October 29, 2008


Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Louisiana voters are gearing up for election day in record numbers.  Spurred on by the presidential election,   more than one quarter of a million people cast absentee ballots which is an all-time record.  And for good reason.  This is certainly one of the most important elections in modern history.  But if you live in Louisiana, your vote is looked on as irrelevant to the process.  Your sway on who will win American Idol has more influence than who will be the next president of the United States.

Louisiana has been written off as a “red state,” which means, for all practical purposes, your vote does not count.  You might as well write in “none of the above” or leave a hanging chad.  Why?  Look no further than the Electoral College.  We are  about to elect our country’s and the world’s most powerful leader, but the system we have in place causes us to abdicate our right to have our vote count.

Under the present system, the Electoral College rules require that all the state’s electoral votes go to the winner, no matter how close the election might have been.  If, for example, Obama gets 45% of the Louisiana votes, he still gets 0% of the Louisiana electoral votes.  If McCain ends up winning by one vote in Louisiana, he receives all of Louisiana’s electoral votes.  In fact, it is mathematically possible for one of the candidates to get 49% of the popular vote and 100% of electoral votes.  Go figure.

  Right now, there are fewer than 10 competitive “battleground” states that are receiving the focus and the money from the presidential candidates. In a state like Louisiana, where McCain will easily win, or a state like New York, where Obama is a cinch, why even vote for president?  All of the electoral delegates get assigned to the winner, and we know who the winner is going to be, so your vote for president, for all practical purposes, has been taken away.

 Now when it comes to other statewide races on the ballot, like Governor or U.S. Senator, strangely enough, we use the popular vote. So what is so important about having the electoral vote system that allows Louisiana voters and the voters in the majority of the states in this country to be disenfranchised in a presidential election?  An idiosyncratic system that on four occasions in our nation’s history has created a quagmire where the winner of the largest number of popular votes did not win the largest number of electoral votes, and therefore did not become president.  Remember some guy named Al Gore?

The system in place was confected in the early days of the republic by our founders, where electors were supposed to be independent agents exercising their best judgment in choosing a presidential candidate from a list of several contenders. Why?  Because the Framers of the Constitution, our Founding Fathers, the champions of democracy, did not trust the voters to make an intelligent choice.  Check out these quotes from the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

  “The extent of the country renders a popular vote impossible, that the people can have the requisite capacity to judge of the respective pretensions of the candidates.”  Delegate Mason, July 17, 1787.

“A popular election in this case is radically vicious. The ignorance of the people would put it in the power of some one set of men and throughout the Union, and acting in concert, to delude them into any appointment.”  Delegate Gerry.  July 25, 1787.

“The people are uninformed, and would be misled by a few designing men.”  Delegate Johnson, July 19, 1787.

So what this all comes down to is that the Founding Fathers were trying their best to insulate the selection of the president from the whims of the public.  They didn’t trust voters then and the system does not trust you now to make your choice. So because of conservative political persuasions, Louisiana is left out of any serious attention from the presidential candidates.

Since receiving their respective nominations, neither McCain nor Obama have set foot in Louisiana.  Neither candidate has said a word about hurricane recovery, wetlands protection, or supporting a larger percentage of oil and gas revenues for the state off the Louisiana coast.  From each of their perspectives, Louisiana issues are irrelevant in the current campaign.  Their just is no political capital to gain by either coming to or speaking about the Bayou State.

By being so out of the mix, just what else is Louisiana missing?  How about the lack of all that attention?  No knocks on the door by college students from out of state with leaflets about what an old, unhealthy guy John McCain is.  No robo-calls in the middle of dinner telling you that Barack Obama is a terrorist.  And no presidential TV ads.   In Louisiana, you are left out of the national political bombardment that is taking place in the likes of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida where those voters are taught that McCain is a Bush clone and that Obama will socialize the country.  Besides those paid for by state and local candidates, all we get are ads about bladder control and erectile dysfunction.

There are a number of reforms being considered for future elections.  A proportional electorial vote by congressional districts is as compromise solution that makes sense.  In the meantime, don’t forget to go vote for a number of candidates and propositions on the ballot next Tuesday.  Your vote might make the difference in many of these local and state races.  That is except for President.  In this election, you really are irrelevant.


“We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – the American Electoral College system sucks.
The Daily Iowan
The Daily Iowan.  (23 Sept 2004).  Editorial/Opinion.  “Long past time to fix Electoral College.”

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s column appears weekly, and is published in a number of newspapers and websites throughout Louisiana.  You can read past columns by going to Jim’s website at www.jimbrownla.com.     Jim’s regular radio show on WRNO, 995fm out of New Orleans can be heard each Sunday from 11:00 am till 1:00 pm.




Oh, Canada: Knopfler’s ancient No 1 gets blamed for nothin’

The Irish Times January 28, 2011 | Brian Boyd REVOLVER: IN 1983, Mark Knopfler found himself in a department store in New York. An employee was coming in and out of the storeroom with TV sets, which he eventually set out as a bank of screens. He turned one on and the music programme was showing a video of Motley Crue, who at the time were rocking their bad pre-op transexual look. website how many plays did shakespeare write

As Knopfler stood there, this Ordinary Joe blue-collar workman (perhaps on not more than the minimum wage) started to voice his opinion about spoilt, pampered millionaire rock stars and how they could do with a spell in boot camp, etc. Knopfler was transfixed by his monologue.

At the time Knopfler was one of the biggest rock stars in the world, probably only ever exposed to the fawning utterances of press and public alike. Here he was up close and personal with someone who was unimpressed by the metal- glam rock of The Crue – and certainly with how they looked.

So visceral did the musician find the experience that he borrowed a pen and started writing down verbatim what the TV guy was saying: “Look at them yo-yo’s, that’s the way you do it – you play the guitar on the MTV. Money for nothing and your chicks for free. See that little faggot with the earring and the make-up? I should have learned how to play guitar.” Money for Nothing(1985) went on to become Dire Strait’s most successful ever single, a US No 1. For some reason many people think that the video for the song was the first one played on MTV, but that honour belongs to The Buggles’ Video Killed the Radio Star four years previously.

At the time there was some controversy about Knopfler’s use of the word “faggot” in the lyrics. In an interview with Rolling Stone just after the song’s release, he said the song was written in the voice of the worker. “The singer in Money for Nothing is a real ignoramus, hard- hat mentality – somebody who sees everything in financial terms. I mean, this guy has a grudging respect for rock stars. He sees it in terms of, well, that’s not working and yet the guy’s rich: that’s a good scam.” Rather remarkably, another lyric in the song went completely unnoticed: “He’s up there banging on the bongos like a chimpanzee.” On a purely musical note, it also went unnoticed that the song’s now famous guitar riff sounds a bit like one used by ZZ Top a few years previously. here how many plays did shakespeare write

Money for Nothing is the most searched-for lyric this week on the internet, all because one person in Canada complained about the song to the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council. Result: Money for Nothing is now banned from the Canadian airwaves. That’s after a quarter-century and thousands and thousands of airplays.

There have since been hundreds of complaints about that one single complaint, but the overall reaction is perhaps best summarised by a Canadian newspaper, which wrote: “At last, Canada leads the world’s music news this week!” Of all the songs in the world (and sentiments expressed therein) that could possibly be referred to as “homophobic” this is such a pathetic and ridiculous choice. If you want straight-up pig- ignorant hatred and bile, just move your gaze away from an ancient, not very good song that was only ever intended as a satirical comment and instead tune in to what’s currently on offer in the realms of country and rap.

Meanwhile, I wonder how many plays The Pogues’ Fairytale of New Yorkreceived on Canadian radio over the holidays.

Revolver is deep into Nileism: The Strange Course of the Blue Nile, a book that finally does justice to the ineffable beauty of The Blue Nile’s music. And having A Walk Across the Rooftops on in the background just adds to the joy. Zac Efron as Jeff Buckley in a forthcoming biopic? Pass me my baseball bat.

Brian Boyd


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