Four questions to ask when you want the federal government to do something

When you think you’ve spotted a problem that you think the federal government needs to solve…

Say… more gun control.

Comprehensive immigration reform.

(Comprehensive anything reform.)

Compulsory national service.

Universal government-paid daycare.

You need to stop and ask yourself some questions:

If you’re Congress and you’re thinking of passing a particular piece of legislation, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Is it constitutional? (If not, stop.)
  2. Is the problem you’re seeking to solve a) a federal issue or b) more effectively solved by the states? (If “b,” stop and defer to the states.)
  3. Is it necessary? (If not, stop.)
  4. Will it work (will it actually solve the problem you’re claiming you want to solve)? (If not, stop until you have something that will work.)

You know where this would lead, don’t you?


One of the greatest and least appreciated gifts from the Founders.


‘Modernizing’ the Vote—Why Would We Want to?

Fournier FTN 060215

Ron Fournier was on Face the Nation this morning (the first episode with John Dickerson as host).

The topic was Hillary Clinton and her allegations that Republicans are trying to limit people’s voting rights.

Here is Fournier on his current pet peeve, that we need to modernize voting:

Fournier’s focus (they’re talking about Hillary) is on Clinton’s ability to achieve this modernization.

Overlooked in his thoughts, though:

  1. These kinds of voting laws are almost entirely State issues, not federal—so how is Hillary, or any other president, going to make modernization happen to Fournier’s satisfaction?
  2. What is the actual benefit of enlarging voter participation by making voting easier?

Couple thoughts on that second point:

  1. Yes, if your entire objective is to enlarge voter participation, making it easier to vote will help achieve that end.
  2. No, if your objective includes enlarging voter engagement—not so much.


Engaged citizens tend to vote.

They know what’s going on, what the issues are (or what they think the issues are).

They keep up with political personalities.

They stay read up.

They follow the candidates and controversies.

They are ready when it comes time to vote.

And the few rules they must follow in order to vote are no hindrance to them.

The disengaged?

They disenfranchise themselves.


Engaged citizens vote.

Disengaged citizens don’t.

Why would we want it otherwise?

Why would we want the votes of engaged citizens diluted by those of the disengaged?

We might if we thought we could manipulate the disengaged more effectively than we can the engaged.


Why would we do this?

You want more people voting?

Get more people engaged.

Teach them to fend for themselves and for each other, to study, to question, to listen, to evaluate, to continually learn.

THAT is engagement.

Once they’re engaged, they will vote.

And I bet their votes would be wiser for the effort.

The Rand Paul Birther Ad

Rand Paul fillibuster cropped

My close personal friend (whose real name I don’t know) streiff posted this yesterday:

Rand Paul PAC runs birther ad attacking Ted Cruz

It seems like every day we are confronted with more evidence that Rand Paul and his followers should be kept as far from the levers of power as Barack Obama.

Paul seems to be either unable or unwilling to break free of the need to suck up to the same nutjobs and douches that kept his old man in psychotropic drugs for  a couple of decades. Regardless, the effect is the same. Putin carving Crimea out of Ukraine is fine. The GOP “hawks” are to blame for arming ISIS (no mention is made of Obama or Hillary being anywhere in the same hemisphere). The newest round of nutjobbery from Paul is a video churned out by his allied America’s Liberty PAC.

Oh my…

Can’t say I’m shocked.

I predicted something like this a little over a year ago (Cruz vs Paul):

Here’s what I think is going to happen with Rand Paul:

  1. He’s either going to keep his dad’s base or he’s going to lose it.
  2. If he keeps it, that means he will own their history of extremism.
  3. If he loses it, he loses their operational impact.

I really don’t think he can have it both ways.

As a Cruz apologist, I do think Rand Paul serves one very useful function:

If it’s down to a choice between him and Cruz, I fully expect Matt Lewis, along with Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry—and even John Podhoretz—to join the Cruz bandwagon.

Even if they have to hold their noses to do it.

It appears to me Rand has decided to go all-in on his father’s army of paulites, with everything that entails.


Two things about Cruz right now:

  1. This is another example of everyone seeming to go out of their way to help Cruz.
  2. Although Cruz is catching a lot of these kinds of breaks, he STILL needs to get the WMD thing right (Ted Cruz doesn’t get ‘WMD’ right either).


Carly speaking

Everyone is shocked at Carly.

Maybe even Carly.

Something came together in my mind just now as I was re-acquainting myself with her tenure at Hewlett-Packard.

And it combined with something she said about some horrible gaffes during her abysmal Senate campaign in California.

Given the track record and/or scandal attached to every Hewlett-Packard CEO since Carly, along with the financial collapse of the tech sector during and after her tenure—how can anyone draw an objective bead on her time there?

The (usually) hyperbolic blowback to her and what she tried and sometimes succeeded in doing at H-P is going to be difficult for her to overcome.

Along with that doomed Senate race in California.

About which

“I had just come off cancer treatment,” she says of her 2010 campaign, a difficulty compounded by the death of her daughter in October 2009. “I was sick and heartsick.”

She’s gotten past that, obviously, but how did she then become such a world-class communicator?

There’s no denying she has. I mean, did you see her interview on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell?

She puts on the same level of performance no matter where she goes or who she talks to.

Her trolling of Hillary Clinton is a sight to behold.

Absolutely masterful.

I didn’t always feel this way.

When she first gained people’s notice, I immediately thought of that California campaign and thought, “Good luck with this venture, Carly.”

Even as a vice presidential possibility, people told me they’d prefer someone who’d proved themselves as a successful candidate.



Or as a successful—not angrily fired and bitterly denounced—big time executive.

And yet, here she is, hugely, surprisingly successful so far.

But how?

It’s because she proved herself.

Not in the modern sense of the word, meaning validation or demonstration of her worth or expertise.

But a definition much older, and with special meaning to me.

Being proved as being tried in fire.

Being purified.

Entering the ordeal weak, compromised.

Emerging strong, confident.

Vindicated, not because of what you accomplished, but because of what you’ve become.

And here the concept is, in my favorite context:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 4:12-13 (RSV)

Carly fightin cancer

After Hewlett-Packard, after California, after cancer, after losing a loved one—

What is Andrea Mitchell’s questioning—what is anyone’s doubts—to Carly Fiorina?

She has been proved as few have.

If you are her foe, you will doubt her at your peril.