ChrisWeigant.com

Checks And Balances

[ Posted Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 – 17:21 PDT ]

My title today is a familiar phrase to anyone who went to school in America as a child. It seemed a relevant day to discuss the subject, since we're seeing some serious checking and balancing in Washington today. Since I don't have enough factual information on the situation surrounding Eric Holder and the "Fast and Furious" program to intelligently form an opinion at the moment, it might behoove us all to review the concepts involved with the separated powers of our government. If you would prefer instead to listen to uninformed partisan ranting, well, there's plenty of that out there today in the blogosphere, so feel free to read some of that sort of thing instead.

When the United States Constitution was being debated, strong arguments for it were made anonymously in the newspapers of the day, which were then consolidated into the Federalist Papers. In the ninth one of these essays, Alexander Hamilton wrote of "legislative balances and checks" in the new governmental structure. The concept (and the term "checks") was repeatedly discussed throughout the rest of the essays as well. At some point in time, the term must have been flipped around to the "checks and balances" we speak of today.

But while the phrase sounds noble, in reality what the different branches of our government regularly engage in is much more like a tug-of-war. This is what we're seeing today, between the Executive and Legislative branches. More on this in a moment.

First, a misconception must be cleared up. Today's political commenters often misuse the concept of "checks and balances" to refer directly to politics. This is just flat-out wrong. "Having a president of one party and a Congress of the other is one of those checks and balances the Founding Fathers came up with" is an untrue statement, to put it another way. Political parties were not part of what the Federalist Papers or the framers of the Constitution were referring to, in any manner. They actually downright despised the entire concept of "factions" (the term "parties" came into usage later).

Instead of crass politics, there are four major and powerful games of tug-of-war built into our system of government. Many of these have very vague rules (according to the Constitution), and often no real enforcement mechanisms. Imagine four ropes being tugged upon. The first is between the Judiciary and the Executive. A current example is the "Obamacare" ruling from the Supreme Court, next week (although it also involves the Legislature as well). The second game of tug-of-war is between Congress and the Supreme Court. A prime example of this is the recent Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court, which essentially says that Congress doesn't even have the power to pass a law overturning corporate money in politics, even in the future (Citizens United can now only be "checked" by passing a constitutional amendment). The third game of tug-of-war is the smallest one, but often the most entertaining to watch. This is the struggle between the two houses of Congress. It is exacerbated nowadays by the fact that Republicans control the House while Democrats control the Senate, but even when one party rules both there are still major down-in-the-trenches power struggles which happen regularly between our two houses. The fourth tug-of-war rope reaches the length of Pennsylvania Avenue, with the White House at one end and the Capitol at the other. This is the one in the news today.

Congress has a multitude of minor tools to use against the White House, and one major one. The White House has two major tools to use against Congress, but not much else (other than whipping up public opinion, but the bully pulpit isn't really a "power," here).

Congress has the power of the purse, to de-fund anything the White House tries to do without their approval. Congress has the power to investigate the White House and all the executive departments. Congress has the power to issue subpoenas, cite someone for contempt, and even censure anyone they choose. These are all minor powers. The major power is, of course, impeachment.

The White House has assorted minor powers, and one very major power when it comes to legislation -- the veto. They also have one other major power, the one which President Obama exercised for the first time today -- "executive privilege."

Barring the power of the purse, the veto, and impeachment, the Constitution is pretty silent on all of the rest of this stuff. The word "contempt" or "censure" never appears in the document, for instance. Nor does the phrase "executive privilege," for that matter. Meaning all of this has been subsequently added over time, as convention or tradition or rules of Congress or even U.S. Code law.

I guess my point in writing all of this is to pre-emptively fend off cries -- from both sides of the political aisle -- that we are facing some sort of "constitutional crisis." We really aren't. The House of Representatives can find the Attorney General in contempt of Congress, and they can even censure him if they feel so inclined. Barack Obama can claim executive privilege, as pretty much every president does at some point in his term (Bush and Clinton both did so, multiple times). The federal court system can either choose to get involved in the fracas, or not (federal courts often shy away from this sort of thing, because they prefer political issues to be decided in the political arena).

The politics of the issue are pretty plain to see, no matter which side of the political divide you view it from. The issue will now become a major part of the presidential campaign, that is certain. Eric Holder may not hold onto his job if Obama is elected to a second term (Holder may not even make it to the end of the year, for that matter). But while it will be a giant political fracas, rest assured that it's not actually any sort of constitutional crisis. If the Republicans really could pin something on Holder, then we'd all be talking about his impending impeachment. But even if this drastic measure is taken, the Constitution itself will emerge at the end of the day just fine. After all, though the document is silent on contempt of Congress and executive privilege, impeachment is indeed one of our original checks and balances. The Constitution is strong enough to survive the next few weeks and months, even if pundits having fits of the vapors tell you differently.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

77 Comments on “Checks And Balances”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    If you would prefer instead to listen to uninformed partisan ranting, well, there's plenty of that out there today in the blogosphere, so feel free to read some of that sort of thing instead.

    It seems like this sort of remark is becoming a kind of signature feature of your pieces. Do you really think that lowly of us?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The issue will now become a major part of the presidential campaign, that is certain.

    Well, that's just great ... another issue that Republicans will lie and mislead about and people will vote on without knowing even the baseline facts.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The Constitution is strong enough to survive the next few weeks and months, even if pundits having fits of the vapors tell you differently.

    Is the Constitution strong enough to survive very much longer than that? Can it survive a Romney administration?

    I ask only half-jokingly, with a deepening and abiding sense of foreboding.

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    I ask only half-jokingly, with a deepening and abiding sense of foreboding.

    The writing is on the wall, Liz..

    Team Obama is DESPERATE.. No matter what they throw at Romney, it ends up hurting them..

    Now, we have Obama pulling a Nixon (actually *WORSE* than Nixon ever did) by claiming Executive Privilege on documents the DOJ *AND* the White House swears up and down that Obama never saw...

    Kind funny.. For Obama to claim EP, Obama had to be involved...

    By claiming Executive Privilege, Obama is ADMITTING that the White House knew about Fast/Furious...

    And with CrapCare and AZ coming down the pipe (likely tomorrow), it's going to be a very VERY bad June for Obama and the Democrats...

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    For the next little while, I simply have no time to waste on nonsense comments.

    But, take heart, when and if I do respond over the course of the next few weeks, you will know that you wrote a truly amazing comment. :)

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM [1] -

    Nah, I stick those in there when I post these on other sites. It's not for you, its for the casual HuffPost or BusinessInsider reader, that's all.

    :-)

    -CW

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    That's kewl.. I'll be here...

    Ya have to admit, the dynamic around here under President Romney is gonna be pretty fascinating..

    On the other hand, I might be pretty boring as my standard response to just about anything ya'all will post would likely be

    "Ya didn't complain about it under Obama, so ya have no standing to complain about it under Romney"

    Might even become my tagline.. :D

    Today is going to be a fun day, I have a feeling.. :D

    Michale

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    If the Republicans really could pin something on Holder, then we'd all be talking about his impending impeachment.

    If Holder had put forth the documents he was ordered to, then Republicans would likely be able to pin a LOT on Holder...

    And, since the White House has gotten involved and claimed Executive Privilege on documents that the White House EARLIER claimed they knew nothing about, it's likely that Obama is implicated in those documents as well.

    No other explanation fits the facts...

    It's Nixon and Watergate all over again..

    Fortunately for Obama and the Democrats, it won't likely end in Obama resigning.

    The American people will simply fire him.

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here is THE best summary on Fast & Furious and why it might spell certain doom for the Obama Administration..

    The Fast and Furious scandal is turning into President Obama's Watergate
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100166854/the-fast-and-furious-scandal-is-turning-into-president-obamas-watergate/

    I have always compared Obama to Nixon..

    Apparently, even *I* didn't know how right I was...

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    "Ya didn't complain about it under Obama, so ya have no standing to complain about it under Romney

    you're pretty enthusiastic about the guy. based on his record in massachusetts, romney would govern essentially the same as obama with respect to executive privilege. IF romney gets elected and does the same thing, are you really going to spend your time here claiming that nobody has standing to complain about it, when you yourself complained about it so vigorously under obama (and as i recall, defended executive privilege equally vigorously when bush claimed it)... doesn't the pendulum swing the other way too?

    ~joshua

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    Eric Holder may not hold onto his job if Obama is elected to a second term (Holder may not even make it to the end of the year, for that matter).

    Maybe a little quatloo action?? :D

    I have always stated that Holder will likely be gone by Sep. But, then again, I have been following FAST/FURIOUS since Agent Terry was killed..

    With what we know now and the White House's apparent involvement in the decision making process, Holder is unlikely to make it even to September...

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I have always stated that Holder will likely be gone by Sep. But, then again, I have been following FAST/FURIOUS since Agent Terry was killed..

    since obama has followed bush's precedent on essentially everything else (see: rumsfeld, donald), my prediction would be that nobody gets fired before the election, regardless of who's president.

    1000 quatloos says Holder makes it at least past the election.

    ~joshua

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Joshua,

    You might be right... Why rock the boat??

    On the other hand, keeping an AG on that has been found guilty of Contempt Of Congress (if that comes to pass) might do more harm to the Obama campaign than keeping him on...

    It's gonna be a wild ride, whichever way it goes down.. And it ain't gonna be pretty for the Obama Administration...

    One reaps what one sows...

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Live Blogging from the SCOTUS

    http://scotusblog.wpengine.com/

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    According to the Live Blog, it's unlikely we will get a CrapCare or AZvDOJ ruling today..

    If not, that means the FastFurious debacle will simmer in the public conscientiousness another week...

    Michale....

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    If not, that means the FastFurious debacle will simmer in the public conscientiousness another week...

    Grrrrr damn spellchecker..

    That would be public CONSCIOUSNESS.. :D

    Michale....

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, no CrapCare or AZvDOJ ruling..

    But the SCOTUS did reel in the FCC and the UNIONs, so it wasn't a total bust.. :D

    Michale...

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    You might be right... Why rock the boat??

    of course, if this holds true for education secretary arne duncan as well, i'll most likely be voting independent. if not... well, should duncan's resignation occur pre-november, perhaps i'll re-evaluate my position.

    ~joshua

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    One reaps what one sows...

    ain't THAT the truth.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    of course, if this holds true for education secretary arne duncan as well, i'll most likely be voting independent.

    http://sjfm.us/temp/give.wav

    :D

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    I guess my point in writing all of this is to pre-emptively fend off cries -- from both sides of the political aisle -- that we are facing some sort of "constitutional crisis." We really aren't.

    UNLESS....

    Unless the White House is more involved than was previously thought...

    Remember, it was HOLDER who brought up the possibility of a Constitutional Crisis...

    If Holder is being so adamant about not releasing the docs because he knows they implicate the President, it would explain a LOT...

    Especially when one considers that a POTUS cannot exert Executive Privilege over documents that he hasn't been involved with or hasn't even seen..

    So, only one logical conclusion is possible.. That Obama knew about FF long before he claimed...

    Perhaps Holder let the cat out of the bag when he claimed that the FF investigation could lead to a Constitutional Crisis..

    It's beginning to look like Fast/Furious is Watergate Redux...

    I can't WAIT for Obama's I AM NOT A CROOK speech! :D

    Michale.....

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    It's beginning to look like Fast/Furious is Watergate Redux...

    so has every other president since 1980. it would be practically unthinkable not to have at least two scandals ending in "gate" for any presidential term. bush had about seventy of them and clinton nearly as much, so obama clearly has some catching up to do.

    ~joshua

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    I wasn't speaking about Watergate in the context of the arbitrary naming of "-gate" scandals.. You are correct, those are a dime a dozen...

    I was speaking of Watergate in the context of bringing down an Administration.

    Already, the question is circulating around the country.

    "What did the President know and when did he know it?"

    Michale.....

  24. [24] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I was speaking of Watergate in the context of bringing down an Administration.

    suspicions like those are a dime a dozen too. at least clinton's were more fun. just to commemorate the similarity of all "scandals that could bring down" the latest presidential administration, why don't we re-name the DOJ under obama the "Barack's Justice" Department, complete with the acronym that entails.

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    suspicions like those are a dime a dozen too.

    Yea, maybe.. But this is sounding a lot more serious than anything previously.. An American LEO is dead and the weapons that killed him came from Fast/Furious...

    That makes it very personal for a lot of Americans...

    Yea, I know, I know...

    "Michale is off on one of his conspiracy/apocalypse binges again."

    Perhaps. But the laws of probability dictates that, eventually, I'll call it..

    This just may be that time. :D

    Michale......

  26. [26] 
    dsws wrote:

    I think the founders didn't really consider the Supreme Court the equal of Congress. Wasn't John Jay chief justice at the time he was sent off as envoy to Great Britain?

  27. [27] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I would think being held in contempt of Congress could only be a good thing ... seeing as how contemptible Congress is

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    dsws,

    I think the founders didn't really consider the Supreme Court the equal of Congress. Wasn't John Jay chief justice at the time he was sent off as envoy to Great Britain?

    It's always been my understanding that our Republic consists of three EQUAL branches of our government.

    Executive
    Legislative
    Judiciary

    Now, that might not be how it was written up.. But it's my understanding that, in the here and now, that's the way it is..

    David,

    I would think being held in contempt of Congress could only be a good thing ... seeing as how contemptible Congress is

    Touche' :D

    Michale.....

  29. [29] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    It's always been my understanding that our Republic consists of three EQUAL branches of our government.

    while that may have been the intent, my understanding is that it wasn't the case in fact until marbury v. madison.

    CW is more of a history scholar than i am, so i'll defer to his judgment on the matter.

  30. [30] 
    Michale wrote:

    I have also seen the Obama Administration try to blame the Bush Administration (what a shocker, eh??) for Fast/Furious because of the similar operation, "WIDE RECEIVER"...

    Let's be clear.

    WIDE RECEIVER was a legitimate and SUCCESSFUL operation.

    WIDE RECEIVER has as much in common with FAST/FURIOUS as the Entebbe Raid has in common with Pearl Harbor...

    Michale.....

  31. [31] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I would think being held in contempt of Congress could only be a good thing ... seeing as how contemptible Congress is

    good point. when congressional approval rating is in the teens, pretty much anything they oppose will probably be seen by the public as a good thing.

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    you're pretty enthusiastic about the guy. based on his record in massachusetts, romney would govern essentially the same as obama with respect to executive privilege. IF romney gets elected and does the same thing, are you really going to spend your time here claiming that nobody has standing to complain about it, when you yourself complained about it so vigorously under obama (and as i recall, defended executive privilege equally vigorously when bush claimed it)... doesn't the pendulum swing the other way too?

    I would be pretty enthusiastic about Kermit The Frog, if he would replace Obama..

    As far as Romney doing the same things that Obama does, will I complain??

    It depends on what they are.

    Take torture for example. I am not, nor have I ever, complained about Obama torturing terrorists. I LOVE the fact that Obama sees the wisdom of Bush's CT policies... It's probably the ONLY area of agreement Obama and I share insofar as the treatment of terrorists as the lowest form of life..

    In THAT regard, I won't complain about Romney continuing these highly successful policies, but I will complain when YA'ALL complain about Romney torturing terrorists...

    Now, you mentioned Executive Privilege specifically..

    I really don't have a problem with a POTUS exerting Executive Privilege.. MY problem begins and ends with **WHY** the Executive Privilege is being claimed..

    Is it for National Security reasons, as was the case many times with Bush??

    Or is it to protect one's own ass, as it is with Obama and Fast/Furious...

    I am a big fan of WHY... If a POTUS can explain to me WHY it's important that I not know A and B and C and I find the reasoning logical, I won't have a problem with the secrecy...

    If a POTUS can't or WON'T explain why, then I can only assume that the action is taken for ass covering purposes...

    In short, I won't complain when Romney does the same things Obama did if I agree with the actions..

    If Romney does the same things that I complained about Obama??? You bet yer ass I'll bitch and moan and whine and complain..

    The only difference between then and now is then, I'll be part of the majority.. :D

    Michale.....

  33. [33] 
    LewDan wrote:

    Chris,

    Once again you've nailed it! Most people seem to have the misconception that "checks and balances" means that each branch of government has certain specific exclusive powers. But while Congress controls the purse and the President controls the military nothing else is really reserved to a particular branch of government.

    "Checks and balances" really refers to the fact that we have three branches of government who will forever attempt to gain exclusive control for themselves while blocking the others, but with none of them being quite strong enough to succeed in taking over.

  34. [34] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I would be pretty enthusiastic about Kermit The Frog, if he would replace Obama..

    me too!

  35. [35] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    matter o' fact, the next muppet movie should be "the frog president"

    it could work!!!

  36. [36] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws [26] -

    Yeah, they gave short shrift to SCOTUS at the start. At least until Marbury v. Madison, where they declared the equivalent of 2000AD's Judge Dredd: "I AM the law!"

    [Aside: See, Michale? That's how to handle that quote. Heh.]

    There's an article about the early days of SCOTUS in a recent New Yorker. I can look it up and quote from it, if you'd like.

    LewDan [33] -

    I think I actually defended Newt Gingrich (shudder) when, earlier, during the primary season, he attempted to point this out. He was roundly criticized and ridiculed for the point he made, but he was actually right. It's a constant three-way game of tug-of-war.

    -CW

  37. [37] 
    akadjian wrote:

    And the real problem with our "Democracy" ...

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57458337-503544/weekend-of-secrecy-for-big-gop-donors/

    I wonder if people will ever wonder why there are so many more political ads than there used to be. And why the advertising is lopsided.

    -David

  38. [38] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's funny..

    When Democrats are winning the Money Game, there isn't any talk about stuff like this... President Obama didn't have any problem with money pouring in, in 2008....

    I am also constrained to point out that Democrats have absolutely NO CREDIBILITY to talk about GOP Secrecy, considering what has happened the last couple days...

    Michale.....

  39. [39] 
    akadjian wrote:

    When Democrats are winning the Money Game, there isn't any talk about stuff like this...

    Yes, there is. I was against Citizen's United even when Obama won the funding game.

    The argument has nothing to do w/ Democrats/ Republicans.

    It is the influence of anonymous money on politics. Of all political persuasions.

    I want politicians who are not bought and sold.

    Believe it or not, I agree with you about Democrats taking money. If you read the article, they mentioned that Democrats have a similar secret convention for donors.

    The problem is ... money buys elections. And then, it expects favors in return.

    This is the real problem.

    Not Republicans vs. Democrats. That's the sideshow distraction. Nothing is going to change until we recognize this as the real and #1 problem in our country and work to force both parties change it.

    -David

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Yes, there is. I was against Citizen's United even when Obama won the funding game.

    YOU were yes. But I think we can ALL agree that you (and most other Democrats on here) are NOT your typical Democrats..

    By and large, the Left doesn't have a problem with money in campaigns.. Unless, of course, they are on the losing side of the equation..

    The argument has nothing to do w/ Democrats/ Republicans.

    I'll believe that when you start posting articles that take Left wing groups to task for not disclosing their financials, their donors and resorting to illegal and unethical tactics.. :D

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/06/22/left-can-protest-all-it-wants-but-it-cant-use-government-to-silence/

    Not Republicans vs. Democrats. That's the sideshow distraction. Nothing is going to change until we recognize this as the real and #1 problem in our country and work to force both parties change it.

    I completely agree...

    But the tendency here is to focus on the Right and ignore the Left when they do the same, or worse..

    How about a blanket rule that there can be NO secrets in campaigns and elections.

    EVERYTHING must be disclosed...

    Do you think Democrats would go for that?? Of course not.. They have their secrets, just like the GOP has theirs...

    Considering some of the attacks, both virtual AND real, that come from the Hysterical from BOTH Partys, can you really blame donors for wanting to be anonymous???

    Michale.....

  41. [41] 
    Michale wrote:

    Let me put it this way.

    Would ANYONE want their donation disclosed if it could lead to your business being blacklisted, your property vandalized or yourself or loved ones physically attacked???

    SWATtin conservatives seems to be the "in" thing these days..

    Wouldn't you be disinclined to donate if you knew that these things and more could happen to you??

    Michale.....

  42. [42] 
    ninjaf wrote:

    Michale,
    By and large, the Left doesn't have a problem with money in campaigns.. Unless, of course, they are on the losing side of the equation.

    What citations can you provide to back up this opinion-stated-as-fact?

  43. [43] 
    Michale wrote:

    What citations can you provide to back up this opinion-stated-as-fact?

    The Left's reaction (or in this case the NON reaction) to Obama's embrace of CITIZENS UNITED/Super PACs..

    One week, Citizen's United was "a threat to our democracy".

    Few weeks later, Citizens United/SUPER PACs were the flavor of the month..

    And not a SQUEEK from the Left...

    Michale.....

  44. [44] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Michale: Now, we have Obama pulling a Nixon (actually *WORSE* than Nixon ever did) by claiming Executive Privilege on documents the DOJ *AND* the White House swears up and down that Obama never saw...

    BIG mistake for Obama to have involved himself in this. It instantly went from being Holder's mess to now O's mess. And it also makes it brutally clear that those emails/documents are being withheld because they're smoking guns (if you'll pardon the unfortunate pun). Nobody needs Columbo to come in to figure that much out. Obama might as well be walking around with a sandwich board that says, "We're busted, so we're doing everything to stonewall until after the election."

  45. [45] 
    Michale wrote:

    BIG mistake for Obama to have involved himself in this. It instantly went from being Holder's mess to now O's mess. And it also makes it brutally clear that those emails/documents are being withheld because they're smoking guns (if you'll pardon the unfortunate pun). Nobody needs Columbo to come in to figure that much out. Obama might as well be walking around with a sandwich board that says, "We're busted, so we're doing everything to stonewall until after the election."

    Yea, I can't imagine what Obama was thinking..

    They ONLY thing that makes any sense is there is something in those docs that is SO DAMNING to Obama that he would risk associating himself with Fast And Furious RIGHT before an election rather than having the documents released and a full accounting aired..

    My GUESS is that Obama personally ordered F&F as a backdoor into Gun Control... Remember about the time all this was JUST coming to light, Obama made a statement to Gun Control lobbyists that his administration is taking steps under the radar to suit their Gun Control agenda..

    If THAT is what's in those documents, no wonder Holder and Obama are shitting bricks and keeping them under wraps...

    Michale.....

  46. [46] 
    Michale wrote:

    And, under the CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS CRAP heading!

    http://sjfm.us/temp/event.jpg

    I mean, SERIOUSLY!!

    Isn't ANYONE really creep'ed out by this???

    Michale.....

  47. [47] 
    Michale wrote:

    I wonder how long it will be before Messina and Pelouffe are selling kidneys to raise campaign funds... :D

    I guess embracing the Dark Side in the vein of Citizens United/SUPER PACs didn't work out too well for Team Obama... :D

    Michale....

  48. [48] 
    akadjian wrote:

    How about a blanket rule that there can be NO secrets in campaigns and elections.

    Absolutely!

    Or repeal Citizens' United ...

    Or allow only public financing of campaigns ...

    I'd be for any of the above.

    Do you think Democrats would go for that?

    Yes.

    There is only one party that wants unlimited anonymous corporate funding of elections.

    It's funny that you make all these claims about the "Left" yet they're always about someone else. Something you saw on TV or heard somewhere. Probably something that some conservative pundit said.

    Michale ... we're what the Left looks like.

    I know in your mind the Left only consists of communist, illegal immigrant, African-American, Code Pink, dirty draft-dodging hippies.

    But did you ever stop to think where these images come from? They come from sources like Rush Limbaugh or FoxNews or other corporate media who can't fight the actual left. So they have to create an evil version of the left.

    Communist. Homosexual. Black. Illegal. Hippie.

    Just as there is no "liberal media," there is no "hysterical left".

    The way it works is that conservative media goes out and finds two guys standing on a corner in Philadelphia (ala your favorite boogeyman, the New Black Panther party) and turns around and claims this is the Left.

    The real left looks a lot like us. Here.

    Don't believe me? Get out a little more. Go meet some real people. Don't take my word for it ... go! Turn off the TV or radio for a few minutes and get some sunlight!

    -David

    p.s. BTW- Where's the "liberal media" w/ all this Eric Holder silliness? I thought they were in the bag for Obama. Did they just take the day off?

    Or, could it be that there simply is no "liberal media"?

    Just as there is no "hysterical left" ...
    Just as there is no "swatting of conservatives" ...
    Just as Obama isn't a Muslim
    Just as Obama was born in America and his birth certificate is real
    Just as in all likelihood this Eric Holder issue is likely a non-issue

    Don't you see the pattern here ...

    All of these things are ways you're being manipulated into hating people who you would probably like if you actually met them

  49. [49] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Well said, David :)

  50. [50] 
    dsws wrote:

    Checks and balances are primarily institutional, not political. To be effective, however, they require that the institutions be different enough that they will tend to check and balance each other rather than acting in unison. We have two-party elections (i.e. single-seat plurality) for the presidency and both houses of Congress. Both houses of Congress have the same basic structure of partisan officers and committee assignments. There are some differences, but they're marginal at best.

    There are only two closely-related differences: how unified they are, and how much their procedures favor obstructionism. The executive is famously "unitary", the House is dominated by its majority party, and the Senate barely functions at all. But if a decade swings toward one party or the other, all branches of government respond basically the same way.

    The two chambers of Congress should be elected by different mechanisms, not just the same basic process on different schedules. The Senate originally represented the states, and its members were chosen by state legislatures; the House was popularly elected from the beginning. That's certainly more different than the current arrangement, but it's not ideal. The House should at least have some sort of proportional representation, and preferably qualitatively different rules. Then the level of obstructionism baked into the rules could be turned way down, while still having the two chambers obstruct each other's worst ideas more effectively than the Senate does now.

  51. [51] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Do you think Democrats would go for that?

    Yes.

    Obama had his chance to show that back in 2008.. Matter of fact, I believe he DID state initially that he would opt for public funding. But then changed his mind when he realized how much money he could rake in..

    p.s. BTW- Where's the "liberal media" w/ all this Eric Holder silliness? I thought they were in the bag for Obama. Did they just take the day off?

    Once again, you prove my point for me..

    Where was the media with all the Eric Holder "silliness"?? They were burying the story as deep as possible...

    Not ONE MSM outlet has aired any Fast/Furious story until recently, even though it's been going on for a year...

    For the record, calling it "silliness" is like calling Watergate "silliness"....

    You wanna put up some kind of wager regarding how bad this is going to blow up for Obama?? :D

    Just as there is no "hysterical left" ...
    Just as there is no "swatting of conservatives" ...
    Just as Obama isn't a Muslim
    Just as Obama was born in America and his birth certificate is real
    Just as in all likelihood this Eric Holder issue is likely a non-issue

    Apparently, denial is NOT just a river in Egypt.. :D

    Michale.....

  52. [52] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Apparently, denial is NOT just a river in Egypt.

    Apparently, nutty Limbaugh/Beck'ish conspiracy theories are the new norm.

    We are the left. Right here.

    -David

  53. [53] 
    ninjaf wrote:

    David,

    ...we're what the Left looks like.

    I know in your mind the Left only consists of communist, illegal immigrant, African-American, Code Pink, dirty draft-dodging hippies.

    But did you ever stop to think where these images come from? They come from sources like Rush Limbaugh or FoxNews or other corporate media who can't fight the actual left. So they have to create an evil version of the left.

    Communist. Homosexual. Black. Illegal. Hippie.

    Just as there is no "liberal media," there is no "hysterical left".

    The way it works is that conservative media goes out and finds two guys standing on a corner in Philadelphia (ala your favorite boogeyman, the New Black Panther party) and turns around and claims this is the Left.

    The real left looks a lot like us. Here.

    So very true. What I see posted here reflects what my left-leaning friends sound like. Not at all like what I see represented by the conservative media, HuffPo, or internet comment sections in general. Shocker! *gasp*

  54. [54] 
    Michale wrote:

    We are the left. Right here.

    That is simply NOT possible..

    Your reasonable, articulate and are able to think for yourself..

    You are nearly as far from the quintessential Left as I am.. :D

    Michale.....

  55. [55] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    When Democrats are winning the Money Game, there isn't any talk about stuff like this... President Obama didn't have any problem with money pouring in, in 2008....

    in 2008, a large percentage of obama's campaign donations came from small donors of all classes. that's the way it should be. as soon as the campaign cash started pouring in from corporate sources, he abandoned the causes of most of the small donors, perhaps assuming that they'd support him anyway on account of his looks and personality. to some extent, that's probably correct.

    if romney's fundraising base were mostly comprised of twenty dollar donations from moms and pops across the nation, i'd say he deserved an advantage. but currently, it's all about who can pander the most to the richest of the rich and corporate interests. i'm so utterly disgusted by both of them i don't even know where to begin.

    as far as the quintessential left or right, i've found that there are people of limited intellect and creativity on both sides of the aisle, just as there are people who are both thoughtful and intelligent on both sides.

    ~joshua

  56. [56] 
    Michale wrote:

    i've found that there are people of limited intellect and creativity on both sides of the aisle, just as there are people who are both thoughtful and intelligent on both sides.

    "Put me down for one of each!!"
    -Grandpa Simpson

    :D

    Michale

  57. [57] 
    Michale wrote:

    What I see posted here reflects what my left-leaning friends sound like.

    "We don't live in this courtroom, your honor."
    -Denzel Washington, STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA

    Michale......

  58. [58] 
    Michale wrote:

    So none of ya'alls Left Leaning friends would go to the White House and flip off Reagan's portrait??

    Isn't it funny how every bad act committed by the Left is poo-poohed away by other Lefties as "Oh, that's not REALLY what the Left does.."

    Com'on people. Man up... :D

    If you are going to take credit for what the Left does good, you are obligated to accept responsibility for what the Left does bad...

    Michale......

  59. [59] 
    akadjian wrote:

    So none of ya'alls Left Leaning friends would go to the White House and flip off Reagan's portrait?

    No. Why would we? It wouldn't help anything.

    Look, I never said there weren't idiots :). Conservatives have them too. People like Joe Wilson disrespecting the office.

    What I said was that the vast majority of liberals look a lot more like the folks here.

    Just as I'm sure most conservatives would have a lot more respect for the current Commander in Chief than people like Mr. Wilson.

    -David

  60. [60] 
    Michale wrote:

    No. Why would we? It wouldn't help anything.

    So, why did they???

    Look, I never said there weren't idiots :). Conservatives have them too.

    Agreed.. But the problem is, ya'all believe that the idiots on the Right are representative of the Right in general.. Yet ya'all don't own up and/or condemn the idiots on the Left...

    People like Joe Wilson disrespecting the office.

    Perhaps.. But, he also happened to be dead on ballz accurate, so maybe it's Obama that was disrespecting the office...

    What I said was that the vast majority of liberals look a lot more like the folks here.

    If that were true, the people like those Reagan bashers would be resoundingly condemned by the Left...

    Silence gives assent....

    Just as I'm sure most conservatives would have a lot more respect for the current Commander in Chief than people like Mr. Wilson.

    Yea, one or two might, this is true.. :D

    Michale.....

  61. [61] 
    ninjaf wrote:

    Michale,
    Go ahead and live in your comfy little conservative world, if it makes things easier for you. You regularly hang out (even if only virtually) with lefties all the time, but still can't believe that most liberal leaning people are reasonable, coherent, logical folks with opinions differing from yours — instead of the caricatures you often accuse us of being. The fact that you can't admit to what is right in front of you speaks more to your biases than ours.

  62. [62] 
    Michale wrote:

    Agreed.. But the problem is, ya'all believe that the idiots on the Right are representative of the Right in general.. Yet ya'all don't own up and/or condemn the idiots on the Left...

    Let me state for the record that, THAT "ya'all" was not directed people here, per se.. Everyone knows that Weigantians are (for the most part) a more enlightened bunch than what exists outside the borders of Weigantia...

    That "ya'all" was directed to the Left in general...

    Speaking of Weigantia....

    We need a kewl flag...

    And a "national" anthem.... :D

    Michale......

  63. [63] 
    dsws wrote:

    I've come up with a clever scheme for making legislative chambers different. You use one election for both chambers, with party-list proportional representation. Somewhat more specifically, you have parties submit lists of candidates. Voters choose a party, and vote for a candidate of that party. The candidates on each list are put in order by the number of candidate-votes they got. Candidates are elected starting from the top of the resulting ordered list. How far down the list they're elected depends on how many party-votes the party got: if a party gets X percent of the total vote, that party gets X percent of the representatives.

    That's all standard, familiar to anyone who has taken an interest in voting systems. Now for the twist.

    That X percent is split according to a formula. I've written a suitable formula on scratch paper, but I don't remember how to typeset mathematical symbols in HTML, and it would be unreadable (even to me) if I spelled it out in words. Call it U(X). The top U(X) candidates are in the upper chamber, and the rest of the party's X% are in the lower chamber. The way U(X) is set up, small parties have all or almost-all their representation in the lower chamber, and larger parties have successively larger portions of their representation in the upper chamber.

    I think the result would be that parties have an incentive to splinter or merge according to their size. If they're too small even to get a percentage that qualifies them for one representative, they have an incentive to merge. If they're big enough to get representatives in the lower chamber but not the upper, they have an incentive to split in order to have their representatives more precisely match the focus of each group within the party. If they're big enough to get representatives in the upper chamber but not big enough to dominate the upper chamber, they have an incentive to merge as long as they're basically compatible, so as to gain more upper-chamber representation.

  64. [64] 
    dsws wrote:

    Actually, for simplicity let's just have U(X) be X squared, divided by 100 again because it's a percent of a percent. If you get X% of the vote, you get X% of the legislators, and X% of those are in the upper chamber.

    Any function will do as long as it's increasing, flat near zero, and doesn't go over 100%. But this makes it easy to see how things play out.

    Suppose for example there are 500 representatives. If your party only has 1% of the vote, it gets five representatives. Since it got 1% of the vote, and 1% of five is less than one, it doesn't get any upper-chamber representatives. All five of its representatives go to the lower chamber. If your party gets 20% of the vote, it gets 20% of 500 representatives, which is 100. The top 20% of them, or 20 representatives, go to the upper house. If there's a party that gets 40% of the vote, it gets 200 representatives, of whom 40% or 80 representatives go to the upper house.

    Note that in the case of those two parties, twice as much vote percentage gets four times as much upper-house representation. Big parties have a big advantage in the upper house. However, even in the upper house it's not as extreme as our current system of single-seat plurality voting, where you need to be near 50% to get any representation at all.

  65. [65] 
    dsws wrote:

    One more example. Staying with 500 representatives, 5% of the vote total gives a party 25 representatives, and 5% of 25 is 1.25. So one representative from that party would make it into the upper chamber.

  66. [66] 
    akadjian wrote:

    So, why did they?

    Because they're idiots. Apparently I didn't make this clear enough.

    Yet ya'all don't own up and/or condemn the idiots on the Left.

    What they did was wrong. These people acted like idiots. They should apologize.

    Plain and simple. Interestingly enough, you know who else condemned their behavior? The White House.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/white-house-rebukes-activists-who-flipped-off-reagan-portrait-behavior-like-this-doesnt-belong-anywhere/

    So I've condemned these people. It's not hard to do when you believe the office of the President should be respected period. Irregardless of Republican or Democrat.

    Now how about you?

    What do you think of people like Joe Wilson? Will you condemn his disrespect of the President? Or do these rules not apply to you?

    All the liberals I know, Michale, have principles. Like the people here.

    -David

  67. [67] 
    Michale wrote:

    Because they're idiots. Apparently I didn't make this clear enough.

    No, you did....

    But, tell me.. (Najaf, feel free to chime in as well)

    Why aren't they representative of the Left in general???

    What they did was wrong. These people acted like idiots. They should apologize.

    Plain and simple. Interestingly enough, you know who else condemned their behavior? The White House.

    Yea, the White House CONDEMNED the behavior after the fact..

    Now, riddle me this.. Why did the White House ALLOW the behavior in the first place???

    What, were these turds allowed free run of the White House?? They could indulge in all this rude and idiotic behavior and NO ONE was around to corral these immature brats??

    The White House allowed all these photos to be made...

    Yea, the White House "condemned" it.. AFTER the fact...

    It should have never been allowed to happen..

    What do you think of people like Joe Wilson? Will you condemn his disrespect of the President? Or do these rules not apply to you?

    Actually, I believe I did condemn it at the time. Without any prompting, I might add....

    I think I said at the time that, while it was rude and uncalled for, I could understand WHY it was done..

    Especially when you consider how dead on ballz accurate Joe Wilson was...

    The problem is, while I would agree that the "idiots" are prevalent and more of the mainstream Right, it's also factual that the idiots on the Left are a lot more in numbers than you would like to think...

    It's like during the Occupy crap... Everything that was bad (crapping on police cars, attacking people with urine, demanding free food and trashing places when they didn't get it) ya'all claimed was NOT the Oowzers...

    The only people that were actually Oowzers were the sensible, non-violent ones...

    Yet, it's obvious from the facts that the Oowzers, as a GROUP, had BOTH types of people in them..

    And one group is just as representative of the Oowzers as the other group was...

    Michale.....

  68. [68] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Now, riddle me this.. Why did the White House ALLOW the behavior in the first place?

    Probably because they're not psychic. They assumed adults should act like adults.

    The problem is, while I would agree that the "idiots" are prevalent and more of the mainstream Right, it's also factual that the idiots on the Left are a lot more in numbers than you would like to think.

    I think they are far less in numbers than you would think. I would say that what is in the media is disproportionate to reality. Or ... in other words ... the idiots get all the press.

    It's like the TV show COPS. If all you watched was the TV show COPS you would think that black people represented most of the crime in America. Because that's how they're portrayed on the TV show COPS. The actual crime percentages might be 30% to 70% but on COPS, it's the opposite. It's statistically disproportional to reality.

    This is how our media operates. What is in the media is statistically disproportionate to reality.

    Ever see an article in the paper called "Another Liberal Gets Up and Goes to Work". Or how about this one ... "Conservative Has Thoughtful Conversation With Co-Workers at Lunch"

    Exactly ... Unfortunately, most of what is in the media is "what bleeds, leads".

    -David

  69. [69] 
    ninjaf wrote:

    Michale,
    To be quite honest, I had no idea what you were talking about. You are the only person I have seen mention it.
    To me, this is a nontroversy, getting ginned up and distracting from serious matters. Were these people acting inappropriately? Definitely. Would I have done it? Definitely not. However, this was a PAINTING of President Reagan - they did not flip off the President himself. These were not official photos in any way. From what I gathered, these were personal photos taken by a few jackasses and then posted on facebook.
    You ask, "How are they not representative of the liberal left?" If they were, would this not be a facebook meme of some kind — a political wonk version of planking? There would be all sorts of pictures everywhere of this type of behavior. I haven't seen it. And I can't link to posts and pictures that never happened to prove behavior or an attitude that does not exist.
    If anything, your outrage seems more stereotypical of the right. Find some imagined or silly slight, liken it to spitting on the Constitution and demand that every person to your left kowtow and apologize profusely on their behalf. When the self-flagellation isn't vociferous enough, claim "victim" and show how the left is nothing but a bunch of socialists, Marxists, communists, whatever-ists hell bent on destroying our Republic, and then genuflect to the Founding Fathers.
    But I could also be painting Conservatives with a pretty broad brush with that assessment.

  70. [70] 
    Michale wrote:

    David

    Probably because they're not psychic. They assumed adults should act like adults.

    This is the WHITE HOUSE that we're talking about?? Do you HONESTLY believe that they were given free reign??

    Whaa?? Ya think the Secret Service said, "Ok kids, ya'all go play.. Stay out of trouble.. Run along now"???

    They HAD to have escorts.. Security procedures would demand it..

    And those escorts probably thought what they were doing was funny as hell...

    It was only after they GOT CAUGHT did the White House condemn the actions...

    I think they are far less in numbers than you would think. I would say that what is in the media is disproportionate to reality. Or ... in other words ... the idiots get all the press.

    You could be right.. Probably are..

    But it is undeniable that many here assume the idiots of the Right are representative of the Right as a whole...

    Personally, I believe there IS some truth to that. Just as I believe that the idiots of the Left are, with few exceptions, representative of the Left as a whole...

    It's like the TV show COPS. If all you watched was the TV show COPS you would think that black people represented most of the crime in America. Because that's how they're portrayed on the TV show COPS. The actual crime percentages might be 30% to 70% but on COPS, it's the opposite. It's statistically disproportional to reality.

    Actually, I don't watch a lot of COPS.. Dredges up to much... But when I did watch it, I didn't notice any racial inclination. COPS showed more black people committing crimes because, in reality, more black people DO commit crimes..

    http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/data/table_43.html

    Exactly ... Unfortunately, most of what is in the media is "what bleeds, leads".

    It's easy to just chalk up everything to media bias...

    But I prefer to look at underlying reasons..

    Which is why I usually get the facts from several different sources and then apply my own unique experiences...

    ninjaf

    To me, this is a nontroversy, getting ginned up and distracting from serious matters.

    Yea, that's stereotypical of how the Left always reacts when the get caught knowingly doing something stupid. :D

    But I have a little "trick" I use around here to confirm that I am right about any particular issue..

    I simply turn the situation around and make it about the OTHER Party/Ideology..

    For example, in this case, I would postulate the scenario that a group of conservatives were invited the White House by future President Romney. And video surfaced of them flipping off and mooning portraits of Carter, Clinton or (gods forbid!!!) Obama....

    Now... What would the reaction of the Left be??? What would be the reaction of most people here???

    Would you say THEN that it's a "nontroversy, getting ginned up and distracting from serious matters."???

    Nope, ya'all would be going apeshit over this. Blogs would run rampant screaming about the indignity and disrespect of it all..

    We BOTH know that this is an accurate assessment...

    It's easy for the Left to poo-poo away something like this as a "nontroversy"... But when it's something that's important to the Left...??? Well, then it's priority UNO...

    If anything, your outrage seems more stereotypical of the right. Find some imagined or silly slight, liken it to spitting on the Constitution and demand that every person to your left kowtow and apologize profusely on their behalf.

    Once again, let's apply this theory to the Left and look at recent history.. Let's take racial issues..

    Is it the Right that demands that white people kow-tow and apologize profusely, render financial compensation to black people over something that happened decades, even centuries ago???

    Nope. I do believe that hysterical attitude comes from the Left...

    Everything you describe as attributable to the Right can ALSO be attributed to the Left...

    When the self-flagellation isn't vociferous enough, claim "victim" and

    Oh come on now! Of the two ideologies, Right and Left, WHICH Party has taken the concept of playing the victim to unheard of heights.. Or, DEPTHS, in this case...

    I'll give you three guesses and I'll give you a hint. It ain't the Right..

    The Left's entire platform is based on victim status...

    "The Planet's a victim!!"

    "Black people are victims!!"

    "Criminals are victims!!!"

    "Terrorists are victims!!"

    and so on and so on and so on ad nasuem...

    The Left has risen playing the victim to an ART FORM...

    So, seriously.. If you want to talk about playing the victim, you need only look as far as Democrats...

    Michale.....

  71. [71] 
    ninjaf wrote:

    Michale,
    Your reaction makes my point exactly. Without even trying, you have exactly done what I said a stereotypical Conservative would do. Did you try to resist that knee jerk or was it just too hard and it snapped on you anyway?
    As for the pictures with President Reagan's painting: As far as I am concerned, those paintings are just like any other monument owned by We The People. As such, freedom of speech allows us to do those things. Should security have done anything to stop them? No. Why? They were not damaging physical property. Was it childish? Yes. Was it illegal? No. Do I approve of their behavior? No. Do I understand their sentiment? Yes, as President Reagan allowed the HIV/AIDS epidemic to rage because of his homophobia/bigotry, instead of dealing with it as the emerging public health crisis that it was. And in 30 years, the LGBT community has gone from being ignored (even actively hated) as a constituency to celebrating in the White House. In essence, their very presence in the White House could be considered a middle finger to President Reagan.

  72. [72] 
    Michale wrote:

    Your reaction makes my point exactly. Without even trying, you have exactly done what I said a stereotypical Conservative would do. Did you try to resist that knee jerk or was it just too hard and it snapped on you anyway?

    Really??

    A "stereotypical" conservative would claim that the Right is as bad as the Left???

    Hmmmmmm That doesn't sound like a stereotypical Conservative to me...

    As for the pictures with President Reagan's painting: As far as I am concerned, those paintings are just like any other monument owned by We The People. As such, freedom of speech allows us to do those things. Should security have done anything to stop them? No. Why? They were not damaging physical property. Was it childish? Yes. Was it illegal? No. Do I approve of their behavior? No. Do I understand their sentiment? Yes, as President Reagan allowed the HIV/AIDS epidemic to rage because of his homophobia/bigotry, instead of dealing with it as the emerging public health crisis that it was. And in 30 years, the LGBT community has gone from being ignored (even actively hated) as a constituency to celebrating in the White House. In essence, their very presence in the White House could be considered a middle finger to President Reagan.

    So, you wouldn't have ANY problem with a bunch of rednecks in Camo gear flipping off an Obama portrait, right???

    Come'on... I may have been born at night, but it wasn't LAST night.... :D

    Michale.....

  73. [73] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Hi NinjaF-

    Welcome to the site!

    I'll vouch for Michale as not being a stereotypical conservative.

    He's brash and he'll come at you hard (which is why I think many people take him to be a "stereotypical conservative" at first, but having known him for years (online anyways), he's a good guy and is not what I think of as a stereotypical conservative.

    Others who have been here for years (including Chris) will likely tell you the same.

    Again ... welcome to the site and have enjoyed your comments! I return you to the show ...

    -David

  74. [74] 
    akadjian wrote:

    COPS showed more black people committing crimes because, in reality, more black people DO commit crimes.

    Ummm ... the table in the link you provided (great link btw) shows numbers which are almost exactly in line w/ my estimates.

    Out of a total of roughly 10 million crimes, 7 million were committed by white, 3 million by blacks.

    By my math, that's roughly 70% to 30% white to black ratio.

    How are you interpreting that data?

    -David

  75. [75] 
    Michale wrote:

    How are you interpreting that data?

    By including the proportion of white people to black people in the country..

    But you are correct, I was inaccurate...

    PROPORTIONALLY speaking, black people commit more crime than white people...

    Ya also have to consider the areas that the COPS film crew will work in..

    Personally speaking, the BEST episode of COPS was the X-FILES version.. That was so cleverly awesome..

    It's right up there with the Deep Space Nine episode that was inter-spersed with the TOS episode, TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES :D

    Michale.....

  76. [76] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'll vouch for Michale as not being a stereotypical conservative.

    Thanx...

    I go out of my way to avoid being the "stereotypical" ANYTHING.. :D

    Who wants to be THAT boring and predictable.. :D

    Michale.....

  77. [77] 
    dsws wrote:

    Here's another way of having two chambers of a legislature be different: elect one by a somebody's-first-choice process, and the other by a nobody's-worst-choice process.

    For the lower house, use just about any proportional-representation process. To make it specific, let's have it be three-member districts, where you vote for one candidate, with the top three vote-getters being elected.

    For the upper house, use very large districts. Let any 5% of the members of the lower house nominate a candidate for any district, and have a fairly easy process for parties to nominate candidates, so that there are a whole bunch of candidates nominated from each district. Then start eliminating them. Give the legislators in the lower house a chance to vote against one candidate each, by secret ballot, and eliminate the two or three candidates that get the most votes. Then give the voters a turn to do the same. Finally, when the list is down to a reasonable size, use a vote-for-two ballot to choose the upper-house representative from each district.

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