A Change Would Do Us Good

 

America’s two-party political system worked remarkably well until recently.  Unlike most nations who have gone through all manner of revolutions, rule by despots, booms and busts, the USA has been (save for the Civil War) stable and improving since it was founded.

But something feels different now, not only culturally, but also politically.  50 years ago the Democrat and Republican parties were both made up of conservatives, moderates and liberals.  Cross-party coalitions were not only possible, they were routine.  Policy moved forward, generally in the best interests of the majority of citizens.

Think back – president John Kennedy was a conservative Democrat who believed in free markets, small government, exploiting natural resources, and peace through a strong military.  Nelson Rockefeller was a liberal Republican who served as Gerald Ford’s vice-president.  When America elected a president, all of our citizens coalesced behind him, regardless of party, presenting a united front to the world and joining forces to advance the well-being of all.

Those days are gone.  Today’s Republican party is still made up of a few liberals, a few conservatives, and the rest moderates.  Because of these ideological differences, and the fact that Republicans are a more independent lot, they will never vote as a bloc.  But the Democrats have adopted a tactic that requires monolithic devotion to their hard-left leadership.  They must bloc vote against anything proposed by Republicans.  Last week’s votes on the future of health care are proof.  Until the Republicans can muster a core group that outnumbers the bloc-voting Democrats, there is no chance of meaningful policy change.  And that won’t happen any time soon.

This state of affairs was inevitable as money became a greater influence over congress than the will of constituents.  As voters became less engaged and knowledgeable about government, party bosses learned that political offices can be bought, through slick and often dishonest campaign advertising, and also through policy that patronizes voters who don’t pay taxes with largess from those who do.

Money now rules politics, and the party bosses control the money.  A house campaign costs a minimum of $1 million these days, and candidates for senate offices will spend $5 million and up.  And these numbers ratchet up exponentially with every election.  Spending more than the competition does not guarantee a win (Hillary Clinton reportedly spent $1.2 billion on her losing campaign), but failure to raise a war chest usually promises defeat.

The few voters who are engaged can’t contribute this kind of money, and the low-cost old-school practice of door-to-door campaigning just doesn’t work like it once did.  The Democrats find themselves having to pay for “protestors” to advance their messaging.

With few exceptions, anyone who wants to become a congressman or senator (and stay there), must have the money that only K Street, deep pocket donors, and the party leaders can provide.  As a result, true representative government is totally dead in the Democrat party, and barely breathing in the GOP, thanks only to the life support system known as the House Freedom Caucus.

The situation has the Capitol, the press, and a good portion of the general public totally disoriented.  On top of that, our executive branch, elected on good intentions, can’t seem to stay on task.  Meanwhile, our treasured public institutions – schools, churches, military, media – flounder around in a fog.

We know from history that when there is disorientation and discomfort with the status quo it can’t and won’t continue.  Change is inevitable.  Something is going to happen, probably something nobody has anticipated.

It might be a direct change forced upon our system of government.  More likely it will be an unanticipated outside event – a war, a new technology, a financial disaster, an epidemic.  Who knows?  Maybe a space ship full of little green men will land in front of the Capitol.

My life experience has shown me that there’s no point getting too upset about the way things are, because things will change.

And right now, a change would do us good.  As long as it’s not the change that happened to Russia, China and all the other socialist failures.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I’ve been thinking ’bout catching a train,
Leave my phone machine by the radar range,
“Hello it’s me, I’m not at home,
If you’d like to reach me, leave me alone.”
A change (a change) will do you good!

Sheryl Crow – A Change Will Do You Good

Interesting – watch this great amateur video of Sheryl live from the front row.  The instruments and vocals are picked up from amps and stage monitors, not the big main cabinets the rest of the audience hears.  This is what it sounds like to the performers on stage.

 

Corruption In Big Sky Country – the COPP

COPPOnly in Montana could the incumbent ruling party be judge, jury and executioner of any candidate from the other side who dares to run against them.

The Montana Commission of Political Practices – COPP (or as I call them, the Corrupt Office of Partisan Politics) must be blown up and redesigned.  The first step is to approve House Bill HJ1, which calls for “an interim study of the structure and duties of the office of the Commission Of Political Practices.”  Failing a reorganization, the legislature must refuse to re-confirm political hack Jim Murry as commissioner.

The COPP is charged with administering Montana’s laws and regulations pertaining to ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance.   That sounds like a noble and necessary function.  The problem is, the commissioner is appointed by, and serves at the behest of, the incumbent governor.  Current commissioner Jim Murry was appointed by Governor Brian Schweitzer.  Murry, the former head of the Montana AFL/CIO, Schweitzer campaign finance chairman, and a long-time leading Democrat apparatchik, was touted by Schweitzer as having “years of labor management and bipartisan experience”.

AFL/CIO head and Schweitzer money man – that’s about as bipartisan as you can get.  What do you think are the chances any Republican accused of any transgression will get a fair shake before the COPP?

The sponsor of HJ1, JoAnne Blyton (R-HD59), expressed concern that the small COPP staff is overworked, citing the “lengthy backlogs of complaints that don’t get resolved.”

One of those many backlogged complaints was the trumped-up case against Ken Miller, 2012 Republican candidate for governor – a case study of the grotesque and transparently political antics of the COPP.

Miller is a no-nonsense guy who ran a no-frills campaign.  Unlike most candidates for the governor’s chair, Miller did not have deep-pocket political connections, or much in the way of financial support from his party.  He invested his family’s savings and put 100,000 miles on the family sedan, criss-crossing the state, shaking hands, and picking up small contributions from working-class Montanans who shared his conservative values.   His grass-roots message resonated and if he won the nomination, he would have been a serious threat to the Democrats’ gubernatorial hopes.

Early in Miller’s campaign, an ambitious political wannabe, Kelly Bishop, sought to be his running mate.  Unqualified for that position, she accepted a commissioned fund-raising job, but that, too, was beyond her ability, and she was released.  Her parting shot at Miller was a call to the COPP office to see if there was any way she could squeeze some money from the campaign on her way out.  Commissioner Murry smelled blood and invited Bishop to “file a complaint”, even though she had no specific allegations.

Murry then launched his attack on Miller, alleging violations that were all either disproved or corrected.  All were inconsequential and would serve no purpose to Miller, even if true.

Four days before the primary election the COPP released its “findings” of unreported contributions to the press only hours after e-mailing them to Miller, who was on the road campaigning.  Before Miller even knew what happened, news outlets all over the state had reported that he was found guilty of a number of violations.

The Miller camp compared their records with the COPP’s and were shocked to find that the “missing” records were clearly displayed on the COPP’s own website.  The charges were blatantly false.

Miller held a press conference at the state Capitol, refuting every charge,and  pointing to the COPP’s own website data as proof that the allegedly missing contributions were clearly reported.  The media was largely disinterested, and only one correspondent mentioned the event.  Murry’s tactic had succeeded – the damage was done.

The next day Murry said that if the Miller campaign could prove their defense, he would retract the charges.  Miller threatened legal action, but nothing could restore the voters’ confidence only one day before the primary.  It was the old “October surprise” trick.

In the aftermath, Murry retracted all of his first findings, and issued a new set of allegations, equally untrue and/or insignificant.  He did not question or sanction any other candidates, although their reports contained errors and violations, according to the COPP’s website.   Murry made a half-hearted offer of settlement, but the amount of the fine was so unaffordable, and the stench of the corruption so pungent, that Miller found no alternative to filing suit against the COPP and Murry.

41 states currently have political practices commissions which are operated in non-partisan fashion. Let’s hope 2013 is the year that Montana joins them.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Liar, Liar
Pants on fire!
Your nose is longer than
A telephone wire!

Garage band classic – Liar, Liar by the Castaways