Friday, August 31, 2012

Why Kids Prefer Cheese is my favorite libertarian-oriented, economics/politics blog

Stuff like this:

We are headed for a world where most production can be done efficiently without very many people. Either smart machines will do it by themselves, or communications technology will massively raise the scale at which that the best people can practice their trade.

In other words, we are headed for a new gilded age where owners of capital and labor market superstars will be producing a massive chunk of the economic pie. The exact percentage? Shall we say 90?
Our politicians are, as usual, fighting the last war. It's nuts to worry about getting manufacturing jobs back, because as a first approximation, there won't be any in 10-15 years.
I can think of two possible outcomes for the rest of us.
 One is that we are all on the dole, happily chewing qat or plugging into the Matrix of amazing alternate reality experiences available to us.
The other is that we form an army of personal service providers to the ultra rich. I specialize in fingernail care, you focus on toenails. Uncle Chester vacuums out bellybuttons, and so on.
Unless we get fully functional personal assistant robots who can pass the Turing test.
Then it's the Matrix for all of us non-elites.

People, how do you want to spend your time in a world where meaningful work is not really an option for most of us?

Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party must have arrived . . .

. . . if the Center for Public Integrity is publicly wondering

Could super PAC-backed third-party candidates sway presidential race?
. . . especially since--in a race where the Romney and Obama campaigns and their associated PACs are literally spending BILLIONS--among the three identified Libertarian "SuperPACs" have only hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Moreover, the article tacitly makes the case that it is the Obama campaign that may well be indirectly helping these Libertarian PACs along:

Cassidy’s Libertarian Victory Committee raised only $200 — all from Cassidy’s own pocket — before throwing in the towel earlier this month, but the pro-Johnson Libertarian Action Super PAC has raised $107,500 as of the end of June. The bulk of that money — $100,000 — came from wealthy entrepreneur Joe Liemandt, the Stanford University dropout who founded and runs the software company Trilogy.
Notably, Liemandt's wife Andra has bundled more than $200,000 for Obama's re-election efforts, and the couple alone has donated $107,400 to the Obama Victory Fund, which benefits Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Together, they have also donated more than $130,000 to the Libertarian National Committee since 2009. 

Paul Baumbach's curious positions on public education

Having encountered Paul Baumbach through the years on various blogging threads, I can testify that he's a nice, thoughtful guy, despite the fact that our political views obviously differ.

Paul is one of the favorites of the Progressive Democrats of Delaware, and one of the multiple Dem primary candidates in the 23rd State Rep District (which borders my own 22nd District, so I both see and hear a lot about it).

Unfortunately, thanks to gerrymandering on the part of Democrats and continued political impotence by Delaware Republicans, in the 23rd the Democratic primary is effectively the general election, as Republican Mark Houghty has very little chance of prevailing against whichever Democrat is the ultimate candidate.

All of which brings me to Paul's rather strange "issues" section of his website as refers to public education.  For a guy I have generally considered to be well-informed on education issues it contains strange errors of fact and convoluted arguments for the removal of local control of education that are (to be bluntly honest) disturbing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Campaign quick hits

The last two days, as the semester started at DSU, have been chaotic, and the run-up to that has precluded consistent blogging.  Apologies for that.  Now some quick hits:

1.  Paul Krugman discovers that Paul Ryan was influenced by Ayn Rand.  How did he find out this well-guarded secret?  From reading Ryan's speeches, where he talks about it pretty much all the time.  Next week Krugman may discover that the sun rises in the east, but I'm not holding my breath.

2.  Josh Barro at Bloomberg joins a growing list of people attacking Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson as doomed because he's not more like Republicans and Democrats.  This is a good thing, since we've moved beyond the "ignoring" phase into the "attacking" phase, but you have to love the money quote here:
Johnson won two solid victories in his races for governor; in 1998, he took 55 percent of the vote. With a similar agenda at the national level, a Libertarian candidate ought to be able to poll higher than 1 percent. But it would require the Libertarian Party to give up on being more extreme than Republicans and Democrats.
So if only the Libertarians would become less socially conservative to be more like Democrats, and less fiscally conservative to be more like Republicans, people would vote for them because--after all--people are only interested in voting for candidates who, you know, sound like Dems and GOPers.

3.  In Delaware, 32nd Rep District primary candidate Ellis Parrott says you can't just let anybody run for office or participate in debate--especially not Will McVay.  My two favorite quotes:
“He paid the fee as a candidate,” Parrott told the Dover Post. “That doesn’t make him a legitimate candidate. I have no problem debating any legitimate candidate.”
--snip--

“The problem is, where do you draw the line if you allow a Libertarian to debate? Parrott said. “You have two major parties in this state. Do you allow the other minor parties to debate as well? Nationally, there is the same question."
In other words, your opponent's sensibilities and not the Delaware Department of Elections now decides who is a "legitimate" candidate, and--you know--if you let Libertarians debate real candidates you never know what might happen.

The real laugher, Ellis, is your contention that we have "two major parties" in this State.  In case you hadn't noticed, the GOP is tanking as fast as it can manage, and you guys now consider a good statewide election one you only lose 60%-40%.

4.  And in an excellent piece I read several days ago but neglected to cover, at HuffPo Jonathan Turley makes the case quite convincingly that--as far as civil liberties go--Barack Obama is one of the worst presidents we have ever had in the Oval Office.  Here's just one Secret evidence
The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security -- a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government's actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Collapse of GOP and rise of third parties in Delaware

The recent WNJ article on the troubles that the DE GOP is having in filling its ballot lines for the 2012 General Election left out a major component of the changing face of Delaware politics:  the rise of the third party movement.

Despite the Demopublican General Assembly attempting to end fusion candidacies last year, despite raising the number of registered voters necessary to maintain ballot access, and despite the clearly partisan attempts to keep third party candidates out of the UD/DFM debates, third party interest in Delaware is surging--primarily at the expense of the Republican Party.

The statistics don't lie.

At this moment, when the dust clears from the September primaries, the DE GOP will be running 54 candidates across Delaware in local and statewide races.  This is DOWN significantly from the 63 candidates that the DE GOP ran in 2010, when there were also fewer races.

The Libertarians, Greens, and Indpendent Party of Delaware will be running at least 29 candidates.  Fusion candidacies make the number for 2010 harder to calculate for third parties (some Democrats ran fusion candidacies with the Working Families Party; some Republicans ran also as IPOD or Libertarian; at least one candidate ran as IPOD and Libertarian), but my best count is that about 21 actual third party candidates were ballot qualified in 2010.

So the GOP is down nine candidates and third parties are up by eight.  And it is actually worse than that:  the GOP list is being steadily infiltrated by those with current and former third party ties, like Libertarians Will McVay and Brent Wangen.

Even more significant is the fact that many more third party candidates like Alex Pires, Scott Gesty, Andrew Groff, James Christina, Margaret Melson, Wendy Jones, John Machurek, and Ronnie Fitzgerald are running real (if low-budget) campaigns as opposed to the "paper candidacies" often attributed to third parties.

Why the shift?  It is becoming more and more obvious that many Delaware citizens are unhappy with virtual one-party rule, but are equally unwilling to embrace the strife-ridden, ideologically hidebound GOP.  So they are seriously looking at alternatives, and alternative candidates are coming forward to meet that interest.

Ironically, at this point only two things are really propping up the GOP:

1.  The Delaware media, which is reluctant to cover the upsurge.

2.  The Delaware Democratic Party, which likes the status quo with an inept opponent just fine.


WND/Wenzel: Gary Johnson polling nationally at 5%

Results:

Mitt Romney 48%
Barack Obama 44%
Gary Johnson 5%
Undecided 1%

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fox News reporting Gary Johnson polling near 10% in Colorado

They don't cite the specific poll, and I'm skeptical, as most polls show Obama/Romney leaving only about 7% of the vote not accounted for.

But here it is:

Cape Gazette: US House candidate Scott Gesty on eliminating ethanol mandates

This is only one of the reasons that John Carney has been a failure in Congress, detailed by Scott's letter, published today in the Cape Gazette:

Much of Delaware's economy depends on her poultry growers, and their livelihood is directly tied to fuel and feed costs.
Recently, the Department of Agriculture predicted the worst corn harvest in nearly 20 years as a result of Midwestern droughts. Our Democratic congressional delegation asked the Environmental Protection Agency for a temporary waiver of mandates that a certain percentage of America's corn crop be reserved for ethanol production.
While I support such a waiver as an emergency measure, the reality is that the United States needs to end the failed experiment in using corn ethanol as a biofuel and stop distorting market forces to the disadvantage of our own citizens, and especially Delaware's poultry industry.
Government-mandated ethanol drives up the price of food and feed by artificially removing a high percentage of our corn crop from the market. There has been no discernible benefit in terms of better gas mileage or reduced environmental impact. In fact, the large amounts of water needed to process corn into ethanol are creating negative environmental impacts of their own.
The United States has already ended ethanol subsidies, and now we need to end ethanol mandates. If ethanol is a commercially viable fuel, the industry will survive. But it should not be allowed to survive at the expense of our region's farmers and poultry producers, who are currently being forced to underwrite a social program under the guise of environmental protection.
If elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, one of my top priorities will be the introduction of legislation to end all ethanol mandates. This will result in lower prices at the grocery store and lower feed prices for our poultry producers, while the nation pursues other, more realistic strategies for energy independence.
Scott Gesty
Libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives

Yes, it really is ALL about keeping everybody else out of the "two-party" system

In Maine, Independent Senate candidate Angus King is leading in the polls.

Therefore a GOP-connected PAC is paying for ads for the Democrat in order to bring him down.

Yep, it's all about principle and good government with these guys.

The only thing you need to know about Laura Stein's sophomoric piece on Libertarianism . . .

. . . (which argues that big government is both awful and oppressive but nonetheless absolutely necessary to civilization) is that her college Anthropology professor convinced her of the old canard that the Iroquois had something to do with the US Constitution.

She knows about as much about Libertarian concepts of governments and markets as she does about, uh, the evolution of government.  Which is to say:  not much about either.

But, again, the fact that so many ill-informed people are attacking Libertarian thought these days is indicative of how many people are starting to become nervous about Libertarian (big and small "L") voters.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pew Debate Advisory Standards Project: most people want third parties involved in debates

. . .  but Raph Begleiter of the UD Center for Political Communication and Micheline Boudreau of Delaware First Media do not appear to have read that part of the book.

When Libertarian US House candidate Scott Gesty received his "invitation" to the UD/DFM statewide candidate debate on 16-17 October, the letter from Begleiter and Boudreau was accompanied by inclusion "standards" drawn from the Pew Charitable Trust Debate Advisory Standards Project.

These are the standards that virtually guarantee the elimination of all third party candidates in the Delaware debates, to include not just Scott Gesty, but also Alex Pires, Andrew Groff, Bernie August, and Margaret McKeown.

Intrigued, I attempted to find the Pew recommendations and study online, and discovered . . . you can't.

So I bought it.  You can, too, if you'd like to question what I am about to tell you.

In the preface, Ronald A. Faucheux makes the following lofty claim:
The idea is to encourage substantive debates with fair formats and large audiences, and to do so in a comprehensive way that is unrelated to the agenda of any candidate, party or ideology. [p. 13; emphasis added]
This is immediately followed by standards for "candidate inclusion" that are almost exactly the standards mailed to the Gesty campaign by Begleiter and Boudreau.

What's that "almost"?  Maybe something, maybe nothing.

The Pew project recommends different debate standards based upon how far from election day a debate will be held.  More than 30 days out from election day is called the out period, and less than 30 days out is called the pre-election period.  UD/DFM has carefully placed the only major statewide debate they will hold just inside the pre-election period.  Why is this significant?

Here's the rational from Pew:
It is fair and reasonable that inclusion criteria during the pre-election period may be more difficult to meet than during the out-period.  If a non-major or third-party candidate who is given the opportunity to participate in public debates during the out-period does not earn significant public support going into the final 30 days of an election campaign, debate sponsoring organizations that wish to limit participation have an acceptable rationale to tighten the inclusion criteria [p. 17].
Two notes here:

1)  Nowhere does Pew ever define who decided that it was "fair and reasonable" to make the standards tougher the closer to the election the debate was held.  This is treated as a self-evident point, throughout the document, even though--as we shall shortly see below--that's not what many of the people that Pew interviewed during the process of developing these standards actually recommended.

2)  Note also that Pew doesn't mandate such increased standards, it merely provides them for "debate sponsoring organizations that wish to limit participation."

What is most damning for the UD/DFM choices is the results of the nationwide poll that Pew took while developing these standards, and which both Pew and UD/DFM completely decided to ignore.  Because you cannot find this on the internet, I'm going to quote it in full:
Should Third-Party Candidates be Included?
KEY FINDING:  Voters are much more likely to include non-major party candidates in debates than to exclude them [emphasis in original].
One of the stickiest issues of staging political candidate debates in general elections is whether to include non-major party candidates, such as nominees of the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Natural Law Party, and the Reform Party.
A majority of the voters surveyed (53%) said candidates from these parties should always be included in general election debates [emphasis added].
In addition, 39% think third-party candidates should only be included if they have a reasonable chance to win the election.
In total, nearly nine-of-10 voters think non-major third-party candidates should have at least some access to candidate debates.
Only one-out-of-20 voters (5%) said flatly that non-major party candidates should never be included.
Voters under 30 (61%) and independents (59%) are the two groups most likely to want non-major party candidates to always be included in debates [p. 89].
So let's get this straight . . . in Pew's own national survey,

53% of all voters said third parties should ALWAYS be included.
50% of independent voters said third parties should ALWAYS be included.
61% of voters under 30 said third parties should ALWAYS be included.

But then Pew, Ralph Begleiter, and Micheline Boudreau decided to say, "Ah, f--k them!" and use standards that would almost always result in the exclusion of such candidates.

(And if the fact that GOP candidates almost never draw above 40% in statewide races anymore, or the fact that Governor Markell, Senator Carper, and Representative Carney all sit on the UD Center's Advisory Council is something you don't know, you might think that there was some method to their madness besides protecting Democratic incumbents.)

It gets worse, actually.

Gary Johnson at PaulFest

Probably not the best recording in a technical sense, yet captures not just the sppech but also the spirit of the crowd reaction. . . .

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just for Anonone . . . Nobody (not just Libertarians) cares what party platforms say any more

Maybe they should, but they don't, and I don't, and now I have it on good authority that I don't have to care when you drop by to start direly quoting things . . .

Not being a conspiracy theorist, I do have to ask myself, "Why is the Social Security Administration stockpiling ammuniton?"

I know those disability hearings get intense sometimes, but I figured that wooden truncheons could keep the disabled in line for the judges . . . .

Oops, we've reached the point where the government may need to step in and make satire illegal

Free Wood Post obvious wants to be The Onion.

The satirical "news" site posted this "Romney response" to a question about why he had not joined the military to serve in Vietnam:
“That’s a good question, young man, and I would be happy to answer it. The Vietnam War came at a time in my life when I had other plans. I knew in my heart of hearts that I would one day serve my nation. That I would one day hold an office that would help not only our nation, but also the world. So I did what I could to make sure that I would be around to serve my nation, as well as serving God by teaching very important religious principles to a broader audience overseas. My father did not want me serving, and he convinced me that yes, I was too important to go to Vietnam. I had a greater purpose in life. I wasn’t neglecting my nation, but rather preparing myself for a future of service.” 
All over the country people picked it up as legitimate news.  There are multiple Daily Kos diaries that have now been "deleted by the author" that embarrassed themselves by falling for the story.  One of the few similar entries that has not been scrubbed is over at Democratic Underground, where the person posting finally realized that this was satire but left it up with a disclaimer.

What's interesting there is that, as this screen shot of the comments indicates, we've reached the point where whether the candidate actually said it or not does not matter to a lot of folks who think it sounds like something he really thinks, or would have said.  So they are OK with the idea of tarring him with it anyway:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Forget the greater issues--I just find this video . . . creepy

This is a video produced by Tom Gordon, soliciting votes from Delaware's Muslim community.

There is nothing inherently wrong about making a video that is focused on winning the support of a particular group; I have seen many, and I am certain that it happens all the time.

But this video is disturbing for a number of reasons.

The first is, to be honest, esthetic.  Tom Gordon looks and acts in it like a vampire who has been asked to stay up past sunrise.  Maybe this is just Tom Gordon, I don't know.  Yet is it so strangely dispiriting a prerformance, so lackluster a delivery, that I cannot imagine that anyone--Muslim or otherwise--could find it compelling.

It's creepy.  I defy you to watch it and think it is not.

Secondly, Gordon's repeated equation of what he is promising to do for Muslims with what he asserts that he has already done for African-Americans is a problem, not just in that it mixes an ethnic group with a religion.

Federal Appeals Court in DC finds EPA oblivious to the limits of its own statutory power

Not really damn surprising.  From the court ruling:
EPA seems reluctant to acknowledge any textual limits on its authority under the good neighbor provision. At oral argument, EPA suggested that “reasonableness” is the only limit on its authority to use cost-effectiveness to force down States’ emissions. EPA would not rule out the possibility that under the good neighbor provision, it could require a State to reduce more than the State’s total emissions that go out of State. But such a claim of authority does not square with the statutory text – “amounts” of pollution obviously cannot “contribute” to a downwind State’s pollution problem if they don’t even reach the downwind State.

Arab spring beginning to chill down into "reign of terror"?

Thus far I've only seen this one place, and the conclusions I draw from it are more strictly in line with something like Crane Brinton's typology of popular revolutions than anything else, but that we consider supporting regimes where this is tolerated is . . . ah . . . quite a damn problem:
A Sky News Arabic correspondent in Cairo confirmed that protestors belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others. Likewise, Muslim Brotherhood supporters locked the doors of the media production facilities of 6-October [a major media region in Cairo], where they proceeded to attack several popular journalists.

Monday, August 20, 2012

OK, this guy has a voice like gravel . . .

. . . but he's the question to which Gary Johnson is the answer:

Gary Johnson's letter to the Presidential Debate Commission

Despite the fact that it makes sense, I don't expect the Presidential Debate Commission to stop shilling for Ds and Rs nationally, any more than I expect the University of Delaware's Ralph Begleiter or Delaware First Media's Michelline Boudreau to stop shilling for the Democrats in Delaware.

But I do think he makes the case fairly eloquently:

Dear [Commission Member]

I am writing to request that the national Commission on Presidential Debates reconsider your current – and exclusionary – requirements for participation in this Fall’s all-important Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates.

I am well aware of the history and genesis of the Commission, including the reality that it was created largely by the respective national leadership of the Democrat and Republican Parties. While I respect and understand the intention to provide a reasonable and theoretically nonpartisan structure for the presidential debate process, I would suggest that the Commission’s founding, organization and policies are heavily skewed toward limiting the debates to the two so-called major parties.

Of course he won't free them, because Russia doesn't work that way


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Gary Johnson agrees with me: Paul Ryan no Libertarian

Speaking in Texas:

Austin – Gary Johnson is not happy that some in the media call Republican vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan a libertarian.
“He voted for the Patriot Act, he voted for the National Defense Appropriation Act, he voted to ban online poker, he’s proposing a budget that gets balanced in thirty years. He is anything but a libertarian, anything but,” said Johnson after a packed campaign dinner at Hill’s CafĂ©.
Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president, noted that Ryan was a strict social conservative that voted to restrict abortion rights and against marriage equality.
“Paul Ryan submitted personhood legislation that is anything but libertarian,” he said. Johnson's eyes widened and his volume increased as he went into detail about Ryan’s support for a national version of Virginia’s controversial transvaginal ultrasound law.
Johnson suggested that all the talk of Ryan as a libertarian and follower of Ayn Rand may help him because people will see pretty quickly that former New Mexico governor is the only real libertarian running.
OK, let's authorities on who is a Libertarian and who is not.

On the one hand the founder of the probably still-non-existent "Libertarians for Romney"--Eric Dondero.

On the other hand, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Presidential nominee.

I know where I'm going with this one.

There is a reason why Scott Gesty wants to balance to budget, get out of Afganistan, and keep local control of public education

Her name is Virginia.

And in Louisiana they prove Celia Cohen's point about the DE GOP

Celia Cohen has pointed that "You can't beat somebody with nobody" in a post that criticized the Delaware GOP for failing to field sufficient candidates even to challenge for control of the General Assembly.

She's right:  in about a half-dozen critical races only Libertarians are challenging incumbent Democrats across Delaware, and in even more races Democrats are running unopposed.

Republican filings are down, Democratic filings are up, and Libertarian ballot-qualified candidates (when all the dust settles and the Board of Elections prints the final list) will jump from ten in 2010 to about thirty in 2012.

Delaware's GOP has already achieved the status of a permanent minority party (as much as I hate to ever admit he's right, jason at Delawareliberal speaks the truth when he says that in many areas of the state the Democratic primary IS the general election), and is well on the way to sufficient fragmentation and disintegration to become a minor party and ultimately be replaced by the Libertarian Party as Delaware's other major party.

Think that's impossible?  Think again, and consider the case in Louisiana where it is the Democrats who are fading away.  Here are two headlines to give you food for thought:

From Independent Political Report:

Two Libertarians Elected In Louisiana By Filing For Office




From Libertarian Republican:

Libertarian Party overtakes Democrats in Louisiana as State's 2nd largest party for congressional races


Libertarians field candidates 5 of 6 congressional districts; Democrats only 3

Signs of the times


The only reason that Kevin Wade and Tom Kovach are eligible for the UD debates is that they are Republicans

They fail every other eligibility requirement set by the UD Center for Political Communication and Delaware First Media

--neither candidate has been published in any poll as having achieved 10% voter support
--neither candidate (Kovach here, Wade here) has raised a sufficient amount of campaign funds (a minimum of 2,511 donations of at least $50 each from in-state residents totaling over $120,000)
--neither candidate is an incumbent
--neither candidate has won a primary for this office during the last eight years
--neither candidate has received 30% of the vote in a former statewide election

ONLY the fact that they are Republicans entitles them to stand on the stage with Tom Carper and John Carney, while ballot-qualified candidates like Alex Pires and Scott Gesty will not be allowed to do so.

Is being a Republican in Delaware being part of a "major" party?  As I have argued elsewhere, it's difficult these days to make that case:

2008: GOP Presidential candidate John McCain gets 36.9% of the vote in Delaware. GOP Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell gets 35.9% of the vote in Delaware. GOP Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee gets 32% of the vote in Delaware. GOP Insurance Commissioner candidate John Brady gets 41% of the vote in Delaware. In 31 slots the GOP does not even have a candidate.
2010: GOP Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell gets 40% of the vote in Delaware. GOP House candidate Glenn Urquhart gets 41% of the vote in Delaware. GOP does not have a candidate for Attorney General. GOP Treasurer candidate Colin Bonini gets 49% of the vote in Delaware. In 10 other slots the GOP does not even field a candidate.
You voted out Mike Castle, the only Republican in the State actually capable of winning a statewide election, deciding it was better to send Chris Coons to the Senate than suffer to have a GOP moderate there. How’s that working out for ya?
Even by waiving filing fees, your party can’t find candidates for enough races to win back the General Assembly if everybody won.
Your own Treasurer accidentally became a Democrat by using the same party-switching maneuver that many Libertarians are using against a corrupt two-party system.
Your party issued a statement saying it would support a suspended attorney in continuing his candidacy (although, fortunately, he had the integrity to pull the plug).


What Larry Sabato said about the Presidential Debate Commission is equally true of Ralph Begleiter and the UD Debates

Referring to Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson's attempt to get on the October stage with President Obama and Governor Romney, the nationally known UVA political analyst said:

"He's dreaming," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center For Politics. "The debate committee is run by the two (major) parties. They had to let in Perot because at one point he had 40 percent of the vote."
This is, of course equally true of the University of Delaware's Center for Politcal Communication (directed by Ralph Begleiter) that is the supposedly non-partisan entity co-sponsoring this year's statewide debates in Delaware:



It is important enough to keep restating:  the eligibility requirements that Mr. Begleiter and Michelline Boudreau (President of Delaware First Media, the other co-sponsor) are NOT non-partisan.

They have consciously adopted standards that will exclude all other candidates beyond members of their own Advisory Council and their doomed Republican challengers, who do not really belong to a major state party any more.

In others words, unless Mr. Begleiter and Ms. Boudreau make the (unlikely) decision to allow the other ballot-qualified candidates like Alex Pires and Scott Gesty onto the stage, it's time for them to admit that they are simply partisan shills for the Democratic Party.

Read kavips today on Julian Assange

So much for international law and the sanctity of embassies.

Friday, August 17, 2012

James Christina, meet and greet, 7th District Senate

The 7th Senate District looks different to James Christina than it does to Senator Blevins.

That's because he sees it on foot, every day.  He's one of the victims of the Great Recession, lost two jobs in the past year, trying to make ends meet.

He walks around the district as he campaigns because he can't afford to keep a car on the road.

"Funny thing," Christina says, "I'm a big guy, you'd think people would see me.  But I've been nearly run down four or five times by people in fancy cars, talkin' on their cell phones.  I guess they just don't see me."

Christina doesn't think that the incumbent, Senator Patti Blevins, sees people like him, either, and that's why he's pursuing an admittedly longshot bid to unseat her.

"She got her hand so deep into redistricting that nearly all the Republicans were moved out of her area," Christina says.  "The GOP didn't even bother to run anybody against her this year.  I think that's wrong.  If the Republicans claim to be a major party, they ought to be giving the voters a choice."

Christina admits that his passion comes with rough edges sometimes.  "I say what I think, and I'm never going to win any prizes for my writing.  But that's not the point."

The point to Christina is that there shouldn't be a Senator so highly placed on the Joint Finance Committee in a closed budgeting process that steers thousands of dollars each year to the charity she runs.

The point is re-districting should have been done on a non-partisan basis, not with the bald political intent of securing a Democratic majority in the General Assembly forever.

The point (and when Christina says this, his face reddens) is that there have been millions of dollars available to the "suits" who started Fisker and who have thus far failed to produce either cars or jobs in Delaware.

He's an unorthodox candidate, but in 2010 he managed over 11% of the vote in a State Representative race, which--as a Libertarian--is a strong showing.

"People get tired of the same old same old sooner or later," Christina says, "and I'm going to tell the Republicans, 'sorry,' I'm the one who has been here all the time when you wrote the district off."

You can meet James Christina (and, he says, even make a campaign contribution) tomorrow between 5:30-7:30 at the clubhouse at The Apartments at Pike Creek, 100 Red Fox Lane, Newark DE 19711.

It will be worth the conversation.

Campaign quick hits

1.  Over at Delaware Politics, Frank Knotts is whining about Will McVay running in the 32nd District again.  My favorite line:
So I would say to all Republicans in the 32nd district, if you hold the values and principles of the Grand Old Party as important, then I would caution you against supporting Mr. Will McVay, who has on many occasions stated that he would be glad to see the GOP destroyed.
What values and principles of the Grand Old Party?

2.  The GOP has challenged the Libertarian Party's ballot access in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, and other places.  So turnabout is fair play:  the Libertarian Party goes to court in Washington to push Mitt Romney off the ballot, claiming that the Republicans are no longer a major party under state law.  Watch closely, Delaware Republicans--this could be your future.

3. Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson receives 24% in a national head-to-head poll with President Obama, up from 19% about two weeks ago.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

OK this is going to be painful (just warning you)

I received an email from Libertarian Republican's Eric Dondero (who has been carpet bombing some of my posts objecting to the identification of Paul Ryan as a Libertarian), that contains one "challenge" and several (rather bizarre, honestly) contentions.

But, hey, let's see what happens . . . .

Eric says,
Steve I dare you to run this at Del. Libt.  I double dare you.
The "this" in question is the political video below criticizing Paul Ryan as a Libertarian.  Be forewarned:  content aside, this is the WORST political video I have EVER seen.  There is a chance it may induce seizures, permanent impotence, stomach lesions, or worse if you actually watch it through.

You will probably at least bleed from your eyes if you watch the first thirty seconds.

But, hey, this is what you come here for, right?



OK that's out of the way (good thing Eric is so mature that he didn't double-dog dare me).

Now for Eric's next points; first . . .

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When the guard changes at the Delaware Department of Education

There is, naturally, a lot of editorializing and opining as to what it means that since Lillian Lowery left DOE for greener (but, honestly, equally toxic) fields in Maryland, her "team" has been scrambling for the exits as quickly as possible--last but not least Deputy Dan Cruce. . . .

People need to step back for a moment and re-connect with some general bureaucratic truths:

1.  This has almost always happened at DOE when one boss left and a new one came in.  The top levels of folks abandoned ship because they were tied to the ideology and plans of the old boss.  The new boss would delineate some new vision and immediately hire some strong apostles of that vision--from inside or outside Delaware.  If you go back and look, you will find that this has occurred--at least--since Pat Forgione left in the mid-1990s. Mike Ferguson quietly replaced key people; Iris Metts brought in a bunch of Little Red Schoolhouse advocates; Valerie Woodruff and Lillian Lowery likewise hired their own senior people--all these folks left immediately thereafter.

2.  This large-scale coming and going has been both (a) exceptionally disruptive to public education in Delaware because it throws DOE into turmoil for six months to a year every time it happens; and (b) pretty predictable as the result of making the former State Superintendent position (hired by State Board) into a cabinet-level political appointment.  Nobody but Valerie Woodruff who has held the position in the past two decades has had ANY long-term commitment to Delaware public eduation, nor have most of their functionaries.  Even the people hired within Delaware usually cannot scamper back out of DOE to their old districts fast enough when the guard changes.

3.  While we could usually expect DOE to go into a holding pattern with new Ed Sec Mark Murphy, such will probably not be the case, as he comes with a pre-established agenda (RTTT and V2015) and lots of people have been prepared, waiting in the wings as it were, to come onboard in those positions.  Whereas most of the former Secretaries of Education had to hit the ground, build support for a vision, and then assemble a team, Mark Murphy comes pre-packaged with all that, courtesy of ed reform in Delaware.  So you can expect this transition to be quicker (but just as messy) than previous ones.

However, that is not necessarily a good thing.  Most prior SecEds actually had to "sell" their vision to the 19 superintendents who--as a group--used to have the ability to act as a structural and political counterweight to the DE SecED if they really did not like what was being forced down their throats.  Such is not the case any more.  Lillian Lowery perfected the practice of isolating district leaders (both superintendents and school board members) who did not fall into line, and effectively destroyed the cohesion of any resistance to the Sec Ed's (and therefore the Governor's) education agenda.  That "club" of the 19 current (and assorted former) superintendents has been fragmented and stripped of 99% of its political power outside the narrow boundaries of the individual districts.

In other words, when a new SecEd came to town there also used to be a period of public discourse and even relatively thoughtful debate on "Where should we go from here?"

Not this time.  Mark Murphy's selection was an advance decree of exactly what the agenda will be in the second Markell term:  more Race to the Top, more Vision 2015, more centralized educational policy-making, continued emphasis on high-stakes testing, and continued erosion of local control of our public schools.

That's what this all really means.

How different would Romney's Medicare cuts be from Obama's?

Again, according to WaPo, the answer is "not much."

Beginning to see a pattern here?

Fear and (self) loathing in Hungary

You only have to read the headline.

Would a Romney foreign/military policy differ from Obama's?

Not really.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Gary Johnson video--Boom!

jason's America: over 100 million hardline racists

From Delawareliberal this weekend:
Romney goes into this election, as he has lived his life – with a great many advantages. The Bush economy and the nation’s short memory of how we got here. The political press in the employ of his major financial backers. One third of the country being died in the wool racists. The list of reason why Romney should win goes on and on.
Start with the assumption that one out of every three people you meet will be racists, and your world will be a pretty dismal place.

That's well over 100 million hardcore racists.  One-third of the other students in your child's class--I look at the assembled parents in my grandson's class at Linden Hill Elementary School, and I wonder which nine families are secretly keeping KKK hoods at home in their closets.  I go to church and wonder which fifty of the people taking communion with my family are only here to cover up their virulent hatred of our African-American and Hispanic parishoners.

As I walk the streets I realize that, in jason's world, 206,000 of Delaware's registered voters are racists.  How can I know which ones?  Ah!  I see:  there are 183,645 registered Republicans.  We can assume by definition, according to jason, that ALL of them are racists. (Sorry, Joan Deaver.  Sorry Joe Miro and Mick Manolakos.)  That would also mean that another 22,435 of Delaware's independents, Greens, and Libertarians are racists (because, you see, only Democrats are not racists in jason's world.  It's sort of like a reverse Germany in the 1930s and 1940s where we should have two-thirds of the people wear big "Ds" on their jackets so we could know they are not racists.)

One third of all Americans are racists.

Of course, since only 72% of the country is white, that actually means that nearly 50% of all white Americans are racists in jason's view.  Every other white person he meets is secretly trying to figure out a way not to do business with Hispanics, not to hire African-Americans.

Wait!  Maybe he just meant it as a geographical comment.  Obviously, that must be it:  jason thinks (given the percentages you can note in the map below) that every single white person in the South is furtively planning to bring back Jefferson Davis and re-enslave the Freedmen:

OK, in all seriousness, I should point out that racism is still alive and well in the hearts and minds of many Americans.  Probably millions, maybe even tens of millions--I don't know.

But I do know that it is significantly less prevalent than it was when I was growing up, that the media and advertising images out there would not be out there if they were not selling products.  I know that racism in the United States is on the decline, and that even people who are Evangelical Christians, or conservatives, or Southerners--even if they are white--do not have to be racists by definition.

Except in jason's world, where everybody who doesn't think, believe, and vote the way he does can't just be an American with different ideas--they have to be both ignorant and evil.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Libertarian Party of Delaware challenge to other political parties and DSEA

The National Petition on High-Stakes Testing, which opposes the current Federal over-emphasis on the use of standardized tests to assess the performance of students and teachers has been endorsed by over 400 organizations nationwide including the NEA and dozens of elected school boards.

The Libertarian Party of Delaware, having already taken a strong position against the use of high-stakes testing as the dominant metric in student and teacher assessment, is proud to become the first organization in Delaware to sign the Resolution.

Not the Delaware State Education Association (even though the NEA has signed it).

Not the Democratic or Republican Party.

Not the Governor (who just enshrined test results as part of the measure of teacher performance).

Not the Charter School Network.

Not the Rodel Foundation.

Not the Delaware PTA.

Not the State Board of Education.

The Libertarians.

So, isn't it time for the rest of Delaware to get serious about ending the disastrous over-emphasis on high-stakes?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Delaware Libertarian candidates golf for Wounded Warriors

On August 13 a foursome composed of Libertarian US House candidate Scott Gesty, his wife Maria, 7th District State Senate candidate Jim Christina, and 32nd District State House candidate Will McVay will be participating in The World's Largest Golf Outing to benefit The Wounded Warrior Project.

You can visit the Golf Outing website here, and hit the link to "Sponsor a Team."

In the name bar, enter "Libertarian" and Scott's name will pop up.

Please feel free to join me in donating to a great cause.

No matter what we may think about the policies that send them out there, America's military men and women put their lives on the line to defend us.  We have to support our troops and our veterans, especially the ones who came home to us disabled.

And remember, Libertarians--like all other Americans--are at their best when they are doing something to give back to their community.

John Carney: Let's pander by temporarily relaxing a horrible policy requirement

Regarding ethanol I completely agree with Liberalgeek of Delawareliberal:

Can we all agree that Ethanol is a failure and that we need to bail out on it before we tar all alternative energies as bad ideas?
I believe that we make mistakes.  Ethanol is one of them and the sooner we cut bait on it, the sooner we can get moving on good ideas that we have out there.

It's difficult to count the ways that ethanol is bad, because you run quickly out of fingers, but the main five would be

1.  Ethanol in gasoline is actually a worse pollutant than regular gasoline.
2.  Ethanol's use as a biofuel artificially drives up food and feed prices.
3.  Ethanol processing requires massive amounts of clean water that is not very clean afterward.
4.  Ethanol production leads to increased deforestation, erosion, and other neat environmental consequences.
5.  Ethanol does not increase mileage in the overwhelming majority of cars, thus actually increasing the amount of foreign oil we must import.

Last year, John Carney and the rest of Congress pretended to do away with ethanol subsidies, but--as Kevin Drum points out--that was a blind as they did not do away with ethanol mandates.

Now, with estimate for corn production down, Congressman Carney has decided to try to make political points with Delaware poultry producers:
America’s farmers need relief from one of the worst droughts of the last fifty years.  One option is to temporarily reduce the amount of the nation’s corn crop that goes into producing ethanol.  Last week, I signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking it to take the steps necessary to reduce the amount of corn mandated for ethanol production.  Congress created flexibility in the Renewable Fuel Standard to provide farmers some assistance in the case of a prolonged drought or severe economic hardship.  The EPA should respond accordingly.  It could make a difference for Delaware’s poultry industry and help keep prices affordable for American consumers.
This is pure pandering in its worst forms.  Again, let me count the ways:

1.  Ethanol subsidies and mandates have been systematically driving up feed prices for years, Congressman Carney.  Did you suddenly just discover this in an election year?

2.  A letter to the EPA asking it very nicely to temporarily suspend mandates?  Yep, that's decisive action, Mr. Carney.  Did you remember to say "pretty please"?  How about taking some long-term steps to defend the interest of Delaware poultry farmers by introducing legislation to eliminate ethanol mandates completely?  Oh, no, I forgot.  That would get in the way of important legislative priorities like keeping the excise tax on medical devices, or making it easier to import women's shoes.

Congressman Carney's statement has, of course, far more to do with his re-election than with saving the Delaware poultry industry.

Here's what Libertarian Scott Gesty would do:  End the EPA's ethanol requirements permanently, and stop having the government distort American and international food markets by requiring non-food corn production.

Simple, huh?

But since Scott Gesty won't be on the stage with John Carney in October at the UD debate, guess we'll never hear this question asked, either.

Meet Paul Ryan

Not real sure what the finger thing is, either.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Here's the answer to the exclusionary rules at the UD/Delaware First Media debate

I will make this really simple.

1.  The debate is being sponsored by the "nonpartisan" Center for Political Communication at the University of Delaware, of which Ralph Begleiter is the Director.

2.  Among the candidates running for re-election this year who will be appearing on stage at the October debates are Governor Jack Markell, Senator Tom Carper, and Congressman John Carney.

3.  Senator Carper will, given the rules adopted by the "nonpartisan" Center, face only GOP nominee Kevin Wade, and will not have to share the stage with Independent Party of Delaware nominee Alex Pires or Green/Libertarian Party nominee Andrew Groff.

4.  Congressman Carney will, given the rules adopted by the "nonpartisan" Center, face only GOP nominee Tom Kovach, and will not have to share the stage with Libertarian/IPOD nominee Scott Gesty  or Green Party nominee Bernard August.

5.  This is all, of course, according to standards set by the Pew Center Debate Standards Project about ten years ago, and is complete, utterly, totally, and beyond dispute NON-PARTISAN.  We know because Ralph Begleiter told us.

6.  Finally, here is a screen shot of the ex officio members of the Advisory Committee of the COMPLETELY TOTALLY AND UTTERLY NON-PARTISAN Center for Political Communication:
Naw, there couldn't be any conflict of interest here, could there?

If you really want to know how Mr. Begleiter defends this position, why not ask him yourself.

Here's his email address:  Ralph.Begleiter@udel.edu

Another Delaware blog weighs in on the UD/Delaware First Media debate exclusion rules

From Broken Turtle Books:

Does anyone else in the UD community object to the lack of fair academic and democratic principles underlying the exclusion of minority parties and independent candidates from the October 17 and 18 UD-sponsored congressional and gubernatorial debates? Others are weighing in.
It is one thing for corporate media to be complicit in the deals cooked up by the major parties to exclude minority parties from debates; it is another for a university seeking “prominence” to truncate the discourse. Demonstrating a commitment to principles lacking at UD, the League of Women Voters withdrew their support for the Presidential debates after the two big parties took them over in 1988.

WGMD: Sussex Libertarian meet and greet covered

Unlike the News Journal or WDEL in the northern part of the state, the media in Sussex County (WGMD and the Cape Gazette) actually cover electoral politics rather than spending their days deciding what NOT to cover.

For example, last night's Libertarian event:

The Sussex County Libertarian Party hosted a candidate meet-and-greet during their monthly meeting at the Grotto’s Grand Slam in Seaford. Among the candidates were 6th Senate District candidate Wendy Jones, 20th House District candidate Valerie Valenska, 35th District Candidate Ron Fitzgerald, and Insurance Commissioner and Sussex County Clerk of the Peack candidate David Eisenhour.
Jones explained that Libertarians are socially liberal, fiscally conservative, are Constitutionally oriented, and are looking to cut taxes and wasteful spending, reduce the size and regulatory power of government and get it out of our lives. She says that Republicans and Democrats sound almost exactly the same on expanding the size of government. Jones is one of six candidates in the race for the 6th Senate seat, one of the most hotly contested races in Delaware.
Valenska says that Libertarians are tired of big government, and want to reduce the influence it has on our lives. She says if elected, she’ll look for laws to repeal that will reduce the size and scope of government. Valenska says that career politicians from both major parties have been at the point for a long time where they only want to talk to their constituents, and not listen. She says that’s been the case coast to coast for 40 years, while Libertarians, on the other hand, have been saying pretty much the same thing nationwide about smaller government, lower taxes and more personal responsibility. Valenska says libertarians want to bring and end to the state and federal governments being “Big Brother” and “nanny states.”

News Journal covers Delaware debate exclusions, quotes Scott Gesty

Where, I wonder, is any response from Ralph Begleiter or Michelline Boudreau defending their ridiculous position?

Anyway, here is the piece by John Starkey:

The University of Delaware and Delaware First Media have sent out invitations for planned October 16-17 debates in Newark ahead of the Nov. 6 general elections. Invited are this year’s U.S. House and Senate candidates, and the candidates for Lt. Gov and Governor.
But some candidates are crying foul over the eligibility requirements for those debates, which may leave some third-party candidates on the sidelines. Those requirements – eligible candidates must meet one – include being part of a major party or having polling from an “experienced” firm that shows at least 10 percent support. Full eligibility criteria are listed at the bottom of this post.
“To be invited, I’d have to raise $125,500 from 2,511 different donors, have already received 40,000 votes in a previous election, or pay thousands for a poll proving at least 10% of Delaware voters already support me,” said Scott Gesty, who is running for Delaware’s sole U.S. House seat as a Libertarian candidate.
James Bradford, campaign manager for U.S. Senate candidate Alex Pires, also called the requirements overly burdensome, though Pires’ campaign did pay Utah-based Quantel Research more than $9,000 to conduct polling before Pires formally entered the race. “We’re concerned that the criteria for this debate is designed to keep candidates like us out of the debate,” Bradford said.
The University of Delaware and DFM will host U.S. House and Senate debates beginning at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16 at UD’s Mitchell Hall, which was the setting for the 2010 Coons-O’Donnell debate moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Lt. Gov and gubernatorial candidates will debate at the same time on Oct. 17. Nancy Karibjanian, co-founder of DFM News, will moderate the debates, which will each last 60 minutes and include questions from students.
UD and DFM are standing behind the debate criteria, which they are based on well-established national guidelines, and are particularly stringent because the debate comes just a few weeks before the Nov. 6 vote.

In today's News-Journal John Young endorses Libertarian position on elected State Board of Education

It should be emphasized that John is endorsing an idea, not a candidate, but it is also worth noting that Libertarian positions in this year's Delaware elections--from openly supporting marriage equality, to ending the war on drugs (see the political cartoon in today's WNJ which isn't up on the website yet), to an elected State Board--are rapidly gaining traction and forcing Demopublicans to deal with the fact that they haven't really had an original (or gutsy) position in state politics since . . . forever.

From the letters:

The recent excellent reporting by The News Journal on the crisis of confidence at Pencader Charter High School has exposed a fissure in Delaware government accountability: the appointed State Board of Education.
Delawareans deserve a responsive government. Currently the Delaware Department of Education, unlike other states, is run by a gubernatorial appointment: Secretary of Education. This person then is accountable to the State Board of Education, also appointed by the governor. There is no direct electoral link to the operations of our Department of Education. The result: plodding and slow reaction to situations like Pencader. An elected board could easily be directly lobbied by the voting public into calling a meeting within seven days to respond to the new challenges at the school.
Recently our state’s Libertarian candidates have endorsed the concept of an elected State Board of Education that would, among other duties, hire/fire a newly created replacement position of state Superintendent of Education, removing both the Board of Education and Chief DOE officer positions from the politics of the Governor’s office.
I ardently support this idea, particular as Pencader continues its struggles in real time with no obvious public action in sight.
John Young
Newark 
 
 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tame Libertarian finally found to trash Gary Johnson on behalf of Obama and Romney

Quick, a quiz:  which of these people do you most readily associate with Libertarian activism?

A.  Ron Paul
B.  Bob Barr
C.  John Stoessel
D.  Gary Johnson
E.  Andrew Napolitano
F.  Karl Denninger

If you answered A, C, D, or E you pass.  If you answered B you just like guys who like having whipped cream spread of exotic dancers' breasts.

If you answered F you really ought to get out more.

But Karl Denninger has now come out on behalf of Demopublicans everywhere to say that Gary Johnson will have no impact on the current presidential race not because of structural barriers to ballot access that require millions to be spent petitioning for signatures while the other guys are campaigning; not because of the rules that keep him out of the debates; not because polling companies won't cover him; not because of anything but the fact that he's a dud candidate.

Apparently we shouldn't have taken the most experienced candidate in the race who has an amazing story to tell, but instead we should have nominated somebody charismatic and in touch with America's pulse--like maybe Wayne Allyn Root.

Idiot.


You may actually be conscious after all

I know most of you probably weren't worried, but just for kavips:

It appears that Benjamin Libet may have been wrong.

Nonetheless, Mind Time remains an interesting read by a man who would not shrink from the implications of what he thought he observed.

And (again, just for kavips) even though he was wrong about the experiment, he still might have been right about the big picture after all.  Jury still out on that one.

If Chris Coons could join Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders to vote against the Patriot Act . . .

You gotta wonder what's up with John Carney?

It is more usual to focus of Presidents, like Bush or Obama, and blame them for the deterioration of civil liberties in this country, but the reality is that the US Congress has been a willing accomplice in the shredding of our individual rights.

Particularly John Carney.

Carney not only voted for the extension of the Patriot Act, he voted for CISPA and the NDAA with its provisions for indefinite detention of American citizens.  (Later Carney would vote for a purely symbolic amendment that had no chance of passing to strip indefinite detention out of the NDAA, but by that time the vote that mattered had already made it law.)

Does John Carney believe in American police state?  Seemingly.  At the very least he appears indifferent to the consequences of his votes.

Nemski at Delawareliberal rightly took Carney to task for the CISPA vote:
House Speaker Boehner rushed through the CISPA bill late Thursday and it passed.. And what could only be considered a major disappointment is that not only did John Carney vote with the Republicans in its passage,Carney voted to curtail our rights.
But, of course, the problem is that the Democrats seem to have no antidote to John Carney, no one willing to challenge him, no willingness to hold him to account at the ballot box.

And, if the past is any indication, Carney will continue to be a reliable vote for those who believe that security can only be achieved at the expense of individual liberty.  Here are a couple of the more important issues coming up in Congress that John Carney will undoubtedly vote against:

Three important FISA amendments designed to put some process back into "due process--
A bulk declassification bill that clears the backlog of inappropriately classified material for public release--
A cut in Pentagon missile defense programs--
A challenge to the sovereign immunity clause in warrantless wiretapping--
If you actually want a Congressman who will join Senator Chris Coons (I can't believe I'm saying this) in voting to restore our civil liberties, then you have to dump John Carney.

And you damn sure can't vote for Tom Kovach, whose position on "national security" is somewhere to the far right of even Carney.

No, if you really value civil liberties and expect the US Congress to take a role in protecting them, then you need to vote for


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In NYC "stop and frisk" has become "stop and grope"

Maybe these guys should consider getting a job with the TSA, where they could also enjoy the view in the scanners:

A front-page story in today'sNew York Times highlightsthe special humiliation inflicted on women who are detained and patted down by police under the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program. Male officers grope them, concentrating on "the waistband, armpit, collar and groin areas," and go through their purses, pulling out personal items such as tampons, birth control pills, and lacy underwear. "Yes, it’s intrusive," Inspector Kim Y. Royster tells the Times, "but wherever a weapon can be concealed is where the officer is going to search." Yet these searches almost never yield weapons.
The stops supposedly are justified by a "reasonable suspicion" of criminal activity, and the searches ostensibly are aiimed at protecting officers from hidden weapons they "reasonably" suspect may be present. Yet 46,784 stops of women last year yielded 3,993 arrests, suggesting that officers were wrong in suspecting criminal activity more than nine times out of 10. The hit rate for weapons was a lot worse: The Times reports that guns were found in 59 out of about 16,000 searches, or 0.37 percent of the time. (The numbers for men are similar.) How's that for reasonable?
Of course only one presidential candidate--Gary Johnson--has actually had the courage to criticize Mayor Bloomberg and his bizarro mixture of policies.

Yep, this is a great argument regarding why we should continue to subsidize Amtrak . . .

. . . because it is not only the right of Amtrak passengers to be subsidized $6.50 from my taxes every time they order a crappy burger, but it would also be insensitive to contract out the food service to a company that might do it cheaper because . . .

Well, here, read for yourself:

I live in New York City, so I've eaten my share of $16 hamburgers. If a hamburger costs that much, it's usually pretty good. It had better be!
But that's not true if you're on Amtrak. At a congressional hearing yesterday, we learned that the agency's on-board, microwave-in-bag hamburgers cost $16 to serve, even though the agency only charges travelers $9.50 to buy one.
The purpose of the hearing was to examine why Amtrak's food service operations have lost $800 million over the last 10 years. The answer is, apparently, that it costs Amtrak a ton of money to serve food that is mostly pretty terrible.
Selling edible food at a profit is not rocket science. Even the airlines have increasingly figured out how to do so. If Amtrak can't do it itself, it could outsource its food service operations to a company like Gate Gourmet that has expertise in travel catering.
Why doesn't Amtrak do this? Nick Rahall, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has one answer. He says Amtrak food service jobs are well-paying, and we shouldn't eliminate them, even if the food service is expensive and terrible. “It’s a whopper of an idea, trading good-paying jobs for cheaper hamburgers,” said Rahall.