America the society is in fine shape! America the polity most certainly is not.

Winter                                   Waxing Cold Moon

OK.  The Cold Moon has finally risen on its namesake air temps.  8 this morning.  It’s a clear day after a small snowfall yesterday.

If I were to put my finger on one thing to account for the Viking’s loss Sunday, discounting the six turnovers, it would be the 12 men in the huddle call that put them out of field goal range with 28 seconds left.  That’s a coach thing.  In spite of a spectacular job of recruiting personnel, we have the best overall players at many positions–8 Vikes in the ProBowl–the on the field decision making by coaches still leaves something to be desired.  I don’t know what it is, but it seems apparent.

The Democrats need to grow some cojones and pass healthcare reform.  Whining because you’ve lost a super majority makes no sense.  They still have an 18 vote majority.  Use it or deserve to lose it.  We need leadership and decision making, not caviling and cajoling.

I read a very interesting analysis of our political system a few days back that jolted me.  Printed in the Atlantic it shows our system has big  problems, based largely on the shift of populations since the early days of the colonies:

How America Can Rise Again

“We are now 200-plus years past Jefferson’s wish for permanent revolution and nearly 30 past Olson’s warning, with that much more buildup of systemic plaque—and of structural distortions, too. When the U.S. Senate was created, the most populous state, Virginia, had 10 times as many people as the least populous, Delaware. Giving them the same two votes in the Senate was part of the intricate compromise over regional, economic, and slave-state/free-state interests that went into the Constitution. Now the most populous state, California, has 69 times as many people as the least populous, Wyoming, yet they have the same two votes in the Senate. A similarly inflexible business organization would still have a major Whale Oil Division; a military unit would be mainly fusiliers and cavalry. No one would propose such a system in a constitution written today, but without a revolution, it’s unchangeable. Similarly, since it takes 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster on controversial legislation, 41 votes is in effect a blocking minority. States that together hold about 12 percent of the U.S. population can provide that many Senate votes. This converts the Senate from the “saucer” George Washington called it, in which scalding ideas from the more temperamental House might “cool,” into a deep freeze and a dead weight.

The Senate’s then-famous “Gang of Six,” which controlled crucial aspects of last year’s proposed health-care legislation, came from states that together held about 3 percent of the total U.S. population; 97 percent of the public lives in states not included in that group. (Just to round this out, more than half of all Americans live in the 10 most populous states—which together account for 20 of the Senate’s 100 votes.) “The Senate is full of ‘rotten boroughs,'” said James Galbraith, of the University of Texas, referring to the underpopulated constituencies in Parliament before the British reforms of 1832. “We’d be better off with a House of Lords.”

The decades-long bipartisan conspiracy to gerrymander both state and federal electoral districts doesn’t help. More and more legislative seats are “safe” for one party or the other; fewer and fewer politicians have any reason to appeal to the center or to the other side. In a National Affairs article, “Who Killed California?,” Troy Senik pointed out that 153 state or federal positions in California were at stake in the 2004 election. Not a single one changed party. This was an early and extreme illustration of a national trend…

I started out this process uncertain; I ended up convinced. America the society is in fine shape! America the polity most certainly is not. Over the past half century, both parties have helped cause this predicament—Democrats by unintentionally giving governmental efforts a bad name in the 1960s and ’70s, Republicans by deliberately doing so from the Reagan era onward. At the moment, Republicans are objectively the more nihilistic, equating public anger with the sentiment that “their” America has been taken away and defining both political and substantive success as stopping the administration’s plans. As a partisan tactic, this could make sense; for the country, it’s one more sign of dysfunction, and of the near-impossibility of addressing problems that require truly public efforts to solve.”

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