Dec 31, 2010

The Zen of Politics and Why It Matters!

Why do I OCD about Strategic Election Reform? Let me explain with a brief description of my political philosophy that was posted at Daily Kos. I'm a liberal libertarian or a communitarian, which means taking the dictum that "power tends to corrupt" seriously in all facets of life, and which translates in practice to a dynamic centrism. What is a dynamic centrist? I believe that there are always (at least) two sides to every political conflict. In a healthy democracy, both sides are equally good and bad and simply need to be well reconciled. In an unhealthy "democracy"/kleptocracy then one of the sides is clearly more corrupted by power than the other. Right now that side is most associated with the Republican party.

But to make things right(or left), we need to focus less on getting the other side into power (or our preferred party) and more on making the system healthy again. This is why I've been relentlessly posting about Strategic Election Reform(SER), because it will make our system much healthier. US politics would no longer tilt towards effective single-party rule, the de facto political center would be closer to the true political center and ethnic/economic/ideological minorities would get more voice due to their increased likelihood of being the decisive voters in more elections.

This philosophy reconciles the evils of Communism/Socialism and Fascism/Capitalism and how they've been historically mediated in practice and puts the impetus on strategic electoral reform, as opposed to trying to get a level playing field for all parties in most elections.


Dec 30, 2010

GA: Ballot Access Case May Go to Supreme Court

From Atlanta Progressive News:
The lawsuit challenging Georgia's ballot access law requiring a five percent petition for non-statewide independent and political body candidates, brought by Faye Coffield, an independent candidate for Georgia's 4th Congressional District in 2008, has been appealed to the Supreme Court of the US.

A Petition for Writ of Certiorari was filed in the case, Faye Coffield v. Brian Kemp, on November 02, 2010.

The question presented by the petition is, "Whether the Eleventh Circuit erred in declining to rule that Georgia's 5% petitioning requirement for non-major party candidates for the United States House of Representatives is unconstitutionally burdensome, given that no such candidate has met the requirement since 1964 and no minor party candidate has ever met it." . . .

NY: Green Party Seeking Volunteers

From Green Party Watch:

The Green Party State committee [NY] has established an issues committee to help coordinate state level work around issues critical to the green agenda in NY. We are looking for volunteers. Please contact Mark Dunlea (dunleamark [at] aol [dot] com) or Gloria Mattera (gmattera [at] gmail [dot] com) if you would like to be on the issues committee. Please let us know what role you would like to play (e.g., work on a particular issue, receive action alerts).

Most green work on issues takes place on the local level, so we can put you in contact as well with local Green Party groups across the state. Our success in getting back our ballot line means we will get a little more attention from the mainstream media than before. There is a critical need for a strong progressive voice at the state level, especially with Governor elect Cuomo joining in the bi-partisan effort to respond to the Great Recession with an austerity program of protecting tax cuts for the wealthy, attacking benefits for public employee unions, and slashing funding for essential public services.

Some of the key Green issues being looked at for 2011 include: a ban on hydrofracking for natural gas; education; state budget / progressive revenue options; single payer health care; climate change; and peace/ cut the military budget . . .

Dec 29, 2010

Wikileaks: US Diplomats Bemoan "Primacy of Freedom of Speech" in Danish Cartoon Controversy

A Wikileaked cable out of Embassy Copenhagen from September 2006 recounts the concerns of US diplomats that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten might republish its controversial series of Mohammad cartoons to commemorate the first anniversary of their publication.  The paper ultimately did not republish the images.  The cable describes the "discreet discussions" of Embassy officials with the paper and senior Danish government officials regarding the matter, and effectively criticizes leaders in Denmark's three largest political parties for refusing to "retreat on core values such as free speech."  (Source: COPENHAGEN1327.)

If you recall, the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy began in September 2005, when the newspaper published a set of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad, provoking violent protests in a number of Muslim countries.  Apparently, the newspaper considered re-publishing the images for the first anniversary of their initial publication.  The cable states that the Embassy was informed of the paper's internal deliberations by a journalist with the news outlet.  The US Ambassador then called Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen's national security adviser, Bo Lidegaard, "to ask if this was true and to find out how the government was going to handle the issue."  Apparently the US Embassy in Stockholm works under the assumption that the Danish national security adviser is apprised of all newspaper editorial discussions that take place in the country in advance.

In a second conversation between the two officials, Lidegaard confirmed that the paper was considering re-publication, but stated that the Danish government "did not want to get involved in the matter," and warned US officials not to "openly influence the paper's decision," because the prime minister would have to publicly condemn any such action.  The cable's author notes later on, "the prime minister apparently concluded that the potential costs of being seen to intervene against free speech outweighed even the risk of another uproar."  [Emphasis added.] Noting that the paper ultimately decided not to re-publish the cartoons, the cable then goes on to ask, "How Could It Happen Again?"  In the document, we read:
For all the shock of the cartoon crisis and Denmark's heightened sensitivity to the Islamic world's concerns and the challenges of better integrating its own 200,000-strong Muslim population, there are still a lot of Danes who welcome confrontation with those they consider extremists and oppose any sign of retreat on core values such as free speech. The anti-immigration Danish People's Party, which votes with the government coalition, may be the most vocal on the subject (as well as the party that gained the most politically from the crisis). There are also many within the governing Liberal and Conservative parties who remain highly motivated in defense of free speech and Western culture.
Reflecting on the Danish response to the initial controversy, and the second potential crisis revolving around the publication of the cartoons, the cable comments that "the Danes have drawn mixed lessons from their experience in the cartoon crisis."  The cable's author writes:
On the good side, the Danes have stepped up engagement in promotion of democracy and reform abroad, especially in the Middle East. They now recognize the need to improve integration and outreach to the country's immigrant communities. Since the cartoon crisis, they have extended troop mandates in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more on this point, see this article at Anti-War, entitled, "2006 Cable: Cartoon riots a good way to keep Denmark in wars," which is the only other source which appears to have picked up on this cable, as of this writing.  The "negative side" elaborated in the cable should be cause for concern to anyone who values the freedom of speech and the press.  From the cable:
On the negative side, though, this popular center-right government has hardened its views on the absolute primacy of free speech. The prime minister appeared willing to let Jyllands-Posten dictate the timing of the next Islam vs. West confrontation without question or open discussion within the government.  [Emphasis added.]
To reiterate: the cable states effectively that, on the negative side, the government has strong views in favor of the freedom of speech, and does not attempt to dictate the editorial decisions of the country's newspapers.  See a cache version of the full cable at Cable Search.  In related news, another cable alleges that the Syrian government played a role in the 2006 cartoon riots and embassy attacks.

Alaska Constitution Party Officially Recognized

From Constitution Party News:
Congratulations to the Alaska Constitution Party! This is a major step forward for the national Constitution Party! Good luck in your registration campaign to put the Constitution Party on the ballot in Alaska in 2012! So, now we can track our numbers, as Alaskans may for the first time ever, officially register as Alaska Constitution Party members!

Dec 28, 2010

NY: Green Party Recruiting Mayoral Candidate

From WXXI, out of Rochester, NY:
The local Green Party is looking for a mayoral candidate - and it's opening the application process to all city residents.  The Green Party of Monroe County will be interviewing interested residents who are willing to run for the party's values, which include grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom, and social justice. This came after the City Council's denied residents a primary election. Co-Chair of the local Green Party, Vinessa Buckland, claims that this decision silences voters. She adds that Rochester would benefit from a mayor who values public participation.

Buckland says if residents become more involved in the political process, policies will reflect people's best interests in a greater capacity. "Behind closed door deals is not how the Green party operates and I think a very transparent and open government with public input, a lot of public input is very important. It's going benefit everyone. I mean the values of the Green Party are based on citizen participation. We understand that people, we all understand that we're affected by policy and I think that people don't realize that that power is supposed to rest with them." . . .

Dec 27, 2010

Independents and the Latino Vote

From the Santa Barbara Independent:
Latinos are both disappointed and frustrated by the failure of the DREAM Act in Congress. The main problem was not that Republicans wanted to derail it– everyone knew that - but that Democrats didn’t have their act together, and some joined the Republicans and voted against it. . . . This leaves Latinos out in the cold, and with no clear option as to which political party to turn to. Maybe now is the time for an independent candidate to come forward for 2012, uniting the Latino vote and taking it away from both parties. . . .

Dec 24, 2010

Tancredo Hints He May Declare his Political Independence

From the Huffington Post:
"I have no qualms about running as a Constitution Party nominee and their platform is, for the most part, I think, certainly acceptable to me," Tancredo told the Colorado Statesman on the day he filed his papers to become the ACP candidate.

Now, months after Tancredo's gubernatorial bid failed, the former candidate is opening up about his relationship with the ACP. Tancredo told conservative blogger Ari Armstrong on Monday that he "probably won't be a member [of the ACP] for very long." . . .

Asked about his party affiliation in the immediate aftermath of election day, Tancredo would not give a direct answer as to his plans. "We'll see where it goes. Unless there is some purpose, I don't know if I will go back to Republican. I'm not sure I will stay with ACP either," he told the Denver Post. "Maybe I will become an independent. It's a lot of heavy stuff to think about."

Dec 23, 2010

Communist Commentator Calls for Unity with Obama Democrats

On the left, the Communist Party have been consistent supporters of Barack Obama and the outgoing Democratic ruling majority.  From Jarvis Tyner, from People's World, a CPUSA publication:
I think most left people understand that the main danger to democracy and progress is coming from the extreme right, GOP/tea party and their powerful corporate backers. The Communist Party will not agree with our liberal allies at every turn, but we keep pushing for unity, we keep working to find the tactics that keep a broad labor and people's coalition, that keeps the movement for change going. . . . If  we want to win more economic and democratic rights for working people, minorities, women, young people, etc., it is self defeating to use this tax compromise difference to "break" with Obama. . . . Communists say that even though we are not in agreement with the president on many basic issues, he implemented many of his campaign promises. Progressive researchers who track that sort of thing give him pretty good marks. . . .

Dec 22, 2010

Czech Pirate Party Launches Wikileaks-Style Site to Expose Government and Corporate Corruption

If you see something, say something.  Or at least forward that information to someone who will publish it online.  Needless to say, the most suspicious activities we are confronted with on a daily basis are conducted by governments and corporations.  The Czech Pirate Party has set up its own Wikileaks-style site to expose government and corporate corruption.  From Ars Technica:
The Czech Pirate Party (Ceska piratska strana) announced the inauguration of its "PirateLeaks" information service earlier this month, to be officially launched on Tuesday. But now the organization says that there will be some delays due to security issues.
"We could host content immediately; that's straightforward," Jakub Michálek, editor-in-chief of PirateLeaks explained to the Czech Position news service. "But what isn't straightforward is insuring 100 percent anonymity for the informers."
The Czech Pirate Party is similar to the Swedish Pirate Party, which advocates for the rights of citizens to share files and publish or access information. The CPP registered as a political entity in June of 2009, and about a year later garnered 0.8 percent of the vote in the Czech Republic's Chamber of Deputies Parliamentary election.
The group has been a big supporter of Wikileaks for quite a while. In May it launched a "pirate copy" of the site—not just a redirect, "but an exact copy, which will be regularly updated," according to a translation of the announcement.
As for establishing its own version of Wikileaks, the CPP describes the project as a "great way to influence regional politics." PirateLeaks will faithfully operate along the Wikileaks methodology—soliciting documents from institutional insiders and getting help from news media in verifying their authenticity. . . .

PA: Green Party Stands Up for Fourth Amendment, Opposes Police State Tactics

From the Green Party of Philadelphia:

A representative of the Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP) testified against the stop-and-frisk policy at Philadelphia City Council hearings on Tuesday, December 14. Stop-and-frisk has been enforced by Mayor Nutter, City Council, and the police for the last three years. Stop-and-frisk involves a police officer running his or her hands along the outer garments to detect any concealed weapons. The stop-and-frisk program is being criticized by opponents who say that it leads to racial profiling and direct violations of citizens’ Constitutional Rights.
Hugh Giordano,, who is a union organizer and candidate for PA State Representative in District 194, represented the Green Party, Giordano, in his testimony told a story in which as a young teenager, he was pulled over, frisked and called “Chico” several times by the police. “I was so embarrassed,” Giordano told City Council, “I was accused of stealing the car I was driving, and when I told the officer it was my car, he told me, ‘We’ll see about that, Chico.’”

Dec 21, 2010

Independents Applaud California Supreme Court Decision on Proposition 14

The following statement was issued today by Jackie Salit, President & Harry Kresky, Legal Counsel, IndependentVoting.Org:
The decision by the California Supreme Court to reject an attempt to block the implementation of Proposition 14, the open primary, top two initiative passed by voters last June, is a positive and timely development.
The voters made a clear statement in passing Proposition 14 that they wanted to dislodge the supreme power of the parties. Though the state’s third parties—which supported the legal challenge are critics of the two-party system and say they want to give voters more competition elections—in this situation they have sided with the two parties against competition.
We’re glad the court rejected their effort to undo the very sweeping changes that Proposition 14 will bring to the state’s electoral process and to the 3.5 million independent voters who have gained full equality under the law.
Jackie Salit is president of, a national association of independents with organization in 40 states. Harry Kresky is the country’s foremost legal advocate of independent voters and general counsel for

Proposition 14, the Top Two open primary referendum, was passed by California voters by 54% in June and takes effect in January 2011. Top Two allows 3.4 million California independents to vote in the primaries, a right they had been previously denied.

Chris Hinyub wrote about the effort to scuttle Prop 14 at the California Independent Voter Network website:
A coalition of minor-party candidates, including members of Socialist Action, the Reform Party and the Coffee Party, filed suit against Senate Bill 6, a measure which fleshed out the new voting rules. In September, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard upheld the new rules. The First District Court of Appeal then refused to issue an emergency writ overturning the Superior Court decision. Plaintiffs filed a back-up appeal while also calling on the State Supreme Court to step in and block implementation of the new SB 6 rules and the operation of Prop. 14 until SB 6 was amended. The state’s high court has now denied their Writ Petition.
For more on this topic, see The Hankster.

IAP's Jackie Berg wins card draw

Las Vegas Sun

An eight of hearts in a card draw has given Eureka County Clerk-Treasurer Jackie Berg another four years in office.
Berg, a member of the Independent American Party, and Carrie Wright, who formerly worked in the clerk-treasurer’s office, both polled 373 votes in the November election.
So the election was decided by a draw of the cards. Before a packed room Monday, Wright drew a three of hearts.
“It was very low key,” said Recorder-Auditor Mike Rebaleati. “The card draw didn’t take more than ten minutes.”

Dec 20, 2010

ME: IPR Interviews Independent State Rep. Ben Chipman

From Independent Political Report:

Two nights ago Ross Levin and I interviewed Maine’s newest Independent state legislator, Ben Chipman. This previous article has a bit of background:
Ben Chipman is a Green Party activist in Maine and was elected to the state legislature this year as an independent… Chipman has been a Green Party activist for a long time, including being an aide to Maine’s only former Green state legislator and a member of the Portland Charter Commission. He was the only Green-affiliated independent … elected to state office in the entire country this year.
We began by asking about Mr. Chipman’s campaign strategy and how he became an Independent, rather than Green, candidate. He explains that “various circumstances” came into play when it came time to file, and coupled with his late entry into the race he was unable to run as a Green. Instead, the longtime Green Party activist filed as an Independent.

He found as he began to campaign that the Independent label gained greater traction than the Green Party label had in the past. Mr Chipman explained that the Green Party had run candidates in this district in the past, but none had come closer than 400-500 votes away from victory. He began to emphasize his status as an Independent candidate in campaign literature . . .

The Case for a Third Party Tea Party

Mitchell Langbert makes the case that the tea party movement can only be a force for freedom if it recognizes the tyranny of the two-party state for what it is.  Excerpts:
I have been following politics on and off for forty years and I still can't grasp why Americans favor a two-party system.  It has resulted in their being taxed to fifty percent of their incomes to get a garbage government. Garbage at the federal level; garbage at the state level; and garbage at the local level.  Despite the complete failure of the two party system Americans remain much more loyal to it than they do to liberty. . . .

The two-party system has caused America's decline because both parties are responsive to interest groups.  The special interests that are subsidized by the Fed, to include the banking system and Wall Street, the media, government, and much of big business, all contribute heavily to Republicans as well as Democrats. . . . To be committed to a two party system is to favor the status quo. . . .

Compromise between two big government parties is not "moderate." The people in Washington and the state capitals are socialists, fascists and totalitarians. They are not moderates.  The only way that change can occur is through a rethinking of the smug, insipid policies of the past 50 years.  That will require change without compromise. 
Speaking of the threat to freedom and liberty posed by Democratic-Republican party politics, the construction of the militarized police- and surveillance state continues apace.  From the Washington Post:
Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.

The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States. . . .
Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America . . .
The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain.

Mea Culpa: I was wrong about Instant Runoff Voting!

This is a reposting from A New Kind of Party.

Over at Daily Kos, I posted an entry that admits that my principal objection against the use of IRV in bigger elections is wrong. This post came about after an email exchange on Saturday with the executive director of Fair Vote, Rob Richie, where he expressed his conviction that I had been bashing IRV in a way that didn't help to win his support for my own ideas.

This got me to rethink things and I saw that I was wrong and that he was right. And I also had to admit that I've been lapsing into the ugly infighting common among proponents for different alternatives to first-past-the-post elections. A las, I forget sometimes that it's more important to relate than to be right...; for if we truly relate with each other then what is right will tend to emerge with less ugliness or infighting.

I also realized that I needed to take a hiatus from posting about electoral reform. As such, this is my last post for a while. But I'm glad I started posting more after the November election. The idea of Strategic Election Reform is out there. And, Rob Richie does support the use of 3-seated election rules. But I can't expect to talk smack about his main election rule and then get him to bring up my idea.

So, hopefully, he'll come around to seeing that 3-seated Hare LR (3HLR) is superior to 3-seated Single-Transfer Voting (3STV). Here are three arguments in favor of 3HLR, just in case Rob or some other advocate of ranked choice voting happens to read this blog-entry ;-)

1. 3HLR is simple and more easy to explain to voters accustomed to FPTP elections. This is because FPTP is equivalent to 1HLR.

2. 3HLR helps minorities to have a better chance to be decisive in more elections. 3STV is over-committed to the notion of proportionality to help minority groups. 3STV transfers the votes of those in majority to their second choices, which keeps those in majority more likely to be influential than minority groups in the determination of who wins the third seat.

3. 3HLR is more biased towards smaller parties than 3STV. Yet this is not a bad thing, for so long as we continue to use single-seated elections that are biased in favor of bigger parties, one can argue that the different biases would tend to cancel each other out. In which case, the use of an election rule that tries harder to ensure proportionality might end up hurting minority groups. For we can't (almost) always guarantee that the majority rules and commit ourselves to the protection of ethnic/economic/ideological minority rights!

And with that thought, I'll bid my readers adieu and a happy holidays to you!
ps, if I believed that voters had cardinal preferences over all candidates and that random noise captures the essence of low-info voters then I would agree with Approval or Score Voting advocates like Broken Ladder or Dale that their election rules are objectively better than IRV. But I think these models fall short in capturing the dynamics of voting behavior (for complicated "reality-based" reasons I don't want to get into now) and that objectively the playing field among alternatives to First-Past-the-Post is relatively level. As such, IRV is worthy of our (strategic) support for a wide variety of single-seated elections, simply because it has been marketed well by Rob Richie and FairVote et al and is more-or-less understood by more voters.

Dec 18, 2010

FL: Libertarian Party Supports Ban of Red Light Cameras, Expansion of the Surveillance State

From the LP of Citrus County:
Through its Executive Committee, the Libertarian Party of Florida has voted to support future legislation to ban the use of red light cameras within the State of Florida.

The cameras have been popping up in various communities throughout the state as local government coffers dry up. Recent support for the cameras by local governments seems to correlate to the reduction of regular tax revenues.

The Libertarian Party of Florida has successfully lobbied the state legislature in past years to keep the state from approving their use and now seeks an all-out ban of the devices which create more problems then they solve. . . .

Dec 17, 2010

The Democratic-Republican War on Rights, Liberties and the Rule of Law

From NJ Voices:
both parties are fiscally irresponsible . . . . Neither party has done anything about simplifying our ever-growing tax code . . . neither party seems to care about our Constitution. However, they feel free to reference it when it is politically convenient. . . . the executive branch has seized from the legislative branch the power to declare war. . . . Neither party cares about our rights as individuals. Republicans want to determine how we behave in our bedroom and/or our personal life. Democrats want to tell us how we behave in our boardroom and/or our professional life. . . . the elephants and donkeys only care about their own survival. . . .

The good news is that, in a country as spectacular as ours, there are other options out there! What those who already agree need to do is to research and then to help spread awareness of smaller political parties out there, such as the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Green Party. We can take away power from both the lost causes known as the Republicans and Democrats, but we have to have patience and persistence . . .

Time to End the Fraud that is the Fed

Darrell Castle writes at the Constitution Party of Tennessee:

 . . . The United States Code Section 1346 defines the crime of “scheme or artifice to defraud” as a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services. I submit, then, that criminal fraud is continually committed by the Federal Reserve and those who run it, as well as the politicians in the U.S. Congress who make it possible through criminal collusion or criminal ignorance and neglect of duty.

This theft by fraud is now the new normal as we have learned to accept it with a shrug of our shoulders. The life blood of the nation is being siphoned off to feed the insatiable usurious appetite of the world’s central banks and corporations . . .

Dec 16, 2010


A Wikileaked cable out of Embassy Stockholm from June 2009 provides a summary of the results from European Parliament election held in Sweden earlier that month, and emphasizes the importance of the Pirate Party's showing in the election.  With the subject heading, "AARGH! SWEDISH PIRATES SET SAIL FOR BRUSSELS," the cable states that the Pirate Party, along with the Greens and the Liberal Party, were the "big winners" of the election, and notes that the Pirate Party garnered "support from young voters unhappy with the government’s decision to shut down The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing bit torrent site that had become a target of the Motion Picture Association of America."

The cable reports that the Pirate Party campaigned on a platform calling for copyright and patent reform and opposing a wiretapping law that had been proposed by Swedish security services.  It goes on to state that the party attracted "young voters angry over the guilty verdict in the Pirate Bay trial, the unpopular EU Ipred directive, and new national laws criminalizing file sharing and authorizing monitoring of emails."  In addition, the cable underscores the Pirate Party's sense that "the classic political right-left scale is outdated."

Interestingly, the analysis provided in this cable would seem to support that proposition.  Considering the possible side-effects of the Pirate Party's sudden, and surprising, electoral victory, the cable states that the Pirate Party's success likely "reduced the chances for the far-right nationalist Sweden Democrats to gain representation in the EP," as the Pirate Party draws its support from "the same voter base – young men with mistrust of politicians."  

See a cache copy of the cable at Cable Search.

NY: Hawkins Elected Co-Chair of NY Greens

From the GP of Monroe County:
If you haven't noticed, we've been in the local news a bit lately. I'll give you a quick recap then let you know how you can get involved.

Last Saturday was the Green Party of New York's State Committee meeting in Albany. It was long, but it went well. New officers were elected including Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins who was elected co-chair of the State Party.

On Monday, the recent election was officially certified by the State Board of Elections. Howie Hawkins received 59,928 votes and the Green Party officially earned ballot status in New York State!. . . .

Dec 15, 2010

Two-Party System, One-Party State

From the LA Progressive, discussing Wikileaks and tangential truths:
What is truth?  One truth is that we no longer have a two party system.  We have two branches of one Corporation Party running our government.  While corporate media focused on the evil of Wikileaks revealing the truth, the back pages of a couple of publications told us that the FDA under Obama has continued the Bush era practice of letting drug companies go on selling some brand name medicines, even after science proves them to be more dangerous than the diseases they are supposed to cure.  But the medicines are profitable and their sellers give millions to politicians.  So the FDA hides the science and lets the companies keep selling the poisons.  And the press focuses on the “more important” Wikileaks.
The leaks prove that Senator Diane Feinstein knew, before she voted in favor of Bush’s wars, that all the claims to support her vote were untrue.  She voted not for freedom or defense, but for investment profit.  This is a truth for which she now wants blood.
And she wasn’t alone.  The reason the Democrats didn’t support single-payer, and do support prosecution of Assange, is that they are financed by the same corporate interests that fund the Republicans.  For them, Wikileaks is nothing more than the new “communism” or “terrorism.”  It is a code word identifying a new “enemy,” pursuit of which allows them, once again, to escape scrutiny or responsibility for how they run the country.  And progressives, once again, let them get away with it.  Truth.

NJ Poll: 19% of Independents Say They Voted Third Party in November

From New Jersey News Room:
Of those interviewed, 64 percent said they voted and could recall the direction of their vote. Partisans did not deviate from their parties: 94 percent of both Democrats and Republicans say they voted for a congressional candidate from their party. Independents, however, continued to lean Republican as they did in last year's gubernatorial election, with 46 percent of independents voting Republican and 35 percent voting Democrat. A surprising 19 percent of independents said they voted for a third party candidate.

Dec 14, 2010

Wikileaks: Italian Law Would Allow Government to Block or Censor any Internet Content

A Wikileaked cable out of Embassy Rome from February 2010 (cache) documents concerns among US diplomats that a bill before the Italian parliament would "give the Italian government enough leeway to block or censor any Internet content" and set a potentially dangerous international precedent that could be copied by other nations.  The proposed law, known as the Romani Bill, is widely viewed as an attack on the open internet and internet freedom.  The Herald Tribune reported this past January:
The 34-page decree mandates vetting any content harmful to minors, specifically pornography or excessive violence, and would require telecom providers to shut down any Internet site not in compliance, or face fines ranging from $210 to $210,960. . . .

The draft was written in mid-December, around the time the media empire founded by Berlusconi announced it was seeking at least $779 million in damages against YouTube and Google for allegedly misusing video it produced. The move is in response to a 2007 European Union directive to set up media rules, but only Italy has taken the directive to mean putting Internet companies in the hotseat.
The decree also inherently challenges the YouTube business model, shared by other hosting platforms, of allowing users to upload video without being controlled . . . 
Commenting on the proposed law, the leaked cable cites official denials on the part of the Berlusconi government, that the bill is intended to stifle free speech, and notes that there had been relatively little public outrage over the issue.  (One wonders what kind of coverage one could find on the issue in Berlusconi's massive and influential media empire.)  The cable goes on to note that the Italian government began to move swiftly toward censoring the internet after video of the prime minister being attacked in public resulted in the popularization of a Facebook fan page devoted to the attacker. 

Ironically, the cable states that the US government has for years pressured Italy to set up a regulatory regime for online content and "take action to protect copyrighted material on the Internet, in particular encouraging the establishment of clear notice-and-takedown procedures and cooperation among rights holders and ISPs to prevent illegal filesharing."  However, it finds the Italian government's defense of the law on those grounds suspect, given the Italian government's previous lack of interest in the matter.

Finally, the cable states that, if passed, the law would set a dangerous precedent that could be copied or cited by other nations to justify their own crackdowns on the freedom of speech.

The Party is Over

From Matt Bai at the NYT, on the recent No Labels launch and ongoing speculation as to the presidential ambitions of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, despite the latter's categorical denial that he aims to seek the office:
Those who think Mr. Bloomberg would want to build a similar kind of [third party] organization, be it No Labels or something else, are assuming that the growing power and disaffection of independent voters who identify with neither Democrats nor Republicans make a third party more viable than it has ever been. In fact, though, the rise of the independents represents a movement in exactly the opposite direction — away from party organizations altogether. . . .

What the current moment might offer, then, as Mr. Bloomberg surely knows, is an unprecedented opportunity not for a new party, but for an independent candidate who represents a break from the dictates of any party organization, mainstream or otherwise. In the current environment, the less of a party apparatus an independent candidate carries, the better his chances of success may be. . . .

Wikileaks: Spanish Prime Minister Reveals the Secret of his Success in Meeting with Biden

A newly released Wikileaked diplomatic cable from April 2009 details a meeting between Vice President Joe Biden and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero at a Progressive Governance Leaders Summit in Chile.  Discussion of the Obama administration's "new approach to foreign policy" appears to have dominated the meeting.  Biden stated that for eight years the doctrine of "my way or the high way" had been ascendant in American foreign policy, but that the Obama administration would seek collaboration and consensus.

For his part, Zapatero expressed high expectations in working with the Obama administration but admitted that "managing the managing the relationship between the United States and Spain under the Bush administration was easy for him."  The cable states: "Whatever position the Bush Administration took, [Zapatero] would take the opposite and see his domestic poll numbers increase. Sarcastically, Zapatero said "for that I will always be grateful to the Bush Administration."

Zapatero, a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, was elected Prime Minister in 2004 and then re-elected in 2008.  During the Bush administration, he was an outspoken critic of US foreign policy and the war in Iraq.

See a cache copy of the cable at Cable Search.  

VT: Independents Launch Center for Vermont Independence

From Robert Wagner, an Independent candidate for VT State Senate:
A diverse group of Independence-minded Vermonters, state-wide political, social and economic organizations, political office candidates and private individuals came together in solidarity and support for Vermont’s sovereignty, independence and constitutional rights, at noon on Sunday for the formal opening of the Center for Vermont Independence (CVI) . . . 

(Much) Progressivism is dysfunctional!

What we need is not more fiery progressive rhetoric! Instead, we need to focus less on the purportedly important national or presidential issues and more on purportedly unimportant local issues. It's in the latter where we are most influential and have a greater capacity to make a difference. And the greater amount of good done in our many different locales would trickle up into our national politics. Local efforts would collectively help to emerge a more robust or organic system of checks and balances in our national politics.

For we need more checks and balances to reverse our course into utter kleptocracy. But more checks and balances are not the same thing as making our system "fair" to third parties or ending the influence of $peech. I myself focus on 3-seated state assembly elections because I believe that it would direct more voter attention to local politics and that we'd likely be better voters if we started off with our local issues and then followed how they spill-over into not-so-local or national issues.


Dec 13, 2010

Who'd Benefit from Strategic Election Reform?

I posted today a blog entry at A New Kind of Party and over at Daily Kos that go into the detail about who'd benefit from Strategic Election Reform.

The underlying question is who'd benefit the most? And the obvious immediate answer would be me... but the truth is that the gains would be spread out widely amongst everyone who doesn't benefit unduly from the status quo. Yet the same could be said for Campaign Finance Reform, and yet folks still put a lot of their time, money and energy into charging against the windmill of the freedom of $peech. Some of that should be available for state-level electoral reform! And, so long as I'm on my soap-box, it ought to be obvious that a less-is-more form of 3-seated elections that mimic our current election rules in most respects, are the best way to introduce "greater proportional" representation into our political system. It is the best in most respects. It is the best, except it doesn't try to get strictly proportional and it might be difficult to figure out which specific group would be most likely to fund its launch.


In Defense of Wikileaks at the Constitution Party of Tennessee

From Darrell Castle at the Constitution Party of TN website:
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is, according to various politicians, the most dangerous and evil man alive. . . .  It’s not enough that Assange has an international criminal warrant out for him through Interpol; he should be hunted down and assassinated like al-Qaida and Taliban leaders. My analysis of what Julian Assange did leads me to a different conclusion.

Who is actually guilty of attacking the international community? Did Julian Assange order the United States military to invade Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, resulting in the deaths of God only knows how many people? Did he destroy the infrastructure of those countries and pollute them with depleted uranium weapons?

With regard to having blood on his hands, did he kill over 5,000 young Americans and wound tens of thousands more? Did he order American diplomats to commit espionage against their host countries? Has he led a campaign to destroy the Bill of Rights by authorizing warrantless searches, denying the right to counsel, and denying the right to Habeas Corpus? . . .

It’s time these international lunatics come to understand that we can not be expected to allow them to plot their evil schemes in private. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. I’m sure the reaction to the release will be to restrict access and be even more secretive. I suppose that makes more sense to American leaders than to stop murdering and lying . . .

Virgil Goode and Tom Tancredo Seen as Potential Constitution Party Candidates for President in 2012

From Sunshine News:
The conservative Constitution Party has had a history of trying to lure prominent figures to run as its party’s presidential nominee over the years. There was speculation that Pat Buchanan, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire would run as the Constitution Party candidate, but they never did . . .  There are two former congressmen currently active with the Constitution Party -- former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo who just ran for governor of Colorado and former U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia. Look for the buzz to start building that either Tancredo, who made a brief run for the Republican nomination in the last cycle, or Goode will be interested in taking aim at the White House in 2012.

GA: Prisoner Strike Continues for Second Day

From the Socialist Worker:
Inmates in at least six prisons across the state of Georgia began a strike [this week] to demand better conditions, more educational opportunities, improved access to their families and decent pay for their prison labor.

According to news reports, prisoners were refusing to leave their cells or perform their jobs. As was published on December 13, the state of the strike was unclear--there were reports of increasing provocative violence by prison authorities in an attempt to regain control. Elaine Brown, a former leader of the Black Panthers and now a prison reform activist, said she had been in touch with several hundred prisoners via smuggled-in cell phones that are banned at the prison, but were used to organize the rebellion. Bruce A. Dixon, managing editor of the Black Agenda Report, reports on the state of the fight. . .
The Georgia Green Party has called for negotiation with rather than retaliation against peaceful strikers. 

An Open Letter from the Left to the Liberal Democratic Establishment

From Protest Obama,"An Open Letter to the Left Establishment," calling for organized opposition to the Obama administration.  Via Green Party Watch:

This letter is a call for active support of protest to Michael Moore, Norman Solomon, Katrina van den Heuvel, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Thomas Frank, Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher Jr., Jesse Jackson Jr., and other high profile progressive supporters of the Obama electoral campaign.
With the Obama administration beginning its third year, it is by now painfully obvious that the predictions of even the most sober Obama supporters were overly optimistic. Rather than an ally, the administration has shown itself to be an implacable enemy of reform.
It has advanced repeated assaults on the New Deal safety net (including the previously sacrosanct Social Security trust fund), jettisoned any hope for substantive health care reform, attacked civil rights and environmental protections, and expanded a massive bailout further enriching an already bloated financial services and insurance industry. It has continued the occupation of Iraq and expanded the war in Afghanistan as well as our government’s covert and overt wars in South Asia and around the globe.

Along the way, the Obama administration, which referred to its left detractors as “f***ing retarded” individuals that required “drug testing,” stepped up the prosecution of federal war crime whistleblowers, and unleashed the FBI on those protesting the escalation of an insane war.

NY: Howie Hawkins Urges Governor-Elect to Support Campaign Finance Reform and Proportional Representation

From the Green Party of NY:
Howie Hawkins, the former Green Party candidate for Governor, urged Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to make Public Campaign Financing and Proportional Representation the centerpieces of a broad ethics reform package that should be adopted during the first weeks of the legislative session.

“We need Public Campaign Financing to end the pay-to-play culture that dominates the State Capitol, as witnessed by the ongoing scandals with the State Comptroller’s office and pension funds. Now is the time to finally stop the sale of lawmakers to the highest bidder. And while we strongly support an independent Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission to end the partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts, we want that commission charged with drawing up multi-member districts to implement Proportional Representation, which is the electoral system in almost every democracy on this planet,” said Hawkins. 
The Green Party will hold its first statewide meeting this weekend since having re-established their ballot line after Hawkins and Gloria Mattera received more than 50,000 votes for Governor and Lt. Governor. Hawkins said that Cuomo should push the Legislature to enact sweeping reforms before he releases his state budget at the end of January. . . .

Dec 12, 2010

Wikileaks: 10 Tenets of Authoritarianism on the Example of Hugo Chavez

A newly published Wikileaked cable out of Embassy Caracas from June 2009 provides an analysis and overview of the political situation in Venezuela at the time.  The cable states that despite his "professed allegiance to socialism," the country's President, Hugo Chavez, "lacks any consistent ideology" and instead relies on an "authoritarian playbook" to retain and consolidate his hold on power.  The cable delineates "10 Tenets of Chavismo" and, in the process, effectively elaborates the core principles and practices of any authoritarian government:
1) There Is Only One Great, Indispensable Leader
2) Centralize Power
3) Hype External and Internal "Enemies"
4) Polarize: exploit social divisions for political gain
5) Insist on Democratic Credentials: blur any distinction between being elected democratically and governing democratically
6) Reward Loyalty Over Competence
7) Repress Selectively: pick political victims carefully, making examples of sector leaders
8) Create Parallel Structures: develop pro-government NGOs, business groups, labor unions, television and radio networks
9) Party Equals State: assert partisan political control over all state functions
10) Monopolize Nationalism: assert exclusive claim to forefathers and national symbols
Sound familiar?  See a cache copy of the cable at Cable Search.

Progressives Preparing Primary and Third Party Challenges to Obama?

From FireDogLake:
Rather than a two-track approach, I favor a comprehensive one, whereby our challenger – in order to become our challenger in the first place – must not only agree to run against Obama in the primaries, but to run as the new party’s candidate in the general as well. . . .

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on seating a steering committee of prominent, respected Lefties for this effort. So far I’m batting 1.000 – the first two people I’ve approached have agreed. They are names you will immediately recognize, and while I am not ready to disclose them just yet, here’s the key point: One is willing to participate only if the goal is the establishment of a new party which seeks to bring together the disparate factions of the Left, toward the greater objective of giving the Left a real voice again. This person is even averse to a primary challenge, but would be willing, I think, to support it as a strategic first step – provided the ultimate goal is to give Lefties a unified voice which is not tied to the Democratic Party.

AL: Time for an Independent Party of Alabama

From a lengthy commentary in the Montgomery Advertiser by Artur Davis, Congressman from Alabama's 7th District. He was a Democratic candidate for governor this year:
For the hundreds of thousands of Alabamians who believe our state is capable of fundamentally changing the way we govern ourselves and the way we educate our children, and who desire a politics that is not anchored to special interest groups, there is a powerful case for an independent movement in time for the 2014 elections.This movement, which would recruit and sustain candidates in targeted statewide and legislative races, has the potential to advance Alabama in ways that are impossible under the constraints of partisan politics.

Its principles would include an overhaul of a tax system that privileges out of state and absentee interests at the expense of low-income wage earners; the redrafting of a constitution that centralizes too much authority in the hands of the Legislature rather than local communities; the adoption of incentives that will empower entrepreneurship and high tech development; and reinvesting in our universities rather than demonizing them as elitist rivals to our K-12 system.

An independent party that is not dependent on AEA for endorsements or money can revise tenure laws that safeguard substandard teachers and can emulate models of achievement that are succeeding over the opposition of both unions and bureaucrats.

Neither a Democratic Party that fought so hard to preserve its power, nor a Republican Party that will fight just as hard to stay in control, could be expected to limit the terms of state legislators or to develop a merit-based system for appointing nonpartisan judges.

Dec 11, 2010

Libertarian Republican Not Very Libertarian: Calls for Criminalization of Free Press, Militarization of Speech Police

An article for Libertarian Republican calls for condemnation of Wikileaks for engaging in free speech and press.  The article, which contains numerous falsehoods and inaccurate statements, concludes:
Principled Libertarians, including Libertarian Party members, should condemn this treason and espionage, which endangers the lives of Americans and our friends. The Pro-Defense solution? The creation of a US military tribunal, to find the facts and render judgment.
As an example of the sort of falsehoods found in the article, consider that it begins by stating: "If a person, even a newspaper person, passes Top Secret information to a hostile foreign power--particularly in time of war--that is serious espionage."  In fact, none of the information published by Wikileaks is "Top Secret."  Most of the cables are either Unclassified, Confidential or simply Secret.  A quick look at the Wikileaks website demonstrates this.

The article continues, "Information is usually compartmentalized on a need-to-know basis. Something of this magnitude and volume must have come from inside the DC beltway, with the psychologically-troubled Manning as the fall guy."  It is possible that Manning is nothing but a fall guy, but the leaked files are not "compartmentalized" in this way.  In fact, upwards of 3,000,000 individuals had access to the network (SIPRNET) from which Manning allegedly lifted the cables in question.  These networks were actually de-compartmentalized following the 9/11 attacks, to ensure information sharing between government agencies.  In this regard, Libertarian Republican reveals a distinctly pre-9/11 mentality.  

Next, the author writes, "But many of the leaks were private in nature, revealing personal social security numbers, names of informants, combat methods, etc., that should not be revealed."  In fact, many cables are highly redacted to ensure that such information is not passed into the public domain.  Again, this is clear from any in depth reading of the cables themselves.

One would think that a Libertarian, even one that partially identifies as a Republican, would stand up for liberty, the freedom of speech and the press.  In this case, one would be wrong.

Libertarian Party Raising Money to Hire Director and Producer Travis Irvine

From the Libertarian Party blog:

We have a unique opportunity to reach out to younger prospects and recruit them to the Libertarian Party. Help us raise $50,000 by making a donation today. Travis Irvine recently ran for Congress in Ohio, and along with his campaign crew, generated videos that entertained and educated Libertarians and others nationwide. You have probably seen some of them featured on our home page. Below are some of the "greatest hits" from the Irvine for Congress weekly campaign video series:
The Kiss of Debt
The Third Finger
Apology to America
It's Time for Pizza
The Libertarian Balanced Budget Proposal
Paula Brokes Carpet Bagging Outlet
FatCat Tiberi is Really Down on Main Street
Quiz Across America
A Federal Budget Haircut
Spending Out of Control
Here's another video they just produced for us.
Imagine if our LP headquarters could provide:
  • A free library of outreach videos to our state affiliates
  • Free high-quality customizable campaign television commercials to our candidates
  • Humorous AND serious videos covering important political topics in D.C.
  • Professional quality videos of training and leadership seminars
  • Educational and outreach videos to attract new people to the LP
High quality video content is something the Libertarian Party has lacked, but it is something younger voters expect. For example, enthusiasm for Ron Paul's recent campaign for President was strongly boosted by a constant flow of dramatic online videos.
We want to know if this is something you support enough to make it affordable for the national Libertarian Party. We'll know in the next week or two based on how you respond.

Sanders (I-VT) Demonstrates Independence with 8 Hour Speech Against Democrat-Republican Tax Compromise

From the Washington Post:

At 10:24 Friday morning, Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont took to the floor of the Senate to share a few thoughts about the tax-cut plan brokered by President Obama and Republican leaders. Well after the sun had set and most of his colleagues had flown home, Sanders was still sharing - about taxes, bad trade deals and "the crooks on Wall Street," among many other topics.. . .

"You can call what I am doing today whatever you want, you it [sic] call it a filibuster, you can call it a very long speech," said Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. "I'm not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle. I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides."

Dec 10, 2010

Manski: On the Separation of Party and State

From The Cap Times, an op-ed by Ben Manski, an attorney and director of Liberty Tree Foundation. He ran for the Wisconsin Assembly in District 77 as a Green Party candidate:
In most states, voters individually mark the names of candidates. But in Wisconsin and other “straight party” states, voters can mark the name of the party, and whoever that party has nominated gets their vote. Those straight party votes accounted for nearly half of the total votes for Hulsey, and a third of the votes for Republican Dave Redick.
The result? On Nov. 2, there were two outcomes. My campaign achieved success among voters who indicated a preferred candidate. But Hulsey was elected to the Legislature. The fact that those two wins are not the same victory is a product of one of the enduring problems of our political system, which is that it perpetuates and protects itself against demands for reform.
My campaign overcame major obstacles regularly faced by independent candidates. We showed that the race was “winnable” by securing endorsements from three of Madison’s four daily newspapers, three labor unions, and dozens of state and local elected officials. We raised more than $45,000, and attracted the active support of more than 200 volunteers. We made a big dent in political partisanship, with many committed Democrats deciding to back me over their party’s nominee.
But we could not overcome election rules that reward what one commentator called “political tribalism” in the form of straight party voting. . . .

GA: Greens Urge Negotiation in Standoff with Striking Prison Inmates

A press release from the Green Party:
Georgia Green Party leadership today are urging that calls of concern be placed to the Georgia Department of Corrections urging negotiations with, not retribution against peaceful strikers in six Georgia prisons.

In a call to action and a blog post, the Party publishes the demands of striking prisoners and urges a humanitarian response. Inmate grievances range from the criminal neglect they suffer for lack of adequate health care, meals heavy on starches and short of vegetables, over crowded conditions in facilities which fail to protect from the extremes of Georgia's climate, the barriers created to family visits and phone contact, among other specifics laid out in the press release available on the site.

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia's notorious state prison system are standing together for an historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities.

"This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rights," said Bruce Dixon, Press Secretary of the Georgia Green Party, "but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other."

Dec 9, 2010

An Instant Runoff Top Two Primary!

I rewrote an earlier post over at Daily Kos.
It shows how easily the "top two primary" system used in Washington State and adopted for all elections could be improved upon for use in statewide elections.

This fits with my view that one election does not fit all elections.
It also shows that Strategic Election Reform's emphasis on the use of both winner-take-all(single-seated) and winner-doesn't-take-all (multi-seated) elections tends to favor two or three staged elections in place of what is commonly used to elect executives. The earlier stage(s) are winner-doesn't-take-all and the last stage is winner-take-all. This ethos also made me think about how we might reboot the Electoral College system, but that'll be for later!


Socialist Party Chairs: Wikileaks Revelations are a Call to Action

From Andrea Pason and Billy Wharton, co-chairs Socialist Party USA:
The latest Wikileaks revelations should be a call to action for all Americans. It is time to tear down the empire that has been created in their name. Two tasks are first and foremost. We need to create a vibrant movement to end the wars being waged in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. No more occupations, no more military surges and no more drone attacks. Simultaneously, we must demand that the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay be closed immediately. Achieving such demands will open a political space to more directly challenge the centre of the military industrial complex by calling for an immediate reduction of the military budget by 50% and the closing of all US military bases abroad.

As democratic socialists, we imagine another society, where the great wealth this world produces is put to use to meet human needs. Such a world would not need the secret cloak that covers the operations of the US empire. It would, instead, be based on notions that seem very distant from our current reality – democracy, free association and self-determination. We think that democratic socialism holds the potential to live up to these lofty ideals. Let the Wikileaks disclosures provide the motivation for you to join in this struggle.

Dec 8, 2010

Smart Politics Tallies Third Party and Independent Vote Totals

From Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics:
A Smart Politics review of 2010 U.S. House election data finds that the 16.1 percent won by Traficant in his 17th CD race in Ohio was the best showing by an independent or third party candidate in districts contested by both Republican and Democratic candidates. And he did it without spending a dime. . . .

Only three other independent or third party candidates who squared off against both Democratic and Republican candidates reached double digits.
After Traficant, the next best showing was turned in by Dan Hill, a conservative who was nominated by petition in Nebraska's 3rd CD race.
• Hill received 12.0 percent - just 5.9 points behind Democrat Rebekah Davis (17.9 percent) in a race easily won by Republican incumbent Adrian Smith.
• In Florida's 12th CD, Tea Party candidate Randy Wilkinson won 10.7 percent in an open seat race won by Republican Dennis Ross.
• In Tennessee's open 3rd CD contest, independent Savas Kyriakidis won 10.5 percent in a district won by Republican Chuck Fleischmann.
Ten independent and third party candidates scored better than Traficant's 16.2 percent, although none of them faced two major party candidates in their respective races.
Nine ran in districts without a Democrat on the ballot:
· FL-06: Independent Steve Schonberg (28.5 percent)
· OK-01: Independent Angelia O'Dell (23.2 percent)
· FL-04: Independent Troy Stanley (22.8 percent)
· MO-09: Libertarian Christopher Dwyer (22.3 percent)
· LA-05: Independent Tom Gibbs (21.4 percent)
· TX-24: Libertarian David Sparks (18.4 percent)
· TX-07: Libertarian Bob Townsend (18.0 percent)
· TX-31: Libertarian Bill Oliver (17.5 percent)
· AL-01: Constitution Party candidate David Walter (16.9 percent)
One other independent candidate, Bob Jeffers-Schroder in WA-07, ran in a disrict without a Republican on the ballot, winning 17.0 percent.
It remains to be seen whether Traficant, who will turn 70 next year, has run for political office for the last time.

Juan Cole: the Two-Party System at the Root of the Warfare State

From Juan Cole at Informed Comment:
I wrack my brains for why the US public seems decidedly uninterested in the Afghanistan War, and why they would deliver the ultimate insult to our troops of just not caring if they hear about it when 6 US warriors are shot down in a single day. . . .

I am sad to report that I have concluded that the relative silence on our Afghanistan war dead has to do with the workings of our two-party system. Americans are great followers of sports where two teams oppose one another. They become fierce partisans of one team over the other. They have the same approach to economic life (iPhone vs. Android, Kindle vs. Google ebooks, X-Box vs. Playstation, etc.) They join a “team” in their minds and grow absolutely scathing about the other side. Republicans and Democrats are teams for them. It may be the real reason a third party is so hard to mount; it does have to do with the first past the post electoral system, but it may be also that you can’t root for more than one team at a time, so it is more convenient to have just two parties if you have a binary mindset.
So here’s the reason the whole bloody Afghanistan war is off the radar: it isn’t a partisan issue. The Republican Party, except for a few Libertarians, is solidly in favor of the war and would apparently like to go on fighting it for decades if only they could. But the Democrats cannot oppose the war (as they eventually opposed the Iraq War) because their own president has implemented a surge and is dedicated to prosecuting the war. . . .

Since no advantage would at the moment accrue to either Team from opposing the Afghanistan War, there is little opposition to it. And since it isn’t a partisan debate, the television reporters in particular are mostly uninterested in it. Even most print editors don’t put it on the front page very often. . . .

Dec 7, 2010

Senator Obama wanted to bring back 3-seated elections for State Representatives in Illinois!

Our president introduced legislation in 2001 that would have brought back the use of 3-seated cumulative voting state representative elections in Illinois. These election rules were used from 1870-1980 and made Illinois politics more dynamic and inclusive. This fact could be used to make President Obama endorse Strategic Election Reform. God knows that a lot of Democratic party activists are mad at him right now! If they need to accept his pragmatic compromises then he's ought to appease us by using his bully-pulpit to push for more radical electoral reform in state representative elections.


New York Pirate Party Joins International Effort to Keep Wikileaks Accessible Online

The New York Pirate Party has joined an international effort to keep the Wikileaks website and the corresponding materials accessible online.  A press release from the UK Pirate Party:
Pirate Parties from around the world, including the Pirate Party UK, today reaffirmed their commitment to whistleblowing worldwide. Concerned about freedom of information, opinion and press, the Pirate Parties have decided in a joint resolution to make Wikileaks available on a worldwide mirroring infrastructure.
The mirrors will guarantee that the release of US diplomatic cables can continue and previous publications will stay online.  The infrastructure created by the Pirate Parties is now hosting the Wikileaks content itself, not just redirecting traffic to one main server. "This decision does not mean that we specifically endorse the Wikileaks organisation", emphasises Loz Kaye. "We will also make this platform available to every other whistle-blower who needs to ensure that information is not deleted or blocked."
The current project includes Pirate Parties from many countries, and more parties are joining every day. The infrastructure is built in such a way that deleting or blocking part of it will not affect the availability of information as a whole.  Loz Kaye explains: "This is a fight for fundamental freedoms on the Internet. We will not accept governmental attempts to restrict access to free press and constrain freedom of speech."
As of this writing, there are at least 748 websites participating in the mass-mirroring effort, according to a tally by the NY Pirate Party. 

Strategic Election Reform, A Synopsis

Over at Daily Kos, I wrote a synopsis of Strategic Election Reform. It's gotten 50-50 reviews, but given the lack of familiarity of most US_Americans with electoral reform (and the lower ratings for earlier posts), I think it shows that it's a decent writeup of the idea. Here's a revised version of it.

Strategic Election Reform is a position in the electoral reform debate. Electoral reform is a debate about what sort of election rules we ought to use. Strategic Election Reform(SER) holds that there are two fundamental types of elections: winner-take-all (single-seated) and winner-doesn't-take-all (multi-seated) and that we need both to sustain a healthy democracy. An implication of SER is that it is because we only use winner-take-all elections in the US that our democracy has been so unhealthy in recent years. It makes our politics tilt to effective single-party rule at the state and national levels. If we used winner-doesn't-take-all 3-seated elections* for state representative elections then more elections would become competitive and neither major party could dominate our national politics. If neither major party could get a "permanent majority", it would make their rivalry no longer "cut-throat" and help to transform them both into better parties. The cumulative effects of the transformations caused by Strategic Election Reform would be to make our democracy more inclusive and dynamic.

NY Green: Spring a Leak

From Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the NY Greens, at Dissident voice via IPR:
Wikileaks is the most important thing to happen to the cause of democratic rule since the multitude of grassroots uprisings in 1968. Even sympathetic commentators miss the fundamentally radical threat to the existence of the bureaucratic state it represents; Wikileaks is most powerful contemporary weapon in the arsenal of radical, grassroots transparency advocates and democrats. A decentralized plethora of Wikileaks-type websites focused on local, state, and national affairs in every nation, scouring for document leaks from governments, corporations, and organizations has the potential to shatter an intrinsic part of the modern state’s anti-democratic structure: the ability of bureaucrats and officials to hide decisions and actions from the demos itself. Not only can this be done with the tools now available to us, it must be done. . . .

Dec 6, 2010

OH: Buckeye Socialist Network Leads the Opposition to Newly Elected Republican Governor

A press release from Dan La Botz, former US Senate candidate for the Socialist Party, sent via email:
Supporters of the Dan La Botz, Socialist for Senate campaign of 2010 met in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend to found a new organization and launch a campaign to fight for jobs and public services in Ohio—and they pledged to resist the policies of Republic Governor-elect John Kasich. Dan La Botz was the Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio in November 2010 and received 25,000 votes.
The 23 labor and movement activists from cities throughout Ohio created the Buckeye Socialist Network (there will soon be a website). The Network’s first campaign is called DEFEND OHIO and will focus on defending public employees’ jobs and public services.
“Governor Kasich has unleashed a class war in Ohio,” said Dan La Botz. “And we intend to fight back. Kasich’s inauguration is the ideal occasion for Ohio’s working people to protest in at the Capital in Columbus and to show the governor that he is going to face four years of fierce resistance by unions and social movements.

Dec 4, 2010

Abolish the TSA . . . then the DHS

From the Libertarian Party blog:

Our good friends at have launched a campaign to abolish the TSA. It's a quick and easy way to send a message to your congressional "representative" and to your two U.S. Senators. Please let Congress know that you still value the Bill of Rights, abhor the TSA's invasion of privacy, and object to the monumental waste of taxpayers' money. Yours in liberty......................Mark Hinkle, LNC Chair

Libertarian No More? Bob Barr Calls for Extension of Massive Ethanol Subsidies

From Bob Barr at The Hill:

Much post-election newsprint and internet chatter has been devoted to the debate over whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and, if so, in what form and for what length of time. This is understandable considering the degree of lethargy still plaguing our economy. Saving taxes also is a good topic to be discussed at any time -- whether in the form of marginal rate reductions, extending tax credits, or via other mechanisms -- insofar as saving money for taxpayers is never a bad thing. And, with regard to tax savings for businesses, more often than not tax cuts increase government revenues in the long run.

However, one particular tax-credit issue – that involving the extension of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (“VEETEC”) which is otherwise doomed to expire at year’s end – has failed to receive the attention it should, even though it is a tax credit that makes sense for farmers, ethanol producers, and consumers alike.  

Libertarians Object to GOP Plans to Strengthen Obamacare

From Libertarian Republican:
WASHINGTON - Incoming Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said that Republicans now want to keep two significant parts of Obamacare: forcing insurance companies to offer coverage for people up to age 26 under their parents' policies, and forcing insurance companies to issue coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Libertarian Party (LP) Chair Mark Hinkle commented, "This switch is predictable. Republicans love to say the words 'less government,' but they always vote for more government. It's a shame that the big-government Republican Party succeeded in fooling Americans again on November 2. We tried to warn the tea partiers."

No More Governor Sarah Palin(s)! Part 1.

(this is the first of a two part blog-entry that was first published over at Daily Kos and tries to explain better an earlier entry)

is the bottom line for a top two primary election rule. Top two primary is the election rule adopted recently by California and that was used in Washington State. In Washington, it kept the tea-party's Republican candidate off the ballot for the Senate race which helped to reelect a Democrat.

This fits with how the Republican party's recent tea-party-fuelled success was possible due to our use of the first-past-the-post (FPTP) election rule, which lets a small, but highly motivated, portion of the population have too much influence on our elections. Other election rules spread out the ability to influence election outcomes to include more people. Thus, any change in our election rules would make things better. And, apparently, a top-two primary election rule "works" to help keep out extremists. But the election rule used in Washington State, which is scheduled to be used in California, could easily be improved upon to become an instant runoff election that would more reliably elect moderate candidates to statewide offices.

A "top two primary" is a two-round system. In a two-round system, you have two elections that are open to the entire voting population. The first round is a "blanket primary" in which all candidates run in the same primary regardless of party. The top two candidates advance to the general election. My approach is to first improve upon the first stage and then collapse the two stages into one election. I would improve on the first stage by having only five candidates* in it and then make voters rank their "top two" of the five. There are twenty ways to rank two of five candidates. The twenty rankings could be listed in alphabetical order on the ballot. In the first round, whether a candidate is someone's first or second choice would be ignored, all that would matter is that a candidate made it into a voter's "top two". The two candidates who are in the "top two" of the most voters would go to the second stage. In that stage, the rankings would matter if a voter ranked the two finalists. The finalist who is the first choice of the most voters is the winner.

So if I were an Independent and A and B and C were the Democrat candidates and D and E were the Republican candidates on the ballot then I could pick my favorite Republican and my favorite Democrat candidate, B and D. I would then have to decide which one I liked best, let's say I choose B. So I'd find the option on a ballot that looks something like this...(the * represents the bubbles. Voters would need to fill in one of the below twenty bubbles to select one of the possible rankings of two candidates.)

Please vote below for the ranked pair of candidates that you like best!

* 1. A, 2. B * 1. B, 2. A * 1. C, 2. A * 1. D, 2. A * 1. E, 2. A

* 1. A, 2. C * 1. B, 2. C * 1. C, 2. B * 1. D, 2. B * 1. E, 2. B

* 1. A, 2. D * 1. B, 2. D * 1. C, 2. D * 1. D, 2. C * 1. E, 2. C

* 1. A, 2. E * 1. B, 2. E * 1. C, 2. E * 1. D, 2. E * 1. E, 2. D

The third row of the second column has the * (or bubble) that I would fill in on the ballot to vote my preference.

Then, let's say that both B and D make the "top two" candidates of more voters than the other three candidates. They would then become the finalists and my vote in the second round would go to B, my first choice. If B is the first choice of more voters than D then B would win the election. If instead of 1. B, 2. D, I had voted for 1. A, 2. B then B would still be my first choice, since A is not among the finalists. Or if I had voted for 1. D, 2. B then D would be my first choice and who I would have voted for in the second round. When you have a two-stage instant runoff, the votes determine the outcome in both the first and second stages.

So if I were a tea-party enthusiast and Republican candidate E, but not D, were endorsed by Sarah Palin, I would vote for E and then D. But if E didn't get any votes from independents or moderate Democrats and D did get some votes from them that would give more moderate Republicans like D an advantage over E. So the moderate Republican, not the radically conservative Republican, would advance to the second round.

Thus, if this "top two primary" election rule were used for state-wide elections** it would tend to advance to the second round Republican and Democrat candidates with strong appeal to Independents or moderate members of the other party. And that would be enough to guarantee that we would not get anymore governor Sarah Palins elected in the United States!


* The five candidates in the first stage could be determined by incumbency or the ability to gather signatures from distinct potential voters or new voter registrations. Some public financing would be important for this stage to make sure that enough good candidates, possibly one or two third party candidates, are among the five candidates.

**I don't recommend "top two primary" election rules for non state-wide elections, where too often the "top two" would be both Democrat or both Republican.

Dec 3, 2010

KY: Independent Files to Run for Governor in 2011, "the Parties are the Problem"

From the Richmond Register:
Gatewood Galbraith, a frequent statewide candidate known for his support for decriminalizing marijuana, filed candidacy papers Wednesday with the Secretary of State to run for governor as an independent.

Galbraith said voters are tired of partisan politics and ready for an independent candidate.

“The parties are the problem,” said Galbraith, a Lexington criminal defense attorney. “We’re living in a dysfunctional state. We need an independent governor who does not care who gets the credit.”

Pirate Party of Switzerland Helps Keep Wikileaks Online (Update)

From Torrent Freak:
After being cut off by its nameserver provider EveryDNS, Wikileaks has moved to a domain registered by Pirate Party Switzerland. EveryDNS was forced to stop its services to Wikileaks after continued DDoS attacks, creating yet another setback for the whistleblower site that has dominated the news this week . . .

After being cut off, Wikileaks decided to move from the .org to a .ch domain, which was registered by the Pirate Party Switzerland in June this year . . . The Swiss Pirate Party confirmed that they are now indeed the registrants of the new ‘official’ Wikileaks domain, which had been forwarding to the Wikileaks servers for a few months already . . .
Update: Apparently, Wikileaks is now being hosted by Bahnhof, a Swedish web hosting provider, according to The Daily Beast:
should WikiLeaks worry that they might soon be homeless on the Interwebs? Not a chance, according to the company that took over hosting duties after Amazon shut the whistleblowing website down.

Jon Karlung is the CEO and chairman of Bahnhof, a Swedish Web hosting provider located near Stockholm that operates from a James Bond-style underground mountain bunker. As of Wednesday night, WikiLeaks had migrated its servers back to the company.
When reached by The Daily Beast, Karlung was playing defense for his controversial client, making it clear he had no plans to deny hosting services to WikiLeaks—despite Lieberman's request that foreign companies cut ties.
"The service is provided in Sweden—where Swedish law applies," Karlung wrote. "We are not subject to American law, Chinese laws or Iranian laws either, for that matter. WikiLeaks is just a normal business client. We do not treat them any different than any other client."
Earlier this year, it was reported that the Swedish Pirate Party had struck a deal with Wikileaks to host several Wikileaks servers to "protect the freedom of the press and help the whistleblower site to carry out its operation," according to an article at Torrent Freak.