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rotten boroughs - mp for a day - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2009-05-26 22:09
Subject: rotten boroughs - mp for a day
Security: Public
Location:home
Mood:anxiousanxious
Music:jt bruce
Right, this MPs' expenses thing has just got beyond the frakking joke. First David Cameron tried to seize the high ground by saying he was going to open up Tory MPs' selection lists to anyone "who shares our values." Brilliant idea, Dave. Let's a give a whole bunch of people with no political experience at all the chance to rule us.
Now the nightmare scenario is beginning to take shape. Telegraph columnist and right-wingish Right Winger Simon Heffer is saying he's going to stand against Sir Alan Haselhurst if he refuses to pay back the money he's claimed, and Esther Rantzen, Lynne Faulds-Wood and former 80s pop singer David Van Day have also expressed an interest in standing.
How many of them will actually reach the hustings, I don't know, but there will be more in coming days. Soap stars, retired footballers, television journalists. Some of them really could be elected; the mood in the country's about right. If I wake up one morning and discover that David Van Day is Chancellor and Simon Heffer is Home Secretary, I'm off to Poland and I'm not coming back until the country comes to its fucking senses.
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The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Oddities
User: txtriffidranch
Date: 2009-05-26 21:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You'd better hope that it comes to its senses. All you have to do is look at America to see what happens when you put a bunch of camera-tropic idiots into government because "they're from outside the political arena". Arnold the Barbarian is doing marginally better than most (which is a case of taste-testing dog shit for flavor and consistency), but all I have to do is remind everyone of how George W. Bush was marketed as an outsider back in 2000, and they start screaming and can't stop.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-05-26 22:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
True, but at least W had a political background. Now imagine someone like him, but with no political experience at all.

Edited at 2009-05-26 10:05 pm (UTC)
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The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Oddities
User: txtriffidranch
Date: 2009-05-26 22:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, he had a political background of sorts, but he had no interest in any of it until Cheney, Ray Hunt et al convinced him that he needed to become President. As for having no political experience at all, I can go on and on and on, but I'll just refer you to the story of "Bubbles" Cash, one of Jack Ruby's strippers who decided to run for President in 1992. Or Ralph Nader. Or Ross Perot. Oh, we've had some really narcissistic slobs try for public office just in my lifetime alone, and many won their elections.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-05-26 22:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, I don't know whether being Governor of Texas counts as political experience over there...
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The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Oddities
User: txtriffidranch
Date: 2009-05-26 22:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Really, it doesn't. One of the quirks of Texas government, thanks to the mess the Union made of Reconstruction after the War Between The States, is that the governor really has precious little power. The lieutenant governor has all of the actual power and makes all of the real decisions. All Shrub did during his terms as Governor was show up to photo opportunities, appear at Texas Ranger baseball games, and play Nintendo for most of the day. Or, to put it another way, Russell T. Davies would be better prepared to become Prime Minister than Shrub was to become President from his six years as Governor. Cheney becoming the Shadow President during the Bush years was pretty much to be expected, as that's what Bush was used to doing while he was Governor.

Okay, I fib slightly. The only other things he did was sign legislation allowing concealed handguns in Texas (solely so he'd get the "007" permit, and I'm not kidding) and fight any legislation involving animal cruelty. Our current Governor, Rick Perry, is a walking definition of "chickenshit", but the one good thing he did during his current 2 1/2 terms is vote to institute criminal penalties for animal cruelty within hours of his being sworn in back in 2001. Before that, you had such incidents as the emu farmer west of Fort Worth who got upset that the speculation bubble on emus popped in 1997, noted that he'd lost $2 million on his flock, grabbed a golf club, and killed them all. Between this and a well-publicized case involving a nutjob who threw a dog over a highway overpass into rush hour traffic here in Dallas, the only thing Bush did was fight, actively and aggressively, any effort to make these crimes.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-05-26 23:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You see, that's interesting. I had no idea. In the early days, when we still only had an inkling of how dangerous he might be, we over here could still think, `well, he was Governor of Texas, he must have some idea.' Clearly, he was an asshole even then.
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The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Oddities
User: txtriffidranch
Date: 2009-05-27 03:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's what we get for having a system that my youngest brother Martin refers to as "fifty separate countries that pretend to be a single nation." One of the most important clauses in the US Constitution states that any powers not assigned by the Constitution to the federal government go to the states, which is why we have such an insane patchwork of mutually contradictory state laws and regulations. For instance, movies or books that are perfectly legal to own in most states will get you put in jail in Mississippi or Alabama, and don't even get me going about trying to bring alcohol across state lines. (It's even worse when you consider that Indian reservations are considered, by treaty, as separate countries, and military bases are subject to federal and not state law. Far too many buddies of mine in the Army discovered this the hard way: they bought beer and wine perfectly legally on base at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, only to get busted the moment they left the base by South Carolina State Troopers for possessing alcohol in a vehicle on a Sunday.)

This insanity also applies to the actual positions of government. All states follow the same general three-part system as the US federal government, with the Governor as the head of the executive branch of state government. This means that the Governor is also commander-in-chief of each state's State Guard, which cannot be commanded by the President, by the way. (It's a holdover from old fears, circa 1776, of the federal government becoming too powerful, and the State Guards are the "well-maintained militia" referred to by the Second Amendment.) Other than that, the terms of service, the possibility for recall, and even the actual powers of the governor are dependent upon each state's law, and that law definitely isn't created equal. If you figured that being a state Governor offers qualifications for future Presidency, you'd be absolutely correct if the state were New York or California. (As much as I dislike his politics, I have to admit that Arnold the Barbarian has done a better job as California's governor than many of his predecessors. Considering that his predecessors include Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown, though, that's not much of a compliment.) Texas, though, has always had a weak governor system, and the only people who want the job take it because they want to introduce legislation (former governors Mark White and Ann Richards), or they're egocentric twits who want the attention (George W., Bill Clements, Dolph Briscoe).

That said, I really honestly look forward to Rick Perry, our current unbearable cross, using his time as Governor to rationalize why he'd be a good President. He's considering running in 2012, and I hope he does. All anybody has to do, for either party, is note that we've already had one crappy Texas governor as President in our lifetimes, and he could get beaten by Ralph Nader in the general election.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-02 22:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is all fascinating stuff. I had no idea, and I did American Law and Politics as part of my degree. We never even touched on the niceties of state law. In fact I learned more about US constitutional law from The West Wing than I ever did at university.
I knew about weirdness of the drinking laws, though. When we did our exchange to Wisconsin all of us could drink, but when we visited Chicago only a couple of us were old enough.
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The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Oddities
User: txtriffidranch
Date: 2009-06-02 22:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had it worse with the drinking laws. When Ronald Reagan pushed through legislation to raise the national drinking age to 21 back in 1986, every state handled things differently. For instance, Wisconsin had a grandfather clause so that those who were already legal could continue to indulge, even though they technically were only 19 or 20 the moment the law went into effect. Texas, though, cut off everybody on September 1, 1986, meaning that I was legal for a year and four days before I was told that I was no longer welcome. This is because most of Wisconsin's economy is dependent upon alcohol sales, while the Southern Baptist Convention threatened to cut off any Texas legislators who supported anything other than a complete cut-off on that date.

The side-effects were interesting. In my case, I can't drink, but I went to clubs to listen to music and talk with friends. The Wisconsin grandfather clause allowed a lot of those venues to keep going, gradually getting used to the slight dropoff in new customers. In Texas, though, a lot of really good clubs imploded, especially around college campuses such as at the University of North Texas in Denton and the University of Texas at Austin, because suddenly three-quarters of their clientele weren't allowed inside. Some clubs could afford the specialized licenses that allowed underagers if they were clearly labeled as such, but most could't justify the licenses and the increased inspections (which were paid for by the venues, not by the state), and shut down.

Yeah, it's a strange country I live in. It's a strange state I live in. I still don't know if I'm here because it's grown on me, or just out of sheer perversity.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-02 22:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Interesting. I was in Milwaukee (and yes, I take your point about the state's dependence on alcohol sales, which we did our damndest to help out with) in '81. I wonder if you could make a connection between the various states' implementation of the drinking laws and the evolution of various music scenes and youth subgroups in the mid-80s.
I guess we all live in countries that are strange in their own way. Ours is hardly a paragon of level-headed sanity.
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The Texas Triffid Ranch - Odd Plants and Oddities
User: txtriffidranch
Date: 2009-06-02 22:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, and if you want a real headache situation, take a look at the state and federal law that regulates Armed Forces bases. For instance, the real reason why the Feds keep Area 51 secure is because it's been used as a toxic waste site for the last 30 years, in direct violation of New Mexico law, and the Skunk Works experimental craft testing is just a sideline. However, in other cases, state law trumps federal law, such as with capital punishment of soldiers. As far as the Army is concerned, certain crimes committed by soldiers justify execution, but the actual method used depends upon the state. (I was surprised to discover, for instance, that while a soldier convicted of murder could be put in front of a firing squad, that was only true in a few states that allowed such executions. For instance, in Utah, said soldier would have to be hanged in accordance with state law.)
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-02 22:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I suspect that's nothing to the headache situation when you have bases overseas.
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mylefteye
User: mylefteye
Date: 2009-05-27 08:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
David Van Day? David Van Day? Hang on, I could have sworn you said David Van Day. You did? David!? Van!? Day!!? Okay, the expenses row has made for some classic episodes of 'Have I Got News for You', and it's been fun watching some of the pompous idiots squirm, but the joke's wearing thin now. Actually, it's getting dangerous. I suspect the claims row has done more commercial harm, pound for pound, to UK business than the MP's claims ever did. (I've probably mangled that sentence but you know what I mean.)

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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-02 22:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I did say David Van Day. And he might still run. The threat of Esther Rantzen seems to have receded since Julie Moran decided to step down at the next election, but you can never predict what Esther will do. Also the prospect of Simon Heffer in Westminster is a little more remote now that Haslehurst has paid back what he's supposed to owe.
I suspect the harm could run even deeper than you suspect; we're watching an entire political class being burned to the ground.
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