Making the case against creating term limits

lobbyist domination

As a political science major and political junkie, I’ve long been interested in the issue of creating term limits for politicians. I read a piece recently in the Boston Globe restating that.

Jeff Jacoby’s January 12 opinion piece, “The case for term limits is as strong as ever,” says, “The case for term limits is straightforward: Men and women cannot be trusted for too long with too much power.

“That is why presidents may be elected to a maximum of two terms, why the governors of 36 states are term-limited, why 15 states impose term limits on legislators, and why nine of the ten largest cities, including New York and Los Angeles, apply term limits to their mayors and (in most cases) city councilors. Power not only tends to corrupt; it tends to do so fairly quickly. Term limits are a check on that corruption.”

I cannot disagree with this, although it’s been my observation that most politicians who are term-limited end up either running for a different office or are appointed to another post. Indeed, 47 current US  Senators had previous House service.

On the other hand…

Still, I was interested in the pushback to the column, most of which I also agree with. One writes, “readers of the recent Neal Gabler book ‘Against the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Rise of Conservatism, 1976-2009’ would probably disagree.

“If Jacoby had his way, term limits would have deprived the people of the Commonwealth of the decades of excellent public service that we enjoyed thanks to the labors of long-term officeholders such as Senator Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, and House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill.” And, might I add, Nancy Pelosi, whose experience allowed her to be an effective Speaker of the House.

“Experience matters in mastering the intricacies of most fields, including government. Cookie-cutter solutions such as term limits may seem superficially appealing, but they fail to address the problem of persuading good people to go to and stay in Congress.” Yes, it usually takes a while to figure out what the job is. Institutional memory has value.

Another says, “Jacoby looks to term limits to resolve his concerns over the advantages of incumbency rather than to campaign financing laws and to the end of gerrymandering.” Those, the reader suggests, are the real villains, not incumbency per se.

I came across this report by the Congressional Research Service.  “The average length of service for Representatives at the beginning of the 117th Congress was 8.9 years (4.5 House terms); for Senators, 11.0 years (1.8 Senate terms). ” Yes, there are indeed people who have stayed too long –  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for one.

Beware the lobbyists

This comment most resonated with me:  “Imposing term limits is also a recipe for lobbyist domination. Since lobbyists don’t have term limits, and they gain expertise at their jobs, they’d be even better at outmaneuvering legislators than they are now.” Also, the lobbyist pool sometimes comes from previously elected officials.

“It’s been said that we already have term limits; they’re called elections. What we need is better, fairer elections: ranked-choice voting, public campaign financing, a repeal of the Citizens United decision so that we can limit money in elections, and so on.

“There are plenty of ways to improve our democracy. Kicking out the folks who know how to make it work isn’t one of them.”

However, I’m willing to be convinced that creating term limits will be the panacea that will create a more robust democracy. And, if there were something less than lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court, I could get behind that.

Has “The American Experiment” failed?


american experimentUthaclena is asking:

Do you think that “The American Experiment” has failed? How likely do you think it is that the United States is headed for a breakup?

I am increasingly concerned about this. The single item that most triggered this worry is the 2022 Texas GOP Platform. It runs about 40 pages, with 275 paragraphs of positions. It also includes two resolutions, one against the gun bill brokered in part by their own Republican senator John Cornyn. I thought the bill was weak tea, though better than nothing. But they have discerned that gun control is a violation of their “God-given rights.”

The other resolution indicates that Joe Biden isn’t actually president. If we can’t agree on the manner in which we operate and oversee our elections, the whole process falls apart. I mean, I DESPISED Biden’s predecessor, but I never believed he wasn’t president, no matter I wanted it to be otherwise. And this isn’t some blowhard commentator saying this, it’s a major political party in our second-most-populous state.

Among the other positions taken by the TX GOP:

The repealing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which had already been gutted by the Supreme Court back in 2012.
Leaving the U.N.; check out paragraph 273
Banning income tax (repealing the 16th amendment) and ending the direct election of US Senators (repealing the 17th Amendment, return to the appointment of Senators by the state legislatures).
Disallowing same-sex marriage
Banning sex education – search the document for the word sex
SECESSION (paragraph 33)

BTW, Kelly covers some of this same territory.


I’m of the generation where the Supreme Court EXPANDED the rights of those who were minorities and/or less powerful, less fortunate. This court has decided that the state’s right to control guns within its own borders (10th Amendment) is superseded by the right to have guns (2nd Amendment).

Some commentators suggested that we ought not to worry that other rights might be abrogated, as Clarence Thomas suggested in his concurring opinion striking down Roe. The votes in SCOTUS aren’t there, presently. But several others pointed out, including the SCOTUS guy for ABC News, Terry Moran, an opposing view that makes more sense to me. Thomas’ opinion questioning same-gender marriage and contraception, et al. is actually more consistent with Alito’s flawed argument that there is no Constitutional right to abortion.

I came across this Neil Gaiman tweet of an NPR piece, Throughline’ Traces Evangelicals’ History On The Abortion Issue by By Rund Abdelfatah. You should read the whole thing; it’s not long. It totally surprised me.

“The Southern Baptist Convention… actually passed resolutions in 1971, 1974, and 1976 – after Roe v. Wade – affirming the idea that women should have access to abortion for a variety of reasons and that the government should play a limited role in that matter… The experts we talked to said white evangelicals at that time saw abortion as largely a Catholic issue.” It was desegregation that started the sea change.

What a country!

Look at maternal mortality rates by country (per 100,000 live births). The US stands at 17.3, worse, FAR worse than any industrialized country. Or child poverty, where the US is well above average. Rare among industrialized nations: no paid maternity leave.

The notion that the US is saving lives by overturning Roe is laughable. Quoting the late George Carlin: “No neonatal care, no daycare, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn you’re fine; if you’re preschool you’re f###ed… And then they turn around and say, ‘we’re pro-life.'”

How does each of the states’ anti-abortion laws apply, anyway? As I heard or read from multiple sources, ambiguity is a design, not a flaw. How do interstate companies respond?

Vanity Fair states the decision was “a result that was born not of careful decision-making and analytic rigor, but of power.” Despite the majority of Americans feeling otherwise.

My buddy Greg Burgas thinks the Republicans have overplayed their hand; that’d be nice, but I remain unconvinced.


 We have Americans who believe the President who was elected in 2020 wasn’t elected. Many others now find the Supreme Court to be an illegitimate entity. And of course, everyone hates the do-nothing… OK, do very little… Congress. It’s not as though these issues will be resolved if we just vote in November.

Alan Singer, who I have met, incidentally, writes about fascism in Russia, the US, and elsewhere. “The United States now has a significant bitter Ethno-nationalist white Christian movement that considers itself aggrieved by Jews, Blacks, Latinos, and immigrants who they claim to want to replace them as the dominant group. It has a political party and cult-like figures who manipulate this group to hold onto power and block any attempts to address major social and economic issues…

“Corporate interests support the cult figures and their efforts to stir up mass support because it is in the interests of these wealthy capitalists to cut taxes and eliminate government regulations… It includes armed groups that threaten military action in the name of 2nd Amendment rights.”

Book bans in K-12 schools have escalated recently. Many “of the books on the list were written by Black or LGBTQ authors.”

So a breakup isn’t inevitable. But I think it’s way more likely now than I did in 2019. Jeff Sharlet, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, who I’ve known for years, has had his journey into “the far-right world of January 6 insurrectionists, QAnon-ers, and Trump cultists—who they are, what they’re saying, what they believe, and what their still-growing movement might portend (including the specter of civil war in America). Such a prospect, says Sharlet, is ‘scarier than it’s ever been.'”

Add inflation, crime, and global warming influenced extreme weather, and who knows? Of course, it would be an ugly, difficult breakup. The 1947 partition of India and Pakistan along religious lines was extremely costly, monetarily and in terms of about two million lives lost. Since we’re the USA, it’d be even worse.

June rambling: It goes on


Belief in God in the U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low

Life: It goes on

In 6-3 rulings, SCOTUS strikes down New York’s concealed-carry law

Also, SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade; I wrote about it here and hereNow whatKelly is not happy either.  And Clarence Thomas believes SCOTUS should reconsider contraception and same-sex marriage rulings. Plus, can we trust tech companies to protect privacy?

Will the Great Salt Lake stay great?

The detectives hunting for underwater volcanoes

Trump administration embraced herd immunity via mass infection — The strategy likely contributed to many preventable deaths

Feds Aim to Slash Nicotine

How are autism and Alzheimer’s related?

John Green: On Disease

The Healing Power of ‘I Don’t Know’ 

Hank Green: Are You Eating a Credit Card Every Week?

Tech Monopolies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Why the US military is listening to shrimp

The Texas Republican Party goes off the deep end

US travelers now need a visa to enter Japan

The surprise hiatus of the band BTS is sending ripples throughout the South Korean economy

The Monkeys and Parrots Caught Up in the California Gold Rush

Orphan Trains: A Brief History and Research How-to

Creative with your catchphrases

Pride parade.TU

June 12, 2022, Pride Parade, Lark St between State and Lancaster Sts, Albany, NY. The car that was the basis of the First Presbyterian Church Albany float stalled out; this was the improvisation. Photo by Jay Zhang, first used by the [Albany] Times Union. Used with permission.

Lessons from Fictional Fathers

PBS NewsHour commentator Mark Shields dies at age 85

James Rado, Co-Creator of Groundbreaking ‘Hair’ Musical, Dies at 90

Jon Stewart: acceptance speech for the Mark Twain Award

Anna “Brizzy” Brisbin -History of Voiceover

Amy Schumer, Selena Gomez, Tracee Ellis Ross, and THR’s Comedy Actress Roundtable

50 years of The Price Is Right 

William Henry Cosby Jr. lost a civil trial

The Insane Plan to Lift NYC’s Palace Theatre

The smile: a history

The Ultimate Guide to Dream Interpretation

A surprise response from Professor O’Neill

 How to ‘Zhuzh’ Up Your Vocabulary; zhuzh is NOT a word I want to see in Wordle

How to prepare for hurricane season 2022 and avoid storm-related scams

8 Ways to Spot Counterfeit Money

Now I Know: The Fired Employee Who Got The Last Laugh and  When Shouting “Cr*p!” is a Wish Come True and Capture the Flag, updated and A Fishy Train Line That Goes Nowhere

About Me (kinda sorta)

Mark Evanier answers my question about mandated representation in cartoon animation in the 1980s. “Doing the right thing for the wrong reason”

Kelly did linkage and wrote about Judy Garland, mentioning moi

I’ve been doing that Sunday Stealing, which fillyjonk also did here and here and here and here. Kelly did the same here and here


Purple Haze – Joy Oladokun 

Rapsodie Espagnol by Maurice Ravel

This Must Be The Place – Ondara 

Espana by Emmanuel Chabrier

Where Grace Abounds – Julius Rodriguez 

NPR Tiny Desk concert with the current off-Broadway production of Little Shop Of Horrors

Freedom – Jon Batiste

 Reclamation – Brandee Younger 

God Bless The Child – Melanie Charles

Hustle (Live) – Sons Of Kemet 

Communion In My Cup  Tank And The Bangas ft. The Ton3s

Alito and 17th-century jurist

“The US already has the highest maternal death rate of any developed country.”

Who was Matthew Hale, the 17th-century jurist that Samuel Alito invokes in his draft overturning Roe? A good question. Alito prides himself as an originalist.

“In his leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leans heavily on the scholarship of… English judge Sir Matthew Hale to underpin his argument that prohibiting abortion has a long ‘unbroken tradition’ in the law.

“Many legal scholars disputed Alito’s… reliance on Hale because of what the jurist’s writings reveal about his attitudes toward women. Hale is notorious in the law for laying the legal foundation for clearing husbands from criminal liability for raping their wives, and for sentencing two women accused of witchcraft to death, a case that served as a model for the infamous Salem witch trials 30 years later.

As ProPublica noted: “Hale’s influence in the United States has been on the wane since the 1970s, with one state after another abandoning his legal principles on rape. But Alito’s opinion resurrects Hale, a judge who was considered misogynistic even by his era’s notably low standards.”

Boston Globe: “Many historians disagree with Alito’s argument. In an amicus brief submitted in the Mississippi abortion-rights case before the justices, the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians counter that up until the Civil War, most states barred abortion only in the later stages of pregnancy and that abortions before fetal ‘quickening’ were legal..”. Quickening, “in English common law, occurs when a mother can detect fetal movement, typically between four and six months of pregnancy.”

Thus it is a self-selected, self-affirming argument.

Women’s health

The Daily Skimm laid out in scary detail the potential ramifications of the ruling.

“The US already has the highest maternal death rate of any developed country. Overturning Roe could make that worse. Nearly half of OB-GYNs in the US may soon be working in the 26 states expected to ban abortion. But if they’re not trained, or if they’re out of practice, or if they’re afraid to use abortion medicine or procedures (think: because they could be sued, or even charged with homicide), curable situations could turn life-threatening or deadly. Think, in the case of:

“Miscarriages: About 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and women’s bodies don’t always pass fetal tissue completely on their own. At that point, most American women are offered a pill or surgical procedure — essentially, an abortion. In places where abortion is heavily restricted or not performed, those options may not be available for weeks (if at all), resulting in serious health risks and trauma.”

Ignorant lawmakers

“Ectopic pregnancies: These pregnancies are not viable since they occur outside the uterus and can be fatal for the mother. At the moment, no US state has banned or criminalized the procedures and drugs that treat ectopic pregnancies. But some state legislators (see: Missouri) have pushed for that, while others (see: Ohio) have invented fantasy procedures not known to science as a workaround.

“Multiple pregnancies: The more fetuses a woman carries, the higher the risk for everyone involved. This can commonly happen during IVF. So doctors may recommend procedures that remove some fetuses (think: ones that are unviable or have severe health issues) so others — and the mother — can survive. Those reductions are already illegal under Texas’s recent abortion ban, and more states may follow.

“Domestic violence: The leading cause of death for pregnant and postpartum women in the US is homicide, according to one study. We’ll say it again: homicide. And data suggests her partner is often responsible. For years, research has shown that partner violence gets worse during pregnancy. And for women in abusive relationships, being denied abortion may make it harder to leave — despite the very real dangers.”

The narrative that all of these “unborn children” will be saved to brighten someone else’s life is not supported by biology, sociology, or history. See also, from the Weekly Sift:  What Alito wrote and Who’s to blame for overturning Roe? Plus Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

October rambling: showering less



Thomas, Alito Urge SCOTUS to ‘Fix’ Marriage Equality

Climate Change Activists Warn California’s First Gigafire Is the Sign of Things To Come 

Policy Lab’s resource page specifically for clinical research associated with bullying and Cyberbullying in the Age of COVID-19 

Why People Dropped Out of the Labor Force  

The Final Five Percent re: traumatic brain injuries

He Faced Down Entrepreneurship’s Hidden Demons –and Emerged a Better Leader

Two Ticks  (voting in New Zealand)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:  Election 2020   

Debt Collectors Are Thriving This Year   — and Now They’re Filing Even More Suits

Flights to Nowhere Are the Weirdest COVID Trend  

How the English language spread around the world  

Shaun Rootenberg: profile of a romance scammer 

Grandson of 10th U.S. president dies at 95 

‘Clean’ Author Makes The Case For Showering Less  

The economics of vending machines 

Inside Cameo, the celebrity shoutout app hungry for fame and Notes from a user

Grapefruit Is One of the Weirdest Fruits on the Planet  

Subway bread is not bread,  Irish court rules

Is Pandemic Brain Changing Your Taste in Music?  You’re Not Alone

Now I Know

The Other Watergate Tape and  Perpetual Stew and This Isn’t a German Fight Song and  Snow Reason to Think a Crime is Underway and The Extra Legs for the Last Leg  

Racial inequity

Documentary – Oscar Brown, Jr.: Music Is My Life, Politics My Mistress 

400 Years of Inequality

 Segregation in America   

Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History   | NPR

Exposing Housing Discrimination 

How deep-rooted systemic racism has such a profound impact on health  

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Continue in Pregnancy-Related Deaths  

Dr. Camara Jones Explains the Cliff of Good Health  

The story of   Henrietta Lacks: Her Impact and Our Outreach   


Wayne Barrett’s ‘Without Compromise”, The Brave Journalism That First Exposed Him    

About Those Taxes  

Not the Man He Used to Be  

So many people who’ve lost loved ones to COVID-19 describe his message with the same four words and  He Is the ‘Single Largest Driver’ Of Covid-19 Misinformation 

An infected president, a disease of the heart, an imperiled republic 

 Infectious disease icon asks CDC director to expose White House, orchestrate his own firing 

Covita and  Regeneron 

If Donald Got Fired  – Randy Rainbow (featuring Patti LuPone!)


Balm in Gilead  – MUSE/IQUE (vocalists Ben Harper and Maiya Sykes, drummer Jimmy Paxson, bassist Michael Valerio, violinist Charles Yang, and keyboardist Deron Johnson, joined by Herman Cornejo, principal dancer with American Ballet Theater)

Billboard:  Eddie Van Halen’s 15 Best Songs and Thanks, Eddie  (RIP)

Stir It Up  – Johnny Nash (RIP).

We’re All Doomed – Trump vs. Biden, featuring “Weird Al” Yankovic

K-Chuck Radio: The real debate … Helen Reddy or Mac Davis?  (Both RIP)

Live From SpragueLand Episode 11 – Peter Sprague Plays The Beatles   

Bass Quintet in G major, op. 77    – Dvorak | Yoo | Park | Ullery | Kim | Cahill

Piece for Chamber Orchestra by Edward Bland

Sounds from St. Olaf – Episode 1: A St. Olaf Ensemble Showcase 

Colors   – Black Pumas

American Standard:  Teach Me Tonight   – James Taylor

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life   – Julien Neel

Mad World   – Pentatonix

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing   -San Diego Master Chorale. Arrangement and solo by Zanaida Robles. Singing starts at 29 minutes.

American Tune  – Paul Simon

Coverville  1327: Human League Cover Story and Thomas Csorba Interview  and   1328: 50th Anniversary of Led Zeppelin III   

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