Friday, August 30, 2013

The Fifteenth Amendment

The following is the text of the Fifteenth Amendment. (1) “The right of citizens of the United States [to vote] shall not be denied orabridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” and (2) “That Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” I italicized abridged, “to reduce in scope: minimize,” because it covers situations where people can vote, but with greater difficulty, financial or otherwise. As I see it section one by itself, properly exercised, should cover it all and section two as simply a “right on guys” to Congress to encourage it to enforce the law.*

The phrase Jim Crow attests to the fact that the Constitution by itself wasn’t sufficient so in 1964 Congress did what it been empowered to do for a century and passed its own legislation. That wasn’t working either so in 1991 it designated nine states that were simultaneously violating both a Constitutional amendment and an act of Congress, for scrutiny of any proposed changes in pertinent legislation.

Things went along fairly well until this year when the Supreme Court, at the request of the states in question, ruled that this scrutiny was no longer necessary. This was proved a major miscalculation in a matter of days when these states began rewriting voting rules that would never have passed muster previously.

I see the importance of this matter as extending beyond these outlaw states to the entire nation in electing candidates for federal positions, not only to proposed revisions, but to the rules as they now stand. There is nothing more essential to representative government than the integrity of its voting system.

This deck is already stacked against citizens of lesser means. Witness the inverse relationship between wealth and time spent waiting to vote. To lose at cards with a stacked deck is to be cheated. But this game is not being played with smoke and mirrors. If we lose this one it will be to bullies doing what bullies do best.


*I suspect there are Republican legal “scholars” who would claim it meant that further Congressional approval was required. But then Republicans are known to be a bit contrary.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Food Stamps

Hooray! Republicans have found themselves a real live food stamp cheat. No phony like Reagan’s palpably fictitious welfare queen, this guy seems like the real thing, thoroughly unlikable, possibly a product of Central Casting. But then we didn’t expect these guys to pick a pleasant scoundrel.

The main purpose of this effort staged by Fox is to show that the undeserving are receiving a major portion of food stamps. This guy sneering at the camera does an excellent impression of undeserving. He may be only one person, but a million like him wouldn’t surprise me. As part of forty seven million food stamp recipients would they justify punishing the other forty six million? If not how large a percentage of miscreants do Republicans consider enough, a mystery in light of their creative sense of proportion? Remember the fellow who said that Benghazi was our worst tragedy since 9/11?

A second purpose of the program is to expose the do-gooders proselytizing people unaware of their eligibility for food stamps. What a terrible thing, advising people that they are entitled to benefits of which they are unaware. TV commercials commonly do this sort of thing. But snitching on the government by private citizens informing others that it is holding benefits due them, well that’s un-American.

We also hear the continued harping that it’s in the national interest that shame should come with accepting food stamps. Ah the warm side of Republican thinking! I’m certain many of these people already feel built in shame on their own for being on the dole, particularly former tax paying citizens who have been done in by the economy.

There is a built in degree of waste and fraud in all government programs to which the Pavlovian response from the right would be that government programs are inherently inefficient. My riposte would be to ask, as an example, why Medicare insures people at considerably lower cost than the private sector.

There’s such an abundance of conflicting electronic “information” these days that it requires a healthy dose of skepticism to separate the wheat from the chaff. If we believed all of it our politics would slide back to the days of Pony Express and government by anecdote.