Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Twelve Days of Christmas or Happy Holidays!

This may seem late for those who aren't familiar with the liturgical calendar,  the old celebration of Christmas, or what exactly the Twelve Days of Christmas happen to be.
 The 12 days of Christmas is the period that in Christian theology marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings' Day). The four weeks preceding Christmas are collectively known as Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24.
The 12 Days have been celebrated in Europe since before the middle ages and are a time of celebration. 

So, my comment about taking the whole month of December off isn't too outrageous if we add the four weeks prior to 25th December to the time to Ephiphany (6 January). Christmas day is only beginning,  yet few families choose to mark the 12-day period by observing the feast days of various saints (including St. Stephen on December 26) and planning daily Christmas-related activities. Things go back to business as usual after December 25 for most people.

For those who are into the liturgical 12 days, each traditionally celebrate a feast day for a saint and/or have different celebrations:
  • Day 1 (25th December): Christmas Day - celebrating the Birth of Jesus
  • Day 2 (26th December also known as Boxing Day): St Stephen’s Day. He was the first Christian martyr (someone who dies for their faith). It's also the day when the Christmas Carol 'Good King Wenceslas' takes place.
  • Day 3 (27th December): St John the Apostle (One of Jesus's Disciples and friends)
  • Day 4 (28th December): The Feast of the Holy Innocents - when people remember the baby boys which King Herod killed when he was trying to find and kill the Baby Jesus.
  • Day 5 (29th December): St Thomas Becket. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century and was murdered on 29th December 1170 for challenging the King’s authority over the Church.
  • Day 6 (30th December): St Egwin of Worcester.
  • Day 7 (31st December): New Year's Eve (known as Hogmanay in Scotland). Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day. He was one of the earliest popes (in the 4th Century). In many central and eastern European countries (including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and Slovenia) New Year's Eve is still sometimes called 'Silvester'. In the UK, New Year's Eve was a traditional day for ‘games’ and sporting competitions. Archery was a very popular sport and during the middle ages it was the law that it had to be practised by all men between ages 17-60 on Sunday after Church! This was so the King had lots of very good archers ready in case he need to go to war!
  • Day 8 (1st January): 1st January - Mary, the Mother of Jesus
  • Day 9 (2nd January): St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two important 4th century Christians.
  • Day 10 (3rd January): Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. This remembers when Jesus was officially 'named' in the Jewish Temple. It's celebrated by different churches on a wide number of different dates!
  • Day 11 (4th January): St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint, who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the past it also celebrated the feast of Saint Simon Stylites (who lives on a small platform on the top of a pillar for 37 years!).
  • Day 12 (5th January also known as Epiphany Eve): St. John Neumann who was the first Bishop in American. He lived in the 19th century.
Even if you are like me and are more pagan/Tudor about it all and just want to celebrate the season, you have Boxing Day, New Year's Eve (Hogmanay), New Years Day, and Twelfth Night.

Let's toss in that the Puritans pretty much wiped out the extended Christmas celebration. After all, it's not too far out to start preparing in November if your Christmas begins four weeks before the 25th of December.

But the bottom line is that the Solstice/Christmas Celebration tend to be long because it is intended to "drive the cold winter away". It is something to keep seasonal affective disorder at bay and seems really weird when celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere where the days are long.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Voting Green

Yes, I voted for Jill Stein and the Green Party in the 2016 election.

This is one of the many reasons I am skeptical about "Russian Influence". The other one was that Trump won in the Electoral College, not the popular vote. 

Of course, you won't hear from the likes of me in the Media. And I won't even let off supposedly unbiased sources like the Guardian or the BBC in this rant. Neither of these news sources has paid attention to the US third parties. This is sad since any truly unbiased new source should be interviewing people like me.

Instead, I see bullshit like this trying to point out how Green voters were duped. Toss in the attempt to make third party voters somehow responsible for the Electoral College fiasco.

Anyway, Jill Stein didn't need any social media help for her campaign. Most of the people who voted for her were so disenchanted by the two party system that we were ready to vote for the Greens, Libertarians, or Roque de la Fuentes. I've said it before, the only way I would have considered voting for Hillary Clinton would be if ranked choice voting existed. In that case, I would have cast my vote something like this:

Jill Stein
Gary Johnson or Roque de la Fuentes for Second or Third
A Write in for Bozo the Clown for fourth
And then I would have voted for Hillary Clinton.

So, the "Russian influence" horseshit tends to neglect that Hillary Clinton was one of the most unpopular candidates to ever run. But, never mind that the DNC and establishment democrats chose her over Bernie Sanders. There is another aspect to all of this which I have covered before and won't bother here about my disenchantment with the two party system.

So, any accusation of "Russian Influence" needs to examine how the two party system works since the bottom line of the whole argument seems to be that the Russians used it against itself.

So, any "Russian support" was pretty much negligible. I think Paul Jay of the Real News Network also does a great analysis of the Russian Influence issue.  As a lawyer, the standard for criminal convictions is "beyond a reasonable doubt" and no one has persuaded me beyond that that their assertion of "Russian Influence" outweighs any of the other issues (such as the Electoral College) for Trump being president.

Remember, persuasion require the person to be somewhat inclined to whatever you are trying to persuade them to do. I wouldn't have voted Green if the Dems had addressed: Climate change, election reform, and all the things Bernie was on record as being for. As Stein pointed out, You will love her if you liked Bernie.Toss in I am disgusted with the Democratic Party and its sham primary elections.

As for social media, pretty much everyone who supported the Green Party did so for the same reasons I did: disgust with the two party system (notice how the Media fail to talk about that Green talking point). The Green Party wasn't on the ballot in every state, which meant that a lot of people voting Green were doing so in the hope of gaining ballot access by getting 5% of the vote.

I'll toss in another reason I voted Green was that Hillary was supposed to win in a landslide, which she did if the popular vote actually mattered.

But the popular vote doesn't matter.

US elections are a sham.

And who better to make the baddie if the US wants to pretend it is the "Great Democracy" (or republic for that matter) than an actual "dictatorship".

In other words, distract the people as the world falls apart.

Sorry, I am one of the many people who isn't buying into the "Russian Influence" thing. And you can read all my posts to see why, but the bottom line is that nothing the Russians, or any other foreign power, have done tops the mess that is US politics.

See also:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hey, Right Wingers, Got a tatttoo?

I am going straight to the source since I don't want to be accused of spreading fake news. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is running something called Tatt-C. Here's the link.

This is a call for development for a pattern recognition program to detect and track people by their tattoos.

NIST's Summary of it is:
The Tattoo Recognition Technology – Challenge (Tatt-C) is being conducted to challenge the commercial and academic community in advancing research and development into automated image-based tattoo matching technology.
Some background on this from the NIST page:
Tattoos have been used for many years to assist law enforcement in the identification of criminals and victims and for investigative research purposes.* Historically, law enforcement agencies have followed the ANSI-NIST-ITL 1-2011 standard to collect and assign keyword labels to tattoos. This keyword labeling approach comes with drawbacks, which include the limitation of ANSI-NIST standard class labels to describe the increasing variety of new tattoo designs, the need for multiple keywords to sufficiently describe some tattoos, and subjectivity in human annotation as the same tattoo can be labeled differently between examiners. As such, the shortcomings of keyword-based tattoo image retrieval have driven the need for automated image-based tattoo recognition capabilities.
IOW, You is out of luck if you've got tatts since the guvment may soon be able to track your movements.

Friday, September 28, 2018

How Kavanaugh (and the legal community) flubbed the Sexual Assault Accusations.

Note: this was written close to when the first post was, but posted later for a few reasons.

Let's start with the facts as stated by the accuser, which I will take as being true ad argumentum:
According to the Post, Ford described how Kavanaugh and a friend – both “stumbling drunk” – corralled her into a bedroom at a house in Montgomery county, Maryland.
The Post reported: “While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.”
Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California, told the Post: “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”
She added: “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Aside from the fact that Kavanaugh was under the age of majority, which leads to questions about criminal responsibility in this matter. Various issues regarding juvenile justice had there been an adjudication of delinquency and its ability to be used in this matter. There wasn't any sort of formal process in this matter, which is another problem.

Next, Maryland changed its laws regarding rape in 2017, this incident occurred in the early 1980s. Should Maryland apply the law in effect when this incident occurred or would that make Maryland's current rape statute an ex post facto law, and unconstitutional? Toss in Maryland rape laws require actual penetration, which there wasn't according to the above statement. This might be a fourth degree Sexual Offense (MD code 3-308), but I am not sure there would be proof if I were trying to prosecute the case. It would definitely be some kind of assault (unlawful touching). I would make an offer for assault if I were a prosecutor in this case.

Unlawful sexual contact is one of the most commonly charged sex crimes in Maryland. There are two basic elements to this crime — sexual contact and lack of consent. Under Maryland law, sexual contact includes touching the genitals or some other intimate area, which is often interpreted to include the buttocks and the female breasts. If an individual’s hand, body part or extension of a hand touches a person in any of these areas, that may be classified as sexual contact.

The law is unclear whether the contact needs to be direct to those parts or whether one could make sexual contact with a clothed person. I am of the opinion that the statute requires direct contact. This would be a question of law. But the rape sections of Maryland law require actual penetration.

Saying this is assault is more serious due to the fear of harm or actual harm being inflicted on the victim even if this is not a sexual offence in my opinion. But I do not see any of the specific penetration or other element that would cause this to rise to the level of being specifically a sex crime.

The statute of limitations applies in this case since it wasn't any form of rape because there was no penetration. There is a one year statute of limitations for fourth degree sexual offences (Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-106; In re Anthony R., 362 Md. 51, 73, 763 A.2d 136, 148 [2000]) if one wants to continue with an allegation of criminal sexual conduct that might stick.

Maryland does not have a statute of limitation on assault according to Lawrence Tribe (however Maryland lawyers say it is one year. Remember we need to use the law that was in effect when the crime was committed), but the next question if there is no limit to prosecution would be which court would have jurisdiction: juvenile or adult? Again, even if one wants to say that there is no statute of limitation on this case, then does this issue of criminal responsibility based upon age come into the play. After all, the alleged incident happened when Kavanaugh was a juvenile according to the law.

Sorry Prof. Tribe, but Maryland's juvenile act would have been the proper standard to have been used at this time: not adult law. Something about ex post facto laws being an issue, which is a mistake that a noted Constitutional law prof should not be making. Especially since competence to stand trial is a constitutional issue.

That means there would be a statute of limitation based on Maryland's Juvenile Act due to this? The real issue isn't as much a statute of limitations as it is that this incident occurred when Kavanaugh was a juvenile. Juvenile court can retain jurisdiction over youth until age 21, provided that the offense alleged to have been committed occurred before the youth turned 18. (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-8A-01(d) and Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-8A-07(a), (b))

One of reason for statutes of limitation is the fairness of the prosecution in regard to finding evidence, witnesses, and so on. That is important given this would be and 35+ year old allegation. Can she offer proof which would go beyond a reasonable doubt?

Mark Judge, the alleged partner to this, does not remember the event ever happening. So, we have evidentiary problems.

Also, this is one incident. I would be hesitant to use an isolated incident this old as an indicator of Kavanaugh's personality. I would be less hesitant if there were incidents which were more recent to show he has not changed.

Bottom line, there are Constitutional due process issues a plenty here which make this line of attack highly problematic for me. I would have hoped that a judge with a staff would have enumerated them, but he has failed to address this highly important issue.

I feel sorry for the accuser, but legally this shouldn't see the light of day given the length of time from the incident to any public accusation. She wouldn't get a day in court based upon the facts, yet this has shown up in the political arena for whatever reason.

I doubt there is a person who hasn't committed a crime whether intentionally or unintentionally which may or may not have been prosecuted. Likewise, there are defences and mitigations to crimes which must be taken into account. Not to mention constitutionality of this. These matters need to be considered by Kavanaugh's accusers.

Even more importantly, I see the facts of this case being twisted into partisan fodder to try and thwart the confirmation of someone who doesn't have the legal acumen of a first year law student. The lack of legal knowledge to provide a defence to this, especially from a judge with a staff, is troubling to me.

As I said before, this accusation demonstrates that Brett Kavanaugh is not worthy of a seat on the highest court because he lacks a basic knowledge of the law, of which this an exposition. I could probably come up with far more constitutional and criminal defences to this accusation, but that would be more nails in the coffin to his lack of basic legal knowledge.


See also:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

More on the founders and republics

Another of the benefits claimed by the founders for having a republic over a democracy is that republics are supposed to be free of factions. That is that partisan bickering that we see in US politics should not be happening.

Boy, were they WRONG on that one with the partisan bullshit beginning long before the ink dried on the Constitution (or they even began debating the thing).

So, this is further evidence that the founders had no fucking idea what they were doing and had basically buried themselves. That means the US has been in constitutional crisis from at least the first Continental Congress.

No wonder the place is a mess.

See also:
The Founding Fathers on Party Strife (Quotes)
The Founding Fathers & Political Parties The Origins of Today's Bitter Partisanship: The Founding Fathers

Friday, September 21, 2018

Don’t quote the Founders on republics

I have serious questions about anyone who venerated the founders, who had no fucking idea what they were doing. That’s pretty much of an understatement for anyone who has any idea of early American history. Patrick Henry had an inkling he was making a mistake when he said:
Whether this (Independence) will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people will make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable.Righteousness alone cannot exalt us as a nation. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.
Not sure how anyone who was paying off the cost of a war would think that having another one would solve any problems. Toss in all the other issues that were left unaddressed because a bunch of hotheads wanted another war.

Anyway, their love for republics was yet another aspect of their ignorance. The Roman republic may have lasted for nearly 500 years but
Unlike the Pax Romana of the Roman Empire, the Republic was in a state of quasi-perpetual war throughout its existence. Its first enemies were its Latin and Etruscan neighbours, as well as the Gauls, who even sacked the city in 387 BC. The Republic nonetheless demonstrated extreme resilience and always managed to overcome its losses, however catastrophic…At home, the Republic similarly experienced a long streak of social and political crises, which ended in several bloody civil wars.
Toss in the French revolution would demonstrate that republics were anything but stable.

So, for all their attempts at trying to show a difference between a republic and a democracy. there probably wasn’t that much of one even in classical times,. But it sounds nice if one is starting on shaky ground.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The accusations against Kavanaugh show he shouldn't be a justice, but not for the harassment aspect.

OK, there was a question using a similar scenario to what Kavanaugh is facing given on a test during my legal education, which means that the legal issues here the should be obvious to a first year law student let alone someone who wants to be a supreme court justice.

The fact that Kavanaugh was 17 when this happened should be sending out shitloads of objections to this, but that would only be the beginning. I am amazed that all the profs who blog on this topic aren't going on about them. Clarence Thomas was Anita Hill's supervisor at the Department of Education and the EEOC, not a teenager: major difference.

I am not going to say what they are, but at least one of them is a constitutional issue. The fact that Kavanaugh isn't talking about it makes me worry about how good of a justice he would be.

The fact that this line of questioning Kavanaugh's ability to be a justice was allowed to see the light of day has me worried about the legal fraternity in the US.

So, while these allegations are serious, I don't think this is a fair line of questioning even if they are true. In fact, it makes me wonder how much of a case Kavanaugh's opponents have against him (other than his not having a basic knowledge of the law).

I think Kavanaugh's inability to address this basic issue of the law along with his poor knowledge of the law would be more than enough to deny him the nomination. But dragging an incident that happened 36 years ago is questionable even if true (hint hint).

This incident makes me worry about how far back opponents might go to destroy someone's political career. No one is going to be without some taint, but there may be a dearth of qualified candidates if the nomination process goes over someone's record with an electron microscope.

But the legal aspects and the defences they afford Kavanaugh in this situation are far more troubling to me in this process. The fact that a supreme court justice is unable to articulate them is even more troubling.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The pro-gun position is bullshit.

Sorry people, but the pro-gun position is based upon lies.

It's pretty much a given that the serious research that was done on this issue has this result:

In 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published an article by Arthur Kellerman and colleagues, “Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home,” which presented the results of research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study found that keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide. The article concluded that rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance. Kellerman was affiliated at the time with the department of internal medicine at the University of Tennessee. He went on to positions at Emory University, and he currently holds the Paul O’Neill Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at the RAND Corporation.

The 1993 NEJM article received considerable media attention, and the National Rifle Association (NRA) responded by campaigning for the elimination of the center that had funded the study, the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention. The center itself survived, but Congress included language in the 1996 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Bill  for Fiscal Year 1997 that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Referred to as the Dickey amendment after its author, former U.S. House Representative Jay Dickey (R-AR), this language did not explicitly ban research on gun violence. However, Congress also took $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget — the amount the CDC had invested in firearm injury research the previous year — and earmarked the funds for prevention of traumatic brain injury. Dr. Kellerman stated in a December 2012 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out. Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up.”
OK, that was probably too complicated for most of the gun nuts reading this, but the summary is that a peer-reviewed study was published that contradicted the belief that guns are good for self-defence. Immediately after, the gun lobby made sure no further studies like this would be published.

 Prob is that Scientific American is publishing articles with headlines like:

More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows

Data Confirm Semiautomatic Rifles Linked to More Deaths, Injuries

But what do you expect when you have an item that causes death or serious bodily injury when used correctly? It's a tool for killing if you want to go down that silly argument.

Anyway, even the Truth About Guns has shown that the guns protect us thing is a lie, but they won't admit it.

Then we get to the revisionist bullshit of the Second Amendment. Hey, you don't need to go beyond the Constitution's text to see that that Amendment relates to the militia and the common defence.

So, sorry, but the facts are in and they are "anti-gun".  You don't have a right to have a deadly weapon unless you are using it for the common defence. Live with it.

See also:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Originalist's Dilemma

Brett Kavanaugh is exposing a dangerous and silly pretense for Constitutional interpretation: especially after showing that the Second Amendment in no way addresses anything OTHER than the Militia by using this school of interpretation as described. Originalism is supposed to be:
"Constitutional interpretation should remain anchored in the original meaning of the Constitution’s text, which is the source of the Court’s authority and legitimacy."
By that definition, Judicial review is not constitutional as it is not found in the text of the Constitution. Instead, it comes from the case of Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Which happens to be the same case that backs up my assertion that the Second Amendment applies to the militia by stating that
“It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect”.

Of course, if one is going to find clauses in the Constitution to not be with effect and ignore precedent, then Marbury should be up there for being ignored.

But, where does that leave us if one ignores Marbury and concedes that judicial review is not a constitutional power of the court?

Heller and McDonald were ultra vires for being judicial legislation. Now, we are on the level where those cases were also ultra vires for being an unconstitutional act of legislation by the bench. Perhaps we should look into why the founders neglected to give the power of judicial review to the courts? Some of the complaints in the Declaration of Independence related to laws being abrogated, which would mean these are tyrannical acts by being both outside the power of the court, but also well beyond the scope of its power.

The rule of law is supposed to keep the law beyond the caprices of a few people. Nine unelected officials should not be able to make or break the will of the majority of the people. Now, the court is becoming a creature of partisan politics, which is even more frightening in light of its inability to grasp its role as a referee, not a player.

Originalism and the Second Amendment

This is all very simple since according to people who claim to believe in Originalism, "Constitutional interpretation should remain anchored in the original meaning of the Constitution’s text, which is the source of the Court’s authority and legitimacy." Using that definition:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The text of the Second Amendment begins with "A well regulated Militia" which is "necessary to the security of a free State". The language of the text does not mention Self-defence, hunting, target practise, or any other non-militia uses. It is a well established rule or statutory interpretation that inclusio unius est exclusio alterius  which means  that ‘including one excludes another’. The example given where I found this was the statement ‘no dogs allowed’ under this rule would mean that panthers were allowed.

Likewise, the fact that the Militia is specifically referenced would lead one to conclude that this text addresses the militia, but does not cover uses other than the militia.

Likewise, a search of the US Constitution shows that it addresses the militia, but personal defence is not addressed. Likewise, the preamble of the text makes it clear that one of the reasons for adopting the Constitution is to deal with matters of the common defence. However, there are people who claim to follow originalism who are willing to ignore the actual text of the Constitution to advance their beliefs.

The actual wording of the Constitution makes it clear that the Militia and Common defence are covered, but personal uses of weapons aren't.  I am not going to get into the grammar of the Second Amendment since that isn't really germane if one is going solely upon the text. Anyway, Dennis Baron addresses that issue in his amicus brief to the Heller decision and this essay where he demonstrates that the founders would indeed have seen this as only relating to the militia.

Reading the Second Amendment as a statement in which every word counts follows from the opinion articulated by Chief Justice John Marshall: “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect” (Marbury v. Madison, 1803). But even without that landmark ruling, it would have been clear to 18 th -century readers that the first part of the Second Amendment was bound to the second part in a cause-and- effect relationship, that the right to bear arms was tied by the framers directly to the need for a well-regulated militia.

The Second Amendment was pretty much considered settled case law which was thrown into disarray by Heller and McDonald. US v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875) wasn't very helpful since it addressed private action, but Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 (1886) and US v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) both made it clear that the Second Amendment related to the Militia. Miller is usually not properly represented in recent "Second Amendment Scholarship" and totally ignored in the Heller and McDonald decisions because it is "not helpful".

Indeed, it is not helpful to the recent decisions which were ultra vires because they amended the Constitution to add a new meaning to the Second Amendment, as this essay has demonstrated. I would also add that Justice William O. Douglas addressed Miller and glossed it in his dissent in Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972) , which somehow is omitted in lists of SCOTUS cases mentioning the Second Amendment. Which is too bad since Justice Douglas was a member of the Supreme Court when Miller was decided, which makes him a very good source for how that case should be read.

Justice Douglas pointed out that in Second Amendment jurisprudence:
The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.” Id., at 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, “must be interpreted and applied” with the view of maintaining a “militia.”
“The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia – civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.” Id., at 178-179.
The Heller and McDonald decisions are examples of Judges failing to follow the rule of law, precedent, and their claimed theory of judicial interpretation. As I pointed out, those two decisions are ultra vires and should be ignored, which is easy since they are incredibly limited in their scope. But even then, some daring justice should show that the emperor has no clothes in these decisions.

Anyway, one doesn't need to go far if you believe that the text of the Constitution is determining in how to interpret the Second Amendment that it only applies to the militia. It is quite obvious that the Second Amendment relates to the militia from the text. But the Heller and McDonald decisions made it clear that the text was optional, which means that Originalism is a nonsensical school of constitutional interpretation.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Answer me this one question before you go on about Russian Collusion

Carefully study this picture before answering:

Please explain to me the disparity between the popular vote (small print under photos of candidates) and the electoral votes.

How is this a result of "Russian interference in the US election process"?

I will add that the rumours of Catherine the Great and farm animals are not grounded in reality. She didn't die fucking a horse.

And she certainly didn't fuck a donkey 222 years after she died.

Now, fuck off unless you are going to address real problems and stop playing silly buggers.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Why it's Russian Interference instead of Election Reform.

There is a reason people are fixated with having Russian Interference shoved down their throats: Both parties are guilty of "dirty tricks". You point out that the US meddling was much worse than anything the Russians did and people tend to write that off as somehow being OK. In fact all the Russians did was to point out the problems, which means anyone who points out the real issues is somehow a "Russian Bot".

Anyway, the reason that no one is doing anything about the Electoral College is that it is one of the best things for keeping the duopoly going. It's hard for new parties to get into the system. Hint: one of the reasons I voted Green was the hope that the party would somehow get enough of the vote to have ballot access and other perks that being a national party would bring.

Postscript to How bad was early firearms Technology?

English musketeers didn't use swords, instead they used their weapons as clubs!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How bad was early firearms Technology?

Quick, what do you think of when you hear the word musketeer?
A musketeer, from the French mousquetaire, was a type of soldier equipped with a musket. Musketeers were an important part of early modern armies, particularly in Europe and the west, as they normally made the majority of their infantry. The musketeer was a precursor to the rifleman. Muskets were replaced by rifles in most western armies during the mid-1850s.
But most people think of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers and loads of swordplay. That's because The musket, though the prime weapon of the French Musketeers, was a cumbersome firearm to load and fire, as were other firearms of the time. That meant that a good rapier was a necessary second weapon that no musketeer was likely ever without. That meant the musketeers were also a skilled swordsmen.

The French National Army museum describes musketeers as:
In 1622, Louis XIII, at that time at war against the Protestants, detached the 50 soldiers armed with carbines from the companies of his guard’s light­horse cavalry to form an independent unit. These soldiers were armed with a musket, a heavy weapon that could only be used on foot, but they were still cavalry who moved around on horseback. Called Musketeers of the Guard, a military branch of the Maison du Roi, they wore the famous blue tabard decorated with the cross and Fleur­de­lys, the symbol showing that they belonged to the King’s Household. The character of the musketeer mounted foot­soldiers made very varied missions a possibility: escorting the royal retinue, policing operations and maintaining order but, above all, they were in the first line of the royal troops when it meant relieving a town under siege. In 1693, Louis XIV ceased to go to war and, from then on, the companies only took part in special cases. This period marked the end of the musketeers’ golden age, when they served in the last campaigns of Louis XIV but were rarely seen on the battlefield during his successor’s reign. During the eighteenth century, their mission mainly consisted in a guard and prestige service to the king. They were exposed to enemy fire one last time during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48). In 1775, the two companies were disbanded for budgetary reasons. Formed again briefly under the Restoration, they were definitely disbanded in 1815.
Calling the French soldiers "musketeers" is a bit of a misnomer since they were more cavalry than infantry, but pole weapons were still being used in combat well into the 18th Century. The Jacobite forces used claymores when storming the British in the '45 rebellion. Likewise, French and Indian troops used tomahawks and other hand held weapons with great success during frontier battles of the Conquest. Don't forget that bayonet is kin to the pole weapons where the firearm became a pole weapon.

English musketeers didn't use swords, instead they used their weapons as clubs!

See also:

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Why doesn't US MSM publish things like this.

Al-Jazeera on Trump being Putin's puppet:
Trump does not behave as Putin's puppet. He behaves as a person who sees himself as a great deal-maker, who is able to negotiate with anyone - from Putin to Kim Jong-un - to get a good deal.

The US president is a businessman who started his career in the real estate sector. In this type of business, one does not care who buys the penthouse as long as it is swiftly paid for. A number of apartments in the Trump Tower, for example, were bought by people of questionable or criminal background (including Russian citizens).

In this sense, it is not a surprise that Trump is dealing with anyone and everyone in the pursuit of the most lucrative deal.

Of course, whether this strategy is indeed effective or not can be debated. Many experts think it isn't, but this does not mean that Trump's policies are dictated by Putin; they are dictated by his own views, however wrong they may be.

This is not necessarily good for Putin. Despite all the niceties exchanged and footballs passed at the summit, there is still no development on the major issues of concern for the Kremlin: sanctions and Ukraine. If this is how Trump will do business for the next two years and if reelected, the another four afterwards, the Russian president might start thinking that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails might not have been such a good idea after all.
One of the major issues during the campaign was that Trump was a rogue actor. Some people were hoping he would bring down the Republican Party. The Al-Jazeera article makes a really good case that the US MSM spin on Trump and Putin's meeting may not be correct.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Maybe I shouldn't write off Fox News...

I have to agree that I don't think these indictments will go anywhere since there is way too much refutation to this case to provide reasonable doubt. Toss in that there are no specific instances of "Russian meddling" that couldn't be shown to possibly be domestically produced. This segment from Fox news sounds plausible to me as a former lawyer who practised criminal law.And the hack is open to debate.

Not sure where this will go if the Republicans win the "mid-term" elections. Also not sure why the powers that be would have let Trump run, unless it is true about the DNC wanting a pied piper candidate, which is why I think the meddling is domestic and not Russian. And it came from the DNC.

As I said, no one is denying that the leaked e-mails are genuine, which is dangerous since any defence attorney worth their pay has their defence mapped out for them in the e-mails. After all what's the point of having strict rules over elections and referendums if there are no consequences for them being broken? And how is "Russian interference" germane if the DNC can break its own rules and run a rigged primary. As I said before, nothing in the Wikileaks leaked documents came as a revelation to people in the Sanders campaign.

I think this shit is a distraction to keep people from demanding campaign reform.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Internal Misconduct is far more of a concern than "foreign interference".

As I said before, if the goal of  the alleged "Russian interference" in US elections is to destroy confidence in the process, then they don't have too much work to do other than rub the US public's nose in the shit that the electoral process happens to be. Whatever "Russian interference" that may have existed pales in comparison to all the shenanigans that are considered SOP in US elections. The level of damage caused by "Russians" is unquantifiable.

On the other hand, the institutions and institutional practises that led to Clinton "losing" the election tend to be mostly home grown, which is what the "hacked e-mails" demonstrated. Although, it is questionable as to whether the e-mails were really hacked, or leaked by someone disgusted with DNC violations of its own rules. Additionally, Clinton only "lost" in the electoral college, an institution which is intended on thwarting democracy and democratic process. That is the obvious cause for her "defeat" while having one of the largest margins of the popular vote.

In fact, that is the main problem with the "Russian Interference" allegations: Clinton didn't lose by the standards of most democratic systems. Instead, Clinton lost because of an anachronistic, anti-democratic institution created by the US Constitution. It is an institution that most people don't understand.

The letter that former FBI Director James Comey sent to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, and the subsequent media firestorm over it was an event that could also have contributed to Clinton's "loss". The impact is relatively easy to measure because it was the biggest news event in the final two weeks of the campaign, and we can compare polls conducted just before the Comey letter to the ones conducted just after it.

Is James Comey under indictment?

As I understand it, Russian attempts at influencing the US election consist of the hacking incident, which the Democrats assured us was not an issue: until they lost the election. They also consist of trying to show Clinton as being dishonest and otherwise discredit her. That's another one of those things which is amazingly easy to defend against! Just play one of the many tapes of Clinton contradicting herself.

Anyway, there are a lot of other explanations for why Trump is president which are far more credible and substantial than Russian interference. Any defence attorney worth their pay can blow this one out the stadium with little effort.

You also have to remember that the standard for burden of proof in a criminal conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt", or "that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

I have yet to see that non-US actions caused Clinton's loss or that any "foreign interference" went beyond that standard.

I think US resources would be far better spent on addressing the internal problems than trying to place fault on things which probably didn't effect the outcome at all.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Wanna see a Liberal's head explode.

I could see this one coming. I mean it had to come didn't it.

Now, watch the pundits try to dodge accusations of anti-semitism if they decide to go down this path.

Russian influence or was Hillary just a bad candidate?

Nate Silver points out that:
How did Trump win? Or more to the point, how did Trump win given that he only had a 38 percent favorability rating among people who voted on Election Day? The answer is partly the Electoral College, of course. But it’s also that Clinton was really, really unpopular herself — almost as unpopular as Trump — with a favorability rating of just 43 percent among Election Day voters. Also, the substantial number of voters who disliked both Clinton and Trump went to Trump by a 17-point margin. Voters really weren’t willing to give Clinton the benefit of the doubt.
That’s largely because Clinton was viewed as dishonest and untrustworthy, exactly the sort of message that the Russian campaign (which used hashtags such as #Hillary4Prison) was trying to cultivate. Trump, of course, was trying to cultivate this message too. Media coverage often struck the same themes. And voters sometimes heard variations on this theme from Sanders and his supporters in the more contentious moments of the Democratic primaries. Was some of this Clinton’s fault? Yep, of course. Would Clinton still have been “Crooked Hillary” even without the Russians? Almost certainly. But the Russians were at least adding fuel to the right fire — the one that wound up consuming Clinton’s campaign.
It's hard to tell what was "Russian influence" or Hillary's own faults the way I read that since a lot of people were talking about "Hillary for Prison" without having the Russians involved. Toss in her reputation for not being trustworthy was due to her own actions and position flipping. There was a 2008 Obama ad that "She'll Say Anything And Change Nothing".

Toss in the bottom line that you were taken by Russian influence if you voted for Trump, Sanders, or Jill Stein. I can honestly say that the DNC is rife with Russian Operatives if that is the basis for saying Russian operatives fixed the election. The DNC's actions pretty much were why I left the Democratic Party.

We can also get into Media complicity in giving Trump free air time which increased his profile.

You also have to remember that the standard for burden of proof in a criminal conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt", or "that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

Anyway, I am 100% certain any "Russian influence" was insignificant compared to internal US actions. Any investigation worth the money needs to look into the US institutional problems which led to the 2016 election disaster.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The People who persuaded me it would be OK to vote Green.

Hey, Mueller, you gonna indict these people too???

Because they were so sure she was going to win, Hillary Clinton couldn’t have really lost.

All too ironically, they turned for solace to the line Donald Trump was feeding to his followers to embrace in anticipation of defeat ahead of the November election: The election must have been rigged! So on and on the Democratic Party and its supporters in the media have gone about Russian interference in the 2016 election, an interpretation that it now appears will never abate for the fiercest of Democratic partisans (And, suprisingly, even some Republicans).

Admitting the DNC rigged the election against itself by ignoring independent voters and aggressively quelling the nearly successful primary challenge by an independent candidate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is out of the question.

Let's toss in that Clinton DID WIN by the standard used by most democracies: the  popular vote. She only "lost" in the electoral college, yet that is another thing which people can't get their heads around because few people understand what the fuck the electoral college actually does.

See also:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hillary Clinton's Margin of the Popular Vote


That is the number of popular votes that Hillary Clinton had over Donald Trump. It was a number that was 2.1% more of the popular vote than Donald Trump won.

That is a number which is larger than the population of 16 States and District of Columbia (Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana Delaware, South Dakota,    Alaska, North Dakota, District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming). It is slightly less than the populations of 4 States: Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, and Utah). It is slightly more than the combined populations of Alaska, North Dakota, District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming (2578472).

It's also a number which is larger than most of the 100 largest US Cities (Only NYC and LA have a larger population).

It's not an insignificant number, yet somehow Clinton lost with one of the highest margins of the popular vote because of the Electoral College and how it distorts the vote.

Monday, July 16, 2018

You don't need Russians to interfere or meddle or whatever.

The threat is real. There is unanimity of opinion in the intelligence community that hackers working on behalf of the Russian government undertook a coordinated effort to destabilize our election system. As the witnesses from the intelligence and law enforcement community testified, one of their primary objectives was to undermine Americans confidence and trust in their election system. We now live in a world where foreign governments wage war on our country not with guns and bombs, but by attempting to diminish Americans’ faith in our democratic institutions.
Source: The Hill: The truth about Russia, 'hacking' and the 2016 election

As I have been saying any serious investigation requires scrutinising US institutions. You have the Electoral College which is designed to be anti-democratic and the 2016 demonstrated how much it can deviate from the popular vote. But don't think I am being a "snowflake" since FairVote decided to look at the 2008 election for a “worst case scenario” of just how few popular votes Barack Obama really needed to earn a majority of the vote in the Electoral College.  They didn’t change John McCain’s votes, but eliminated all the “unnecessary” votes earned by Obama – meaning all of his votes in states he didn’t’ need to win and any “surplus” votes earned in states he wins (meaning any votes beyond one more than McCain).
 President Obama could have defeated Sen. John McCain in the Electoral College with as few as 24,781,169 popular votes despite McCain earning 59,479,469 votes. In other words, he could have won even while losing the popular vote by 69% to 29% (with 2% for other).

Looking only at states that he actually won, Obama could have carried enough states to earn 270 electoral votes with just 26,721,494 votes – meaning with a popular vote defeat by 68% to 30%.

The leaked DNC emails were no real revelation to be quite honest since most people suspected what was in them. They were a confirmation of people's distrust. It was the icing on the DNC's pushing of Hillary Clinton and disdain for people who weren't "true democrats".  As I said, it was shit like that that made me leave the democratic party.

Even more important is the money in US politics. The primary system is long and drawn out to keep people who don't have big bucks backing them. On the other hand, someone like Donald Trump was able to game the system to get anywhere from $2 to $5 Billion in free, "earned" media attention. Which was also given to him by anyone who showed outrage at Trump's antics (figure includes social media). I remember in 1980 when US Stations couldn't show "Bedtime for Bonzo" because it would have given Reagan free coverage.

No Russian help needed to get people disgusted with US politics: the duopoly does a wonderful job on its own.

Ultimately, it is the electoral college, closed primaries, gerrymandering, uncontested elections, big money, and pretty much the whole election circus that causes the results that people want to attribute to the Russians.

So I find that the real culprits are home grown. And that is where all the energy should be directed, not de minimis "foreign meddling".  Simply stated, if the "Russian Objective" is to destroy confidence in "US democratic institutions", then I see any "Russian activities" as being de minimis compared to those of the DNC, Cambridge Analytica/Robert Mercer, and US media, who spent far more money than the Russians are alleged to have spent for destroying confidence in US Democracy.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

An open letter to Robert Mueller regarding the 2016 Presidential Election Investigation

OK, let's begin this with the stipulation that the DNC e-mails in question are authentic. It was revealed by WikiLeaks emails from the DNC hack that under the guidance of the now scandal-ridden former chairperson of the DNC, Deborah Wasserman Schultz, the party leadership had shown high levels of favourability towards Hillary Clinton and that they quashed the campaign of Bernie Sanders to make sure she won the nomination.

Sometimes a criminal investigation finds more criminal activity than what was originally alleged. In this case, the e-mails show democratic party collusion to promote Hillary Clinton as well as sabotage Bernie Sanders' campaign. There was a class action suit about this which went nowhere, despite all the misconduct of the DNC being a given.

I believe there have been allegations of vote suppression, which I believe is an offence. Some of the e-mails in question show the DNC staff in damage control over allegations from the Sanders campaign, when a report—corroborated by a Politico—revealed the DNC’s joint fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign was laundering money to the Clinton campaign instead of fundraising for down-ticket Democrats. Regardless of the fundraising tactics, because both major campaigns didn’t agree to use the joint fundraising committee super-PAC with the DNC, the DNC should have recused itself from participating with just the Clinton campaign.

The Associated Press called the Democratic primary races in six states for Hillary Clinton on Monday night, based on its survey of superdelegates. CNN confirmed the count a few hours after that, based on the network's criteria, then declared that it had broken the story. This is one of the things that threw the election.

Even more concerning is that an email released by WikiLeaks shows how the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party bear direct responsibility for making Trump the Republican candidate. The email describes using a "pied piper" strategy, the Clinton campaign proposed intentionally cultivating extreme right-wing presidential candidates, hoping to turn them into the new "mainstream of the Republican Party" in order to try to increase Clinton's chances of winning.The Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee called for using far-right candidates "as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right." Clinton's camp insisted that Trump and other extremists should be "elevated" to "leaders of the pack" and media outlets should be told to "take them seriousl

You need to broaden the scope of your investigation to include the DNC misconduct shown in these e-mails if you want to avoid any allegations that your investigation is a political witch hunt. Failure to do so leaves this investigation wide open to those charges.

As someone who voted for Bernie Sanders and then abandoned the Democratic Party to go back to being independent, I can say that the actions of the Democratic Party were far more damaging to it than any purported "Russian Influence".

I know there are a lot of people who buy into the "Russians did it", probably the way they swallowed that the Iraqis had WMD. I didn't . Likewise I do not believe for one second that any Russian activity would rise to the level of misconduct demonstrated by the DNC. And it was the DNC misconduct which cost the election.

And it was Clinton's piss poor campaign and the Electoral College that cost her the election, not the Russians. Address that or your investigation is crap.

See also:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Oh, no, not more Russians and E-mails

OK, the first question everybody should be asking is "are these authentic, DNC internal messages?" I think it's pretty much taken as given that these are. That means Russian interference is pretty meaningless. That's because these e-mails kill the democratic party by showing that it was biased against Sanders which went against party bylaws.

On the other hand, nothing in these e-mails comes as a revelation if you happened to be a Sanders supporter. Glenn Greenwald pretty much sums up the situation:
“When Trump becomes the starting point and ending point for how we talk about American politics, [we] don’t end up talking about the fundamental ways the American political and economic and cultural system are completely fucked for huge numbers of Americans who voted for Trump for that reason,” he says. “We don’t talk about all the ways the Democratic Party is a complete fucking disaster and a corrupt, sleazy sewer, and not an adequate alternative to this far-right movement that’s taking over American politics.”
The issue is that both parties stink and that Hillary basically was her own worst enemy. That was pretty much what the leaked e-mails confirmed. It wasn't anything that most people didn't already know.

And I am going with it was an internal DNC leak since it seems the evidence pointing to it being a Russian is that there is evidence a Russian VPN was used.

Seriously? People use VPNs to HIDE their location, not broadcast it. Toss in any legit VPN host will give the actual location if there is criminal investigation. Give me the actual location, not a VPN IP address.

But let's get into who the messenger is: Robert Mueller. A dude to claimed that Iraq had WMD!

Gimme a break. I call BS then and I'm calling BS now.

Unless Mueller is also investigating the DNC and what the leaked e-mails revealed, then this investigation is partisan bullshit.

After all, no one is denying the e-mails were actual DNC internal communications.

And it was DNC misconduct that made me realise that I was wasting my vote by supporting a duopoly candidate.

Unless this investigation starts looking at the internal US causes of why Trump became president, this is a waste of time. The obvious cause was the electoral college, yet I am hearing squat about addressing that issue.

See also:

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Death of Originalism

I have to comment about Brett Kavanaugh and his judicial philosophy, which he calls "originalist" I understand this approach is to interpret the Constitution's meaning as stable from the time of enactment, which can be changed only by the steps set out in Article Five.  That means altering the Constitution requires an amendment or amendments and subsequent ratification.

Well, if he really wants to be an originalist and follow the US Constitution AS WRITTEN, then he can't rule on the constitutionality of legislation: as that is not an enumerated role for the Supreme Court.

Instead, that comes from the case of Marbury v Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Marbury also says that no clause in the Constitution is without meaning, which means that Heller and McDonald are BS since they ignore a clause in the Second Amendment. I would add for good measure that the previous SCOTUS Second Amendment cases (Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and US v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174) Made it clear that the Second Amendment applied to the Militia, or current National Guard.

Miller contradicts the findings of the Heller and McDonald decisions saying:

"With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces, the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."  

Justice William O Douglas, who was on the court when Miller was decided, gave a summary of that case in his dissent to Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972):

The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia." Id. at 307 U. S. 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, "must be interpreted and applied" with the view of maintaining a "militia."

According how the originalists claim their method of interpreting the constitution, a change from the Second Amendment applying to the Militia to allow for personal possession of firearms in the home would require and amendment: not occur through judicial fiat.

I would also add that the Constitution makes clear that it deals with matters of the common defence in the preamble and is silent on self-defence. Any first year law student knows that when a legal document is silent on an issue that that issue is not covered. There are a few other accepted rules of statutory interpretation which pretty much rule out that self-defence is addressed in the US Constitution and that the Second Amendment should be extended to allow for deadly weapons to be used for that purpose.

This adds in that the concept of self-defence in traditional common law is a mitigation, not an excuse. The black letter common law for this is:
Self-defence is a legal doctrine which says that a person may use reasonable force in the defence of themself or another.

Reasonable force is not in the mind of the person claiming self-defence, but in the finder of fact's (jury or judge) opinion. But the rule is pretty much that deadly force is NOT allowed unless there are extreme circumstances.

This might be the time to push this issue. No matter what, I would like an answer on the matter of how an "originalist" can somehow rule on constitutionality since that is not found in the text of the Constitution.

Even more importantly, an Originalist should not go against precedent and the Constitution as written. I am not sure how one would handle overturning a law for unconstitutionality since that is not a role given to the Supreme Court in the Constitution. Instead, it is found in custom.

On the other hand, now might be the time to find out how exactly a justice would handle this dilemma if they claim that they obey the constitution as written and any real change requires an amendment.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

I am amazed at the Ignorance of the US public

In this case, the fact that everything EXCEPT the Electoral College is responsible for Clinton's loss.

Of course, that means the standard "you must be a Russian agent" if you disagree with me crap which I thought went out with Joe McCarthy.

A couple of thing have me going: one is someone who should know better using that argument. Then doing some research into how the Clinton Campaign totally underestimated the Midwest/rust belt: in particular Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin .

OK, Given that Hillary won the popular vote by around 3 million votes. Toss in that she had one of the largest margins of the popular vote since the current system began in the 1820s. Yet she lost in an institution which is unique to the United States and was designed to frustrate the popular vote: the electoral college.

How does a vote really count in that sort of system?

I am now going to get really specific since it is well documented that the Electoral College distorts the vote. It already cost Gore the presidency in 2000. Yet its antidemocratic (or even antirepublican since a republic requires free and fair elections) nature is not being addressed.

Let's say I voted for Hillary Clinton, which would have increased he popular vote victory. But unless she got one more vote than Trump, she still would have lost my jurisdiction. That's because the electoral college is winner take all in a state. Toss in she would have had to have done the same in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to have had a chance of winning. Yes, she needed the electoral votes in all three of those states to have won.

You can call me whatever the fuck you want, but the system is in dire need of repair especially if you are vaguely familiar with what the Electoral College is supposed to do (hint--Trump shouldn't be president and you can't make claims of foreign influence, see Federalist Paper 68).

But it doesn't.

Let's toss in that Wisconsin was ignored by the Clinton Campaign. Likewise her campaign neglected Michigan. I saw an extreme overconfidence in the Clinton campaign that she "couldn't lose". Which she didn't if the popular vote actually meant something.

BTW, I wasn't voting against anything. I was voting for a candidate I saw actually discussing issues and not running on a platform that she wasn't Trump and was a woman. It's campaigning that wins elections: not trying to scare the piss out of people.

Likewise, we need to work on campaign and election reform: not use insults.
You lost the argument when you started attacking people based on them somehow being Russian spies.

See also:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Why militias sound good in theory, but don't work in fact.

One of my ancestors was a member of the Pennsylvania Militia during the War for American Independence. He was in it from the start and was at Valley Forge and Morristown. But he's not on the records for Valley Forge.


Probably because as the youngest son he went AWOL to tend the farm back in Lancaster County (Older Brother is on the NPS records at Valley Forge. We've been trying to get Younger bro on the NPS records).

The Militia system means that most males between 18-50 were supposed to serve. But it's hard to do for a few reasons. Somebody has to tend the farm in an agrarian economy (or keep shop). Toss in people want exemptions, and can get, from service. The rich would buy their way out of serving, which led to Conscription Riots during the US Civil War.

Anyway, It's significant that my ancestor was part of the Pennsylvania Militia There is a lot of mythology in the minds of most Americans that surrounds the Revolutionary War. One of These is the myth that Continental soldiers underwent unspeakable hardship for want of clothing and provisions, but persevered only to win the war against all odds. It wasn't exactly like they were grinning and bearing it.

As early as 1777, General Anthony Wayne, commanding the Pennsylvania Line, exhorted his superiors to address the lack of supply for his men. In a letter to Washington in December, 1777, he refers to the “Distressed and Naked Situation of your Troops.” While the Pennsylvanians faced the cold of Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778, Washington constantly wrote the Continental Congress pleading for an amelioration of the army’s condition. The following is an excerpt from a letter dated 23 December, 1777 from Valley Forge:
I am now convinced beyond a doubt, that, unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place in that line, this army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of these three things; starve, dissolve, or disperse in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can. …Since the month of July we have had no assistance from the quartermaster-general…
Whatever shortages were created by a fledgling wartime economy were compounded by government corruption and ineptitude. In writing Congress, Washington accused the quartermaster-general of corruption and sought his removal. Anthony Wayne made similar accusations in letters to the Pennsylvania executive council. In January, 1778, Wayne wrote that, after buying cloth at his own expense, the government stalled his efforts to have uniforms produce.

There is a reason Article I, Section 8, clause 16 of the Constitution requires that the feds "provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia". The Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation wasn't doing a great job of running the War (there is an aside here that the war was an idiotic idea to begin with since the British Taxes were imposed to pay in part for the French and Indian War, which was started by Washington).

Anyway back to the Story, the discontent of the Pennsylvania Militia really began to show in November, 1780, when the Continental Army went into winter quarters in camps that were dispersed in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.  The Pennsylvania Line was living in the log huts that had been used by the Connecticut Line the previous winter. Major-General Arthur St. Clair, the senior officer of the line, was nice, warm and comfy in Philadelphia, a practice not uncommon for senior officers. On the other hand. the 2,473 Pennsylvania officers and men at Mount Kemble made up eleven regiments of infantry and one of artillery. The winter was mild and the huts were about as comfortable as log huts can be, but clothes, food, and pay were in short supply.

In mid-December, Brigadier-General Wayne wrote to Joseph Reed, President of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Executive Council:
we are reduced to dry bread and beef for our food, and to cold water for our drink. . . . Our soldiery are not devoid of reasoning faculties, . . . they have now served their country with fidelity for near five years, poorly clothed, badly fed, and worse paid; of the last article, trifling as it is, they have not seen a paper dollar in the way of pay for near twelve months.
A year.  I challenge anyone to work any job, let alone endure the harsh life of a Continental soldier that long without pay and not want to revolt. But not being paid was only part of the complaints.

Another major issue arose because the Executive Council planned to consolidate several regiments of Pennsylvania Line effective 1 January 1781.  Many soldiers had enlisted in 1777 under the somewhat confusing terms of “for three years or the duration of the war.” Focusing on the first clause, “for three years,” some soldiers believed that the reorganization would conclude their enlistments.  But the regimental officers focused on the second clause, “or the duration of the war,” and denied the soldiers’ requests for discharge.

Think of my ancestor going AWOL to tend the family farm during the Valley Forge winter.

Anyway, the shit hit the fan on the First of January 1981 with one of the largest revolts the Continental Army had faced (it would face many mutinies due to an inability to properly supply and pay the troops).  But unlike the previous mutinies, the size of this one presented more than disciplinary problems.  The Continental Army could ill afford to have so many soldiers exit the ranks.  Worse, for all the American commanders knew, the mutinous group could “turn Arnold” and join the British forces that were only about 20 miles away near New York City. British General Clinton sent emissaries to see if the Pennsylvania Troops could be turned against the Continental cause.
Wayne sent two officers speeding to Philadelphia to alert Congress and the Executive Committee and dispatched an aide-de-camp to inform General Washington, who was at the army camp at New Windsor, New York.  In his return letter, Washington approved of Wayne’s actions and directed him to identify the mutineers’ grievances for Congress to address.  Washington was also concerned that the mutiny could spread to other units and stayed put to keep a lid on things at New Windsor.

On January 8th, Reed and the Board reached an agreement; a committee would review the enlistment of each soldier and discharge those eligible.  Also, the men would receive proper uniforms as well as warrants for their back-pay that Pennsylvania would honour as soon as it could raise the money (note: these were IOUs, not real payment, something that would cause more problems later on).  The next day, the mutineers marched to Trenton to begin executing the settlement’s provisions.  The mutiny was over, but not fully resolved by a long shot. There would be another one by the Pennsylvania Militia that May as well as many, many more which culminated in Shays' Rebellion and the adoption of the US Constitution.

The mutiny was a wake-up-call to the Pennsylvania Line on its lack of professionalism, but the offenders were the officers, not the enlisted soldiers.  Except for the violence on the First of January, the mutineers conducted themselves with an impressive level of discipline.  They kept a strict military camp at Princeton and gained the support of the local population.  The soldiers also promised to fight under Wayne in the event of an enemy attack.  And as soon as the negotiations ended the sergeants handed British General Clinton’s emissaries, Mason and Ogden, over to the Congressional committee, an act that Gen. Washington called, “an unequivocal and decided mark of attachment to our cause.”

Even with the problems shown by the militia during the War for Independence and other conflicts, the distrust of standing armies led to the system being given constitutional imprimatur in the Second Amendment. However the system was one which was disliked as the passage which is often misquoted points out. Here is the George Mason’s quote as recorded in the transcripts of the Virginia Ratifying Convention:
“I ask, Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor; but they may be confined to the lower and middle classes of the people, granting exclusion to the higher classes of the people.”
Unfortunately, the exclusion was common in Mason's time, as my ancestor, a poor, Pennsylvania farm kid would attest. Dislike for the Militia was pretty much what killed it off, as this passage from Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution 3:§§ 1890 (1833) points out:
And yet, though this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.
Like so many things that sound good in theory, but are unworkable. The militia system and the Second Amendment it was intended to protect, are not relevant to modern society with a large, professional military.

Which is not the poor, conscripted militia member that was the reality of the militia system. The founders militia never existed and they were fools to try and keep it as a constitutional entity.

BTW, kudos to Michael Schellhammer whose "Mutiny on the Pennsylvania Line" was a source for a lot of this. I think he understands what my ancestor was thinking when they did this.

See also:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Clinton was a loser and a bad choice Part II

OK, to recap. The electoral college only requires that the winner get the most votes in a state to receive ALL the electoral votes. So, if the results look like:

Clinton: 51
Trump: 49


Clinton 34
Trump  33
Bozo     33

Get the idea? Clinton wins all the electoral votes. So, a candidate doesn't need to get a majority of votes, or even the most votes, to win in the Electoral College, which is what happened.

But that is a digression since we are going to be talking about a State Clinton won: New Jersey. It shouldn't be a surprise she won since Trump basically trashed Atlantic City, which had an effect on the entire state economy (no cite since it is pretty much common knowledge and a prime example of Trump's being a shit business person).  I mean how the fuck can you go broke running a casino if the house has the advantage?

Here are the results of the 2016 Presidential election for NJ. You would think that the "landslide victory" Clintonistas predicted would show up here.

But they didn't. Clinton's margin is pretty much what they were like in most places she won. Toss in that there were a fair amount of people voting third party.

Yet she managed to win this state.

On the other hand, Trump received a fairly significant share of the vote: even in Atlantic County.

Atlantic County is home to Atlantic City.

OK, totally unscientific, but it does make me wonder about her popularity if she didn't totally leave Trump in the dust in a place where he has a bad reputation.  Seriously, a lot of people got screwed by Trump in NJ, but he made a pretty strong show despite that.

Draw your own conclusion, but I think it demonstrates that Clinton wasn't that popular.

Monday, June 18, 2018

No helping some people understand.

OK, if the fact that Hillary Clinton had one of the highest margins of the popular vote EVER, yet still lost in the electoral college.

And the fact that the campaign neglected Wisconsin.

And a lot of people wouldn't have voted if there hadn't been alternatives. I'm not sure what I would have done, but the only way I would have even considered voting for Hillary Clinton would have been if ranked choice voting existed. And then I would have voted for her somewhere AFTER Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Roque de La Fuentes, and a write in for Bozo the Clown (not necessarily in that order).

And you still want to find blame in everything except Clinton being a lousy candidate (still more on that one to come, but look at the results of the NJ presidential election for a clue) and the electoral college.

There isn't too much I can do to help you understand that it wasn't the voters, it was the shitty, duopoly system that gave you Trump.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Maine Passes Ranked Choice Voting

One of the many reforms I would like to see in the US system of elections is Ranked Choice Voting. Maine just passed a referendum to make this the method for choosing candidates. I hope other jurisdictions adopt this system.

How does Ranked Choice Voting work? 
(from the Committed for Ranked Choice Voting)

RANKING YOUR CHOICES: Rank as many or as few candidates as you like from your favorite to your least favorite.

DECLARING A WINNER: Ballots are counted in rounds where the last-place candidates lose until one candidate reaches a majority and wins. If your first choice can’t win, your vote automatically counts for your second choice, so you never feel like your vote is wasted.

With Ranked Choice Voting, you have the freedom to vote for the candidate you like the best without worrying that you will help the candidate you like the least.
June 12, 2018 Sample Ballot for the Maine Gubernatorial Primaries
A video on how Ranked Choice Voting works:

This is just one of Many changes that need to be made to the system, but it's an important one.

As I said before: The only way I would have even considered voting for Hillary Clinton would have been if ranked choice voting existed. And then I would have voted for her somewhere AFTER Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Roque de La Fuentes, and a write in for Bozo the Clown (not necessarily in that order).