Sunday, March 25, 2012

What do you mean I actually have to live here?

Adjective: Typical of a class, group, or body of opinion.
Noun: A person chosen or appointed to act or speak for another or others, in particular.  Specifically regarding the US House of Representatives, each representative must: (1) be at least twenty-five years old; (2) have been a citizen of the United States for the past seven years; and (3) be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state they represent.

One would hope that an actual Representative would be aware of such requirements.  But, it seems to be a surprise to Representative Chip Cravaack, resident of New Hampshire, who is supposed to be the Representative of Minnesota's 8th District.  While it is not required that a Representative live within the district which they are supposedly representing (see, Michele Bachmann), they do, in fact, have to inhabit their state.  Not just own a house there.

While we should recognize that a Representative might have a need to spend a significant amount of time in Washington, D.C., or on travel to other states and countries, it is expected that they have some sort of stake (other than political) in the state they supposedly represent.

Such stake could be, for example, where they and their family live.  Where their spouse works.  Or where their children go to school.

A stake may be supplemented by being your "home state" (where you were born), your alma mater state (where you got your higher education degree), or a state where you might have a (real) job.  Though, these things are merely secondary.

Chip Cravaack has none of these things.

Chip was born in West Virginia, which is not Minnesota.  Chip graduated high school in Cincinnati, which is not located in Minnesota.  Chip graduated from the United States Naval Academy (in Maryland) University of West Florida, which is, oddly enough, in Florida.

Chip did work as a pilot at Northwest Airlines, which was headquartered in Minnesota, but now is nonexistent.  He then lived (off of a medical disability pension for sleep apnea, as well as the teat of the taxpayers taking unemployment for a time) in Cambridge, MN.

Now, he lives in New Hampshire, where his wife and children live.  While he did live in Minnesota for over 20 years, he no longer has a stake in the state. (Note: it's about freaking time this got "lamestream" coverage)

He recognizes that his move put a "five mile target on [his] back," but he seems to think that if he raises enough money, it's ok that he doesn't actually fulfill the requirements of being a Representative in the state of Minnesota.

Considering that he ran, and won, on the basis that the previous incumbent (Jim Oberstar) had supposedly "lost touch" with the people he represented, it is ironic that Cravaack thinks he can do better in an altogether different state.

Chip, feel free to get some talk-show motivation near your new home.  Walk into another politician's office and demand that they see you.  Get off on some self-righteousness, and hijack a seat there, if you wish.  But, do yourself a favor and quit pretending you're representing Minnesota.  I'd say you're making yourself look like an ass, but that would be an insult to long-eared equids, and you don't even represent them, either.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Get out the Vote! It might be your last chance

Yeah, yeah.  I know that many other states have enacted voter ID legislation.  And I know that the courts have, so far, generally upheld them.  That should ease my mind, right?


First, where's the fire?  So far, no one has provided any evidence of widespread and intentional voter fraud.  They haven't even been able to provide evidence of either one separately.  Recently, proponents of voter ID trotted out a single example of a woman who stupidly voted for her daughter, who was off at college, with an absentee ballot.  Wow.  That's pretty overwhelming.  Absent that, at least in Minnesota, there are the examples of felons who voted because they didn't realize their full voting rights had not yet been returned (a confusing situation, considering every state has different laws regarding felon voting rights).

So, the evidence is not overwhelming that there is widespread voter fraud.  A few dozen out of millions of votes.  And in none of the cases was it intentional.  Most importantly, we know about these because the system ALREADY WORKED.

Note how his eyebrows look evil. (Borrowed from
Even assuming we only know about them because they all turned themselves in following their illegal voting sprees, their votes would not have significantly affected any outcomes.  "But wait!  What about Al Franken and Norm Coleman?" some might say, "Those few dozen votes could have made the all the difference in the world!  After all, that commie (short for comedian, right?) wouldn't have been Senator, then!" (Fox "News" even put out a very unbalanced article titled "Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Says.")

Wrong.  If anyone that followed that election (and recount and recount and recount and recount...) and bothered to put their brain in gear, it would have been clear that EVERY vote was scrutinized.  Every ballot was scoured for defects.  Every voter on every list was analyzed and considered.  If Norm Coleman could have pointed to illegal voting as the cause of his loss, he would have.  Even his attorney conceded that there was no widespread voter fraud.

Second, where's the solution?  Even if we concede that voter fraud is a bad thing (which it is), and that it needs to be stopped right now (it should be), will voter ID fix our (apparently not so) horribly corrupted voting system?

Survey says?  No.

While convicted felons that have been let out of prison on parole may not legally be able to vote yet, they have perfectly legal access to identification.  As does every other person legally residing in a state within the United States.  As of right now, at least in Minnesota, a state-issued identification card does not denote voting status for US citizens.  So, simply requiring an identification card doesn't fix the supposed problem.

Why not add something to an identification card that says whether or not you're eligible to vote?  Great question!  (At least on its surface.)  If a felon has a legitimate identification obtained before conviction, then you'd have to require felons to get a new ID for use only during parole.  If you can't find any difficulties in that, you're being naive.  Beyond that, the length of time a felon can be on parole varies, ranging from a few months to many years.  The life span of a driver's license, the most common state-issued identification, is 4 years in Minnesota.  If you have a driver's license, you know why you wouldn't want to have to get one more often.

Aside from being a test in patience, getting a new identification is a test in flexibility.  That is, flexibility with your job, your transportation, your time, and your cash.  A driver's license is not free; they're $15 to $24, depending on the license type.  And even if we make voter IDs free, they are STILL not free.  If you've ever had to get a copy of your birth certificate, you know that.  If you ever had to take time off your job, drive to the DMV or other state government location, and get a new driver's license just because you moved, you know it's not free to get an ID.

They're still not free.  Even if we removed ALL of those other expenses.  We will pay for them via taxes, especially if we moved to create a new ID only usable for voting.

Above and beyond the cost of the IDs themselves, we will need to pay for the infrastructure required to utilize IDs to allow voters to vote.  And figure out how to get more volunteers recruited and trained to run the polls during elections.  And hire extra voting judges for questions related to provisional balloting.  Etc.  While the costs, in the millions for the first year alone, are only in the millions (chump change, if you look at the state budget), we're talking about additional costs at a time when we simply can't afford more.

We're doing it because we can.  Clearly, without a need and without a solution, and in light of unnecessary costs, one must ask 'why?'  For voters that may vote for such a change--to be put into the state constitution in MN, not in legislation, and without any practical details--the answer might be because they believe the problem is severe.  Or they might believe that it's somehow not fair that people can cheat (regardless of whether they actually do).  Or they might believe that you simply can't trust people to be able to vouch for one another.  "Those dirty bastards vouching for granny at the assisted living home might just vouch for that illegal immigrant that I just KNOW is voting to take away my job!"

Public paranoia and me-vs-them-ism.

For the politicians, more is at work in this issue.  It's about a couple of things: numbers and numbers.  The first is the number of people likely to vote for politicians that agree with you.  Generally speaking, those people most affected by being required to get a piece of plastic with your picture on it in order to participate in the political process are poor or have lower mobility.  People who are not flexible with their jobs, their transportation, their time, or their money.  Democrats.

The second is the number of people that will come out to vote.  Republicans are catering to their basest of the base.  They may have discovered that people on their side are, on average, luke warm about gay marriage and people on the other side are fired up as hell about it.  Democrats might actually be motivated to go to the polls over that one.  And while they're there, they might vote to kick your bigoted ass out of office.  Oops.

Why should we care?  It's just a bit of money, right?  People who vote for the amendment are obviously ok with the cost, and majority rule, and all that.  If there's no problem and no solution, it's ok, right?  All's fair in politics, so whatever gets out the vote must be fine, right?


Any time you put up an impediment to voting, you are stepping on those rights afforded to us as Americans.  While we want to keep our polls pristine, it is far uglier to prevent natural born (and legally naturalized) citizens from voting.

You might rationalize it this way (and people do): Well, people need IDs all the time.  To drive, to get a bank account, to travel.  I don't see how anyone could not live without one, and in any case, they SHOULD have one.

Driving, owning a bank account, and entering a foreign country are not rights.  Voting is.  We should not base our ability to vote on our ability to do things that are not essential rights within the scope of being an American citizen.  AN AMERICAN CITIZEN!

In any case, there are plenty of people without IDs, who have no need of one.  A great number of them are senior citizens, including veterans.  People who owned this country before your sorry ass was born.  Should we disown them as voting members of our society just because they don't get around much anymore?  They can't mail order a new ID because they let their driver's license expire.  And getting the grand kids to drop by just for a visit, let alone to escort them to the government building to get a new ID, is a chore.  To further complicate things, if you were born before a certain period of time, finding proof of your birth to get an ID is difficult.

A good number of people on the edge of poverty, particularly the WORKING POOR, don't have access to getting an ID.  Not everyone has the opportunity to take off work at noon, spend forever at the DMV or other government office and fork out $24 of otherwise-grocery money, to get an ID.  In many cases, the reason they don't have one is because they walk or take the bus everywhere because they can't afford a car.  Ever try to get a bus to the right place at the right time in a reasonable amount of time?  Yeah...just double the necessary time to get anything done.

Outrageous!  Yes, a proper American should be indignant about the whole ploy to keep grandpa and poor people from voting.  But, so far, courts have upheld it.  If you think that means everything is hunky dorey, think again.  Who is being disenfranchised here?  People who have the least access to IDs are also the ones with the least access to the legal system.  The courts have only so far held up the laws as being constitutional on their face.  The practical effects of these laws have not yet been tested.  The courts have pretty much said that if it actually results in a poll tax (which IS unconstitutional), these laws must be struck down.  To which proponents of voter ID say "See!  No one has complained!"  Ah...but there's the rub.

These are the people with no means to complain. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The hypocrisy, it burns

Are all politicians liars?  I'm not sure I want to believe that.  I understand that politicians can't be as forthright as I prefer.  It's why I'd never be elected should I ever run for office.  I tend to tell the truth in all its bold glory, often with my Is-this-nice Filter out of order.  The problem with the truth is that there's always someone (often many someones) that it applies to in an unfavorable way.

I find it more than frustrating that many people can point in the general direction of the state capitol or Washington, D.C., and say "there be liars."  Of course, I find it particularly astounding when those same people will then spout the same BS that certain politicians fabricate to get elected and to spread the general political hate around.  Wait...what?  You just said all politicians are liars, and now you're trying to fill me up with bull I've only ever heard in political conversations originating from one of those lying politicians?!?  The hypocrisy, it burns.

Unfortunately, in my small experience, all politicians may not be liars, but they certainly aren't very forthright with the truth.  Truth and fact can be bendy sometimes, and it seems to be a characteristic that successful politicians take advantage of.  I, personally, can buy that sometimes the end justifies the means...but within limits.  When a bendy fact becomes a lie, you've crossed the line.

I met up with my state senator a few weeks ago who told me that the state Department of Natural Resources manages school trust lands (fact).  He told me that that relationship resulted in a conflict of interest (possibly true, but must be borne out by facts).  He told me that Minnesota's school trust lands don't make a lot of money (relative, but not a lie).  He told me that Minnesota's management of school trust lands is probably (bendy word) the worst of any state in the nation (getting pretty bendy, here, even without having to do much research--probably pushing a lie).  He told me that 95% of the income from school trust lands goes back into management of those lands (lie!).  He told me that he introduced a bill (fact) that fixes this (bendy!).  And it should be passed (opinion) because the land doesn't belong to us (REALLY bendy), but the children (oh geez, you're playing the emotions game with the wrong person, buddy *eyeroll*).

You see, the situation above really only has one outright lie.  But the rest is awfully bendy truth, opinions, and emotional manipulation.  The resulting message is a lie.  While he might believe it, I'm not dumb enough to.  I see this for what it is: an attempt to scratch some backs by putting people who might profit into a position to take advantage of state resources for development.  (Note: The media has outright failed in looking at this legislation.  The existence of it has been in the news, including Minnesota Public Radio, but not a single one of them has done anything but report the existence of the bill.  Not a single shred of investigation into the politicians' claims has been done outside a "community voice" article found here: .  Media fail.)

I also almost wish they were lying.  But the truth is, I can forgive a person for organically deficient, but not so much for being deliberately ignorant.  After all, the challenged person can be willing to learn.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ah Wisconsin

We Minnesotans have been looking askance at our easterly neighbor, recently.  It seems the state is going through some sort of mid-life crisis.  You know, that time in a person's life when a massive influx of stupid and selfish seems to coincide with the fear of irrelevancy?

Well, two legislators in Wisconsin have just outdone themselves with the stupid part.  Apparently, these heroic legislators have brought to light that single parenthood causes child abuse and neglect.  Yep.  It CAUSES child abuse.  And these two geniuses (a word clearly used ironically) have found it necessary to legislate based on this "fact."

Check out Wisconsin Senator Grothman  and Representative Pridemore's lovely bill:

Perhaps it hasn't occurred to these two legislators that correlation and causation are two different things, and a correlation is not a good reason to codify religious belief.  Of course, these guys are not speaking with any sort of authority.  I can find no evidence that Sen. Grothman (about Grothman) even has a family, or that either (about Pridemore) has any experience that might suggest he knows what he's talking about when it comes to families and child abuse and neglect.

If one wishes to follow the type of logic that resulted in the drafting of this ridiculous bill, one can make all kinds of ridiculous statements.  For example, Senator Grothman and Representative Pridemore are Republicans.  Senator Grothman and Representative Pridemore have their heads up their asses.  Therefore, being a Republican is the cause of Sen. Grothman's and Rep. Pridemore's cases of recto-cranial inversion.  We should have the state pay for public service announcements warning people to refrain from becoming Republicans.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Feminazis are sluts and Rush is a dick

Rush Limbaugh has made his money by being a loud-mouthed jackass.  There are plenty of people who do that.  And you can't blame them for finding a way to make money for doing what comes naturally.  What is particularly unfortunate is that Rush appears to have a sincere following of people that take him at his word.  What's even more unfortunate is that the media, politicians, and others treat him as though he's relevant.  Why can't we just respond to anything Rush says with "Rush is a moron.  So, how's the weather?"

Well, since everyone does treat Rush as though it's worth caring about the shit that flows from his sneering lips, let's take a look at his latest bit of charm.  I'm sure you've heard/read/seen all the flap about how Rush equated demanding insurance coverage of birth control with being a prostitute.  Oh yes, he even suggested that the amount of birth control required (and being affordable) by a woman was in proportion to the amount of sex she has.

Now, at that point, anyone with a brain SHOULD have said "Rush is a moron," and moved to more important topics, like how long it will take for the paint to dry before applying a second coat.

But noooo....  The media plastered it all over the internet and news and radio.  Rush lost some advertisers for being such a moron, but probably more than made up for it by the number of hits his website got.  (I admit, I went to his website, but I hope to spare you that pain my dear readers.)  Democrats took advantage of his stupidity by raising money--good for them; and demanded that the Republicans denounce Rush--erm...that was dumb.  Of course, even dumber is that the Republican presidential hopefuls and head Congressional honchos responded with the equivalent of slapping oneself across the knee with a pseudo-exasperated look and saying "Oh Rush."  Pussies.

Anyway, so Rush "apologizes."  He says,
"For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."  (If you must provide another hit on his website, you can read it here:

I call bullshit.  Rush's point was NOT that we shouldn't be discussing "sexual recreational activities" before Congress (Rush certainly enjoyed Clinton's).  His point was that he wanted to make a national stir by disagreeing with Ms. Fluke (or at least he knew that his zombie followers disagree with her) and so he personally attacked her.

She had a legitimate reason to be speaking before Congress, and it had nothing to do with her "sexual recreational activities" or what the taxpayers pay (a red herring of a lie if ever there was one), it had to to with whether insurance companies should be required to cover women's health at the same level they cover men's health.  Rush, who probably relies on medicated boners, should understand that.  But understanding doesn't make him money.  Fellating his listeners and sponsors does.  Who's the slut now, Mr. Limbaugh?