Friday, January 29, 2010

Too many things to vote on

I agree with Yglesias. We need fewer things to vote on.
Today we have too many elections for too many offices that people could care less about. And many are not even for positions which are desgined to be representative. Think about it.

Who represents you?

Can anyone name all the people who are elected to represent them in various forms of government?
Let’s start from the top and see how well I do:

President Barack Obama
Sen. John Cornyn
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison
U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez
Gov. Rick Perry
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst
State Sen. Carlos Uresti
State Rep. Frank Corte Jr.
County Judge Nelson Wolff
County Commissioner Kevin Wolff
Mayor Julian Castro
City Councilman W. Reed Williams
School Board Rep. Karen Freeman

Those are just the direct representatives and I’m sure there are others. There is the Texas State Board of Education, the Railroad Commission, the River Authority, the Underground Water District, and the Hospital District and who knows what all else? And then there are the other positions we are forced to vote on which are really not representative positions such as the State Comptroller, the Agriculture Commissioner, the Land Commissioner, the Attorney General; the County Tax Collector, the County Clerk, the District Attorney, the Sheriff, the Constables, the Justices of the Peace and, of course, all the myriad judges at every level.
It is far, far, far too much for the electorate to have to deal with. Do you want to know why we have such a low turnout in most elections? This is why. Too damn many things to vote for that people can’t keep up with.

We need to eliminate many of these from the ballot and make them appointed positions. The state and county governments are the worst offenders. They should follow the models set by the federal and city governments. We don’t elect the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense or any of the other federal cabinet positions. Why do we elect them at the state level? Let the governor appoint those positions.
Likewise at the county level. Why do we elect a County Clerk or a Sheriff? These positions should be hired by the county commissioners just like the City Council hires the chief of police and other city executive positions. And it would also eliminate problems such as this, where unqualified people are being elected to positions that they have not business being in.
And, of course, the judges should be appointed as well, just like the Supreme Court and all the other federal court positions area. It is ridiculous that we vote for these offices today. Nobody knows who most of these people are and whether or not they are qualified or if they do a good job. Only in a few rare cases where there has been a scandal does it ever come into play.
We need to clean up our ballots and only vote on the direct representatives who would then be tasked with filling the other positions through appointments or hiring. Then if they make bad choices we will hold our representatives responsible. That is the way it should work. Once we do this then we can get a lot of this political money out of the system which leads to so much of the graft and corruption.

Monday, January 25, 2010

SBOE bans Bill Martin Jr.

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear" is one of my kids' favorite books growing up. Now the far-right conservatives on the State Board of Education have voted to remove it, and all the other works by that author, from our public school classrooms. Why? Because they stupidly confused his name with that of another author who wrote a book titled "Ethical Marxism." So first off they acted impulsively, which is typical of rightwing reactionaries, and failed to do their homework.

But to understand further how stupid this is, you have to understand that they were not voting to remove what they thought was a book about Marxism from a 3rd Grade curriculum, which would have been somewhat understandable. They knew very well that they were voting to remove "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" which has nothing to do with political or economic theories. They voted to remove all books by Bill Martin because they mistakenly thought he had written a book about Marxism at some time, which they admit they had not read, and was not being distributed to public school classrooms.

So, they are essentially trying to enforce a rigid ideological purity by purging any works by authors who might hold views contrary to theirs, irregardless of what their books are about. But in this case at least they screwed up because they were too stupid and lazy to figure out that there might be more than one author with the name Bill Martin.

I just hope they don't figure out that Dr. Seuss was a liberal before we have an opportunity to vote these idiots out of office later this year.
One of the far-right idiots who voted to ban "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" is Ken Mercer, a former Republican state representative who represents the San Antonio area where I live.
Fortunately, Mercer is being challenged by a more moderate Republican - Tim Tuggey - in the primary and then Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau in the general.