Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Voting

Every once in a while, Mary Mancini and I get into a dialogue (of sorts) about voting, voting fraud, and the like, which usually results in frustration on both sides. So, here's a short list of my views on the matter:

1. Most voting fraud "activists" on either side only care about stopping or otherwise curtailing voting fraud if they feel like the "fraud" in question hurts their political side/helps the other side.

2. Most reported instances of voting machines issues/errors are some form of user error but because no one wants to offend voters it's easier to just blame the machines or the machine makers.

3. There is nothing inherently wrong with "low" voter turnout, or, for that matter, voter turnout at any level, so long as people who want to vote have a reasonable opportunity to do so.

4. There is no social good served by people who have no interest in voting going to the polls to vote. That's why the system generally works out quite well as is; these people sort themselves out of the process: they just don't vote.

5. Wanting "everyone" to vote necessarily means forcing people who have no interest in voting to vote. So, make fun of Paul Weyrich if you wish, but his position is more sound than the opposite position, unless you actually believe that forcing otherwise disinterested people to vote is a good thing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A List

1. "Employed" people who have jobs and go to their jobs. These people vote.

2. "Underemployed" people who have jobs that are beneath them but they go to them anyway because they have to. Also voters.

3. "Unemployed" people who who want to go to a job but cannot find one. A lot of these people vote, too.

These are the people who are watching public employees not working during the workday.

Good luck with that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Congratulations to Beth Harwell

Well, I'm glad she got the nod, both for her sake and that of the party.

Geez...Beth Harwell, Bill Haslam, an even-tempered Ron Ramsey...I don't think I'm going to have much to complain about...really not sure what I will do...

Well, I suppose I'll think of something.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Think Kent Williams Is A Weasel And I Prefer Beth Harwell For Speaker

First things first: I do not know Kent Williams personally. Perhaps on a personal level he's a swell guy. I have no idea. But I also don't care for present purposes, because here's what I do know: Kent Williams, regardless of whatever grand qualities he may otherwise have, is, politically speaking, a weasel.

Whatever his defenders may say about him, the fact remains that he took advantage of a situation to better his personal standing and sold his party colleagues out in the process. This label is overused, but there is no better metaphor for Williams than this guy.

Oh yes, I hear the folks who claim that he saved the House from rampant partisanship, the (largely imagined) terrors of a Speaker Jason Mumpower and so on. Well, look, if he's such a great guy who could do all of these things, he should have put himself out there earlier on making those arguments and let everyone have that debate within the party, you know, kind of like they're doing now. Or, at the very least, he should have tried to form a coalition early on with the Democrats, as John Wilder did. He didn't do any of those things.

Instead, he saw an opening and he took it. I'm sorry, but Kent Williams a weasel and that's that.

I will say that one good thing came out of the Williams interregnum. It was a nice bridge between Democratic dominance of the House and the soon-to-come Republican dominance of the House. Gradual change is often underrated. And, as I suspected might happen, it robbed Democrats (who, ironically, were cheering these events back in January 2009) of a useful unifying political target. Basically, all they ended up getting out of it was a two-year reprieve while the Republicans got ready to take the House outright. Hope they enjoyed it.

All of that said, even though I wish he would shut up about it, Williams' support of Beth Harwell for Speaker of the House does nothing to deter me from hoping she gets the post. She's smart, capable and very, very experienced. Republicans are going to need all of these things because--I don't know if you noticed--we've never done this before. And, yes, I did say "we"--I am a Republican.

We as Republicans and as Tennesseans need a person in the Speaker's Office who can hit the ground running with regard to managing the House. With her quarter-century of experience, I am very confident that Beth Harwell can do that. and, as David Oatney quite properly points out, you are going to have a very conservative House regardless.

Can Glen Casada rise to her level? I don't know. He is my representative, as it happens, but that's the extent of my relationship with him. He seems OK, but I will say that potential speakers of the House need to have more sense than to get themselves involved in garbage like this. That's the kind of thing that gives Republicans like me--and whether you realize it or not, there are many of us--the creeps.

So, I'm pulling for Beth. If Glen wins, well, that's OK too I guess. But he'll have a lot more to prove to people. Let's hope he'll be up to the task. Otherwise, you'll give the Democrats an big enough opening to run a Kent Williams-sized truck through.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Voters

OK, for some reason I'm itching to write on this topic, so some more of my unsolicited opinions on voting and elections:

Every time there's an election, certain folks will look at the turnout numbers and bemoan the lack of participation in the American political process.

"Heavens," they will say. "Only 46% of eligible voters came out to vote. That's terrible! What can we do to get more people voting?"

My answer: nothing. Short of holding a gun to their heads anyway, I guess.

And that's perfectly fine. That's right: it does not bother me a bit that a lot of people do not choose to vote. I'm actually glad that they do not. These folks are obviously uninterested in the political process, which means that if they did actually go to vote, they would have little to no idea what or whom they would be voting for. Why would we want these people voting? They have already self-selected themselves out of the process. Don't interfere!

You know what it means when a lot of people who don't ordinarily vote start coming out to vote? It doesn't mean they've seen the light regarding their duties and privileges as citizens of a free society. It usually just means they're pissed off. Wanting more people to vote basically means wanting a lot of discontented people. Be careful what you wish for!

Nowadays there are ample opportunities to vote for people who want to vote. Early voting, for instance, is extensive, and absentee ballots easy to come by. The people who want to vote are voting. As for the others...well, it's a free country, and they are free to do their own thing. Leave them alone. If they ever want to come to the polls, you'll be the first to know.

Voting 2010

OK, so I voted a couple of days ago. Here's the tally:

Governor: I cast a write-in vote for Phil Bredesen. Three reasons for this:

1. The actual Governor's race is over. Has been over, in fact, for months. I cast my vote in the Republican Primary for Bill Haslam. Since this year the winner of the Republican Primary was going to be the next governor, my work here, so to speak, was already done.

2. I owe it to him
. Seriously. I have always been a big Phil Bredesen fan, but I have yet to cast a vote for him for governor, even though each time I came very close.

1994 -- Come was 1994! Plus I liked him as Nashville's mayor and wanted him to stay there. Selfish of me, I know.

2002 -- Oh God, this was hard. I even got in trouble with some of my Republican friends for saying nice things about Phil Bredesen in the newspaper. But the bottom line was that I was working against the state lottery that year (as I always have to clarify, I have no problem with allowing gambling, but I do have a problem with government-sponsored gambling, especially when the state has a monopoly on it) and it seemed hypocritical to vote for the person who supported the lottery.

2006 -- Second terms for governors in Tennessee tend to be state-income-tax festivals. I voted for Jim Bryson on that basis. I should have known better: there's been nary a peep about a state income tax over the last four years.

Highly principled stands or just lame rationalizations for preserving my GOP bona fides? You be the judge! I'll abstain.

3. He's done a bang-up job. Mark my words: We are going to miss him. Probably sooner rather than later.

Congress -- Marsha Blackburn

TN Senate -- Jack Johnson

TN House -- Glen Casada

That Weird Constitutional Amendment Preserving Hunting and Fishing Rights in Tennessee Even Though It Seems To Me Pretty Much Everyone In The State Goes Around Hunting And Fishing Without Any Real Interference From The Government -- Sure, why not? I'm not much of a hunter or a fisherman--I do my hunting and fishing in the grocery aisle--but I don't have anything against it either. Knock yourself out.

And, that's it. Bring on Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Election "Fraud"

Color me skeptical about most claims of supposed election fraud, especially such "incidents" as the recent alleged ones in Nevada, where the machine somehow magically cast a vote for Harry Reid. Isn't it more likely the case that the voters or voters brushed over his name somehow and the little check mark (or whatever they have over there) then appeared? Yes it is, the same way people are constantly tapping the wrong letters on their iPhones or whatever by accident, resulting in text messages like these: "Mewt me atx 2pM thes afternone."

It's also the case that, as I have said elsewhere, a lot of voters have no idea what they are doing when they vote, especially with these newfangled machines. Frankly, they're kind of dumb about it. I'm not sure why that's such a controversial thing to say. I mean, it has been a standard joke in our world to say that people don't know how to program their VCRs (DVRs now). Why is it such a stretch to suppose that they don't know how to do this either? And, sorry, but I don't have any sympathy for it. For Christ's sake, join the rest of us in the 21st century and learn how to operate the damned voting machine.

This is what I mean when I say that most of these alleged "fraud" issues are really just user error, the election equivalent of calling tech support to find out why the computer isn't working, only to discover during the call that it isn't plugged in.

Bottom line: It's not the system's fault that you have no idea what you're doing. Figure it out. Or else stay home.