Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Absolutely No Term Limits; A Critique of “The Liberty Amendments”

Mark Levin in his latest most excellent work “The Liberty Amendments” addresses the dangers of the political class and a ruling oligarchy epitomized in what is called the ‘beltway culture’, those he call ‘statists’. One of eleven suggested Amendments in his book is to require terms limits for Congressional seats. In January of 2010 I made the case not for term limits but for raising the age requirements as being more in the spirit of our founding fathers. You can read that here, but I will further advance the idea in relation to Mark Levin’s arguments to the contrary. In today’s culture, the idea that raising age requirements is being ignored as an alternative to term limits can be taken as speaking to its merits.

First of all, if term limits is the only acceptable alternative considered by those of a conservative nature and necessary political prowess to get the amendment ratified Mark Levin’s suggestion of twelve years is simply too long. Twelve years is more than long enough for any individual to be indoctrinated into the political class or beltway culture. Then these individuals will return to their respective States to become lobbyists, and to populate our State Houses and City Halls in elected positions. Would this be beneficial? In Milwaukee our current Mayor is a former member of The House of Representatives. The kindest description I can give to his term as Mayor is reality challenged.

Mark Levin makes the case for raising the age requirements himself. He highlights in great detail the popularity and practice of term limits at the time of the Constitution. Then Mr. Levin explains how, with age requirements, for the first hundred years of this country the majority of elected officials in both the Senate and House held only two terms or even a single term of office.

Further, term limits do not break the power of the political class where the party, people whose entire life experience has been not in the private sector but confined to the world of politics, decides from their own ranks who will run, or in other words who will receive the financial backing. If the age requirements were raised twenty years across the board for Congress and the Presidency people will be presented a clear choice. Though the effect on Presidential candidates may be slight, in Congressional races an open seat may very well be contended between a profession politician versus the likes of Wisconsin’s standing Senator Ron Johnson, a manufacturer highly accomplished in the private sector who stands for true reform and a return to traditional values in our government. The public must decide between a professional politician with a life’s work and practice of decades that could be clearly scrutinized versus highly accomplished private sector individuals with their own finances; the likes of Donald Trump or even Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs. Though the politics of the fore mentioned private sector giants may not all be conservative, even far from the fact, would such men tolerate an inefficient, irresponsible and dishonest system that crushes the American Dream?

Another suggested Amendment is term limits for the Supreme Court. It appears to me this would create large and continuous swings in the political makeup of the Court. Included in the Amendment is the ability of three-fifths of Congress or State Legislatures to expunge any Supreme Court decision. With these political swings caused by term limits I can imagine that our Congress and State Legislatures will become continuously involved in the decisions of the Court. I would question; Is this a separation of powers? The ability of State Legislatures to expunge a Supreme Court decision is sufficient as I perceive the issue. In light of the Obamacare ruling it may be the easiest of the amendments to be approved.

What Mark Levin has done, with great ability, knowledge and persuasion, is to present to the reader the dangers of tyranny under politics as usual and then present viable solutions. The dangers stem from statists who despise the Constitution to the point where it has been ignored and the avenues to rectify the problem, to demand the Constitution be upheld, have become intimidating and the processes deconstructed. He addresses all these problems with specific Constitutional Amendments. Some may argue, perhaps rightly, that you cannot legislate morality, that some of these Amendments are far too specific. I could easily be swayed to that opinion myself.

The reality is many of the issues Mark Levin addresses could be resolved if a few of the most critical amendments he proposes were ratified. The repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment that would designate that State Legislatures choose Senators, along with an amendment giving the States the ability to expunge a Supreme Court decision would be a drastic shift of power back to the States, in opposition to an overpowering tyrannical federal government. Senators assigned by their State Legislators could also resolve the issue of term limits (or raising age requirements) as the House is already characterized by powerful swings in relation to the will of the people.

A Balanced Budget Amendment limiting the taxing power of the government proposed by the Mr. Levin, though I find his limits too generous, would strike deep against an overbearing bureaucracy. In the allocation of funds, so important to a politician, the limits would put the parties at odds with each other rather than sharing in an unspoken agreement to run up an unlimited budget for mutual political and financial gain. Further, tying the budget to the GNP creates the dynamic where more economic prosperity equates to more money for the politician to allocate. This discourages the creation of overbearing laws and regulations that hinder economic growth.

These three amendments, the repeal of the seventeenth, a State override of Supreme Court decisions and for a balanced budget with limits to taxation, in something more than a decade may resolve up to ninety-percent of the dangers Mark Levin presented.

Mark Levin’s book is ultimately a call to action. It is the final warning to a nation swiftly declining into tyranny, a tyranny that is and will bring a new dark ages to the entire world. Mark Levin’s call for a ‘Convention to Amend the Constitution’ to be held by the States is the final opportunity for this country to be saved without reverting to more drastic measures such as States declaring the federal government illegitimate and/or secession; the final steps before taking up arms, if it should come to that, against a domestic tyranny as provided for in our Constitution.

Mark Levin has completed all the ground work for this convention to be held. He has presented all of the citizen’s grievances and proposed every possible solution in the form of amendments. He has put forth ever consideration such a convention should address. Now it is up to us and our representatives of common values to demand that the States of our great Union gather and convene A Convention to Amend the Constitution.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Newspaper; The Old is The New

Raucous fanfare has been given over the purchase of the Washington Post by the founder of Amazon.com; Jeff Bezos. One would believe the messiah has come to the printed word. I am not sure what Mr. Bezos will do to revitalize ‘The Post’, and by association and imitation the the entire news print industry. I have expressed some of my insight on how to save newspapers in part, piecemeal over my various blogs. Let me tell you clearly how I think it should be done. If Mr. Bezos wants to steal my ideas, though I find it hard to believe they are beyond the perceptions of most men, there is nothing I can do about it. I would hope you would at least buy my book Mr. Bezos. Some of these ideas and concepts may be advancing in various newspapers but I have seen nothing that even closely resembles the totality of my vision.

It is painfully obvious to me why newspapers are failing every time I go to one of their websites; advertisements front and center and too much clutter. The painful part of the equation is that a good old fashioned newspaper is the very form of every website. You have the front page with just the highlights. When you read what is on the front page you are directed to another site for the conclusion of the article; a section and page. You serf through the rest of the paper to discover news of lesser significance or of more particular interest.

In the past, for some, one would snap a mass of large unruly layers of wood pulp, searching through the sheets, folding and snapping again to get to a story of interest or value front and center in a acceptably flat form trying to position one’s arms so as not to tire too quickly but still achieve proper lighting. On the Internet the stories are set before you on a flat backlit screen and with an insignificant slide of the mouse and a click one can navigate smoothly through an entire paper.

So why are web pages not modeled after the printed news page? No one wants an ad flashed in their face from the get go. Printed news is the masthead and headlines. The headlines are the attraction; the art of the draw. Advertisements come later. With the headlines one subsequently gets a good chunk of the story before having to turn a page. Now, on the Internet, you get maybe two sentences under a title, if any. In a paper their are a few choice number of stories on the front page. Internet papers list their entire content on their home page. I have come across several commentaries on designing web pages claiming that clutter kills a site. I went to many top newspapers webpages last night. The least cluttered design was ‘The Washington Examiner’ which I believe has no print version. Yahoo and Google customizable home pages look more like the printed newspaper than newspaper Internet sites and they provide many of the services people once turned to the newspaper for; TV and movie listings, weather etc. as well as news.

People will search through a newspaper. They will navigate to the sports or business sections. Some table of contexts are important on the bottom of the main page but Internet papers need fewer stories with more substance front and center.

How does one do advertisement? Small animated adds with no audio in a small box that run 3-5 seconds highlighting a companies familiar logo. It runs once and then sits inanimate. Then, according to the number of words in the story, it animates again when most people would be about to finish reading. For those who do not subscribe to the Internet newspaper, when they click to read the expanded story they get a 15 second full on commercial before they advance to the next page.

Why would people subscribe to an Internet newspaper? To get fewer commercials. Also to get services such as coupons they can print out. They can go to a page with the most popular coupons for that particular city. If the page holds eight coupons make six the most popular and add two, for a fee from the product promoter. A Sunday print version is a definite attraction for many.

The Internet provides many opportunities for newspapers to attract subscribers. Facebook is now a platform to login to other sites, such as Freedom Works, without having to remember or create another login and password. I do not see why newspapers cannot provide the same convenience for subscribers. It is an issue front and center for anyone who uses the Internet. Blogging services and a more local social media circle would be winners and a way to uncover news. Protected e-mail accounts are becoming more popular. If the NSA is illegally monitoring your e-mails wouldn’t you want a local paper standing behind you? Other services such as a monthly best selling free e-book can also be an attraction for subscribers.

Including limited or full online encyclopedia services would also be a plus. Why do we all need to depend on the questionable Wikipedia. An Encyclopedia Britannica subscription runs nineteen-cents a day. A newspaper could throw them nineteen-cents a year; they would have hundreds of thousands of encyclopedia subscribers versus maybe thousands without the paper and continue their prestigious public presence.

The Search Engine

Here is where the newspapers have failed. Search engines drive the Internet and the newspapers hold a gold mine. Most have well over one-hundred years of material and with text recognition technology it can all become easily accessible. I often search the Internet looking for references to the Cold War to relate with today’s issues. I cannot find anything reliable. The Internet’s potential was just becoming understood as the Cold War, in regards to the Soviet Union, ended.

I could search newspaper archives for ‘Senator Joseph McCarthy’ and select whether I want articles with his name or some variation thereof in the title only, or search all articles in which his name appears, once, twice or as many times as I would choose. I could access possibly thousands of articles and then could select or drag the articles I wish to read into a folder and then access them at my leisure. The search of my local papers archive gives me results that appear unrelated to my search and they want a fee to look at each link. Though the search goes back a few decades it did not look like they had any scanned sources.

In elementary school and high school we were taught how to use a library for research. We learned how to access microfilm and other sources. Many od these sources are not available on the Internet. A gold mine I say that requires a local touch to dig it up.

Some will say, and rightly so, that content makes the difference. Newspapers have mountains of past content but maybe it does not promote the mainstream’s modern views of the world. A simpler search application newspapers can offer is locally focused searches. How often do you look for a store, click on a link and find it is for a location in South Carolina? That’s fine if you live in south Carolina; I don’t. Where the Internet and sites such as Yahoo and Google offer a world stage, a more local and familiar platform has it’s own attractions and can be more potent; reaching out to a smaller but far more personable audience.

We are in what is being called the information age. Newspapers are in an ideal position to dominate. So why are they completely incompetent in taking advantage? Maybe it is all about content.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Simply Mad?

This last Monday my wife was free from her usual labor commitments. We thought for a whole week how we were going to spend this rare moment when we would both be free for an entire day from the assorted piecemeal jobs that we just get by on. It happened to be the day when our local botanical gardens are free for county residence. Our local Miller Brewery, just blocks away, also holds free tours and we had never been.

Between these two activities we went to the ‘Mad Rooster CafĂ©’ for lunch. We enjoyed the friendly Mexican atmosphere. The menu included Belgium waffles with bacon in the batter, and cinnamon French toast rolled in corn flakes and grilled. I had a blue cheese burger that had some great bacon (the patty was OK) and my wife had the salmon tacos which she described as great. They had a well priced soup and salad option. Homemade soups, cage free eggs and other quality ingredients were being featured. The prices were about those of a common fare neighborhood restaurant, somewhat more than an I-Hop. Anything beyond fast food is something we can rarely afford.

They serve only breakfast and lunch, and breakfast wasn’t that early. They had an attractive menu but not extensive. I had to wonder as we enter a part time economy driven by Obama-Care if limited hours and fare will become an ever increasing trend for restaurants. I-Hop has already made it known that they will be putting most of their workers on part time. Most franchise based restaurants are networking to cut their employees to two part time jobs under different franchises. So many will be working over fifty hours at a part time rate (no overtime) with twice the commutes.

The madness of the depressing influences of Obama-Care on the working people of this nation are well known and documented. Family’s health plans are becoming vastly more expensive and companies are dropping coverage for their employees. The government is incapable of, and in several instances unwilling to meet the laws requirements. Members of congress and their staffs are looking to exempt themselves from the law. Doctors are giving up their practices, a testament to the reality that if people cannot achieve self advancement they will not work. But someone has to fill the positions in the clinics being proposed in nations such as Belize and Costa Rica to service those who can afford to travel to enjoy a market driven system of high quality and low prices that is sure to arise. Medical tourism has long been a reality. I have a cousin in Alaska who goes to Thailand every Winter for his dental care.

Meanwhile most of the middle class, like myself, will be trapped in a failing system that will offer a pain pill when one gets really sick. The costs for coverage under Obama-Care will be so high that any advancement one may make will be claimed by the government because most of us will not be deemed carrying our fair share with the large subsidies we will be receiving, even with all other government aid available, which I am sure we will be forced to take.

Yes, under Obama-Care the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer. Average incomes are dropping. The banks which were too big to fail, receiving our hard earned tax dollars are paying pennies on the thousand a year in interest while in many cases they are charging fees simply to have an account if you do not keep a certain balance limit. Wells Fargo, not even a willing participant in the bail outs, began charging us $12/mth for having a checking and savings and not keeping a total balance of at least $2,000. All the while they collect significant fees off every debit card exchange (21 cents per exchange, something a federal judge has recently determined too high and collusion between government and financial institutions) not to mention other untold multiple fees. The rich get richer and…

All the while the federal government prints, or digitally creates more money and feeds it into the stock market to expand the pockets of the moneyed population.

E-15 is being marketed though using it will void one’s auto warranty and will damage your engine. Ethanol actually creates far more greenhouse gases in its production and distribution than it supposedly saves. Adding it to gasoline simply reduces the efficiency of the engine on an equal basis. The Keystone Pipeline is still being stopped though it would create thousands of jobs and ease our fuel prices. The EPA is piling restrictions upon energy corporations driving up all our utility prices and threaten jobs in the coal industry; an industry Obama has determined to destroy costing countless jobs. Our fracking boom in oil and natural gas is occurring on private  and State lands but not Federal lands, and the government is placing ever greater restrictions on the process.

Locally the powers to be in Milwaukee have been promoting any and all rail projects that will not be used but will place heavy tax burdens on all of us. My water bill is 600% higher than when we first bought our house some fifteen years ago. We pay for the city to plow our streets now through our water bill, among other things which were covered under our property tax in the past. Our electric bills are driven continuously higher to build wind mills required by the federal government. Sometimes they are even working as they destroy the property values of all those around and deplete our bird populations of endangered species or not. Our public schools produce few students who know how to read, rite or do rithmatic.

(Excuse my personal testimonies, democrats may be reading and they don’t understand anything else.)

All this and more, is more than simply mad. It is more than unethical  or even immoral. It is criminal when framed in relation to the grievances our founding fathers put forth in the Declaration of Independence.

Are not the answers to these problems and more self evident? Are not the actions of this government openly and contemptuously in contradiction to the well being and will of the people? Even a dog will not look you straight in the eye when caught in wrong doing, yet our politicians, whether caught promoting policies that express contempt for the people, scandal or personal malfeasance look the public straight in the eye and rationalize, mischaracterize and outright lie without shame. They call scandals phony. As their policies depress our personal prosperity, as the middle class is driven into financial despair, as the future generations are being strapped with crushing government debt and their American Dream turns into a nightmare, politicians on both sides of the aisle, the political class take it all as evidence of the ineptitude of the common man and the need for even more government intervention.

Simply mad?

I am sure there are those much better informed and qualified than myself that could correlate the issues and misconduct surrounding our federal government with the grievances our founding fathers outlined in the Declaration of Independence. Let me begin here.

Simply mad?