What “Might” Happen Tuesday

Things to Look for on Election Night

The short answer is that I have no idea. Anyone who says they do, is wrong. They don’t. That’s the TL;DR. If you want it short, you can stop reading now.

For those who stayed (if any), here are a few things to look for. First a caveat. While I am talking about the presidential part of the election, that is possibly no more important than the Senate and House races. I am not forgetting them. In fact, I think that these will be largely bellwethers and as such, are the ones to really pay attention to on Tuesday night.

So, far as the Senate and President go, there are 4 possibilities after Tuesday night (or whenever it’s finally decided).

  1. Trump WinsSenate stays Republican
  2. Trump Wins Senate goes to the Democrats
  3. Biden WinsSenate stays Republican
  4. Biden Wins.Senate goes to the Democrats

For Republicans, the only positive outcome in #1. Even though Trump wins in outcome #2, if the Senate is Democrat, the chances of the House impeaching again and the Senate convicting, are astronomical. Trump will not serve for 4 years. That is almost a guarantee.

Further, this would mean almost certainly that Trump won by a small electoral majority. Leftist groups will be on the streets causing chaos. This is not a scare tactic or red meat for Conservatives. Leftist groups are planning this, and will happen (possibly in any Trump win). It would also mean that Trump will have won with a smaller total number of votes than in 2016 nationally (most likely). That would be more fuel for the “Resist!” crowd.

While #3 is not a dream for Democrats either, it might also create as much chaos as the second option. I also think that this option is the least likely of all possibilities.

Option #4 is a nightmare scenario. Even for average Democrats, I don’t see how it could be palatable. If the Dems had total power of both branches, the Supreme Court would be the only bulwark. The possibility of court-packing would be pretty certain. Ending the Senate filibuster rule would also happen, and the Democrats dream of getting rid of the Electoral College would be on the agenda.

I don’t think that last one would happen. I think that Democrats might try it, but there are still too many Republican or even moderate states. If the Electoral College were to end, the United States would break up. States would leave. But, even if the Supreme Court is packed, that might start to happen too. So, for all but the most Left-leaning of Democrats, having control of both the Presidency and the Senate should be scary.

The only real hopes for a Republican win are either that the polling is wrong by a small amount, and it continues to improve for Trump. In this case, he squeaks out a win. The other possibility is that there is a hidden Red Wave.

I do see those as real possibilities. Trump does seem to have momentum. The nice thing is, early returns will show what is happening. Here are the 5 states to watch on Tuesday night.

  1. Maine. Biden will likely win here. Every poll shows it. Most have him winning by double-digits. Quinnipiac has him winning by 21%. All the polls also show Sara Gideon beating incumbent RINO Susan Collins by single-digits (except for Quinnipiac), but some are even in the margin of error. What to watch: Does Susan Collins win? If she does, then either the polls were not accurate, or we’re seeing a Red Wave. If Susan Collins wins, and Trump loses by single digits, or miraculously wins, we are seeing a Red Wave. If Trump wins Maine, the election is over. Turn off the TV.
  2. North Carolina. Incumber Republican Senator Thom Tillis has been down in the polls by single digits. The numbers have been tightening on this race in recent weeks, and are now within the margin of error. For Trump, this race is basically tied in the polls. Most show the winner within the margin of error, some showing Trump, others showing Biden. What to watch: Does Trump win or lose by a lot? Does Thom Tillis lose by a lot. Slight wins for Trump do not negate the polls, but landslides denote a Red Wave.
  3. Michigan. This state is a huge canary in the coal mine. All polls are showing the incumbent Democrat, Gary Peters, beating Republican challenger, John James. His lead is in the mid to high single digits, outside of the margins or error. What to watch: If Peters wins by a small margin, or if James wins, it might portend a Trump victory. It also might show that Trump is doing very well with black voters. Further, if Trump wins, then it will likely be a bad night for Democrats.
  4. Georgia. Do not pay attention to the Senate race in this one. It’s weird. But in the Presidential election, some polls have Trump ahead, some Biden, some tied. No major poll shows the winner outside of the margin of error. What to watch: The winner here will show how accurate these polls have all really been. It is an early one to watch.
  5. Arizona. While this is a later state to watch, being on the Western side of America (but Arizona will be with the rest of Mountain Time on Tuesday), the polls have recently flipped, showing Trump with a very narrow lead. This is mostly within the margin or error here. What to watch: If Trump wins by more than 5%, then we have a Read Wave for sure.

If you want to research this yourself…

Here are a few good links to look at

Insensitivity

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I worked in management for Sears throughout college.  It was a good job that treated me well and gave me a great opportunity to build a business management resume that has benefited me throughout my whole adult life.  But that was a very different Sears that I have seen over the last 10 years.

Last week, I was on lunch and decided to pull up a YouTube video of Chris Tomlin (a Christian worship music artist) singing a song I’d hurt at church the weekend prior.  As most of us know, YouTube regularly plays videos of sponsored content (a.k.a ads) before your chosen video.  It is part of the monetization that Google brings to all of its products.  When a company pays for an ad to run, they specify all of the criteria that will determine who sees the video.  This includes thing like the geographic location of the watcher, the viewer’s history, and the specific thing searched for, as well as everything in between.  I’m simplifying the process, but it is nearly infinitely customizable, ensuring that the only people who see your video are the exact people you want to see it.

So, I search for Chris Tomlin and the title of the worship song (I don’t remember right now exactly which song it was) and I click on the video.  Before my video starts to play, this is the ad I see (feel free not to watch the whole thing):

I skipped the ad when it gave me a chance and watched my worship video, but the more I thought about it the more upset I became.  I can’t think of a YouTube history on my account that would have been pertinent or anything else that makes sense…unless either they were putting that out to everyone, or they were specifically targeting people watching worship videos.

So, I took to Twitter, incredulous that Sears would be so insensitive.  The screenshot from my Tweet, and Sears’ response not long after, are below.

Sears Tweet

It is 2014,  know.  I am not surprised by a company supporting homosexual marriage.  I don’t like it, but I know it happens.  I don’t support the homosexual mafia attacking companies like Chik-fil-a simply because their CEO said that he believes a marriage is between a man and a woman.  But most of all, I can’t support the incredible rudeness of a company deliberately attacking the morality of Christians in this way.  Whether their Tweet to me was an automatic response to mine or not, it doesn’t matter.

I’m not one to start a boycott and get worked up over anything secular.  I think that secular complies not guided by Christians will not act Christian.  However, companies that deliberately attack Christians is another story altogether.

You know why they do it?  They do it because they know that they will insult us and treat us disrespectfully in whatever ways they choose, and we will buy their products just the same.  We might post a Facebook complaint and feel like we accomplished something, but as soon as the next sale comes along, we will open up our wallets again.

For me, it stops here.  I have drawn a line in the sand.  I have a lot of Craftsman tools and a Sears credit card.  I’m canceling the card and have bought my last tool from them.

—-

Incidentally, if you want the story behind the video (which I actually haven’t seen in its entirety), Sears sponsored a float in the recent Chicago homosexual parade.  On that float they had 4 homosexual couples getting “married” and this video was celebrating that.

Next time you buy a Sears product, know that is where some of your money is going.  If you support that, then great.  If you don’t, you are supporting it anyway with your money.

 

Fractured

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the seriesFractured

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I’ve been watching and reading the news with a different eye recently. It really started a couple weeks ago during the Texas State Republican Convention, at which I was again a delegate this year. During the convention, I sat through caucuses and meetings as well as the proceedings on the convention floor.

A convention is an exciting and busy event, and there is always positioning and debating. That is the point of the whole thing. When delegates from a whole state get together to pick one document that will guide all of what their collective will is going to be concentrated on over the next 2 years, there should be considerable debate.

After the convention each night, I would go home and absorb the day’s news. I consistently heard throughout the weekend about how the split Republican Party was arguing over issues of homosexuality, marijuana, and immigration. There were Republicans protesting, and the organization was undoing itself.

I consistently wondered if perhaps the news media were accidentally at a different convention, or if possibly I was the one attending a different convention entirely. I checked. I was definitely at the right place.   None of what the news was reporting was happening at all.

While platform positions regarding homosexuality-related issues were debated in the committee meetings I’m sure, the body of delegates didn’t discuss it even one time. Let me rephrase that in case you missed it: we didn’t talk about homosexuality even once…not one time…not even in passing…it wasn’t an issue. Yes, the platform does address “reparative therapy.” Anyone who has paid attention to the news knows this is only addressing the push for making it illegal to offer counseling available to those who do not wish to live as practicing homosexuals. This has happened in California already. The platform position only addresses this situation. This part of the platform was not discussed at all, or even voted on separately (lest you think I’m cheating in my prior statements).

Outside of the building on the first night were somewhere between 8 and 12 people with pro-homosexual marriage signs. They were not members of the convention. They were exceedingly kind, and it seemed everyone was kind to them. I firmly support anyone’s right to protest in this way. They were on the evening news and on radio. They must have had great pre-protest press releases for a dozen people to get so much media coverage.

Marijuana was discussed, and any pro-legalization efforts were soundly defeated by the body. There was no mass demonstration. There were however, a lot of pro-pot people who only showed up as delegates prior to that vote and then left shortly afterward. Four of them were in my row. I had never seen them before. One of them leaned over to his friend during the vote and said, “That just shows how dumb these Republicans are.” They were clearly not Republicans, and they were only there to try and create chaos. They failed. But they did have their NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) car out front, made to look like a cop car, but with big pot leaves on it. I have always found it amusing that the organization to legalize pot uses an acronym that proposes an alternate spelling of “normal.”

I took this picture right outside the Convention Center

I took this picture right outside the Convention Center

Immigration was slightly contentious, for about 45 minutes or so. But in reality, there was little difference in the ideas of the two vying groups. In fact, the only real discrepancy was that the more Conservative of the groups thought that if securing the border was allowed to be in the same legislative package as other immigration matters it would end up never being enacted. Other than that, almost everyone was in agreement. In the end, a compromise was made, smashing the two plans into one. Everyone left unified. There were no mean words, and no fighting.

But this is the opposite of everything we’ve read, isn’t it? Not in the “Liberal spin on reality” way, but just complete lies. -Ryan

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Election Blue – part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the seriesElection Blue

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If Christians together with Republicans are to stand as this “last best hope of freedom in the world,” then we must do some reformulating.  Some might suggest that we moderate our message and make compromises in order to have party be more palatable to more people.  Politics is indeed an art of compromise.  But there are very fundamental things that we can never compromise without forsaking the yoke of our character, those values that we pledge our lives to.

But, if we cannot change that which is essential to our identity, and necessary for the survival of the republic, then are we to do nothing but huddle and pray?  Are we to build large bunkers, or think as I was about which country to run to?  The answer is no.  But, there are a few realities that we must face, those that the Democrats know and believe to be forever in their favor.

1. America is not a Christian nation.  Sure, there is a plurality that still attends church, but all the numbers indicate that both church attendance and Christian identification are massively atrophying.  But more importantly than that, is the fact that the influence of the Bible and faith in Christ in even those regularly attending church has become largely an afterthought.  Unfortunately, most Christians’ are functionally biblically illiterate.

It has baffled many Republicans that large segments of our society who claim Christian affiliation vote completely contrary to their religious principles, at least on social issues.  This is partly because voting is often seen as independent of the exercise of religion, the idea that the Democrats have the edge in issues of economic “justice,” and also because of ignorance of politics beyond a cultural dogma of voter affiliation.

2. Racial division in our society has rapidly become the biggest elephant in the room.  Though it may not be true, Republicans hate women and minorities.  Perception is reality.  One of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is that truth doesn’t matter at all; perceived truth matters a great deal.  For the moment we have lost that battle.  Correcting and owning this narrative will determine any future for our party.

3. Socialists, Progressively, Liberals, (pick your poison) own all areas of cultural input in our society.  The media is completely covered by Liberalism, except for Fox, which though it has massive viewership, is maligned by everyone else.  Hollywood…I don’t need to say more.  Academia, Philosophy, the music industry are monopolized, and on and on it goes.  The only area that is not covered by them is religion.  That is why it is a battleground, and why Conservative religious leaders are repeatedly pressured to keep their mouths shut.  Liberal religious leaders are freely allowed to spout their political directives to their congregations.

Liberals know an important rule of sales, the person who asks the questions owns the conversation.  The entertainment industry questions the society, just as the media asks questions of the people they are interviewing.  Also, it goes almost without saying that the people with the cameras and microphones will have the loudest voices.

Conservatives have really sought to own the blogosphere, and they pretty well do.  But the only people who are reading Conservatives blogs are the people who already agree.  Other areas of the internet are even more hostile to Republicanism.  But the internet is a niceh media.  Anyone can put up a blog, and likewise is accessed primarily by like-minded people.  Further, George Soros and his machine have invested many millions in taking over these areas of communication.  It is a very public and fully funded goal of Liberals to completely take over all media.

This is possibly the greatest loss for Republicans, and the greatest opportunity for growth.  The good news is that we have virtually no ground to lose.  This is our Inchon landing moment.  We must be just as strategic and bold  as the Liberals.  We must place Republicans in these areas of the media piece by piece.  We must take over the conversation, not by fighting or by creating alternative media forms, but by moving into important roles in the media.  This will not happen overnight, just as the battle wasn’t lost overnight.

4.  American education in almost all areas, but specifically in areas of civics, has crumbled.  This is not a problem for Republicans, or Democrats.  It is a problem for the future of this country, Red and Blue.  Liberals wouldn’t like to admit this, but poor education does benefit their cause.  While the loudest voices for increased funding of our public education system emanates from the Liberal side, this does not equate to making fixing our education problem a priority.

If this were true, they would be proponents of programs like school vouchers, single sex education, and homeschooling, all of which have consistently been proven to out perform our current models.  But, they do not support these programs.  Instead, they support more tax money for the current programs, which makes the teachers’ unions happy.

Of course, no one really wants people to stay ignorant, at least I would hope not.  However, the least educated and the highest levels of education are both the biggest Liberal voting blocks, for entirely different reasons.  Those who are well educated without Liberal indoctrination, especially in areas of history and civics have a much more Republican voting record.

In Part 3 of this series, I’d like to address some of my ideas for how to address these issues. -Ryan

Election Blue – part 1

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the seriesElection Blue

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I’ve been licking my wounds from Tuesday night’s election.  I worked professionally on two campaigns this season, and volunteered walking and working the polls on another.  All of these went the wrong way.  One was expected.  One was an incredibly close and shocking loss, and one was a surprise blowout.

The sense of loss I felt on election night I can’t describe.  The most painful for me was of course, the presidential election.  Like many others, I fasted and prayed leading up to Tuesday.  At the polls I prayed between approaching voters, as my Democrat rivals laughed and joked about how the Republicans were in their final days of idiocy.

As we refreshed web pages and watched the TV in the command center, our hearts sank.  I’ve talked to many who feel the same as I do.  Our country has been going in a direction that is an offense to God.  We have a lot to repent of.  As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I know God is always on the side of the right.  It is my constant prayer and anxiety that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”  That is the farthest place from where this nation has been, and this election was not a step in the right direction.

Further, it feels like quite a hopeless place.  First, this election (even more than the last) highlights a massive racial divide.  Only 39% of white people voted for Obama, yet over 95% of black people did.  The Red State/Blue State divide is bigger than ever.  Christians voted even more for Romney than they did for McCain.  The fact is that young and minority groups are voting in larger numbers than they ever have, and overwhelmingly for Democrats, and if something doesn’t change, Republicans will be the permanent underclass.

Like many I’ve talked to, I’ve felt like I am in a daze.  I’ve even thought about what country I could move to that wouldn’t murder as many babies and hold up choices that God says are sins to be virtuous.  But tonight during my bath, something in my brain clicked.  We are supposed to be “salt and light.”  Many…no most, of the people in the Bible were called to stand for God in places and cultures that were hostile to Him in ways that we can’t fathom.  Sure, being against homosexual marriage might get your business boycotted.  But when was the last time that I was thrown in a pit full of lions for praying to God?  When was the last time that people stoned us for talking about Jesus?   Were you chained to prison guards because you preached the name of Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed the word of God to his generation his entire ministry, and no one ever listened.  The people were just as hostile to the things of the Lord when he died, as they were when he started.  We aren’t called to change the world.  We are called to proclaim the truth of God in love.  Sometimes we will reap a harvest in revival, and sometimes the people will throw rocks.  Jesus even said that many will hate us for being His followers, and in John chapter 3, He said that people would reject Him because they love darkness more than light.

The second thing that my mind went to, as I sat in the tub pondering the election, is that Jesus took a group of about 120 followers that were dedicated to Him (with 12 main leaders) and changed the face of the world.  So on Friday, the leader of this strange heresy was put to death on a cross and his followers scattered in fear.  The plotters of the status quo were victorious.  But by Monday, these same scattered losers were rallying around their risen Christ, willing to give their lives to spread His good news throughout the entire world…and they did both.

I know that Republicanism doesn’t equal Christianity (or vice versa).  But no one who truly understands both politics and orthodox Christianity can believe that the Democratic Party is any friend to God.  Remember, they removed Him from their platform this year…although it was merely a formality after removing any reference to His teachings from the same.

So, it is time for our Resurrection Sunday type of moment (once again—not equating the two).  Yes, all that our country stands for may indeed be lost.  But it doesn’t matter.  We are called to stand for Christ and His principles regardless.  But it is time to rise from the ashes of defeat, and face this with the steely resolve of people who are not afraid, because they cannot lose. -Ryan

An Interesting Look at North Korean News and Policy

Here is an article from today’s North Korean News.  I think that this story is a clear view into the thinking of this government, its propaganda, and dysfunction.  This is officially from the North Korean government, but the English version is published to the web from Japan.  The highlights are added by me.  And yes, I do read the North Korean News…nerdy I know, but true.  We’ll discuss after the clip.

First of all, the title-what government in the world would officially call the leader of its rival country “rat-like”?  Further, the title threatens the South with annihilation.  This is not a new thing, by the way.  North Korea does this on a regular basis.  You notice that it says “Lee Myung Bak Group.”  The North will not refer to the South as a separate country.  It likewise does not call itself North Korea.  Its official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).  Like many Communist countries, this is funny because the country is neither democratic, nor of the people, nor a Republic.  They got the Korea part correct, at least.  In DPRK indoctrination, South Korea is actually a rebel group that broke off from the DPRK, and therefore, they are traitors to their country.

The next paragraph is classic North Korean propaganda.  The first sentence contains a grammar error, and much of the paragraph is run-on, near garden-path sentences.  They adore words like “provocative” and “sycophant”.  My favorite part of the piece is the “…made by an old man more dead than alive.”  They love to throw in these like sentence prefixes and suffixes that have no justification in the piece, as if by simply saying them, the statements become true.  This Orwellian idea of double-speak is a mainstay of N. Korean news.

Two more paragraphs in, it threatens the South with destruction, that everyone should take seriously because of their recent “striking demonstration” of power.  By this, they must mean the failed missile launch a week ago.  North (and South) Korea are prime examples of the Asian obsession with face.  They will do anything to prevent themselves from being publicly embarrassed.  Their failed missile launch was intended to threaten the world and display their prowess around their Day of the Sun celebrations.

The embarrassment they see on the world stage will be reacted to in two ways by North Korea: First, like an abusive spouse, they will find a bad guy to focus their anger on.  Reading this article makes it seem like the South were the ones embarrassing and provoking them.  If you knew nothing about the events of that launch, you would think that the North had succeeded, but the South had mocked them despite their triumph.

Their second reaction will be to double down on their rhetoric and provoke further.  This article threatens the South in even more harsh language than usual.  They will also test another nuclear device in the next few weeks.  They might even fire a few rockets, or shoot at a South Korean ship.  It is all intended to deflect from their embarrassment.

A great question the world needs to ask itself, is if it can afford  a country with nuclear weapons, that will use them simply to avoid their own embarrassment.

Below, I have linked a video that explains their Day of the Sun celebrations.

Why Communist Countries Don’t Play Professional Sports

sportsI must, right off the bat, admit that I am a sports nut.  No, I’m not the kind of guy who knows every free-throw percentage of every player in the NBA, but I do know the ’86 Mets won the World Series after the famous Bill Buckner incident.  That is especially powerful in my mind, because earlier in that year I went to my first Major League game, where the Mets defeated the Giants.  The Miracle Mets pulled it off, working late into the night.  I was hooked.

Now, I will watch almost any sport I see on TV or in person.  And being a sports guy I see a lot of things in the world through the lens of sports.  The tension of the Cold War: it’s just like the Red Sox and the Yankees.  A looming budget showdown: Tim Tebow with a minute left, and down by 3.

One thing I’ve always noticed is the way sports are played out on the international stage between countries.  Particularly of note is the fact that countries like China and the Soviet Union always did amazingly well in the Olympics, but were without any professional sports teams.  Communist countries always seem to excel in sports, but the most obvious expression of that, being  publicly played professional sports, is entirely absent.  And why is that?  Well, the answer sheds a lot of light on why societies function the way they do.

Cuba

When Castro took over Cuba in its communist revolution, he simultaneously banned professional sports, and required amateur sports be played by all.  He mandated exercises start for children even before they could walk, and made physical fitness an important part of each school day.  Cubans were also forbidden from being paid to play any sport.

What happened was that Cubans became excellent at sports.  They have done very well in international competition, despite having only a little more than 11 million people.  But, whenever their teams visit other countries, their players run away.

Their baseball players all want to play in America.  Their soccer players escape to South and Central America, and their distance swimmers are always turning up soggy in Florida.  And Cuba is the most successful communist country in the world of sports.*

North Korean Baseball

The reason for this is that professional sports are one of the most pure forms of capitalism there is.  If a baseball player can run fast, throw well, and hit home runs, he will make it to the Major Leagues.  It doesn’t matter if he’s fat, if his father was an alcoholic, or what his political beliefs are.  If he can play and his attitude is right, he will be drafted.

It also doesn’t matter if he was born with ridiculous talent and never had to work at it, or if he spent the last 4 years in the batting cages.  All that matters is if he can play right now.  If he can, he will be paid.  If he plays well, his team wins.  If his team wins, people watch the games.  If people go to the games, the team makes money.  If the team makes money, he gets more money.  That is pure and simple capitalism.

This rule works in one way or another in every sport.  But it is directly opposite of Communist principles.

If the game were played in North Korea, the roster would be determined by lottery.  Any citizen could play.  The players would make the same amount of money as the hot dog vendors, and would run or walk to base regardless of whether they hit the ball.  All games would end in a tie, and the players would only work hard because they know that poor performance would land their families in jail.  People would only come to the games because the government would give them free loaves of bread after everything was over.

Sound like something you’d like to be a part of?  I doubt it.

The Big Show

But communist countries often do well at the Olympics.  The reason is pretty simple.  Communist countries are under a lot of pressure to prove that their system is superior.  If their athletes win medals it shows the world that communism is prosperous.  The athletes are working hard for personal accomplishment, but they are worked hard for government glory.  Look at all of the antics with the North Korean soccer team, and this concept becomes quite apparent.

No one would want to go to a North Korean baseball game.  But people get confused about aspects of socialism that lead to the same results.  Scientists work harder when there is personal reward tied to their work.  So do miners, fishermen, and doctors.  That is natural.

In the same way that it makes no sense to take all achievement rewards out of a baseball game, it is foolish to do so in most other areas of life and work.  That is why the American forefathers believed so passionately in capitalism and freedom.  People work harder and smarter when there is an incentive to do so.  It might seem callous to say that not everyone can play for the Yankees.  But some are just too slow, or near sighted, or fragile.  That is life.  American sports have become so enjoyable because of its elite nature, and because of the money that generates.  The best get to play.  The rest, well they can find something else to do successfully.  It worked for Stephen Hawking, and I wouldn’t want to watch him pitch.

Anyway, I have to get back to watching the game. -Ryan

*I did not discuss China, and its sports system, which was changed (like much in the Chinese economy) to more of a capitalist system in the late 1990’s.  Thus, it cannot be seen as a fair example of sports in a Communist country.  While the Communist Party has a complete lock on the political system, much of China is firmly capitalist today, which accounts for their recent economic success.



Absent

Absent HeaderI just read this article online.  Please take a minute to read this excerpt from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online.

Madison Law enforcement officers are searching for Democratic senators boycotting a Senate vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair plan Thursday in an attempt to bring the lawmakers to the floor to allow Republicans to act on the bill.

As Republicans denounced the move, one Democratic senator said that he believed most of the members of his caucus are in another state. However, an aide said that at least one, Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), was still in his Capitol office listening to constituents.

In a telephone interview, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) declined to give his location but acknowledged that at least one other Democrat was with him. He said that law enforcement would be able to compel him and his members to the Senate floor if they are located in Wisconsin.

“I can tell you this – we’re not all in one place,” Miller said. “This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes. The people have shown that the government has gone too far . . .  We are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that this bill gets the consideration it needs.”

Fighting Quorum

Basically, the Wisconsin legislature (under the governor’s direction) is trying to pass legislation that significantly reduces  the ability of unions in the state to hold the upper-hand in negotiating contracts with the government.  This would enable them to set salaries and benefits for state workers that are more reasonable in light of the seriousness of the government’s economic situation.

The reaction in Wisconsin has been teacher strikes, marches on the state capitol, and loud complaining by Democrats.  Though of course state workers would want to have the best bargaining positions possible, the state is facing a $3 billion shortfall in its budget over the next 2 years.  That means they are going to have to make serious cuts, or  face bankruptcy.

Democrats feel they have no choice but to resist this.  The unions are both a major source of funding and voters, although there is no chance that the union voters will abandon them even if this passes.  However, the Republicans have a majority in the Wisconsin congress, so the Democrats can’t do much to stop them.  The Dems were in a situation where they could not possibly win.

So the Democrats left.  They walked out and hid.  This would seem silly, except that it creates a problem in parliamentary procedure, the rules that govern how the legislature is run.  In order to take a valid vote, the legislature needs something called quorum.  Quorum is the number of members that must be present in order for any action to be valid, and is greater than the number it takes to pass a law.

The quorum rule was created to prevent a minority from holding a secret session, or meeting during some sort of emergency that prevented most members from attending, and passing some strange law.  But the rule of quorum was never intended to be used as a blunt instrument to prevent democracy from working when a minority didn’t like what was happening.  This kind of action is unfortunately not atypical of the kind of tactics that Democrats have played throughout the years, but it is a very bad sign for the gridlock that could be coming in many states and nationally.

What neither the state Democrats, nor anyone in the media seem to be asking is, “What is the best thing to do for the state’s $3 billion defecit?”

The Real World

America needs to wake up!  Nationally for the first time since World War 2, our country owes more money than we have in our entire budget.  The national debt is currently $14 trillion, with total obligations above $55 trillion.  But these numbers seem to be too big to really wrap one’s mind around.  So maybe an easier scale would help to make this all make more sense.

Let’s say a small family (father, mother, and small child) have a yearly income of $50,000.  But by the end of this year, the family will owe over $50,000 to the credit card companies, more than their entire income for the year.  All of that would be a difficult situation, but not impossible.  The problem is that every month, even though the family gets a salary of over $4,166, they are keep spending $4,582.  So, each month they are more than $400 in debt more than the month before.  This is obviously an impossible situation.  It won’t be long before the credit card companies cut the family’s credit line and sue them.  They will go bankrupt.

Any family would have to sit down and start cutting their budget.  That might mean moving to a smaller house or apartment, selling a car, not eating out.  They would have to make these changes, no matter how much they didn’t want to.  Anything that was not necessary to keep them alive would have to be cut so that they would be able to pay off the debt.

But many in America are loath to see this happen nationally.  There have been protests over the proposed de-funding of PBS.  Recently, some lawmakers even held a press conference with characters dressed as cartoons from popular PBS series, trying to drum up support to “save these shows.”  On the radio, callers have talked about the Republicans “killing Big Bird.”

Killing Big Bird

No one wants to “kill big bird.”  These TV shows are important in American culture and life.  Many children have learned important things from these programs.  But they are just that, TV shows.  PBS can go away if need be, and America will go on, children will learn about the alphabet, and people will be forced to go to the opera instead of just watching it on television.  People will miss PBS.  Maybe the arts will be less supported and there won’t be as many educational TV shows.  Everyone would miss PBS.  No one likes to reduce spending.

The point is that things must be cut.  Some of these things will be government programs that people love, and often count on.  There will probably be few if any budget items that no one will miss, in the same way that the fictional family in the previous illustration will probably miss going to the movies and living in their 4 bedroom house.  But the truth is that there are very few, if any, government programs that don’t affect anyone in some way.  And if any do exist, they aren’t taking up that much of the budget anyway.

When the Democrats walk out of legislatures and hold press conferences with cartoon characters they send a clear message that they are unwilling to do the difficult things that must be done to save the country.  They also send a clear message that their political power and fund raising efforts are more important than the good of America.  If the country is going to pull itself out of this horrible mess, this kind of budgetary brinkmanship must be avoided at all costs. -Ryan