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Land Shark's Journal
Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion
Tue Sep 13th 2011, 06:35 PM

Tea Party Alliance Cheered Idea of Letting Uninsured Patients Die
If it was up to Ron Paul, or many of the Tea Party audience members at Monday night’s GOP presidential debate, churches, not the federal government, would help foot the bill for the medical costs of America’s 50 million residents living without health insurance.
CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer’s hypothetical question about whether an uninsured 30-year-old working man in coma should be treated prompted one of the most boisterous moments of audience participation in the CNN/Tea Party Express.

“What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself,” Paul responded, adding, “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…” The audience erupted into cheers, cutting off the Congressman’s sentence.

After a pause, Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” to which a small number of audience members shouted “Yeah!”

Paul, a doctor trained in obstetrics and gynecology, said when he got out of medical school in the 1960s “the churches took care of them.”

Are those who cheered for the idea that government should let people die so the "churches can take care of them" actually involved in a church with health care services offered?

I doubt it, since there's precious few of those church programs.

Talk about an "unfunded mandate" ON THE CHURCHES, of all things.

OR, alternatively, there is no "mandate" at all for the churches, and this comment amounts to code language among Tea Partiers for "let 'em all die and let God sort 'em out."

The small percentage of churches that might help aren't ready, couldn't be ready for years, and when they are ready won't be able to serve more than a few drops in the bucket.

Government programs exist mostly because of all the people who fell through the cracks in the pre-existing church-based welfare system. We should go back to that?

There is some real beauty and merit to the idea of churches and neighbors helping each other through this kind of system -- this is a part of the appeal for some folks on this proposal. But there's simply not enough capacity in the churches, and there won't be enough capacity even if they were to ramp up for this. Churches couldn't cover uninsured Americans' health care even half as good as a drafty paper hospital gown.

So what this means is that devolving health care for the uninsured to churches and turning them away from hospitals is in practical effect the very same thing as saying "let 'em all die and let God sort 'em out."

The only service the uninsured are at all likely to get from a church is funeral. And a shocking number of Tea Partiers are cheering that. God help Tea Party members if they're not active and ready to be very active in church-based health care delivery systems, if they're going to cheer the idea of turning uninsured people away from hospitals and health care:

Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. - Matthew 25:40 (King James)

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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion: Presidency
Mon Jul 11th 2011, 06:10 PM
Below is an extended excerpt from the actual source of the quote in the original Post above. While the quote in the form bandied about the internet (very similar to above) does include things Truman said, it also omits quite a few (a total of five) of his charges against Republicans - most of which make the quote better. FWIW, I wonder who did the editing on this quote way back when?

The most pertinent portion of the quote is in larger type in the bottom half of the excerpt below, and the five omitted portions are underlined in the second half of the excerpt below from the Truman papers.

{...}True liberalism is more than a matter of words. It demands more than sound effects. It cannot hide behind the catch phrases of the Republican candidate for President-catch phrases like "unity" and "efficiency." Unity for what cause? Efficiency for what Purpose, I wonder ?

The American people, in this critical year, are entitled to a full and open discussion of the issues. They are not getting it from the Republican candidate for President.

It is no service to the country to refuse, in the name of unity, to discuss the issues. It is no service to democracy to conceal the difference between the major parties.

Unity in a democracy cannot be produced by mealymouthed political speeches.

Unity on great issues comes only when the voice of the people has been heard so clearly, so strongly, so unmistakably, that no one--not even the second guessers--can doubt what the people mean.

Thomas Jefferson did not seek unity by concealing the real issues between himself and Alexander Hamilton. He made the issues clear, so that the people could reach a decision. And their decision determined that democracy rather than autocracy should prevail in this great country of ours.

Andrew Jackson did not seek unity with the moneymakers in Philadelphia. He made the issues so clear that the people decided to place the control of the money in the Government of the United States, and not in a few private banks.

Abraham Lincoln did not seek unity with Stephen A. Douglas. He made it clear that this Nation could not continue to exist half slave and half free.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1933, did not seek unity with the economic royalists. He proposed the New Deal.

And today, I do not seek unity by concealing the issues between me and the special privilege groups that control the Republican Party.

I never will seek that sort of unity.


Hitler learned that efficiency without justice is a vain thing.

Democracy does not work that way. Democracy is a matter of faith--a faith in the soul of man--a faith in human rights.
That is the kind of faith that moves mountains--that's the kind of faith that hurled the Iron Range at the Axis and shook the world at Hiroshima.

Faith is much more than efficiency. Faith gives value to all things. Without faith, the people perish.

Today the forces of liberalism face a crisis. The people of the United States must make a choice between two ways of living--a decision, which will affect us the rest of our lives and our children and our grandchildren after us.

On the other side, there is the Wall Street way of life and politics. Trust the leader! Let big business take care of prices and profits! Measure all things by money! That is the philosophy of the masters of the Republican Party.

Well, I have been studying the Republican Party for over 12 years at close hand in the Capital of the United States. And by this time, I have discovered where the Republicans stand on most of the major issues.

Since they won't tell you themselves, I am going to tell you.

They approve of the American farmer-but they are willing to help him go broke.

They stand four-square for the American home--but not for housing.

They are strong for labor--but they are stronger for restricting labor's rights.

They favor a minimum wage--the smaller the minimum the better.

They indorse educational opportunity for all--but they won't spend money for teachers or for schools.

They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine--for people who can afford them.

They approve of social security benefits-so much so that they took them away from almost a million people.

They believe in international trade--so much so that they crippled our reciprocal trade program, and killed our International Wheat Agreement.

They favor the admission of displaced persons--but only within shameful racial and religious limitations.

They consider electric power a great blessing-but only when the private power companies get their rake-off.

They say TVA is wonderful--but we ought never to try it again.

They condemn "cruelly high prices"--but fight to the death every effort to bring them down.

They think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people.

And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.

Now, my friends, that is the Wall Street Republican way of life. But there is another way--there is another way--the Democratic way, the way of the Democratic Party.

Of course, the Democratic Party is not perfect. Nobody ever said it was. But the Democratic Party believes in the people. It believes in freedom and progress, and it is fighting for its beliefs right now.

Original Source in Truman Library:
October 13, 1948 speech by President Harry S. Truman, addressing the people of Minnesota and "proud to salute a fighting liberal--the next Senator from Minnesota, Mayor {Hubert} Humphrey of Minneapolis." Broadcast nationwide.
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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion: Presidency
Fri May 06th 2011, 10:45 AM
I realize that's not the sense of "grace" used in the Original Post above, but Grace in the sense above is central to Christianity and yet so many Christians are both intolerant and unapologetic for their intolerance, despite their own reliance on the grace of God to them as undeserving sinners (as are we all, according to Christianity) for the very core and the very heart of all they believe in, and all they hope for. Go figure...

A "miracle" usually fits with our sense of justice, or at least one perspective on justice. (e.g. healing the sick, etc.) Some doubt miracles, as we all know. But grace is by definition given to the undeserving - which is all of us. Isn't this example of God's love the greatest miracle, and grace, of all? Should it not be inspiring, even to those condemning the church, that the real message is so much better than some of the preaching?

I very much concur with the Original Post in saying "grace is under-rated." Even that characterization is under-rated!
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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion
Mon Dec 20th 2010, 10:50 PM
Last week, I pointed out that instead of picking Julian Assange (the runaway winner in its Readers Poll for Person of the Year) TIME magazine chose Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg. Facebook, in no small way, helps the powers that be, and marketing corporations, track individual citizens interests, tastes, and friendship circles. I found TIME's choice, while predictably anti-democratic, to be especially revealing because they ignored the critically relevant issue of whistle-blowing on government and corporations (Assange) in favor of celebrating increased "transparency" so to speak on you and me.

Months ago, I posted an essay from the WSJ showing Google's CEO bragging that their Android smart phone operating system (which they give away for free because the intelligence they gather is so lucrative) allows Google, and anybody else with access to that system, to know not only who a person is, their address, friends, and interests, but also to know "to within one foot" where you are located at all times. (Unless you leave your "smart phone" behind.) Remarkably, responding to a WSJ question on whether google would remain committed to its search engine business, the CEO of Google responded "I don't think people want Google to answer their questions, I think they want Google to tell them they should be doing next." I can't find anyone who wants Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, to tell them what to do, and certainly nobody in that thread did, but that was a direct quote from Google's CEO nonetheless. He apparently believes that people want him to tell us what to do. Incredible.

Today, the Wall Street Journal adds to that "transparency" with an investigatory article on Smart Phones. It shows that the apps on Smart phones will send unique identifier information, demographic information, and location data to as many as nine different places just by using a single smart phone app such as the music app Pandora. (Which is kind of cool if you know what it is, but there's a serious downside to why they provide "free music" similar to a tune the user requests)

Read the many details for yourself:

YOUR APPS ARE WATCHING YOU: A WSJ Investigation finds that iPhone and Android apps are breaching the privacy of smart phone users.

I want to repeat, for emphasis, that the big picture here is government and corporate secrecy and individual lack of privacy or the high availability of "transparency" when it comes to individuals.

The lesson of Liberty 101 is this: The Transparent Person/Entity is the Servant or Slave entity. Government and entities created by it (including corporations) are supposed to be the servants or slaves, if you will, of the public interest. Instead, it is very nearly completely the opposite of that, with the public expected to have "nothing to hide" and the government and corporations expected to have broad claims to secrecy and privacy.

About the only times individual privacy is upheld it is used as a precedent to expand government/corporate secrecy.

Unfortunately, one good example of this is decisions upholding the privacy of, say, DU posters or internet posters generally. On account of the broad and radical principle of Citizens United not to permit of any distinctions between corporations and individuals, any perceived "gain" in individual privacy is subject to what amounts to an automatic COLA increase in the rights of corporations, on the grounds of non-discrimination principles (regarding corporations) that are the heart and soul of the Citizens United decision.

Do I think DU posters should have some privacy rights if they wish? In most cases, yeah. I just want ya'll to know that the few victories we see or get for individual privacy are directly harnessed to serve corporate secrecy interests. I'd like to draw a line between individuals and corporations, and it's easy to draw a principled line between them. But, under present law and legal trends, the corporate powers that be have harnessed the drive and desire for individual privacy and are using it as the engine to consolidate their own secrecy and power.

You may have to stop and think, because I know I do, and consider the implications for politics and strategy when fighting for one's own individual rights presupposes a "COLA" in rights for corporations, too.

In the mean time, those corporations -- if you carry a smart phone -- know who you are, where you live, who you talk to and who your friends are, your demographics and all your interests, and they know where you are at all times to within approximately 12 inches. And that's a close paraphrase of the quote from the Google CEO in the link above, the same CEO that is convinced that people want him to tell us what to do next. I remain convinced people would much rather tell Google where to go.

It's not enough that your life and political opinions be an "open book" -- you have no way to stop them from making up smart phone data that implicates you, or in-debts you, even for things you never did. You don't have to worry about being set up like that - unless you're effective and relevant in politics.

1. Greg Palast often calls Choicepoint "America's KGB" because they have a dossier on every American but clearly this business is expanding explosively and the KGB simply never had this much detailed information on so many people, 24/7, so using the term KGB is now understating the actual facts.

2. Fighting for individual rights will in most cases be the same as fighting for parallel increases in corporate rights, (Citizens United principles) thus insuring that we are on a political treadmill and can't really get ahead.

"If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, perhaps you don't quite understand the problem."

Yes, I think there are some answers and adjustments that can be made, but first the reality has to sink in so we understand the problem well, before we try to "solve" the problem. This situation will not be solved at the level of an email campaign urging citizens to do this, or do that...

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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion
Wed Dec 15th 2010, 08:19 PM
From both internet policy perspectives as well as transparency and accountability perspectives, Time Magazine's Person of the Year choice is astounding. First, look at the choice of Person of the Year (named further below) in light of TIME Magazine's own Readers' Poll results

The Time Readers' Poll -- which is now closed -- shows Assange in first place, easily way ahead of everyone else for Time's 2010 Person of the Year:

1. Julian Assange 382,026 votes, and 92% avg rating (all voters)
2. Recep Tayyip Erdogan 233,639 (avg rating 80%
3. Lady Gaga 146,378 (avg rating 70%)
4. Jon Stewart and John Colber 78,145, (avg rating 81%)
6. Barack Obama 27,478 (avg rating 58%)
8. the Chilean Miners 29,124 (avg rating 47%).
9. The Unemployed American 19,605 (avg rating 66%)
10. Marc Zuckerberg 18,353 (avg rating 52%)


SO, after the Time Readers' Poll, WHO IS TIME'S PERSON OF THE YEAR?

Well.... There was a "NOTE" attached to the Readers' Poll" to the direct effect that "TIME's editors who choose the actual Person of the Year reserve the right to disagree."

And, boy, did Time editors ever disagree with the people that are their own readers and customers.

With a publication date of today (December 15, 2010) they chose the 10th place finisher, Marc Zuckerbook of Facebook for the 2010 Person of the Year.

Zuckerberg got one lousy vote for every 20.8 votes Assange got from Time Readers' Poll, and more tellingly, all TIME readers voted on every candidate, and Zuckerberg got only about half the positive ranking Assange got for an average rating. (A 52% average rating for Zuckerberg, a whopping 92% for Assange).


But, to me, the biggest contrast and biggest shock, bigger than choosing the 10th place finisher over the first place finisher in the Readers' Poll, is the stark contrast between #1 Assange and #10 Zuckerberg on WHOSE transparency should get facilitated:

Assange is all about transparency/accountability for the powerful, while Facebook (while it has other functions) is about transparency (and necessarily accountability of various kinds) for the average people. Facebook for example, is being monitored by US government officials to gather information and intelligence on its own citizens in certain contexts. Things like Facebook make it enormously easier for the government to monitor aspects of the private lives of netizens
who often innocently think they're sharing just with their "Facebook friends."

TIME has had Hitler as man of the year decades ago, and routinely stresses that selection of a Person of the Year isn't a personal endorsement.

But it is telling, isn't it, that if TIME thinks Zuckerberg's social media is the wave of the present and of the future, TIME nevertheless had to resort to grossly undemocratic means to amplify the cause of a Facebook founder and ignore the overwhelmingly more popular cause of accountability / transparency for the powerful governments and corporations in the USA and around the world represented by Assange.

Simply put, on a definitional level: the person or entity that has the power to demand or force transparency on the other person or entity (like government) is the master, and the one who must yield their privacy pretty much whenever asked, and/or must be totally transparent when required is the servant or slave entity.

Despite the "relevance" of Zuckerberg, I find Time's choice to ignore its own readers and undemocratically choose Zuckerberg to be chilling when the type of "transparency" fostered by Facebook is compared to the type of real transparency offered and fostered by Julian Assange and

In the Assange/Zuckergerg contrast, the answer to the question of who are the ascending masters
and who the descending slaves is clear.

Well, unless, of course, Assange continues to win and decisions like TIME's Person of the Year debacle are exposed to a salutary form of transparency sometimes called criticism, or satire, or ridicule or better yet, irrelevance.

Of course, it can be argued that TIME's Editors were not thinking of this stark transparency contrast enough, including transparency's critical importance to both freedom and democracy at their very core. But that, is precisely the problem. They're not thinking much about the importance of transparency as the core of accountability that is the very heart of the freedom of self-government, aka democracy.

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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Sep 17th 2010, 11:27 AM
For corporations like PG&E, disaster truly does pay big dividends, even when they don’t divert money they've requested for urgent repairs into executive and employee bonuses.

Here’s how PG&E's modus operandi works today, followed by how PG&E and other for-profit utilities are working hard to make it work even better for their profitability in the very near future:

Status of PG&E Liability and Accountability TODAY

Under present law, natural gas transmission is legally classified as an "ultrahazardous" activity, so “a utility is responsible for all harm that it caused, even if it is not found to have been negligent,” said David Levine, a law professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

However, under present arrangements, PG&E can make a request for a rate increase to cover its own risks and its own disasters, and that request can be approved, modified or denied by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Regarding the covering of PG&E's risks, PG&E has a history “of deferring repairs and using maintenance money for other purposes.In one infamous case, a 1998 report from the California Public Utilities Commission found that the utility had taken $77.6 million that was supposed to be spent trimming trees near power lines - a vital step in wildfire prevention - and used it to boost corporate profits instead."

Even more recently, PG&E also got approval for a multi-million dollar repair of a portion of the San Bruno pipeline north of the disaster scene that might have revealed problems in adjacent line where the explosion occurred. PG&E pocketed that money, instead of repairing the pipeline. "The conclusion is, they're putting profits before customer safety."

How PG&E and Other For-Profit Utilities are Now Pushing Us to Pay

Of course, PG&E and other privately owned utilities would like to eliminate the business risk of a PUC denial of ratepayer increases in order to protect its history of government-approved 11% profitability:

“State regulators {took} their first look {Tuesday, September 14, 2010} at a proposal backed by PG&E that would require customers to pay all costs of catastrophic fires, such as last week's gas-line explosion in San Bruno, that exceed a utility's insurance coverage.”

The PG&E and other investor-owned utilities attempt to accomplish this result by defining "wildfire" to include any uncontrolled fire larger than an acre that destroys houses or other buildings. Nicholas Sher, a lawyer in a Public Utilities Commission staff division that opposes the plan, said the San Bruno explosion and fire "would fit within the wildfire definition" and may possibly cover past fires including San Bruno.

PG&E and California's other investor-owned utilities say the change is needed because disaster insurance is becoming more expensive and harder to obtain.

Without a serious change of course, the billions or even trillions that are sure to come for increased safety will not – predominantly – be used for safety.

Safety is not profitable – especially when insurance, ratepayers and taxpayers will pick up the tab anyway.

On the other hand, the most likely beneficiary of any governmental attempts to force monies to be spent in a way specified by government regulators are Smart Grid proposals that go far beyond commendable goals of safety and green technology: They allow computerized remote sensing and monitoring of not just transmission lines but also the details of household energy use, down to the ability to sense which specific appliances are on and to turn them off remotely (in the name of energy conservation).

"Smart Grids" constitute the creation of an “Internet of Things” that Cisco predicts will be “100 to 1000 times the present size of the Internet.” Privacy and legal groups call the privacy and freedom implications of Smart Grid technology “colossal.”

Some may wish to stress the Safety aspects of Smart Grids – but remember that safety and prevention are not particularly profitable – they’re expenses. Why, then, is over 50% of the “smart money” today – over 50% of all venture capital money today -- being invested in “Smart Grid” companies, even before San Bruno? See, e.g.,

It ain't the first time PG&E gas lines have devastated Northern California neighborhoods.

On Christmas Eve 2008 an explosion killed a 72-year-old man in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova, destroyed one home and seriously damaged others. The National Transportation Safety Board's final report said PG&E used a wrong pipe to repair the gas line two years before the explosion. Rancho Cordova residents had reported of a gas smell in the area before the blast. {Note: Sound familiar???}

In response to the NTSB's findings, PG&E said it had taken "extraordinary measures" to ensure a blast like that would never happen again. /

PG&E, which rhymes with BP, will be worse than BP because it appears to stand for the proposition that "Disaster Pays." The PG&E monopoly virtually guarantees that it benefits greatly from any money for fixes. PG&E and other utilities may soon be able to sell to marketers the details about the age of your appliances and when and how often they are used (once Smart Grids are in place), all because of the dying need to computerize and remotely sense all operating conditions along utility lines.

The only way to prevent Disaster from paying, to prevent negligence from paying, and/or to prevent recklessness and crime from paying is to shut PG&E down, and not to allow its executives to re-appear under any other corporate mask as another utility.

Concerning this corporate death penalty proposal here, don't worry about PG&E CEO Peter Darbee. In 2009, he received a compensation package of $9.4 million (earning just a bit less than Goldman Sachs Group Chairman Lloyd Blankfein, who took in a total of $9.8 million in 2009), and received nearly $50 million since 2000. Instead, worry more about the fact that "by the time PG&E’s bankruptcy-related debts are paid off in 2012, {California} ratepayers will each have dished out around $1,500 to keep it from collapsing."

Is there any other way to keep PG&E (given it's monopoly ownership of gas lines) from profiting from disaster than the corporate death penalty? Why should PG&E continue to exist?

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Posted by Land Shark in Election Reform
Wed Sep 08th 2010, 07:57 PM
Discussion about the private or secret ballot (if it is discussed at all) centers around the accountability and accuracy of the counts - made more difficult by the secret ballot because the voter can't be contacted to see if their ballot is being correctly interpreted - weighed against the intimidation of voters that is protected against by private ballots.

Historical research finds abundant evidence that the adoption of the secret ballot was a racist, classist tool that suppressed the vote in ways that were both anticipated by political actors and fought bitterly over at the time...

If you think otherwise, feel free to add information to this thread.
The point of the thread is not, at this point in time, to urge elimination of the secret ballot, but in any case we all need to be aware of its effects, historical and present, on our elections.

So, I've summarized some of the historical research on the adoption of the secret ballot below. Title phrases in CAPS below attempt to give a very brief summary of the high point of each study.

THE AUSTRALIAN BALLOT IN AUSTRALIA ITSELF (NOT WHAT THEY BARGAINED FOR): Voting by ballot, in 'secret' (that is, not by a show of hands, on the voices or via signed voting paper) was in use in America and Europe well before being implemented in Australia. This was the secret ballot many demanded for Australia, but what they actually got was something else: the Australian ballot.
The “Australian ballot” was wholly original, with identifying features—such as the government printed ballot paper—that were previously unimagined. The Australian ballot was not the world's first
secret ballot; it was much more important than that. Brent, Peter; Australian Journal of Political Science, Volume 41, Issue 1 March 2006, pages 39 – 50.

Changes in the electoral law (i.e., the adoption of the secret ballot) changed the incentive structures of the Members of Congress, which induced a change in how committee assignments were made, and maximized the number of individual “personal” votes so as to create a “record” of votes, and transformed traditionally ambitious officeholders into “single-minded reelection seekers.”. (Katz and Sala 1996; Stewart 1992). The secret ballot change in the electoral rules created an incentive for candidates to increase credit claiming and personal vote seeking behaviors, due to the increased ability of voters to reward and sanction political behavior. (Katz and Sala 1996) Katz and Sala (1996) further contend that following the adoption of the secret ballot, legislators became increasingly interested in constituting institutional arrangements so that they could build a personal
reputation that would garner more votes in subsequent elections. Members of Congress began to support the reappointment of incumbents to committees where serving on committees would assist in building a
personal reputation, which would increase re-election chances. Katz, Jonathan, and Brian Sala. 1996. “Careerism, Committee Assignments, and the Electoral Connection.” APSR 90: 21-33.

ADOPTION OF SECRET BALLOT CAUSES LARGE DROP IN VOTER TURNOUT WITH PREDICTABLE PARTISAN IMPACTS: In states that have been closely studied, adopting the secret ballot divided the major political parties starkly, with major and acrimonious fights between the political parties over every specific variation of voting proposal. These fights were based on considerations like who would be able to read the ballot (many more were illiterate back then) as well as who (if anyone) would be able to assist the illiterate to vote in law and in theory, and more importantly who had the organizational network and thus the ability to take advantage of the right to assist others to
vote whenever the law didn’t bar this. Adoption of the secret ballot, in any event, had actual and predictable partisan effects. For example, in Tennessee a law provided that assistance would be limited to “any person who could have voted in 1857” – before the Civil War and African-American enfranchisement. See Jack Beatty, “Age of Betrayal, The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1890,” at pp. 382-83, Random House, 2008. See this link:

SECRET BALLOT CELEBRATED AS VICTORY FOR RACISM BY CONSERVATIVES: In Arkansas in 1892, in the first election in that state in which the secret ballot law was in effect, a Democratic Party campaign song (reflecting literacy assumptions and the literacy requirements of the Australian ballot) went like this:

"The Australian Ballot works like a charm,
It makes them think and scratch,
And when a Negro gets a ballot
He has certainly got his match."

In Maryland in 1901, the law forbade assistance at the polls to anyone, with predictable results in suppressing the Negro vote. See Jack Beatty, “Age of Betrayal, The Triumph of Money in America,
pp. 382, Random House, 2008.”

MODERN "NO ASSISTANCE" RULES, WHILE ALSO PROMOTING ELECTION INTEGRITY, ALSO AFFECT THE VOTE: I would note that while most of us are wary if not outright opposed to assistance to voters (whether by humans or by computers) except when absolutely required, the “election integrity” call for ‘no assistance” is historically a racist or classist tool to suppress the votes of other races or of less literate people. With increased literacy, this is less true today. “The Australian ballot requires not mere literacy, but fluency.” --J. Morgan Kousser.

PURPOSE OF THE SECRET BALLOT IN THE SOUTH WAS RACIST VOTE SUPPRESSION: See Kousser, J. Morgan, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South, 1880-1910 (1974), pp. 51-60, 243-46, (largest effect of secret ballot, and its real purpose in the South and perhaps elsewhere, was to disfranchise blacks and poor whites)

SECRET BALLOT SHIFTED LOCUS OF CORRUPTION SOMEWHAT: J. Morgan Kousser & Gary Cox, "Turnout and Rural Corruption: New York as a Test Case," AJPS, 25 (1981), 646-63 (marshaling information showing predominant effect of the secret ballot (in New York State) was shifting bribery from paying people to vote to paying opposite-voters not to vote at all)

SECRET BALLOT GIVES EDGE TO THIRD PARTIES BUT DOESN'T RESULT IN THIRD PARTY ELECTORAL VICTORIES UNDER WINNER TAKE ALL SYSTEM: Before the secret ballot, employers sometimes intimidated their employees on voting choices The secret ballot started in most states in 1889 and 1890, so 1892 was the first presidential election in which it was in force. The Socialist Labor Party, which was Marxist, got on the ballot (in 7 states with its first presidential candidate.). The Prohibition Party also had its best showing ever in a presidential election in 1892.

EFFECT ON VOTER TURNOUT WAS TO SIGNIFICANTLY DEPRESS TURNOUT: See also Jac C. Heckelman, "The effect of the secret ballot on voter turnout rates," Public Choice, vol. 82 no. 1-2, January 1995 107-124.

INCREASES TICKET SPLITTING AND DROP-OFF IN VOTING ON DOWN BALLOT RACES. LEADING TO "INNOVATION" IN THE FORM OF STRAIGHT TICKET VOTING, ETC.: Before the secret ballot, parties printed and distributed ballots at the polling place. In a nutshell, Burnham finds that voters were able to split their ballots and less frequently voted in lower ballot races when the secret ballot was adopted. Rusk points out that some states created the straight ticket option to mitigate this effect, which reduced split ticket voting. Walker noted that the straight ticket option mitigates roll off in partisan races. There is a subsequent extensive literature on split ticket voting and roll off. In 2010, there’s litigation about whether or not straight ticket voting options lower turnout in NON-partisan municipal races, even though they increase turnout in lower level partisan races.

Walter Dean Burnham. 1965.“The Changing Shape of the American Political Universe.” The American Political Science Review 59(1): 7-28.

Jack L. Walker. 1966. “Ballot Forms and Voter Fatigue: An Analysis of the Office Block and Party Column Ballots.” Midwest Journal of Political Science 10(4): 448-63.

Jerrold G. Rusk. 1970. “The Effect of the Australian Ballot Reform on Split Ticket Voting: 1876-1908.” The American Political Science Review 64(4): 1220-38.
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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Sep 04th 2010, 08:00 AM
The case illustrates the changing face of forced labor. The Thai center's most famous slave labor case involved 72 workers illegally smuggled into the United States, forcibly confined at an El Monte sweatshop and rescued in a dramatic predawn raid by state and federal agents in 1995. But the Global Horizon case, and other recent ones she has handled, involve workers legally brought into the United States under the H-2A foreign agricultural worker program.

"On the surface, it looks like the workers were legally contracted," she said. "But on closer inspection, it's slavery.Their passports were confiscated … and threats were made if any of them dared to try to escape. The guest worker program can be legalized slavery if you don't constantly monitor it."
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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Sep 03rd 2010, 09:37 PM
Six individuals involved with Global Horizons (including CEO Mordechai Orian, a major funder of Republicans in the last decade) were indicted September 2 in Honolulu on conspiracy and human trafficking charges. Regarding this indictment, FBI Special Agent Tom Simons said to the Washington Post

"In the old days, they used to keep slaves in their places with whips and chains. Today it's done with economic threats and intimidation."

The first level of intrigue, was already capably covered by kpete's post. It shows that through August 2006 at least Mordechai Orian was a major contributor to Republican candidates and the party. DailyKos points out that apparently Orian had only a couple of those donations returned. (See DailyKos link at kpete's post, and see also Orian Contributions detailed at )

The second level of intrigue - one I haven't seen so far in MSM coverage -- is finding out that in late 2006 and into 2007 Global Horizons sued a competitor and its alleged conspirators, alleging the use of illegal immigrant labor at illegal prices as unfair competition. See / article_1250390.php It caused enough of a buzz to be the subject of a law review comment.

In connection with the small buzz this lawsuit created as a novel way to attack unfair labor practices, Orian made a number of statements that, if the indictment is true, are fairly damning:

1. Referring to his competitors' illegal labor practices with immigrants and his decision to sue: “You have a guy who wants to break the law, and when you call the government you run into a brick wall,” Orian says. “Enough is enough.” Fortune Small Business, February 2007, reprinted at


2. "He’s an immigrant himself – he arrived from Israel in 1997 – and while he has yet to become an American citizen, he is the proud holder of a green card. His example, he says, proves that immigrants can be successful in business while staying on the right side of the law. “I’m not against anyone trying to make a better life,” he says. “But after doing it myself, it hurts to see people using shortcuts, and other people taking advantage.”"


3. Global Horizons President Mordechai Orian said, “Competitors hiring illegal immigrants is hurting our business badly, . . . It’s to the point that doing business legally isn’t worth it.”

See footnote 35, at (quoting link last checked in 2007 no longer active today)

Though these quotes are stunning today, back then they'd have a quite different effect: Although Global Horizons had labor violations of its own even at that point of the lawsuit they filed in 2006, a reasonable person would be led to think that Global Horizons, while far from perfect, was perhaps the best of the bunch in terms of contract "labor" suppliers for agriculture.

The third level of intrigue is in realizing that, if the indictment is true, it's NOT that Global Horizons decided "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" because the indictment for these abusive slave labor-style practices were for the time period of 2004 and 2005 -- BEFORE the 2006 lawsuit for "unfair competition" against a competitor.

One might think that the Republican contributions, which ended about August 2006 around about the time a couple were allegedly returned and also around about the time the unfair competition suit was filed, were before Global Horizons got into human trafficking. But that would be wrong.

And why were a couple contributions returned, and why does Orian seek tougher immigration laws?

The tougher immigration laws are the key to profitability and operation of modern slave traffickers, because the ability to take an immigrant "out o status" and thus facing deportation (such as by "losing" their papers) is the core leverage to abuse their labor, as is putting them into debt, both things Global Horizons is accused of.

Why the contributions were returned? This question deserves investigation. If it's because of known labor violations or trafficking, why did it take until 2010 to indict? Perhaps, instead, it's because of the novel lawsuit for unfair competition drawing too much attention to corporate agribusiness.

Looking past the apparent hypocrisy of the unfair competition lawsuit, if there's any truth at all behind the allegations of the defendants (who underpriced Global's operation), then this indictment, touted as the largest trafficking indictment in modern history, is really only the tip of the iceberg, and it's even possible that Orian's Global Horizons is the best of a really bad bunch.

What's most intriguing, in my opinion, is this: I'll bet that Mordechai Orian has not changed his anti-immigration views one bit. Having a legal H-2A visa track for workers is not going away, and beyond that THE MORE ILLEGAL we can make "illegal aliens" the more profitable his slave trade practices become.

Illegal aliens must live in constant fear of extortion about INS matters, and legal aliens have their foot on a banana peel on the path to illegal status, because any number of things can knock legal aliens into illegal status, like "losing" their passports or an "employer" "finding" an "irregularity" in their papers.

And, it's NOT THAT American's "won't do these jobs" -- like blueberry picking. I myself not only pick blueberries for my own account, I've worked on a farm and picked with what the owner called "the Mexicans." The wage was per bucket of berries picked. The Mexicans were more experienced and faster/better workers than I was. I suggested they complain after I found out I was being paid more for the same sized bucket of blueberries picked. They were not inclined to because the owner had given them each "some shares" in the business (I suspect the shares are worth less in cash than the difference between my rate of pay and theirs, over the course of a whole season). But anyway, I was invited to leave the blueberry farm within hours of that conversation, even though they were having trouble getting the crop in which is why "the Mexicans" (a curious name for co-owners) were brought in to begin with.

It's not that "Americans won't do these jobs," after all, I DID "THESE JOBS." It's that American CITIZENS can't be exploited as SLAVE LABOR as easily and THAT just won't do for "these jobs!"

The existing immigration laws are the foundation of a human trafficking empire - they are used as such. Stronger immigration laws, among other things, enhance the profitability of that human trafficking and keep the workers 'in their place.'

Witness Global Horizons and CEO Mordechai Orian, funding immigration toughness and Republican politicians, and at the same time engaging in human trafficking of INITIALLY legal guest workers.

Enforcing existing immigration laws? The slave masters are ALL for that.

Increasing immigration penalties? That makes them even more excited.

Doing business legally overall? Orian's statement: “Competitors hiring illegal immigrants is hurting our business badly, . . . It’s to the point that doing business legally isn’t worth it.”

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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Sep 01st 2010, 10:54 AM
If a legislature chooses election as the method for its presidential electors, there most certainly is a fundamental right to vote FOR PRESIDENT and there always is on other races. After the Civil War, choosing electors other than by election is virtually unheard of, and is unheard of after 1900. What the Supreme Court is doing here is just explaining how the constitutional electoral college works:

"The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College. U.S. Const., Art. II, §1. This is the source for the statement in McPherson v. Blacker, 146 U.S. 1, 35 (1892), that the State legislature’s power to select the manner for appointing electors is plenary; it may, if it so chooses, select the electors itself, which indeed was the manner used by State legislatures in several States for many years after the Framing of our Constitution. Id., at 28—33. History has now favored the voter, and in each of the several States the citizens themselves vote for Presidential electors. When the state legislature vests the right to vote for President in its people, the right to vote as the legislature has prescribed is fundamental; and one source of its fundamental nature lies in the equal weight accorded to each vote and the equal dignity owed to each voter. The State, of course, after granting the franchise in the special context of Article II, can take back the power to appoint electors. See id., at 35 (“here is no doubt of the right of the legislature to resume the power at any time, for it can neither be taken away nor abdicated”) (quoting S. Rep. No. 395, 43d Cong., 1st Sess.)."
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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Aug 27th 2010, 08:35 PM
Answer: According to the reasoning of the 9th Circuit case Pineda-Moreno, the 9th Circuit apparently thinks the police, with or without reasonable suspicion, can follow your vehicle 24/7 because you have no reasonable expectation of privacy wherever your car goes, outside a very private closed garage, etc. The 9th Circuit clearly implied exactly this, reasoning by analogy that since it was ever so clear to them under a prior case called Knotts that cops can follow someone anywhere on public roads and parking lots without any privacy invasion, then clearly, the court thought, a GPS device can be secretly installed in the driveway of someone's home (which driveway is unfenced) without even a modest requirement of reasonable suspicion -- since there's no reasonable expectation of privacy in any publicly visible area. In a footnote the court said it could revisit if there were any massive violations in this area. {!}

So, unless you live in a gated community of private roads, or have a Palin-style 14 foot fence, or in other words if you're rich enough, then you may have a tiny residue of home privacy left, but even in that case never outside the walls of your home or even inside your home if any of it can be seen in "open view" through windows, if your gated community and fencing isn't robust enough.

Isn't this a key part of the very picture of a totalitarian state: Police tailing someone 24/7 in a police vehicle, specifically without probable cause?

TRANSLATION: IT is clearly implied that police cars can follow someone 24/7 without reasonable suspicion, that 'fact' is used to justify the specific holding of the case, allowing GPS devices to be secretly installed in a private unfenced driveway or street parking area because there were, at best, semi-private in the case of the driveway and public in the case of the street.

The only way the court could ever hold otherwise and distance itself from this implication would be to criticize its own lax reasoning in the Pineda-Moreno case as "dicta" and then somehow it would have to distinguish police tailing around the clock for no reason and with no suspicion WITH a VISIBLE police car, from the case of police tailing 24/7 with an INVISIBLE "police car" so to speak, in the form of a technological GPS-device that the court says gives the same information (location) as the tailing in a real police car.

Here's how the opinion actually "reasons," saying:

"{...}whereas in Knotts, as in this case, “{t}he substitute is for an activity, namely following a car on a public street, that is unequivocally not a search within the meaning of the amendment.” United States v. Garcia, 474 F.3d 994, 997 (7th Cir.2007). Pineda-Moreno makes no claim that the agents used the tracking devices to intrude into a constitutionally protected area. The only information the agents obtained from the tracking devices was a log of the locations where Pineda-Moreno's car traveled, information the agents could have obtained by following the car.
UNITED STATES v. PINEDA-MORENO, No. 08-30385, January 11, 2010

All the Founders and great political philosophers (of freedom and democracy) that I know of agree that the proper attitude is to be "jealous" of any apparent invasion of rights, to be vigilant in defense of liberty. This means being akin to a sentinel, responding to noises with an attitude of defending rights even in cases where it may well in the end turn out to "be nothing." In light of that, I can't see any reason for rolling over and going back to sleep on this opinion, falsely smug with the idea that the case concerned large purchases of fertilizer for marijuana activity, because a holding is a general rule applied to all, and the court said it didn't need to rule whether or not reasoanble suspicion much less probable cause existed because there was no 4th Amendment search.

Only 3 states with more protective state constitutions appear exempt as the court notes in footnote: Washington, Oregon, and New York.

ON EDIT: Connecting my recent post on Google's Droid phone, which was based entirely on direct quotes from Google's CEO: If you like the holding of this case, may I recommend the purchase of a cell phone with the google "Droid" operating system on it, because, as Google's CEO was recently bragging in the Wall Street Journal, they know where you are at all times within 1 foot. (In addition to knowing who you are, what you're interested in, and roughly who your friends are, and having google earth pics of your home, etc., ad nauseum) Combine that with this case, and they can track you without warrant or even suspicion 24/7 using your Droid phone alone.

A Droid phone, then, in our Brave New World of "constitutional" law, is not a Smartphone, it's more like a SmartBomb.

Think about the chill on braver political activity like Martin Luther King's (who was followed, harassed, etc by FBI): How easy would it be to call in a drone or have a scaffold accidentally collapse against a political leader of resistance carrying a cell phone? Or even just to scare them? Droid phones are the stylish new symbol of total privacy abdication. (Of course you and I know that governments including the US government have never tracked, harassed, intimidated or killed any political "resistance" at any time... )
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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Aug 17th 2010, 02:34 PM
Quoted in the Letter of the Day, attributed to Hubert Humphrey (in the form of a published poster), and published here:
c:UHDaaDyiUiacyKUnciaec8O7EyUr" target="_blank">

"Pledge for American Unity."

1. I will spread no rumor and no slander against any sect.

2. I will never try to indict a whole people by reason of the delinquency of any member.

3. I will daily deal with every man in business, in social and political relations, only on the basis of his true individual worth.

4. In my daily conduct, I will consecrate myself, hour by hour, to the achievement of the highest ideal of the dignity of mankind, equality, human fellowship and human brotherhood.

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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Aug 16th 2010, 10:29 AM
This is JUST IN from the Fake (but just as “reasonable” as present actual news) Department:

Google & Verizon Contract Signed: They and Their Contractors Need Not Obey Same Traffic Laws as Everyone Else

Citing as precedent a 2010 contractual agreement allowing the internet packets of Verizon and its contractors to travel faster than anyone elses, Google and Verizon announced today that they had inked a deal to allow themselves and those who pay them large sums of money the right to travel faster than anyone else on physical highways, and to ignore other traffic laws and signals. Verizon’s chair said:

“A lot of our biggest corporate customers have Bugatis and Lamborghinis and this will allow them to innovate and make the best use of existing and future investments in automobiles. It would be a sad day if innovation came to an end on highways, and this contract is proof that the spirit of America lives on in its interstate highways and byways.”

Google’s spokesperson added that,

“unlike the 2010 deal prioritizing their internet packets for faster speed than anyone else during periods when the internet is occasionally sluggish, this contract regarding automobile speed would not have the effect of slowing down non-corporate automobiles. Any appearances to the contrary are just relativity – a Bugati passing you in a flash of light and brief color at 150 mph when you are going 55 mph does not slow down your 55 mph car. If anybody feels it does, that’s just an illusion spawned by jealousy of success.”

Some groups in civil society are protesting, saying that contracts cannot make or change laws applicable to parties who never signed those contracts, citing the slowdown in internet speeds caused by priority packets for Google and Verizon. Spokespersons for Google and Verizon were quick to dismiss such claims, however, saying that the speed laws have not changed for anybody who did not sign a deal with Google and Verizon. Said the Google spokesperson:

“The Rule of Law is still in full force and effect, there are just different rules applicable to certain sectors of the internet. We’re an empire now, we make our own reality.”

Asked whether making one’s own reality can include making new conditions of inequality, the Google spokesperson added: “The point is moot since government is powerless to intervene in the freedom of contract on the Internet.”

Just then, a civil society group leader shot back:

“If government is powerless on the Internet, then I’m sending out a press release today by email and fax warning all of your customers that the government is powerless to intervene on the internet to protect them from fraud and malfeasance, and that your contractual promises are unenforceable in government courts, which are powerless on the internet, as you say.”

A person identified only as "Land Shark" from Democratic Underground added: "Your silly contract can't affect my rights or my equality, and none of you were elected by the people so your attempts to change the laws are void and of no force and effect. It is kind of funny though!" Security guards quickly removed the leader as well as Land Shark from the press room.

This reporter called an hour later to the civil society group leader to confirm if the press releases were actually going to be sent out, but was not able to connect. The recorded Verizon operator message indicated that service was disconnected. There was no listing for "Land Shark" in the Verizon phone book.
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Posted by Land Shark in Latest Breaking News
Sun Aug 15th 2010, 10:27 AM
The "confessions" and information obtained are simply not admissible under the rule of law in any legitimate court. In a sense, it's the privatization of "justice" -- and there's nothing left of justice in a secret "interrogation" cell.

This is WHY torture policies are a COMMITMENT to EXTRA-judicial and total violations of the Rule of Law.

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Posted by Land Shark in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Tue Aug 10th 2010, 09:08 PM
First, the actual immediate context for Gibbs' notorious comments, showing that Gibbs is focusing on liberal activist groups with fund-raising operations and not grassroots "progressives":

In his comments in "The Hill", Gibbs defined the "professional left" as "not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama. Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished {...}."

Second, the true REALITY of the "professional" "Left" specifically "inside Washington" is fairly summed up here by David Sirota:

I'm always amused by popular references to the allegedly all-powerful American "left." The term suggests that progressives today possess the same kind of robust, ideologically driven political apparatus as the right — a machine putting principles before party affiliation.n This notion is hilarious because it is so absurd.

Yes, there are certainly well-funded groups in Washington that call themselves "progressive," that get media billing as "the left," and that purport to advocate liberal causes regardless of party. But unlike the right's network, which has sometimes ideologically opposed Republicans on court nominations and legislation, many "progressive" institutions are not principled at all — sadly, lots of them are just propagandists for Democrats, regardless of what Democrats do.

Everyone in professional "left" politics knows this reality "deep down in places they don't talk about at parties," as Jack Nicholson might say — and they don't discuss it for fear of jeopardizing their employers' nonprofit tax status or undermining their employers' dishonest fundraising appeals to liberal donors' ideals.

Third, even CNN, which Sirota quotes with approval, looks at the whole situation of the "professional left" inside DC and concludes:

Surveying the hypocrisy, CNN's Roland Martin wrote that "the left's" organizations "need to decide what matters: their principles or their politics ... their convictions or chicken dinners in the White House."
REALITY: In my opinion, here on DU, the "Professional Left's" organizations in DC are way behind the opinions of the grassroots, and more focused on staying ingratiated in Washington DC so as to, they say, keep doors open (and the like). Bigger liberal groups also are often accused of co-opting grassroots issues and sucking up all the funding and co-opting the issues after the grassroots activists have built an issue.

Because Gibbs is actually attacking the part of the "Left" that sucks up and pulls punches most instinctively, his comments are bizarre.

Gibbs' attempt to claim that the grassroots outside the Professional left in DC are somehow more behind the president politically than the established liberal groups in DC is simply out of touch with reality, and even Orwellian.


Here's my analysis that makes Gibbs' comments not so bizarre, yet still outrageous:

First, I think it's fair to say that Gibbs comments are intended for national consumption and he's deliberately ignoring the reality of the liberal organizations that Sirota points to above, as have many others in the past. The average person isn't aware of this inside story about liberal groups with major DC operations, so they won't experience the disconnect with reality like most on DU do.

Instead, here's the effect on the average person in the nation: Though disguised as a "rant" (that in fact Gibbs is utterly capable of withholding, and indeed supposed to withhold) anyone with any serious likelihood of being quoted in the media either is, or can be considered to be by an average media consumer, a "Washington insider" or a member of the "professional left." THIS IS WHAT GIBBS IS DISTANCING FROM -- CRITICS ThAT GET ANY MEDIA TIME.

Gibbs is, in direct effect, asserting a "silent majority" argument: Anyone who appears in any media and talks like they know their stuff "must" be "professional left" or will be deemed 'professional left' while the ones we don't hear from are presumed to be behind Obama.

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