I launched a new site last night, InformedElectorate.net. It’s pretty basic right now, but wanted to get something out there.
The impetus for the site was going into the ballot box unfamiliar with the contents of the local/state ballot and then being frustrated when I tried to look into the ballot as early as possible, and still had trouble finding the positions of the people I was voting for. Note in the previous link (in the list of candidates), that I could only find facebook pages and official city/county pages for most people. Some people I couldn’t find anything. The local newspaper and radio station have been some help, but I still felt ill-informed when voting for, say, Township Trustee.
So the idea of the site is to make it easier for citizens to find out about their (esp. local and state) candidates and, necessarily, to make it easier for candidates to share and interact with citizens. This is a long term goal.
Currently, there’s only federal and state data for current representatives (and only congress, nothing about your state treasurer, for example), but the model I’m using for acquiring the data has to do with what’s called an Application Programming Interface (API). This basically means that a provider (government or a third party, in this case) will provide information in a predictable way that can be parsed by a developer and used. To be more concrete, for example, opencongress.org is a great website to find out about federal legislative action. They and openstates.org are products of the Sunlight Foundation which is where I get most of my current data, via their APIs. However, I could also use data from govtrack.us, which tracks similar information, or opensecrets.org (data, Center for Responsive Politics) which tracks financial contributions. There are also resources directly from the government, such as from the U.S. Small Business Administration and others. Hats off also to democracymap.org, who appear to be trying to aggregate all this data.
Regardless of my efforts, I feel this is inevitable in the internet age.
When used as an adjective, it is pronounced with a soft ‘a’ and means “done consciously and intentionally.”
When used as a verb, it is pronounced with a long ‘a’ and means, “engage in long and careful consideration.”
Etymologically, they both come from Old French “deliberation” from the Latin, “deliberatrionem”, [ late 14c., Old French deliberation, from Latin deliberationem (nominative deliberatio), noun of action from past participle stem of deliberare "weigh, consider well," from de- "entirely" (see de-) + -liberare, altered (perhaps by influence of liberare "liberate") from librare "to balance, weigh," from libra "scale." ].
The concepts of “deliberating the best course of action” and “deliberately taking an action” seem worlds apart. To say someone deliberately did something basically means that you believe they had at least some form of rational intention. Sociopaths actions may be deliberate, but they failed to deliberate before choosing a course of action.
The data isn’t sourced, but looks about right. The totals pretty much jive with numbers from the White House. The main point is that we are spending more than we are taking in on just mandatory spending and debt service. Both constitutionally and economically, we must first service our debt. So we can’t cut that at all, or for that matter, stop its increase if we continue borrowing, or if the current historically low interest rates should rise. Mandatory spending is spending we are legislatively bound to. It’s mostly entitlements. We’re not going to spend less here unless we change the laws. Further, if the laws don’t change, we will be spending more here as the baby boomers start collecting social security. This leaves defense and all other spending. While these areas can and should be streamlined, they cannot be eliminated and even if they could, we would still be spending more on mandatory spending and debt servicing than we take in. Therefore, short of action, we will need to borrow more and the debt servicing budget will continue to increase in a viscous cycle.
Another note: Nearly one-third of our spending is unfunded. The White House projects our revenue to close the gap with skyrocketing spending. Not sure how they intend to do that. Hyperinflation?
I admit it’s a simplification, but when our President says, ”If you’re in negotiations around buying somebody’s house, you don’t get to say, well, let’s talk about the price I’m going to pay, and if you don’t give the price then I’m going to burn down your house,” that kind of opens up the playing field for my own analogy. Here goes:
If you owe lots of people lots of money and need to continually rack up more credit cards, you might want to tighten your belt.
Don’t ask me how. On the analogy level, if you go out to eat every day, taking your lunch on occasion can bring savings. On a macro-economic level, one might think of disability fraud, but that’s been debunked.
Stick with me. My internet was out this morning. Meh. Went to work. Came home. Still out. Call Comcast. Nice guy. While my computer is rebooting after he worked his magic, I ask him how his day is going. He says he is in Bogata, Colombia. I’m like cool. I’ve heard it’s lovely,I’d like to go there some time or whatever. Not sure how I missed this, as I do try to keep up on world events (I’m blaming Syria and Egypt for hogging the spotlight), but apparently, “one of the largest national strikes ever faced by the Colombian government,” has been going on since the 19th. Even though he was really nice about it, I felt bad for my ignorance. Regardless, the world is all higgledy piggledy, as Opus might say. Prayers for Colombia, as well as Syria, Egypt, and all the nations trying to figure it out, including us.
Great article by P.J. O’Rourke. I think it’s from the 90′s based on the references he makes, but still true today.
The individual is the wellspring of conservatism. The purpose of conservative politics is to defend the liberty of the individual and – lest individualism run riot – insist upon individual responsibility.
The great religions (and conservatives are known for approving of God) teach salvation as an individual matter. There are no group discounts in the Ten Commandments, Christ was not a committee, and Allah does not welcome believers into Paradise saying, “You weren’t much good yourself, but you were standing near some good people.” That we are individuals – unique, disparate and willful – is something we understand instinctively from an early age. No child ever wrote to Santa: “Bring me – and a bunch of kids I’ve never met – a pony, and we’ll share.”
Virtue is famously lonely. Also vice, as anyone can testify who ever told his mother, “All the other guys were doing it.” We experience pleasure separately; Ethan Hawke may go out on any number of wild dates, but I’m able to sleep through them. And, although we may be sorry for people who suffer, we only “feel their pain” when we’re full of baloney and running for office.
A recent Matt Lewis column mentioned a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman, which was published in 1985. Yes, It’s Old (TM). Its central thesis struck a chord with me: That freedom and reason will be lost in America not in an Orwellian way, but in a Huxleyan one. Orwell’s vision was of a government ruthlessly suppressing books and changing written accounts of the past in order to change the thinking of the present.
Anyway, Huxley’s vision was that no totalitarian state was needed for such a descent into infantilization and restriction of thought: That all that was necessary was that the means of distraction and infantilization be provided to the population, and the people would voluntarily choose that path, no Mintruth needed, no black-armored thought police required. Orwell’s vision was therefore of a forcible lobotomy, conducted by the state; Huxley’s was one of a voluntary one, people checking in to an outpatient clinic every day to have bothersome parts of their brains excised.
Young woman who works at a place I go to accomplish my errands (food, beer, hardware, etc.) and noticed she has gone from what I consider a healthy weight to another weight that might still be healthy, but is considerably less than a few months ago. I mean, she seems kind of frail. But maybe that’s all in my head and she’s happier without those pounds or maybe she is physically sick and persevering or maybe she has an eating disorder or maybe she’s playing a waif in a local theater production (or a major motion picture, as far as I know). If she has an eating disorder, I would feel remiss if I said nothing, but what to say?