Voter ID laws

Voter identification laws are getting a lot of attention in Virginia this legislative season.

Proponents are correctly noting that ID requirements can help to prevent voter fraud.  Opponents are correctly noting that voter fraud is not a big issue.

Opponents are also claiming that voter ID laws disenfranchise the poor, the elderly, and minorities.   In some way, that’s true.  Those groups are less likely to have ID, though with the possible exception of elderly individuals born before widespread (one might even say mandatory) issuance of birth certificates.  Opponents are claiming that minorities and the poor are less likely to have driver licenses — also (perhaps) true, but irrelevant if the acceptable forms of ID are not limited to drive licenses.

The real purpose of voter ID laws is to prevent unscrupulous political operatives (are there any other kind?) from offering to drive any group of people to polling places (to “exercise their god-given rights”), extolling the virtues of their candidate (and the “evils” of his opponent) during the drive, and thus swaying the elections.  This type of community do-gooder action (“driving people to the polls”) is touted highly, but is actually most often buying a vote.  If an individual calls a campaign headquarters and asks for a ride, it would be reasonable for that campaign to presume the individual will vote for its candidate.  For a campaign to go out to seek out people to take to the polls is disgusting.

I would surmise that amongst those people who would likely not have gone to the polls otherwise, there will be a percentage who do not have, for one reason or another, an ID.  I’d like to see actual data, but apparently it doesn’t prove a thing or the sides would be trotting it out.

Now, one might argue that it is a damn shame there are groups of people in any area who might be subject to such practices.  I’d agree.  That’s also irrelevant to the voter ID issue.

So one party is always afraid the other party will perform such “community service.”

It just so happens this time it’s the Republicans who believe the Democrats have more to gain by using this tactic.  This time, the Republicans believe the Democrats buy votes with promises of government programs (or loss of same).  It has not always been this way.

Hurricane Irene

I’m not much concerned about Hurricane Irene.

As an advocate of personal responsibility, I’m all for preparation and knowledge.  I’ve been watching the storm track for Irene since it became a hurricane, checking every so often (not every hour) for status.  Thursday I learned we had a 40% chance of tropical storm-force winds by today.  Those in the Outer Banks had greater probability of stronger winds.

So why on the planet of the gods is news not able to lead in to a story with “those most likely to see damaging winds and rain should …” or “most of you don’t need to …”?

Oh, for the record, many of us do need to be prepared for power outages; it seems power companies in this area have a hard enough time dealing with average rainstorms, much less anything that might drop a limb onto one of their lines.

And individuals fall into one of three categories.  Fortunately, some say “I’m prepared for the likely eventuality, and know what I’ll do should stuff hit the fan.”  Others prepare to make laxative french toast, buying up milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper.  A third faction fails to make any preparation at all, and expects the government to take care of them if they’re wrong.  That’s not personal responsibility at all.

The media enables the second group, adding to traffic congestion, short tempers, and empty store shelves.  Seems the media assumes everyone is too stupid to make any personal-responsibility decisions for themselves, and must be told what to do and when.  Sort of like most politicians.

 

Edited to add this link to a YouTube video showing the storm not strongly formed at all.

The American Bar Association is on the government-solution bandwagon

The ABA has done it too.   In its Resolution 111-A, it asks the government to help out students who voluntarily take on too much debt.

They’re asking the federal government to alter the terms of loans the individuals took from private corporations — commercial lenders.  Sure, they’re asking the commercial lenders to change terms as well, but the idea of asking the federal government to change loan terms after-the-fact is an anathema to me.

To the ABA and anyone else…

If you want to go to law school, fine.  Figure out how to pay for it, negotiate for the loans if needed, then live up to your end of the contract.  If you make a mistake, live with it.  DO NOT ask Uncle Sam to take care of it for you.

What our government bureaucracy rewards

I would hope civil libertarians have this on their scope:

“Finalists named for top federal workforce awards”

Note what the Washington Post considers noteworthy.  The first one they list is someone who will regulate what goes in to your body.  Now, I’m in no way defending smokers; though I quit over 10 years ago, I’m not the rabid anti-smoker, and don’t care what you do to yours.  What I do find reprehensible is a statement like “We have a fundamental authority now that no other country has.”  Fundamental?  Really?  What they have is an assumed authority based on a fundamental assumption that the government has a right to control you.  In my book. Deyton would be doing a great service if he advertised and educated, so people understand what they’re ingesting, and its effects.  From there, personal responsibility takes over.

I’ve not gone to the full list of nominees. In a couple of past years, some deserving folks have actually been recognized.  This year, I hope it’s not the one the Washington Post is cheering.

What Michelle Obama SHOULD have said …

The 7-year-old told the first lady during a visit last week to New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that her mother had said President Obama was “taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.”

The girl then adding that her mother “doesn’t have papers.” Mrs. Obama tried to reassure her that the president was working to solve the immigration problem and “everybody’s got to work together in Congress to make sure that that happens.”

Mrs. Obama’s response should have made these points:

– Parents are responsible for following laws

– Parents are responsible for teaching their children that we are a nation of laws

– Parents without papers are not legally living in the United States; they are breaking the law

That doesn’t necessarily make the parent a bad person, but it does make the parent a criminal.   “Criminal” means “breaking the law.”

Criminals are those people who choose not to follow laws.  Adults are responsible for the choices they make.  If they make choices that hurt their families, they are still responsible for the choices they make.

America welcomes immigrants.  Many, if not most, Americans trace their ancestry to immigrants within just a few generations.  Immigrants bring incredible diversity to a melting-pot nation.

As it was, Mrs. Obama told that little girl that everything would be okay; that people would be rewarded for breaking the law; and that Congress would overlook all kinds of lawbreaking if it got them votes.

What is a right?

Someone hand me a copy of the new Constitution, please?  The one I haven’t seen yet.  I didn’t get the memo it had been changed, but I’m seeing pieces of evidence.

Apparently, there’s a right to own a house.

Apparently, there’s a right to television reception.

And a right to broadband internet service.

And now, some say a right is being abridged if a student group isn’t recognized on a campus.  If the school doesn’t give them perks, like access to mass e-mail lists, or meeting rooms, or money.

What?????

So, a group isn’t recognized.  Free choice.  There are sound, valid reasons for not admitting everyone to every group.  (I know; I joined a sorority in college.  I don’t now, as a matter of principle, join all-female groups, but I took an oath back then, and I believe in the organization.  For some known-only-to-the-gods reason, fraternities and sororities are exempted, by law.  Another issue altogether, for another time.)  Of course, Young Republican groups don’t want a fervent group of Democrats to join, take over, and re-focus the organization (replace titles as you choose, the point is the same).  And religious groups want their leaders to be followers of that religion (silly as that may be, but again, another topic for another time).

But schools insist to get recognition as a student group — with the perks — you must accept everyone who chooses to join as a member.

Where’s the beef?

This is not a case of the group’s rights being trampled.  There are no rights being trampled.  The group is free to form, organize, meet, whatever.  It is not entitled to perks.  Perhaps the students should focus on learning logic; they might then be able to see the difference.

Hello, Uncle Sam? I’m over 21. Adult. I vote. I pay taxes….

LOTS of taxes.

But Uncle Sam wants to regulate how much salt, fat, trans fats, sugar, beef, pork, and who knows what else I eat.  It’s not enough the First Lady is imposing her will on kids, with or without the consent of their parents, but the FDA will regulate what someone (in a “free market economy”, by the way) can sell me.  No wonder Mr. Obama is/was reading The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria.

So much for choice.

When I was a kid, I used to hear adults say “What???? I’m free, white, and over 21.”  I always wondered why they had to be white.  And when I was a teenager, someone decided we were adults after 18  (unless we want to drink, or buy a gun; then we’re children).

The point is that as every day goes by we’re being treated more and more as children, and we’re not going to the ballot boxes in droves to say “No”.  That’s the part I really don’t understand.

Never thought I’d thank the Washington Post

The Post printed a fabulous editorial piece on Sunday, though.  By Christopher M. Fairman, the piece was headlined “Saying it hurtful.  Banning it is worse.”  The piece presents a thoughtful response to the do-gooder movement to remove the word “retarded” from the English language.

I have such an emotional response to this issue that I have quit supporting the ARC of Northern Virginia (oh, by the way, ARC comes from Association of (for?) Retarded Citizens) and their rabid stance on it.

Yes, I understand.  Being called “retard” hurts,  as does being called “fatso” or “four-eyes”.   But people need to understand sometimes the meaning of a word is separated from a faddish use.  Legislating away the use of the word “retard” may make some feel good, but it will not change the fact that some people have a retarded intellectual, social, emotional, or multi-faceted development.

I sympathize with the effort in the pledge “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”  (The pledge is from http://www.r-word.org (as if that isn’t patronizing … like I can’t understand what the word might be?)  The kicker is in “… the derogatory use …”.  If you can’t tell the difference, legislation is not going to help you.

As the parent of a retarded son, I feel it important to retain the distinction.  My son is retarded … his intellectual capacity is significantly less than that of most of his peers, and his social development lags.   He is not stupid in any way, though.  No, he can’t read or write.  He doesn’t understand a cold shoulder, or the concept of what most people consider personal space.  He has difficulty with any number of abstract concepts.  But he understands his world, and in a way, is probably much more fortunate than many of us.  He doesn’t question his abilities, or doubt himself, or long for impossibilities.

But as much as I would challenge anyone who derogatorily call him names, I also challenge those who think they’re “doing something” to get over their paternalism and offer a supportive hand instead.

Even the Wall Street Journal tells only half a story …

I’m only partially joking.  The Wall Street Journal pegs the cost of federal government shutdown at $100 million per day in lost productivity.  If you look at the money the government spends when it is “productive”, are we really losing anything?

Those of us who live in the DC area can see that, while the national news may show a snow-covered capitol building, the real story is the 20-30″ of snow the region cannot adequately remove.  The major streets, congested at best on a normal day, are restricted to 2/3, or even 1/3, their normal width — removing a lane.  Add to that lane markers are not visible, and the “me first” mentality of this area, and you can imagine how many lives and how much property was saved by this shutdown.

Imagine the “me firsters” parking in lots that are clogged with snowbanks.  Hell, parking is atrocious enough on the best of days in this area.  (Governments at all levels will “help” us, though, by mandating hi-rise construction near Metro stops so we can pay a corrupt quasi-government entity for poor, unsafe service while sharing oxygen atoms with the neighbors — but that’s another story altogether.)

If only the House and Senate would stay away rather than stay in session, we could probably save that $100M several times over.

But it doesn’t apply to the elite

Governors, mayors, and all officials were asking people to stay home so plows could get through.  This is one of the heaviest single snowstorms to hit the DC area since recordkeeping began.

But the Democrats held a winter meeting.

Obama thanked Democrats for being “willing to brave a blizzard. Snowmageddon here in D.C.”

During the Christmas snowstorm, some were so hot to vote on their health insurance bills (not healthcare — we haven’t seen a healthcare bill yet), both Jim Webb and Barbara Mikulski touted their willingness to drive (or be driven, in Mikulski’s case) through snow, against advice.