Questions you want answered (P&C Edition)

Ahh, Malor. Ever the shining beacon of hope.

SixteenBlue wrote:
Rezzy wrote:
Allowing a foreign-born individual to run for President.

If I had to put money on a prediction, it would be this. A hero Republican will come along to create the need for this.

That was supposed to be Schwarzenegger. But then he failed to fix California's budget and successfully schtupped his housekeeper.

OG_slinger wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:
Rezzy wrote:
Allowing a foreign-born individual to run for President.

If I had to put money on a prediction, it would be this. A hero Republican will come along to create the need for this.

That was supposed to be Schwarzenegger. But then he failed to fix California's budget and successfully schtupped his housekeeper.

The governator is why this idea is even in my head. I'm not good at predicting what people who like to break rules will do, but since they talked about it for him I imagine someone else will come along too.

Whoops, didn't mean to imply that the next amendment would come any time soon, just wondering whatever the next one will be. Could be in a decade, or a century. I also wonder if it might end up being a stupid amendment, like the 18th.

edit: and in response to KingGorilla, are there any issues at all you see that would be better served by an amendment rather than passing a law?

I would be all on board for a Human Rights Amendment.

Mao. I would really like to see term limits on Senators and Representatives. I think limiting Senators to 2 consecutive terms (12 years) and 5 terms for Representatives (10 years) would serve. So often they are like lifetime appointments.

Hypatian wrote:
I would be all on board for a Human Rights Amendment.

The first 10 cover it pretty well, just the govt keeps chipping away at them.

KingGorilla wrote:
Mao. I would really like to see term limits on Senators and Representatives. I think limiting Senators to 2 consecutive terms (12 years) and 5 terms for Representatives (10 years) would serve. So often they are like lifetime appointments.

I'd prefer an amendment that federally funds all elections and bans any and all outside money. That and one that bans government employees from serving as a lobbyist, consultant, or anything vaguely related to their previous job in the private sector for, say, a decade.

More pressing for me is an amendment to Title 17 AKA the Copyright Code. Clear statutory language pertaining to fair use would be tremendous. Presently Fair Use can be made as an affirmative defense-IE you must prove it through motions or testimony. Courts are chipping into that; for example before a DMCA takedown notice can be sent the copyright holder must conduct an analysis to see if fair use can reasonably be inferred. Some copyright holders have been bitten in the ass by not doing this.

I wrote a fun thesis on how a fair use analysis must be conducted before a complaint is filed. Failure to do so would result in trebble fees and costs to a defendant. Or maybe just fees and costs.

I started another thread over here because I think our dated copyright code will hamper our media competition in an ever growing global market.

LeapingGnome wrote:
Hypatian wrote:
I would be all on board for a Human Rights Amendment.

The first 10 cover it pretty well, just the govt keeps chipping away at them.

You might think that, but there are a lot of us for whom it's not so simple.

Take the Equal Rights Amendment, make it apply to [em]everyone[/em], and then we can talk about how things are good. Hell, the Bill of Rights doesn't even cover [em]race[/em].

I suspect you don't have worries about traveling to visit somewhere in the U.S. in the future and being turned away from your hotel reservation when you arrive because of who you are, or getting fired from a job (or not hired) because somebody learns about your past. As a transgender person, the fact that not only do these sorts of things happen to trans folks, but it is [em]entirely legal[/em] in most places for them to happen is tremendously frightening.

To establish that it's not okay to discriminate against groups of people who have persistently been allowed to be treated like sh*t is one of the few entirely legitimate reasons for amending the constitution. And we couldn't even summon up the political will to pass an amendment intended to forbid laws discriminating against women.

I think there's quite a bit of work to be done here.

I'm deeply suspicious of term limits. How are we well-served by amateur Congressman and Senators? Government, and indeed the world, are very complicated today, and so are the issues we face. Is the problem really that politicians with experience are damaging the government somehow? Because I'm not at all certain what will be "fixed* by constantly putting people unfamiliar with the job in their places...

To me, if term limits actually did something useful, they'd be in wide use in business.

Robear wrote:
I'm deeply suspicious of term limits. How are we well-served by amateur Congressman and Senators? Government, and indeed the world, are very complicated today, and so are the issues we face. Is the problem really that politicians with experience are damaging the government somehow? Because I'm not at all certain what will be "fixed* by constantly putting people unfamiliar with the job in their places...

To me, if term limits actually did something useful, they'd be in wide use in business.

No the problem is that they make a career out of being a politician. Their concern is not being a good politician, it's keeping their job. Term limits allow them to spend more time doing their job and less time working on re-election.

SixteenBlue wrote:
No the problem is that they make a career out of being a politician. Their concern is not being a good politician, it's keeping their job. Term limits allow them to spend more time doing their job and less time working on re-election.

Federal funding of elections would accomplish that much more efficiently. Member of Congress could then use the four to six hours a day they currently spend on begging for money to solve the problems of their constituents and, as an added bonus, wouldn't have to horse trade a favorable new law or loophole for a donation.

To an extent you lessen the pressure, especially in the house, of the purpose being re-election and campaigning.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radi...

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/...

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2...

My argument is that costs of campaigns is the sympton, not the disease. Costs of seeking re-election has been rising for about 50 years. The time and cost has been rising in that time as well. Last year a total of 12 members of congress were present to cast a vote for all proposed measures. They fly for free.

It gets worse for federal officials seeking presidential appointment. The intent of the congressional recess was to give time to mount election campaigns, and that is not enough, so that campaigning and fund raising has to be done year round. You remove that compulsion for a last term official.

OG_slinger wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:
No the problem is that they make a career out of being a politician. Their concern is not being a good politician, it's keeping their job. Term limits allow them to spend more time doing their job and less time working on re-election.

Federal funding of elections would accomplish that much more efficiently. Member of Congress could then use the four to six hours a day they currently spend on begging for money to solve the problems of their constituents and, as an added bonus, wouldn't have to horse trade a favorable new law or loophole for a donation.

I am on board for an amendment to get money out of politics. I think it would be a very simple amendment: "Money is not speech." That would allow Congress to legislate restrictions on money that could be adjusted over the years. I don't think we should use an amendment to specify the appropriate way to run an election in 2012; we need something more flexible.

OG_slinger wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:
No the problem is that they make a career out of being a politician. Their concern is not being a good politician, it's keeping their job. Term limits allow them to spend more time doing their job and less time working on re-election.

Federal funding of elections would accomplish that much more efficiently. Member of Congress could then use the four to six hours a day they currently spend on begging for money to solve the problems of their constituents and, as an added bonus, wouldn't have to horse trade a favorable new law or loophole for a donation.

That would definitely be nice. They'd still have to spend time selling themselves but it would be a lot less time.

Money isn't speech.
Corporations aren't people.
Soylent Green is.
One-term limit for each elected office, maybe made slightly longer to get stuff done.
One subject per bill/law, with no riders, except for $30MM for the perverted arts.

Robear wrote:
I'm deeply suspicious of term limits. How are we well-served by amateur Congressman and Senators? Government, and indeed the world, are very complicated today, and so are the issues we face.

I don't think it's anymore complicated than it used to be. I doubt you can prove a correlation between competence and longevity. If we had a system in which experienced congressmen voted their consciences, okay. But they don't. They vote based on campaign cash and political concerns.

I don't know if term limits would change anything, but I'd be willing to try them. I don't think term limits have hurt the presidency at all.

Isn't that true for the presidency as well?

Funkenpants wrote:
Isn't that true for the presidency as well?

Yes, but that is just one of our three branches of government. I'd prefer to keep it that way.

And, for what it is worth, I would have voted for a third Clinton term.

Edgar_Newt wrote:
My concern about term limits is that it makes the career staff even more powerful than they are today; think Karl Rove on steroids. If freshman/sophomore make up 100% of Congress (assuming a two term cap), then the real power shifts to the staffers who are subject to such restriction.

I much prefer to just have common sense campaign finance reform. Oh and fix the insane gerrymandering issue that is killing democracy in this country.

That's an interesting perspective I had not considered. Sometimes P&C delivers.

My concern about term limits is that it makes the career staff even more powerful than they are today; think Karl Rove on steroids. If freshman/sophomore make up 100% of Congress (assuming a two term cap), then the real power shifts to the staffers who are not subject to such restriction.

I much prefer to just have common sense campaign finance reform. Oh and fix the insane gerrymandering issue that is killing democracy in this country.

Edited: added the missing "not" in the last sentence of the first paragraph.

It's not true for the presidency, as he sets up his own staff and department heads when he arrives.


No the problem is that they make a career out of being a politician. Their concern is not being a good politician, it's keeping their job. Term limits allow them to spend more time doing their job and less time working on re-election.

This is one of those common wisdom things, but what evidence is there that most politicians think this way? For example, my representative has dial-in conference calls every few weeks across his entire district. He puts in long hours, much of it spent on constituent requests and dealing with legislation. And his father held the same seat - he's the *perfect* candidate to ignore his constituents and sit around doing... I'm not sure what you might think, but doing that instead of serving constituents.

Because in the end, all politics is local. If he does not get out and be seen, and help people, and move legislation that they like, it won't matter how many corporations donate to him. He'll lose. This is the problem with the wave-hands conclusions; the assumptions don't fit the reality. Politicians are re-elected because their constituents *like* them, not because they pander to lobbyists or spend their time giving speeches about their opponents flaws.

SixteenBlue wrote:
Robear wrote:
I'm deeply suspicious of term limits. How are we well-served by amateur Congressman and Senators? Government, and indeed the world, are very complicated today, and so are the issues we face. Is the problem really that politicians with experience are damaging the government somehow? Because I'm not at all certain what will be "fixed* by constantly putting people unfamiliar with the job in their places...

To me, if term limits actually did something useful, they'd be in wide use in business.

No the problem is that they make a career out of being a politician. Their concern is not being a good politician, it's keeping their job. Term limits allow them to spend more time doing their job and less time working on re-election.

Term limits just mean they spend their time fluffing up their resume for that lobbyist job waiting for them after their time is up. At least the career politician has to keep a plurality of his constituency happy.

Robear wrote:
It's not true for the presidency, as he sets up his own staff and department heads when he arrives.

Shorter terms in the executive does still increase the power of the established bureaucracy in comparison with the elected and appointed positions at the head of the executive. There are also drawbacks to having the top positions be appointed by new presidents--although shaking things up every few years can help break down parts of the system that aren't working well, they can also cause messes in places that were working just fine.

I think the overall effect is somewhat less problematic than in the legislative branch, however. A strong bureaucracy makes sense in the executive, where it exists to implement the law of the land--to get things done. It's okay for the expertise to be distributed out in the agents of the executive, while the head of the executive sets the direction. Institutional memory is in the individuals at the lower levels, and deals with how to achieve the mandates of the law given different directions.

In the legislative branch, however, the heart of the work is to establish the law of the land, and the bureaucracy there exists to provide good information to the legislators who do that work. There is institutional memory in the research organizations, but because everything they do has to be passed on to the legislators and understood, it can never substitute for domain knowledge on the part of the legislators themselves. It exists to augment their knowledge, analyzing new information about old problems or analyzing new problems. It can also inform them about legislative history, but things don't work as well when everything has to be digested and understood. You want to do that for specifics, not for generalities. Here, the institutional memory ought to be in the legislators, while the bureaucracy provides detailed information specific to new problems, current situations, and projected outcomes.

I agree with you on all that, Hypatian. And on the bad impact of money, the need to get rid of gerrymandering, that sort of thing.

After watching a special on the JFK assassination I'm curious: In the US, what would happen if the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect, not being the incumbents, were to die before taking office? Obviously the current President would serve out his or her term but would it then devolve along the normal lines such that the Speaker of the House would become the new President for a full term? And I'm wondering how that would be affected, if at all, by a change in the House due to the same election that brought in the President-Elect.

Not sure if this covers the hypothetical you brought up 100%, but the US code does cover the case where both the president and vice president are unable to serve:

If, at the time when under subsection (a) of this section a Speaker is to begin the discharge of the powers and duties of the office of President, there is no Speaker, or the Speaker fails to qualify as Acting President, then the President pro tempore of the Senate shall, upon his resignation as President pro tempore and as Senator, act as President.

Well yes, that's the standard since the 1950s and I mentioned it in my question. I'm more curious about the extremely strange hypothetical. For example, say Romney/Ryan wins in November. Then Romney and Ryan die somehow in December, before they're sworn in; is John Boehner the de-facto POTUS come January for a full term, once Obama and Biden leave the office?

Furthermore, if the Democrats took control of the House in the same election, would John Boehner be the POTUS in January or would that be given to the next Speaker, since the majority party selects the Speaker of the House?

Wasn't there a Tom Clancy novel like this?