Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Term Limits for Congress

Found this as part of a larger article.  The whole article can be read here.


Term limits are needed at all levels of government. However, because of the large electoral advantages wielded by incumbents, the historically low rate of turnover, the greater threat from special interests, and the unique power that federal legislators hold, it is especially important to apply term limits to Congress.

Term limits counterbalance incumbent advantages.

Congressional term limits are a necessary corrective to inequalities which inevitably hinder challengers and aid incumbents. Each House Member, for instance, receives nearly a million dollars per year to pay for franked (free) mail, staff salaries, and office and travel expenses. While campaigning, incumbents continue to receive salaries upwards of $130,000 a year, which typically dwarf the income of challengers (who often must resign from their jobs while running for office). A small army of congressional staffers does volunteer work during campaign season; they have every motivation to do so, since they are campaigning for perpetuation of their jobs. On official time, these political aides perform all sorts of jobs unrelated to legislation but closely tied to reelection, such as soliciting media attention and doing favors for constituents. The power of the frank permits each Member to send thinly disguised reelection propaganda to every residence in his district several times per term. The money allotted to each incumbent for franking alone -- over $160,000 per year -- is higher than the average challenger's total campaign expenditures. State legislators, who recognize the benefits to their state from long-term congressional incumbency, redraw election districts to maximize incumbents' electoral chances. The extent of incumbent resources prevents their exhaustive listing here, but their electoral impact is sizable; both the House and the Senate, for instance, have authorized taxpayer-funded lawyers to intervene in term limits litigation. When these benefits are added to such natural incumbent advantages as name recognition, media access, and higher political contributions, it is no wonder that challengers unseat incumbents so rarely. Despite increasing complaints about the drudgery of life in Congress, a remarkable number of incumbents continue to seek (and secure) reelection. Term limits ensure congressional turnover.

The turnover rate for House incumbents who attempt reelection typically is below 10 percent. This is in stark contrast to the first century of America's government, when long-term congressional incumbency was rare and Members often voluntarily chose to leave Washington and return home. (See e.g., George Will, Restoration (New York: Free Press, 1992), p. 84.) In the nineteenth century, the average turnover in each new Congress was over 45 percent, (Figures from Norman Ornstein, Thomas Mann, and Michael Malbin, Vital Statistics on Congress 1993-1994 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1993), and Will, Restoration.) and this ensured a continual influx of Members free from the institutional biases that long-term incumbency brings. Today, however, despite a large 1992 turnover fueled primarily by retirees, there is little or no turnover among those who set Congress's agenda: the committee chairmen and other members of the Democratic leadership. In the House of Representatives, for instance, the average job tenure is ten years. However, the principal leaders (the committee chairmen, speaker, majority leader, and whip) have served an average of twenty-seven years -- which means that the average member of this group has been in the House since the Johnson Administration. (See chart, "Unpopular Representation," Insight, April 11, 1994, page 22.) For every congressional election in the last twenty years, incumbents running for reelection in the House of Representatives have been returned to office at rates averaging higher than 90 percent. (Ornstein, Mann, and Malbin, Vital Statistics on Congress 1993-1994, p. 118, table 4-7.) Term limits would end such entrenchment and concentration of power, and the number of legislators who chose to retire or refused to run again also would increase. In California, for instance, the prospective imposition of term limits on the state legislature has more than doubled voluntary turnover (from 11 percent to 25 percent) in two years. (See John C. Armor, "'Foreshadowing' Effects of Term Limits: California's Example for Congress," U.S. Term Limits Foundation, Term Limits Outlook Series, Vol III, No. 1 (June 1994), p. 3.)

Term limits secure Congress's independent judgment.

In one of the few cases where Congress itself has established term limits, service on the House and Senate intelligence Committees is limited on the grounds that long-term membership might cause Members to develop a loyalty to the intelligence bureaucracy that would undermine their ability to exercise critical and independent judgment over it. This mandatory term limit is based on a sound theory of human conduct, but it deserves wider application; in an age where scores of federal agencies and special interests continually lobby for funding, there is a very real danger that Congressmen will become enmeshed in a culture that is overfamiliar with the federal government and insulated from the communities they ostensibly represent. Public sentiment in favor of term limits is likely influenced by the fear that Congressmen will become captured by this alien federal culture, as well as by frustration with the sclerotic representation that results from incumbents of all political stripes routinely getting reelected.

Term limits are a reality check.

Term limits also would provide inescapable, bracing reminders of what life in the real world is like. After former Senator George McGovern tried (and failed) to succeed in small business after spending eighteen years in Congress, he observed: "I wish I had known a little more about the problems of the private sector.... I have to pay taxes, meet a payroll -- I wish I had a better sense of what it took to do that when I was in Washington." (Fund, op. cit., p. 10.) Ensuring that Members eventually are exposed to life outside of Congress should inculcate a more sophisticated understanding of the logic and the limits of federal regulation.

Term limits minimize Members' incentives for reelection-related "pork- barrel" legislation.

As government has grown larger, legislative careerism has become more prominent in Congress. Because long-tenured Congressmen have increasing power over the fate of federal projects due to the seniority system, senior members of both parties now routinely campaign by stressing their ability to bring federal projects to their home districts rather than by explaining their views on the important issues of the day. When Members express their preferences in committee assignments, they are aware of the electoral impact of federal spending directed at their districts. After the 1992 elections, so many freshman Congressmen chose the Public Works and Transportation Committee that new seats had to be created, making Public Works the largest committee in Congress. (Jackie Calmes, "Tables Turned: Candidates of Change in 1992 Find Congress Reforms Them Instead," The Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1994, p. A1.) Term limits, by eliminating incentives for careerism, would curb reelection-oriented federal spending which is targeted to particular districts but contributes little to the general welfare of the country.

Term limits thus provide an escape from the Faustian bargain that voters face: they know that returning an incumbent for another term may help their district, but in the long run it has dire institutional and national consequences. Long-term officeholders, less vulnerable because of a well-honed reelection machine fueled by public resources, come gradually to identify their interests more and more with those of the federal government. There is a strong correlation between length of legislative service and votes in favor of more public expenditures. (See James L. Payne, The Culture of Spending (San Francisco: ICS Press, 1991), chapters 5, 11.) Political scientist John Armor, for example, has calculated the effects of term limits on congressional votes by eliminating the votes of senior legislators who would be locked out by term limits and replacing them by the proportion of votes for and against legislation made by junior members of their parties (in order to simulate the additional, hypothetical term- limited legislators); he found that the President's 1993 tax increase would not have made it through the House, while last year's Penny- Kasich federal spending cuts would have passed the House overwhelmingly. (See Pat Buchanan, "Term Limits Revolution," The Washington Times, July 7, 1994, p. A16.) Longer-serving Congressmen are also more hostile generally to other fiscally conservative measures, such as a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, (Payne, The Culture of Spending, pp. 178-179.) and a forthcoming study by Cato Institute analysts Steve Moore and Aaron Steelman finds that term limits would push numerous other congressional vote totals in a more fiscally conservative direction.

Term limits would restore respect for Congress.

Use of discreditable tactics like pork-barreling that have powerful electoral effects is a major cause of declining respect for and satisfaction with Congress. Term limits would arrest the decline of congressional legitimacy, ensuring that Members would be more truly representative of their communities, and would renew American citizenship by writing into law the principle that people can govern themselves -- and that this representation falls within the competence of any reasonably interested and well-educated citizen. The objection that long service is essential to understanding the complex legislative process says far more about the current congressional system than it does about the concept of term limits.

In short, the best way to reinvigorate government is to bring in legislators with fresh outlooks, new ideas, and better incentives. Term limits are the only realistic way to change the culture of legislative careerism in Congress -- a culture that undermines the public interest.

Sign the term limit petition here

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Experts say Obama won't stop Eagle Ford Shale

Experts say Obama won't stop Eagle Ford Shale boom
Originally published November 10, 2012 at 10:12 P.M., updated November 11, 2012 at 7:16 A.M.
In the wake of the election, some in Texas fear President Obama's second-term energy policies will end the oil and gas boom of the Eagle Ford Shale.
However, industry analysts and longtime insiders say the Eagle Ford Shale play and the oil boom in Texas shouldn't be much impacted in the second term of Obama's administration.
John Braudway, a longtime oil industry man in Karnes County, is not in favor of Obama's policies, but he doesn't expect the president will do much to curtail production of oil and natural gas in the Eagle Ford Shale.
"It's not in his interest to shut it down," Braudway said.
During his re-election campaign, Obama made becoming less dependent on foreign oil a part of his platform, while touting the benefits of the wealth of cheap natural gas now flowing in this country and noting how shale plays have helped the country as it continues to creep toward economic recovery.....
Read the whole story here business&local-business

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tis a sad day indeed

The end of the Hostess Twinkie may be near, the bakers strike was just the last nail in the coffin. Quick, maybe we can get a HUGE  government bailout. Isn't the Twinkie one of those All-American Icons that shouldn't be allowed to fail?  What am I going to smear all over myself when I put on the tin-foil hat?

This is a national crisis, we need to mobilize in the streets to save the Twinkie!

Gimme a break, the country is going to hell in a handbasket.  I hope the bakers union is happy about screwing 18,000 people out of a job.  There are petitions on the White House website, some with over 100,000 signatures, from different states petitioning for secession from the union. Ron Paul speaks about a larger looming financial crisis in his farewell speech to Congress and all we can think about is Twinkies

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ron Paul's Farewell to Congress speech.

Farewell to Congress Thursday, November 15, 2012– by Ron Paul

This may well be the last time I speak on the House Floor. At the end of the year I'll leave Congress after 23 years in office over a 36-year period. My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty.

It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.

To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire.

The problems seemed to be overwhelming and impossible to solve, yet from my view point, just following the constraints placed on the federal government by the Constitution would have been a good place to start. To read more click the link below.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

Today, November 11, 2012 is Veterans Day here in the U.S and Remeberance Day in the U.K..  Today is also the birthdate General George S. Patton Jr. (Nov. 11, 1885 - Dec. 21, 1945), who is probably one of the most famous soldiers of all time.

I wish to express my Thanks and Gratitude to all those that served before myself, those that served concurrently with me and those that served afterwards and continue to do so. From one veteran to another, I salute you.

Thank You

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fiscal Cliff

Just the latest financial crisis that needs to be dealt with, more of the same old stuff.  Its amazing that they keep regurgitating the same crap, stick it in a slightly different wrapper and people just eat it right up like its actually something new.

Just heard a story on the news about "Internet Addiction", the latest in a long line of addictions that the pseudo-medical field decided to validate to explain a basic lack of self-control.

What are we doing to ourselves?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Its Over...

I am writing this post between traffic, I apologize if it becomes dis-jointed.

The elections are finally over.  From everything I saw this morning, the popular vote was pretty close, the electoral was not.  For us here on the oil fields the future has now become uncertain. The oil companies have slowed operations to see what the outcome of the elections would be.  While there haven't been any indications that rural fracking operations would be affected, ones in more populous areas of the midwest may be.  

The bigger concern is the erosion of of our Second Amendment Rights, many people I know are purchasing weapons and more importantly ammunition that they fear will be in short supply soon.

We aren't sure what the short term future will hold,  we are just going to buckle down, continue the preps we have been making and hold on to our butts.

The gate is getting pretty busy, more later.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why can't I stay out of the Sun?

It's been a nice couple days here. The RV is positioned so that I get shade all day long without the awning being out. Most of the time a nice breeze is blowing to keep me cool and the scenery is nice. This morning it was so foggy that I couldn't see over 300 feet and could even see my shadow against the fog with the lights on behind me.  Traffic actually slowed down for awhile, a few gravel trucks went by with their flashers on and quite a few people used the apron of the gate road as a place to turn around, and being that we have the only light tower near the road for miles we were like a beacon in the mist.  After the sun came up I turned off our generator to check to oil and left it off for almost an hour. The fog kept things nice and cool and the silence was beautiful.  As used to the drone of the thing as we are, sometimes its nice not to hear it.

Still working some bugs out of the new coach. The antenna wire for the television had become brittle and broke a few days ago. I need to fix the battery tie-downs and I will probably check the air filter and plugs soon too.  Most things seem to be small maintenance items. The old girl just needs a little TLC.

I've had a few thing rattling around the old noggin as of late about doing the gate guard thing. The list kinda goes like this:

1.) This definately is not for everyone.
2.) Talking to the safety guys is super-beneficial.
3.) Don't get attached to your Ez-Up.
4.) Flexibility is a must.

The hours can be brutal. Working 80+ hours a week, most of them outside, with no days off takes its toll. Working out a schedule quickly helps, so does going to town. Sometimes a little break is good. Being able to move reasonably well is an absolute must. The other day I was running backwards up the road towards the pad so that I could get trucks off the busy highway. One of the truck drivers told me he had never seen a gate guard do that before. There is a bit of physicality required to do this.

We have made a habit to find out who the safety guys are pretty quickly when we start a new gate.  We are H2S awareness certified and may get "fit test" certified soon too if the guys have the time.  Fit testing is to make sure you can put on a gas mask properly in case you happen to be involved in an H2S event. These classes don't cost a thing and the information can save your life.

I swear the wind in South Texas likes to eat ez-ups.  In our case, it was a wind "out of nowhere" that was the demise of both of ours.  The first one was lifted straight up into the air and then thrown over the top of the RV. The little ropes that come attached to them just aren't enough. The second one got rolled across the road and seemed to survive okay, we put it back up and tied it back down for the remainder of that gate assignment.  I even started removing the tarp when the winds picked up to prevent it from happening again. When we put it up on our next gate, a wind hit it and folded the frame like it was made of paper. A little duct tape got it through the week but it didn't survive being taken down again.

Staying flexible and keeping an open mind is an absolute must, things can change here in a matter of moments and being able to roll with the punches is an absolute requirement. Traffic can go from a nice slow pace to rush hour in a large city in seconds.

There are other things that doing this requires, a good first aid kit, a good set of tools, multimeter, a sense of humor, just to name a few.  When I was on the roof, the guys ging through the gate seemed to be entertained by it. Maybe it was because I was laying on my stomach waiting for Toie to hand me a tool and I was waving, who knows.