Wow. Haven’t watched the local news in a looooooonnnnnng time.
Upside: Lots and lots of coverage of the state and national elections (all over in about the first ten minutes including a comprehensive two phrase interview with Obama and a four second McCain soundbite). Downside: It was all incredibly vapid. I mean like way, way vapid. Extra Super Vapid. Thanks local TV news! Awesome job!

Article II, in case you don’t know it by heart

From the wonderful folks who brought you Article I (nice Cornell annotations page here), a look at the basic job description and duties of the President. Sections in italics have been amended and are so linked.

Article II

Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows:

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each state having one vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

On taxes and truth

There are a lot of political adages that should have shuffled off to the dustbin of history a long time ago. One of them is that tired old saw in which a politician says he’d kill this or that program or, say, privatize social security, because “you know how to spend your money better than the government.”

Not trying to insult your intelligence or your acumen for the needs of the general public, but in a lot of cases you don’t.

For instance, how much of “your” money should go to schools, roads, national defense, fire and police protection and that sidewalk you want in front of your house? How much should go toward making sure your vehicle is built safely or that it doesn’t belch copious amounts of various contaminants? How much should go into asthma research or for carbon nanotubes?

The point here is that government is, sometimes, the method through which we collectively make informed decisions.

Unfortunately, we have spent the last several decades hearing a steady drumbeat from those who think government is the problem.

Recently, the Republican vice-presidential candidate ended her closing remarks at her one and only debate with her Democratic counterpart with a remark by Ronald Reagan about freedom being just one generation away from extinction. As Paul Krugman, who last week won a Nobel Prize in economics, pointed out, what the governor of Alaska did not mention was that the statement was referring to Medicare and was part of an effort to warn about socialized medicine.

Painting socialism as a specter rising to haunt this country is back in vogue among those opposed to the rising clout of Democrats.

Yet, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, many of those who’ve complained the most about the breadth of government now seek its protection. We have effectively – and one would hope temporarily – nationalized chunks of the insurance, mortgage and banking industry. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is quickly turning casual Fridays into takeover Fridays – gobbling up banks teetering on the brink for reorganization over the weekend.

The twist to this is that the deregulation and lack of oversight that the uber-capitalists insisted on and paid lobbyists handsomely to convince lawmakers to enact is one of the chief causes of the spread of socialism from Wall Street to the Charlotte banking district.
Now the taxpayers are bailing out the very people who decried big government.

This has not been lost on many. In fact, in a recent local candidate forum, a member of the GOP – yes, there are a few here in Orange County – acknowledged that it appears there are programs or missions where government actually does a better job than the private sector. Such acknowledgments are rare, but increasing. It will take years, though, for the poison injected into our political discourse to be metabolized. People will still rail about big government and taxes. But there’s a difference between pushing back in order to insist on efficiency, transparency and fairness and simply attracting the system for ideological or political gain.

In a recent New York Times column, Thomas Friedman recalled Oliver Wendell Holmes remark that “I like paying taxes. With them I am buying civilization.”
We’re a far cry from that sentiment but perhaps a little closer to understanding the role of government and how dangerous it is to entrust the whole of civilization solely to those out to profit from it.

Republished from The Carrboro Citizen, October 26, 2008

Circular logic (again)

On occasion, I get a little grief and guff because I have a penchant for studying newspaper advertising inserts. I consider them an excellent insight into several aspect of our culture, the economy and the intersection of the two. Last week I started noticing that the Target circular shifted from being all about the latest fashions and hip electronics to being all about value and low prices.
Here’s Marketwatch on the move.

Robin Hayes’ Bachman moment

Robin Hayes is in a bit of a dustup after denying he said liberals hate real Americans whilst warming up a crowd yesterday.
Not sure if Hayes meant the hundreds of thousands of fake Americans who live in his district or the hundreds of millions of fake Americans roaming the streets of this country.
Since neither my passport nor my birth certificate has boxes labeled Real and Fake, I’m going to have to guess that I am a real American since I do not hate other Americans who work hard and believe in God.
I tend to reserve my contempt for politicians who try to divide people with false dichotomies. Also ones who lie about it or has a staffer lie about it.