Journalism? General Education, That is the Problem

A comment on Robert Reich’s status went a bit long;

Trump is a manifestation of poor education in the US exacting its price on the US and the world.  The chickens have come home to roost. The wide-spread, wrong-headed notion that a strong leader is the way to get the change you want in a complex system, has manifested in the personages of Trump and Sanders, the demagogic “outsiders” who are believed by the uninformed to be capable of effecting change on a system by themselves.

While Sanders elected alone would fail just as Obama failed to live up to the dreams of the people who voted for him in 2008, Trump is quite capable of wrecking the system all by himself if he is elected. 

It is much easier to destroy than it is to create. 

At this point in this election all that is left to hope for is that the Democrats can pull out a win.  It would be nice to think that they could gain a sweeping victory that would bring in enough progressives to alter the system in a positive way.  It would be nice to hand the Republicans such a crushing defeat that they are forced to re-invent themselves into a opposition party that doesn’t deny science and embrace religion as its starting point.  The Bernie or busters are going to make that possibility as remote as they can, unfortunately.

The Bernie or busters are not interested in reforming the system any more than the Tea Party Trump supporters are.  They want to re-invent it, which is just one step more than simply destroying it.  They tell themselves they’ll be happy with a Trump presidency because at least the status quo will end.  Both the Trump supporters and the Bernie or busters don’t really understand the kind of misery bringing down the US system will create.  I’m becoming afraid we might just find out how deep that well of misery is.

The fix for this is so much more than just reporting.  Being able to predict what the population will go for in an election is beyond the capacity of polling and reporting when the citizenry is so woefully uninformed as to vote for a demonstrable liar like Trump is. That is not even scratching the surface of the problem. First you have to educate the voting public on just how blind this faith in a strong leader is.  The journalists who inform us on politics cannot be held responsible for the failure of the education system in the US to actually educate the population to the dangers of dictatorship.  As college educated people the reporters of course discarded the idea that the average American would fall prey to a demagogue like Trump.  It’s obvious he’s lying and has no clue what he’s talking about.  Why would anyone take this orange hate-monkey seriously?

…Unless of course you believe that a strong leader is what we need, in spite of the obvious fact that a system as complex as the US government cannot possibly be run by one person. Then all bets are off and the people who want a guy who pretends to have all the answers have control of the mechanisms of statecraft through the selection of the next head of state.

We’ve been so busy propping up dictators in other countries that we’ve forgotten we might be subject to one ourselves.  That fate is now just the flip of a coin away. 

US Politics Fix – Starting the Process

This will probably turn into a page of its own at some point, a book-length outline of the problems and processes that have to be reformed, and the obstacles in the way of average Americans retaking control of their government from the political bosses, corporate sponsors, and wealthy contributors who currently control it.

We have to start somewhere, so let’s start at the beginning.

A bright, fresh-faced teenager sees the problems in the world, the calcified systems in the US that seem incapable of dealing with these problems and asks himself/herself

how do I get involved in this? How do I change this?

The answer to that question is related to current events, and the image at right.

In the midst of a sideshow barker taking over the Republican primary process on the one hand, and a proud Socialist trying to pull the Democratic primary onto liberal ground it hasn’t seen since the 1970’s, I find myself without a group I feel can align with once again.

I left the Libertarian Party due to their inability to separate their ideological dedication to anarchism from the goal of actually winning the democratic election process.

Now I’m wondering just what the rest of the American populace is smoking, not just the libertarians, because it must be some good shit for everyone to be so clueless all of a sudden.

I really can’t make heads or tails of the purpose of all of this noise. I’m once again reminded of the Babylon 5 episode with Drazi killing Drazi over what color sashes they randomly select.  What I can say for certain is that Americans in general are dissatisfied with the political process as we’ve come to know it.  I can say that because the only reason that two outsiders could dominate the early potential candidate fields in polling is because Americans don’t like either of the two parties.

So what about third parties? is the question now being asked.  That would be backtracking for me.  I’m a veteran of the failed political process that is third party attempts at wresting control from the two major factions. For more than a decade I worked in the trenches, canvassing, promoting, representing the Libertarian Party in Texas in the best light that I could generate for it. I was never very important to the party (as I’m sure local activists will be quick to point out) but it was important to me, until it wasn’t anymore.

The Libertarian party wasn’t important to me anymore because several points of reality became clear to me over my time in the party. The points of reality?

  •  The majority of the U.S. population was never going to embrace anarchism and/or smaller government than currently exists in the US right now.

…and 

  • Majority of a population is what determines the leadership in a democratic process.

…Finally 

  • I was no longer personally convinced that the U.S. actually suffers from too much government. What the U.S. suffers from is ineffective and inefficient governance. Looking at the circus acts currently playing, one might well wonder if that wasn’t the purpose from the beginning. Harry Browne said government doesn’t work long before Ronald Reagan said it. Both of them are incorrect. They are incorrect because government works just fine in other nations of the world. It is just that the US government seems doomed to drown in a puddle of its own inefficiencies unless something fundamental to the process is changed.

There have always been third parties. There are several third parties right now (parties 4, 5 & 6?) The system is rigged to only allow two parties to have any real power. Has been rigged since the Republicans rose to national prominence with the dissolution of the Whigs in 1854 over the question of slavery. This is the point that seems to be glossed over. It isn’t that I don’t care about third party politics. The system itself isn’t setup to recognize minority parties in any real way.  It has been codified and calcified over the course of 200 years to the point where, in certain states, it is all but illegal to be a member of any party aside from the Democrats and Republicans.  Third parties, minority parties, minority factions cannot alter the system because it is insulated from their efforts by layers of interference.

And still the question appears “how can anyone vote Democratic or Republican?” The answer is demonstrable; we vote for them because one of the two of them will win. One of the two of them will win because in the vast majority of races throughout history the political system in the US has been controlled by one of two dominant parties in the US.

Whoever the Libertarians nominate (or the Greens nominate) will lose again as they have in every previous election. They will lose because they aren’t Republicans or Democrats; which the rules at the national level and at the state level virtually guarantee will win all electoral races especially the president.

Running for President as a third party is a waste of time, worse it is a waste of resources which could be used to fund campaigns to change rules so that candidates who aren’t part of a party structure can compete. What we get from that investment of time and money is the exact same argument over and over again. Why are you voting for Democrats and Republicans?

First admit that there is a problem and that problem is the electoral rules themselves. Then fix that problem before doing anything else.

Go read Ballot Access News, edited by the magnificent Richard Winger. Top of the page today is a notification that a majority of seats in a particular state are unopposed. Tomorrow it will be a different state. Unopposed means the incumbent will be re-elected. It means no change. It means that the system will remain unaltered.  Why are the seats being handed to the incumbent?  Because ballot access is gated by a huge hurdle in nearly every state.  If the hurdle (be it signatures or party requirements) is topped, the next legislature will simply raise the bar for the next election.

The never asked question is why do Americans insist that voting by itself constitutes meaningful involvement in government? Voting is actually the very least we should be doing if we hope to ever live up to the promise of self-government. Why is the least we can possibly do that constitutes doing something considered active involvement in the political system?

If you concede that voting is not enough, and you should, then the question becomes how to make effective change in our government without reinventing it? The answer to that question is to co-opt an existing party and make it do what we want it to do.

This really isn’t news.  The religious right took over the Libertarian Party with Ron Paul as their nominee in 1980, and then shifted their support to Reagan and their membership to the Republican Party when Reagan invited them to move in and take over the GOP.  The religious right have been the motivating force behind party politics ever since, and were effective at getting their way politically until the election of Barak Obama in 2008.

Even President Obama has been forced to cater to the whims of the religious right, the whims of the minority party, modifying many of his programs specifically to accommodate demands made by them.

This lays bare the how of how to change politics for all to see.  Simply have enough agreement among the population who vote to effect change at the city, state, and national level.  But that agreement is the hard part, the part that requires attention long before you go into booth and cast your ballot.

Political veterans will tell you, it takes work. Years of work.  Which is how we got where we are today, people who went into politics with a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve have been co-opted and subverted by the process of hammering out agreement after agreement in decades of struggle with people who think differently.

Eventually you end up voting for a candidate that you really don’t agree with on any specific issue, but remains the best choice given the compromises required, hopefully not loosing sight of your overall goal in the process.  Not being able to see the forest because of all the trees.

Hillary Clinton is probably going to be that candidate for me. If you read back over this blog you’ll discover that I first abandoned the Libertarian Party to support Barak Obama so that he would be President instead of Hillary.  In 2016 I would vote for Hillary Clinton with almost no reservations.

I will be voting for whoever the Democratic party nominates in this election. I will be voting for the Democrat, because the Republican party has apparently gone over to the magical thinkers, and I don’t believe in magic.  The entirety of the Republican Party has been dispatched on a fool’s errand by the Tea Party’s co-option. Until they can figure out who they are and what they stand for, I don’t have the time of day for the party as a whole.  If they were to nominate someone like Governor Kasich I might have to revise my opinion of them, but I don’t see much chance of that, of Republicans being willing to compromise enough to embrace a man who supports the ACA.

I vote down ballot based on candidate qualities alone, discarding anyone who pretends at being the better conservative. These candidates generally win in Texas (because conservative=correct in the mind of the average Texas voter) outside of Austin, but you can’t fix any stupid aside from your own. In Austin the down ballot offices (state senate and legislature) are held by Democratic incumbents, usually running opposed only by independent candidates. The independents almost always get my vote, because I want to see change and you won’t get change from an incumbent.

But I’m still talking about voting, the last thing on the list.

The only way to change the system is to infiltrate the two parties and alter them from the inside, thereby altering the system they control. It has to start with ending gerrymandering and real campaign finance reform.  Opening up ballot access and ending party control of the ballots in every state in the nation. Not doing this will simply kick the can forward again. That is the forest that we must keep in sight, the big picture. Gerrymandering must be ended across the entire nation. Districts must be drawn blindly with no consideration of the political, racial or social strata that the people in the districts represent. Campaign finance must be addressed, or the corruption of our electoral process by the wealthy will continue in spite of any other change we might put in place.

Changing any of these fundamental corruptions of the system will take a long, hard effort. It will require canvassing of your local precincts to get a feel for who supports or doesn’t support these changes. It will take joining the local precinct and becoming involved, and bringing enough people along with you to alter the votes at the precinct level. It will take making sure that county gatherings and state conventions also support these measures.

Faction is why these rules, this corruption, has taken hold.  Madison was correct when he cited faction as one of the biggest threats to the Republic.  The Democrats are a faction. The Republicans are a faction. Third parties are all factions.  Faction leads generally sane people to do insane things like drawing districts to favor your party (gerrymandering. The solution? Redistricting commission) allowing contributions that favor your party over your opponent (campaign finance. The solution? Public funds) never taking into account that the practices you use to force the system to cater to your faction can be used to exclude your faction when power is finally wrested from you.

…and it will be wrested from you, eventually.

Wildly expanded Facebook comment and status post. It hopefully will expand even further.


Another complaint voiced during the 2016 primary season.

Allowing independents to vote in Democratic primaries would be like allowing non-union members to vote on union contracts. They want the benefits without having to bear the cost of joining.

Facebook

I agree in principle. The Democrats and the Republicans (as well as the Greens and Libertarians) should be able to say who is or is not a member of their group, who can most effectively carry their ideas forward.

The problem that independents have, and it is a valid concern, is that good candidates can emerge on the political landscape that don’t toe the line of any particular party. Those candidates should be able to appear on primary ballots in spite of not having a political affiliation. Not just for president and not just for independants. There needs to be an overhaul of the entire election process.

Until such time that the ballot is opened up to multiple views (jungle primaries, where ranked voting becomes a solution to a real problem) the voting public will have to be contented with exerting pressure on the parties to conform to popular views; and the only way that pressure can be applied effectively is from within the party.

Facebook comment and status backdated to the blog.

A political party — like it or not — is a continuing institution, an evolving body that reflects the convictions of its various members, and the organizers who keep the party functioning. For someone who is not a member of the party to demand changes … well, remember the story of the little red hen? “Who will help me plant my corn? Who will help me harvest my corn? Who will help me eat my corn?” If you’re not going to do the work, you don’t get a seat at the table.

David Gerrold

How To Fix US Politics

First thing I see on Facebook this morning (still chewing my toothbrush)

The final tabulation of the percent of eligible voters who cast their ballots in the midterm elections is 36.3 percent. That’s the lowest turnout since 1942 (when the U.S. was in the middle of World War II and many couldn’t get to the polls).

To what do you attribute the record-low turnout? (a) Most Americans are so turned off by the negativism and mean-spiritedness of politics that we don’t want to participate. (b) We don’t think our vote makes any difference because big money has taken over. (c) We like the direction the country is moving in and therefore feel no reason to vote. (d) We’re working so hard these days that we just couldn’t take the time. (e) Other? (I’ll give you my assessment tomorrow.)

Robert Reich

The number one reason that I’ve heard cited for not going to the polls during my time canvassing over the years has been that the person did not think that their vote mattered. With Citizens United and other outcomes to point to, those people who didn’t believe they should be voting now have something concrete to point at and say “see, my vote doesn’t count”.

It is true that voting is not enough participation to see that your views are expressed by your representatives; but then voting is just the last event in a long chain of actions that a responsible citizen should be taking in order to make sure our representative government works.

You cannot (like so many libertarian/anarchists/voluntaryists on the internet) simply say “I’m not part of this system, it is imposed on me” and thereby withhold your permission for government to operate at all, simply because you don’t agree with what it’s doing. The systems do not require your permission to continue operating.

In fact, the new leaders in our government prefer that you don’t participate and simply accept their plans for you. They’ve got a pretty good money making scheme going here (have had it going for awhile now, since Eisenhower’s time) and all this noise about participation sounds like interference.

We owe it to ourselves and our children not just to vote, but to take back our government from the corporations currently profiting from it, and eliminate those corporations from the process entirely because they are not only not people, but their participation allows certain moneyed people more access and influence than whole classes of real suffering people who actually do the work in this country.

So the short answer is (b) in my experience, but the solution is not just to vote, but to invade the Democratic and Republican Parties with our selves and our views and turn this country around. Prove that American’s still have a will of their own.


Further, the following groups were specifically formed to eliminate the effects of Citizens United, to get money out of politics and hand the government back to the people, where the power belongs.

Wolf PAC‘s petition reads I support a Constitutional amendment saying that corporations are not people and they do not have the right to spend money to buy our politicians. Can’t get more straightforward than that.  They have had some success getting states to back this.  Check their website for the latest info.

Rootstrikers is the group associated with Lawrence Lessig. His book Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It is free online now. The group is more generally aimed at ending the corruption, of which Citizens United is just a part, not just amending the Constitution.

Move to Amend is another petition group, this one without a specific petition it is promoting. It’s list of goals currently reads as follows,

  • Accountability and responsibility, both personally and organizationally
  • Transparency
  • Community
  • Movement building
  • Dedication to Move to Amend mission, goals and tactics
  • Commitment to anti-oppression within ourselves, communities, work places, policies, and representation

Click the link and read up on the group if you want to know more.

We Get the Government we Deserve

A friend of mine from my libertarian days posted an article on Center for a Stateless Society today;

So here we go again. Another biennial US election season draws to a close and here come the solemn multi-partisan invocations of civic duty: Exercise that franchise. Pull that lever, push that button, mark that box. The future of western civilization depends on you. And if you don’t vote, don’t complain.

Politically, the last four years were a cooperative Republican/Democrat enterprise. And unless the Republicans win their way to 67 seats in the US Senate and 291 in the US House — neither of which will happen — so that they can override presidential vetoes, that’s the next two years as well.

So go vote. Or stay home and watch reruns of “How I Met Your Mother.” Either way, feel free to complain all you like. I know I will.

…and I felt compelled to comment as follows;

We get the government we deserve, when 3/4’s of the population has no interest in even the most basic part of ‘civic duty’ which is voting. As a long time activist in various political circles, I am constantly met with blank stares from people who are told that voting is just the beginning, or the ending. It takes years of work, canvassing, motivating, attending meetings, crafting language, more canvassing, more motivating, more meetings, etc, just to get a single measure on the ballot. Voting is just the final act in seeing something you wanted come to fruition.

Ask the Tea Partiers (some of whom made the pretense of being libertarians for many years) how much work they’ve had to engage in to take over the Republican party. Do you honestly think that the government would have been shut down, that the congress would have sat on their collective hands for 6 years, that Ted Cruz would be a Senator from Texas without their support? Are you (and your commenters) going to seriously sit there and suggest that there is nothing we can do to change things by participating, while the right half of the (calcifying and failing) two-party system appears to be having a nervous breakdown? Engaging in denial of reality, much less science?

Cooperative? When all President has to do to ensure a measure is never adopted is for him to support it? When actions he takes are supported by the Republican leadership before he takes them, then opposed after he takes them?

If we allow the Tea Partiers with their radical religious right agenda to gain more power, because we can’t be bothered to get out and resist them, because we are convinced that no changes will actually occur, then we will get the changes we don’t want (according to polls) because they are moving on their agenda across the country in areas that they already control. We will indeed get the government we deserve.



The results are in, and the Republicans took the Senate as many pundits predicted over the last few months. Democrats beat themselves, they didn’t set the conversation, they accepted the conversation from Republicans that Obama is a bad President. Consequently the argument is won by them. 
Credit Jim Wright & Girl Du Jour

Lesson to be learned here; do not let your opponent lay out the battleground you will fight over, to
paraphrase Sun Tzu.

I have been a staunch supporter of President Obama since he won the office, even though I didn’t vote for him in 2008. After the horrible treatment he received for what I considered to be a better than average execution of his duties, I made a point of voting for him in 2012. 
I would like to say that I “don’t understand” why he is treated the way he is, but I’m afraid I actually do.   The pattern is all too familiar to anyone raised in the South.
The Republicans set out to do nothing 6 years ago, and blame Obama for their inaction. The electorate has rewarded them for their hypocrisy by returning them to office again, and again. It is a sad, sad day in the US.
Every time Ted Cruz talks, and the news points a camera at him, I beg the talking head to explain a) why they bothered to give him attention or b) why they don’t demand he produce a shred of proof for any of the insanity he spouts. “Excuse me Mr. Cruz, but you appear to have forgotten to get dressed today and you are standing there naked.” 
…all of the Republican leaders are in this boat. None of them can enumerate real complaints, real objections. None of them are willing to lead.  Now that they control both houses of Congress, I can’t wait to see what kind of draconian proposals they will advance as conservative policy.  Should be an entertaining next two years.

Revolution Already in Progress; Now Go Vote!

I have a confession to make; several of them actually, and not all of them will occur here.  I used to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out on the forums of Dan Carlin’s website (newly renovated) largely because I tended to agree with his political arguments and loved his history show. Since I first signed on those forums I’ve abandoned them several times because of various hostile posters, only to be drawn back again because of some inane argument presented in of his Common Sense podcasts.

The latest Common Sense (titled Kickstarting the Revolution) is a nice illustration of why I have stopped spending time arguing with devotees of Carlin’s on his website, and why I contemplate abandoning his political podcast altogether.  Starting from the false attribution to Churchill which he repeats and is debunked on Churchill’s website like so;

“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: “Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?”

Never mind that I personally can disassemble the assertion by simply observing that I have never been an ideologue, and it is not solely the realm of the young as he insists when he brings up that misquote (ideologues making up the bulk of liberalism in his argument) since there are any number of hidebound hoary old ideologues out there insisting that their ideology must be followed, and that make up the bulk of the Conservative wing of the Republican party. But that’s just where he starts to go off the rails.

I don’t think a lot of you have perhaps considered that we are a month away from the 2016 election kickoff, and I know what you are thinking because I always think the same thing; already?!? Yeah, the midterm elections are a month away. If you’ve got some fancy-schmancy wise interesting outside the box idea for impacting the 2016 Presidential elections for all our good, you need to start it now.

No Dan, that isn’t what I’m thinking. What I’m thinking is that you (and the vast majority of the electorate apparently) are once again mistaking authority for ability.  Attributing to the President more power than he actually has, and holding him accountable for actions beyond the powers of his office (on the one hand) and expecting the next President will be able to exercise powers he doesn’t have in order to fix things which aren’t under his control in the office of President (on the other) What this podcast represents, at the end of another long and winding hour and a half, is one more episode chalked up in support of the dictator theme; the false dream that electing the one right person will fix things, skipping over the very obvious fact that what is important right here and right now is that people go vote in the midterms.

The lackadaisical way that US Americans approach the obligation to participate in government both highlights the need for a requirement that people participate in their government; while at the same time reinforcing the observation that we get the government we deserve.

This reliance on the President, this common belief that this one person can fix the ills of an increasingly complex system inhabited by hundreds of millions of people who are all going about their merry way living their own lives, is the worst kind of naivete.  Couple that with the blind insistence that the calcifying remnants of the two party system are no different from each other, in the face of the popular takeover of the Republican party by the Religious Right in the form of the Tea Party, evidence that the revolution that you agitate for is already occurring, has been occurring since 2008…

…Well, it boggles the mind, the lack of understanding of the system itself that these views now represent.  I’m more than a little mortified.  The reference link for this podcast points toward Lawrence Lessig’s site. I agitated for Dan to interview Prof. Lessig for ages on the show, and now that he’s done that and promotes him, he links the Prof. to the completely dysfunctional idea that 2016 is somehow more important than the day to day operations of party machinery, or the impending disaster that will be handing the Senate over to the hidebound Republicans if only their Ebola-fearing voter base goes out and votes this month.

That isn’t how the world really works. Yes, the individual can matter, does matter.  Yes, authority grants a certain amount of power, but that power is limited by design and by the reality of there only being so much one person can do.

The fallacy here, as I so often come up against, is the externalizing of purpose. The false idea that your purpose in life can be satisfied by some external agent, can be defined by someone else than yourself.  That voting actually does something aside from (as I’ve alluded to many times) seal the deal that you make when you set out to support a candidate or a position and then work to see the goal come to pass.

You have to decide what is important, you have to do the work to see it successful.  You cannot simply go vote and expect others to carry your goals forward with them while you deal with things you deem are more important.  They will do what they think is important.  Either you accept that their goals are at variance with yours, or you don’t and are never (and will never be) satisfied with any outcome no matter how much better it may make your actual conditions in life.

…in that vein, the Democratic party and the Republican party are simply tools to be used, just like any other social structure.  They are no more and no less good or evil (or monolithic) than the individuals who work in those groups to advance the goals they set for themselves.

So go vote this month! But not just vote, go scope out your local party, see how the sausage is made in the hands of the people who currently hold power; and if you want wild ideas about how the internet can fix the problems of aging structures in or government, maybe you should take a look at this;

Pia Mancini and her colleagues want to upgrade democracy in Argentina and beyond. Through their open-source mobile platform they want to bring citizens inside the legislative process, and run candidates who will listen to what they say.

TEDGlobal 2014

If we want to get away from the kind of world that Noam Chomsky outlined in Manufacturing Consentor the kind of world where the wealthy buy the votes of or representatives as described by Professor Lessig in Republic, Lost; How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It then we should listen to people like Pia Mancini, or dedicate ourselves to one of the many groups who are working daily to modify the system so that is is more responsive to the voting population of the US.

The Wolf-pac – We must reverse Citizens United, Restore our Democracy, and Save the Republic. Join the Fight for Free and Fair Elections in America! That has had success in at least one state house.

Move to Amend – which has been trying to get legislation through congress; and not having much luck at it.

Lessig’s own Rootstrikers.org – which is the third iteration of his groups attempts to form a movement behind the ideas he has put forward again and again.

Or maybe even a group like Represent.us that is facing pushback on the local level in Tallahassee right now while trying to make inroads on the problem of corruption in or governments.

Governments.  Plural.  More than one.  Local, County, State & Federal; not just the President. So go vote, because that’s all that is left to do right now with one short month left in this election cycle.  But don’t allow yourself to sit back after voting and expect the problems to be solved, or (even worse) wait for a President to be elected who will fix the problems we face, that will do so in a way that you approve of (which is a pipe dream) go out and change the system by participating in it.  At least then you will have earned the right to bitch about how things turned out, rather than just pretending you have that right because you have a right to free speech.

Contesting Control

Got back from the polls a few hours ago. I voted Democrat this primary season, and I probably will vote Democrat in the primary as long as I live in Travis County. Pretending that a Republican stands a chance here (unless the Democrat is a complete idiot and doesn’t pay off his supporters) is to engage in wishful thinking.

So I voted in the Democrat primary, in an attempt to unseat as many incumbents as I could (not that it was very effective, it turns out) and because I would really like to see Obama face off against McCain. I think that might be a debate (if they finally do a debate this season) that would be worth watching. Especially if Ron Paul shows up as a third party candidate.

But what about voting for Ron Paul, aren’t I a supporter? The way I see it, there was more to be gained in throwing a vote behind Obama in an effort to shut out Hillary, than there was in voting for Ron Paul (sorry Dr. Paul) The wife won’t vote Democrat, so she cast the Republican vote this time. But Ron Paul is never going to win. He’s never going to win because the average voter knows he’s never going to win, and the average voter only votes for winners (just ask them, they’ll tell you) It’s not because he’s too honest, which is an excuse I’ve heard a number of times. It’s not because he’s too much on the fringe (the opinion of Jeff Ward, and many, many others) aligned with anarchists, whatever. The majority of the American population votes for who they think will win. A self fulfilling prophecy if I’ve ever heard one.

If we want to see a change in this country stemming from the ballot box, we’re going to have to convince the majority of voters that change is possible. In the meantime, there’s always Downsize DC.

Voting Irregularities & Anarchist Newspeak

Voting Irregularities, as in ‘Errors’ Transposing Votes and Diebold Machines Removed Votes From Obama and Paul a link sent to me by a fellow Ron Paul supporter, outlining outright vote counting misconduct, and touching on the already well understood failings of the Diebold voting machines.

This is a major issue, unless of course you’re an Anarchist who just wants government to go away.

Newspeak (the language of engsoc in 1984) is a language that is crafted in such a way as to make it impossible to think wrong thoughts, because the words will no longer exist to express them. Anarchists are engaged in crafting their own version of Newspeak these days, redefining words like Power and Government to meet specific goals.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:

power and liberty are opposites; wherever the former appears, the latter disappears.

Power is, in fact, the only way to secure liberty. Individual will, inalienable rights, individual’s power. Not recognizing power unless it’s power relegated to state authority is redefining what power is.

Government exists, and will always exist, because self-government is still government. Unless, of course, you are an anarchist; in which case, state and government are interchangeable concepts, and all government must be abolished (and yet somehow this won’t result in chaos, even though governing oneself would presumably also be a no-no) as the evil that it is.

Another Quote:

Libertarians engaging in a political campaign to have someone elected have from my point of view given up their claim on liberty; they are no longer striving for liberty as number one, but are working to give someone power to liberate them.

More Newspeak. The elections will take place whether libertarians participate in them or not (what about the LP? They exist only to participate politically. I guess none of them are libertarian at all in this anarchist’s opinion) Taking part in politics is the only way to secure one’s liberty (politics, after all, being nothing more than the art and science of government) and any candidate with a proven track record like Ron Paul’s is going to be an improvement over any of the other candidates who might get the nomination.

There is this mistaken belief amongst many of the Voluntaryists and Anarchists out there that the state will simply cease to exist once enough of the population refuses to participate. I have no idea why they hold this belief. It’s quite apparent through simple observation that the average world state requires nothing of it’s citizens except tribute…

…which it will take by force, whether force is required or not. Given that, I’ll work to limit government in any way that I can personally, including supporting a candidate in a party that I do not claim as my own.

It’s better than the alternative. Doing nothing.

Rigging the Beauty Pageant?

I read an excellent opinion piece today (Paul Krugman: “Fearing Fear Itself”) on why none of the “front runners” amongst the Republican candidates stands a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the next election:

…Franklin Delano Roosevelt urged the nation not to succumb to “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror.” But that was then.

Today, many of the men who hope to be the next president — including all of the candidates with a significant chance of receiving the Republican nomination — have made unreasoning, unjustified terror the centerpiece of their campaigns.

Consider, for a moment, the implications of the fact that Rudy Giuliani is taking foreign policy advice from Norman Podhoretz, who wants us to start bombing Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible.”

Mr. Podhoretz, in short, is engaging in what my relatives call crazy talk. Yet he is being treated with respect by the front-runner for the G.O.P. nomination. And Mr. Podhoretz’s rants are, if anything, saner than some of what we’ve been hearing from some of Mr. Giuliani’s rivals.

Most Americans have now regained their balance. But the Republican base, which lapped up the administration’s rhetoric about the axis of evil and the war on terror, remains infected by the fear the Bushies stirred up…

read more | digg story

Only Ron Paul stands a chance of winning against the Democrats this time around, and he’s rapidly being shown the door by the core of the Republican party, who don’t want to hear that their fears are baseless.

This is shaping up like all of the other Presidential elections that I’ve witnessed. I don’t know why anyone pays attention to this stuff anymore. The throwing of the election by one party or the other, by offering up a candidate that only the core of the party would ever vote for (gun-controlling Mondale, socialist snoopy Dukakis, dead fish Dole, wooden Gore, lying Kerry) and with third party candidates excluded from real participation; they essentially hand the election to the other major party. With the exceptions of the elections of 1980 and 1996, there was never any question in my mind who was going to win.

[…and I really don’t want to hear about irregularities in the statistical ties that have dominated the 21st century elections. I’m well aware of the problems, they just aren’t relevant to the candidates chosen by the dominant parties, and the purposes behind their choice]

In all the other elections it seemed clear to me that the “opposition party” had chosen a candidate that was guaranteed to loose. It’s not as hard as you might imagine, to do this. The average Joe wants to vote for a winner (don’t ask me why that is, but I’ve talked to enough people, and seen enough data to know this is true) and the primaries can be reasonably easy to manipulate by excluding unwanted candidates and orchestrating media exposure (as was done to last elections Democrat favorite) so as to show your ‘favored’ candidate as winning early enough to start the landslide.

This is clearly shaping up to be a ‘handover’ election (no matter what Ol’ Joey, the Republican mouthpiece has to say about it) which is why the Democrat candidates feel secure enough to tell us all about their expensive and invasive social programs in advance (programs that the Republican front runners strangely feel the urge to parrot, albeit to a lesser extent) so that the election, when it occurs, will be a mandate for handing health care (and possibly control of the internet) over to the federal government.

Beauty pageants disguised as good government (election is just a popularity contest, after all) It might be more interesting if the candidates weren’t so old and wrinkly.

… And if the designated winner wasn’t transparently obvious.

November 6 – Texas Constitution Amendment Vote

Have you ever read the Texas Constitution? It’s a mess. Check it out, here. There’s been a movement underfoot for years now to replace the outdated state constitution with a version that makes a little more sense (it’s not like we haven’t done that a dozen times before, don’t see the problem with doing it again) but it never amounts to much of anything.

I only mention it because it’s once again time to amend the Constitution, as we seem to do every year here in Texas, and I’m consequently reminded of the idiocy of the current state of our government here.

Anyway, there are 16 amendments this year, which is more than the average year. There are several guides to what the different amendments mean; ranging from the tried and true League of Women Voters to the how can this not be biased guide published on the Texas Legislature’s site. (I don’t know about bias, but I do know that it would take a scholar to find it. 136 pages of wind. Sheesh) There’s even one from the local LP, which I’ll append to this blog entry.

The reason I feel compelled to write something on this anniversary of the annual vote-me-a-benny spending spree is because of the fifteenth amendment on the list, the one that everyone’s favorite biking hero has been cheapening himself shilling for.

Yes, I have a problem with being taxed so that Texas can have their own inefficient version of the NIH, and spend even more money on ill-advised gov’t backed research into cancer than the federal gov’t currently does.

You may well ask “why”, and you better believe I have an answer. It’s because I don’t like theft. It’s bad enough when the state steals from me when it wants to build roads (which it now wants to charge me tolls to drive on) or when it wants to indoctrinate, er, educate children (and pays too much for schools I wouldn’t want to send my neighbor’s kids too, much less my own) at least those types of massively over-funded boondoggles can be justified on the basis that they could benefit everyone in Texas.

Not so the TIH (or maybe it’ll be called TICR, but that sounds like heart research) the expenditures there will benefit only the researchers.

Oh, but I hear you saying “what about the benefit of new cancer cures, those will apply to everyone in Texas” What’s my response to that? The cures will only benefit those who can afford to pay. That’s right boys and girls, just like paying to build stadiums that you then have to pay to attend (or roads that you have to pay to drive on after paying for them to be built) we get to pay for research into medical treatments that we will then have to pay for in order to receive.

Those of us who still have sufficient funds to pay with, that is. Consequently, I’m not exactly gung ho on the subject of giving a few more of my rapidly disappearing dollars to the state so that they can spend it on things they will want to turn around and charge me for.

How about this for a suggestion; I’ll keep my portion of the dollars, and you can bill me for my portion of the research costs if I ever need cancer treatment (or drive on the new roads, or go to a stadium event, etc) Of course, the argument runs “well, you won’t have the treatments (or roads, or stadiums, etc) later if we don’t pay for them now.

I’ve got news on that front too. I won’t be here if my tax burden gets much higher. I’ll be taking up residence under the 360 bridge with the rest of the homeless.

…I guess I really shouldn’t worry. Hillary will be elected next November, and I’m sure she’ll be re-introducing her socialized medicine, er, single payer health care proposal; as well as putting a chicken in every pot, no doubt. Cancer treatment will be free then, right?

So, why is Texas wanting to pay for research now, then? Anyone care to follow the money on this issue?


Travis County Libertarians release constitutional amendments voter guide

AUSTIN – October 18, 2007 – The Travis County Libertarian Party (TCLP) executive committee has adopted positions on 12 of the 16 Texas constitutional amendment propositions to appear on the November 6 ballot.

For: 7, 10, 11, 14
Against: 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 13, 15, 16
No position: 3, 5, 6, 9

Propositions 3, 5, 6, and 9 generated debate among Libertarians. On the one hand, they appear to provide some tax relief. On the other hand, they are targeted toward narrow special-interest groups to buy votes and provide sound bites for re-election campaigns, while the legislature keeps raising spending and shifting the tax burden onto others. Libertarians favor broad-based tax and spending cuts, rather than more complexity and special-interest pandering.

During the debate, some Libertarians expressed the principle, “When in doubt, vote no.”

These are the TCLP positions, with brief explanations:

1. AGAINST (Angelo State University governance change) This would be more than a simple change in hierarchy. It would allow
spending, tuition, and fees to increase.

2. AGAINST (Additional $100 million bonds for student loans) Bonds cause future tax increases. Government subsidies to students enable university bureaucrats to keep raising tuition and fees. Student debt upon graduation has skyrocketed in the past ten years, and we shouldn’t encourage that trend with more tax dollars.

3. No position (Tweaking appraisal cap rules)

4. AGAINST ($1 billion in bonds for state facilities) Libertarians support less spending on state facilities, not more.

5. No position (Tax incentives for down town revitalization programs)

6. No position (Tax exemptions for personal vehicles used for business)

7. FOR (Eminent domain buy-back rights)
This would provide a small amount of protection in some cases. However, the 2007 legislature failed to pass stronger protections against eminent domain, and this is a perfect case where politicians are likely to mislead voters by claiming they support eminent domain reform more than they really do.

8. AGAINST (Home equity loan regulations)
Libertarians believe in free markets and personal responsibility. This amendment would increase government interference with the loan process.

9. No position (Disabled veteran tax exemptions)

10. FOR (Abolish office of inspector of hides and animals)
Libertarians support eliminating the obsolete minor office of Inspector of Hides and Animals. We wish this amendment would also eliminate the State Board of Education, which would represent a real cut in government.

11. FOR (Require record votes on bill passage)
This would allow voters to actually find out how their representatives voted on final passage of a bill. More accountability is good.

12. AGAINST ($5 billion in bonds for Texas Transportation Commission)
The government already does a terrible job of spending transportation tax dollars, and we should not provide new revenue sources.

13. AGAINST (Denial of bail to some offenders)
This has a “tough on crime” sound to it, but it violates constitutional rights to bail and is unnecessary. America has the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world. The state should focus on removing victimless crimes from the books to reduce incarceration and promote a stronger civil society, rather than imposing ever-increasing criminal penalties on every unwise action.

14. FOR (Permit judges who reach mandatory retirement age to serve out their terms)
Let elderly judges work if they want to.

15. AGAINST ($3 billion for a Cancer Research Institute)
Medical research is not a legitimate function of government. Funding for medical research should stay in the private sector. There is plenty of profit motive in seeking patents for drugs and medical devices, and if that weren’t enough, there is also a great deal of funding provided by voluntary charitable donations.

16. AGAINST ($250 million in bonds for water development to poor unincorporated colonias)
Developers build neighborhoods without providing and paying for infrastructure like water, then want other taxpayers to pay for water and wastewater services for their developments. Wrong. Development should pay for itself without outside tax subsidies.
Early voting starts October 22 and ends November 2. Election day is Tuesday, November 6.

Contact:
Wes Benedict, TCLP Chair
512-442-4910
wesliberty@aol.com


For the purpose of completeness, I’ll add this addendum. It looks like we’ll be getting TICR,;getting a high profile celebrity to back spending your tax dollars (rather than celebrities spending their own private funds) always gets the public behind a project. Amendment 15 passed with 61% in favor. (source, Texas SOS)

Most of the amendments passed by 10 to 20 percent margins. With only about 5% of the population voting (One million of the over 20 million reported in the last census) I wonder how much the vote was skewed by targeted advertising, and how it might have been skewed differently if all those people who are certain that voting is a waste of time (because all the amendments will pass anyway) had gotten off their fat asses and gone to vote.

I guess it’s true that we create our world through our (in)actions.

Bush advising Hillary Clinton

Don’t believe Hillary has already been selected as our next President? How about this little tidbit:

President Bush is quietly providing back-channel advice to Hillary Rodham Clinton, urging her to modulate her rhetoric so she can effectively prosecute the war in Iraq if elected president.

read more | digg story

Don’t know why they bother to qualify it with an if; the mainstream media have clearly already picked their favorite.

…and since the electronic voting machines currently in use can be programmed to spit out whatever winner the vote counters prefer (and there is conveniently no paper trail to verify the accuracy of the vote) I begin to wonder who will even notice that the fix is in?