Saturday, July 08, 2006

vote: make them steal it.

* check out the NYT's interactive plame leak graphic

* eurotrib:
"The FT's Martin Wolf does not believe in peak oil"
* digby:
"The United States of Kafka strikes again. Here's yet another story of unspeakable horrors at the hands of Americans against some Algerian nobody who was the victim of a bad translation."
read the rest - and remember that they sent sibel's translator friend kevin down to gitmo when they knew that he was proficient in neither english nor any of the target languages.

* digby:
"I don't know if this Choicepoint thing helped the PAN steal the Mexican election but it certainly looks as if it's another case of "you'd better win by a huge margin because if it's close enough to steal, the right will steal it." These are the new rules. Get used to it."
to quote palast: vote: make them steal it.

in a different universe, all these close elections would be evidence that democracy really does work, and that political parties really do fine-tune their platforms as they compete to get 50% +1 of the publics approval. or at least 50% +1 of the voters approval (in australia we have compulsory voting, which i heartily recommend, despite the obvious).

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Compulsory voting is as bad as other forms of government compulsion by force of government guns, for any purpose other than those strictly enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.

Why is it moral for 50% + 1, or 1 million, to coerce the other 50% - 1 people to do, or not to do, all the myriad things prescribed and proscribed by the current mammoth, unreadable and unread-by-legistators, federal code?

It's obviously not moral if the majority votes for slavery of other things you disapprove of. But somehow it's moral either because of that 1 + 50% voter (might makes right), at least when you agree with the dominant group (my might makes right).

Democracy: two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

The Left prattles on about democracy but does not study history. All democracies fail through plundering of the public treasury, typically by debasement of the currency. It's happening again with the U.S. empire, where in spite of elections stolen by both "left" and "right" mainstream parties, "democracy" is always the justification, and since 1913 the dollar has been debased to pay for war and pork.

We need a Dem in the White House ASAP, but only to restore divided government. Have no illusion that the machinery of empire would be dismantled, or even that a "fair democracy" would vote virtuosly, or stop stealing via inflation, or dictating all manner of compulsory nonsense.

lukery said...

i take your point (is that you scott?) - however you were stretching mine.

the benefit of compulsory voting, compared to non-compulsory voting, is that it is a) more representative and more importantly b) more 'centrist' (in the literal sense)

the problem, as we have seen this past month in the US, is that when elections are determined by GOTV efforts, then the result is the type of flag-burning, gay-bashing pandering that we've just witnesses - specifically designed to rally the 'base' - aka the most extreme positions.

so yes i'd argue that 50% + 1, is BETTER, than 25% + 1 - or whatever the turnout number is.

(and, no, i dont think that 'democracy' is perfect, and yes, i'm aware of the perverseness of compulsory voting in a 'free' society)

ftr - election day here is on a saturday, and i've never heard of anyone spending more than 2 hours waiting to vote.

and yes, i'm aware of the tyranny of the majority - which is why we have bills of rights and constitutions and such.

romunov said...

Regarding Mexico elections, check the story of dumped ballots. Want to bet who won on those ballots? :)

ewastud said...

All of these elections with a razor-thin margin of victory are becoming far too frequent to be regarded any longer as mere "chance" occurrences. People need to start viewing such "close" elections as evidence of a first tier of fraud which is operating to make runaway elections become very close contests. I theorize that after this first tier of fraud is successfully perpetrated, a second tier is employed to flip the vote to the favored candidate. This kind of manipulation of elections then makes it more difficult to prove fraud and the result appears to be more credible.

Exactly how this is done, I am not sure at this time, but people need to start investigating with that idea mind to figure this out and put a stop to it.

Anonymous said...

Not scott, he's not your only libertarian-sounding fan ;-).

That's small-l libertarian. Government is a necessary evil (St. Augustine), there is no utopia, not even liber-topia.

If democracies always fail through decadence and looting of the treasury, are they really the least-evil system? A constitutional republic or even a constitutional monarchy might be better both at avoiding war and at keeping future generations free from debt and ruin.

Constitutions are fine so long as the elites play by the rules, but the U.S. Constitution was schredded starting in the 19th century, and the left's heroes in the 20th turned it into a blank check for arbitrary fedgov powers (farmers reduced to serfdom, unable to grow crops on their own land under FDR's tyranny, because it would affect interstate commerce), long before Bush came along and wiped his ass with the remnants.

Martin van Crevald argues in The Rise and Decline of the State that we are witnessing the protracted and bloody death of the nation-state. What's next?

Around my neck of the woods, people are more likely to pledge life-changing fealty to a Google or a Yahoo! than to any polity. Or to commit even more passionately to an open source software project, or to the netroots.

But we're still under the guns of the state. Gridlock as a defensive hope is not enough. Throw the bums out, and other bums rush in. Put not your trust in princes.

No answers here, just some musings and praise. Keep up the good work!

lukery said...

oooh - i like fans!

thnx for commenting. i'd have welcomed you before, but i just figured scott forgot to sign in.

note that i didnt say that democracy was "the least-evil system" - my only specific point was that the 'cost' of making voting compulsory seems to me to be a reasonable price to pay within the structure of a democracy.

and i'm well aware of the problems with power inherent in what consitutes 'democracy.' i'd tentatively argue that a well-functioning democracy is among the better systems designed so far - all the while i appreciate the possibility that democracies can become unchecked and unbalanced (as we are witnessing)

and i'm particularly cognizant of the fact that the war machine is the most likely corrupter (and the most literally dangerous)

my default tendency is toward libertarianism (at least at a lay level - i don't pretend to be fully versed) - but i do wonder how libertarianism might deal with global warming (mind you, i'm also aware that none of the other systems are dealing with that propblem either) - can you give me a briefer on that, pls?

and while i'm asking questions, you wrote "we are witnessing the protracted and bloody death of the nation-state. What's next?"
is there a libertarian argument for the existence of nation states?

cheers - and thnx again for making yuorself known, anonymously!

lukery said...

ewastud, i totally agree.

it's no wonder that silvio refused to accept defeat - he presumed that he had already stolen it.

regarding the "first tier of fraud" - i'd argue that we saw that in the 2004 election in the US (not sure about 2000) - with the media mantra of a 'divided nation', and the red v blue thing in the months leading up to the election. that sort of propaganda set up the false case that the country was EQUALLY divided. similarly we saw the same thing with the schiavo debacle - which was framed as 'dividing the nation' which was obviously nonsense, and we saw the 'protests' there at the hospice, with the pictures always being filmed at ground level so that the potemkin nature of the 'protest' was never visible.

further, i'd argue that the recent gay marriage and flag burning things werent really to fire up the base, but to provide a justification when they steal the election. similarly the push to get hillary to run as president. that would be the greatest gift for the election-stealers - i've argued since nov 5th, 2004 that they want her to run so that the nov 5 2008 equivalent to the 'values voters' nonsense will be 'oh well, i guess the country wasnt really ready for a female president after all'

lukery said...

rumonov - yeah - even the corpmedia is (unironically) saying 'gee - this kinda reminds us of florida 2000' - without mentioning that 2000 was stolen.

Don said...

CW paints "discarded votes" as a phenomenon that afflicts the vote for the left, ironically, probably due to work like RFK, Palast, Friedman and others (never mind history). It's certainly conceivable that a corrupt rightist could pick up on that and develop the strategy further to 'planting' discarded votes to inflate his own totals.

(I was going to say evolve it further, but evolution's not big with some of the right base)

lukery said...

egads. i just wrote someone about this.

what is more likely is that the rightie will plant some 'mickey mouse' ballots to 'show' that 'the other side is corrupt too'

Kathleen said...

How would you enforce compulsory voting, make everyone show up with a purple finger the next day?

I think the Italians have the right idea. I know I might be biased in favor of Italy, but somehow the idea of having elected officials step down, voluntarilly, when they lose the consensus, strikes me as very mature and dignified. They obviously don't need much gov't to keep on keeping on. Italy has the highest voter turn out in the world, 97%, but they've had the most practice.
Early Rome was the first Republic. Their Executive office was a Triumverate, not one President and his stand in. No one person had sole power to do anything. I like that in gov't.

lukery said...

compulsory voting here is enforced by use of a fine (approx $30 or thereabouts)

Anonymous said...

Hi Luke, your comments and questions deserve more depth than blogs allow in
the comments section, but here goes nothing:

note that i didnt say that democracy was "the least-evil system" - my only
specific point was that the 'cost' of making voting compulsory seems to me to
be a reasonable price to pay within the structure of a democracy.


Even if democracy would work "better" if voting were compulsory (how is it
working down under?), whenever the state flouts its constitutional limits and
still claims legitimacy because 50%+1 vote for it (even in a fair election),
it's immoral and unjustified. Consequentialism is always wrong -- ends do
not justify means.

This is obviously true when Bushbots say it. Lefties need to avoid the same
trap, because the same unconstitutional power that they believe their elected
officials would use wisely, will be abused by the righties, and especially by
the creeps we have now, who seem to have no principles, right- or left-wing.

It's tempting to want to use force to fix a bad situation perpetrated
by others who themselves abused government power, but it's not going to end
any better, in spite of good intentions. After all, lots of centrists and
righties have good (from their own point of view) intentions. It's a vicious
cycle, and the only way out is through weaker, smaller, more local, and thus
more accountable governments. (And smaller/weaker corporations, but that's a
topic for another day.)

There's an added problem, even if we more libertarian types give up, and
everyone agrees that the Constitution authorizes a federal government that
spends trillions of dollars that it also counterfeits, year after year.
Besides inevitable corruption (government that buys and sells will be bought
and sold), the people working for the government-funded industries will tend
to vote themselves more of the public treasury, as ol' J.S. Mill warned.

How about if voting were not compulsory, but instead (as Mill suggested) the
franchise were restricted to those not sucking at Leviathan's teats? Sure,
much of the State of Boeing^H^H^H^H^H^HWashington might be disenfranchised
for a while. Would that be so bad?

and i'm well aware of the problems with power inherent in what consitutes
'democracy.' i'd tentatively argue that a well-functioning democracy is among
the better systems designed so far - all the while i appreciate the possibility that democracies can become unchecked and unbalanced (as we are witnessing)


Nothing lasts (Shelley's Ozymandias, stone legs next to shattered visage),
but democracies fail in particular long and ugly trajectories going back to
Athens, and the U.S. is following that path now. Can we get off the ride?
It's getting tedious, and damn bloody.

and i'm particularly cognizant of the fact that the war machine is the most
likely corrupter (and the most literally dangerous)


Warfare and welfare statism go together; they have to in the case of the U.S.

The Federal Reserve was created in 1913.

FDR drove the deflationary crunch that followed the Federal Reserve's loose
money binge of the roaring twenties, making things worse throughout his first
two terms until he ginned up U.S. entry into WW2 (see Day of Deceit, Robert
B. Stinnett). War-economy inflation and command and control did not "cure"
the Great Depression (neocon revisionism to the contrary notwithstanding),
but it did leave the U.S. with lots of weapons, tons of gold, and an intact
industrial base.

After WW2, the U.S. had approximately two-thirds of government-held gold, or
one-third of all gold. The post-war Bretton Woods international monetary
system pretty much forced other governments to hold dollars in reserve, and
promised redemption at a fixed gold price.

After the postwar boom, LBJ cranked up both the guns and the butter knobs,
but the worsening dollar debasement caused the rest of the world, starting
with the French under de Gaulle, to demand gold for their greenbacks.

Nixon reneged and closed the gold window two years later. Soon after, some
familiar faces from today's egadministration "persuaded" the Saudis to take
only greenbacks in payment for oil, which led to petrodollars, eurodollars,
and the further growth of the dollar empire.

The U.S. is truly the empire of debt.

This highlights the pacifist left wing's funding problem: can you have big
welfare-not-warfare government, butter without the guns? Since 1913, the
preferred American funding method has been inflating the currency more than
taxing the rich (since the rich hide their money in unproductive holes when
the marginal rate goes too far north, and there aren't enough "rich" to make
up for the free taxation that comes from inflation).

But sustained inflationary periods, combined with consequent deflationary
busts such as the Great Depression, followed by full-on statist American
military-driven inflations such as WW2, feed the need for empire, since
without force, trading partners over time would shun the debased dollar
and the whole game would eventually collapse.

my default tendency is toward libertarianism (at least at a lay level - i don't pretend to be fully versed) - but i do wonder how libertarianism might deal with global warming (mind you, i'm also aware that none of the other systems are dealing with that propblem either) - can you give me a briefer on that, pls?

It is disturbing how scientific arguments become caricatured into twisted
articles of faith, on both left and right. Scientists, Feynman admonished,
should always set out to disprove their own theories. So even if you are not
a scientist, please be just a little skeptical about "global warming" being
caused by human activity producing CO2 or other gasses. The climate record
and the principal known cause of warming (solar activity) do not support it.
The world was significantly warmer 700 years ago than now, and recent warming
since 1940 has only been climbing back toward the long-term average.

Gore's slur on scientists who dissent as all corrupt and paid for by big oil
is a cheap shot, a Marxist hand-wave. Academic climate researchers do not
get funding from big oil, and they mostly do not agree with Gore's "science".
It is true that some other "scientists", and way too many people with college
degrees who took a few science courses and who subscribe to a narrow form of
green scientism, believe in human-caused "Global Warming". But that isn't
science -- it's more like democracy in the worst sense: the madness of
crowds.

That dissent aside, let's take your point in general, and stipulate that
there are market externalities that need some wise sovereign or Platonic
republican (as in Plato's Republic, not the GOP) elite to be looking out for
the long run, and coercing people to do what they otherwise would not do.

(BTW, most kings were more circumscribed in whether and how they could usurp
powers not inherited with their crown, and more likely to look out for the
long run, than our modern policritters who screw future generations for a
few perks and a K-street job after term limits kick in.)

The problems with trying to deal with externalities by force boil down to
these two (excluding the usual problem of the state growing more corrupt as
it grows more powerful, with good intentions paving the way to hell):

1. The state forces people away from long-term risk A, and runs headlong
into unintended consequence B. The so-called "precautionary principle" of
the greens is as bad as Cheney's 1% doctrine. You are more likely to create
worse environmental problems, or unnecessary wars, trying to avoid scary but
unlikely scenarios.

2. The use of force to overcome incentives priced into the market leads to
distortions, black markets and worse corruption and injustice. We've seen
this with everything from CAFE standards for fuel economy, to helmet laws,
to DDT, to (I would argue) the WoD.

The best course is to price everything into the market, but "everything"
includes costs we can't calculate now, and low-probability risks where even
though the cost is high, the likelihood is so low that the product is tiny.
The best way to cope with those is to keep any party from sticking future
generations, government in general, or another party with the bill if and
when it comes due.

So carbon taxes are better than banning fossil fuels, from a libertarian
perspective. But even better, since we know less than you think about the
risk of human-caused global warming, would be to make a market where good
prediction ability pays. There's a problem judging such "ideas futures"
markets, and anyway greens are philosophically opposed to markets, so I'll
save space and stop here.

The short answer is that really big externalities become internalized when
enough people can see the costs, and no one has bribed the government to fob
off costs on the taxpayer. If the costs or probabilities are hard to prove
you probably should wait. That's the only sound "precautionary principle"
for global warming, as for pre-emptive or preventive war.

and while i'm asking questions, you wrote "we are witnessing the protracted and bloody death of the nation-state. What's next?" is there a libertarian argument for the existence of nation states?

Libertarians acknowledge that government is inevitably found in many forms
throughout human history (they agree with Jefferson that those governments
are best which govern least). The standard historical accounts of the
evolution of the nation-state are not controversial to libertarians.

Van Crevald's point (and he's not a libertarian AFAIK) is that the state as
conceived in the last 300 years or so, as an abstract territorial monopoly, a
corporation not tied to a ruler and his line of descent, is historically an
aberration, and increasingly a harmful anachronism. A priori
philosophies that impose abstract purpose on government (from "Liberty,
equality, brotherhood, to the death!" to TWOT) have been wreaking bloody
havoc since the French Revolution, and on through the national (fascist) and
international (communist) socialist revolutionary states of the 20th century.

The U.S. empire is unique in its imposing taxes through an imposed fiat
currency, instead of by taxing or claiming tribute more directly. But it is
still a modern nation-state in the more abstract sense van Crevald describes.
If you read the neo-con canon, you will see that their vision of the U.S.
as a nation-state is very abstract: the one universal and indispensable
nation, with no ties to particular place or history, and ever-expanding
claims on geography. Anyone can immigrate and become an American, in the
neo-con view, so long as he or she melts into a pot that subscribes as one
political body to a mix of aggressive welfare/warfare statism.

The nation states did a number on much of what's now the third world, leaving
arbitrary new would-be nation-states, Franken-states, stitched together from
what were more traditional governments organized along tribal lines (Iraq is
one such mess). What comes after the nation-state may be seen already in the
disintegration of such bogus states and their regression to earlier forms.

Van Crevald sticks to being a historian, and doesn't try to predict future
history. I won't either, but I'll repeat that in the fairly left-wing elite
U.S. circles I run in, there's a yearning for something beyond that old time
democratic politics. Somewhere between the 'net as the new commons, open
source foo, and green secular religion, there's a movement forming. Since
culture is prior to politics, and religion to culture, this isn't a surprise.

This was way too long. Hope it helped.

lukery said...

thnx Anon - front-paged. i half-wrote the post before deciding to quote you in full - so it might be a bit discordant

have been flat-out busy getting the sibel interview organised - and it has taken me a while to respond - apologies for that.