Kevin R. McCarthy for Jefferson County Commissioner

Why Do We Elect Crummy Politicians?

I’ve been thinking about this since my last entry.  It’s bothered me for some time, but I finally put a few brain cells to working on the problem.

I’ve come up with several reasons and they can be (mostly) traced to two sources: laziness and religion.

I hesitate to say that Americans are lazy, because we (as a group) really are not lazy.  However, we do tend to spend inordinate amounts of time on things like entertainment and hobbies (fun things) rather than more difficult and (arguably) more important pursuits.  I don’t know if that’s laziness.  I, for sure, would rather play video games than go to work every day, but I don’t.

The other side of the coin is that it is very difficult to keep up with all the items in politics that we have to keep up with to make informed decisions.  I really don’t know what the state railroad commissioner does, nor do I know what qualities would make a good one.  However, like many political jobs, I suspect that he has staff to make everything work correctly, and his main job is to talk to politicians higher up on the food chain, so his staff can get some work done.

I guess my main point about ‘laziness’ is the effort it takes for us to make informed decisions, rather than random decisions.  It is hard, but, on the things that are major concerns to me, I try.

This is where the ‘party system’ comes in.  Instead of being an expert and researcher, theoretically, you just have to vote for the party you most agree with.  However, lately this is becoming more difficult with Conservative Democrats, Liberal Republicans, people who switch sides after a few terms in office, etc.  Who knows anymore what the ‘parties’ really stand for.

The other reason is religion.  This is a tricky one and don’t go jumping to conclusions.  But religion really trains people to not ask questions.  And if a difficult question is asked, religion trains people to accept totally insane answers.

Politics can be compared to religion very easily.

  1. In both, you have a few people who are in complete control of almost everything.
  2. In both, the people are encouraged to believe in their leaders and not ask questions about what is going on.
  3. Both claim to know what is best for you.
  4. Both try to tell you what to do and when to do it.
  5. Both require a significant portion of your income.
  6. Both claim to have the answers for every problem you’ve ever had.
  7. Both tell you that you have more problems and have the answers for those too.

All of this requires the willing participation of the ‘subjects’ (for lack of a better word).

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December 18, 2007 Posted by | Politics | Leave a comment

Opponents, Frustration, and Voters

KFDM announced today that a former judge has filed to run for the Democratic nomination for County commissioner Precinct 3.

Of course, this guy was asked by the State of Texas to STEP DOWN from being a judge because of implied impropriety during a case.  Yet he got 45% of the primary votes last time.

Jesus… why do I even bother?

I’ve often asked why do we have so many problems in politics.  To paraphrase Tom Clancy, “Why do we elect these people to office when we wouldn’t even feel safe inviting them into our homes?”

Yet time and again, we put them in office and then wonder why they do the things they do.  It’s our fault ladies and gentlemen.

As of 2005, the highest voter turnout in Jefferson County was  almost 89,000.  Out of almost 117,000 registered voters… that’s  just over half of the voters coming out for an election.

So ladies and gentlemen.  If you vote (and I think pretty much anyone reading this does), then find someone that doesn’t vote and convince them to.  Don’t pressure them for a candidate, just tell them to get out and vote.

If those 50% pf the people would vote, then we could literally change the county.  There’s enough ‘unclaimed’ votes for any person running to be elected to office.

research:

http://www.co.jefferson.tx.us/purchasing/Bid_Notices/20050509_RFP05-026DSElectronicVotingSystemSpecs_Add_1.pdf

December 18, 2007 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Politics | Leave a comment

Why Won’t Anyone Do Any Research?

As a County Commissioner (or any other job elected or otherwise),  I would do my own research.  This particular example is for the VX waste shipments into our area.  Why won’t the media take a few minutes to explain this in plain language?  ( Heck, I’ve even offered to do it for them, I am a Chemistry teacher.)

The VX gas has already been destroyed.  The plant here is destroying the caustic waste created by the destruction process.  That’s the same stuff in those big containers off Pure Atlantic Road labeled ‘caustic’.

Anyway, there is less than 20 parts per billion VX residue in the waste water.  That level (equal to 7 people in the entire US population) is considered safe enough to drink by the US Army.  The caustic would kill you, but the VX residue won’t.

Toxins toxicity is measured by LD50… the dose that would be lethal to 50% of the people affected.  The LD50 for VX (as a liquid) for a 160 lbs man is 10 milligrams.  If a 160 pound man drank 10 milligrams of VX liquid, he has a 50% chance of dying.

At 20 parts per billion, you would have to drink 500,000 milligrams of the waste water to get a lethal dose.  That’s 500 g or about a pound of waste.  Try drinking a pound of Drano.

The Lethal Dose for airborne VX gas is 30 mg*min / m^3.  What this means is that, the concentration of the gas in the air times the number of minutes that you are in that concentration equals 30.  That is lethal to 50% of the population.  So if you stand in a place that has 30mg of gas per cubic meter (about 30 cubic feet) for 1 minute, you would have a 50% chance of dying.  If the concentration was 1 mg/m^3 and you were in that for 30 minutes, again, you would have a 50% chance of dying.

For the record,  less than  .09 m*min/m^3 will cause a runny nose in 50% of the population.  I guess we’ll never know about that.

Now, consider where the incineration plant is, the population of the area and how much residue would have to become a gas to be dangerous to the Port Arthur area.   With the winds in our area and the distances involved, any meaningful buildup of VX gas would be so non-concentrated as to be undetectable.

This entire discussion is ridiculous.  There are two really sad parts about this.  The first is that no one has actually tried to explain the process so that people will understand what is going on.  The other sad part is that many people, in spite of the science, won’t believe it anyway.

If I think there’s a problem with something coming into my county, I’ll be the first to jump on it.  But I’ll also do my own research.

Look, this area needs any economy boost we can get just to pay off our dang taxes.

research
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VX_Gas
http://www.fas.org/cw/cwagents.htm

December 10, 2007 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Politics | 5 Comments

Updated My Platform

I just posted a few thoughts on various subjects.  If you want any more info, please ask.

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Campaign, Politics | Leave a comment

Rebuilding Highway 87

Another candidate for the Precinct 3 Commissioners slot wants to rebuild Highway 87 between Sea Rim State Park and High Island.

I remember driving from Sabine Pass to Galveston many years ago and that highway made it possible.  It was a lovely drive and a great time.  However, objective reality is that we will not be able to rebuild that road.  Wait, we can rebuild the road… we have the technology.  Then, in 15 or 20 years, the ocean will come in and wash it away… again.

Ask any Geologist familiar with this area.  Southeast Texas (indeed, most of the Gulf Coast) is built on 10,000 feet of sand.  It is sinking.  Our coastline is eroding.  It has been eroding for the last few thousand years and will continue to erode for a few thousand years.  The rate in the area for the highway 87 rebuild is about 8 feet lost per year.  So building the road 240 feet inland means that the road will only last for 30 years.

There will be an, as yet undetermined, impact on the wetlands by building this road.  The wetlands are vital for the health of our ecology and as a natural barrier against stom surge.  The road might not have a major impact on the wetlands, but building it surely will.

Finally, this project will cost about $20 million dollars (as of 2001) or $30 million with the normal cost overruns.  The state of Texas (TXDOT) was willing to rebuild it if the permits could be obtained.  They have not been obtained to date.

Now the critical question; How many people will it serve?   Will this be a major artery of Texas commerce?  I doubt it.

The people of Southeast Texas have lived without this road since 1990 when it closed (though you could still drive it a few years after that).  Yes, there is a small safety concern for the people of Sabine Pass.  I work there.  I drive there every work day.  I drive over that Intercoastal Canal bridge.  I drive over the Keith Lake fish pass.  I’ve driven that road when it was almost completely underwater.

So, yes, I agree there is a concern.  One mistake by a barge captain could isolate Sabine Pass for  months… kind of.  One of the ladies I work with lived in Sabine Pass when the IC Bridge was damaged.  This was before 1990, so everyone drove their cars around through High Island, parked them on the other side and had someone with a boat run them over each time they needed to get back and forth.

Which brings me to my solution for the safety of Sabine Pass residents.  Let’s set-up an emergency ferry plan.  We should be able to get a ferry from the state for the duration of an emergency like the IC Bridge collapsing.  With a little prep work, there should be several places near Sabine Pass and either in Port Arthur or Pleasure Island where the ferry could dock.

As a Libertarian, I can not justify the spending of $20 million plus for a road with minimal life span, minimal traffic, and minimal value. Not when we can make a few plans and render most of the value of the road a moot point.

So, the high school football team will have to take two hours to get to High Island instead of 30 minutes.  They hate having to leave early.

Some useful links I used for research

Texas Freeway’s Highway 87 page

Photos of Highway 87

December 3, 2007 Posted by | Jefferson County, Texas | Leave a comment