Pet peeves (Thursday/Friday open thread)

I need to take a break from the “issues” for the rest of the night, and instead wanted to start a thread where we could rant about non-political stuff, like pet peeves. I know you’ve got a few. Here are some of mine:

— Someone chewing bubble gum with their mouth open: Recently at my work, a gal came in to fill out an application and while I was in the middle of getting her a pen and a clipboard to use, I could hear her smacking her gum. You know the sound. It is unbelieveably annoying. I remember hearing it a lot when I was in high school and to a certain extent college, but people are supposed to grow up beyond that point and now how to chew gum properly, but there people who try to make themselves exceptions, obviously …

— On a similar note, listening to people eat corn on the cob: Ok, I know that’s a little weird, but you can’t help hearing the way people eat when you sit with them, and there really is no graceful way to eat corn on the cob, unless you do what I do – cut the corn off the cob. I mainly do that because I’ve been too paranoid since I had my braces taken off my teeth when I was in high school to eat unsliced apples and corn because I was worried about my teeth going back in the direction I didn’t want them to (yes, I know this is a bit of trivia you’d probably rather not know about your blogstress). In any event, since there really is no ‘quiet’ way of eating corn outside of the one I mentioned – and I know most people don’t do what I do – you can’t really say something to someone about how they eat corn. Nevertheless, it drives me nuts.

— People who have had their turn signal on since 1973. C’mon! Turn the thing bleeping off if you’re not turning in the next few seconds.

— Grocery store customers who have their buggies full of groceries, see the person behind them standing their with one item, and not letting them go ahead. Ok – that’s more of an irritation than a pet peeve, I know. All the same, when my buggy is full, if someone is behind me at the checkout with just a couple of items, I’m going to let them in front of me. I’ve seen cases in other aisles where elderly people that had just one or two items had to stand in line behind someone who had loaded up for the month in groceries. Not right :(

Ok – your turn :)

For your listening enjoyment tonight, here’s a song by a Christian group, a song which is pretty much the story of my life right now. It’s a short song – a little over two minutes long, but one that we have probably all been able to identify with at one point or another in our lives. The band is called Wilshire and the song is called “Special.”

**Link to video**

1st verse and chorus:

I ride in on a train
Everyday is the same old thing
It’s nine to five
Don’t know if I’m dead or alive

I’m looking for a Halilujah
I need a little something Special
(Something special)

The “National Popular Vote” plan?

This is a horrible idea:

RALEIGH – Legislators in North Carolina, and other states across the country, are taking a look at changing the way voters elect a president.

Under a bill approved by the N.C. Senate last month, North Carolina’s 15 votes in the Electoral College would go to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote instead of the winner of the North Carolina vote. The change would take effect only if enough other states pass similar bills.

The bill is part of a small but growing national movement to make sure that the candidate who gets the most votes nationwide wins the White House.

Take the election of 2000, for example.

Al Gore won the popular vote by a small margin, but George Bush won the presidency in the Electoral College. Under the proposed changes, Gore would likely have been elected president.

Supporters in the General Assembly argue that the plan serves North Carolina voters because it would encourage presidential candidates to spend more time campaigning here, rather than focusing most of their energy on a few highly contested battleground states.

The proposed change, known as the “National Popular Vote” plan, requires states to enter a multistate contract and agree to assign their electoral votes to the nationwide popular winner, regardless of which candidate wins in individual states.

Legislative chambers in seven states have approved bills that would form such an agreement. The agreement would not take effect unless it were signed by a sufficient number of states so that their electoral votes taken together would make up a majority of the 538 members in the Electoral College.

That won’t happen by 2008, and it has generated plenty of skepticism. Some people say that the proposal favors Democratic candidates or that it would cause candidates to campaign only in major-media markets. Critics also say that it is nothing more than a clever way to get around the U.S. Constitution.

Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, said that there are good arguments on both sides for changing the Electoral College system and moving to a popular vote for president. But he said that any change should be made through a constitutional amendment, not through a haphazard collection of state laws.

“As people raised in a democracy, it’s just difficult to embrace the fact that the party that loses the popular vote (could win) the presidency” Brunstetter said. “But when you say, ‘This is a clever way to get around the Constitution,’ that’s just hard for me to get warm and fuzzy about.”

Thanks to reader TB for bringing this to my attention. I had no idea that such a movement was taking and am alarmed that it is gaining in popularity in certain states. I encourage readers to contact their state reps to voice their opinions on this issue, no matter whether or not it’s being debated in your state. If it’s not, it doesn’t hurt to go on the record in advance to oppose it. If it is being debated, your reps won’t know how you feel until you let ’em know.

Check out the main for and against arguments here. Rick Moran makes a compelling against argument here.

Ding dong, the immigration bill is dead

For now, anyway. Captain Ed liveblogged today’s Senate vote. The AP has more on the vote.

PM Update: I see the congrats are being passed all around the conservative opinion sites and blogs, but this piece from Jim Geraghty stood out to me:

So, Mr. President… now that you’ve demonstrated that you’re willing to:

–put enormous resources, time, energy, political capital and appropriations approval into an effort for legislation that drives the base of your party batty;

–have your aides call the base of your party xenophobic, racist, and not wanting what’s best for America;
have legislative allies like Trent Lott contend that your longtime loyal friends in the media world, talk radio show hosts, are a problem that “needs to be dealt with”;

–accuse your opponents of ignorance and not reading a bill when few, if any of us, believe you read through an entire 500 page bill;

–flatly refused to listen or consider our arguments that nearly-instant “probationary Z-visas” that permit a recipient to work without fear of deportation amounts to a de facto amnesty;
and chosen to do all of the above when you have a 30 percent approval rating or so and the base of your party is your last remaining friend…

…when you need our help in the future, you had better ask nicely and have a long list of persuasive arguments.

That “ask nicely” bit is a two way street. Unfortunately, so many of the bill’s opponents didn’t see it that way. Of course, we’re not supposed to “ask” our representatives to do anything for us – we’re supposed to let them know what we want, what our concerns are, what issues are important to us, and they’re supposed to keep that in mind when they go to the floor of the House or Senate – or sit in the big man’s chair in the Oval Office. But we’re supposed to act like adults when we do it, and calling the president “Jorge Bush,” and a “traitor” etc doesn’t cut it, so it’s not just the President who needs to rethink how he deals with conservatives. Conservatives need to RELEARN how to deal with a Republican President they respected until he “sold out” the country to Mexico.

I’m also seeing at NRO and other places many pats on the back to conservative talk radio and conservative pundits in general who have supposedly been a ‘wealth’ of information on the “amnesty” issue. I beg to differ. Many of these people were part of the problem, because they mislabeled the bill as “amnesty” when it’s not, and they repeatedly kept claiming that this bill would essentially ignore the criminal elements of the illegal alien community. It doesn’t. There was so much misinformation out there about this bill being thrown at people by conservative pundits that by the end of the debate (or the end for now, at least) correcting those errors proved futile. Talk radio and conservative pundits can be great when they’re digging into the liberal opposition’s record, but sloppy when taking their own to task.

What is the result of this version of the bill going down in flames? It is being widely predicted amongst politicos and beltway insiders that this bill will not be taken up again until when? After the 2008 elections. Just as I thought. Think this ride against the bill was bumpy and painful? Wait til you have to lobby Democrats – and a potentially Democrat administration – against their own bill. And if many of the bill’s conservative opponents have their way about it, solid conservatives like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t be returning to the Senate, so the Democrats are facing a prime opportunity to expand their lead in the Senate. This is not good.

Since my email has been filling up lately on the immigration issue, I figure now is as good a time as any to clear up some misconceptions about my opinion on the bill:

1. Most importantly: I am not an “enthusiastic supporter” of the current-now-dead immigration bill. But I am a supporter of immigration reform in general, and while I’d like to see that fence built, I also want the issue of the status of current immigrants who are here today dealt with sooner rather than later. We should do both, but we shouldn’t have to wait for one to get the other, especially considering that the likely time we will see this bill brought forth again will be in 2009.

2. I do not begrudge for one second anyone taking an active role in trying to get this bill tabled. This has never been about wanting people to just roll over and take whatever the give us to me. My big issue has been with how the debate has been conducted, and to those in my email who have complained that I’ve been too “one-sided”, au contraire: I have taken the bill’s proponents to task, too. The fact of the matter is that you can find an overwhelming number of blogs willing to take proponents to task but very few taking opponents to task. So the criticism of proponents is not exactly lacking in the blogosphere.

3. I sincerely believe that the vast majority of the bill’s opponents had/have good intentions and obviously care deeply about our national security, about our public resources and who gets to use them, our crime rate – but again, I disagreed with the way many went about expressing disagreement with others about it, and was especially upset to see Hugh Hewitt of all people get demonized by conservatives simply because he was defending a staunch conservative like Arizona Senator Jon Kyl. I mean, if you can’t trust Hugh Hewitt on the immigration issue, who can you trust? And as I’ve said before, how the administration was characterizing opponents of the bill was wrong, yes, but it was no different than how some of the strongest opponents of the bill have been talking about him and his administration on this issue for years.

4. A few emailers have told me they will no longer read my blog because of my stance on this issue. It’s a free country, of course, but I had hoped that people wouldn’t feel they had to do that, considering on the vast majority of other issues we’re standing right there together. But having said that, just for the record I have never wanted this blog to seem like an echo chamber, even though most of the time most of us agree in general on the issues I blog about. That’s to be expected and there’s nothing wrong with that. But from time to time, readers of this blog and I are not going to see eye to eye on an issue. But I can promise you this: You will not see me talking about the people who disagree with me on whatever the issue is in the same way you’ve seen some people talk about people who didn’t oppose the immigration bill with every fiber of their being. There is a reason I have cut down on visiting certain other blogs I used to visit regularly and that’s because I can’t stand the way they are classifying anyone who disagrees with them. I try to keep that in mind whenever I write something here that goes against the grain because I don’t want people to come to this blog, think I’m a hateful, shameful so-and-so because I don’t know how to express my disagreement without denigrating my fellow conservatives who don’t share the same opinions. I don’t ever cut down on visiting certain other blogs because of mere disagreement. I cut down on visiting those blogs when I feel like my opinions aren’t welcomed nor encouraged and my positions are being twisted into something they’re not.

We all work well when we’re working together and when we’re bouncing ideas off of each other respectfully. We have to be able to take little victories where we can. The way I look at this immigration bill was that it contained little victories – not big ones. It’s the same way I view any legislative attempts on abortion. Abortion, as longtime readers now, is the issue that makes or breaks it for me in the Republican party. If they ever were to change their position on the issue, I wouldn’t be a Republican anymore. But I also know that I can’t be an all or nothing Republican on the issue of abortion. I take the little victories – like the partial birth abortion ban – to heart, knowing one day they just might snowball into a big victory, and I can’t turn my back on Republicans just because instead of banning all abortions they choose to ban just PBAs. I view the immigration bill in the same light. The Republican party has not turned its back on the illegal immigration issue, but you’d think they had, the way some people view the issue.

5. I want to encourage people to post their thoughts on the issue in the comments sections of the posts I write about it, even if they are likely contrary to mine. I don’t want anyone to think that they will ‘offend’ me with a contrary viewpoint. I don’t need nor want to be insulated from differing viewpoints. On the contrary, I welcome it because other opinions – when well-written and presented civilly – always make me think and reassess. I realize that most of my readers disagree with me on this issue, but also know that I’ve got probably the most thoughtful group of commenters in the blogosphere, and that is not a kiss up – I really believe that. The comments section in this post in particular is filled with responses that make you think no matter what side of the debate you fall on. That is what I love to see. What happened in Hugh Hewitt’s comment section (which is the norm in the comments sections of so many blogs now on this issue) is not what I like to see.

I think that about sums it up for now. If I have anymore to add to this, I will later tonight.

Prior this week:

Breaking: Supremes “limit” use of race in assigning students to public schools


(CBS/AP) The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected public school assignment plans that take account of students’ race.

The decision in cases affecting schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle could imperil similar plans in hundreds of districts nationwide, and it leaves public school systems with a limited arsenal to maintain racial diversity.

The court split, 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court’s judgment. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent that was joined by the court’s other three liberals.

It is the biggest school desegregation ruling in more than a decade, and was led by parents challenging the way race is used to assign students to schools for the purpose of integration, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

The court heard arguments in December on cases from Seattle and Louisville that could affect hundreds of school districts across the nation.

Thursday’s session will likely be the justices’ last until October.

The Seattle School District used to use a race-based “tiebreaker” to assign some students to high schools in the interest of diversity. A parents group called that illegal discrimination and sued.

SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston, in explaining this ruling, calls it ‘historic.’

The high court also ruled today to block a mentally ill killer’s execution in Texas.