Back Again?

May 24, 2011

Once again, it has been far too long since I have written.  I am going to do my best to return to writing (I know, you’ve heard it before) consistently this summer.

In any event, DC Voting Rights have been on my mind recently.

I find little in contemporary arguments that would sway me to favor providing DC with voting representation in Congress.  I believe the Constitution is quite clear about apportioning representation among the several States, which DC is not, and providing Congress the power to legislate on behalf of the District, which in my rudimentary interpretation means DC residents are in fact fully represented by 535 congressmen who have a vested interest (all of whom work here and a few of whom live here) in ensuring that the District, as a municipality, functions smoothly and, as the center of the federal government, is free from the banality of local politics.  Imagine if the well-being of DC was vested not in 535 Members of Congress but 3 representatives instead.

I would also suggest that DC residents be careful not to equate the inadequacies of local DC government with a lack of representation at the federal level.  While some may be prone to see DC’s failings as the result of congressional inattention, it may be more appropriate to direct that frustration at corrupt and inept local officials and the parochial machine politics that have come to defined the City for decades.  It is important to note that DC typically receives federal appropriations equal or exceeding amounts allocated to similarly populated states, so shortcomings in DC operations may indicate a blockage in the political pipeline somewhere after the federal government’s role.

I’ll conclude by addressing the recent uproar over unfavorable (to DC) provisions in the FY 2011 continuing resolution.  Here is a big insider secret: the final bill was a compromise!  It is naive to think that DC was the only locality harshly treated in the Bill, and that voting representation would have had a great impact–compromises often involve mutual sacrifices to achieve a greater gain–in this case, continued operation of the ENTIRE federal government.  Stop and think of the negative impact a government shutdown would have had on DC residents and businesses.  City officials’ immature reactions to the Bill’s passage are a stark example as to why DC is continually denied federal voting representation: the necessity to remove operation of the federal government from the vicissitudes of local poli-tricks.

P.S. J-Boehn, I’d take “no taxation” instead of the representation.  Can I get an “Amen!,” Puerto Rico and Guam?

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The Mysterious Alvin Greene Chronicles

July 10, 2010

As it turns out, Alvin Greene, former Senate candidate from South Carolina, actually paid his own candidate filing fee.  Democrats, many of whom though Greene was a Republican plant, should be ashamed of themselves.  Mr. Greene saved his money, and then applied his savings to a pursuit he truly thought worthwhile.  I hope the Democrats refund Mr. Greene’s fee, especially since the state party made him stop his campaign.


He said wha?!

July 2, 2010

The New York Times reported on superlobbyist Tony Podesta.

Remember that presidential campaign? Yeah, the one in 2008 between John McCain and Barack Obama? Right, well you remember when Obama said he was bringing “the politics of change” to Washington?  Remember when Mr. Obama promised that he would end the era of special-interest-dominated politics? Well…keep reading.

NYT writes “Revenue for the more than 11,000 federal lobbyists rose 5 percent last year, to more than $3.5 billion, and fees at the Podesta Group have more than doubled since 2006, to $25.7 million last year, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.”

That 5 percent ain’t inflation my friends.

I find it amusing that the lobbying life is one of a parasite.

President Obama came to Washington promising an era of change, a diminished role for all those “special interests,” but the harder he pushes his legislative agenda, the broader it becomes, the more incentive lobbyists and special interests have to act.

Historically vilified, lobbyist provide a crucial conduit of information between government insiders and those affect by the archane regulations and legislation that flow forth from Washington. Far from the backroom bribery that is generally associated with the trade, lobbying more often provides a service; a two-way door of information. Those outside of government want to know how legislation is going to affect them, for better or worse. Those inside government (generally) want to know how to better craft legislation or whether or not they have good ideas. Lobbyists fill this void.

As surely as the only way to reduce debt is to stop spending, is it possible, that the only way to reduce the power of special interests is to give them fewer bills to influence?


Logic Bombs, Cyberwarfare, and Brent Crude

July 2, 2010

This little snippet comes from NPR, or as we like to call it back East, National Public Radio.

“Perhaps the earliest example of this kind of warfare [Cyber] resulted in a massive explosion at a Siberian oil pipeline in 1982 that was witnessed by U.S. surveillance satellites.

According to former Air Force Secretary Thomas Reed, the Soviets had stolen computer control software for the pipeline from Canada but were unaware that the CIA had encoded a “logic bomb” in the programming that “after a decent interval … reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to pipeline joints and welds.” Ouch.”

I don’t know whats better, the fact that Russia stole something from Canada, or that the CIA had encoded Canadian software with a logic bomb.  Either way, the result was…explosive?

Timely reporting though especially after the Guardian reported a drunk commodities trader managed to trade so many oil futures contracts that he mislead the market about the  supply, demand, and price of crude oil.  Oh the power! Nothing quite like some heavy day drinking followed by heavy night trading.

As the world becomes more interconnected we need to pay closer attention to how we handle cyber security.  These incidents highlight the ease with which a few people can shape global events.

NOTE: American Travisty does not support drinking and trading.  Logic bombing Russia via Canada, well, that is something we can get behind.


Hara-Kiri is not Japanese for Harry Caray

June 15, 2010

What is more disgusting than oil washing up on a Louisiana beach?  The faux outrage expressed by Rep. Ahn Cao (R-LA) today during a House hearing which included testimony from the CEO’s of Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Shell, and BP.

During the hearing, Cao told Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, that instead of resigning McKay should commit hara-kiri, an ancient form of suicide favored by Japanese Samurai.

Now, don’t get me wrong, BP has a lot of explaining to do.  And Mr. Mckay, an American, will be a vital window into the operations of BP, a foreign company.  As a result, Mr. Mckay should neither resign nor kill himself and it is wholly inappropriate for Mr. Cao to propose such a thing.  Instead, let BP focus on fixing its leaking well.  And as for Mr. Cao, he can start working in a bipartisan fashion to fix the broken system of federal regulations which played a large role in this disaster.

The last thing Louisiana and BP needs is another Johnny-come-lately trying to impress voters with how much ass they’re going to kick or how mad at BP they are.


The Mysterious Alvin Greene

June 15, 2010

Perhaps one of my most favorite political stories in….I don’t know maybe  a week, is the story of Alvin Greene.

Mr. Greene, an unemployed political newcomer, managed to knock off a political veteran to win South Carolina’s Democratic Senate primary.  Whats the big deal you ask?  Well, it seems that no one, including Mr. Greene knows how he won.  In his own words, Mr. Greene didn’t have many campaign meetings and only held a few informal rallies.  Democracy at its finest?  Hardly.

Not soon after winning, Mr. Greene was accused of being a Republican plant by Congressman James Clyburn and others; an idea so laughable its almost sad.  Unfortunately, it would seem that Mr. Clyburn simply doesn’t want to accept reality:  South Carolina Democrats are apparently incapable of distinguishing a legitimate candidate from a bumbling, quiet, unemployed veteran.


Back in Business

May 22, 2010

After a long hiatus, I will resume blogging operations this summer.