) would finally be laid to rest—permanently.

Would all this work?

Only one way to find out for certain—but it’s unlikely to be any worse than the current system, in any event.

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Posted in ballot, border security, corruption, deficit, economy, flat tax, illegal aliens, immigration, income tax, national security, obama, opinion, politics, tax, vote | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Posted by The Curmudgeon on April 20, 2010

…and de facto wards of the state

In a recent blog entry, “Swan Trumpet” — who sometimes comments here — brought up an interesting vignette about taxation and the effects thereof.

To briefly recap: Years ago, Democrats forced the imposition of taxes on certain luxury items—including yachts. Yacht-building was then a well-established industry in Maine. Apparently being better at basic arithmetic than the average congressional Democrat, the rich folks who wanted to buy yachts quickly deduced that they could obtain their stylish boats more cheaply from foreign suppliers not subject to the effects of taxation. Not surprisingly, yacht sales in Maine plummeted, jobs were lost, and a thriving industry died—and the Democrats never did get the tax money they’d sought (one cannot tax what isn’t produced).

Thus, we become re-acquainted with The Law of Unintended Consequences, the current vernacular for which is often expressed as “Didn’t see that coming.” (During my Army days, this was commonly referred to simply as “piss-poor prior planning”—reflecting the often-pithy nature of soldiers.) In addition to the results noted above, consider the following:

– loss of revenue previously generated by now-defunct (or much-diminished) firms.
– cost of unemployment benefits paid to laid-off workers.
– loss of income tax previously paid by the laid-off employees.
– declining tax base in the surrounding community.

In other words…far from becoming the cash cow envisioned by Democrats, the venture resulted in a substantial net loss. (“Swan Trumpet” also comments on the cultural impact; her blog entry may be viewed here: Being a Democrat Means You Were Born Yesterday).

Now…ordinarily, this might be pretty much the end of the story. I’d come up with some witty comments to tack on, press “Enter,” and go on to the next target.

Ordinarily.

However, I mentioned the story to my wife. And we talked about it.

I should know better.

Smart girl, my wife. After I mentioned how the whole scheme had backfired, she zeroed-in like a laser on another idea. “I don’t think Democrats would really see that as a loss. Having more people dependent on them would be seen as a gain. Isn’t that what they’re really after?”

At about this point, my pinkie finger suddenly froze, poised over the “Enter” button.

As often happens, my mind began to meander around…

Her comment reminded me of something Star Parker had written likening the welfare system to a modern enslavement of sorts, even referring to it as “Uncle Sam’s plantation.” The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. (It should be noted that Ms. Parker is far from being the only commentator to see in welfare assistance a cycle of dependence, and she’s not alone in perceiving a racial component; interestingly, it’s a frequently-held view among conservative blacks—though it is by no means an exclusively-black issue. Jesse Lee Peterson has been even more vocal in his denunciation of a system that he insists blacks must cast-off. Noted scholars Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams have both weighed-in similarly.)

Was this creation of a dependent class also an unintended consequence?

Many years ago, a study conducted by the Wharton School of Business pinpointed the one constant in virtually every election: People vote their pocketbooks. In good economic times, voters support the incumbent who has benefited them; when times get tough, they support the candidate showing the greatest potential to improve their lot. (Noted political consultant James Carville famously hung a sign in the White House that summed it up well: “It’s the economy, stupid.”) This applies both to the electorate in general, and to individual voters.

Before too-hastily condemning the welfare system as the cause of all our troubles, however, consider also that our dependence on Uncle Sam can take many forms; welfare is merely the most visible—and most maligned.

Have you noticed lately the size of the federal workforce? Though not a form of financial assistance to the poverty-stricken, it is nonetheless another source of federal cash; the employees within this system are every bit as dependent on their earnings as welfare recipients are on their dole—and will likewise vote for the guy who’s going to benefit them the most…like, maybe…oh, I don’t know…perhaps the one responsible for creating that federal job?

Now, consider all those “pork barrel” projects and set-asides. They create jobs, too (though not very efficiently)—and they also add to the pool of voters dependent on the flow of federal money.

Add to this the massive effect on communities surrounding federal installations in the form of tax-base computation, spin-off businesses, and vendors.

Though not always readily apparent, the impact of federal funds grows more and more pervasive—with a concomitant increase in the strings attached to that money.

Again the question arises: How much of this is “unintended consequence”—and how much is by design?

The premise is simple enough: By gradually increasing the people’s dependence upon the government, the government essentially ensures that the people will acquiesce to what would otherwise be unacceptable government demands in order to perpetuate the government’s support. Moreover, those dependent on that support can be expected to vote to retain the government that spoon-feeds them; factor-in a smattering of “what have you done for me lately” mentality, and one has the makings of a very loyal base.

And for those who dare to resist, a clear message is imparted: Get with the program—or we’ll withhold the goodies.

This is a system that works well when training pets—and when transforming the populace into virtual wards of the state.

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Posted in corruption, economy, federal contract, government contract, politics, vote | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Paying the piper

Posted by The Curmudgeon on March 26, 2010

Will Democrats pay the price come election time? Will we?

By hook or by crook (and mostly the latter—from what we can glean, anyway), Obama got his way; his health care/health care insurance/student loan/Gawd-only-knows-what “reform” scheme has been brought to fruition. Congressional Democrats—many no doubt weary of being by turns bribed and bludgeoned into submission—finally gave him what he wanted.

The question now is: At what cost?

Not just in real dollars; we already have an idea how brutal that will be. The real question is whether the political price some believe will be borne by Democrats seeking re-election a little over seven months from now will prove worth it.

Obama, of course, believes so; on the other hand, he’s not a Senator maneuvered into voting for providing erectile-dysfunction drugs to convicted child molesters or taxing wounded veterans for access to proper medical care.

In an excellent piece written by Kimberley A. Strassel for The Wall Street Journal (The Senate Reckoning: Senate Democrats get beat up by their own reconciliation rules), we learn that Senate Republican leaders proved a bit more shrewd than previously thought—and Harry Reid outsmarted himself (no major feat, granted—but noteworthy, nonetheless).

By opting for the “reconciliation” process (necessitated by the loss of their 60-vote “supermajority” with the election of Scott Brown), Reid unwittingly painted himself into a corner—along with his fellow Democrats. Trapped by their own rules, Democrats had to approve the reconciliation measure without amendment; any changes would have triggered another vote (which they likely wouldn’t have won—and risked killing the legislation altogether). Republicans no doubt privately chortled with glee, as any amendment offered would have to be rejected by the Democrats—even if it was something Democrats sincerely wanted—whether the Republicans actually wanted to see it adopted or not. They could’ve offered amendments for everything from providing womb-to-grave free medical care for everyone to taxing the snot out of insurance companies to pay for Obama’s travel bills—and the Democrats would’ve been obliged to oppose them. All of them. And there was no limit on the number of amendments that could be offered. Democrats were forced into the position of voting against each amendment—no matter what it was—and having their votes recorded. It had the potential for being the most fateful moment since George H.W. Bush foolishly uttered: “Read my lips.”

Predictably (as so astutely observed by Ms Strassel), this coming November, Republican candidates can look forward to correctly asserting that the Democrat running for re-election supported supplying Viagra to sexual predators, tried to tax Jerry’s Kids for their wheelchairs and braces, and might even have had a hand in killing Cock Robin—and the voting record proves it.

Obama praised Democrats’ “courage” for casting tough votes; inwardly, they had to be thinking: Thanks, you idiot, for forcing me to support putting Chester the Molester’s perversion into overdrive. Arlen Specter (D-PA) already faced an uphill battle for re-election; now, he’ll have to go home and explain to his constituents how he voted away their chance to opt-out of the whole mess. Oh, and Democrats specifically voted to exempt themselves from this landmark “reform” (a choice the rest of us don’t have—and most of us resent).

From the outset, an arrogant Obama counted on three things: an overwhelming majority in Congress to do his bidding, quick passage of his legislation (designed, of course, to lengthen the interval between passage and the midterm election—hoping we’d have time both to forget it all and to become accustomed to whatever entitlements we might receive), and the sheer immensity of a scheme that kept potentially troublesome provisions deeply hidden.

Instead, the process dragged-on for several months, his own majority proved stubborn, and we already know many of the dirty little secrets he’d have preferred to have kept hidden a bit longer. As the election draws near, passions may not have time to subside to a level to be of value to him; conversely, November is still far enough in the future to permit careful examination of his “masterpiece.” (Burying the devil in the details is a two-edged sword; it lessens the initial impact—but it repeatedly brings the legislation back to the voters’ attention as all those surprises are brought into the daylight a little at a time, thereby preventing its fading from memory prior to the election.)

Appearing in Iowa City shortly after signing the legislation, Obama invited Republicans intent on repealing the measure to “Go for it. Be my guest.” He, too, realizes that people quickly become content with entitlements—and resist having them taken away.

He might be well-advised to be careful what he wishes for; while some provisions took effect immediately, many of them will take years. There’s considerable doubt as to who will benefit from what, and how soon—and what percentage of the vote they will constitute in seven months’ time.

Giving the devil his due, Obama managed to eke-out a political victory when he needed it; again, however, the cost is still undetermined. Flush with his (Pyrrhic?) win, he’s been quick to claim broad acceptance of his plan; he sees it as a shot in the arm to advance his agenda (whatever that is). However, his reliance on strong-arm tactics and blatant bribery belie his campaign promise of “changing the way Washington does business”—or any other kind of change, either. His is the classic machine politics, Chicago-style thuggery on a larger scale. His promised openness and transparency long ago went by the wayside; by now, the criticism of his secret back-room deals has spilled-over from the much-maligned right-wing (and the much-reviled Fox News) into the mainstream. As far back as early January, even CNN had to take note. (See video of Jack Cafferty’s commentary of January 6, 2010.)


The political cost to Democrats? That remains to be seen. As Obama himself said last month during the Blair House tête-à-tête: “That’s what elections are for.”

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Posted in corruption, economy, education, election, health care costs, health care insurance, health care reform, insurance, obama, ObamaCare, politics, Reid, vote | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Lesser of Two Feebles

Posted by The Curmudgeon on December 10, 2009

How we condemn ourselves to mediocre representation

How many registered voters in the United States have never cast a ballot for a single candidate?

More than one might initially think—including a goodly number who’d protest vociferously that they vote in every election.

But they probably never voted for anyone; rather, they voted against a lot of people.

It is a simple reality that there is only one perfect candidate for every elected office—and we come face-to-face with that person every time we look in a mirror. Given that very few of us will ever seek election to public office, we instead cast about for a surrogate to represent us—one whose philosophy and convictions (political and otherwise) mirror our own. Another simple reality is that it’s highly unlikely that any candidate on any given ballot thinks precisely as we do on every conceivable issue; rather, we’re presented with a number of candidates (usually two or three—though there may be more) from whom we may choose.

At this point, three things take place:

First, we prioritize the issues of the day, determining what’s most near and dear to us—those issues that compel us to take a firm stand. Some are of such import that we decide whether to vote for a specific candidate based entirely on his/her views regarding that one hot-button topic. More often, though, we probably have a handful of key issues that we place above all others–perhaps three or four–and seek a candidate who thinks alike within that milieu, subjugating our other interests as secondary issues.

Second…we compromise. (More on this in a moment.)

Third (and most important), while determining which candidate comes closer to our ideal (“closer” being a very relative term) we axiomatically identify the candidate we least desire—and vote (usually) for the one most likely to prevent the scoundrel from assuming office. (More on this in another moment—much more.)

Thus, though we set out to vote for the candidate we deem most qualified or who most closely represents our own views, we soon determine that no such candidate is in the race; we ultimately vote for a candidate not because he or she is the best, but because that candidate is less odious or has the best chance of stopping the candidate we’ve conversely likened to the devil incarnate. Neither is all that attractive—but one is less detestable than the other. We generally settle, then, on the candidate we’ve determined to be the lesser of two evils.

My wife refers to this choice as “the lesser of two feebles.” (I don’t know whether she coined the phrase; she was, however, the first to utter such sentiments to me—so, I’ll give her the credit for it.)

When we compromise, we sometimes do so along lines that range from the sensible and practical to the downright silly. But, compromise we do—and we somehow decide on “our guy.” He isn’t all that we’d like to see in a candidate, but he’s as close as we figure we’ll be able to get. A liberal might look at a candidate and dislike that candidate’s pro-life beliefs—but, he supports gun control, so he’ll get the liberal’s vote. A conservative might be livid about a candidate’s pro-choice voting record—but, he’s also a staunch Second Amendment guy, so he’ll get the vote.

Now, we’re faced with another matter: our desired (compromise) candidate is palatable on all the major issues—but, he’s widely perceived as unelectable. Whether he’s a poor public speaker, has been caught in a series of marital indiscretions, or exhibits any of a multitude of damning qualities, polls suggest that he’ll never get elected. So, we compromise a little more and seek a candidate with a better chance of winning–moving us even further from our core views–as long as he isn’t as loathsome as the opposition’s candidate…the guy we don’t want to win, because he scares us. Or because he’s a Republican. Or a Democrat. (You get the idea; straight-party tickets.)

We eventually arrive at supporting some guy whose views only faintly resemble our own—but, he’s not as bad as the other guy, and (most importantly) has the best chance of keeping the other guy from winning.

The lesser of two feebles.

Occasionally, we toy with the concept of a third-party candidate; when we do, we should also wish that someone would deliver a swift kick to our backsides.

In one election many years ago, I was only lukewarm in my support of Candidate A; in fact, I didn’t much like him. I really despised Candidate B, however, and had resigned myself to supporting Mr. A. Then, along came Candidate C; a third-party candidate, he was more appealing than A or B—so, I voted for him.

I’m still wishing that someone might’ve delivered the aforementioned kick on my way to the voting booth.

It seems that Candidate C drew most of his support from Candidate A’s camp; not enough to win—but enough so that it insured the election of the despised Candidate B.

Won’t make that mistake again.

Having thusly winnowed-out all the best candidates, we grimly mark our ballots for the guy we hope is the lesser of two feebles. (Remember those subjugated “secondary issues” mentioned above? This is where they tend to become less “secondary”; if our compromise candidate prevails, we begin to learn how much we didn’t know about him—and the blind-siding begins.)

Let’s say that a recently-elected member of Congress won with less than fifty per cent of the vote (a simple plurality; very common—particularly where more than two candidates appeared on the ballot). It’s safe to say that the forty-or-so-per cent of the voters who supported him weren’t in complete agreement with his views (remember that he was a compromise selection, after all—even within his own party, as he probably had to defeat at least one rival in the primary campaign); it is therefore manifest that more than half of his constituency didn’t want him to have the job in the first place—and it goes without saying that they have an even less favorable view of him than those who voted for him.

Is it any wonder, then, that an incumbent congressional representative might have only a 30% or 35% approval rating—or that he inspires talk of tar and feathers and a hangman’s rope?

And the odds are in his favor that he’ll be re-elected.

We elected him, after all, for no better reason than because he was the lesser of two feebles.

Posted in ballot, election, politics, vote | 4 Comments »