The Sanctity of the Ballot

Source: Slate.com

There have been much chattering going on about Democratic candidates who are reluctant to tell reporters or questioners who they voted for.  From Alison Grimes, Michelle Nunn, Natalie Tennant, and Mark Begich, reporters or campaign lackeys have been following them around asking them who they voted for in order to get that gold-plated sound bite saying they voted for Obama.  If they don’t want to answer the question, then they can hire me instead to answer the question for them.  I’ll give them the answer these questioners need to hear.

None of your damn business!!

My services are free, of course, but I can attempt to channel my inner Samuel L. Jackson when I deliver that answer for a small donation.

In the grand scheme of things, we can all pretty much guess how most politicians and candidates vote based on their campaigns and actions.  There’s no need for a “gotcha” moment that has to be captured on video.

I find it interesting that the candidates being asked this question are all Democratic candidates in close races.  Having them on video saying they voted for Obama does nothing but give their opposition an excellent and undeniable soundbite to run their next campaign attack ad.  That’s what this is all about.  Let’s be serious.

If this were not the case, then there would be people asking Republicans who they voted for.  Unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re Republican, being tied to Mitt “47%” Romney isn’t a ratings draw for the news media.  Otherwise, we’d have people asking that question to all politicians.

I find it funny that it really matters to some people who Grimes and the other Democrats voted for.  The same people who are whining about their voting were the same ones vigorously defending Mitt Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns for the years that may have shown him to be one of the people who received amnesty from the government for evading taxes.  So much for consistency in private matters, huh?

If any of you need an Angry Black Man to handle your press for you, then let me know.  As much as I loathe politicians, I’d have no problem at telling people where they could ream that question.  You are all Democrats, and I seriously doubt that any of you voted for Romney.  If you did, then that’s for you to know and not me.  If you wish to volunteer that information, then that’s on you.  I’m totally against using coercion to extract information from people though, even those whom I disagree with.

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Who cares?

Reading CNN.com last night before bed, I came across an opinion piece written by Newt Gingrich.  Titled “What would Reagan do?”, he gives his opinion of the speech that Reagan would have given after the execution of James Foley.

I’ve heard countless times about how some conservatives complain that all Obama does is give speeches, so I find it puzzling, yet funny, that a conservative mouthpiece would pen such an opinion piece that’s nothing but a made-up speech about what Reagan would do.

Here’s my answer to your question, Newt.  Who cares what Reagan would say?  He’s not the president.  Why don’t you try to rally behind your current president for once?

Lobbyist ban? What lobbyist ban?

From Politico:

The Office of Management and Budget will release a new rule on Wednesday expected to allow registered lobbyists to participate in policymaking deliberations in an advisory role after a judge ruled against the administration earlier this year.

Lobbyists for corporations and industry groups will now be allowed to serve on more than 1,000 industry boards, panels and commissions that give the private sector an advisory role in decision-making across the executive branch, according to a copy of the rule published on the Federal Register site.

The new rule affects a policy implemented in June 2010 as part of President Barack Obama’s ethics package, but keeps some of the ban in place. Lobbyists will be allowed to serve only on commissions and boards in a “representative” capacity — so long as they’re acting on behalf of a corporation, trade association or industry group and not as private citizens or representatives of the government.

So, if I am to understand this, Obama passed a rule to curb lobbyist influence within industry boards, panels, and commissions.  In response, said lobbyists sue and a judge agrees with them.  As a result, lobbyists will now sit on boards in a representative capacity as long as they’re doing it on behalf of an entity that has money depending on the decisions of the commissions and/or boards.  Thanks Obama.

Where does the average Main Street American fit into this whole scenario?  We keep hearing politicians claim that they’re trying to help Main Street America, but their actions show otherwise.  Do we need to retool our schools to turn out corporate lobbyists instead of engineers, scientists, and other professionals?

Our government already has very little semblance of even giving a damn about the average person, so I guess we should simply ask them to remove all the facades anyway.  We all know that lobbyists and interest groups write the bills that “Congress” supposedly writes anyway, so why should we all sit on the sidelines and suffer the consequences of the actions of others.

I propose that we, Main Street America, form our own special interest group so that we can hire our own lobbyists to sit on these boards and help shape policy so that it benefits us for once. We can call the group the Voices Of Tired Everyday Real Americans, or V.O.T.E.R., for short.  We can then register our own 501(c)3 or (c)4 groups, and use Citizen’s United to our advantage.  We can run “policy” ads that help to communicate what we desire for America.  Even though we would be banned from directly coordinating with candidates, we could “educate” the population as to which candidate would best serve our interests.

As an added advantage, we could all lower our tax burdens due to our tax-deductible contribution to the social welfare groups that we’ve formed and operated.  If you’re concerned about your employer knowing about your political activity, there’s no fear as some groups wouldn’t be required to disclose their donors.  With the idea in mind of attracting at least 50% of the population, we could amass a serious war chest with very small donations from each person.  Considering we’d have a group consisting of more than 150 million people, a $10 dollar donation from each person would give us an operational budget of $1.5 Billion dollars to help influence policy in DC.  If there’s one thing that politicians love more than the power of their positions, they love the idea of having billions of dollars of support behind them.  We already know that.

Politicians always claim to be for the voters, so why not make them put their money where their mouth is for once?  Let’s make them truly look out for the V.O.T.E.R. for once instead of looking out for their own wallets.  Why should we not have representation on these boards and commissions?  Is that not a form of taxation without representation?  Better yet, let’s do away with all these boards in the first place and put the decision-making back into the hands of the people who beg us to vote for them so they can make those decisions.  We’re already paying them at least $174,000 a year with benefits plus millions more in additional allowances.  Isn’t it time we actually get our money’s worth from DC for the first time in a long, long time?

**If you’re truly adventurous, you can look to see what your House Representative and Senator shells out for their Congressional allowances.  They are huge files, and it takes some digging to get down to the numbers.  I did find that Sen. Saxby Chambliss gets more than $3 million for his staffing and expense allowances.

A funny thing happened while in DC

*Photo that I took on the National Mall just after sunrise on January 20, 2013. Published at Jay Bookman’s blog on ajc.com with my permission.

On January 20, 2013, I was in the crowd of hundreds of thousands to watch the swearing-in of our 44th president for his second term.  It wasn’t just a trip for me though as the entire Brosephus family was there.  At that time, there were three of us, with one on the way.  In addition to the three, we were accompanied by my daughter’s two “babies” which most people would recognize as Cabbage Patch dolls.  At that point and time, the littlest Brosephus did not go anywhere without her babies, not even to the bathroom.  The trip was a reward for my then 4-year-old who had very diligently followed the presidential election the previous fall.

Her Pre-K class had several lessons and activities surrounding both candidates for president.  By the time September rolled around, my daughter could tell you who Romney was and what he liked and the same for Obama.  If she saw either one on tv, she would begin to rattle off different facts about them that she learned in class.  It was because of that interest that the wife and I set the plans for the trip in October to go regardless to who won the election.

We arrived in DC a few days before the big event.  We acted like tourists, taking in all the sights we could.  We also connected with family while we were in the area.  The entire time, the entourage consisted of the three living as well as the two babies.  Then came Monday, the actual date of the inauguration.

That morning, we all got up around 4:30 am and got prepared to head down to the National Mall and join in with the thousands of others who had the same plan.  We packed a bag for snacks and water for the trip, and we made sure we had the cameras and stuff to record this event.  As we got ready to leave, my wife noticed that the little one didn’t have her babies.  The wife asked her, “Are you going to bring your babies?”  The little one responded, “No, they don’t want to go.”  For a 4-year-old, she was quite adept at communicating the wishes of her babies to the two of us since we didn’t always understand them.  After that answer, my wife and I both looked at each other and wondered how long would we have to listen to her crying about missing her babies.  Anyway, since she was at the door empty-handed, we took that as a sign that she knew what she wanted, and we left the room and started off for the Metro to get to the Mall.

We arrived at the Mall early enough to pick a prime spot, but we settled on standing in the middle of the Mall so we’d be close to the Metro station when it was time to leave.  We had a big TV screen right in front of us, so we wouldn’t miss out on anything at all.  My cousin and his family met up with us, and we had quite a ball that morning.  There were American flags passed out before things started, and every time there was a reason to cheer, you’d see a sea of flags waving over the entire Mall.  My daughter was having fun waving her flag and cheering as well.  At times, I put her up on my shoulders so she could better see everything.

Now, she was born a few months before Obama was first elected.  Before that election in 2009, my wife received a birthday card with Obama’s face on it.  After her birthday, we left the card up on the fireplace mantel, because it was a pretty funny card.  For some reason, my daughter took to that card quite well.  If we changed her diaper within sight of that card, she would look at it and coo until the cows came home.  As she grew up, the fascination with Obama didn’t go away.  After she began to talk, she recognized him as “Buddy” because my wife and I would both say, “There’s your buddy” anytime she saw him.

So, we’ve enjoyed watching “Buddy” get inaugurated for the second time, and things are over.  We go back towards the Metro station, which gets shut down because of an accident.  The whole time we’re waiting in the crowd, I’m getting increasingly upset because people are stepping on my child and bumping into my then 7 month pregnant wife’s belly.  We eventually get out of the crowd and decide to grab some food from some nearby food truck and wait for the crowd to dissipate.

Eventually, we got to the station and boarded the train heading back to the hotel.  On the train, the wife and I both talk about how we had not heard a peep at all about the babies.

Curious about this, my wife asks the little one, “Do you think your babies wanted to come see Obama get inaugurated?” 

The little one responds with confidence, “No, they didn’t want to come.”

The wife then asks, “Why didn’t they want to come?”  As parents find out, there are some questions that you will ask your children where the answers they give will knock you out of your shoes.  At this point, nobody had told us about this phenomenon, and we were soon about to find out on our own.

The little one then told mommy as though she should have already known, “They didn’t want to come because they don’t like Arock Obama.  They like Mitt Romney.”

My knees buckled from laughing so hard.  I think there were a few others seated nearby who laughed as well.  My wife and I laughed the rest of the trip home and all that evening about that answer.  We never had any indications that we had Republicans in our house during the entire election, not that it would have made any difference anyway.  My daughter had never wavered in her like for Obama, but she never once mentioned that her babies were Republicans.

That evening, while watching the inauguration festivities that were going on in DC, the little one chimes in out of the blue, “Mommy, they like Arock Obama now”, and then she went right back to watching the inauguration ball that was on TV.

If my daughter continues to look at both political sides and judging them on the facts of their campaign, I will undoubtedly be the happiest father in the world.  Either way, I have a funny story to tell for the rest of my life.

 

House GOP abdicates responsibility and goes on vacation

The House GOP leadership has basically threw in the towel on passing a border security bill before their August recess.  Unable to get their own party members to vote for their plan, the leadership cancelled a planned vote on their own legislation.

From the USA Today:

In what has become a familiar problem for House Republicans, leaders scrapped a planned vote Thursday afternoon on controversial immigration legislation after it became clear they did not have the support of their own party to pass it.

In a joint statement, GOP leaders said they would continue to work toward a solution to the flood of unaccompanied children detained at the U.S./Mexico border and put the onus on President Obama to act on his own.

In other words, they said Obama’s $3.7 Billion suggestion wasn’t going to work, so they were going to do one on their own.  Now that they’ve had the time to formulate their own plan, they can’t even vote for it.  To add further insult to injury, they’re saying that there are things that Obama can do on his own without action from Congress to deal with the issue.  This is the same House GOP that is planning to sue Obama for acting on his own without the assistance from Congress.  This is the same House GOP that pushes the notion that Obama is a dictator and refuses to work with Congress.  How can Obama work with Congress when they can’t work with themselves?  It’s a guaranteed failure for anybody who has to depend on this Congress for anything.

Here’s an excerpt from the leaders’ statement from an article at the New York Times:

“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference — and among the American people — about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws,” House Republican leaders said in a statement. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”

For those not keeping up, here’s my view of what has happened over the course of this immigration issue at the Southern Border.  Mind you, this is just my personal observation.

**Breaking News** Thousands of Central American kids are overrunning the Southern US Border

House GOP“This situation is because Obama refuses to enforce the laws, and he wants to give illegals amnesty. President Obama, you need to do something about this.”

President Obama: “This situation is because Congress refuses to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Congress, send me a comprehensive immigration bill, and I will sign it. Otherwise, I will explore what executive actions I can take on my own.

House GOP: “OMFG!!!!! Amnesty!!! President Obama, you need to do something other than amnesty. That sh*t ain’t gonna happen.”

President Obama: “Congress, since you don’t want to do comprehensive immigration reform, here’s my $3.7 Billion plan to address the border situation.”

House GOP: “This mofo must be smokin’ weed. That’s too much, so we’ll tell you what you need to deal with this situation.”

President Obama“Murica, Congress can’t seem to get things together.  I want to solve this problem, but they’re gonna impeach a brother if I try to act on my own.  They’re already threatening me with a silly lawsuit.”

House GOP“We’re still gonna sue you for acting like you can do things without consulting with us first.  We’re still gonna give you this border bill because you can’t do anything without Congressional approval first.  The SCOTUS has already ruled 9-0 against you for overreach.”

President Obama“OK, I’m gonna chill out and go do some campaigning while y’all get that bill together.  Holla at me when you’re ready.”

House GOP: “This legislating sh*t is too hard. I’m going home to raise campaign funds on how Obama is ruining America and he’s the reason why we can’t do our job.  He can do things without us to deal with this issue anyway.  He doesn’t need anything from us.”

Just remember that this is what our tax dollars are paying for.  While they’re out in August campaigning to return to DC in January to continue to do nothing, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will run out of funding in mid August and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will follow suit in September.  If border security was as serious an issue as they claim, why wouldn’t they ensure that the enforcers of immigration policy be able to actually do their job.  Instead, we’re likely to hear bellyaching about how Obama’s not enforcing the immigration laws even though they didn’t pass the necessary funding for the enforcement to happen.  Oh well…  we get what we vote for.