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Online Government: Time to Throw the Bums Out

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Do we really need Congress anymore? I mean really…

What with all the hoo-ha over the stimulus, the cap and trade bills and now the universal health care/insurance debacle, our men and women in the Beltway are coming unglued. The Washington Bermudan Triangle is home to a bunch of people who lack ethics, responsibility and common sense.

It’s spend, spend, spend and spend some more. To prove how disconnected the Beltway is from the rest of us suffering on Main Street, they slip in spending for private planes. They can give themselves raises in a failing economy (no raise here), fatten up their Cadillac health insurance packages (mine has a $10K deductible) and eat Wagyu beef (I can only dream about such gastronomical delights) in private conferences and then dare to dress down auto, insurance or Wall Street execs about their pay packages. Not that I’m supporting outrageous CEO compensation, but talk about kettles calling the pots black.

For three weeks, I’ve been searching for a local town hall to voice my opinions. I’ve got plenty of thoughts and am not afraid to speak. I was dismayed to learn Rep. Dingell hosted his a few weeks ago, Democrat and invitation only. After viewing the verbal lashing other lawmakers throughout the country have received, the rest of the Michigan delegation has skittered away like rats under the floorboard.

Some of them are cowards, and some don’t give a flying flip what their constituents think (I’ve been told as much by a couple of mine). They’ll vote whichever way they want with no concern for investigating the other side or other options.

Which leads me to think, why do we even need these people anymore?

Back in the early history of our country, it was necessary to subdivide our land to make it manageable. Even at thirteen colonies, our country was huge and communication took hours or days. So we elected people from our districts that would best represent us and sent them to the capitol to work for us. Good start.

But it’s all different now. Consider in the gleaming 21st Century where just about everyone is wired to the Internet and we can elect to get our news 24/7. We are able to watch wars unfold before our very eyes or follow a celebrity’s cold, dead corpse as it makes its way to the hospital. Or, we could spend hours on CSPAN and watch how government really works, which is my new hobby. This generation is wired by a legion of Blackberries and netbooks. If anything, interest in current events has skyrocketed to mammoth proportions.

But no, our Congress seems to think of We the People as too stupid to figure our way out of a paper bag, and some have said so.

I am a common individual and admittedly no genius but I am able to pull legislation from an online source, print it out and read it, unlike many members of Congress.

Let’s face facts. We the People are being ruled by a motley crew of self-serving automatons who do not care one whit about the people who elected them. They’re just lining their pockets so that they’ll have some scratch for when the world suffers its final financial collapse. Some of these jewels call dissenters names (when just a few short years ago they applauded disrupters) and run from the masses claiming the grassroots to be populated with Astroturf and terrorist militiamen dressed in old people's clothing. The ivory tower is now so high and so blinding that they no longer feel compassion for the rest of us.

They have no respect for us, but demand respect from us. The arrogance of it all makes me want to spit nails.

This madness has to stop. Therefore, in a cost saving measure and to insure sanity for all I propose a government run truly by the People. The Online Congress.

First off, throw the bums out. All of them. Show them the door and open the Capitol building to the homeless who would appreciate fine mahogany and granite and swanky lunch menus. And after that, cut congressional retirement and health benefits to what a Korean War veteran like my father receives. That should save some cash. Then sweep DC clean of all lobbyists and special interest groups. Again, the monetary savings would be staggering.

Next, give all citizens a voice by computer.

You’d think this would be a task of ginormous proportions, but it would be relatively easy to do. We’re already wired up. We already have touch screen gizmos and networks that span the globe. All we need is a secure server and there are dozens of those all over creation. For those without an Internet connection, there are plenty of libraries with free online access.

Whenever a pressing problem comes up, put it to the vote of the people. ALL the people. Think of it, we would all have a voice.

Maybe then  government make sense.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.
  • Isn’t it cool Joanne, that when someone comes up with an idea to get rid of the unneeded idiots and institute governemt by referendum – the direct democracy supposedly enjoyed by a few thousand Athenians 2500 years ago – everyone shuts up?

    The political philosophes here, the stink piece writers and sophists and alleged sophisiticates from all ends of the spectrum, the kneejerk jerks, from all ends of the spectrum are suddenly – silent!

    That’s because governing oneself is responsibility, Joanne, not a spectator sport where you holler that the pitcher “throws like a girl”.

    I’d love to see such a system instituted here in Israel. We could get rid of the American instituted dictatorship in about a week or so. And all the Israelis who didn’t “love it” – could leave – to enjoy the gentle mercies of Jew-haters round the world.

  • What’s to say? No arguments from me on any of these ideas! Except maybe I think you’re being a little to generous on their retirement packages…Give them what they give me after twenty years and retiring as an E-6. I would imagine it’s less than your father gets.

  • Let’s face facts. We the People are being ruled by a motley crew of self-serving automatons who do not care one whit about the people who elected them. They’re just lining their pockets so that they’ll have some scratch for when the world suffers its final financial collapse.

    They have no respect for us, but demand respect from us.

    …why do we even need these people anymore?

    Great stuff, Joanne. I like it.

  • The problem with turning over decisions to the people is that entirely too many of them are even less well informed than Joanne Huspek, who is by her own admission “no genius.”

    Tarring all 535 members of Congress with the same brush, and claiming that they are all, every damn one utterly unresponsive to their constituents, is populist poppycock. Bull puckey. Balderdash. A poor excuse for actual reading, writing, and thinking — and then daring to admit that most problems and situations are pretty damn complicated, and not subject to dumb one-line prescriptions.

  • Handy, psst, hint, hint… Satire???

    I may be no genius, but I’m smart enough to read legislation. Heck, I’m smart enough to find it. I’m starting to believe I’m smart enough to run.

    I must have taken too much pain meds…

  • I happen to agree, Joanne, though Handy will hate me for it: they’re all sellouts.

    As I argued in my last article, we don’t need no stinking experts, technocrats or lawyers running this country, but ordinary people with judgment, like you and me.

    So yes, you’d definitely make a better congressperson than any of the jokers we have in there. You have my vote.

  • zingzing

    while i agree with your idea in principle, there’s a glaring flaw or two in it. #1, who’s to run this thing? and #2, given that you could find someone to run it, the potential for fraud, both on the internet and in the resulting bureaucracy it would take to quantify and implement “the voice of the people” is staggering. you’d have a country run by hackers and an all-powerful group that simply reports whatever they want to.

    the logistics of what you propose would result in a government far more bloated than what we have today. and that’s sad, because it is a nice idea.

    ruvy–you might want to wait more than a few hours before insulting everyone. thursday evening and friday at 5 am are not peak hours around here, you know.

  • Roger, you’re too smart to actually believe what you wrote in #6.

    Look how easy it was to get people to believe utter nonsense and fiction about the Democratic health proposals.

    A majority of the public believes that the legislation provides free, taxpayer-funded health care for illegal immigrants; that it will provide free, taxpayer-funded abortion on demand; and that it will raise their taxes.

    None of these provisions is in the bill. [And saying ‘the bill’ is inaccurate too; there are already 4 bills, soon to be 5; but all the comments are about one, which happens to be the most liberal, and is unlikely to be the basis for what is finally passed.]

    As I’ve said before, it’s really easy to sit on your ass and proclaim on the Internet that ‘they’ are all assholes and ‘we’ know better.

    It’s much harder to actually admit the complications and gray areas in nearly every issue and try to discuss them in a valid way.

  • Handy, that was only a comment about politicians in general. You just happen to hold them in greater repute than I.

  • Yes, it was a demonstrably false comment about politicians in general, as if, say, Barney Frank and James Inhofe, or Susan Collins and Jim DeMint, are really all the same.

    You may be successfully blowing off some steam and frustration, but don’t pretend you are accurately describing or analyzing anything.

  • If you grow an apple tree, everything on it is going to be an apple.

  • Some apples may taste better, but they’re all still apples.

  • All the politicians you named are alike in that they are politicians. They will impose their own ideas on the rest of us. Every last one of them. Also, they will be most focused on their own career, their own security, their own retirement, their own personal welfare, their own happiness before they even begin to worry about anything or anyone else. They will do what is in their own personal interest and act according to their own personal beliefs and they will force those beliefs on other people, whether they like it or not. That’s what they do. All of them.

    Some of the do even worse things.

  • Handy,

    You can’t just say that the state of the nation is the result of the previous administration and that this one all of a sudden is going to correct all our ills. This has been piling up for generations, through slow but sure accretion, and now it had finally come to a peak. And you surely can’t argue that our politicians haven’t been the accomplices – both parties. So my view really is – the system is broken. Consequently, my understanding of the kind of problems we’re facing go beyond this little reform or that, plugging in the holes, fixing this or that. The entire ship I believe is sinking, and that’s what I’m frustrated about and what I’m addressing.

    We’ve had professionals and experts and lawyers and accountants running this government, and with what effect. I don’t trust technocrats or the bureaucrats and the kind of people that populate Washington and the corridors of power. And I don’t see why should you. Wherein do you base your confidence, unless you’re being so overwhelmed by the complexity of the problems facing us that you’re just giving up and made a decision to delegate your powers to these people.

    The position I’m expressing is not an idiosyncratic one but is being shared by lots of analysts of modernity as being increasingly more and more dominated in all facets of governance and administrative tasks by technocrats and experts. Visionary people have been warning us about it (Jacques Ellul, for example) and it’s surely coming to pass. I don’t want to say anything more about it now – subject of my next series of articles. It’s just to let you know that the dissatisfaction I’m expressing has deeper underpinninggs. At the same time, I didn’t want you to feel you don’t deserve a response.


  • Cindy, the United States [and the European Union, and China, and just about every other place] will always have a government, in your and my lifetime, and in the next generation’s lifetime.

    So your vision of a world without government is a hypothetical fantasy, and your criticism of the real world is based on this alternative universe, one that does not and will not exist.

    If you can come up with a way to actually apply these ideas to the real world, I’d be happy to hear about them. Until then, your comments border on Lewis Carroll, without the wit.

    And the ‘all politicians are part of the same web of deceit’ stuff is certainly not a new idea. It’s just an idea that has not yet found a practical outlet or application. It’s hippy-dippy, graduate thesis soft-headedness.

  • Roger, I rarely mention Bush, and contrary to popular belief, I don’t think Obama is perfect. I just try to defend him against silly and unfair attacks, which occur about every 20 seconds on here.

    But I’ll put the same question to you as to Cindy:

    How does this squishy [and wordy] stuff you expound apply in the real world? How do you bring it down from airy-fairy dreamland to actually select leaders [or alternatives to leaders] that you can believe in?

    I just don’t buy it. I think it’s all idealistic, academic hot air.

  • I suggest, Handy, start reading some French thinkers, like Michel Fouccaul or Jean-François Lyotard, or Umberto Eco, before you so quickly dismiss the idea of a web – not in a sense of there being any conspiracy but in a much more sinister and dangerous sense – so nonchalantly.

    We are dealing with apparatuses of power, many and diverse and at all kinds of levels, and politicians are part of if – witting or unwitting accomplices. And it’s even more scary if they’re not being aware of it.

    Consequently, you’re mistaken, Handy, of accusing Cindy of naïveté. (If anything, she’s guilty of idealism, but that’s another thing.) It is in fact more sophomoric to keep on propagating the political ideology which which we grew up and accepted as gospel truth rather than questioning it. And conspiracy theories are just as naive and offer no escape.

    So yes, we are caught up in a humongous spider web – each and every one of us – much deeper than you thing. And it’s no “hippy-dippy, graduate thesis soft-headedness.”

  • Clavos

    Anyone who really believes that government-run health care won’t raise everyone’s taxes is naive.

    It doesn’t matter whether or not there’s a “provision” for it in the (or any of the) bills, if the government takes over the health care responsibility for all Americans, taxes will go up.

    When obama denies that, he’s lying.

  • Clavos

    Umberto Eco’s Italian.

  • Correct – I should have said European.

  • “It’s hippy-dippy, graduate thesis soft-headedness.”

    No it’s not, Handy. It’s people who I’ve heard tell children to grow up and join the real world, who are out of touch with reality. people sort of like you. You accept an insane world. You are a change stopper Handy, by saying just what you said above. Hippy-dippy soft-headed graduate students, and children ‘who need to grow up’ know more about creating a sane human living arrangement than crazy people willing to accept the status quo. It’s people like that who change things–those you ridicule. Between the Handys and the Andys, it’s no wonder the world is a mess.

    What about other things, would you have advocated accepting slavery since it took hundreds here (thousands elsewhere) of years to begin to change it? Same with unions, same with civil rights, suffrage for women, gay rights, rights of the mentally ill, child labor. Were those who struggled for those things living in a dream world too?

    I think you would have been against slavery in theory, in your heart. But would you have been a part of the underground railroad? Or would you figure those people were risking their necks in a world where their goal was impossible.

    Things take a long time to change. Does that mean they’re not worth striving for? Shall we just accept whatever is put on our plate and mush it around into the most pleasing shapes we can, no matter how distasteful the fare?

    Since you’re making assessments of people personally. I will offer my assessment of you. All you can do is vote for whomever someone else provides for you. You can’t think or imagine beyond that. A world full of Handys would be a stagnant world. It takes people capable of vision and the Handys of the world don’t seem to have that.

    Change begins when one imagines it, then one must put forth effort toward it. What’s right doesn’t change because it doesn’t exist on a large scale. What’s right is right.

    Perhaps human beings will be evolved in 10,000 years. That’s my estimate, it puts my life in perspective (or like Mark says, perhaps tomorrow or next week). Humans will never get anywhere without people who are willing to act without the backing of the crowd. So, your ridicule is lost on me Handy. I tend to feel sorry for people with such shallowness of vision.

    Paladin Heart’s (a Greek Anarchist) saying fits well here. I love it and it’s good to repeat it when fits.

    “So what if we are mortal, we all hold some immortality in our hands.”

  • Some apples may taste better, but they’re all still apples.

    Not according to Genesis and the Garden of Eden Fable.

  • I apologize for having contributed to this exchange and let no one’s spirit be broken, please. That’s the most important thing.

    I’m certain that Handy’s use of the phrase wasn’t meant as a personal remark – it was just a way of dismissing a position we think ridiculous for good or bad reasons. But in effect, it’s no different from the kind of behavior we’re seeing all too often from the Right as well – when people resort to name calling and some such things rather than dealing with a view they find unpalatable.

    I just wanted to say we’re all in this together if we are truly intent on making the world, and not only America, a better place, so we should be mindful of the fact. Handy’s heart is in the right place, and that’s more important perhaps than anything else. Agreement on positions comes later, sometimes way later, so long of course that we’re all open to a discourse. And I do believe that all of us are.

    So let’s kiss and make up, OK?

  • How does this squishy [and wordy] stuff you expound apply in the real world? How do you bring it down from airy-fairy dreamland to actually select leaders [or alternatives to leaders] that you can believe in?

    Silas, is Handy saying I act ‘gay’?

    I just don’t buy it. I think it’s all idealistic, academic hot air.

    Okay, Handy. I guess you never saw any info I posted on the Zapatistas in Mexico or on the Argentinian workers’ movement?

    Here is a video on the Argentine worker-run factory movement and their development of a working community that is consistent with anarchism. The Take by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, is now up on youtube in 9 parts. However, this short 8 minute bit will give you an idea how it works, if you do not wish to see the whole documentary.

    I also saw Klein and Lewis, who hosted a panel discussion in NYC, as well as a man and woman from the Argentine movement and also from the Chicago Windows and Doors factory (which handled things differently and occupied but stuck with Capitalism). The goals of people like these and many others is to move the world toward worker owned and operated collectives.

  • Silas, is Handy saying I act ‘gay’?

    Could you be a gay man trapped in a woman’s body?

    Handy’s diatribe sounds a lot like something Sen. Ensign would say. But, then again, after listening to him pontificate about his own marital indiscretions I am left wondering bout his own mannerisms (Ensign’s – not Handy’s).

  • One thing’s for certain, Silas: Cindy has – pardon the expression, a man’s mind – as tough as they come. Nothing swishy about it.

    But perhaps I should say androgynous to stay on the safe side of everybody concerned.

  • Oh, I was wrong. Handy was calling Roger squishy and airy-fairy, not me. Darn. Well, I answered anyway.

    Great post Roger, #14.

    (psst, I like Handy and I think he has a good heart.)

  • Thanks. And I know that you know.
    Speaking for myself, I don’t want to lose him. Conversions can come later.

  • (psst, I like Handy and I think he has a good heart.)

    I agree, but I won’t admit it in public — about Handy, that is.

  • You know Silas, it would be pretty convenient for a gay man to be trapped in a woman’s body. Unless he were trapped in a gay woman’s body.

  • Yikes! If I were a gay man trapped in a woman’s body I would have worked my butt off at the Bunny Ranch for 10 years, saved my money, invested in real estate and then have an affair with John Ensign or Mark Sanford. Then I would sell my entire story to the tabloids and buy a cabana in Costa Rica.

    If I were a gay man trapped in a gay woman’s body I guess I would be Sandra Bernhardt.

  • Silas, we weren’t talking about hard-ons! Get a hold of yourself.

    Apropos being trapped, I think the obverse obtains: usually it’s a woman that’s being trapped in a man’s, or have I shot myself in the foot, Silas?

    Instead of Sandra Bernhardt, how about George Sand? Also, Sarah Bernhardt would be a better choice. Got to love the classics, Silas, since Oscar Wilde is your patron saint.

  • Ever see the movie biopic Wilde with Stephen Fry and Jude Law? He was tragic in some ways while full of life and love in others. Indeed, he is a patron saint of mine. I’ve always wanted to write a sequel to De Profundis and title it De Erectus.

    Back to the subject at hand, I have to wonder if it would not be better for our representatives to legislate directly from their districts more often than not. In these days of technology we really don’t need the federal infrastructure to be so oppressive. We’d save money, save marriages and prices would come down because theoretically special interest groups would be hard pressed to lobby en mass.

    But, come on now, Roger. If you could be a woman for a time what would YOU do with your wiles?

    —-> now ducking for cover

  • So I did hit it about Oscar Wilde. It was a shot in the dark. As to being a woman, I think it would only sharpen one’s wits (out of necessity, the strongest of all motives). No doubt the same applies to all who have been marginalized -gays in particular (everything else being equal, of course).

    Could you say more about “legislating directly from their district”? Sounds like an interesting idea.

    The movie based on Wilde I’ve seen was “A Good Woman,” based on the “Lady Windermere’s Fan” play (and of course the “The Picture . . . ” I’m still reading “The Importance of Being Earnest,” so I’m afraid I’m rather delinquent in my literary duties.

    “A Good Woman,” though, is an excellent production – after the best in the BBC, the Old Vic, theatrical tradition. The best part is that Wilde’s dialogue is for the most part maintained – so his wit shines through and through.

  • Roger and Cindy —

    No personal attacks were intended. I just get impatient with the vast generalizations. I think they substitute for practical solutions. It’s easy to complain, harder to actually do something.

    I applaud activism and changing the world. I think this is more likely to come about through using the system rather than complaining about the system and dreaming of a world without the system in it.

    We should encourage the politicians who try to do good work and who try to cut through the bullshit, instead of labeling them ‘just another politician,’ and then sitting on the sidelines writing theoretical diatribes.

    Roger answers my challenge to bring his ideas to earth and apply them practically by…reciting still more generalities about theories.

    Cindy, I’m on your side in your fight for the oppressed of the world. And you may think your ‘all politics is bogus’ line of thinking is completely compatible with your very admirable concern for the downtrodden. But to me, it’s more akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    I certainly wasn’t questioning anyone’s motives or character. Just the nonspecific, nebulous character of your argument. And the fact that you find simplistic, populist ‘satire’ [oh is that what it was] like this article appealing. You’re too smart for that.

    PS “Airy-fairy” had no sexual connotation. I hereby liberate that very useful phrase from any gay context.

  • This airy fairy thanks you.

  • Roger, my legislating from their district concept is based upon the President’s ability to hold video conferencing meetings. If we were to have every legislator report to work at their district office 10 months per year, imagine the savings. In this age of communications, there’s no need for members of Congress to be in Washington so much. The Federal Government was never designed to be this monolithic.

  • Cindy, no one could disagree that anarchist collectivism can work as a small-scale business model in a cottage industry or small agricultural community. No question.

    But it’s a huge leap from that very modest level to anything on even a regional much less national scale. All of the examples you bring up exist within a larger economic and political structure which is NOT anarchist, but which has room for the occasional small anarchist experiment within in it, precisely because anarchist communities are incapable of growing, gaining influence or becoming a challenge to an established government.


  • I just get impatient…

    You do? I never get impatient. 🙂

    Anyway Handy, some day I hope to demonstrate that I am not casually tossing out agreement with anything. My positions are based on my attempt to carefully examine ideas across a range of fields. Saying things like ‘populist’ is meaningless to me, in the above context. I recognize those things that Joanne said, whether serious or half-serious, as important observations about reality.

    I frequently disagree with people. (Ask Joanne.) Some people find me very disagreeable–and about things they don’t think count very much.

    About being way too smart for…this or that: I am looking at the world and collecting information. I am testing and retesting my hypotheses continually. I have been wrong before and the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of my being wrong many times more to come. It doesn’t matter if I look utterly stupid to anyone or everyone else. It’s not an important consideration, as far as I can see.

  • Dave,

    That’s why I think it needs about 10,000 years. (I still like Mark’s idea better, though.) I recognize a change in consciousness is required. But, when I do look at things like the Argentine factory movement and how the community itself has gathered around these workers to protect them (because they are genuinely a part of that community), I realize that sometimes that consciousness must have the ability to change rapidly. We are, after all, talking about a culture where there is every reason to expect even the difficulties between the sexes to present a barrier. Yet, the recognition of a very simple understanding–that if all are not free, then none is free (everyone must count)–somehow makes its way inside people and once it is in there, it changes everything. Perhaps it’s because they’ve personally experienced enough of the destruction of domination to give it up. I don’t really know why. But progress is rapid after that.

  • Handy,

    The practical applications of a system in conflict, and the consequences, happen every day and under a variety of guises: the town-hall meetings, but on the reactionary and the progressive sides, the shifts in public opinion, the continuation of the discourse on BC and other public forums. Our conceptions of what’s taking place are always in a state of flux, ever changing, and so it goes for coalitions, their compositions, people making new friends and new enemies, points of resistance arising to new points of oppression and repression. There is so much that goes on unnoticed, behind the scenes, which always alter and affect the workings of the system.

    You do seem to have a rather limited view of “the system,” that social change and reforms can only come about from within the system, leaving the system unchanged and intact. Not only is this view rather naive, buying into the ideology which had propagated it and made it into a myth: it’s not progressive enough or far-reaching.

    We all have a job to do. You happen to believe that working with and within the system is the most effective way of affecting social change and righting the world. Good for you. I happen to believe that the system ain’t working, that “the gains” thus secured don’t go far enough, that an overhaul is in order, an overhaul in our thinking, in our conception of problems facing us, the kinds of action I deem necessary in order to fix things, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

    So we do have different projects in mind. I understand your position and where you’re coming from. But your failure to understand mine is not a reason to outrightly dismiss it simply because you don’t understand it and regard it as merely theoretical. So let’s just say this: for the time being, we’re operating with different conceptions in mind. I don’t see matters in the straightforward kind of way that you do.

  • Silas and Roger,

    I wish every man could be a woman for awhile. What Silas said is humorous, but the idea that they would waste their time using sex to acquire wealth is thoroughly one that results from male domination (heterosexual type). Women (like any marginalized group) are always vulnerable to adopting the ways of the dominating group and mistaking them for the one way, and the way they need to excel in. This has been a problem for feminism, as far as I can see. We don’t need women to compete in a ‘men’s world’, we need women to add what is feminine and change the world for the better.

    In a true matriarchal society, the roles are not reversed as is often imagined, with women dominating. It is an egalitarian arrangement, with everyone sharing power. That is the true feminine. And if men could be women, I would hope that’s what they’d learn.

  • I am supposed to be working on my article. I’m banning myself for at least a few hours.

  • I will cite Foucault’s astute remarks about the feminist movement (as opposed to that of the gays) in a couple of hours then. Don’t want to break your concentration.

  • my legislating from their district concept

    Imagine legislating from a district where the district was small enough to include all people in all decisions that were important to them. Then imagine a representative whose job would be only to put forth the ideas that the community decided on. If the representative was not good and tried to do things without the community consent, no one would have to wait for her to finish out some term of office. The whole community could sit them down and confront them, removing them immediately, if necessary.

    I won’t argue about the president, for now. How does that part sound so far?

    (Now I am really really banning myself.)

  • I’m all for it, Cindy. With all these technological advances, there’s no necessity in having our poor representatives to Congress forced into living in such squalor inside the Beltway. Let’s bring these folks home to do their work. We miss them.

  • Well, while everyone is busy redesigning the government and the structure of society, specific and concrete items like health care reform and the economy and the environment and the war in Afghanistan will continue to come up.

    So it might be helpful to express an opinion and take a stand — preferably one that actually has a chance of really being enacted. [As opposed to saying, “Ah, they all suck anyway,” while turning back to our noodly-doodling.]

    Even if you hedge that stand by saying, if I ruled the world, these wouldn’t be the only two choices, but since I know one of them is going to prevail, I’m for that one.

    And you do that because you feel like the other one will make the world an even worse place.

  • What’s wrong with restructuring government and society, Handy? We’re at a crossroads as every society experiences in an evolution. I remember all too well that feeling of euphoria during Kennedy. Granted things weren’t perfect but he set the stage with his Inaugural Address. The torch did pass to a new generation. The time is upon us once again to pass the torch to yet another generation. Within a very short time the last manifestation of the Kennedy dynasty will be gone. Many will be relieved. Many will not. When Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama it was yet another passing of the torch.

    People take stands. And most are never heard because their voices are drowned by a broken down political system filled with corruption and lack of a level political playing field. As individuals we can effect change but that means getting involved and taking a stand. I’m with Bill Maher and countless other pundits who maintain that we’re too stupid and down right lazy to be proactive.

    Isn’t it amazing that the rest of the world looked at America with renewed hope in the shadow of Obama’s election? Yet here in the United States we were already skeptical before he even took his oath of office. We’ve been inundated with scandals within the Beltway since 1968 and there seems to be no end. Yet we’ve done nothing to change the way political office is maintained or achieved.

    As far as health care is concerned, without a viable public option, we’re wasting our time. By extending medical benefits to spouses and minor children of veterans, we’d make an impact. The system is in place and with its flaws it works. Next is to extend short term Medicare benefits to the unemployed using the same formula that is applied to Social Security recipients. Those are two proactive measures which could be adopted with little effort.

  • Great post, Silas.

  • Thank you, Roger.

  • Clavos

    By extending medical benefits to spouses and minor children of veterans, we’d make an impact.

    They already do.

  • Really, Clav? If that is the case then Medicare for the unemployed and impoverished can be achieved. I will look into exactly what the V.A. affords spouses and minor children.

  • Here’s what I came up with regarding survivors of vets. It’s not so cut and dry.

    Medical Care for Dependents and Survivors

    CHAMPVA, the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides reimbursement for most medical expenses – inpatient, outpatient, mental health, prescription medication, skilled nursing care, and durable medical equipment. To be eligible for CHAMPVA, an individual cannot be eligible for TRICARE (the medical program for civilian dependents provided by the Department of Defense formerly called CHAMPUS) and must be one of the following:

    1. The spouse or child of a veteran who VA has rated as permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability.

    2. The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability or who, at the time of death, was rated permanently and totally disabled.

    3. The surviving spouse or child of a person who died in the line of duty, and not due to misconduct. In most of these cases, these family members are eligible for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA.

    A surviving spouse under age 55 who remarries loses CHAMPVA eligibility on midnight of the date of remarriage. However eligibility may be re-established if the remarriage is terminated by death, divorce or annulment effective the first day of the month after the termination of the remarriage or Dec. 1, 1999, whichever date is later. A CHAMPVA eligible surviving spouse who is 55 or older does not lose eligibility upon remarriage.

    Individuals who have Medicare entitlement may also have CHAMPVA eligibility secondary to Medicare. However eligibility limitations apply to those with Medicare Part A only. The following individuals must be enrolled in Medicare Part B to establish CHAMPVA eligibility: (1) under age 65 and entitled to Medicare Part A; (2) 65 or older when first eligible for CHAMPVA and entitled to Medicare Part A; (3) 65 or older prior to June 5, 2001, who are otherwise entitled to CHAMPVA and have Medicare Part A and B; (4) 65 or older on or after June 5, 2001, who are entitled to Medicare Part A.

  • Clavos

    To complete the job, now you have to look up who’s eligible for TRICARE, Silas.

    There’s more than what you found:

    There are some child diseases for which the children of incountry Vietnam vets are eligible too, Spina Bifida is one, I believe there are others as well.

  • Thank you, Clavos. The search continues…

  • I just saw this and it mad eme laugh…

    “Between the Handys and the Andys, it’s no wonder the world is a mess.”

    Holy Mackeral Cindy! Pick a side!

  • Well, I’m glad someone’s laughing. I’ve been mostly sneering and growling this morning.

    Okay Andy, I pick the outside of both those sides. Think about that.

  • My cat’s been sneering and growling for two days.

    She’s in heat.

  • “As I argued in my last article, we don’t need no stinking experts, technocrats or lawyers running this country, but ordinary people with judgment, like you and me.”

    By all means, let’s do away with all the lawyers, all the “experts” – by that I presume meaning anyone who actually “knows” anything about anything. So, we don’t need no stinkin’ scientists or economists either, right? While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the doctors and the teachers and anyone else who is educated beyond high school, or who purports to know anything. That line of thinking worked out so well for the Cambodians, didn’t it? (BTW – Some of you might want to consider running your sheepskins through the nearest shredder.)

    Yes, let’s have ALL decisions made by good ole’ working class Joes over the internet while they’re knocking back a few brewskis, bringing to bear their finely tuned “common sense,” judgmental prowess. I’m sorry Roger & Joanne, but satire or not, this is all idiocy – nothing more substantive than irrational venting. I certainly don’t buy into the notion that ALL pols are in the tank. Some doubtless are, but then so are people from all walks of life probably including (gasp) a number of BC bloggers.

    I agree that there are pols who shouldn’t be allowed out in public – Michelle Bachman for instance. I also agree that the system has been badly deformed. But that force comes not FROM the pols, but rather from the money – the special interests – mainly big corporate America. It becomes a case of survival of the fittest for politicians. I doubt that any of us have even a vague notion of the day to day pressures with which politicians at all levels must deal. It’s very easy to be self-righteous, accusatory and condescending from a distance. Even the lowliest House seat can cost millions in campaign money to win. Walk a mile… as they say. And, as Barney Frank once said at a raucous townhall meeting – “We politicians are no great shakes, but you voters are no day at the beach, either.”

    While not mentioned above, neither am I for term limits. Do we really want a Congress filled with rookies? Would you prefer to have that brain surgery performed by the guy fresh out of med school, the ink not yet dry on his diploma? Frankly, a Congress full of neophytes would be just what the doctor ordered for lobbyists and the big bucks influence people. Newbys tend to be far more gullible and far less knowledgeable about the rules of the game in DC. Young idealism quickly gets slapped upside the head.

    I agree the system, as it has evolved, sucks in many ways. But making wholesale changes would be a recipe for disaster.

  • Baronius,

    The order of scribes – the equivalent of present-day experts – was always part of the court, be it the Emperor or whatever executive. But the technocrats never ruled, only provided the support staff for the executive and the decision-makers. So don’t be taking things out of context. We do need lawyers and accountants and experts, but not in the position of power – only as clerks.

    I think it’s a rather titillating idea.

  • Oh, jeez!

    Congrats on your Law Degree or Phd or whatever – now you can be some blue collar, red neck president’s hired help. Right!

    And who were those kings and queens and emperors or whatever? History is strewn with uneducated idiots who achieved a throne via either familial connections or often through mass murder. Generally, they knew nothing and ruled in kind. If a few so called technocrats actually ran things, we might not be in such a crap hole now.


  • Henry VIII or Elizabeth the Great weren’t rednecks, B-man. The nearest that comes to mind is GWB – and it was Cheney’s presidency.

    You mean to say you have no faith in the common man?

    The Greek polis was being run by an assembly – all ordinary citizens.

  • Read a bit of history. The overwhelming majority of royal leaders throughout human history have been total murderous idiots!

    Henry VIII? A truly grand example! No, neither Henry, who murdered most of his wives, nor Elizabeth, who murdered her cousin, were rednecks. But that’s who you are suggesting should be handed access to power in this country. This includes christian fundamentalist theocrats, birthers, deathers and a whole plethora of nut bags, most of whom, btw claim to be Republicans. Chances are, that given your postion, you would be considered too much of a brainiac to qualify. You’d just have to be content with being Senator Bubba’s clerk.

    Faith in the common man? Not really. I would not feel particularly comforted if Bill the Harley guy down the street, who’s entire face is covered with tattoos including eye balls on his eye lids, was suddenly elevated to making laws or sitting in the Oval Office with his finger on the atomic button. I don’t suppose big corporate interests could manage to sway good ole, everyman, Bill.

    The Greek polis? Ordinary citizens? Mmmm. Not really. Look at who in the ancient Greek world were considered “citizens.” Do you actually believe such a system could work for a country of over 300 million people and, perhaps 20 times the size of ancient Greece? How quaint!

    Baritone who is NOT Baronius!!!!!!!!

  • You totally misread what I am saying. If this is supposed to be the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, then how are the people being represented by the Washington bunch. Ordinary doesn’t mean dumb or uneducated. You’re setting up a strawmman’s argument.

    It’s really surprising, B-man, that you’re such an elitist. One never would have known. And yest, in all likelihood, I wouldn’t qualify. But then again, education is not a disqualification. Lack of character and integrity are.

    So stay content, then, with the way things are and don’t bitch about politicians selling you and the country down the river.

  • Clavos

    . It becomes a case of survival of the fittest for politicians. I doubt that any of us have even a vague notion of the day to day pressures with which politicians at all levels must deal.


    Nor do I care.

    They all volunteered.

    If they can’t stand the heat, the door’s thataway, and watch your ass on the way out.

  • And who would be any better at it? Any of us here at BC or about anywhere else with such high mindedness would, I would bet a zillion dollars – if I had maybe 20 zillion dollars, (otherwise I’ll have to limit the bet to $10 bucks,) that we would simply become them. We would all succumb to those pressures to one degree or other.

    I’m hardly an elitist. But I do believe that educated people who actually know something should be running government. Roger, your argument holds no water because you set limits by defining just WHO the common man is.

    And once again, who put all those supposed bastards in DC? WE DID! At one time or another most of us have jumped on somebody’s band wagon and cheered them on to victory, or at least cast our votes for various candidates, only to have them disappoint. None of them live up to expectations or to their billing, their promises. None of us would rise above it, either. Again, it’s easy to be sanctimonious from afar. Frank Capra would likely not have been so pleased with Mr. Smith a couple of years down the road after he had learned to “fit in,” to work within the system. Mr. Smith would have been obliged to explain the “realities” to Mr. Capra.

    Roger, your notions about how the system works – or doesn’t work – is naive. Entering politics almost by definition means selling one’s soul to one degree or another. Nothing short of wholesale – and likely violent – revolution is going to change anything of substance in DC. And then what would you have besides chaos? You will have traded one set of demi-gods for another. It is simply human nature. You know – power corrupts… yada, yada, yada.

    Maybe what this country needs IS a revolution. The hippies thought so in the 60s and 70s. But any kind of real revolution would probably not be very comfortable for most of us. It is obvious that there are a lot of people who would love to see it happen. People with delusions of grandeur who basically just want to point their guns at somebody and shoot them. Maybe I’ve slid off the edge of this particular thread, but it seems to me that promoting any kind of substantive change in how we are governed – or how we govern ourselves – is an invitation to a lot of death and destruction. Are you ready for that? Are you itchin’ for a fight? A REAL fight, to the death? I’m not.


  • Interesting comment, Baritone. Entering politics almost by definition means selling one’s soul to one degree or another.

    Maybe we should be more specific in that statement to make it accurate.

    Seeking to stand for public office almost by definition means selling one’s soul to one degree or another.

    If you insist on having a body of legislators, you have a whole series of people seeking to stand for public office who have to sell their souls to their sponsors to one degree or another. That is what makes Joanne’s proposal so interesting – a whole pack of these corruptible slobs are eliminated.

  • B-man,

    I guess I must have hit a soft spot for you to respond with such vehemence. Good. I’ve always maintained that arguments within the Left are more substantive and interesting.

    I don’t want to write a whole book, but I’ll have to cover some of the main points – to alleviate misconceptions. Later, my man.

  • Oy!

    …promoting any kind of substantive change in how we are governed – or how we govern ourselves – is an invitation to a lot of death and destruction.


  • And who would be any better at it?

    No one would be any better at it. So, why keep up the charade?

    Why continue to say that this is the only way things can work, while at the same time knowing that things aren’t really working and that no one could make them work any better?

  • Why does any small group have to speak for the entire populace? How can that ever work?

  • Cindy, give us a break. That is a vast generalization, and just plain silly.

    There are about a million counterexamples of things which do work, and about 10 million disasters that could happen if government suddenly disappeared tomorrow.

    Yes, please criticize the shortcomings of government: but use specifics.

    And please also be willing to acknowledge that government and politicians do manage to accomplish some good in the world.

    Refusing to make that distinction is intellectual laziness.

  • Handy,

    If you don’t see inherent contradiction(s) in Baritone’s position, better look again. What Cindy expressed in #70 is not a gross or vast generalization but the nonsensical which ought to stare everyone in the face. And as to #71, yes we do have a problem with adequate representation. If we didn’t, why is everyone bitching about the people we elect to run for office, the Dems and the Reps. So either put up or shut up (I’m not addressing this to you personally).

  • Again, I ask Roger AND Cindy: Are you ready for the consequences of any radical change in our system? How many dead citizens is it worth? I guess it could be argued that we can stand to lose, oh I don’t know, a few million or so. After all, it is getting crowded in some parts of the country.

    Or do you expect that any such change will go quietly – that the powers that be will just oblige by standing aside with a wink and a smile? Considering the ongoing hullabaloo over proposals for changes in health care, it seems to me that making any of the changes Joanne outlines would, as I’ve noted be tantamount to revolution. Substantively changing the structure of government means changing the constitution. Yeah, that’ll go down smoothe as silk. No problemo.

    I agree with Handy. Sure there are things that don’t work at all levels of government. Change generally comes incrementally. Again, looking at the health care mess, it is obvious that there are a plethora of different perspectives – a lot of people have different dogs in this fight, all determined to protect their own territory. Do you imagine that making wholesale changes in government – ie: doing away with Congress! – would be any less contentious?

    Idiot gun toters have taken to the streets to intimidate people who support changes in health care. Bullits will fly and people will die if serious proposals to change the basic structure of our government were to come to the fore. It’s simply nonsense.

    A lot of people believe that the manner in which our government operates – its basic structure – may be the best in the world. That’s certainly what most conservatives believe, as do a number of liberals. That it has transmogrified over the years into a bloated immovable hulk is only natural. Its the nature of the beast. But the “beast” is a mother with lots of tits. Kill the beast and you kill all of us sucklings. It wouldn’t be pretty.

    Oh, and Roger, you say: “…a whole pack of these corruptible slobs are eliminated.”

    Again with the blanket condemnation. I don’t buy it. And no matter how any kind of restructuring would be effected, there will always be those who find ways to use or beat the system to their advantage. Corruptions would still abound. It’s just human nature. This makes no more sense than my generation’s call to revolution in the 60s and 70s. It was naive and without thought or merit. If it had actually happened, a blood bath would have ensued.

    I am a lefty, but I am also aware that the ideological rift brought on largely by the 60s counter culture and the right wing opposition lives on with us today, and is, if anything even more pronounced and a lot less cordial or polite.


  • B-man,

    the consequences gonna happen regardless of my wishes on the matter; what we’re doing here, you and I, are kicking the idea around, that’s all. As I said, I’m gonna respond.

  • Oh, and Roger, you say: “…a whole pack of these corruptible slobs are eliminated.”

    You really do not want to recognize that I exist, do you, Baritone? Roger said no such thing – I did.

    In the end, what your country will need is a revolution to set right all the crap that has been done wrong – just like we need one here. And now that you are a debtor nation, any such revolution will bring the creditors (and whatever they can muster for armies) in to demand their pound of flesh….

  • Ruvy,

    Sorry for my mis-attribution. My response is the same, though. It’s so easy to push for change from the comfort of our computer desks. I know your life in Israel is generally fraught with more real dangers than life here, but, still, a wholesale change in our system would almost doubtless result in significant violence. I am far more in favor of fostering change from within the system. I understand that is slower and filled with failure and frustration, but at least blood wouldn’t be flowing in our gutters. Far too many people have died for what have often been someone’s half baked ideas.


  • For once, I agree with you entirely, Ruvy. I don’t see the point of their complaining about the politicians while they are not willing to do anything about it. It’s like saying the ball game is over and that the people are impotent. Well, maybe they are, but in that case shut up and eat shit.

  • Ah, but a large # of people were willing to foster change. They voted for Obama. They knocked on doors, made phone calls, rallied. They’ve gone to town meetings. They’ve written their congresspersons. They’ve involved themselves in government at all levels in many different ways. Hey, some of them have even blogged! Not everyone sits on their hands. Some, or at least one, has taken it upon himself to quote every word Milton Friedman ever uttered. In short, many people are working for change from within.

  • No disagreement, B-man. And what ever gave you the idea that I’m advocating an armed revolt. But if we keep on complaining about our politicians, then perhaps we ought to do something about it at the ballot box – like adopt different criteria, for example, as to the kinds of people we deem eligible for office. Along with radical campaign finance reforms to level the playing field so that not only the rich could afford to run, we just might be able to make sufficient dent in populating both houses with the kind of representatives that would be less susceptible to corruption and graft.

    Just an idea.

  • lee

    barney frank is an arrogant little (MAYBE MAN)who is trying to cover his but,not all the time,toact like he isnt responsible for mortgage crisis

  • Kim

    We can continue to blame the politicians but remember they are only getting away with what “we the people” have allowed them to get away with for years and years. We do not seem to raise critical thinkers in America. Politicians of both parties sell their goods quite easily to a majority of non-critical thinking beings. There are problems in our political system that could be fixed if the average Joe would fill the streets of America and refuse to go to work until some drastic changes were made to our political system.

    First, absolutely one term NO re-election (would reduce some of the crazy behavior of the politicians).

    Second, get rid of every lobbiest.

    Third, get rid of any pension, perks, bonuses, or retirement to ANY elected official. In other words, elected officials should serve for their love of country, duty, and service rather than as a career, or for power, perks, or any other reason they sit in office for a life-time.

    Fourth, any politician breaking these rules, caught taking a bribe, a perk, family trips, cars, planes, travel, write offs for business dinners, luncheons, parties, or conspiring with ANY ONE to obtain any of these things PUNISHABLE by jail minimum 5-years, and a hefty fine! No more presidential pardons, and no more special jails for politicians where they eat well and have family visits. Politicians who get caught with their hands in the cookie jar are crooks and deserve to be treated like all other crooks- throw them into the same jails occupied by other American and non-American criminals. Finally, if caught violating such rules, trial by jury- yes, the American people decide if the crook is guilty or not. In addition, the politician who is caught must use his or her own funds to mount their own defense. And absolutely NO working or collecting a pay check from the people while they are under investigation.

    Fifth, there should be locations in every town across this country where a 24 hour feed goes directly to the White House. People should be able to go into various booths in these locations (that operate 24 hours a day 7 days a weeks)and voice their concerns, suggestions, frustrations etc. These should be viewed by staffers who do not work for either party but for we the people under government watch dog groups. And our elected politicians should be required to answer to the common concerns voiced by we the people (as evidenced in the video streams). I am sick to death of hearing politicians make statements such as “what the American People want is….” The truth is many of them, not all of them, have no idea of what the average American wants. They have their own ideals and rather than serve the American people they push to fulfill their own agenda.

    Believe me it pains me to say this because I am an American and I love my country but our politicians are indeed a reflection of our citizenry. Many politicians do not feel a connection to the citizens of the country and the citizens of the country do not feel connected to each other. Consider our present day debate on health care. We all know that millions of American’s do not have health care. Yet, we as a country cannot even come together to solve this problem.

    Everyone seemed fine going to war when it was perceived that Iraq was the cause of 911- hell, run the nations debt up to whatever it needs to be. But, when it comes to the thought of having debt for health care for our own countrymen we are selfish as hell. We will readily throw trillions into other countries without concern as to who is getting what or whether or not they deserve to get any of the trillions we spend on them. But when it comes to our own country we the people have definite decisions as to who is deserving and who is not. We are unbelievably judgmental. We fear the terrorists from abroad and that fear allows us to run up a debt that our own great grandchildren will be unable to pay off. But consider spending a fraction of that on the health of our countrymen or rebuilding our infrastructure while providing jobs for our countrymen, well that would make us a bunch of socialists.

    Hell, we treat our criminals in jail far better than we treat the children of our country. I mean “we the people” (taxpayers) provide criminals with health and dental care. But coming from a country in which rapists, murderers, and pedophiles can get married in jail and gay Americans in most states can’t, I guess those of us with common sense shouldn’t be surprised. And too there are those other crazy COSTLY policies that our country engages in such as “don’t ask don’t tell” And for the record: No I am not gay, I just do not see gay people as a threat to my way of life, my marriage, or any other crazy notion floating around out there. I don’t know about anyone else but if the town I live in was under assault by terrorists and a group of my townsmen were getting together to fight back I could care less if they were straight or gay as long as they were on my side! I mean doesn’t any one get how very stupid some of our policies are, and how these policies reflect the thinking in America? Thank God, at last, our president had the guts to take a stand against the stupidity of “don’t ask don’t tell.” But how much time, money, and energy has gone into supporting such a ridiculous policy? How many good men and women were persecuted under such a policy or the policies before that one in which gay men and women were targeted? We certainly can’t reflect on the witch hunts and persecutions of the past with disgust as we behave in the same ways today.

    I think I have made my point. As long as we are willing to argue and spend so much time on these types of issues how and the heck can we ever get any real meaningful policies moved along? While I KNOW I have gone on and on I am desperately trying to make several points. One is that the political structure needs to be changed to discourage corruption. In addition, we must remember that Politicians are elected in Districts, by people who are hell bent in deciding moral issues for others, and by people who feel disconnected to those who do not reside in their Districts (except of course to dictate their moral judgments on others). Until we change these factors, we will continue to do the same thing regardless as to who is in office running things. Any one can choose the path of corruption… getting rid of the current politicians does little to solve the real problem, which is a system that thrives on and breeds corruption & separatism.

    Of course every now and then we all rally around an injustice, but it is often times to little too late.

    Yes, our politicians and political system is only a reflection of “we the people” who are the loudest. So I recommend that “we the people” with some common sense become louder!

    My recommendation: we make a list of demands that can reduce corruption; and when enough of the common citizenry agrees, we refuse to go to work for one solid week, and march in the streets across the country and demand the politicians change the rules designed to protect them and maintain a climate of corruption.

    When you are ready for this type of movement I AM ALL EARS.

  • Rhett

    I agree that the politians in Washington are completely out of touch with the average American, But we’ll never get them out of there. They would have to be the ones to vote for something as radical as an online government and there is no way they would derail the gravy train like that.