December 4, 2005

A Common-Sense Column on Voting

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:11 pm

This guy’s making wayyyyyy too much sense. What’s he doing in The Toledo Blade (probably requires registration)?

Greg Franke actually has the nerve to think that the apathetic and uninformed shouldn’t vote. Well of course they shouldn’t:

Please, apathetic citizens, forget about voting

THE belief held by a substantial majority of respondents to a recent bipartisan poll that American voting practices should be changed to encourage more voter participation is misguided for several reasons.

This is the case primarily because the whole issue is based on a widespread but false premise that has become something of a sacred cow in the United States and most democratic countries.

Namely, that it is a citizen’s civic duty to vote. That noble sentiment is not in itself misguided. In an ideal world, where all citizens strove to inform themselves about the issues and their consequences, total participation in the electoral process would be a good thing.

Unfortunately, in the real world this is simply not the case. It should seemingly be self-evident that those either ignorant of or indifferent to matters of public policy should not be begged to cast a vote that will undoubtedly reflect that ignorance and, or, indifference. In fact, it would seem much better not to coax them to do something they are disinclined to do, but rather let the important issues of the day be decided by those with the greatest stake and the most informed perspective on those issues.

However, unassailable though this observation may be, this has not stopped the incessant cry that low voter turnout in America is some kind of “crisis” that must be “rectified.”

In addition, whether one accepts the idea that low voter turnout is no cause for alarm, the fact remains that attempts to prod unwilling people to the polls have not been successful.

Some of these attempts would even be funny if they weren’t such a sad indication of American political apathy.

Consider the “motor voter” initiative whereby one could register to vote when taking care of business at the motor vehicle bureau.

….. it was thought that allowing people to register in the course of other (presumably more important) activities would cause them to vote.

But alas, registering and actually voting are two different things. At times it can be indeed a laughable spectacle: Despite registration cards lying mere inches away from motor vehicle patrons, clearly inviting them to register, it was decreed that even this consideration was not enough. Bureau personnel were instructed that they had to actually ask the people if they wished to register, and in some cases were even called on the carpet if they didn’t.

It seems that this omission constituted the “disenfranchising” of prospective voters – a notion even sillier than the one fashionable five years ago that voters whose ballots were discounted because they failed to follow instructions were somehow “disenfranchised.”

….. The adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink was never more apt. A similar scenario will undoubtedly recur if the reforms presently under consideration are enacted.

….. And anyway, there’s nothing wrong with the notion that voting should entail at least some small sacrifice. If people can be dissuaded from voting so easily, maybe it’s good that they choose not to. The essential point is that while there is nothing inherently wrong with many of the proposed measures, they are nonetheless harmful because they serve only to reinforce the fallacy that everyone – even those with no such proclivity whatsoever – should feel bound to vote.

On the other hand, some of the proposals recently debated would in fact be downright dangerous. For example, large-scale expansion of absentee balloting with no reason required, or allowing voters to cast ballots any time during a weeks-long interval prior to the election date, are simply an invitation to fraud.

….. That’s simply too great a risk to take simply to proffer chronic non-voters the type of opportunity they have historically not availed themselves of anyway.

The undeniable fact is that the present system, while not totally devoid of minor inconveniences, cannot in any way be construed as erecting unreasonable barriers to those truly wishing to vote.

….. In short, it’s the civic duty of citizens to cast an informed vote (and by extension to take the trouble to inform themselves). Until this happens, reforming our voting practices will be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. In the interim, let’s invite the apathetic among us to just stay home.

Supplemental points: If you don’t vote, don’t complain. If you don’t vote and still complain anyway, I could care less. And, note to pollsters: If someone isn’t a voter, I don’t care one bit what that person’s opinion is, nor should legislators or newspeople. Non-voters choose to make themselves irrelevant, and should receive the treatment they deserve.

Not a WORM: The New York Daily News Exposes “4-Year Scandal of 9/11 Billions”

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:24 pm

Dec. 5 Welcome and Correction: Welcome Michelle Malkin readers! Michelle does a great job at her post itemizing some of the gory details of the 9/11 aid abuse. This post is about how The Daily News’ report is an example of the kind of work only MSM is (currently) up to. Also, I should have known that Michelle did a related column on New Jersey’s misuse of Homeland Security funds.

This is the kind of reporting we used to get routinely from The Mainstream Media in the US.

Since many of them are now WORMs (Worn Our Reactionary Media), they would treat this story, and apparently have treated it, like Superman treats Kryptonite, because much of it ultimately goes back to the conduct of New York’s two Democrat senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton, as well as New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor George Pataki, both in the early days after the World Trade Center Towers fell, and in the past four years as the federal government has meekly and occasionally attempted to provide adult supervision over the $20 billion-plus given to New York State and New York City for 9/11 recovery.

Not The New York Daily News, and major kudos to them.

The only hint (update–see top) that I have seen all these years that the 9/11 money has not been well handled is one column written by Michelle Malkin in December 2001, three months after the terrorist attacks, about excessive funds of relatively nominal amounts in relation to the total federal aid (a few hundred thousand) distributed to Asian-American social services groups assisting people somehow affected by 9/11 in Chinatown, which is far (in Manhattan terms) from where the attacks took place. Other than that, I’ve only seen occasional stories of money disputes between Uncle Sam and the City and State that apparently were resolved and quickly disappeared from coverage.

But let’s face it. Michelle Malkin is only one person (though it sometime seems like she’s three), and even she knows that to fully vet bigger stories you need to work with others, as she has with Brian Maloney of Radio Equalizer exposing Air America’s ongoing financial and other problems (Michelle and Brian began their collaboration shortly after Brian broke the story).

To dig into a story like the use of the 9/11 money, you need lots of bodies, something the blogosphere simply does not currently have assembled in one place (though developments are, as they say, ongoing). You also need a consistent attention span of many months, if not years, on the part of everyone involved. The Daily News has the troops (their investigative team had five reporters and a managing editor), they used them, and they’ve busted the doors wide open.

Here are links to the Daily News’ work published yesterday:

The Daily News’ introduction to the story says “Today, the Daily News Investigative Team begins an in-depth examination of the federal government’s Sept. 11 disaster recovery program for New York City.” So it looks like they’re not done.

Here’s the bottom line:

….. a four-month Daily News investigation of the $21.4 billion disaster recovery package reveals that major elements of the aid process were procedurally flawed — from the determination of how much money was supposedly needed, to how it was distributed, to how it was actually spent and ultimately, to how little oversight there was over the spending. In effect, no one was watching.

As a result, 9/11 recovery aid was used to finance a plethora of projects that taxpayers elsewhere could be forgiven for characterizing as old-fashioned pork-barrel spending.

Read the items published today and the ones that are to come. Make sure there’s cold water around, because the content might otherwise make you reach your boiling point.

UPDATE, Dec. 5: 9/11 Families for America is calling for, among other things, an “immediate recall of all remaining federal funds from the LMDC. Further, we ask that the building of the 9/11 memorial and museum be turned over to the National Park Service. And we ask for a full audit and investigation of monies spent by New York state and city, as we as by the LMDC, to date.”

UPDATE 2, Dec. 5: Whoa–The Daily News series index page now has five more stories in its series at the index page, including mob involvement, bribery and kickbacks, no-bid contracting, and politicians’ calls for an investigation.

S.O.B. Alliance Member Porkopolis Writes Up Schmidt Dec. 3 Town Hall Meeting; Other Points

Filed under: OH-02 US House — Tom @ 8:15 am

The Porkopolis post covers the large majority of the meeting’s substance.

Other points to add:

  • (also updated at original post) — In her response to an audience member’s question about her November 18 House floor speech, she noted in her recitation of the previous day’s events (Nov. 17) that she went quickly into a press briefing, read a statement, and quickly left. This appears to seal the deal beyond doubt that she wasn’t there when Congressman Dreier mentioned that John Murtha was a Marine 15 minutes before she made her statement. I also had a chance to ask her near the end of the question-and-answer period if she was present when Dreier made his statement, and she said she was not.
  • At least two questioners expressed concern over the proven reluctance of retailers this holiday shopping season to have employees say the word “Christmas” or to have that word in any of their promotional literature. Schmidt supported the notion that you can be tolerant and respectful of other belief systems and still use the word “Christmas” to describe December 25 and in greetings to others. Apparently the Cincinnati suburb of Madeira named an annual Christmas festival held Saturday “Holiday Fest” for the first time this year because of legal concerns. State Rep. Michelle Schneider and local talk radio host Bill Cunningham are replacing that sign after the festival is over with their own sign wishing residents a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
  • Schmidt received what I would call warm applause at least a couple of times during the presentation and at the end.
  • I saw no evidence of any crowd antagonism towards her as a result of her House floor speech or the events that followed it. In fact, I believe she had the audience instinctively on her side from the start (in contrast to the smaller Montgomery meeting I attended in mid-October, where I would say the attitude of the few non-politicians there was neutral and in one case almost hostile).
  • I was also struck by how well she handled herself and how at ease she appeared to be (also true of the October Montgomery meeting), and how sharply that contrasted with what I heard during her interview with Cunningham before Thanksgiving.
  • The only flaw I would note is that she came close to but didn’t always repeat or paraphrase each audience member’s question, as it was difficult to hear the questions in the grade-school gym where the meeting was held.

Positivity: Vatican ordains first priests in Vietnam

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:11 am

The first since the country fell in 1974: