The Jury Talks Back

7/27/2009

Updated: Shut Up About the Birth Certificate Already

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 11:00 am

Please, shut up about Obama’s birth certificate.  It’s stupid, you’re wrong, there is no controversy, and, rhetorically, it’s a sure-fire loser.

I wish I had something more to contribute than paste, but Philip Klein at The American Spectator kills it:

Up until now, I have never posted about President Obama’s birth certificate, because I don’t want to give those who claim he is not a U.S. citizen the attention they so desperately seek. I don’t even want to describe the matter as a “controversy,” because to do so suggests that there is a serious dispute over Obama’s place of birth. To any sane human being, there is no controversy. Obama has produced anauthentic certificate of live birth from the state of Hawaii that clearly shows he was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii at 7:24 p.m. State officials have confirmed the document as legitimate and have stated that such facts would have to be verified by the state before they appear on the document. And if that isn’t enough, the fact is corroborated by a contemporaneous newspaper birth announcement.

Update:  William A. Jacobson of Legal Isurrection kicks the Birthers when they’re down. Jacobson writes,

Which gets me to the Obama birth certificate conspiracy theory, to wit, the claim that Obama was not born in the U.S.A., despite the official Hawaiian record of his “live birth” and contemporaneous newspaper announcements. It is this latter evidence that seals the deal for me. Much like the craziness regarding Trig Palin and the ice measurements, to accept that 48 years ago someone had the foresight to plant newspaper stories in anticipation of Barack Hussein Obama becoming president half a century later just isn’t credible. As Obama himself has proclaimed, would anyone who wanted him to become President have given him that middle name? If they were so smart as to plant stories in the newspaper, why not give him a name like William Jefferson Obama or George Herbert Walker Obama?

Also, please see Edward Feser’s The Trouble with Conspiracy Theories.  It lets us know why the Birthers are wrong on a metaphysical level.

Updated: Tape from the Gates Incident

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 10:06 am

White, Black, or Hispanic?

911 Tape from the Gates Arrest

UPDATE:

Dispatch Audio from the Gates Arrest

Reforming California’s Politics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 9:12 am

Why is California’s politics so screwed up?

Is it the people, the climate, some sort of weird California foo-foo, or something more concrete and structural?

Tom Karako of the Claremont Institute thinks he has the answer. In an opinion piece entitled “Putting California back together” from Sunday’s L.A. Times, Karako identifies six structural deficiencies of California’s Constitution.  He offers  some recommendations for changes that need to be made in order to solve our persistent political messes.  Indeed, his argument amounts to the statement that no amount of post-partisanship, good faith, or putting our differences aside and working towards the good of all Californians are ever going to solve our underlying problems.  Karako writes,

If this year’s budget quagmire in Sacramento has you thinking there must be a better way, there is. To the extent that California is ungovernable today, it is partly because its legislative and executive branches are too weak and dysfunctional to resist entrenched special interests and non-elected bureaucracies. Fixing these problems requires constitutional change. It won’t be easy, but the time has come to do it.

The six include moving to a part-time legislature, putting in a hard spending cap, extending the budgeting cycle to two years, eliminating the two-thirds majorities needed to pass a budget, unifying the executive branch, and repealing ballot-box budgeting.

I agree with most of Karako’s recommendations.  I don’t like the notion of the hard spending cap.

Part of California’s problem, because of ballot-box budgeting, is that its politicians have so little recourse to prudence or discretion.  Many of their choices are already made for them.  Aristotle identified prudence as the epitome of virtue in politics.  California’s legislature should be given more responsibility within its proper sphere, not less.

There are two suggestions that I would add that I think Karako missed which would achieve this end.

First, California needs to move towards the elimination of term limits.  A key part of legislative politics, to put it bluntly, is keeping promises and taking responsibility.  With term limits as they’re currently set, our legislators  are always running for the next higher office.  Politicians are self-interested seekers of re-election and who are attempting to forge careers for themselves.  Their motivations and ambitions aren’t connected with their current office, they’re always connected to the next office up the line.  They have no particular interest in the kind of compromise which would ensure long-term success at their current level, mostly because for them there is no long-term.

Also, term limits prevent politicians from getting to know the lay of the land.  They aren’t able to cooperate over the long-term if there is no long-term.  Because no one is going to be in office long enough, they can’t keep their promises to one another, they can’t cooperate, and they can’t forge coalitions.

Second, and connected to the notion of term limits, is the necessity of reform of California’s redistricting process.  Karako’s argument about the two-thirds majority needed to pass a budget is tied in to this.  Have you ever wondered why California elects center-right or center left Governors, but its legislature is far-left?  In California, a politician’s likely challenge is in the primary, not the general election.  Because primaries are more ideological than general election, the politicians they create are likely to be more ideological and less likely to compromise.


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