Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Political Strategy and Political Ads

        Wisconsin has a recall election coming up on June 5th.  Our Governor and several state legislators are being recalled.  This election has huge implications in Wisconsin and may have national importance because of the public union issues.  
        The political ads on TV are running almost continuously.  The ads from the two parties are directly contradictory.  Two different sets of facts are presented.  They both can’t be true. 
        The real facts are relatively easy to obtain, but most people don’t bother.  Many people just hear what they want to hear for their personal agenda. 
        Most people say they don’t like negative ads, so why are negative ads used?  The fact is they are effective in spite of what people say. 

        How is political strategy set?  This seems to hold true for both political parties. 
        The first thing is showing the facts and the candidate’s record if that record is what the voting public wants.  Next show the facts and of the opposition’s record if it is not what the voting public wants.
        Next if the facts don’t support the position wanted, distort the facts.  If that still does not work manufacture new facts.  If a candidate’s current record is good, digging into his or her past may bring up negatives. 
        If this does not work, the candidate will have to be attacked on discrimination charges.  This can be any minority or special interest group, but radial prejudice and woman’s rights are always good.  

        One of my favorites is “Do it for the kids.”  This is a tried and true tactic.  It doesn’t matter if it is promoting a casino or a whorehouse; twist the facts to make it “Good for the kids.” 
        Don’t laugh.  There are a lot of examples.  Think about how most states sold the idea of state run lotteries.  The idea of raising money for the state, education and the kids was one of the arguments.  Anything emotional is good.  Don’t worry about the facts.

        Attacking a candidate that is a member of a minority is totally off limits.  The “African Americans for Obama” campaign is OK, and don’t dare suggest there is anything racial about it. 
        All other racial groups, woman and special interest groups are all fair game.  If no real discrimination can be found, dig into the candidate’s past.  If nothing can be found, manufacture it.  Most people will not bother to check the facts any way. 
        The last card to be played is sexual, monetary or criminal improprieties.  If none can be found, be inventive.  They will be proven false and lies later, but it will be too late.  The media seldom covers the retractions anyway. 

        All these tactics work because too many people believe the ads they want to believe and don’t bother with checking facts.  Please encourage all Independents, Democrats, and Republicans to get the facts.  Then vote.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Arbitration and Mediation

        I have to admit I did not know the difference between arbitration and mediation until I met Marla.  I am a news junkie, but that only promoted my misunderstanding.  I now realize most news stories covering union negotiations don’t know the difference either.
        Marla worked for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.  This is a small federal agency with only about 265 employees that reports directly to the President. 
        The mediators with FMCS work to settle all kinds of disputes including things like wages, benefits and discharges.  Most of these mediations involve unions and union contracts. 
        The mediator’s job is to get the two sides to agree.  The two sides are normally union and management.  This can be a horrendous task. 
        This job is compounded by the fact that that mediator is just a facilitator in the middle and has no official power or authority.  The mediator is trying to find some compromise that both sides can live with. 
        The mediator sometimes has to be the bad guy making both sides mad at him or her.  A good settlement is often one where neither side is happy. 
        The mediator has to try to educate and persuade both sides to agree to some compromise.  This is sometimes not possible.    

        Since Marla has retired she is now works part-time as an arbitrator.  If mediation does not work and an agreement cannot be reached, the case may go to binding arbitration. 
        Unlike a mediator, an arbitrator has the power to make a binding decision.  An arbitrator is similar to a judge. One union steward I knew referred to the arbitrator as God.   An arbitrator’s decision is final and binding.
        Another major difference with an arbitrator is there are no compromises.  The arbitrator must pick one side.  When I first heard this, I was surprised.  I thought the arbitrator could make some compromise between the two parties. 
        This makes a lot of sense when we think about it.  It forces both parties to propose their best offer.  The arbitrator then picks the best one.  If one side’s offer is extreme, like they would propose if compromise where an option, they are assured of losing.
        If the arbitrator had the option of making some compromise, one or both sides would propose some ridiculous offer hoping for some compromise in the middle.  The logic is simple.  The more ridiculous one side’s proposal, the more the “Compromise in the Middle” is to their benefit.  This does not work with arbitration. 

        I like to use this “Compromise in the Middle” metaphor to show the stupidity of some political compromises.  I ask you to give me all your money.  You object.  I then ask you to give me half your money.  How can you object to that?  I compromised and met you in the middle. 
        This is about as ridiculous as some of our current federal budget proposals.  If both sides are proposing budgets with deficits, the only difference is how fast the government goes bankrupt.  It makes me mad when I hear talk of compromise when one proposed budget ignores the debt problem and the other barely addresses the problem. 
        Maybe we need an arbitrator for the federal budget so we can get some sanity.  I would offer my services.  Marla probably would too.  She might even waive her normal fee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Federal Government Balance of Power

Last time I talked about the 10th Amendment and our founding fathers’ concern with a federal government that grew too large and out of control.  Our founding fathers were also very concerned with too much power with any one government group or individual bureaucrat.  They had personal experience with dictators and monarchs and were well aware of the threat to personal freedom this could be. 
Our founders designed a three-part government that would serve as a check and balance to protect personal freedoms.  The three parts are the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch.  The role of each of these braches of government is clearly spelled out in the Constitution and the Amendments to the Constitution. 

The legislative branch is our Congress.  The founders built in an additional check and balance in the Congress with two branches.  The House of Representatives were to be elected by popular vote by the state represented.  The number of Representatives each state was allowed was based on population. 
The Senate was to be made up of two Senators from each state.  These Senators were to be appointed by the individual state legislators.  This was and excellent check and balance. The 17th Amendment made the change to electing Senators by popular vote.  Too bad.  We need to correct that mistake.
The job of the Congress is simply to pass the laws of the nation and pass a budget.  All members of Congress swear an oath to observe the Constitution and the Amendments.  I would interpret this as an oath not to extend the Federal government beyond the powers given in the Constitution. 
Our founding fathers never considered this job to be a career or a full-time job.  The founding fathers considered it to be “Public Service”.  Financial compensation was to be minimal.  In fact, if the individual had the financial resources, they were expected to serve without compensation.  How things have changed.

        The President’s job was also simple.  He was the Commander and Chief, and enforced the laws of the land. 
        He does not have the option of choosing which laws to enforce.  He also does not have the option of creating laws by “Executive Order” or modifying laws at signing.  These practices have continually increased over the years with Presidents from both parties. 
        Recent Presidents have also created new government departments and government bureaucrats without the approval of congress.  These bureaucrats are creating laws or regulations without the approval of Congress, and in some cases in direct contradiction to the wishes of Congress. These practices have continued to increase to a dangerous level in my opinion.

        The Supreme Court’s job is to insure all the Constitution is obeyed.  They also are responsible for prosecuting violations of Federal laws.  Simple.  The Supreme Court is never to “Make Law” with rulings.  There should never be any partisan politics involved.  Simple.

        It was such a simple and effective government.  What have we done to it?  How do we get it back?


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution

One of the primary concerns of our founding fathers was a Federal Government that grew too large and out of control.  They were well aware of the threat to personal freedom this could be.  They had seen too many monarchs and dictators.  This is the reason for the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. 

The 10th Amendment to the Constitution is quite short and to the point. 

“The powers not delegated to the United States by
Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are
reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This is clear and straightforward.  What responsibilities and powers are given to the Federal Government in the Constitution?  There are not too many. 
National Defense is the responsibility of the Federal Government.  They need to protect our borders and protect us from invasion.  I don’t remember anything about being the world’s police force.  
The Federal Government is also responsible for controlling immigration.  Too bad it has been ignored for the last 30 to 50 years. 
Foreign relations, treaties, and trade tariffs with foreign nations and American Indians are the Federal Governments responsibility.  Interstate commerce, money, banking, post office, copyright laws, and patent laws pretty much complete the list of the responsibilities of the Federal Government. 
        I just did this list from memory so I left out the details and probably forgot some things, but it is pretty complete.  The Federal Government is specifically prohibited from being involved with anything else under the 10th Amendment. 

        This presents some interesting ideas.  Think about it.  If we comply with the 10th amendment, the size of the Federal Government in Washington DC will be reduced to a fraction of the size it is today. 
        Many departments and agencies of the Federal Government would be totally eliminated.  Things like the Department of Education and many others would be gone.  As stated in the 10th Amendment, the States or the people will handle things like education. 
        There would be little problem balancing a budget.  Federal spending would be a fraction of what it is today.  Federal debt could be reduced and eliminated in one generation so it no longer threatens the freedom of future generations. 

        Political power would be shifted from the Federal Government to the States and the people.  We would eliminate the possibility of creating a “Political Ruling Elite”. 
        I recognize that I am just wishing and dreaming.  The current “Political Ruling Elite” will fight this change every step of the way.  It takes away their power.  Why would they not fight giving up their power?   
        What I don’t understand is why the “People” put up with this “Progressive” growth of government.  I do understand why some of the “People” like the “Progressive” growth of government. 
        Some of the “People” like the growth in government because they work in the public sector or have ambitions of becoming part of the “Political Elite”.  Some just like the handouts of a large Federal Government.  Some people prefer welfare to working, and in some cases are the third generation of welfare.  Some people just don’t feel they are getting their “Fair Share” and want the government to fix it for them. 
        What happens to our country when the number people receiving their income from the government, in wages or welfare, exceed the number of people getting their income from the private sector?  That possibility may not be that far away.  If that happens will we continue to be a free country or will we be a socialist country?  It is just something to think about. 

        The solution to protect the freedom of future generations is simple.  We just comply with the 10th Amendment, but it is not a simple change. 
        It took the “Progressive” movement over a hundred years to get where we are.  We won’t change it over night.  The current “Political Elite” will fight giving up their power every step of the way. 
        I just hope and pray “We The People” recognize this problem and deal with it before it is too late. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Illegal Immigrants or Undocumented Immigrants 

Why should we call illegal immigrants “Undocumented Immigrants”?  This political correctness is getting ridiculous.  If someone is in the country illegally, they are breaking the law and illegal by definition. 
Illegal immigration is one of the top seven problems facing this country in my opinion.  We must recognize the problem.  We must identify how illegal immigration got out of control and how we can deal with the problem.
I am not anti immigration.  The United States is a melting pot of the world.  I can see why people want to come to this county.  It is a great country. 
I don’t understand why some immigrants want to change the country to the very thing they are trying leave.  I am sure some consider immigration as a crusade to change the country, but I think these are a small minority. 

My ancestors came from Norway and Germany.  I like to talk about my three Norwegian grandparents and one German grandfather.  I sometimes refer to my German grandfather as the “Outlaw German”.   
My ancestors came to this country for the personal freedom, religious freedom, and the capitalist opportunities.
They wanted an opportunity to work, succeed, and prosper financially.  They did not expect anything to be given to them.  They just wanted the opportunity to build a better live for themselves and their families. They learned the language and became citizens. 

Immigration regulation and enforcement is one of the few duties the constitution gives to our Federal Government.  Our immigration laws have changed over the years.  The annual legal immigration numbers have increased dramatically.  The restrictions as to where the immigrants come from have been eliminated.  The skill and sponsorship requirements have been relaxed.  Most legal immigrants are admitted on family orientation. 
The Immigration Act of 1990 has an annual ceiling of 675,000 immigrants.  The breakdown is 480,000 (71%) family sponsored, 140,000 (21%) employment based, and 55,000 (8%) “Diversity Immigrants.”
I think this is reasonable legal immigration.  If not, we need to change the law, but we must enforce the law. 

One of the primary duties or the President as the executive branch of the government is to enforce the laws of the country.  Not one President in over forty years has enforced our immigration laws. 
I am not sure, but I think we have to go back to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 to find a President that actually enforced this countries immigration laws.  That is almost sixty years ago.  The President does not have the option, and should not be allowed to pick which laws to enforce. 

It is no wonder we have a problem with illegal immigration.  It may be easier to come to this country illegally than it is to come legally in some cases.  This is not fair to the legal immigrants or the citizens of this country.  We must forget the partisan politics and correct this problem. 
We now have a case before the Supreme Court about an Arizona immigration law.  Immigration control is the responsibility of the Federal Government, but if they don’t do the job, what is Arizona supposed to do? 
Arizona does not have the right to pass immigration legislation that is different than the Federal laws, but that is not the case with the Arizona law.  It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court rules.
Separate state laws are not the solution.  The executive branch of our Federal Government must work with the states to enforce our Immigration laws.   If the immigration law needs to be changed, that is the business of the Congress, but not the decision of the President.