Archives for posts with tag: Senate


One of the best things about being in the Senate is having lobbyists pay for all your meals.  I realized that I didn’t understand the process much and so I did a bit of research

I was fascinated to hear on NPR the other day that the NFL spends $10,000,000.00 a year on lobbyists.  Apparently this has resulted in zoning changing for stadiums (stadii) and blackout rules for TV stations, among other things.  Wow!  I don’t think they’d bother trying to convince me but there are some lobbies that might be able to sway me.  Sadly, I couldn’t find a chocolate lobby.  However, the American Mosquito Control Association spent $40,000.00 in 2013,  Now why would they need to have someone in Washington to convince Congress that we need to control mosquitoes?

I’m not surprised that big donors include medical and insurance lobbies.  But the major lobbyist in the country turns out to be the Chamber of Commerce.  How do all those chambers agree on what laws they want to lobby for?  Still, they can take me out to lunch and explain.

The one that seemed the most interesting to me, if there is no chocolate lobby is The National Association for the Self-Employed.   They offer tips on grants and perks one can get to start a business.  As a member of the Senate, I’d probably be a member of that.  All the same, the $580,810.00 they spent in lobbying could have bought a lot of startups.

Another thing I didn’t know was that there are businesses who hire out their expertise in lobbying, so it’s hard to tell just why this guy is in my office again and if he (most seem to me male) really cares about the interest he’s pitching.

It all rather reminds me of the people at Louis XIV’s court who hung around fighting for the privilege of emptying his chamber pot and getting a chance to put in a good word for their family or cause.

Sorry, guys;  if I’m elected, I’m holding out for chocolate.


What Ever Happened to Critical Thinking?

I recently have been put to a great deal of trouble based on information that someone got from a website that I hadn’t updated in over two years.  It would have taken less than five minutes to find out if the information was accurate but the person took the page as current and never bothered to follow up, even though logic would have told him that it put me in two places at the same time.

This was annoying but it also brought home to me how much we believe these days from only looking at single sources.  Part of this is, as someone explained to me, “People like to believe things that confirm their prejudices.”  If what you read does, why bother to check further?

One result of this is that people are happy to base their votes on the certainty that Mitt Romney personally hired Chinese peasants to take jobs from Americans or that Barack Obama is on the payroll of the Israeli government. (I’ve heard both of these. DON’T cite me as a source)  Which you believe depends on how you already feel about these men.  How many of us are happy to hit “share” without finding out if there is any truth in the statements?

We have always been inclined to do this.  Word of mouth has been a source of “accurate” news for thousands of years.  Advances in the means of communication has only accelerated this and not just recently.  As I say in THE REAL HISTORY OF THE TEMPLARS, King Philippe IV had broadsides read throughout France telling of the crimes that the Templars confessed to.  These were so successful that some people still believe them. 

But now anyone with internet access can find both totally unsupported gossip and also, with more work, the facts behind it.  The problem is that few people bother.  One of the things I notice most, as an historian, is the way in which myths root themselves like stinkweed and can’t be eradicated.  I know for a fact that there are people who believe everyone in the Middle Ages was five feet tall, didn’t live past thirty, thought the earth was flat, never bathed, put women in chastity belts and believed everything the pope told them. (Of course my readers are smarter than that)  All of these things have been proven many times to be false but, because so many people WANT to believe they’re true, they never bothered to find out.  Even worse, they are sure that historical and archeological reports to the contrary must be fabricated.

Why is it that so many people thought/think that the Mayans predicted the end of the world?   How many are certain that aliens have visited earth?  All rich people are heartless and greedy.  All poor people are lazy and don’t want to work.  We love thinking in generalities.  I include myself in this, but I have also been trained as an historian and that means finding more than one source to prove my assumptions.  It also means being able to accept that my first impressions and preconceptions might be wrong.

I’m posting this on both blogs and my fan page.  It covers everything.  I suppose it’s a sort of manifesto against fuzzy logic.  Along with the grammar police, I intend to submit a bill in the Senate requiring schools to emphasize analytical thinking.  I shall also establish remedial classes for anyone entering politics.  Any out-of-work historians or experimental scientists like to apply to teach them?

Agatha and I thinking analytically.Image


Amendment II

A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


 This is the text of the Second Amendment to the American Constitution.  Unless this is repealed, there doesn’t seem to be any legal reason for people to be forbidden to own guns.  Actually, taken literally pretty much anyone can have them.  So, although I really don’t like them, I can’t object as a candidate for Senator at large.

My question is, where is the militia?  According to the amendment, we need a well-regulated militia.  I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a group of local gun-owning citizens out on the village green of a Saturday morning drilling to be prepared to protect their fellow citizens. Why not?  Isn’t that part of the deal?  Anyone who owns guns should be in the militia, right? 

When I am elected, I shall point this out to the rest of Congress and propose that with the purchase of a gun, a person must be immediately enrolled in the local militia.  If they don’t come out to train, then they can’t have a gun.

This will not only give us an expert home guard, necessary since the National Guard is mostly in the Middle East, but it will be easy to know who the outlaws are.  Anyone found with a gun who isn’t in the militia MUST be a lawbreaker.

I have been thinking about this for many years.  It occurred to me some time ago that. For those who aren’t up to weekly drilling, membership in the National Rifle Association would work as long as each member is ready to pitch in at a moment’s notice.  This could save taxpayers a lot of money.

When George Bush II was inaugurated for the second time, there was some worry that there might not be enough police for protection in Washington DC.  Here is a copy of a letter I sent to the President at the time:Image

“Dear Mr. Bush;  I understand that there is some concern over the cost of police protection and crowd control for the inauguration.  I have a suggestion that would take care of that and honor a group that has supported you for years.

Just invite the NRA to take over the job.  They all have their own guns and assure us that they know how to use them safely.  They are extremely well organized and would probably enjoy a chance to use their militia training.  Finally, they would stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants and therefore help the economy.

I’m very surprised that you haven’t already invited them.”

Do you know, he never even replied!  If I were a senator, I would at least have gotten a brush-off, don’t you think?

So this is my quite reasonable, constitutional stand on guns.  Vote for me and soon you’ll be able to pack a lunch every Saturday and go out to watch the militia train.  It will be such a boost for a community feeling.



ImageThis being tax day, I’ve been thinking about money.  Well, actually, I think about money a lot.  Mostly it’s the inverse ratio of what I have to the bills due.  Hey, I’ve been up front as to why I’m running for Senator-at-Large.  Just the perks, please.  But it has occurred to me that I should study national economics so that I can at least sound like I know something about it, which is all politicians are required to do, anyway.


It has been brought to my attention that Reagan’s “trickle down” policies are still popular in some circles.  The idea is that if you give the rich more, they’ll use the money to create jobs, give to charity and start Super PACs.   That makes no sense to me.  I may be wrong but I suspect that really rich people stay that way because they KEEP their money.  They know how to hold on to it and make it work for them.  It’s a neat trick that I’ve never mastered.


Now, a few years ago the government sent $200 to everyone who paid taxes.  It didn’t seem to make a dent in the recession and I guess the idea was shelved.  Well how much of a dent can anyone make with $200?  The problem wasn’t the refund; it was the size.  If every family got, say, $10,000, we might see some spending!  Sure, some of us would pay down credit cards or even put the money in a college account.  But I think that most people would use some of the money to replace the dryer that doesn’t get things dry any more or take the kids on a vacation or, the best investment, buy hardcover books! 




Of course, the money will trickle up eventually and it will wind up in the accounts of the 1%.  But the rest of us will have had some fun with it, helped create jobs and maybe put the economy back in high gear.   If we’d done this years ago I might not have had to resort to politics to make ends meet.


Just think about it.