Saturday, December 29, 2007
I expect to see $1000 gold by April. Your own due diligence is necessary.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
No criticism of George. He can take the Oath on the Constitution or Man, Economy and State. Nothing in the Constitution requires the use of any book to administer the Oath of Office. I recall when being sworn into the USAF no Bibles were used.
No what troubles me is swearing to uphold the Constitution just isn't good enough. The Constitution as a practical instrument has failed. Swearing on the Articles of Confederation would seem to be an odd thing to do for a Constitutional officer. But I think the Articles would be a more realistic political aspiration.
Bill Moyers interviewed Stanford 'Sandy' Levinson who is advocating a constitutional convention be called in his book 'Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong'. I haven't read this book yet, but I have thought about how the American people could extract themselves from the present oppressive regime of government - I have thought about reform within the framework of the present system; I have considered how the people themselves in the states might convene a convention in each state to propose a new national instrument of government and then take 50 proposals and boil them into a series of run-off plebesites to get a final national plebesite head to head with the current regime constitution and an alternative.
I might advocate such a procedure because I am highly suspicious of a centralized convention with a winner take all outcome without the intermediation popular input - elections between all the proposals. Instead of a two-party election.
But I long ago lost all fear of so-called runaway conventions. In fact, a centralized convention would almost certainly be a deadlocked convention which would be a manipulation to support the status quo regime. A very negative waste of time and aspirations.
On the other hand, I see the holding of 50 simultaneous conventions as the opportunity for a genuine popular consensus to be revealed. It would be most illuminating to compare and contrast those 50 proposals for a national constitution. The result might well reveal a pattern which would argue for a national confederation rather than a unitary system - which is what we now have in the costume of a federal system. Federalism has been discredited by the Constitution we now don't have.
Facing the facts, we really have no Constitution at all. We have a system of complex customs of governance in collapse into a fascist dictatorship.
The best of the culture of the American people and the ideals of the original revolution could best be served by a new confederation of states, perhaps even more than just 50 such states with a new document built directly on the foundation of the Declaration of Independence.
You may follow the discussion of a new constitutional convention at :
Happy whichever Holidays.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
A few minutes ago I received an automated telephone poll from the
Rassmussen organization. After answering the usual demographic
questions, age, sex, political affiliation, etc., I was given three
choices for parties, of course: D, R, or OTHER!
I answered Other, of course. I wonder if I could organize the Other
Party, they're in all the polls! Wouldn't it be nice to be the Other
National Chairman? A spokesperson for the Others, what prestige!
Almost enough to make one feel Other-worldly.
I was asked which group I thought would have the biggest effect on the outcome of the 2008 Presidential election: 1) African-Americans, 2) Hispanics, 3) Gays, 4) Evangelical Christians 5) I don't know.
I answered 5. I don't know (and I don't care).
Then I was asked if I had to chose, would watch a Presidential debate
or the World Series?
I answered World Series.
Then I was asked how often I watched major league baseball?
I answered seldom. (I can watch a debate when I want online. Why shouldn't I watch the World Series to avoid the terrible counter-programming.)
"Thank you and Good-bye."
I was also asked the standard question about which track the country
was on: right or wrong.
No option for "off-the-track".
I was asked about withdrawing American troops from Iraq.
I answered immediately - immediately.
These were the salient questions.
I've been polled before (not counting online Zogby or Harris), at least
once before. I'm still not impressed.
BTW, I think there was a target demographic for this poll: The likely
voter in the Republican Presidential primary in Oklahoma. Or, perhaps, an undisclosed 'Independent' or 'Other' candidate.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
This lady is clearly a realist. I concede to her analysis.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/kwiatkow ski/kwiatkowski1 92.html
In the future I will address my electoral discussions to how a post-imperial republic could be structured. That period may not be so far away if the global fiat money system collapses. One thing is a near certainty: the Empire cannot be voted out of office with ballots.
So, it is not too soon to consider how, and to what extent, new political entities could emerge that would be republics in North America based on a common residual culture.
One should not hope to reconstitute or "restore" the United States as it formerly existed at any time in the past. It was fatally flawed from conception and died because of those genetic flaws. We can learn from the autopsies that are being performed on the corpse.
The Republic is dead. Let's begin to consider alternatives. Like just how limited in power can a republic be? Why shouldn't individuals have memberships in multiple republics? How might compacts to facilitate free trade among republics be negotiated? What if a defense compact among many republics in North America could provide mutual security and avoid the danger of a unitary military state?
All empires collapse because their ambitions atrophy the means to fulfil those ambitions. Or, imperialism bleeds the golden geese until they can no longer produce golden eggs. But the empire dies before the all the geese do.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Because national and state elections have been unified in time for so long and because the states do have concurrent jurisdiction with the Congress to administer elections, the constitutionality of many elections practices have gone unchallenged. This negligence has allowed partisans to entrench themselves in power by manipulating election rules to their advantage and suppressing voter sovereignty.
The question I raise here is this: Can a State using its authority to police the initiative petition process (on an issue which affects only State government - term limits- tailor that police power so broadly as to also restrict access the initiative on an issue which affects the rights of U.S. citizens to vote for national offices (Congress and President)?
The question directly implicates the principle of federalism in the American system of dual, and sometimes dueling, governments.
In reading, Judge Leonard's decision in Yes on Term Limits v Savage, it is clear that this question could not be raised. However, there is another initiative petition in circulation sponsored by a coalition of parties seeking the restore the rule which bars access to the ballot to requiring only 5,000 signatures - the standard used from 1924 to 1974.
In Oklahoma circulating a petition to access the ballot does not require the petition circulators be voters in Oklahoma. Given the rulings of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and Federal Judge Tim Leonard in YOTL v Savage, one can anticipate that such a requirement will be added by the legislature to ballot access petitioning as well.
To my knowledge, the present initiative on ballot access reform is not using circulators who are not residents of Oklahoma and they are therefore complying with the existing law affirmed by Judge Leonard.
But are the ballot access initiative proponents wrongly assuming that the YOTL v Savage rule also applies to them?
It may not be so clear. The ballot access initiative seeks to allow U.S. citizens residing in Oklahoma, in their capacity as U. S. electors in a national (and federal) election to vote for both state and national offices. Can the State interpose itself to prevent U.S. citizens from exercise their national suffrage rights? If Oklahoma does not apply the rule requiring resident petition circulators to ballot access petitions, can it apply the more restrictive rule to an initiative which seeks to reduce the requirements for ballot access?
What this line of analysis reveals, I hope, is that the real petition requirement for ballot access in a state is as high the U.S. Supreme Court will tolerate. But in states which have the initiative, the right of citizens to lower that barrier below the U.S. Supreme Courts tolerance level can be stymied by the higher signature threshold for initiatives over ballot access petitions. The consequence is that partisan control of state legislatures is used to entrench control of national offices. In other words, in states which have the initiative, the people are restrained from opening the ballot more than the Supreme Court will allow because the state legislature is further insulated behind the barriers to an initiative.
In short, if you can keep your opponents off the ballot for state office, then you can keep them off the ballot for national offices also and you can use the power to 'police' the initiative process to fortify your partisan control.
The Constitution clearly indicates that states must have a wide latitude to conduct their own affairs, but only so long as state actions do not impair the rights of citizens to exercise their power to control the national government. What has happened is that a long period of control of both the national and the state governments by the same partisans has enabled them to entrench themselves with state laws which also protect their control of the national government. This possibility was not sufficiently addressed by the framers. It continues to remain insufficiently resolved because their is now a unitary bi-partisan government bias against federalism at all levels state and national. The language of the U.S. and state constitutions retains a clear federalist intent. Much devious circumlocution is required to sustain entrenchment of the unitary bi-partisan ideology.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Conspiracy? Conspiracy? Only petty criminals conspire.
It would useful for the reader to consider this first: Black Ops: Conspiracy and 9/11
The author in the referenced article disbelieves complicity by Americans in 9/11 because they are too dim-witted to conceive the idea. Maybe, but they are not to dim-witted to read Tom Clancy and extrapolate.
What I find so anomalous is the continued apparent career of Osama Bin Laden. It's almost as if the U.S. has created and sustained a bogey man with superhuman abilities of evasion and escape or the U.S.government is capable of inflicting genocide anywhere any time on any group, but it cannot kill just one person that the U.S. claims is justified by Presidential edict alone. Such a person as Bin Laden must therefore be pardonable by secret Presidential edict alone.
Perhaps, that is why Bin Laden appears to soldier on. Or he may be dead, but his image is too useful to let his death be discovered. So we may be receiving messages from a virtual Bin Laden F/X. If Bin Laden still lives, he may be living quite comfortably and securely in Saudi Arabia. If Bin Laden is dead, his body may lie in a secret but honored place in the sands of Saudi Arabia. And if should ever become necessary, he remains will be 'found' and verified by 'experts' that he died just his cover story says he died. A man whose great service was to be publicly reviled in Western history and secretly honored by his co-conspirators.
Now, if all this was embellished with names altered and told as fiction by a talent like Tom Clancy, then millions would enjoy the yarn as harmless. But what would become of a real life Jack Ryan who decided to blow the lid off a real life conspiracy?
You can steal this plot line for your own novel. I already have a better one.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The value of the U.S. dollar has declined about 96% from its value in 1910. It is now approaching a record low against other major currencies.
The value of the dollar has been the responsibility of the Federal Reserve since 1913. It seems obvious the Fed has failed to preserve the dollar.
It is not possible to take political action against the Fed, it is too well entrenched behind the full armed might of the U.S. government. The individual is not powerless however, It is still possible to speculate against the Fed. The time may well have come to do just that because the Fed has almost nothing of value (the dollar and the credit of the U.S.) to support it. They have almost no margin left.
The reserve currency of the world's central banks is nearly worth zero.
I leave it to the reader to explore this issue further for opportunities.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
- Entry for September 09, 2007
The case discussed here was decided in Federal Court in Oklahoma City. You can read the entire opinion by Judge Tim Leonard see here.
Excepts appear in quotes. This case, while it addresses an initiative to place term limits om state offices, bears directly on the effort to circulate an initiative to open access to the ballot for new political parties in Oklahoma. The Judge's ruling bars non-resident circulators for this organization and apparently also the ballot access initiative petition. It is not known whether this decision will be appealed to the 10th Circuit by the plaintiffs.
YES ON TERM LIMITS, INC., et al., )
v. ) No. CIV-07-680-L
M. SUSAN SAVAGE, individually and )
in her official capacity as Oklahoma )
Secretary of State, et al., )
"Prior to 1969, Oklahoma imposed no qualifications on petition circulators. Oklahomans for Modern Alcoholic Beverage Controls, Inc. v. Shelton, 501 P.2d 1089, 1092 (Okla. 1972). Beginning that year, Oklahoma law prescribed that petition circulators be qualified electors of the State of Oklahoma and imposed criminal liability on persons other than qualified electors who circulated petitions." (pg 3)
What was the rationale (motivation) of the Legislature for imposting the ban? Not discussed in the opinion of the court and apparently not raised by the plantiff's attorneys.
"It shall be unlawful for any person other than a qualified elector of the State of Oklahoma to circulate any initiative or referendum petition to amend, add to, delete, strike or otherwise change in any way the Constitution or laws of the State of Oklahoma, or of any subdivision of the State of Oklahoma . . . . Every person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed one (1) year, or by both said fine and imprisonment. 34 O.S. § 3.1." (pg 3 footnote)
The Secretary of State is charged with responsibility to enforce this requirement the petition was circulated by lawful resident circulators. The SoS does not verify the validity of the voter's signatures, the (Oklahoma) Supreme Court is charged with administering the validity and sufficiency of the signatures.
Also, any citizen of the state can protest a petition or to object to the Secretary's signature count by filing a written notice with the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Interesting.
"Moreover, the court finds Rittberg's and Ferrell's alleged fear of prosecution under § 3.1 is not credible given Rittberg's prior campaign in Oklahoma and Ferrell's lack of knowledge of any criminal penalties. Tr. at 107. In short, plaintiffs have not sustained their burden of demonstrating they have standing to contest the constitutionality of the criminal penalties associated with Oklahoma's residency requirement for petition circulators." (pg 9)
The plantiff's ignorance or avoidance of potential criminal prosecution serves as
an excuse to the court to ignore addressing the constitutionality of the criminal jeopardy in this case. Curious. One must actually violate the law and be prosecuted to gain standing to contest the law.
However, to contest the validity of a petition one need only be a resident of the state to have legal standing and presumably bring a criminal complaint against non-resident circulators.
However, the court was willing to grant the defendants limited standing on the civil issues.
'The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was made applicable to the states pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits the State of Oklahoma from abridging the freedom of speech. See U.S. Const. amend. I, amend. XIV. Circulation of initiative petitions "is `core political speech,' because it involves `interactive communication concerning political change.'" Buckley v. Am. Const. Law Found., Inc., 525 U.S. 182, 186 (1999)." (pg 11)
Now we come to the core of the case: Is the State of Oklahoma in compliance with the U.S. Constitution under Amendments I and XIV? In such First Amendment cases the courts discriminate on whether the case passes the "strict scrutiny" test.
"[s]trict scrutiny demands state regulations "impos[ing]`severe burdens' on speech . . . be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest." Strict scrutiny is applicable "where the government restricts the overall quantum of speech available to the election or voting process. . . . [It] is employed where the quantum of speech is limited due to restrictions on . . . the available pool of circulators or other supporters of a candidate or initiative, as in ACLF and Meyer."" (pg 11)
The intricacies of "strict scrutiny" and "compelling state interest" cannot be addressed here. Suffice it to say that they amount to an allegedly higher standard than "necessary and proper".
"By limiting petition circulators to residents only, Oklahoma has restricted the available pool of circulators, particularly professional circulators. The court thus finds the residency requirement is subject to strict scrutiny." (pg 11)
Footnote 11 to pg 11: "Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has recognized "there must be a substantial regulation of elections if they are to be fair and honest and if some sort of order, rather than chaos, is to accompany the democratic processes." Storer v. Brown, 415 U.S. 724, 730 (1974)."
What is unquestionable in courts is that "some sort of order" is indispensable for fair and honest democratic processes. That is the fundamental issue: What kinds of 'order' are sufficient to produce fair and honest elections as opposed to the kinds of order that simply entrench power and stifle democratic processes?
This more fundamental was not raised.
"Defendants" (the State) "contend that "Oklahoma has a compelling interest in  preventing fraud and policing and maintaining the integrity of its initiative and referendum" and " restricting the process of self-government to members of its own political community." Defendants' Supplemental Trial Brief at 3, 5 (Doc. No. 41)." (pg 12)
Contention  is is rich in its implications. But the court opinion avoids it. Perhaps because it would raise 'novel' arguments and difficult legal analysis.
"The court finds that Oklahoma has a compelling interest in protecting and policing both the integrity and the reliability of its initiative process. See Buckley, 525 U.S. at 191 ("States allowing ballot initiatives have considerable leeway to protect the integrity and reliability of the initiative process, as they have with respect to election processes generally."); Chandler, 292 F.3d at 1241. The integrity of the petition circulators themselves is critical to that process." (pg 12)
The court finds contention  is a sufficient basis for its decision and does not address contention  at all. The remainder of the opinion is a discussion of the merits of Oklahoma's version of order to police the circulation of initiative petitions as meeting the test of strict scrutiny and compelling state interest under current constitutional legal doctrine.
The plaintiffs lose.
Returning to contention "restricting the process of self-government to members of its own political community."
In a federal system doctrine there are two partially overlapping political communities (state and national). The configuration of that overlap has been the most contentious issue in American political history.
Most elections in the United States fall in that area of overlap. That is, when Oklahoma citizens exercise their rights as members of the Oklahoma political community they are also exercising their rights as members of the national political community. Most of our elections are simultaneously dual state and national elections.
To the extent that the same processes of procedure and administration are applied to both elections, the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution must apply and that means citizens who are exercising political rights OTHER THAN VOTING OR SEEKING ELECTION TO OFFICE in a State must be treated equally as U.S. citizens (I and XIV Amendments). This reasoning appears to be novel.
On this reasoning I contend that the judge got it wrong, at least because the proper issues were not raised. Why not? The legal profession is inherently constrained to acceptable doctrines. These constraints make litigation which challenges acceptable doctrine extremely risky and provocative. Few capable attorneys have the guts for it and the economic incentives.
This reality makes direct political action even more critical. Even direct political action that challenges the judiciary itself. Why target the State Supreme Court Justices who are open to public accountability at the polls (in Oklahoma)? To encourage their colleagues to rethink their habits of thought. It's to make them "feel the heat to see the light."
Furthermore, on the level of practical politics it is far more difficult and obviously self-serving if courts avoid applying very strict scrutiny to restrictions on campaigns directly aimed at unseating them.
Federal judges are unreachable except indirectly though election to national office of members of Congress, Senate and the Presidency. Restrictions on attempts at political reform to open up access to these national as well as state offices necessarily implicates who shall serve on the Federal bench. Hence, State election administration and processes coordinate control of both states and the national government.
Suppression of initiatives which bear on elections in those states which have that constitutional process directly affect elections to national offices in those states.
The decision of the Federal Court in this case directly impaired an effort to enact term limits for Oklahoma state offices only. However, the application of the Judges reasoning does not differentiate between a strictly state application for that "political community" and its application to the "political community" of Oklahomans in the capacity as citizens of the United States. The court did not address this aspect of the case even though the defendants opened the door in their brief.
We infer Judge Leonard wanted to decide the case by the most narrow and conventional doctrine possible. Lawyers who must face such judges are half gagged when they try to argue their cases.
In conclusion, the initiative for more open ballot access should be exempted from this case precedent by applying strict scrutiny and voiding its application to their petition and allowing non-resident petition circulators as legitimate for any citizen of the United States.
Of course, if these issues were raised in a similar case before Judge Leonard he might agree. Just because the door (contention ) was open to him and he didn't explicitly slam it shut leaves the Judge or another Judge a way out of a conundrum.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Entry for September 05, 2007
Customs serve as implicit multilateral contracts
which form a framework to facilitate other more
specific human actions. Elections are social
customs. There is no universal, best or ideal
model for conducting elections. There are superior,
better practices and inferior corrupt practices
in the context of social custom.
Elections are intended by the participants to
minimize social friction. Elections are
supposed to lubricate the inevitable conflict
between coercive authority and voluntary
cooperation. Two very dissimilar realms of
The official act of voting in the United States,
for many citizens, constitutes their only
participation in government, and it is
fundamental that elections are conducted with
all possible evidence of integrity. However,
State control of elections constitutes one of
the most difficult problems to solve in the
application of democratic theory and custom.
It is clear that current election laws are
seriously defective. This study will focus
on the analysis of electoral friction and
propose alternatives to current legal rigidities.
I began this research project by querying
for model election code. Curiously, the only
one I found is from 1934! Has no one attempted
to construct a template for a state election
code in nearly 75 years? Apparently not.
The 1934 model code is interesting as a
snapshot of political science thinking
of that era. Excerpts from the report
presenting that Code appear in italics.
In this discussion we shall use the term
“bipartisan” to indicate the two largest
political organizations – traditionally
Democrats or Republicans, but that could
vary under local circumstances. For example,
some other parties could be the
bipartisan elements in a precinct like the
Libertarians and the Greens together
outnumbering either the Republicans or
Excerpts from the 1934 model code appear
Every investigation or election contest
brings to light glaring irregularities,
errors, misconduct on the part of precinct
officers, disregard of election laws
and instructions, slipshod practices, and
downright frauds. The entire country
has been shocked from time to time by the
revelation of wholesale election
frauds.... Competent political observers
report that election frauds are ...
are widely prevalent.... Even these election
scandals and the slipshod administration
revealed by election recounts do not indicate
the real state of affairs which prevails
generally in election administration. The
truth of the matter is that the whole
administration- organizations, laws, methods and
procedures, and records-are, for most states,
quite obsolete. The whole system, including the
election laws, requires a thorough revision and
improvement. 1 (Emphasis added.)
Some things just go on and on it seems until,
and if, someone notices.
There should never be the slightest question
about the integrity of the ballot box or doubt
cast upon the honesty of the elections. It is
hardly necessary to point out that the presence
of election frauds and sharp practices will
undermine public morale and interest in civic
affairs more quickly than any other condition.
The existence of election frauds is an unfailing
sign of bad government, for frauds cannot be
perpetrated upon a large scale except by a powerful
and corrupt political organization, willing to go
to any length to maintain its control over the
government, and able to afford protection
to those who corruptly carry out its orders.
Fraudulent elections cannot be tolerated by
any self respecting community. Fair elections are
absolutely essential to good government, but do not,
of course, guarantee good government.2
After three-quarters of a century that does seem
rather evident, but when did we get to the point
of "fair" elections to test that assumption?
The right of the suffrage is an empty formality
where election frauds prevail. Public opinion,
civic interest, and efforts to elect capable
officers and to secure good government are of
no avail in the face of a powerful political machine,
able and willing to corrupt the elections.3
Here we discuss only the administration of
balloting at the point when the ballot is cast by
the voter and exclude consideration of pre-election
bipartisan rigging of the ballot.
There should never be any question about the
accuracy of election results. The returns should
be as accurate as the accounts of a bank or of any other
commercial institution. Would banks or other commercial
or business institutions be willing to operate on the
theory that one error will be offset by another? The
truth of the matter is that our elections at present are
conducted in such manner that errors and inaccuracies
are inevitable,.... 4
Hence much of the focus on regulating the pre-election
campaign showmanship and financing while ignoring the
business end – the ballot and ballot counting.
At the present time inaccuracies are the rule rather
than the exception in election returns. Recounts produce
different results from the original count in practically
every precinct, and the variations are sometimes startling.5
Of course, one proposed solution is to make recounts
moot by just re-tabulating the tabulation in question.
An ephemeral (electronic) ballot is no ballot at all.
A cardinal principle of election administration at present
is that of bipartisanship. It may be observed in the
election statutes in every state in the Union.6
This bipartisanship is the quintessential characteristic
vice of U.S. election administration.
The bipartisan principle results in our elections being
controlled by the very elements of society most bent upon
winning the election - the bitter partisans whose livelihood
may depend upon party victory. Common sense would dictate
that such persons should be debarred from having
any control over elections, but under the bipartisan
theory it is necessary to "set a thief to watch a thief."
Unfortunately, thieves may make bargains. The supposed
opposition of the two leading political parties is little
more than a farce in many large cities. The minority
party is often the tool of the majority party.7
It is obvious that the worst possible procedure is to place
the selection of election administrators in the hands of
the dominant political organizations. It is foolish to expect
honest elections when the very persons who would profit by
fraud control the machinery of elections.
The superior alternative is empanel a jury by lottery from
the large pool of voters who are not government employees
or officials at the precinct level to oversee the conduct
of an election. The term of service for such juries should
be for one election only over a span of days or weeks
- not months.
This would place original jurisdiction over elections
closest to the voters. Selection by lottery at the
precinct level assures a rotation in office beyond
the control of professional politicians. In a precinct
election jury a significant number of independents and
other party voters would secure oversight along side
How large should a precinct jury be? Any odd number seven
or larger depending on the precinct size.
How large/small should a precinct be? A minimum is easer
to establish than a maximum. A precinct of only 300 voters
may have a turnout of only ten or fifteen percent in some
elections. This makes the secrecy of the ballot problematic.
But the use of a seven member election jury seems
unjustifiable for such a small precinct. I suggest a
one percent rule, that is, a seven member precinct jury
requires a precinct of at least 700 voters minimum. On the
other hand a precinct jury should not be larger than 11 members.
Therefore, the maximum size for a precinct would be about
1100 to 1200 voters. This would apply to precincts in urban
or suburban communities generally. The only exceptions should
be for very small and relatively isolated rural communities
with fewer than 700 voters. It is entirely possible or even
likely that bipartisans would still dominate a jury in such
small precincts. But an “affirmative action” provision might
require that no more than a majority of such a jury is bipartisan.
1 Model Election Code by Joseph P. Harris, Prof. of Political Science,
University of Washington, 1934; Institute for Government Research
Studies in Administration No. 27, The Brookings Institution,
Washington, D.C. 1934
Thursday, August 30, 2007
While the pieces for a candidate to management a campaign are lying around, the means for the citizen manage political information are even more scattered.
How does one begin to organize information upon which to make an informed judgement on candidates at the ballot? Contemporary political campaigns seem structured to 'cue' voters not inform them. Very well, caveat emptor! It is the citizen's responsibility to either be led by cues or to lead their self. So called grass roots organizations push the cueing approach as well. The approach which would yield the most benefit to voter independence is to offer tools which empower the voters to shape the information from their own biases or philosophy.
Political parties as we have known and loathed them serve only the interests of maintaining and entrenching incumbency. They are essentially service agencies for preserving the power of the failing.
This observation is supported by my comparison of the state of information management tools in the hands of manufacturers of processed consent versus the producers of original consent - voters.
So, where are the tools for the citizens, if they chose to become voters, to filter the demands of processed consent?
It seems their is an opportunity here for a lot of clever hackers. Potentially Very Subversive Stuff - a voter information management system as a web service.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
- Entry for August 29, 2007
Just a question: Where is the free, open source software for political campaign management? It appears to me that most of the components are there to be glued together. Public records are generally available to pour in.
Anyone should be able to access the tools for campaigning in a free society. Or, I have I failed to enter a 'magic' query to find this stuff?
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Democracy, for libertarians at least, is not an alternative to markets. Nor is the use of democratic processes to spread that idea subversive anti-market activity, in my opinion. It is an essential activity so long as any state apparatus rest upon markets. So long as there are advocates for the State as a substitute for markets, anti-state “politics” will be necessary. War is the primary function of the State which subverts markets. One cannot be consistently pro-war and pro-market. For a State to wage war against another State, it must first wage war against 'its' own people. It must make war upon them by taxation to bid for the resources to wage a war against others. A voluntarily funded war by one people against another is possible, but religion is about the only motivation capable of doing it. This helps to understand why religious arguments are so frequently used to reinforce war making.
In the 20th Century an effort was made to substitute Democracy for religion as a motivator for war. It has proved a weak motivator and religion has returned to its traditional role. The war on 'terrorism' relies on religious appeals. But it is really just another war against markets. Those who lack the values to get what they seek by trade will declare the other side anathema to justify stealing what they cannot bid for successfully on the market. This is the means by which States and empires attempt to rise and inevitably fall.
This cycle makes politics indispensable. Democracy makes the 'Death of Politics' possible without waging war literally against the State by revolution. The less a State apparatus fears revolution, the more it follows a course which leads to defeat by another State(s). Democracy when practiced vigorously is a check on runaway State imperialism. Democracy allows markets to function more freely by restraining State war making. Democracy works to minimize State failure not market failure. The United States is a failing State. It is a failing State because it is a failed democracy. The democratic processes of the United States have become so corrupted that popular restraint is no longer effective.
This analysis is the root of my argument for restructuring the democratic processes of the United States. The decline of effective democracy clearly parallels and correlates with the rise of imperial America. I argue it is cause and effect. The rise of imperial America is the cause of the decline of markets. Markets do not need the State to function, but where the State exist, markets need democracy to retard the greatest disease of statism – war.
Politics in a dying democracy is futility. If one would oppose any thing the State would do, one must make sure the democracy can function to enforce the popular will. Where there is no popular will, the will of the people must be resolved in markets. If politics cannot be about preserving democracy, so that democracy can prevent State war-making, then the State will crush the markets to feed its war lust.
Ballots can save us from a resort to bullets. If you give up on the ballot, then the market may not provide you with the bullets when you really need them.
The war against the war-making of the imperial State begins with establishing a better democracy - electoral reform.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Gerrymandering is the most time worn example of caging using 'cracking' and 'packing' to divide the political market between two parties. One thing about such tactics is they become less effective as the number of candidates outside of the duopoly increases. Therefore, alternative party candidates must be suppressed by other techniques such as ballot access restrictions and filing fees to keep the two-parties entrenched.
What is less appreciated is the is the role gerrymandering still has upon new party candidates even when ballot access barriers are drastically lowered. Parties based on appeals that cut across ethnic, socio-economic characteristics have a geographically dispersed constituency. Their constituencies are still 'cracked' or fragmented by geographical divisions. The entrenched parties remain entrenched even with ballot access reforms. This factor controls even if ballot access restrictions are totally removed. In those cases, the minority parties are disparaged as 'spoilers' because they reveal the illusion of 'majority rule'.
However, if geographical boundaries are retained solely for the purpose of counting votes the 'majority rule' convention can be reasserted buy counting individual's votes within a larger context which is closer to proportionality. The solution within the constitutional framework of the U.S. is to allow individuals to swap electoral districts to overcome 'cracking'. This allows voters to voluntarily 'pack' a district and break the hegemony of the entrenched parties to 'crack' them into permanent minority status.
Ten thousand voters in a state who, but for cracking, could control an electoral sub-district are emancipated into a represented group. This consequence alters the 'viability' of new candidates.
So ballot access reform is a necessary, but not sufficient reform to secure a wider base for representation. But even both of these reforms are not sufficient either.
The total population size of the representational district remains to dilute and eliminate new political constituencies. I address this problem as well.
But if when ballot access is open, voters are free to cross electoral boundaries, and electoral districts are reduced in size (more representatives), the voter still confronts a fundamental paradox. The voter must make a 'take it or leave it' choice for only one candidate. The voter cannot express a range of preferences among multiple candidates. This problem is addressed by 'range voting'.
Finally, the problem of how to finance candidates without bribery and extortion remains. Since 1973 I have argued that mandatory anonymous contributions are an essential companion to the anonymous "secret' ballot. This is now technologically feasible and essential to a comprehensive attack on the system of entrenchment which has given Americans such deep cynicism which has allowed the virtual destruction of constitutional civil liberties by the entrenched parties coalition.
The American electoral system is killing democracy and the death of democracy is killing the Republic. Electoral reform is essential to a constitutional restoration. If this fails nothing remains but dictatorship and revolution - a bloody madness that could far exceed the excesses of the French Revolution or even the first American Civil War. Sounds hyperbolic? There is no need to find out. Just take the reform path step by relentless step.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Some LP activists, impatient for success, correctly diagnosed that the LP Platform was a major problem. Unfortunately, their solution was radical surgery. The belief was that "in your face" libertarianism was a show stopper. I have a differing diagnosis and solution. I do not believe it was never a matter of what was in the official platform, it was what wasn't in.
To begin with a party platform never binds candidates. No platform can trump an individual's own judgment. A platform is useful and necessary as an agenda for action which unites candidates. In order to "challenge the cult of the omnipotent state" one must state not only the targets but define HOW one plans to destroy those targets. This requires a plan of intervention in the processes of government to alter the outcomes.
The central process in which to intervene is the process of elections. This was recognized more than a century ago was by the wealthy interests who fostered and manipulated the Populists and Progressive 'movements' to institutionally entrench an apparent two-party system which preserved choice and allegiance. The whole edifice of the state rest upon popular allegiance to the outcomes produced by the system. It has failed. But it remains legally entrenched despite popular cynicism. The task is to mobilize this popular discontent into support for a reform agenda. It will not do to wait for either dictatorship or popular revolution. Either would worse for almost everyone.
The current spate of ideas to alter the electoral process indicate the time is ripe for reform. A libertarian (regardless of affiliation) should take as broad a view as can fit within the existing constraints of the Constitution - not as opinionated by the Supreme Court - the literal constraints. This does not mean that Constitutional Amendments are out of bounds; rather, amendments are a goal for entrenching a more open system not an immediate agenda item.
In my view, besides obvious ballot access issues, libertarians should serious consider voting systems such as range voting, and a cluster of electoral issues that are constitutionally rooted in the U. S. House of Representatives: the size of the House affects the Presidential Electors, decentralization of representation (apportionment), gerrymandering (re-districting), uncaging voters by allowing them to swap congressional districts with a state (voiding the partisan or racial effect of any boundary), anonymous campaign financing, secure paper ballots, and, lastly but not completely, re-empowering the House as the real "Inspector General" of the national government with rigorous oversight to trample down Executive secrecy. The House has the power of the purse and the power to initiate impeachment. If the LP is to make it's long awaited break through its central focus should be on access to the U.S. House of Representatives - NOT the presidential election.
The targets identified above suggest the "How to". Candidates should focus on rallying the public to support reform with specificity. For example, increasing the size of the House to 1776 members or 2012 (any other large 'magic number'). These reform ideas should be the centerpiece of the Libertarian Party platform and they also happen to be reforms which many other political elements could support.
The role of the LP Presidential nominee should be to take the centerpiece of the platform to the broad national electorate and reinforce the message of local congressional candidates. Otherwise, candidates should be respected as much as other activists and the people generally - your are free and expected to pick and choose your level of commitment to any platform issues. No doubt many will be dubious of the prospect of a consensus on the specificity of certain reforms. Fine. Vigorous intellectual ferment can produce the best and essential details.
Any candidate should free to advocate any more radically liberal specifics.
This, I hope, clarifies why I find the current group of contenders for the LP nomination unappealing. It's not what they stand for, it's what they fail to offer to capture 'the spirit of the age'.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
New Messengers - same old message.
I suppose these are all fine people with sincere motivations to build the LP. Having just made a survey looking for points to ponder among them I have concluded that so far there is not much to ponder.
Some candidates are wealthier than others; some candidates appear more telegenic than others; some candidates have a longer pedigree of activism than others; and , finally, some appear to buy in to the smear and fear 'war on terror' just a bit and others not at all. This makes me more or less indifferent to all of them.
How come? Because I see no policy or program of initiative and reform to set any of them apart. I believe this continues to be a serious problem for the LP and its candidates. Recall that the most effective third parties of the past all had agendas for specific changes to the structures and processes of government however faulty and misconceived they may have been. The LP agenda continues to be dominated by a 'roll back the state' by reverse teleology. While necessary that is not sufficient for popular attraction. An 'undo' function doesn't cut it.
The LP and the libertarian movement generally need a serious dose of innovative thinking on redo. My only contribution to this effort is directed at electoral reform, but other contributions are needed in other areas. In this sense all the candidates are equally acceptable as representative of the present libertarian movement regardless of nuances. No candidate is original enough to generate intellectual controversy.
We need shiny, sexy new tools to put in our candidates' tool kit along with the old tried true and well worn ones. It's not the messengers, it's the messengers without a new message!
Monday, August 6, 2007
What's the first thing to decide before you can have an election? An agreement among N persons to abide by the outcome of the election. In most groups this established by defining "membership" by consent. But there are competing criteria which do not establish "membership" by consent. Such criteria include kinship, language, religion, sex, age, 'ethnicity', the value of one's property and other characteristics which are not based on consent but circumstances determined by the actions of others - often by others long dead and legendary.
One of the most seemingly neutral criteria for membership is geography, Meaning simply some expanse of the earth's surface defined by a boundary. But boundaries are chosen by someone. The power to define and enforce boundaries is among first claimed by any group on a mission to establish a government. Some will assert that any social group has a form of government. All social groups have enforcible rules, but that does not establish a government. Children engaged in a game during recess are not engaging in government, Such children are gaming until they agree to exclude some one from the game. At that point they are on the path to forming a gang.
A gang which tries to define and enforce boundaries is a proto-government. If they can exclude others from 'their' part of the playground they are playing at government. It is not property that is the basis of the exclusion, it is their co-operative effort to exclude others from that which none of them own. It is proto-eminent domain. The assertion of a right to take without mutual consent.
Democracy and elections have been erected on the ancient customs of territorial gangs. Boundaries are drawn down and then elections are practiced within these boundaries, All the people who live within the accepted boundaries of one village are considered to be a 'natural' grouping for elections. People who live within Adamsville are supposed to naturally vote separately from people who live in adjacent Evesville. It seems natural and convenient. If the two villages are joined together by mutual consent or conquest into a new entity with a new boundary, then new rules for elections must be established.
Eventually many villages can be aggregated into a mighty empire with an enormously lengthy boundary. Typically it will also have many internal sub-boundaries for administrative expediency for command and control of, among other things, elections.
So, having settled that people for reasons of kinship, language, religion, sex, age, 'ethnicity', the value of their collective property and other circumstantial characteristics, have aggregated into a village or a mighty empire that by custom or conviction wants to have elections to decide certain things within their boundary, what is the next thing to decide?
Who within the boundary shall be allowed to vote? Some group must always be excluded. Regardless, of the rationale for it, those who are excluded are always those who can be safely excluded - who cannot effectively insist on inclusion. The exclusion of infants is traditional. Although it is conceivable that parents could act as temporary proxies for children. Beyond children they the exclusions can be based on any of the usual circumstantial characteristics indicated previously. The fewer the characteristics for exclusion the closer a group comes to what has been called 'Universal Suffrage' - even though it is never universal and it is always restricted for command and control in various ways.
All democracies practice limited self-government inversely to the extent of universal suffage. That is, the more universal the suffrage, the civil right to vote, the more limited the scope and effect of the voting on the system of government. These limits are enforced by transferring restrictions from who can vote to how and who and what they they are permitted to vote for or against. When the restrictions become so total that voting is a meaningless ritual, democracy is extinguished.
Some of these restrictions are enshrined in sacramental constitutions and others in more pedestrian law. In most cases geographical boundaries form a central controlling concept: Thou shall not vote on the wrong side of the line. This leads straight to a discussion of gerrymanders, but we shall defer that well worn subject for now and pass on to another less worn.
There is one characteristic about geography. It changes very gradually until there is a catastrophe. In the old land speculator's opinion, land; they just ain't makin' anymore. But people are very reproductive. Over time boundaries become filled with more and more people by 'natural increase'. Handling non-uniformly increasing population within fixed boundaries requires subtle (cunning, insidious) political engineering to maintain internal 'stability'.
Fixed geographic boundaries and growing, fluid populations make for complications in theoretical democracy. In practice, solutions are rather straight forward, just jettison democratic theory. Anything you can get away with long enough is democratic because the people let you get away with it. Problem solved.
Except that not everybody assumes what they are supposed to assume.
- Entry for August 06, 2007
Returning to the intitial question: What's the first thing to decide before you can have an election? An agreement among N persons to abide by the outcome of the election. All elections are intended to have consequences. However the terms of the initial agreement to abide can and should be revised by voters' appraisal of the consequences of the outcomes. This idea is expressed in the statement that people have a right to alter or abolish any form of government. Alteration must mean any change in forms of structure and procedure major or minor. Abolish means secession and renegotiation of all terms and conditions. Secession then can lead to a range of intergroup treaty relations characterized as confederation or alliance.
At what point, we may inquire, should people seek to "alter or abolish" ? Any time they are willing to risk it. Historically, this has been rarely. It is also true that governments are continuously altered, but not always as a consequence of the voters decision in an election or series of elections. When this takes place one may question whether elections still have consequences that matter.
Control of the processes of elections means control of the process of altering the form of government, short of sudden abolition. It means inducing people to abide by outcomes without their consent. It means inducing them substitute faith in process for outcome. The problem can arise that outcomes are so disappointing that the faith in process is challenged. A challenge to electoral process leads to re-examination of the whole history of alterations. A kind of political archeology in public view. Skulls and bones are dug up which prove difficult to explain. If the archaeologists arm themselves to defend their artifacts and theories, revolution is afoot. Abolition enters the bloodstream.
It is often counseled by some contestants that re-negotiations begin before that point is reached. A plethora of proposals for reforms bubble up seeking to mediate and retrench or re-entrench obedience to the outcomes.
It is useful to consider such reform proposals if only to discover where the stress is being expressed. Caged voters, at the very, least will insist on bigger more transparent cages.
In the United States today, the stress is in the electoral system because the outcomes of government are unsatisfying to too many people. Reforms may or may not prevent abolition from entering the bloodstream. Effective reforms must exact deprivation on someone - the entrenched must pay a price. The wise will fold a losing hand, the foolish will go "all in". If they have been caught cheating, retribution will likely follow the pattern of all revolutions since the French. The King of England, George III, was fortunate that the American colonies were far away from London, otherwise he may well have been lynched. And that was fortunate for the Americans too.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
This discourse may not seem to have any connection to political reform.
The bridge collapse in Minnesota has generated a lot of predictable aftershocks. The media are doing their catchup stories and the Congress is rushing in with money and condolences. Never mind that it was their political bridge that failed.
So what might be done to take the load off the government roads and bridges? How about not putting so much weight on them?
After you finish guffawing consider. What if five percent of commuters used "Sky Yachts"? Well, it would mean less congestion on the roads, but where are you going to park all those blimps? In a vertical tower? Could be.
But perhaps the best use such airships would be as a way to reduce intercity trips within a range of say fifty miles. The airships would be parked and the commuters would rent electric cars or electric motorcycles to get around.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Control of elections begins long before the voting actually occurs though the actions of the coalition of parties-in-government principally in their legislative and judicial capacities.
An excellent overview how how this came about is presented in a paper by Adam Winkler " Voter's Rights and Party Wrongs" here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=238193
As Winkler concludes in his paper, "...it remains an open question whether early electoral reforms still serve to protect voters from confusion." I would state it more strongly as parties-in-government manipulation, Winker says, "Minor parties have become occasional spectacles instead of vibrant competitors, campaigns are candidate-centered (as opposed to issues), voters have diminished party loyalty, and the presidential nominating system is skewed so that races are effectively over after only a handful of states have held their primaries or caucuses." Italics inserted.
Because voter loyalty is so ephemeral, the parties-in-government have sought to lock in "their" voters with regulations to suppress defections to competing parties and force dissenters into non-voting. The principle right of voters today is to put up or shut up.
Winkler correctly points out that "Resolving these issues may require a reconceptualization of the right to vote and of the nature of party associational rights similar in spirit and ambition to that of reformers at the turn of the last century."
Spirit and ambition, Reconceptualization not a recapitulation. Before proceeding further it would be best to download and study Winkler's paper.
Citation: Winkler, Adam, "Voters' Rights and Parties' Wrongs: Early Political Party Regulation in the State Courts, 1886-1915" . Columbia Law Review, Vol. 100, No. 3, April 2000 Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=238193
Monday, July 23, 2007
- Entry for July 24, 2007
Even supposing that voter's have an opportunity to choose freely among all willing candidates, it means nothing unless there is an honest ballot count. The present system of voting is unreliable, insecure and unacceptable. We can do better.
Just as access to the ballot has been suppressed by centralized administration, the opportunities for rigging the count have also been centralized by political administrators of the ruling coalition. Legal immunities and centralized counting minimize the counting from public scrutiny. The ultimate shield for abuse is the proprietary voting counting machine. Much recent controversy involves the idea of a voter verified record as a check on electronic voting and vote counting computers. The controversy indicates how flimsy the public trust is of the current system and in the traditional claims of legitimacy by the official regime.
The best solutions are often the simplest. A jury of voters to physically count physical ballots after the polls close in each precinct. The jury vote count would involve twelve persons chosen from among the voters in each precinct on election day. The jury would be compensated and independent. The counting in each precinct would be subject to documentation by video with each ballot imaged and the record retained for twenty years and freely available as a public record.
With this check in place at the ballot box level, it would be acceptable to electronically process the tally from the precincts using open source software which is open to public inspection at any time. The tally records from each precinct and the centralized count would be posted on the internet by both precinct jury counters and the centralized administrators.
This procedure would allow transparent verification of the results by any and all interested persons.
Once all disputes, if any, have been resolved the paper ballots would be recycled for the next election. The manufacture and printing of official paper ballots should also be re-privatized. The form or layout of the ballot would be regulated and the specification would be an open standard such that anyone could produce their own (unmarked) ballot and cast it. Voter may wish to cast their ballots in such a way that no fingerprints or DNA material would tie them to the ballot. One simple method to accomplish this is simply to allow voters to exchange blank ballots among themselves before casting their vote.
This example just came in today. http://www.bradblog.com/?p=4830
Next before the voting begins....
Sunday, July 22, 2007
- Entry for July 22, 2007
Dissatisfaction with the American system of elections is pervasive. Which previous reforms have brought us to this crisis? Is reform possible, and, if so, which reforms are really needed?
Americans, by tradition, are wedded to plurality, winner-take-all elections. Alternatives are available, but their adoption does not seem likely any time soon.
Here I focus on possible reforms within the context of the American democratic tradition and the distortion of that tradition by Progressive era reforms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These reforms culminated in the campaign finance reform legislation mania of the 1970s and still wreaking havoc.
The first issue to address is the progressive concept of the secret or anonymous ballot. I support the secret/anonymous ballot as an essential element in securing voter privacy. What I criticize is the misuse of the secret ballot to centralize control of elections. This centralized control entrenched two parties into a coalition to control all electoral access and thwart accountability to the voters. This strategy of centralization of the two party coalition led directly to further entrenchment by prohibitions on funding political campaigns outside of their regulatory monopoly.
The whole progressive scheme has been an agenda to channel with carefully engineered dikes and levies all political activity into two parallel channels. This mindset is consistently indoctrinated into the minds of the public by political elites.
It would not have endured for a century without the active support of those who have profited most. Political faces come and go and are expendable, the process seems immortal. But it isn't. To challenge this 'system' is one of the most dangerous of political heresies. It is more dangerous than advocating the assassination of a political leader; such people are easily and readily replaced. Challenging the sanctity of the electoral system undermines all traditional claims for governing authority. Challenging the electoral system is but one step removed from the advocacy of either anarchy or primitive dictatorship. If democracy has become a fraud, then it is merely a trapping for dictatorship. Democracy cannot be a cover for anarchy.
The secret/anonymous ballot does not require centralized control of the administration of elections. A ballot cast anonymously by an individual is a discrete event. Such balloting has been done for centuries in various ways. The secret ballot does not require massive regulatory administration which serves to limit free voter choice by restricting which citizens can be candidates for representation and which cannot. The clear aim for the last century has been voting by everyone on carefully controlled options.
Restrictions on candidacy are restrictions on voters. The first reform needed is to remove all non-constitutional restrictions on candidacy. The only constitutional restrictions are citizenship and age, and for the Presidency native birth. There are no other constitutional restrictions. Therefore, all restrictions like petitioning for permission are illegitimate. Universal suffrage means universal eligibility for candidacy. This concept is so simple that it is revolutionary by comparison with current practice. Many civil libertarians have difficulty of grasping the obvious logic. So much time is spent negotiating "reasonable" restrictions.
The difficulty with this "reasonable" approach is that the negotiations must be carried on within the terms of the Progressive centralization mindset. The jurists who serve as guardians of this mindset are typically beholden to the two-party coalition. They cannot be independent and impartial except at great personal cost.
The solution to this bottle-neck is direct public challenge by voters themselves. For example, in some states it is possible for voters to remove judges from the bench by voting for "non-retention". The judges must be placed in a position of being on the side of voter's choice or party entrenchment. Either way there must be political consequences for their decisions.
It is not illegitimate for voters to seek to mitigate the centralized control of the ballot by seeking easier ballot access for candidates as independents or new parties. If one wishes to bear the unjust costs of such tactics, one can do so. I think such efforts are less fruitful and inherently discriminatory than a direct challenge by a principle of equal justice of all voters and candidates. Given the opportunity to vote for reduction in restrictions to candidate access to the ballot I will do so, of course. But it does not undermine my opposition to such restrictions anymore than accepting a tax refund undermines my opposition to the tax system.
More reforms, such as honest vote counting, will be discussed in the future.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Perhaps before the 2008 General Election a coalition will emerge to reject all state judges up for retention who have demonstrated a zest for ballot access suppression. Oklahoma is only the worst of the worst. It getting worse all over. Expect more case law in the next few months to suppress defections from the entrenched parties. It would be interesting and gratifying to see a dozen or so judges lose their jobs in 2008. It would certainly pack more political punch than a "third party" or independent presidential candidate getting a few million votes no matter which way it tips the electoral college - if at all.
What might the fall out be? A flurry of constitutional amendments from state legislatures to remove judges from the reach of the voters probably. And more law journal articles about how crappy American election law is. Can the entrenched establishment get away with election nullification? When a ruling class becomes really desperate, their actions can provoke revolution. The ruling coalition starts to break ranks and run for cover and another "evil empire" bites the dust. Maybe...
Overall, 87% of state court judges face the voters either through direct or retention election, according to the National Center for State Courts (www.ncsc.dni.us.). However, the most common way to gain a seat on the bench is through a midterm appointment – more than half of all state judges initially take the bench this way. Currently, there are six methods or combinations of methods for selecting judges for both appellate and general jurisdiction courts:
• Sixteen states use some form of merit selection through a nominating commission;
• Six states use gubernatorial or legislative appointment without a nominating commission;
• Eight states have partisan elections;
• Thirteen states have nonpartisan elections;
• Nine states – including Missouri – combine merit selection with elections for different levels of court and jurisdictions; and
• Nine states using elections have merit plans only to fill
mid-term vacancies on some or all levels of their courts.
These people aren't barons. They are parolees serving to protect the rights of citizens. If they fail to show 'good behavior', their paroles should be revoked and they can go back to being just lawyers.
I think an evaluation of the rulings of sitting judges and justices on issues of electoral equity could produce a 'ten most unwanted list' for rejection at the polls. Initially three nominees for 'most unwanted' are three Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2008 - Colbert, Lavender and Watt. It shouldn't be too hard in the next 12 months to find seven more in the country.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
How can you have a free press when business wants to monopolize your ink. This is Microsoftism gone totally berserk. You can take your ink cartridges and shove them up tight and clear outta sight!
I didn't read the invisible shrink wrap license that didn't come with the cartridge. It must have been encrypted on the inside of the cartridge.
If you think this idea is gonna fly, I've got some pale yellow ink for you! Use it for cologne.
Anybody for a startup printer company - one universal cartridge will work in all models. And don't even think about laser cartridges either.
It appears you'll have to reassemble the link by hand. Strange limitation for this kind of site.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Justice Robert E. Lavender, Justice Tom Colbert, and Justice Joseph M. Watt.
Since the refusal to hear the case on ballot access was a unanimous decision, all three should be reject in 2008. The next three up for rejection in 2010 are: Justice Steven W. Taylor, Justice James R. Winchester and Justice Rudolph Hargrave; followed in 2012 by Justices Opala, Kauger and Edmondson, if they are still on the bench.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
So let’s assume any party needs 54,000 signatures. How many registered voters are there in Oklahoma? ... The densest concentration of voters are in the major metropolitan areas: Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Lawton. These three cities are where it is most efficient - lowest in costs - to obtain signatures. How many registered voters are in Oklahoma, Tulsa, and Comanche counties? ... This means that 80 to 90 percent of petitioners efforts must be focused in those three counties. This would appear to be advantageous for petitioners. But what about the people in the rest of the state?
Do voters in the metropolitan areas differ in the political attitudes from those in more rural areas? How do these differences affect the costs of obtaining signatures? If it is significantly more costly for petitioners to obtain signatures in rural areas than in metropolitan areas, or vice versa, then the effects of the ballot access law disadvantage one area over the other.
Let us be clear what the effect of ballot access restriction using petitioning for signatures accomplishes. It is what economists call an “in-kind” tax. A tax in-kind cannot be paid by simply writing a check. An in-kind tax typically involves performing some kind of labor or rendering up some commodity to the state. Petitioning for signatures to obtain permission for candidates to appear on the ballot is a tax (in-kind) to obtain a license to run for office. It is a tax in addition to any ordinary filing fees (taxes) which candidates must pay.
But it gets worse. Entrenchment is the term used to identify the use of state power to “dig in” or fortify certain groups in the government from peaceful, democratic challenge by other groups. The entrenched parties - Democratic and Republican - exempt themselves from the tax burden which they place on new competitors. They are exempt from petitioning. They get to simply pay filling fees with a guaranteed refund for almost every one of their candidates. Consequently they have legislated themselves a free ride on the ballot - a privilege status - an entrenchment.
However, even if one agrees that new parties deserve to be penalized for attempting to challenge the entrenched parties - because the petition only gets your candidate on the ballot - it doesn’t get any candidate any votes. The ballot petitioning tax violates one of the so-called canons of “fair” taxation. The idea embedded in the U.S. Constitution was that taxes should levied equally on all people. The idea was “No taxation without representation” and taxation proportionate to representation. The ballot petitioning tax is worse than taxation without representation, it is taxation on the opportunity to seek representation.
Nor is the tax on the opportunity to seek representation levied equally on all parties or all citizens. As indicated above, because it is an in-kind tax which cannot be paid with money (even though it necessitates money being spent to perform), the burden of the tax on opportunity does not fall equally on all citizens. Those citizens and voters living in less densely populated areas are taxed more for the opportunity to seek representation because the in-kind costs are higher for them than for persons in metropolitan areas, if for no other reason, the costs of travel to get where people can sign petitions are higher. It is obvious that gasoline cost more to day than it did in 1974 when this law took effect and even more than it did as recently as 2006. The political advantage for the Democratic and Republican politicians in office is that it makes rural legislators even more immune from competition than their metropolitan colleagues. That means rural voters have less opportunity than even metropolitan voters to throw a rascal out in either of the entrenched parties. Candidates who would run against an incumbent of their own party must run the gauntlet of the primary. Because of the way district boundaries are drawn by the legislators, many districts are “safe” for an incumbent indefinitely. That was one of the reasons why term-limits were enacted. But term-limits were only a partial remedy for the underlying inequity non-competitive ballots. Far, far too many incumbents have no opposition in either a primary or general election. Yet at the same time many public opinion polls indicate that citizens do not believe they are getting their money’s worth from the legislators. Sounds like a classic symptom of monopoly - an arbitrary supply of poor quality goods. That’s bad tax policy even if you approve of the penalty on new parties - unless you’re an incumbent politician in an entrenched party.
Suppose one is not concerned with ballot access restrictions as a tax on opportunity. It is interesting to note that many people adamantly support the idea of freedom of religion because they would not want to see their church suppressed by other sects. The policy adopted by the authors of the Constitution was open access - Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Perhaps the respect for this idea helps to explain why no one has to circulate a petition asking for permission to worship as they choose. The same First Amendment that proclaims freedom of religion also proclaims freedom of speech and association and the right to petition for a redress of grievances. A redress of grievances is most effectively done today through a political party putting candidates on the ballot for election to public office. It is difficult to see why open access for religious diversity has worked so well, but open access for political diversity cannot be allowed. Unless, one concludes that what we really have is an establishment of political doctrine settled in two sects. Of course, if an established state church could tax and suppress it’s competitors like our politicians’ do, then we could advance our society to resemble the 1400s in Europe - wars and inquisitions. Let’s keep that from happening in our politics.
If one agrees that present ballot access restrictions are undesirable and against the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution, then are any ballot access restrictions justifiable?
One of the principal arguments of the entrenches is that voters - you - will be confused if there are “too many” candidates on the ballot. Of course, few, if any, of you are confused by the variety of churches in your neighborhood. But it is a real stretch to imagine that the United States would ever have as many political parties as there are religious sects. But even if there were, where’s the harm to you?
Another of the entrenches arguments is that the “two-party system” is uniquely a stroke of genius which makes our government more stable than foreign multi-party countries. This is an assertion of fact that can be verified within certain limits. The first limit is that we compare our apple against someone else’s apple. What other nation has a Constitution identical or nearly identical to ours, but has a multi-party system? That apple seems hard to find, so they substitute parliamentary oranges. OK. We may as well forget about any other hypothetical limits since the entrenches cannot clear the first hurdle of logic. But we won’t.
The U.S. Constitution does not predispose the government to entrenched “two-party” rule. In fact, persons from other parties have been elected to the U.S. House and Senate, as well as state legislatures, rather often - in the past. In the past two parties did indeed dominate the government, but they were not entrenched by the electoral system and they came and went. The present Democratic/Republican entrenchment has occurred only in the last eighty years or so. How and when it came about has been fairly well understood by historians and political scientists for some time. Why it came about is a matter of some controversy still- there are contending interpretations. I will burden you only with this author’s interpretation.
In my opinion, the tools of the present “two-party” entrenchment are, first, the arbitrary abuse of the principle of the secret ballot which was introduced at the end of the 19th century to remedy genuine election corruption. The government monopolized the production of ballots. In the century before individuals, candidates and parties printed and distributed the ballots for voters to use. This practice worked against privacy in voting and allowed vote-buying and intimidation of voters. It could have been remedied by simply requiring uniformity in the ballots produced by candidates and parties. Why was there a complete government takeover?
Printing and distributing ballots was a cost that had been voluntarily born by private individuals, they invented the mass production of ballots in the first place. The costs were acceptable because few people believed the costs should not be a burden on those taxpayers - who may not vote for any of the candidates in a given election or any election. In other words, printing ballots was a normal cost of campaigning born by candidates. It was a proportionate, voluntary “tax”. Ballots were produced by parties for their candidates - where and as needed. The government takeover of the ballot industry had significant advantages for the largest political parties - subsidy and control of access. They were able to shift the costs of ballot production and marketing on to the general population. But more important was their claim that economy in costs required that mere “expressive” voting for candidates deemed unlikely to win was now a costly and unjust “subsidy” to such candidates - candidates which are “frivolous” and the voters no longer had any need to consider. So the ballot produced by the government must be short on candidates and frugal for the taxpayers. This was described as a policy of impartiality. Cute, eh? The need for ballot uniformity was used as a pretext to enforce control of access to the ballot itself. Entrenchment? Yes.
For some time, other parties continued to stagger on. In time some simply died a natural death, as their single-issue fervor was absorbed by the fattening “major” parties. The more doctrinaire parties continued on until swamped by anti-immigrant and pro-imperialist propaganda by the “major” parties. Some parties simply gave up or were suffocated in their cribs. Potential candidates, no matter what their own convictions, realized that there were only one game with two teams to play on. So controversy was largely moved from the general election campaign to the party primary elections or further hidden inside party councils. After a century of this arrangement candidates today campaign mainly on personality and personal scandal and attacking and defending the presidential candidates of the “major” parties. Some candidates have as their platform simply that they are for or against the President. Cute, eh? Another symptom of entrenchment. No candidate independence or originality and damn paltry representation. Political entrenchment has an irresistible momentum toward dictatorship. This momentum was not totally unforeseen by the Founders of the Republic. The Jeffersonians advised “rotation in office” to prevent entrenchment. It took nearly a century to overcome their advice and rig the entrenchment of two particular parties into one nearly impregnable coalition.
Today, we have an almost perfect black hole of entrenchment. All power flows to the center. As wise as we would like to believe they were the Founders and authors of the Constitution did not and could not anticipate the consequences of the flaws they placed in their document. And I say “their” document deliberately. The alleged Constitution of today is the one which the two entrenched party elites want. They “interpret” it to mean whatever is expedient for them. It has now reached the point of mindlessness. Consider the decision of the Oklahoma Supreme Court in 2007 to refuse to hear a case for more open ballot access brought by the Libertarian Party from 2004. Note that opening the ballot to wider access for other parties would gain no particular advantage for the Libertarians over any other “minor” party. The sole effect of more open ballot access would be to restore to voters the power they once possessed to control the government. The voters could accept or reject any candidates of any parties. Instead of “splitting their ticket” just one way or the other between the entrenched parties, voter could “split their ticket” six ways to Sunday if the wished. In fact, in earlier times when ballot access was far more open, it was unusual for more than five parties’ candidates to appear on the ballot and then only for a few select offices. The ballots were never “a mile long” as the entrenches charge would happen.
It all comes down to this: The entrenched parties lie to stay in power - they even lie to themselves. Someone will always believe what they say and vote for them. But your right to say “NO!” is not a privilege which they may allow or not as they please. If you want to say “yes” that’s your business, but if you have ever just once wished you had another choice on the ballot in an election, then you should understand why you didn’t see it. Not voting is a valid protest against our rigged system of elections, but it is a weak form of protest. A stronger form of protest is to support open ballot access for all candidates, so you can sort them out for yourself on election day. That’s not an exclusively Libertarian position, the Green Party, the Constitution Party, and other parties now unknown support that position. We must or we will be politically exterminated - figuratively speaking - for now.
What can you do to open up the system? First, sign any petition to put a party on the ballot and sign any petition that asks for open ballot access. Second, penalize the entrenches by any peaceful means you can. Don’t give them any campaign donations, don’t vote for them. Ridicule them, shun them and make them the butt of your jokes. Third, stop rubber stamping judges for retention on the ballot. Vote against retention for all Justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. That is what your ballot is for, use it. That message will be heard. Tell people to vote against the Justices and explain how the Oklahoma Supreme Court is bulldozing anyone who is trying to challenge the entrenches. This is a fundamental issue not a narrow case with equal merits on both sides. The Court has failed to uphold the “free and equal” provision for elections in the Oklahoma Constitution and sought cover themselves behind the U.S. Supreme Court’s maximum limit for restrictions. The Oklahoma State Supreme Court is the core bastion of the two-party entrenchment in Oklahoma. They serve political ends and they must suffer political consequences.
All other states are far less restrictive than Oklahoma and the Oklahoma’s Supreme Court has the discretion to measure the law against the state’s own “free and equal” provision. You, the voter’s have the discretion to remove them from office for that lack of due diligence and prejudicial partiality to entrenched partisan interests. No “free ride” for judges; no entrenched parties.
Here's the list:
JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF OKLAHOMA
District 1 - Robert E. Lavender, Claremore
District 2 - Steven W. Taylor, McAlester
District 3 - Marian P. Opala, Oklahoma City
District 4 - Yvonne Kauger, Colony
District 5 - James R. Winchester, Chickasha
District 6 - Tom Colbert, Tulsa
District 7 - James E. Edmondson, Muskogee
District 8 - Rudolph Hargrave, Wewoka
District 9 - Joseph M. Watt, Altus
Thursday, June 7, 2007
"In times of revolutionary ferment in particular, social and political change tends to be sudden and swift."
- Murray N. Rothbard
When elites begin to abandon a regime that can no longer reliably protect their interests, a substitute must be sought, even if it was previously ignored, neglected, ridiculed, patronized, rejected and suppressed. The most obvious and readily available substitutes like dictatorship are known to be dangerous to elite interests as well as everyone else's. In societies with tradition of popular consent and some measure of democratic accountability, the tendency will be to find a substitute which most closely resembles and seems most compatible with those traditions.
In the United States, the libertarian tradition most closely fits that requirement as a substitute and replacement for an abandoned regime. The Libertarian Party has been in existence for a generation. That should make it a contender as a prime elemental partner in a new political system. The LP could be expected to a likely vehicle for elites support. But the elites would likely demand certain modifications from the traditional libertarian ideology. The LP may have sufficient depth in its own elites to withstand such pressures.
In part, this is because the LP and other insurgent parties have been suppressed and denied opportunities to chose and elect officeholders to anchor the LP tradition as a 'legitimized minority' with the credibility to claim popular authority. The elites have allowed this to happen, when they have not encouraged it and the result leaves them trapped without a credible vehicle to exit from a political collapse. The consequence may well be that they will realize too late that they repeated the mistakes which led to the aftermath of the French Revolution.
It does one little good to sit smugly today and say, "Well, they've got it coming!" Societies cannot function without complex divisions of labor culturally and economically. It is not good enough to take a vindictive Marxian position. Elites must be rehabilitated and taught to appreciate the limitations of their role in a free society. The most recent example of elite sociopathy has been the neocons. In cases of blatantly criminal behavior some must be deprived of their freedom, perhaps, for life. Historically, once the lust for blood is in the streets, it is too late for talk of rehabilitation.
I would hope that soon the Libertarian Party will announce its non-negotiable opposition to the death penalty. And that we prepare to stand against all blood-lusting mobs indulging in suicidal vindictive orgies. We cannot let allow the blowback from the Bush Administration's insanity to turn Americans into terrorists against one another. The Libertarians deserve access to the ballot because we are the cultural and economic elites best hope for freedom as well as our own. How much credibility we can build as elected leaders amidst a torrent of corruption and sociopathy remains for us to prove, if we have the opportunity that is ours by right - not permission.